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By Eric Johnson
Published Dec 26, 2023

The Meaning of Christmas

To recap: Charlie Brown is depressed because Christmas has been trivialized and commercialized and has lost its meaning. Exasperated, he lets out a wail: “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”

Linus then takes the stage, calls for a spotlight, and tells the story of the shepherds, the angel and the tidings of great joy; the heavenly host singing of peace and goodwill; the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.

I believe that last piece was always my favorite part of the story. I still love the idea of the divine embodied as a child in a barnyard, even if I no longer think of the story in the way I once did. I loved and still love the story of the kings who travel to Jerusalem to kneel before this poor child. Whatever you believe or don’t believe, I hope you agree that that’s a powerful and good idea. And, humbly, I want to offer a reminder that, as the Christmas story illustrates, the central tenet of the faith in which I was raised calls for respecting and helping the poor.

I also want to wish all of you a happy holiday, regardless of your religious affiliation or lack thereof.

Poverty: The Root of all Evil

Most of the deepest problems we face today have a shared cause. Here are two stories about efforts to combat poverty in California.

An EPIC Mission: End Poverty in California

An EPIC listening session in Humboldt County. The organization plans to conduct similar events in all 58 California counties.
End Poverty in California, a nonprofit founded by former Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, has been on a listening tour of the Golden State since early 2022.

Poverty in California

The existence of poverty in California is a policy choice, but there are other choices that could be made.
Poverty in California was reduced by record levels during the COVID pandemic, but now those economic support programs have come to an end and poverty is on the rise again.

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Big Brother Big Sisters provides children facing adversity with strong, enduring, professionally supported mentorship. The chapter serves Sacramento and Yolo counties, as well as southern Placer County.

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From Our Media Allies

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West Sacramento News Ledger logo Pot Dispensaries Are Getting Closer

The city of West Sacramento held a second workshop to obtain guidance from the City Council on the process and requirements that will be established for those interested in obtaining a cannabis retail license.

West Sacramento News Ledger logo Yolo County Landfill Offering Solutions for Holiday Waste

From Dec. 26 to Jan. 15, Yolo County residents can recycle up to two holiday trees for free at the Yolo County Central Landfill in Woodland or the Esparto Convenience Center in Esparto.

West Sacramento News Ledger logo Zendejas Named Service Centers Branch Director

Yolo County has made a strategic move within its leadership team as Dr. Tico Zendejas transitions from the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to a position with the Yolo County Health and Human Services Agency.

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Recent Local News

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• Experts Warn of AI, Deepfake Impact on Coming Elections

Nearly three years after rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol, the false election conspiracy theories that drove the violent attack remain prevalent on social media and cable news.

(12/26/2023) → Daily Democrat

• Report: 2023’s Criminal Justice Reforms in the U.S.

A report released by the Sentencing Project highlights the actions made by formerly incarcerated activists, legislators and advocates to oppose mass incarceration in about 10 states.

(12/26/2023) → Davis Vanguard

• UC Davis Tops Nation in Sustainability Rankings

UC Davis continues to be the “greenest” campus in the United States—for the eighth year in a row.

(12/22/2023) → Read the full Davis Enterprise report

• The WFoL Quiz Show Comeback

After a three-year hiatus, the Winters Friends of the Library Quiz Show will return Jan. 19 at its new venue, the Opera House.

(12/21/2023) → Winters Express

• School District to Partner With Community to Develop Ethnic Studies Program

Superintendent Rody Boonchouy announced that Winters Joint Unified School District is looking to develop an ethnic studies program that reflects the diverse community of Winters.

(12/21/2023) → Winters Express

• Big Landlords Just 28% of California’s Rental Market

Though they were home to 1.65 million households in 2022, big complexes in California hold nowhere near the slice of renters compared with states where giant landlords dominate.

(12/20/2023) → Daily Democrat
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Recent Statewide News

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• Happy New Year, California Workers! You Now Get More Paid Sick Days

Under a new law, employees in California are guaranteed five paid sick days a year, two days more than previously. Worker advocacy groups say the benefit is needed, but business groups warn of additional costs.

(12/26/2023) → CalMatters

• Science Doesn’t Yet Support Broad Restrictions on Teens’ Access to Social Media

In a report released by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, researchers instead lay out a plan for what society might do to improve adolescents’ interactions with social media.

(12/26/2023) → Santa Cruz Sentinel

• Smoke Exposure From Controlled Burns Is Raising Concerns

Prescribed burns, used to limit destructive wildfires, are growing in frequency at California State Parks. But as the smoke drifts into residential areas, it’s easy to see why many Californians are concerned about the health impacts.

(12/26/2023) → Monterey Herald

• Collisions With Buildings Are Killing Millions of Birds Nationwide

A dark-sky movement to save birds from window strikes is sweeping the San Francisco Bay Area. Several cities have passed or are drafting laws restricting light pollution while making windows easier for birds to see.

