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RECENT PODS:

  • Capitol Weekly Podcast (John Howard and Tim Foster): Lenny Medonca with a California economic forecast (2021-01-24)
  • Political Breakdown (Scott Shafer and Marisa Lagos @ KQED): Dee Dee Myers on White House Briefings and California's Economic Outlook (2021-01-23)

DISTRICT UPDATES: note that districts will be redistricted before the 2022 election

  • CA21 (Coalinga-Lemoore-South Bakersfield): added Fresno councilmember Chris Mathys (R) - challenge to Valadao (R)
  • CA22 (Clovis-Visalia-Tulare): added father/graduate student Eric Garcia (NPP) - challenge to Nunes (R) 
  • CA26 (Ventura County): added attorney/mother Ronda Baldwin-Kennedy (R) - challenge to Brownley (D)
  • CA39 (Diamond Bar-Fullerton-Yorba Linda): added Mt. San Antonio College trustee Jay Chen (D) - challenge to Kim (R)
  • CA39 (Diamond Bar-Fullerton-Yorba Linda): added journalist Steve Cox (NPP) - challenge to Kim (R)

ATCpro UPDATES:

MONEY MATTERS: Notes from daily campaign finance reports

  • SD30 (special): Californians for Sydney Kamlager for Senate 2021, sponsored by Healthcare Providers, Insurance, Energy, and Housing Suppliers: $25,000 from the California Medical Association IE cmte

The Nooner for Wednesday, January 27, 2021, presented by SYASL Partners

  • Stormy weather
  • COVID-19
    -the math behind stay-at-home
    -tiers for fears
    -vaccines
    -"the California variant"
    -school daze
    -underground economy
  • Do you recall?
  • Secretary of State nominee
  • Attorney General
  • Evictions moratorium
  • EDD/Unemployment
  • Capitol relationships
  • Homelessness
  • LAO handouts
  • I pledge allegiance, or something...
  • Cakeday, farewell, and classifieds  

Happy humpday! What a storm that was overnight. I don't know about you, but I got only a few hours of sleep as branches were smacking the side of my building amidst the howling winds. Just when I get my shoulder comfortable enough to sleep, we have one of the loudest storms that I can remember. Nevertheless, here I am bright and early and enjoying tea from The Allspicery. The only "damage" visible from my desk is enough oranges to supply Tropicana from the neighbor's tree scattered around the courtyard.

Unlike the 97,752 (as of 5am) customers in the Sacramento Municipal Utility District service area, my power never went out (according to the microwave clock test), although my internet did for awhile last night.

At McClellan Airfield, gusts were recorded at 67 mph, according to to NWS. So much for that outside dining. Hopefully all those tents were folded up and brought inside, although I expect there are many shredded tents amidst downed branches around downtown.

As I write at 5am, the current sustained wind speed in Sacramento is 21 mph with gusts of 43 mph, and are forecasted to remain strong throughout the day before subsiding tomorrow. As the sun rises, photos of damage are starting to appear. CapRadio's Ezra David Romero posted one of a house next to him that "was cut through like a knife through butter." And, the legendary Zelda's Pizza got lucky with how a huge tree fell that completely covered 21st Street.

Another concern is about the power outages, which affected 106,000 SMUD customers at the peak. While hospitals have emergency backup electricity, most pharmacies and doctors' offices do not. The region may have had a large number of spoiled COVID-19 vaccines from the event. The same thing would be true in PG&E territory, where there were more than 175,000 customers without power.

Meanwhile, The Bee's Theresa Clift reports that Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg is furious over the fact that overnight warming centers for the unhoused and vulnerable are not open with the temperatures at freezing level with wind chill factor and dangerous winds with flying debris and falling tree limbs.

“There’s a huge storm out here. People are gonna die tonight,” he said by video. “We can’t get a goddamn warming center open for more than one night because the county has rules? I’m sick of it.”

A shelter was opened at the Sacramento main library on Monday night as temperatures dipped below freezing, but officials did not open them Tuesday. The city and county previously only opened warming centers when temperatures hit freezing for three nights in a row. Last month, Steinberg announced the city would open them whenever temperatures hit 32 degrees, even if just for one night. The criteria does not take into account wind chill, wind or rain.

The video statement by Steinberg is in a tweet from Clift.

COVID-19: California added 708 deaths yesterday for a total of 38,250 since the pandemic began. The LAT notes:

-the math beyond stay-at-home: During yesterday's update, HHS Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly unveiled the math used in the four-week ICU capacity projections that led to the lifting of the regional stay-at-home orders on Monday. This has been the subject asked about in nearly every state COVID-19 update since regional ICU capacity began being used for the orders.

ICU capacity formula

-Tiers for fears: Current tier status, with no changes yesterday, although Dr. Ghaly suggested that some may be forthcoming next Tuesday with one unnamed county possibly moving down to a more restrictive tier.

  • Purple/widespread: 54 counties
  • Red/substantial: 3 counties (Alpine, Mariposa, and Trinity) 
  • Orange/moderate: 1 county (Sierra)

-vaccines: In the Times, Colleen Shelby reports that essential workers and high-risk individuals left out of Monday's announced reshuffling of California's vaccine prioritization are crying foul.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement Monday that the state would shift vaccine priority to an age-based eligibility structure has sparked concerns from groups representing some essential workers and disabled people who may now have to wait longer to get vaccinated.

Little has been shared as to what that would mean in practice. Before Newsom’s announcement, the state intended to give priority to several new groups after California is done vaccinating people 65 and older, including residents in incarcerated and homeless settings, essential workers and individuals with underlying health conditions.

It’s now unclear when those groups would be vaccinated.

Further details will be released as the state progresses through the current Phase 1B Tier 1, a spokesperson for the California Department of Public Health told The Times. But the timeline for when those currently eligible — long-term care facility staff and residents, healthcare workers and adults 65 and older — will be fully vaccinated continues to change as vaccine allocation numbers continue to shift.

In the Chron, Janelle Bitker reports that, despite rumors, restaurant workers are still a priority for early vaccination.

[A] California Department of Public Health spokesperson confirmed that restaurant workers will indeed be prioritized for vaccines under the new plan. They’re categorized under “food and agricultural workers,” which includes anyone who works in food retail, such as restaurants, bakeries, grocery stores and convenience stores.

-"the California variant": In the NYT, Carl Zimmer looks at the mutation of SARS-CoV-2 first identified in California in late December.

That mutant, which belongs to a lineage known as CAL.20C, seemed to have popped up in July but lay low till November. Then it began to quickly spread.

CAL.20C accounted for more than half of the virus genome samples collected in Los Angeles laboratories on Jan. 13, according to a new study that has not yet been published.

“We had our own problem that didn’t cross over from Europe,” said Jasmine Plummer, a research scientist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, who worked on the new study. “It really originated here, and it had the chance to start to emerge and surge over the holiday.”

There’s no evidence that CAL.20C is more lethal than other variants. And scientists have to conduct more research to determine whether CAL.20C is in fact more contagious than other forms of the virus.

But Eric Vail, the director of molecular pathology at Cedars-Sinai, said it was possible that CAL.20C is playing a large part in the surge of cases that has overwhelmed Southern California’s hospitals. “I’m decently confident that this is a more infectious strain of the virus,” Dr. Vail said.

Dr. Charles Chiu, a virologist at the University of California, San Francisco, said that across the state, he and his colleagues are finding the variant in roughly 20 percent to 30 percent of samples being sequenced. “It just popped up under our noses, and now it’s rising in multiple counties,” he said. “On the whole, it’s safe to say it’s going to spread outside of California.”

-school daze: PPIC is out with a new blog post looking at whether California's students have been spending enough time on school during the pandemic. I am sure that the results will come as a shock to you.

In a typical week, students spent 9.5 hours studying on their own. However, there were significant disparities along racial/ethnic and socioeconomic lines. Students in low-income families or without college-educated parents spent less time (nearly 2 hours less) than affluent peers. Similarly, African-American students spent only about 8 hours studying on their own in the prior week, significantly fewer hours than white and Asian American students spent (10 and 11 hours, respectively).

The enacted 2020–21 budget requires that most students receive about 20 hours of instruction weekly. These hours can be met through a combination of live instruction and student work. Given what we have learned from the Census Pulse Survey, it is unlikely that these instructional hours are being met. Most students are spending less time on educational activities during distance learning than before the pandemic, and these deficiencies are more widespread among low-income and less educated families, as well as African American families.

These trends are cause for concern as distance learning continues, threatening to widen racial and socioeconomic disparities as many students fall further behind. With the third wave of the virus shuttering some schools again and stalling reopening plans for others, schools face significant challenges in safely returning students to classrooms. Ensuring that the ways students participate in distance learning are comprehensive, sufficient, and equitable is therefore a key priority for the state’s education system while schools remain closed for in-person learning.

-underground economy: In the LAT, Andrea Chang looks at businesses that have violated health orders to keep their businesses afloat.

The businesses appeared closed, but there were telltale signs of life: light seeping out from behind boarded-up windows, customers coming and going through employee entrances, Instagram posts alluding to in-home appointments.

