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  • Capitol Weekly Podcast (John Howard and Tim Foster): WHO would Gavin Newsom pick for California’s open Senate seat if Kamala Harris does become Vice President? - Half a dozen political players from across the state, including Garry South, former state senator Fran Pavley, Roger Salazar, Adama Iwu, Karen Skelton and Joel Fox (2020-07-01)
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The Nooner for Tuesday, July 1, 2020, presented by SYASL Partners

  • Executive order
  • Ethics in fundraising
  • Beaches
  • Bars
  • Prisons
  • Unemployment
  • Privacy
  • School daze
  • Unions
  • Paid family leave
  • Veepstakes
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GENERAL ELECTION DATA POINTS

Happy July! The minimum wage increased in California today to $12/hour for employees in organizations with 25 employees or less and $13/hour for organizations with 26+ employees.

Last night was the semi-annual campaign finance deadline. It's going to be very interest to see how candidates performed given the unique circumstance that was the first half of 2020 and particularly the second quarter. Reports must be filed by July 31.

Governor Newsom signed an executive order last night extending previous statutory and regulatory suspensions, allowing In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) workers to work remotely, and extending the ADA hold harmless provisions for schools shut down.

ETHICS IN FUNDRAISING: Over the last few months, there has been a troubling development as lawmakers try to raise money while in-person events have been canceled. Lots of candidates have been hosting virtual fundraisers whereby big donors get an exclusive online one-on-one with a particular time slot. I'm no Pollyanna when it comes to fundraising, but in normal times, a legislator might have several conversations at a reception. There are people around and candidates mingle.

I am sure that most candidates aren't having conversations that are much different than in-person events, but it still kind of smells when a donor can "buy a time slot."

COVID-19: Yesterday saw the state exceed 6,000 deaths with 104 additional fatalities added and 7,820 positive tests, the second-highest day yet. On Monday, there were 8,196 positives. During a press conference on Project Roomkey in front a Motel 6 in the Contra Costa city of Pittsburg, Governor Gavin Newsom yesterday said that additional restrictions will be announced today before the Fourth of July weekend. This will likely include the state leaning on local enforcement of the statewide mask requirement. Law enforcement in several counties, including Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, have said they don't see mask enforcement as their responsibility.

A team at the LAT reports on the scramble to ensure that the July 4 weekend doesn't lead to the surge in cases seen after Memorial Day.

The surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations began around the Memorial Day weekend as residents began socializing after months largely spent at home, and officials say a repeat of that behavior — failing to wear masks and mixing with many people outside of your household — this holiday weekend would be disastrous.

“I think it is a critical moment for the public health message to be given out and heard,” said Dr. Robert Kim-Farley, medical epidemiologist and infectious diseases expert at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. “Traditionally, the Fourth of July has been such a time for large gatherings and beach going. If those same practices occurred, we could be back with even a further spike upon our spike that we’re having now.”

...

The percent of coronavirus tests coming back positive in California continued to rise — hitting 5.95% Tuesday, a Los Angeles Times analysis found, up from 5.28% a week earlier, and 4.45% a week before that. That’s an indication that disease spread is worsening.

In the NYT, Shawn Hubler and Thomas Fuller report:

“To some extent I think our luck may have run out,” said Dr. Bob Wachter, a professor and chair of the department of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. “This is faster and worse than I expected. You have to have a ton of respect for this thing. It is nasty and it just lurks and waits to stomp on you if you let your guard down for a second.”

Here is a remarkable graph from Johns Hopkins of steps to close and reopen public places and the associated change in COVID-19 caseload and deaths.

TESTING: For the LAT, Angela Hart and Rachel Bluth report that California is pausing its plans to dramatically increasing testing.

In April, Gov. Gavin Newsom launched a multimillion-dollar state initiative to bring COVID-19 testing to the people and places with the least access: rural towns and disadvantaged inner-city neighborhoods.

California is now halting its expansion, citing costs, even as the state is getting walloped by record-setting spikes in new infections and double-digit increases in hospitalizations.

The state will no longer fund new testing sites, despite pleas from counties for additional assistance — and it has closed some locations and moved them elsewhere. It also has threatened to pull testing out of underutilized sites, according to nearly two dozen interviews with county public health officials.

