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- Nooner Conversations (Scott Lay): Lobbyist and legislative process law professor Chris Micheli (2021-03-19) - recorded February 23, first technical and then shoulder problems; hope to add the intro once Quicktime is fixed (Big Sur update broke it) - Simplecast | Apple Podcasts | Amazon Podcasts | YouTube
- Political Breakdown (Scott Shafer and Marisa Lagos @ KQED): Senator Maria Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles) on building Los Angeles's labor movement (2021-03-18)
- Inside Golden State Politics (Bill Boyarsky and Sherry Jeffe): With political analyst Bill Schneider, the filibuster and the recall (2021-03-18)
- Capitol Weekly Podcast (John Howard and Tim Foster): Esther Aquilera of the Latino Corporate Directors Association (2021-03-15)
- Then There's California (Senate Democratic Caucus): Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa) on two statewide water/equity advocates, talking about 'water debt' (2021-03-15)
- Capitol Seminars Zoom workshop - April 1
- McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific - MPA/MPP
- Executive Director of Government Relations: California State University, Fresno
- California School Boards Association - Public Affairs & Community Engagement Representative (San Diego)
- McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific - Masters of Science in Law
- AD54 (Baldwin Hills-Culver City-Westwood): added tax attorney/commissioner Cheryl Turner (D) - May 18/July 20 special election
- AD54 (Baldwin Hills-Culver City-Westwood): added Bernard Benter (NPP)
MONEY MATTERS: interesting filings from yesterday's reports
- AD79 (East San Diego): San Diegans for Economic Recovery & Job Creation to support Leticia Munguia for Assembly 2021 sponsored by Laborers' International Union of Northern America Local 89 reports:
- spending $20,239 on mail in support of Munguia
- receiving $30,000 from American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO, Council 36 PAC (03/17)
- receiving $50,000 from Southern California District Council of Laborers PAC - SCC (03/17)
- receiving $50,000 from Laborers Pacific Southwest Regional Organizing Coalition PAC - SCC (03/18)
DOING THE LAUNDRY: money passed through county central committees that can then give unlimited amounts to state candidates
- Service Employees International Union Local 121RN Health Care Fund reports contributing $20,000 to the Los Angeles County Democratic Party State Candidate Committee - the AD54 endorsing caucus will be held on Sunday via Zoom
- Stop the Republican Recall of Governor Newsom reports $250,000 nonmonetary from the California Democratic Party (total in-kind from CDP: $308,966; cash from CDP: $250,000)
The Nooner for Friday, March 19, 2021, presented by SYASL Partners
Happy Friday! You made it!
Today is the one-year anniversary of the statewide stay-at-home order.
Congratulations to the UCLA Bruins men, who came from behind to earn an 86-80 win over Michigan State to punch a play-in ticket to the tourney. The Bruins will face BYU in round 1.
It's been a sad week for the AAPI community, but there are rays of sunshine. After 75-year-old Xiao Zhen Xie fought off an attacker Wednesday on Market Street in San Francsico, her grandson John Chen set up a GoFundMe page for her recovery with a $50,000 goal to cover medical expenses (including therapy) not covered by her insurance. As of this writing, it has raised $659,019. Kellie Hwang reports for the Chron:
According to police, the suspect also attacked an 83-year old Asian man earlier.
On Thursday, the San Francisco Police Department announced that the suspect, 39-year-old Steven Jenkins, was booked at San Francisco County Jail on two charges of assault and two charges of elder abuse, and investigators are looking into if racial bias was a motivating factor.
The 75-year old San Francisco resident is one of the latest elderly people of Asian descent to be attacked in the Bay Area in recent months. In the fundraiser’s description, Chen writes that he is “amazed by her bravery” at defending herself, but that the attack resulted in two black eyes and a swollen wrist.
“She has been severely affected mentally, physically, and emotionally,” Chen wrote. “She also stated that she is afraid to step out of her home from now on. This traumatic event has left her with PTSD.”
A GoFundMe spokesperson said the money-raising effort was the most-viewed fundraiser on the site Thursday afternoon, bringing in donations from 21,000 individuals in all 50 states and 42 different countries.
Meanwhile, I'll join Adam Probolsky on Tuesday for some new poll results:
New California Statewide Poll Results Webinar - Newsom Recall - Presented by The Nooner
Tuesday, March 23 - 12pm (30 minutes incl. Q&A)
Join Scott Lay and Adam Probolsky as we release new Probolsky Research statewide poll results on the Newsom Recall.
