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July 15, 2020 california schools

California Schools Question Reopening in COVID-19

The state superintendent has warned California schools to reconsider reopening. Many schools resume their academic year as soon as August. This gives districts as little as four weeks to come up with a functional plan for Fall. And though many miss in-person instruction, experts warn against reopening too quickly.

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond suggests that fully remote learning is the safest choice. “I think that if school opened tomorrow, most of our districts would open in distance learning. And that is a decision that I think is a good decision if conditions don’t change right now.”

Conditions have, unfortunately, already changed.

California Schools in Changing Times

A month ago, the California Department of Education released guidelines for a safe reopening. They wrote 62 pages of suggested regulations. But that was then and this is now. “Since we’ve issued our guidance, conditions have changed dramatically,” said Thurmond. “We know that in many communities throughout our state we’re seeing high rates of infection in the community.”

Both Los Angeles and San Diego recently announced that they will be doing distance learning in the Fall. Districts in the Bay Area, including San Francisco, have followed suit. Thurmond appears to support this. “As we’ve always said, safety is paramount. If it’s not safe to do so, schools shouldn’t reopen in a way that would put students or staff in harm’s way.”

Given that many teachers fall into the at-risk age groups, unions are considering the safety of their workers when they weigh in. Additionally, many students live with older parents or grandparents. And if one student or staff member tests positive, it could prove difficult to quarantine all that came in contact with them.

The current hope is to begin with remote learning and move to in-person classes as soon as it is safe to do so.

June 18, 2020 reopening

City Braces For Reopening While State Spikes In COVID-19 Cases

Sacramento CA – The city plans on reopening to the public amid a sharp spike in COVID-19 cases.

San Jose is confirming their plan to reopen. Now, it plans to reopen utilizing strict policies to ensure the safety of customers and the public. For many, this means their small business will open back up. For others, the threat of contracting the virus continues to loom heavily.

Many citizens, on the other hand, feel a sense of relief. Many have been stuck at home with little-to-nothing to do for months. It’s a typical case of Cabin Fever. They feel as though this is a good idea as long as people follow the right safety procedures.

Reopening Will Need Cooperation From The Public

In other areas, many people find it unnecessary to wear a mask. In Orange County – death threats are filling the town council to protest the requirement of masks. These have fallen short as science dictates the obvious.

According to Newsom:

“Simply put, we are seeing too many people without covering – putting at risk the real progress we have made in fighting the disease. California’s strategy to restart the economy and get people back to work will only be successful if people act safely and follow health recommendations. That means wearing a face covering, washing your hands and practicing physical distancing,”

He also adds:

“Science shows that face coverings and masks work. They are critical to keeping those who are around you safe, keeping businesses open and restarting our economy.”

In order for the reopening process to be successful, both customers and businesses must wear masks when entering or leaving. Since the economy is starting to bounce back, many people are finding themselves walking about shopping malls with few issues.

Unfortunately, this comes at a time when cases are rising fast. The US has yet to drastically flatten the curve and warns of a second wave of COVID-19.

May 13, 2020 drive-in

Drive-In Theaters Gain Popularity

Drive-in theaters are gaining a reputation as the new COVID-19 trend. They provide the safety of your home with entertainment. “Going out” is the new “staying in”.

The Drive-In Returns

Across the country, millions are staying inside under the government-sanctioned “stay-in-place” protocols. This has left many looking for a reason to go out. Heck, being stuck inside never sounds like a good time. Unless you either like the people you live with or have no problem being a shut-in, the prospect of being out at a bar or a theater is on your mind.

For families and friends alike, the drive-in is the the “new” social focal point. For those looking for a “night out”, look no further.

Providing the Safety Of Home With The Experience of a Night Out

San Jose has seen a drastic rise in drive-in ticket sales. For places like West-Wind Capitol, this has helped to save their business. While many operations across the city have fallen empty due to COVID-19, some places have found solidarity that their business will remain open.

The Drive-In provides the safest outing experience. People get into their car, pack everything necessary like snacks, drinks and blankets and get ready to see a film on the big screen. All within the safe confines of their auto.

Drive-Ins Use Every Film

With even Hollywood at a stand-still, old films are incorporating into the line-ups. Due to the classic nature of drive-ins, many of the films that are shown are typically from previous generations. With 38mm films being an outdated concept, many theaters are switching back to the old days.

