Former Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer has been named to California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s task force to help reopen the state. (Photo: Timothy A. Clary, AFP via Getty Images)
Anyone who’s anyone has been asked to help reopen California and rebuild an economy some experts say totters toward a depression. And I talk a Philadelphia transplant who began using his art to make sense of his new city of San Francisco and later, the coronavirus.
It’s Arlene Martínez, with news to close out your week.
But first, here are some reasons why you may not have gotten your stimulus check yet. The IRS says it is working to fix the problems.
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An 80-group committee charged with reopening California
Former California Gov. Pete Wilson toured the sheriff’s Tents City Jail in 1996. Known in California’s Latino community as “El Diablo,” Wilson backed the 1994 Prop. 187, which barred illegal immigrants from access to public education and hospitals. The legislation was struck down. (Photo: Jeff Franko/USA TODAY)
A recalled governor and the man credited with helping bring down the state Republican Party will join a new advisory committee formed to help steer California back to recovery from its coronavirus-induced collapse.
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the group during his Friday midday news briefing.
“We are guided in our recovery with those considerations at heart,” he said. “This is not a partisan endeavor. This is about California.”
The 80-member task force includes the four living former California governors — Gray Davis, Pete Wilson, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown. Other high-profile members include former presidential candidate and entrepreneur Tom Steyer, former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, Disney’s Bob Iger, Tim Cook of Apple, and Marc Benioff of Salesforce.
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“Social justice warriors” and tribal leaders will also help develop “a strategy to help California recover as fast as safely possible from the COVID-19 induced recession, and to create a fair, green and prosperous future,” Steyer said.
Out of work, but we always have Amazon
More than 22 million people have applied for unemployment claims over the past month, or about 14% of the workforce, wiping out all of the job gains since the Great Recession. (Photo: USA TODAY)
California’s 2.8 million unemployment claims represent 14.5% of its workforce. But much larger portions of the workforce are off the job in key battleground states like Pennsylvania and Michigan. See a state-by-state breakdown here.
In Los Angeles County,just 45% of residents have a job.
Non-essential goods aren’t allowed to be sold at brick-and-mortar shops across California, but one major online company can sell them as usual.
Economy’s decline ‘simply breathtaking’
California Lutheran University’s Center for Economic Research and Forecasting said in a report released this week that the economy is headed toward a possible depression. It calls for reopening parts of the economy by May 1 to give businesses a “fighting chance.” (Photo: Ventura County Star)
What’s happened to the U.S. economy in recent weeks makes the 2007-09 recession look like a “minor downturn,” a new report out of California Lutheran University’s Center for Economic Research and Forecasting says.
It notes: “The suspension of economic activity resulting from social distancing and shelter-in-place orders issued across the nation is simply breathtaking.”
In fact, at the pace it’s going, it could be a depression, according to the report by Matthew Fienup, the center’s executive director, and Dan Hamilton, the center’s director of economics.
The report recommends reopening portions of the economy by May 1 to reflect new modeling that shows fewer people are dying than once expected, meaning hospital systems are not expected to be overwhelmed as once thought.
Books, Comic-Con are off, and Facebook is on
This July 20, 2018 file photo shows signage for Comic-Con International in San Diego. This year’s San Diego Comic-Con has been canceled due to coronavirus-related restrictions around large gatherings. Organizers say they are planning for the festival to return in July 2021. (Photo: Christy Radecic, Christy Radecic/Invision/AP)
The LA Times announced its Book Prizes winners via Twitter early Friday. Bonus: The winning authors talk briefly about their books.
San Diego Comic-Con is canceled and reschedules for 2021.
Sending Facebook hugs just got easier, thanks to this new emoticon. Speaking of, some people who pledged to leave the social giant forever are back, though they say it’s only for the pandemic.
Our environment, university campuses and jails
San Jose State University is reinvestigating decade-old claims of sexual misconduct against its director of sports medicine, Scott Shaw, pictured here in an SJSU promotional video. Seventeen female swimmers alleged in 2009-10 Shaw inappropriately touched them during treatments. (Photo: San Jose State University)
Is the coronavirus helping the environment? A little. But on the other side are big companies that will be eager to make up losses and with hands outstretched for loosened regulations and tax breaks.
Some Golden State mountain lions won temporary protectionsunder the Endangered Species Act this week. The cougars are probably appreciative of space to roam as the rest of us hunker down.
A top San Jose State University athletic trainer accused of sexual misconduct by at least 17 female athletes a decade ago is being reinvestigated after an initial university probe quietly cleared him of wrongdoing.
Prosecutors and police union officials continue their ominous claims of a crime wave that will follow fewer arrests on alleged low-level offenses and releasing inmates from jails to slow the spread of COVID-19.
But crime is actually down in many places (though there’s not enough data yet to draw any real conclusions), and the safety of individuals incarcerated matters too. (Commentary)
In wary times, there’s a cartoon for that
Joe Dworetzky is a second career journalist, writer and cartoonist. He is currently a graduate student at Stanford University, studying journalism. He lives in San Francisco. (Photo: Zoom screenshot)
Joe Dworetzky will wrap up a one-year master’s program in journalism at Stanford University this spring, and as college students across the country, he’ll finish it at home. Unlike many of them bound for the start of their career, Dworetzy will look for work in his second.
Dworetzky moved to San Francisco in 2011 from Philadelphia, where he worked as a city solicitor under then-Mayor Ed Rendell. He also served on the School Reform Commission, set up in the early 2000s to oversee Philadelphia’s troubled public school system.
After moving to California, Dworetzky began exploring his new city through drawings that later became editorial cartoons. They’ve appeared in SF Weekly, The Huffington Post and the Peninsula Press.
We talked about his second career and pivot toward COVID-19 cartooning via Zoom, where he spoke to me from his home in San Francisco. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
The coronavirus, by graph. (Photo: Contributed comic / Joe Dworetzky)
Q: What prompted you to go back to cartooning and when did that start?
A: I had been a lawyer for many years and then I started to write fiction. I did a young adult book and I worked with an illustrator who was terrific, but I found it was hard to tell somebody what you wanted your illustrations to look like. So I got this idea that I would just try to see if I could learn how to do it. This was maybe five years ago.
And I started just drawing figures of people, and portraits, but in a cartoon-like way. And to kind of encourage myself to go forward, I decided I’d put one up on my website every day. But they were so bad. I mean literally, I was just starting from ground zero. They were just horrific. And so I started writing a little text, you know, sort of like a T-shirt slogan like in the corner, as a way to distract from the art. And I was probably doing it for six months, I was posting every day. … And started to see it as its own thing, separate from writing fiction.
Q: Are you a lifelong drawer, was this something that you came in to later? How did that come about?
A: No, I was just a doodler. You know as a lawyer you go into endless meetings and I often just filled my scrap pad or my legal notes with doodles, but that’s the only thing I had done before. it’s not something you can pick up overnight. I’ll never be what I would like to be but I’ve had a lot of fun with it.
Joe Dworetzky is a second career journalist, writer and cartoonist. He lives in San Francisco. (Photo: Contributed comic / Joe Dworetzky)
Q: What were some of the subjects of your first cartoons?
A: I started doing social cartoons. I had moved to San Francisco from the East Coast and you know it was 2011, sort of the height of the tech boom and I felt sometimes I had moved to another country. You know, ways that people interacted were different. The tech (sector) was rising in such a powerful way that there just seemed so many things to lampoon. And so I would walk around the city, learning where I was living and ideas for cartoons would come up all the time. So I would do little social cartoons of what people were doing day-to-day.
Q: What was it like when President Trump came in? I know that’s just given so many artists so much material to work with. Did you notice a shift in your work? Or energy?
A: I don’t want to be too political but I found that the biggest problem with it was that you weren’t even cartooning. You were just writing down what people were saying because it was so cartoonish.
I remember a cartoon I did about a father talking to his son and telling him to go out and have a good time but don’t go to, and then I had a laundry list of all the places where there had been mass shootings. You know it was a dark cartoon but also it just felt to me like it was just organic from what was going on then and it was on my mind all the time.
Q: So now coronavirus is taking the majority of your time?
A: When I got isolated here in San Francisco I had a really really, really blue day. I was so bummed I wasn’t going to be able to finish my year [at Stanford] in person and just like every one of us trying to process what this meant — the kids coming back, and our empty nest is no longer an empty nest. I mean, it’s just a lot of stuff and I was really blue. The next day I woke up and said, “I am not going to waste this time. I’m going to do something.”
Once I decided to get into it and free from a lot of distractions, I did a lot of (coronavirus) cartoons. I’ve probably done close to 50 and I seem to have a lot of energy to keep at it. My thesis at Stanford is going to use some of those cartoons together with interviews of people about their shelter experience and put it together in a monograph and see how that comes out.
Q: A lot of your cartoons seem to focus on dating, relationships, intimate encounters. Is that just what’s on your mind, or is that personally what’s happening?
A: It’s not happening to me personally but I think it’s always on everybody’s mind. You know, connections between people are what drives us as humans. I also think we’ve come at a funny time. I mean, we used to think online dating was kind of a joke. Now you realize all relationships are online, we’ve transformed the whole interaction to that so it seems like talking about dating, relationships is a good way to maybe raise some ideas that are broader than just the two people in the cartoon.
Joe Dworetzky is a journalist and cartoonist who lives in San Francisco. (Photo: Contributed comic / Joe Dworetzky)
Q: Do you have a favorite cartoon or one that you really felt when you finished, this really resonated with me.
A: There’s one I did, really early on in this experience, it’s called the Inner Life. It’s about some indeterminate person just reflecting of all the different things that are going on and at the end of it concluding, “Wow, this like, sheltering is really good for your inner life. It’s just like meditation.”
It kind of reflected the idea that I was, and I think maybe people are, in somewhat new terrain. It’s a time to reflect and to take account of what your emotions are and what you’re feeling and what concerns you. That cartoon felt pretty true to that.
Q: You mentioned you’ll be finishing your graduate program off campus. What’s that’s been like?
A: If you think about, is it as good as it would have been, it’s a bad answer. But if you think about, is going to school online better than just sitting around and worrying? Then it looks pretty good viewed that way. You have to look at it that way.
For me, the biggest loss is I am three times older than the youngest person in my cohort of 20 grad students that are in the journalism program and twice as old as the oldest person. I didn’t really know (going in) how it would all work. It’s just been so extraordinary.
Zoom in a time of coronavirus. (Photo: Contributed comic / Joe Dworetzky)
Q: What do you hope to do with this degree and where do you go next?
A: I was an intern last summer at the LA Times and I was on the metro desk and worked for a terrific editor, Hector Becerra, who’s a city editor. He’s taciturn and he’s very busy so being your first real job in journalism [working] for him was a great experience.
I think what I learned from it was probably what works best for me is either feature writing or long-form … My long-term goal is to find a way to integrate the drawing and cartooning with the stuff that I’m writing and I’ve found that there’s receptivity to that among editors that I’ve talked to.
In California is a roundup of news from across USA TODAY Network newsrooms. Also contributing: The Bond Buyer, The Marshall Project, Jurist.
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