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By Eric Johnson
Published Sep 18, 2023

What the hell happened to this sweet, smart kid? What the hell happened to this sweet, smart kid?

Replacing Twitter as Elon Self-Destructs

This week’s edition of The Newsletter kicks off with two articles that ultimately spring from what might be called the Big Social Media Meltdown. Beginning with the problem, the first finds yours truly wrestling with the problem of Elon Musk, and his apparent efforts to destroy his own reputation and the platform he spent $44 billion to control. The second piece, by our CEO and director of product Chris Neklason, describes one specific way Twitter/X is now broken, and his recent successes in building something that delivers a functionality we used to find under the little blue bird.

Yellow background with Sacramento Digs Logo, and the title, Taste Summer

Making Sense of a Mad Genius

I first encountered Elon Musk at a private conference while researching a cover story about the new billions being invested in eco-friendly technologies, “The Green Gold Rush,” published in Metro Silicon Valley 15 years ago this week.

Speaking to a roomful of venture capitalists from firms including Kleiner Perkins and JP Morgan, Musk talked about, among other things, his dream of enabling the colonization of Mars. At the time I had no idea his mind was moving in that direction, was sorta shocked, and expected the idea to land awkwardly. But he received an explosive ovation. He was a hero even before he revolutionized the industry that builds the world’s most poisonous product.

Already an extremely wealthy man, Musk seems to be motivated more by a historical imperative than any strictly business or even classically altruistic purpose. He says he started Tesla “to show the car companies what is possible, and accelerate the development of electric vehicles” overall.

Well, he did that, but the number of people who still think of him as a hero is dwindling. In the wake of Walter Isaacson’s new biography of the world’s wealthiest individual, following years of Musk’s brazenly erratic behavior, he is being attacked, most ardently by former allies in left-of-center field. As a onetime admirer, I wrestle here with a man who seems to be rocketing from brilliant enigma to dangerous nutcase.

The Self-Demonization of Elon Musk

A Complicated Billionaire: Elon Musk, one of the great industrial inventors of all time, is on a rocketship to villainhood.
His critics portray him as a cartoonish billionaire boogeyman, while the world’s wealthiest individual works hard to prove them right.

Getting the Ground Truth Out

Elon Musk did not waste time turning the platform he called “the digital town square” into his private property. One of the first and worst things he did was eliminate a functionality that public agencies used to distribute important information.

For years, organizations from the CHP to the California Office of Emergency Services used the platform as a primary means of informing the public. Many of us have shared and found information about wildfires and floods on Twitter, or even just traffic jams. Not so on X.

Here’s how California Local is working with Google Maps to make that important information available.

Distributing Ground Truth by Mapping the Situation

Detail of interactive map that delivers real-time information drawn from reliable sources.
Social media were once very good at sharing reliable first-hand information about fires, floods, etc. Not any more. Here’s an alternative.

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From Our Media Allies

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SanBenitocom logo Loaded Gun Found at Hollister High School Leads to Lockdown

A drug investigation on the Hollister High School campus led to the discovery of a student in possession of a loaded firearm on Sept. 14.

Gilroy Dispatch logo Caltrain Expands South County Service

Caltrain has added a fourth train from South County to San Francisco on weekdays, following a survey that found commuters wanted more options to ditch their vehicles.

SanBenitocom logo SBC Updates Affordable Housing Requirements

The San Benito County Board of Supervisors approved amendments to the county’s affordable housing ordinance, which include a requirement for future developments within 10 miles of a city to offer affordable units.

SanBenitocom logo Commission Kicks Off Coastal Cleanup Month

Sept. 1 marked the beginning of Coastal Cleanup Month, featuring numerous cleanup events throughout the state.

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(09/18/2023) → Benito Link

• Primary Election In-Lieu Filing Period Begins

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(09/18/2023) → Benito Link

• Cal Fire Issues Urgent Warning Regarding Incursions of Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Incidents involving use of the systems, commonly known as drones, in firefighting airspace have led to the temporary suspension of critical aerial firefighting operations a half-dozen times so far this year.

(09/15/2023) → YubaNet

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(09/15/2023) → Benito Link

• San Juan Bautista Planners Approve 2023-2031 Housing Element

The Planning Commission voted to forward a draft of the 2023-2031 Housing Element and Fair Housing Analysis to the San Juan Bautista City Council before submitting it to the California Department of Housing and Community Development.

(09/15/2023) → Benito Link

• New COVID Boosters Are Coming: What You Need to Know

Cases are on the rise, and so are hospitalizations and deaths. So the federal government's release of new, updated COVID boosters feels like good timing.

(09/13/2023) → CapPublicRadio

• CSU Board of Trustees Approves 6% Annual Tuition Hikes Over 5 Years

Despite pushback from students, teachers and others, the California State University system will see tuition hikes.

(09/13/2023) → Monterey Herald

• Cal State Tuition to Rise 34 Percent Over Five Years

The tuition increases were forecast earlier this year, when a Cal State task force concluded the system needs at least $1.5 billion annually in new revenue to afford student services and bolster its academic offerings.

(09/13/2023) → CalMatters

• Climate Bill Forcing Companies to Reveal Carbon Emissions Passes, Newsom Yet to Say if He’ll Sign it

About 5,300 companies would file annual emissions reports. The aim is to hold corporations accountable for the role they play in climate change.

(09/12/2023) → CalMatters

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(09/12/2023) → CapPublicRadio

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(09/12/2023) → Palo Alto Online

• Hollister Council Approves Changes to Draft General Plan

The Hollister City Council adopted changes by consensus to the city’s draft General Plan 2040. Among the updates were expansion of the sphere of influence and changes in residential land use.

(09/12/2023) → Benito Link

• AMBAG Receives Funding for Sustainable Transportation Projects

Powered by state and federal investments, Caltrans has awarded $41.6 million in planning grants for 90 sustainable, climate-resilient transportation projects. The Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments, which includes San Benito, Monterey, and Santa Cruz counties, received $750,000.

(09/12/2023) → Benito Link

• Community Vision San Benito County: Public Safety

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(09/12/2023) → Benito Link

• No Classes? No Lectures? Still Get Your Degree? Yes, Under an Experimental New System at California Community Colleges

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(09/11/2023) → CalMatters

• New Bill Comes to Rescue When California Public Records Requests Are Denied

A bipartisan bill would create a state ombudsperson to intervene when public records requests are denied. But an advocacy group is concerned that it will encourage state agencies to go to court.

(09/11/2023) → CalMatters
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Upcoming Government Meetings

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Event sponsor logo City of Hollister / City Council Meeting
Monday September 18 2023   6:30 PM