(12/26/2023) → Read the full The Mercury News report

• A Deeper Look at ‘No Kill’ Animal Control in Los Angeles

Novelist Jonathan Franzen looks at how trap-neuter-release policies in feral cat colonies have troubling consequences for city residents, local wildlife and even the felines themselves.

(12/25/2023) → The New Yorker

• California Presses Universities to Return Thousands of Native American Remains and Artifacts to Local Tribes

State audits of the University of California and the California State University found both systems have failed to comply with decades-old state and federal laws mandating the return of Native ancestral remains and cultural artifacts. Only UCLA and Cal State Long Beach have returned a majority of their collections.

(12/25/2023) → CalMatters

• New California Laws That Might Affect Your 2024

This past year, more than 1,000 bills went into effect, and most will become new laws in 2024. Plus, there are bills from previous years that are also scheduled to take effect after Jan. 1.

(12/25/2023) → CapPublicRadio

• Sierra Nevada Releases Its First Non-Alcoholic Beers

The Chico-based brewer has taken a more traditional approach to creating its non-alcoholic beer.

(12/22/2023) → San Joaquin Valley Sun

• How Gruesome Seal Deaths on the California Coast Revealed a Surprise Predator

Sarah Grimes investigates reports of dead marine mammals up and down the coast. So when she began finding the decapitated bodies of harbor seal pups just a few miles north of Fort Bragg in 2016, she was on the case. Grimes wasn’t able to pin down the culprit until last year, with the help of a UCSC student.

(12/22/2023) → Monterey Herald

• Single Delta Tunnel Wins Approval from State

The California Department of Water Resources has approved building a tunnel between the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. The approval could signal a new wave of legal challenges to the long-running and controversial project.

(12/21/2023) → Sacramento Bee

• Tribe Acquires Vast Land in Northern California, Will Remove Dams

The Hoopa Valley Tribe announced it is acquiring about 10,000 acres of land in Northern California for $14.1 million. As part of this, the tribe will remove dams along the Klamath River and restore salmon runs.

(12/21/2023) → SFGate

• He Says He Was Abused in ICE Detention Even Though He is a Legal Resident of California. Now He’s Suing for $1 Million

The 33-year old Mexican-born man—who from toddler age has been a permanent legal resident of California—has reported abuse, unsanitary conditions and threats of force-feeding before his release from immigration detention in April.

(12/21/2023) → CalMatters

• California Boosting Minimum Wage for Fast Food and Health Care Workers. Who’s Next For a Raise?

California fast-food workers will earn a $20 minimum wage in April. Other employers might have to raise their pay floor to recruit and retain staff.

(12/20/2023) → CalMatters

• CSU Faculty to Strike Jan. 22-26

The California Faculty Association has announced it will strike in January at the state’s 23 CSU campuses. It’s part of an ongoing effort by the group to obtain a 12% raise for the 29,000 professors and lecturers it represents.

(12/20/2023) → EdSource

• Coordinated Effort Aims to Secure Aircraft for CalFire

An effort spearheaded by the Newsom administration and congressional leaders resulted in Congress authorizing and accelerating the transfer of seven C-130 aircraft from the U.S. Coast Guard to CalFire, expanding California’s firefighting fleet.

(12/19/2023) → Read the full Escalon Times report

• Domestic Violence Shelters Play a Key Role in Fighting Homelessness. Now They Face Deep Funding Cuts

Federal funding for domestic violence shelters and housing programs is declining. Advocates want the state to step in, but with a record projected deficit new spending is unlikely.

(12/19/2023) → CalMatters

• Google to Pay $700 Million in Antitrust Lawsuit

Google has agreed to pay $700 million and will make changes to its app store it has resisted for years in order to resolve a lawsuit over whether its app store is an illegal monopoly.

(12/19/2023) → CapPublicRadio
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Government Announcements

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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 City of Davis seal. City of Davis   (12/22/2023)

Field Update-OPEN

Image of City of Davis seal. City of Davis   (12/22/2023)

Toad Hollow Dog Park - OPEN

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 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 State of California seal. State of California   (12/20/2023)

Bill Dodd CA Senate 03:
Sen. Dodd: New Laws Taking Effect in 2024

Wednesday, December 20, 2023SACRAMENTO Fourteen new laws written by Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, will take effect in 2024 including those to increase accountability and oversight of sexual harassment cases on California State University campuses and another banning junk fees in an array of transactions including concert ticket purchases. These are all commonsense measures that will improve life for all Californians, …
Image of City of Woodland seal. City of Woodland   (12/19/2023)

Changes Coming to Public Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

Upgraded technology, new fee structure coming in early 2024
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
Image of City of Davis seal. City of Davis   (12/19/2023)

Scene Newsletter

Image of City of Davis seal. City of Davis   (12/19/2023)

Toad Hollow Dog Park - CLOSED