Small Business Saturday is on November 28, 2020.

Small Business Saturday is an annual holiday that celebrates small businesses and encourages consumers to shop locally at the start of the holiday shopping season. The holiday aids small businesses by drawing attention to their importance in our economy. It also helps customers who want access to unique products and experiences in their community, and local economies that benefit from successful small businesses.

Every year, Small Business Saturday falls on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, a day after Black Friday, and two days before Cyber Monday. Placing Small Business Saturday on this weekend, which marks the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season, ensures that consumers keep local businesses in mind as they buy gifts.

As reported at CNBC – “As holiday shopping gets into gear this weekend, its uncertain how Small Business Saturday on Nov. 28 will move the needle and help the millions of business owners on Main Street struggling to survive. According to a Small Business Saturday Survey conducted by SurveyMonkey and CNBC, 43% of shoppers plan to spend less this holiday season than they did in 2019, and only 6% plan to spend the most money on Small Business Saturday.”

 

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2020 Holiday Budgets by City + Free Holiday Budget Estimator – WalletHub Study

With 54% of merchants expecting increased holiday spending in 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the personal-finance website WalletHub today released its 2020 Holiday Budgets by City report, as well as accompanying videos, along with its free tool that calculates personalized holiday budgets for all WalletHub members between now and Dec. 25.

To help consumers avoid post-holiday regret, WalletHub used several key metrics, such as income, age and savings-to-monthly expenses ratio, to estimate the maximum spending amounts for consumers in each of 570 U.S. cities.

The following are some highlights from the report:

Cities with the Biggest Holiday Budgets
 
1. Palo Alto, CA ($3,056)11. Fremont, CA ($2,684)
2. Flower Mound, TX ($2,973)12. Santa Clara, CA ($2,673)
3. Naperville, IL ($2,867)13. Milpitas, CA ($2,610)
4. Sunnyvale, CA ($2,829)14. Centreville, VA ($2,502)
5. Newton, MA ($2,768)15. League City, TX ($2,501)
6. The Woodlands, TX ($2,729)16. Bellevue, WA ($2,488)
7. Sugar Land, TX ($2,728)17. Mount Pleasant, SC ($2,452)
8. San Mateo, CA ($2,722)18. Ellicott City, MD ($2,430)
9. Mountain View, CA ($2,704)19. Cambridge, MA ($2,414)
10. Weston, FL ($2,698)20. Carmel, IN ($2,408)

Key Stats

  • Cambridge, Massachusetts, has the lowest debt-to-income ratio, 16.16 percent, which is 4.1 times lower than in Hesperia, California, the city with the highest at 65.80 percent. 
     
  • Palo Alto, California, has the lowest expenses-to-income ratio, 57.90 percent, which is 1.7 times lower than in Albany, Georgia, the city with the highest at 99.21 percent.
     
  • Hoover, Alabama, has the highest savings-to-monthly expenses ratio, 203.78 percent, which is 2.2 times higher than in Hawthorne, California, the city with the lowest at 93.84 percent.

To view the full report and your city’s rank, please visit: 
https://wallethub.com/edu/holiday-budgets-by-city/16912/

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Happy Thanksgiving – 2020

In January 1941, Franklin Delano Roosevelt had just been re-elected for a third term. After nearly 10 years of double-digit unemployment and economic stagnation, the Great Depression was abating. War had engulfed Europe, and before year’s end the United States would be drawn into the worldwide conflagration at Pearl Harbor.

In his annual State of the Union address to Congress on Jan. 6, 1941, Roosevelt found it “unhappily, necessary to report that the future and the safety of our country and of our democracy are overwhelmingly involved in events far beyond our borders.” He articulated the case for supporting our future allies in their defiance of dictators, while he simultaneously prepared the nation to fight.

What would we fight for? “In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms,” FDR said. They are freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear.

In 1943 Norman Rockwell produced a series of four paintings on these Four Freedoms. One of these painting, Freedom From Want, has come to exemplify the old American traditional Thanksgiving, and is most often referred to as the Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving.

Of Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms, Freedom from Want is the most seen pieces of art—often featured in art books and has become a nostalgic symbol of the American Thanksgiving holiday. The painting depicts an elderly couple serving a Thanksgiving turkey to a happy and eagerly awaiting family. The iconic Freedom from Want painting promotes the importance of family togetherness and traditional values.

The unity portrayed in Freedom from Want is what makes the painting a classic image for the Thanksgiving holiday, and despite efforts to recreate the image and the message the painting displays, no other artist has accomplished what Rockwell accomplished with Freedom from Want.

Wherever this Thanksgiving Day finds you and your version of Rockwell’s Thanksgiving dinner, remember that “freedom from want” eludes a growing number of people in our community today. Give a little of yourselves; there are collection barrels being distributed throughout your City to collect non-perishable food items and toys from various organizations in your community, or volunteer, these same organizations are always looking for help during the holiday season. Pause for just a moment to step back and reflect upon how blessed we really are — blessed far beyond any measure of what we deserve. I wish you a peaceful Thanksgiving, and God’s blessings to you and your family.

Join with those around you today in prayer for our Patriots in uniform — Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen — standing in harm’s way in defense of Liberty — and for their families.

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2020’s Best Places to Shop on Black Friday – WalletHub Study

With Black Friday sales starting earlier this year and most consumers planning to shop online rather than in-store, the personal-finance website WalletHub today released its report on 2020’s Best Places to Shop on Black Friday, as well as accompanying videos.

WalletHub surveyed nearly 7,000 deals from 26 of the biggest U.S. retailers’ 2020 Black Friday ad scans to identify the stores offering the biggest discounts in various product categories such as “Appliances,” “Jewelry” and “Toys.”

The following are some highlights from the report:

Best Black Friday Retailers (Avg. % Discount)
 
1. JCPenney (56.71%)6. Nordstrom (39.05%)
2. Macy’s (55.97%)7. GameStop (38.81%)
3. Kohl’s (51.87%)8. Office Depot and OfficeMax (33.29%)
4. Belk (50.01%)9. The Home Depot (32.07%)
5. Lenovo (44.06%)10. Meijer (32.02%)

Key Stats

  • JCPenney has the highest overall discount rate at 56.71 percent, whereas Ace Hardware has the lowest at 8.63 percent.
     
  • The overall average discount for Black Friday is 32 percent. Consumers should aim for this discount amount or higher to avoid Black-Friday traps.
     
  • The “Computer & Phones” category has one of the biggest shares of discounted items, 15.85 percent of all offers, whereas the “Books, Movies & Music” category has the smallest at 2.74 percent.

To view the full report and each retailer’s rank in all product categories, please visit: 
https://wallethub.com/edu/best-worst-retailers-for-black-friday/8385/

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2021 fishing licenses now available for sale

California anglers can now purchase 2021 fishing licenses and related items directly through the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) website or authorized license agents. (Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, license sales counters at CDFW offices remain temporarily closed to the public.)

The cost of a 2021 annual resident fishing license has been set at $52.66, while a one-day license will cost $17.02.

For the first time, anglers have the option to sign up for auto-renewal of their annual sport fishing licenses, report
cards, and validations.

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Oakley PD Receives Grant for Traffic Enforcement


The safety of everyone on our roads is the focus of a grant that was recently awarded to Oakley Police. The $34,000 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) will assist in Oakley Police efforts to reduce traffic deaths and injuries. The grant will fund a variety of traffic safety programs, including:

  • Patrols with emphasis on alcohol and drug‐impaired driving prevention.
  • Patrols with emphasis on awareness and education of California’s cell phone law.
  • Community education presentations on traffic safety issues such as distracted driving, DUI, speed, bicycle and pedestrian safety.
  • Collaborative efforts with neighboring agencies on traffic safety priorities.
  • Officer training and/or recertification: Standard Field Sobriety Test,
    Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement and Drug Recognition Expert.

Funding for this program was provided by the state OTS, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The grant program runs through September 30, 2021.

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Sunday Reading – 11/22/2020

The following links are just news items and opinions that pass my desk throughout the week. I don’t necessarily support or advocate any of the items, they are just interesting reads.

25 Words That Are Their Own Opposites – Here’s an ambiguous sentence for you: “Because of the agency’s oversight, the corporation’s behavior was sanctioned.” Does that mean, “Because the agency oversaw the company’s behavior, they imposed a penalty for some transgression,” or does it mean, “Because the agency was inattentive, they overlooked the misbehavior and gave it their approval by default”? We’ve stumbled into the looking-glass world of contronyms—words that are their own antonyms.

1. Sanction (via French, from Latin sanctio(n-), from sancire ‘ratify,’) can mean “give official permission or approval for (an action)” or conversely, “impose a penalty on.”

2. Oversight is the noun form of two verbs with contrary meanings, “oversee” and “overlook.” Oversee, from Old English ofersēon (“look at from above”) means “supervise” (medieval Latin for the same thing: super-, “over” plus videre, “to see.”) Overlook usually means the opposite: “to fail to see or observe; to pass over without noticing; to disregard, ignore.”

3. Left can mean either remaining or departed. If the gentlemen have withdrawn to the drawing room for after-dinner cigars, who’s left? (The gentlemen have left and the ladies are left.)

4. Dust, along with the next two words, is a noun turned into a verb meaning either to add or to remove the thing in question. Only the context will tell you which it is. When you dust are you applying dust or removing it? It depends whether you’re dusting the crops or the furniture.

5. Seed can also go either way. If you seed the lawn you add seeds, but if you seed a tomato you remove them. Read More > at Mental Floss

Don’t Ice Sprains – …One of the ineffective treatments he covers is the practice of treating sprains with RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation). He has a chapter titled “Don’t Ice Sprains.” Every day, twenty thousand people in the United States sprain an ankle, and most of them put ice on it, which is exactly the wrong thing to do! It all started with a doctor named Gabe Mirkin. In 1978, he wrote a book about sports-related injuries in which he recommended RICE, and that quickly became the standard treatment for sprains. But his “expert” advice was based on intuition rather than on evidence.

Numerous studies have now compared icing a sprain to not icing it and found no difference. In 2012, researchers in Amsterdam did a systematic review of eleven studies of RICE involving a total of 870 patients. They didn’t find any evidence that rest, ice, compression, or elevation improved outcomes. Instead, they found three studies where early movement led to better outcomes. A 2013 study in Taiwan found that strenuous exercise damaged muscle tissue, causing increased levels of creatine kinase and myoglobin in the blood, and ice therapy produced higher levels of these muscle-damage proteins, reflecting greater muscle damage. And the patients treated with ice reported more fatigue.

