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By Eric Johnson
Published Dec 04, 2023

Image credit: Eric Johnson

Building Democracy in California

Happy Monday. In this week's edition of The Newsletter, you will find the following:

• An introduction to "How California Works: Building Democracy in the Golden State," by our own Jon Vankin.

• Jon's coverage of the "debate" between Gov. Gavin Newsom and Gov. Ron DeSantis.

• A local News Digest, curated by our own Sharan Street, from members of the California Local Media Alliance and other trusted sources. (Scroll down, but not yet.)

• A brief introduction to the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation, which has launched its annual Give Back Tahoe campaign.

• Even more!


The State that is Shaping America's Future

Think of this book as a fun Civics 101 primer for students, community leaders and curious Californians. 


How California Works: an Editors' Note


True stories about how, at its best, California has resisted and pushed back against anti-democratic forces. The histories and policies, deeply human characters, and controversies that have led us to where we are today.

The Red vs. Blue Debate

California Gov. Gavin Newsom confronted a hostile "moderator" and a slew of Fox News "facts" in a melee that generated more heat than light. 


Newsom, DeSantis Finally Square Off in Wild Fox News Debate

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (L) and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis faced each other in person at last in an acrimonious Fox News debate Nov. 30.
Governors Gavin Newsom (D-CA) and Ron DeSantis (R-FL) faced each other on a debate stage and traded blows, barbs, and zingers over the relative merits of their states in a Fox News debate that was nothing if not entertaining.


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Recent Statewide News

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• DMV Shift Appears to Spur Drop in ‘No Party Preference’ Voter Sign-Ups

The California Department of Motor Vehicles changed its voter registration process in 2019 to put a party selection dropdown on the same page. Since then, the number of people registering as Republicans or Democrats has jumped close to 20 points.

(12/04/2023) → Sacramento Bee

• New Assembly Labor Committee Chair Faces Ongoing Worker Unrest, but Scores Some Wins

With nine months’ experience in the Assembly, Liz Ortega will lead the Labor committee after a strike-filled summer and several wins for low-wage workers.

(12/04/2023) → CalMatters

• Oakland Might Have to Pay Developers Millions Over Coal Terminal

An Alameda County judge ruled on Nov. 22 that the city of Oakland thwarted a proposed coal export terminal. The judge will rule if the developer who sued is entitled to $159 million in damages or moving forward with the project.

(12/04/2023) → KQED

• Stolen Blue Shield of California Data Could Hit Dark Web

Hackers stole data this week from Blue Shield of California. Historically, this type of data has sometimes wound up for sale on what’s known as the dark web, the part of the internet not typically included in search engine results.

(12/01/2023) → The Mercury News

• Retailers Boost Pay Ahead of California Minimum Wage Increase

California’s minimum hourly wage will rise from $15.50 to $16 on Jan. 1. Ahead of this, retailers like Costco and Target have raised their minimum pay in recent years.

(11/29/2023) → Sacramento Bee

• DOE Analysis Confirms Salton Sea Is a Rich Domestic Lithium Resource

An analysis by the U.S. Department of Energy found that with expected technology advances, the Salton Sea region’s total lithium resources could produce more than 3,400 kilotons of lithium, enough to support over 375 million batteries for electric vehicles—more than the total number currently on U.S. roads.

(11/28/2023) → YubaNet

• Naked Man at Disneyland Shuts Down ‘It’s a Small World’

A man stripped naked at the Disneyland ride “It’s a Small World,” causing it to be shut down for nearly an hour. He could face charges of being under the influence of a controlled substance and indecent exposure.

(11/27/2023) → SFGate

• Data Explores Whether California or Florida Handled COVID Better

California and Florida took starkly different approaches to dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Data shows that more Floridians died per capita of COVID than did Californians.

(11/27/2023) → Los Angeles Times

• California Schools Need Funding for New Math Guidelines

State officials passed a 1,000-page document in July outlining new guidelines for teaching math in California. Funding has not been allocated, though the state superintendent intends to introduce legislation that could change this.

(11/27/2023) → EdSource

• More Migrants Getting Hurt Climbing Border Wall in California

Seven times as many patients have been admitted to the trauma unit at UC San Diego Health since the Trump administration raised the height of the border wall to 30 feet in California. The hospital also notes that 23 people have died in falls from the wall since 2019.

(11/27/2023) → New York Times