It has been the driving force around the world for 18 months. It has killed millions of people, sickened tens of millions more, devastated economies, obliterated education, and sown fear and distrust on a monumental scale throughout the world. It is COVID.
We lost more than 67,000 fellow Californians, 25,000 businesses, more than a year of school (for most), and, in many instances, a certain sense of trust in each other.
In light of the yawning unknowns, few could fault Governor Newsom’s immediate reactions to protect against COVID. But as time passed and the worst of the epidemic is now clearly behind us, Newsom’s seeming inability to understand the difference between – and how they merit different reactions – the concepts of not great, bad, and very bad has left the state at best limping back to normality and him facing a recall Tuesday.
The continued COVID panic and restrictions and the blindly authoritarian posture of the leadership clique has, and will continue, change California forever – and not for the better.
Oddly, it brings to mind an episode of “Seinfeld” of all things.
Jerry owns a Saab and treats his car like most normal beings. But that is not good enough for his mechanic, Tony Abado (played by Brad Garrett). Here is a description of the episode from the “Seinfeld” fandom page:
Tony is an easy-going guy if the customer treats his car right. If he doesn’t, he will guilt-trip him with warnings of the dangers of poor automobile maintenance. He has a program for neglectful car owners to bring their cars back to showroom standards, but it involves a commitment to keeping theirs car below 60 miles an hour at all times, making sure their ratio of left turns is equal to turns to the right and the spending of possibly thousands of dollars. Anyone who objects to this program is brow-beaten with even more scorn and ridicule from Tony.
Jerry Seinfeld was a victim of Tony’s intimidation tactics and quickly grew tired of them. He told Tony that he would no longer be doing business with him and requested the keys to his Saab so that he could find a different auto mechanic. Tony took extreme exception to it and chose to steal Jerry’s car rather than return it. He then took the stolen Saab for a joyride and was last seen with it in rural Ohio, lobbing golf clubs at a mail truck driven by Cosmo Kramer, who was attempting to help Jerry get the Saab back. Tony was never seen or heard from again and the Saab was never recovered.
Remind you of anything?
When it aired, the mechanic was the villain of the episode – today, for vast swaths of the country and especially those in charge, maybe not so much.
We don’t know if California will finally get its Saab back on Tuesday but we do have a number of people who want to sit in the driver’s seat if we do and they had a number of things to say about COVID.
One note: the format for this, the final installment of the California Globe’s recall candidate issue “round-up” series, is a bit different. Instead of just two questions, due to the overwhelming nature of the topic, we asked six. We also allowed for longer responses and, if the candidate so wished gave them the option of submitting a single “long form” answer. So here are the questions:
Q1 – How has COVID impacted you personally?
Q2 – At the outset of the pandemic, how would you as governor reacted differently to how Governor Newsom did, restriction and policy-wise?
Q3 – Why do you believe the approach to COVID went from “two weeks to flatten the curve” to today’s consideration of vaccine mandates and passports, continued masking in various public spaces, etc.?
Q4 – In pandemic response planning, how much weight do you feel should have been given to societal side-effects such as economic devastation, educational setbacks, increased societal problems such as crime and the impacts of isolation, and the seeming loss of personal freedoms and agency?
Q5 – As governor, what would you change about the state’s pandemic response immediately?
Q6 – What is your plan to help the state finally recover from COVID?
With over 66,000 COVID deaths and 4.4 million confirmed cases of COVID, it is clear that Newsom has mismanaged the pandemic. As a result, the economy (45% of workforce lost jobs) and the schools (83% of parents say children are falling behind) have been damaged and weakened. It will take years to recover and rebuild. I believe this is the primary reason that Newsom is facing recall.
As the new Democratic governor of California, I will implement the following approach to manage the public health emergency crisis related to the pandemic.
