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By Eric Johnson
Published Jan 15, 2024

Hey, Mickey—please pay attention to your driving! Hey, Mickey—please pay attention to your driving! Image credit: Antonio Gravante, Shutterstock

Killer Cars, COVID & Copyright

Happy MLK Day, California. A reminder that this day was dedicated to volunteerism when Congress passed the King Holiday and Service Act of 1990, encouraging Americans to honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy “with acts of civic work and community service.” If you are in a position to do that and plan to do so, we commend you.

And a reminder that below our featured articles, you will find an easily digestible digest of curated news from trusted sources. 

Are Fatal ‘Accidents’ a Form of Violence?

This week we begin with the first of two articles about unnecessary losses of life. Jon Vankin writes about the increasing phenomenon of “traffic violence,” which is also known as the automobile “accident.” As you will see, thousands of Californians lose their lives each year because we’ve designed our transportation system to optimize for cars instead of people. Meanwhile, pedestrians are being killed by distracted drivers in bigger and bigger cars in devastating numbers.

Death on the Roads: Traffic Fatality Crisis Far From Over

California traffic deaths dropped by 12 percent in the first three months of 2023, but road fatalities remain at crisis levels.
As the COVID pandemic eased, so did the epidemic of death on the road. Somewhat. But the ongoing crisis of traffic fatalities remains at high levels with early numbers form 2023 appearing to top 4,000 in California.

Reading ‘The Wisdom of Plagues’ on COVID

In his new book, a former New York Times science reporter and expert on pandemics writes: “If the lies hadn’t been told ... we really would’ve ended up with only about 600,000 dead instead of 1.1 million dead.” I consider the book’s harrowing truths while suffering from a late case of COVID-19.

COVID Still Sucks

As I post this, the tiny pipe-mark beneath the T on this COVID test card, indicating that I am still infected, feels like it’s lodged in my stinging left eyeball.
A new book, ‘The Wisdom of Plagues,’ makes me feel angry that I contracted the disease in what should be the post-COVID era.

Mickey Mouse Is Free

For generations, US copyright law was determined largely by the value of one iconic piece of intellectual property. The fascinating tale of the Walt Disney Company’s successful campaign to protect the world’s most famous mouse, which has finally come to an end.

Mickey Mouse Enters Public Domain. What That Means for California

The version of Mickey Mouse seen in the 1928 animated short “Steamboat Willie” is now free for public use.
Disney icon Mickey Mouse is now in the public domain, meaning anyone can create their own Mickey Mouse cartoons. Here’s what that means, and how it could affect the California economy.

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Big Brothers Big Sisters logo Big Brothers Big Sisters

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From Our Media Allies

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Morgan Hill Times logo Report Card Finds State Struggles to Support Children’s Educational Needs

Despite statewide efforts, California is still struggling to support the personal and educational needs of its students, according to the 2024 California Children’s Report Card conducted by the organization Children Now, which “grades the State on its ability to support …

Los Gatan logo Sextant Strategies & Research Will Not Comment on 16th Congressional District Poll that Omitted Previous Runner-Up

And just days after former Google policy-crafter Ahmed Mostafa decried a poll that mixed his name up with that of a convicted rapist (Ahmad Moustafa), Rishi Kumar, the runner-up in the previous contest for the seat, was questioning why he’d …

Morgan Hill Times logo Morgan Hill Schools Face Growing Budget Deficit

The Morgan Hill Unified School District is facing an annual budget deficit of more than $13 million by 2025 and may have to cut several staff and programs that have been funded by state and federal pandemic funds in recent …

Gilroy Dispatch logo Supporters of Downtown Gilroy Restaurant Urge City Council to Reverse Parklet Decision

Supporters of a downtown restaurant are decrying the Gilroy City Council’s December decision to not extend the business’ permit for an outdoor dining area.

Gilroy Dispatch logo South County Reentry Center Expands Hours

The South County Reentry Resource Center opened in San Martin in 2015 before moving to its current location in Gilroy in 2018 with limited hours.

Gilroy Dispatch logo Proposal Targets Plywood Removal in Downtown Gilroy

The city of Gilroy is looking at cracking down on downtown building owners who have covered their vacant storefronts with plywood for an extended amount of time.

Metro Silicon Valley logo Campbell’s Sorelle Italian Bistro

Sorelle Italian Bistro is located discreetly within a small strip mall in the heart of a suburban Campbell neighborhood. Although it might not catch the eye at first, the moment patrons step foot inside, there’s a restaurant revealing famiglia—the Italian …

Metro Silicon Valley logo Downtown Fire 3 Years Later

Upwards of 80 firefighters arrived to contain the downtown San Jose structure fire on the morning of January 7, 2021. Three years later, the public still awaits answers.

