California Policy and P  olitics Saturday Morning  

California’s new COVID-19 vaccine system to start Monday -- The new system, operated by Blue Shield, aims to streamline a confusing county-by-county patchwork of vaccination efforts. “Give us a chance to make this work,” Blue Shield’s CEO said. Ana B. Ibarra and Barbara Feder Ostrov CalMatters -- 2/27/21

As Blue Shield Takes Control Of California Vaccine Rollout, Some Counties Worry About Distribution -- As health care giant Blue Shield of California gets set to take over the state’s distribution network for COVID-19 vaccines, public health officials say the state is on track to begin administering 3 million weekly doses. Rich Ibarra, Scott Rodd, Kris Hooks Capital Public Radio -- 2/27/21

California expects 1.1 million J&J doses as one-shot vaccine closer to OK -- California continues to administer tens of thousands of shots per day in its campaign to mass vaccinate against COVID-19, rebounding from weather-related supply issues across the U.S. from late last week. Michael McGough in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 2/27/21

UC says Blue Shield sought ‘expansive’ patient data as part of its COVID-19 work for California -- UC Health spokeswoman Heather Harper said representatives for the UC system contacted Blue Shield and the contract was revised to “limit access just to vaccination records and only by federal and state agencies and their contractors.” The university health system declined to elaborate on what kind of patient data Blue Shield requested. Melody Gutierrez in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/27/21

San Diego’s Petco Park vaccine superstation to close yet again starting Saturday -- The COVID-19 vaccine superstation near Petco Park will close yet again on Saturday due to a severe shortage of doses from Massachusetts biotech company Moderna. Jonathan Wosen in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 2/27/21

New one-dose COVID vaccine: A “game changer” for rural and hard-to-reach inner cities -- Easy to give and take, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is welcomed by health experts in isolated towns and immigrant communities. Lisa M. Krieger in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 2/27/21

CDC warns of national rise in cases, but Bay Area is still dropping and counties are reopening -- After more than a month of plunging coronavirus cases nationally, the numbers have started to flatten and even creep back up, prompting a grim warning from U.S. public health leaders Friday to remain cautious in the coming weeks. Aidin Vaziri, Meghan Bobrowsky in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 2/27/21


Santa Clara to resume indoor church services at 20% after U.S. Supreme Court order -- Earlier this month, the court rejected Gov. Gavin Newsom’s ban on indoor worship services in California, ruling that the state had discriminated against religious groups by applying stricter standards to places of worship than to stores and businesses. Nora Mishanec in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 2/27/21

Supreme Court Again Allows Indoor Church Services, Lifts Ban -- The U.S. Supreme Court said a California county must let five churches hold indoor services, adding to a line of orders that have curbed the power of government officials as they battle the spread of the coronavirus. The latest high court action follows a Feb. 6 order that let indoor worship services resume in most of California at 25% capacity. Greg Stohr Bloomberg -- 2/27/21


Who has the power to reopen California classrooms? -- Increasingly exasperated that most public schools remain closed even as coronavirus cases plummet nearly a year into the pandemic, California parents are taking to the streets. Laurel Rosenhall CalMatters -- 2/27/21

Sac Soccer  

Sacramento Major League Soccer expansion deal collapses. Key investor backs out -- In a surprise move, Los Angeles billionaire Ron Burkle on Friday informed the league “that based on issues with the project related to COVID-19, he has decided to not move forward with the acquisition of an MLS expansion team in Sacramento,” according to a statement issued Friday evening by the league. Tony Bizjak and Marcos Bretón in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 2/27/21

Policy & Politics 

Sen. Alex Padilla's first bill would offer citizenship to essential workers -- California Sen. Alex Padilla unveiled his first piece of legislation since arriving in the Senate on Friday, a bill that would offer millions of immigrant essential workers and their families a path to citizenship. Tal Kopan in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 2/27/21

Hiltzik: The GOP concocts a fake story about Becerra suing nuns over contraception coverage -- With nothing substantial to use to derail the appointment of California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra as secretary of Health and Human Services, congressional Republicans have resorted to a bald-faced lie. The lie is that Becerra sued an order of nuns to force them to pay for contraceptive coverage. Michael Hiltzik in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/27/21

Facebook to pay $650 million to settle claims it violated some users' digital privacy -- A federal judge in San Francisco approved a $650 million class-action settlement to be paid by Facebook, settling claims it violated privacy laws by storing biometric data, like facial scans, without getting users’ sign-off first. Chase DiFeliciantonio in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 2/27/21


Gilead to cut 178 California jobs and move some to North Carolina -- Biotech giant Gilead is cutting 178 California jobs and shifting some to North Carolina in the latest example of a major Bay Area company moving workers to a cheaper location. Roland Li in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 2/27/21


Alameda DA unveils ‘groundbreaking’ mental health diversion program -- Four Alameda County cities will participate in a pilot diversion program aimed at keeping people with mental illness who are arrested out of the criminal justice system, the county’s district attorney announced this month. Nate Gartrell in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 2/27/21

Man who left a dead cat in front of Asian-owned business is investigated for a possible hate crime -- Caught on video surveillance tape, the incident occurred Monday evening outside Mad Butcher Meat Co., whose owners are of Chinese descent, according to the Sacramento Police Department, which is investigating the incident as a possible bias or hate-related crime. Jennifer Lu in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/27/21

Fire, vandalism rock Buddhist temple in Little Tokyo -- Ash and charred wood still lined the 10-step concrete staircase ascending toward the entrance of Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple in Little Tokyo on Friday afternoon, the remnants of vandalism and a fire from the evening before. Andrew J. Campa in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/27/21

Reeling from a depressed economy and increased crime, Oakland Chinatown enters city's policing debate -- When a string of high-profile crimes rattled Oakland Chinatown in February, city leaders descended on the neighborhood, decrying hate and professing support for victims. Rachel Swan in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 2/27/21


As Fires Worsen, A Mental Health Crisis For Those Battling Them -- Somewhere near his fifty-sixth straight hour of chasing flames, CalFire Captain Matt Newberry and his crew were hitting a wall. They'd been dispatched to the wildfire days earlier in the middle of the night. By the next morning, the fire had already ripped across 11,000 acres of Napa County, tearing even through the night the way fires do now. Nathan Rott NPR -- 2/27/21


California colleges slowly begin vaccinating faculty, students — but likely won’t require immunization -- Chico State is one of at least three California State University campuses offering the coronavirus vaccine to faculty, staff or student employees. Other California colleges may soon follow as the state’s vaccine rollout continues and supply increases. Matthew Reagan, Zaeem Shaikh, Shehreen Karim, Ryan Loyola, Elena Shao and Mallika Seshadri CalMatters -- 2/27/21

Immigration / Border / ICE   

ICE investigators used a private utility database covering millions to pursue immigration violations -- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers have tapped a private database containing hundreds of millions of phone, water, electricity and other utility records while pursuing immigration violations, according to public documents uncovered by Georgetown Law researchers and shared with The Washington Post. Drew Harwell in the Washington Post$ -- 2/27/21

Judge, attorneys in migrant family separation case buoyed by promise of Biden task force -- A new Biden administration task force that will focus on reunifying migrant families separated at the border under Trump-era policies is expected to resolve many of the lingering issues being litigated in a landmark San Diego-based case, attorneys said in a hearing Friday. Kristina Davis in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 2/27/21

Border Crossing Delays Cost San Diego/Tijuana Region Billions, Report Finds -- Border crossing delays have cost the San Diego/Tijuana megaregion's economy at least $3.4 billion and 88,000 jobs as well as becoming a huge environmental concern, a report released Friday at the San Diego Association of Governments Borders Committee found. KPBS -- 2/27/21


Bay Area transit agencies are grappling with spiking homelessness. Here's how BART is trying to help -- Bay Area public transit agencies are struggling to deal with a rise in homelessness during the pandemic as emptier stations and more people in need of shelter collide. Mallory Moench in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 2/27/21


A rare gray wolf trekked from Oregon to California’s Central Sierra. Not everyone is thrilled -- The latest gray wolf to make the long journey from Oregon to California has trekked farther south than any wolf tracked in the last century. He brings either hopes of needed genetic diversity or anxieties of predation, depending on who you ask. Lila Seidman in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/27/21

EPA abandons plan to appeal ruling protecting Redwood City salt ponds from development -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Friday abandoned its appeal of a federal judge’s ruling last year that a sprawling collection of Redwood City salt ponds is protected from development under provisions of the Clean Water Act. Michael Williams in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 2/27/21

Also . . .   

Lady Gaga’s French bulldogs recovered after being stolen during shooting -- Capt. Jonathan Tippet, who leads the Los Angeles Police Department’s Robbery-Homicide Division, said a woman walked into the department’s Olympic station with the dogs about 6 p.m. Friday. She said she believed they belonged to Gaga. Matthew Ormseth, Kevin Rector in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/27/21

California doctor performs surgery while appearing at video traffic court appointment -- The world of videoconferencing and remote work has taken strange turns during the pandemic, with the foibles of faulty technology — or the simply bizarre — on view. Darrell Smith in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 2/27/21

Berkeley restaurant’s $266-weed-and-food pairing is a Bay Area first -- In an effort to shed its stuffy image and push the boundaries of food service during SIP, the restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa is taking food pairings to new highs, literally. Jessica Yadegaran in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 2/27/21

-- Friday Updates

Mutant coronavirus variants are a growing threat. Vaccinations, mask wearing are essential -- While emerging coronavirus variants remain a threat, health experts said they are hopeful that rising vaccination rates and continued wearing of masks can blunt the potential new waves. Rong-Gong Lin II, Melissa Healy in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/26/21

