Thursday, October 28, 2021

CalTrans Considers Alternatives to 'Armoring' 101 Against Sea Level Rise

Posted By on Thu, Oct 28, 2021 at 11:51 AM

As it faces flooding from sea level rise along the U.S. Highway 101 Arcata-Eureka, CalTrans is seriously considering a “living shoreline” instead of throwing riprap up against the tides. In a workshop yesterday, it also seemed clear the agency is going to keep the current road alignment at the edge of Humboldt Bay.

Clancy DeSmet, CalTrans' climate change adaptation branch chief, said planting a “natural shoreline” instead of “hard armoring” the highway might absorb or deflect rising waves. But because it’s never been tried and tested, the more natural alternative may not get state approval.

Relocating the entire highway inland is almost certainly off the table for consideration, said DeSmet, explaining it would be “cost-prohibitive” and entail moving communities.

CalTrans is seeking ways to keep 101 from drowning, and any suggestions are welcome between now and the spring, when the agency is set to have final reports on alternatives after analyzing roadway designs, geohazards and engineering. During the online workshop, about 65 participants, including Third District County Supervisor Mike Wilson and Eureka City Councilmember Kim Bergel, had plenty of questions, but no solution, to the problem of a major public thoroughfare facing a future of wetlands inundation.

A final plan for dealing with sea level rise on the corridor is due in December of 2025 — that is, unless the road starts flooding four times a year or more before then. Increased inundation would trigger an acceleration to the process, DeSmet noted.
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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Watson to Step Down as Eureka Police Chief

Posted By on Wed, Oct 27, 2021 at 11:30 AM

EPD Chief Steve Watson announced he is retiring. - FILE
  • File
  • EPD Chief Steve Watson announced he is retiring.
Eureka Police Chief Steve Watson announced his sudden retirement today. He will leave the post at the end of November after serving for four years.

In a city announcement, Watson says the decision comes with a “feeling of bittersweet peace” as he move onto a new chapter in life after 24 years in law enforcement, with more than 16 of those in Eureka, which he described as a great privilege.

“While my fire has not diminished, it is time for me to take a restful step back and reflect with pride on a career well spent, even as I look forward with enthusiasm to the next adventure,” he says. “I plan first to take some time to be more present with my amazing family, travel, teach, and finish my graduate degree.”

Watson was selected to take the EPD helm in September of 2017 after a nationwide search, replacing former Chief Andrew Mills, who departed to take over the Santa Cruz Police Department. The Fortuna native and U.S. Army veteran, who spent time working in the ministry, and as a school teacher, has served in law enforcement since getting his start with the Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Office in 1998.

He came on board as chief with an emphasis on better retention of the current force, more training, expanded community partnerships and stronger relationships with city staff.

City Manager Miles Slattery says details on recruiting a new chief will be announced “in the days ahead” and he sees the process as one that “will help us bring additional resources and opportunity to the many men and women who tirelessly serve our community as part of the EPD every single day.”

 “Chief Watson has led the city of Eureka’s Police force through several years of important transition and we are thankful for his service,” he says in the release.

Meanwhile, the department has been roiled by controversy in recent months after the Sacramento Bee published an explosive report detailing vulgar, misogynistic and dehumanizing text messages sent between a group of officers that someone leaked to the paper.

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Sunday, October 24, 2021

Time to Dial it Up to 10 for Local Phone Calls

Posted By on Sun, Oct 24, 2021 at 11:23 AM

The days of seven-digit dialing for local calls in the 707 area code — as well as 81 others across the country — came to an end today. From now on, the 707 will need to be included.

Why? Well, it’s because parts of those areas use “988 “ as the first three digits of some numbers and that has been assigned as the dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, just like there’s 911 for emergencies, which becomes available nationwide by July of 2022.

“To help facilitate the creation of ‘988,’ area codes that use ‘988’ as a local exchange, or the first three digits of a seven-digit phone number, will need to use 10-digit dialing,” a Federal Communications Commission consumer guide on the subject.

While the 988 line is transition is underway, those who need help can continue to contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK) and through online chats. Veterans and Service members may reach the Veterans Crisis Line by pressing "1" after dialing, chatting online at or texting 838255.

