Around The Capitol

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  • Capitol Weekly Podcast (John Howard and Tim Foster): Daniel Zingale on his career in California politics. (2021-02-14)
  • Political Breakdown (Scott Shafer and Marisa Lagos @ KQED): Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside) on His Family's Internment History and His Agenda for Military Veterans (2021-02-18)
  • Inside Golden State Politics (Bill Boyarsky and Sherry Jeffe): We  examine the media's continuing obsession with Donald Trump. And we dig into the current buzz around California politics. (2021-02-18)
  • Inside Golden State Politics (Bill Boyarsky and Sherry Jeffe):  We examine the impact of the Trump impeachment trial on the country.   We wonder if die-hard Republican senators will turn against the president.  And we look at how Trump's behavior is impacting two California Republican members of Congress. (2021-02-12)
  • Then There's California (Senate Democratic Caucus): Senator Dr. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) on the details of the COVID 19 vaccine and equitable distribution of the vaccine and fighting the disinformation from vaccine deniers (2021-02-08)


  • Presidential results are now available for each congressional district on the district pages.

STUDENT SUBSCRIPTIONS: I do have additional sponsored student subscriptions (normally $10) that I am matching. Any current student can email me a pic of their student ID card and be set up with a Nooner/ATCpro subscription.

RECALL WATCH: highlights from yesterday's filings with the Secretary of State

  • Reform California (Carl DeMaio's committee supporting the recall of Governor Newsom) reports:
    • receipts from a 76-page list of small donors that I'm not going to add up and IE reports can't be downloaded as a spreadsheet
    • expenditures:
      • $13,000 for direct mail postage
      • $8,204 for direct mail printing/materials
      • $8,000 for text messaging
      • $7,500 for campaign consulting
      • $7,000 for phones
      • $4,000 for email marketing
      • $2,856 for digital ads

The Nooner for Sunday, February 21, 2021, presented by SYASL Partners

  • The week ahead
  • COVID-19
    -the numbers
    -tiers for fears
    -herd immunity
  • Housing the homeless
  • Prosecutors v. Prosecutors
  • Cakeday, farewell, and classifieds 

¡Buenos dias mis amigos! In a couple of hours, I'll be heading to what is likely the penultimate Sacramento Central Farmers Market of the year. The suckage of 2020 continues well into 2021 (as we all saw over the last week in Texas), but it has nothing to do with COVID-19. Rather, the popular Sunday market that has operated beneath the W-X freeway is being displaced as a major Caltrans project to add lanes to the crowded section of Business 80 and Highway 50 share a road that runs above W and X Streets through the south side of downtown.

After the February 28 market, the market will be on hiatus for two weeks before reopening (pending permits) on March 21 at Arden Fair Mall, which is 6 miles away but worlds away from the downtown grid and the large number of folks who walk or bike from the grid to the market. The Bee's Benjy Egel wrote this week:

Some families go to church on Sunday morning. Others go to W and 8th streets. First opened in 1980, the Sunday market’s become a weekly tradition for home chefs and professionals alike. The Kitchen was named Sacramento’s first Michelin-starred restaurant on a Monday; the following Sunday, co-owner Randall Selland was back at the market.

A perfect Sunday morning for me is actually both the Buddhist Church of Sacramento AND the farmers market, as they are three blocks away. Talk about getting dharma on!

For me, my weekly farmers market treks at 8am clear my head and is my main shopping trip for the week. That won't be happening this year. While many "The Grid" patrons in downtown are already saying they won't be going for their own reasons, mine is time management on Sunday mornings.

I've already figured out that I'll be getting my veggies (and some fruit) through Good Humus, which I remember well from when I lived two blocks from the Davis Farmer's Market. They deliver to homes in downtown Sac. I am hoping that there is some way to get Riverdog Farm pork and eggs, PT Ranch chicken, and Winterport Farm beef as, aside from being a major part of my plates during the week, they are good humans who stepped up for a fundraiser for victims of the 2018 Camp Fire in Butte County. And then there is that delicious Jollity Farm garlic and dill goat cheese spread.

Last year, the smaller farmers markets downtown midweek were reduced from three to one. Only the one block one on Capitol Mall continued to operate, but half the space is for food trucks for downtown workers. It simply isn't a replacement with only a handful of vendors (compared to dozens) and I could never fill my bags the way I do on a usual Sunday. However, there may be hope as patrons of the "W-X market" are pushing for an expansion of those markets during the relocation of the Sunday market. I think some vendors are pushing as well as they hope to make up for lower patronage at Arden Fair next to the soon-to-shutter Sears store.

