California Heathline reports on the health risks associated with wildfires that many farmworkers face, including exposure to smoke, lost wages, evacuations, unclear policies about reporting to work, and fears among undocumented immigrant farmworkers when it comes to seeking shelter and other forms of help. Healthline also reports on what’s changed since the 2017 fires, including overhauling county health advisories and emergency alerts to release messages in both English and Spanish. “On Saturday, Manuel Ortiz Sanchez, 52, sat with his family outside Santa Rosa’s Veterans Hall, which overnight had been transformed into a shelter. He had been evacuated from his home in Healdsburg and was nervous about what it would mean for his family. Born in Mexico, he has worked in the region’s vineyards for more than 20 years. He already had lost a day and a half of work to the smoke. Would he be paid next week if the vineyard where he works were still shut down? “It’s up to the boss,” he said… Inside the hall, volunteers with Corazón Healdsburg, a nonprofit that works with the local Latino community, was helping Spanish-speaking families register at the shelter. One woman wondered whether the registration bracelet would identify her as an immigrant and whether authorities would be coming to the shelter.” KQED Forum also discussed the mental and physical toll of California’s wildfires.
CityLab reports on a surge in pedestrian and cyclist fatalities after dark. New data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that not only are pedestrian and cyclist fatalities on the rise, but “road deaths are also shifting across the hours of the day. Between 2017 and 2018, NHTSA found that the number of nighttime fatalities (which the agency measures between 6 PM and 6 AM) rose 4.6 percent for pedestrians and 9.2 percent for cyclists. This is consistent with longer-term trends: Nighttime crashes accounted for more than 90 percent of the total increase in pedestrian deaths between 2007 and 2017, according to a February report by the Governors Highway Safety Association. In other words, nearly all of the progress on road safety that has been erased in the past 10 years has occurred after sunset.” The report also notes that Halloween is the deadliest day for child pedestrians under age 18 – with twice as many children likely to be struck and killed by automobiles on October 31 than any other day.
A new analysis of US Census data by the Annie E. Casey Foundation finds that nearly 1.2 million California children live in neighborhoods experiencing concentrated poverty. “Nationwide, children of color are disproportionately impacted. African American and Native American children are seven times more likely than white children to live in a low-income area, according to the report. Latino children are five times more likely. California and Texas have the highest number of Latino children living in concentrated poverty in the nation. Partly due to decades of environmental policies that discriminated against low-income neighborhoods, children in these areas also have a greater risk of exposure to environmental hazards such as air pollution and lead. Growing up in a low-income neighborhood puts children at a disadvantage, making it harder for them to break out of the poverty cycle once they become adults.”
CityLab reports on a conversation between mayors from San Jose, Topeka, and Louisville on how cities can work to prevent gun violence. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer observes that Kentucky state law preempts local governments like his from passing most gun regulations, a constraint shared by Topeka Mayor Michelle de la Isla, both of whom focus largely on education and advocacy. In contrast, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo has more of a margin to pursue policy changes: “In August, the mayor proposed an act to require every San Jose gun owner to carry liability insurance. Insurance would bring market pressure to bear on the crisis by adjusting premiums to account for risk. Instead of the public subsidizing the costs of gun carnage—costs that take the form of hospitals and police but also the psychic toll on schoolchildren and victims’ families—gun owners would be forced to pay out for these harms. A California strategy isn’t feasible in many places beyond big California metros. Indeed, a proposal for firearm liability insurance recently failed in Maine, among other gun-control bills; and New Jersey’s governor banned insurance for gun owners with an executive order. Despite some setbacks in relatively liberal states, Liccardo sounded an optimistic note about the role that even local leaders in red states can play. “As cities, we can be a force multiplier,” Liccardo said. “What we’re able to do individually, Congress can’t much do in cities across the country. If we’re collectively engaging them, they can’t fight us all.””