The COVID-19 shutdown orders imposed in March and again during the holidays crippled large swaths of the California economy. But even before an easing of restrictions announced this week by Gov. Gavin Newsom, some business owners continued to carry on covertly. In Los Angeles and other counties with forced closures, you could still get your nails done and your hair trimmed, practice Pilates inside a studio and eat a restaurant meal with a group of friends — no takeout containers involved.

By continuing to serve customers, the businesses violated the spirit — and in some cases the letter — of public health orders and complicated efforts to stem the spread of the coronavirus, health officials said.

But those who have been operating for months under the radar say their decision isn’t a repudiation of face masks, social distancing or government overreach, or about enabling parties during a pandemic. It’s simply to make ends meet, and in the absence of sufficient financial assistance and clear guidance, they have been relying on themselves — and discreet customers they can trust — to do it.

-Governor Newsom update on 01/25:

-HHS Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly update on 01/26:

more stories after the jump...

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DO YOU RECALL? For CalMatters, Laurel Rosenhall offers an explainer of the recall process and how the current one against Governor Newsom is proceeding.

SECRETARY OF STATE NOMINEE: Yesterday's Assembly special committee hearing with Assembly member Dr. Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) was full of platitudes for Governor Newsom's nominee for Secretary of State to fill the position left vacant after Alex Padilla was sworn in to fill Kamala Harris's U.S. Senate seat. The five-person committee unanimously recommended that the full Assembly ratify the appointment. Senate Rules Committee will likely follow suit in a hearing today at 1:30 p.m.

ATTORNEY GENERAL: While the delay in Xavier Becerra's confirmation as Biden's Secretary of Health and Human Services is troubling (Senate HELP hasn't scheduled a hearing yet), the parlor game of who Governor Newsom who might nominate to replace him as state AG continues. The leading candidates appear to be:

  • Rob Bonta, Assembly member (D-Alameda), who is supported by Asian-American and labor organizations
  • Goodwin Liu, Supreme Court of California justice, who is supported by several Asian-American leaders and organizations
  • Rick Zbur, executive director, Equality California, who is supported by LGBTQ and environmental organizations

That's just a quick summary of those with the most buzz around them right now and each candidate has broader support than listed above but it's not like there's a comprehensive list of endorsements floating around when Becerra hasn't been confirmed by the U.S. Senate yet and may have problems with conservative Democrats over some actions taken while California AG. There are still other names in the mix, including Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg.

EVICTIONS MORATORIUM: At noon, there is an Assembly Floor Session with two bills on file. One is the extension from February 1 to July 1 of the evictions moratorium and small landlord financing deal announced by Governor Newsom and Democratic legislative leaders on Monday. (SB 91 | Governor's press release)

EDD/UNEMPLOYMENT: CalMatters's Lauren Hepler reports on the oversight hearing on California unemployment insurance fiasco, which included a Bank of America executive. The company handles the state contract for distributing the debit cards that were a major part of the fraud.

California unemployment debit card contractor Bank of America lost “hundreds of millions” of dollars last year as it scrambled to address record jobless claims, rampant fraud and a flood of consumer complaints, a senior bank executive told lawmakers today. 

The assertion came at a state hearing hours after a new audit slammed the California Employment Development Department for years of mismanagement and technical errors that culminated in a failure to respond to skyrocketing unemployment after COVID-19 lockdowns. More than an hour into the contentious Assembly budget committee meeting, the bank, which contracts with the state agency, was directly asked how much it has made on the contract it has held since 2010 — a question that both the bank and the state have repeatedly refused to answer when asked by CalMatters.

“With respect to what the bank has earned last year, we’ve actually lost hundreds of millions of dollars on the contract,” said Faiz Ahmad, managing director of transaction services for Bank of America. “We never really mention it because it pales in comparison to the scale of the human cost of the pandemic.”

Bank of America previously told state officials that it has increased customer staffing more than twentyfold, to more than 6,000 people, as it responded to intense anxiety about unemployment fraud in California and other states where it administers unemployment debit cards. The bank’s decade-old contract with the agency was offered at no direct cost to the state, with the bank instead earning revenue from merchant transaction fees and gaining access to millions of potential customers, a copy of the contract obtained by CalMatters shows.

CAPITOL RELATIONSHIPS: For KQED, Katie Orr looks at the frayed relationships between legislators and the Governor over communication about decisions made in the Executive Branch during the pandemic. They were frosty last spring when the Legislature recessed during the initial stay-at-home (state and federal) orders but seemed to be better until the broad lifting of the regional orders on Monday and a feeling that the influential California Restaurant Association had more knowledge than lawmakers.

When asked in a press conference Monday about whether he left the Legislature out of the loop on his decision to lift the stay at home order, Newsom said sometimes he needs to act quickly.

"Do we delay that for a long, protracted, comprehensive outreach or do we just move forward?"

Whether or not lawmakers accept that explanation, or look for ways to reassert themselves, will become more clear in the coming weeks. And with a possible recall of the governor on a future ballot, Newsom will need all the friends he can get.

HOMELESSNESS: For CapRadio, Chris Nichols looks at whether Governor Newsom has succeeded on his pledge to confront California's homelessness crisis head-on.

Advocates cite Project Roomkey as one of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s top accomplishments halfway through his four-year term. During his campaign, Newsom promised his administration would tackle California’s homelessness crisis head-on, making it a top priority after past governors had largely left the problem to local governments to solve.

But while advocates are hopeful Newsom will build on Roomkey to address what remains a massive homelessness crisis in the state, some say the governor must act with even greater urgency, something he’s proven can be done in the past year.

“Given the nasty curveball of [COVID-19], I think he’s proven that the governor’s office along with the State of California — when properly pushed — can do a lot of things really fast as they demonstrated with Project Roomkey,” said Joe Smith, advocacy director at Loaves & Fishes, which provides services and shelter for the unhoused in Sacramento. 

LAO HANDOUTS: There are a couple of interesting handouts prepared by the Legislative Analyst's Office for committee hearings yesterday:

I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE, OR SOMETHING: Los Angeles City Councilman and former Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León had a brain fart while leading the council in the Pledge of Allegiance during yesterday's meeting. After it spread around social media, "KDL" offered a humorous response tweet with a Bart Simpson reference.

cakeday, farewell, and classifieds after the jump...

Probolsky Research

CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Lindsay BubarJason HodgeMichael Picker, Assembly member Eloise Gómez Reyes, and Richard Stapler!

FAREWELL: Former Long Beach Rep. Steven Kuykendall (1947-2020)

Classifieds

Add your classified now both in The Nooner and online for $50/week or $150/month by emailing scottlay@gmail.com, with a headline, a summary of up to 200 words, and what you'd like the end date to be. You can attach a PDF or provide a link for a bigger job description/info to apply. [Other advertising options]


Director of Government Affairs, California Psychological Association

The California Psychological Association (CPA) is seeking a Director of Government Affairs. The Director of Government Affairs will report to the Chief Executive Officer and will be responsible for planning and managing the government affairs and advocacy efforts of CPA. This will include providing the primary analysis of proposed legislation to assess its impact on psychology, psychologists, and patients; serving as the primary contact for CPA with the California legislature and relevant government agencies; working with state regulators on policy issues; serving as CPA’s primary contact for health care provider advocacy groups , coalitions and stakeholders, and community providers; providing advocacy expertise and recommendations to the CPA Board of Directors , Local Advocacy Network, and CPA members, and the CPA PAC.

Link to full job description and to apply: https://www.cpapsych.org/resource/resmgr/advocacy_and_lan/CPADirOfGovAffairsPosition.pdf

McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific

Built on the foundation of nationally ranked and world class programs, McGeorge School of Law offers an online master (MSL) degree for individuals seeking in depth knowledge of law and policy, but who do not require a traditional law degree. Our MSL’s two concentrations in Government Law & Policy and in Water & Environmental Law offer students the flexibility to work while they learn and still engage in a highly interactive master’s program. To learn more and to sign up for our monthly webinars, please visit our website, Online.McGeorge.edu, or contact us at graduatelaw@pacific.edu.

Statewide Coalition Manager – Preschool Development Grant

Are you a relationship builder? Do you love policy analysis? Do you have a background in public policy, public administration, child development, or a similar field? Do you want to work somewhere that makes a difference in the lives of children across the state? Then YOU’RE the person we’re looking for! Come join us at Child Care Resource Center as our new Statewide Coalition Manager!

You will work in partnership with regional Resource and Referral (R&R) hub agencies throughout the state of CA to nurture and build out the partnerships of Regional Hubs and their local R&R partners. This position will focus on expanding regional and local relationships and building regional strategies for the delivery of early childhood services, including Parent Café and Early Childhood Café programs, throughout California, and will also coordinate the development of other regional partners including California Quality Consortia, California County Offices of Education and Tribal partners appropriate to each region. Reporting to the Chief Strategy Officer, this position utilizes a high level of collaboration and relationship building to create effective internal and external relationships, communicate the CCRC Mission, Values and Vision to external stakeholders, and work in collaboration with other CCRC Departments and organizational partners.

Full announcement

Political Data Inc.
For 30 Years PDI has been California’s premier data vendor. Now, you can get live online trainings on the newest PDI software every week: