This is a mix of copy contributred to POLITICO and Chronicle newsletters, reporting contributed to news articles written by other journalists, and the Chronicle's "DEI Legislation Tracker", a collaborative database where I managed weekly reporting for 7 states. Titles reflect newsletter headlines, you will see what I wrote specifically when you click on them. 

Picking up where Reagan left off

SHELTER FROM THE STORM: San Francisco will add 300 shelter beds this week, bringing the total beds added this year to nearly 1,500. West Coast cities have continued to struggle with a large number of people living on the street. In 2022, almost 60 percent of San Francisco’s homeless population was unsheltered, compared with a mere 3 percent in Boston or 16 percent in Philadelphia.

Some homeless advocates argue that funding should be directed to permanent housing solutions rather than to emergency shelter. Central to the decision to expand shelters is intense pressure to remove large encampments in the city. A 2019 court decision has hamstrung cities’ ability to disband encampments, but in her announcement, Breed highlighted a recent 9th Circuit decision that clarified that cities could eject people from encampments if they are first offered shelter.

The waiting list for a shelter bed was 503 people as of this afternoon. — Forest Hunt

A major shift is underway with California's mental health system

TRANQ CRACKDOWN: Newsom proposed new legislation Tuesday to classify xylazine as a controlled substance in California. The animal tranquilizer, often called tranq, has been increasingly cut with fentanyl, The Biden administration designated the combination an “emerging threat” last Spring. This is the latest step in a larger 1 billion effort by the state to address the opioid overdose epidemic, reports POLITICO's Forest Hunt.

Xylazine-positive overdoses have risen across the country from 2021 to 2022, though so far most of the deaths have been in other parts of the country. Tranq deaths rose over 1000 percent in the South from 116 to 1423 and have also topped 1000 in the Northeast. Overdoses on the West Coast rose from four in 2021 to 34 in 2022, including four in San Francisco in the past year.

Tranq commonly rots users' skin and sometimes requires amputations. When combined with opioids, it is also resistant to naloxone — the drug used to revive opioid users.

Florida, West Virgina, Pennsylvania and Ohio schedule and regulate tranq to different degrees. A federal bill to research the drug is still awaiting final passage. The American Veterinary Medical Association backed a federal bill last spring that would protect its legitimate medical use and schedule the drug at level 3. That’s the same as ketamine, another veterinary drug.

Newsoms’ office has not finalized the exact bill text and said details will be released closer to the next legislative session. The bill will allow xylazine “for legitimate veterinary use” in the state.

A guaranteed vote for parental leave

TOUGHER ON TRANQ: Gov. Gavin Newsom is proposing legislation to make it harder to get an animal tranquilizer that is frequently mixed with fentanyl and has played an increasing role in the opioid crisis. The legislation would classify xylazine as a controlled substance in California.

Xylazine-positive overdoses have risen across the country from 2021 to 2022, though so far most of the deaths have been in other parts of the country. The Biden administration previously designated the mixture of fentanyl and xylazine an “emerging threat.” The American Veterinary Medical Association backed a federal bill last spring that would protect its legitimate medical use and schedule the drug at Schedule III, the same as ketamine. Newsom’s office has not finalized the exact bill text, and said details will be released closer to the next legislative session. — Forest Hunt

A California freshman makes waves in DC

TENSE TIMES — The death of a 69-year-old Jewish man during dueling demonstrations over Israel’s war with Hamas has prompted a police investigation and political condemnation.

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass called the death of Paul Kessler at the protests in Thousand Oaks “a blow to our region” amid the global anguish over the Oct. 7 attack on Israel and the ongoing response that has caused thousands of casualties in Gaza.

“We must redouble our efforts to ensure violence and hate are met with accountability and consequences,” Bass said in a statement.

Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin, who represents the area, tweeted her concern over the incident. She urged residents to “exercise patience and grace while the investigation into this terrible tragedy is concluded.”

Ventura County authorities are investigating the death of Kessler, who was part of a pro-Israel group demonstrating Sunday against a rally in support of the Palestinians. He died Monday, hours after he fell and hit his head on the ground during a confrontation with a Pro-Palestinian demonstrator.

Authorities say it’s being investigated as a homicide but have not yet determined whether it will be treated as a hate crime.

— Forest Hunt

Walking out on Kaiser

CASTE PROTEST: An activist fainted today as she marked 30 days of fasting to pressure Newsom into signing the first statewide ban on caste discrimination. Sana Qutubuddin, of the Indian American Muslim Council, was treated and released from urgent care, according to Thenmozhi Soundararajan, a fellow activist also taking part in the protest. Their fast is a reminder of one of the more divisive bills to emerge from this most recent session of the Legislature. California would be the first state to explicitly ban discrimination by caste, a system of inherited social hierarchy. Senate Bill 403 created divisions in the South Asian community, and opponents have also staged impassioned demonstrations at the Capitol. Many Hindus say the legislation is unnecessary and stigmatizes their religion. — Forest Hunt

In it to win it

APPEALING TO NEWSOM: The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights rallied on the steps of the state Capitol today in hopes of persuading Newsom to sign two bills on his desk.

Members of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights demonstrate outside the state Capitol in Sacramento, Calif.

