Data, investigative and enterprise reporting
I cover economic inequity and survival in California for CalMatters. Send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I've previously written for Reuters News, Pacific Standard, SFGate, Public Radio International, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Santa Barbara Independent and more. My multimedia and investigative stories have touched on a wide range of topics, including criminal justice, immigration, wildfires, labor, the arts and more.
Awards and fellowships:
3-year Report for America Corps Member (ongoing)
2020 Society of Professional Journalists NorCal Best of Explanatory Journalism Award, Winner
2020 Phillip Meyer Data Journalism Award, 3rd place
2020 Hillman Foundation’s June Sidney Award, Winner
2018 James S. Robinson Student Journalism Award, Winner
2017 California News Publishers Association’s Breaking News Award, 1st place
Data, investigative and enterprise reporting
For years, the words "qualified immunity" were seldom heard outside of legal and academic circles, where critics have long contended that the doctrine is unjust. But outrage over the killing of George Floyd and incidents like it have made this 50-year-old legal doctrine - created by the U.S.
Lea este artículo en español. Beto V. heard the ambulance pull up to the Colonial Motel where he was quarantined by his employer, police sirens close behind. That was his first clue a fellow farmworker had died of COVID-19.
Until the pandemic struck, every day for the last 10 years, Isidoro Flores Contreras stood at the edge of the Sand City Costco parking lot, just a few feet from a set of McDonald's arches, selling $15 flower bouquets.
Effective barrier Aldaba's lament has become an increasingly common one. Even as the proliferation of police body cameras and bystander cellphone video has turned a national spotlight on extreme police tactics, qualified immunity, under the careful stewardship of the Supreme Court, is making it easier for officers to kill or injure civilians with impunity.
By Jackie Botts When Andrew Simmons first started getting billed for his son's stints in juvenile hall, he was shocked. "I just thought that was crazy. I mean you're going to arrest my kid and then you're going to charge me for it?" Simmons said.
Pennsylvania ranks second in the nation for the number of registered voters casting ballots on older, hackable machines with no paper trail. At a time when elections may be in peril from foreign interference, counties are slow to update their vulnerable equipment.
The first thing Deborah Bell-Holt does each morning is check whether water still flows from her bathroom faucet. It always does, thanks to an April executive order from Gov. Gavin Newsom banning water disconnections during the pandemic. But that didn't stop her utility debt from snowballing to nearly $15,000.
Gov. Gavin Newsom's $227 billion California spending plan is setting records in more ways than one. Were his budget proposal approved by lawmakers as is, the state would spend an unprecedented amount to fend off poverty, eviction and K-12 education loss for California's most vulnerable residents in the 2021-22 fiscal year.
By late December, Maya Brady and her girlfriend owed Sacramento Property Management Services about $4,000. The company sent regular matter-of-fact texts to remind them that they're late on rent. Brady imagines the same text arrives to many of her mostly working class neighbors in the apartment complex.
A new bill could make it easier for seniors and people with disabilities to apply for CalFresh, California's version of food stamps, and allow people to enroll entirely over the phone by 2024. "California's food insecurity crisis is worse than ever, and we have a moral responsibility to make CalFresh benefits easier to access," said Sen.
Lea este artículo en español. In the first days of August, Fresno farmworker Brenda Yamileth, lined up for a COVID-19 test alongside her mother and brother. Feverish and headachy, she held her 10-month-old daughter. Soon, all four tested positive. She quarantined with her baby in one bedroom of her Mendota house while her husband and 2½-year-old son slept in the other.
Lea este artículo en español. Paz Aguilar continued working seven days a week at two fast food restaurants and as a janitor, even as Oakland seemed to be grinding to a halt around her. Then in late June, her life did too.
Lea este artículo en español. Out of work for months in the spring, Mariana, who cleans houses, and her husband Gerardo, who is a door-to-door salesman, paid their landlord just $300 of their $1,200 rent for a one-bedroom apartment they crowd into with their 2-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter, in National City.
Lea este artículo en español. Napa County doesn't collect data about coronavirus outbreaks in workplaces. Sonoma County does, but won't identify them because it would compromise the county's working relationship with employers. Alameda County won't share outbreak locations to protect privacy and to guard against what one health official called undue stigma.
Lea este artículo en español. California workplace safety officials issued a serious citation against a Kaiser Permanente psychiatric facility in Santa Clara, accusing the center of failing to provide workers with N95 masks and other protection against COVID-19. But the problems facing the health care giant may run much deeper.
Pacific Islander communities in California have long faced economic and health disparities that make them uniquely vulnerable to the novel coronavirus. Often overlooked by public health officials, community leaders are mounting their own response. For two weeks in March, Dr. Raynald Samoa fought to move air through his lungs.
It's the latest example of an ambitious statewide coronavirus plan that was announced before it was ready to launch. Cities and counties were caught off-guard, even though they have to implement it. The total cost could reach billions of dollars per month. Last week Gov.
By Jackie Botts In January, I sat among dozens of other reporters in California's Capitol as we peppered Gov. Gavin Newsom with questions about his spending plan for the year, a bulging $222 billion budget full of progressive proposals: $1.4 billion in new funds for homeless services, expansion of the state's health insurance for low-income residents, a proposal that the state manufacture generic drugs to bring prices down.
Updated January 8, 2020 California's most vexing issue is also its most shameful: the large and rising number of residents who lack a safe place to call home. In a state with vast amounts of wealth, more than 150,000 of its residents sleep in shelters, cars, or on the street.
Pacific Gas & Electric turned off power to Ana Patricia Rios' neighborhood in Sonoma County for eight days in October, three at the beginning of the month and five near the end. The mother of three young boys watched twice as nearly all of the food in her refrigerator spoiled.
A college student in Fresno who struggles with hunger has applied for food stamps three times. Another student, who is homeless in Sacramento, has applied twice. Each time, they were denied. A 61-year-old in-home caretaker in Oakland was cut off from food stamps last year when her paperwork got lost.
Lawmakers have passed a suite of bills that aim to ease financial burdens for Californians living paycheck to paycheck. While several new California laws have sparked national attention - such as the law that will convert gig economy workers into full employees and another to cap large rent increases - state legislators quietly approved dozens of other bills that address challenges faced by California's poor.
As California struggles with a crisis in affordable housing, state lawmakers are trying to improve a severe shortage of housing available to renters who have federal Section 8 vouchers. The vouchers allow tenants to pay only 30% of their income toward rent, with federal assistance to pay the rest.
Pressure is increasing on counties to sign up more people for food stamps since the state's participation rate is one of the lowest in the nation. But greater enrollment may require more money or more state intervention. In May 2017, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors set an ambitious goal: enroll 70,000 new families in food stamps in two years.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, is a food assistance program that aids millions of low-income families and individuals. California, a state with the nation's highest poverty rate, consistently ranks near the bottom when it comes to enrolling low-income people in CalFresh, the state's name for the federal food stamp program.
By Jackie Botts, CALmatters When Berenice Solis of Bakersfield received a direct deposit of $6,775 from the government this past March, her mind raced. She could finally take her three daughters, ages 4, 6 and 9, on a trip to Disneyland. Then she thought about her goal of buying a house.
Charley Parkhurst, a legendary stagecoach driver during California's Gold Rush, also known as "One-Eyed Charley" is seen in this illustration image, released by Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History in Santa Cruz, California, U.S., on May 2, 2019.
A changing climate, increasingly destructive fires, and disappearing insurance policies have left homeowners wondering how much risk is too much.
On Oct. 21, when wildfires in Northern California were still smoldering, about 150 people gathered at a middle school gymnasium. Thousands more watched the livestream on Facebook. Officials in Sonoma County, the region most devastated by the fires, had put together a Spanish-language community forum to address the concerns of the Latino community - the first of its kind in the county.
Jeff Christner spots the folded credit card from several feet away. The white plastic pokes out from layers of crumbling sandstone, disintegrating cloth and glass. Christner brushes off decades of dust to reveal the card holder's name: HARRY HOFFMAN. The card expired in December 1959. Hoffman probably threw out the card with little thought.
The fighters circle around each other, eyes locked. One throws a swift kick at her opponent, who spins and ducks away. The pattern continues: spin, kick, escape. They're ringed by onlookers who clap and sing to the rhythm of tall drums and the , a musical bow with one string that produces a thick twang.
As indigenous people from Mexico migrate to California, their languages and cultures are threatened. One indigenous trilingual rapper based in Fresno is fighting back.
SAN JOSE - As immigration enforcement agents picked up the pace of arrests in Northern California during the first half of 2017, local rapid response networks have swelled in membership and grown in sophistication throughout the Bay Area.