May 31, 2020 #1 Local News, Forum, Information and Event Source for Venice Beach, California.

Column: Newsom Loses Transparency, Unity It Brought

By Tom Elias, Yo! Venice 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 [email protected] 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

Related Posts

George Floyd Protesters Come to Venice

May 28, 2020

May 28, 2020 1

Demonstrators march from Santa Monica to Venice Thursday afternoon By Sam Catanzaro “Black lives matter.” “White silence is white violence.”...

Overcrowded Venice Beach Unsafe? Yo! Venice Show – May, 28, 2020

May 28, 2020

May 28, 2020

All your local news, events and happenings in under 5 minutes. * Overcrowded Venice Beach Unsafe? * What establishments will...

Video: Venice Skatepark Taken Back by Skaters

May 28, 2020

May 28, 2020 1

Defying officials, Venice Skate Park skaters recently took matters into their own hands after the City of Los Angeles filled...

Video: Expanding Outdoor Dining?

May 27, 2020

May 27, 2020

Local restaurants may soon be able to expand operations into parking lots and the sidewalk. Learn more in this video...

LAPD Horse Escapes on Venice Beach: Yo! Venice Show – May, 26, 2020

May 26, 2020

May 26, 2020

All your local news, events and happenings in under 5 minutes. * LAPD Horse Escapes! * Which beach parking lots...

VNC Rejects Lincoln Apartments Proposal

May 26, 2020

May 26, 2020 1

Venice Community Housing project rejected unanimously By Toi Creel A 40-unit supportive housing project continues to be met with pushback...

County Cancels Junior Lifeguard Program

May 26, 2020

May 26, 2020 1

COVID-19 health concerns put program on hold for 2020 By Toi Creel The Los Angeles County Fire Department Junior Lifeguard...

Body Found on Venice Boardwalk

May 25, 2020

May 25, 2020 1

Man found deceased near paddle tennis courts Sunday By Sam Catanzaro A man was found dead on the Venice Beach...

Venice Beach Bike Path Reopens

May 21, 2020

May 21, 2020 1

Supervisors Janice Hahn, Sheila Kuehl announce opening in Facebook posts By Sam Catanzaro The beach bike path is now reopened,...

LA Fire department tips for staying safe at the beach: Yo! Venice Show

May 21, 2020

May 21, 2020 1

All your local news, events and happenings in under 5 minutes. * New building set to break ground in Venice....

Bonin Proposes Housing Plan for Penmar Encampment

May 21, 2020

May 21, 2020 1

Councilmember calls encampment “a perfect example of the city’s failed policies” By Sam Catanzaro Councilmember Mike Bonin has submitted a...

When Will Los Angeles Fully Reopen?

May 19, 2020

May 19, 2020 1

County: 3/4 of unemployment claims are from those making less than $50,000 By Sam Catanzaro Los Angeles County officials are...

Video: Westside MLB Brothers Give Back

May 18, 2020

May 18, 2020 2

Two Westside brothers, both professional baseball players, are giving back to local first responders COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more in this...