Presented by Our Health California
THE BUZZ: With the June 15 reopening about a week away, we were reminded on Friday that date is less a destination than a significant signpost on our long coronavirus journey.
For months now, Gov. Gavin Newsom has touted next Tuesday as a landmark in California’s triumph over the pandemic.
The county-by-county tiers of restrictions will dissolve, businesses can welcome back customers at full capacity and vaccinated Califorrnians can lose the mask even when they’re indoors. The date has beckoned as a restoration to normal life — the kind of boost that could help voters forget their frustrations and set aside their inclinations to oust Newsom in a coming recall vote. “Fully reopen” has been the operative phrase when his office refers to June 15.
But the world will not entirely snap back to normal. Newsom affirmed as much on Friday after he ebulliently emceed California’s first big vaccine lottery. The governor seemed to enjoy that role as much as any other part of his often-brutal job, but he seemed a little less joyful when reporters began pressing for details on what comes next.
THE BIG NEWS: Newsom will maintain an official state of emergency after June 15
, sustaining a designation from March 2020 that empowers him to flex his executive muscles. He’s done so amply in the months since the coronavirus first spurred the ongoing state of emergency, issuing flurries of executive orders. Newsom said he will still need those powers, which allow him to maintain or reimpose public health restrictions and enable cost-sharing and logistical coordination with the feds. “The emergency remains in effect after June 15,” Newsom said, “because we're still in a state of emergency. This disease has not been extinguished. It has not vanished.” The governor’s office was soon >trying to swat down headlines accurately conveying the news.
The state of emergency has frustrated lawmakers who feel sidelined or who feel Newsom has wielded too much power.
Republicans have already challenged Newsom in court — an appeals court recently upheld Newsom’s expansive powers — and recall proponents have hammered the theme of dictatorial overreach. The GOP reacted with frustration on Friday:
“Huh? So does that mean the emergency persists until there are absolutely zero COVID cases?” tweeted Assemblyman
Jordan Cunningham. Sen.
Scott Wilk urged lawmakers to vote to end the emergency, saying “in California we don’t grow banana, so there’s no need for a banana republic.” Republican recall contenders piled on.
On workplace mask rules, Newsom did not offer a detailed answer to what will happen next.
He said “the dust is settling” after a >bizarre Thursday Cal/OSHA meeting in which regulators rejected a relaxing of mask rules and then immediately reversed and did the opposite. So what now? “The one thing I’m certain of is there’s uncertainty in the future,” Newsom said, promising more in the coming days and months.
The governor repeatedly referenced “modifications” and “augmentations” and “considerations” —
Newsom-speak for which restrictions will endure and which will lift. While he said that should look like “less mandates, more encouragements” — money for employers to buy masks, for example — the governor emphasized that the state will need the power to make changes. That could include tightening up if the condition deteriorates.
: Californians will unambiguously live more freely soon: baseball stadiums and restaurants and gyms are getting ready to pack houses, for instance. And Newsom has long said California will need to be able to reimpose rules even after June 15, depending on the behavior of a virus that will remain long after.
We’re not at full vaccination yet and people can still travel into California from more-stricken states and countries. Newsom’s remarks on Friday were consistent with that position. But that nuance could be a source of confusion and perhaps frustration for individuals and businesses who have been looking forward to throwing the doors wide.
BUENOS DÍAS, good Monday morning. Condolences to Central Valley residents, who were shut out of California’s first vaccine lottery drawing on Friday as $50,000 per person cash prizes flowed instead to coastal and Bay Area counties. Beyond our borders, Vice President Kamala Harris is in Mexico today meeting with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador after meeting Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei on his home turf.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “ Like the Swiss Army knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment. Good for both home and battle.”
U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez strikes down California’s assault weapons ban with an argument Newsom condemned as “a slap in the face to the families who’ve lost loved ones to this weapon.”
TWEET OF THE DAY: Mike McPhate @mmcphate on the LA-born royal baby of Harry and Meghan: “A Californian is now eighth in line of succession to the British throne.”
WHERE’S GAVIN? Nothing official announced.