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DO YOU RECALL?
- In the Union-Tribune, Michael Smolens writes that as the pandemic situation improves with more people vaccinated and businesses reopening, Governor Newsom's chances of beating a recall are improving, particularly by when an election would happen this fall:
It’s autumn 2021 in California.
Kids are back in classrooms. High school football games are being played on Friday nights. Businesses are open. Millions of people are back to work. The economy’s humming.
Some remnants of the coronavirus pandemic remain but, for most people, the pain and suffering have eased and the memories of them have become more distant.
That’s a very likely scenario, unless things take an unexpected turn for the worse.
To varying degrees, happy days will be here again for most residents of the Golden State. No doubt, Gov. Gavin Newsom hopes he’s one of them.
VOTER REG: John Myers tweets:
New CA voter registration report via @CASOSvote:
Unaffiliated "no party preference": 23.7%
Other: 6% (and 3% are American Independent, often mistaken by voters as actual independent)
Notable: In past 2 yrs, ~5pt drop in unaffiliated voters.
I'll add updating voter registration data on Aroundthecapitol.com to my to-do list for the weekend. Of course, district data will be somewhat moot since the Citizens Redistricting Commission has its crayons out waiting for Census results.
AGstakes: Before Xavier Becerra resigned to become Secretary of Health and Human Services, he designated Matthew Rodriguez to be acting attorney feneral. He has been serving as chief assistant attorney general for the Public Rights Division and was Environmental Protection secretary in the Brown Administration. Governor Newsom has not provided a timeline for naming an AG, but rather has just offered "soon."
I screwed up yesterday and left Senator Caballero off the list. Here is the current short list:
- Contra Costa County DA Diana Becton
- Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Alameda)
- Senator Anna Caballero (D-Salinas)
- Santa Clara County DA Jeff Rosen
- Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank)
- Sacramento mayor Darrell Steinberg
- Equality California executive director Rick Zbur
Supreme Court of California associate justice Goodwin Liu is still a possibility, although whether he wants to give up a de facto lifetime appointment and possible SCOTUS appointment and have to run for AG in a little under fifteen months is a big question.
COVID-19, cakeday, corrections, and classifieds after the jump...
COVID-19: California reported an additional 278 deaths yesterday for a total of 56,639 since the pandemic began.
-data dive: California's 7-day positivity rate is now 2.0%, far below the 7.1% peak amidst mass testing on December 30.
-vaccines: Remember that in many cases, vaccines are being reserved for second doses (of Moderna and Pfizer). The following data may be delayed by reporting.
- vaccine doses administered in California: 13,382,046 (7-day change: +2,212,207)
- vaccine doses delivered to administering entities in California: 17,213,150 (7-day change: +1,828,440)
- Record week: The LAT's Luke Money and Colleen Shalby report on the record-breaking week of vaccinations in California:
The last four days have seen the four highest single-day totals of vaccines administered to date, according to data compiled by The Times.
That record-setting run includes 464,249 doses reported Tuesday — an all-time high — and 400,360 on Wednesday, the second-largest daily total.
It took roughly 2½ months — from when the first vaccines arrived in mid-December until early March — for 10 million doses to be administered statewide. In the two-week period following that milestone, providers have given more than 3 million additional shots.
- Eligibility: Paul Sisson reports in the SDUT that the addition by San Diego of anyone overweight to priority eligibility has added a large number of residents to those seeking eligibility, although it's not clear just how many.
Data provided by the county health department estimate that about 1.2 million people countywide technically meet the criteria of having a body mass index greater than 25, a number that translates to 169 pounds or more for a man of average height — 5 feet 9 inches — and 145 pounds for a woman measuring the average 5 foot 4.
But it’s not quite that simple, noted Dr. Wilma Wooten, the region’s public health officer. No group of people, she explained during her weekly COVID-19 update Thursday, is an island where coronavirus vaccination is concerned.
“We cannot look at the numbers for individual categories or groups in silos; there is a lot of overlap,” Wooten said.
It’s hard to know exactly how many of those 1.2 million people considered overweight were not already eligible for vaccination for some other reason.
- $$$: In the LAT, Melody Gutierrez writes that the cost to administer vaccines has grown significantlly after counties pushed back on the planned centralized distribution with a state contract with Blue Shield of California.
