Column: Newsom Loses Transparency, Unity It Brought

By Tom Elias, Palisades News Columnist

Californians have shown with great clarity during the coronavirus pandemic that if they’re convinced something needs to be done, they’ll cheerfully do it even when it’s uncomfortable and terribly expensive.

So when Gov. Gavin Newsom in a mid-March first-in-the-nation move ordered most of this huge state’s citizenry to stay home in a quasi-quarantine condition in hopes of limiting the spread of the virus, they complied, with few exceptions.

But now, with far less ambient panic in California’s air, there are cracks in that united front. Demonstrators in places as diverse as San Diego, Newport Beach and Sacramento have turned out in respectable numbers demanding an end to the lockdown. It’s true, some of those demonstrations are orchestrated by ultra-conservative national organizations.

Many protesters ardently back President Trump, who calls for a gradual “opening up” of America. They demand restoration of all rights to freedom of movement and association, never mind social distancing. Some of the demonstrators had been seen on the state Capitol steps before, protesting last year’s new laws making it a bit tougher to get children exempted from vaccination requirements.

The month of March saw nothing like that after Newsom issued his first order. This was partly because the governor was open about estimates of the potential extent of viral spread, contagion and fatalities.

But Newsom, who gets high poll marks for most of his conduct this spring, now must contend with two things he helped create: One is the fact staying home meant California has seen far less contagion and death than predicted. This lessens the panic that first gave him free rein.

The other is that as the crisis persisted and one emergency executive order followed another, often in fields only peripherally related to the virus, Newsom gradually lost the aura of transparency that created the early unity.

Usually, when important new laws are passed in California, they follow a series of public hearings and much discussion. Not so with Newsom’s sudden edicts on everything from blocking evictions for non-payment of rent to freeing felons from jails and prisons early to prevent their becoming infected when those same felons didn’t previously worry about protecting anyone else. There were also orders to rent or buy hotels for housing thousands of the homeless and other decrees authorizing suspension by the courts of virtually all bail requirements for the duration.

Most of these moves lacked the detailed explanation that went into the original stay-home order.

Newsom has also been closed about how he’s spent much of the 7 billion state tax dollars consumed so far in the crisis, especially about his contract to buy almost $1 billion worth of personal protective equipment, including millions of face masks, from a Chinese company previously blacklisted by some federal transit agencies. It turns out no one knows when this stuff will show up, or many conditions of the huge deal. But we do know the state was gouged.

It’s all been justified – with a warranted shot at President Trump – by the fact that the federal government has not unified national purchases or production of masks, face shields, gowns and rubber gloves, thus creating ferocious competition between states and hospital systems for vital equipment. That encouraged price gouging that’s illegal in most crises.

There’s also the question of where Newsom and other governors get the authority to issue myriad fiats and decrees without so much as the right for anyone to petition the government for redress. The Constitution gives governors, presidents and mayors vast leeway to protect public health and safety in emergencies, as when then-Gov. Pete Wilson paid contractors large bonuses for completing bridge rebuilds ahead of schedule after the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

But all previous emergencies were finite, with known needed corrective measures (as with evacuations in the face of wildfires) or definite time frames.

There are no time lines here, Newsom and other governors telling their constituents they can’t know how long current orders will be enforced because as yet there is no vaccine for the coronavirus.

The bottom line: While the governor was open about what he did, he enjoyed near-unanimous support. He needs to get back on the transparency track, or California will see more and more cracks in its harmony.

Email Thomas Elias at tdelias@aol.com. His book, “The Burzynski Breakthrough, The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It” is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit www.californiafocus.net

Related Posts

Edify TV: Avoiding a ‘Twindemic’

September 30, 2020

September 30, 2020

Local officials are trying to avoid a double dose of hospitalizations from the flu and coronavirus being coined a ‘Twindemic.’...

Stolen Motorcycle, Meth Arrest

September 29, 2020

September 29, 2020

Pacific Palisades crime update Submitted by LAPD Senior Lead Officer Michael Moore Stolen Vehicle 800 Swarthmore, 9/26/20 btwn 4:30 PM...

‘Halloween Freak Fest’ Film Competition Coming to Pali High: Palisades Today – September, 28, 2020

September 29, 2020

September 29, 2020

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * Halloween Freak Fest Film Competition Coming to Pali High * LA...

LAFD Rescue Hiker Who Falls Into Pacific Palisades Ravine

September 28, 2020

September 28, 2020

Hike airlifted after fall into ravine over weekend at Santa Ynez trail By Sam Catanzaro Firefighters rescued a hiker who...

Edify TV: Trident Center Redevelopment

September 26, 2020

September 26, 2020

The Westside’s Trident Center is getting a major overhaul and new name as part of a flurry of development in...

Pacific Palisades Community Council Announces Election Results

September 25, 2020

September 25, 2020

New board to have first official meeting October 8 The Pacific Palisades Community Council (PPCC) has announced the results of...

Edify TV: Boulders Blocking Westside Encampment Removed

September 25, 2020

September 25, 2020

City officials recently removed boulders placed on sidewalks by some Westside residents to prevent the formation of a homeless encampment....

Residents Receive Wrongly Addressed EDD Letters: Palisades Today – September, 24, 2020

September 25, 2020

September 25, 2020

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * Residents Receive Wrongly Addressed EDD Letters * Increases In Covid-19 Cases...

Will Coronavirus Affect Trump, Newsom Fortunes?

September 25, 2020

September 25, 2020

By Tom Elias, Columnist Attention spans were already short 42 years ago and they have become far shorter since, especially in...

How Do You Know if the Wildfires Are Making You Sick?

September 23, 2020

September 23, 2020

UCLA pulmonologist on how people can tell if the wildfires are making them sick By Toi Creel Even if you...

Will County See Another Surge in COVID-19 Cases Due to Labor Day Crowds?

September 22, 2020

September 22, 2020

County health officials keeping close eye on data this week By Sam Catanzaro Los Angeles County health officials are monitoring...

Hiker Rescued From Remote Parker Mesa Overlook: Palisades Today – September, 21, 2020

September 22, 2020

September 22, 2020

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes.* Hiker Rescued From Remote Parker Mesa Overlook * Bobcat Fire Reaches Historical...

Second Palisades Victim Identified in Fatal Plane Crash

September 22, 2020

September 22, 2020

Los Angeles coroner identifies Jill Young as second victim in September 11 Van Nuys plane crash By Sam Catanzaro The...

Television Stolen, Vandalism Arrest: Palisades Crime Update

September 21, 2020

September 21, 2020

Submitted by LAPD Senior Lead Officer Michael Moore Among recent Pacific Palisades crimes include a home burglary resulting in a...

4.6 Quake Felt in Palisades

September 19, 2020

September 19, 2020

4.6 magnitude quake recorded Friday night By Sam Catanzaro A 4.6 magnitude earthquake struck the San Gabriel Valley Friday sending shock...