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In the wake of Prop. 22, and as counties across California are closed to in-person dining, some app-based delivery companies have begun implementing new fees on customers in order to cover the costs of new benefits created by the ballot measure, Forbes reports.

“Gig companies argued that making drivers employees would raise prices, but fees are still going up anyway,” Forbes noted.

A new bill introduced this week by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez seeks to cap delivery fees in the same way Los Angeles and San Francisco have already done at the local level.

AB 286 so far includes only basic intent language, but Gonzalez’s office wrote in a press release that it seeks to cap fees “at 15 percent of the menu-listed price of an online order, not including taxes, gratuities and any other fees or costs that may make up the total amount charged to the customer.” It would also prohibit app companies from taking funds earmarked as tips. DoorDash, for example, last year agreed to pay $2.5 million to settle a lawsuit accusing it of stealing drivers’ tips.

Meanwhile, three San Diego City Council members are urging Mayor Todd Gloria to impose a similar restriction locally, via executive order.

“Many San Diegans are eager to support local restaurants by using third-party food delivery platforms to place orders with local restaurants,” Councilwoman Marni Von Wilpert and Councilmen Stephen Whitburn and Raul Campillo wrote in a memo. “However, these third-party apps began taking advantage of the on-site dining prohibition by charging restaurants delivery fees of over 30 percent of the total order, creating an economic hardship.” They’re asking the mayor to prohibit the platforms from charging more delivery fees that total more than 15 percent of the order.

Von Wilpert has some experience taking on delivery companies. Before she was recently elected to the Council, she was one of the lead attorneys on the city’s case against Instacart, accusing the app of improperly classifying its workers as independent contractors. (Instacart, by the way, announced this week that it’s laying off lots of unionized employees in favor of contract workers for whom it does not have to pay employment benefits.)

Despite the passage of Prop. 22 in November, which allows apps to exempt themselves from the law limiting the use of independent contractors, the city attorney’s office believes their lawsuit is still fair game because they’re addressing worker classification issues that existed before Prop. 22 passed, a spokeswoman told me late last year. The state Supreme Court determined earlier this month that its Dynamex decision laying out when employers could classify workers as independent contractors applies to companies retroactively.

State Report Flags Otay Mesa Detention Center

Immigrants housed at the Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego filed more grievances than at the state’s other two privately operated detention facilities, and Otay Mesa also had higher rates of use of force, according to a new report from the state attorney general.

According to the Justice Department report, Immigration and Customs Enforcement granted several waivers to Otay Mesa, including one that permits the use of chemical agents other than pepper spray. Otay Mesa staff used chemical agents in at least 18 incidents over a 19-month period. Otay Mesa also has a rate of using force more than double the rate in the other two facilities reviewed, according to 2018 records analyzed by the DOJ. Otay had a rate of 43.5 uses of force per 1,000 detainees compared to 21.3 in Imperial and 21.1 in Adelanto.

The DOJ report also notes that the facility experienced a 284 percent spike in reports of sexual abuse and harassment between 2017 and 2019, including an increase in substantiated reports. Voice of San Diego reported on the surge in complaints at the facility in 2019. Concerns involving sexual abuse, assault and harassment had a chilling effect on health care assessments and treatment, according to the DOJ.

The facility also has issues delivering mental health services, the report found. Staffing shortages and insufficient physical space to provide medical and mental health services and protective custody hinders the care in the facility. Problems with mental health services result in “self-harm, psychiatric hospitalizations, and the prolonged isolation and suffering of some of Otay Mesa’s most vulnerable detainees.”

The DOJ found some good things in the facility, like that it offers more programming – like classes, making arts and crafts materials available and access to a gym and sports equipment – than what national standards require and has language line capabilities within housing units, which provides opportunities for detainees who have limited English proficiency to deal with communication problems.

Maya Srikrishnan

California’s Big Week

Welp, it’s hard to imagine California having a bigger week in the news. Kamala Harris became the vice president of the United States and in turn, Alex Padilla became a U.S. senator.

State Attorney General Xavier Becerra is set to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, and San Diego Unified’s Cindy Marten is nominated to become deputy education secretary.

Angeleno Amanda Gorman absolutely stole the show at the inauguration with her breathtaking poem, “The Hill We Climb.”

Later that day, President Joe Biden got to work in the Oval Office with a bust of Cesar Chavez prominently displayed in the background.

One of Biden’s first acts in office was to walk back the previous administration’s battle with California over emissions regulations.

We Regret to Inform You That 2022 Is Already Kinda Interesting

Sorry to be That Girl, but jockeying for 2022 has already begun, thanks to the unique situation presented by the dominos that fell as a result of Kamala Harris’ ascendancy to the vice presidency.

Alex Padilla vacated the secretary of state role to take her Senate seat, and Assemblywoman Shirley Weber has been tapped to fill it.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, who’d been running for secretary of state for more than a year, announced this week she’ll seek re-election to the Assembly in 2022. “I’ve decided I’ve been way too cautious, too filtered and too guarded for the past 7 years,” she wrote on Twitter. Gonzalez is already one of the most provocative and unguarded lawmakers in California politics, so it’s hard to even picture what a less filtered, more aggressive posture might look like for her.

Another member of the San Diego legislative delegation, however, is ready to challenge Weber for the secretary of state role in 2022.

Sen. Pat Bates, who represents portions of North County and southern Orange County, is in.

“She has a campaign account open and is considering a run,” her spokesman, Ronald Ongtoaboc, told me.

Bates tried unsuccessfully in 2019 to dramatically curtail the state’s Motor Voter law, by requiring voters to opt in to registration through the DMV instead of having registration be automatic. She argued that consistent problems with the DMV necessitated the switch.

Several people have opened committees to run for Bates’ Senate seat, including Republican Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, and Democrats like Carlsbad Councilwoman Priya Bhat-Patel and San Diego Deputy City Attorney Mark Ankcorn. Former Assemblyman Bill Brough filed a form declaring his intention to seek the seat, but it’s unclear if he’s still pursuing a bid. Brough last year was stripped of committee assignments after a state investigation found he acted inappropriately toward an aide, and who last month was accused of raping an aide. Bartlett is also among those who’ve accused Brough of inappropriate behavior, ABC 7 reported. Brough lost his re-election bid in 2020.

Meanwhile, Ammar Campa-Najjar, a Democrat who ran for Congress last year, announced this week that he won’t pursue the 79th District Assembly seat being vacated by Weber. Earlier in the week, he touted poll numbers he said showed he could win the race.

Golden State News

  • Here’s what the Los Angeles Times found out about the Southern Californians who’ve been arrested for taking part in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
  • Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced he’s launched a civil rights investigation into the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Becerra’s financial disclosures released as part of his vetting for a Cabinet position also showed that he took a 10 percent pay cut along with other state employees last year.
  • The state Senate tapped a new leader, Sen. Scott Wilk, ousting Sen. Shannon Grove one week after she amplified the theory that the Capitol riot was actually led by Antifa. (Politico)

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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