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Facebook giving $25M to news outlets for COVID-19 coverage

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Facebook gives $25M to local news publications for COVID-19 coverage

Facebook has committed to providing local news organizations in the U.S. and Canada with $25 million in grant funding and spending another $75 million on ads with news outlets worldwide.  The aim is to support an industry “working under extraordinary conditions to keep people informed during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the company said in a statement.

A first round of $5,000 grants went to 50 local newsrooms in the U.S. and Canada as part of the social media company’s COVID-19 Community Network grant program. The funds allowed The Post and Courier in South Carolina to take down its paywall for COVID-19 stories. The Southeast Missourian is using its grant to bolster remote work technology, and on plans to inform elderly readers should distribution be disrupted. In the Bay Area, the online news site Mission Local in San Francisco received a first-round grant.

In addition to the $100 million contribution, last year Facebook committed $300 million to support journalism.

“This money will not only help keep journalists reporting right now amidst the crisis, the funding will also fuel opportunities for local media to accelerate business transformation toward a more sustainable digital footing,” Nancy Lane, CEO of Local Media Association, said in a statement.

Photo of Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook co-founder and CEO, courtesy of Facebook

San Mateo County eateries make list of Michelin-starred takeout options

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SF Eater list of Michelin-starred takeout options includes San Mateo County eateries

Some of the Bay Area’s most acclaimed fine-dining locations are offering to-go meals. Popular food blog SF Eater did us a favor by identifying 16 local Michelin-starred restaurants offering takeout in the Bay Area. Two of them are in San Mateo County.

Sushi Yoshizumi in San Mateo, for example, is offering Chirashi Don for $125 and a Tekka Don for $75. The restaurant asks customers to call at least a day in advance between 11 a.m. and noon. Contact the restaurant at 650-437-2282 or order online.

In addition, The Village Pub, located in Woodside, is delivering “warm-and-serve” style three-course meals through DoorDash, with all proceeds benefiting the restaurant’s employees.

For Eater SF’s full report on Michelin-star takeout, click here.

Photo credit: Getty images

Courthouse candlelight vigil planned for Transgender Day of Remembrance

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Ninth Annual Chanukah Festival

The community is invited to an annual Transgender Day of Remembrance on Wednesday, Nov. 20, that will begin with a candlelight vigil and procession at Redwood City Courthouse Square and continue with an event in the public library.

The gathering aims to remember 25 transgender and gender noncomforming people in the U.S. known to have been lost to anti-transgender violence this year.

“With this gathering, we aim to provide a space for communal healing, to celebrate the lives of those we’ve lost and to commit to fighting against discrimination and violence that our transgender community faces,” organizers said.

The event will begin at 5 p.m. with the vigil at Courthouse Square followed by a program from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the nearby Main Library featuring community speakers, resources and information on how residents can help fight discrimination, intolerance and violence against members of the transgender community.

The event is presented by LGBTQ Commission , PRIDE Initiative, The San Mateo County Pride Center, African American Community Initiative, BHRS Office of Diversity and Equity, CORA and the Redwood City Public Library.

Redwood City set to salsa

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The 12th Annual Salsa Festival will encompass 11 blocks of downtown Redwood City from noon to 8 p.m. on Saturday.

The fun festival will feature salsa music, salsa dancing, salsa tasting and, yes, even a tequila tasting. The public tasting, a competition featuring both professional and amateur chefs, takes place from noon to 5 p.m., and organizers say you should come early to be sure to try them all.

Three stages (Courthouse Square Salsa Stage, Latin Jazz Stage and Reggae Stage) will feature Salsa, Latin Jazz, and Reggae music. The kids will enjoy hands-on art projects and a play area with bounce houses. City and community booths and local food vendors will also be on hand.

The festival takes place on Broadway between Middlefield and Hamilton and on the beautiful Theatre Way, all of which will be pedestrian-only.

Photo credit: City of Redwood City

City responds to complaints about broken traffic signal

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When will they repair the broken traffic signal at Hudson Street and Jefferson Avenue? A lot of people have been wanting to know for a few weeks.

