Around The Capitol

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RECENT PODS:

  • Political Breakdown (Scott Shafter and Marisa Lagos @ KQED): BART Director Lateefah Simon on the protests against police violence, steps cities can take to reform policing, the re-entry program she created with Kamala Harris, her Bay Area roots and her late husband Kevin Weston. (2020-06-04)
  • Inside Golden State Politics (Bill Boyarsky and Sherry Bebitch Jeffe): police violence; new generation of African American women mayors; LAPD budget (2020-06-04)
  • Health Policy Protest (School of Public Health at San Diego State University): First four episodes of 2020 (2020-06-03)
  • Political Breakdown (Scott Shafer and Marisa Lagos @ KQED: Tom Steyer, chair of Gov. Gavin Newsom's Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery (2020-05-28)

The Nooner for Saturday, June 6, 2020, presented by SYASL Partners

  • Unemployment
  • Newsom on police reforms
  • Second wave?
  • Masks
  • Reopening
  • UCLA physician misconduct
  • SacTown rubber bullets
  • Simi Valley
  • Cakeday and classifieds

SEEN ON TEEVEE: Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles), chair of the Congressional Black Caucus was on Colbert last night.

¡Buenos dias! I got six straight hours of sleep last night. It was cooler, the helicopter noise was more limited, and I washed my sheets yesterday. The last one is likely the most important. I digress.

Thank you to those who responded to my plea for more support for The Nooner yesterday. Closer to making it through the month with fingers crossed.

Today is a dayful of protests in Sacramento, reportedly starting at Golden 1 Center this morning and ending this evening at Cesar Chavez Plaza tonight. Last night, a large number of people held a "die in" by lying or sitting in the street near Mayor Darrell Steinberg's house. While Steinberg has attended previous protests, he stayed inside saying that he did not want to be a distraction to the peaceful protest. He tweeted:

Tonight's demonstration near my home is a powerful and necessary expression of the anger and demand for greater change in our city and in our country. I embrace the demand and expect to be judged by my actions, not just by my words. It starts with a commitment to work with Chief Hahn and my colleagues to build upon the police reforms we have implemented over the last several years.

There were two different gatherings in Sacramento. Beyond the die-in in Steinberg's neighborhood, there was this concurrent march that ended with a gathering at the popular downtown protest spot of Cesar Chavez Plaza to close out the night. Great work by the CapRadio and SacBee teams for covering these concurrent events across the city.

Steinberg tweeted this morning:

Today the City Council will meet in emergency session at 1 p.m. I will recommend the curfew be lifted immediately and the National Guard no longer be deployed. Last night’s peaceful and powerful demonstrations give me confidence that these reluctant steps are no longer necessary.

UNEMPLOYMENT: There was a lot of skepticism with the surprising employment report yesterday, with lots of claims that the Trump Administration "cooked the books." That's 100% not true, tweeted Jason Furman, chief economist for Barack Obama. However, COVID-19 did "cook the books" in the last few reports as more field office workers worked remotely and the usual questions didn't appropriately and respondents to the survey who were affiliated with an employer but on unpaid furlough leaned toward answers of being on voluntary unpaid leave which would count them as "employed," when in actuality they were on involuntary unpaid leave, which should have counted as "unemployed."

There was a lengthy footnote in yesterday's release that few people got to entitled "Coronavirus (COVID-19) Impact on May 2020 Establishment and Household Survey Data," with a link to a FAQ on the topic.

It took even the WaPo until 4pm PDT to post a story on the data flaw, but at least they spent the time on it. Heather Long reports:

The “other reason” category is normally used for people on vacation, serving jury duty or taking leave to care for a child or relative. These are typically situations where the worker decides to take leave. But in this unusual pandemic circumstance, the “other reason” category was applied to some people staying at home and waiting to be called back.

This problem started in March when there was a big jump in people claiming they were temporarily “absent” from work for “other reasons.” The BLS noticed this and flagged it right away. In March, the BLS said the unemployment rate likely should have been 5.4 percent, instead of the official 4.4 percent rate. In April, the BLS said the real unemployment rate was likely about 19.7 percent, not 14.7 percent.

Economists said the big takeaway is that it’s hard to collect real-time data during a pandemic and that while the unemployment rate remains high — likely more than 16 percent — it has declined a little from April.

The unemployment rate comes from a survey where Census workers ask about 60,000 households questions about whether they are working or looking for a job the week of May 10 to 16.

One of the first questions that gets asked is did the person do any work “for pay or profit?” There are then 45 pages of follow up questions that come after that. One of those questions asks if someone was “temporarily absent” from the job and why that absence occurred. One of the responses is “other.”

The BLS instructed surveyors to try to figure out if someone was absent because of the pandemic and, if so, to classify them as on “temporary layoff,” meaning they would count in the unemployment data. But some people continued to insist they were just “absent” from work during the pandemic, and the BLS has a policy of not changing people’s answers once they are recorded. It’s how the BLS protects again bias or data manipulation.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics footnote states:

If the workers who were recorded as employed but absent from work due to "other reasons" (over and above the number absent for other reasons in a typical May) had been classified as unemployed on temporary layoff, the overall unemployment rate would have been about 3 percentage points higher than reported (on a not seasonally adjusted basis). However, according to usual practice, the data from the household survey are accepted as recorded. To maintain data integrity, no ad hoc actions are taken to reclassify survey responses.

The true unemployment rate for May during conventional times would be 16.3%, not 13.3%. That's not to say that the May report was not a marked improvement because, as the BLS notes, this same problem has occurred in both the March and April reports as well. There were still 2.5 million jobs added, although more than half were in the relatively low wage "food services and drinking" subcategory of leisure and hospitality.

It is what it is. But, there's no conspiracy to be found here. The only criticism of BLS can be that they didn't reference the importance of the footnote in the top paragraph of the monthly release.

Sorry for starting with so much geekery on a Saturday, but you are a Noonerite and know what you're getting.

NEWSOM ON POLICE REFORMS: Yesterday, NewsomAtNoon returned after his listening tour during the week on the concerns about policing highlighted in protests across California, the nation, and in many citiies around the world. The two takeaways are that he wants to work with stakeholders to create new standards for police response to peaceful protests and, more immediately, he called for the end of the use of the controversial carotid hold blamed for the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The carotid hold (usually a knee to the neck) impedes blood flow to the brain for a short period of time to render a suspect unconscious.

Immediately, he said that trainings referencing use of the carotid hold would be removed from the online training directory of the state's Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST). However, these are generally localized trainings. For now, it's up to local cities to ban the use of the carotid hold (and the workshops that were listed in the post directory. Governor Newsom did state that he would support legislation to ban the use statewide.

Newsom further encouraged cities to reduce their reliance on the National Guard to de-escalate the situation to make it look less militaristic and reduce tension. On that note, I walked to Market 5-ONE-5 yesterday for laundry and dishwasher detergent. Across from the market at 9th/R is the CHP station. There were three humvees and 12 National Guard troops guarding the station with their long guns. It was just weird to walk by that with no protestors in sight. Across the street is the John L. Burton California Democratic Party HQ, which has all of its first-floor windows boarded up.

SECOND WAVE? In the Chron, Sarah Ravini and Dominic Fracassa report that Bay Area health officials are preparing for a spike in cases after residents took to the streets to protest with outrage over the death of George Floyd at the knees of Minneapolis police.

Counties are urging people to get tested within at least five days of attending their last protest. San Francisco opened a pop-up testing site Friday at St. Mary’s Cathedral for demonstrators concerned about their potential exposure during the recent days of unrest and protests, even if they aren’t showing symptoms of COVID-19.

“I think everyone in public health is concerned,” said Dr. Tomás Aragón, San Francisco’s health officer.

“The risk depends on how many people in the crowd are carrying the coronavirus,” he said. “If very few people are carrying, you’re probably going to be fine. But we don’t know, and that’s the problem. The few people that might have it, they’re the ones you hope wear their mask.”

The concerns are not solely in the Bay Area. Nationally, areas of large protests have health officers fearing a second wave. It also has business owners that have expensive reopening costs, such as restaurants that order perishables, are fearful about reopening and then having to close again within a month.

MASKS: In the LAT, Melody Gutierrez reports that the state has given a second extension to Chinese company BYD to get federal safety certification and deliver the state's order of nearly $1 billion worth of N95 masks.

It’s the latest complication in the deal with BYD, which has a U.S. subsidiary headquartered in Los Angeles County, to supply 300 million highly protective respirators during the COVID-19 pandemic. The electric car maker has struggled to have its N95 masks certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. BYD first failed to meet a contractual deadline on April 30 for its N95 masks to be certified, forcing the company to refund half of California’s $495-million down payment.

State officials amended the agreement to give BYD until May 31 for the N95 masks to be approved by federal regulators. The amendment allowed for the state to either extend that deadline or for BYD to return the remaining $247.5 million of California’s down payment by Friday. State officials announced Friday that they will now give BYD until June 12 to have the masks certified. The new amendment notes that if the respirators are certified by the new timeline, the state plans to purchase 150 million masks, which would be delivered this month and next.