Read more from the FCC below:

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Friday, October 22, 2021

Watson Releases Statement Saying He is Entering a Rehab Program

Posted By on Fri, Oct 22, 2021 at 6:58 PM

Arcata Councilmember Brett Watson issued a statement this evening saying he was entering "a 30-day residential rehabilitation program to focus on depression and personal issues."

Watson, who was replaced as mayor at a special meeting earlier this week, states that he informed the council and staff on Oct. 11 that he intended to step down from the position and seek treatment. He did not say whether he was resigning from the council.

"My goal is to get myself better before making any decisions on how I can continue to best serve my community," Watson's statement reads. "I'm very grateful for the outpouring of support I've received and I’ll inform the community of my decision as soon as possible."

The Arcata City Council voted unanimously Wednesday evening to appoint Stacy Atkins-Salazar to replace him as mayor and selected Emily Goldstein as vice mayor before following up the decision with a no confidence vote on his ability to serve as a councilmember.

“We have no legal ability to remove him from the city council. However, I believe we owe it to the people of Arcata to make it clear — we do not align ourselves with the actions of Councilmember Watson," Goldstein said before the no confidence vote. "This last week, information came to light regarding alleged behaviors of Councilmember Watson that negatively affected the city and some of its staff members."

Watson was first appointed to fill an open seat on the council in 2017 before being elected to serve. In August, Watson was arrested for driving under the influence at a controlled traffic stop conducted by the California Highway Patrol on L.K. Wood Boulevard.

He later released a statement saying he was having a difficult time dealing with the year anniversary of his father’s suicide.

Read Watson's statement below:
Arcata, CA, October 22, 2021 – Over the last 4 years I've worked very hard to serve the people of Arcata and it's been the greatest honor of my life. On Monday October 11th, I informed the City Council and staff I would be stepping down as Mayor and entering a 30 day residential rehabilitation program to focus on depression and personal issues. My goal is to get myself better before making any decisions on how I can continue to best serve my community. I'm very grateful for the outpouring of support I've received and I’ll inform the community of my decision as soon as possible. 
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Thursday, October 21, 2021

Arcata Council Casts 'No Confidence Vote' After Removing Mayor for 'Alleged Behaviors'

Posted By on Thu, Oct 21, 2021 at 12:01 PM

The Arcata City Council voted unanimously Wednesday evening to remove Brett Watson from the position of mayor and followed up the decision with a no confidence vote in his ability to serve as a councilmember.

Watson was not present “due to personal reasons,” according to Stacy Atkins-Salazar, who was selected to serve as mayor until December of 2022.

Vice Mayor Emily Goldstein, who was also appointed to her post at last night’s meeting, read a somewhat lengthy but vague statement about alleged actions taken by Watson that she said had come to the council’s attention in the last week before moving for the no confidence vote. Watson, she said, had been made aware that the votes were going to take place.

“For the public listening in, this means that I move to hold a vote to determine if the council believes Councilmember Watson is fit to serve on our Arcata City Council,” Goldstein read. “We have no legal ability to remove him from the city council. However, I believe we owe it to the people of Arcata to make it clear — we do not align ourselves with the actions of Councilmember Watson. This last week, information came to light regarding alleged behaviors of Councilmember Watson that negatively affected the city and some of its staff members.

“It is our responsibility now, as the council, to protect the well-being of our employees and the ability of our city  to run smoothly,”  she continued. “While to some of you it may seem unfair that we are moving forward with this vote of no confidence when Councilmember Watson is not present, we did feel it was important to be transparent with the residents of Arcata and share that this decision of leadership rotation and this proposed vote were made based on a body of information, although some of this cannot be shared publicly at this time. I have previously conveyed my thoughts to Councilmember Watson and he has been made aware that this vote would move forward at this evening’s council meeting. I do not take this decision lightly. I have shared all I can at this time and the city will address the alleged actions in a confidential manner.”

The four council members then cast their unanimous votes of no confidence.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Newsom Declares Drought Emergency Across California

Posted By on Wed, Oct 20, 2021 at 9:44 AM

A U.S. Department of Agriculture field manager walks along the parched ground in a pomegranate orchard at Wolfskill Experimental Orchards near Davis. - PHOTO BY ANNE WERNIKOFF, CALMATTERS
  • Photo by Anne Wernikoff, CalMatters
  • A U.S. Department of Agriculture field manager walks along the parched ground in a pomegranate orchard at Wolfskill Experimental Orchards near Davis.
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday declared a drought emergency for the entire state of California, as conservation efforts continue to fall far short of state targets.

