Around The Capitol

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RECENT PODS:

  • Capitol Weekly Podcast (John Howard and Tim Foster): Campaign consultant Gale Kaufman on education at the ballot box. (2021-01-31)
  • Look West California (Assembly Democratic Caucus): Get to know Speaker Anthony Rendon like never before. Join us as he shares how a son of Mexican immigrants came to be the Speaker of the CA State Assembly. (2021-01-29)
  • California State of Mind (Rodd, Nichols, and Romero @ CapRadio): Has Gavin Newsom Made the Grade as Governor of the Golden State? (2021-01-29)
  • 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)

MONEY MATTERS:

  • CA45 (Anaheim Hills-Tustin-Irvine): Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine), who just completed her first term in the House ended the year with an astounding $10,267,752 cash on hand. For comparison with some other highly visible Dems, Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) has $13.9 million, Porter's second-term colleague Josh Harder (D-Turlock) has $3.5m, Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) has $1.9m, Pete Aguilar (D-Redlands) has $1.8m, Jackie Speier (D-San Mateo) has $1.8m, and Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) has $1.3m.

    I haven't gone through all the reports filed last night, but I wanted to put Porter's numbers in context. She is widely seen as a future candidate for United States Senate as is Schiff. I don't know what the relationship between the two is, but thoughts are both are waiting to see if Dianne Feinstein indeed runs for reelection in 2024 as her campaign filings indicate. Of course, in politics, even collegial friendships don't always stop a primary fight.

The Nooner for Monday, February 1, 2021, presented by SYASL Partners

  • COVID-19
    -the numbers
    -tiers for fears
    -vaccine equity
    -mixed messages
    -outdoor dining ban effective?
    -reopening and masking
    -school daze
  • Do you recall?
  • Good reads
  • OC supe
  • Cakeday and classifieds  

Happy birthday Dad!

Happy birthday Dad!

Happy Monday folks! I wish I was at that lunch pictured above, but it was my sister and dad. That looks delish. Although, when the photo was taken, I was in Mexico City walking off the previous day's Colonia Roma food tour (summary pic) by walking to and through the amazing Museo Nacional de Antropología before a night at luche libre. I can still taste that freshly cut mangonada that was refreshing on the long walk on a warm February day.

How much things have changed in a year.

Anyway, it is dad's birthday! And, you all participated in his gift. Aside from some small gifts, the big one was me not asking for a bridge loan while I wait for accounts receivable and advertising to return. Thank you to many Nooner supporters so much for answering my Friday evening email and welcome to the new subscribers. We are getting through this!

COVID-19: California added 226 deaths yesterday for a total of 40,926 since the pandemic began. As it was a Sunday, the number is likely lower than actual because of weekend reporting, with reports carried forward to the next few days.

-tiers for fears: During last week's Tuesday update, HHS Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said that changes were likely this week with the possibility of a county slipping to a more restrictive tier and others improving to a less restrictive one. Data are run on Mondays and tier changes are announced during the Tuesday update from Dr. Ghaly.

  • purple (widespread): 54 counties
  • red (substantial): 3 counties (Alpine, Mariposa, Trinity)
  • orange (moderate): 1 county (Sierra)
  • yellow (minimal): 0 counties

-vaccine equity: Sanchez, Ho, and Moench at the Chron report that, while leaders are talking about equitable distribution of vaccinations, the data aren't necessarily available to know whether that's happening.

California officials say it is vital that vaccines be distributed equitably, and they also want metrics to measure their work. On Wednesday, state officials announced that Blue Shield of California, the Oakland health insurance company, will take over vaccine distribution on the state’s behalf. This is expected to incorporate a better way to measure vaccine equity, though details have yet to be announced. Similar problems arose with coronavirus testing early in the pandemic, but the state and counties fixed the issue and provided demographic data — which reflected that in some areas, testing was reaching more white residents than communities of color hard-hit by the virus, prompting the use of mobile, neighborhood-based testing sites.

Racial and ethnic data on vaccinations may also be more difficult to interpret, at least at first, because vaccines are mostly available right now to certain groups such as seniors and health care workers, who may have different demographic characteristics than the general population.

