If industries can buy themselves an exemption from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, then there is no real deadly pandemic. If the coronavirus was really as deadly as the Spanish Flu, no one would be lobbying the governor for an exemption to his lockdown orders. But that is exactly what has been happening in the recesses of Gov. Newsom’s office.
“Oh, what a tangled web we weave…when first we practice to deceive.” Sir Walter Scott had it right, even in the 18th Century.
The Intercept is reporting California’s entertainment industry has been given exemptions to operate during the COVID lockdown, thanks to efforts by lobbyists close to Gov. Gavin Newsom.
As Californians have suffered nine months under business lockdowns, school closures and stay-at-home orders, lobbyists like Jason Kinney, who are in and out of the governor’s office like it has a revolving door, were able to get the governor to name the television and movie production industry as “critical infrastructure,” allowing Netflix and Hollywood studios to continue film productions, including in Los Angeles, which has one of the most strict lockdown orders.
“One of Kinney’s clients, Netflix, has been allowed to continue to operate during the latest round of forced closures that began last week as intensive care hospital capacity has dwindled across the state,” the Intercept reported.
If Jason Kinney’s name is familiar, he’s the birthday boy from the now infamous French Laundry dinner Nov. 6th that Gov. Newsom and his wife attended, with a bar tab of $15,000, and dinners that start at $310. “The dinner controversy was more than just an opulent display of political double standards — it also highlighted the backroom efforts to maintain special treatment during the pandemic.”
The Intercept said:
Many studios are still filming shows across Los Angeles, including HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and Netflix’s “The Kominsky Method,” along with at least 40 feature films that began filming in November. Sony Pictures told investors that it began to ramp up its production schedule back in July.
This stands in sharp contrast to the strict rules applied to the average California resident or small business. Californians in many counties now face fines or imprisonment for venturing outside for any “nonessential” travel, congregating in small groups, or operating an outdoor restaurant, even one that follows federal guidelines on social distancing and hygiene.
This is all ironic given that Gov. Gavin Newsom just sent out an “Emergency Alert” Friday to everyone’s cell phone, ordering Californians to “stay home, wear a mask, keep your distance.”
Everyone, that is, except Hollywood, Netflix and other movie studios. Netflix’s quarterly lobbying spending jumped from $24,437 to $70,725 a quarter, Intercept reported. “The jump in spending includes increased fees to Axiom Advisors, the firm founded by Kinney.”
Again, if the coronavirus is so deadly, why was the movie business exempted? Movie-making isn’t providing critical healthcare workers, first responders, public safety, energy, water, defense or food production, as the “critical infrastructure” list makes clear.
The bottom line is that no business or industry should be shut down – or all businesses should be if this flu virus is that deadly. But it’s not, and Gov. Newsom has shown that he doesn’t believe it is.
“Netflix and its employees gave $135,950; Walt Disney and Co. and its employees gave $183,999; Paramount and its employees gave $119,308; Sony and its employees gave $27,961; Comcast-NBCUniversal and its employees gave $251,588; and Warner Bros. and its employees gave $77,050.”
Netflix, Walt Disney and Co., Paramount, Sony, Comcast-NBCUniversal, and Warner Bros. all paid for lobbyists to manipulate Gov. Newsom’s rules.
Mercury Public Affairs, another prominent lobbying firm, “features former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez and former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as partners, is currently registered to lobby LA officials on filming issues on behalf of both Comcast-NBCUniversal and the Motion Picture Association,” Intercept reported. “Tracy Arnold, Newsom’s chief deputy cabinet secretary, previously served as partner at Mercury Public Affairs.”
“Paramount Pictures’ lobbyist Greg Campbell previously served as chief of staff to former Assembly Speaker John Pérez.”
“Campbell jointly serves clients through a partnership with a lobbyist named Jim DeBoo. That relationship may serve him well. On Wednesday, DeBoo was announced as Newsom’s new chief of staff to replace outgoing chief of staff Ann O’Leary.”
The Globe reported Gov. Newsom will be hiring DeBoo, a lobbyist, as his Chief of Staff, ostensibly to help fix his image.
Ask restaurant owner Angela Marsden how she feels about Hollywood’s exemption. Marsden made a tearful, now-viral video as she was forced to close down her restaurant, Pineapple Hill Saloon and Grille, including her outdoor dining, while a Hollywood film production was allowed to provide the same outdoor dining across the shared parking lot. The message: Hollywood “essential” and necessary, Pineapple Hill Saloon and Grille not.
Ask salon owner Erica Kious how she feels about Hollywood’s exemption. Kious caught House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on security cameras visiting her San Francisco hair salon for a wash and blow-out, despite Gov. Gavin Newsom’s business lockdown orders, and local ordinances keeping hair and nail salons closed during the coronavirus pandemic.
Erica Kious and Angela Marsden aren’t clients of Jason Kinney, or Jim DeBoo, or former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez, or former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Nor are the hundreds of thousands of other small restaurant owners, gym owners, salon owners, and boutique owners.Axiom Advisors
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