REOPENING: The state yesterday gave the okay to move forward with reopening several high-contact businesses as of next Friday, report Sophia Bollag and Tony Bizjak in the Bee. In doing so, the state provided guidance by industry for counties to require of the businesses as they reopen. As previously in the Stage 2B advances, counties will have the option of these additional reopenings if they meet specific criteria regarding testing and caseload growth.

Bars, gyms and a wide range of other venues can begin reopening in California starting next week under new state guidance announced Friday.

Counties will decide how far to go under the state guidelines based on local conditions like coronavirus infection rates and ability to track COVID-19 cases, Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said.

The state is not encouraging counties to reopen those businesses and is simply providing guidance for them to do so, he said. Counties should expand their reopening plans only if a local health official says they can do so safely.

In the Times, Ryan Faughner reports that this includes movie shoots, with caveats.

“Music, TV and film production may resume in California, recommended no sooner than June 12, 2020, and subject to approval by county public health officers within the jurisdictions of operations,” the [California Department of Public Health] said. “To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, productions, cast, crew and other industry workers should abide by safety protocols agreed by labor and management, which may be further enhanced by county public health officers.”

...

[A task force of studios and union officials'] recommendations include using individually packaged meals instead of buffet tables, allowing live audiences only when they wear masks and remain a safe distance apart, and requiring a COVID-19 compliance officer on every set.

Among the chief recommendations are mandatory coronavirus testing of cast and crew, including temperature screening, and supplying personal protective equipment.

Other recommendations include organizing departments into smaller groups, staggering call times and using remote-monitoring technology to reduce the number of people on set. Hair and makeup artists are asked to minimize time spent in direct contact with performers, while also using protective equipment and proper hygiene.

I'm guessing legal shoots in Chatsworth won't be resuming soon.

Obviously, we're all ready for some new television. I don't see how the late shows return to live audience right away. A live audience six feet apart wearing masks doesn't really work with the format. 

In a similar vein, salons and barber shops opened up a couple of weeks ago. I got the first afternoon appointment I could with the great Jason Iverson -- for June 15. So, if you see me in one of my rare excursion from my bunker or on a Zoom, feel free to call me Shaggy. My hair was last cut in December and it doesn't just lie down peacefully.

...more after the jump.

UCLA PHYSICIAN MISCONDUCT: In the LAT, Nina Agrawal reports:

UCLA’s handling of allegations of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct against five physicians employed by the university over three decades was “at times either delayed or inadequate or both,” an independent committee investigating the allegations said in a report released Friday.

The allegations included conduct ranging from sexually suggestive questions and commentary to inappropriate touching and invasive genital, anal and breast exams. They involved five physicians who worked at UCLA Health and the Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center.

SACTOWN RUBBER BULLETS: Providing more evidence that non-lethal enforcement is causing permanent damage CapRadio's Scott Rodd reports that a woman hit by a rubber bullet in a protest in Oak Park last week is permanently blind in one eye.

Attorney Lisa Bloom says her client, 29-year-old mother of two Shantania Love, was peacefully protesting the police killing of Minnesota man George Floyd when police attempted to disperse the crowd with rubber bullets and flash grenades. Bloom says Love had multiple medical appointments and a surgery this week.

“This is a movement against police brutality, and yet protesters are so often a victim of police brutality,” she said.

It’s the latest in a recent string of Sacramento protesters experiencing serious injuries from rubber bullets. Last Saturday, an 18-year-old suffered a broken jaw when law enforcement responded to protesters in front of the county jail. Another protester reportedly suffered a fractured skull and underwent two surgeries after being shot in the head by multiple rubber bullets.

SIMI VALLEY: A Simi Valley councilmember may be fueling the fire of more protests. On Monday, thirty-year LAPD employee and mayor pro tem Mike Judge shared a meme on his Facebook page (since deleted and replaced with an apology) that suggested that protestors be sprayed with contents of a septic truck. The comment was aired on several Los Angeles news stations, leading area residents to be concerned that the city may become a target because of the comment. He also got into an online exchange with a protest leader claiming that Simi Valley only has a bad rap because it was the site of the trial of the exonerated LAPD officers in the Rodney King case that led to the 1992 riots. The Ventura County Star has more.

Simi, in the southernmost part of Ventura County, had the reputation as the bedroom community for LAPD officers long before that case.

cakeday and classifieds after the jump...

Probolsky Research

 

CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Nicole Curran, Garth Eisenbeis, Tricia Robbins, and Taylor White!

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