Barbara Feder Ostrov also writes on vaccine equity for CalMatters:

It’s not hard to see why health equity advocates are increasingly concerned about emerging disparities in California’s vaccine rollout — the same kind of inequities laid bare in so many other aspects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Their worries have only intensified as California officials expanded vaccine eligibility to the roughly 6.2 million people who are 65 and older. In doing so, the state scrapped complicated eligibility proposals that had prioritized essential workers and lower-income communities already most devastated by the pandemic. 

Although some essential workers — teachers, first responders and food and farm workers – remain next in line for the shots, the state after that will primarily expand eligibility by age, likely people 50 and up. The goal: to speed up a chaotic vaccine rollout that consistently has California lagging behind many other states in distribution rates even as it has given 3 million immunizations as of today. 

-mixed messages: I've written in this space before about the difficulty in enforcing local public health orders that limit outdoor dining to members of the same household. It can't be enforced against establishments, so it's really just encouragement to patrons.

The state's guidance (page 13) for restaurants doesn't have the limitation but rather "to a household unit or patrons who have asked to be seated together."

However, Los Angeles County's latest order (01/28) provides:

"Outdoor dining table seating must be limited to no more than 6 people per table, all of whom must be from the same household. All establishments must post signage and verbally inform customers that everyone sharing a table must be from the same household."

Meanwhile, I missed the statement among so much information, but the folks at LAist caught it. During last week's update, California HHS Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said now that the regional stay-at-home order has been lifted, "If you miss a friend, you can go out to eat."

Speaking of same households, the Health Services Director for Los Angeles County is Dr. Christina Ghaly.

The mixed messages continue, even from the same household. (Dr. Christina Ghaly is not involved with the day-to-day of LA County public health.)

-outdoor dining ban effective? In the Times, Soumya Karlamangla and Rong-Gong Lin II look at the discussion over whether the ban on outdoor dining was effective in reducing virus spread:

L.A. County’s orders essentially became a model for a regional stay-at-home order that would begin to be imposed throughout most of the state during the week of Dec. 6. The success of those state-issued orders reversed the state’s dangerous path and allowed them to be lifted last week, said California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly.

He said that three weeks after the intervention was put in place — even if “residents aren’t 100% compliant with it” — the curve began to flatten, a pattern straight out of a “COVID textbook.”

In response to criticism that there isn’t enough clear data on the risks of outdoor dining, Ghaly said that kind of knowledge “usually takes years to figure out” and is particularly challenging given the lags in data collection, imprecision of contact-tracing information as well as asymptomatic transmission of the virus that makes it particularly challenging to track.

“A lot of people said, ‘You’re closing this down, but there’s no proof.’ Well, it’s not that there’s no proof. It’s just not the proof that people want to see,” he said in an interview. “You have an environment where you take off your mask, and you sit close to people for a long period of time — the virus spreads.”

We'll see what happens now. It's like a seventh grade science experiment.

-reopening and masking: Maura Dolan writes for the Times that, now that restrictions on public activities have been eased, public health officials are saying that face coverings are all the more important.

“We will have to be doing a major education effort to make sure people do not misinterpret the removal of the regional stay-at-home order and think they can go about their lives like they did before COVID,” said Dr. Robert Kim-Farley, a UCLA medical epidemiologist and infectious-diseases expert.

“Otherwise,” he said, “we will see these numbers just go right back up.”

Experts who believe looser restrictions were justified point to positive trends.

New cases and hospitalizations have plummeted from a December high, and no holidays are approaching that will put pressure on people to gather, they note. Many mask scofflaws may already have become infected and obtained some immunity, posing less of a danger to others, and vaccines continue to roll out, albeit slowly.

Uh, for many Californians (not me), the Super Bowl in a bigger holiday than Thanksgiving and fosters more inter-household activity.

Dr. John Swartzberg, a UC Berkeley infectious-disease expert, believes California ended the regional order too soon.

“If the question is saving the maximum amount of lives, projections suggest that we will suffer far fewer deaths between now and June if we persist in the lockdown,” Swartzberg said. “I’m not talking about a prolonged lockdown. Even an additional few weeks will make a big difference in terms of lives saved.”

Swartzberg said the state’s decision Jan. 25 to end the regional order, allowing restaurants to offer outdoor dining and other places to reopen, followed a now familiar pattern.

