Around The Capitol

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  • KQED's Political Breakdown (Scott Shafer and Marisa Lagos @ KQED): Ron Davis, former Director of the United States Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services under President Obama on reimagining public safety after the death of George Floyd. (2020-06-11)
  • Nooner Conversations (Scott Lay): GOP political consultant Mike Madrid on the 2020 general election and much more [YouTube | Apple Podcasts | Simplecast]
  • Inside Golden State Politics (Bill Boyarsky and Sherry Bebitch Jeffe): Protests: Angst and Hope (2020-06-11)
  • 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)

The Nooner for Sunday, June 14, 2020, presented by SYASL Partners

  • Politics of reopening and masking
  • Mask purchasing
  • Willie Brown on "Defund the police"
  • The legislative week ahead
  • Crazy train
  • Gas tax
  • Fort Bragg
  • SacTown
  • Cakeday and classifieds

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  • Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles), chair of the Congressional Black Caucus on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. 
  • Lots of California political ads during the Sunday shows, including those in favor of the November ballot measure to exempt transportation network drivers from AB 5 while keeping them as independent contractors with some additional benefits and in support of California's oil and gas industry. Another one that you may have seen is an entertaining one applauding Senator Dr. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) for his support of SB 793 (Hill) to ban the sales of flavored tobacco projects, including vaping cartridges. The ad is paid for by the Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund. The bill is on Senate Approps Suspense File, which is being cleared on Thursday.

Happy Sunday! I'm looking forward to another beautiful day in Sacramento, with a morning of writing, Sunday news shows, farmers market, and street tacos at Our Lady of Guadalupe on the calendar. I was on a cleaning binge yesterday afternoon and deep cleaned my bathroom and cleaned my stovetop, both Herculean tasks after months of delay. More chores on my list today. Yeah, it took nearly three months in the bunker before I started tackling these chores. Don't judge! The fun continues this afternoon. It's great to finally be sleeping again and I am oddly waking up a few minutes before 5 each day without an alarm.

On a grim note, California crossed 5,000 deaths late yesterday, according to the Chron's tally from county health office reports. As of this writing, the current total is 5,057 deaths that are confirmed to be attributed to COVID-19, although medical experts believe it's far higher because of previous deaths that weren't confirmed due to inadequate testing.

SCHEDULING NOTE: Tomorrow at 10:30am, the Washington Post will have an online discussion on Race in America with Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles),  chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. It will be streamed at and on Facebook LiveYouTube and Twitter.

POLITICS OF REOPENING AND MASKING: SacTown continues to be returning to Midtown bars after they were given the green light midday Friday, while movie theaters remain closed even after given the okay to do so with precautions.

The Bee's Benjy Egel looked around the Midtown bar scene Friday night, while the Bee's Vincent Moleski reports that the Sacramento County's numbers continue to escalate.

Major bars around Lavender Heights (Faces, The Depot, The Mercentile Saloon, LowBrau) and downtown K Street (District 30, Dive Bar, Social Nightclub, Tiger) remained closed Friday night either by choice or mandate. Throughout downtown and midtown Sacramento, others that got their first crack at opening Friday like Torch Club, Bottle & Barlow, Flame Club and The Cabin opted to wait.

Bars that did open were given all they could handle. The two employees at Club 2 Me hustled to serve the broad age range of customers occupying every stool at the bar. With entertainment like billiards and shuffleboard temporarily unavailable to prevent the spread of coronavirus, there was little to do but drink and chat — not that people like Rick Pires minded.

"Occupying every stool at the bar." Hmmm. If that's accurate, that's in violation of the county health order, which specifies no patron seating at the bar and distancing of 6 feet from the bartender when ordering.

Lots of Sac residents have posted to social media about the Midtown scene. While some bars are enforcing occupancy limits and other county health precautions, observers have observed lengthy lines without social distancing and mostly unmasked awaiting entrance.

Longtime Democratic staffer and consultant Doug Morrow posted to Facebook:

"Leaving our office in Midtown Sacto last night I was shocked by the number of young people standing shoulder to shoulder, cheek to jowl in lines waiting to get into Centro Cantina, the Blue Cue and Barwest.

I get that the young and fabulous under 30 crowd are at a statistically lower risk of dying of this virus, but in their desire to resume a “normal life” they the silent spreaders, putting all the rest of us at greater risk. 

I mean if you were somehow immune to HIV, radiation, Ebola or typhoid, would you knowingly go around spreading it to other folks who didn’t share the same protection? Of course not!"

Add that to Sam Mahood's tweet about Brew Bike that I included in yesterday's Nooner. I have seen literally dozens of similar message across social media and in my email and they come from across the political spectrum.

Of course, my job is to think and write about both the policy and political aspects. On the politics of reopening, we know why political and public health officials have sided with reopening even under mixed metrics of the virus's behavior. The politicians were responding to the economic news and the public health officials answer to the politicians. That was evident in Orange County last week, where the public health officer was forced out because of her order for residents to wear masks in most public spaces. She left and the mandatory order became a recommendation.

My question is, if we get a spike after reopening as have several states that preceded California have (e.g. Arizona) and which many public health experts expect, who gets the blame? Is it Mr. COVID? Is it the asymptomatic viral carriers who didn't follow precautions such as mask-wearing, distancing, and hand washing?

Or, most importantly from a Nooner standpoint, do voters get angry at the political leaders who called for the reopenings?

Politicians now are trying to hide behind public health officers, but as we saw in Orange County, health officers aren't elected and answer to those who are. They are inherently political jobs, like those of most of the members of the White House Task Force. Sure, Dr. Fauci has been the most outspoken and cautious about reopening to fast. He can be forced out, but I'm guessing the 79-year-old doesn't give a damn. Of course, his public appearances have been significantly curtailed.

Orange County isn't the only place where politicians are out in front and not "leaving it to the experts." In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Placer County supervisor Kirk Uhler posted a video to Facebook with a caption "Is the face mask the 2020 version of the AIDS ribbon?" In the video, he says:

The face mask is today's sign that you care and and and, more importantly, sorry I can't have that stupid thing on (taking off a bandana he put over his face for this sentence), more importantly if you don't wear one then obviously it means that you don't care. Nothing these days seems to be more controversial than somebody wearing a mask or more importantly not wearing and mask and therefore suffering the ire and scorn of those who are wearing masks and since it's hard to get data that isn't tainted by politics of today...

He then says that he went back to look at a 1997 study from New Delhi on the use of face masks to prevent health effects of the city's notorious pollution.

That's fundamentally flawed. Wearing a mask amidst air pollution or in California during wildfires is to prevent particulate matter from entering your lungs. Wearing a cloth or surgical mask during a respiratory viral outbreak is to prevent those infected from spreading to others rather than preventing the wearer of the mask from becoming infected. It is the complete opposite. Only the medical-grade N95 masks and respirators are meant to be protective to the person wearing them.

While a completely false statement from a medical perspective, Uhler's video reinforces the attitudes of those who believe the worst is behind us and restrictions should be relaxed, even while a majority of likely voters believe the opposite. Instead of a 1997 air pollution study, here is a study published June 1 in the Lancet medical journal on the effectiveness of physical distancing, masks, and eye protection in person-to-person spread of COVID-19.

Uhler lost reelection to the supervisorial seat in March that he has held since 2007 (now-BOE member Ted Gaines's former supe seat). He also held a Placer supe seat in the 1990s. He is returning to the private sector and is a partner in a government relations and communications business. He is the son of Lew Uhler, founder of the National Tax Limitation Committee and who served in Ronald Reagan's gubernatorial administration.

MASK PURCHASING: I missed this item from CalMatters's Laurel Rosenhall on Friday. Laurel reports Blue Flame Medical, the new company founded by GOP political consultants amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, is suing Virginia-based Chain Bridge Bank for contacting California raising questions about the state's $456.9 million wire transfer destined for Blue Flame. The contract for N95 masks was canceled by California after learning that the company was brand new and had not yet delivered such supplies.

As a result of the warning by Chain Bridge Bank, Blue Flame asserts in its lawsuit, “governmental law enforcement agencies have commenced investigations concerning Blue Flame and the transaction. Moreover, reports of the breakdown in the deal between Blue Flame and California caused Blue Flame to be wrongfully typecast as a price gouger for critical medical supplies.”

The lawsuit details personal and professional ramifications for Blue Flame’s founders, who are both Republican political operatives. It says they both have received death threats following press coverage of their unraveled deal with California.

John Thomas, a political strategist based in Southern California, “was fired from his job as a radio commentator as a result of the intense negative press coverage resulting from the California transaction and has not been invited back to the cable news network on which he previously appeared on a regular basis,” the suit says.

Mike Gula, a GOP fundraiser in Washington, D.C., closed his political consulting business after reaching the massive sales deal with California, the suit says, and is now suffering “from being baselessly labeled a fraudster.” Other government agencies have canceled deals with Blue Flame, the suit says, and Gula “has been rejected by other banks from opening new accounts.”

Crocodile tears. What the hell were they thinking setting up a medical supply company? What the hell were California officials thinking by not taking 24 hours to research the company?

Fortunately, 90% of folks at farmers market this morning were wearing masks and trying to maintain physical distance. An infectious disease physician on Fox News Sunday this morning said "I would absolutely not want my loved ones [at the June 20 Trump rally in Tulsa]." He basically said it's too early for political rallies.

I wonder if President Trump watched this morning from his Bedminster golf club.

POLICE USE OF FORCE: The Los Angeles Police Protective League, San Francisco Police Officers Association, and the San José Police Officers Association have a full-page ad today in the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and San José Mercury News saying "We have an obligation as a profession and as human beings to express our sorrow for taking action," calling for:

  • A national use-of-force standard that emphasizes a reverence for life, de-escalation, a duty to intercede, proportional responses to dangerous incidents and strong accountability provision mirrored after the Los Angeles Police Department;
  • A national database of former police officers fired for gross misconduct that prevents other agencies from hiring them;
  • An early warning system to identify officers who may need more training and mentoring modeled after the San Francisco Police Department;
  • Ongoing and frequent training of police to build and refresh their skills similar to California’s SB230;
  • Mandate a transparent publicly accessible use-of-force analysis website similar to the San Jose Police Department’s.