I support masks and vaccinations as mandates, restrictions, and guidelines as needed. I will reopen the economy and the schools with safety precautions based on indisputable facts, evidence, and science. As a highly skilled and trained safety, security, and risk expert, I will weigh risks, benefits, and consequences on a continuous basis and determine what law, regulation, and policy changes are needed to keep as many people safe as possible, I will communicate with the public, the legislature, and the business community what the science is showing and what strategies the government will pursue to get through the pandemic.
Q1 – Besides personally having COVID, I’ve been impacted the same way many Californians have. I’ve watched friends and family whose businesses suffered or closed. I’ve witnessed people losing their jobs and kids missing school. I’ve watched as the government took over and then shut down our lives. And I’ve done everything I can to keep our businesses open and our lives free.
Q2 – Governor Newsom shut down too much of the economy and our schools for too long. Steps had to be taken to slow the spread, but we needed fewer shutdowns and more mitigation. Thousands of small businesses closed that will never reopen. That’s devastating to our state’s future. Equally devastating was Newsom allowing our schools to be closed to in person learning for a year. Tens of thousands of California students lost a year of education and have fallen terribly far behind, and may never recover. I was first candidate to call for a full reopening of our schools, noting that if Gavin Newsom’s kids could go to school in person, the average Californians should be able to also.
Q3 – COVID has created a big government utopia for Gavin Newsom and California liberals. They finally have an excuse to control every aspect of our life. It’s been said that once power is given, it’s very hard to take it back. Gavin Newsom has shown that to be true. He’s a power-hungry politician who believes in a powerful central government that controls our lives.
Q4 – Societal side-effects should be given equal or even greater weight. Thanks to American medicine and ingenuity we will get through this pandemic. Vaccines are readily available, treatments are improving. But the impact of closed schools, permanently closed businesses will be felt for longer and even for generations to come. We’ve also seen suicide, mental illness and addiction increase as Californians grew more isolated and felt hopeless. These side effects will last far longer than the pandemic has.
Q5 – I’d fully open our economy and trust Californians to make the decisions that are best for themselves. For the first in history California is losing population. That’s because the middle class is losing hope. I’d free Californians, get them back in schools, and then tackle the problems facing our state by cutting taxes, reducing homelessness, and lowering the cost of living here.
Q6 – To fully recover from COVID we need to completely fix this state. Our state was broken before COVID hit and those problems will still exist after COVID. We need to reopen our state’s economy and get and keep our kids in school. Then we need to address the problems that the career politicians have ignored for years. I have a plan to implement the largest tax cut in California history – putting $30 billion back into the hands of families and small businesses every year. I have a public safety plan to support and fully fund the police, keep criminals in jail where they belong, and end the out-of-control wildfires. On water we need to build additional reservoirs and utilize desalination. I released the most comprehensive plan to reduce homelessness – one that will get the homeless off our street and into treatment. Gavin Newsom has spent BILLIONS on homelessness and it’s only gotten worse. My education plan eliminates divisive political theories and focuses our schools on the fundamentals like reading, math, science, and preparation for a vocation. To fully recover we need to do all these things and more. It starts with electing an outsider and businessman who can get things done, not more celebrities and career politicians.
Q1 – Aside from my position in public office, I am a family man and a business owner. Like anyone with children and a livelihood to maintain, I have felt the devastating blowback from California’s bungled COVID response, and met with countless others who have lost or come close to losing everything. In one of many such cases, a business owner I met with lost all of her clients, small family-owned providers of home appliances, simply because their businesses were deemed “non-essential,” all while Lowes and Home Depot were allowed to remain open.
Q2 – This past year we have seen firsthand the devastating consequences of fear-driven policy making. The sweeping, incoherent lockdown measures not only ignored much of the science, but hurt countless Californians in the process. The first mistake of this administration was ignoring the early data regarding the differing levels of vulnerability by demographic. Our response should have been focused on protecting seniors and immuno-compromised Californians rather than issuing blanket edicts that did more harm than good.
