The Weekly Tally 09.03.20

FREE SPEECH

As California’s legislative season came to an end on Aug. 31, there was a flurry of activity. One bill that passed on the last day, on a vote of 53-11 in the Assembly, is Senate Bill 776, which expands upon the landmark SB 1421. SB 1421 took effect in 2019 and provides public access to records related to police misconduct, a major shift in California, where such records were previously not available to the public. The new bill, also authored by State Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, expands what is subject to the California Public Records Act from records related only to the most serious use-of-force incidents to all use-of-force incidents. It would also open up more records of law enforcement officers’ related to sustained findings of wrongful arrests and searches, disciplinary records related to bias and records of sexual misconduct on the job. “Californians have the right to know who is patrolling our streets and who is given the authority to enforce our laws,” Skinner said in a statement. “SB 776 sends a clear message that racist, discriminatory, and abusive officers are not welcomed in our communities.” To become law, the bill requires Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“A judge who takes the bench without a mask is endangering the public.”-A letter signed by nine local attorneys calling upon Monterey County Superior Court to enforce the county’s face covering requirement

GOOD WEEK / GREAT WEEK

GOOD

Normally the nonprofit Read To Me Project would have speech and language specialists working with fourth – and fifth-graders in classrooms, tutoring them to become mini-tutors themselves. The mission is to empower kids to read to their younger siblings at home, giving them early literacy exposure. The Covid-19 pandemic stopped the in-person experience, but a successful book drive (with partners BookWorks, Friends of the Seaside LibraryRiver House Books, YMCA Monterey Peninsula and Taylor Farms) generated more than 2,000 kids’ books distributed along with meals at drive-thru school lunch pickups. Development Director Mary DeGroat says, “The message is: You’re home, you’ve got time – read, look at the pictures, sit with someone who doesn’t even read and talk about the pictures, and you’re inspiring wonder and curiosity through those books.”

GREAT:

The factions fighting in the Monterey Peninsula water wars called a truce of sorts this week. All of them – activists of Public Water Now, executives at California American Water, directors of Monterey One Water and Monterey Peninsula Water Management District – agreed that a good thing has happened. After years of work and millions of dollars spent, Pure Water Monterey, the region’s sewage reclamation plant, has produced enough of a reserve in the Seaside basin that water can now be extracted and delivered to homes. The milestone marks the availability of a major new water supply, allowing Cal Am to reduce its pumping from the Carmel River. The cooperation that led to this moment, MPWMD General Manager Dave Stoldt wrote in a letter to his Cal Am counterpart, “should be lauded and is often overlooked by the community.”

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