Good morning and welcome to December! Wait, it’s December already!?


Shades of March?

During his nearly hour-and-a-half-long press conference, Gov. Gavin Newsom hinted that Californians could be locking down once more, as holiday COVID-19 numbers continue to climb at an alarming rate.

The Capitol Bureau’s Sophia Bollag writes about this in more detail here. But the upshot is that the state is expecting a lot more people to be hospitalized by the disease in the coming months, with the number of hospitalized potentially doubling or even tripling by the end of the year.

“If these trends continue, we’re going to have to take much more dramatic, drastic action,” Newsom said.

If that happens, much of the rest of the state could be following Los Angeles and Santa Clara counties, which have leveled new restrictions on gatherings as a result of rising hospitalizations.

There was a silver lining for Monday’s thundercloud.

Newsom used the occasion of the press conference to announce a bevy of measures being taken to brace small businesses that are struggling under the state’s COVID-19 restrictions.

That includes billions in sales tax deferrals, Newson said, which small businesses can use as “a float” to weather out the coming months until the Legislature reconvenes and a package can be put together.


Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, announced Monday that she intends to re-introduce her Senate bill aimed at increasing public access to police records.

The bill, which went by SB 776 in the last Legislature, would mandate that law enforcement agencies make public records of unreasonable or excessive use of force, as well as records of sustained findings of officers engaging in racist or biased behavior.

The bill also mandates that agencies release records if an officer quits before a misconduct investigation is complete.

The bill would empower courts to level $1,000-a-day fines for agencies that fail to release records.

“Communities deserve tools to hold law enforcement accountable. Expanding and strengthening access to police records is one such tool,” Skinner said in a statement. “This legislation also shines a light on officers who have a history of racist, discriminatory, or abusive behavior.”

No doubt bolstered by the momentum generated by the protests in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, the bill passed out of both the Senate and the Assembly, but it failed to pass out of the Senate for concurrence in time before the constitutionally mandated deadline.

Sen. Skinner said that the new legislation will be introduced Dec. 7, the first day of the new legislative session.

“Hiding officer misconduct is not good for anyone. It undermines the public’s trust and gives cover to officers who may be unfit for the job,” Skinner said. “By adding sunshine, this legislation will help restore community trust.”


Via Kim Bojórquez…

California continued its push to count undocumented immigrants in the census Monday as the U.S. Supreme Court raised questions about whether it’s constitutional for President Donald Trump to exclude them.

Trump’s July memorandum to exclude unauthorized immigrants from the count used to determine congressional representation has significant implications for California, a state home to more than 2 million undocumented immigrants.

It stands to lose one to two congressional seats if those immigrants are not counted, according to the Public Policy Institute of California senior fellow Eric McGhee.

Newly appointed Justice Amy Coney Barrett expressed doubt over the Trump administration’s argument in oral arguments Monday, telling Acting U.S. Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall that “a lot of the historical evidence and long-standing practice really cuts against your position.”

The case before the Supreme Court, Trump v. New York, is the latest challenge from the Trump administration to alter the protocols of the once-in-a-decade count following a failed attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census last year.

But it is not the only one. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Monday filed a U.S. Supreme Court brief in support of a similar case led by the city of San Jose, calling Trump’s census order “unconstitutional.” In the New York case, California is involved as a friend of the court.

“For hundreds of years, the U.S. Constitution has been clear: everyone counts,” Becerra said in a statement. “Here in California, we know that fundamental value extends beyond the census. No matter the color of your skin or where you come from, you count. The President doesn’t have the authority to say otherwise. It’s in our laws and, as a nation of immigrants, it’s part of who we are. We’re going to keep fighting to protect that and make sure all Californians are able to make their voices heard.”

On behalf of the Trump administration, Wall defended the memo on Monday before the court, saying the president has broad discretion to decide how the census is conducted. He said it is not yet clear that many states would be affected.

“As of this very morning, career experts at the Census Bureau confirmed with me that they still don’t know, even roughly, how many illegal aliens they will be able to identify, let alone how their number and geographic concentration might affect apportionment,” he said. “If they don’t know, certainly the other parties of this case do not.”

Read the full story here.


“Only five questions taken during an 83-minute news conference where @GavinNewsom said California was on track to fill itsICUs by Christmas and floated a renewed stay-at-home order. Five! We desperately need these Facebook addresses to be more responsive and less of a monologue.”

– Alexei Koseff, San Francisco Chronicle reporter, via Twitter.

Best of the Bee:

  • When photos circulated earlier this month of Gov. Gavin Newsom dining at the swanky French Laundry restaurant for a birthday party, Californians got a glimpse of the well-known but rarely observed coziness between lobbyists and politicians.

    The dinner also thrust into the spotlight Newsom’s longtime relationship with Jason Kinney, the California lobbyist who hosted the party to celebrate his 50th birthday. Read more via Lara Korte and Sophia Bollag.

Andrew Sheeler covers California’s unique political climate for the Sacramento Bee. He has covered crime and politics from Interior Alaska to North Dakota’s oil patch to the rugged coast of southern Oregon. He attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

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