...

California has committed up to $132 million in contracts with two private COVID-19 testing companies, Verily Life Sciences and OptumServe, to offer free coronavirus tests at more than 100 sites that the Newsom administration has identified as “testing deserts.” The expansion has dramatically increased the state’s overall testing numbers, which swelled from 16,000 tests per day in April to 105,000 on Monday.

State Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly confirmed that California is pulling sites out of counties that aren’t generating high enough numbers and cutting off funding for new locations.

“With every asset and resource — especially when it’s scarce — you want it to go to places where it’s most needed,” Ghaly said. “It wouldn’t be prudent or wise to maintain spending in a place where resources aren’t being used.”

BEACHES: Ventura County yesterday joined Los Angeles County in announcing that beaches will be closed this weekend. San Diego beaches remain open and those in Orange County are still open with the exception of Laguna Beach. LA's beaches will be closed from 12:01 a.m. on July 3, until 5 a.m. on July 6. In the announcement, LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said:

“We all need to take this virus more seriously and residents and business owners must do their part. Physical distancing isn’t optional, wearing a face covering isn’t optional, spending time only with those you live with isn’t optional — these are requirements in the Health Officer Order and are the tools we have to protect each other, our families and those most vulnerable in our communities.”

BARS: In the LAT, Luke Money reports that bars around the state are shutting down as counties try to get ahead of the COVID-19 spread.

Restaurants, breweries and pubs that offer dine-in services can still serve alcoholic drinks, but only as part of a meal, county officials said.

Riverside was one of eight counties that the state recently recommended issue local health orders closing bars. The others were Contra Costa, Santa Clara, Sacramento, San Bernardino, Ventura, Santa Barbara and Stanislaus.

Others weren’t given the choice. On Sunday, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered seven counties — Los Angeles, Fresno, Kern, San Joaquin, Tulare, Kings and Imperial — to close bars, breweries and pubs that sell alcoholic drinks without serving food at the same time.

“COVID-19 is still circulating in California, and in some parts of the state, growing stronger,” Newsom said in a written statement. “That’s why it is critical we take this step to limit the spread of the virus in the counties that are seeing the biggest increases.”

PRISONS: Following the discovery of more than 1,000 cases of COVID-19 at San Quentin, the Senate Public Safety Committee this morning held a hearing on COVID-19 and state prisons. CDCR has a lot of explaining to do as there were no infections at California's oldest prison. However, busloads of prisoners were transferred from California Institute for Men in Chino, where there was a known outbreak and 9 prisoners had died. Timothy Williams and Rebecca Griesbach report for the NYT:

The inmates were being moved to San Quentin as part of a plan to halt the spread of the coronavirus by reducing the number of inmates at the California Institution for Men in Chino, where nine inmates had died and nearly 700 had been infected.

At the time, there were no inmates known to have had the virus at San Quentin.

Additionally, over 100 staff have been infected.

Within days, some of the 121 prisoners from the buses introduced the virus at San Quentin, public health officials say. More than 1,000 of the 3,700 prisoners have since been infected at San Quentin, the foreboding structure surrounded by barbed wire fences and dotted with guard towers that was once famously home to inmates including Charles Manson; Sirhan Sirhan, who assassinated Robert F. Kennedy; and George Jackson, an inmate who wrote “Soledad Brother,” a series of letters from prison.

The transfer of inmates — an effort intended to slow the virus, which instead apparently created a new outbreak — has been denounced by health officials and a state lawmaker as a public health failure. How San Quentin went from being a prison that had held off the virus for months to a place inundated with sick inmates represents a cautionary tale for the nation’s prison system amid the pandemic.

Meanwhile, California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, an association of criminal defense attorneys, issued a statement calling for twelve steps to reduce the spread behind prison walls.

Kate Larsen of ABC7 in San Francisco reports:

"The virus moves more quickly than our response," said Marin County Health Officer, Dr. Matt Willis, who expects the San Quentin outbreak to reach 2,000 cases in the next 10 days.

IMMIGRATION: Speaking of San Quentin, a Cambodian immigrant born in a refugee camp is scheduled to be released today and advocates fear that he will be turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. While the US historically didn't deport Cambodians because there were no diplomatic relations and many have only known America, threats of deportation have created great angst in the Southeast Asian community.

Lauren Hernández reports for the Chron:

Chanthon Bun, who was born at a Cambodian refugee camp in 1979 after his family fled the Khmer Rouge, a regime that killed more than 1 million people in Cambodia, served time for second-degree robbery and use of a firearm, said Anoop Prasad, a staff attorney with the Asian Law Caucus who is representing Bun, now 41.

Bun was 18 when he was convicted in 1998, and, Prasad said, had “joined a group of older men who took part in an armed robbery” in which no one was injured. Advocates with the Asian Prisoner Support Committee said his sentence was the result of the “tough on crime era which resulted in the dramatic growth of the incarceration of people of color.”

...

Bun is a permanent resident, but Prasad said ICE placed a detainer on him when he was convicted so that at the time of his release, immigration officials could transfer him to an ICE facility, from where he he would likely be deported to Cambodia — a country he has not stepped foot in since he was a child.

UNEMPLOYMENT: In the Chron, John Wildermuth reports that unemployment in the Bay Area is lower than that in Southern California.

The lowest unemployment rates in California are in five Bay Area congressional districts, while eight of the 10 hardest-hit districts are in Los Angeles County, evidence that the coronavirus is treating regions of the state very differently.

Every one of the Bay Area’s 10 congressional districts was under the state’s 16.3% average.

The Bay Area, with its wealth of high-paying tech jobs, has long led the state in employment. In February, before the coronavirus began shutting down large parts of the California economy, the state’s jobless rate was 3.9%, but Alameda, San Mateo, San Francisco, Marin, Sonoma and Santa Clara counties were all at or below 3%.

But there is nothing evenhanded about the way the coronavirus has savaged the state. Los Angeles County, where unemployment was at 4.5% in February, is now at 20.6%, the worst of all the state’s largest counties.

PRIVACY: For Politico, Jeremy B. White reports on a new bill by Senator Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) that would shield public health officers from disclosure of their homes addresses.

State Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), a physician often aligned with health care professionals, has completely rewritten Senate Bill 483 to protect the privacy of public health officers, who hold immense power as they determine how far their counties can go in reopening.

Health officials struggling to contain the coronavirus have at times faced an intense backlash in California, including death threats and protests outside their homes for imposing or keeping restrictions. Most recently, Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer went public last week with a series of physical threats she has received for maintaining a stay-at-home order for 10 million residents.

HOMELESS: For the SacBee, Mackenzie Hawkins looks at the state's plan to help the most vulnerable homeless find shelter, beginning with temporary housing with Project Roomkey and then finding longer-term housing with Project Homekey.

“We need a new approach,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in February when he dedicated his State of the State address to California’s worsening homelessness crisis.

Now we have one: acquiring $550 million of hotel properties before the federal funding clock, which controls the vast majority of acquisition funding, runs out in six months.

The strategy outlined in California’s latest budget, which carves out a total of $1.3 billion for housing and homelessness, turns Project Roomkey — an emergency hotel and motel lease effort to house California’s most vulnerable homeless — into a permanent housing plan dubbed Project Homekey.

SCHOOL DAZE: Joel Fox that removing police from schools as some are demanding could raise liability of school districts.

Before school boards reflexively change policies to satisfy current passions, they should pause and study all potential consequences of this action and keep in mind that their first responsibility is to safely protect the students, teachers, and staff

Meanwhile, Los Angeles Unified has cut its police budget by $25 million and Sacramento City Unified has canceled its contract with the Sacramento Police Department.

UNIONS: For CalMatter, Dan Walters observes that lawmakers are distancing themselves from police unions following high profile uses of force and wonders whether a similar phenomenon with teachers unions. Don't bet on it.

PAID FAMILY LEAVE: For CalMatters, Laurel Rosenhall looks at Gavin Newsom's support for requiring all employers to guarantee that employees taking paid family leave have a job when they use the benefit.

California led the nation when, in 2004, it became the first state to give private-sector workers six weeks off with partial pay to care for a new baby or sick family member. But unlike other states that followed, California never required that many employers guarantee workers their jobs back after taking paid family leave — leading millions of Californians to pay into a system they could get fired for using.

That would change under legislation moving through the Capitol, which would ensure more workers’ jobs are protected if they take paid family leave. With many businesses lobbying against such guarantees, similar proposals have failed in the past. This time, however, the idea has a powerful champion: Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is building on a vow he made last year to expand California’s family leave program.

The bill is SB 1383 (Jackson).

VEEPSTAKES: For the LAT, Melanie Mason looks at the short list for Joe Biden's veep pick.

“There has not been another time in our nation’s history where a nominee of either party has announced that several well-qualified women, including women of color, are under serious consideration,” said Valerie Jarrett, longtime friend and White House advisor to former President Obama.

The breakthrough, she said, reflects the progress that underrepresented women have made in politics.

“He has an embarrassment of riches from which to choose, and that is wonderful,” Jarrett, who is Black, said before correcting herself: “‘Wonderful’ doesn’t do the trick — it is historic.”

beJUULed: I missed this Bee editorial on Monday chronicling the latest development in the continued fight by lawmakers to reduce the attractiveness of vaping devices.

[T]he nefarious youth addiction technology company could have gotten a lucky break in the California State Legislature if Assemblyman Ken Cooley, D-Rancho Cordova, had allowed Juul’s favorite legislator — Adam Gray of Merced — to decide the fate of Senate Bill 793.

SB 793 would ban the sale of all flavored tobacco products in California, protecting our children from Juul’s greedy clutches. It’s the latest effort by state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, to end epidemic youth nicotine addiction. The state Senate approved the bill 33-4.

Now it heads to the Assembly, where Cooley — chair of the Rules Committee — boosted its chances on Sunday afternoon. Though Cooley’s office did not respond to a request for comment while SB 793’s committee assignment was still pending on Friday, he appeared to do the right thing as this editorial went to print.

SB 793 will now go to the Assembly Health Committee chaired by Jim Wood, an opponent of Big Tobacco. That’s great news for California’s kids. If Cooley had assigned it to Asm. Gray’s Governmental Organization committee, SB 793 would have been dead on arrival.

It's a remarkable shift in committee jurisdiction in the Assembly for the "sin committee" Assembly Governmental Organization. While tobacco is the domain of the Health Committee in the Senate, GO has long held that role in the Assembly.

BAGHDAD BY THE BAY: In the Chron, Dominic Fracassa writes that a state appellate court yesterday upheld a trial court ruling accepting the majority vote required for Proposition C, which raised business taxes to fund efforts to reduce homelessness.

The three-judge appellate court panel agreed with the city’s arguments that tax measures brought by citizen groups for a specific purpose — called “special taxes” — are not subject to the same restrictions as tax measures placed on the ballot by government officials. The decision upholds a 2019 ruling from San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ethan Schulman that the city abided by the law when it allowed Prop. C to pass with a less restrictive simple-majority vote instead of a two-thirds supermajority.

Meanwhile, J.K Dineen reports in the Chron that a group of real estate and landlord groups have sued San Francisco to block the COVID-19 prohibition on evictions.

The lawsuit — filed by the San Francisco Apartment Association, the San Francisco Association of Realtors, Coalition for Better Housing and Small Property Owners of San Francisco Institute — seeks to overturn the COVID-19 Tenant Protection Ordinance that Mayor London Breed signed into law Friday.

The housing industry is also seeking an order to immediately suspend the law, which permanently prohibits a residential landlord from pursuing an eviction for nonpayment of rent due to the pandemic.

...

San Francisco Apartment Association Executive Director Janan New said the group’s members have been proactive in working with tenants unable to pay their rent because of the pandemic, often reducing rent and working out payment plans.

“But this ordinance goes too far,” she said. “No housing provider wants to evict, but by taking eviction for nonpayment of rent off the table, this ordinance will make it impossible for mom-and-pop landlords to collect the unpaid rent that they rely on for their mortgage, property taxes, maintenance and utilities.”

LOS ANGELES: In the Times, Colleen Shalby and Luke Money report on the troubling spread in LA County.

There were new danger signs Tuesday that the novel coronavirus is spreading more rapidly through Los Angeles County as officials reported the third straight day of more than 2,100 additional confirmed cases.

Officials reported 45 more COVID-19-related deaths and 2,779 more cases. Monday brought L.A.'s highest single-day tally, which pushed the county past 100,000 infections.

“The L.A. County community needs to come together again to slow the spread of COVID-19, and we need to act with haste and urgency,” L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement.

For Bloomberg, a team reports on the struggles against the virus in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles, land of make-believe, tried for weeks to wish the pandemic away.

Sunny afternoons filled the Venice Beach Boardwalk with skaters, joggers and bikers — some with masks, but more without. Barefaced men hawked CDs and offered gloveless high fives to passers-by. Nights brought revelers back to newly reopened bars.

Now the coronavirus has returned — in force. Los Angeles County on Monday reported its biggest ever one-day jump in virus cases, and health officials warned that hospitals could run short on beds in several weeks. Fearing further outbreaks, they closed all beaches and banned fireworks displays for the long Fourth of July weekend. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said the region needed to pause efforts to restart an economy so badly damaged by this spring’s shutdown.

NORCO: Following a Black Lives Matter protest on Monday, the city of Norco has established a curfew from 6pm to 6am for at least seven days. Robert Gundron reports for the Press-Enterprise:

During the curfew, according to the city, no one will be allowed in any public place with the exception of police, fire, or emergency operations personnel; members of the National Guard or other responding military personnel; people traveling to and from work; members of the media; homeless people and certain other essential workers.

The city’s action comes a day after about 50 people rallied in support of the Black Lives Matter movement in the equestrian community of Norco on Monday afternoon, June 29.

Participants gathered at Neal Snipes Park and marched to Norco City Hall. On the way they were met by counter-protesters and supporters of President Donald Trump who outnumbered them two to one, said Elizabeth Kavianian, a Norco resident.

While there is an exception for people traveling to and from work, although it's unclear if food delivery will be allowed.

Riverside County, home of Norco, has the fifth highest number of confirmed cases at 616.94/100k residents, behind only Imperial (2910.17), Kings (1473.01), Los Angeles (870.21), and Tulare (742.49). However, many Riverside cases are in prison, nursing homes, and from the adjacent Imperial, which has been overwhelmed.

Bars were ordered to close in Riverside County yesterday.

SAN DIEGO: Paul Sisson reports in the SDUT on new restrictions on restaurants.

It is not just bars that will be affected by a set of new rules that seek to slow the spread of novel coronavirus in San Diego County. Restaurants of all kinds will also operate under reduced hours, the county health department announced Tuesday afternoon.

Bars not serving food with every drink order were already mandated to shut down at 12 a.m. Wednesday. But public health officials added a significant additional mandate just hours before the new rule was to take effect: starting Wednesday, all restaurants, including bars serving food, must close at 10 p.m.

SAN DIEGO: Michael Smolens writes in the SDUT that tensions mounting on the San Diego Board of Supervisors over the pace of reopening.

For weeks, Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, who supports a cautious approach in lifting restrictions, has verbally sparred with Supervisors Kristin Gaspar and Jim Desmond, who have been among the loudest voices urging the county and Gov. Gavin Newsom to loosen up regulations more quickly.

Much of the disagreement carried over from their meetings into social media. Prior to the bar restrictions that took effect Wednesday, recent developments refueled their dispute.

The board voted last Tuesday to ask Newsom for guidance to accelerate reopenings, including allowing youth sports competitions to restart — something Gaspar in particular has advocated. Fletcher, the lone Democrat on the board and a close ally of the governor, was on the short end of the 4-1 vote.

Meanwhile, the number of positive cases has been on the rise in the county as have COVID-19 hospitalizations.

LELAND: Former state senator Leland Yee was released from federal prison yesterday after completing his five-year sentence, reports Anna Baumann in the Chron.

Yee, 71, was released from the Federal Correctional Institution, Big Spring, in Texas, according to a spokesperson for the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Yee, a Democrat who represented San Francisco, pleaded guilty in 2015 to racketeering charges. He admitted to taking bribes and trafficking guns from the Philippines.

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