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The Nooner for Thursday, April 23, 2020, presented by SYASL Partners
Happy Thursday! You're almost there! Well, uh, wherever there is...
Sorry about my error last night. I'm so used to the regular question on job approval that I plugged the numbers into my existing table. Anyway, more on what the actual numbers mean below, but if you want the updated slides, I uploaded them early this morning.
This may start off as just adventures of Scott, but there are actually a couple of important items above the first jump.
Yesterday, I donned my mask, body armor, and grabbed my crossbow and went across the street for some essentials, as in the essential thing of talking to a human being who, if not for a newly installed plexiglass sneeze-guard, I could touch. No, I don't really want to touch T (Thao) at the corner market, but I needed to get take out the trash cans and stretch my legs beyond walking to my coffee pot, bathroom, and the occasional chore of a long list.
I did wear my mask as I do on the very rare occasions I step out of Nooner Global HQ. As I crossed over to Southside Market, I noticed that life in Southside Park was like a normal weekend day, although it was a Wednesday and it should not have been either because it was a Wednesday or because IDIOTS, you are supposed to be home. People were BBQing, sitting around the picnic tables, and there was a soccer game going on.
Oh well, to each their own, as long has they keep the hell away from me.
My point for talking about my adventure across the street was not to criticize others. T at Southside always wants to know the news. He listens to sports radio all day and I don't know how those stations are filling the time. I do know that my dual loyalties of the Giants and Dodgers are tied for first place. I'm as happy as a clam. (According to Alexa, the original expression was "as happy as a clam at high water." That makes more sense, because my clams are usually in the pan.)
When I told T about the news of the Santa Clara County deaths that preceded the "first" death in Washington state that I wrote about yesterday, he said, "Oh, now I get it."
"It" was why he heard someone say that it was good that the San Francisco (Santa Clara) 49ers lost the Super Bowl on February 2 to the Kansas City Chiefs. Had they won, there would have been a huge ticker-tape parade in downtown San Francisco with fans from throughout the Bay Area cramming BART, CalTrain, and Muni before packing city streets in an alcohol-fueled celebration.
With the news of the new confirmed deaths in Santa Clara County among residents who had not traveled recently, we now know that the virus was already in community spread but not well known. A Super Bowl victory parade would have gone forward and would have been a huge petri dish.
The first now-confirmed death now changes everything we initially thought about COVID-19. Matt Hamilton and Paige St. John report in the LAT:
A mystery clouded the death of Patricia Dowd in early February.
The San Jose woman was a seemingly healthy 57-year-old who exercised routinely, watched her diet and took no medication. She had flu-like symptoms for a few days, then appeared to recover, a family member said. Then she was found dead Feb. 6, and the initial culprit appeared to be a heart attack.
This week, authorities confirmed to Dowd’s family that she tested positive for the novel coronavirus, making her the first such documented fatality in the nation.
Health authorities in Santa Clara County did not identify Dowd by name, describing the decedent as a 57-year-old woman who died at home. The Times independently confirmed her death from family members.
So, it is just fine to not feel bad about that Niners loss.
Finally for the gnus before the news, there was a great segment on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last night. In the last segments after his interview with actor Nathan Lane, Stephen cooks via distance with chef José Andrés and, aside from their friendly banter, Andrés talks about the work that the charity he founded, World Central Kitchen (WCK), is doing during the pandemic.
WCK provided meals upon debarkation in Oakland of the passengers of the ill-fated Grand Princess cruise ship. WCK is also providing three hot meals per day for the residents in the Project RoomKey in California, which is moving homeless with COVID-19, those exposed, and those that are the highest risk from shelters to hotel/motel rooms or FEMA trailers. WCK is working with local restaurants on this project. 75% of the costs of the overall Project RoomKey are expected to be reimbursed by FEMA. At last update, 10,974 rooms had been secured.
Los Angeles County has been regularly reporting on the status of Project RoomKey there. In yesterday's report, the county reported 2,584 rooms leased. Of these, 1,224 are operational, 864 are operational accommodating 986 guests. The county explains the phase-in, which is consistent with the governor's explanation of the pacing of the program for appropriate intake:
LAHSA is currently standing up staffing and operations for Project Roomkey. The safety of clients and the staff at each hotel site is a priority. In accordance with physical distancing guidelines, arrivals to the hotels are staggered to avoid long lines and large gatherings at the point of entry for each of the hotels. Most sites will take 2-4 days to reach capacity under this model.
However, county-leased rooms may not be filled not because of need but good old NIMBYism. Smith, Dillon, and Oreskes report for the Times:
When officials in the South Bay city of Lawndale learned that a hotel on its main drag had been leased to Los Angeles County to house homeless people at high risk for the coronavirus, their reaction wasn’t to put out a welcome mat.
Rather, in an April 14 letter to the hotel’s owner, the city attorney said that if he did not break the lease by the next day, a hearing would be called to consider revoking the hotel’s operating permit.
Such opposition at the local level has become more common as coronavirus cases have multiplied in recent weeks and a statewide program to move thousands of homeless people into vacant hotels and motels has gotten off the ground.
I'm guessing the city opposed SB 50 (Wiener) as well. That's the housing density bill to try to work on the homelessness problem by creating more supply.
Let's get to the latest numbers after the jump...
CALIFORNIA WEEKLY UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS: This morning, the Department of Labor reported 4.4 million in new unemployment claims for the week ending April 13. Here are the numbers since the stay at home orders began the week ending March 20.
Initial unemployment claims for week ending:
Insured unemployment payments for week ending:
For context nonfarm payroll employment in California was 18,756,700 in February and dropped to 18,244,100 in March.
PPIC has a new blog post today that gives an early look at California's economic downturn.
A comparison with the Great Recession highlights the severity of the current situation. Between February and March this year, employment in arts, entertainment and recreation fell 6.4%. Over the first year of the Great Recession, employment in this sector fell 1.6%. The number of jobs lost in the accommodation and food service sector was much higher between February and March, but these losses represented only 2.7% of the workforce in this much-larger sector.
A look at job losses in the industries that were hit hardest during the Great Recession shows that jobs are being lost much more quickly during the COVID-19 crisis. In the first month, construction—the recession’s most severely affected industry—saw a 2.2% decline, and no other sector experienced losses greater than 2%.
These initial data clearly show that the current crisis is hitting a different set of sectors than the Great Recession. It also shows that workers in the initially affected industries are more likely to be women (52% versus 45%), Latinos (25% versus 22%), and young adults (23% versus 10%) compared to workers in other sectors—and to workers in the hardest-hit industries during the first year of the Great Recession.
BOUNDARIES: Politico's Debra Kahn reports that Governor Gavin Newsom's aggressive response to the COVID-19 pandemic is testing the limits of executive authority under the state constitution and also the willingness of the Legislature to yield to that authority.
As the California Legislature remains sidelined during the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Gavin Newsom has been governing the nation's most populous state essentially on his own, issuing an unprecedented number of executive orders.
Newsom has used his executive authority to shut down businesses, move local elections to vote-by-mail, accelerate spending on homeless shelters, alter court proceedings and provide benefits for essential workers. He's signed 29 orders since March 4, when the state announced its first official death from the virus.
"His powers are essentially, virtually, without limit," said Steve Merksamer, a Sacramento political consultant who was chief of staff to former Gov. George Deukmejian. "The only real limitation, besides the Constitution, is common sense."
Residents and leaders from both parties have given Newsom high marks for his handling of the crisis so far, especially after his early stay-at-home order was widely credited for helping control the spread of infection in California.
But state lawmakers who have been on recess for more than a month are starting to bristle at the governor's seemingly unilateral decision making. They began airing public frustrations for the first time after Newsom went on MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show" on April 7 to announce he was spending nearly $1 billion on masks — a massive purchase that many lawmakers said they heard about through the media despite their authority over state appropriations.
I am one who has been highly complimentary of Newsom's performance and I still am, as are my Democrat and Republican family members and (most) friends. That said, during yesterday's press conference he was asked about some of his actions and he twice referred to the Legislature being "on recess" like kids on the playground. It was not a good moment for maintaining comity between the two branches.
The governor and top advisors have largely been operating out of the state's Emergency Operations Center at the shuttered Mather Air Force Base, which is about 15 miles east of the State Capitol. During the daily press conference, the governor and staff are never seen not practicing 6-foot physical distancing, but there's a high degree of skepticism that the same practice continues when the camera is off. For the pressers, the media are given a call-in number. It is not like the daily White House Task Force briefing in the press room where all of America can see the reporters spread out by three chairs.
As I've written several times in this space, the Legislature has a real quandary. The Senate has decided not to return May 4 and the dates have been removed from the Daily File and home page. Mid-May is the word, but it appears no decision on a specific date has been made. The Assembly Daily File still says May 4 (it also still says "joint."
This brings up an interesting constitutional provision found in Article IV, Section 7(d), which provides "Neither house without the consent of the other may recess for more than 10 days or to any other place." Does that have to be a date determined?
The Legislature, whether it be by committee or floor vote can't take any action on legislation without an audiovisual recording pursuant to Article IV, Section 7(c) of the state's constitution, which was amended by Prop. 54 (2016). Short of setting up chairs on the empty Capitol Mall and using loudspeakers, I don't see how either house can take action and meet the requirements of the constitution with 80 members and at least 10 staff members without having a video recording without showing a proximity of less than 6 feet. It might work at the Sheraton Grand, which I'm pretty sure has availability in its ballrooms.
They are not required to. The governor can't order the Legislature to wear masks, not gather, or any other public order that people might get ticketed for in some local jurisdiction. But there are some members of the media that will be quick to jump over them for doing so and the folks who rallied on Monday at the State Capitol calling for a reopen and being turned down for a return protest on Friday will be quick to jump all of them.
I know Gavin has been in regular contact with legislative leaders of both parties and I don't think he meant "recess" to have come out as a put-down yesterday. I think he was trying to say "I'm doing the best that I can and people want quick action." Nevertheless, legislators are likely getting increased questions from constituents of why they are not in Sacramento. I've seen social media posts stirring things up listing members by name with their monthly salaries accusing them of hanging out at home. They are working. But nobody wants to read the constitution and realize that the voters have tied the hands of the Legislature.
That's right, voters, and interest groups that supported Prop. 54. If it looks like the governor is getting out ahead of the Legislature, it's on you.
I believe in transparency. I don't even remember how I voted on Prop. 54. I get that those who did never realized that we'd have (1) a pandemic that would require people to be 6 feet apart and tell at least 27 members of the Legislature to stay home through the first two phases of a reopening and (2) we would have a technology used by businesses and kids to operate remotely.
I don't know what will happen. The Assembly is still scheduled to return on May 4, which is in eleven days. They are damned if they do and damned if they don't. And it may just be because of we the voters.
Perhaps including me.
Meanwhile, I hope someone is keeping track of all this for the agenda of the next constitutional revision commission...
more after the jump...
POLL POSITION: After apologizing to you for my screw-up and deciding to go to bed instead of fixing the slides last night, I thought in bed about whether there was really a difference between approval of job performance generally versus that for K-12 public education. So, that's what I plotted out when I got up this morning.
We won't see job approval numbers of the governor and Legislature from PPIC until the May poll and I don't anticipate polls from any other organization before then. But if you look at the graph to the right (click to see it larger), you'll see that I have added the Legislature's general job approval since 2010 (dashed gray line) to those of the Legislature on K-12 public education.
As I surmised before slumber last night (maybe carrying on in REM), the two largely track (dotted gray line and solid green line). We only have two data points on Governor Newsom's job approval on K-12 public education, so I can only do this for the Legislature.
Back to my conclusions last night, which I removed from the slides currently online.
The poll was in the field April 1-9, beginning nearly two weeks after the stay-at-home order and closure of schools. The Legislature saw a 22% increase over April 2019 and the governor saw a 20% bump. There haven't been substantial K-12 changes over the last 12 months. It was a good budget and strikes were settled, but there is no explanation for a ten-year high.
Rather, I believe that the May approval numbers of general job approval for both the Legislature and the governor will see a significant boost, although it may ebb some as people get cabin fever. However, even though the question of whether voters believe the next 12 months will see good times or bad times is now at 19%-80% -- one of the worst splits I can recall but will research -- Californians generally feel like they are in good hands.
Californians, however, are not just giving a boost in approval to the governor and Legislature as part of a "we're all in this together" moment like after 9/11. The Real Clear Politics polling average has President Trump at up 0.4% over the last month.
There is a lot more in the poll and I'm jumping on a briefing by PPIC at noon (no salads and cookies today), particularly on education issues. I'll be writing about it over the next few days.
SAN CLEMENTE: Governor Newsom has made it clear that the statewide order applies to all jurisdictions even as some have requested special disposition. In the South Orange County beach town of San Clemente, the OCR's Laylan Connelly reports that the city council in a late Tuesday night meeting took action that tests residents willing to comply with the statewide order on physical distancing and purpose for not being at home.
San Clemente beaches could be open by the end of the week, a decision made by city officials in a late-night meeting Tuesday, April 21, that would allow “active recreation” at city beaches and coastal trail with limited parking access.
The move comes after a two-week closure in the county’s southernmost city, which followed other closures in San Diego, Los Angeles, Laguna Beach and Seal Beach. Other area beaches, including Doheny State Beach and county-operated beaches such as Salt Creek and Strands Beach, have remained open with access limited by closing parking lots.
The debate on beach closures is mixed. While some pushed to get access back at the beach, arguing the open space should remain open for recreational use like surfing or exercising, others say opening beaches back up too soon could contribute to the spread of coronavirus.
The unanimous decision to open San Clemente’s beaches back up followed the Orange County Board of Supervisors vote on Tuesday to keep county beaches open, which include nearby Salt Creek, Strands Beach and Capistrano Beach.
Councilman Chris Hamm said the reopened beaches would have limited access and no “passive use.”
The city will also reach out to State Parks, which controls a handful of state beaches in the area such as Calafia and San Clemente State Beach, to coordinate a uniform date to open up the area’s beaches.
San Clemente has a COVID-19 rate of 6.6/100,000, above the county-wide rate of 5.4, according to the Register.
At the top today, I referenced the soccer game and BBQs going on in the park across from me. Clearly, those are against the state and county orders. Walking through the park for exercise or on your way to/from an essential activity is fine. It will be interesting to see how well the city polices the beach to ensure that people are not engaged in "passive use."
After all, the Register article notes that part of the conversation in San Clemente was that the beach was the biggest parking revenue source for the city...
cakeday and classifieds after the jump...
CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Gino Folchi, Assembly member Chad Mayes, George Raya, and Matt Ross!