Perhaps a fully vaccinated populace could come faster if California had competitively bid its vaccine distribution. While much of the national media clutched its pearls this week over a deceptively edited and now widely criticized 60 Minutes segment errantly suggesting Florida Governor Ron DeSantis awarded a vaccine-distribution contract as a favor to a campaign contributor, there were but a few crickets chirping on the west coast. Thanks to research by California Globe’s Katy Grimes, we now know that Newsom awarded at least hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of no-bid contracts to his own donors to distribute vaccines. Does 60 Minutes need Governor Newsom’s phone number for a follow-up interview on the ethical challenges of billion dollar no-bid contracts while he still holds emergency powers a year later?
Despite that media bias, the Florida-California comparison is instructive in pandemic responses and results. I need not remind you that California has led the way in COVID-19 closures, and remains one of the least open economies in the nation. Meanwhile, Florida has been open for months. Even its theme parks welcomed guests long ago, while California’s Disneyland crawls toward its April 30th reopening, sans any semblance of fun. While some critics say Florida reopened too quickly, the data does not. One year in, the numbers and trends follow a similar — almost natural — pattern and show the states experienced similar infection and death rates, despite the reality that one continues to be largely locked down and the other open. When accounting for the fact that Florida has one of the oldest populations and California one of the youngest, the argument can easily be made that Florida has taken the smarter approach – both for the health of its residents and economy.
In this week’s Radio Free California podcast, CPC’s Will Swaim and David Bahnsen wonder if Kamala Harris is really a California native. Yes, we’ve seen the adorable pictures of her childhood in Oakland. No, we’re not alleging that her birth certificate is fake. We’re just seriously wondering how a lifelong California politician – now Joe Biden’s stunt double – could say publicly, as Harris did on Monday, “Water is a nonpartisan issue.” Harris made the bizarre claim during a stop at Oakland’s Upper San Leandro Water Treatment Plant, “the kind of water-treatment facility that could benefit from the proposed infrastructure plan President Biden unveiled last week.” In fact, as Harris certainly knows, water is among the most partisan subjects in California. Consider just one current example: the delayed construction of a desalination plant in Huntington Beach. Hearing that Gov. Gavin Newsom recently okayed the project, the Los Angeles Times fainted and – when revived with delicate fanning, soothing words, and a snootful of spirit of hartshorn – immediately condemned the plant: Yes, the Times admitted, “the Huntington Beach facility meets the state goal of diversifying California’s water supply,” but “it would undermine other environmental policies.” That, my dear, delicate Los Angeles Times, is precisely the problem. Driven by environmentalists and unions, California’s interlocking web of agencies and regulations make nonpartisan water hyper-partisan – and scarce. In attacking dams, canals, farming, reservoirs, grass, garden hoses, water balloons, swimming pools, flush toilets, culverts, free water at your favorite restaurants, and faucets as instruments of Satan, the Times is merely reflecting the Gospel of the Sierra Club, of course. Not partisan? Water?! As Steven Greenhut writes in the most recent issue of National Review,when it comes to water and California, “the environmentalist lobby is in the driver’s seat, and it [the environmental lobby] sees conservation and rationing as ends in themselves,” as weapons in the war against home construction, agriculture, and population growth – the war against humanity. Consequently, Greenhut notes, California “hasn’t built significant water infrastructure since the 1970s, when its population was half its current 40 million.” The podcast in which this discussion unfolds isn’t only about water or Harris. Will and David also consider San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin, playwright David Mamet, NCAA men’s basketball, Ben Shapiro, Major League Baseball, and the Biden administration’s dangerous plagiarism of failed California policies. Find Radio Free California wherever fine podcasts are available, including the National Review website.
Again with those pesky teachers unions! While Los Angeles kids can only hope for a pathetic “reopening” next week thanks to union recalcitrance, taxpayers will now fork over a subsidy to United Teachers Los Angeles members to cover their own childcare costs. Free childcare was just the latest giveaway the union has extracted from taxpayers on the backs of students. Superintendent Austin Beutner said the district has “done all we can.” If you’ll remember back a few weeks to CPC President Will Swaim’s newsletter, one of the union’s most vocal in insisting on free childcare before returning to work was Maya Suzuki Daniels. She herself previously blasted parents, saying, “I’m tired of parents telling us to open the schools so they can have childcare.” Other unions across the state are making the same demands. We’re looking at you, SEIU in Sacramento City Unified School District.
One CA school district demonstrated a rare bit of sanity this week. The San Francisco Board of Education’s latest attempt to plant its ever-inclusive flag squarely in the woke camp has led it on a furious mission to erase any mention of figures who may have offended someone once upon a time in history. The board will officially hold off on renaming over 40 schools until it has tended to more important matters, like educating kids. Seeing as the district and union are only committing to a full reopening by fall, Dianne Feinstein Elementary School can wait to order new spirit shirts, and George Washington and Abraham Lincoln can hold off rolling in their graves a bit longer.
And, lest I leave you completely discouraged on this Friday, know that the collective teacher-union-nonsense is having one fantastic side effect: it’s spurring educational freedom efforts across the country. As CPC’s Larry Sand details, more than ever before, parents are rejecting public schools that have failed their children this past year, and instead choosing alternative forms of education. This year alone, an encouraging 50 school choice bills have been introduced in a majority of states. They include efforts to allow parents to take some of the money that would be spent on their child’s public education, and use it to cover charter, private, or home school costs; education tax credits; increased vouchers and scholarships; and more. Efforts are even about here in California, which you’ll be hearing more about from us in the coming weeks.
Chantal Lovell is the Communications Director at the California Policy Center.