It’s clear that this administration should have exercised more caution in the consideration of medical data before turning to crippling and chaotic counter-measures. Simply listening to the scientists, however, would not have been enough- the effects of these pandemic policies have extended far beyond the virus itself. Any proposal that was going to affect parents and small business owners should have required their input as well.
Q3 – When it comes to government overreach, I’ve always believed that every inch given will end with a mile taken. Somewhere along the road when two weeks to slow the spread turned into two years, Californians came to the same realization and used their collective frustration to turn this recall into a reality. Democrats have seized this pandemic opportunity to use their policy platform to warp actual science into “The Science™” so that they can bludgeon small government values with media impunity. These arbitrary standards paved the way for ridiculous policies, such as deeming houses of worship less “essential” than liquor stores and marijuana dispensaries. The movement of goalposts these past two years in relation to COVID is enough to give anyone whiplash- the only thing that has stayed the same is The Left’s insistence on giving the government more power over your life.
Q4 – One of the greatest mistakes of this response was issuing policies that allowed other dangers to thrive in the unsuccessful attempt at reducing COVID cases. The devastating effects of widespread isolation on mental health and suicide (in adults and children alike), the spike in crime related to widespread release of criminals, not to mention the obvious dangers of canceling the livelihoods of millions of workers have created a series of crises in this state never before seen.
Q5 and Q6 – The reality is that the experience of this pandemic is unique to each person, and I believe Californians are perfectly capable of making decisions for themselves based on their own levels of risk. We are now at a point in the pandemic where everyone who wants vaccines can get them, everyone who likes the masks can wear them, and everyone who wants covid information updates can find them. Precautions should continue to be available for those in need, but it’s time to allow life to continue for everyone else.
Californian’s are sick of this heavy-handed “government knows best” approach that the current Governor has forced upon them. As Governor, I will not tell a business owner how to run their store any more than I will tell a scientist how to conduct their study.
Q1 – Like most parents with students in public school, my kids missed nearly an entire year of in-person instruction. The impact of losing this much time in school has hurt all students. While nearly every other state managed to reopen their schools this spring, Governor Newsom’s failed to lead from the top. As Governor, I will ensure that our public schools remain open so our kids are in the best environment for them to learn.
Q2 – At the beginning of the pandemic, Governor Newsom chose to impose a statewide shelter in place policy that shutdown our schools, closed businesses arbitrarily deemed “non-essential,” and kept most Californians at home. He also claimed sweeping powers under California’s Emergency Services Act that allowed him to unilaterally make laws and suspend others. Instead, I would have deferred to local control to account for the diverse circumstances across the state. I saw this first-hand as Mayor of San Diego where our situation during the beginning of the pandemic was very different than places like Los Angeles or more rural parts of the state, yet were all subject to Newsom’s statewide edicts. This imposed unnecessary hardship on small businesses and Californians who lost their jobs.
Q3 – The goals and objectives for public health measures and restrictions were confusing, poorly communicated, and constantly changing. What started as two weeks to protect hospital capacity quickly transitioned to long-lasting restrictions that altered everyday life. That created a deep sense of frustration among many Californians and distrust of elected officials. Governor Newsom has unnecessarily politicized the situation which has impacted the public’s acceptance of essential tools like vaccines. It’s clear that we cannot mandate our way out of COVID-19 which is why statewide vaccine mandates and passports will not be effective.
Q4 – Every COVID restriction should have a thorough cost-benefit analysis to justify those actions. Governor Newsom’s draconian restrictions caused untold economic pain, mental health stress, and contributed to rising homelessness and crime. We should protect public health with common sense measures that strike the right balance for the public’s overall well-being.
Q5 – I would defer to local control immediately on mask requirements in schools, vaccine mandates and other business restrictions. Now that we are nearly a year and a half into the pandemic, each community is dealing with unique circumstances so local control is the most effective response–not statewide mandates.
Q6 – We need to as many Californians vaccinated as possible. This is best achieved through an education approach rather than imposing statewide mandates. To those unsure about receiving the vaccine, we must educate and demonstrate to them the benefits of the vaccine and its ability to protect against severe illness and hospitalization. Once enough Californians have received the vaccine, we will be able to protect our health care system’s capacity and limit the number of new infections.
