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Senate OKs bills inspired by care-home fiasco

The state Senate on Wednesday approved two bills that aim to prevent future snafus like that which led to more than a dozen senior citizens being abandoned at a Castro Valley residential care home in October after the state ordered it shut down.

SB 894 aims to strengthen and clarify the obligations of the California Department of Social Services and a licensee when that license is suspended or revoked, to ensure safe relocation of residents when a facility closure happens. The senate approved this bill on a 27-8 vote.

And SB 895 aims to bolster the assisted-living facility inspection process by requiring that unannounced, comprehensive inspections of all residential care facilities for the elderly occur at least once per year, and more often if necessary to ensure the proper quality of care. The senate approved this bill on a 36-0 vote.

In the 1970s and 1980s, DSS’ Community Care Licensing Division inspected residential care facilities twice a year. But budget cuts reduced that number to once a year in the 1990s, and inspections were reduced further in 2004 to once every five years.

State Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, D-Hayward, authored both bills, which are part of a legislative package sponsored by the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform.

“Following the tragedy at Valley Springs Manor in Castro Valley last year, it is clear that assisted living facility residents deserve improved protections and safeguards that ensure they will remain safe both while living at those facilities, as well as if and when those group residences are closed,” Corbett said in a news release Wednesday.

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Bill advances to allow abbot’s burial at monastery

The abbot who founded the Bay Area’s only Orthodox Christian monastery can be buried on that monastery’s grounds, under a bill approved Thursday by the Assembly.

Archimandrite Theodor MickaState Sen. Ellen Corbett this month gutted and amended her SB 124 – which formerly required state agencies to give preference to clean-energy bidders who certify all their equipment was made in California – to address the plight of Archimandrite Theodor Micka, abbot of the Holy Cross Monastery in Castro Valley.

Micka, 76, is terminally ill and wishes to be buried on the monastery’s bucolic grounds. But state law prohibits burying un-cremated human remains outside of cemeteries, so the county registrar would be unable to issue a permit for disposition of the body. Corbett’s newly amended bill makes a special exception in this particular case; the bill still must be approved by the state Senate and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Holy Cross Monastery serves Orthodox Christians of all ethnic backgrounds; along with the monks’ daily prayers, they also provide weekly services, baptisms, weddings and memorial services for the region’s Orthodox Christians. Corbett, D-San Leandro, issued a news release saying she’s pleased to help honor the abbot’s final wishes.

“As a resident of the 10th State Senate District, Abbot Theodor has provided religious and personal guidance to persons of all ethnic and cultural backgrounds for many decades,” she said. “It certainly seems appropriate that the California State Legislature compassionately grant Abbot Theodor this last wish so that fellow monks and future visitors may pay him their respects at the Castro Valley monastery where he prayed, worked and lived during his latter adult monastic life.”

Students at the Stanford Law School Religious Liberty Clinic worked with the monastery to present the issue to Corbett.

UPDATE @ 1:35 P.M. TUESDAY 3/25: Gov. Brown signed this bill into law today.

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Corbett offers care-home bills after East Bay snafu

State Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett introduced two bills Monday that aim to prevent future snafus like that which led to more than a dozen senior citizens being abandoned at a Castro Valley residential care home in October after the state ordered it shut down.

Ellen CorbettCorbett says her SB 894 will strengthen and clarify the obligations of the California Department of Social Services and a licensee when that license is suspended or revoked, to ensure safe relocation of residents when a facility closure happens. And SB 895 will bolster the assisted-living facility inspection process by requiring that unannounced, comprehensive inspections of all residential care facilities for the elderly occur at least once per year, and more often if necessary to ensure the proper quality of care.

Corbett, D-San Leandro, said in a news release that the bills “are a direct result of the tragic gaps in care that occurred in Castro Valley at the Valley Springs Manor facility.”

“Particularly since the California Department of Social Services recently admitted that their oversight and response at the facility was inadequate, I believe that there continues to be an urgent need for increased protections for residents at these facilities,” she said. “We must ensure that families have the peace of mind of knowing that there are safeguards in place to protect their loved ones when they are residents of assisted living facilities, as well as if and when those facilities are closed by the state.”

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Watch Mary Hayashi make her case to local Dems

Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, D-Hayward, was at this past Saturday’s Alameda County Democratic Central Committee meeting, seeking the committee’s endorsement of her campaign for the District 2 seat on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.

Hayashi was arrested last October for shoplifting $2,450 worth of clothes from San Francisco’s Neiman Marcus; she pleaded no contest in January to misdemeanor grand theft and was sentenced to three years of probation and a $180 fine. In an exclusive July interview, she insisted that her walking out of the store with black leather pants, a black leather skirt and a white blouse in a Nieman Marcus shopping bag that she had brought with her was entirely inadvertent; she said she believes voters would forgive her and vote for her on her legislative track record.

On Saturday, she was asked, “How do you exemplify the values of integrity and honesty we want for our elected officials?” Here’s her answer:

The committee announced its endorsements Sunday night: It picked Richard Valle – the incumbent appointed to fill the District 2 seat after former Supervisor Nadia Lockyer resigned – over Hayashi for November’s election. Union City Mayor Mark Green, a former longtime Democrat now registered without party affiliation, also is in the race.

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MoveOn issuing ‘Romney-Ryan pink slips’ today

MoveOn activists are fanning out today in Bay Area cities including Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond, San Rafael, Daly City, San Carlos, Livermore and Castro Valley to hand out “Romney-Ryan pink slips” symbolizing jobs they say would be lost if the GOP presidential ticket prevails.

It’s part of a nationwide effort in several hundred cities.

“Romney’s and Ryan’s policies will destroy more than one million jobs in 2013 alone and will seriously undermine workers’ and women’s rights across the nation,” MoveOn organizer and council member Mary Swain of Castro Valley said in a news release.

“We want leaders who will create new jobs here in the U.S., reform our tax laws, and limit military spending in order to rebuild our struggling economy,” she said. “We have to do all in our power to save our social safety-net programs, like Social Security and Medicare, and bring the democratic process back to America.”

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‘The Great Castro Valley Marriage Debate’

The Great Castro Valley Marriage Debate” is scheduled for 6 p.m. tomorrow, Tuesday, July 17, in the Castro Valley Public Library at 3600 Norbridge Ave. The debate resolution reads: “Same-sex couples should have the same legal right to civil marriage as opposite-sex couples.”

Arguing in the affirmative will be local activist Billy Bradford of Marriage Equality USA and GetEQUAL; the Rev. Dr. Arlene Nehring from Eden United Church of Christ; and Dr. Irene Landaw, a local Kaiser pediatrician. Arguing against the resolution will be Castro Valley residents Stacy Spink, Peter Hauer and Trinity Bustria. The debate will be moderated by Reema Kakaday from the Castro Valley High School JSA/Debate Team.

This is open to the public, and there will be an opportunity to ask questions.

I like this a lot: People of differing viewpoints getting together in a local, public forum to civilly discuss and debate one of the pressing social issues of our time.