Breed goes tough on crimeOctober 20, 2021
THE BUZZ — SF IN THE HEADLINES: San Francisco Mayor London Breed is trying to get tough on crime with a creative solution — a privately funded cash reward of as much as $100,000 for information leading to the arrest of members of organized crime rings involved in petty theft and the endemic car break-ins known as “smash-and-grabs.”
Breed’s announcement Tuesday comes on the heels of a cavalcade of stories portraying Fog City as a dystopian haven of destruction. Fox News especially has been on a roll, highlighting frightening crime headlines from San Francisco.
On Monday, Fox reported on Australian TikTok star Clinton Kane being robbed at gunpoint in SF, so scared he was mentally “peeing [his] pants.” Last week, another scary Fox headline detailed how “thieves ransacked cars in San Francisco in broad daylight, shoot at a good Samaritan.” And national headlines have screamed for days that five Walgreens stores in San Francisco are closing due to what Fox Business anchor Kennedy called “mass shoplifting” that “shows no signs of stopping in the Golden State.”
AND THEN … Fox News host Jesse Watters, in a recent segment about the California crime wave, said that in San Francisco,“retail crime [is] totally out of control. … Millions of dollars have been walking off the shelves in that city alone.’’ As he interviewed his guest, Victor Davis Hansen, on the topic, viral videos of alleged shoplifting incidents played onscreen, and Watters argued that Mayor London Breed has “effectively tied the hands of the cops” to stop petty crime.
No question that crime — and a uptick in homicides, particularly — is a big kitchen table concern in California, and not just in San Francisco.
But a deep dive this week from the SF Chronicle’s Susie Neilson puts some of that data in perspective — for instance, putting to rest the notion that those Walgreens stores were closing due to rampant shoplifting (the more likely culprit: slow sales). And yes, there was even some good news on the “smash and grab” front: SF Police Department data for the last week, the most recent period for which figures are available, shows that a total of 358 auto break-ins were committed in San Francisco — a drop of 37 percent from the July 4 holiday, as SFGATE’s Michelle Robertson highlighted.
A recent Public Policy Institute of California blog post also crunched the numbers, and found that — incendiary coverage aside — “trends in California’s crime rate last year mostly mirrored national trends.” Their findings: “While the state’s violent crime rate declined somewhat in 2020, the nation saw an increase, though homicides jumped both nationwide and in the state. In California, aggravated assaults also increased, while robberies went down. California saw a similar decline in the property crime rate last year as the nation overall.”
BACK TO BREED … The mayor, who also announced a new anti-theft program last month, acknowledged on Tuesday the personal and financial impacts of smash-and-grabs on average folks. “The frequent auto burglaries in San Francisco are not victimless crimes,” she said. “They have real financial and emotional consequences for the victims and we’re continuing to work to hold people who commit these crimes accountable.”
We’ll watch for results — but don’t expect the wild headlines or conservative media’s fascination with San Francisco to stop anytime soon. If it’s not one issue, it’s another. The latest Tuesday night: San Francisco shuts down In-N-Out.
BUENOS DÍAS, good Wednesday morning. Got a tip or story idea for California Playbook? Hit [email protected] or [email protected] or follow us on Twitter @cmarinucci and @jeremybwhite.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “In Hollywood, nothing gets resurrected more often than Mel Gibson.” — The Guardian’s Marina Hyde, on how the star of the next “John Wick” production has “been accused of antisemitism, domestic violence and sexism — but somehow this guy always gets another chance.’
PODCASTS OF THE DAY: NYT’s Kara Swisher hosts the “Succession” podcast, talking power, money, tech and HBO’s addictive hit show with former Clinton campaign guru Jennifer Palmieri.
BONUS POTD: Liam Dillon’s “Gimme Shelter,” in which the LA Times reporter discusses “Gov. Gavin Newsom’s efforts to enforce the state’s zoning rules through a process that ... historically has been toothless.”
TWEET OF THE DAY: Office of the Governor of California @CAgovernor: “As the West faces a potential 3rd year of drought, we’re extending the drought emergency statewide, making historic investments & taking action to protect communities. It’s now more important than ever for Californians to save water in every way possible.” Read the governor’s statement and proclamation here.
WHERE’S GAVIN? Newsom will sit down with NBC News Political Director and ‘Meet the Press’ moderator Chuck Todd for a “fireside chat” at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles. “The two will discuss the challenges of governing during a global pandemic; his agenda for building a better future for California citizens, businesses, and communities in a competitive global economy; and other news of the day,’’ NBC said in a release. The 2 p.m. PT interview will be livestreamed here.
RAIN! — “Atmospheric river storms to soak Bay Area, Northern California — biggest in 9 months,” by the Mercury News’ Paul Rogers.
KATIE HILL’S NEXT ACT — “‘Right now, all I want is a healthy baby’: Former Congresswoman Katie Hill is ready for her next chapter,” by Vanity Fair’s Abigail Tracy: “Hill has been lying low since her congressional career blew up in scandal—now she’s expecting her first child, and is plotting for the years ahead.”
DRILLING DISCOUNT — “Oil company at center of Orange County spill received millions in federal relief,” by the LA Times’ Hannah Fry and Richard Winton: “The energy company at the center of a massive oil spill off the Orange County coast has received roughly $31 million in federal relief since 2016, Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) said during a congressional subcommittee hearing on Monday.”
VACCINE LOOPHOLE — “Religious exemptions threaten to undermine US Covid vaccine mandates,” by the Guardian’s Maanvi Singh: “In Rocklin, California — just north-east of the state capital, Sacramento — a megachurch pastor has been offering religious exemption letters to all who want them.”
— “S.F. archbishop is politically punching up in his abortion fight with Pelosi,” by the SF Chronicle’s Joe Garofoli: “San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone isn’t giving up on his public campaign to convince House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a fellow Catholic, to renounce her support of abortion rights. In fact, the archbishop just intensified it with something familiar to Pelosi: a national media campaign against her.”
DODGERS COMEBACK TO TAKE GAME #3 — “NLCS Game 3: Dodgers beat Atlanta, narrow series gap to 2-1,” via the AP: “After getting staggered with back-to-back walk-off losses in Atlanta, the Dodgers returned home, where they've dominated the Braves in recent years and were an MLB-best 58-23 during the regular season.”
THEY DID IT — “Confronted with losing their jobs, 99% of LAUSD teachers meet COVID-19 vaccine requirements,” by the LA Times’ Howard Blume and Melissa Gomez: “Faced with getting a COVID-19 vaccine or losing their jobs, thousands of hesitant Los Angeles school-district employees opted for a last-minute jab, allowing them to access schools and offices on Monday and resulting in 99% compliance among classroom teachers and 97% of all employees.”
SPENDING MONEY — "California could lose millions in federal money meant for K-12 schools, state audit finds," by The Sac Bee's Gillian Brassil: "About one in five local school districts that received coronavirus relief money through two federal funds had spent 20% or less of their initial money by the end of June, the auditor found."
YELLOW STATE — “California now only state to improve to 'moderate' level of COVID transmission, CDC says,” via ABC7: “California, which has some of the strictest mask and vaccination mandates in the country, has improved to a ‘moderate’ rate of transmission for COVID-19, the only one of the 50 states to drop to that level, according to the latest CDC data.”
— “Crowd turns out in Laguna Beach to endorse ban on offshore oil drilling,” by the LA Times’ Andrew Turner: “The event was headlined by actress and environmental activist Jane Fonda, who was showered with cheers by the attendees as she spoke about the need to protect the ocean. She said that a commitment to ending offshore oil drilling must be made not just locally but at the state and federal level too.”
— “20,000 oil wells in LA County can cause health problems for nearby residents,” by KCRW’s Steve Chiotakis: “Today, roughly 20,000 derricks are still active, idle, or abandoned across LA County. About a third of the county’s 10 million people live within a mile of an active well — some even right next door.”
BALLOT QUESTIONS — "Can online sports betting help the homeless? California mayors back ballot measure," by The Sac Bee's Lara Korte: "The proposed initiative would use tax revenue from online sports betting to fund permanent shelter and housing for homeless people and expand mental health and addiction treatment services. It’s one of three sports-betting related ballot measures Californians could see in 2022."
100 SHIPS — “Backlog at California ports hits new record as holidays approach,” by the New York Post’s Will Feuer: “The backlog of ships waiting to enter California’s two largest ports has hit a fresh record as labor shortages continue to roil the global supply chain and threaten holiday gift-giving.”
LIMITED LUNCHES — “Not on the menu: Halal, kosher options limited in California school lunches,” by CalMatters’ Joe Hong: “While the state is the first to offer free breakfast and lunch to all students, California schools aren’t required to provide meals that adhere to students’ religious or cultural beliefs. This has an especially big impact on Muslim students.”
OP-ED — “Stop forcing California students to learn algebra and other math they don’t need,” opines Cal Poly Pomona’s Alex Small for The Sac Bee: “Algebra is a gatekeeper to high school graduation, even though different individuals need different mathematical skills. Instead, students should have the option to replace algebra, trigonometry and precalculus with more relevant courses.”
HOW MUCH WATER? — “Newsom asked Californians to cut water usage by 15%. Here's what actually happened,” by the SF Chronicle’s Kurtis Alexander: “New state data released Tuesday shows California residents cut their water use 5% in August compared with the same month last year, well short of the 15% reduction that Newsom asked for three months ago. In July, residents pared back just 1.8%, bringing cumulative savings since the governor’s request to 3.5%.”
SEVERE DROUGHT — "As Drought Conditions Worsen, California Expands State of Emergency," by The NYT's Derrick Bryson Taylor: "Gov. Gavin Newsom said it was critical for residents to step up their water-saving efforts as the state ends its second-driest year on record."
— “How UCLA and USC used the transfer portal to transform their football rosters,” by the LA Times’ Thuc Nhi Nguyen: “For every transfer who finds a second college football home, there are dozens still in portal limbo. There are nearly 2,000 college football players currently waiting for the call, according to 247Sports’ transfer portal tracker, from Division II prospects looking for bigger opportunities to forgotten four-star prospects at Power Five schools trying to keep their careers alive.”
A LOOK BACK — “'A graveyard of houses': It's been 30 years since the Oakland Firestorm,” By SFGATE’s Katie Dowd and Andrew Chamings.
MARITIME DANGERS — “Migrants make increasingly dangerous journeys to enter California through the coast,” by the LA Times’ Andrea Castillo: “Encounters at sea are still substantially lower than those on land, but experts say the shift to maritime crossings — in response to restrictive border policies and the devastation from COVID-19 across the hemisphere — is amplifying the danger these migrants face as they seek to reach the United States.”
CHURCH CAMPAIGN — “Hundreds of churches across Va. air ad with Kamala Harris, appearing to violate IRS rule,” by the New York Post’s Callie Patteson: “Hundreds of churches across Virginia began airing a political ad featuring Vice President Kamala Harris urging viewers to vote for Terry McAuliffe for governor over the weekend — raising questions about the legality of the advertisement being aired in houses of worship.”
— “Katie Porter, D-MSNBC,” opines John Phillips in the OC Register: “Porter presumably represents Orange County in the House of Representatives; but she comes off a whole lot more like a congresswoman for the MSNBC audience, in part because she lives on their airwaves.”
— “L.A. City Council president seeks to suspend Ridley-Thomas following indictment,” by the LA Times’ Dakota Smith and Benjamin Oreskes: “Council members will hold a special session on Wednesday to consider the suspension. If it’s approved by the council, Ridley-Thomas would be barred from attending council and committee meetings, executing contracts, using discretionary funds and engaging in constituent services.”
IN THE INBOX…. Release: Following Tuesday’s introduction of a City Council motion to suspend Mark Ridley-Thomas from his official duties due to federal felony bribery and fraud charges, statement from L.A. Controller Ron Galperin: “If Mr. Ridley-Thomas is suspended, I intend to use my authority as Controller and Paymaster of the City of Los Angeles to cease his salary payments and benefits in accordance with the City Charter. No one indicted for public corruption and suspended by the City Council should receive a taxpayer-funded salary.”
CANDIDATE CHALLENGER — “Louis Gill announces candidacy for Congress and unseat Rep. Kevin McCarthy,” via KGET: “Gill, the former CEO of the Bakersfield Homeless Center and Alliance Against Family Violence, has announced his candidacy to represent California’s 23rd Congressional District and unseat Kevin McCarthy.”
INTERESTING TIMING … “Facebook is planning to rebrand the company with a new name,” by the Verge’s Alex Heath.
— “Facebook to pay up to $9.5 million to victims to settle claims it favored H-1B holders over U.S. workers,” by The Mercury News’ Summer Lin: “Facebook will pay $4.75 million in fines and up to $9.5 million to victims in order to settle with the U.S. Department of Justice over allegations the company discriminated against U.S. workers in favor of foreign temporary visa holders, the department announced Tuesday.”