With Disney, Hulu, Netflix and HBO offering extensive services packages, many are growing tired of their at-home routine and want to bust out for a nice night. Drive-ins provide the best possible experience for the best possible safety.

April 23, 2020 death count

Death Count May Exceed Reported Covid Data

As officials struggle to stay ahead of the pandemic, data reporting deals with its own complications. As officials begin to unpack the numbers, some suggest the death count from covid-19 may exceed the number formally reported.

In an analysis of data supplied to The Mercury News on Santa Clara County’s death count, deaths rose 20 percent in March this year compared to March of 2019. Additionally, the number of people who died at home rose 17 percent. About half of the hike in death count officially comes from covid-19. 32 people died of covid-19 in the county in March.

This suggests a possibly higher number of covid-19 victims among the dead than actually reported. For instance, the public health department for the county this week rewrote the history of coronavirus in the United States.

Originally, the first death was presumed to take place on February 28 in Washington State. However, upon further investigation, officials discovered an earlier casualty from Santa Clara County on February 6. Furthermore, another 2 deaths took place on February 17 and March 6, which predates the original first death in the county, March 9.

Death Count Skewed by At-Home Deaths

One possible culprit in the skewed numbers is the amount of deaths taking place at home. Both the February 6 and 17 deaths as well as the March 6 death took place at home. Subsequently, posthumous testing proved they carried the virus.

One Santa Clara County supervisor, Dave Cortese, raised concerns over the inaccurate data. “If we don’t have adequate testing by public health’s own admission, or adequate screening, then how can these death numbers be possibly accurate?” he said. He referred to the death count reports as “sanitized.”

As a result of the faulty stats, Governor Gavin Newsom ordered coroners to review past deaths to ensure their causes. “When this occurred is important forensic information,” said Newsom.

April 3, 2020 Yosh Uchida

Yosh Uchida, American Judo Legend, Turns 100

Yoshihiro Uchida, considered the grandfather of American judo, led the first US Olympic Judo team in 1964. On Wednesday, Yosh Uchida turned 100 years old.

Since coronavirus cancelled the gala in his hometown of San Jose, Uchida instead opted for a video conference. Lydia Uchida-Sakai, his daughter, told The Mercury News prior to the streamed event they intended to use the Zoom platform to connect with the San Jose judo community.

At home, only close family joined the judo legend for a dinner meal and dessert.

Ordinarly, Yosh Uchida enjoys a month long celebration for his birthday. In addition to the gala, he planned to attend the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. However, officials postponed those until 2021.

“I never thought I’d reach 100 but I feel very happy that I have,” he said. Though, he added, “I’ve got to survive to enjoy the things that I have planned…If I’m around for 101 I might as well do something.”

The Storied Life of Yosh Uchida

Yosh Uchida began learning judo at the age of 10. At 42, he organized the first collegiate national championship in San Jose. Subsequently, he coached San Jose State to 40 titles at that annual championship.

Prior to his judo career, Uchida’s family owned a farm in Garden Grove. They started in dairy, but transitioned to growing strawberries and tomatoes. Farming proved a tough life, and inspired Uchida to attend college.

He attended San Jose State where he student-coached the judo team, as well as wrestled.

During World War II, the US Army drafted him. As part of a segregated Japanese-American unit, he served 4 years.

During that time, his own country’s government, under orders from President Franklin Roosevelt, interned 110,000 west coast Japanese-Americans. Among them, Uchida’s family was taken from their farm and forced into the camps.

In the years since, Uchida’s accomplishments demonstrated his propensity for achievement. He built a chain of medical labs, founded the Japanese American Chamber of Silicon Valley, and continued to foster the judo community in San Jose.

He remains head judo couch at San Jose State.

March 13, 2020 evictions

Evictions To Be Paused During Outbreak

In response to the economic impact of the novel coronavirus on residents of San Jose, City Council plans to impose a temporary moratorium on evictions.

While initial plans suspend evictions for 30 days, San Jose City Council intends to revisit the situation when the period ends to assess potentially extending it. Residents that demonstrate the economic impact of COVID-19 reduced their income become exempt from landlord evictions.

