Bee Opinionated: State and counties clash + Fresno takes pledge + SLO landmark saved from sea

·3 min read

We send Bee Opinionated to newsletter subscribers first. Get it in your inbox before it publishes online: Sign up here.

Hello hello, it’s Robin Epley here again with The Sacramento Bee Editorial Board.

Today, a column of my own came out regarding a frustrating he-said-she-said situation going on between the state of California and Sacramento and Solano counties.

The dispute could leave more than 7,000 mentally ill patients without adequate care, thanks to a series of miscommunications between the state and the counties, who say they cannot possibly begin to take on these patients without a budget increase of at least $52 million, and much more support from the Department of Health Care Services.


The DHCS wants the two counties to move the patients back to county mental health plans to standardize benefits and manage care plans for patients under the new CalAIM system, said Katharine Weir-Ebster, information officer for the DHCS, in a written statement.

“It is disingenuous of the state to say that there’s been any real conversation when there hasn’t been any money on the table,” said Debbie Vaughn, assistant director of the Department of Health and Social Services in Solano County. “It’s like playing with Monopoly money. It’s completely ludicrous that the expectation is — and that the messaging from (the Department of Health Care Services) — is that we’ve had plenty of time to plan for it, (but) we can’t plan without funding.”

Details, Details…

Dearest readers: I’m excited to announce a small expansion of our efforts on this newsletter to include work from our sister papers in Fresno, Modesto and San Luis Obispo. We’ll still be highlighting the best opinions in The Sacramento Bee, but now you’ll also see the best opinion journalism from our papers across state.

This week we start with submissions from Stephanie Finucane, opinion editor of The San Luis Obispo Tribune; and Tad Weber, opinion editor of The Fresno Bee. Enjoy!

A Bench By Any Other Beach

“In the small Central Coast community of Shell Beach, locals were preparing to say goodbye to a clifftop bench that had become a much-loved gathering place. The landmark was hoisted to safety, but as the San Luis Obispo Tribune reports, it’s a reminder of the destructive force of cliff erosion.”

As with earthquakes, wrote the Tribune editorial board, “we know the threat is there, but for the most part, it’s not something that consumes us.” That imminent threat became all too real recently in the face of disastrous erosion along a beloved beach in SLO, spurring questions of what is worth saving, what is worth relocating, and what is worth letting the sea take away.

“That bench is a wake-up call, alerting us to the need to pay attention to what’s happening on our coast and to recommit to cutting greenhouse gas emissions …. it’s a lesson in what’s precious to communities — that it’s not just the highways or the sewer plants that are worth saving, but also a rather ordinary bench that morphed into a community treasure.”

Pledge Of Equity

Fresno joined five other California cities recently in signing the Equal Pay Pledge, a formal statement that commits the municipalities to ensuring the same wages for male and female employees in the same jobs.

The pledge was started in 2019 by California’s First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom and builds off of California’s equal pay laws. Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer said having a work force with gender equity and racial diversity has been a goal of his since taking office in 2021.

“By signing the pledge, Fresno commits to undertaking annual gender pay analyses. The city will look for unconscious bias in its hiring and promotions. It further promises to follow best practices to close the pay gap and ensure fundamental equity for all employees,” wrote The Fresno Bee Editorial Board last week.

Besides Fresno, the other participating cities are Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Oakland and Long Beach. They join the state government, as well as more than 100 companies that have also taken the pledge, including Apple, Adobe and GoFundMe.

Opinion of the Week

“…(B)oth have big ideas, big egos and — as they love to point out — big hair.” — The Sacramento Bee Editorial Board last week on the surprising similarities (and thankfully, bigger differences) between possible presidential hopefuls Florida governor Ron DeSantis and California governor Gavin Newsom.

Got thoughts? What would you like to see in this newsletter every week? Got a story tip or an opinion to tell the world? Let us know what you think about this email and our work in general by emailing us at any time via

Stay fresh cheese bags,

Robin Epley