Around The Capitol

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RECENT PODS:

  • KQED's Political Breakdown (Scott Shafer and Marisa Lagos): Jay Jordan, executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice, on Prop. 20 (repeal of criminal justice reforms) on the November ballot (2020-07-16)
  • Capitol Weekly Podcast (John Howard and Tim Foster): California Teachers Association president E. Toby Boyd (2020-07-16)
  • Inside Golden State Politics (Bill Boyarsky and Sherry Bebitch Jeffe): COVID-19 and the response of school district and political leaders (2020-07-16)
  • SDSU Health Policy Podcast (Gary Rotto and Carolina López Rivera): Richard Barrera, VP of the Board of Education for the San Diego Unified School District on the district's response to COVID-19 (2020-07-16)
  • Capitol Weekly Podcast (John Howard and Tim Foster): Paul Mitchell on the Redistricting Commission (2020-07-06)
  • KQED's Political Breakdown (Scott Shafer and Marisa Lagos): Los Angeles County supe Hilda Solis (2020-07-09)
  • Gimme Shelter (LAT's Liam Dillon and CalMatters's Matt Levin): Why California’s housing market isn’t tanking (2020-07-06)

The Nooner for Sunday, July 19, 2020, presented by SYASL Partners

  • Seen on Sunday teevee
  • COVID-19
    • the numbers
    • the federal response
    • the federal lifeline
    • LA County
    • LA city
    • LA Apparel
    • reopening balance
    • churches
  • Wildfires
  • Smokin'!
  • cakeday and classifieds

GENERAL ELECTION DATA POINTS

SEEN ON SUNDAY TEEVEE:

  • Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (CNN's State of the Union)
  • Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) (ABC's This Week)
  • Incoming UC president Michael Drake, M.D. (CBS's Face the Nation)

    For UC alums like me and others interested, Dr. Drake was very impressive this morning and the right person for the right time. I encourage you to watch the segment linked above. 

¡Feliz domingo! I have a bone to pick with Governor Newsom. Monday's order prohibiting indoor church services it deeply affecting me. No, not because of my Sacramento Buddhist Church, as it's been closed all through and will be for the foreseeable future.

Rather, it means that Our Lady of Guadalupe, Sacramento's largest Spanish-language Catholic church down the street won't be drawing the usual food vendors and won't be serving their own delicious fare. It never got back to normal with hot dogs, tamales, etc., but the mangonadas, esquité, and church-sold street tacos returned each Sunday for several weeks. Perhaps my favorite mangonada and esquité vendor will show up, as he did before when the indoor services weren't taking place.

I do wonder whether many of these vendors will return even if things open up for a long period of time. I was talking to a new friend I met in Mexico City in February and they know quite well what's happening in California. Not necessarily las noticias, but rather from la gente who who returned because the employment situation here is so bad and the cost of living is so high. Even if they can't find work back home, they can crash with family and eat much more cheaply.

This will be an issue when we reopen restaurants full-scale. There's a huge element of the restaurant workforce  -- bussers, kitchen workers, etc. -- who have left. The same issue happened during the Great Recession within the construction industry.

Meanwhile, I did make my mid-writing spring to farmers market this morning and think I'm set for the week. As I say in that Instagram post, thank you to the essential workers from the fields to the booths that keep us fed during these times and all times.

COVID-19:

The numbers: The state added 6,832 cases yesterday and 89 deaths, according to the LAT's tracker. Note that weekend reporting has often shown a dip followed by higher numbers on Monday and Tuesday because of testing and reporting lags over the weekend.

Of these, 2,770 (40.5%) of the new cases and 37 (41.6%) of the new deaths were in Los Angeles County. Los Angeles County is 25.6% of the state's population. The growing hot spot of Orange County accounted for 25 (28.1%) of the new deaths yesterday and accounts for 8% of the state's population. San Bernardino reported 13 (14.6%) of the new deaths and accounts for 5.5% of the population.

These three adjacent counties accounted for 84.3% of the state's reported deaths yesterday, but total only 39.1% of the state's population.

The federal response: The NYT has a well-sourced story with interviews of unnamed White House staff on the Trump Administration's response to the pandemic and, after the "15-day" plan didn't work, focus on shifting responsibility (and blame) to the states. "At one stage, Gov. Gavin Newsom of California was told that if he wanted the federal government to help obtain the swabs needed to test for the virus, he would have to ask Mr. Trump himself — and thank him."

Can that Queen Isabella-Columbus statue of the "Last Appeal" that has been removed from the Capitol rotunda be refashioned to be of Gavin on his knee to King Trump asking not for funds to explore the New World but rather testing kits?

The federal lifeline: The latest federal assistance bill for individuals, small businesses, schools, and local and state governments is taking shape on Capitol Hill but has run into an unexpected wrinkle. Erica Werner and Jeff Stein report for WaPo that the Trump Administration is trying to block billions in funds for testing and contact tracing as well as funds for the CDC. These are items being added in to the bill being crafted by Senate Republicans. House Democrats passed their version, the HEROES Act, on May 15.

The negotiations center around a bill Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is preparing to unveil this coming week as part of negotiations with Democrats on what will likely be the last major coronavirus relief bill before the November election.

...

The two political parties are far apart on a number of contentious issues, such as unemployment insurance, but the conflict between Trump administration officials and Senate Republicans on money for testing and other priorities is creating a major complication even before bipartisan negotiations get under way. Some lawmakers are trying to reach a deal quickly, as enhanced unemployment benefits for millions of Americans are set to expire in less than two weeks.

One person involved in the talks said Senate Republicans were seeking to allocate $25 billion for states to conduct testing and contact tracing, but that certain administration officials want to zero out the testing and tracing money entirely. Some White House officials believe they have already approved billions of dollars in assistance for testing and that some of that money remains unspent.

Many Senate Republicans have found their states as the latest hot spot after the center of the virus in the northeast Tri-State area to the south and sun belt. 
 
These include vulnerable GOP Senators such as Martha McSally in Arizona, Cory Gardner in Colorado, Kelly Loeffler in the Georgia special, David Perdue in Georgia, and Tom Tillis in North Carolina. All of those states have cases on the rise, along with high levels of morbidity.
 
 
The Trump Administration wants to limit the number of cases (as POTUS has said explicitly), while Mitch McConnell wants to do whatever he can to hold on to control of the Senate. Cook Political Report rates Gardner, McSally, and Tillis as toss-ups, while the two Georgia Senate races are considered lean Republican.
 
For the home-gamers who don't want to look it up on a Sunday, the current split of the United States Senate is 53-47, with two independents caucusing with the Democrats. In addition to the above in high COVID states, there are two other toss-ups currently held by the GOP -- Susan Collins in Maine and Steve Daines in Montana.
 
Obviously, things are hyper-political in Georgia right now, ranging from Black Lives Matter to the fight between governor Brian Kemp with the state's urban mayors over local mask ordinances. Who would have thought that these issues would be shaping the 2020 election?

LA County: For the LAT, Laura J. Nelson reports on the continue rapid rise of cases and hospitalizations in Los Angeles County.

For the fourth consecutive day, L.A. County saw more than 2,100 people hospitalized for COVID-19, the Department of Public Health said. Of those patients, 18% are on ventilators and 28% are in the intensive care unit.

Public health officials said they are particularly concerned that adults younger than 40 are being hospitalized at the highest rate yet during the pandemic.

...

Cases have continued to surge unchecked across California, with more than 380,000 total confirmed cases Saturday. Hospitalizations have more than doubled and deaths have nearly tripled since Gov. Gavin Newsom began allowing businesses to reopen May 8.

“The simple truth of this fight is that this virus is affecting more and more of us every day,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Friday.

After a spike in cases, Newsom closed bars in seven counties, including Los Angeles, on June 28, and in-restaurant dining on July 1. Officials have said that it will take at least three weeks to learn whether those closures had an effect.

LA city: On CNN's State of the Union this morning, Mayor Eric Garcetti said that Los Angeles reopened too quickly and was close to requiring a stay-at-home order akin to the earliest days of the crisis. Alex Wigglesworth reports for the Times:

“I do agree those things happened too quickly,” Garcetti said, adding that those decisions were made at the state and county levels, not at the city level.

At the same time, Garcetti said the city was “on the brink” of new restrictions but did not elaborate. The mayor has made the comment before over the last two weeks, saying the city would act if cases continued to rise —even after a series of restrictions imposed by the state this month that included a ban on indoor restaurant dining, and the closing of bars, malls and other retailers in L.A. County and many other counties.

The mayor urged patience, saying it will take up to three weeks to learn whether the closures have helped slow the spread of the coronavirus.

He also struck an optimistic note, saying L.A. remains in a good place when it comes to hospital capacity and the available supply of ventilators.

“Cases have gone up, but we also have the most aggressive testing,” he said. “We’re the first city to offer testing to people without symptoms. And 30% of what we’re catching thankfully is those folks.”

LA Apparel: The LAT's Leila Miller has the story on the outbreak at Los Angeles Apparel, the warehouse that early on switched from sewing clothes to making masks, but has since been subject of a COVID-19 outbreak and accusations of shoddy protective measures and hiding the outbreak from workers.

The workers: For the Chron, columnist Ryan Kost looks at the essential workers still on the job amidst the pandemic.

Certain jobs come with certain risks. A firefighter, for instance, might expect that one day she’ll have to run into a burning building. But before the novel coronavirus began to spread in China, before it had claimed more than half a million lives worldwide, I doubt most people thought they might serve on the front lines of a pandemic. Definitely not those with some of our lowest-paid and most-ignored jobs.

Latino families: For the Press Democrat, Kerry Benefield writes that Latino families in Sonoma County face a "collision course" of being at the highest risk of contracting COVID-19 and coping with distance-learning for often English-language learning kids.

Nearly 70% of the coronavirus infections in Sonoma County are in the Latino population, despite Latinos making up just 27% of the county’s 500,000 residents. Among all locals under 18 who tested positive for the virus through Friday, 158 of 178 individuals, or 89%, were Latino.

...

When the coronavirus pandemic struck and schools were shuttered almost overnight in mid-March, educators in Sonoma County scrambled to move to so-called distance learning where students would access assignments online, via video and, in some cases, paper packets distributed from school sites. The shift in focus was unprecedented and not without its challenges.

Santa Rosa City Schools, the largest district in Sonoma County with nearly 16,000 students, moved to loan 4,000 Chromebooks to any household that needed one. Then the district began lending out 1,000 Wi-Fi hot spots. Teachers pivoted from standing in front of whiteboards and addressing their class to delivering lessons virtually.

But those virtual lessons are more easily accessible in households with multiple computers, broadband internet connections and an adult at home to act as a learning coach. At Burbank, and other schools, the move to distance learning shined an even brighter spotlight on needs that have always been there.

At Burbank, nearly 90% of the school’s almost 330 students are Latino, according to the latest numbers from the California Department of Education. Almost 54% are English-language learners and 8 out of 10 students qualify for a free or reduced-price lunch. Teachers recall in the early days of shelter-in-place making house calls to deliver supplies, check in with students and fill a much-needed socially distanced, face-to-face need.

Two of the biggest reasons Latinos are at the highest risk that they are more often to be the essential workers in our grocery stores, hospitals, food processing, and agricultural businesses and also live more densely and often multi-generational households. This is playing out not just in the Southern California counties where we see the largest numbers of cases, morbidity, and mortality, but also in suburban and rural counties around the state.

Reopening balance: For the Chron, Erin Allday reports on the patchwork of reopening that occurred before last Monday's new guidance by Governor Newsom tightening things up again.

Open, closed or somewhere in between — yes, curbside margaritas have become a thing — the plight of the corner tavern has come to symbolize the state’s confusing patchwork of reopening policies. While some counties forged a trail they thought would lead toward economic recovery, others lagged behind, wary of the virus still lurking. Bars and clubs opened from Los Angeles to San Mateo County. But in Oakland, even the beer gardens were closed.

Finding consistent and effective coronavirus policy has proved difficult for the Bay Area and California, and that goes for bars, barbershops, elementary schools and beyond. So far, the path between open and closed, danger and safety, has eluded public health officials. But living with the coronavirus depends on finding that equilibrium: striking a balance between economic recovery and preventing widespread disease.

Churches: We have a second lawsuit by a group of churches against Governor Newsom's July 1 ban on singing and chanting in houses of worship, reports the City News Service.

Once again, Jacobson v. Massachusetts (1905).

WILDFIRES: J.D. Morris reports for the Chron on the state's new regulatory approach to try to reduce utility-caused wildfire risks.

In response to [previous wildfire] calamities, state officials conceived of the commission’s new Wildfire Safety Division as providing a boots-on-the-ground approach to regulating fire prevention. The division has hired a team of inspectors to examine dangerous regions of the state and test whether electric companies are completing promised preventive work and complying with the law.

The fire safety division in theory represents a more aggressive way of doing business for a regulatory agency that was panned several years ago for being too cozy with Pacific Gas and Electric Co. following a devastating gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno.

SMOKIN'! Yesterday, I caught this ad opposing SB 793 (Hill) in my Facebook feed. The bill would ban the sale of flavored tobacco products in the state and broke through the jam of the last couple of years in the Assembly by being referred to Assembly Health rather than Assembly Governmental Organization. It claims to be funded by the "Retailers & Store Owners United to Rebuild our Communities' Economies." While some convenience store and tobacco shop owners certainly have opposed the bill and previous efforts to limit the sale of flavored tobacco products, they haven't spent the kind of money that the tobacco companies have. When clicking on the ad info, the contact information was a cell phone number that went unanswered yesterday.

cakeday and classifieds after the jump...

Probolsky Research

CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Jennifer Baker, Assembly members Heath Flora and Chris Holden, and Erica Romero!

Classifieds

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OFFICES AVAILABLE TO SUBLEASE
Between 1-3 unfurnished offices are available for sublease in the Wells Fargo office building, 400 Capital Mall Sacramento, CA 95814. The offices are approximately 12’X10’ each. Internet, gym. 24/7/365 key card access; professional offices. One year lease preferred. $1,500 per office. Contact Tricia Horan at Tricia.Horan@CALawyers.org or 415-919-7990 with questions.
Offices available for sublease: Meridian Plaza

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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