THE BUZZ — MASKS ON, MASKS OFF: There was actually some good news on the Covid front Thursday, as health officers in nine Bay Area jurisdictions finally issued conditions under which indoor mask-wearing rules will be lifted for good.
That prompted a series of celebratory tweets from San Francisco Mayor London Breed: “On October 15, SF will begin easing mask requirements in indoor settings where stable cohorts of fully vaccinated people gather. This includes offices, gyms, college classes, and other organized gatherings of fully vaccinated people who meet regularly.”
The mayor noted the economic and emotional benefits of a more liberal mask policy, calling it “an important step forward, particularly for our downtown, because it will allow offices to have more normal routines and interactions.
“Our economy is bouncing back, the city feels like it is coming alive again, and this is yet another milestone in our recovery,” she said.
TREND LINES: With vaccination rates high and positivity rates low, officials in Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Marin, Napa and Sonoma counties and the city of Berkeley released the hopeful news Thursday — more than two months after most of the departments began mandating indoor masks to fend off a summer spike in Covid cases and hospitalizations.
As the SF Chronicle’s Erin Allday notes, Bay Area officials have long been under pressure to ease up — particularly since the statewide mask mandate was lifted on June 15. And San Francisco’s move comes a day after LA Mayor Eric Garcetti signed into effect an ordinance mandating Angelenos to show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination before hitting indoor restaurants, bars, gyms, shopping centers, entertainment venues and personal care establishments.
A big caveat: The Bay Area will only start easing mask rules when each region hits the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “moderate” tier for Covid-19 transmission for at least three weeks. They’ll also have to keep hospitalization rates low and reach a vaccination rate of 80 percent of their total populations.
BOTTOM LINE: It may still be a while before masks can come off indoors. The vaccination rate as of Thursday, according to the CDC, was 77 percent in Marin, 74 percent in Santa Clara and San Francisco, 72 percent in San Mateo, 70 percent in Alameda and Contra Costa and 67 percent in Sonoma and Napa,’’ as the Mercury News’ John Woolfolk reported. (Nearby Santa Cruz County lifted its mask mandate on Sept. 28.)
THOSE PESKY KIDS … Later this month, an FDA advisory committee will take up Pfizer-BioNTech’s application for emergency use of their Covid-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11. If the FDA ultimately gives it the nod, young kids could get their shots later this fall, as POLITICO’s Katherine Ellen Foley breaks down. Californians who aren’t vaccinated, of course, will still have to abide by stricter state guidelines, which mandate wearing masks in indoor public areas and businesses.
BUENOS DÍAS, good Friday morning. Giants vs. Dodgers throwdowns in the Twitterverse begin… Gov. Gavin Newsom, Kamala Harris and Speaker Nancy Pelosi are rooting for the SF Giants, while second gentleman Doug Emhoff and Sen. Alex Padilla are backing the Dodgers.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: Take that, Silicon Valley, via Laura Huffman, president of the Austin Chamber of Commerce: “Elon Musk has said that Austin is the greatest boomtown in America, and he has shown he believes that statement with his actions today. This is Austin’s seminal moment: we are now the hub of the tech industry, and we aren’t going anywhere.”
TWEET OF THE DAY: Journalist Joan Walsh @joanwalsh: “I have to say, I learned to hate the Dodgers in utero, when my Dodger-loving mom learned Walter O’Malley was moving the team to California. (She didn’t care that the Giants moved there too, a contradiction, I admit.) This is gonna be great. Go @SFGiants!” (Twitter apparently labeled the tweet with a warning: “Conversations like this can be intense.”)
BONUS TOTD: Assemblymember Kevin Kiley @KevinKileyCA: “Lawmakers are suggesting they’ll try to remove any personal belief exemption from the student vaccine mandate when we return in January. Get ready to fight.”
PODCAST OF THE DAY: Bill Boyarksy and Sherry Bebitch Jeffe’s Inside Golden State Politics: “Nobody’s on Nobody’s Side.”
WHERE’S GAVIN? Nothing official announced.