EVENTS: A pair of Californians are joining POLITICO Live events this week: California Secretary for Environmental Protection Jared Blumenfeld will talk about building a path to a low-carbon future on Tuesday at 9 a.m. PST — >register for here. And on Thursday, Stacey Schesser of the California Attorney General’s privacy unit will be talking privacy, data and tech starting at 11:30 a.m. PT — >register for here.>
A message from Our Health California:
Every person deserves access to high-quality, affordable health care when they need it. Our Health California, a grassroots advocacy community with more than 1 million supporters, is dedicated to advancing access to health care in every corner of our state. We speak out to build healthier communities and ensure equitable care for all. Our Health California is sponsored by hospitals, health systems, and the California Hospital Association.
MAJOR GUN RULING — “U.S. judge overturns California's ban on assault weapons,” by the AP’s Don Thompson: “A federal judge has overturned California’s three-decade-old ban on assault weapons, ruling that it violates the constitutional right to bear arms. … Gov. Gavin Newsom condemned the decision, calling it ‘a direct threat to public safety and the lives of innocent Californians, period.’”
DRUNK BAD BOYS? — “Armed and drunk: Off-duty cops get into trouble drinking. LAPD rules fail to prevent it,” by the LATimes’ Kevin Rector and Richard Winton: “In a 2019 incident that resurfaced in state court in April, an LAPD detective who’d been drinking with subordinates for hours in downtown bars allegedly shot a homeless man on skid row before being badly beaten himself. The officer claimed self-defense.”
EXTREMIST BAD BOYS? — “California sheriff warns officers not to join far-right extremist groups, records reveal,” by the Guardian’s Sam Levin: “The training is notable, experts said, because it suggests that sheriff’s officials were acknowledging that their own officers could be drawn to far-right groups and were concerned about the risks of them posting racist or extremist content.”
DESERT DETERIORATION — “Rising temperatures, drought are destroying Joshua Tree. He’s sounding the alarm,” by the LATimes’ Steve Lopez: “If you have any questions about how the plants and animals of Southern California’s deserts are faring as the Earth gets hotter and drier, Jim Cornett is a good bet to have the answers.”
PEACABOO! — “Los Angeles County prepares to crack down as peacocks — yes, peacocks — ruffle feathers,” by the WaPo’s Erica Werner and Allison Zaucha: “The feral fowl, descendants of a small population imported by a wealthy entrepreneur in the late 19th century, roam free by the hundreds in Pasadena and other towns in the San Gabriel Valley northeast of Los Angeles.”
WHO’S ADVISING CAITLYN?
WHO’S ADVISING CAITLYN?Republican gubernatorial
Caitlyn Jenner repeatedly insisted Friday that former state GOP chair
Jim Brulte serves as a key adviserr to her campaign — an assertion Brulte himself denies. “I met her once,’’ Brulte told POLITICO in an interview.
But Jenner named Brulte repeatedly as >she sat for her first in-depth TV interview with a state reporter Friday on Fox11’s “The Issue is..” — where host
Elex Michaelson asked her to detail who exactly is advising her gubernatorial run.
“Well, yes actually [we have] quite a big few names,’’ Jenner said, adding that she has surrounded herself with “the best minds out there.” She cited
Brad Parscale , the former Trump campaign guru, whom she called the head of her campaign, and former CA strategist
Ryan Irwin . And “
Jim Brulte , who’s been involved in government, he’s on board,’’ she said of the former state Senate minority leader. She also cited “
Lee Ohanian at Hoover, he’s one of the smartest guys I’ve ever met.”
Jenner, pressed by Michaelson on whether she knew the size of the state budget, could not cite a figure. But she insisted she has “worked with Jim Brulte on this subject and we’ve gone over the entire budget.” Brulte said that at the request of Irwin, who asked for a budget briefing, “I met with her” for one session that lasted two and a half hours. “They offered to pay me, and I said, ‘I don’t need to be paid. I do this for anybody.’”
Ohanian of Hoover >also told POLITICO he has met with Jenner once via Zoom for a briefing, and noted that the Stanford University think tank has hosted briefings and policy discussions for candidates of all stripes, including
Gavin Newsom. Ohanian said he is not a formal adviser to her campaign, and >recently publicly praised former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s tax plan, saying it would “help restore the California Dream” to many middle class families.
