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Bay Area Headlines: Wednesday, 8/12/20, AM

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Contact Tracing Sees Boost In Donations / California To Vote On Eviction And Foreclosure Proceedings Tomorrow 

Now that Senator Kamala Harris is Joe Biden’s presidential running mate, there’s a renewed spotlight on her record as a prosecutor in California. Some progressives say Harris was a defender of the status quo in a broken criminal justice system. 

"Her critics point to ‘her opposition to a bill’ four years ago, as attorney general, that would have required her office to investigate police shootings. They also cite her decision not to weigh in on state ballot measures to legalize recreational marijuana — and to reduce penalties for nonviolent crimes. Harris at the time said she stayed neutral on those because in her role as attorney general she had to write the titles and summaries for those voter initiatives, and she didn’t want to be seen as having a conflict of interest."

Harris was elected California attorney general in 2010 and re-elected four years later. Before that, she served two terms as San Francisco’s district attorney.

Contact Tracing Sees Boost In Donations

California has announced tens of millions of dollars in private donations to boost coronavirus contact tracing. The investment comes after a recent surge in cases and data reporting problems. 

Contact tracers interview people who’ve tested positive for the virus to figure out if they exposed anybody else.

But the job can be challenging in some underserved communities that have language barriers or don’t trust government officials.

That’s why an Oakland-based nonprofit called the Public Health Institute is recruiting contact tracers to work in their own communities. It’s a strategy that’s helped quell outbreaks in Washington and Oregon, says CEO Mary Pittman:

"The way we did that was reaching out to community-based organizations — to trusted people in the community — to explain what we were trying to do."

Pittman’s group got a $63 million grant from Kaiser Permanente to hire 500 community-based contact tracers. 

While she says they’re still figuring out exactly which areas in California to target, the Central Valley will certainly be on the list. 

California To Vote On Eviction And Foreclosure Proceedings Tomorrow 

The Judicial Council of California is preparing to vote on whether to resume eviction and foreclosure proceedings.

The council voted to halt those proceedings in April because of the coronavirus pandemic. California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye announced yesterday the council would vote tomorrow whether to resume those proceedings on Sept. 1. The decision gives the state Legislature time to pass a bill by their Aug. 31 deadline offering relief to tenants and landlords.

The Legislature is considering two proposals. Both would halt evictions for nonpayment because of the coronavirus. But they differ in how they would compensate landlords for missed rent.