Proof requirements include some form of documentation. For example, pay stubs, quarantine documents, or school letters explaining closures and thus a need for at-home child care substantiate tenant claims of hardship.

Mayor Sam Liccardo addressed concerns from property owners in the city. She urged understanding that “this pain is going to be broadly felt and we have to do everything in our power to try and soften the blow.”

Additionally, the moratorium only protects against evictions. Tenants still must pay their rent, and remain responsible for missed rent payments during the moratorium.

Though, future meetings include addressing the potential creation of a fund to support renters and small businesses. It would alleviate some of the financial burden during the coronavirus crisis.

Evictions Ban Draws Landlord Ire

Despite broad support, a slew of landlords penned letters to City Council lambasting the evictions ban. Some claimed the measure unfairly forced the burden onto their shoulders. The Mercury News, in their reporting of the ban, cited one landlord, John Fiebich, who wrote it was unfair to landlords to “shoulder the entire financial burden of a tenant that can not or will not pay the rent because of some loose connection to Covid-19.” Fiebech owns 1 rental unit in the city.

Further economic support measures are likely to follow. Today, President Trump addresses the nation and is expected to announce a national emergency. Such an announcement frees billions of dollars of federal funding to combat COVID-19. Additionally, the House of Representatives is presently working on an economic stimulus package to pass onto the Senate.

No one knows the ultimate economic impact of the outbreak. However, local, state, and federal officials hope measures in the coming weeks dulls its brunt.

February 21, 2020 voter registration

Voter Registration Available At Time Of Vote

Thanks to the recently signed Senate Bill 207, voters gain the option to take care of their voter registration at the same time they cast their ballot.

Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 207 into law last week on February 13. The change permits unregistered voters to fill out registration forms at voter centers or the Registrar of Voters office when they go to vote.

Commonly known as same-day registration, the conditional status later receives confirmation of eligibility. The entire process takes place before the deadline for certification in April, ensuring conditional ballots get counted.

Melissa Hurtado, a Democratic state senator from the Central Valley, co-sponsored the bill. “I thank Gov. Newsom for signing this bipartisan measure to streamline the voting process for all Californians, regardless of their party affiliation,” she said in a statement last week.

Alex Padilla, California’s Secretary of State, also applauded the move. “2020 marks the first year that voters can complete the ‘Same-Day’ voter registration process and cast their ballot at any polling location or vote center in their county,” he said in a statement.

Easy Voter Registration Appeals to Unaffiliated Voters

The update simplifies the process of voting in primaries. Previously, voters needed to request a crossover ballot if not registered with the Democratic, Libertarian, or American Independent parties. Republican, Green, and Peace & Freedom parties remain closed primaries. However, now voters have the ability to re-register with a different party within the two-week runup to the election date.

With an increasingly unspecified electorate in the state of California, no party preference voters overtook registered Republicans for second place behind registered Democrats. GOP aligned voters account for 23.7 percent of the state. No party preference accounts for 25.9 percent of California’s electorate.

In order to include them in the pivotal primary season, state Democrats acted quickly to pass SB 207, paving the way for increased participation. The move plays in stark contrast to conservative states, where accusations of voter suppression abound.

January 31, 2020

Homeless Task Force To Be Assembled

On Tuesday, the Santa Clara Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to assemble a task force to identify solutions to the county’s homeless issue.

Last year, 161 homeless individuals passed away on the streets of Santa Clara County, reports San Jose Spotlight. Back in 2015, another homeless task force concluded with a recommendation for $64 million in short-term housing solutions. However, that task force dissolved later that year.

Now, Supervisor David Cortese leads the charge on a fresh task force to reintroduce the idea of investing in short-term housing.

A $950 million bond-sourced investment from the passage of Measure A primarily focuses on long-term housing. However, that measure fails to address short-term and transitional housing. “Focusing on transitional housing and temporary shelter is long overdue,” said Supervisor Cortese.

Task Force to Include Homeless

The task force of his approved proposal will include presently homeless and formerly-homeless people working with 2 supervisors from Santa Clara County, 1 representative from San Jose, 2 Cities Association of Santa Clara County members, 1 local delegation of the California Legislature member, and 1 representative each from both the Silicon Valley Organization and the South Bay Labor Council.

The goal of the task force focuses not on the broader problem of homelessness, but of specific answers to it.

With an October 5 deadline to present findings to the Board of Supervisors, the task force convenes between now and September to perform their work.

Residents, other board supervisors, and homeless advocates alike praised the passage of the proposal. Homelessness runs rampant throughout the state of California. Santa Clara County rests a short distance south from San Francisco, where a homeless population continues to grow as a result of housing costs.

Cortese cites housing affordability as the primary culprit, in line with experts in the field. One homeless advocate with 30 years experience, Gail Osmer, told San Jose Spotlight few of those she helps have substance abuse issues.

“I am happy this might happen, and I hope it does happen. I’m out there, and I see the injustice that’s going on every day… we need something now,” she said.

January 9, 2020 measure e

Measure E May Include Nonprofit Exemption

San Jose lawmakers met Wednesday at a council committee meeting discussing possible nonprofit exemptions to Measure E. Mayor Sam Liccardo proposed exemptions, but their nature requires further discussion.

Measure E, an initiative set for the March ballot, imposes a real property transfer tax on properties worth $2 million or more. Initially, the measure’s inclusion ignited considerable debate among councilors. Ultimately, their vote confirmed its inclusion on the upcoming ballot with an 8 – 3 vote. Councilmembers Johnny Khamis, Dev Davis, and Sergio Jimenez made the three no votes.

Their concerns focused on the elderly. They argued many retired residents wrap their retirement up in the equity of their home. Therefore, imposing a tax on its sale eats into their retirement funds. However, 98% percent of homeowners don’t meet the primary criteria for the tax. Additionally, the tax burden splits between homebuyer and seller, ensuring those with considerable equity won’t lose it.

Their second primary issue concerns the placement of the tax funds. Because the funds go directly into the general fund, they argue there’s little accountability they’ll be used for their intended purpose: housing initiatives.

To combat this, the proposal includes accountability measures dictating a 60-day window and 2 public hearings prior to a rerouting of funds.

Polling suggests a favorable public reaction to the measure.

Possible Nonprofit Exemptions to Measure E

The exemptions for 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations proposed by Mayor Liccardo include philanthropic intentions. He calls for exemptions on all property transfers made for affordable housing.

Nonprofit organizations already have exemptions for donated properties. The remaining question is what carve-outs to apply when nonprofits purchase property valued at or in excess of the $2 million dollar threshold.

Potential solutions include exempting nonprofits so long as the intended use benefits affordable housing or improving economic equity, and exempting nonprofits altogether.

Further deliberation will determine the final language of Measure E.

December 16, 2019 amber alert

Amber Alert Resolved, 2 year-old Rescued

An amber alert that went out at 2:17 AM Monday morning has been resolved, Mercury News reports. Thanks to public response to the amber alert, police were able to retrieve the child safely.

The ordeal began late Sunday night when police responded to calls of a woman screaming. They arrived at the 500 block of South 11th St where the suspect, 24 year-old Victor Magana, had assaulted the girl’s mother. After stabbing the woman, critically injuring her, Magana fled with their 2 year-old daughter, Bethanie Carraza.

Police arrived after Magana fled, discovering the injured mother. Without known whereabouts, California Highway Patrol issued the amber alert to enlist the help of the public in finding the 2-year-old child.

Citizens Engaged by Amber Alert

After pulling into a gas station in Cambria, 200 miles away from the initial crime scene, civilians recognized Magana’s 2007 Hyundai Sante Fe from the amber alert. After observing the toddler within the vehicle, they decided to take action.

Despite warnings of an armed suspect, the individuals engaged with the suspect’s car. In an effort to detain him, they pulled their cars around his to prohibit his escape. Then they called the police. Authorities arrived to detain Magana and rescue Bethanie.

“The child is safe. That was our primary concern,” Sgt. Enrique Garcia of the San Jose police force said after the search was over. Garcia gave the initial press conference when the amber alert was issued, appealing to Magana to return the child to safety. “He can’t change what happened, but he has the ability to at least not harm the child, and do what’s right and release her,” Garcia said.

The alert, pushed to 15 counties, accompanied signs along Bay Area freeways. The decision to issue the alert proved vital in returning 2 year-old Bethanie Carraza to safety.

The mother remains in critical condition from at least one stab wound.

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