Los Gatan logo Man Running for Congress Bristles at Poll’s Misspelling of Name

A former Google policy advisor who is facing off with political heavyweights, such as Supervisor Joe Simitian and former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, for the Congressional seat Representative Anna Eshoo is exiting, says he’s appalled to have been confused …

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Recent Local News

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• Los Altos Postpones Timeline to Reopen El Camino Real Completely to Traffic

In a setback to the reopening of El Camino Real to traffic, the city of Los Altos announced that it has postponed its plans to demolish a shopping center building burned out by a massive fire last month.

(01/13/2024) → Palo Alto Online

• Legislature’s Analyst Gives Mixed Review of Newsom Budget

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recipe for digging the state out of a multibillion-dollar budget hole has “strengths and weaknesses” while his revenue projections are “plausible, but optimistic,” the nonpartisan analyst’s office said.

(01/13/2024) → CalMatters

• Sunnyvale School Improvements Hinge on March Voters

Sunnyvale residents will vote on a multi-million dollar bond measure to support local school facilities this March.

(01/12/2024) → San Jose Spotlight

• Google Announces Sweeping Layoffs to More Than 400 Tech, Child Care Workers in Mountain View

In another reduction to its global workforce, Google plans to lay off hundreds of workers in the Bay Area this year, with Mountain View experiencing the brunt of the job cuts.

(01/12/2024) → Mountain View Voice

• Santa Clara Unified: External Audit Compliments, External Youth Sports Concerns

Santa Clara Unified rang in 2024 with a gold star on their audit but with some unhappy youth sports groups as they passed new facility rental fees.

(01/12/2024) → Silicon Valley Voice

• Retail Nearly Recovered to Pre-Pandemic Levels in Palo Alto

In a sign of continued recovery for Palo Alto retailers, the city’s sales tax revenue is nearly back to pre-pandemic levels, although some parts of town and certain business segments are doing better than others.

(01/12/2024) → Daily Post

• Milpitas Unified School District Awarded $1.5M Grant for Innovation Campus

An ongoing work in progress, the Innovation Campus has benefited from a variety of funding sources.

(01/12/2024) → Milpitas Beat

• San Jose Revisits Old Goals to Solve Homelessness

The city will spend $50 million to subsidize affordable housing construction to bring 400 homes online, and $4.7 million to prevent 1,700 people from falling into homelessness through rent relief and other supportive services.

(01/11/2024) → San Jose Spotlight
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Recent Statewide News

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• SCOTUS to Hear Case with Major Implications for Homeless

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case related to whether cities and towns can ban camping on public property. The high court could overturn Martin v. Boise, a 2018 federal court decision that keeps western cities and counties from blocking public camping when sufficient shelter space is unavailable.

(01/12/2024) → Sacramento Bee

• Fourth Graders Might Lose Free Access to California State Parks

California’s projected budget deficit of close to $38 billion likely means some cuts are coming. Among them, Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed ending the California State Park Adventure Pass, which offers free access to some state parks for fourth graders.

(01/12/2024) → SFGate

• Iconic California Restaurant Closes Without Warning

Pea Soup Andersen’s, a Buellton, Calif., restaurant just shy of its 100th birthday, closed suddenly. The restaurant's other location, near Interstate 5 in Santa Nella, remains open.

(01/10/2024) → SFGate

• $10M-Plus Lawsuit Follows Multiple Deaths at Sacramento Jail

Sacramento attorney Mark Merin has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the family of a man who died in May after being held at the county jail. Other inmates have died in recent years, and the jail is under a federal consent decree to improve its health care.

(01/09/2024) → Sacramento Bee

• Hate Crimes Rising in Los Angeles

Cal State San Bernardino’s Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism found that hate crimes rose 12.9% between 2022 and 2023. The spike follows a particularly stark increase in crimes against Jewish people.

(01/09/2024) → LAist

• Newsom Sets March 19 Special Election to Fill McCarthy’s Seat

Gov. Gavin Newsom has called for a March 19 primary to elect a replacement for Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who resigned from Congress in December. If a candidate doesn’t win outright, a runoff will be held on May 21.

(01/08/2024) → Sacramento Bee

• State Trying to Use Generative AI to Reduce Traffic

Caltrans has set a Jan. 25 deadline for tech companies to show how generative artificial intelligence might reduce traffic congestion in the state. This follows an executive order that Gov. Gavin Newsom signed in September related to this type of AI.

(01/08/2024) → LA Times

• New Year Brings Protections for Deep-Sea Corals and Ocean Fishing Opportunities

New rules took effect Jan. 1 permanently protecting the most fragile deep sea corals off Southern California. Simultaneously, more than 4,500 square miles of ocean waters are now reopened to fishing after more than 20 years of closures.

(01/08/2024) → YubaNet
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Government Announcements

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Image of City of Los Altos seal. City of Los Altos   (01/13/2024)

Update on Demolition Plans for 4600 El Camino Real

Los Altos, Calif. — January 12, 2024 — Santa Clara County Fire Department (County Fire) continues to collaborate with the City of Los Altos, California Department of Transportation, and business and property owners of 4600 El Camino Real.  Demolition plans have been postponed until further notice. All parties are committed to providing advanced notice to allow time for media outlets …
Image of State of California seal. State of California   (01/12/2024)

Esmeralda Soria California Assembly 27:
Assemblywoman Soria Releases Statement on Approved Planada Flood Relief Plan

Assemblywoman Soria Releases Statement on Approved Planada Flood Relief Plan gomezhe Fri, 01/12/2024 - 09:30 (916) 319-2039 (916) 319-2027 Friday, January 12, 2024 SACRAMENTO, CA Assemblywoman Esmeralda Soria (D-Fresno), issued the following statement on the approved 2023 Winter Storm Flood Relief Plan for the City of Planada. This week is the one-year anniversary since the residents of Planada …
Image of City of Campbell seal. City of Campbell   (01/11/2024)

Summer Employment

Image of State of California seal. State of California   (01/11/2024)

Alex Lee CA Assembly 24:
Tax on Extreme Wealth Held by the Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee

Tax on Extreme Wealth Held by the Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee channi Thu, 01/11/2024 - 18:17 Nicholas Chan Email Phone (916) 319-2392 Title Communications Director, Office of Assemblymember Alex Lee Thursday, January 11, 2024 Assemblymember Alex Lee released the following statement after the Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee decided to hold his proposed wealth tax, AB 259. California …
Image of United States seal. United States   (01/11/2024)

World Green Nutrition, Inc. is Recalling ELV Alipotec Brand Mexican Tejocote Root Supplement Pieces (Raiz De Tejocote Mexicano Suplemento En Trozos), Net. Wt, 0.3 0Z (7g), Due to the Presence of Yellow Oleander in this Product

WORLD GREEN NUTRITION, INC. is recalling ELV ALIPOTEC brand MEXICAN TEJOCOTE ROOT SUPPLEMENT PIECES (RAIZ DE TEJOCOTE MEXICANO SUPLEMENTO EN TROZOS), NET. WT, 0.3 0Z (7g), due to the presence of yellow oleander in this product. The consumption of yellow oleander can cause adverse effects on neurolog
Image of State of California seal. State of California   (01/11/2024)

Alex Lee CA Assembly 24:
Assemblymember Alex Lee Chairs His first Human Services Committee Hearing

Wednesday, January 10, 2024
Image of City of Milpitas seal. City of Milpitas   (01/11/2024)

Microenterprise Assistance Program Application Period Opens January 16

The City of Milpitas is launching a new microenterprise assistance program with the application period opening January 16.
Image of City of Milpitas seal. City of Milpitas   (01/11/2024)

Storefront Improvement Grant Applications Being Accepted

The City of Milpitas’ Storefront Improvement Grant Program provides grants for exterior commercial storefront improvements to help increase economic vitality for eligible local businesses.
Image of City of Milpitas seal. City of Milpitas   (01/11/2024)

Call for Artists to Design Park Marker Kiosks

The City of Milpitas invites qualified professional artists to submit concepts for an artist-designed historical park marker kiosk that will be unique to Milpitas.
Image of State of California seal. State of California   (01/10/2024)

Gail Pellerin CA Assembly 28:
Assemblymember Pellerin Chair of the Assembly Elections Committee introduces AB 1784 to clarify that a candidate can only run for one office

Assemblymember Pellerin Chair of the Assembly Elections Committee introduces AB 1784 to clarify that a candidate can only run for one office robbee Wed, 01/10/2024 - 20:16 (916) 319-2039 916-319-2028 Friday, January 5, 2024 SACRAMENTO, CA Assemblymember Gail Pellerin (D-Santa Cruz) introduces AB 1784 with Co-Authors Assemblymember Berman, Assemblymember Bennet, Assemblywoman Dixon, Assemblymember Friedman, Assemblymember Kalra, Assemblymember Low, Assemblymember Quirk-Silva, …