State Politics and Policy
I'm currently a Report for America Corps Member, covering economic inequity and survival in California for CalMatters. Send tips to email@example.com.
I've previously written for Reuters News, Pacific Standard, SFGate, Public Radio International, The Philadelphia Inquirer/Philly.com, The Santa Barbara Independent and the Half Moon Bay Review. My multimedia and investigative stories have touched on a wide range of topics, including criminal justice, immigration, wildfires, voting machines, the arts and more.
State Politics and Policy
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.
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.
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.
Claudia y su hija mayor Ana salieron a toda prisa en la madrugada del 9 de octubre y encontraron una calle llena de humo oscuro e iluminada por un resplandor color naranja. Los vecinos salían de sus casas, gritando mientras corrían de las llamas que saltaban de casa en casa en Coffey Park, un barrio de clase trabajadora en Santa Rosa, California.
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.
U.S. Representative Jackie Speier (D-14th) said any attempt by Pres. Donald Trump to distance himself from his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who was indicted on Oct. 30 on money laundering charges, would be just "spin," since Manafort was in charge when there were reported contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Jackie Botts Critics ask why there were only three cats sheltered at the Santa Barbara Humane Society's Patterson facility, which has the capacity to house 70 felines. It can't be money woes, they say, since the society has a $30 million endowment, making it among the top-10 richest local animal welfare organizations in California.
The Route Will Connect The Eastside To Downtown.
Over 300 Santa Barbarans denounced white supremacy at a Sunday evening Solidarity Rally held at De la Guerra Plaza, in response to the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that escalated into violence the day before. Heather Heyer was killed when James Alex Field, 20, allegedly rammed his car into a group of counterprotesters, striking Heyer and leaving 19 others seriously injured.
The Price Change Will Take Effect August 28.
This past Friday night, as thousands milled around downtown in their Old Spanish Days getups, smashing cascarones on each other's heads and getting smashed on margaritas, a very different scene took place at El Centro, a volunteer-run community center nestled within the lower Westside, which describes itself as a radically inclusive space "for the community, by the community."
A crowd of about 65 pink-clad men and women gathered outside the Planned Parenthood health clinic in Santa Barbara yesterday evening, toting signs and T-shirts with the message "I Stand with Planned Parenthood," as funding for the national nonprofit women's health-care provider continues to be threatened by the Republican promise to repeal Obamacare.
A report released by the California Department of Justice found that hate crimes increased by 11.2 percent between 2015 and 2016, from 837 to 931. Perhaps this report should come as no surprise, given it spanned a year with one of the highest levels of racial discontent since the 1992 Rodney King riots and a presidential candidate who routinely excoriated Mexican immigrants.
Paul Wellman From left: Girl Scouts Lorraina Uyeno, Emma Gorman, Hannah Henderson, and Reagan Rauchhaus Monday, July 31, 2017 Above a cozy blue couch overflowing with stuffed animals and pillows, an enormous heart constructed from brightly colored hand-folded origami hearts hangs on the wall.
Jackie Botts Tents dot the campus at unified command headquarters as firefighters try to get some rest between bouts with the Whittier Fire. Dos Pueblos High Transforms into Whittier Fire Base Camp Saturday, July 15, 2017 Usually a ghost town during the sleepy summer vacation, Dos Pueblos High School is now a bustling city, a temporary home to the 1,612 firefighters, U.S.
Two snakes and one iguana died when the Whittier Fire raged through the grounds of Rancho Alegre Saturday afternoon, July 8. Ten staff members were able to escape with four cats by literally stepping through flames of the encroaching fire, said Scout Executive Carlos Cortez for the Los Padres Boy Scouts Council.
Arts & Magazine
Who We Are By Jackie BottsPhotography by Toni Bird Y eji Jung, '18, who grew up outside of Dallas, entered Stanford feeling activated. Protests against police killings of unarmed black Americans were sweeping the country, pushing Jung to question the more idyllic view of modern race relations she'd learned in high school.
On the night before the end of finals, you hear the rumble of a boombox and the shrieks of students outside your dorm. You run outside to join the parade. The crowd grows as you all meander through the Row, the dorms, Green Library and the Quad, and end up at Terman Fountain, where people splash each other in the calf-deep water.
Alumni Lives By Jackie Botts At 6 years old, Stan Honey, MS '83, could sail his father's boat. By 16, he'd learned how to navigate at sea by measuring the distance of celestial objects from the horizon with a sextant.
Jackie Botts As the moon moved past the sun on its way out of totality, the moon's rugged topography allowed beads of sunlight to shine bright, an effect known as Baily's beads.
Santa Barbaran Trombonists Channeled J.J. Johnson and Kai Winding Wednesday, September 6, 2017 On Monday, August 28, two Santa Barbara-born musicians, Mariel Bildsten and Phillip Menchaca, reunited in front of a packed crowd at SOhO Restaurant. Between two sets of bebop classics and American songbook standards, the pair showcased big chops, impressive technical solos, and melodic harmonies.
As soon as Fleet Foxes reunited after a six-year hiatus, the woodsy indie-folk band got busy. In June, the band released a sonically expansive new album, Crack-Up, and embarked on a six-month world tour, which includes a stop at the Arlington Theatre on September 20.
"I'll be your opening act," said James Vincent McMorrow by way of introduction, before playing his new, brooding, experimental album True Care from start to finish. Looking eerily like a Van Gogh self-portrait, with his ginger facial hair and broad-brimmed straw hat, the Irish singer/songwriter received a boisterous reception from the audience.
Max Gleason, "Wish You Were Here" Silo118 Gallery Features Nine S.B. and D.C. Artists Wednesday, August 9, 2017 An information onslaught awaits whenever I tune back in: breaking-news tweets, distressing headlines, discourses on our country's deepening divides.
In the moments before she begins to dance, performer and instructor Daniela Zermeño-Sanchez always closes her eyes. "I let go of the audience, and the kids, what I'm wearing, how much I'm sweating, and how tired I am," said the 28-year-old of her process.
Jackie Botts from left: Rose Marie Cruz and Linda Vega Santa Barbara's Grand Dames of Flamenco Talk About Their Art Wednesday, August 2, 2017 Between trips down the coast to buy fabric, hectic phone calls with dressmakers ("You don't argue with the seamstress!"), and countless hours of rehearsals, dance studio directors Rose Marie Cruz and Linda Vega took an hour last week to catch their breath and catch up with the Santa Barbara Independent regarding their Fiesta preparations.
In the midst of a dizzying promotional tour, rising pop star Sara Serena from Zaragoza, Spain, met up with Indy staff on the Santa Barbara wharf to talk about her whirlwind career. The next day she would drive to San Francisco, and the following week she jetted to Mexico City and then Bogotá, Colombia, for the Nickelodeon's Kids' Choice Awards.