— Caitlyn Jenner: Homeless tents in Beverly Hills are latest problem sign, by POLITICO’s Carla Marinucci: Republican gubernatorial candidate Caitlyn Jenner was deemed out-of-touch last month for lamenting how a fellow Malibu-area plane owner was leaving California because he "can't take" seeing people who are homeless. Now, she says tents in Beverly Hills are a sign of the problem.
— “Judge and attorney in pivotal Newsom recall lawsuit were former law partners,” by the LATimes’ Phil Willon: “Two experts in legal ethics, however, said judges often face similar situations and noted that it was unlikely to be an ethical violation.”>
“THE WOMEN REOPENING AMERICA” – HAPPENING TODAY: With more than 100 million people vaccinated against Covid-19, a strengthening economy and relaxed Covid restrictions on businesses and public gatherings, America is on a path to fully reopening. What policies and systemic changes can help women recover from the disproportionate impact of the pandemic? Join today for a “Women Rule” conversation with leading women who are playing a pivotal role in determining what normal will look like for business, politics, schools and the workplace. REGISTER HERE.
VILLARAIGOSA REDUX? — “Could Antonio Villaraigosa come back to the Los Angeles mayor’s office?” by the LATimes’ Emily Alpert Reyes and David Zahniser: “The Biden administration has yet to announce whether it will name Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti as U.S. ambassador to India. But the jockeying to fill his seat is already underway. One of the prospects who has generated buzz at City Hall is former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who held the job from 2005 to 2013 before reaching term limits. But a question has hung over that idea: Would he be allowed to return under city rules?”
STEEL MESSAGING — “Democrats deal their own Trump card,” by the National Journal’s Kirk A. Bado: “A press release sent to reporters Thursday attacking freshman Republican Rep. Michelle Steel appeared to accidentally include an internal back-and-forth between the committee and a campaign staffer over wording and strategy. In editing a draft press release by a campaign aide to former Rep. Harley Rouda, who's mounting a rematch campaign against Steel, a DCCC researcher pushed back on a line invoking her vote against impeaching Trump.”
GREEN WOES — “For environmentalists, California's Legislature has been 'a bloodbath' this year,” by the SF Chronicle’s Dustin Gardiner: “Nearly every major environmental measure at the Capitol has been killed or shelved this session, from a bill that would have required buffer zones around oil drilling sites near homes to another that would have required large corporations to report their greenhouse gas emissions.”
— “Many CSU students see big upsides to online learning. Now, there is a push to expand it,” by the LATimes’ Colleen Shalby: “At CSU’s largely commuter campuses, many found valuable upsides to virtual learning: greater flexibility in their college-work-life balance, fewer expenses, the power to keep students in college.”
COOL VISUALS — “Along San Francisco's Mission Creek, sea level rise unsettles the waters,” by the SF Chronicle’s John King: “Though Mission Creek is unique, the larger dilemma is one that affects all nine Bay Area counties.”
LOOMING FIRE SEASON — “These maps show 'all of the pieces are in place' for serious fire season in Northern California,” by the SFChronicle’s Kellie Hwang: “The outlook for fire potential is above normal for much of the region through the summer, and by fall, virtually all of Northern California will be under serious threat, according to the most recent report and maps from the interagency Northern California Geographic Coordination Center.”
LEGAL BEAT — “D.A. George Gascón’s promise to review controversial police killings hits roadblocks,” by the LATimes’ James Queally: “ Gascón identified four shootings that he believed should be reviewed, including the 2015 killing of a homeless man by an LAPD officer whom former police Chief Charlie Beck asked [former District Attorney Jackie] Lacey to file charges against. After his election, Gascón moved to hire a decorated special prosecutor, Lawrence Middleton, to review the cases.”
HEALTH CARE — “California moves to make abortion cheaper, as other states work to restrict it,” by Kaiser Health News’ Rachel Bluth: “State lawmakers are debating a bill to eliminate out-of-pocket expenses such as co-pays and payments toward deductibles for abortions and related services, including counseling. The measure, approved by the Senate and headed to the Assembly, would apply to most private health plans regulated by the state.”>
— Modest goals for Kamala Harris in her first foreign trip by POLITICO’s Eugene Daniels and Sabrina Rodriguez: The goal for her two-day visit to Guatemala and Mexico isn’t to roll out a massive plan to solve the problems driving thousands to flee the region, according to administration officials, people close to the White House and experts, but simply to show that the U.S. cares and isn’t just looking for quick fixes.
IT KEEPS GETTING BETTER — “California has lowest new-case average in 14 months,” by the Mercury News’ Leonardo Castañeda: “This time, the success in keeping down new cases has been driven in large part by vaccinations. Among Californians 18 and older, 70.5 percent have at least one vaccine dose, and 55.2 percent are fully vaccinated. Among residents 65 and older — a population targeted early for vaccination — 91.1 percent have at least one shot and 72.3 percent are fully inoculated.”
— “As June 15 coronavirus reopening nears, shopping malls are bracing for waves of shoppers,” by LA Daily News’ Olga Grigoryants: “Nearly 65% of consumers said last month they’d feel safe visiting a mall, a 7% uptick from a few weeks prior, marking consumer confidence in shopping in-person, according to consumer research company Morning Consult, which conducts weekly surveys among roughly 2,200 adults nationwide.”
— “Masks? Social distancing? We answer your questions on California’s new COVID workplace rules,” by the Sac Bee’s Jeong Park: “Here is what to know about the updated standards from the standards board of the state’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, commonly called Cal-OSHA. They are scheduled to go into effect around June 15 pending administrative approval.”
BAN PLAYS ON — Facebook gives Trump path to return — but not until at least 2023 by POLITICO’s Cristiano Lima: Facebook announced Friday that former President Donald Trump's account will remain suspended for at least two years, setting a timetable for his potential return after its oversight board criticized the company's indefinite ban over his posts during the deadly Capitol riot.
ANALYSIS: Facebook wanted to escape the Trump trap. So much for that, Lima writes: That means that one way or another, Facebook will again have to make a politically hazardous call on whether Trump’s posts pose a threat to the U.S. in the run-up to a key election … Facebook also unveiled a more hands-on approach for reviewing global leaders’ posts on Friday, where the company will no longer automatically give their rule-breaking posts a pass on the basis that they are newsworthy.
— “Contractor slashed Facebook janitors’ paid holidays and blamed the tech giant, but reversed course after questions,” by Market Watch’s Levi Sumagaysay: “A contractor said this week it is restoring holiday pay to Facebook Inc. janitors after questions from MarketWatch about why hundreds of workers lost more than half their paid holidays during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
— “France fines Google $268M for unfair online ads treatment,” via the AP: “ Practices used by Google ‘are particularly serious because they penalize Google’s competitors’ in certain markets and publishers of mobile sites and applications, the statement by the Competition Authority said.”>
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— “Most People Say They Plan to Spend More Time Consuming Entertainment Post-Pandemic,” by the Hollywood Reporter’s Chris Gardner.
— “2 arrested in shooting death of 6-year-old Aiden Leos on 55 Freeway in Orange,” by the Press Enterprise’s Brian Rokos, Tony Saavedra and Nathaniel Percy.
— “Pride-month protest of anti-gay speaker at Calvary Chapel leads to curbside debates,” by the Mercury News’ Elliott Almond.
— “Tommy Gong is leaving job as SLO County’s top elections official,” by the SLO Tribune’s Lindsey Holden.
— “Former student sues elite Marin high school, says renowned head coach failed to respond to assistant's sexual abuse,” by the SF Chronicle’s Matthias Gafni.
— “‘This just should not happen’: Hearing on Monday to address potentially explosive problems tied to seismic retrofits,” by the SF Examiner’s Joe Eskanazi.
— “This L.A. company has a ‘microbiome’ test for your cat’s teeth. Does it work?” by the LATimes’ David Lazarus.
— “Pro-Palestinian protesters at Port of Oakland attempt to block unloading of Israeli cargo ship,” by the SF Chronicle’s Steve Rubenstein.
— “Pride flag will fly at the ‘people’s house’ in Fresno after Fresno City College led the way,” by Fresno Bee’s Brianna Calix.
— “‘He gave us such joy,’ mother of 6-year-old killed in 55 Freeway shooting says at service,” by the Press-Enterprise’s Brian Rokos.
SUNDAY: Abby Ginzberg
SATURDAY: Katy Summerlin of Maxar Technologies>
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