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By Eric Johnson
Published Apr 01, 2024

Prop 1 includes funding that will build institutions to treat mental illness and addiction—hopefully nothing like what Randle Patrick McMurphy encountered in 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.' Prop 1 includes funding that will build institutions to treat mental illness and addiction—hopefully nothing like what Randle Patrick McMurphy encountered in 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.'

Sandhill Cranes, Foster Kids, and Coercive Compassion

This week’s Newsletter takes me back to the very beginnings of my journalism career in California, and then jumps forward to a story I wrote last week. One story offers what might be a surprising perspective on the recently passed Proposition 1, and the other is about an organization working to help young people forced to navigate our complicated court systems through no fault of their own.

The stories are connected because they both deal with the consequences of untreated mental illness and addiction disorders.

But first: I am writing this on Easter Sunday, and as is traditional in my family, I am thinking about resurrection, renewal, and that kind of stuff. In that spirit, here is the second edition of One Good Thing.


Life After Death

Sandhill Cranes are magical creatures. In the marshes where they hunt with their spear-beaks, they stand four to five feet tall. Their wings can span six and a half feet. Their trumpeting calls and mating dances are hypnotic. By the middle of the 20th century they had been slaughtered to near-extinction. But they're back.


The Return of Sandhill Cranes

A magnificent Sandhill Crane in flight.
After being reduced to three or four nesting pairs in all of California in 1944, Sandhill Cranes have come back from the brink and are returning to Lake Tahoe.

Coercive Compassion

My position on Prop 1, and my thoughts about the benign neglect of our homeless neighbors suffering from mental illness or addiction disorders, are informed by a story I edited the week I returned to California, in March of 1997. That article was about the impending closure of a state hospital that treated Californians with developmental disabilities or severe mental illness. At the time, as you will see, many questioned the wisdom of emptying the hospitals and sending patients to live in halfway houses—which, as it turned out, were never adequately funded.

I understand if you are among those who struggle with the idea of coercive care, and I want to share a quote from Sen. Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton), a supporter of Prop 1 who is also a PhD-packing clinical social worker.

“There is nothing compassionate about leaving suffering human beings on the street untreated or waiting until they have committed a crime and treating them in prison; rather than intervening to get them the help they desperately need.”


Newsom’s Prop 1: Revolution or Return to Reason?

An assembly hall at Agnews Developmental Center in Santa Clara. Agnews was one of five hospitals that served California residents with developmental disabilities and mental illness, all of which were emptied in the misguided move toward “community care."
Prop 1 was designed to help unhoused people get off the streets by forcing them into treatment. That’s one reason it took two weeks of vote-counting to pass.

Helping Young People Whose Parents Are Struggling

The very best thing about doing community journalism is that I get to help some remarkable people tell their inspiring stories. That happened last week when I met Danielle Dace and Matthew Romsa. CASA Sacramento is the only organization in the region that offers help to kids who have been removed from their parents care due to neglact or abuse. Often, the grownups involved are stuggling with addiction, and the families can be reuinted once they've gotten treatment. That has become increasingly difficult, so the need for help is great. 

There are CASAs in most California counties, and you can find them under Families and Children in our Community Groups and Nonprofits database.


A Court Appointed Special Advocate Can Change a Child’s Life

Danielle Dace and Matthew Romsa of CASA Sacramento
A conversation with two committed professionals who help CASA Sacramento match trained volunteers with children in the foster care system.

Recipe of the Week

Our friends at Sacramento Digs Gardening publish a recipe from their gardens every Sunday, which we feature here so you can start your week with some yum.

See more recipes in their Taste Spring! cookbook.


This springtime carrot cake has a difference

Carrots and chocolate -- how perfect for Easter or any other spring occasion.
Chocolate glaze especially appropriate for a holiday dessert


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Ecology Action logo Ecology Action

Ecology Action states its mission concisely: “Reduce emissions.” The nonprofit group advocates for innovative energy, water, and transportation solutions in communities across California.

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From Our Media Allies

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SanBenitocom logo District Purchases 49-Acre Site for Second High School

The San Benito High School District recently acquired 49.68 acres for a second high school.

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The U.S. Bankruptcy Court has struck down the Chapter 9 filing by the San Benito Health Care District (SBHCD), refuting its claims that Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital is insolvent.

San Jose Inside logo California Extends Student Financial Aid Deadline to May 2

Responding to a federal financial aid glitch, Caliifornia legislators and Gov. Gavin Newsom within two weeks gave students an additional month to apply for state aid.

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Recent Local News

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• March 5 Primary Election Results Certified

The 2024 March 5 election results were certified by the San Benito County Elections on March 29.

(04/01/2024) → Benito Link

• San Benito Health Care District Will Appeal Bankruptcy Court Decision

The San Benito Health Care District board unanimously voted to appeal the decision to deny Chapter 9 bankruptcy.

(03/29/2024) → Benito Link

• New Slow-Growth Initiative Being Prepared

Local activist Andy Hsia-Coron announced he is preparing to start the signature gathering phase for a new slow-growth initiative titled "Empower Voters to Make Land Use Decisions Initiative."

(03/29/2024) → Benito Link

• Luck Museum Repairs Under Evaluation

The city-owned Luck Museum is in need of repair to protect its collection of artifacts and records from the elements.

(03/27/2024) → Benito Link

• Health and Human Services Agency Inspection Reports Deficiencies in San Benito Jail System

The San Benito Health and Human Services Agency annual inspection turned up deficiencies in health training and services provided by the San Benito County jail system with most in the juvenile facility.

