.Debriefer: January 10, 2018

'The rise of fake and misleading news is deeply concerning'


Napa State Sen. Bill Dodd (pictured) is at it again. He just reintroduced his “fake news” bill in Sacramento (SB 830) after it stalled in the Assembly in the 2017 session. His bill sets out to add media-literacy education to school curriculums to address the real-time concerns of educators that kids are confused and overwhelmed by the info offered on social media.

“The rise of fake and misleading news is deeply concerning,” says Dodd, “as is the habit by some to dismiss real facts as ‘fake news’ just because they don’t like them.”

In offering his bill again, Dodd cites a 2016 Stanford study which found that 82 percent of middle school students in California can’t tell an advertisement from a news story. That’s a sad fact which cannot be helped with the advent of all those confusing “sponsored content” news stories that are popping up all over the regional daily newspapers.

The bill has naturally picked up support from media-literacy advocates, along with a range of bipartisan lawmakers. Also on board is Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom who says it’s critical to teach kids how to “discern factual information from farce.” It’s a fact that Newsom is running for governor this year.


It’s also a fact that state Sen. Mike McGuire hosted an informal hearing on Jan. 10 to talk about the ways the recently enacted federal tax reform bill will impact Californians. Quite badly, is the general upshot in a release from McGuire’s office this week, which highlighted how the new law would hit the 99 percent hard, and those are his words. McGuire notes that among other damage done or proposed to be done, the bill will “ruthlessly cut the health insurance of 1.7 million Californians.” The hearing is archived at senate.gov.


The race for Sonoma County Sheriff is heating up in the new year, and last week SCSO Captain Mark Essick nabbed the endorsement of interim Sheriff Rob Giordano and three county supervisors. In a release, Essick reported that Shirlee Zane, David Rabbitt and James Gore have each endorsed him. Essick is the the only candidate for sheriff who is an employee of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office.

The other candidates are outspoken reformer John Mutz from Los Angeles, the most demonstrably progressive of the candidates (he initiated reforms in L.A. following the Rodney King incident), and Santa Rosa City Councilman (and former Santa Rosa Police Department officer) Ernesto Olivares. Windsor Sheriff Carlos Basurto, also a member of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, dropped out of the race last month.

Among a slew of posted endorsements, Olivares has grabbed support from numerous past and current Santa Rosa elected officials, along with getting the nod from U.S. Congressman Mike Thompson and California State Assemblyman Marc Levine.

Mutz, the former police chief in Los Angeles, has been endorsed by the likes of San Francisco police chief William Scott, along with a number of community members and activists from around the county.

Essick’s posted endorsement list is very heavy with current members of the SCSO, and includes department spokesman Sgt. Spencer Crum.

There were six contenders to replace Sheriff Steve Freitas back in May 2017, and Freitas had endorsed Basurto before he dropped out of the race.

Freitas left office for health reasons and was replaced by Giordano last August. He pledged to stay out of the race even as his public profile was enhanced mightily by his media presence during the North Bay fires. A profile of Giordano in the Press Democrat from late in October 2017 noted that Supervisor Zane was then pushing him to change his mind and run. Now they’re both endorsing Essick. The primary is in June, and the issue will be decided in November—an election of the first uncontested sheriff’s candidate in two decades.

In other county-related election news, District Attorney Jill Ravitch has announced she is running for re-election.


A couple weeks ago we wrote about a pending legislative push by the North Bay state delegation to bring reform to California’s inadequate early warning system for emergencies (“Next Time”,
Dec. 27). This week the lawmakers made good on their pledge and introduced SB 833, which seeks to bring various emergency-warning systems around the state under one set of protocols. Call it the “Ember Alert” bill. The push was prompted by shortcomings in the regional early-warning system which were smoked out during the North Bay fires of October.
—Tom Gogola


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