In California brings you top Golden State stories and commentary from across the USA TODAY Network and beyond. Get it free, straight to your inbox. I’m Julie Makinen, California editor for the USA Today Network, bringing you Tuesday’s key headlines.
But first, read the story of how a San Diego-based interior designer bought a hotel on the California-Mexico border during the pandemic and ended up being in charge not just of the hotel, but the entire 581-person town of Jacumba. The deal came with “80%” of the town, she told SFGate, including an old bathhouse, a defunct gas station, all the main street shops, a mountain, a pond and a sand wash, among other things.
Monterey journalist’s father killed in Boulder mass shooting
The father of Monterey County journalist Erika Mahoney is among the victims of Monday’s mass shooting in Boulder, Colo.
Mahoney is the News Director of KAZU Public Radio, the Monterey County NPR-affiliate. She announced the death of her father, Kevin Mahoney, on Twitter. The tweet has since gone viral with more than 300,000 likes.
“I am heartbroken to announce that my dad, my hero, Kevin Mahoney, was killed in the King Soopers shooting in my hometown of Boulder,” Mahoney wrote. “My dad represents all things love. I’m so thankful he could walk me down the aisle last summer.”
She also thanked the Boulder Police Department and shared with followers that she is pregnant. “I know he wants me to be strong for his granddaughter,” Mahoney wrote.
Ten people were killed in Monday’s shooting. The other victims were identified as Eric Talley, 51; Denny Stong, 20; Neven Stanisic, 23; Rikki Olds, 25; Tralona Bartkowiak, 49; Suzanne Fountain, 59; Teri Leiker, 51; Lynn Murray, 62, and Jodi Waters, 65. Talley was a Boulder police officer.
Read about the 21-year-old charged in the shootings; his family described him as antisocial and paranoid.
‘We have to act’: Biden calls on Congress to move fast on background checks, assault weapon ban after Boulder shooting. The gun was bought six days ago, the L.A. Times reports.
Coronavirus updates, in brief
California isn’t seeing COVID-19 spikes like New York and Florida, the L.A. Times reports.But can we keep it up? In the last week, the state has logged an average of 2,766 new coronavirus cases a day, a 35% drop from two weeks ago. Statewide, 2,586 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized Monday; 635 were in intensive care. Both figures are at low levels not seen since November. The number of newly reported COVID-19 deaths also continues to decline but is not yet down to pre-surge levels. An average of 183 Californians died from the disease every day during the last week, and the state’s total death toll has crossed 57,200.
Los Angeles and Orange counties, the state’s largest and third-largest in population, have now banked one week’s worth of data necessary to progress into the orange tier — a move that would allow a more significant and widespread unlocking of businesses and other public spaces. Their progression, which could happen as soon as next week if their metrics hold steady, would accelerate the recent dash up the state’s reopening ladder.
In Riverside County, the fourth-biggest county, officials say vaccine supply is outstripping demand. Say what?
And some experts say not so fast on indoor dining, even if the state says it’s OK, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
The missing students of the pandemic
The Washington Post ventures far afield to Southern California to tell the moving story of an assistant principal, Rich Pimentel, who searches his district for the hundreds left behind by COVID-19.
A year ago, the pandemic closed Indio High in Riverside County. Attendance for its 2,100 students dropped from 94% down to as low as 70%. The school is mostly low-income and mostly Latino, with a vulnerable population that had suffered disproportionately from the coronavirus. Half of Indio’s students lived with family members who had gotten sick. A third lacked stable housing. A quarter had begun working full time or caring for younger siblings who were also home from school.
At least 350 students were regularly failing to attend class, so Pimentel decided to spend every Wednesday driving to homes across the Coachella Valley to find missing students and offer his help. It isn’t easy. Worth your time to read.
Oakland launches universal basic income project
The program is the latest example of guaranteed income, or universal basic income — an idea that giving poor people a set amount of money each month helps ease the stresses of poverty that contribute to poor health and hinder their ability to find full-time work.
The idea isn’t new, but it has received a lot of attention lately after some mayors have launched small, temporary programs across the country in a coordinated effort to convince Congress to adopt the program nationally.
The first program launched in 2019 in Stockton, led by then-Mayor Michael Tubbs. Tubbs has said about six similar programs in other cities should be up and running by the summer.
L.A. DA fuels hope — and debate
L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón has launched an ambitious series of changes he says are designed to combat mass incarceration and systemic racism in the criminal justice system. He wants staff to examine past sentences and try to undo those they determine were overly long, a process that could lead to the release of thousands of incarcerated people. Reginald Wheeler — who has been behind bars for 36 years for a street robbery in South Los Angeles — hopes his will be one of those cases. Read more at LAist.
Not everyone is thrilled with Gascón, KQED reports. The former San Francisco police chief and district attorney survived a bruising battle with his tough-on-crime predecessor to win his position running the massive L.A. office. He moved to make changes at warp speed, and the fight over his moves speaks to a larger national debate, the station says.
How are states doing on enforcing environmental rules?
California is near the top in the country in state enforcement actions and fines levied against polluting industries since 2000, according to a new report that highlights the fragmented U.S. environmental compliance system.
The report was published Tuesday by Good Jobs First, a nonprofit researching government and corporate accountability. California’s 3,571 environmental cases, violations and other actions were the third-most brought by any state — behind Texas and Pennsylvania — while the roughly $1.1 billion it assessed in penalties was second only to Mississippi.
According to data Good Jobs First shared with Mark Olalde at The Desert Sun, the single largest fine identified in the Golden State during that period was $119.5 million against Southern California Gas Company for the 2015 Aliso Canyon methane leak, while Volkswagen took the lead overall with more than $150 million in penalties associated with its emissions cheating scandal. The report did not validate whether the full fines were actually collected.
In California is a roundup of news from across USA Today network newsrooms. Also contributing: Associated Press, San Francisco Chronicle, L.A. Times, KQED, LAist, SF Gate.