‘Tremendous heartbreak’: L.A. Latinos still dying at high rates, even as COVID-19 eases -- Even as the daily toll of COVID-19 deaths declines, Latino residents of Los Angeles County are still dying at three times the rate of white residents, according to data released Wednesday. Rong-Gong Lin II in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/26/21

Your place in the COVID-19 vaccine line depends on where you live -- When the first doses of COVID-19 vaccines were rolled out in the United States, the choice of who should receive them was fairly obvious — and widely accepted. Soumya Karlamangla, Colleen Shalby in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/26/21

Real or fake? Forged documents add another headache to COVID-19 vaccine rollout -- When Christine Yano got in line at the COVID-19 vaccination site at the Forum earlier this month, she came armed with proof of her eligibility. Though only 33 years old, Yano qualified because she is the mother of 15-month-old triplets with chronic lung disease. Colleen Shalby in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/26/21

All grade levels at Livermore schools to return to in-person classes next month -- Students in all grade levels at the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District will be able to return to in-person classes next month to the relief of many parents who have pushed for that to happen. Angela Ruggiero in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 2/26/21

California is offering stimulus checks to undocumented households. Here’s how to qualify -- In order to provide relief to immigrant communities financially affected by the coronavirus pandemic, California is making available stimulus checks to those who file taxes with Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers, also known as ITINs. Kim Bojórquez in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 2/26/21

Californians speak more than 200 languages. Not everybody gets the COVID facts they need -- Ivy Zhou, a single mother of two children who speaks limited English, struggled to find COVID-related information in her native language after she was furloughed last March. Kim Bojórquez in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 2/26/21

California Northstate halts 400-bed Elk Grove hospital project to ‘consider all options’ -- California Northstate University halted its plans to build a medical center on the west side of Elk Grove this week — only days after the project was rejected by the city’s planning commission. Michael Finch II in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 2/26/21

Policy & Politics 

Fact check: Is the French Laundry lobbyist swaying Newsom’s stance on a proposed water plant? -- An ad running in Sacramento media funded by an environmental group starts with a provocative question about Gov. Gavin Newsom’s now infamous attendance at a party held at a swanky restaurant. Sophia Bollag in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 2/26/21

Garcetti denies witnessing any improper behavior by former aide Rick Jacobs -- Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has denied allegations that he witnessed his onetime political aide Rick Jacobs inappropriately touch the mayor’s longtime bodyguard, and denied that he heard Jacobs talk explicitly about sex, saying such behavior would be “completely out of character” for Jacobs. Dakota Smith, Richard Winton in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/26/21

COVID stimulus: GOP ridicules money for ‘Nancy Pelosi’s subway’ -- The long-awaited project extending BART service through downtown San Jose is being roped into the battle over the $1.9 trillion COVID stimulus package in Washington. Nico Savidge in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 2/26/21

Author of radical California bill requiring direct payments to players: ‘The goal is to compensate the athletes for their work’ -- If AB-609 were to become law, it would transform college sports in the state, and the Pac-12. Jon Wilner in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 2/26/21


LAPD probes whether violent heist of Lady Gaga’s dogs was targeted attack -- A violent Hollywood street heist of two French bulldogs attracted international intrigue Thursday after it was revealed the two purebreds belonged to global megastar Lady Gaga, with fans and the Los Angeles police wondering if the animals were targeted because of their doting owner’s deep pockets. Kevin Rector, Christi Carras, Richard Winton in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/26/21


A's plan to build a new waterfront stadium at Oakland's Jack London Square takes big step forward -- Oakland released a key environmental document Friday for the A’s proposed baseball stadium at Howard Terminal in Jack London Square — a big step in the multi-year effort to build a 35,000-seat waterfront ballpark, 3,000 units of housing, 1.5 million square feet of offices and 270,000 square feet of retail space. Sarah Ravani in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 2/26/21

Quake Fault  

Danger posed by earthquake fault will lead to tighter San Diego building restrictions -- It will soon become harder to develop many properties in San Diego due to growing evidence that the Rose Canyon earthquake fault, which runs beneath the city, is larger and more active than scientists once thought. Gary Robbins in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 2/26/21

Also . . .   

Arellano: A community garden hopes its cash crop is a hot sauce called Los Angeles -- For nearly all of its 20 years, La Madera Community Garden in El Monte functioned like the vast majority of similar spaces in Southern California. Gustavo Arellano in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/26/21

Will anyone pay $75 to visit Disney California Adventure with no rides open? You bet -- Here is one thing the pandemic has not changed: No one ever lost a buck overestimating the devotion of Disney Park fans. Mary McNamara in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/26/21

Driver used realistic mannequin to sneak into carpool lane, CHP says -- He had wrinkles on his face, horn-rimmed glasses perched on his nose and wisps of gray hair poking out from underneath his Cleveland Indians baseball cap. Alex Wigglesworth in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/26/21