Around The Capitol

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  • KQED's Political Breakdown (Scott Shafer and Marisa Lagos): Lenny Mendonca, Chief Economic and Business Advisor to Governor Gavin Newsom, on the economic impact of the COVID-19 (2020-03-12)
  • Then There's California (Senate Democratic Caucus): Senators Jim Beall (D-San José) and Tom Umberg (D-Anaheim) on the Census (2020-03-12)
  • Look West (Assembly Democratic Caucus): Assembly member Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto) and Secretary of State Alex Padilla on the Census (2020-03-12)
  • KQED's Political Breakdown (Scott Shafer and Marisa Lagos): Politico's Carla Marinucci on primary results and Warren's departure (2020-03-05)
  • Capitol Weekly Podcast (John Howard and Tim Foster): Paul Mitchell on the departure of Elizabeth Warren and what's next in the presidential (2020-03-05)

The Nooner for Friday, March 13, 2020, presented by SYASL Partners

  • Ballot update
  • Coronavirus/COVID-19 fact update
  • AD25 (Hayward-Palo Alto)
  • AD72 (Garden Grove-Westminster)
  • Cakeday and classifieds

Like we really needed a Friday the 13th this week...

I haven't been sending out special alerts, but I've been tweeting updates about 16 hours a day. The usual caution, my snark is even greater there.

These have been sixteen-hour days and even with that I can't keep up with everything. Yesterday, I wrote about things getting real. But the real factor kept notching up seemingly every 15 minutes throughout the day. We had a cascade of school district closings -- San Francisco, San Mateo, Marin, Oakland, Berkeley, San Mateo, Sacramento (Mon-Wed), and more -- and the United Teachers of Los Angeles calling for the closure of the nation's second largest school district. Six states have shut down their entire school systems.

This morning (after I had written most of this), the state's two largest school districts announced that classes would be suspended Monday. Los Angeles currently plans to close for two weeks and San Diego through April 6. They announced the decision in a joint press release. LAUSD plans to have 40 family resource centers as schools are closed, which will provide hot meals and childcare from 6 am to 6 pm. Oakland Unified also announced this morning that they are closing after today through at least April 5.

It appears that these large school districts are getting waivers to the usual 180-day school year and getting permission to have teacher-assisted home study. Los Angeles explicitly says that it is sending students home with a study plan today.

There are several other districts that have announced this morning and I expect more this afternoon.

School district officials are worried less about the loss of educational days than collateral effects. Those can be made up (sorry kids and teachers, you can cancel your early summer plans to reach those 180 days). Our schools are now also babysitters and major food providers. More than half of California's K-12 students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches. More than one-third of kids under 18 in California live in single-parent households. Both of these are disproportionate in parts of the state.

Our social structure is different than the oft-found multi-generational social structure found in many other parts of the world. I'm not going to argue better or worse, but just state that we're different. When blanket school closures hit Japan nationwide, many kids would be staying home and grandparents would be there if a parent was not. Or it would be an "auntie," which may or may not actually be related.

I know that lots of my friends are like me. I call my family a "Southwest Airlines family"--we are strewn along the West Coast. Fortunately, there is a cluster in Portland where my mom, grandmother, and aunt are, and my uncle is a few hours away in Eugene. I don't have kids but if I were a single parent of a school-age kid told late yesterday by Sac Unified that they are closing Monday through Wednesday next week to clean and worked a wage job that didn't pay me when I wasn't there, I would have no clue.

I don't blame small businesses (retail and restaurants) that are paying people to stay home, as they are being hammered right now and if they have to pay someone else, it creates that much more small stress. I talked to the corner store owner across from me yesterday who sees neighbors and state workers. He said business is off at least 20%. This is where government can step in to assist small business or through temporary unemployment benefits. There are no easy answers and brush off any a politician tries to sell you. All options have pros and cons.

Where the students go without school in operation and how they eat is what is on the mind of school board members and educational leaders as they decide what to do. It is not something the leaders studied for in school or board members ran on for election.

Schools are working to get permission to provide school lunches off-site, including delivery in some cities, and still qualify for federal funds. Cities are stepping up, in some cases by getting city workers to deliver lunches. This is all ad-hoc as we really were not prepared. The experts say that we can expect more pandemics, so it's on-the-job training but let's take the lessons we are learning right now and be prepared next time. Let's hope this is a 100-year pandemic (Spanish Flu was 1918), but we should be prepared as if the next one will come sooner.

Meanwhile, there are no sports. Churches are closed. Movie theaters and real theaters are empty. Disneyland and Universal Studios, and Six Flags (Magic Mountain & Vallejo) will be closed. Disneyland has announced that it will pay "cast members" during the closure. With the school district closures announced this morning, employers are thinking about the parents of over 750,000 students in LA and San Diego who might not be at work for awhile. There simply isn't affordable child care capacity, let alone that capacity at all.

On sports, the Cleveland Cavaliers have said that they will pay arena hourly employees as if the games took place, and Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has said he wants to do something similar. I have seen no such word from California's four NBA or three NHL teams. This is important not only to make sure the employees survive at a time when they will find no other work, but also to keep spending going in our communities supporting other businesses.

After I wrote this, NBCSports reported on a tweet responding to Kris Lewis (husband of lobbyist Alicia Lewis) stating:

We are committed to assisting all of our employees through this uncertain time. All part-time, hourly Kings event team members will be compensated for the shifts they were previously scheduled to work in March.

While a tweet, it sounds like a commitment to pay the hourly wage for the shifts of hourly workers that regularly would be scheduled, and they should be held to it.

We're grinding to a halt. Our social, work, educational, and cultural worlds are going to change for awhile. When I started writing on this topic, I had no idea we would be here. I was covering as I have fires and other regional crises. This is different. This is our entire state, our entire economy.

We might actually have to talk to each other. Well, perhaps in 280-character bites on Twitter.

Meanwhile, if while you are home-bound, order Chinese from your local joint. All restaurants are being clobbered, but particularly those serving Chinese because of needless fear. That's what I'll be ordering for lunch and dinner today.

more after the jump...


  • Ballots counted: 8,369,524
  • Unprocessed ballots:
    • Vote-by-mail: 1,017,733 
    • Provisional: 300,299
    • Conditional (late) voter registration: 158,034
    • Other (i.e. damaged ballots): 64,767
    • Total unprocessed: 1,540,833

Take the unprocessed ballots with a grain of salt. Twenty-six counties that continue to submit ballot count updates haven't updated their unprocessed ballots since election night.


  • California confirmed cases: 251 (+58 from yesterday), with 4 deaths. Confirmed cases in 26 counties (+1 from yesterday).
  • The Capitol "Petri Dish": For Politico, Jeremy B. White looks at the discussion over whether the State Capitol should be shut to visitors or completely. 

    While floor hearings proceeded as usual Thursday, Sacramento denizens are pushing for changes like holding hearings remotely and contemplating how limited contact with citizens and interest groups could alter the policymaking process.

    There were signs of normalcy: students visiting the Senate floor and the Assembly hosting a cupcake party for a member’s birthday. Capitol tours were scheduled to continue as planned Thursday morning.

    Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins took a moment on the Senate floor to project calm, reassuring members that the Senate was working to assess the new health guidelines and urging people not to share false rumors.

    “A switch to remote legislating is not an option at this time,” Atkins said.

    But some legislators and advocates are pushing for that kind of flexibility. [Assembly member Sydney] Kamlager said she would like to see hearings either postponed or conducted using teleconferencing technology.

    Lobbyist Samantha Corbin said that Newsom and the Legislature must “consider ways to limit exposure and ensure critical government functions continue,” including allowing staff to work from home, enabling remote testimony and sharing options for remote communication so constituents and advocates “can still exercise their constitutional right to petition the government.”

    Basically, the Capitol is a cruise ship without the view. Well, I guess it's like a cheap interior cabin without room service. 

    Seriously though, I talked about my past health problems yesterday. Even though my lungs are functioning fairly well these days and my immune system has largely recovered from years of high-dose corticosteroids, my doctor still reminds me that my lung capacity is still 80% of normal and advises me to hunker down. So, I'm not walking the halls of the Capitol or doing podcasts. 

    I'm sure I'm not the only one across the lobbying, media, and staff corps that are high-risk or who go home to high risk folks. And of course, we have many high-risk legislators as well. Leading into Holy Month, Italy has shut its churches and wine bars which are the eighth and ninth deadly sins. If you haven't seen the chart going around, our cases are on the exact same trajectory as Italy's, although they were doing broader testing earlier using the German/WHO-adopted test. This is obviously a time for extraordinary measures.

    I don't know the answer and agree with the Pro Tem that the Legislature has a lot of work to get done.

    Meanwhile, Assembly Republican Leader Marie Waldron's chief of staff sent this message to her caucus's chiefs of staff yesterday:

    Be assured, Assembly Leader Waldron and staff are in contact with the Governor’s Office, the Speaker’s Office and the Senate Minority Leader’s Office in a collaborative effort to mitigate the threat of COVID-19.

    The following are recommendations we are asking the Speaker to implement:

    - Close the Capitol building to the public through the end of the month, March 31.
    - Postpone all committee hearings through the end of the month, March 31.
    - Authorize remote access for all staff.
    - Ensure staff are paid in the event that employees are sent home due to Capitol closure and do not have remote access.
    - Implement a mandatory policy that restricts any person exhibiting signs of fever, colds or flu being at work.

    Further we have recommended the following guidelines for Assembly Republican Capitol and District offices, including Caucus staff:

    Offices should consider limiting or avoiding all in office and out of office meetings and/or attendance of events when possible.

    This is an evolving situation. We will update as necessary and please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

    Reportedly, some legislators are privately concerned about a Capitol closure that would not have physical sessions. That's because of Article IV, Section 4 of the California Constitution, which provides:

    (b) Travel and living expenses for Members of the Legislature in connection with their official duties shall be prescribed by statute passed by rollcall vote entered in the journal, two-thirds of the membership of each house concurring. A Member may not receive travel and living expenses during the times that the Legislature is in recess for more than three calendar days, unless the Member is traveling to or from, or is in attendance at, any meeting of a committee of which he or she is a member, or a meeting, conference, or other legislative function or responsibility as authorized by the rules of the house of which he or she is a member, which is held at a location at least 20 miles from his or her place of residence.

    Concerned legislators argue that they have signed apartment or home leases in Sacramento counting on per diem payments and left other employment when they became a legislator. Per diem is currently $201/day while the Legislature is "in session." It works out to around $40,000 most years, although it has been reduced in the era of on-time budgets.

    As a "reimbursement," it is not taxable under federal law. The amount is set by the California Citizens Compensation Commission. Members may waive per diem, and there are usually a few who do each sessionIt is unclear if the above California constitution subsection would include a virtual session for "living expenses," although it could become taxable if physical relocation is not required.

    If the Legislature doesn't meet on Monday, that's $603 for today-Sunday. That's a big chunk of the month's rent for a legislator who has an apartment here. 

    Anyway, the closed-door debate goes beyond just the health of members, staff, the Capitol community, and visitors. But all of us are affected.

more after the jump...

AD25 (Hayward-Santa Clara): Last night, attorney and West Valley-Mission trustee Anne Kepner (D) conceded the race to succeed Kansen Chu (D). Chu will be in a November runoff with former Sunnyvale councilmember Otto Lee on the November ballot for Santa Clara supe #3. Kepner writes:

I congratulate Alex Lee, the young Democrat whose energetic, grassroots campaign earned a place in the top two, and whose hopes for our community mirror my own. 

Alex Lee, a former staff member field representative for Assembly member Evan Low (D-Campbell), will face businessman and former Ohlone CCD trustee Bob Brunton (R) in November in the safe Democratic district. At 25 on Election Day in November, Lee will become the youngest person elected to the Legislature since before 1980 when John Lewis was elected days before his 26th birthday (Alex will have only been 25 for four months). He will also join Low as the second Asian-American in the LGBTQ Legislative Caucus, replacing the spot currently held by Todd Gloria, who is running for mayor of San Diego.

AD72 (Garden Grove-Westminster): Here is the latest update in what will be the hottest Assembly race in November. With former Assembly member Steve Cox (D) winning the top-two in AD36 (Palmdale), and Assembly member Jordan Cunningham dominating in AD35 (San Luis Obispo, it leaves AD72AD55 (Diamond Bar-Yorba Linda), and AD68 (Irvine) remain on the menu for pick-ups for Democrats. Republicans have already picked up AD38 (Santa Clarita) after no Democrat made the top two to succeed Christy Smith, who is running in CA25.

  • Janet Nguyen (R): 39,122 (34.0%)
  • Diedre Nguyen (D): 29,214 (25.4%)
  • Tyler Diep (R): 28,567 (24.8%)
  • Bijan Mohseni (D): 18,097 (15.7%)

Now, if you add up each the Republican and Republican votes, it looks like the district will be likely Republican. However, it was such a weird situation in which Diep may have gotten Dem votes and there are plenty of folks supporting Diep who will not vote for Janet Nguyen in November. Let's just say B-A-D B-L-O-O-D. And, there are long memories in the Vietnamese community in Orange County.

Additionally, we have these numbers from the district's top-line performance the last two cycles:

2018 Gubernatorial Race

  • Gavin Newsom (D) 48.4%
  • John Cox (R) 51.6%

2016 Presidential Race

  • Hillary Clinton (D) 51.4%
  • Donald Trump (R) 43.1%

It'll be a fun one to watch.

cakedays and classifieds after the jump...

Probolsky Research


CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Senator Ben Allen, Xóchitl Murillo, and Matthew Roman!



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