Offit explains that the key to healing is inflammation. Inflammation is painful, but it promotes healing. Inflammation increases blood flow. Increased blood flow brings clotting factors and immune cells to the area of damage, and it promotes the manufacture of new collagen. So anything that decreases blood flow can be expected to lengthen the time of healing. What decreases blood flow? Rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, often prescribed for the pain of sprains, also delay healing. In 2013, Dr. Mirkin recanted, saying that RICE was wrong. He also said that nobody believes in rest anymore. Indeed, bedrest used to be prescribed for low back pain, but today patients are encouraged to stay out of bed and be as active as possible; they heal faster with activity. Today a small but growing number of doctors no longer recommend RICE for sprains. But many authorities and many websites still recommend RICE. What should one do? Warmth can be applied, and gentle ankle exercises can be done without weight-bearing. Inflammation is painful, but tolerating the pain speeds recovery. Some patients might prefer delayed healing to pain, but they can only make an informed choice if they know the facts. Read More > at Skeptical Inquirer

Coronavirus Curfews Are Trending Again, Despite Total Lack of Evidence They Help – Coronaviruses don’t get more deadly or dangerous after dark. Yet across the country, leaders are imposing new curfews on their residents and businesses in the name of stopping COVID-19.

Those advocating for curfews argue that when it comes to places serving alcohol, earlier closures will mean fewer drunk patrons, better decisions, and better hygiene. (“Shenanigans happen at night,” said one public health professor.) Others suggest that limiting the hours people can shop or leave their houses recreationally will decrease opportunities for the virus to spread overall. And some leaders have suggested they’re doing it to send the right message about the pandemic.

But…there’s no evidence that this is indeed the case. And it’s just as likely that limited hours mean more people cramming their shopping, socializing, and errands into the same hours, making establishments more crowded and ensuring longer waits in transmission-friendly lines. Besides, not everyone has a job or home and family responsibilities that make state-approved socializing hours possible.

Public health experts have criticized curfews, although some have done so on the grounds that they don’t go far enough. The consensus seems to be that there’s just little logic in them.

George Mason Univesity epidemiologist Saskia Popescu told Cleveland.com that the challenge with imposing curfews is that “it not only is likely to condense patrons into a smaller window of time, but for things like an outdoor restaurant or even gym, that might be a time with slower business and fewer people, which would make it safer. A better course of action is to focus on those high-risk activities and either temporarily halt them or find ways to make them safer.”

“It seems like it’s spreading all over, but I’ve seen no evidence it helps anything,” Kent State University public health professor Tara C. Smith told Vox‘s Dylan Scott. “I’ve not seen a single public health person recommend this as an intervention. I’m mystified at their popularity.” Read More > at Reason

Ski resorts are still opening – with or without COVID guidance from California – California’s COVID guidelines are comprehensive, covering everything from amusement parks to schools. But there’s one very large gap that state public health officials haven’t covered yet: ski resorts.

Mammoth Mountain and several Southern California ski resorts have already opened for the season. Tahoe’s ski resorts are gearing up for their respective opening days — lifts may start spinning as soon as this weekend. A storm just delivered nearly a foot of snow to the Sierra Nevada.

The circumstances feel like a repeat of March, when ski resorts shut down because of the pandemic and the statewide order to stay at home, just as the biggest storm of the season hit the mountains.

Except this time, ski resorts say they’re prepared for the pandemic and they’re planning to open as scheduled — even though the state’s health department has not yet published COVID guidelines that are ski resort-specific. Read More > at SFGate

The Child-Neglect Pandemic – Yesterday, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio announced that, once again, the nation’s largest public school system would close, in response to spiking Covid-19 infections—throwing hundreds of thousands of children back into remote-learning environments. The human cost of school closures on children cannot be overstated. According to a new report from JAMA Network Open, the American Medical Association’s monthly open-access medical journal, “a total of 24.2 million children aged 5 to 11 attended public schools that were closed during the pandemic, losing a median of 54 days of instruction.” The report also declares that “missed instruction during 2020 could be associated with an estimated 5.53 million years of life lost. This loss in life expectancy was likely to be greater than would have been observed if leaving primary schools open had led to an expansion of the first wave of the pandemic.”

These are not the only concerns. The dramatic drop in reports of child abuse and neglect—more than 50 percent in New York City this spring—is largely the result of teachers not seeing students in person or communicating with them at all in many cases. Teachers account for about a quarter of reports to children’s services; the lack of in-person schooling means that more kids are left in dangerous situations for longer.

What little teachers see via class Zoom meetings is deeply concerning. A few days ago I spoke with M., a first-grade teacher at a Title I elementary school in Northern California. About 97 percent of the kids in her school receive free or reduced-price lunch. They are mostly Hispanic, with some African-American students as well. School has been completely remote since the spring, and there is no sign that it will return to in-person this school year.

In M.’s class of 30, about five kids never log in, though she and her co-teacher reach out regularly to the parents. The district has provided devices to each child but only one hotspot per home, which can rarely support all the kids—not to mention the friends and neighbors who have started to use it for themselves. Another four or five children are in class for the whole day. A number of kids’ parents work the night shift and may not be awake to ensure that their children log in. The remainder pop in and out, though the district gives them credit for being present as long as the parents or students send in one message to the teachers per day. Districts report that a third of their students are absent each day, but the number of kids not receiving any instruction is actually much higher. Read More > at City Journal

Fewer Americans Are Marrying Now Than Ever, But Those Who Do Love It More – Scholars at the Institute for Family Studies are reporting that even while the U.S. divorce rate has been steadily declining over the last few decades, that decline has picked up speed recently. New data out last week shows it has finally hit its lowest point in 50 years. In the world of family studies, this is absolutely stunning news.

Wendy Wang, the director of research at the Institute for Family Studies, explains, “For every 1,000 marriages in the last year, only 14.9 ended in divorce.” This comes from the newly released American Community Survey data conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. In 1970, 15 out of every 1,000 marriages ended in divorce, meaning fewer couples in the United States are divorcing today than did 50 years ago.

Even more remarkably, Wang says that “the drop in the divorce rate is likely to continue in 2020, despite the pandemic.” The big question, of course, is why?

Wang told me the “main cause of this decline is the selection effect.” While fewer couples are marrying today, as shown in the graph below, these couples who are marrying are doing so later in life. They are more affluent, more selective in choosing a mate, and more likely to be religious than the general population. “These are all factors that reduce the risk of divorce,” Wang explained. Read More > in The Federalist

Spend or save? – Even with a rosier-than-expected budget forecast, Gov. Gavin Newsom and state lawmakers have some hard choices ahead of them.

Wealthy Californians who made financial gains amid the pandemic and a booming stock market helped the state reap $26 billion in one-time surplus funds, according to a Wednesday budget forecast from the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office. That could help the state reverse cuts to state employee salaries, courts and the UC and CSU systems and make good on payments owed to K-12 schools and community colleges. But California will still likely face a $17 billion deficit by 2024, leaving lawmakers with two unappealing choices — cut services or raise taxes, CalMatters’ Laurel Rosenhall reports.

Though the Legislative Analyst’s Office recommended lawmakers allocate a “significant portion” of the surplus to building reserves and paying down debt, leaders of the state Assembly and Senate intimated they have other plans.

  • Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, a Lakewood Democrat: “It should be our priority to restore funds to critical programs that were cut and prevent additional cuts. I agree with Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins’ approach of making use of the $26 billion that has been identified.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom will unveil his 2021-22 budget in January, kicking off months of negotiations with the Legislature. Both will face pressure from unions and other advocacy groups to raise taxes as numerous safety nets collapse. While thousands of renters stare down an eviction moratorium that expires in February, the state is scrambling to find permanent homes for homeless Californians before federal funding dries up in December. And nearly 750,000 Californians will lose federal unemployment benefits at the end of December when certain provisions of the CARES Act expire, according to a new analysis from the California Policy Lab.

  • Bob Schoonover, president of SEIU California: “Stock market-driven revenues cannot mask the suffering Californians are experiencing at the other end of the income scale … It’s long past time for our leaders to tax privileged billionaires and corporations for investments that ensure today’s crises don’t become catastrophes.” Read More > at CalMatters

Consumer Reports study finds reliability issues with some EVs – There are probably always going to be teething issues with new products, and electric vehicles are no exception. According to the results of Consumer Reports’ most recent reliability study, owners of recent EV models have flagged some “significant problems,” which are thankfully covered under warranty.

The survey covered 329,000 vehicles and some EVs — Audi E-TronKia Niro EV and Tesla Model Y — “had more than their share of problems,” according to Consumer Reports. Some E-Tron owners, for instance, identified drive-system electrical failures and issues with power equipment. Respondents who own the Niro noted other problems, like a bearing in the motor that needed to be replaced.

As a result, Consumer Reports no longer recommends the E-Tron or Niro. Audi and Kia said they’re taking steps to address the reported issues.

The survey has impacted reliability predictions for other EVs. Consumer Reports doesn’t have much data from its member on the Porsche Taycan just yet. However, it lowered its reliability prediction on that car from average to below average based on reports it received about other new EVs. As such, it’s no longer recommending the Taycan. Although the organization hasn’t tested the Ford Mustang Mach-E or the Mercedes-Benz EQC, it reduced its reliability predictions for those to below average too. Read More > at Engadget

‘It’s literally at record levels’: Prosecutors up and down California say they’ve seen a rise in domestic violence amidst the pandemic – State and federal prosecutors across California are trying to raise awareness about a disturbing trend that has held across the state since the start of the pandemic: domestic violence appears to be going up, as avenues for victims to report it are closing.

In a late-October virtual news conference, federal and state prosecutors from cities all over the state came together to share news of domestic violence trends in their areas and what they’re doing to stop it. Though domestic violence generally isn’t a prosecutable federal offense, federal agencies play a role in two ways: filing charges against people with domestic violence convictions who illegally possess guns, and distributing grants to state agencies.

One problem, prosecutors say, is shutdowns related to the pandemic have forced victims to remain in the home with their abusers, and prevents kids from being able to confide about abuse in their home to their teachers. To combat this, many offices are partnering with rideshare services to give free rides to victims, as well as keeping shelters and family justice centers open.

