Earthquake rattles Southern California

An earthquake shook Southern California late Friday.

The quake struck just after 11:30 p.m. and was initially rated as a magnitude-4.6 temblor, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It was centered about 1.8 miles west southwest of El Monte.

The shaking was felt from Oxnard to Riverside and as far north as Santa Clarita and as far south as Carlsbad, according to the USGS.

Seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones said in a tweet that is the quake was located near the 1987 Whittier Narrows quake, which was magnitude 5.9.

“It was a pretty good jolt here in Pasadena,” she tweeted.

Still getting everything processed, but it was a pretty good jolt here in Pasadena

— Dr. Lucy Jones (@DrLucyJones) September 19, 2020

The Los Angeles Fire Department immediately went into earthquake mode, with all 106 fire stations checking their areas for damage, Chief Ralph M. Terrazas tweeted.

This is a breaking news story. Come back later for updates.

City News Service contributed to this report

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Mixed messages and conflicting ideas in our pandemic age

Our politics may be paranoid, our society paralyzed by pandemic, and our skies ablaze, but don’t fear! We Californians receive an avalanche of advice about how to behave in crisis. All we have to do is follow it. Easy-peasy, no?

For starters, go outside. Avoid the indoors, because COVID spreads best in enclosed areas. The outdoors is good for your health.

Also, don’t go outside. Don’t you know there’s a pandemic on? Plus, with so many fires burning, you’ll just be breathing smoke. The outdoors now is bad for your health.

Instead, see family right now. Particularly if they are elderly or in a facility. Because loneliness is the biggest killer right now.

One caveat: don’t see your family. Public health officials say family gatherings are where the virus spreads. Haven’t you heard the latest PSAs? If you visit your grandmother, it’s murder.

Speaking of life-and-death, you shouldn’t call the cops unless you’re absolutely sure there’s an emergency; try to deescalate matters yourself. Cops carry dangerous biases, so your call puts vulnerable people at risk.

Of course, you should call the cops. Violence and property crime are up. This is an armed society. If something suspicious occurs, a trained law enforcement professional—not you—should be the one responding. We already have too many vigilantes. Haven’t you seen the signs? “See something, say something.”

Speaking of say something: You must speak out. In this moment of reckoning, silence is complicity in injustice. Whistleblowers must call out wrongdoing. Whites must challenge racism. We need to hear from people of color, whose truths have too long been ignored. And mass protest is essential for change.

Still, don’t speak up. White people need to stop talking about the cultures and histories of others. People of color shouldn’t have to keep explaining themselves. And mass protest is dangerous in a pandemic.

In raising our voices, don’t attack people personally. We must focus on replacing systems of oppression, not individuals. That’s how you get unity, which is vital.

Never forget that this is about individual morality, not systems. When people say something wrong, call them out, make them accountable. If that’s divisive, so be it—unity is overrated.

Because this is a moment to choose sides and rally your base.

Because what better time to reach out to people who disagree with you.

In this pandemic, it’s essential that we trust our scientists. But we can’t trust our scientists, who are compromised by politics and corporations.

If you’re in a dense city, leave for head somewhere with fewer people, and less COVID, especially if you’re in an at-risk category. That said, you shouldn’t move to far-out or exurban places on the urban-wildland interface—you’re just putting yourself in the path of fire. Instead, embrace the density of our cities!

Wherever you’re living, your kids need to be back in schools. Pediatricians say getting back to class is crucial. Kids are losing educationally and socially when they’re at home. Kids who miss months of school end up less educated, less wealthy, and less healthy. You don’t want to shorten kids’ lives, do you?

But be careful: sending the kids back to school is a rotten idea. Look at the outbreaks at universities that reopened. Kids can be spreaders, too. And we have to protect our educators, who didn’t sign up to risk their lives. You don’t want to shorten teachers’ lives, do you?

If you’re a parent, now is the time to step up and prioritize your kids; find ways to collaborate with other parents to make up for the lack of in-person instruction and socialization, maybe even hire teachers so kids can gather in small groups.

But don’t do too much, and don’t just focus on your kids. When privileged parents intervene, they worsen inequality.