They are trying to get ahead of national demands by activists and some elected officials to fully repeal the legal doctrine of qualified immunity.

WILLIE BROWN ON "DEFUND THE POLICE": In his Chron column, Willie Brown calls the "defund the police" movement "either one of the dumbest ideas of all time or the hands-down winner of the worst slogan ever."

I shouldn’t have to explain that actually defunding police is a nonstarter as a practical matter, let alone as a political one. But many defenders of the concept say they don’t really mean defund — they mean reimagine. Take away dealing with homeless people from police, for example, and re-steer the money for that to social services programs.

Fine. Let’s talk about how to do that. But we’re starting from a terrible disadvantage because of that “defund” slogan.

It instantly moved the discussion from race and real police reform to disbanding police altogether. That gave President Trump the distraction he was desperately looking for to deflect attention from his disastrous handling of the race issue. He’s already hammering on Democrats for supposedly wanting to get rid of police.

If I was a conspiracy theorist, I’d suspect that those calling for “defunding the police” are deliberately out to destroy whatever progress we’re making in the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd.

I wrote about the politics of this issue last Monday.

THE WEEK AHEAD: Chris Micheli runs the numbers for the busy legislative week ahead beyond tomorrow night's midnight budget deadline.

Senate Floor – Monday at 1pm and Thursday at 9am

  • Senate 2nd Reading – 1
  • Assembly 2nd Reading – 3 (budget trailer bills to be taken up Monday)
  • Senate 3rd Reading – 61
  • Assembly 3rd Reading – 11
  • Total: 76 measures

Senate Appropriations Committee Suspense File – Thursday upon adjournment – 90 measures

Assembly Floor – Monday at 1pm and Thursday at 9am

  • Assembly 3rd Reading – 73
  • Senate 3rd Reading – 5
  • Total: 78 measures 

Assembly Budget Committee – Monday at 10am – 3 trailer bills (to be taken up Monday)

...lots more after the jump.

STATE EMPLOYEES: While the previous news was that the state was aiming to have 75% of employees to continue to telework, I'm told by multiple non-legislative state employees that they received an email from CalHR stating that they were expected to return to the office July 1.

CRAZY TRAIN: For CalMatters, Dan Walters asks if the current budget crisis combined by disillusioned legislators means the end of the line for California's high-speed rail project.

Years of land acquisition and construction delays, ever-escalating costs and the abject lack of a clear public benefit have eroded political support for the bullet train and the new Assembly resolution indicates that it finally could be doomed – justifiably so.

GAS TAX: In the LAT, Patrick McGreevy reports that the state's gas tax is scheduled to increase July 1, but some legislators want to delay the hike because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The automatic increase pegged to inflation — the third increase in the last four years — comes as a long-simmering dispute over the gas tax law enacted three years ago has again flared up at the state Capitol.

The tax is set to increase by 3.2 cents, to 50.5 cents per gallon, and state officials estimate it will bring in an additional $440 million to state coffers in the coming fiscal year. The hike is triggered by the increase in the consumer price index and is built into SB 1, the legislation that boosted the tax by 12 cents per gallon in 2017 and 5.6 cents last year.


Assemblyman Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield), vice chairman of the Assembly Transportation Committee, said the increase “further rubs Sacramento salt into the wounds of California residents who are struggling with uncertainty and real financial pain” during the coronavirus crisis.

Assembly Republican Leader Marie Waldron of Escondido said it was “inconceivable” that the state would raise costs on Californians at this time.

“Unemployment continues to rise and all the ways California was unaffordable prior to the pandemic still exist — suspending the gas tax increase is the least that could be done,” Waldron said.

FORT BRAGG: Amidst the uproar over the military bases named after confederate generals, the city council of Fort Bragg on the coast in Mendocino County is considering placing a measure on the November ballot to ask voters whether the name should be changed. Lauren Hernández reports for the Chron:

The city, which is along the Mendocino County coast, was founded in 1857 and is named for Braxton Bragg, who had been a captain in the Mexican-American War and later served as a Confederate general during the Civil War. He also owned 105 slaves, according to the California Legislative Black Caucus.

The city's name originates from the San Francisco Presidio outpost that was established there on the Mendocino Indian Reservation. In 2015, members of the California Legislative Black Caucus requested the city to change its name but there wasn't sufficient local support.

That may have changed in 2020.

SACTOWN: For the Bee, Theresa Clift and Molly Sullivan look at what Sacramento protestors want to see reformed in local police agencies.

cakeday and classifieds after the jump...

Probolsky Research

Enjoy this beautiful day!

CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Ken Barnes, Phillip Kim, and former Assembly member Ted Lempert!


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