Another Covid-19 surge is upon us, which means another executive order from California Gov. Gavin Newsom extending the ability of public agencies to hold meetings virtually, rather than in-person. Assembly Bill 361, authored by Assemblymember Robert Rivas, D-Hollister, allows virtual government meetings to continue in emergencies (such as pandemics and wildfires) through 2024, and made specific provisions for state agencies and CSU boards to continue meeting virtually through Jan. 31, 2022. Back when Newsom signed AB 361 into law on Sept. 16, that seemed like ample time as far as the state of the virus, but things have changed. “Requiring large numbers of individuals to gather, and potentially travel long distances, for in-person public meetings could potentially, and unnecessarily, expose numerous people to Covid-19, further contribute to the ongoing surge in cases caused by the omicron variant, compound disruptions to our economy, and undermine public health measures,” according to the governor’s Jan. 5 order. It remains in effect until April 1.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“Tarpy had made a specialty of lynching Hispanic thieves.”- Historian John Boessenecker articulating the racist motivations of an early Pajaro Valley vigilante named Matt Tarpy who killed numerous people, without penalty, in the name of “justice” (read 831 article).
GOOD WEEK / GREAT WEEK
In the perpetually drought-stricken Central Coast, even moderately good news about water is something to celebrate, and there are a few milestones worth celebrating. The first is that, in a new drought map released Dec. 30, the U.S. Drought Monitor reported that Monterey County has been downgraded from the “extreme drought” classification to “severe drought.” Reflecting that, the county’s two reservoirs, which store water vital to many agricultural operations, are finally starting to fill back up: Since Christmas, Lake San Antonio has gone from 7-percent to 11-percent capacity, and Lake Nacimiento has gone from 21-percent to 29-percent capacity. That may not sound like much, but the amount of water in storage in the lakes has gone up from about 105,000 acre-feet to about 145,500 acre-feet – an increase equivalent to four times what the Monterey Peninsula uses annually.
Lesley Kong, a fourth-grade teacher at Monterey Park Elementary School in Salinas, is getting some serious love: She was recognized as a hero by the San Francisco 49ers at their Jan. 2 game. She’s been named as part of team’s “Homeroom Heroes” program, which recognizes teachers educating the next generation in STEAM fields (that’s science, technology, engineering, arts and math) through use of a particular software called SAP, and a virtual lesson plan from the 49ers. At the game, Kong and other participating teachers from the Bay Area each received an envelope and, with cameras rolling, were directed to open them – and then found $1,000 inside. Kong said she will use the cash to buy books for her students. “I know I want to replace some of the books in my classroom library,” she said. Her classroom library includes titles Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Island of the Blue Dolphins.