And kids, you really need to avoid sitting in front of your screens for hours. Screen usage is up, and it’s bad for your eyes, your body, and your mental health.

Kids, you must be diligent about distance learning, and you need more time with your teachers online—even if it means sitting in front of your screen for hours.

Remember, we’re all in this together. We have to stay connected and help one another.

Don’t forget, to survive this, we must isolate ourselves. Keep your distance.

In these unprecedented times, we must comply with all of these clear directives, in service of stopping disease, preventing catastrophe, and insuring justice. When you don’t follow all these messages, you are putting everyone else at risk.

In these unprecedented times, it’s impossible to comply with so many mixed messages. Whatever you do, you will be wrong. So prioritize taking care of yourself. All anyone can reasonably demand is that you do the best you can. 

Joe Mathews writes the Connecting California column for Zócalo Public Square.

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Galaxy extends win streak to 3 by knocking off Timbers

PORTLAND, Ore. -— Cristian Pavon scored his fifth goal of the season and the L.A. Galaxy defeated the Portland Timbers 3-2 on Wednesday night.

Efrain Alvarez and Joe Corona also scored for the Galaxy, who have won three straight.

Portland’s Diego Valeri scored in stoppage time, becoming only the third player in MLS history to reach 80 career goals and 80 assists.

The Galaxy were knocked out of this summer’s MLS is Back tournament in the group stage, but beat both LAFC and San Jose after the league returned to play in local markets.

After winning the MLS is Back tournament title, the Timbers lost to rival Seattle then played to a 4-4 draw to Real Salt Lake last weekend.

Because of the condensed schedule, the Timbers had their regular starters on the bench.

That paved the way for goalkeeper Jeff Attinella to make his first start since shoulder surgery last year.

The Galaxy went ahead in the 15th minute when 18-year-old Alvarez scored his first MLS goal in his first start of the season. Pavon added his goal in the 50th.

Felipe Mora closed the gap for the Timbers with a goal in the 67th minute, but Corona answered for the Galaxy less than five minute later.

Jeremy Ebobisse appeared to score for Portland on a header in the 80th minute, but it was flagged as offside and video review did not overturn the close call.

Valeri scored his 80th career goal as Portland scrambled to overcome the deficit. Valeri also has 83 assists. The only two other MLS players to reach the 80-80 mark are Landon Donovan and Jaime Moreno.

The Timbers won the last meeting between the teams 2-1 at the MLS is Back tournament.

The Galaxy were still without Javier Hernandez, better known as Chicharito, who has been out since mid-July because of a calf injury. Coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto said this week he believes Chicharito will return soon.

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Orange Lutheran punter Ashton Logan commits to Colorado

Punters usually don’t receive scholarships coming out of high school. Those rewards seem to go to every other position except punter.

Orange Lutheran High senior Ashton Logan isn’t your usual punter.

The Chris Sailer Kicking five-star recruit has committed to Colorado as a scholarship punter.

“I’m super-excited and blessed,” Logan said of his commitment to the Pac-12 school. “I’ve worked extremely hard to master my craft and playing for a Power 5 program has always been the dream.”

Sailer describes Logan (6-2, 185) as having a live leg with the ability to combine distance and hang time.

“He is averaging 45-plus yards and 4.4-plus (seconds) hang time,” Sailer writes in his evaluation of Logan. “Also shows the ability to hit 50-plus yard punts, with 5.0-plus hang time. … Fantastic prospect.”

Logan could be Orange County’s best punting prospect since Mater Dei’s Ryan Stonehouse, now a standout senior at Colorado State.

Last season, Logan was selected the Trinity League’s MVP Kicker.

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‘Hard Knocks’ episode 4 recap: George Stewart inspires Chargers to create change

Chargers special teams coordinator George Stewart shared the wise words “you gotta lose something to get something” during the team’s emotional conversation last week at SoFi Stadium regarding social justice and police brutality.

For episode four of “Hard Knocks: Los Angeles,” the cameras revealed the backstory of how the Chargers decided to cancel their scrimmage and used their NFL Network platform to raise awareness and how to create change.

“We are football players, we’re not politicians, but it’s up to us to speak our damn platforms,” Stewart told his players in the locker room.

