News

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Publication: KPIX-TV/CBS 5

There has been a new development in a series of massive hacks at California’s unemployment department that KPIX 5 first exposed. Now, attention is shifting from the state to Bank of America that distributes most of the money, at last count $105 billion dollars, through debit cards we discovered are vulnerable to hacks. KPIX has received more than a hundred emails from victims. Now lawmakers are taking notice.

From a criminal’s perspective, it’s the perfect scenario: ATMs give out bills and cash is king in the underground economy. KPIX was the first to expose how fraudsters are hacking Employment Development Department (EDD) debit cards and wiping out the benefits of potentially tens of thousands of Californians.

“This is just absolutely unacceptable, that we have a bank that’s not responding. They’re not responding to you. Not responding to me, not responding to the people who they are serving,” said California Assemblyman Phillip Ting.

That was Assemblyman Ting’s first reaction, after watching our reports about rampant hack attacks on debit cards issued by Bank of America, the Employment Development Department’s exclusive debit card provider.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Publication: KQED

A Bay Area lawmaker is seeking to limit the use of natural gas in new public buildings and schools across California in a bill introduced in the Assembly this week.

AB 33, introduced by Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, would only affect new state buildings and public schools by, in effect, requiring electric furnaces and appliances. But it would also prevent utilities from offering its customers subsidies for new gas pipe installations anywhere.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Publication: Los Angeles Times

The new two-year session of the California Legislature began Monday as legislators took the oath of office under some of the most unusual circumstances in state history, quickly compiling an urgent to-do list addressing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on housing, schools and the economy.

Though the agenda for convening newly elected and returning lawmakers was familiar, the setting was not.

The 80 members of the state Assembly held their organizing session seven blocks from the state Capitol inside Golden 1 Center, home to the NBA’s Sacramento Kings. The event marked the first time either house has convened outside of the state Capitol since the building’s six-year restoration ended in 1981.

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Only a few pieces of legislation were formally introduced Monday; most of the work will begin in early January. Even so, the initial legislation offered a glimpse at an agenda to tackle both short-term and systemic problems laid bare by the worsening COVID-19 pandemic and community shutdowns.

Schools

With millions of California children facing the prospect of most or all of the school year being conducted remotely, lawmakers will look for ways to standardize the procedures for when to open and how to provide the money to do so safely.

Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) introduced a bill Monday that would require school districts to reopen campuses when community infection rates drop.

Throughout the fall, school leaders took varying approaches toward resuming limited in-person instruction when their counties moved into the less-restrictive public health tiers established by the Newsom administration. As a result, schools in neighboring communities sometimes made conflicting decisions about whether to open. ...

Monday, December 7, 2020

Publication: San Francisco Chronicle

California’s public schools would be forced to reopen when case counts dip and county officials give the go-ahead under proposed state legislation by San Francisco Democratic Assemblyman Phil Ting.

The bill would require schools to resume in-person learning within two weeks of their county moving into red, orange or yellow tiers. Most counties have recently returned to the most stringent purple tier due to the new surge.

The bill, if passed, would go into effect March 1.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Publication: San Francisco Chronicle

Maya Katz-Ali said she never thought she would be able to afford an electric car. She thought it was something unattainable, something for the elite.

And in many ways, Katz-Ali is the opposite of a typical electric-car buyer in California: She’s 26, a woman and a person of color, and she doesn’t earn a six-figure salary. The Oakland native expected to drive her 1992 Volvo until it died.

That all changed last month, when Katz-Ali traded in her car for a new Honda Clarity plug-in electric hybrid with a fraction of the Volvo’s emissions. She bought it with the help of a state subsidy program.

“There’s lots of ideas that you have to be of a certain income bracket to be able to even think about” an electric car, Katz-Ali said. “It’s not just a Tesla thing. It’s not just a higher-class, higher-income thing.”

Electric-car advocates say her initial perception speaks to a diversity problem that the state must solve to reach Gov. Gavin Newsom’s goal of banning the sale of new gas-powered cars starting in 2035.

California drivers who buy electric vehicles overwhelmingly fit a narrow demographic profile. Most are male, white or Asian American, and between the ages of 30 and 49. The majority earn more than $100,000 a year and live in expensive coastal areas.

That’s according to data The Chronicle analyzed of buyers who received electric car rebates from the state Air Resources Board, California’s air-quality agency. 

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Assemblyman Phil Ting, a San Francisco Democrat and electric-car advocate, said one factor is a narrow range of electric car styles. Most are sedans or sports cars, models that appeal more to single, younger men.

“You have to offer the choices that people want,” Ting said. “The best-selling cars right now are trucks, SUVs and minivans.”

Ting said that will change dramatically in the next 15 years, as more automakers come out with larger electric models. He said the market for used, cheaper electric cars will also grow.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Publication: San Francisco Chronicle

A quicker economic rebound than anticipated has softened California’s budget woes and will bring the state an estimated $26 billion windfall by the next fiscal year, the Legislative Analyst’s Office reported Wednesday.

But the one-time cushion is not enough to offset the severe financial losses of the coronavirus pandemic. The nonpartisan legislative analyst’s fiscal outlook warned that a projected multibillion-dollar operating deficit would more than triple over the next four years as rising costs outstrip the growth in tax revenue.

By 2024-25, California will face a budget gap of about $17.5 billion. Legislative Analyst Gabriel Petek said policymakers should start considering solutions to the problem, which may require either spending cuts or new taxes, while there is time.

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Assemblyman Phil Ting, the San Francisco Democrat who chairs the Assembly Budget Committee, stressed the need for another round of financial aid from Congress, where negotiations for a relief package broke down last month.

“We cannot take our eye off the ball,” Ting said in a statement. “The improved fiscal outlook gives us a little breathing room, but we still need help from the federal government.”

Monday, November 16, 2020

 

Publication: San Jose Mercury

Money will help move homeless hotel residents into housing

Gov. Gavin Newsom poured another $62 million into his waning Project Roomkey program Monday, part of an ongoing effort to prevent any of the more than 22,000 homeless Californians sheltering in pandemic hotels from ending up back on the street.

The money, which comes from the state’s Disaster Response Emergency Operations Account, will go to counties that have put up homeless Californians in hotels during the pandemic. The emergency cash injection comes as the pandemic hotels are starting to close in the Bay Area and beyond.

The bulk of the funds — $35 million — will go toward rehousing Project Roomkey residents. That money is for rental subsidies, case management, housing navigation and landlord incentives, and other housing expenses. Another $24 million will help prop up the existing Project Roomkey program, allowing residents to remain in their hotel rooms until they can obtain permanent housing. The last $3 million will go toward technical assistance — helping counties contract with experienced housing providers and create rehousing plans.

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“While allocating more funding for Project Roomkey helps in the short-term,” said Budget Committee Chair Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), according to the news release. “I look forward to collaborative budget discussions with the administration about reducing homelessness, focusing on smart investments and long-term housing solutions.”