The Weekly Tally 07.16.20

FREE SPEECH

It’s been a slow saga to watch the financial demise of Sacramento-based newspaper publisher McClatchy Company, which was family owned for 163 years, until July 12, when it was sold to a hedge fund. As the second-largest newspaper publisher in the U.S., the company owns 30 media companies in 14 states, including award-winning papers like the Sacramento Bee, Miami Herald and Kansas City Star. The financial woes began in 2006, when McClatchy bought rival Knight-Ridder (which at the time owned the Monterey Herald) for $4.5 billion, plus $2 million in debt. They culminated in February 2020, when McClatchy filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In the six months since, questions have swirled about who would take over the company, and in an auction on July 12, Chatham Asset Management won out as the buyer. (Chatham is also McClatchy’s largest lender.) Chatham already controls other publications, including American Media Inc., which includes the National Enquirer. The amount of the deal was not disclosed, and the sale is pending approval from a bankruptcy court judge at a July 24 hearing.

OVERHEARD

“Ma’am, you need to wear a mask to be in here.”

“Oh do I? I just wanted to come inside and ask if I needed to first.”

--A clerk at an Arco gas station in Salinas addressing a customer who walked past multiple “masks required” signs to the counter.

GOOD WEEK / BAD WEEK

GOOD:

What started out in 2015 as a $500,000 pilot from Monterey County became a bonafide $2 million health initiative to cover the uninsured in 2017. Esperanza Care gives basic healthcare to undocumented residents who are not covered by state or federal subsidized insurance, and was renewed by the Board of Supervisors in the 2020-2021 county budget. Esperanza Care came about thanks to efforts of community groups like the local branch of Community Organized for Relational Power in Action (COPA). COPA leader María Elena Manzo says that Esperanza Care came out of the county trying to fill a major hole in Medi-Cal, and relentless advocacy work: “We have it because we kept showing up. [The county supervisors] couldn’t ignore us,” she says. Esperanza Care costs $2 million annually.

GREAT:

It’s a great week for empty backyards in Seaside that belong to low-income homeowners who would like to build granny units. The California Department of Housing and Community Development announced that the city has been awarded $1 million as part of the CalHome program to build about 10 new accessory dwelling units over the next three years; the city will funnel the money to select low-income homeowners in Seaside. In return for the government funding, the homeowners will accept a deed restriction, requiring their ADUs to be rented out at affordable rates. City Councilmember Jon Wizard and City Manager Craig Malin, who spearheaded the initiative, said it would increase the housing stock in the city while also serving as an anti-gentrification measure by supporting homeownership among low-income residents.

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