Schubert says her office has seen a 39 percent increase in police bringing domestic violence cases to county prosecutors for filing since the pandemic hit. In Ventura County, the increase has been drastic, Ventura District Attorney Gregory Totten said.

Victims of domestic violence can reach the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224. Those in Alameda County can contact the family justice center at 510-267-8800 or reach its 24-hour mobile response team at : 1-800 947-8301. Read More > in The Mercury News

Delta Conveyance Project will soak Californians – …Demonstrating once again that boondoggles have more lives than a cat, the deceased tunnel project most recently known as WaterFix is coming back in a new form.

In May 2019, the Department of Water Resources rescinded all approvals for WaterFix, a $15 billion-ish project that envisioned two massive tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to get around pumping restrictions imposed to protect still-declining fish species. That cleared the way for Gov. Gavin Newsom’s new plan, a single, smaller tunnel through the Delta. It’s now called the Delta Conveyance Project, and it’s coming for your money.

The Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority is already spending money on planning and engineering work, and the environmental review process has begun. But there is no finished, approved plan, and no one knows what the project will cost.

So in August, the California Department of Water Resources filed a lawsuit against every resident of the state in order to get a court to “validate” a financing mechanism for the Delta Conveyance Project. The lawsuit asks the court to approve the DWR’s bond resolution authorizing unlimited borrowing to pay for the tunnel project.

The lawsuit admits, “The design and physical characteristics of any such Delta conveyance facilities are not yet determined, nor has the Department approved a project for implementation.”

Not only does the DWR want the court’s advance approval for its plan to spend an unlimited amount of money building this boondoggle, the department also wants legal protection for its plan to “charge and collect amounts under the Water Supply Contracts” with State Water Project contractors.

In 1978, voters approved Proposition 13, which cut the property tax rate statewide to 1 percent. However, Prop. 13 allowed for the tax rate to be higher than 1 percent if needed to pay for debt approved by voters in prior years.

The bonds to finance the construction of the State Water Project were approved by voters in 1960.

Here comes the trick: the boondogglers are now referring to the proposed Delta Conveyance Project as “maintenance” of the State Water Project.

In other words, they’re sending the thing back through time to 1960 and claiming that voters approved it during the Eisenhower administration. If they get away with this, extra charges could go straight onto property tax bills without a vote. Read More > in The Orange County Register

As Covid-19 Surges, the Big Unknown Is Where People Are Getting Infected -The U.S. and Europe struggle to identify where coronavirus infections are occurring, making it hard to impose targeted restrictions

Western nations face a big challenge in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic: Ten months into the health crisis, they still know little about where people are catching the virus.

The problem is becoming more acute as new cases are breaking records in the U.S. and Europe and pressure grows on authorities to impose targeted restrictions on places that are spreading the virus, rather than broad confinement measures that are wreaking havoc on the economy.

In Germany, authorities say they don’t know where 75% of people who currently test positive for the coronavirus got it. In Austria, the figure stands at 77%. In Spain, the health ministry said that it was able to identify the origin of only 7% of infections registered in the last week of October. In France and Italy, only some 20% of new cases have been linked to people who previously tested positive.

Jay Varma, senior adviser for public health in the New York City mayor’s office, said 10% of the city’s infections are due to travel, 5% from gatherings, and another 5% from institutional settings such as nursing homes.

“The vast majority of the remainder—somewhere probably around 50% or more—we don’t have a way to directly attribute their source of infection,” Mr. Varma said. “And that’s a concern.” Read More > in The Wall Street Journal

Rules For Us and Rules For Them – Of all the quotable lines in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, few resonate as much as this one: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” That was, of course, the proclamation of the pigs who controlled the government, lest any of the lesser species harbor grandiose notions about their place in the barnyard’s pecking order.

That quotation has been referred to often in recent days after Gov. Gavin Newsom — fresh off of issuing a new set of edicts admonishing Californians to dine alone at home and curtail their Thanksgiving celebrations — was caught dining with his wife and 10 other friends at a birthday party for a prominent lobbyist at the French Laundry in Yountville.

…Sacramento’s public schools have yet to reopen as they await the final phase-in rules, but Newsom’s four children are back in classrooms at the high-end private school where he sends them. No one is surprised that governors live comfortable lives, but it’s a bit rich when they are immune from the rules that they wantonly impose on the rest of us.

It’s not just the governor, either. “Legislators from California and other states are gathering for an annual conference in Maui this week despite a spike in COVID-19 cases in the Golden State that resulted in travel warnings by health officials,” the Los Angeles Times reported. They are attending an annual conference sponsored by a nonprofit group that often pays legislators’ expenses.

Only one lawmaker has thus far admitted attending the conference this year. But as Politico reporter Jeremy White noted on Twitter: “[W]hy not just admit if you’re in Hawaii? We will find out sooner or later. If you want to keep it secret, don’t go!” Exactly. There’s nothing wrong with attending — but the timing is bad, and why not just admit it?

I find it odd that the legislators and Newsom are so tone-deaf that they couldn’t see the criticism coming, or understand why average Californians would be upset at the fracas — especially as officials call for tougher enforcement of the state’s travel and social-distancing rules. Even California’s mostly liberal commentators have been aghast. Read More > at  The American Spectator

Column: The worst thing about Gavin Newsom’s French Laundry dinner? It was with a lobbyist – I have three questions about Gov. Gavin Newsom’s hypocritical foray into Yountville.

Why did Newsom attend his friend’s birthday party on Nov. 6 when he was telling his constituents to do one thing (dine in alone), while he and his wife did another (dined out with friends)?

How sincere was his subsequent apology following the very public spanking he received after the San Francisco Chronicle broke the news that he’d broken the rules?

And why does our governor hang out with a lobbyist who is trying to influence him on behalf of clients?

Taking the last one first, yes, I know that the birthday boy, Jason Kinney, 50, and the governor, 53, go way back. Kinney is a longtime political operative who bounces back and forth between government, political campaigns (he was the spokesman for 2016’s Proposition 64, which legalized cannabis for recreational use in California) and lobbying. That’s the way California’s unsavory political revolving door works.

But it’s Kinney’s role as a lobbyist that sounds alarms. For people in his job, it’s important to show the world you’ve got the governor’s ear. Doing so can help bring in business from companies eager — or desperate — to get the governor’s attention.

Thanks to Politico we know, for example, that Kinney’s lobbying firm represents several small amusement park operators who have been pushing the governor to let them reopen their rides. (They were allowed to briefly reopen before COVID-19 cases spiked and the restrictions were reinstated.) His firm’s biggest client is Marathon Petroleum, which, according to Politico, “is a member of a powerful oil industry organization that battled proposals to ban hydraulic fracturing.” In September, Newsom made what some think was a halfhearted call to ban fracking in the state. Read More > in the Los Angeles Times

As public pension costs soar, some Southern California agencies turn to controversial borrowing to fill deep holes – As the most severe economic crisis since the Great Depression bears down on public agencies, California’s cities and special districts are slated to pay $5.03 billion to fill outstanding holes in their pension plans in 2022, a painful hike of 43% over what they paid to fill those holes in 2019, according to data from the California Public Employees’ Retirement System.

That’s on top of the “normal cost” they pay to cover pensions each year. And it will get worse before it gets better: Agencies will kick in even more over the next five or so years to make up for losses suffered during the last recession.

“Cities in California are already facing a $7 billion general revenue shortfall resulting from the COVID-19 economic shutdown. … Any additional costs will make it extremely difficult for cities to maintain core services to residents.”

Older cities with their own fire and police departments have particular challenges, because public safety pensions are the most expensive. Cities also are far more dependent on local sales and hotel bed taxes, which have taken a beating in the pandemic. Water, sewer and other special districts generally have much steadier revenue streams from property taxes and service fees, and aren’t under much strain, said Dillon Gibbons of the California Special Districts Association.

…Toss in “pension holidays” (when funds looked so healthy that officials quit putting money into them, sometimes for years), a crippling recession, lengthening life spans, a spike in retirements and reductions in what pension plans expect to earn on investments, and you get a hole hundreds of billions of dollars deep. Or deeper.

Stanford University’s Pension Tracker looks at the hole through two different lenses.

  • The rosier one, used by California officials, assumes that investments will earn returns of about 7%. That puts unfunded liabilities at $352.5 billion statewide, or the equivalent of $27,187 per household.
  • The darker one, used by Stanford’s Joe Nation, a former Democratic state assemblyman and professor of public policy, assumes the much lower return rate of 3.25%. That pegs unfunded liabilities at nearly $1.1 trillion, or $81,634 per household.

If that hole isn’t filled up with meatier earnings and heftier contributions from public agencies and their workers, taxpayers will be called upon to fill it directly. Read More > in The Orange County Register

Rare-Earth Elements: A National Security Crisis – “The Middle East has the oil, but China has the rare earths,” spoken by Deng Xiaoping, Supreme Leader of China, in 1992. What did he mean and what did he know that we didn’t?

The “rare earths” that Deng was referring to are known as “Rare-Earth Elements” (REEs). They are composed of 17 complex elements that are unpronounceable but are essential in four industries: high tech, pharmaceuticals, national defense, and energy. The list of products in which they are used is almost endless: computers, iPhones, TV screens, guided missiles, fighter jets, sonar systems, electric grid, solar panels, 5G technology, and on and on.

OK, so what’s the problem?

The problem is we are almost completely dependent on China for these precious REEs!

Because they control almost 100% of the market, they can leverage, thru overproduction and price manipulation, to bankrupt their competition. In fact, in 2015, China relaxed REE export rules and flooded the market. Prices fell, forcing Molycorp, owner of the only functioning REE mine in the U.S. (at Mountain Pass in California), to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

We find ourselves in this position thru a combination of ignorance, apathy, incompetence, and being our own worst enemy. Until the 1990s, we were the leading exporter of REEs. Then, while we were undermining REEs’ exploration and mining, China expanded its supplies and tightened its control over production and exports. By 2008, they controlled over 90% of world production; by 2011, 97%. Read More > at Real Clear Defense

Moderna and Pfizer vaccines show ‘thrilling’ results. But when will they come to the Bay Area? – A second coronavirus vaccine has shown strong preliminary success rates, raising anticipation and expectations they may help end a pandemic that has upended daily life and continues to surge.