“Every time we experience a surge, we lock down, the surge crests, and then starts to decline,” he said. “We open things up too soon (think May and early June followed by the summer surge, and September and October followed by the winter surge), we accept a steady state of new daily cases that is appreciably higher than prior to the surge…. By opening up too soon, we will build on a very high background of daily cases.”

In the meantime, he and other experts say residents, when near others indoors, should wear more protective face coverings — not just single-layer masks or gaiters — and consider protecting their eyes with face shields or goggles.

During my time out-and-about yesterday, people were observing physical distancing and universally masked with few bandana-type coverings. Then again, my two destinations were farmers market and Our Lady of Guadalupe for my street tacos (yesterday's were adobada, asada, y carnitas). While continuing in-person services as streaming online likely wouldn't work for many of the Spanish-language parishioners, they have stayed outdoors with distanced chairs on the school's soccer "field" and with people standing in the alley and parking lot, all wearing masks, including los niños.

-school daze: For The Bee, Lara Korte writes why the December 30 announcement by Governor Newsom of a plan for reopening schools beginning with the lowest grades with a financial incentive for districts is not happening in most places, despite today's deadline:

Today is the deadline Gov. Gavin Newsom set for California school districts to apply for a portion of the $2 billion in grants he wants the state to set aside to help them safely return to in-person instruction.

But despite growing frustration with distance learning, districts and labor groups have said the plan falls short of what’s needed to safely reopen, and even if they do apply, it’s unlikely to result in many California students back in classrooms soon.

Furthermore, the proposal remains just that — a proposal — until the Legislature approves it, and lawmakers are wary about a plan that isn’t widely accepted by teachers or administrators.

“We would like to have schools reopened in the safest manner possible,” Assembly Budget Chair Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, said at a hearing last week. “However, I also don’t want to repeat the same mistake that we made in this last budget, where we gave districts resources to open up and we did not see that happen.”

Newsom announced his proposal in late December, giving districts a little over four weeks to come up with a COVID-19 safety plan and reach an agreement with labor groups about safety protocols.

Of course, the powerful California Teachers Association opposes any return to in-person instruction in purple tier counties. Under current state rules, health officers purple tier counties are allowed to grant waivers for in-person instruction following the submission of a safe reopening plan. The governor's "Safe Schools for All" plan would shift it to the districts based on county case rates. But, the incentive is not yet available. The Legislature had the opportunity as it approved SB 89, a "budget bill junior" in Capitol parlance, last week to add SB 91 (eviction moratorium extension), but there was no school money in the bill.

Fifty-four counties are currently in the purple tier accounting for 99.9% of the state's population. That said, many school districts are offering in-state instruction and not necessarily following guidance, as I wrote about on Saturday. Teacher unions in Placer County represented by CTA are unhappy that the schools are being operated without CDC- and state-guided distancing of students.

For the Associated Press, Jocelyn Gecker looks at the clash between Governor Newsom and unions over school reopening.

Parents and behavioral experts say many schoolchildren are feeling helpless or depressed and need a classroom setting to improve their mental health. An exasperated Gov. Gavin Newsom told school officials last week to “pack it up” if they fail to resume in-person classes soon.

Teacher unions say they won’t send their members into an unsafe environment. They want all teachers vaccinated before returning to the classroom.

While Texas, Florida and New York are among states that have resumed some classroom instruction, California’s 10,000 public schools have for the most part been closed since March. As most of the state’s 6 million public school students approach a one-year anniversary of distance learning, parents are grappling more than ever with the toll of isolation and intense screen time on their kids’ well-being.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control Prevention said in a recent study that schools should resume in-person learning as soon as possible and there is little evidence of spreading the infection when proper precautions are taken, such as masks, physical distancing and proper ventilation.

Newsom’s plan requires rigorous COVID-19 testing of students and staff, which schools support but many say they can’t afford.

Austin Beutner, superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District that is the second largest in the country, said his city remains an epicenter for the virus and conditions must improve before schools can reopen.

Meanwhile, Dan Walters writes today for CalMatters that as politicians and unions squabble, kids are sitting at home when they could be back in the classroom.

