CALMatters | Almanac Online |

CALmatters is a Sacramento-based nonpartisan, nonprofit journalism venture committed to explaining how California's state Capitol works and why it matters. It works with more than 130 media partners throughout the state that have long, deep relationships with their local audiences, including Embarcadero Media (publisher of the Palo Alto Weekly, Mountain View Voice, Pleasanton Weekly and The Almanac in Menlo Park and their websites.)

Here are the most recent stories reported by CALmatters' team of journalists:


An execution at Parchman Farm

Anyone who has witnessed an execution never forgets it. The memory of August (Boogie Woogie) LaFontaine's death by lethal gas, pushed far back into the darkest shadows of my mind, came to light again with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement of his moratorium on the state’s death penalty, an action taken in four states in recent years.

Sat, Mar 23, 2019 8:00 am
California’s public school chief says education no place for competition

Two months into the new job, Tony Thurmond seems to be exactly the man that his most loyal backers hoped (and his opponents feared) he would be. In a Commonwealth Club discussion with CALmatters' education reporter Ricardo Cano, the state’s public schools superintendent didn’t hold back in a wide-ranging discussion Thursday night: He raised doubts about the value of charter schools, criticized school districts for the state’s wave of teacher strikes, questioned the severity of public pension debt and insisted the state must spend more to educate its students.

Fri, Mar 22, 2019 1:00 pm
Tough talk and naked mannequins

Newsom on death. Trump on oil. San Francisco on youth crime. Thurmond on charter schools. Athletes on gender equity. And good fences make good neighbors in Santa Rosa.

Fri, Mar 22, 2019 4:30 am
Charter schools’ have a destructive impact on public education

Some charter parents assert their children’s charter school experience is positive. I can believe it. But sincere charter parents need to understand that while for some students charters can be beneficial, their overall impact on public education is destructive.

Fri, Mar 22, 2019 4:29 am
Proposition 187’s real impact: A generation that will never forget

To a 6-year-old child considering Proposition 187 of 1994, the question was simple: How could a government deny a human being the right to an education or health care just because they didn’t have proper documentation to live in this country?

Thu, Mar 21, 2019 4:29 am
Here are 263 reasons to support this gun safety bill. But one is enough

Between 2010 and 2017, stolen firearms were used in at least 60 homicides in California, and 203 youths ended their lives because of unauthorized access to a firearm. AB 276 will hold gun owners accountable by requiring all firearms to be securely stored with Department of Justice-approved firearm safety devices.

Wed, Mar 20, 2019 4:29 am
Finally, a new path toward managing water, rivers and the Delta

We who are part of the California water community and who work every day from one perspective or another are paralyzed and in our respective bunkers. We must take a leap of faith to admit that the current rigid rules on Delta management fail all of our missions. And that only together can we do a better job managing our water resources going forward.

Tue, Mar 19, 2019 4:29 am
Connected Bay Area recruiter gets no bid contract as online community college staffs up

Heather Hiles, president and CEO of California's new online college, advocated for granting a no-bid contract to executive recruiter Carolyn Carpeneti. Before becoming an executive recruiter, Carpeneti was a political fundraiser whose clients included then San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. Brown and Carpeneti became romantically involved and had a daughter in 2001.

Mon, Mar 18, 2019 8:31 pm
I’ve got a secret: Daily struggle for the people’s right to know

Bureaucracies love secrets. They pay lip service to transparency, but have a powerful instinct to dummy up. This predilection for secrecy clashes on a daily basis with Californians’ fundamental right to information about how their government is working—a right granted by statute and enshrined in the state Constitution.

Sun, Mar 17, 2019 7:00 am
Slowing economy could hit state budget

Gov. Gavin Newsom hopes to have a balanced state budget through his first term. But some economic clouds are looming on the horizon.

Sun, Mar 17, 2019 12:01 am
To combat climate change, California must wean buildings off fossil fuels

Construction, heating, and operating of our work and homes account for nearly 40 percent of our nation’s CO2 emissions. But California still doesn’t have a comprehensive statewide plan to help cities cut pollution from homes and commercial buildings. That’s like having a global naval military strategy that omits the Pacific Ocean.

Fri, Mar 15, 2019 4:29 am
Don’t leave California’s climate goals stuck in traffic

At the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, we are far from naïve. We understand the political and economic challenges that face the completion of high-speed rail, and we are up for the fight and plan to fight along with every elected leader who is willing to fight for California’s quality of life, climate goals and middle-class jobs.

Thu, Mar 14, 2019 4:29 am
California can’t afford to skimp on computer science education

Computer science is an essential 21st Century skill for college, careers and civic participation. Yet many California students lack access to meaningful opportunities to learn computer science. If we are committed to closing the academic achievement gap, we must close the growing computer science access gap for all students.

Wed, Mar 13, 2019 4:29 am
Trumpies rightfully reduced Oroville Dam aid

The Trump administration is refusing to pay more than $300 million for repairs to Oroville Dam. California officials should be grateful it's not zero.

Wed, Mar 13, 2019 12:01 am
Trump’s rule gagging doctors is a threat to women’s lives

Despite massive opposition, the Trump administration released coercive and unethical regulations governing Title X. The administration’s anti-abortion agenda has seeped into Title X, a program that doesn’t pay for or provide abortion services. Under these rules, doctors would not be able to tell patients where they can get an abortion, even if they ask. The best doctors could do is give a patient a list of healthcare providers, some of whom provide abortions.

Tue, Mar 12, 2019 4:29 am
The world is knocking at California’s door, and we welcome it

Enriched by the diversity of our communities, California represents a set of human values that nurture and free our minds and our economic system. And the world knows it. That’s why now, more than ever, the world is knocking on our door.

Mon, Mar 11, 2019 8:00 am
Hard truths about deinstitutionalization, then and now

Ronald Reagan and Jerry Brown, two of the most consequential governors ever in California, led the state during two of the most well intended but poorly executed movements in this state’s history. The first was the de-institutionalization of the mentally ill. The second resulted in fewer prison inmates, and significant increases in homelessness and untreated mental illness.

Sun, Mar 10, 2019 8:00 am
Politicians like to keep us in the dark

A new legislative bill and a new threat by the attorney general are the latest attempts to undermine the state's Public Records Act.

Sun, Mar 10, 2019 12:01 am

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