But the Bay Area faces a long road ahead in obtaining and distributing vaccines to local residents, and most people probably won’t be able to get vaccinated until summer 2021.Moderna announced Monday that its coronavirus vaccine is 94.5% effective — becoming the second drug company in the last week to share promising early data on vaccines that could help end the pandemic.

The news comes a week after Pfizer and German firm BioNTech announced the coronavirus vaccine they are jointly developing is 90% effective.“What I believe is that by Memorial Day, in the U.S., anybody who wants a vaccine will get a safe and efficacious vaccine,” Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said in an interview with Business Insider. Read More > in the San Francisco Chronicle

America’s Shockingly Moderate Electorate – The more things change, the more they stay the same—or so it seems in American politics, after the electorate returned the Democratic establishment to power after rejecting it for a rogue outsider four years ago. The surprise finding of the exit polls is that moderates and men provided the crucial swing voters who put Joe Biden into office.

Has the American electorate changed? The answer is that despite billions of dollars spent on persuasion, massive increases in turnout, a media with an agenda, and racial unrest, the changes in American voting patterns were minuscule.

We are one country divided by two parties. The nation is largely moderate, practical and driven by common sense over ideology. Most voters prefer compromise on health care, immigration, stimulus and other thorny issues that the extremes of the parties have pushed to the limits. Only 24% of voters identify as liberal, while 38% say they’re conservative, according to CNN exit polls. Another 38% are moderate. Despite the widespread publicity given the left, since 2014—a good year for Republicans—the percentage of self-identified liberals declined 2 points, while the share of conservatives increased 3 points.

By now everyone has heard that President Trump did worse in the suburbs and better with minorities than in 2016. While technically true, the suburban swing occurred before the 2018 midterms, and the minority shift was relatively small, except for Hispanic voters in Florida and the border towns of Texas. Some surprising findings have been overlooked. Mr. Trump’s margin of victory among white women increased from 11 to 13 points, according to CNN’s final adjusted exit polls. But his advantage among white men narrowed from 30 points to 23. Read More > in The Wall Street Journal

Liberals Envisioned a Multiracial Coalition. Voters of Color Had Other Ideas. – The proposition seemed tailor-made for one of the nation’s most diverse and liberal states. California officials asked voters to overturn a 24-year-old ban on affirmative action in education, employment and contracting.

The state political and cultural establishment worked as one to pass this ballot measure. The governor, a senator, members of Congress, university presidents and civil rights leaders called it a righting of old wrongs.

“Women and people of color are still at a sharp disadvantage by almost every measure,” The Los Angeles Times wrote in an editorial endorsement.

Yet on Election Day, the proposition failed by a wide margin, 57 percent to 43 percent, and Latino and Asian-American voters played a key role in defeating it. The outcome captured the gap between the vision laid out by the liberal establishment in California, which has long imagined the creation of a multiracial, multiethnic coalition that would embrace progressive causes, and the sentiments of many Black, Latino, Asian and Arab voters.

“There’s more texture to California blue politics than you might think,” said Lanhee Chen, a fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution at Stanford University and policy director for Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential run. “Identity politics only go so far. There is a sense on affirmative action that people resent being categorized by progressives.”

Latinos, too, appear sharply divided. Prominent Latino nonprofit and civil rights organizations endorsed the affirmative action proposition even as all 14 of California’s majority-Latino counties voted it down. Read More > in The New York Times

Project Roomkey funding ends soon. Over 11,000 Californians could become homeless, again – Gov. Gavin Newsom launched Project Roomkey in April, aimed at securing thousands of hotel rooms across California to shelter homeless individuals to prevent them from contracting COVID-19. The program targeted seniors, pregnant women and others at risk for being particularly vulnerable to having severe COVID-19 symptoms. More than 28,000 people — 17% of the state’s homeless population —have received shelter under the $150 million program, which was rolled out in most of the state’s 58 counties.

But Project Roomkey was never meant to be a permanent solution. Many counties have already shut down their programs, kicking clients out of rooms due to lack of funding or refusing to take more in. Come Dec. 30, statewide funding will end, forcing many others to shutter their programs completely or line up new monies to allow people to stay longer.

Statewide, only 5% of Roomkey clients have found a permanent home, according to an analysis by The Desert Sun.

The Desert Sun analyzed Project Roomkey by requesting client and placement data as of mid-October from all 58 California counties. Of the 45 counties that responded, 36 said they participated in the program. Thirteen counties did not respond.

Those 36 counties have served 28,716 Roomkey clients since April. Of those, 16% returned to homelessness, 40% are still in a hotel room but could face eviction come the new year, and 39% left the program but caseworkers don’t know where they went.

To be sure, since at least 11,620 Project Roomkey clients are still housed in hotel units across the state, total data is not yet complete.

What local officials do know is that while Project Roomkey succeeded in initially sheltering thousands of homeless individuals to curb the spread of COVID-19, funding was quickly depleted. Counties are now scrambling to find long-term housing solutions. Read More > in the Desert Sun

Solar and Wind Power Struggle as California Faces Blackouts – Rolling electric power blackouts afflicted roughly 2 million California residents in August as a heat wave gripped the Golden State. At the center of the problem is a state policy requiring that 33 percent of California’s electricity come from renewable sources such as solar and wind power, rising to a goal of 60 percent by 2030. Yet data showed that power demand peaks just before the sun begins to go down, when overheated people turn up their air conditioning in the late afternoon. Meanwhile, the power output from California’s wind farms in August was erratic.

Until this summer, California utilities and grid operators were able to purchase extra electricity from other states. But the August heat wave stretched from Texas to Oregon, so there was little to no surplus energy available. According to the San Jose Mercury News, California electricity grid operators warned in September 2019 that power shortages might become increasingly common when heat waves hit in the coming years.

California still has some natural gas power plants that can be ramped up to supply energy when renewable supplies fail. But “some folks in the environmental community want to shut down all the gas plants,” Jan Smutny-Jones, CEO of the Independent Energy Producers Association, a trade association representing solar, wind, geothermal, and gas power plants, told The Mercury News in August. “That would be a disaster. Last night 60 percent of the power in [the California Independent System Operator electricity network] was being produced by those gas plants. They are your insurance policy to get through heat waves.”

Union of Concerned Scientists analyst Mark Specht, by contrast, told NPR that “the solution is definitely not more natural gas plants. Really, if anything, this is an indication that California should speed up its investments in clean energy and energy storage.” Read More > at Reason

How the pandemic got people smoking again – The pandemic has encouraged us to pick up some pretty bad habits: bingeing (of televisionfood, and alcohol varieties), ghostingdoomscrollingimpulse shopping — but one that seems particularly counterintuitive is smoking. The choice to smoke feels strange right now for so many reasons: It’s an unnecessary expense in a time that has made our wallets tight, nicotine withdrawals can make users jittery, and it puts our lung health at risk.

We still are in the dark about some aspects of the coronavirus, but we know that it has taken the lives of more than 240,000 Americans and that it generally affects the ability of an infected person to breathe comfortably. At the beginning of the pandemic, being put on a ventilator was the death knell for thousands of people who were struggling with virus-related respiratory issues. A World Health Organization study found a “statistically significant association between smoking status and primary endpoints of admission to Intensive Care Unit (ICU), ventilator use or death” in Covid-19 patients.

Yet, the global tobacco industry, which is on track to be worth more than a trillion dollars by 2027, has not failed in this pandemic. As of 2018, 34.2 million American adults smoked tobacco. Smoking is deadlier than Covid-19; according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it kills more than 480,000 Americans every year. Of all the times to dedicate ourselves to a deadly vice, why now?

Each year, cigarette sales decline by 3 to 4 percent, and it’s been that way since the 1980s. Just last year, sales declined by 7 percent, likely due to the rise of e-cigarettes and vapes. Altria Group, a major tobacco corporation, predicted before the US Covid-19 epidemic that cigarette sales in 2020 would drop by 4 to 6 percent. In fact, the decline in cigarette sales in the United States has not been as sharp as expected. As of July, sales were expected to decline only about 2 to 3 percent this year, despite a pandemic that has created an imminent threat to respiratory health. Read More > at Vox

‘Customers are calling us crying’: scams and soaring prices as Californians move out – Record numbers of residents have been leaving California in recent years, but in 2020 the growth of remote work, the lure of cheaper housing and a summer of unprecedented wildfires has accelerated the trend. As a result, the moving business in San Francisco’s Bay Area is booming, but the surge has come with its own set of problems.

Moving trucks are hard to find, prices to get out of the Bay are being pushed sky-high, and the supply side of the market – with high starting costs and because movers are required to obtain state licenses – has been slow to respond.

The shortage has created openings for an underground moving economy complete with scammers who take advantage of desperate California escapees, left without easy options.

Moving companies across the Bay have said they were booked up months in advance through the summer. It continued through the autumn – in typical years, the industry sees a lull after kids start school. A spokesperson at Gentle Giant moving company says it performed three times the number of moves out of San Francisco in September 2020 than a year earlier.

Even at U-Haul stores – the rental truck retailer with the largest fleet across the US – trucks are in short supply. With so many trucks departing the Bay Area, the exodus has left an imbalance of returning vehicles. The shortage has sharply driven up truck prices for one-way trips out of town. Read More > in The Guardian

LA, Bay Area vs. rest of California – The political gulf separating Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area from the rest of California is steadily widening. For the 12 propositions on this year’s ballot, an average gap of 10.6 percentage points separated LA and the Bay Area from the rest of the state, compared to about 6 percentage points in 2004, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis. This year, the divide was most apparent for Props. 15 and 16, which would have increased taxes on commercial property and reversed the state’s affirmative action ban, respectively. Los Angeles County and the nine-county Bay Area supported the measures, while the rest of the state opposed them. Both measures failed — a reflection of the fact that LA and the Bay Area make up a little less than half of the state’s registered voters.