Stewart reminded his players he’s 62 and how much racism and police brutality he’s seen since he was a 6-year-old boy growing up in Arkansas.

“I’m tired of it,” he said. “I know what it’s like to be oppressed … What can we do?”

The NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks initially forfeited their postseason game last week to demand justice for Jacob Blake, who was shot and paralyzed by a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

That led to a domino effect of sporting events being postponed for a few days. The Bucks gave up something to regain the nation’s attention on many social issues like systemic racism.

But coaches were compelled to postpone games and practices because it seemed like the right thing to do instead of understanding why or how to build on the Bucks’ actions.

Chargers coach Anthony Lynn is about actions. Initially, he wasn’t going to cancel the scrimmage without a plan on how to create change. He thought handling business on the practice field and then speaking to reporters after about social justice was the best way to raise awareness and spur actions.

Lynn said a head coach called him to say he canceled practice because he didn’t know what to do.

“Get your ass out in the community and go do something with some people who can actually make change,” Lynn said he told the anonymous head coach.

He then reminded his players of all the actions they’ve done away from the field and how to expand on it.

“We’re working with Liberty Hill in L.A. right now to change policies to end systemic racism,” Lynn told his players on Zoom the night before gathering at SoFi Stadium.  “Get your ass out and vote to get the right people in the position that have the same viewpoints that you have. That’s one of the important things you can do.

“Best way to honor Jacob Blake, let’s talk about it to the media after we do our job.”

Lynn changed his mind and canceled practice after the emotional conversation in the locker room.

The players gave up their opportunities to earn playing time and roster spots in a valuable scrimmage to speak about social injustices for 60 minutes on national television. Stewart’s wise words and Lynn’s push for actions resonated with players.

Loved it. My respect for Anthony Lynn & this organization as a whole couldn’t be higher right now.

— Nick Horrigan (@NHorrigan30) September 2, 2020

STAR OF THE EPISODE

Nose tackle Breiden Fehoko got Lynn to say the words every undrafted rookie wants to hear.

“He just made the team,” Lynn said after watching Fehoko perform the ceremonial haka dance in front of teammates.

Lynn might have been joking, but he’s also been impressed with his play on the practice field.

Fehoko doesn’t have the ideal height for a defensive tackle — he jokingly blamed that on his mother — but his technique and drive to improve could keep him with the Chargers past Saturday’s cutdown day.

Two-time Pro Bowl nose tackle Linval Joseph told Fehoko to show up on tape. He muttered those words to himself before a practice. He also got the attention of star defensive end Melvin Ingram with his confidence.

Fehoko also won the hearts of viewers with his underdog story. Many are rooting for him to perform more hakas for the Chargers.

Breiden Fehoko is so easy to root for pic.twitter.com/7O7Bv2jGuP

— ChargersMemes (@ChargersMemes) September 2, 2020

AVOID RAMSEY’S SIDE

Safety JuJu Hughes was dumbfounded as to why the Rams decided to throw in rookie wide receiver Van Jefferson’s direction while being defended by star cornerback Jalen Ramsey.

Ramsey won the round, but Jefferson has made many plays in camp. Perhaps it’s not the best idea to throw in Ramsey’s vicinity, but practice is about improving and the Rams likely wanted to see how good their 2020 second-round pick was.

Speaking of puzzling moves, why was coach Sean McVay and general manager Les Snead shaking hands with players after cutting them?

That’s like adding insult to injury. It’s 2020, Rams brass. Avoid high fives and handshakes. Shoulder bumps are acceptable, though.

#HardKnocks captures two of the highlights of #Rams training camp: Rookie WR Van Jefferson’s route-running any day. And CB Jalen Ramsey’s one-handed interception and length-of-the-field runback in practice on Aug. 25.

— Kevin Modesti (@KevinModesti) September 2, 2020

HERBERT’S UPS AND DOWNS

Rookie quarterback Justin Herbert was down on himself after a lackluster practice, but he showed growth with an impressive workout the following day.

This year’s No. 6 overall pick has been a mixed bag performance and personality wise.

He’s known for being quiet, but he showed personality when he did the “wassup” from the popular early 2000s Budweiser commercials. Herbert was born in 1998.

