In California: Which counties are pushing hardest to recall Newsom?
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Plus: Britney Spears takes steps to #free herself, and 1 million vaccines have been distributed at MLB stadiums.

TGIF, everyone! I’m Winston Gieseke, philanthropy and special sections editor for The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, hoping you had a good week. Before you kick off your weekend, let’s take a look at some of the latest headlines here in this great state of ours.

In California brings you top Golden State stories and commentary from across the USA TODAY Network and beyond. Get it free, straight to your inbox.

But first, a salute to longtime Carmel resident Beverly Cleary, the bestselling author and creator of beloved children’s book characters Ramona Quimby and Henry Huggins. Cleary, who as a young girl didn’t like to read, went on to study at UC Berkeley. She died Thursday at age 104. 

Which counties are pushing hardest to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom

Efforts to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom once seemed like a long shot. But now, Newsom himself has acknowledged that Golden State voters will likely vote this fall on whether or not to keep him in office. Where exactly is the governor seeing the most opposition?

The most recent data from the secretary of state show that about 1.2 million signatures to recall the first-term governor have been received, checked and validated as of March 11. Signers came from 56 of California’s 58 counties.

As counties count and verify signatures, the USA TODAY Network analyzed state data against U.S. Census Bureau population estimates to track where in the state the most powerful push for a recall originated. While recall supporters are scattered across California, the highest per capita clusters of signatures came from rural communities. Higher concentrations were also present in more conservative areas, including Shasta County and elsewhere in the so-called secessionist State of Jefferson, which is a conservative movement aiming to carve a new state out of far Northern California and southern Oregon.

At the top of the list supporting the recall are six counties accounting for at least three times the number of valid signatures expected compared to their populations. Between them, those counties — Placer, Tuolumne, Siskiyou, Sierra, Calaveras and Amador, all located in far NorCal — delivered 58,329 valid signatures. But the bulk of signatures came from population-heavy southern California, particularly Riverside and Orange counties.

In the case of a recall election, Latino voters could make all the difference

If a recall election happens, Latino voters will be in a unique position as Gov. Gavin Newsom fights to save his job after facing much criticism of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

The largest racial or ethnic group in the Golden State, Latinos have been disproportionally affected by the pandemic, in terms of deaths and economic impact. In the case of a special election, Latino advocates say their communities will — more than ever — be expecting engagement from the governor and offered some hope, Associated Press reports.

“If Newsom fails to re-engage that group and give them reasons to vote for him, he will lose,” said Jacqueline Martinez Garcel, chief executive officer of the Latino Community Foundation. “People are exhausted, they want answers, to be seen, be heard and be addressed.”

Baseball stadiums hit home run with 1 million COVID-19 vaccinations given

Across the United States, 11 Major League Baseball (MLB) stadiums, including Dodger Stadium and the Oakland Coliseum here in California, have converted to large-scale COVID vaccination centers.

MLB announced Friday that more than 1 million COVID-19 vaccinations had been administered at these centers.

“Major League Baseball, our clubs and major league players have worked hand-in-hand with communities across the U.S. and Canada during the pandemic,” said MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.

But what will happen when baseball season starts Thursday? Some parks, like the two aforementioned California ones, plan to continue operating after opening day. San Diego’s Petco Park, on the other hand, has not reported such plans.

But that doesn’t mean the sport is giving up on promoting vaccines. Earlier this week, MLB joined forces with other sports leagues to promote a new campaign, “It’s Up to You,” that includes appearances by Angels star Mike Trout and Mets slugger Pete Alonso encouraging fans to get information on COVID-19 vaccinations.

Cal State L.A. vaccination site also closing

In other vaccination news, the L.A. Times also reports that state and federal officials announced Friday they will close a COVID-19 vaccination supersite at Cal State Los Angeles on April 11, just four days before California is set to begin vaccinating all residents ages 16 and older.

The site, which reportedly administers more than 7,500 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine per day, was planned from the beginning to be temporary, but officials said from the onset they hoped it would remain active until August.

Brian Ferguson, a spokesman for CalOES, the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, said the Cal State L.A. site requires approximately 1,500 staff to operate it and costs $10 million per week.

“Without the additional vaccines and the financial support, we as CalOES and FEMA do not have a way to move forward,” Ferguson said.

California farmworkers face obstacles in getting vaccinated: In still more vaccination news, approximately 73% of farmworkers in the Golden State said they would get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible, but vaccination clinics at farm worksites are still infrequent and reliant on scarce supply, despite Newsom touting the state’s commitment to the workers who feed America and promising them more vaccines.

Last holdouts removed from Echo Park  

In other L.A. news, a yearlong saga that saw as many as 200 people living in Echo Park — building what they said was a better community for those without homes in Los Angeles — came to an end early Friday as the last two holdouts of the homeless encampment were arrested, the L.A. Times reported. The decision to close the park and clear out the encampment sparked protests Wednesday and Thursday in the Echo Park area. Protesters, journalists and legal observers were detained after police issued a dispersal order, then blocked in the crowd at the park, one of the city’s most scenic and beloved green spaces.

Britney Spears officially petitions for dad to resign as her conservator

Here’s some good news for those of you who have been hashtagging #FreeBritney all over the place: The pop star, 39, has filed an official petition seeking to have her father, Jamie Spears, removed as her conservator.

She seeks to replace him with Jodi Montgomery, a state-appointed conservator who has temporarily acted as her personal conservator since her father relinquished the role in September 2019 amid health issues.

Spears also reserved the right to petition for the permanent termination of her conservatorship under the state Probate Code. 

The “Toxic” singer has been under a state conservatorship, as guardianship is called in California, since the end of 2008, following a mental health breakdown. In November, her lawyer told the court she no longer wanted her father involved in her care, that she is “afraid” of him and would refuse to perform if he remained in charge.

Spears is reportedly worth $60 million.

Move over, Shastasaurus. Prehistoric relative of squid found near Lake Shasta

The North State’s most famous prehistoric inhabitant, Shastasaurus, now has competition for the spotlight.

Paleontologists from the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York teamed up with Shasta County scientists this week to look for fossil evidence of ammonites — a prehistoric mollusk — near Lake Shasta.

They found dozens of them on Tuesday, their first day in the field.

Ammonites lived in tightly-coiled shells made up of rooms called chambers, according to Shasta College science professor Randy Reed. As the animal grew, it built a bigger and bigger chamber to house its body, so the coil grew, too, over its lifespan. 

Their closest living relatives would likely be cuttlefish, octopi and squid, he said, but they look like a modern nautilus — a mollusk that lives in deep tropical waters.

The group of ammonites found near Lake Shasta are believed to have lived about 231 million years ago.

That’s all for now. Have a safe and informed weekend, everyone. We’ll be back in your inbox tomorrow with the latest headlines.

In California is a roundup of news from across USA Today network newsrooms. Also contributing: Los Angeles Times.

As the philanthropy and special sections editor at The Desert Sun, Winston Gieseke writes about nonprofits, fundraising and people who give back in the Coachella Valley. Reach him at winston.gieseke@desertsun.com.

Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2021/03/26/which-counties-pushing-hardest-recall-newsom/7018804002/

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