The two regions don’t always vote in lockstep. For example, Los Angeles and four Bay Area counties supported Prop. 22 — a measure exempting Uber and Lyft from a state labor law — while five Bay Area counties opposed it. Still, their general ideological alignment is clear. Los Angeles and the Bay Area voted to pass Prop. 17, a measure granting parolees the right to vote, by a 34-point margin. The rest of the state also voted to pass Prop. 17 — but only by a margin of 2 points. Read More > at CalMatters

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#OptOutside for Ridge Trail Month

Every year, REI closes its doors on Black Friday and encourages would-be shoppers to #OptOutside instead. This year, more than ever, it seems especially prudent to skip the crowds. November is also “Ridge Trail Month”. Now, it’s your turn to get outside and show your favorite trail some love! Post photos of your DIY Ridge Trail clean-up on social media, include #RidgeTrailMonth and receive a $100 Whole Foods gift card or AllTrails pro membership (while supplies last) as a thank you from us.

DIY TRAIL CARE PROJECT


If you want to celebrate Ridge Trail Month solo or within your social bubble, you can do a DIY Ridge Trail project. There are many fun, safe, and easy ways to care for your favorite Ridge Trail – find tips and a supply checklist below.

How To Host Your Own Ridge Trail Cleanup:

  1. Pick a Trail: First decide which Ridge Trail section to clean up – maybe a trail near your home or a part of the Ridge Trail you’ve been planning to visit!
  2. Leave No Trace: Make a plan to properly dispose of trash and recycling you pick up. Park and land managers may not be regularly collecting trash and recycling, so you may need to dispose of it elsewhere.
  3. Gather your supplies: See the checklist below for a list of supplies to make your trail clean-up safe and easy. Comfortable shoes and healthy snacks go a long way in keeping energized and happy while you’re out on the trail!
  4. Call your crew: If you have friends or family within your COVID social bubble, get them involved! Otherwise, a solo trail clean-up can be a safe and enjoyable way to care for your favorite trail.
  5. Keep It Safe: During your clean-up, be safe and follow all trail rules and etiquette. Wear gloves, a mask, and stay at least 6 feet away from other trail users.
  6. Take a Pic: Show us your before and after! Record your trail cleanup project to share on social media.
  7. Tag to Win: Tag @bayarearidgetrail@REI and @WholeFoods in your photos on social media. Include #RidgeTrailMonth to win a $100 Whole Foods gift card or AllTrails pro membership! (while supplies last)

Supply Checklist:

  • Face mask
  • Nitrile or work gloves
  • Trash bags
  • Trash grabber (claw)
  • Long sleeved shirt and pants
  • Comfortable/sturdy shoes
  • Sunscreen and hat
  • Plenty of water and snacks
  • Hand sanitizer
  • First Aid Kit
  • Container for sharp objects (glass jar or similar)

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Stop Arguing—Start Preventing and Preparing

We’re asking the wrong questions about the California wildfires.

Sashi McEntee November 18, 2020 City Journal

Here in Northern California, the fire seasons have been getting worse. In my small city, Mill Valley, nestled in the middle of the redwood forest, we have always known that wildfire is not an “if” but a “when.” We all know people, including our own fire chief, who have lost their homes, and we know that we could be the next community to be lost.

California governor Gavin Newsom has declared that California’s latest fire season is the result of a climate emergency. “I’m a bit exhausted that we have to continue to debate this issue,” he saidPresident Trump, meantime, has scoffed, pointing to California’s failure in forest management. Ostensibly, this is an argument about what has caused the severity of the last several fire seasons. But, like many public debates, it’s not asking the right question, which in this case is: What should we do to protect loss of life and property from fire?

Wildfires start with an ignition event, and their severity is a function of three things: weather, topography, and fuel. The only one of these that we can influence is fuel.

Dry, hot weather with high winds can carry embers from the ignition event miles away, where smaller fires will ignite and propagate. In our mind’s eye, we picture a line of fire, advancing in a front of flames, consuming whatever is in its path. In reality, large fires are created from the convergence of many smaller fires that started from wind-driven embers.

Drawn to its natural beauty, 11.2 million people currently live in California’s wildland-urban interface (WUI). According to FEMA, the WUI is an area where human-made structures and infrastructure (e.g., cell towers, schools, water supply facilities) are in or adjacent to areas prone to wildfire. We no longer allow the natural fire cycles to clear brush and thin out forests to a level that the landscape can support, creating what forest ecologist Paul Hessburg calls an “epidemic of trees.”

What do we do about this? Millions of lives, billions of dollars in property, and whole ecosystems hang in the balance. Regardless of where you stand politically, the solutions are the same:

Vegetation management: Creating shaded fuel breaks, ridgetop fuel breaks, and defensible space around homes are strategic ways to prevent small fires from building into megafires.

Evacuation planning: Keeping primary and secondary evacuation routes clear of fuels and traffic obstructions is an annual task.

Early detection and alert systems: Wildfire cameras and smart-alert systems such as Long-Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) sirens can ensure that people are able to escape to safety.

Neighborhood preparedness: A connected neighborhood is a resilient neighborhood. Knowing who might need help with maintaining their defensible space or with evacuation is key to improving the odds for the community.

It’s not a binary choice between climate change and forest management. Every community will need to decide what level of risk it is willing to tolerate. That translates directly into the tax dollars a particular community is willing to devote to the problem. My county recently passed a countywide parcel tax and created a Wildfire Prevention Agency, a joint-powers authority of 17 agencies charged with completing fire-prevention projects across jurisdictions. This will allow for more coordinated prevention work than any of us could do on our own.

Environmentalists vary in their tolerance for fuels clearing, controlled burns, and other fire-prevention techniques. A mega-wildfire equates to a catastrophic release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. But preventing megafires might mean allowing for removal of trees that could be habitat for wildlife or allowing a wildfire to be managed so that it behaves like the natural-fire cycles of earlier days. Each community must find its own balance between immediate protection of the local ecology and longer-term prevention of wildfires that would have devastating effects on life, property, and nature.

The survival of high-fire-risk communities will depend on consistent devotion to the practices of vegetation management, evacuation planning, early detection and alerts, and neighborhood preparedness. Governor Newsom and the California legislature should leave the political game-playing aside when it comes to wildfires and instead back up wildfire-prevention efforts with the dollars that communities need to survive.

Sashi McEntee is the mayor of Mill Valley, a northern California city in the Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone and board member of the Wildfire Prevention Authority. The above represents her own opinion and does not represent the city or board.

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Public Comment Period for RHNA Proposed Methodology Ends Nov. 27 at Noon

The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG)’s Executive Board at its October meeting passed the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) proposed methodology. The proposed methodology is a mathematical formula by which the state Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD)’s requirement that the Bay Area plan for more than 441,000 additional housing units during the 2023-2031 RHNA cycle is distributed among the region’s nine counties and 101 cities and towns.

With the Executive Board’s action, ABAG on Oct. 25 opened a public comment period on the proposed RHNA methodology. Around 30 local government staff and members of the public provided comments on the proposed methodology and the proposed subregion shares at a public hearing on Nov. 12. Additional comments are welcomed until Nov. 27 at noon at the Public Information Office via email to RHNA@bayareametro.gov or via USPS at 375 Beale St, Suite 800, San Francisco, CA 94105. Please include “Proposed RHNA Methodology and Subregional Shares” in the subject line.

New state laws — as well as the region’s strong economy and related job and household growth over the past decade — are a significant reason for the growth in HCD’s determination, which will require the Bay Area to plan for 253,000 more units than required in the 2015-2023 RHNA cycle. Under illustrative allocations from the proposed methodology, communities in Santa Clara County would be expected to account for about one-third of all new units to be incorporated into the housing elements of Bay Area jurisdictions’ general plans, and San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland are expected to have the highest expected planning numbers for individual cities.

ABAG President and Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin commented, “Housing Element Law emphasizes that all Bay Area communities have to share the increased state planning numbers. The adopted proposed methodology is the best way to share the housing responsibility among all our region’s local governments, to encourage housing in areas with good access to jobs and in locations designated by the state as high-opportunity areas, and to meet fair housing and greenhouse gas reduction requirements.”

After the public comment period ends, the Regional Planning Committee and the Executive Board will again weigh in on the methodology. If approved, ABAG will submit the draft methodology to HCD for review, likely in January 2021, and then use the state agency’s recommendations to develop a final methodology and draft RHNA allocation in spring 2021. Release of the draft allocation would then kick off an appeals period in the summer of 2021, with the final RHNA allocation assigned to each of the Bay Area’s local governments in late 2021.

Allocation Methodology
The allocation methodology is a formula for accommodating the Bay Area’s total housing need by quantifying the number of housing units — separated into above-moderate, moderate, low and very-low income categories — that will be assigned to each city, town and county. The allocation must meet statutory objectives and be consistent with the forecasted development pattern from Plan Bay Area 2050. The final result of the RHNA process is the allocation of housing units by income category to each jurisdiction. Each local government must then update the Housing Element of its General Plan and its zoning to show how it can accommodate its RHNA allocation.

The proposed RHNA methodology was developed by ABAG’s Housing Methodology Committee (HMC) after nearly a year of meetings and technical analysis. The HMC process provided a forum for local elected officials, staff from city and county governments, various stakeholder groups, and members of the general public to formulate a data-driven proposal. Members of the HMC were selected from a diverse pool of applicants and included representatives from each of the nine Bay Area counties.

President Arreguin praised the HMC for its challenging work: “The proposed methodology represents a big accomplishment not only for the HMC or for ABAG, but also for our region. The committee members’ involvement in this complicated and sometimes contentious process brought together very diverse voices to develop a methodology that works for the entire Bay Area.”

Additional information about the proposed methodology and the RHNA process is available on the RHNA webpage.

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Most Charitable States for 2021 & Best Charities for 2021

With the U.S. ranked as the most generous country over the past 10 years by the World Giving Index, the personal-finance website WalletHub today released its report on Most Charitable States for 2021 (with accompanying videos), in addition to its picks for Best Charities for 2021 and a Charity Calculator to help donors decide where and how to give.

To determine where the most generous Americans are inspiring others to be more selfless, WalletHub compared the 50 states based on 19 key indicators of charitable behavior. The data set ranges from the volunteer rate to the share of income donated to the share of sheltered homeless.

Most Charitable States
1. Utah 11. Alaska
2. Minnesota 12. Georgia
3. Maryland 13. Wyoming
4. Oregon 14. Washington
5. Ohio 15. New Hampshire
6. Pennsylvania 16. Arkansas
7. Virginia 17. North Carolina
8. North Dakota 18. Wisconsin
9. Maine 19. New York
10. Colorado 20. Illinois

Key Stats

  • The charities with the highest ratings from WalletHub include the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International, Animal Welfare Institute and World Resources Institute.
     