Rookie wide receiver K.J. Hill must have been so confused after he heard Herbert say that.

Herbert was also reminded by the Chargers’ defense he wasn’t facing Washington State. A subtle jab for the teams he faced in the Pac-12 while playing for Oregon.

The rookie said he obviously knew he wasn’t facing Washington State and then dropped a few impressive throws on the defense to prove it.

Yup. Will Herbert be able to have the game slow down. Cuz god given talent that boy has it.

— DH (@DH2185) September 2, 2020

TAYLOR’S LEADERSHIP

Quarterback Tyrod Taylor is in an awkward situation with Herbert because he’ll likely replace him in the future.

Taylor is the current starter and wants to keep it that way for as long as possible, but that didn’t stop him from helping Herbert keep his confidence after throwing an interception.

“Brush it off,” Taylor told Herbert.

Taylor was also the one who gathered the team for the heart-to-heart conversation at SoFi Stadium.

It’s obvious the Chargers respect Taylor and want to hear from him as one of the leaders on the team.

Good leadership by Tyrod Taylor to tell Justin Herbert to “brush it off” after the rookie threw an interception. That’s why Lynn is a fan of Tyrod as a person and player #Chargers #HardKnocks

— Gilbert Manzano (@GManzano24) September 2, 2020

 

 

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Dodgers lose a wild game to the Giants in 11 innings

  • San Francisco Giants’ Donovan Solano celebrates after hitting the game winning home run against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the eleventh inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

  • Justin Turner #10 of the Los Angeles Dodgers avoids a tag by a diving Tyler Rogers #71 of the San Francisco Giants to reach first base for an infield single that enabled a run to score in the 11th inning at Oracle Park on August 25, 2020 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

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  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Justin Turner scores on a passed ball by San Francisco Giants catcher Joey Bart in the tenth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

  • Justin Turner #10 of the Los Angeles Dodgers safely steals third base as the ball gets past Evan Longoria #10 of the San Francisco Giants in the tenth inning at Oracle Park on August 25, 2020 in San Francisco, California. Turner scored on the play. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

  • Justin Turner #10 of the Los Angeles Dodgers safely steals third base as the ball gets past Evan Longoria #10 of the San Francisco Giants in the tenth inning at Oracle Park on August 25, 2020 in San Francisco, California. Turner scored on the play. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

  • Justin Turner #10 of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits a double in the first inning against the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park on August 25, 2020 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

  • Max Muncy #13 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates with Joc Pederson #31 after he hit a three run home run in the first inning against the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park on August 25, 2020 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

  • Donovan Solano #7 of the San Francisco Giants prays before their game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Oracle Park on August 25, 2020 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

  • Justin Turner #10 of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits a double in the first inning against the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park on August 25, 2020 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

  • Julio Urias #7 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches against the San Francisco Giants in the first inning at Oracle Park on August 25, 2020 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Max Muncy watches his three-run home run off San Francisco Giants’ Johnny Cueto in the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

  • San Francisco Giants pitcher Johnny Cueto works against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Austin Barnes (15) scores from third base on a passed ball as Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Yusei Kikuchi looks on in the third inning of a baseball game Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ pitcher Julio Urias works against the San Francisco Giants in the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Max Muncy, right, celebrates with Justin Turner, second from left, and A.J. Pollock, left, after hitting a three-run home run off San Francisco Giants’ Johnny Cueto in the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Joc Pederson follows through on an RBI double off San Francisco Giants’ Johnny Cueto
    during the third inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

  • Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers wears in a mask in the dugout before their game against the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park on August 25, 2020 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

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Donovan Solano and Dennis Santana were teammates in the Dodgers’ organization briefly, in Oklahoma City a couple years ago.

Under no circumstances could they have imagined sharing the fate of a game like the one played Tuesday night in San Francisco.

Solano hit a two-run home run off Santana in the 11th inning of the Dodgers’ 10-8 loss to the Giants, the final dagger in a game of paper cuts. The rivalry between the Giants and Dodgers has witnessed back-and-forth games since the 19th century, but this one was only possible in 2020.

Brandon Belt homered off Kenley Jansen in the bottom of the ninth inning at Oracle Park, tying the game at 6.

