Around The Capitol

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  • Look West (Assembly Democratic Caucus): First Responders in a Covid-19 World: Assemblymembers Jim Cooper (former sheriff's deputy) and Freddie Rodriguez (former EMT) (2020-04-23)
  • KQED's Political Breakdown (Scott Shafer and Marisa Lagos): SEIU Local 2015 President April Verrett on representing workers in skilled nursing facilities that have been a focus during the pandemic. (2020-04-23) 
  • Inside Golden State Politics (Bill Boyarsky and Sherry Bebitch Jeffe): Bill and Sherry examine voting by mail in the midst of a pandemic.  They agree on the need but disagree over whether it can be implemented by the November election.  They also search for an answer to a big question: Where's Joe Biden? (2020-04-23)
  • Then There's California (Senate Democratic Caucus): Senator Bill Monning (D-Carmel) on legislative during the COVID-19 pandemic (2020-04-14)

The Nooner for Friday, April 24, 2020, presented by SYASL Partners

  • Plastics
  • COVID-19
  • The first case
  • Reopening time
  • Who to listen to?
  • Law and disorder
  • Bills, Bills, Bills
  • Budget breaker
  • Unemployment
  • Cakeday and Classifieds 

SEEN ON TEEVEE: On Jimmy Kimmel Live last night, former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on with his mini ass and horse, which he was feeding during the interview talking about emergency preparedness and response. Joining Arnold and Jimmy was actor Edward Norton

Well, it's Friday if that means anything.

PLASTICS: I did mask up and ventured out yesterday to stock up on provisions. By the time I got to Market 5-ONE-5, which is five blocks away, my allergies had taken over as you could literally see the pollen emerging from the trees on the breezy day in Southside Park. There was a sign next to the entrance that, by order of the Sacramento County Health Department, reusable bags were not even allowed in the store. That was next to the sign saying stay out if you are coughing, etc.

On Wednesday, Governor Newsom signed an executive order (announced yesterday) that temporarily suspends the law prohibiting specified retailers from providing a bag without charge. It also suspends in-store redemption of recyclables to prevent COVID-19 spread.

Meanwhile at that point, I was coughing and sneezing from allergies and had my 5-ONE-5 bags over my shoulder. I took it as fate didn't want me to shop so I returned home and ended up ordering Cô Mai's Kitchen last night with enough great Vietnamese for last night and today.

With the help of one of those I ended up with a polystyrene soup container (with plastic lid), a polystyrene container with egg rolls, a polystyrene container with fried rice, and a polystyrene container with tofu salad.

Yes, they have Dart Container Corporation stamped on the bottom. I'm guessing many, if not most of you, have some such containers in your fridge right now.

As I've written about before, one of the casualties of the stay at home orders is the collection of signatures for ballot measures. For backers of the single-use plastics reduction initiative currently in circulation, which had reached 25% of required signatures on February 19, it's likely good that they appear to have missed the November ballot.

Personally, I'm in favor of a plastic reduction effort and was disappointed at the end of last year's legislative action that such measures (SB 54/AB 1080), widely expected to pass, died with finger-pointing abound after the interrupted Senate Floor session after the anti-vaxxer threw menstrual blood from the gallery on to the Senate chamber floor and members.

But my job is not to argue for my side in this space, but to call it as I see it.

Michigan-based Dart Container (with facilities in Lodi, Chino, and Corona) is a master of politics constantly playing defensive against state and local ordinances across the country to reduce the use of plastics. They spread around lots of money, mostly to Democrats, with regular large amounts of support to the California Democratic Party.

Dart would also spend handily against an initiative on the November ballot to reduce single-use plastics.

If you thought that the dialysis patients that were featured in the 2018 campaign mostly by DaVita and Fresenius to kill the labor-backed dialysis clinic profit cap were effective, imagine the commercials that would be all over the airwaves against a plastics-reduction ballot measure in 2020.

Restaurant owners (of every demographic): "As a family-owned business, we stayed open as Californians were stuck at home. We risked our own health and the health of the drivers who brought food to you. We couldn't have been able to do that safely or not at all if Proposition XX was the law."

I don't think that such an ad against a ballot measure would lose effectiveness in 2022. Californians will have long memories of their experience in 2020, and that's assuming this is all over this year. I've heard children growing up right now in this experience have been referred to as "Coronnials." Make no doubt about it, we are all changed forever.

The issue is back in the Legislature's hands. However, the chance for even a simple majority vote may have died for many years when the bills weren't brought up among the madness that defined the last night/morning of session September 13-14, 2019.

Now, can I bring my reusable bags to farmers market on Sunday?

Let's get to the latest numbers after the jump...


  • California confirmed cases: 39,674 (+1,765 from Thursday; prior changes: Thursday +2,045; Wednesday +1,892)
  • California confirmed deaths: 1,534 (+99 from Thursday; prior changes: Thursday +104; Wednesday +104) 
  • The SFChron's numbers above may differ from those of the California Department of Public Health only because the SFChron updates using county releases as they are received, wheras the CDPH has a daily update. In the end, they should align. CDPH has other great numbers including hospitalizations and ICU, for both confirmed and suspected.

THE FIRST CASE: In the SFChron Lauren Hernández and Matthias Gafni report that family members say that the woman marked as the first death with COVID-19 showed no common signs of the disease.

After Patricia Dowd died at home suddenly on Feb. 6 at the age of 57, her family was in shock. The woman was in seemingly good health, so the coroner’s explanation was all they had: A massive heart attack likely killed her before she hit the floor.

This week came another round of jarring news: Dowd was infected with the coronavirus at the time of her death. She is the first person in the U.S. known to have died from COVID-19.

“There were no symptoms, nothing,” Dowd’s father told The Chronicle on Thursday, standing on the porch of the Mountain View home where he raised Dowd and her three siblings.

REOPENING TIME: The political decision to close much of the state was hard. The political and practical decision of when and how to may be even harder. Laurel Rosenhall writes for CalMatters:

[Conflicting pressures from some local leaders encouraged by restless citizens who want a reopening and from others wary whether it would be premature], combined with the pandemic’s deadly threat, mean the governor will have to make a series of decisions far more difficult than the one he made March 19 when he issued a statewide order to stay home.

“That decision was a difficult one, but once it was made the actions were pretty clear: stay inside as much as you can… and prepare the hospitals,” said Jeffrey Martin, an epidemiologist at University of California, San Francisco. 

“Now, on trying to get back to normal, you don’t have to act quickly, you have time to make a thoughtful decision, but the decision is harder. How much relaxation should you do? … How much can we go back to and how do we know when we’re ready? And how will we know when we’re not doing well at it?”

Newsom has repeatedly said that reopening will be more like adjusting a dimmer than flipping a light switch, and that he’ll be guided not by a target date, but by progress on six measurements, including the availability of tests to detect the virus and the ability for schools and businesses to assure greater distance between people. 

“There is no such thing as reopening back to normal,” he said. “It’s normal with caveats, it’s reopening with conditions.”

WHO TO LISTEN TO? For the SFChron, Tom Stienstra looks at the challenge Californians have in discerning who listen to when the state, counties, cities, park districts, and water agencies have different rules about allowable recreational activities.

“We have people here in Marin that are using great care to shelter at home, but we have people showing up at the dock from Fresno, Placerville and Manteca,” said Keith Fraser, who runs a bait shop at Loch Lomond Marina in San Rafael.

The governor’s order includes the provision, that “Individuals may leave their residence … to engage in outdoor activity, provided the individuals comply with the Social Distancing Requirements, such as, by way of example and without limitation, walking, hiking, or running.” While the order doesn’t have an expiration date, many cities have set May 3 as the date to consider lifting at least a portion of the rules.

On the Peninsula, San Mateo County Health Officer Scott Morrow ordered that travel be restricted to within 5 miles of a residence. In many rural counties with no or few positive cases of coronavirus, the consensus is to restrict travel to within a county.

In San Diego, where the county has shut down all lakes, parks, beaches and boat ramps, more than 20 residents called in to a virtual Fish and Game Commission hearing last week to assert that their “constitutional rights as Americans” gives them the freedom to drive five or six hours to the Sierra.

LAW AND DISORDER: In the LATimes, Patrick McGreevy reports on the lawsuit filed yesterday seeking to block Governor Gavin Newsom's action to distribute $75 million in state emergency funds to regional nonprofits to provide relief to undocumented Californians who are ineligible for the federal individual relief. The plaintiffs in the suit are two GOP candidates for Assembly, Ricardo Benitez in AD39 and Jessica Martinez in AD57.

The lawsuit was filed by attorney Harmeet Dhillon , and her colleagues. It alleges that the expenditure of funds allocated in the state budget by providing them to nonprofit organization offends Article XVI, Section 3 of the state's constitution, which prohibits appropriation of funds to non-governmental entities unless explicitly exempted.

It's a weird provision of the constitution, as state agencies regularly provide grants to organizations for work that benefits undocumented individuals, but the constitutional provision is indeed there. The case was filed directly with the California Supreme Court as seeking a writ of mandate.

BILLS, BILLS, BILLS: Lobbyist Chris Micheli lands in our inbox:

This morning I attended the Assembly Rules Committee hearing that was held in Room 4202 and the following legislators attended: Ken Cooley, Heath Flora, Tim Grayson, Devon Mathis, Robert Rivas, Marc Levine, and Speaker Rendon (substitute for Kamlager) 

Attached is the agenda for this morning’s Assembly Committee on Rules hearing.

They referred 299 bills to policy committees. There are 298 on the attached list. They added the State Bar dues bill, AB 3362. As such, next week we will see amendments to nearly 300 ABs, which may be heard during the three weeks of May.

While it appears that the State Senate will not be returning until mid-May at the earliest, the move in Assembly Rules suggests that the Assembly is sticking with its plan to return May 4 under the regular deadline schedule. May 8 is the last day for policy committees to meet and May 15 is the last day for fiscal committees to meet. Both of these deadlines can be waived with a two-thirds vote.

more after the jump...

BUDGET BREAKER: The AP's Adam Beam reports that California cities are preparing for the fiscal calamity ahead from the pandemic and shutdown.

California’s 482 cities say they will collectively lose $6.7 billion over the next two years because of the coronavirus pandemic, prompting layoffs and furloughs for public workers and potential cuts to basic services such as sanitation, public safety and housing.

But that estimate, compiled by the League of California Cities, assumes the stay-at-home order lifts by June 1 — an unlikely scenario in a state where Gov. Gavin Newsom and public health officials have said bans on large gatherings and unnecessary travel will likely extend well into summer.

“Obviously, the longer the stay-at-home orders are in place, the longer businesses are closed, the greater the revenue shortfalls will be,” said Carolyn Coleman, the league’s executive director.

While Governor Newsom has not been as forthright is asking for state financial assistance, the League's survey was conducted for a direct appeal to the federal government for financial assistance. Today, President Trump signed the second traunch of the Payroll Protection Program for small businesses. The National Governors Association and local government organizations pushed to be included in that bill but were unsuccessful.

UNEMPLOYMENT: The state's Employment Development Department announced that it will stop requiring, at least through May 9 for claimants to recertify online each two weeks after the online system for doing so has been stressed under the volume of claims. Beyond the element of reporting is the practical issue in which claimants were being asked to provide evidence that they were actively seeking employment, something that is near impossible during the stay-at-home order.

cakeday and classifieds after the jump...

Probolsky Research


CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Marcia Brightwell, Lisa Chin Fulmer, former Assembly member Sally Lieber, and Justin White!



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