Newsom seems to be caught between the obvious need for schools to reopen, supported by haggard parents, and the reluctance of the unions to have it happen, contending that it would be unsafe.

...

[L]ocal education officials complained that Newsom’s plan wasn’t fully baked. “The governor’s reopening plan, combined with the lack of vaccination coordination, has set all school districts back to a weaker position than we were in October,” Palo Alto Unified Superintendent Don Austin said at one legislative hearing.

Meanwhile, teacher unions say Newsom’s safety standards are not strict enough. They are joined at the hip with the Legislature’s dominant Democrats, so the plan’s fate is uncertain.

Indecision by Newsom and legislators is mirrored in the angst among local school officials, who are also being pressured by their unions to keep schools closed and by parents tired of nagging their kids to attend internet classes and of ever-changing rules.

On schools, it is truly no-win situation for Governor Newsom. One problem is that residents see the evening news about other states and don't understand that few states operate under the same level of state-local split of governance with collective bargaining as does California. I don't say that critical of my Golden State and I was a longtime player in that for community colleges, but rather noting the fact.

-Governor Newsom update on 01/25:

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

THE NOONER A YEAR AGO TODAY:

CORONAVIRUS: A third case of the coronavirus tied to Wuhan, China has been discovered in Santa Clara County. Thus far, there have been cases in Southern California, Illinois, Massachusetts and Washington.

Of course, we now know that by February 1, 2020, the first California death had occurred in Santa Clara County.

Health officials have not determined how the virus has spread, although the latest case in California traveled from Wuhan to San José recently. The CDC reports that there have been discovered cases among people who did not personally shop at the Wuhan animal and seafood markets. Out of 241 suspected cases, 6 have been identified as positive, 114 as negative, with 121 tests pending. 195 U.S. citizens are currently on a fourteen-day quarantine at March Air Reserve Base after being evacuated from the Chinese region. The Riverside County base was changed from a full base to a reserve station as part of BRAC in 2003. As I wrote yesterday, major airlines have suspended travel to China. 259 people have died from the virus in China.

Meanwhile, the flu has killed over 10,000 Americans this season, with 19 million cases.

How innocent we were. A year ago tomorrow, President Trump told Sean Hannity "We pretty much shut it down coming in from China."

Even I downplayed it with my comment about the flu. Last month, more than 95,000 people in the United States lost their lives to COVID-19.

With all the criticism of California's response (and I've shared many), the Newsom Administration's first-in-the-nation stay-at-home on March 19, 2020 -- much stricter than the porous December 3-January 25 iteration -- on March 19, 2020 likely saved lives.

more stories after the jump...

Probolsky Research

DO YOU RECALL? George Skelton writes for the Times that the increasingly likely to qualify recall effort targeting Gavin Newsom has caused the governor to sharpen his focus on the state's COVID-19 response.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s latest reshuffling of pandemic rules suggests this paraphrase of an old line: Nothing so concentrates the mind as the thought of a recall.

There has only been one recall of a governor in California history — Democrat Gray Davis in 2003 — and it must still be frighteningly fresh in Newsom’s mind. Back then, he was a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and about to be elected mayor.

The prospect of a Republican-backed recall attempt qualifying for a state ballot seems slightly better than 50-50. But the odds these days of any Democratic governor actually being recalled by voters in this deep blue state are very low without a celebrity Republican challenger — such as an Arnold Schwarzenegger, who ousted Davis. And none is in sight.

But Newsom isn’t ignoring the risk.

“You can’t put your head in the sand,” one gubernatorial insider told me, asking for anonymity. “We’re realists. You have to always be prepared.

“We’re doing what we need to do. But at the end of the day, this is about governing and making sure he’s doing the right things.”

Newsom’s latest moves indicate he’s feeling the public pressure and reacting. Politicians always deny that, as if reading the polls and complying with people’s desires is somehow a sign of weakness — or even sleaziness. To me, these denials are silly.

In the column, the dean of the Capitol press corps continues with a look at the actions Governor Newsom has taken over the last week to signify that he's piloting the ship.

Two new California government books written by Friend of The Nooner Chris Micheli were just published.  These college- and law school-level textbook and professional manual will offer insights into California state government and bill drafting.

