Around The Capitol

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  • Political Breakdown (Scott Shafer and Marisa Lagos @ KQED): Congresswoman Michelle Steel on Emigrating to America, Her Mother's Small Business, and Why She Voted Against Impeachment (2021-01-28)
  • Inside Golden State Politics (Bill Boyarsky and Sherry Jeffe): Vax mess! Latest on the rocky rollout of the Covid vaccine and its impact on California's governor and President Biden (2021-01-28)
  • 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)

MONEY MATTERS: notes from significant contribution/expenditure reports from yesterday's filings

  • SD30 (Downtown LA-Culver City-South LA): Californians for Sydney Kamlager for Senate 2021, sponsored by Healthcare Providers, Insurance, Energy, and Housing Suppliers: $25,000 from California Dental Association Political Action Committee

RECALL WATCH: notes from significant contribution/expenditure reports from yesterday's filings relating to effort to recall Governor Newsom

  • Lincoln Club of Orange County three contributions from:
    • Henry Pritchett (Newport Beach) - $20,000
    • Julie Luckey (Newport Beach) - $22,000
    • O'Connell Hotels - William O'Connell (Anaheim) - $18,000
  • Lincoln Club of Orange County: $40,000 to Rescue California -Recall Gavin Newsom 


  • SD40 (South San Diego): added Chula Vista councilmember Steve Padilla (D) - open seat - Hueso termed out - story

The Nooner for Friday, January 29, 2021, presented by SYASL Partners

  • COVID-19
    -the numbers
    -IHME model update
    -tiers for fears
    -school daze
  • Do you recall?
  • AGstakes
  • 2022 elections
  • Evictions
  • Unemployment insurance
  • Environment
  • Let there be light
  • Space lasers
  • Highway 1
  • Cakeday, Dept. of Corrections, and classifieds  

COVID-19: California added 576 deaths yesterday for a total of 39,567 since the pandemic began.

-IHME model update: The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington has updated its model, which has been considered among the most reliable throughout the pandemic. The updated model now includes variant spread and all projections are based on vaccine distribution. Here are the updated projections for May 1 for California.

  • Projection: 75,609 deaths by May 1
  • Variant spread: 82,373
  • Worst case: 92,509
  • 95% mask usage: 66,844

The graphs are quite interesting although a bit too large now to screen capture as I previously have done. The model projects a decline in cases, hospitalizations, and daily deaths over the next couple of months before climbing again in mid-spring.

-vaccines: While stories are too numerous to list about problems in accessing vaccines by those in the highest priority group, there are also numerous questions about whether Blue Shield of California will be able to provide meaningful assistance to the management of distribution under the contract announced in Governor Newsom's update on Monday and exactly what the contract provides. Speaking on condition of the file at the end of the State Senate session yesterday, Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber) asked that details of the contract be disclosed to the Legislature, echoing similar concerns about contracts for PPE made by the Governor's Administration at the beginning of the pandemic. You can watch Senator Nielsen's comments at 2:07:00 of yesterday's floor session video.

Meanwhile, Napa County has run out of its first doses of the vaccine, report Catherine Ho and Mallory Moench for the Chron this morning.

County-run public health sites are also not scheduling any first doses for next week, since they have enough vaccine only to cover second doses.

The developments are emblematic of the struggles that providers and health officials across the state and country are grappling with: not enough vaccine, heated debate over who should get the shots first, and what steps providers should take to avoid discarding precious vaccine.

Rampant vaccine shortages are the biggest hurdle preventing providers from vaccinating more people. The underlying problem is that a very limited amount of vaccine is being shipped nationwide.

“We’ve been dark since Monday night since we shot 647 vaccines,” said Glen Newhart, CEO of St. Helena Hospital Foundation, the hospital’s philanthropic arm that raised money for and organized the vaccination clinic. The clinic gets doses from the county and from Adventist Health, the health system that operates the hospital.

-school daze: After unveiling a proposal on December 30 that would provide a fiscal incentive for school districts to reopen for in-person instruction on a phased-in approach beginning with the youngest students, Governor Newsom appeared to acknowledge that the Legislature may not quickly approve the funding. Mackenzie Mays reports for Politico:

A frustrated Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday said school administrators and teachers unions should agree as soon as possible to reopen schools for younger students — or else be clear with families that they will not return to classrooms at all this academic year.

