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Teachers concerned over push to reopen schools

There are many hot-button topics in 2020. Perhaps none are more discussed than what to do about K-12 schools across the country. Here in California, Governor Newsom is pushing schools and districts to make their best attempt to reopen in the fall. He is part of a loose coalition of the president and other politicians, administrators, parents, child development experts, and others who believe that doing more online distance learning would be a mistake.

Are charter schools better poised for success?

The COVID-19 virus impacts every part of our daily lives. Nevertheless, few families will see a more significant effect this year, and in the future, than the virus's impact upon education. Any parent with school-age children sees this first-hand because some teachers could better deal with these challenges than others.

Minneapolis’s plans to defund police as Californians consider options

Minneapolis has been rocked by violence since the death of George Floyd on Memorial Day night. Floyd was restrained by an officer who placed his knee on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes. The victim, who allegedly tried to pass a counterfeit $20 bill, would later die in an ambulance.

PG&E admits to involuntary manslaughter

The Camp Fire burned through the Sierra Nevada hills with unprecedented fury for two weeks in late 2018. The cause of the state’s deadliest fire to date was determined to be faulty electrical equipment owned by Pacific Gas and Electric Company. The embattled and bankrupt utility faces civil suits regarding damages caused by this fire. Still, it now pleads guilty of 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter for deaths caused by the fire and one felony count of unlawfully causing the fire. The second count addresses severe injuries to a firefighter and others as well as the destruction of multiple structures.

PG&E fined $2.1 billion

It’s hard to imagine that a $1.7 billion settlement was considered lenient. But such was the case in California when power regulators previously agreed to that number in December of 2019 as the amount of compensation owed by the now-bankrupt Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) for its part in igniting the wildfires that year.

LA schools board election is a hot topic in 2020

The school board for the Los Angeles Unified school district has four of its seats up for grabs in a pivotal election in 2020. The other three seats are uncontested, but veteran watchers believe that two of the four races are extremely competitive. The state’s largest school district with 600,000 students hosts a primary on March 3, where 50% vote can win the seat outright. If no candidate breaks that threshold, there would be a runoff in November. The new board will convene in December

New bill looks to fine utilities that cut power unnecessarily

The damage and loss of life caused by wildfires is a serious concern for most here in California (and, of course, our neighbors across the Pacific in Australia). This has led to some soul searching about the risks, including utilities since the now-bankrupt PG&E and others' power lines were determined to be a significant contributor to the fires over the last decade.

Local governments, police and hospitals targets for ransomware

It has become clear in recent years that local governments, its agencies, and other large organizations are the targets of hackers launching ransomware. It starts with a suspicious email that is opened, but soon the hackers have encrypted files and locked down the computer networks of townships, local governments, law enforcement, and even hospitals. Frequently, the only way to regain control of the computer system is to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in Bitcoin, which is difficult to trace back to the criminals.

UC Regents agree to union demands

Strikes can turn into long, drawn-out affairs where causing collateral damage is more common than addressing the actual issues in the dispute. Thus, it was refreshing to see the University of California Board of Regent’s swift response to a 26,000 UC Service and Patient Care workers, who launched an unfair labor practice strike on November 13, 2019. This was the third one-day strike in a year where the union alleged that there was illegal outsourcing of UC jobs to contractors.

Sick leave laws differ city by city in California

Most employers are aware of sick leave rules that went into effect in 2015 as part of the California Healthy Workplace Healthy Family Act. However, some may not be aware that several cities have their own paid sick leave requirements. Under California law, all but a few employers must allow their workers to use 24 hours or up to three days of sick leave in 12 months.

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