The Weekly Tally 03.25.21

FREE SPEECH

The people who pay for all the unsolicited mail that arrives in your mailbox have something they’d like to tell you. Senate Bill 324 would make it harder for them to do that, and easier for the public to opt out. State Sen. John Laird, D-Santa Cruz, is principal coauthor of SB 324. On March 11, a coalition of 37 groups sent a letter logging their opposition, describing direct mail as a crucial advertising channel. Opponents include the Visual Media Alliance, Envelope Manufacturers of America, California News Publishers Association (of which the Weekly is a member), and Greeting Card Association. It also includes labor groups representing postal workers – like the National Association of Letter Carriers – raising concerns that without direct mail, postage for everyone else will rise. “SB 324 jeopardizes the already fragile health of the U.S. Postal Service,” they wrote. “Under new federal regulations, for every 10-percent national reduction in marketing mail caused by this bill, postage rates across the country will increase 2.5 percent or $1 billion per year.” (Laird declined to comment for this column.)

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“Puppeteering is really physical.” - Actor Diona Elisa Burnett talking about her new role as a voice actor and puppeteer playing Steve the Mop on the new Netflix series Waffles + Mochi (see Face to Face story).

GOOD WEEK / GREAT WEEK

GOOD:

Good news for bicyclists who like a thrill: The city of Marina has approved concept plans to install a pump track bike park, with turns built to maximize speed, at Glorya Jean Tate Park. “It’s exciting to see it coming to fruition,” City Councilmember Lisa Berkley said at the March 16 meeting, when council voted 5-0 to approve the project. In addition to the new bike park, restrooms will be upgraded and picnic tables will be installed during phase one. The bike park will have three different areas for novice, intermediate and advanced bikers. Marina Public Works Director Brian McMinn says the estimated cost will be $300,000. The city has about $225,000 available, and once designs are finalized McMinn will return to council to request additional funding allocations. After phase one is completed, next up are a dog park, basketball courts and a new playground to be developed in the future. The entire project to upgrade the park is projected to cost a little under $1 million.

GREAT:

Relief is here for independent restaurants. It’s been a year since these restaurants banded together to form the grassroots Independent Restaurant Coalition. Bracing for the inevitable economic fallout of the pandemic, the coalition tried and failed multiple times to lobby federal lawmakers for economic relief. Many were disappointed in the first round of Paycheck Protection Program loans, as franchises like McDonald’s received PPP funds (including local McDonald’s franchises) while many independently owned businesses (like the micro-bakery Ad Astra Bread Co.) were denied. On March 6, Congress finally passed the RESTAURANTS Act, thanks to year-long lobbying efforts by the coalition. The $28.6 billion package, unlike the PPP loans, is a grant-based system and cannot be given to local franchises in chains that have 20 or more locations. Restaurants have been the hardest-hit industry since Covid-19 struck, with over 110,000 closures due to the pandemic.

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