Two ties, two lead changes, and two innings later, the game ended when Solano saw a hanging slider from Santana that he liked. The home run – Solano’s only hit in a 4-hour, 22-minute game – put the Dodgers behind on the scoreboard for the only time after the first inning.

“A lot of weird stuff happened tonight,” Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner said. “This extra inning stuff’s kind of wild.”

Turner began the top of the 10th on second base under the special tiebreaker rules in place for this season. Giants catcher Joey Bart, in his fifth major league game, appeared to be confused by a fastball from Jarlín Garcia. The pitch glanced off his glove, off his face mask, between his legs, and lingered out of sight long enough for Turner to steal third base.

When Bart’s throw to third base sailed into left field, Turner scored to give the Dodgers a 7-6 lead.

Scott Alexander took over in the bottom of the 10th and a runner, Bart, on second. Bart presented the Dodgers another gift when he took off running on a ground ball to the shortstop, Corey Seager. Instead of throwing to third to retire Bart, Seager threw to first base to retire Steven Duggar.

“What happened was, Joey kind of blocked out Seager,” said Turner. “(Seager) wasn’t in position to make the throw (to third), so he took the out. I think 9 out of 10 times, Corey’s going to field that ball and come to me.”

Two batters later, Mauricio Dubon hit a ground ball down the third-base line. Turner was able to smother the ball before it reached the outfield, but Bart scored to tie the game at 7.

In the 11th inning, the Dodgers took an 8-7 lead when Turner hit a slow ground ball between the pitcher’s mound and first base. Smith took off running from third, and scored when Turner deftly eluded a diving tag attempt by Giants pitcher Tyler Rogers.

Then in the bottom of the 11th, a one-out single by Evan Longoria (4 for 5) scored Mike Yastrzemski, who began the inning at second base. That tied the game at 8 before Solano’s home run walked the Dodgers off the field.

The old trope about baseball being a game of failure rang particularly true. The Giants went 3 for 22 with runners in scoring position. The Dodgers went 3 for 17. Both teams committed two errors in the field.

Turner’s 4-for-6 line was among the highlights.

“Justin had a great night,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “He played both sides of the baseball, ran the bases, didn’t give away at-bats. It just wasn’t a well-played game for us. We just didn’t do a lot of things right, which kept those guys in the ballgame.”

The Dodgers (22-9) had won four games in a row. The red-hot Giants (15-16) have won their last seven.

Dodgers starter Julio Urías allowed four runs in four innings. Urías allowed six hits, walked three batters, and induced only two groundouts. He gave up a three-run home run to Belt in the first inning. Belt is the only player to homer more than once against Urías in the major leagues.

Giants starter Johnny Cueto allowed six runs in the first three innings. Max Muncy hit a three-run home run in the top of the first inning – his eighth of the season on the occasion of his 30th birthday.

Seager also homered against Cueto, who lasted four innings and exited with the Giants trailing 6-3.

Longoria led off the fifth inning with a single and scored the Giants’ fourth run on a double by Belt (4 for 5, five RBIs). That proved to be Urías’ final pitch. He had not allowed four runs in a game since April 2019.

Dylan Floro took over and threw a wild pitch that sent Belt to third base, but he came back to strike out Bart and induce an inning-ending groundout by Alex Dickerson.

Pitching out of trouble soon became a recurring theme for the Dodgers bullpen. Blake Treinen replaced Jake McGee with two outs and a runner on third base in the sixth inning, and got Wilmer Flores to line out to third base.

The Giants loaded the bases in the seventh inning without recording an out, thanks in part to an error by Muncy at first base. Treinen got Bart to ground into a double play as one run scored. Caleb Ferguson then struck out Pablo Sandoval to end the inning.

The Dodgers didn’t score against the Giants’ bullpen outside of the unearned runs in the 10th and 11th. They left 11 runners on base.

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California’s crisis of competence

Year by year and article by article, Ralph Vartabedian has revealed to Californians the woeful shortcomings of the state’s largest public works project, a north-south bullet train.

Vartabedian, a writer for the Los Angeles Times, has made a virtual career of uncovering the project’s managerial, financial and political failings, lending factual credence to the conclusion that the wisest course would be to cut our losses and give it up.

