Since March of last year, lawmakers in the State Capitol have shunned allowing the public to participate in the legislative process. Early on in Gov. Newsom’s statewide lockdown, legislators completely recessed and did not conduct any state business. Eventually they came back to work but fully masked and socially distanced. Some lawmakers wear two masks in empty hearings.
Legislators have been loathe to allow the public to attend and speak at hearings, preferring the public call in on the phone, or if they must attend in person to do it on the Capitol CCTV from another hearing room altogether. It’s a totalitarian way to “govern.”
So Thursday when Greg Burt with the California Family Council sent the Globe this photo, we had a good laugh at the hypocrisy of these lawmakers.
“Should I be worried this is going to be a super spreader event,” he messaged. “I saw 7 state legislators on this plane to Orange County. But legislators still will not let people visit them at the capitol. And they only let 15 people into a hearing yesterday although they had seating for 150 or more. This is what hypocrisy looks like. This southwest flight is full.”
And then he Tweeted his message.
Should I be worried this is going to be a super spreader event. I saw 7 state legislators on this plane to Orange County. But legislators still will not let people visit then at the capitol. This is what hypocrisy looks like. This Southwest flight is full. pic.twitter.com/yHAPmVgG3H
— Greg Burt (@gregburt10) April 15, 2021
“Legislators I saw: Sen. Umberg, Sen. Newman, Asm. Quirk*, Sen. Bates, Asm. Nguyen, Sen. Choi. I don’t blame the Republicans for this. Dems control the capitol,” Burt messaged.
He makes a good point. We are forced to stand in line 6 feet from anyone. We can’t reasonably attend hearings in person. State Capitol CHP order anyone on the grounds outside to wear a mask – no doubt under orders from legislative leaders.
But these same legislative leaders and elected lawmakers think nothing of cramming themselves onto a crowded Southwest 737 flight of 143 passengers – shoulder to shoulder – breathing that recycled air.
Meanwhile, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s pinned Tweet still orders: “CA, you are now REQUIRED to wear a mask in public spaces. We’re seeing too many people with faces uncovered. Wearing a face covering is critical for keeping people safe and healthy, keeping businesses open and getting people back to work. Do your part. Wear your mask.”
REMINDER: CA, you are now REQUIRED to wear a mask in public spaces.
We’re seeing too many people with faces uncovered. Wearing a face covering is critical for keeping people safe and healthy, keeping businesses open and getting people back to work.
Do your part. Wear your mask.
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) June 19, 2020
Thursday, Gov. Newsom was touting the state’s vaccination rate:
Nearly 50% of eligible Californians have been vaccinated.
We’ve administered 24 million doses– over 8 million more than any other state.
We have the lowest positivity rate in the country.
And today, everyone 16+ can go get vaccinated!
Feeling hopeful. pic.twitter.com/zEY9ZYJQ9x
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) April 15, 2021
So why are legislators and legislative leaders still conducting hearings in empty hearing rooms, or empty Senate and Assembly chambers, if they feel safe enough to get on a packed plane?
We know the answer.
*Assemblyman Quirk’s Chief of staff emailed the Globe saying he was not on the plane: “I work for Assemblymember Bill Quirk. He represents the 20th Assembly District which is in the Bay Area. Prior to COVID, he would travel to Sacramento from his district via public transportation, Amtrak specifically. Now, he prefers to drive. No way he was on the flight your article discusses.”
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