(03/26/2024) → Benito Link

• County Seeks New Librarian

In the midst of a library expansion and an FBI investigation, San Benito County is considering the hiring of a new head librarian.

(03/25/2024) → Benito Link
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Recent Statewide News

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• Salmon Populations Are Struggling, Bringing Economic Woes for California's Fishing Fleet

Captains of fishing boats on the California coast are bracing for salmon fishing to be severely restricted — or possibly canceled for a second year.

(03/30/2024) → Los Angeles Times

• CA Fast Food Workers Get Higher Wages, but Which Ones?

According to emails obtained by CalMatters Capitol reporter Jeanne Kuang in response to a public records request, a range of employers have been trying to figure out if they must pay $20 ever since the law was signed late last September.

(03/29/2024) → CalMatters

• Your Doctor or Your Insurer? Little-Known Rules May Ease the Choice in Medicare Advantage

Disputes between insurers and providers can lead to entire hospital systems suddenly leaving the plans.

(03/28/2024) → California Healthline

• Homeless Infants and Toddlers Largely Unenrolled in Early Ed Programs

Evictions have exacerbated homelessness nationwide, increasing the rate of homeless infants and toddlers. Most of those children are not enrolled in early education programs.

(03/28/2024) → EdSource

• California’s Disabled Students Left Behind During Emergencies: ‘They Just Weren’t Ready for Someone Like Me’

After bringing his story all the way to the University of California Board of Regents, a disabled UC Berkeley student has prompted the UC to ensure emergency evacuation chairs are in every multi-storied building in the 10-university system.

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• RFK Jr. Picks VP, but Still Isn’t on California Ballot

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(03/27/2024) → CalMatters

• Feds Propose Killing Nearly 500,000 'Invasive' Owls to Save Calif. Native Owls

The goal is to eliminate habitat competition between "invasive" owls and native owls.

(03/27/2024) → SF Gate

• Reps. Gaetz and Greene Lawsuit Against Cities Where Political Rally Was Canceled Can Move Forward

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(03/25/2024) → Los Angeles Times

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(03/25/2024) → KFF Health News
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Government Announcements

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Image of State of California seal. State of California   (03/26/2024)

Dawn Addis CA Assembly 30:
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Image of United States seal. United States   (03/21/2024)

FSIS Issues Public Health Alert for Ineligible Frozen Siluriformes Products Imported from the People's Republic of China

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Image of State of California seal. State of California   (03/19/2024)

John Laird CA Senate 17:
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Image of United States seal. United States   (03/16/2024)

Wenders LLC Recalls Trader Joes Nuts - 50% Less Sodium Roasted & Salted Whole Cashews Because of Possible Health Risk

Wenders LLC of Dublin, CA is recalling specific production lots of Trader Joes Nuts - 50% Less Sodium Roasted & Salted Whole Cashews - (SKU Number - 37884) Lot# T12139, T12140, T12141, and T12142 because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella, an organism which can cause serious
Image of State of California seal. State of California   (03/14/2024)

Dawn Addis CA Assembly 30:
Central Coast Caucus Releases 2024 Budget Priorities

Central Coast Caucus Releases 2024 Budget Priorities sanchema Thu, 03/14/2024 - 09:59 Thursday, March 14, 2024 SACRAMENTO The California Central Coast Legislative Caucus, Chaired by Assemblymember Dawn Addis (D-Morro Bay) introduced its budget priorities for the 2024-2025 fiscal year. The priorities include investments that bolster the economy, environment, and well-being of the Central Coast. "California's Central Coast plays a fundamental …
Image of United States seal. United States   (03/13/2024)

Kick Ash Products Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Almonds in Product

Kick Ash Products of Ellison Bay, WI is recalling Door County Love Dark Chocolate Cherry Granola with Lot #061241, because it may contain undeclared ALMONDS. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to almonds run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume the
Image of United States seal. United States   (03/13/2024)

Taylor Farms Pacific Recalls Kroger Brand Ready-To-Eat Apple Walnut With Chicken Salad Bowl Products Due to Misbranding and Undeclared Allergen

WASHINGTON, March 13, 2024 - Taylor Farms Pacific, a Tracy, Calif. establishment, is recalling approximately 19,976 pounds of ready-to-eat (RTE) apple walnut with chicken salad bowl products due to misbranding...
Image of United States seal. United States   (03/11/2024)

John B. Sanfilippo & Son, Inc Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Coconut and Milk in Great Value Honey Roasted Cashews 8.25 Oz

John B. Sanfilippo & Son, Inc (JBSS) announced today it is voluntarily recalling a limited amount of 8.25 oz Great Value Honey Roasted Cashews, because it may contain undeclared coconut and milk. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to coconut or milk run the risk of serious or life-thre
Image of United States seal. United States   (03/10/2024)

Jen's Breakfast Burritos, LLC, Recalls Ready to Eat Breakfast Burrito Products Due to Possible Listeria Contamination

WASHINGTON, March 10, 2024 - Jen's Breakfast Burritos, LLC, an Auburn, Wash. establishment, is recalling approximately 144 pounds of ready-to-eat (RTE) breakfast burrito products that may be adulterated with Listeria...
Image of United States seal. United States   (03/07/2024)

Wesco, Inc. Issues Voluntary Recall and Allergy Alert on Undeclared Peanut in Wesco Mint No Bake Cookie Bites

Wesco, Inc. of Muskegon, MI is recalling 750 units of Wesco Mint No Bake Cookie Bites, because it may contain undeclared peanut. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to peanuts run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products. The affected Wesc