The expected cost of administering COVID-19 vaccines in California grew nearly fourfold from two months ago to $1.3 billion, a price tag made public Thursday as the state also rolls back sweeping changes to its plan to centralize the delivery of doses under a program run by Blue Shield of California, The Times has learned.
In a letter sent by the California Government Operations Agency to counties this week, the state said it would give some decision-making powers back to local public health officials by requiring Blue Shield to consult with a county before making recommendations about how many vaccine doses a jurisdiction should receive.
The letter, which was obtained by The Times, also outlines another major change to the statewide vaccine network. The state previously planned to restrict a county’s ability to provide vaccines to local clinics and healthcare providers, instead leaving decisions about who can administer doses to Blue Shield and state officials. Under the changes memorialized in a letter from Gabriel Ravel, general counsel at the Government Operations Agency, a county could use its discretion — subject to approval from the state — to distribute portions of its vaccine allotment to other providers.
“The state is trying to make a positive step in addressing county concerns,” Santa Clara County Executive Jeff Smith said.
- The Shield: For HealthLine, Samantha Young and Angela Hart look at the history of Blue Shield of California's support of Gavin Newsom's campaigns and why how it executes the vaccination contract could be a big part of his political future.
Facing mounting criticism early this year over the chaotic covid-19 vaccination rollout and a growing recall effort to remove him from office, Newsom gave the insurer a $15 million, no-bid contract to take over California’s life-or-death effort to quickly vaccinate its 40 million residents. Last spring, Newsom also enlisted Blue Shield’s CEO, Paul Markovich, to help steer the state’s covid testing strategy, another component of the state’s pandemic response that had faltered.
“Blue Shield responded early and responded often,” and it was among the first to invest in Newsom’s controversial homelessness ideas, said Philip Mangano, who led homelessness policy under former President George W. Bush and now informally advises Newsom. “Gavin understood they could be depended on over the years.”
But Newsom’s decision to rely on Blue Shield is backfiring. A growing number of public health officials and lawmakers say Blue Shield isn’t the right choice to coordinate the state’s vaccine distribution. And California’s counties, which are implementing the state’s coronavirus response, simply refuse to sign on with the insurer.
Newsom’s political future now hinges, in part, on how quickly Blue Shield — which is still charged with leading how vaccines are allocated — can get shots into Californians’ arms. The Republican-driven recall campaign slams him for his response to the pandemic and for violating his own public health recommendations when he dined last fall at the exclusive French Laundry restaurant in Napa Valley with people from outside his household.
Blue Shield, which has already contributed $269,000 to a political account that Newsom could tap to fight a recall election, also declined multiple interview requests. But in an email, spokesperson Don Campbell said the Oakland-based company regularly supports candidates who share its mission of improving health care access and affordability.
“There is no financial or other benefit being bestowed upon, or accrued by, Blue Shield,” Campbell said. “Blue Shield was asked by the state to help with vaccines. Our reward is to help save lives.”
Blue Shield isn’t alone in donating to the governor and his projects. Other interest groups have given more, such as Silicon Valley’s Facebook and the health care giant Kaiser Permanente, which covers about one-quarter of the state’s population. (KHN is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.)
-variants: For the Chron, Erin Allday reports on the race between vaccinations and emerging variants.
Public health authorities on Wednesday confirmed the first California case of a variant called P.1 that’s wreaked havoc in Brazil; it was found in a resident of San Bernardino County. They also announced a fourth California case of a variant from South Africa, this one in Santa Clara County. That case was in an individual who had not traveled anywhere recently, raising concerns that the variant is spreading in the community, though at very low levels.
-tiers for fears: As a reminder, any county must remain at a tier for three weeks before progressing to a less-restrictive tier, even if the metrics continue to improve. After the changes yesterday, here's where the counties stand.
