As I said from the beginning, I’m not going to hammer political leaders who acted in good faith during the pandemic. We didn’t know what we were up against. Was this virus something akin to a bad flu, or was it a rewrite of the movie script “I Am Legend.”
Now we know more and it appears the worst is over. We can at least begin to discuss who got it right and who got it wrong. Or, to say it better, who got it more right and who got it more wrong.
At this point, I’d say Gov. Gavin Newsom got it more wrong.
His shutdown was harsher than other states. While the science on in-person school was crystal clear by late summer, he failed to lead in getting public school kids back in the classroom. That hurt our children.
He botched some really easy stuff during the pandemic response. His administration muffed the accurate counting of cases, resulting in the governor axing his own coronavirus czar mid-pandemic. That’s never good.
Then, his administration botched simple inmate transfers that caused many unnecessary deaths at state prisons (San Quentin in particular). He fired the doctor in charge, but jeez, this was a big unforced error that goes to organization and leadership.
And, of course, his wildly inconsistent shutdown rules crippled California’s economy without any significant health payoff. That has everyone second-guessing the governor.
As of March 1, Californians got sick at a rate of 8,805 people per 100,000. Texas, which is now mask free and 100 percent open, suffered 9,132 cases 100,000 and Florida, which long ago re-opened Disney World, experienced 8,734 cases per 100,000.
And, when it comes to deaths, the stats show California experienced 132 deaths per 100k, and Texas and Florida came through it all with 148 and 144, respectively.
That’s not enough statistical difference to justify Newsom’s response. So why is the governor now coming off his previous “scientific” stand? San Francisco Chronicle writer Aidin Vaziri characterized it this way:
“Along with pandemic fatigue and outcry from ailing businesses that have been forced to shutter for months, part of the urgency behind reopening California’s economy may be driven by a high-profile recall effort against Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has spent the past few weeks on a feverish campaign-style tour of vaccination sites and schools across the state.
‘We really are seeing that bright light at the end of the tunnel,’ Newsom has repeated at several of his appearances, reframing the severity of the pandemic.”
So, it took a recall to get the governor to see the light?
That may be too harsh. But it seems to me Gov. Newsom should have been able to look at the stats nationwide in, say, the fall and see that he could have eased up like Texas and Florida and achieved the same result. Instead, Californians endured weird stay-at-home orders that included a two-hour Thanksgiving dinner that had to be shared outdoors, quarantine rules for children returning to school and a host of other rubrics that didn’t make sense to most people.
The bottom line: California’s pandemic response was far from perfect. We could have done better. Whether that’s enough to pull this governor out of Sacramento, well, that’s another question.
Gov. Gavin Newsom
PAINT DUST AT MARINSHIP PARK?
With all due respect to Federal Judge Edward M. Chen, a part of his ruling that stopped Sausalito from moving a homeless camp from one city park to another city park, was off base. I refer you to the contention that Marinship Park is unsuitable because that location is near a boat-crushing plant that could sicken the homeless with paint dust.
Paint dust? There’s no evidence of that. The homeless lawyers made it up and Judge Chen took the bait. I give him credit for calling the allegation “exceedingly thin” but he still let it stand. That was irresponsible and a bad call.
Look, if the lawyer for the homeless had said that Marinship Park is a more likely place for extraterrestrial beings to swoop in and take the homeless — bedroll and all — into outer space, would the good judge have called that “exceedingly thin” and let that stand, too? The proof of either is exactly the same — zero.
I think the judge’s call to grant a temporary injunction was probably the right call at this point. But, that paint dust finding was goofy.
ONE MORE THING
— Don’t use a big word when a singularly unloquacious and diminutive linguistic expression will satisfactorily accomplish the contemporary necessity.
— I’m becoming an advocate for dried fruit. Raisin awareness.
— My wife just found out I replaced our bed with a trampoline. She hit the roof.
— Is there anyone else in the world who could look more in place in this picture than Willie Nelson?
With that, I’ll pick up my knitting and let myself out. Thanks for reading. Be safe, be kind and mask-up. Please subscribe to Marin’s most interesting newspaper. See details on Page 3A.
(Sherman R. Frederick is the founder of Battle Born Media, a newspaper company dedicated to the preservation of community newspapers. You can follow him on Facebook at facebook.com/sherm.frederick/. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)