  • Vermont has the most charities per capita, 30.58, which is 4.5 times more than in Nevada, the state with the fewest at 6.86.
     
  • Utah has the highest volunteer rate, 51.00 percent, which is 2.2 times higher than in Florida, the state with the lowest at 22.80 percent.
     
  • Utah has the most volunteer hours per capita, 56.29, which is 3.3 times more than in Mississippi, the state with the fewest at 17.24. 
 
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BART App Now Offers Customized Notifications

Riders can now opt-in to customized in-app notifications about BART service and announcements using the official BART app. Riders can personalize what type of information they get through the app based on when and where they ride BART and what information they care most about.

The customized notifications can be based on specific travel patterns at specific times of the day, giving riders information they want, when they need it. In-app notifications streamline a user’s experience because it delivers the information automatically without going through the motions of looking it up.

With the latest version of the BART (Official) app, in-app notifications are now available with subscription settings for:

  • BART Service Advisories based on preferred days of the week and specific timeframes of travel
  • BART Elevator Outage Alerts based on selected stations, days of the week and timeframe of travel
  • Real time train departures specific to station, direction of travel, days of the week and timeframe
  • Announcements such as planned track shutdowns or schedule changes and updates about new efforts to improve the rider experience

How it works

  • Download or update to the latest version of the app
  • When you open the app, on the pop-up window, allow the app to send you the in-app notifications
  • Under Profile, select Notification Settings and subscribe to the in-app notifications you want
  • Select the days of the week, time ranges, and stations you use
  • Once you have made your selections you will start receiving the in-app notifications; you can adjust the settings at any time

While BART offers this information on its website, through email and SMS alerts, and listed within the BART app itself, this is the first time in-app notifications are being offered. 

The new feature is the latest addition to the app to provide riders with a more seamless experience in their journey to our stations and while using our system. BART recently added Daily Fee parking payment through in-app purchases.

About the BART (Official) app

The official BART app offers riders end-to-end trip planning, real-time departures with data straight from BART, service advisories, the ability to save your favorite trips and stations, contactless parking payment, cancelled trip notices, and a Fleet of the Future train tracker. 

 

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Oakley PD Receives Grant for Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety

The Oakley Police Department recently received a $20,000 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) that focuses on the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians.
Grant funds will be used for a variety of activities promoting bicyclist and pedestrian safety, including:

  • Education workshops geared toward youth and older adults.
  • Education on the importance of safety equipment that improves visibility such as reflective armbands, bicycle headlights and taillights.
  • Community walks and bicycle safety courses.
  • Bicycle helmet inspections.
  • Distribution of bicycle helmets to those in need following education presentations.

Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The grant program runs through September 30, 2021.

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Sunday Reading 11/15/2020

The following links are just news items and opinions that pass my desk throughout the week. I don’t necessarily support or advocate any of the items, they are just interesting reads.

OC couple has been married 71 years and, together, beat the coronavirus – Meet Sam and Edith Gollay, extenders of life, defeaters of the coronavirus and experts on how to stay together for more than seven decades. Sam is 98. Edith is 92. They were married in 1949 during the Truman administration. They have been married longer than Bill Murray, Stevie Wonder, Rush Limbaugh and Jill Biden have been alive.

They were married before the invention of the credit card, super glue, the microchip, the Barbie doll and the polio vaccine.

“We are survivors,” Sam said, wearing his World War II Naval Air Force veteran’s cap. He was a field mechanic stationed at Pearl Harbor (after the base was bombed by the Japanese) until the end of the war in 1945.

Here’s a quick secret to long life, according to Sam.

“Luck,” he said, and he meant it. He considers himself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. He’s beaten cancer five times.

“FIVE TIMES,” he yells. “Four gall bladders and one colon.”

And that’s just the start.

Just wait until you hear the one about how he hurt his foot.

Best thing that ever happened to him … aside from meeting Edith.

At their advanced ages, Sam and Edith have help. They are both in wheelchairs, and they need caregivers to help them get through their days.

“I get out of bed on my own, and I dress myself,” Sam says proudly.

But, in the midst of a pandemic, the caregivers coming and going isn’t always safe.

In July, a caregiver came to the Gollay house sick. She told them it was just a case of allergies.

It was not.

“I was so mad,” Edith said.

The caregiver had the coronavirus. Within a week, both Sam and Edith had the coronavirus. And it got real bad, real fast. They were both admitted to the hospital.

The Gollays were kept in separate rooms on different floors. Sam got the worst of the illness. He had to be on oxygen 24 hours a day, and the medicine he was taking made him loopy. He didn’t recognize Edith.

“It was scary,” Edith said. “I was all by myself. The nurses were afraid to come in.” Read More >in The Orange County Register

Talking to the manager won’t help with this! Women named Karen say the oft-memed moniker has ruined their LOVE LIVES – as experts reveal the name has seen a 31% drop in dating app interest – Women named Karen say their love lives have taken a hit since the name became synonymous with pushy, entitled middle-aged women — and more recently, racist ones who target people of color.

The dating app Wingman asked its users named Karen how their results from the app have changed this year over last, and they reported receiving nearly a third fewer matches this year than in 2019.

They also said they get fewer responses to messages and an alarming drop in overall engagement.

According to the app’s data, women named Karen have received 31 per cent fewer matches this year compared to last, and messages sent by women named Karen got 1/3 fewer responses than last year.

Overall, Karens have seen a 45 per cent drop in engagement.

Women with other spellings of the name — Karin, Carin, Caren — have seen a smaller drop, 22 per cent, but a drop all the same. Read More > at Daily Mail

The Death Of Car Ownership: How Tech Is Killing The $3 Trillion Auto Industry – Uber and Lyft were the first to disrupt the $8 trillion global transportation industry by making car ownership less necessary and with the ride-hailing industry now worth $60 billion and on track to top $85 billion by 2023, the transportation revolution is well underway.

But Uber and Lyft can’t finish what they started.

Their business models are broken. They’ve failed to grasp the enormity of the parallel revolution in ESG, or “impact” investing.

And this is where the disruptors become the disrupted.

A startup that launched in late 2019 in Canada is pushing aggressively into the United States, and it’s not just challenging Uber and Lyft—it’s challenging the entire auto industry by taking the ride-sharing revolution to the next level.

The company is Facedrive (TSXV:FD,OTC:FDVRF) and it’s not only the first in the world to offer a carbon-offset ride-sharing solution that Big ESG Money loves …

It’s also planning to put another nail in the coffin of traditional car ownership with its recent acquisition of a pioneer in the electric vehicle subscription space. Read More > at Oil Price

Some fights aren’t over – California still has 1.2 million votes left to count from last week’s election, but the 2022 ballot is already taking shape — and some potential measures may fight 2020 battles all over again.

When voters approved Proposition 22 — exempting Uber and Lyft from a state labor law requiring most companies to reclassify independent contractors as employees — some lawmakers saw an opportunity to overturn the law itself. Assemblymember Kevin Kiley, a Rocklin Republican, said he plans to introduce a bill in January to repeal the law, known as Assembly Bill 5. If that fails, he said he may try to put it on the 2022 ballot.

  • Kiley“I think voters emphatically rejected the premise of AB 5. If people are going to deny the efforts to repeal the rest of AB 5, they will have to answer why they are defying the will of the voters.”

And although Prop. 15 — a measure that would have raised taxes on commercial properties — failed this time around, the measure’s proponents don’t seem likely to back down.

Also likely to land on the 2022 ballot: A referendum on California’s flavored-tobacco ban, which Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law on Aug. 28. Three days later, the tobacco industry filed a referendum request.

Speaking of referendums, voters this year rejected Prop. 25, overturning a 2018 law that would have replaced California’s cash bail system with an algorithm assessing a person’s flight risk. But that fight, too, is far from over. The state Supreme Court could hear a case challenging the constitutionality of cash bail as soon as next month — meaning the justices could order their own reworking of the bail system.

The Myth of the Latino Vote and What Newsrooms Must Learn From 2020 – In 2016, when it became clear that Donald Trump would become president, media outlets across the U.S. were blindsided by the results. They pledged to do better representing the larger communities that make up America. That included conservatives, those in rural areas (a complex group on its own) and, yes, Latinos.

Four years later, though Trump did not win reelection, former Vice President Joe Biden’s narrower margin of victory in spite of polls predicting a landslide have media outlets asking similar questions all over again. The increased percentage of Latino voters for Trump in particular caught many off guard. How could pollsters get it wrong again? And is the media, and a lack of diversity in newsrooms, part of the problem?

While Hispanics are credited with helping Biden in Arizona, Trump made significant gains in the Hispanic vote in Florida and Texas. That jump was particularly stark in South Texas, where Biden won in most counties but by a much narrower margin than Hillary Clinton did four years ago.

As a country, we continue to be surprised that Latinos are not a monolithic group and that not all vote for Democrats. Since President Richard Nixon’s 1972 reelection, Republican candidates have pretty consistently received one-quarter to one-third of the Hispanic vote, according to Geraldo L. Cadava, an associate professor at Northwestern University who wrote a book on the topic. Read More > at ProPublica

US divorce rates have hit a 50-year LOW because people are more ‘selective’ about their spouses and couples who marry older are staying together longer – Divorce rates in the U.S. have hit a 50-year low and marriage rates are at their lowest level on record, according to new data.

Census data analyzed by the Institute for Family Studies on Tuesday shows that out of every 1,000 marriages in 2019, only 14.9 ended in divorce, the lowest level since 1969.

It continues a long-term decline in divorce rates from a peak in 1980 – and initial data from 2020 suggests that the trend is likely to continue this year, despite the pandemic and lockdowns that many predicted would push couples to split.

The new analysis by IFS Research Director Wendy Wang shows that the median length of marriages has increased by nearly a year in the past decade, to 19.8 years.

At the same time, people are getting married at a lower rate now than they ever have before.

‘For every 1,000 unmarried adults in 2019, only 33 got married. This number was 35 a decade ago in 2010 and 86 in 1970,’ Wang wrote.

Though the data is very preliminary, there are signs that the divorce rate will continue to drop this year, despite the economic and emotional stresses of the pandemic. Read More > at the Daily Mail

Dwindling options – Proposition 15 is dead — and with it, one of California’s few remaining hopes of infusing money into local governments and schools staring down massive deficits.