- 11 counties in the Purple (widespread) Tier (10.3% of population): Fresno, Glenn, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, Nevada, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Yuba
- 42 counties in the Red (substantial) Tier (87.7% of population): Alameda, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, Contra Costa, Del Norte, El Dorado, Humboldt, Imperial, Lake, Lassen, Los Angeles, Mendocino, Modoc, Mono, Monterey, Napa, Orange, Placer, Riverside, Sacramento, San Benito, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Siskiyou, Solano, Sonoma, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Tulare, Tuolumne, Ventura, and Yolo
- 4 counties in Orange (moderate) Tier (2.0% of population): Mariposa, Plumas, San Mateo, Sierra
- 1 county in Yellow (minimal) Tier (0.0% of population): Alpine
- Watch list for changes: Orange, San Francisco likely to move to orange on Tuesday
- While high school football may be returning, the "rah!" factor has been muted. The Press-Enterprise's Beau Yarbrough reports on angry parents:
“Football players are allowed on the field with no masks, but cheerleaders are not,” Riverside mother Allison Yrungaray said. “It just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.”Cheerleaders and their parents had expected cheerleading — officially recognized as a high school sport in 2016, when Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law to that effect — to be among the sports that could return to a somewhat normal state as counties moved into the less-restrictive red coronavirus tier.
The state is classifying cheerleaders on the sidelines, along with students in band and drumline as “supporting groups,” and is not permitting any supporting groups to attend sporting events. Under the guidance, only a single adult per household is allowed to “observe” sporting events.
“The state distinguishes sideline cheer from competitive cheer, which is permitted in the red tier,” Riverside County spokeswoman Brooke Federico wrote in an email. “We understand this distinction between sideline and competitive cheer may appear conflicting to parents and athletes alike, and we’ve brought this up to the California Department of Public Health. Other counties have also brought this topic up to the state, as it’s not specific to Riverside County.”
The state is classifying cheerleaders on the sidelines, along with students in band and drumline as “supporting groups,” and is not permitting any supporting groups to attend sporting events. Under the guidance, only a single adult per household is allowed to “observe” sporting events
- And, Sarah Ravini reports in The Bee that student athletes will be limited to one adult per game.
According to updated guidelines the California Department of Public Health released Tuesday, spectators at youth and high school sports games will be limited to only one adult per player. Schools were previously advised to admit four spectators per student athlete. Under the new guidelines, cheerleaders, bands, scouts and college recruiters will not be allowed to attend games.
Most schools in Sacramento and Placer counties gave each student four tickets to give to immediate family. Most area schools also had cheerleaders socially distanced on the sideline.
-hazard pay: While the focus of hazard pay for essential workers has focused on grocery workers, The Bee's Jeong Park writes that the movement is growing to other sectors.
The movement is growing, labor leaders said, covering more workers affected by the pandemic. Coachella has already passed an ordinance giving hazard pay to farmworkers, the first in the nation to do so.
“We think this is an important, needed and principled idea and concept to bring to the healthcare industry,” said Dave Regan, president of SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, at a recent press conference rolling out a bill that would require hospitals to provide up to $10,000 in extra pay for their workers.
Labor leaders are also hoping the movement will lead to higher wages for those workers beyond the pandemic.
“This pandemic has demonstrated the need to increase compensation all the time for grocery store workers,” said Andrea Zinder, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers local 324 in Southern California. “This is one pandemic, but there are other natural emergencies or civil unrest where grocery workers continue to go to work while others don’t necessarily have to leave their house.”
THE ANNIVERSARY: One year after Governor Newsom issued the first-in-the-nation statewide stay-at-home order, Taryn Luna looks back on how that decision was made.
Harrowing reports of patients flocking to hospitals were streaming in from New York along with stories about Italian doctors making on-the-spot choices about which patients to treat or leave to die, dire warning signs of a worst-case scenario that could wipe out the state’s fragile public healthcare system unless Newsom took drastic action. And soon.
“He walked in. He didn’t stay. He didn’t sit down. He stood up near the door. He asked me maybe two questions,” said Mark Ghaly, California’s health and human services secretary, describing his recollection of that moment one year later. “And then he decided, and then he’s like, ‘Let’s go.’”
Hours later, Newsom would stand before news cameras with the busy operations center behind him and announce the most consequential government action in California modern history: All 40 million residents were ordered to shelter in place until further notice.
Effectively shutting down the world’s fifth-largest economy carried enormous political risk and marked a watershed moment for Newsom and California.
In the coming months, the order appeared to be a brilliant stroke as California saw a much less deadly first COVID-19 surge than other parts of the United States. Newsom won national praise and his leadership was often considered a contrast to President Trump’s.
But the initial stay-at-home order marked just the beginning of an unprecedented health and political crisis that would see Newsom’s decisions increasingly questioned and his popularity wane. The devastating economic toll of the shutdown, combined with a winter wave that made parts of California the national epicenter of the pandemic, made the state less of a national model.
And now, as Newsom is engineering a rapid reopening of the economy, he faces a likely recall election later this year.
AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN: The Legislative Analyst's Office had a great handout for Assembly Budget Sub 6 yesterday that breaks out the funding streams coming to California from the federal American Rescue Plan. Beyond the individual assistance and state and local government financial assistance, the LAO estimates that the act will provide $3.5 billion in assistance to California restaurants as well as $2 billion for small businesses.
EDD: The Chron's Carolyn Said reports on why improvements to the Employment Development Department's unemployment insurance claims haven't moved faster despite many pronouncements.
Millions of Californians, thrown out of work by shelter-in-place guidelines that started one year ago, turned to EDD for unemployment benefits. The agency was quickly overwhelmed. EDD’s call center became notorious as a nightmarish bureaucracy that mired jobless people in Kafkaesque quests for help. Thousands upon thousands of jobless people said they couldn’t get the benefits they desperately needed.
For the EDD workers on the other end of the line, the interactions can be emotionally draining — especially for new agents hastily hired and limited in what they can do. They feel powerless to help people and resent having to put them on endless waiting lists for callbacks that may not occur.
Interviews with some of these agents, along with scathing reports by California’s auditor, paint a picture of inadequate training and inefficient systems. But some longer-time workers see it differently, and EDD itself says it is working hard to change the culture under a new leader.
For the agent who’s been at EDD since the summer, the best moments are the rarest: when he can help a caller get benefits right away.
WILDFIRES: In the LAT, Alex Wigglesworth looks at how Sonoma County hopes to use artificial intelligence for early detection of wildfires.
The county has entered into an agreement with the South Korean firm Alchera to outfit its network of fire-spotting cameras with software that detects wildfire activity and then alerts authorities. The technology sifts through past and current images of terrain and searches for certain changes, such as flames burning in darkness, or a smoky haze obscuring a tree-lined hillside, according to Chris Godley, the county’s director of emergency management.
But emergency workers will first have to “teach” the system to differentiate between images that show fire smoke, and others that might show clouds, fog, or vapor from geothermal geysers. The software will use feedback from humans to refine its algorithm and will eventually be able to detect fires on its own — or at least that’s what county officials hope.
“It’s kind of like learning how to read,” Godley said. “What letters can I put together to make up a word?”
ETHNIC STUDIES: The LAT's Nina Agrawal reports that, amidst continuing controversy which I wrote about yesterday, the State Board of Education approved the state's first ethnic studies curriculum.
Ending years-long and often divisive debate over ethnic studies coursework in California’s K-12 schools, the State Board of Education on Thursday unanimously approved a model curriculum to guide how the histories, struggles and contributions of Asian, Black, Latino and Native Americans — and the racism and marginalization they have experienced in the United States — will be taught to millions of students.
The new curriculum embraces an approach to ethnic studies that focuses on the four core groups but evolved to accommodate a breadth of experiences, including lessons on the Jewish, Armenian and Sikh communities in the U.S.
Although criticism still emerged Thursday, the curriculum approval culminates two years of difficult discussions, protests and rewrites over which groups should be included and how their stories should be presented. Drafts were alternately pilloried for being left-wing propaganda or capitulating to right-wing agendas, and defended as providing an essential means for students of color to see themselves reflected in public school curriculum. It comes at a time when educators are seeking concrete lessons and strategies to address racism.
BAGHDAD BY THE BAY: Jill Tucker writes in the Chron about a new lawsuit over the renaming of 44 San Francisco Unified schools.
The San Francisco school board’s decision to rename 44 schools faces a legal challenge from a local law firm joined by a prominent constitutional scholar, with a lawsuit filed Thursday.
Attorney Paul Scott called on district officials to rescind the 6-1 vote, claiming the district failed to adequately notify the public that the decision would be final. His “cure or correct” demand gave the board 30 days to reverse the decision.
I'm expecting the district to respond with the Romeo and Juliet quote "That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."
cakeday, corrections, and classifieds after supporter recognition...
CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Los Angeles City Council member Mike Bonin, Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian, and four waters!
DEPT OF CORRECTIONS: Really, not a correction, but rather a question answered. Stanley Mosk, later chief justice of the Supreme Court of California, was the first Jewish Attorney General of California.
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