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By Eric Johnson
Published Jan 02, 2024

Family and friends are the best part of any year. Family and friends are the best part of any year. Image credit: AlessandroBiascioli   Shutterstock/standard

The Best and Worst of 2023

Happy 2024 from your friends at California Local. In this week’s edition of The Newsletter, you will find more of what you’re looking for, if what you’re looking for is reliable information about the place you call home.

This week’s News Digest, as always curated by our good friend and executive editor Sharan Street, is the most robust ever, and can be your guide to the most important stories you may have missed over the holiday.

Our Year in Review, also cat-herded by Sharan, will remind you that this was (another) nut job of a year—and that there’s some good stuff happening in California, too.

Speaking of good stuff: Chris Neklason, our good friend and fearless leader, compiled a list of the big changes that have happened here at California Local over the past 12 months. It kind of blew my mind, and I work here every day—so I’m not sure why I was surprised.

And yes! Even more good stuff. From our good friend and publisher, Mike Gelbman, some retrospection and inspiration.

What Happened in the Year 2023?

In October of this year, California’s own Kevin McCarthy lost his job as speaker of the House of Representatives following a long and ugly fight with extremist members of his own party. It was the first time in U.S. history that a house speaker was fired, was one of the biggest stories of 2023, and in some ways epitomized the year. As you will see, there were some tectonic shifts in the year just past that will reverberate into the future, and not all of them were bad.

Facing the New Year

California Local looks back at 2023, with an eye toward what stories will matter most in 2024.

A Note from CALocal's CEO

No brag—just fact: Some good stuff happened here at California Local over the past year. Teaser: We are publishing a book boldly and accurately titled How California Works. We won two big awards from the California News Publishers Association. Click below to learn more. (And please consider joining our family by taking 10 seconds to click the red button and sign up for a free membership ;-)

2023 at California Local in Review

We look back as we rush forward.
In which we count our accomplishments, and blessings, at the turning of the year.

A Letter from Our Publisher

Michael Gelbman had a big reason to give some thought to the meaning of his life and his work, and he had some longtime beliefs confirmed.

Reflections on My 2023

Michael Gelbman finds some perspective amid the divisiveness.

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Chest of Hope logo Chest of Hope

Created in 2005 by friends and volunteers, Chest of Hope raises funds to support women and orphans who are suffering from domestic violence.

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Recent Local News

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• UC Davis Launches Mobile Clinic to Help Students

A new 24/7 mobile team at UC Davis is working to prevent crises before they happen, answering calls every day from students experiencing overwhelming stress and food and housing insecurity.

(01/01/2024) → CapPublicRadio

• Stockton’s Van Buskirk Park Receives $7M from State

The Van Buskirk Park renovation will include a new skate park, two full-size basketball courts, and BMX/bike trails with lights and landscaping.

(12/31/2023) → Local News Matters Stockton

• Need a New Year’s Resolution?

Here are 50 ways to improve your life in 2024.

(12/30/2023) → CapPublicRadio

• Lodi’s ‘Proud and Grateful’ Police Chief Says Goodbye

Before the traditional final radio sign-off, Lodi Police Chief Sierra Brucia thanked everyone in in the city and community who helped him move through the ranks of the department.

(12/30/2023) → LodiNews

• Ex-Student Found Competent to Stand Trial for Stabbing Deaths Near UC Davis

Former college student Carlos Reales Dominguez, accused of stabbing two people to death and wounding a third in Davis, will return to court on Jan. 5 and criminal proceedings will be reinstated if there isn't any challenge to his mental state.

(12/29/2023) → CapPublicRadio

• Massive 711-Truck Parking Facility in Works Near Lathrop

The biggest truck parking facility ever envisioned in south San Joaquin County is being proposed just north of the Lathrop city limits. The 34-acre project will come before the San Joaquin County Planning Commission on Jan. 4.

(12/29/2023) → Read the full Manteca Bulletin report

• Ripon’s Maintenance Building Taking Shape

No discussion was necessary as the Ripon City Council approved the change order on the under-construction Fleet Maintenance Facility along Doak Boulevard. Some design changes were needed due to additional grading and paving.

(12/29/2023) → Read the full Manteca Bulletin report

• Park Cleared in Preparation for New Recreation Center

With the opening of 37 new rooms at Tracy’s Temporary Emergency Housing Facility, the city has cleared El Pescadero Park of the final tents that made up a homeless encampment at the park.

(12/29/2023) → Tracy Press

• Yolo County Recommends Residents Vaccinate, Mask Indoors

Rates of COVID-19, RSV and influenza are rising in Yolo and Sacramento counties and local public health officers are encouraging precautions for the fourth holiday season in a row.

(12/28/2023) → CapPublicRadio

• SJ County Judge Reinstates Two Candidates in Stockton Council Races

Former Councilman Ralph Lee White in District 6 and health worker Mariela Ponce in District 2 had their candidacies reinstated and will now compete in the March 5 primaries along with incumbent Kimberly Warmsley, Jason Lee, Zoyla Moreno, Satnam Singh and Ronnie Murray.

(12/27/2023) → Stocktonia

• A Look Back at Stockton’s 2023

The year rang in with rains so heavy that Stockton flooded, and ended with state approval of a Delta Tunnel that may deplete our region’s water. In between was a year as remarkable for what didn’t happen as what did.

(12/27/2023) → Stocktonia
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Recent Statewide News

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• Sierra Snowpack at 25% of Usual Levels

The California Department of Water Resources has found that the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountains is at just 25% of normal levels for this time of year. This could potentially impact water supply and wildfire protection.

(01/02/2024) → Sacramento Bee

• Hospitals Seeing More People with COVID-19 and Flu

Los Angeles County has entered the medium category of COVID-19 hospitalization defined by the CDC, with providers warning that illnesses like RSV like to travel in tandem with the virus. Officials are urging the public to mask when visiting hospitals or other indoor facilities.

(01/02/2024) → Los Angeles Times

• CA Minimum Wage Hits $16 an Hour

The dawn of 2024 meant that California’s minimum wage rose from $15.50 to $16 an hour. That puts the Golden State at the second-highest minimum wage for a U.S. state, trailing only Washington state at $16.28 an hour.

(01/02/2024) → New York Times

• Law Goes Into Effect Blocking Guns in Many California Public Places

A law passed by the California legislature in 2023 has gone into effect banning licensed gun holders from bringing their firearms to places like playgrounds, churches and casinos. The law faces an ongoing challenge in the federal court system.

(01/02/2024) → Los Angeles Times

• 7 Ways to Hang On to More Money in 2024

Just as you might intend to change your diet or workout plan, resolve to make changes that will allow you to meet financial goals.

(12/27/2023) → Daily Democrat

• American Graffiti is Back: Cruising Now Legal Again in California, But So Are Speed Cameras

Under new state laws, five cities will test cameras to catch speeding drivers and cruising bans will be lifted statewide. The first is supposed to improve road safety, but critics of the second say it will endanger the public.

(12/27/2023) → CalMatters

• San Diego Zoo Displays World’s Rarest Insect

Visitors can see the critically endangered Lord How Island stick insect, on display for the first time in North America, in a special habitat at the zoo’s Wildlife Explorers Basecamp.

(12/27/2023) → San Joaquin Valley Sun
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Government Announcements

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Image of United States seal. United States   (12/31/2023)

Valley Meats, LLC, Recalls Ground Beef Products Due to Possible E. Coli O157:H7 Contamination

WASHINGTON, Dec. 31, 2023 - Valley Meats, LLC, a Coal Valley, Ill. establishment, is recalling approximately 6,768 pounds of raw ground beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli...
Image of United States seal. United States   (12/30/2023)

Reckitt/Mead Johnson Nutrition Voluntarily Recalls Select Batches of Nutramigen Hypoallergenic Infant Formula Powder Because of Possible Health Risk

Reckitt/Mead Johnson Nutrition (MJN), a producer of nutrition products, announced today that it has voluntarily chosen to recall from the U.S. market select batches of Nutramigen Powder, a specialty infant formula for the dietary management of Cows Milk Allergy (CMA) in 12.6 and 19.8 oz cans, due to
Image of United States seal. United States   (12/28/2023)

Nam & Son of MD Recalls Soybean Sprouts Because of Possible Health Risk

Nam & Son of MD, Jessup, MD is recalling one-pound bags of soybean sprouts, with the sell-by date of December 14, 2023, because it has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.
Image of United States seal. United States   (12/26/2023)

World Variety Produce, Inc. Recalls Kimchi Hot Because of Possible Health Risk

World Variety Produce, Inc. of Los Angeles, CA is recalling Melissa's Kimchi Hot 14 oz, because of mislabeling of allergen ingredient "Fish" was not listed in the ingredient panel within the allergen information panel. Food allergic reactions vary in severity from mild symptoms involving hives and l
Image of United States seal. United States   (12/22/2023)

Scanga Meat Company Recalls Ground Beef Products Due to Possible E. Coli O103 Contamination

WASHINGTON, Dec. 22, 2023 - Scanga Meat Company, a Salida, Colorado establishment, is recalling approximately 563 pounds of ground beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli O103, the...
Image of United States seal. United States   (12/21/2023)

Tampa Bay Fisheries, Inc. Dover, Florida is Voluntarily Recalling 1 Lot of 365 Whole Foods Market Beer Battered Pollock Fillets and 2 Lots of 365 Beer Battered Cod Fillet Due to an Undeclared Soy Allergen

Image of State of California seal. State of California   (12/21/2023)

Damon Connolly California Assembly 12:
Press Conference on E-Bike Safety & Regulations

Press Conference on E-Bike Safety & Regulations robbee Thu, 12/21/2023 - 10:01 Friday, December 22, 2023
Image of United States seal. United States   (12/20/2023)

Astor Chocolate Corporation Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Coconut in Burnt Caramel Bars

Astor Chocolate Corporation of Lakewood, New Jersey is recalling 1,092 Burnt Caramel Candy Bars, because it may contain undeclared coconut. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to coconut run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products. The Th
Image of City of Tracy seal. City of Tracy   (12/20/2023)

2024-25 Community Development Block Grant and Home Investment Partnership Program Application Period Now Open

Tracy, Calif. - The City of Tracy’s annual Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and Home Investment Partnership Program (HOME) application period is now open for projects beginning July 1, 2024! A pre-application informational meeting will be...
Image of United States seal. United States   (12/19/2023)

Houdini, Inc. Recalls Gift Baskets with Quaker Oats Chewy Granola Bars Because of Possible Health Risk

Wine Country Gift Baskets / Houdini Inc. of Fullerton, CA is taking precautionary measures of voluntarily recalling all gift baskets produced with Quaker Chewy Granola bars due to a recall by the Quaker Oats company because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella, an organism which c