Although the project enjoyed strong personal support from two previous governors, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown, Gov. Gavin Newsom came very close to calling it quits when he took office 19 months ago — then backtracked and proposed a modified version that’s still unrealistic.

Vartabedian’s latest revelation in the Times underscores that fact, describing that “a series of errors by contractors and consultants on the California bullet train venture caused support cables to fail on a massive bridge, triggering an order to stop work that further delayed a project already years behind schedule…”

“Hundreds of pages of documents obtained by the Times under a public records request show the steel supports snapped as a result of neglect, work damage, miscommunications and possible design problems.”

“High-strength steel strands supporting the 636-foot-long structure began to snap on Oct. 22, one after another,” Vartabedian wrote. “Ultimately, 23 of the strands, which are composed of seven individual wires each, broke unexpectedly, according to rail authority documents and officials. The order to stop work was issued Nov. 4.

“A forensic engineering analysis, obtained by the Times, found that the strands corroded from rainwater that had leaked into the internal structure of the bridge and then broke.”

Vartabedian quotes Robert Bea, emeritus professor of civil engineering at UC Berkeley and co-founder of its Center for Catastrophic Risk Management, as calling it “a horrible sequence of mistakes.”

Vartabedian’s article not only once again demonstrates that the bullet train is a multi-billion-dollar boondoggle, but exemplifies why a vigorous and unshackled press is invaluable in overseeing the conduct of public officials.

Unfortunately, the failings of the bullet train that Vartabedian has so consistently and thoroughly revealed are also emblematic of a larger malaise: the erosion of competence in a state government that once prided itself on doing big things well.

California once built highways, bridges, university campuses, dams, canals and other public works quickly and efficiently. It even dispatched its crack highway engineers to other nations to provide can-do advice.

Those days are long gone. For example, it took two decades, with huge cost overruns, to replace one-third of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge even though building the entire bridge originally took just four years in the 1930s.

The bullet train’s managerial shortcomings are also reflected in recent meltdowns in the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Employment Development Department, largely due to managerial neglect of their outmoded information technology systems, a condition that plagues numerous other state agencies.

The underlying syndrome is the obsession among bureaucrats and their political overseers with short-term actions to get public attention while ignoring consequences and long-term issues.

The bullet train is a prime example. It was launched without a well-thought-out plan, without complete financing, without an effective organizational structure — and without a valid factual need. The folks in charge have been making it up as they go along and the result has been a disaster.

It’s something to ponder every time a politician proposes some grand scheme, such as the universal health care system that Newsom often touts. Why should we believe it would be any more functional than the DMV, EDD or the bullet train?

CalMatters is a public interest journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s state Capitol works and why it matters. For more stories by Dan Walters, go to calmatters.org/commentary

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The destructive, shallow debate over Kamala Harris’ citizenship

Chapman University professor John Eastman has published a theory that Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, may not be eligible to be vice president. He is wrong, and he has damaged our country at a time of already great division.

Eastman has long maintained that being born on the territory of the United States does not automatically qualify an individual for citizenship. His views are not widely accepted in legal academic circles, but that, of course, does not invalidate them.

Eastman’s argument keys on the words I’ve italicized in this quote from the 14th Amendment: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States.” The requirement of being subject to the jurisdiction of the United States was to exclude Native Americans then living on reservations pursuant to treaties between the United States and sovereign Native American nations.  (Gratefully, that law has now been changed, and all Native Americans are citizens.)

Eastman argues that the restriction should be read farther—to ban citizenship for a person whose mother was at the time of giving birth visiting the United States on a student visa (which, he alleges, was the case with Senator Harris’ mother). Student visa holders do not have the right of permanent residency; hence, in Eastman’s view, they are not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.

A quick example will suffice to rebut that theory. If an immigrant visa-holder is not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, then under what authority can the United States arrest and deport such a person for overstaying her or his visa?  Obviously, the immigrant is subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.

Pragmatism also argues strongly against Eastman’s theory. His interpretation would require that, to be sure about being a citizen, every child born in the United States would have to document that the child’s parents were either citizens themselves or green-card holders. Who has the burden of proving that? I have no idea what visas my grandparents held when each came to America. If I can’t prove they had permanent visas, does that make my parents not American citizens?

The American-born child of an immigrant is an American citizen. No other approach is workable in our nation of immigrants.

At the time of her birth, Eastman claims, Kamala Harris “owed her allegiance to a foreign power.”  Promoting this claim now is especially harmful because of the context Trump and his team have created for dealing with issues of immigration. Trump publicly challenged the impartiality of the federal judge in his Trump University case because the judge (born in Indiana) was “Mexican.” (His parents were Mexican immigrants.)

He told three U.S. congresswomen to “go back home,” though each was born in America (one had Palestinian parents, another’s parents were Puerto Rican, the third simply was African American). Vice President Pence’s chief of staff said of Sen. Harris:  “[W]e can celebrate the fact that a daughter of two immigrants . . . [will] now be the nominee for the Democratic Party . . .  I think what’s more concerning is some of the socialist ideas she seems to have imported from overseas as well.”

What do the policies of Jamaica and India, the countries where Sen. Harris’ parents were born, have to do with any public policy position she holds?  Like Trump’s comment about the federal judge, the statement marginalized an American for having immigrant parents. This is abominable.

Chapman University should uphold Eastman’s right to speak. It is incumbent upon his colleagues, however, to speak as well. Chapman should be a “safe place” for unpopular points of view, even when they are used in a highly charged political environment; but there should be no misinterpreting Eastman’s views as those of the university. If there is even one other faculty member who endorses Eastman’s views, let her or him say so.

Tom Campbell is a professor of law and a professor of economics at Chapman University. From 2011 to 2016, he was dean of the Fowler School of Law at Chapman. He was a US Congressman for five terms and a California State Senator for two years. He left the Republican party in 2016 and is in the process of forming a new party in California, the Common Sense Party.  These views are his own.

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California’s tech failures strike again

While marking time as lieutenant governor, Gavin Newsom wrote a book about how technology could transform government.

“I want to make government as smart as Google,” Newsom told an interviewer after the book, “Citizenville: How to Take the Town Square and Reinvent Government,” was published in 2013.

While technology “is flattening major institutions” and transforming how Americans shop, communicate, research and keep abreast of current events, Newsom said “Government as an institution is not prepared for it” and is struggling even to keep decades-old systems functioning.

He specifically cited the state Department of Motor Vehicles as a prime example of how California, the technology capital of the world, failed to implement that technology to make government more accessible, responsive and efficient.

“We’re sitting there with systems that can collapse at any moment,” he said. “We are on the cutting edge of the 1970s.”

All true, and the state’s failures to improve information technology have slammed home with a vengeance during the early months of Newsom’s governorship.

First, as he warned, the Department of Motor Vehicles virtually collapsed. Then, as he shut down much of the state’s economy to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, the Employment Development Department’s own antiquated technology rendered it incapable of handling a flood of claims for unemployment insurance benefits.

Another technology meltdown occurred this month in the Department of Public Health, failing to accurately track COVID-19 infections and embarrassing Newsom when he heralded — falsely, as it turned out — a 21 percent drop in daily cases.

Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s health and human services secretary, insisted that neither he nor Newsom knew about the backlogged test data until after Newsom’s Aug. 3 telecast in which he cited the infection decline. However, news outlets soon reported that as much as two days earlier, the Department of Public Health had warned local health officials of the data problems.

The backlog of test results was, Ghaly said, caused by technical changes made after a server crashed, combined with the state’s failure to renew a certificate required to receive data from Quest Diagnostics, a commercial testing lab. California did not receive Quest data from July 31 to Aug. 4, leading to the erroneous belief that COVID-19 cases had declined.

“We are doing a complete look into how that communication could have been better and where it went wrong. …” Ghaly said. “The governor has directed a full investigation of what happened, and we will hold people accountable.”

Late Sunday, the director of the department, Dr. Sonia Angell resigned and while no reason for her departure was given, it gave the appearance that she was walking the plank for an embarrassing failure to communicate.

On Monday, Newsom danced around reporters’ questions about Angell’s resignation, but left the impression that she was ousted. “At the end of the day the buck stops with me,” he said. “We’re moving on.”