Today, the city released its second statement in a week on Facebook: The issue is estimated to take till the end of the month to resolve.

The city put out this statement today:

“Last week, the City provided a brief update on the traffic signal at Hudson and Jefferson, noting that City staff from various departments are actively working on a solution with PG&E. The City understands that traffic impacts are occurring because of PG&E related issues causing power fluctuations at this traffic signal. PG&E is working on a longer-term solution to fix the signal light power issues. They are estimating this could take until the end of the month to resolve. All of the traffic signals and streetlights at this intersection are LEDs, and are unrelated to the issue. City staff is working on a short-term solution using a battery pack to power the signal during the day, and returning the signal to flash overnight so that the battery pack can recharge. Staff estimates this short-term solution will be in place next week. The City will share more information as it becomes available. Thank you for your patience and please avoid traveling in this area, if possible.”

For several weeks, residents have inquired over the reason for the persistent use of a flashing red light at the intersection. A number of residents took to the Facebook page, Redwood City Residents Say: “What”, to raise concerns and frustrations about an unusual delay in repairs. A few took the initiative to call the city manager’s office (in this thread) and mayor (in this thread) for answers.

New attendance policy for BCCs accommodates new parents

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Redwood City Council meeting roundup for April 8, 2019

Redwood City Council on Monday adopted an attendance policy for members of city boards, commissions and committees (BCCs) that accommodates new parents.

The council sought to create an attendance policy for BCCs because there was no existing mechanism to remove and replace members who fail to show up to meetings or are consistently tardy. When the policy was discussed at a council meeting earlier this month, its members were divided on the acceptable length of leave offered to new parents, particularly mothers.

On Monday, council unanimously approved a revised attendance policy that provides a mechanism to remove oft-absent or late BCC members from their seats, but also accommodates members who are new parents.

The policy vacates seats when members are absent from three consecutive regular meetings or from more than 25 percent of all regular meetings in a year period, but allows members to request a leave of absence for any reason anywhere from one regular meeting up to a period not to exceed three months, pending approval by the city clerk and mayor. It also states BCC members must be present for at least 50 percent of a meeting in order to be counted as present.

Parents under the new rules can automatically take a leave of absence of three months from a board, commission or committee. The policy also requests staff to assess how to support breastfeeding mothers who serve on council or a BCC.

The policy also allows the mayor and clerk to grant extensions for any leave of absence of up to an additional three months for a total of six months.

Twice annually, the clerk will provide council with a BCC Attendance Report.

Mayor Ian Bain said establishing an attendance policy is important to ensure government business isn’t delayed over a lack of quorum and other matters affected by lack of attendance.

“Quite frankly we’ve had a few committees…where the committee’s business has been impacted by those members [who fail to show up],” Mayor Bain said. “Without a policy in place, we have no enforcement mechanism to ensure people who volunteer and make these commitments do attend.”

Councilmember Giselle Hale, who proposed adding accommodations in the policy for new parents, said the new rules are in keeping with the council’s focus on children and youth as top priorities.

“This really does work its way into how that priority comes to life and how parents are able to participate in government,” Hale said.

Several cities are now looking at Redwood City’s policy to see whether they should implement something similar, Councilmember Shelly Masur said.

The city currently has nine Boards, Commissions and Committees whose members are appointed by the City Council.

Volunteers invited to 1st annual Stulsaft Park Clean-Up

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Grassroots Ecology is inviting the community to participate in the first annual Stulsaft Park Clean-Up Day this Saturday, June 8 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Volunteers will meet at Stulsaft Park, 3737 Farm Hill Blvd., at the picnic tables by the bathrooms. Come prepared to walk across steep, hilly terrain while pulling invasive plants and enjoying the scenery. Gloves, tools, and light snacks will be provided.

Participants must register and approve the online waiver found here.

Grassroots Ecology is a nonprofit organization that summons volunteers to create healthy lands.

Family of man fatally shot by RWC police call for changes

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The family of a Redwood City man who was fatally shot by police last year is calling for the City Council to enforce changes at the Redwood City Police Department.

