Feds target California farm for deadly vehicle crash

Migrant laborers work a Salinas, Calif., strawberry farm during harvest season. (Photo: David Litman, via Shutterstock)

For the second time in recent months, the U.S. Department of Labor has extracted penalties from a California farm business blamed for the deadly crash of a vehicle transporting migrant field workers to their jobs. The Labor Department announced this month that Fisher Ranch LLC — a major produce farm near Calexico, close to the Mexican border — has agreed to pay $49,104 for violating the Migrant Seasonal Workers Protection Act. The case stemmed from a March 2017 van crash that killed one laborer and hurt six others.

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News

Bail system facing potential revamp

A jail inmate in handcuffs awaits word on his case. (Photo: sakhorn, via Shutterstock)

On any given day, thousands of jailed people are awaiting trial, sentencing or hearings in any of California’s 58 counties. Many are in custody because they cannot afford to post bail. Legislation to allow people to be free while their case is in the Legislature and its fate will be decided by midnight Aug. 31 when lawmakers adjourn.

News

Following fires, NorCal air quality still suffers

A wildfire burns near Fallbrook in San Diego County on July 26. (Photo: Randy Miramontez)

After two weeks straight of heavy smoke blanketing Northern California from multiple wildfires, some residents got a bit of a break this week. Blue skies began to reappear from Sacramento to the Sierra and “good” to “moderate” air quality ratings returned, replacing the previous alarming “unhealthy” ratings.

News

Capitol Weekly’s Top 100 — 2018

Welcome to the 10th running of Capitol Weekly’s Top 100 list, our annual look at people who aren’t elected to office but who wield decisive influence on California politics or policy — or both. Much has changed in the nine years since we started this exercise. We shifted from a Republican to a Democratic governor, emerged from the Great Recession to become the world’s fifth-largest economy and watched GOP voter registration dip to third-party status behind decline-to-state. Hardball politics got even harder.

Opinion

Trump admin has declared war on the environment

The deeply forested landscape in Humboldt County, where environmental protection is a critical issue. (Photo: Ethan Daniels)

OPINION: The resignation of Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt was met with a collective sigh of relief across the nation. Pruitt, one of President Donald Trump’s most loyal foot soldiers in the Trump Administration’s ongoing war on environmental quality, environmental justice, and environmental health, had overseen some of the most egregious rollbacks of environmental protections in history during his brief and troubled tenure in office.

News

The human side of California’s housing meltdown

Newly constructed homes waiting for owners. (Photo: Jennie Book, via Shutterstock)

Brianne Tufts is exhausted. This is the third place Tufts has lived in as many years, and she’s worried she’ll have to move again because her apartment complex might increase the rent now that her lease has expired. It’s just after 11 a.m. on a Sunday in April, and the 24-year-old mother of two sits on the balcony of her cramped 2-bedroom south Sacramento apartment watching intently as her daughters play in the living room.

Opinion

Lawmakers: Look closely at our energy landscape

An aerial and solar energy installation in the southern California desert. (Photo: Veeterzy, via Shutterstock)

OPINION: The clean energy revolution is here, now, and California is a trailblazer of its success. Solar and wind power, electric vehicle use, rooftop photovoltaics, and community choice aggregation are all on the rise in California. The traditional centralized, fossil-fuel power plants are now competing with renewable and distributed energy sources, forcing the industry and regulators to adapt, and upending close to one hundred years of power generation and distribution. 

News

Inmate firefighters risk death at $1 an hour

Firefighters cross scorched terrain in the Padres National Forest. (Photo: Joseph Sohm)

Some were bank robbers, car thieves and burglars. Now they are on the front lines in the scary and dangerous job of saving California from raging wildfires. There are about 3,900 of them, all state prison inmate volunteers from 44 fire camps spread across California.

Opinion

Emergencies highlight critical tribal role

Smoke from the Mendocino Complex fire creates a "blood moon." (Photo: Padelphoto, via Shutterstock)

OPINION: With the Mendocino Complex fire burning through three counties in Northern California, the Habematolel Pomo of Upper Lake Tribe could only watch and pray as flames consumed massive amounts of our homelands, forcing the closing of our small casino and all governmental buildings as well as the evacuation of Tribal members and our neighbors.

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