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The Nooner for Wednesday, June 17, 2020, presented by SYASL Partners
GENERAL ELECTION DATA POINTS
¡Buenos dias mis amigos y feliz miércoles! It's humpday for those of you working and still observing a five-day work week. For many, it's just another damn day ending in "Y."
It's a good day and I'm in a good mood because I'm still on a tea over coffee kick. Yesterday, I picked up a few new looseleafs from The Allspicery on 11th across from the Capitol yesterday. While I'm still starting with black and green teas, I'm switching to herbal pretty early. I'm making it through the telephone testimony madness this morning of Senate Labor's hearing on ACA 5 (affirmative action) by drinking a great new herbal I picked up yesterday -- "Tropical Sunrise." Anyway, Allspicery is taking online and phone orders for pickup, delivery, or shipping, but asks for nobody to knock on the door unless they have pre-ordered.
There may be some truth to the rumor that as I walked back home from Allspicery that I also picked up a couple of cookies at Goodie Tuchews on L Street. Owner Terry says that business has picked up as we've spread the word of the sluggish start after reopening. She is back to her regular business hours 10-3:30, Monday-Friday. As always, the earlier you get there, the better the selection. I believe she is baking 6 varieties daily, but will make others if preordered.
As I've written before, as I write for my usual 6.5 hours at the editor's desk at Nooner Intergalactic HQ in the morning, I mix it up between the news at the late night shows, except for Sunday, when its obviously all the news shows. It was great this morning to see comedian Hasan Minhaj, who hosts "Patriot Act" on Netflix, on The Late Show with Steven Colbert. Minhaj grew up west of Sacramento in Davis, like me and many Nooner readers, is a political science graduate of UC Davis. I think I took the wrong political science classes in undergrad. (Segment 1 | Segment 2)
Of course, my normal television background programming was interrupted this morning by the ACA 5 hearing, which continues as I wrap today's Nooner up and put a bow on it.
SACTOWN TALKS: Gibran Maciel reports that he is no longer running SacTown Talks and has sold the podcast to Russell Lowery and his High View Strategies. Last year, I enjoyed my time partnering with Gibran on SacTown Talks by The Nooner and the archives are available here.
Both of us needed more time for other projects as recording a one-hour podcast a couple of times a week takes many more hours than time on the mic. I'm focused more on writing and election analyses and Gibran is happy to announce that his EastSac BJJ jiu jitsu studio is back open with precautions after the COVID-19 shutdowns.
Gibran will continue to podcast on a potpourri of issues including martial arts, social commentary, and the occasional political topics. You can follow him on YouTube here and on iTunes here.
Gibran has demonstrated a clear ability to create content and communications strategies that capture the attention of the capitol community. He will also continue to consult for a small portfolio of ongoing clients (no freelance work). For more information, visit his website storytellersca.com, or reach him directly at email@example.com.
FALLING STATUES: On Monday, the bronze statue of John Sutter was removed from its pedestal atop a rock looking over Sutter's Fort in front of Sutter Memorial Hospital in Sacamento after being vandalized with red paint last week to highlight the history of the settler. The Swiss settler founded the New Helvetia settlement near the confluence of the Sacramento and American rivers. He then employed or enslaved hundreds of Maidu and Miwok Native Americans to defend and service his fortified settlement. His son, John Sutter, Jr. is credited with the founding of the city of Sacramento.
Yesterday, Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, and Assembly Rules chair Ken Cooley issued a statement that the statue depicting Christopher Columbus's appeal to Queen Isabella for funds to explore the New World that adorns the Capitol Rotunda will be removed.
It's not the first time that attention has been brought to the history of Columbus and question of whether the statue should be located in such a prominent spot seen by thousands of visitors per year, including throngs of school kids and foreign visitors. The Capitol Museum page for the statue includes:
Not all of California’s citizens agree with Mills that a statue of Columbus is appropriate for the Capitol Rotunda. Before the restoration in the 1970s, members of the Native Sons of the Golden West and other groups suggested that the Legislature relocate the statue and replace it with another statue of an important Californian. After all, Columbus himself never made it to within a couple thousand miles of California. During the restoration, Native American and Latino groups, critical of Columbus’s legacy in ushering in an era of genocide and colonialism for the Native Peoples of the Western Hemisphere, advocated that the statue not be returned to its former location after its temporary removal during the restoration. Despite such criticism, the statue was returned to the Capitol Rotunda.
Of course, Queen Isabella was no saint either. Catholic monarchs Isabella I and Ferdinand II, who later married creating Spain, expelled Jews who wouldn't convert from their respective kingdoms. That happened in 1492 with Decreto de la Alhambra. More were forcefully converted than were expelled.
What we learned in grade school was "In fourteen hundred ninety-two Columbus sailed the ocean blue..."
To be more historically accurate, there needs to be an additional stanza. I suggest "In fourteen hundred ninety-two, Isabella expelled you if you were a Jew..."
I've given many tours of the State Capitol for college students. I have never brought up this aspect of the pinnacle of the statue and frankly never thought about it.
The plan with the Sutter statue is to return it to its donors. As noted in the excerpt from the Capitol Museum page above, the announced removal of the Isabella/Columbus statue is not the first time that it has been considered. There was a debate about whether the statue should be returned to the Rotunda following the Capitol restoration between 1975 and 1981, with protests against the return by Native American and Latino activists.
Alex Vassar, a former Capitol staffer who is now communications manager at the Capitol State Library and the legislative historian we all rely on both for his books and our frequent random questions, shared this snapshot on Twitter last night of a letter from the descendants of the original donor of the Isabella/Columbus statue. Sent in October 1981 amid the debate of whether to return the statue to the Rotunda following restoration, the letter from Ogden Mills IV states that the original condition of the 1883 donation of the statue was on condition that it remain in repose in the Capitol Rotunda. If it was not returned, Mills wrote, it was to be returned to the heirs of original donor, Darius Ogden Mills.
I actually hope that the Sutter and Isabella/Columbus statues find a place in a historical museum where as part of exhibits on mixed legacy. I don't know about space, but the California Museum that is part of the Secretary of State's building already has an exhibit on the California missions. Let's find a way to incorporate these statues and allow visitors to learn the blemishes beyond storied history while reserving the Capitol Rotunda as welcoming to all.
POLICE USE OF FORCE: For CalMatters, Dan Walters writes that the reform agenda announced via full-page newspaper ads by the Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San José police unions was a good step -- but not enough.
Their plan includes reforms adopted by some individual agencies, a national database of former police officers fired for gross misconduct, and a national use-of-force standard that “emphasizes reverence for life, de-escalation, a duty to intercede, proportional responses to dangerous incidents and strong accountability.”
It’s a start, but only a start. We need good cops to deal with those who prey on the public, and we need alternatives to police for purely social problems such as public intoxication. The onus is on Newsom, Becerra and other Democratic officials to step up.
CHP'S PROTEST COSTS: Yesterday, the Department of Finance notified the chairs of the Legislature's Budget and Appropriations committees of the costs accrued by the California Highway Patrol associated with the protests in late May and June. The notification is required as funds were directed to the agency from the Disaster Response-Emergency Operations Account item in the State Budget. The letter further requests a supplemental appropriation for the CHP. The letter states:
On May 30, 2020, Governor Newsom proclaimed a state of emergency for Los Angeles City and County to assist local authorities in their response to widespread civil disturbances. Starting on May 28, 2020, the Commissioner of the California Highway Patrol (CHP) mobilized officers statewide to provide emergency support during the civil disturbances, resulting in an estimated total of 431,454 hours of unanticipated overtime at a cost of $38,226,000 for CHP. Of that amount, CHP utilized 70,391 hours of overtime in Los Angeles City and County at a cost of $6,065,000 and these costs are DREOAeligible under the emergency declaration. CHP’s costs associated with this support are summarized on Attachment I.
CHP requests a supplemental appropriation in the amount of $13,200,000 to cover the unanticipated costs associated with CHP activities outside the City and County of Los Angeles, the costs of which are not covered under the emergency declaration. The funds will be needed by June 30, 2020.
Together, these requests will provide an additional $19,265,000 to help mitigate CHP’s estimated costs of $38,226,000 million. A Budget Revision was processed on June 5, 2020, to use $9.6 million in remaining authority from CHP’s tactical emergency funding item 2720-011-0044. CHP anticipates absorbing the remaining costs within its baseline budget.
DOORDASH: Yesterday, the new district attorney of San Francisco Chesa Boudin announced a lawsuit against San Francisco-based food delivery service company DoorDash. In the case filed in San Francisco Superior Court, Boudin alleges that the company is misclassifying drivers as independent contractors under the California Supreme Court's 2018 decision in Dynamex and the subsequent AB 5 (Gonzalez), which codified the courts decision and granted exemptions for specific lines of work. The press release states, "The action seeks restitution for workers, an injunction requiring DoorDash to properly classify its delivery workers as employees, and civil penalties."
It's somewhat of an odd move for a DA's office, as this would more often be the civil subject matter of the city attorney's office. It's the strongest sign yet of Boudin's repositioning the DA's office from predominantly criminal justice to a blend of criminal with social justice. It's a stickier issue for the city attorney's office as DoorDash, Uber, Lyft, Postmates, and Instacart are all headquartered in San Francisco. (Grubhub, which has offices in SF is headquartered in Chicago).
Recently, e-cigarette company JUUL announced that it was moving its headquarters from San Francisco to Washington, DC after San Francisco voters approved a ban on flavored tobacco and as flavored tobacco has been under increasing scrutiny by the State Legislature. You have to imagine that SF city and county officials fear going all-out against the transportation network companies headquartered there in the challenging economy, except for Boudin that finds the issue a perfect platform.
Meanwhile, the initiative to allow transportation network companies filed by Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash is eligible for the November 3 election after collecting sufficient valid signatures. AB 1850, the main AB 5 clean-up legislation authored by Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) does not appear to address the concerns of the initiative backers and a high stakes showdown between the companies and labor appears to be ahead in the fall.
ACA 5 (Weber): As I noted above, Senate Labor Committee is in the midst of a lengthy hearing on ACA 5, which would place a constitutional amendment on the November 3 ballot for voters to consider repealing Article I, Section 31 of the California Constitution which prohibits affirmative action in state employment, education, and contracting. There were a handful of individuals who testified inside the Capitol followed by hundreds of callers in support and opposition. While I am a big proponent of remote testimony beyond the current crisis was like the worst of talk radio because of the issue at hand and number of callers.
"Can you hear me?" "Hello? Am I on?" Callers calling during the one hour for support in opposition and vice-versa. Senate Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee chair Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) did a fantastic job under the circumstances.
It's 11:25, and I need to spell check and let today's Nooner head out to ATCpro subscribers in a few minutes. The bill will pass the committee today, likely on a 4-1 partisan vote.
Meanwhile, in the MercNews, Joseph Geha reports that a coalition of civil rights organizations are calling on Assembly member Kansen Chu (D-San José) to resign following remarks in a Chinese-language newspaper in an article about ACA 5. Geha writes:
Chu’s alleged comments were printed in a Chinese language newspaper, World Journal, in a June 11 article, and according to a translation provided by the San Jose-Silicon Valley NAACP, Chu said many Hispanic Americans told him “they did not care about their children’s education, they are busy with their livelihoods, and they did not intend to let their children attend college.”
Chu is also alleged to have said “many Hispanic and African ethnic groups are unable to compete or have the ability to continue their studies due to unresolved structural economic and educational problems.”
“It’s absurd for him to even say that. No parent would even dare say that about their kids,” Victor Garza, Chairman of La Raza Roundtable de California said in an interview Tuesday.
A staff member for Chu said Tuesday the assemblyman was not available for an interview, and Chu did not respond to a message left on his phone seeking comment for this article. Chu represents portions of North San Jose, Milpitas, Santa Clara, Fremont and Newark
In a statement issued on his website Tuesday, Chu denied making the comments, and said the World Journal article “was written with the reporter’s own opinion and not direct or literal quotes from me.”
He said “World Journal has since published an article “clearly stating that I did not make those remarks,” and also claimed the NAACP-provided translation was not accurate.
In March, Chu received 31.53% of the vote for the open Third Supervisorial District in Santa Clara County and will face former Sunnyvale councilmember Otto Lee, who received 28.96% in November. Both are immigrants. Chu was born in Taiwan, while Lee was born in Hong Kong.
Chu and Monterey Park Assemblymember Ed Chau were the lone Democrats who didn't vote for ACA 5 and abstained when the Assembly approved the measure 60-14-5 last Wednesday. (Quirk was excused on medical reasons.)
PUBLIC HEALTH: Julia Prodis Sulek reports in the MercNews that Santa Clara County public health officer Dr. Sara Cody has been receiving threats for her orders on public restrictions amidst the COVID-19 outbreak and slow pace of opening. This comes a week after Orange County's public health officer Dr. Nichole Quick resigned after being criticized by members of the Board of Supervisors and protests in front of her house. Sulek writes:
“We are aware of the threats made against Dr. Cody and it is under investigation,” Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Sgt. Michael Low said in a statement Tuesday.
He provided no details about the nature of the threats. They were first reported by the Silicon Valley Business Journal.
In an interview Tuesday, Cody did not address the threats specifically, but said “we’ve all taken more heat than we usually take. I try as much as possible to keep my head down.
Cody is not alone among public health officers across the country who have become targets of ire. Seven other health officials in California have resigned since the pandemic began after enduring withering criticism.
After become the location of the largest COVID-19 outbreak, Santa Clara appeared to have things under control. However, more recent data suggest a resurgence and an increase in spread, according to the R-naught study I wrote about yesterday.
CHILD ABUSE: For CapRadio Pauline Bartalone reports that Sacramento County officials say that they have seen a sharp drop of suspected child abuse cases during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that's likely not a good thing.
Tips to the Child Protective Services hotline decreased almost 50% in April and May, compared to the same months last year.
Michelle Callejas, Director of the Sacramento County Department of Child, Family and Adult Services attributes the decline to one thing: “Fewer eyes on kids.”
Children haven’t been going to the usual places where abuse allegations are reported from, such as school, day care centers, or medical offices.
At the same, the agency says there haven’t been troubling signs of violence against children popping up elsewhere in the community, such as more battered children showing up in emergency rooms.
But Callejas says they might start to see more evidence of abuse, especially as public life goes back to normal again.
HOSPITALS: Lana Schwartz reports for Capitol Weekly on the financial impact the COVID-19 crisis has had on the state's hospitals.
California’s hospitals are experiencing unprecedented financial stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with net losses projected to hit $14.6 billion by the end of 2020.
The losses are “way above anything anyone could have anticipated… the costs have been nothing like we have ever seen before,” said Jan Emerson-Shea, a spokeswoman, for the California Hospital Association, which represents about 400 hospitals, large and small.
“The dramatic slowdown of non-emergency services due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting dramatically reduced margins that damage hospitals’ financial strength, are expected to present unprecedented challenges to hospitals’ abilities to serve their communities and remain financially viable,” reports a new study commissioned by the hospital association.
Before the pandemic, about 40% of California hospitals operated in the red, while about 11% broke even. That 40% has jumped to nearly two thirds, according to Emerson-Shea. Virus preparation, fewer nonessential surgeries, and the economic downturn contribute to their ballooning expenses.
Nonessential surgeries are hospitals’ most profitable venture, and have been canceled at alarming rates.
Of course, hospitals that have an uninsured patient show up in the ER and head to the ICU must be cared for a MAY be eligible for Medi-Cal. Recently, an individual who recovered from COVID-19 after an ICU stay shared a bill that exceeded $1 million. That patient had insurance, but there are many currently in ICU beds who do not.
HOTELS: For the Southern California News Group, Kevin Phillips looks at the impact and prospects for hotels after many counties allowed leisure stays to reopen last Friday but folks aren't quick to get back on the road..
Hotel occupancy levels in the greater Los Angeles region are projected to drop to 47.9% in 2020 — a year-over-year decline of nearly 40%. A modest recovery in 2021 will boost occupancy levels to 65.1 percent, the [CBRE's Hotel Horizons] report said.
The L.A. region’s occupancy rate of 47.9% this year compares with 41 percent nationwide.
“The greater Los Angeles and Southern California region is a very popular lodging and hospitality market — especially with leisure travelers,” said Brandon Feighner, managing director of CBRE’s Los Angeles-based hotels advisory division. “We have sensed and are now beginning to see pent-up demand from people who are eager to get out of the house and enjoy a little time away.”
On Tuesday, Hotel chain Hilton Worldwide Holdings said it would cut 2,100 jobs or about 22% of its corporate workforce. Marriott International and Hyatt Hotels also have laid off or furloughed thousands of employees as bookings plunged.
Hilton announced it is also extending previously announced furloughs, reduced hours and corporate pay cuts for up to three additional months.
Leisure and business travel virtually ground to a halt amid the health crisis, although things have loosened up. Air travel is slowly gaining traction, and California hotels are now allowed to reopen, providing they adhere to stringent guidelines to protect employees and guests from the spread of COVID-19.
That includes social distancing, the use of face coverings and frequent sanitizing of high-contact areas. Hotels with large meeting rooms, banquet halls or convention centers are still advised to keep those areas closed.
However, Phillips writes, business travel is unlikely return to normal anytime soon, or ever, given the often successful use of technology such as Zoom and virtual conferences in 2020.
cakeday and classifieds after the jump...
CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Brian Maas, Rep. Scott Peters, Assembly member Mark Stone, and Ileana Wachtel!