Q1 – I have experienced many of the same frustrations that most Californians have faced throughout the pandemic. But my frustrations pale in comparison to the challenges that I have witnessed my constituents face when dealing with school closures and the EDD.
Q2 – My approach would have been based on trust – the precise opposite of Gavin Newsom’s. Newsom cast doubt on the vaccine last October to try to score political points, saying we couldn’t take the FDA’s word for whether it was safe. The Chair of the United States Senate Health Committee said Newsom’s antics would “discourage Americans from taking the vaccine” and “cost lives.”
Newsom has played politics with the vaccine just as he has played politics throughout the COVID era – resulting in excess mortality rate significantly higher than the national average. My approach would have focused on building trust and promoting health while protecting individual rights.
Q3 – At the outset of the pandemic, Gavin Newsom called it an opportunity for a “new progressive era.” The goal was never about science or public health. A year and a half later, we are living with the nation’s worst and most regressive COVID-era outcomes.
Q4 – California has been a national outlier in the COVID era, imposing both the longest school closures and the most severe lockdowns. Other states that have taken a more balanced approach have allowed their kids to remain in school and their businesses to remain open, while also having better overall public health outcomes than our state.
Californians are well informed on how to protect themselves from COVID-19. The state should continue, where appropriate, to provide educational resources. But decision-making going forward should be in the hands of local communities and their citizens.
Q5 – As governor, I will act immediately to set our state on a new course. On day one, I will end Newsom’s State of Emergency. I will make sure every single school is open: full-time, five days per week, no excuses. I will return a child’s personal health decisions to their parents. For every executive action Newsom has taken to violate our rights and diminish our freedoms I will take executive action to restore and defend them. I will tame our overreaching state agencies — CARB, the Water Board, the EDD — with a new directive: serve the people of California, don’t try to run their lives.
Q6 – Our state needs a fundamental course correction that sets high expectations for a swift recovery and unleashes California’s full economic potential. If elected I would assure every school is open full-time so parents can go back to work, provide businesses with the confidence to resume operations without fear of further shutdowns, and structure unemployment assistance to incentivize a return to work.
Furthermore, I would forgive all COVID-related fines, penalties, and license revocations, provide liability protection for businesses, and reform PAGA and other litigation traps. I’d also propose restoring meaningful tax relief such as Net Operating Loss carrybacks, and removing arbitrary barriers to work such as Assembly Bill 5.
I have been fortunate in terms of economic consequences from COVID. As a lecturer at San Francisco State, my classes simply moved online. While I and most of my students would agree that this was hardly an ideal education, we were at least able to continue. Others in my circle were less fortunate. My partner was furloughed from her job for over a year and lost her apartment, moving in with me for a time. A friend in the service industry later did likewise for several months. Others needed emotional and financial assistance as they spent weeks or months on the phone with EDD while bills continued to accumulate.
Unlike Newsom and most of the frontrunner candidates, I and most Californians were not able to hide ourselves away behind the security of wealth. Little concern was shown by Governor Newsom for the working-class Californians who either kept the economy running during the lockdown or were thrown out of work with little to no support from our government. Understanding the data produced by science was crucial to formulating our COVID response, but good governance also must take into account economic fallout, human psychology, life-long damage from lack of adequate educational access, and so forth. I’ve believed since the beginning in a triage approach, emphasizing protecting the most vulnerable members of our community in terms of health, and focusing on harm reduction rather than mandates where possible. I also opposed the second full shutdown in the winter that ended outdoor dining, which I believe probably caused greater harm not only in terms of transmission, but also economic and psychological damage.
At this point individual counties, localities, and businesses should make policy based on the information available for their area at the time. While I do not support a statewide mandate for vaccinations or masks unless there are substantially compelling reasons, I strongly support individuals being vaccinated and masked. It’s disappointing, although perhaps not at all surprising, that extremes on both sides seem determined to make a potent political symbol out of a public health issue.