Newsom also authorized California’s water regulators to ban wasteful water use, such as spraying down public sidewalks, and directed his Office of Emergency Services to fund drinking water as needed. But he stopped short of issuing any statewide conservation mandates.

“As the western U.S. faces a potential third year of drought, it’s critical that Californians across the state redouble our efforts to save water in every way possible,” Newsom said in a statement.

The announcement extends drought emergencies, already declared in 50 counties, to the eight remaining counties where conditions had thus far not been deemed severe enough: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Imperial, San Francisco and Ventura.

The emergency declarations are aimed at easing responses to the deepening drought — such as emergency bottled water purchases or construction to bolster water supplies — by reducing environmental and other regulations. Under the proclamation, local water suppliers must begin preparing for the possibility of a dry year ahead.

“We think we’ll be able to manage through this year,” said David Pettijohn, director of water resources at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. “Next year is the issue. And we don’t know what the water year is going to look like. Nobody can predict the weather.”

But California’s water watchers say that without a conservation mandate, California is losing time, and water. “We know mandates are more effective than voluntary calls,” said Heather Cooley, director of research at the Pacific Institute, a global water think tank. “It takes time to ramp up, and because of the delay in asking Californians to save water this spring, we are further behind than we should be.”

Conservation improving, but still short of goals

New data released today by the State Water Resources Control Board reveals that Californians cut their water use at home by 5 percent in August compared to August 2020, an improvement over the reductions of less than 2 percent in July but still far short of the voluntary 15 percent cuts Newsom urged in July.

The hard-hit North Coast, where the state’s first drought emergencies were declared in April, continued to show the biggest drops in household water use — with an 18.3 percent decrease compared to August of last year. Conservation numbers tapered off moving south, with the San Francisco Bay Area conserving nearly 10 percent more water than last August.

The South Coast region — which includes Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego and Ventura counties — showed an improvement over July, when water use was roughly even with last year. In August, residents used about 3.1 percent less water than they did in August 2020.

“Those numbers are a little bit misleading, frankly,” said Pettijohn, pointing to existing conservation measures including mandatory outdoor watering restrictions. “Looking at one month, in one year, compared to the same exact month in the current year, it’s really not a true measure of what the efforts in the city have been.”

The current reductions in water use are on top of conservation that has continued since the last drought. In 2020, Californians were already using about 16% less water in their homes and businesses statewide compared to 2013, according to water board data analyst Marielle Pinheiro.

This August was both the hottest and driest on record, according to the governor’s office. And the increased conservation, even during an exceptionally dry month, “is especially significant,” Pinheiro said at the water board meeting today.

“Once you’ve learned to save water, why turn the water on when you’re brushing your teeth?” said former water board chairperson Felicia Marcus, who led the response during the last drought under former Gov. Jerry Brown. “The glass half full view of that is that messaging is starting to take hold.”

Still, Newsha Ajami, director of Urban Water Policy at Stanford University, was surprised that Newsom didn’t declare a statewide water conservation mandate today.

“We really need to reduce per capita water use significantly in some areas of the state,” she said. “If this drought lingers longer and we end up having a few more dry years we are going to have a lot more communities experiencing water scarcity and water access issues.”

An unknown water year ahead

Newsom’s announcement comes at a pivotal moment for California’s water.

The state just closed out its second-driest water year on record, with nearly 88 percent of California now in the clutches of extreme drought, or worse. By the end of September, statewide reservoir storage had hit 60 percent of average, with Lake Oroville setting a new record low.

“It’s amazing that in the second dry year, we’re in as scary a position if not scarier than what we faced in that last drought. It’s almost beyond comprehension,” Marcus said. “It’s a stunning challenge.”

State officials have warned water providers south of the Delta relying on state water allocations that they might be cut off completely next year.

“We’re starting with record low (reservoir) storage,” Karla Nemeth, director of the state Department of Water Resources, said last month. “We would have to have north of 140 percent of (average) precipitation to generate average runoff into the reservoirs that would begin filling that hole.”

“It’s amazing that in the second dry year, we’re in as scary a position if not scarier than what we faced in that last drought. It’s almost beyond comprehension.”

Felicia Marcus, former chairperson, State Water Resources Control Board

Now, California is on the cusp of its rainy season, from November to April, when it receives almost all of its yearly precipitation.

