Around The Capitol

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RECENT PODS:

  • Then There's California (Senate Democratic Caucus): Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) on the need to use the protests over George Floyd's death as a catalyst for change (2020-06-09)
  • Capitol Weekly Podcast (John Howard and Tim Foster): Lobbyist Paula Treat (2020-06-08)
  • Health Policy Podcast (School of Public Health at San Diego State University): Vince Hall, CEO of Feeding San Diego (2020-06-08)
  • 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 Podcast (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)

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The Nooner for Wednesday, June 10, 2020, presented by SYASL Partners

  • Video didn't kill the voting czar
  • The spread
  • The reopening
  • Project Roomkey
  • Shopping spree
  • The response
  • PG&E
  • AB 5
  • Sports betting
  • Cakeday and NEW classifieds

Allspicery in COVID-19Happy Wednesday! The significance of Wednesdays is that it's "take out the trashcan" day. In this confusing time where the days seemingly run together, I literally have that on my calendar for 5pm today.

I had to go over to the bank yesterday, so I took a stroll over to Kay Street and then south on 11th toward the Capitol and around the Capitol, as my normal path through the west lawn is still fenced off with plentiful CHP officers standing watch. I didn't need a mask (but had one on my wrist) because it was a ghost town. It was surreal.

Maybe 1/3 of the storefronts are boarded up, although some were being taken down yesterday. The picture (should be to the right) is of The Allspicery, the great spice and tea shop on 11th across from the Capitol. Order online or call them between 10-4 weekdays for pickup, delivery, or shipping. It's a great small business with a young entrepreneur owner.

I'm finally getting my ginormous hair cut on Monday afternoon. Yes, that's budget day, but I highly doubt the debate and vote will be taking place at 2:30. I told Jason Iverson that he needs to bring his lawnmower. Somebody on Twitter pointed out that a weed wacker might work better. Indeed, and it provides physical distance.

VIDEO DIDN'T KILL THE VOTING CZAR: Here is the video from last Friday's wide-ranging discussion between PPIC president/CEO Mark Baldassare and Secretary of State Alex Padilla.

THE SPREAD: For CapRadio, Nicole Nixon reports that hospitalizations from COVID-19 have spiked in Sacramento and San Joaquin Counties.

Sacramento, San Joaquin and Santa Clara counties have been placed on a state “watch list” for growing numbers of hospitalizations. Sacramento is experiencing the largest surge, while San Joaquin is being monitored for limited hospital capacity, as well. Stockton is now considering an ordinance to require everyone to wear face coverings

On May 27, Sacramento County had eight hospitalizations and six people in the ICU. Nearly two weeks later, the number of hospitalizations has more than quadrupled, to 33, while 14 patients are in the ICU. In San Joaquin, hospitalizations jumped from 14 to 43 over the same period, according to the county’s COVID-19 data dashboard.

While our attention shifted to policing and the protests, COVID-19 cases continue to rise and it's not just because of more testing. A team at the Bee reports that the county's latest spike in cases has largely been traced to large family gatherings.

Speaking to The Sacramento Bee on Tuesday, Sacramento County health officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye said her contact tracing team is noting increased cases after families have gathered in homes in violation of the state and county health orders, which still say people should not be gathering in groups inside homes.

Kasirye said it appears that the recent reopenings of restaurants, stores, barbers and hair salons may have persuaded people that the virus risk has gone away.

Another round of reopenings is scheduled for Friday, this time including bars, movie theaters and camp grounds. The Sacramento Zoo is scheduled to open Monday.

“We have found as businesses begin to open up, for some people there was a sense that things are OK now, and they began having gatherings in the home and birthday parties,” Kasirye said. “That is most of the exposure. They are multi-generational. They have people with higher risk.

“You have people together for an extended period of time” not observing six-foot social distancing, and often not wearing face coverings,” she said.

Sacramento in particular “has experienced increasing hospitalization,” state health officials said in an updated statement on Tuesday listing Sacramento along with Los Angeles, Fresno, Imperial, Kings, San Joaquin, Santa Clara, San Bernardino and Tulare counties as focal points of concern.

And we are allowing bars and movie theaters to reopen with precautions in Sacramento on Friday. Movie theaters are limited to 25% occupancy or 100 people, whichever is lower. So, I doubt you'll be seeing any multiplex open up.

The increase in Sacramento, officials said, is attributed to a small cluster of activities, including two large birthday parties held in private homes, one funeral and a church gathering. Church gatherings, with reduced attendance, are now allowed. But parties inside houses are not yet permitted under state and local stay-at-home orders.

In the SDUT, Paul Sisson reports that hospitals and researches are worried about a COVID-19 resurgence.

While the local numbers have not spiked significantly yet, many in the community say they are quite concerned that a big increase is on the way. And, because public health data always lags reality a bit, the big jump, if there is one, is likely to be in the works before it appears in publicly-reported numbers.

It is already clear that the situation is more serious in Chula Vista and especially in Imperial County where hospitals have been seeing outsize numbers of admissions coming across the border from the Mexicali port of entry for weeks. High COVID-related death rates have also been reported south of the border, and local hospitals have been busy accepting transfers from sister facilities to the east. San Diego County has seen an overall positive rate among coronavirus tests performed of about 4 percent, compared to 16 percent at Chula Vista hospitals and 18 percent in Imperial County.

Erin Allday reports in the Chron of similar concerns in the Bay Area, which was the earliest hit in California by the outbreak but seemingly had things under control.

The Bay Area also has reported a notable uptick since shelter-in-place restrictions began loosening in mid-May. As of Tuesday the region had about 15,900 cases total, and in the past couple of weeks it’s seen more than 200 new cases nearly every day — levels comparable to late March.

Some of that is new testing, but it's difficult to differentiate the increase in cases because of more testing from those associated with reopening.

Meanwhile, Arizona hospitals have been told be health officials to reactivate their COVID-19 emergency plans amidst a resurgence of cases.

More and more people I talk to reflect the polling both in California and nationally and are wondering why we are reopening quickly when cases and hospitalizations are rising in many counties. The pressure from business is well ahead of voters. If you missed my discussion of the latest PPIC statewide poll last Thursday, 20% of likely voters believe we need more restrictions (than in place May 16-21), 32% thought we needed fewer, and 47% believe that they should remain just about the same for now. National polls are similar. But, both in California and nationally, it's highly partisan. Let's look at the crosstabs.

PPIC reopening crosstabs

It's amazing how public health is such a partisan issue. We'll see what happens. As I have written, several restaurants are cautious about a full reopening. They don't know what demand will be and are thus cautious about ordering perishables and committing shifts to staff. Staff are wary about forfeiting their unemployment benefits only to have their shifts canceled. And, restaurants are fearful of reopening with all of the strict public health guidelines to have a surprise shutdown like March 19 with another COVID-19 spike.

There are no easy answers.

THE REOPENING: In the LAT, a team asks who will get the blame if there are new COVID-19 outbreaks as California reopens.

Some officials insist the increasingly rapid reopening of the economy in California over the last few weeks has been driven by careful health considerations. But there are also political pressures as well. Some businesses battered by months of stay-at-home orders are pushing to open their doors, while some residents object to the government telling them to wear masks and how far apart to stand from each other.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has emphasized that the decision to reopen on an accelerated pace is one made by local leaders.

  • Hotels: In the LAT, Hugo Martin looks at how hotels will be changing as they are given the green light to reopen.
     
    If you decide to break away from your coronavirus lockdown to hit the road this summer, expect some changes at your hotel, such as no more valet parking, a sheet of plexiglass between you and the concierge and a capacity limit at the pool.

    And forget about using the gym. It will be closed.

    The breakfast buffet? Gone.

    In addition to having hotel workers clean and wipe most surfaces much more often, hotel operators are installing stickers on floors to remind people to keep their distance from one another. Hand sanitizer dispensers will be placed throughout buildings. At least one hotel moved its lobby to a less crowded location; others have spaced pool furniture far apart to discourage guests who don’t know each other from cavorting together.
  • Bars: In Sacramento, bars can reopen Friday, but only with precautions reports Benjy Egel for the SacBee.
     
    14-page, 107-point guide released by Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office Friday outlines the steps restaurants, bars and wineries should take to safely reopen during the coronavirus pandemic. The guidance piggybacks on a slightly shorter eatery-only manifesto distributed last month when restaurants began reopening for sit-down service.

    Several of the same changes restaurants made also apply to bars, including keeping employees 6 feet apart when possible, screening customers for symptoms upon arrival and asking them to use hand sanitizer. People are still only supposed to sit with others from their own household, and vigorous disinfection recommendations remain in place.

    I don't hang out in bars, but I have to wonder how many people from the same household go to bars together. It seems like it defeats the purpose. Did anybody at Cheers live together?

    Activities such as karaoke, open mics, trivia nights, pub crawls and mixers that encourage sharing items or movement remain banned, as are drinking games and drop shots because of the risk of splashing and spilling.

    And there is no "bar" part of it. Seating must be socially distanced and barriers must keep customers approaching the bar to be 6 feet away from the bartender. The above are just a few. There are more in Benjy's article.

    I see the throngs showing up! 

PROJECT ROOMKEY: In my inbox this morning was this email from the City of Sacramento meant to espouse the great things that are happening. The first headline was "MORE THAN 650 HOMELESS PEOPLE PLACED IN MOTELS AND TRAILERS AS PART OF SACRAMENTO’S COVID-19 RESPONSE."

Sounds good...but...look at the image the city sent with the story.

Project Roomkey - Cal Expo

How quintessentially California.

Trailers accommodating homeless during a pandemic beneath a monorail with a gondola in the background, both of which operate 17 days out of the year for the State Fair -- when it happens.

Of course, the original vision was that Cal Expo would be a year-round attraction, but that never materialized. Now it is being eyed by some for housing, beyond just trailers for homeless during a pandemic.

SHOPPING SPREE: For CalMatters, Byrhonda Lyons and Laurel Rosenhall look at the missteps that state has made in the scramble to get supplies through no-bid contracts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While normal bidding and vetting procedures have been suspended during the state of emergency, California has entered into roughly $3 billion worth of no-bid contracts for masks, ventilators, call-center workers and other supplies and services to respond to the health crisis, the state’s procurement database shows. Some of the vendors are established companies the state has been doing business with for a long time, but others are newcomers that launched amid a chaotic quest for medical supplies. The nationwide scramble kicked off in March when President Donald Trump told governors that states were on their own to secure equipment necessary to manage the pandemic.

Some of the contracts topped out at a half-billion dollars. And in a few instances, readily available public records and some Googling should have raised potential red flags.

“Unfortunately, there was a big rush” for equipment around the world, said Francesco Decarolis, an economist at Bocconi University in Milan, Italy, and former Stanford University assistant professor with expertise in U.S. procurement policy.

“There was fear of not doing things in time, and under emergency situations normal procedures are bypassed, and it’s very hard to ensure that things run smoothly. This is a wakeup call.”

THE RESPONSE: For CalMatters, Dan Walters looks at the challenge ahead for political leaders in responding to the death of George Floyd and the protests that followed.

The tsunami of righteous indignation over the suffocation death of a black man, George Floyd, by a Minneapolis policeman, like all crises, creates both opportunity and peril for political figures.

It will certainly impact President Donald Trump’s already iffy chances for re-election, given his tone-deaf response to Floyd’s death and the subsequent protests. It’s an opportunity for challenger Joe Biden to solidify his lead and improves the prospects of California U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris to become Biden’s running mate.

PG&E: Yesterday, the Assembly Utilities and Energy Committee approved SB 350 (Hill), the bill to allow the state to bid for the assets of Pacific Gas & Electric Company in the event the company does not exit bankruptcy by the state's June 30 deadline. The vote was partisan, 12-2-1, with Chad Mayes (NPP) joining Democrats in approving the bill. Assembly Appropriations approved the bill this morning and it heads to the Assembly Floor, which is expected to approve it, before returning to the Senate for concurrence.

AB 5 (Gonzalez): Independent contractors.: If you are like me and missed the Sacramento Press Club's Facebook Live Zoom panel discussion on the future of AB 5 yesterday, the recorded version is here. Panelists included author Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), Assemblymember Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield), NFIB CA director John Kabateck, and the Labor Fed's comms director Steve Smith.

...more after the jump.

SPORTS BETTING: In the Times, Patrick McGreevy reports that the tribes backing an initiative for a November ballot measure to allow tribal casinos and horse racing tracks to offer sports betting and the tribal casinos to offer craps and roulette have sued the state seeking more time to collect signatures since gathering has been near impossible during the stay at home orders.

The tribes began circulating petitions for the initiative in January and the lawsuit says the July 20 deadline for turning in 997,139 signatures to make the 2022 ballot “presents an impossible burden that prevents Petitioners from exercising their right to propose legislation by initiative, as guaranteed by the State Constitution.”

Enforcing the deadline would also violate the tribes’ rights under the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to petition the government for a redress of grievances, according to the lawsuit, filed in Sacramento County Superior Court against Secretary of State Alex Padilla.

While I first rolled my eyes at the argument, they indeed have a shot of getting that extension.

Article II, Section 8 of the California Constitution provides in part:

(a) The initiative is the power of the electors to propose statutes and amendments to the Constitution and to adopt or reject them.

(b) An initiative measure may be proposed by presenting to the Secretary of State a petition that sets forth the text of the proposed statute or amendment to the Constitution and is certified to have been signed by electors equal in number to 5 percent in the case of a statute, and 8 percent in the case of an amendment to the Constitution, of the votes for all candidates for Governor at the last gubernatorial election.

...

While the percent of signatures required are is enumerated in the Constitution, the timeline for qualification of initiatives is a function of statute (Elections §9014) in control of by the Legislature. The lawsuit is worth a roll of the dice.

There had been rumors that the tribes had given up on qualification but they appear to have pursued a new strategy. Of course, the legal demand comes as Senator Bill "cakeday" Dodd (D-Napa) and Assembly member Adam Gray (D-Merced) have are pursuing a legislative constitutional amendment for the November ballot. The gaming tribes oppose SCA 6 because it would open up additional games for card clubs that could compete with their offerings and would impose fees on online sports wagering platforms that tribes might partner with.

SCA 6 passed Senate Governmental Organization 9-3-4 and is currently on the Senate Appropriations Suspense File. It needs two-thirds in both houses. With Senators Susan Rubio (D-Baldwin Park) and Ben Hueso (D-Logan Heights) not voting and no Republicans voting for the bill, it raises the question of whether the measure has the 27 votes in needs in the State Senate. Democrats currently have 29 votes in the body, meaning that if Rubio and Hueso are still not on board, proponents can't lose a single more Democrat without Republican cross-overs.

cakeday and classifieds after the jump...

Probolsky Research

CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Juan Camacho, Aaron Davis, Senator Bill Dodd, Chuck Halnan, Larry Levine, and Tim Wendler!

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Between 1-3 offices are available for sublease in the Meridian Plaza office building, 1415 L Street, two blocks from the Capitol. The offices are approximately 150 SF each. Internet, gym, partially furnished (desk, chair, bookcases) are included. 24/7/365 key card access; floor-ceiling windows facing Sierras; professional offices. One year lease preferred. $1,500 per office. Contact Jane at admin@stoneadvocacy.com or (415) 577-9734 with questions.

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