Jenny Rae Le Roux:
COVID is a serious disease and every COVID-related death is a tragedy. My primary goal as Governor will be to minimize loss of life.
Newsom claims electing a Republican as Governor will cause California to fall off “the COVID cliff.” Not in my California. In fact, I will manage COVID more effectively than Newsom – delivering better health outcomes while preserving individual freedoms.
Newsom is failing California on COVID outcomes. California is the 6th youngest state and the 5th healthiest and yet we’re not even among the best 15 states in cumulative case rate or cumulative death rate.
Newsom has underperformed on COVID as he has in every area important to Californians. He wasted time buying PPE from several companies that botched delivery. He oversaw one of the slowest vaccine rollouts by involving his longtime campaign donor Blue Shield against counties’ wishes. And he shattered people’s trust in public health guidance by repeatedly breaking his own rules.
My plan is not anti-vax (I’m vaccinated) and not a Florida/Texas plan. It’s built on data, transparency, and trust, and the reality that we must begin to treat COVID as endemic (here to stay), not a pandemic. It’s time for the end of false promises, that one more mandate or lockdown will “extinguish the disease.”
In short, I have determined transparent thresholds to determine when state support should be issued – and when counties should be left alone. And when I say support, I mean support – a good government supports, while bad government burdens with unenforceable mandates.
My plan includes 4 facets and repurposes already allocated money to:
- Prevention – Increase vaccination rates and create clear mask-on, mask-off recommendations using data. Statewide mandates are not on the table.
- Detection – Fund testing supply and lab capacity so 90% of COVID test results will be returned within 24 hours and invest $125M to develop a more accurate rapid test. Newsom didn’t prepare for the increase in testing associated with new mandates, so only 65% of current test results are returned within 24 hours. Also, all testing will be free.
- Treatment – Set aside $350M to purchase personal Pulse Oximeters, support Telemedicine, and invest in COVID treatments so California can be the first to use proven treatments. Let’s save lives, not point fingers.
- Governance – End the state of emergency. Declare county-specific states of emergency to provide staffing and testing support.
Here’s the bottom line. We can manage COVID, save lives, and start to get back to normal if we focus on managing the disease, not eradicating it.
Our war is against COVID, not one another.
The folks behind the recall at www.recallgavin2020.com, were asked a pair of questions about how COVID impacted the effort. Here are their responses:
Q1 – Exactly what role did COVID play in getting the recall on the ballot, specifically focusing on the signature gathering extension granted last fall?
Although the recall was launched prior to the onset of the COVID Pandemic, the shutdown of the state occurred as volunteers began to gather petition signatures. The recall was strategically timed, so that volunteers would be able to take advantage of seasonal events, where large groups of people gather, such as spring and summer carnivals, concerts in city parks, the county fairs and the state fair and sporting events – all of which were shut down and people were told to stay home.
Churches, schools, beaches, and amusement parks were all closed for business and petitioners were relegated to store fronts and public places where they could find people coming and going, but the pickings were slim. Many property managers resorted to calling security or local law enforcement to have petitioners removed from their place of business. Volunteers quickly learned of “The Prune Yard Decision”, a supreme court ruling which protects first amendment rights of citizens to petition in public places. Some began to carry copies of the law to provide those property managers or security personnel who objected to their presence. Their determination prevailed in many cases and they were allowed to remain gathering signatures. Over the coming months, hundreds and thousands of people hit the streets gathering signatures. Store front “pop up” signing tables became regular fixtures at locations up and down the state. Even so, the ability to gather signatures were significantly hampered by the shutdown. The public became apprehensive and fearful to approach signing stations and it became apparent, the numbers were not adding up as they would have, had the shutdown not occurred.