  • Introduction to California State Government: The first is a textbook which is 448 pages in length with 128 short chapters in an effort to put all the pieces in one place for readers to be introduced to California government, including the institutions at the local and state levels.

  • An Introduction to Drafting Legislation in California: The second book which is 288 pages in length with 85 short chapters is intended to assist persons who have had little or no drafting experience as well as to provide a reference and explanatory material to more sophisticated legislative drafters. The purpose of a legislative drafting manual is to promote uniformity in drafting style and to make statutes clear, simple, and easy to understand and use.

About the books, Chris says "In my teaching at McGeorge School of Law, I have been motivated to share the education I have gotten over the past 20 years lobbying in Sacramento. Whether a student or someone working in California government, I hope both books provide insights on these important topics."

Chris and I were supposed to do a podcast mid-January to talk about them, but you know why that fell through. I do hope to get him on a Nooner Conversation soon to discuss what's going to be another very unpredictable legislative session.

OC supe, cakeday, and classifieds after the jump...

If you like The Nooner and don't already, consider a subscription, advertising, or otherwise support the work using Square, PayPal, or check (address listed there). only 10.6% of the 8,334 readers (adjusted for work/home dupes) are currently paid subscribers. even a $5 or $10 quick "tip" via Square or Venmo to "Scott-Lay" helps during this low-advertising 2020 and likely depressed first quarter with limited legislative action. (For Venmo, the last 4 of my phone is 5801 if asked.)

Sorry for the nags and I know it's irritating, but I also know you're seeing them across media properties and in your email inbox. At least I do every day including all the ones that take money from my account monthly...

Hopefully this customary ad slot will be filled soon!

OC SUPE: In the race for the March 9 special election to fill the supervisorial seat left open following Michelle Steel's election to CA48, current GOP supervisors aren't in lockstep with the county party. For Voice of OC, Nick Gerda writes:

A majority of Republicans on the county Board of Supervisors are breaking with their county party and endorsing Newport Beach Councilman Kevin Muldoon, despite GOP efforts to coalesce around the party-endorsed candidate John Moorlach.

In back-to-back announcements last week, Muldoon was endorsed by supervisors Don Wagner and Andrew Do for 2nd District supervisor.

Do also is endorsing Fountain Valley Mayor Michael Vo for the seat, the mayor said in a campaign announcement.

It's like ranked-choice voting!

“This is the big battleground right now for both parties in Orange County,” said Mike Moodian, A Chapman University public policy researcher who closely follows local politics.

“This of course will determine whether Republicans have a 4-1 advantage on the board of supervisors or whether Democrats are able to narrow that gap a little bit to a 3-2 advantage.”

It's still a long shot for Democrats given that it's a special election and that Republicans have a 5.1% advantage over Democrats. Dems need GOP infighting that turns off the 91,289 voters without a party preference. Assuming the Assembly approves and the governor signs SB 29 (Umberg), all voters in the district will receive a ballot, modestly increasing the odds for Democrats.

SACTOWN HOMELESS: Despite the inclement weather that returns tonight, the homeless situation under the W-X freeway is the worst since I've lived in downtown Sac. Tents now completely occupy the sidewalk on the west side of 6th street, directly across from farmers market. It's a huge contrast as people do their Sunday shopping. I used to walk that sidewalk to go to my neighborhood Vietnamese joint, Cô Mai on 5th and Broadway. While there have often been 1-2 homeless people (who never asked for more than a cigarette, which I of course didn't have), tents are new, let alone several essentially closing the sidewalk.

Seemingly, the lofty goals of a shelter in every council district being talked about in 2019 have been lost to the pandemic.

CAKEDAY: Junto con mi padre hoy, tener cumpleaños hoy son Stephanie Cohen, Assembly member Tasha Boerner Horvath, Rep. Sara Jacobs, and Tanner Kelly!

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]


CCST Announces 2021 Science in Public Interest Awards

On Feb 2nd, the California Council of Science and Technology recognizes Senator Robert Hertzberg, Assemblymember Chris Holden, and former California Energy Commission Vice Chair Janea Scott with its 2021 Science in Public Service Award for their work to reduce disaster impacts in CA. The award honors distinguished public servants who are leaders in connecting science and technology with policy.

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: