Here are new laws taking effect in 2024 that will impact how Californians save for retirement

Changes are coming that will impact some people’s 401(k) plans and IRA savings

More changes are coming to retirement savings next year when key provisions of the federal Secure 2.0 Act take effect.

They will affect families saving for college in a 529 plan, employees with so much student debt they can’t save for retirement, workers leaving a company with a smallish 401(k) balance, older people with money in a Roth 401(k) account or Individual Retirement Account and people who might need to tap retirement savings for emergencies.

More changes are coming to retirement savings next year when key provisions of the federal Secure 2.0 Act take effect.

They will affect families saving for college in a 529 plan, employees with so much student debt they can’t save for retirement, workers leaving a company with a smallish 401(k) balance, older people with money in a Roth 401(k) account or Individual Retirement Account and people who might need to tap retirement savings for emergencies.

California has not yet conformed to this law. When the limit goes up, say to $1,100, Californians could still contribute that amount and deduct $1,100 on their federal return. But the extra $100 would not be deductible on their state-tax return. 

When the money comes out, it will all be taxable on the federal return but the taxpayer would then reduce the taxable amount by $100 on the state-tax return. “If we don’t conform for years, those non-deductible amounts can add up,” said Renee Rodda, a senior vice president with Spidell, a tax-information firm.

Rollovers from 529s to Roth IRAs

Many parents and grandparents set up a 529 college-savings account for a child or grandchild (called the beneficiary). There is no federal tax deduction for money that goes into the account; however, some states — though not California — have state-tax incentives for contributions.

The lure is that money in a 529 account grows tax free and remains tax free when it comes out if it’s used for qualified higher-education expenses.

If it’s used for other purposes, the portion that represents account earnings is subject to federal and California income tax and possible penalties (10% federal, 2.5% California). That discourages some families from saving too much, in case the beneficiary doesn’t attend or drops out of college or goes to a less expensive school.

Starting next year, any unused 529 funds can be rolled into a Roth IRA named for the same beneficiary — and thus escape federal tax and possible penalties — subject to these conditions:

  • The 529 account must have been open for at least 15 years.
  • Any contributions (and earnings on those contributions) made to the 529 account within the last five years can’t be moved to the Roth IRA.
  • Annual rollovers, including any other money the beneficiary put into the Roth IRA, can’t exceed the annual Roth IRA annual contribution limits ($7,000 in 2024 or $8,000 if the Roth account owner is older than 50). However, the income limits that apply to Roth IRA contributions don’t apply to the 529-to-Roth rollover.
  • The aggregate rollover can’t exceed $35,000 over the beneficiary’s lifetime.
  • The beneficiary must have income from a job or self-employment at least equal to the amount of the rollover.

This change “may help some individuals that came from well-off families that can now get a Roth IRA started for those who didn’t use it up,” said Craig Copeland, director of wealth benefits research with the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

However, to meet the 15-year holding requirement, the 529 plan must have been opened when the child was around 7 to make a rollover at age 22. “Near term, I don’t think it’s going to have much impact,” Copeland said. However, it could over time if Congress loosens the rules.

California has not conformed to this new provision. As a result, any earnings on 529 funds rolled into a Roth IRA would be subject to California income tax and a possible 2.5% penalty, according to Spidell. These 529 penalties are not age-related, Rodda said.

Forced distributions

When an employee leaves a company with a small balance in the 401(k) plan — currently, less than $5,000 — the employer can automatically distribute the money to the departed employee and close the account. If the balance is at least $1,000, the plan must roll the 401(k) money into an IRA unless the former employee says not to.

Next year, this threshold for “forced distributions” goes to $7,000, which should prevent more money from leaking out of the retirement system. 

Matching student-loan payments

Some employees have so much student debt they can’t save in their 401(k) plans and are missing out on matching contributions from their employer. To help them out, starting next year, employers may make contributions to the employee’s 401(k) plan that match their qualified student loan payments. The employer must match contributions for student loan payments at the same rate as they do for employee 401(k) contributions. 

The employer will have to verify that employees are making student loan payments. That could be a hassle for employers, but there are companies already doing this for other programs that match employee student-loan payments outside of 401(k) plans, Copeland said. 

Whether employers offer this benefit could depend on their workforce. “If they have a lot of young, educated workers who are not contributing to the 401(k), they might. If they have a lot of workers who are already contributing, they might not,” Copeland said.

No more RMDs from Roth employer plans

If you have money in an employer-sponsored Roth 401(k) or 403(b) plan, you must begin taking required minimum distributions, known as RMDs, at a certain age (currently 73 for those born in 1951 or later), even though the withdrawals are not taxable. 

Roth IRAs, on the other hand, don’t require RMDs until the owner has died.

Starting in 2024, Roth 401(k) and 403(b) accounts won’t be subject to RMDs during the owner’s life, to match the Roth IRA rules. 

RMDs will still be required from traditional pre-tax, non-Roth 401(k) accounts.

Emergency withdrawals

Some people are afraid of locking up too much money in pre-tax (non-Roth) retirement accounts in case they need it for emergencies. If they are younger than 59½ (or 55 and withdrawing from a former employer’s plan) they may be subject to a 10% federal- and 2.5% state-tax penalty. There are already some complicated exceptions to these penalties for early withdrawals for certain needs and hardships.

Secure 2.0 creates two more exceptions. Starting in 2024, people can withdraw up to $1,000 a year from their 401(k) plans or IRAs for emergency expenses without incurring the 10% early distribution penalty. Emergencies are defined as unforeseeable or immediate financial needs relating to personal or family emergency expenses.   

“Only one distribution of up to $1,000 per year is allowed, and the funds must be repaid within three years. If the funds haven’t been repaid within the three-year period, no additional hardship withdrawals can be made,” Mark Friedlich, vice president, with Wolters Kluwer, Tax and Accounting, said via email.

“Income tax is payable in the year of withdrawal. A refund of the tax is obtainable if the repayment is made after the year of withdrawal by filing an amended tax return for the year in which the withdrawal was made,” he added.

Employers would have to add this option to their 401(k)-type plans.

The Act also gives employers the option of offering “emergency savings accounts” linked to their 401(k) plans. Employees could make Roth (after-tax) contributions to the account until it reaches $2,500, although employers could set a lower limit. Highly compensated employees (making more than $155,000 in 2024) could not participate.

Employers could automatically opt employees into these accounts at a rate of up to 3% of eligible wages, unless the employees opt out. Employees would not have to give a reason for the withdrawal and could replenish the account when it dropped below the maximum.

Keep in mind that with Roth IRAs, “the after-tax contribution funds can be withdrawn for any reason without incurring additional tax or penalties. However, the ‘earnings’ in the Roth IRA are subject to a penalty and income tax except if it’s done for a first home purchase or birth of a child,” said Friedlich.

Asked if employers are likely to offer one or both emergency options, Copeland said they are most likely to add the $1,000 component first because “it’s more straightforward.”

Click here to read the full article in the SF Chronicle

Sacramento NAACP president, 3 officials suspended amid financial misconduct investigation

Betty Williams, the longtime advocate and influential leader of the Greater Sacramento NAACP, has been suspended by the national civil rights organization on allegations of financial impropriety as the branch’s president.

Word came Friday afternoon in a fiery rebuke of the charges from members of the Sacramento chapter expressing outrage at Williams’ apparent ouster, calling the decision politically motivated just as members gather for this weekend’s NAACP state convention in Burlingame.

In addition to Williams, three present and past branch officers — a treasurer, past treasurer and second vice president — also received suspension letters from the NAACP’s national leadership days before elections were to be held at the state meeting, a former branch vice president told The Sacramento Bee.

“Shame on the national and state office of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People — allegations without an investigation,” a Friday statement in support of Williams read. “Allegations of improper use of funds (are) just that, an allegation that has not been grounded in truth.”

On the day she was suspended, Williams appeared with family members at an NAACP-organized rally for Kaylin Footman, a Sacramento teacher who was arrested during a mental health crisis.

RALLY PLANNED IN SUPPORT OF WILLIAMS

The statement continued, saying that without an investigation, the charges could “ruin” Williams’ reputation and that of the Sacramento branch. Williams, the longest-serving president in the history of the Sacramento NAACP chapter, is long recognized as a statewide champion for civil rights.

She was not immediately available for comment. Williams’ supporters planned a noon rally Saturday outside the Marriott Hotel convention site in the Bay Area city to protest the decision. Aliane Murphy-Hasan, a lifetime member and former vice president of the Sacramento chapter, said state NAACP leaders were concerned with the findings of an annual audit of the local branch, but did not elaborate, deferring to Williams.

Murphy-Hasan said officials at local chapters are typically given advance warning of possible action, and the opportunity to correct or clarify any irregularities in an audit. She said the suspension letter from the national headquarters was the local officials’ only notice.

The suspension letter to Williams from NAACP president and CEO Derrick Johnson dated Oct. 23 and obtained by The Bee flatly accuses the longtime local leader of using the organization and her position for her own gain. The letter did not specify how Williams allegedly abused her position.

“By engaging in such inappropriate activity and by using the Association’s name and resources for personal benefit, you have engaged in conduct that is inimical to the best interests of the association,” the letter read.

“Action is necessary to prevent or mitigate that harm.” In it, national president Johnson suspended Williams immediately pending an investigation and hearing, saying her membership “presents a danger of harm” to the NAACP and the Sacramento local chapter, barring her from holding any post in the organization. California/Hawaii NAACP State Chapter President Rick Callender, who is also attending the Burlingame convention, told The Bee he had “zero input” in the suspension letter.

Click here to read the full article at the Sacramento Bee

Federal authorities close stores owned by Sacramento city councilmember during raid

Federal authorities closed supermarkets owned by Sacramento City Councilman Sean Loloee — who has been accused by prosecutors of withholding wages for employees — following a raid Thursday.

“The Homeland Security Investigations and the IRS criminal investigations have conducted an ‘authorized criminal enforcement activity’ at the Viva Supermarket locations,” said John A. Pearl, a spokesman for the IRS. “To protect all parties involved, including the agents and subjects of the investigation, that’s all I can share with you at this moment.”

Loloee, who owns the Viva Supermarket in Del Paso Heights, 3845 Marysville Blvd., and two other locations in the capital region, has been scrutinized three times by federal prosecutors since 2009. Investigators said he violated federal minimum wage, overtime compensation, record keeping and child labor laws, according to The Sacramento Bee’s previous reporting. A follow-up investigation in 2020 found that he allegedly violated these laws again, and then a third investigation alleged he coerced employees.

Jennifer Cho, a special agent with the IRS’ Criminal Investigation unit, declined to say if the raids were connected to any investigation into Loloee or whether any arrests had been made. She also declined to say if each Viva Supermarket had been searched or if authorities conducted their operations at any residences.

A video uploaded to Facebook by a resident showed Homeland Security agents inside the store and a sign on the store saying it was closed. Viva Supermarkets at 4211 Norwood Ave. in Sacramento’s Glenwood Meadows neighborhood, and at 10385 Folsom Blvd. in Rancho Cordova, each had signs outside saying, “Sorry Temporarily Closed” on Thursday afternoon.

The signs at the Rancho Cordova location were affixed with red tape reading, “U.S. Customs and Border Protection” and “Evidence — Do not open.” Agents with Homeland Security Investigations, part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, were spotted inside the closed store.

Homeland Security Investigations confirmed in a statement its involvement in the raids with the IRS and the California Department of Justice. The agencies conducted a “court authorized criminal law enforcement activity” at several locations in the Sacramento-area, an emailed statement said.

The state Department of Justice wrote in an email it was unable to comment on, even to confirm or deny, a potential or ongoing investigation.

Agents on Thursday afternoon were beginning to remove “temporarily closed” signs at the Rancho Cordova supermarket. Some law enforcement officials were taking electronics and boxes.

Loloee did not immediately respond to requests for comment. There was no activity at his home in Hagginwood, and the councilman could not be found at his Natomas office early Thursday afternoon.

“The issue you’re emailing about is personal matter related to the Councilmember’s businesses and is not connected to his work at City Hall,” Loloee’s office said in an emailed response. “We would encourage you to reach out to Viva Supermarkets for questions or comments regarding the matter.”

A spokesperson for Viva could not immediately be reached for comment.

Loloee, who sits on the governing board of the Sacramento Public Library system, was not present at the beginning of a 3 p.m. board meeting.

Reached around 2:15 p.m., Denicia Valdez-Jones, a staffer in Loloee’s office, said she believed Loloee was touring potential sites for temporary housing in his district, which spans most of North Sacramento.

Margo Santana, who posted a video of one of the morning raids to Facebook, speculated he may be at his wife’s home in Granite Bay. The city commissioned an investigation last year into claims that Loloee lived there rather than the Sacramento home he purchased in 2019; a local attorney who conducted that investigation concluded last October that Loloee does live in the council district he represents.

The residency controversy continues to draw skepticism from some residents.

“He’s probably in Granite Bay where he lives,” Santana said. “Why would he be here?”

Click here to read the full article in the Sacramento Bee via Yahoo News

Sacramento Barred From Clearing Homeless Camps Until at Least Sept. 1 due to Heat, Judge Rules

A federal judge has extended an order barring the city of Sacramento from clearing homeless encampments, due to extreme heat.

The city cannot clear camps until at least Sept. 1, Judge Troy L. Nunley said in a ruling Wednesday. Previously the order was set to expire Thursday.

Under the order, first issued Aug. 3 as the result of a Sacramento Homeless Union lawsuit, the city can still enforce its ordinance that bans camps from fully blocking sidewalks.

“To the extent possible, unhoused individuals should be given an opportunity to comply with the sidewalk ordinance at their given location,” the order stated.

District Attorney Thien Ho last week criticized the city for not citing homeless people who block the sidewalks, as its ordinance allows it to do. He has threatened criminal and civil action against city officials.

Mayor Steinberg has accused Ho of politicizing the issue of homelessness and pointed out that homeless people typically lack the ability to pay fines. Instead of issuing citations, when residents complain of blocked sidewalks, city employees routinely respond to the scene and tell them to move their items to make room for a four-foot walkway.

Nunley’s order also allows the city to clear camps that are within 500 feet of a school, and to pick up trash from camps, as long as it does not remove personal survival items.

It also requires the city to let the Sacramento Homeless Union to tour its Miller Park Safe Ground, a sanctioned encampment.

The union has raised concerns that the Safe Ground is too hot because the tents are located in the sun. The city has agreed to provide structures over tents in areas without shade, and alternative tents, such as those made of canvas, to provide better protection from the heat, the order stated.

Also Wednesday, Nunley ruled that the city must submit a court filing explaining why it should not be held in contempt of court and sanctioned for violating the order earlier this month.

The city on Aug. 4 and Aug. 7 cleared homeless people from outside City Hall, in violation of the order. The city told its police not to clear camps, but was “not effective,” in telling a contractor that handles City Hall, a spokesman said at the time.

The city has until Aug. 23 to submit the filing.

Click here to read the full article from the Sacramento Bee via Yahoo

California Democrats are Taking Absurd Positions on Crime and Housing — Making Republicans Somehow Relevant Again

California Democrats haven’t had to worry about being relevant in a long, long time.

A Republican hasn’t won statewide office in California since 2006, and Democrats control a supermajority of seats in the state Legislature. So dominant are Democrats that, if they were to face a serious threat, it wouldn’t be from the withered California Republican Party. It would be from Democrats themselves, whose votes this week on high-profile criminal justice and housing bills sent a glaring signal that some members are increasingly willing to sacrifice everyday Californians on the altar of ideology. 

Perhaps the most egregious example came Tuesday, when Democrats in the Assembly Public Safety Committee killed a bill that would have classified human trafficking of minors as a “serious” felony, adding it to the list of crimes under California’s three strikes law that results in longer sentences for repeat offenders. 

The notion that it isn’t a serious crime to traffic children for sex or labor would be so absurd as to be laughable if it weren’t for the gravity of the situation. The U.S. Department of State and the American Civil Liberties Union consider human trafficking to be a form of modern-day slavery. The thousands of Californians forced into various forms of human trafficking every year are disproportionately young, female and Black, according to a 2020 report from the Little Hoover Commission, an independent state watchdog. 

Despite garnering unanimous bipartisan support in the state Senate, the bill hit a wall in the Assembly Public Safety Committee, where other common-sense criminal justice proposals have met unceremonious deaths in recent months. The committee chairperson, Assembly Member Reggie Jones-Sawyer of Los Angeles, noted that human trafficking can already result in lengthy sentences and can be classified as a “serious” crime under certain conditions, such as if great bodily injury was inflicted on the victim. 

This reasoning — child trafficking should only be considered “serious” if the victim endures additional horrifying circumstances on top of being trafficked — illuminates how far some Democrats are willing to go to uphold ideological principles that, when carried to their logical extreme, are no longer morally defensible. 

Understandably determined to avoid repeating California’s failed history of mass incarceration, many Democrats are now wary of increasing penalties for any crime, even the most egregious. This has resulted in stances that are almost impossible to justify.

We can and should debate what sort of sentence is most appropriate for an offender who traffics a child. But to say that trafficking a child is not a serious crime — and to uphold such a fallacy in our penal code — is absurd. Similarly absurd is the stance, taken by the Assembly Public Safety Committee in March, that domestic violence — despite its name — is not a violent crime.  

This refusal to call a spade a spade is not limited to Democrats in the Assembly Public Safety Committee. Last month, Gov. Gavin Newsom doubled the number of state police officers in San Francisco and directed the city to enforce the “damn laws” on drug and property crimes. Yet Newsom maintained that this war on drugs was definitely not him returning to the “old, failed war on drugs.” 

Nor is it limited to the issue of criminal justice. In the name of protecting the environment, Democrats in the Assembly Natural Resources Committee on Monday almost torpedoed a bill instrumental to advancing California’s battle against climate change. The bill, authored by Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco, would improve upon and make permanent a 2017 law requiring cities that aren’t meeting state-mandated housing production goals to streamline the permitting process for certain multifamily projects — including along California’s coast.

The California Coastal Commission, which has long overseen development in these areas, opposed Wiener’s bill, arguing that housing shouldn’t be fast-tracked in sensitive environmental regions prone to sea-level rise and other climate impacts. But Wiener said the idea of exempting the coast was “offensive,” noting that those communities are among California’s wealthiest and whitest. 

Four Democrats, including committee chairperson Luz Rivas of Arleta (Los Angeles County), effectively sided with the commission by abstaining from a vote. And while four Democrats voted in favor, that wasn’t enough. Wiener needed Republican votes — and he got all three GOP committee members. 

“It was the Republicans that delivered the critical votes to pass major housing legislation,” GOP Assembly Member Joe Patterson of Rocklin (Placer County) tweeted afterward. “Republicans are not irrelevant.”

Indeed, it was Republicans, not Democrats, who proposed amending Newsom’s infrastructure streamlining package to also exempt housing from lengthy and often unnecessary environmental reviews. Democrats, many of whom are linked to powerful labor and environmental groups, shot the idea down.

Yet making it easier to build dense, affordable housing would help, not harm, California’s ability to combat the climate crisis by limiting suburban sprawl fueled by gas-guzzling cars. It would help create jobs. And it would help millions of Californians afford homes closer to where they work, further reducing hours-long commutes and slowing an exodus of lower-income residents to other states. 

Click here to read the full article in the SF Chronicle

Do Neighbors of Sacramento’s New Homeless Center Have a Right to Be Unhappy?

Say a homeless man had run into your yard with a machete, yelling that he was going to kill you. To chase him away, “I helped him over the fence with my shovel,” said Ron Jellison, a 73-year-old former special education teacher who grew up just behind Sacramento’s Del Paso Regional Park and lives there still. This wasn’t a one-time thing, either. “I’ve been attacked three times on my property.” Or say a different man in a psychotic episode had broken into your barn across from that same park one winter morning, brutally attacking one of your beloved rescue horses with a claw hammer and killing your rooster, chickens and ducks. There is no morning, Dennis James says, when he doesn’t remember that awful day, and no morning when he doesn’t feel a fresh wave of apprehension as he reaches for the latch to let the ducks out. Or imagine that as you walked through the park one day, moving slowly on your cane, a man living in his car had come at you in a rage, then pulled a “baseball bat-sized limb” from a tree and started beating you with it. “It split my head open,” said 70-year-old John Mayfield, requiring 7 stitches and causing significant hearing loss. All of these attacks happened in the area just behind Sacramento’s new Outreach and Engagement Center on Auburn Boulevard, which since it opened in late September has been offering assessment and placement services, a shower and a sleeping mat to as many as 50 homeless people at a time. None of these incidents occurred since September, though. And it’s hard to say whether things have really gotten worse since then, or whether preexisting problems in the area are easy to pin on a program that neighbors never wanted and can’t help seeing as a magnet for more trouble.

Either way, I’m in no position to tell someone whose head was bashed in or whose horse was nearly beaten to death how he ought to feel. “We’ve not had anything catastrophic happen since they moved in,” said another neighbor, Charles Duckworth, which doesn’t mean that “90 days or 1 year or 5 years from now, somebody is not going to come out of there and do something in the neighborhood.” A few years back, said Duckworth, who is 72, “I had my front door kicked in by a homeless guy — a drunk guy looking for somebody. The city has ignored the park for 40 years.”

Jellison, who is one of the leaders of neighborhood opposition to the center, does not pretend that his concerns are new. “This is a generational fight,” in part over the city’s cyclical neglect of the park since way back when “a criminal element took over in the 50s. The drug culture, the human trafficking, the gangs were all here, and the homeless were just another layer on top of that.” Still, there have been “many more complaints” to the city from neighbors since the center opened, according to Hezekiah Allen, of Sacramento’s Department of Community Response. Why? For one thing, neighbors seem to expect the center to be doing more to get homeless people already living nearby off the street. But since the program is voluntary and referral-only, that’s not how it was set up to work. People camping in tents on the creek downstream from the center have nothing to do with the program, which does not take walk-ins except during extreme weather. But those living in the encampments clearly are responsible for the trash and needles and waste in the water. “They use it as their personal bathroom and wastebasket,” says Duckworth. Which can’t help but color how residents see the center.

On one of the neighborhood tours Jellison took me on, we interrupted a man whose legs were sticking out of the open passenger side door of the truck where he was parked with a young girl at the end of a residential street in the middle of the day. Trafficking in the neighborhood is nothing new. Neither are many of the other affronts to the sense of security of those who live here: The attack on Cindy and Dennis James’s animals was in January of this year. The attack on Mayfield was in February of 2020. The man with the machete ran into Jellison’s yard years ago. But anyone who’d had the experiences that these Sacramento County residents have had would have been scarred by them. And just as many homeless people are where they are as the result of some serious past trauma, so too have these particular opponents of the Auburn Boulevard homeless center been traumatized. Mayfield, who used to be a neighborhood ambassador for the park, mostly avoids it now. Dennis James is a lot more wary in general: “Every time I see someone walking down the street, if I don’t know who they are, I think, ‘Why are they here?’ I wasn’t that way before.” His wife, Cindy James, says her reaction to the new center is simple: “I think we should all chip in funds, buy a really nice tent and put it in front of the mayor’s house.” These are not uncaring people. “My best friend is 40 years sober,” says Duckworth, while someone else he was close to, whose addiction went untreated, died on the street. Yet the clash between these neighbors and the desperately needed center, run by other compassionate people, is the kind of conflict that continues to keep programs across the country from ever opening at all. So somehow, we have to figure out how to make situations like this work. Which is what neighbors and officials from Hope Cooperative, which operates the city-owned center, are in theory going to try to do at a community Zoom meeting on Dec. 13.

Click here to read the full article in the Sacramento Bee

‘Extreme’ Weather Hysteria is Latest Crisis

‘Soft lockdown: The parks were closed due to the forecasted heat wave’

It was 105 degrees in Sacramento Sunday. Today it could be 111 degrees. This is what is known as hot summer weather in California. We native Californians also know this is normal.

As a kid, I remember such hot Sacramento summer days, I couldn’t walk barefoot on the sidewalks.

But no one cautioned us to “be safe.” In fact, back when I was a kid, parents told us to put shoes on and to stop being stupid.

This is Sacramento weather in 1972 – notice the 114 degrees on July 14, 1972:

In 1973, the hottest temperature in Sacramento was 107 degrees. By 1975, it was back up to 113 degrees. In fact, between 1972 and 1992, over 20 years, every summer in Sacramento was in the triple digits, and there were four summers hotter than 110 degrees.

In 1996, it was 110 degrees in Sacramento. In 2002, it was 110 degrees. In 2006, it was 111 degrees. In 2017 it was 110 degrees. In 2020 it was 112 degrees in Sacramento. Last summer in Sacramento, temperatures reached 109 degrees. The point is, every summer in the Sacramento region, temperatures are hot – 104 up to 113 degrees. The standard appears to be 104 to 108 degrees – really hot.

Radio and television weather reporters are now medical professionals telling us how to be safe under these “extreme” heat conditions:

  • drink fluids
  • stay inside
  • stay hydrated
  • stay in an air-conditioned room
  • stay out of the sun

Even my dogs are smart enough to stay out of the sun.

The Sacramento Bee has an article today hyping the heat and fear mongering:

How can Sacramento heat turn fatal? What to know with temps headed to 110 degrees

The Bee claims this weather is a “recording-breaking heat wave,” and has “forced many residents indoors this holiday weekend.”

I beg to differ. It’s not record-breaking, and I saw a street fair outdoors yesterday when temps reached 105 degrees.

KCRA has an “Excessive Heat Warning” on their news website, and offers these tips on how to “be safe:”

We are also ironically asked “to conserve power amid brutal heat wave.”

The U.S. National Weather Service in Sacramento also warned of “Dangerous Heat” and tells us  to “Practice heat safety!”

US National Weather Service Sacramento California .

Despite headlines claiming “record breaking heat,” when interviewed, weather officials say it “may” be record breaking.

“This heat may be record breaking and will likely produce a very high heat illness risk,” the Los Angeles-area weather office wrote.

The torrid conditions will be caused by high pressure that was already pushing into the state and making it difficult for onshore flow of marine air.

“These trends are forecast to continue and will likely set up (a) prolonged and likely dangerous heat event,” the office said.

One East Bay mom Tweeted an interesting report:

“My family wanted to get outside this morning before it got hot, but the parks were closed due to the forecasted heat wave. This is another soft lockdown. They are forcing us to stay inside, isolated and inactive, for our ‘safety.’”

Read the full article at the California Globe

DA: Over 70% of offenders released on $0 bail in one California county were re-arrested

People released from jail under Yolo County’s “$0 bail” policy went on to be re-arrested 70% of the time, according to a new report released by the District Attorney’s Office. In April 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the California Judicial Council took the step of imposing a statewide emergency bail schedule, ending the requirement of cash bail for low-level offenders in a bid to reduce the spread of the virus among inmates. The order set bail at $0 for most misdemeanor and lower-level felony charges. The emergency order was lifted in June 2020, though individual counties were permitted to make their own decisions on whether to keep $0 bail in place.

Yolo County opted to keep the measure in place until June 2021. As a result, Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig’s office conducted an analysis of those re-arrests while the policy was in place.

Out of 595 people who were released on $0 bail during that period, 420 were re-arrested, with 123 of them arrested for violent crimes, with charges ranging from murder and attempted murder to kidnapping, robbery, carjacking and domestic violence. That included Marcus Trull, a 22-year-old who was arrested in connection with a shooting that left two dead in Old Sacramento in July 2021. He was released from jail in Yolo County but failed to appear to face felony charges of possessing a loaded gun and possessing a concealed gun in connection with an April 2020 case. Trull also failed to appear in Sacramento Superior Court for two charges in an October 2020 DUI case. Trull remains in custody in the Sacramento County Main Jail as he awaits a plea hearing Sept. 20 in the Old Sacramento case with co-defendant Cedric Salcedo, according to court records.

“When over 70% of the people released under mandated $0 bail policies go on to commit additional crimes, including violent offenses such as robbery and murder, there is simply no rational public safety-related basis to continue such a practice post-pandemic, especially in light of the increasing violent crime rates across California,” Reisig said in a statement.

Click here to read the full article at the Sacramento Bee

Mysterious Bay Area Criminal Organization Had Nationwide Reach, Law Enforcement Impostor, Ties to Shootings and Notorious Murder, Feds Say

On April 13, 2020, a white Jeep Cherokee pulled up alongside a Honda containing Antioch resident Kameron Booth and one other person as it drove past the 23rd Street exit on Interstate 880, then opened fire.

Mortally wounded from gunfire, Booth pulled over, stumbled to the trunk, and in desperation offered a passing motorist $10,000 for a task: He said he had $400,000 in cash that needed to be delivered to another person. Before he could hand over the money, Booth collapsed. Paramedics rushed him to a hospital but he died from his injuries two weeks later.

Booth’s killing remains unsolved, but this month federal prosecutors in Sacramento revealed a bombshell: Just four days before the shooting, an Alameda County prosecutor received a call from a woman claiming to be a U.S. Attorney, inquiring about Booth. Days after the shooting, the same woman called a CHP officer, claiming to be with the DEA, and revealed information that had never been released to the public.

That woman, according to federal prosecutors, was the co-leader of a mysterious criminal organization that has been officially linked to identity theft, marijuana trafficking in several states, and EDD fraud during the COVID-19 pandemic. But court records reveal the investigation also involves unsolved violent crimes, guns hidden in secret compartments, and attempts to retrieve souped-up classic cars that had been seized by law enforcement.

The alleged leaders of the organization are a man named Quinten Moody, 37, of Dublin, and a woman named Myra Minks, 46. Minks, Moody’s onetime girlfriend, is accused of repeatedly impersonating law enforcement officials, including in the calls related to Booth’s homicide. The third defendant, Jessica Tang, 48, of Sacramento, is charged with EDD fraud, but she’s best known for her role in a notorious East Bay murder from 1999.

An indictment against the trio, filed June 16, includes charges of conspiracy to distribute marijuana to “California, Georgia, Nevada, Texas, and elsewhere,” false impersonation of an officer, aggravated identity theft, and mail fraud. Most of the charges are aimed at Minks and Moody, while Tang is accused of committed EDD fraud by filling out false unemployment forms in other people’s names.

Moody remains in federal custody in Sacramento, while Tang has been released on a $50,000 bond, court records show. Minks was arrested June 21 in Nevada and is in custody there, pending extradition to Sacramento, where a federal magistrate will decide whether to free her or keep her in jail while the case is pending.

Minks’ past criminal history include other attempts at impersonation, including identity theft. In 2005, she was charged in an alleged identity theft scheme that involved her and another person allegedly buying jewelry with a victim’s credit card. Minks’ co-defendant later escaped from the Sonoma County jail; the complaint alleges the two “discussed arrangements” for the escape beforehand. The charges were dropped a month after they were filed, but Minks was later convicted and sentenced to federal prison for an unrelated fraud scheme, records show.

In 1999, then-Pinole residents Raymond Wong and Tang allegedly murdered and mutilated 21-year-old Alice Sin, dumping her body in a Nevada desert and staging the crime scene to appear as though it was committed by a racist hate group. Wong was dating both women; police believe the motive was related to the love triangle. In 2011, both were charged with murder. Tang pleaded guilty to accessory and received probation and community service, while Wong was tried, convicted, and sentenced to 50 years to life.

Moody, meanwhile, has twice dodged serious criminal convictions. He was accused of beating his then-wife with a blunt object in Alameda County in 2014, but the charges were dropped when the alleged victim’s attorney showed up in court and said she didn’t desire prosecution. In 2010, he beat a federal gun possession case when a judge ruled two U.S. Park officers illegally searched his car, where they found a pistol hidden in a secret compartment, court records show.

The charging documents describe Minks as a daring impostor of law enforcement officials, alleging she claimed to be a U.S. Attorney, a member of the Secret Service, an FBI agent, a DEA agent — also an airline employee — and that she and Moody drafted forged property release orders to obtain vehicles that had been seized by law enforcement. For instance, in October 2020 Minks allegedly called the Colma police department, posing as a Secret Service agent, and asked them to release a Jeep that had been seized from one of Moody’s associates, Gregory Bell, four months earlier.

Federal prosecutors are targeting Bell as well. He currently faces federal gun possession charges in San Francisco and Atlanta. Court records allege that he and Moody were arrested in Roseville in June 2021, after police there attempted to pull over a car containing both men at the direction of the FBI. Moody, the driver, allegedly sped away from police, reaching speeds of 100 miles per hour, before they both were arrested. Bell’s phone reportedly contained a video of him and another man shooting guns at a Georgia gun range.

Prosecutors also allege that in 2019 Bell possessed a pistol — later linked to nonfatal shootings in Oakland and San Francisco — that was found in the hidden compartment of a white Jeep. During a search of his home, authorities allegedly found an unregistered “assault pistol” loaded with 100 rounds, as well as 40 pounds of marijuana.

Some of Minks’ alleged impersonations appeared to be attempts to sniff out federal informants. On April 27, 2020, she allegedly called a federal prosecutor in Georgia, posing as U.S. Attorney “Cynthia Lee” in the Bay Area to inquire about a person referred to as “Associate 1” that had been cooperating with the government, naming Moody as a marijuana trafficker. The Georgia prosecutor allegedly confirmed the existence of an investigation involving Associate 1 and Moody, then discovered there were no federal prosecutors named Cynthia Lee in the Bay Area.

Three weeks earlier, when Minks allegedly called the Alameda County DA’s office, the focus of the call was Booth, according to federal authorities. A DA spokeswoman declined to comment on specifics and DA Nancy O’Malley didn’t return an email seeking comment.

When Booth was gunned down four days after the call, it wasn’t his first shootout, nor the first time he’d been caught with huge amounts of cash. In November 2018, Kameron Booth and his brother, Kyle Booth, were arrested and charged with gun and marijuana possession after they were involved in a gun battle in San Leandro. Police searched their Hayward home and found nearly $2 million in cash and 180 pounds of marijuana, as well as a pound of marijuana and about $43,000 in their car.

Kyle Booth was shot and killed four months before his brother, in Atlanta. Police say Kyle Booth and another California resident, Byron Edwards, were driving through the northeastern district of the Georgia capital when another car pulled alongside them and opened fire, killing both men. Authorities have not announced any arrests in the double homicide, nor publicly revealed a motive beyond saying the victims appear to have been targeted.

Click here to read the full article in the Mercury News

Guaranteed Income in Sacramento: Council Poised to Give 80 families $500 a month

Eighty households in the city of Sacramento are poised to start receiving $500 a month, no strings attached, as part of an expansion of an existing local guaranteed basic income program. Since June 2021, United Way has been giving 100 low-income residents in the county $300 a month through June 2023 as part of the Direct Investment Program in Sacramento, also known as DIPS. The Sacramento City Council is expected to approve the $750,000 contract with the local nonprofit to expand the program at its Tuesday meeting, financed with federal COVID-19 relief money.

The basic income program, the first of its kind in Sacramento, is a kind of experiment aimed at exploring alternatives to traditional social safety net programs. With crushing gas prices and soaring inflation hitting the wallets of low-income families hardest, advocates of guaranteed income programs argue unconditional direct payments are a more effective way to lift families out of financial instability.

The cash payments are similar to the stimulus checks millions of Americans received from the federal government during the coronavirus pandemic. As part of the city-sponsored expansion, United Way will hire Sacramento State to research and evaluate the program, and to publicize its findings on the financial and social outcomes among participants. In a statement, Mayor Darrell Steinberg said that basic income programs are “not just about giving people money.” “Similar programs have found that the financial stability provided by basic income helped people find full time employment, funded groceries or auto repair, and reduced their overall stress,” Steinberg stated. “I am excited that Sacramento and United Way are partnering to pilot a basic income program and I hope we can do more in the future.” For families who’ve been a part of the program since last summer, the $300 monthly cash payments have been transformative.

Fienishia Wash, a single mother and recipient who lives in south Sacramento, previously told The Sacramento Bee she’s been able to boost her credit score by paying off old bills. She’s also saving money each month for the first time in her life. “I see a start to a better path, a stronger foundation,” Wash previously told The Bee. Of the 100 participants already in the program, 86% said they could not pay an unexpected $400 expense out of pocket, compared to about 36% of people nationwide, according to project lead Cameron Collins. Finding financial stability by the end of the program is a goal for about 64% of participants, Collins previously told The Bee. In addition, 18% want a more stable work situation, and 8% want to obtain a degree or credential. The city expects to see multiple economic benefits stemming from the direct payments, according to a staff report — an increased rate of participants working one stable full-time job, an increased ability to meet self-defined personal finance goals, and double the percentage of participants able to pay a sudden expense.

Those results would be in line with other similar U.S. guaranteed income programs, such as the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration, which gave 125 households $500 a month starting in 2019. Researchers found that in the first year of the program, recipients were employed at a higher rate, were happier, were healthier, and were more able to weather sudden expenses compared to non-recipients in the control group. The city and United Way have yet to select the 80 households that will participate in the expanded program, or determine a start date for distributing payments. The contract with United Way would be effective July 1, and organizers would start outreach immediately, according to city spokeswoman Jennifer Singer. During the first round of DIPS, United Way opened an online portal for low-income families to apply to the program, and reached out to community groups such as La Familia and the Black Child Legacy Campaign to cast a wide net.

Click here to read the full article in the SacramentoBee