HITTING THE ROAD — “Tesla Will Move Its Headquarters to Austin, Texas, in Blow to California,” by NYT’s Niraj Chokshi: “The move makes good on a threat that Mr. Musk issued more than a year ago when he was frustrated by local coronavirus lockdown orders that forced Tesla to pause production at its factory in Fremont, Calif. Mr. Musk on Thursday said the company would keep that factory and expand production there.”
BIG PLAYERS, BIG MOVES — “Former officials Nuñez, Boxer and Villaraigosa lead exodus from powerful lobbying firm,” by the LA Times’ Seema Mehta and Melanie Mason: “Former prominent Democratic elected officials Fabian Nuñez, Barbara Boxer and Antonio Villaraigosa led the mass resignations from one of the state’s most powerful lobbying firms, Mercury Public Affairs.”
50 YEARS OF DISHING IT OUT — “Alice Waters on the future of Chez Panisse and why she doesn’t believe in retirement,” by the SF Chronicle’s Janelle Bitker: “Chez Panisse’s 50th anniversary coinciding with a world-altering pandemic has, in its own way, solidified certain values for founder Alice Waters. She’s confident in the restaurant’s vitality, and ‘it will go on as long as it can,’ she said.”
BARABAK’S LATEST — “Here’s something important most people in California are totally ignoring. (No, not Arnold),” opines the LA Times’ Mark Z. Barabak: “Every 10 years the state’s political boundaries are redrawn to account for population changes reflected in the U.S. census. The big news this time is that California, for the first time in history, lost one of its 53 congressional seats.”
CONDOM CONSENT — “California is the first state to ban ‘stealthing,’ nonconsensual condom removal,” by NPR’s Joe Hernandez: “California just became the first state in the U.S. to outlaw “stealthing,” a slang term for the nonconsensual removal of a condom during sex.”
WHOA — “New Candidate For LA Sheriff Says He Was Once Asked To Join A Deputy Subgroup, Or ‘Gang,’” by LAist’s Frank Stoltze: Retired L.A. Sheriff’s Capt. Matt Rodriguez “said he was a young deputy working at the Carson Station in the early 1990s when older colleagues from the early morning shift invited him to join their ‘clique’ and get a matching tattoo that they all wore on their calf. He said the tattoo was designed by one of the deputies and resembled a tombstone in the shape of a cross — because they worked the graveyard shift — with ‘edges that were similar to a swastika.’”
MEMORIAL FOR SHULTZ: Huge turnout at Stanford University Thursday for the private memorial for former Secretary of State George P. Shultz, who passed away in February at the age of 100. Among those who came to the Memorial Church to honor Shultz — who served under three presidents and held four Cabinet posts — were Secretary of State Antony Blinken, former secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and James Baker, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former secretaries of Defense Leon Panetta and Jim Mattis, and Newsom and Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, a former ambassador to Hungary. Pictures and details here via Hoover Institution, where Shultz served as a fellow.
THE EV RACE — EV charging companies try to halt 2022 credit card chip rule, by POLITICO’s Debra Kahn: A slew of electric vehicle charging companies are asking for relief from an upcoming California regulation that would require them to install credit card chip readers on new chargers.
MOST POPULOUS STATE, BUT … “California unemployment claims drop, but are one-fourth of U.S. total,” by The Mercury News’ George Avalos: “Jobless claims in California stay far above normal levels despite one-week improvement.”
A VETO — “Newsom vetoes bill giving California prisoners a right to visitation,” by Bob Egelko: “Legislation to give prisoners in California a legal right to visits from family and friends, and limit state officials’ authority to restrict visitation, was vetoed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, who said the bill went too far.”
… AND A SIGNATURE — “Newsom signs bill aimed at encouraging more prescribed fires,” by the SF Chronicle’s Julie Johnson: “The movement to expand prescribed fires in California received a boost Wednesday when Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a new law reducing the financial risks for burn bosses when fires escape control lines and require an emergency response.”
PARENTS PROTEST — “Hundreds of families crowd Stanislaus education office to protest student vaccine mandate,” by The Modesto Bee’s Emily Isaacman: “Hundreds of families crowded sidewalks outside the Stanislaus County Office of Education on Wednesday morning to protest Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement that eligible students must get vaccinated for COVID-19 pending full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.”
— “California backed a Valley rice plant with tax-free ‘green bonds.’ What its bankruptcy means,” by The Sac Bee’s Dale Kasler: “It looked like a promising clean-tech investment for California — a revolutionary Sacramento Valley plant that would turn rice straw into fiberboard… Now the plant has filed for bankruptcy.”
— “California judge to sentence Scott Peterson to life term in December, as defense still pushes for new trial,” by Fox News’ Danielle Wallace: “Peterson’s death sentence was overturned but his murder convictions remains in the 2002 slayings of his pregnant wife and unborn son.”
OIL SPILL RECORD — “A timeline of the California oil spill, from the first report to the clean-up,” by CNN’s Eric Levenson.
TURNING THE COVID CORNER? — “Why California should be hopeful about its COVID future,” opines UCSF’s Dr. Monica Gandhi for SFGATE: “Between vaccination and natural immunity, California is in a good place with COVID-19.”
— “New laws make it easier for community college students to transfer to 4-year universities,” by the LA Times’ Colleen Shalby: “A number of new laws will significantly help community college students transfer into both Cal State and UC campuses, and boost financial aid and housing assistance as part of a $47.1-billion higher education package signed by Gov. Newsom on Wednesday at Cal State Northridge.”
INVISIBLE CASH — “Some Californians are seeing large unemployment balances. Why they won’t get the money,” by The Sac Bee’s David Lightman: “Thousands of people with unemployment claims are seeing they have a claim balance of thousands of dollars — but if it involves federal claims, forget it. You won’t see any of that money.”
VACCINE DRAMA — “UCLA anesthesiologist, vocal against COVID vaccine mandates, is escorted out of workplace,” by the LA Times’ Laura Anaya-Morga: “A UCLA anesthesiologist who is vocal about his opposition to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate was escorted out of his workplace Monday for attempting to enter the building unvaccinated.”
FIRE FOTOS — “‘I Call It Fire Brain’: What It’s Like to Photograph the West’s Biggest Wildfires,” by Earther’s Brian Kahn: “Josh Edelson has shot some of the most iconic images of increasing destructive wildfires.”
— “Changes to California’s youth prison system prove difficult to implement,” by EdSource’s Betty Márquez Rosales: “Senate Bill 823 directs the state’s youth correctional facilities to shut down by 2023.”
WATER WITHDRAWAL — “New protections for California’s aquifers are reshaping the state’s Central Valley,” by NPR’s Dan Charles: “California’s agricultural empire is facing a shakeup, as a state law comes into effect that will limit many farmers’ access to water.The seven-year-old law is supposed to stop the over-pumping from depleted aquifers, and some farmers — the largest users of that water — concede the limits are overdue.”
CAPITOL RIOTER CHARGED — Prosecutors charge Jan. 6 rioter with stealing laptop from Pelosi’s office, by POLITICO’s Kyle Cheney: The formal charge suggests prosecutors now believe they can prove the theft beyond a reasonable doubt.
TRUMP’S DEBTS INCLUDES $360 MILLION IN SF — “Trump’s Debt Now Totals An Estimated $1.3 Billion,” by Forbes’ Dan Alexander: “The real estate mogul should have no problem paying back his loans in the short term. But come 2024, when he might be running for president again, things could get dicey.”
A BLOC IS BORN? — A POLITICO/Morning Consult poll out earlier this week tracked how the fraught 2020 political cycle and the coronavirus pandemic have changed the way Asian American and Pacific Islander voters see their community and their own identity. Of particular consequence, especially for states with historically large and diverse Asian American populations like California: Two in ten Asian American adults are more likely to identify with the broader “AAPI” label than they were pre-pandemic.
That figure held in the Western region of the U.S., including California. But, asked whether they identify more strongly with their specific ethnicity or with the broader AAPI community, 4 percent more Western respondents said they preferred the AAPI label than did Asian Americans nationally. Read more from our Rishika Dugyala in The Recast.
EVENT: The Republican National Committee will host a roundtable discussion with California GOP Chair Jessica Millan Patterson, Assemblymember Suzette Martinez Valladares and Southern California small business owners “to discuss the implications of Joe Biden and Gavin Newsom’s leadership,’’ in recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month. The 11 a.m. event will take place at the Holiday Inn in Valencia.
TWITCH BREACH — “Twitch Hack Reveals How Much Revenue the Platform’s Biggest Streamers Make,” by The Wall Street Journal’s David Uberti and Sarah E. Needleman: “The alleged hacker alluded to Amazon’s ownership of Twitch, posting their message alongside a photo of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.”
DISNEY DEVELOPMENT — “Bob Iger’s Long Goodbye,” by The Hollywood Reporter’s Kim Masters: “Eighteen months into media’s most consequential transition, Disney’s respected ex-CEO lingers while successor Bob Chapek provokes anxiety as he moves aggressively to reshape the Magic Kingdom.”
CROWNED — “Claire Foy to Play Sheryl Sandberg in Anonymous Content, Wiip’s Drama Series About Facebook,” by The Wrap’s Jennifer Maas: “‘Doomsday Machine’ will ‘lift the veil on the inner workings’ of the social media giant and the relationship between Sandberg and Mark Zuckerberg.”
TIS THE SEASON — “Bay Area Cannasseur: Cannabis compassion back in season,” by the Bay Area Reporter’s Sari Staver: “It’s ‘Croptober,’ the time outdoor cannabis is ready for harvest and, this year, also the time that cannabis compassion programs are gearing up to go back into business.”
FINANCIAL FIX — “Paperwork is holding up California’s marijuana industry. Will $100 million fix it?” by The Sac Bee’s Andrew Sheeler: “As thousands of provisional marijuana license holders in California struggle to secure a full annual license, the state is kicking in $100 million to help cities and counties to address the backlog.”
PLAY BALL — “SF Giants-Dodgers: Five key pitchers who will decide the NLDS,” by The Mercury News’ Kerry Crowley.
— “A Tesla mystery: Why didn’t auto-braking stop these crashes?” by the LA Times’ Russ Mitchell.
WEATHER WATCH — “Caltrans closing three Northern California mountain passes as winter storm moves in,” by The Sac Bee’s Rosalio Ahumada.
FINDINGS — “Marines: COVID-19, border duties contributed to lapsed oversight in amphibious sinking,” by The San Diego Union-Tribune’s Andrew Dyer.
— “Former San Diego sheriff’s deputy sentenced to 80 years for rape, molestation charges,” via The San Diego Union-Tribune’s City News Service.
— “Long Beach school security officer fired after killing 18-year-old,” via the Long Beach Press Telegram.
SURF’S DOWN — “Oil Spill Cancels Popular Huntington Beach Surf Contest,” via CBS Los Angeles.
IN THE SKY — “San Francisco Fleet Week 2021: A guide to this year’s in-person return,” via the SF Chronicle.
RAPE IS RAPE — “New California law enhances punishment for spousal rape, ends legal distinction,” by The Sac Bee’s Hannah Wiley.
NEW POLITICAL SHOP— Left Flank Strategies, a new progressive political strategy firm founded by a trio of national political strategy and communications veterans, has launched this week with offices in Los Angeles, New York and D.C. The principles: Anna Bahr, who most recently served as Sen. Bernie Sanders national deputy press secretary and was his California communications director, as well as a former speechwriter for LA Mayor Eric Garcetti; Karthik Ganapathy, a top spokesperson on Sanders’ ‘16 presidential campaign who has also worked strategy and communications for Keith Ellison and groups like the Sunrise Movement, and Bill Neidhardt, who’s been a spokesperson for Sanders, Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. Bahr says the team will be “definitely focused” on California in the coming cycle with emphasis on social/economic and environmental justice issues and progressive candidates.
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