A series of storms are expected to reach Northern California this week, with another that could unleash some rain over Southern California as soon as this weekend, according to Chad Hecht, a meteorology staff researcher with the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Precipitation forecasts range from eight inches in the Sierras over the next seven days, to less than half an inch in Southern California, said Julie Kalansky, the center’s deputy director.

While the rain is unlikely to substantially refill empty reservoirs, it could help prepare thirsty soils for more rains to come.

For these storms, “the runoff from them may not be very high, but they’ll help moisten the soils. So if we get more, hopefully you get more runoff that you know can go into reservoirs or streams and ecosystems,” Kalansky said.

But the water year ahead remains murky: Cooler than average temperatures in the tropical Pacific herald the arrival of La Niña conditions, which the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center reports have an 87 percent chance of continuing between December and February.

La Niña can stir up storm tracks, changing how much precipitation falls on California. But the results vary — especially for Northern California — making it difficult to predict what this means for rain and snowfall in the northern two-thirds of the state, Kalansky said.

For Southern California, on the other hand, La Niña tends to foretell a drier year. “It doesn’t mean that we’re necessarily going to have a really dry year, but we typically don’t get really wet years when it’s a La Niña,” she said.

Overall, Kalansky said, “it’s still yet to be decided on whether or not this year is going to be wet or dry and what this means for drought. We just don’t have those answers yet.”

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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Arcata Council Set to Select a New Mayor, Vice Mayor

Posted By on Tue, Oct 19, 2021 at 3:09 PM

  • Courtesy of the city of Arcata
  • Brett Watson
Arcata Mayor Brett Watson has not submitted a resignation letter but the city council is scheduled to select his replacement and chose a new vice mayor during a special meeting tomorrow.

The item on the 5:59 p.m. agenda just before the regularly scheduled meeting states simply: With a mid-term vacancy of the mayor’s position, the council will consider the election of a new mayor and vice mayor.

In an email to the Journal, City Manager Karen Diemer wrote that she was limited in what she could say at this time due to the “personal nature” of the circumstance other than “in communication with him for personal reasons the city is considering the rotation of mayor and vice mayor.”

She also confirmed that Watson has not submitted a resignation letter.

Watson, who was first appointed to fill an open seat on the council in 2017 before being elected the next year, was arrested for driving under the influence in August at a controlled traffic stop being conducted by the California Highway Patrol on L.K. Wood Boulevard.

He later released a statement saying he was having a difficult time dealing with the year anniversary of his father’s suicide.

Vice Mayor Stacy Atkins-Salazar told the Lost Coast Outpost that she and the other three councilmembers decided Monday to call the special meeting and she “strongly encourages the public to watch the beginning of the meeting.”

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Friday, October 15, 2021

Hospitals Brace for Strikes as California Workers Protest Staff Shortages

Posted By on Fri, Oct 15, 2021 at 3:43 PM

Hospital staffers and union organizers waved signs and banners in protest over staffing shortages at Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Roseville on Oct. 14, 2021. - PHOTO BY FRED GREAVES FOR CALMATTERS
  • Photo by Fred Greaves for CalMatters
  • Hospital staffers and union organizers waved signs and banners in protest over staffing shortages at Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Roseville on Oct. 14, 2021.

As weary health care workers across California enter the 19th month of the pandemic, thousands are walking off the job and onto the picket line, demanding more staffing.

The strikes and rallies threaten to cripple hospital operations that have been inundated by the COVID-19 Delta surge as well as patients seeking long-delayed care.

More than two dozen hospitals across the state — including some Kaiser Permanente and Sutter Health facilities and USC Keck Medicine — have experienced strikes by engineers, janitorial staff, respiratory therapists, nurses, midwives, physical therapists and technicians over the past four months.

This week, nearly a third of all California hospitals reported “critical staffing shortages” to the federal government, with more predicting shortages in the coming week. Hospitals are unable to meet the state’s required staff-to-patient ratios for nurses or schedule adequate numbers of other critical personnel.

In the Central Valley, the region hit hardest by the Delta surge, National Guard medics have been deployed since September to assist area hospitals.

The reason for the shortages? Record patient volumes at the same time that many workers have been driven away from the bedside by burnout, early retirement and the seemingly unending stress of the pandemic.

Flourish logoA Flourish chart

SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West estimates that about 10 percent of its members — close to 10,000 people — have retired, left the profession, or taken extended leaves of absence during the pandemic.

“What’s really important is that 10 percent doesn’t turn into 15 percent, does not turn into 20 percent. There’s not enough temporary staff out there to fix what’s going on,” said Dave Regan, president of SEIU-UHW.

The shortages are an untenable scenario, unions say — one that has persisted for many years brought to a boiling point by the pandemic.

Since the pandemic began, union grievances with hospitals are increasingly about inadequate staffing, although bargaining over pay remains a key issue.

Money matters when it comes to holding onto workers, they say, especially because temporary staff brought on for pandemic response often make more than regular employees. In some instances, traveling nurses have been paid $10,000 per week at California hospitals with severe staffing needs.

“You’re paying exorbitant amounts for travelers while the existing workforce makes exactly the same amount (as before the pandemic),” Regan said.

Striking to “stop the bleeding”

Early in the pandemic, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced efforts to expand the health care workforce through a volunteer health corps. Although tens of thousands signed up, most people didn’t have the necessary medical skills, and only 14 volunteers worked out.

The California Department of Public Health also signed a $500 million contract to help hospitals pay for emergency health care workers like traveling nurses. That contract expired in June.

Unions say those efforts are a Band-aid on a larger problem. Instead, they say policymakers should get hospitals to try harder to retain their current employees.

“Right now, hospitals, the health industry, the state of California, you need to do a lot more so that it doesn’t get worse,” Regan said. “We’re doing very little as a state to support this workforce that has been under a really unique set of pressures.”

In an early attempt to stop the churn, SEIU-UHW sponsored a bill that would have provided hazard pay retention bonuses to health workers. Opposed by the hospital association. the bill died after a third reading in the Assembly and did not make it to the Senate.

Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi, a Democrat from Torrance who introduced the bill, said the hospitals’ claims that they couldn’t afford hazard pay were unfounded since they received billions in federal pandemic funds, some “specifically earmarked for hazard pay and bonuses for frontline workers.”

“The state made a decision that they were not going to provide financial incentives to recognize and retain healthcare workers, and we think that’s shortsighted,” Regan said.

Over the summer, hundreds of nurses at hospitals, including USC’s Keck Medicine, San Francisco’s Chinese Hospital and Riverside Community Hospital, staged strikes over inadequate staffing and safety concerns.

Now more than 700 hospital engineers employed by Kaiser Permanente facilities in Northern California have been striking for four weeks, demanding higher wages.

In Antioch, more than 350 workers at Sutter Delta ended a week-long strike over inadequate staffing Friday but have yet to reach a contract agreement with their employer.

In the Victor Valley and Roseville, hundreds of workers staged recent rallies and vigils to highlight what they’re calling a “worker crisis.” Advocates say their upcoming schedules are packed with pickets planned in solidarity with other unions.

“We’re doing very little as a state to support this workforce that has been under a really unique set of pressures.”

Dave Regan, SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West

And perhaps the strongest flexing of union muscle has come in Southern California, where members of the United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals, or UNAC/UHCP, voted overwhelmingly to approve a strike against Kaiser Permanente if negotiations remain at a standstill. Should a strike materialize in the coming weeks, more than 24,000 members would walk out of the health care giant’s medical centers and clinics in more than a dozen cities.

Although the dollars and cents of bargaining vary from union to union, the common thread is clear: They want employers to “stop the bleeding” of health care workers fleeing the profession and invest more in recruiting and retaining staff.

The union found 72 percent of its members — which includes nurses, occupational and physical therapists, midwives and other medical staff — were struggling with anxiety and burnout, and between 42 to 45 percent reported depression and insomnia. About 74 percent said staffing was a primary concern.

How hospitals are responding to shortages

Hospitals say it is not as easy as hiring more employees. With so many people leaving the workforce, there aren’t enough candidates to fill the gap. Even support staff like janitors, cafeteria workers, clerks and assistants are in short supply.

“There is no question there is a shortage of health care workforce. We have far fewer people in the workforce today than we did when the pandemic started,” said Jan Emerson-Shea, spokesperson for the California Hospital Association.

Many hospitals have offered employees shift bonuses, child care subsidies and temporary housing to keep them from spreading the virus to family members while keeping them at patients’ bedside. But it hasn’t been enough.