Anyway, while this has been on my mind since the Wednesday expected announcement finally with details, it does see somewhat trivial. Most of my Dad's side of the family are in Texas and were without power and potable water for the week. Even when electricity returned, my cousin posted on Facebook to ask whether anybody new of a store that was open and had bottled water. People were literally hauling snow from outdoors to melt in order to operate their toilets. And, as I've written in this space before, the unsheltered in tents across the street from farmers market now completely occupies the sidewalk. While the City of Sacramento moved aggressively open cold weather shelters after the fatal storm a few weeks ago, those shelters have been closed the last three nights because of staff members testing positive for SARS-CoV-2.

Oh 2021, we had such higher hopes for you.

the gnus after the jump...


The Capitol is still under strict COVID-19 restrictions. Listen or watch Floor session or committees: Senate | Assembly

Monday, January 22

  • 9:00 a.m.: Senate Budget Sub 1: Dept of Ed, Teacher Credentialing, Student Aid Commission (agenda)
  • 10:00 a.m.: Assembly Budget: Early Action Budget Package (Agenda | Trailer Bill Analysis)
  • 1:00 p.m.: Assembly Floor Session
  • 2:00 p.m.: Senate Floor Session
  • (upon adjourment of session) Senate Environmental Quality: SB 7 (Atkins). Environmental quality: Jobs and Economic Improvement Through Environmental Leadership Act of 2021. (Urgency)
  • 2:30 p.m.: Assembly Budget Sub 1: Health Focus: Behavioral Health (info only)
  • 2:30 p.m.: Assembly Budget Sub 5: Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (info only)

Tuesday, January 23

  • 7:00 a.m. (PST): U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions confirmation hearing on CA AG Xavier Becerra as HHS Secretary (streaming here)
  • 9:00 a.m.: Senate Budget Sub 2: Six resources, environment protection, and energy agencies
  • 9:00 a.m.: Assembly Budget Sub 2: California Community Colleges (info only)
  • 9:30 a.m.: Assembly Jobs, Economic Development, and the Economy: The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on California Small Businesses (agenda | briefing webpage)
  • 12:00 p.m.: Weekly press conference by HHS Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly that includes county tier changes (streaming here)
  • 1:30 p.m.: Jt Hearing of Senate and Assembly Judiciary:  COVID and the Court (agenda | background packet) (info only)
  • 1:30 p.m.: Senate Budget Sub 3: Department of Developmental Services
  • 1:30 p.m.: Assembly Budget Sub 4: State labor agencies (info only)
  • 2:30 p.m.: Assembly Health: Telehealth Policy in California Post-Pandemic (info only)

Wednesday, January 24

  • 8:00 a.m.: Senate Budget Sub 1: Student Aid Commission, UC Hastings, State Library, all departments open issues 
  • 8:30 a.m.: Jt hearing of Senate Gov & Finance, Housing, Human Services, Budget Sub 3, and Budget Sub 4: A Perfect Storm: Confronting California’s Homelessness Crisis during the Pandemic (agenda)
  • 9:30 a.m.: Assembly Budget Sub 3: Five environmental agencies and departments (info only)
  • 1:00 p.m.: Senate Budget Sub 4: Nine state agencies
  • 4:00 p.m.: Assembly Budget Sub 2: Gov's TK-12 education proposals (info only)

Thursday, January 25

  • 9:00 a.m.: Senate Floor Session
  • 10:00 a.m. or upon adjournment: Senate Budget Sub 5: Eight state agencies
  • Assembly Floor (TBA)

Friday, January 26

  • 9:00 a.m.: Senate Budget Sub 3: Department of State Hospitals

COVID-19: California added 284 deaths yesterday for a total of 49,117 since the pandemic began.

-tiers for fears: Here are the statuses of California's 58 counties. You can see what the restrictions mean here, although local health orders may be stricter than the state's orders.

  • purple (widespread): 52 counties
  • red (substantial): 3 counties (Del Norte, Mariposa and Plumas)
  • orange (moderate): 3 counties (Alpine, Sierra, Trinity)

-variants: Los Angeles County reported yesterday that 2 more cases of the UK variant B.1.1.7 were confirmed, bringing the county's total to 14. From the release:

This variant is known to spread more easily and quickly than other variants and is circulating in the state and county. In January 2021, scientists from U.K. reported evidence that suggests the B.1.1.7 variant may be associated with an increased risk of death compared with other variants. More studies are needed to confirm this finding. It is crucial for everyone to keep at least six feet of distance from others and to wear a mask whenever around people that don’t live with them. These measures limit the spread of the virus and known variants and can reduce the likelihood of a surge in cases due to this variant.

Because of capacity, only a small number of cases are able to undergo the genomic testing to determine the variant of the SARS-CoV-19 virus that can lead to COVID-19, and LA Public Health has previous stated that that B.1.1.7 variant is far greater in the county and spreading.

-herd immunity: In the Chron, Erin Allday writes that it may take months or even years before herd immunity is achieved in California.

If everything goes according to plan, much of California could come close to herd immunity levels of vaccination by late summer. Within weeks, the effects could be dramatic: very low case rates, people comfortably allowed to gather again, maybe even some looser rules around mask-wearing.

Of course, little about this pandemic has stuck to the plan.

Such as vaccine hesitancy? Here is what the World Health Organization says about herd immunity:

The percentage of people who need to be immune in order to achieve herd immunity varies with each disease. For example, herd immunity against measles requires about 95% of a population to be vaccinated. The remaining 5% will be protected by the fact that measles will not spread among those who are vaccinated. For polio, the threshold is about 80%. The proportion of the population that must be vaccinated against COVID-19 to begin inducing herd immunity is not known. This is an important area of research and will likely vary according to the community, the vaccine, the populations prioritized for vaccination, and other factors.  

Thus, herd immunity varies among viruses and really can only be identified post-pandemic. I've read and heard from public health experts that it is expected to be around 80% for SARS-CoV-2 and nothing near the 95% of the poliovirus.

However, the January PPIC poll found this:

Two-thirds of Californians say they would definitely (43%) or probably (25%) get the vaccine when it is available to them, an increase from last October (26% definitely, 31% probably). One in four say they will probably not (11%) or definitely not (13%) get the vaccine, a decrease from October (20% probably not, 20% definitely not).

The shares saying they will either definitely or probably get the vaccine vary across racial/ethnic groups. Forty percent of African Americans say they will definitely or probably get the vaccine (up from 29% in October), while two-thirds or more say this among Asian Americans (80%, up from 70%), Latinos (74%, up from 54%), and whites (66%, up slightly from 62%).

Allday continues:

Between the emergence of new coronavirus variantsunreliable vaccine supplies and uneven access to the doses available, it may take months or even years longer than anyone would like to hit herd immunity. It’s possible California, the nation and the world may never get there.

That would be unfortunate, but not necessarily disastrous. The vaccines at hand are powerfully good at preventing severe illness, even with the variants that appear to be somewhat resistant, and they can be retooled to match the virus as it mutates. Vaccines will almost certainly reduce hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19, and that could make the pandemic much more tolerable in the coming months, long before it’s technically over.

-school daze: In San Francisco, teachers held a vigil to support their union leaders in negotiations over how to safely reopen schools, while parents rallied in the East Contra Costa County town of Oakley  for a return to in-person instruction following the resignation of the entire board after they were caught mocking parents on a board meeting video that went viral.

The San Francisco Unified School District board will vote on a plan to reopen only after moving to the state's red tier and all school staff are vaccinated, even though the City by the Bay has the lowest case rate of major U.S. cities, and after major city leaders are calling for a more aggressive reopening plan. The Chron's Susie Neilson writes:

San Francisco’s public schools have been virtual-only for nearly a year, despite increasing pressure from parents and politicians to reopen for in-person instruction. Even the city attorney has called on the school district to “immediately” reopen elementary schools.


But local politicians say [the district's] plan is still too restrictive, given the reality that vaccinations are proceeding slowly because of lack of supply.

Some have noted that other major school districts across the U.S. have opened to some form of in-person schooling — despite having higher levels of community transmission than San Francisco.

Also this week, United Teachers of Los Angeles members are expected to vote to measure their feelings about how to return to in-person instruction.

Meanwhile, the tensions continue between Governor Newsom and Democratic legislative leaders over how and when to reopen schools and a difference of $6 billion in aid for schools to do so.

In short, it will likely be a wild week on this front.

-Governor Newsom visits mobile clinic location providing vaccinations to teachers and school site employees on 02/19.

-Governor Newsom visits vaccination center in the Coachella Valley on 02/18:

-Governor Newsom attends opening of vaccination center in Los Angeles on 02/16:

-Governor Newsom update/announcement of A's vaccine partnership on 02/03:

-HHS Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly update on 02/02:

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

-Governor Newsom update on 01/25:

more stories after the jump...

HOUSING THE HOMELESS: In the SDUT, Jeff McDonald looks at what it is costing to provide housing in hotels purchased by the city of San Diego.

The city of San Diego appears to have paid above-market rates for the two Residence Inn hotels it purchased late last year for just over $106 million, properties that city officials are relying on to help reduce the homeless population across the community.

According to an analysis of sales data obtained by The San Diego Union-Tribune, the Residence Inn Mission Valley cost taxpayers $67 million — not including a $502,000 broker’s fee paid by the buyer — or just under $349,000 for each of 192 rooms.

That was the highest per-room cost for any hotel sold in San Diego County last year — and it was based on a valuation that was set weeks before the global coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on the hospitality industry.

The Kearny Mesa Residence Inn, also bought by the city of San Diego last year, was acquired for $39.5 million, almost $275,000 for each of its 144 rooms. Both properties closed escrow on Nov. 25.

Only two other hotels sold locally for a per-room cost higher than $300,000 per room last year, and they are both in La Jolla.

The Hotel Palomar, a Gaslamp Quarter property that features a ballroom, meeting space, a 24-hour business center and a rooftop pool, among other amenities, closed for $62.8 million, or just under $298,000 for each of its 211 rooms.

When I used to travel all the time, Hotel Palomar in San Diego (and San Francisco and DC) was a go-to for me. I got a government rate and with Kimpton's Inner Circle benefits and routinely got upgraded to a very nice suite. Of course, SF-based Kimpton is now owned by IHG, the British international company that also operates Holiday Inn. Meanwhile, business travel and conferences largely disappeared in 2020, continues to be so in 2021, and likely won't return to previous levels for several years, if ever. Virtual conferencing is literally reshaping organizations from hotels to the organizations that used to provide a mainstay of revenue for them. McDonald continuesL

Hotels elsewhere in the city and county sold for as little as $25,000 per room, although most were in the low six figures, according to the Atlas Hospitality Group, which tracks hotel and motel sales across the state.

It is unclear if these properties were bought with state Project RoomKey funds, local funds, or a combination thereof.

PROSECUTORS v. PROSECUTORS: This morning, Dan Walters writes for CalMatters about the fight within the criminal prosecution community over criminal justice laws.

In the 1980s and 1990s, California became a national leader in increasing penalties for crimes large and small, symbolized by a three-strikes-and-you’re-out law calling for life imprisonment of repeat offenders. Not surprisingly, despite construction of many new prisons, they became horrendously overcrowded with inmates.

However, as California made its almost 180-degree political turn to the left over the last couple of decades, attitudes about crime also evolved, culminating in legislative acts, ballot measures and administrative policies that repealed or softened the state’s sentencing laws. The number of felons locked up in state prisons has dropped by at least one-third in recent years.

That said, what supporters call “criminal justice reform” is not universally accepted. Some law enforcement officials believe it’s gone too far and has contributed to recent upticks in violent crime — a conflict now rippling through the state’s local district attorneys.

In 2020, George Gascón, who had been district attorney of San Francisco, challenged and defeated Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey and immediately issued new operational rules that downplayed punishment.

And now there is a divide from the usually heavyweight California District Attorneys Association. Walters continues:

Gascón and several other like-minded district attorneys have founded their own group, the Prosecutors Alliance of California, to push for criminal justice reforms. It includes Gascón, San Joaquin County’s Tori Salazar, Chesa Boudin of San Francisco and Contra Costa County’s Diana Becton.

Gascón’s election and the burgeoning conflict with more traditional prosecutors is part of a larger phenomenon — a nationwide effort by left-of-center organizations to change criminal justice policies one election at a time.

This will be an interesting political fight to watch and not just in district attorney races. It will play out in state legislative races far more than it previously has. 

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

Probolsky Research


CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Tom Hallinan and Trisha Tahmasbi!

FAREWELL: Former Assembly member (1964-82) Gordon W. Duffy (1924-2021)



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