Newsom was responding to growing demands that all teachers receive vaccines first, but also a long list of conditions that go beyond what the governor has proposed as safe to reopen schools that have been shut for nearly a year. The vast majority of California's 6 million public schoolchildren haven't been on campuses since March.

If we wait for the perfect, we might as well just pack it up and just be honest with folks that we’re not going to open for in-person instruction this school year,” Newsom said during a candid conversation with the Association of California School Administrators that was on YouTube but later made inaccessible.


On Wednesday, the California Teachers Association sent a letter to Newsom calling for teachers to be vaccinated before they return to K-12 campuses. Newsom has prioritized teachers in his vaccination plan, but it's hard to predict when more than 300,000 K-12 educators can actually receive the shot as the state grapples with widespread supply and distribution problems.


When asked by ACSA Executive Director Wesley Smith on Thursday about union demands for vaccines, Newsom said elementary schools are safe to reopen without them, pointing to research released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that shows schools using masks and social distancing protocols have had little virus transmission and outbreaks.

Jill Tucker and Dustin Gardiner report for the Chron:

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s widely touted $2 billion proposal to give California schools up to $750 per student to reopen by mid-February has stalled in Sacramento, with no timeline for when the money might be available.

While reopening schools remains a priority for Newsom, as well as national and state health officials, the plan is tied up in the Legislature, where elected officials have questioned whether it’s fair or logistically feasible to implement the stringent testing requirements of staff and students required in the proposal.

Legislators also criticized Newsom’s proposal, which required districts to submit a health and safety plan by Feb. 1, for not addressing vaccinations; some legislators said they don’t support reopening schools until teachers and support staff are vaccinated.

“I did not see anything in the governor’s proposal on how we would get teachers and staff vaccinated for in-person learning. How is that going to work?” Sen. Connie Leyva, a Democrat from Chino (San Bernardino County) who chairs the Education Committee, asked during a recent hearing.

And, it goes beyond vaccinations. There are many other items on the wish list of saffety precautions by teachers unions before returning to the classroom.

-oxygen: In the Times, Samantha Masunaga writes that Southern California hospitals are still struggling with supplies and delivery of oxygen needed to aid COVID-19 patients.

“Our hospitals have never experienced this kind of strain on the oxygen supply chain,” said Adam Blackstone, vice president of external affairs and strategic communications with the Hospital Assn. of Southern California, which represents 180 hospitals.

COVID-19 hospitalization rates in L.A. County have come down from their alarming highs of two weeks ago, improving the oxygen pipeline to hospitals. But hospital administrators and medical suppliers say problems with refill and delivery of oxygen tanks are still hampering the medical response.

It’s partly a hospital infrastructure problem, as some aging and overworked pipes that funnel oxygen to patients have frosted, slowing down or even stopping oxygen transmission.

There’s also not enough concentrators, which extract oxygen from the air, and tanks to meet demand at hospitals or for patients to take home when they’re discharged. On the distribution side, the number of trucks available to deliver oxygen has been stretched thin.

To deal with the surge in demand, some companies are bringing in medical oxygen from other states — sometimes as far as 1,000 miles away — or increasing production locally, said Rich Gottwald, president of the Compressed Gas Assn. trade group, which represents about 90% of the industrial and medical gas industry.

-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 the Politico California Playbook, Carla and Jeremy look at the strategy of defending Governor Newsom from the accelerating recall effort.

Ask Gov. Gavin Newsom about the encircling recall effort and he will deflect or downplay: He’s focused on vaccines and the economy, he’ll say, not politics.

His allies are sending a different message. Namely: The political players Newsom would rely on to defend his governorship view the recall as sufficiently possible that they are ramping up their support for the beleaguered governor.

Meanwhile, the LAT's Mark Z. Barabak speaks to Joshua Spivak, who has studied and tracks recall elections across the country, for his take about the latest effort.

Spivak, 47, is not an academic, though he is a senior fellow at New York’s Wagner College. Rather, he is more of a hobbyist. Some people garden, kite surf or collect postage stamps. Spivak tracks recall elections, about 100 or so a year nationwide, posting his research and observations in the nonpartisan Recall Elections Blog.

It’s hardly enough to keep a roof overhead. Since the blog started about a decade ago, Spivak has written more than 8,000 posts and collected north of $200. Rather, the Columbia Law School graduate makes his living in public relations, working in the legal field.

It’s evident, though, where his passion lies. Spivak rhapsodizes over recalls the way a wine connoisseur might speak of a particular vintage. His favorite is a 2013 election in tiny Charlevoix, Mich., where three council members were ousted in a dispute over construction of a fireplace in a city park.

“National politics has been drained of all color,” Spivak lamented, saying the reflexive partisanship of most candidates yields a drab predictability that makes parochial contests like the one in Charlevoix all the more quirky and compelling.

AGstakes: For Politico, Carla Marinucci offers her list of those being lobbied on behalf of for appointment to the Attorney General vacancy if Xavier Becerra is confirmed as Biden's Secretary of Health and Human Services and looks at who is pushing for their appointment. Her list includes:

  • Rick Chavez-Zbur, executive director of Equality California
  • Santa Clara District Attorney Jeff Rosen
  • Assemblymember Rob Bonta
  • California Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu
  • Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg
  • State Sen. Anna Caballero
  • Contra Costa District Attorney Diana Becton

2022 ELECTIONS: For Capitol Weekly, James Aranguren looks ahead to next year's congressional elections.

In the 2022 midterm elections, President Biden’s first two years in office will be on the ticket.

If Republicans continue to allow their candidates in congressional races autonomy from the national brand and platform, they could make inroads into Democratic strongholds, possibly even regaining control over the narrowly-divided House of Representatives.

Conventional wisdom suggests that Democrats may on the defensive in two years during the first midterm election of the Biden administration.

However, as the 2020 elections have shown, conventional wisdom can be wrong.

EVICTIONS: As expected, the State Senate approved SB 91, the evictions moratorium extension and rental assistance program, on concurrence yesterday and sent it to Governor Newsom, who signed it this morning. The Senate debate on the bill was quite similar to that in the Assembly, with members stating that much more work needs to be done before the extension ends July 1 and the vote was 34-0.

For CalMatters, Nigel Duara looks at some of the issues raised during the debate.

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE: While much of the talk over the past week about the problems with EDD's administration of California's unemployment insurance program leading to massive fraud, the LAT's Patrick McGreevy looks at those awaiting and needing deserved benefits.

Millions of out-of-work Californians are still waiting for money they desperately need to feed and clothe their families and avoid ending up on the streets. Payments have instead gone to fulfill fraudulent claims filed in the names of prison inmates, infants, retirees and people living in other states, with a deluge of applications for benefits coming from criminal gangs operating in Russia, China and Nigeria.

Adding insult to injury, state officials acknowledged this week that more than $11 billion in benefits were paid on fraudulent claims during the last year — some 10% of all money paid — and another $19 billion is under investigation for potential fraud.


The EDD’s failure to heed warnings to address its vulnerability to fraud has hamstrung its ability to get money out to those filing legitimate unemployment claims, state lawmakers say. More than 2.1 million claims for unemployment benefits are currently on hold, stuck in a backlog of delayed applications or suspended while the EDD double checks identities to prevent fraud.

And though California is the cradle of the tech industry, state government has also fallen perilously behind in replacing its outdated computer systems, exacerbating its problems with promptly paying out jobless benefits. Just 76.3% of first-time claims in California were approved within 21 days last month, far short of the federal standard of 87%. Most other states are approving more claims faster.

ENVIRONMENT: For CapRadio, Ezra David Romero writes up the themes of legislation introduced thus far on environmental issues.

LET THERE BE LIGHT: For the LAT, Teresa Watanabe looks at the surge in applications to the University of California particularly among students of diverse backgrounds.

The University of California’s record-shattering applications for fall 2021 show remarkable surges in Black, Latino and other underrepresented students seeking admission, putting the system within reach of dismantling long-standing admission barriers and building a student body that reflects the state’s diversity.

UCLA and UC Berkeley, the system’s two most selective campuses — where diversity particularly tumbled after affirmative action was banned in public schools more than two decades ago — achieved historic gains, according to preliminary UC data released Thursday. Black freshman applicants rose by about 48% at both campuses, and Latino applicants increased by 33% at UCLA and 36% at Berkeley.

Overall, UC’s nine undergraduate campuses drew a record number of applicants despite myriad pandemic challenges, totaling 249,855, a 16.1% leap over last year. Among Californians, Black freshman applicants increased by 21.8%. Latinos — who have made up the largest proportion of in-state students seeking freshman seats since 2013 — rose by 12.2%. Asian Americans increased by 10.7%, whites by 18.8%, Pacific Islanders by 23.9% and American Indians by 5.5%.

SPACE LASERS: If you were under a social media rock yesterday, I congratulate you. However, you likely missed the kerfuffle over Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and her spreading the theory that PG&E used space lasers to ignite the 2018 Camp Fire in Butte County, which is the deadliest (85) and most destructive (18,804 structures) fire in California history. A November 2018 Facebook post by the freshman representative was dug up after she was appointed by the House GOP Conference this week to the House Education and Workforce Committee. Greene has subsequently deleted the post but not before screen captured got a grab.

For Media Matters, Eric Hananoki writes (and provides the Facebook screen grab):

Conspiracy theorists have pushed other explanations for the Camp Fire, especially on social media. One theory, which has been promoted by QAnon followersfalsely posits that a nefarious entity used laser beams or a similar instrument to start the fire for financial profit or to clear space for California’s high-speed rail system.

Rep. Greene is a proponent of the Camp Fire laser beam conspiracy theory. She wrote a November 17, 2018, Facebook post -- which is no longer available online -- in which she said that she was speculating “because there are too many coincidences to ignore” regarding the fire, including that then-California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) wanted to build the high-speed rail project and “oddly there are all these people who have said they saw what looked like lasers or blue beams of light causing the fires.” She also speculated that a vice chairman at “Rothschild Inc, international investment banking firm” was somehow involved, and suggested the fire was caused by a beam from “space solar generators.” 

Greene added: “If they are beaming the suns energy back to Earth, I’m sure they wouldn’t ever miss a transmitter receiving station right??!! I mean mistakes are never made when anything new is invented. What would that look like anyway? A laser beam or light beam coming down to Earth I guess. Could that cause a fire? Hmmm, I don’t know. I hope not! That wouldn’t look so good for PG&E, Rothschild Inc, Solaren or Jerry Brown who sure does seem fond of PG&E.” 

As Colbert said last night, the "space solar generators" that the state relies on is the sun. Meanwhile, very little of the Northern California high voltage transmission lines carry solar generated electricity, as it's mostly hydroelectric.

HIGHWAY 1: Once again, mudslides have taken out a beautiful section of Highway 1 along the Big Sur Coast at Rat Creek and the photos show that this time appears much than the 2017 incident at Mud Creek. I went to law school and am no engineer, but I have no clue how this is fixed.

Highway 1 collapse

Lauren Hernández reports for the Chron:

“It looks as if about half the road has given way now. It was hit by a debris flow, and the erosion — as its falling over the side of the road — is cutting back into the road away from the sea,” [Caltrans spokesperson Kevin] Drabinksi said. “The mountain slid over onto the road, and in that rush, it started wearing away at the road. As it has gone over the side of the road, the erosion is cutting the road back away from the sea.”

Lauren wrote this last night. Overnight, it went from "half the road" to "the entire road."

That portion of Highway 1 in Monterey County had been closed as part of a 44-mile closure of Highway 1 “in support of” the county’s evacuation order ahead of the heavy rains, Drabinksi said. On Wednesday night, he said Caltrans extended that closure to Friday, so that Caltrans crews could assess whether the closure should remain in place, or if the limits of the closure should be amended.

It was immediately unclear if the debris flow that is eroding this portion of Highway 1 was connected to the Dolan Fire burn scar, Drabinksi said.

“The area is historically susceptible to mudslides and we had additional concerns because of the Dolan Fire this summer,” Drabinksi said.

The picturesque stretch of highway was closed from May 2017 to July 2018 to clear a large mudslide at Mud Creek 25.6 miles south of the new incident.

That was a huge economic hit to the region as it's a huge tourist attraction. This appears to be far worse and it raises a serious question as to whether one of California's best drives will ever be available again.

I would have loved to been a fly on the wall on that morning Zoom call among Caltrans engineers.

cakeday, Dept. of Corrections, and classifieds after the jump...

Probolsky Research

CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Marj Dickinson, Nina Weiler-Harwell, Senator Anthony Portantino, Senator James Ramos, and Mike Roth!

DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS: AD79 candidate Dr. Akilah Weber is a councilmember of La Mesa, not Chula Vista.


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: