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Reporter Investigates Firing of Utility Regulator’s Director After She Uncovered Missing $200 Million

After she pointed to millions of dollars in uncollected fees for public services and alleged serious mismanagement problems, the executive director of California’s utility regulator, the California Public Utilities Commission, was fired. Commissioners said Alice Stebbins had misled the public about missing funds and accused her of favoritism in hiring. But an investigation by the Bay City News Foundation and ProPublica looked into the dismissal, and found the director had been right about the missing money.

Kyra Kyles, left, and Erianna Jiles. Photos courtesy of YR Media.

In 2020, Youth Media Engaged With Election, Pandemic, Racial Reckoning

Newsrooms across the country have been in overdrive most of this year, covering a global pandemic, a primary and a presidential election and protests against systemic racism and police brutality. Contributors with YR Media, a national network of young journalists and artists, many of them people of color, have been covering the events of 2020 with reporting and perspectives that are rarely afforded space and attention in national or corporate outlets.

Ensign Kaitlyn Leibing, right, a staff nurse assigned to one of Naval Medical Center San Diego’s internal medicine wards, helps Hospitalman Angela Mello don personal protective equipment before entering a COVID-19-positive, non-critical patient’s room on Aug. 4, 2020.

Doctors Work Through Coronavirus Surge, Stress, Patient Isolation as Vaccines Arrive

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday that hospitals need to get ready for what he described as a potential “surge on top of a surge, arguably on top of another surge” of COVID-19 cases stemming from the holidays. In the Bay Area, hospitals still have some ICU capacity left, but health care practitioners are working hard to care for the influx of COVID-19 patients. The surge is leaving workers stretched thin and patients isolated.

Photo courtesy of James Wedick.Photo courtesy of James Wedick.

Retired FBI Agent Explains How Probes Like Those Into S.F. Corruption Work

The FBI arrest of former San Francisco Department of Public Works head Mohammed Nuru on fraud charges in January kicked off a cascade of raids, charges and investigations that have spurred the departure of several other city department heads. Such investigations can take years, and are relatively difficult to complete. James Wedick, who retired from the FBI in 2004 after nearly 35 years with the bureau, spent years investigating corruption and was responsible for the bureau’s corruption squad in Sacramento.

Photo courtesy of Jason McDaniel

After a Political Year Defined by a Pandemic and Presidential Appointments, What’s Next?

The election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to the presidency and vice-presidency left several roles for Gov. Gavin Newsom to fill, and politicians from around the state, including San Francisco Mayor London Breed, have weighed in on Newsom’s choice of Secretary of State Alex Padilla to fill Harris’ seat in the U.S. Senate. San Francisco State University politics professor Jason McDaniel joined “Civic” to analyze Newsom’s choice, and the decision he has yet to make about filling state Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s position.

U.S. Army Spc. Sterling Hutcheson, a medic with the Colorado National Guard Joint Task Force Test Support, prepares to swab a nursing home resident during COVID-19 testing in Rocky Ford, Colo. on May 29, 2020.

Nursing Homes to Get Vaccines Soon Through Major Pharmacy Chains

Vaccines are arriving in California and doses will be administered at nursing homes soon through a government partnership with pharmacy giants CVS and Walgreens, whose staffs will deliver vaccines to long term care facilities. Eric Dowdy, chief government affairs officer at Leading Age California, an organization representing mostly nonprofit senior care facilities, said the top priority for those planning the vaccine rollout is combating misinformation that fuels mistrust in the vaccine.

Clint Reilly, S.F. Examiner’s New Owner, Vows to Expand Paper’s Newsroom, Coverage

Clint Reilly, the soon-to-be owner of the San Francisco Examiner intends to grow the publication’s newsroom and expand its coverage, diversifying the perspectives in San Francisco’s news ecosystem. Clint Reilly, a retired political consultant with a real estate and hospitality business who also owns two local magazines, is purchasing the Examiner and SF Weekly after the two papers were under absentee ownership for years. The company he owns along with his wife Janet, Clint Reilly Communications, will take over in January.

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Overdoses Have Killed More Than Three Times as Many People as COVID-19 in San Francisco

While COVID-19 deaths have the potential for exponential growth due to the nature of a viral pandemic, they are dwarfed by the number of people who have died from drug overdoses in the city this year.

As of Dec. 16, the San Francisco Department of Public Health reports that 172 people have died from COVID-19. The number of overdose deaths reported through the end of October stood at 570. There were 441 in 2019.

Mission District residents on multiple streets have indicated an interest in meetings with police by putting post-it notes in their windows.

Neighborhood Anti-Crime Surveillance Effort Prompts Privacy, Equity Concerns

On several streets in the Mission, you can spot sticky notes in the windows of some homes. They’re blank, but they’re sending a message: The residents would like to signal their interest in participating in a neighborhood effort to address crime, trash and visible homelessness in the neighborhood. Nuala Bishari reported on the initiative for the San Francisco Public Press. She talked with “Civic” about what she found and how she learned it.

Sarah Karlinsky. Courtesy of SPUR

To Address Housing Crisis, Expert Says, Consider Housing a Human Right

Rents may be falling, but the Bay Area is still unaffordable and has for years fallen short of its housing construction goals. The construction shortfall is particularly pronounced in subsidized housing. While the pandemic is changing the way people work and socialize and has resulted in economic downturn, acquiring land and building remain expensive. Sarah Karlinsky, senior advisor at the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association, a public policy think tank better known as SPUR, has published a report indicating that Bay Area municipalities should be constructing 45,000 units of housing per year.