“I don’t know that it’s anybody’s first choice, but we are in a situation where we have to rely on the travelers (traveling nurses),” Emerson-Shea said. “Hospitals would much rather have their permanent staff, but in this situation, with as long as it has been and the workforce dynamics so complex, we need both.”

“We have far fewer people in the workforce today than we did when the pandemic started.”

Jan Emerson-Shea, California Hospital Association

The state hospital association has asked state Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly to assist hospitals with workforce concerns in part by reinstating funding for traveling workers and making it easier for hospitals to get exemptions from the state’s strict nurse-to-patient ratios. In a written response, Ghaly said the state would continue helping designated surge hospitals pay for extra staff and was working to expedite nursing ratio waivers for heavily impacted regions.

“There’s no resolution yet, but the conversations are occurring, which is important because we are not through the pandemic,” Emerson-Shea said.

Like many industries, hospitals rely on historic averages to predict the need for employees. The average number of patients in a given time period determines how many employees will be scheduled each day. The problem, workers say, is that using the average means frequently they are working with minimal staff.

“There needs to be a massive paradigm shift of how hospitals treat clinicians, and that’s less just-in-time staffing and less just-in-time supplies,” said Gerard Brogan, director of nursing practice at the California Nurses Association and National Nurses United.

Sibilia Espinoza, a registered nurse, stands in the ICU of Kaiser Permanente Baldwin Park Medical Center wearing full protective equipment. Her union, UNAC/UHCP, voted overwhelmingly to strike in part because of staffing conditions during the pandemic.

Peter Sidhu, a former intensive care nurse at the Kaiser Woodland Hills Medical Center, said the union has filed staffing grievances each year for the past seven years. During the pandemic, the strain has gotten worse. Woodland Hills Medical Center is one of the facilities that may be affected by a strike.

“Between the first surge and second surge, we had several months where there was zero planning. There were no new grad programs, there was no new hiring,” Sidhu said.

“So going into that second surge, which was really bad here in California, we knew we were in trouble,” Sidhu said. With adequate staffing prior to the pandemic and efforts to increase staff levels in between surges, workers would not have burned out so rapidly, he contends.

Bargaining over salaries and benefits between Kaiser and Alliance of Health Care Unions, which includes the Southern California group UNAC/UHCP, stalled at the end of September after five months. The strike authorization is the first of its kind for UNAC/UHCP in the past 26 years, and members say long-standing staffing issues and burnout contributed to employee dissatisfaction.

“The vote to authorize a strike by union members is disappointing, especially because our members and communities are continuing to face the challenges of the ongoing pandemic,” Arlene Peasnall, Kaiser’s senior vice president of human resources, said in a statement. “In the event of any kind of work stoppage, our facilities will be staffed by our physicians along with trained and experienced managers and contingency staff.”

‘Burnout can only be getting worse’

In a recent study by the UC San Francisco Health Workforce Research Center on Long-Term Care, the number of nurses aged 55 to 64 planning on quitting or retiring in the next two years jumped nearly 14 percent between 2018 and 2020, setting up the field for a five-year shortage.

Joanne Spetz, the center’s associate director of research and lead study author, said new graduates before the pandemic sometimes struggled to find employment while employers frequently complained about not being able to find enough experienced nurses to hire. But the overall number of nurses in the workforce was enough then.

Now, with nurses reducing their hours or quitting, the state is in a more tenuous position. About 7% fewer nurses reported working full-time in 2020 compared to 2018, and sharp declines in employment were seen among nurses 55 years and older, according to the study.

“We’re looking at having a shortage in the short term,” she said. “The wild card is, with the pandemic lasting this long, burnout can only be getting worse. What if we have a bunch of 30 to 35 year-old nurses who say ‘screw this,’ then we’re losing a lot of years of working life from these nurses.”

“One day you walk in and your unit is full, and two days later you walk in and a large portion of those patients have passed away.”

Peter Sidhu, former intensive care nurse

Sidhu is one of those experienced nurses who found himself reeling from the dual forces of COVID-19’s brutal emotional toll and short staffing.

He had volunteered to work with the first COVID-19 patient that arrived at his ICU in March 2020. That first patient quickly turned into dozens each day, with many dying.

“One day you walk in and your unit is full, and two days later you walk in and a large portion of those patients have passed away. You’re double-stacking body bags,” Sidhu said.

He struggled with anxiety, anger and insomnia before his shifts, knowing there would be more patients than nurses could care for, and that they would have no time for breaks. He said he was told that under the state’s temporary emergency waiver of nurse-to-patient ratios he would have to take on more patients.

A year into the pandemic, Sidhu called it quits and now works as the union’s treasurer. Of the eight members in his original ICU nursing team, only two remain working, he said.

“I’m 42, and I was planning on working at the bedside until I turn 60,” Sidhu said. “And then after COVID, I said ‘I am done.’ I was super-done.”

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Thursday, October 14, 2021

Humboldt Residents Could See a Change in Representation Under Draft Redistricting Maps

Posted By on Thu, Oct 14, 2021 at 4:02 PM

  • wikimedia commons
Humboldt County residents’ representation on the board of supervisors, in Congress and in the state Legislature is on the line as two commissions look at redrawing boundaries of those districts.

The process happens ever 10 years after the federal government publishes census data to ensure the populations of the districts are evenly distributed.

The last go-around on the Congressional side placed Humboldt out of longtime Representative Mike Thompson’s turf and Jared Huffman, then a termed-out member of the state Assembly, easily won the election for the redrawn Second District, which includes Humboldt, Mendocino and Marin counties, which he has represented to date.

Now the California Citizens Redistricting Committee is once again looking at shaking things up when it comes to who speaks for Humboldt on the state and federal levels.

At its meeting tomorrow, the commission is slated to discuss and review boundary opinions, some of which move the county out of Huffman’s district, as well as those of state Sen. Mike McGuire and state Assemblymember Jim Wood by connecting Humboldt with counties to its east rather than those south along the coast.

View tomorrow’s agenda — the meeting runs from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. — the proposals and find feedback forms here.

Meanwhile, the county's Redistricting Advisory Commission is doing to same type of work, in this case looking at where the boundaries for the five supervisorial districts will fall.

It also has a meeting tomorrow at 10 a.m. to look at making recommendations for the final-round of draft maps. Find the meeting agenda here and more info on draft maps and how to give feedback here
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Huffman, Ocasio-Cortez Hosting Town Hall on 'Build Back Better'

Posted By on Thu, Oct 14, 2021 at 2:17 PM

North Coast Representative Jared Huffman will join fellow Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York at a virtual townhall on Friday afternoon with a focus on the "Build Back Better" plan now before Congress.

The $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill would also provide for social services, including free childcare, and add dental coverage to Medicare, as well as invest in clean energy as a measure to fight climate change.

The town hall is scheduled for 2:30 p.m (PST) and particpants can ask questions via Zoom or Facebook video in the comment section. Questions can also be sent ahead of time to or call 415-258-9657 with your name, neighborhood and question.

Read the release from Huffman's office below:
On Friday, October 15 at 2:30pm PT, Representatives Jared Huffman (CA-02) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) will be holding a virtual Town Hall. During the event, the congressmembers will discuss their efforts to help the country and the President build back better by making necessary investments in the nation’s physical and social infrastructure.

Both Rep. Huffman and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez are members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Participants are encouraged to ask questions via Zoom or in the Facebook video comments section during the event for a chance to have your question read aloud and answered live. To send a question ahead of time, please email or call 415-258-9657 with your name, neighborhood and question.

Event Details: WHAT: Virtual Town Hall with Representatives Jared Huffman and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
WHEN: Friday, October 15, 2021 @ 2:30pm PT
WHERE: · RSVP here for a link to the Zoom · Live on and
· KSRO 1350-AM will air the town hall at 5:00 p.m., streaming at, or on the KSRO app
· KPCA-LP, 103.3 FM, and streaming on KPCA.FM.
· Marin TV, Comcast CH 27, AT&T CH 99 and online at
· Redwood Community Radio, KMUD live broadcast: Community members in Humboldt & Mendocino Counties can tune in live to 91.1 Garberville, 88.1 Eureka, 90.3 Laytonville/Willits or online at
· Live on Mendocino County Public Broadcasting, KZYX 90.7FM Philo, KZYZ 91.5FM Willits and Ukiah, and 88.1FM Fort Bragg.
· Access Humboldt AH11 (Suddenlink Cable Channel 11) as well as on radio at KZZH-LP 96.7FM

Please be advised that this is a virtual event; members of the press and public should not attempt to meet in person with the Congressmembers. For more information on Rep. Huffman’s work, visit
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