The Weekly Tally 09.17.20

FREE SPEECH

In February, the federal government, led by President Donald Trump, downplayed both the severity of the coronavirus and the likelihood that it would spread rapidly and upend our lives. It turns out that Trump knew that his dangerously reassuring message was false. In a recorded interview that took place that month, Trump told reporter Bob Woodward that Covid-19 was deadlier than the flu and that transmission was airborne. Woodward, a journalism legend, sat on the revelation for months, waiting to publish an account of the interview in a book that comes out this month. Woodward is being pilloried for withholding the information; he’s accused of unethical conduct and of placing the desire to sell more copies of Rage above the public’s well-being. About 191,000 people have died of the virus in the U.S., representing one of the worst mortality rates in the world. Releasing the tapes earlier might have forced the White House to stop misinforming the public, potentially saving lives.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“I’m happy to see the police choosing not to bully people enjoying their right to enjoy public resources.” - Jay Endsley, who pleaded no contest to an infraction of beach closure rules

GOOD WEEK / GREAT WEEK

GOOD:

It’s unusual for a freshman member of the state Legislature to be appointed chair of an influential committee. Even so, still in his first term, Robert Rivas, D-Hollister, and his district’s number-one industry got good news Sept. 11: Speaker Anthony Rendon appointed Rivas as chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee. Rivas almost immediately announced plans to launch a statewide agricultural tour in October. This legislative session, Rivas co-authored the Agricultural Workplace Health and Safety Act which would fund a bilingual outreach campaign to educate agricultural workers on Cal/OSHA guidance around Covid-19 protections, as well as paid sick leave and workers comp benefits related to the virus. AB 2043 and two other bills are collectively known as the “Farmworker Covid-19 Relief Package.” All three are awaiting Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature to become law.

GREAT:

Great news for efforts to curb violence in Salinas came from the California Board of State and Community Corrections Sept. 10. The board awarded a $1 million grant, which the city and recipients will match dollar-for-dollar, meaning a $2 million investment for violence prevention efforts. The city ranked number-one overall in the application process. The Cal VIP grant (that’s violence intervention and prevention) funds will go to groups doing on-the-ground work: California Youth Outreach’s READY program, assisting up to 60 gang-affiliated offenders ages 14-19 who are in the justice system, and up to 80 caregivers, with re-entry support; Rancho Cielo’s tiny home construction training program giving young people marketable skills; and Striving To Reduce Youth Violence Everywhere (STRYVE), a program of the Monterey County Public Health Department that works to prevent teen dating violence.

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