Disaster Bingo Card is Back

Otters were not on our disaster bingo card, but apparently, they should be.  We now have reports of North American River Otters attacking swimmers.  According to the Sacramento Bee, one swimmer was bitten dozens of times by two otters in Serene Lakes, north of Lake Tahoe.  According to a spokesperson for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the otters “…are a predator species, related to wolverines and badgers…”  Who knew?  And if that’s not enough fun, the Bee reports valley fever is back and spiking in San Joaquin County.  Valley fever, aka coccidioidomycosis, has symptoms similar to COVID.  Speaking of COVID, according to the Napa Valley Register, medical experts are warning about a tripledemic (COVID, flu, RSV), but, as of now, there is good news: severity of the diseases is expected to be lower although they hope each doesn’t peak at the same time. And you thought politics was stressful. 


DUI Conviction = No Car

California taxpayers often ask why state legislators are provided with state cars.  We’ll ponder that question another time.  This time, let’s consider the legislation that would stop legislators from having state-owned cars, if they have recently been convicted of a DUI. In May, State Senator Dave Min was arrested for driving under the influence.  Last week, Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo was also arrested for DUI.  Both are Democrats.  Now, Republican Assemblymember Bill Essayli has said he will be reintroducing “…a resolution to take away the state-assigned cars from lawmakers convicted of a DUI,” according to CalMatters.  Those standing around the water cooler think that might be a good idea. 


Cedar the Goat Can’t RIP

As Calpeek readers and animal lovers know, the story of Cedar the Goat is not a happy one. Cedar was part of a 4-H program and when it was time for the Shasta County Fair, and for Cedar to be slaughtered, things went very wrong.  Jessica Long’s 9-year old daughter was caring for Cedar and didn’t want it slaughtered.  Long appealed to officials and offered to pay for the goat, but they would not let her out of the contract, so Long hid the goat.  Unfortunately for Cedar, county detectives found the goat 500 miles away and brought it back to the county for slaughter.  Long filed a lawsuit.  Now, State Attorney General Rob Bonta’s office is counter-suing and placing the blame on Long. The Sacramento Bee has the details of this sad story. It is a little unclear why Bonta’s office decided to weigh in, but it certainly seems like a lot of effort to kill a goat and then punish a woman for trying to keep it alive. There is also another political connection which is probably just random, but the person who ended up winning the goat (or the goat meat), is State Senator Brian Dahle, according to the L.A. Times.


Butler Watch Update

Newly appointed U.S. Senator Laphonza Butler has opened a leadership PAC, according to Politico.  Butler recently announced that she would not run for the vacant senate seat in 2024, thereby remaining a “caretaker”.  But it is safe to say that Butler has other political aspirations and speculation has been summarized by Calpeek.  The new leadership PAC called Make Every Day Count allows Butler to “…maximize her opportunity to serve the people of California by actively supporting her colleagues and the next generation of Democratic leaders in the upcoming election,” according to the PAC’s treasurer.  It’s safe to say it also helps Butler’s future endeavors.


Reinventing Eric Garcetti 

If you’ve been a long-time Peeker, you may recall our several pieces on then Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s long appointment process to become the Ambassador to India. Here is a link to the many “Ambassador Garcetti Watch” Peeks.  You may recall his parents having hired a lobbyist to assist in moving U.S. Senators to vote to get him through the process and the stumbling blocks (ie: sexual assault scandal of a key advisor) that put his new position, and new home, on hold.  Yet, as we all know, with enough persistence (and help from mom and dad), he was able to add “Ambassador” to his business card.  So, how’s our new Ambassador doing and what might his future political goals be?  According to reporter Courtney Subramanian of the Los Angeles Times, Ambassador Garcetti is settling in nicely and enjoying his new gig while staying close to his ally and friend, President Joe Biden.  However, as we do in politics, once appointed or elected the subsequent question is: what’s next?  While there is no answer to that question at the moment, India does seem like the perfect opportunity for Garcetti to reinvent himself, putting the past behind him and with an eye to the future.  As stated in the story, “When he returns to California, he will have foreign policy experience and a powerful ally in a president. He’s relentless. He’s loyal. Will he be lucky?


Garcetti Administration Sexual Assault Scandal Awards LAPD Officer $1.8 Million

Speaking of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s days at Los Angeles City Hall, and the scandal that delayed his Air India flight, the Los Angeles City Council has agreed to pay a $1.8 million settlement to LAPD Officer Matthew Garza who served on Mayor Garcetti’s security detail.  Garza claimed that top Garcetti advisor, Rick Jacobs, had inappropriately hugged and touched him and made crude sexual comments to him.  This came to the national stage when Garza claimed that both the mayor and his wife had witnessed the harassment, but both denied seeing anything.


Gavin’s Approval Ratings Take A Tumble

Returning from his visit to China and Israel, Governor Newsom was greeted with some unpleasant news: his approval ratings have dropped.  According to a poll conducted by the U.C. Berkeley’s Institute of Government Studies (IGS), more Californians’ now disapprove (49%) than approve (44%) the Governor’s performance.   But how could that be you might ask?  After all, Governor Newsom has been fighting Republican forces across the nation, calling them out on their attacks on women’s rights, gender equality, and the freedom to read whatever one wishes to read.  Ironically, that seems to be part of the issue.  According to IGS, the Governor’s national persona may be a bit of a problem as the state faces increasing budgetary challenges and other problems.  However, polling did indicate that the Governor’s trip to China to discuss how to improve relations, and his appointment of Laphonza Butler to fill the U.S. Senate seat left vacant with the passing of Senator Dianne Feinstein, were popular.


Unions Make Gains With Contracts

The hot union summer continues to sizzle!  This week Kaiser Permanente workers announced that they have ratified a four-year contract which will bring 85,000 employees pay raises, along with higher minimum wages, to workers in seven states and Washington, D.C.  As reported by USA Today, 98% of workers approved the contract.  The fight for a contract brought forth a three-day strike to protest staffing levels, wages and other grievances.  Unions said that the contract also helps protect jobs from being outsourced as well as funding for new hires and skills development.

Meanwhile, in Hollywood, SAG-AFTRA has announced that it has reached a tentative agreement with the studios, which will bring actors back to the sets.  SAG-AFTRA’s statement on the agreement states: “In a contract valued at over one billion dollars in new wages and benefit plan funding, we have achieved a deal of extraordinary scope that includes ‘above-pattern; minimum compensation increases, unprecedented provisions for consent and compensation that will protect members from the threat of AI, and for the first time establishes a streaming participation bonus. Our Pension & Health caps have been substantially raised, which will bring much needed value to our plans. In addition, the deal includes numerous improvements for multiple categories including outsize compensation increases for background performers, and critical contract provisions protecting diverse communities.

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