ILLEGAL? — “Trump calls Zuckerberg’s $400M in funding for election offices ‘illegal,’” by the New York Post’s Steven Nelson: “Former President Donald Trump says Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s more than $400 million in funding for local election offices was ‘illegal’ after a new analysis said the funding boosted Democratic turnout in key areas.”
HIRING SPREE — “Mark Zuckerberg's mysterious new 'metaverse' project is hiring 10,000 people,” by The Hill’s Adam Barnes: “Zuckerberg described his vision to The Verge in July, saying that one ‘can think about the metaverse as an embodied internet’ where instead of merely viewing content, a person is in it.”
— “Kim Kardashian purchases Los Angeles home from Kanye West for $23M amid divorce,” by Fox Business’ Melissa Roberto: “The transaction makes Kardashian's current residence with her four children permanent, while West reportedly has purchased a mansion in Malibu after recently listing his Wyoming estate.”
SPLIT OPINION — “‘Emotions Are Running High’: IATSE Members Await Fine Print of Studio Deal Averting Strike,” by the Hollywood Reporter’s Carolyn Giardina and Katie Kilkenny: “Some union workers are split about the details they've learned about the tentative agreement so far, and many say they need more information before making a decision on their vote: ‘if it's a bad deal, we will vote it down.’”
— “Vanessa Bryant files for 'KB24' trademark to create sports and entertainment empire in honor of late NBA legend husband Kobe,” by the Daily Mail’s Justin Enriquez and Sarah Abraham: “The 39-year-old widow submitted documents to lock in the trademark for various products including sports cards, T-Shirts, digital collectible items, training camps and beverage/food containers according to TMZ.”
NETFLIX DRAMA CONTINUES — “Ted Sarandos: ‘I Screwed Up’ With Chappelle Memos But ‘My Stance Hasn’t Changed’ on Netflix Special,” by The Hollywood Reporter’s J. Clara Chan.
HOLLYWOOD HORRORS — “Hollywood’s latest attraction: a museum dedicated to horror and science fiction,” by the LA Times’ Roger Vincent.
CANNABIS FIRE — “Massive fire at suspected marijuana grow in Canoga Park seriously injures three,” by the LA Times’ Gregory Yee.
— "California marijuana busts surge despite legalization as agencies target illicit growers," by The Sac Bee's Andrew Sheeler: "Four years after weed became legal in California for adult recreational use, state law enforcement officials have doubled the amount of illicit marijuana plants seized and eradicated in an annual campaign."
— “California Seizes 1.2 Million Dangerously Untaxed Marijuana Plants,” by Reason’s Christian Britschgi: “On Monday, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced the seizure of 1.2 million illegally cultivated marijuana plants and 180,000 pounds of processed marijuana as part of the state's Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP) program.”
WHO KNEW? — “The ‘Orderly Anarchy’ of Ancient California,” by Alta’s Robert Roper.
— “Berkeley scientist resigns over refusal to invite ‘canceled’ geophysicist,” by the New York Post’s Emily Crane.
— “COVID in California: Berkeley parents scramble as drivers' virus exposure suspends buses,” by the SF Chronicle’s Aidin Vaziri, Rita Beamish and Dominic Fracassa.
BILLIONAIRE BOMB — “Peter Thiel’s luxury New Zealand lodge opposed by environmental group,” by CNBC’s Sam Shead.
— “Lawmaker urges new probe after Army closes investigation of Chino soldier’s slaying,” by the LA Times’ Nolan D. McCaskill.
— “A Black mother lost her son to police violence in 2008. People are finally saying his name,” opines the LA Times’ Gustavo Arellano.
— “Redondo Beach AES power plant closing Dec. 31? Not so fast, state officials may say,” by Daily Breeze’s Tyler Shaun Evains.
DRIVING FAST — “L.A. City Council could seek law to crack down on street racing promoters,” via City News Service.
— “Fans at S.F. Phish concert recount horror as man died at Chase Center,” by the SF Chronicle’s Aidin Vaziri.
CILANTRO CASH CROP — “Pad thai, tacos and more: Why California farmers are growing more cilantro than ever,” by The Sac Bee’s Kim Bojórquez.
— “Tom Morey, inventor of the Boogie Board, dies at age 86,” by the OC Register’s Laylan Connelly.
MEAGHER-IAGE: Deputy press secretary Chris Meagher (pronounced “mahr”) got hitched this past weekend to Vanessa Valdivia, communications director for Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) at the Santa Barbara Club.
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