The Associated Press called the race late Tuesday night with 51.8% of voters opposing and 48.2% supporting the campaign to raise taxes on commercial properties. For Prop. 15‘s supporters, it signaled how close they were to winning a majority of the vote. For its opponents, it underscored the enduring power of Prop. 13, the landmark 1978 measure that capped property taxes and limited state and local governments’ ability to raise new revenue, CalMatters’ Ben Christopher reports.

Prop. 15 would have raised up to $11.5 billion annually, funneling 60% to local governments and 40% to schools and community colleges. But the money wouldn’t have been available until 2022 — too late for schools trying to physically reopen campuses and brace for even larger budget deficits next year, CalMatters’ Ricardo Cano reports.

What exactly lawmakers will do to address the problem remains unclear. California’s earlier bet on a federal stimulus package didn’t pay off, and though schools and local governments are staking their hopes on President-Elect Joe Biden providing financial relief, that bet may not pay off either.

That leaves Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislators with two unappealing choices: Raise taxes, or cut services that primarily benefit the poor.

Trump signs law to give California more help eradicating giant swamp rodents – President Donald Trump on Friday signed a law giving California a potential boost in federal funding for its campaign to eradicate a giant swamp rodent that has made its way into Central Valley waterways, threatening the region’s irrigation network.

It allows the federal government to give increased funding to eradicate a swamp rat species known as nutria. California was eligible for part of a $1.75 million per year pot, but this bill increases potential funding up to $12 million per year.

Nutria, a large South American rodent, were found in Merced County two years ago, alarming California wildlife officials because of the rodents’ potential to harm infrastructure that moves water to Central Valley farms and Southern California cities. They have since been found in San Joaquin County, the Delta and throughout the Valley.

More than 1,600 nutria have been killed in California so far, according to figures from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. California officials are hoping they can kill off all the nutria in the state in the next five to seven years. Read More > in The Modesto Bee

A new way to plug a human brain into a computer: Via veins – On Wednesday, a team of scientists and engineers showed results from a promising new approach. It involves mounting electrodes on an expandable, springy tube called a stent and threading it through a blood vessel that leads to the brain. In tests on two people, the researchers literally went for the jugular, running a stent-tipped wire up that vein in the throat and then into a vessel near the brain’s primary motor cortex, where they popped the spring. The electrodes snuggled into the vessel wall and started sensing when the people’s brains signaled their intention to move—and sent those signals wirelessly to a computer, via an infrared transmitter surgically inserted in the subjects’ chests. In an article published in the Journal of NeuroInterventional Surgery, the Australian and US researchers describe how two people with paralysis due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) used such a device to send texts and fool around online by brain-control alone.

It took training once the subjects got home. The electrode-studded stent could pick up signals from the brain, but machine-learning algorithms have to figure out what those signals—imperfect reflections of a mind at work even under ideal conditions—actually represent. But after a few weeks of work, both patients could use an eye tracker to move a cursor and then click with a thought, using the implant. It doesn’t sound like much, but that was enough for both of them to send text messages, shop online, and otherwise perform activities of digital daily life.

The Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved what Oxley calls a “stentrode” for widespread use yet, and the company is still chasing funding for more tests, but these preliminary results suggest that it’s a functioning brain-computer interface. The signal it receives isn’t packed full of information. For now, all the stentrode is picking up is one bit of information—either a telepathic mouse-click or the absence of that click. But for some applications, maybe that’s enough. “There’s been a lot of talk about data and channels, and really what should matter is, have you delivered a life-changing product to the patient?” Oxley says. “Just with a handful of outputs restored to the patient that they’re in control of, we’ve got them controlling Windows 10.” Read More > at ars Technica

Uber and Lyft won exemptions from California’s gig-work law through Prop. 22. Here’s who’s still affected – With the passage of Proposition 22, Uber, Lyft and cohorts won exemption from AB5, California’s gig-work law that makes it harder for companies to claim that workers are independent contractors rather than employees.

AB5 already had a hefty list of of exemptions and more were added this summer with a related law.

That leaves some observers wondering: What professions are still affected under AB5? Did Prop. 22 essentially gut the law?

It did not, many lawyers say.

Occupations which AB5 could impact the most include janitors, retail workers, grounds maintenance workers and childcare workers, according to Ken Jacobs, chair of the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education. Construction workers, home health aides and medical technicians are also potentially affected, according to other lawyers.

In addition to janitors, retail workers and others, truck drivers represent another big category where misclassification lawsuits are in full swing. So far courts have agreed with the industry’s contention that it has a federal preemption from state laws because it engages in interstate commerce. Read More > in the San Francisco Chronicle

Election Night Crime Spree Rocks East Bay – While most of the nation was watching election returns last Tuesday evening, Oakland Police spent the night chasing robbery suspects who hit multiple marijuana businesses in the city.

The crime spree was large and violent and resulted in several hospitalizations, according to the Mercury News. A jeep rammed into one storefront’s gate. One of the suspects was also shot by police. Oakland Police say at least 50 suspects were involved.

The violence unfolded over a chaotic span of more than four hours, as Oakland police were monitoring expected election-night protests downtown. With no clear presidential winner on Tuesday evening, downtown was relatively quiet.

Oakland Deputy Chief Roland Holmgren said the number of robberies and attempted robberies numbered in the dozens. He described the perpetrators as a “caravan of armed robbers.” His department was assisted by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team. Three officers needed to be hospitalized. read More > at California City News

Walmart will test self-driving delivery services with electric cars – Walmart isn’t about to let rivals like Amazon delve further into self-driving deliveries without offering a response. As CNBC reports, the retailer has teamed up with GM’s Cruise for a self-driving delivery pilot due to start early 2021 in Scottsdale, Arizona. The project will have an autonomous EV fetch your local store orders.

This will save you time and money while also helping to reduce Walmart’s impact on the planet, the company said. It also suggested this was particularly helpful while the COVID-19 pandemic raged on, noting that it was a truly “contact-free” delivery option.

This isn’t Walmart’s first driverless delivery alliance. It has also forged partnerships with companies like Ford and Udelv. GM’s Cruise is a major ally, though, and the all-electric nature of the pilot might be alluring for the eco-conscious. Read More > at Engadget

What will it take for humans to trust self-driving cars? – They’re coming—but are we ready to let a computer take the wheel?

Self-driving cars are already cruising our streets, their spinning lasers and other sensors scanning the world around them. Some are from big companies such as Waymo—part of Google’s parent conglomerate Alphabet—or General Motors, while others are the work of outfits you might not have heard of, including Drive.ai or Aptiv. But what makes some of us so wary of these robotic chauffeurs, and how can they earn our trust?

To understand these questions, it first helps to consider what psychologists call the theory of mind. Put simply, it’s the recognition that other people have brains in their heads that are busy thinking, just like ours (usually) are. The theory comes in handy on the road. Before we venture into a crosswalk, we might first make eye contact with a driver and then think, He sees me, so I’m safe, or He doesn’t, so I’m not. It’s a technique we likely use more than we realize, both behind the wheel and on our feet. “We know how other people are going to act because we know how we would act,” explains Azim Shariff, an associate professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia, who has written about this issue in the journal Nature Human Behaviour.

But you can’t make eye contact with an algorithm. Autonomous cars generally have backup humans ready to take control if necessary, but when the car is in self-driving mode, the computer’s in charge. “We’re going to have to learn a theory of the machine mind,” Shariff says. What that means in practice is that self-driving cars will need to provide clear signals—and not just turn signals—to let the public know what that machine mind is planning.

One solution comes from Drive.ai, a company ­running self-driving vans in Texas. The bright-orange-and-blue vehicles have LED signs on all four sides that respond to the environment with messages. They can tell a pedestrian who wants to cross in front of the car, “Waiting for You.” Or they can warn them: ­”Going Now/Please Wait.” A related strategy is intended for passengers, not pedestrians: Screens in Waymo vehicles show car occupants a simple, animated version of what the autonomous vehicle is seeing. Those displays can also show what the car is doing, like if it’s pausing to allow a human to cross. “Trust is the willingness to make yourself vulnerable to somebody else,” Shariff says. “We engage in it because we can pretty easily predict what the other person will do.” All of which means that if the cars are predictable and do what they say they will do, people will be more likely to trust them. Sound familiar? Read More > at Popular Science

“Avocado Hand”: As the Fruit Soars in Popularity, So Do Gruesome Injuries – Over the last decade, emergency room physicians started noticing it more and more… Patients, primarily in their early thirties, coming in with grisly knife injuries to their non-dominant hands, almost all of which required surgical repair. Each time, the cause was the same – they were slicing an avocado.

The trend has since garnered a name: “Avocado Hand,” and deservedly so. A study published earlier this year to the American Journal of Emergency Medicine found that between 1998 and 2017 there were an estimated 50,413 avocado-related knife injuries in the United States. The bulk of those – 27,059 – occurred between 2013 and 2017, suggesting a rapid increase in recent years closely correlated with the fruit’s rise in culinary popularity.

This past week, a team of doctors from the United Kingdom published a study exploring thirty-five documented incidents of avocado-related hand injury, seeking to characterize them and discern methods of prevention.

The overwhelming majority of injuries occurred when attempting to remove the avocado’s large, hard seed, called a “stone”.

“All patients reported that they had pressed the knife tip down perpendicularly onto the avocado seed and that it slipped off it and plunged into their hand,” the doctors wrote. Read More > at Real Clear Science

Our Two Minority Parties – As the results of the election come gradually into sharper focus, both parties have good reason to be frustrated. Both have been rebuked in some important respects by the electorate. And both rebukes are justified. If the parties are willing to learn from them, the result might be good for our politics.

In a sense, the election epitomizes our era of negative partisanship. Each party ran primarily by highlighting the danger of the other, and the public took both warnings to heart. The Democrats ran against Donald Trump, and look to have persuaded the electorate to dismiss him. The Republicans ran against the increasingly radical Democratic activist base, and look to have persuaded the electorate to reject them. Neither party has gained a mandate, and both are left wondering how they can build a majority coalition in the coming years. That could end up being a constructive question.

President Trump was not decisively repudiated in this election. He narrowly lost a few states that he had narrowly won last time. But Trump ran behind the modal Republican in many places, so that a meaningful number of the voters who said no to the Democrats also said no to Trump. And the sheer number of Americans who said no to the president is pretty staggering. This election was a referendum on the incumbent to an even greater degree than a normal reelection race because the challenger was so bland and weak a figure. Very few voters could be excited about Joe Biden. And yet he has drawn a massive turnout and, as 21st-century presidential races go, looks likely to win fairly comfortably. What Biden offered these voters had amazingly little to do with him. He offered an opportunity to reject Donald Trump.

And Republicans need to grasp that voters were right to want to reject Donald Trump. Over and over again, Trump has shown himself profoundly unfit for the presidency — and his behavior since Election Day has only added further evidence to the pile…

But voters have also rejected the woke Left and the activist base of the Democratic Party, electing more Republicans to Congress across the country and so diminishing the Democrats’ majority in the House, probably keeping a Republican Senate (though we may not know that until the two Georgia runoffs in January), and in any case almost certainly closing off the possibility of Court-packing, adding states to the Union, or killing the filibuster… Read More > in the National Review

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When They are Available California Grocers to Administer Free COVID-19 Vaccines

Currently, there are no COVID-19 vaccines that have been authorized or approved by the Food and Drug Administration and recommended by CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to the CDC.  However, this pharmacy partnership is being established in anticipation that one or more COVID-19 vaccines will be authorized or approved and recommended for use in the United States before the end of 2020.

Thursday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a new plan to expand access to COVID-19 vaccines through partnerships with both chain and independent grocery stores across the country. Several California grocery companies are part of this effort.

The vaccines will require no out-of-pocket costs, according to HHS Secretary Alex Azar, and pharmacists, pharmacy interns and pharmacy technicians will be able to provide vaccinations to customers. Providing the vaccine options at grocery stores will remove barriers to customers improving community health throughout California.

“We are leveraging the existing private sector infrastructure to get safe and effective vaccines supported by Operation Warp Speed into communities and into arms as quickly as possible with no out-of-pocket costs. The vast majority of Americans live within five miles of a pharmacy, and our new agreement with pharmacy partners across America is a critical step toward making sure all Americans have access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines when they are available.”

By partnering with HHS, the grocery industry in California continues to expand its role on the frontlines, serving Californians during the pandemic and other natural disasters.

“Throughout the pandemic, grocery stores have done the essential work required to sustain communities with safe access to nourishing food” said California Grocers Association CEO and President Ron Fong. “This partnership is an extension of the grocery community’s commitment to our customers and all Californians.”

As part of the agreement, Californians will be able to access vaccines at Albertsons, Safeway and Vons Pharmacies; Costco; Raley’s, Bel Air and Nob Hill Pharmacies; Ralphs; and Save Mart Pharmacies.

 

 

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Bay Area Health Officials Issue Tips for Safer Holidays and Travel

Health Officers from the Counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz, and the city of Berkeley issued joint guidelines for staying safe during the holidays. The fact sheet covers gatherings and travel, with recommended steps to reduce risk. 

“With cases rising around the country, and beginning to increase a bit here in Contra Costa County as well, we all must come together and keep up our efforts to reduce transmission,” said Dr. Chris Farnitano, Contra Costa County Health Officer. “When people who live in different houses or apartments are together at the same time in the same space, risk of COVID-19 spreading goes up, even when the people are relatives or friends. Please celebrate safely this year and protect yourself and your family by including masks, keeping a distance, and staying outdoors.” 

The fact sheet advises the public that if you gather in person, keep it small, short, stable, safe. Also, the fact sheet recommends that to slow the spread of COVID-19, it is best to avoid traveling long distances to celebrate the holidays. For those who are traveling, the fact sheet provides tips to help avoid catching COVID-19 or spreading it to fellow travelers. 

Though California does not require travelers to quarantine upon arrival or return to the state, some national and state governments have requirements and restrictions for visitors from California, including mandatory quarantine and testing. Check what the rules and requirements are before you travel. 

Celebrate without gathering

The safest way to celebrate this holiday season is virtually or with members of your household. Gathering with people outside your household – even extended family – increases the risk of getting and spreading COVID-19. There are many ways to enjoy the holidays with loved ones without gathering: 

  • Enjoy holiday traditions at home with your household
  • Decorate your home and/or yard
  • Share a virtual meal with family and friends
  • Host online parties and/or contests
  • Prepare meals using traditional recipes and deliver to family and neighbors
  • Attend holiday movie nights at drive-in venues
  • Visit holiday-themed outdoor art installations
  • Participate in drive-by events where everyone stays in their vehicles

For more information, visit cchealth.org/coronavirus.

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Oakley’s Virtual Pet Talent Show

Does your doggy dance, your kitty sing, your bird break dance? We’d love to see your pet’s special talent! The Oakley Recreation Department invites you to enter your lovable pet in the “Pet Star Talent Show.”

This contest is open to all types of pets. Registration is FREE. Simply record your pet performing their talent and submit the video along with a registration form.

The deadline to register is Monday, November 16th at 5:00 p.m. A panel will judge the entries based on creativity and level of difficulty. All videos may be posted on the city’s social media sites for the community to enjoy. Visit the link below to enter. Winners will be notified on Thursday, November 19th and will receive a prize package. For more information, call Cindy at (925) 625-7044 or email coelho@ci.oakley.ca.us

Sign Up Now

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Veterans Day – 2020

Veterans Day Images 2019

Today marks the 102st Veterans Day, when we pause at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in honor of all American veterans.

Our national Veterans Day observance originated as Armistice Day, marking the end of World War I at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. The Armistice commemoration was to honor Veterans of World War 1.

On 11 November 1921, an unknown American soldier from World War I was buried in Arlington National Cemetery in the Tomb of the Unknown, in recognition of WWI veterans and in conjunction with the cessation of hostilities at 11 a.m. on 11 November 1918 – the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. This was President Warren Harding’s request: “All … citizens … indulge in a period of silent thanks to God for these … valorous lives and of supplication for His Divine mercy … on our beloved country.”

Inscribed on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier are the words, “Here lies in honored glory an American soldier known but to God.”

In 1954 President Dwight D. Eisenhower, former Supreme Allied Commander of World War II, signed legislation formally changing Armistice Day to Veterans Day. Eisenhower wrote, “[L]et us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us re-consecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain.”

Veterans Day is a tribute to military veterans who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. Not to be confused with Memorial Day, which honors those who died while in service, Veterans Day honors all military veterans.

We should remind ourselves today of the following observation from Army veteran Charles M. Province:

It is the Soldier, not the minister, who has given us freedom of religion.
It is the Soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the Soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us freedom to protest.
It is the Soldier, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the Soldier, not the politician, who has given us the right to vote.
It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.

Veterans of Oakley

Delta Veterans Group

Delta Diablo Det 1155 Marine Corps League

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6435

East County Veterans Support Services

FAQ about Veterans DayLINK

Free “Thank You” cards to send to a Veteran – LINK

Organizations that send cards to Veterans – LINK

Military veteran story projects – LINK

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COVID-19 Update: Surging Cases Find Contra Costa, Santa Cruz Counties Moving Back To Red Tier

CBS San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — State health officials on Tuesday announced that two greater Bay Area counties — Contra Costa and Santa Cruz — have backslid due to rising COVID-19 cases, moving from the orange tier to the more restrictive red tier.

The return to the red tier for those counties means residents there who have been enjoying a slow return to normal while dining inside restaurants, working out at gyms and watching movies in theaters will return to more severe restrictions for many business operations.

Restaurants, places of worship and movie theaters will be able to operate indoors at a maximum of 25 percent capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer, while gyms and dance studios will only be able to open indoors at 10 percent capacity.

Additionally, starting Friday, Nov. 13, retail stores that operate indoors must scale back their maximum occupancy to 50 percent or 100 people, whichever is lower, while indoor shopping malls must reduce their occupancy and reduce the occupancy of food courts to 25 percent or 100 people, whichever is fewer and office workspaces must operate remotely.

Health officials are urging Contra Costa County residents to consider how they are protecting themselves and their families from the virus, county health officials said. Read More

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2020’s Best Cities for Veterans & Military Money Survey – WalletHub

With Veterans Day approaching and the COVID-19 pandemic leading to an increase in veteran unemployment, the personal-finance website WalletHub today released its report on 2020’s Best & Worst Places for Veterans to Live (as well as accompanying videos and audio files). The report compares the 100 largest U.S. cities across 20 key metrics, ranging from the share of military skill-related jobs to housing affordability and the availability of VA health facilities.

WalletHub also released the results of its 2020 Military Money Survey, which revealed that 75% of Americans agree that military families experience more financial stress than the average family. To help with that, WalletHub’s editors selected 2020’s Best Military Credit Cards, which provide hundreds of dollars in annual savings potential. Below are highlights from the reports, along with a WalletHub Q&A.

Best Cities for Veterans Worst Cities for Veterans
1. Orlando, FL 91. New York, NY
2. Irvine, CA 92. Fresno, CA
3. Tampa, FL 93. Anaheim, CA
4. Raleigh, NC 94. Jersey City, NJ
5. Austin, TX 95. Long Beach, CA
6. Colorado Springs, CO 96. Baltimore, MD
7. Virginia Beach, VA 97. Memphis, TN
8. Scottsdale, AZ 98. Baton Rouge, LA
9. Gilbert, AZ 99. Newark, NJ
10. Minneapolis, MN 100. Detroit, MI

To view the full report and your city’s rank, please visit:
https://wallethub.com/edu/best-and-worst-cities-for-veterans/8156/

Military Money Survey& Best Military Credit Card

  • 75% of Americans agree that military families experience more financial stress than the average family.
     
  • Nearly 1 in 2 people think that poor financial literacy among military personnel is a threat to national security, 40% more than in 2019.
     
  • 74% of Americans don’t think that the military does enough to teach financial literacy.
     
  • 78% of military members don’t think they should have to pay interest on debt when deployed to a war zone.
     
  • 46% of people think frontline healthcare workers should be paid more than members of the military and police officers.
     
  • PenFed Power Cash Rewards is the best military credit card of 2020. It gives 2% cash back on all purchases to current and former members of the military (1.5% otherwise) and has a $100 initial bonus. There is no annual fee.

To view the full survey, please visit:
https://wallethub.com/best-military-credit-cards#survey

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