Word reached the recall team management that the courts had granted extensions to other petition drives currently gathering signatures throughout the state. The courts had not only granted extensions to these other petitions, but had granted multiple extensions to allow them to continue gathering signatures well beyond their original deadlines. Based on this information the recall team sought similar injunctive relief from the courts, arguing they were due the same courtesy under equal application of the law and the courts agreed. An additional 120-day extension for the recall team to continue gathering signatures beyond the original deadline.
Q2 – How do you think COVID has brought to light other societal and governmental shortcomings?
Orrin Heatlie and Mike Netter, the lead proponents of the recall, have always contended the case to recall Governor Gavin Newsom can be made without mention of his management of the COVID crisis, Vaccinations, or masks. However, for many people this was a deciding factor to sign the petition. During a time of crisis people need a strong, decisive leader they can rely on. Governor Newsom showed he was anything but. He shut the state down, then opened it up again, only to shut it down again just days before thanksgiving. He wavered back and forth, using a colored tier system, one day, then another system the next. He imposed restrictions which were counter intuitive, such as when he banned singing in church and again when he imposed a ten o’clock curfew. These orders left people questioning his reasoning.
Beyond that, he used COVID as a reason behind his mass release of 20,000 state prisoners, making the claim he wanted to reduce the prison population in order to prevent the spread of the disease. He removed these prisoners from a secure environment, where they had access to food, clothing, shelter, medical care, rehabilitation, and education services and turned them out onto the streets. This added to the already overcrowded homeless encampments and a spike in crime, including two murders which would not have occurred otherwise. If that weren’t enough, the mass release of prisoners resulted in the reduction of inmate fire crews available to fight forest fires within our state. For 70 years California has had a robust inmate fire fighting crew, which were instrumental in fighting wildfires and clearing fuel and vegetation during the off season. This Governor effectively gutted this resource, cut their budget, and closed major inmate fire camps and the Susanville State Prison, where the fire crews had once been housed.
Well informed people have lost their confidence in Governor Newsom’s ability to lead our state during a crisis. After providing direction for the counties to further reduce their jail population, several local Sheriff’s, (Bianco in Riverside County and Villanueva in Los Angeles County) came out and openly defied the governors orders stating they would not enforce them. This open defiance demonstrates an overall lack of confidence in the governor and the public has lost faith in his ability to lead.
We Always Ask the Newsom Campaign
And, out of both a sense of fair play and impish masochism, we of course asked the Newsom campaign if they would care to comment. Even though the COVID pandemic is/was one of the most important events in the history of the state they still declined the opportunity to talk directly to the people of California.
But, for the edification of our readers, we thought we would, one last time, publish the list of questions that Gavin Newsom refused to even acknowledge the existence of, let alone answer:
Q1 – Since you never missed a paycheck, had around-the-clock access to excellent health care, your children were able to go back to school quite early, and none of your business entities were forced into bankruptcy like so many others, how, beside the recall itself, has COVID impacted you personally?
Q2 – Do you stand by your decision to give a political donor – Blue Cross – a massive “no-bid” contract to “assist” with the state’s vaccination effort?
Q3 – What mistakes have you made while shepherding the state through the pandemic? With hindsight, would you make different choices in the future?
Q4 – While you issued hundreds of executive orders and no-bid contracts, you did not see fit to address the issues – which could have easily been solved by now – at the EDD directly. Why did you pointedly ignore one of the state’s most important resources for Californians struggling through the pandemic?
Q5 – If you retain your seat, will you impose and/or approve of further lockdowns, vaccine mandates and passports, and masking requirements shortly thereafter?
And that’s that. We wish to thank you for reading these pieces and hope you have found them to be helpful and interesting. If you haven’t already, don’t forget to vote on Tuesday.
- What the Media Will Be Saying Wednesday, Whichever Way the Recall Vote Goes - September 14, 2021
- Monetizing Data: The EDD, ID.me, and the Unemployed of California - September 14, 2021
- What Recall Candidates Say About COVID’s Personal Impacts, and Impacts to the State - September 12, 2021