Around The Capitol

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  • 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)

The Nooner for Thursday, January 28, 2021, presented by SYASL Partners

  • COVID-19
    -the numbers
    -ICU "capacity"
    -tiers for fears
  • Would-be State Capitol bomber?
  • Secretary of State
  • AD79
  • Evictions
  • Attorney General
  • Do you recall?
  • State technology
  • E-bill intros
  • SacTown
  • Cakeday and classifieds  


  • Rep. Jackie Speier (D-San Mateo) was on Colbert last night. She gave member's perspective when the insurrectionists broke into the Capitol on January 6 and reflecting back on being shot in 1978 in the Jonestown massacre in Guyana.

Hello there. What a nice, quiet night following the tumult of Tuesday night's storm. I slept over 7 hours, which was much needed. I credit it to the quietness, accumulated loss of sleep, and a big bowl of pasta I made for dinner. For Nooner veterans, you may recall that I usually do a paleo Whole30 in January. No way that is happening in 2021.

Of course, that meant that I was extra sleepy upon arriving at my desk. I quickly pounded down two cups of almond vanilla black tea from Allspicery (I now keep my electric tea kettle on my desk along with several teas). I had to get some caffeine on before rolling my trash cans out to the street, which I held off doing last night for fear of another windstorm. The wind was calm this morning although it was raining, so I put up the hood on my UCD Law sweatshirt and got them to the curb. While doing so, I felt like a corner boy from The Wire, which I think I've binged twice this pandemic, mostly in the background while working. A person can't live on The West Wing alone.


Thirty-five years ago today at 11:39 EST, the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster happened and for those of you of my age or more likely can remember exactly where you saw the news. For me, it was watching it in my 8th grade science class with a tearful teacher. Of course, that was the mission that carried teacher Christie McAuliff as a civilian astronaut. The event and that classroom that day is inked indelibly in my memory. That afternoon and for days after, we watched one of the best Oval Office speeches in history, which replaced the State of the Union, with Ronald Reagan's memorable words:

The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and "slipped the surly bonds of earth" to "touch the face of God."

Full video | Full text

COVID-19: California added 720 deaths yesterday for a total of 38,991 since the pandemic began. While deaths are at the highest point of the pandemic, remember that as we've talked about before in this space, those are a lagging indicator. The leading indicators of positivity and new cases are looking much better. The 14-day average testing positivity yesterday was 8.8%, which was 4.6% below the average fourteen days ago.

On the current indicators of 14-day rolling averages of hospitalizations and ICU hospitalizations, both are also down. The rolling average of hospitalized COVID-19 patients on Tuesday was 20,131, down from a peak of 22,365 on January 15. For ICU hospitalizations, it was 4,688, down from 4,804 on January 23.

COVID cases and deaths

Source: California Department of Public Health, state dashboard

-ICU "capacity": Yesterday, we got an answer to perplexing numbers of ICU capacity/availability as numbers bounced around over the weekend. Doug Sovern of KCBS radio tweets:

Why they switch to patients instead of available beds for one day is unclear. "Available" beds rely on staffing which, while it's much better, is still a problem in many parts of the state.

-Tiers for fears: Current tier status, with no changes yesterday.

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

-vaccines: Yesterday, the Newsom Administration announced that an agreement has been reached with Blue Shield of California to oversee the distribution of the vaccines in California. Melody Gutierrez and John Myers report for the Times:

Following a shaky rollout of the state’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts, advisors to Gov. Gavin Newsom have struck a far-reaching agreement with Blue Shield of California for the health insurance company to oversee the distribution of vaccine doses to counties, pharmacies and private healthcare providers.

The decision marks a sharp turn away from a more decentralized process that has been criticized for inconsistency across regions of the state and sluggishness in its effort to vaccinate Californians. It will also mean the outsourcing of tasks that, until now, have been overseen by state and local government officials.

“We understand that vaccine supply is limited,” state Government Operations Secretary Yolanda Richardson said on Tuesday. “But we also need to address that the supply we have now needs to get administered as quickly as possible, so we’re developing an approach that allows us to just that.”

On Tuesday, officials announced their intent to create a statewide vaccine distribution network but declined to identify Blue Shield until Wednesday as the company that would be put in charge of the program. A spokesman for the California Department of Public Health said Wednesday that the contract is expected to be finalized soon and that the transition in oversight will take several weeks.

Janie Har has the story for AP as do Catherine Ho and Alexei Koseff for the Chron.

-Governor Newsom update on 01/25:

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

more stories after the jump...

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WOULD-BE STATE CAPITOL BOMBER? For Courthouse News Service, Carson McCullough reports that the Napa man who was arrested earlier in this month may have been planning an attack on the California State Capitol and Governor Newsom.

A Napa man committed to Donald Trump and believed the false claims that the election was stolen from the former president was charged Tuesday with possessing five pipe bombs and allegedly threatening to bomb the state Capitol, Democrats and social media companies, the FBI announced Wednesday.

Ian Benjamin Rogers, 43, from the Napa area, was arrested Jan. 15 and officially charged this week after investigators discovered stockpiles of guns, explosive devices and other materials from his home and business. 

Investigators say they seized 49 firearms with thousands of rounds of ammunition, five fully operational pipe bombs — as well as enough materials to make more — and a small collection of dubious literature, including the “Anarchist Cookbook” and the “Homemade C-4 A Recipe for Survival.”

Investigators also said they found a replica MG-42 amid the stockpile, a weapon used by Nazis in WWII.

Rogers is suspected of being a far-right extremist who reportedly bought into Trump’s baseless claims that the election was stolen from him. According to a statement acquired by the San Francisco Chronicle, Rogers’ attorney Jess Raphael said his client was full of “blustering and bandwagoning” in the days following the attack on the U.S. Capitol and that Rogers agreed with virtually everything that came from the president’s mouth regarding Trump’s false election claims.

SECRETARY OF STATE: This morning, the State Senate confirmed Dr. Shirley Weber as Secretary of State on a 29-0 vote, which follows the 70-0 vote in the State Assembly yesterday. In the Assembly, many of the members not voting would have voted to confirm her and it was a bipartisan vote. In the Senate today, all Republicans took a walk. Monique Límon (D-Santa Barbara) is absent and SD30 is vacant.

AD79 (East San Diego): With Dr. Shirley Weber's confirmation, her Assembly seat is now vacant. There are two candidates, including daughter of Shirley, La Mesa councilmember, and pediatrician Dr. Akilah Weber and labor organizer Leticia Munguia. Two-time congressional candidate and Obama Administration alum Ammar Campa-Najjar had filed a statement of intent but has since withdrawn. Dr. Akilah Weber is the strong favorite and picked up the endorsement of Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, whose district overlaps AD79, yesterday.

Governor Newsom now has 14 calendar days to issue a proclamation calling a special general election within 126 and 140 days of the proclamation, with a special primary seven Tuesdays prior to the special general.

EVICTIONS: Also this morning, the two houses were taking up SB 91, the extension of the evictions moratorium through June 30 announced Monday by Governor Newsom as a deal with the two Democratic legislative leaders. The Assembly vote was 79-1, sending the bill to the State Senate at 10:56am.

One thing clear from the debate is that nearly every speaker in favor stated that it is imperfect and there is far more to do before the moratorium expires on July 1, including concerns about the ability to process applications by landlords for assistance given the problems with unemployment insurance that have been witnessed.

Voting no was Kevin Kiley (R-Roseville), whose name may be on the ballot should the Newsom recall effort qualify. Not voting were two Democrats, four Republicans, and Dr. Weber who is technically still on the roll yet her seat is vacant when she is sworn in as Secretary of State. Of the others, I am not sure who was not present today as there have been many absences lately.

The State Senate debate will begin shortly but after my deadline.

ATTORNEY GENERAL: I meant to mention it yesterday, but I got swept up in other news. AG Xavier Becerra is one of two Biden nominees that may be in trouble in the Senate. The most in trouble of course is Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, who has been nominated to be director of the Office of Management and Budget. As of this morning, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions ("HELP") has not scheduled a hearing on Becerra's nomination nor has Senate Budget scheduled one for Tanden.

That said, there are eleven cabinet-level nominees, including Merrick Garland for AG, whose confirmation committee vote have yet to be set. Some of this is because of the stalemate that broke this week over the Senate Rules package in the 50-50 Senate.

DO YOU RECALL? The Politico California Playbook team looks at Chamath Palihapitiya, the venture capital billionaire who is emerging as a top backer of the effort to recall Governor Gavin Newsom following a CNBC interview.

California “is being run off the rails,’’ he added. “And to the extent that we can recall him, and to the extent that my agenda resonates with people … It would be a renaissance in California that would just be glorious.”

So what’s the Palihapitiya agenda? Zero state taxes, a minimum teacher salary, school choice vouchers and $2,000 for every kid born in-state. He’s since tweeted out a tease: “Wet your beak California.”

Zero state taxes while spending more. Brilliant agenda. I'm guessing "blowing up the box" will be added on.

CAGOP: For KQED, Scott Shafer looks at how the California Republican Party hopes to remake itself in the post-Trump era.

California’s Republican party has been shrinking for years — it’s now just a quarter of registered voters. Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger warned about its decline at a party convention in 2007, saying, "We're dying at the box office," and urging party leaders to move toward the middle of the political spectrum.

The party rejected that advice and many eventually rejected Schwarzenegger, too, with conservatives calling him a RINO — Republican in name only.

Schwarzenegger recently returned the favor, releasing a much-watched video comparing fringe elements of the GOP who challenged Joe Biden's victory over Donald Trump to the Nazis of his youth in Austria.

Since Schwarzenegger left office in 2011, Republicans have been frozen out of statewide office so long they’ve become little more than critics. [Stamford Hoover Institution's] Lanhee Chen says that needs to change.

Chen cites the change in leadership in the 9-member Senate Republican Caucus from Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) to the more moderate Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita) is a good first step.

Changing its leaders may help the party rebrand itself. But even though Republicans picked up four congressional seats in California last November, it will require more than an insider shake-up to make serious inroads with voters and make up for decades of decline.

They have a very long way to go before accumulating any real power in Sacramento.

STATE TECHNOLOGY: For CapRadio, Scott Rodd reports that Governor Newsom's vision of technology solving some of the biggest frustrations of residents with state government is slow to come reality, punctuated by the massive fraud in unemployment benefits administered by the Employment Development Department during the pandemic.

Newsom is a high-tech evangelist. He entered office with the promise of ramping up the public sector to private-sector speed, and then using that modernization to make government more transparent.

His 2013 book,“Citizenville: How to Take the Town Square Digital and Reinvent Government,” serves as a manifesto. Its thesis says governments need to be tech savvy and open their vast troves of data to the public. In turn, people will become more engaged in the civic process.

It’s a philosophy that’s defined Newsom’s political career, dating back to his days as mayor of San Francisco. But modernizing state government — with its many bureaucracies  and ancient computer systems — has proven a herculean task, one that he recognized going into the job.

“Fixing the disastrous state of its current tech systems is government’s greatest challenge,” he wrote in “Citizenville.”

Newsom has had some tech successes, especially when his administration built systems from scratch or partnered with Silicon Valley companies. But the pandemic has exposed the dangers of placing 21st century demands on decades-old technology.

E-BILL INTROS: Yesterday, legislative historian extraordinaire Alex Vassar tweeted:

Alex's tweet was in response to a tweet by Assembly member Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks):

Congratulations Margie and to all of the fellows in both houses who, like last session's cohort, are making history in these very different times!

SACTOWN: Following Mayor Darrell Steinberg's rant yesterday about the failure of the city to open up a warming shelter for the unhoused and other vulnerable populations for Tuesday night's storm, the city opened the Tsakopolous Library's public space for such purpose last night. Apparently, the "three days below freezing" rule is set by the county but the city opened it anyway.

After all, two homeless died overnight Tuesday in Sacramento, as Kris Hooks reports for CapRadio.

cakeday and classifieds after the jump...

Probolsky Research

CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Roseryn Bhudsabourg, Jesse Melgar, Elisa Rivera, Rep. Linda Sanchez, Mike Sharif, Chris Walker!


Add your classified now both in The Nooner and online for $50/week or $150/month by emailing, 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:

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,, or contact us at

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: