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California State Capitol fencing. (Photo: Katy Grimes for California Globe)

California State Capitol – the People’s House – Also Under Lockdown

Senate gallery closed to the public; chain link fencing circling Capitol grounds

By Katy Grimes, January 15, 2021 5:15 pm

The gallery in the California State Senate was closed to the public Friday disallowing the usual public review. The gallery is the seating area above the Senate chambers where visitors can sit and observe the Senate debate and vote on legislation.

California Senate Chambers, with galler above. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

The gallery is also where members of the Third House like to observe the Senate while it is in session. But Friday they were also locked out.

As a credentialed member of the California State Capitol Press Corp, this Globe editor has not attended a live, in person press conference for the Governor since February, nor has the Globe been allowed to ask the governor one question in 10 months, despite calling in to the press conferences.

California State Capitol fencing. (Photo: Katy Grimes for California Globe)

Driving past the Capitol Friday afternoon in downtown Sacramento was as disturbing as Capitol police closing the Senate gallery: the Capitol grounds are fenced off with galvanized steel chain link fencing.

As the Globe reported, Governor Gavin Newsom announced Thursday he will be activating up to 1,000 California National Guard troops to help protect the Capitol Building and ‘critical state infrastructure’ in preparation for planned armed protests next week during President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

This State Capitol is the People’s house. However, during 2020 it didn’t feel much like the people’s house with moms protesting the school and business closures getting arrested by Capitol police.

If there are a few rowdy members of the public in the Senate and Assembly galleries, then Capitol sergeants should address those few.

The word going around Capitol circles is that leaders in the Capitol like it this way. They like empty committee hearing rooms. They like empty Senate and Assembly galleries, and they really like not having to deal with members of the media – even the friendlies.

At what point will the media, the Third House and the public be allowed to re-engage with elected members of the California Legislature and Governor in the People’s House?

 

In 2018, Assemblyman Ken Cooley, Chairman Joint Committee on Rules, authored California Historic Capitol A Symbolic Building, Made Richer by its Symbols. This is what Assemblyman Cooley wrote about the “People’s House:”

“As California’s historic ‘People House,’ the West Wing is a a Symbol first, and a Building very much second. The faces and hushed tones of those who visit the Capitol makes this plain; the building and its rotunda stir awe and respect from its visitors. For visitors to Capitol Park and the West Wing, symbols abound inside and out because early Californians invested it with a rich story of our system of governance and its meaning for all who enter its precincts.”

“Astonishingly, the 1952 Annex is entirely and unimaginably devoid of these important symbols and their hope-giving narrative. To strengthen civic engagement, the Annex Project, by restoring this narrative and symbols throughout, can again import their rich understanding of our system of government, its heritage, and its promise.”

This is the State Capitol, which at this point, is unavailable to the people.

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7 thoughts on “California State Capitol – the People’s House – Also Under Lockdown

  1. “The word going around Capitol circles is that leaders in the Capitol like it this way.” (locked down, fenced, public prohibited)
    Not at all surprised to hear this. It was predictable, wasn’t it. And it is extremely disturbing.
    Wish I knew what to do. What’s the answer? We need to get back to sanity and truth, and quickly.

    1. The answer is vote.
      First: vote for the recall. Then vote for anyone but an incumbent.
      We need wholesale turnover in Sacramento and we can accomplish that through legal and peaceful means.

  2. Voting?
    Voting got us into this mess. it certainly can’t get us out of it. just ignore sactown. that is the solution. imagine if nobody except the bigwig electeds voted (for themselves). first off, in CA, nobody would win!!

    Now, I do vote for mayor and city council because i know them and that is at a human scale. county and state gov is likely doing terrible things and i have no idea nor time not ability to contact them.

    1. Election fraud is especially rampant in California no more mail in voting! Except for the disabled all other body should go and vote in person with ID!

  3. How convenient for them, while doing the peoples work, there are no people in the building to hold them ACCOUNTABLE!
    With no journalists in the building, they can work under the cover of the covid darkness.
    With no audience in the galleria, no eyes or physical reactions to their votes!
    Keeping the lights off helps the cockroaches stay in operation.

    ShowandTell is right, the election fraud cannot be ignored.
    I understand that many voters feel disenfranchised and are thinking about not voting again but that is self defeating. Do not give them that kind of power. Election integrity needs to be restored. I plan on becoming a poll watcher, we need to shine the light and hold our elected officials at every level accountable for their actions. We also need to rid our state of unsolicited mail in ballots.

    Thanks again to Katy and the Globe for bringing us these reports. Please share with your friends and family.

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