The Hart family and their supporters are planning to advocate at Monday’s City Council meeting at 7 p.m. for expanded crisis intervention training, M40 bean bag guns in every patrol car along with Tasers and body cameras for all patrol officers.

The family’s campaign has asked residents to copy, paste  and send this note to

In March, the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office, which investigated the officer-involved shooting that killed 33-year-old Kyle Hart, decided not to pursue criminal charges against the officers involved, saying its investigation revealed that the use of lethal force was justifiable under the law.

The fatal shooting occurred just before 9 a.m. on Dec. 30. Hart, a teacher and father of two young children, had been attempted to commit suicide by cutting himself with a large kitchen knife when his wife called police to their Lincoln Avenue home, according to a report by investigators. Two arriving officers, Roman Gomez and Leila Velez, encountered his wife covered in blood in the front yard. She pointed them in the direction of her husband toward the backyard. Velez pulled out a Taser gun, and Gomez pulled out a firearm, the DA’s report states. During their encounter with Hart,  Hart didn’t respond to officer calls to put his knife down, and then reportedly charged at the officers with the knife raised. Velez fired the Taser, but it didn’t work, and then Gomez fired his gun five times, striking Hart three times.

The officer believed there was no time to exchange words or back away from Hart, according to the DA’s report.

The Hart family expressed dissatisfaction with the DA’s finding, calling into question whether the officers managed the scene optimally, and whether alternative deescalation options and equipment could have been used.

“As a family, we are civic-minded and have dedicated our lives to public service, which is why we have taken the approach to partner with Redwood City to evaluate opportunities for growth together,” the Hart family states.

Man convicted in 1995 fatal beating of infant daughter in Redwood City granted parole

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Despite opposition by prosecutors, a 51-year-old man convicted in the 1995 fatal beating of his 4-months-old daughter at their Redwood City home has been granted parole.

Reynaldo “Rudy” Rivas was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter for the death of his daughter on Feb. 12, 1995 and sentenced to 15 years to life in prison. Prosecutors say the infant was beaten over 12 days for “crying and being upset” by a then 28-year-old father who had “no experience or training” in caring for a baby.

Rivas’ latest parole hearing at Avenal State Prison was his third. After a two-hour hearing, the parole board found that he no longer constitutes an unreasonable risk of danger to the public, and granted him parole. The case now heads to administrative review at the Board of Parole Hearings, and then to Gov. Gavin Newsom, who can reverse or affirm the decision.

The San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office opposes the parole hearing’s decision, saying “the prisoner remains a danger to the public.”

“We felt he needs to serve more time than he did,” said DA Steve Wagstaffe.

Wagstaffe said the parole board has been releasing prisoners at a higher clip, a policy he says doesn’t change his office’s position on public safety concerns.

At the time of the criminal acts in 1995, the county’s Child Protective Services had granted Rivas custody of his daughter because her mother had been serving time in county jail on a probation violation. Then on Feb. 12, 1995, Redwood City police responded to Rivas’ home in the 700 block of Charter Street after he called 911 to say his daughter stopped breathing. While Rivas initially told authorities he had tripped and dropped the baby while carrying her in her room, a coroner’s investigation revealed child abuse, according to a report from the San Francisco Chronicle archives.

After a 16-day jury trial in 1996, the jury returned verdicts of not guilty on a murder count and guilty on the lesser count of voluntary manslaughter and also felony child endangerment causing death. He was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison. During the trial, Rivas was described as having been incapable of caring for a child, having had no experience or training whatsoever, according to prosecutors.

Ninth Annual Chanukah Festival

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Ninth Annual Chanukah Festival

This Sunday, Dec. 2, join Chabad Mid Pen for the Ninth Annual Chanukah Festival at Courthouse Square.

Come out and watch as a giant glow in the dark Menorah will be lit. Guests can enjoy entertainment, music, latkes and donuts, and an amazing time for the whole family, including Ben Kramarz live and a Chanukah Gelt Drop.

The event includes children’s activities at 4 p.m. and the Menora lighting at 4:30 p.m.

For more information click here.

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