One proposal, Assembly Bill 1536, would extend a cash assistance program to people in California without legal U.S. immigration status. The other, Assembly Bill 278, would provide grants to high schools to create resource centers to help undocumented students. CHIRLA spokesperson Jorge Mario Cabrera said the two bills are the only “pro-immigrant” legislation left for Newsom to sign this year.

Members of the group marched to Newsom’s office in the nearby Swing Space to deliver bread and roses, long a symbol of labor activism. — Forest Hunt

Newsom speaks on Senate pick

FENTANYL BUST: Attorney General Rob Bonta today announced a large multi-agency bust in Los Angeles in which law enforcement arrested 27 people and seized over 70,000 fentanyl pills and hundreds of pounds of other narcotics in Harbor Gateway, a neighborhood in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Police Capt. Brent McGuire said the operation targeted an unnamed criminal “nexus” that extended across the state as far as Tulare County. According to McGuire, this operation follows another police action conducted in conjunction with the FBI last March that targeted the same group.

California law enforcement seized almost 30,000 pounds of fentanyl in 2022, an almost 600 percent increase from 2021. The fentanyl epidemic in the U.S. pushed fatal drug overdoses up over 60 percent in California from 2020 to 2021 to just shy of 10,000. In 2021, more people were killed by fentanyl than car accidents in California. — Forest Hunt

How to lose friends and influence people

THE WAR ON THE WAR ON DRUGS: A House member from Southern California wants the federal government to ease up on psilocybin in states where it’s legal or has been decriminalized.

Rep Robert Garcia’s legislation comes as Gov. Gavin Newsom weighs whether to sign a bill that would allow therapeutic use of some psychedelic substances, including psilocybin, commonly known as magic mushrooms.

Newsom hasn’t said whether he would sign the bill, though he recently said psychedelic substances have had “profound and consequential” effects in mental health treatment.

The legislation introduced today by the Long Beach Democrat would discourage federal law enforcement in states or local jurisdictions that allow the use of psychedelics, which are illegal under U.S. law. — Forest Hunt

We’re (not quite) in the money

DRIVING OPPOSITION: Teamsters union members descended on Sacramento today urging Newsom to change his mind about self-driving trucks.

The influential union has been pushing to ensure there is a trained human driver in every self-driving truck over 10,000 pounds, and secured near-universal support in the Legislature for a bill that would have done that. But Newsom’s administration has forcefully opposed Assembly Bill 316, arguing in a letter to lawmakers the state “cannot risk stifling innovation at this critical juncture.”

On hand at this morning’s rally outside the Capitol were bill author Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters) and coauthor Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale). Lackey said he worried the governor was distracted by national politics, but that he hoped Newsom could be swayed to sign the bill.

Teamsters General President Sean O’Brien told the crowd that Newsom “needs to understand not only California is watching this, but we’ve got 1.5 million members nationwide that are willing to stand up.”

How to wage a wage war

TAKE A HIKE: Trustees are facing pushback from faculty ahead of a vote on plans to raise tuition in each of the next five years at California State University. Faculty union members and students rallied in protest of the plan in Long Beach this morning — just ahead of a vote on the proposal in the Southern California city scheduled for Wednesday morning. Trustees there will consider 6 percent annual increases as they confront a $1.5 billion deficit in the sprawling system’s budget. Despite continuous pushback from labor, most of the trustees at a meeting in July voiced support for the hikes, as the chancellor’s office argued it could not afford to keep up services despite funding increases from the state. — Forest Hunt

Labor closes in on landmark wins

ABOUT FACE: Police will have free rein until at least 2024 to use facial recognition technology with officer-worn body cameras. Assemblymember Lori Wilson (D-Suisun City) tabled her bill to extend a recently expired ban on the technology. Wilson and the ACLU, which sponsored the bill, told POLITICO they will try again next year.

This session featured a clash between legislators who supported regulating the technology and those who wanted to extend the outright ban. Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), who authored the original moratorium, pushed legislation to allow facial recognition in body cams and more broadly with regulations. Critics of Ting’s bill pushed for full prohibition, and it was held in committee in May.

The debate looks likely to continue next year. Wilson chief of staff Taylor Woolfork said they wanted to work on a solution with Ting, who voted for Wilson’s bill on the floor, but said she remains “very strongly supportive of a ban at this point and wants to see if we can get that done.” — Forest Hunt

Police Purchased Cameras Disguised as Smoke Detectors

Although police purchased the cameras in response to break-ins, the school has scant policies on covert surveillance use.

Evergreen and Washington State Patrol documents obtained by public records requests used in this story are available at the bottom of this page.

Evergreen Police Services purchased three surveillance cameras disguised as smoke detectors and electrical outlet plugs in October 2018.

The purchase was revealed in a purchase order obtained in a public records request by the Jou

Eggplant Facing Major Changes: Closed for Spring, Re-opening in Fall

Is this the end of the Flaming Eggplant Café, or a new beginning?

A press release was sent out by Kayla Mahnke on Thursday, Feb. 8, discussing the Eggplant’s budget crisis and announcing the closure of the café. That same day, the café had its busiest day of the entire quarter. Students and faculty shared memories over a bite in the eatery.

Rumors of the café’s closure first circulated in December of 2018, however, the issues that are prompting the closure date back a decade ago. Evergre