Newsom also acknowledged, without prompting, that the COVID-19 data failure is part of the larger crisis the state faces not only in functioning with outdated technology, but its chronic inability to bring updated systems on line.

There’s a long list of failed or partially functional new systems that have cost taxpayers billions of dollars, the most notorious being a statewide system for tracking financial data called FI$CAL.

“It just has not been an area of deep focus,” Newsom said Monday, adding that successful updates “require a stubborn, long-term effort” and declaring that despite lapses in previous administrations, “we are now accountable.”

Accountabilty is great. Improvement would be even greater.

CalMatters is a public interest journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s state Capitol works and why it matters. For more stories by Dan Walters, go to calmatters.org/commentary

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As college leaders meet, football players push to play

After the Power Five conference commissioners met Sunday to discuss mounting concern about whether a college football season can be played in a pandemic, players took to social media to urge leaders to let them play.

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said no decisions on the season have been made, but conceded the outlook has not improved.

“Are we in a better place today than two weeks, ago?” he said. “No, we’re not.”

Bowlsby cited “growing evidence and the growing pool of data around myocarditis.”

Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart and it has been found in some COVID-19 patients. There is concern it could be a long-term complication of contracting the virus even in young, healthy people, a group that has usually avoided severe cardiovascular symptoms.

Also Sunday night, the Big Ten’s university presidents and chancellors held a previously unscheduled meeting, a person with knowledge of the meeting told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting was not announced by the conference.

Another person with direct knowledge of the meeting speaking on condition of anonymity said no votes were taken or decisions made about the college football season.

The final call on whether major college football will played this season rests in the hands of the university presidents who oversee the largest conferences.

All this activity comes a day after the Mid-American Conference became the first among 10 leagues that play at the highest tier of Division I college football to cancel fall sports because of concerns about keeping athletes from contracting and spreading COVID-19.

The MAC’s decision came less than a month before the first games are scheduled to be played and raised questions if other conferences might follow.

Also on Saturday, the Big Ten slowed its ramp up to the season, announcing its teams would not be permitted to start full contact practices until further notice. The Big Ten season is scheduled to start Labor Day weekend.

Meanwhile, college football players took to social media Sunday to push for a season, led by Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence with a series of tweets.

“People are at just as much, if not more risk, if we don’t play,” Lawrence tweeted. “Players will all be sent home to their own communities where social distancing is highly unlikely and medical care and expenses will be placed on the families if they were to contract covid19.”

Penn State tight end Pat Freiermuth had a similar message.

“Since day one coming back to campus the Penn State Football staff and medical experts have put our health and safety first, above anything else,” he tweeted. “The guidelines put into place keep us safe while playing the game we love. We are ready to play and we want to play.”

Other players tweeted with the hashtag #WeWantToPlay, and within a few hours that movement merged with another. Lawrence, Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, Oklahoma State All-America running back Cuba Hubbard, Alabama running back Najee Harris and numerous other players from across the country posted a graphics with #WeWantToPlay and #WeAreUnited, the hashtag used by a group of Pac-12 players who announced a college player rights movement a week ago.

Under the logos of each Power Five conference — ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC — the players pronounced their platform:

— We all want to play football this season.

— Establish universal mandated health & safety procedures and protocols to protect college athletes against COVID-19 among all conferences throughout the NCAA.

— Give players the opportunity to opt out and respect their decision.

— Guarantee eligibility whether a player chooses to play the season or not.

— Use our voices to establish open communication and trust between players and officials: Ultimately create a College Football Players Association.

— Representative of all Power Five conferences.

The parents of Ohio State football players weighed in, too, posting a letter saying they were confident in the university’s plan to keep their sons safe.

“We believe that this age group represents some of the healthiest individuals, while we recognize the risk cannot be eliminated, we believe the risk is minimal and the season can safely and responsibly occur,” wrote the Football Parents Association at Ohio State.

Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said he has heard the same from Fighting Irish football players. Notre Dame has had only two COVID-19 cases since it began testing athletes.

“I’ve been around our guys and they thinks it’s safe and they want to try and play,” Swarbrick said. “If we change course, we better be able to articulate the reason for doing so to our student-athletes. They are going to want to know why.”

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