Essential California: Biden enters the recall fray

Gov. Gavin Newsom
Gov. Gavin Newsom gained vocal support from an ally in a high place Tuesday — President Biden.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Wednesday, Feb. 10, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.

As the signature gathering deadline for the effort to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom fast approaches, the governor’s recent COVID-19 press conferences have taken on a unique twist.

Along with the usual pandemic announcements, elected officials are now offering mini-testimonials to the governor’s on-the-job performance from behind the podium. The tone has, at times, resembled something between a campaign event and the direct-to-camera interviews on “The Bachelor,” with local Democrats extoling Newsom’s virtues. The governor, they’ll have you know, is a great leader, a great guy and definitely here for the right reasons.

“Governor, you’ve had an impossible job,” San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said Monday, adding that he wanted the people of San Diego to know how much Newsom had done for them. San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria was equally grateful for Newsom’s “tremendous leadership” and “thrilled” to have him visiting the city.


“I cannot tell you how lucky we are in California to have Gavin Newsom as our governor,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said last week, while twice noting how great Newsom was. Soon after, state Sen. Nancy Skinner told Californians she wanted to be very clear about who was responsible for stemming the state’s brutal coronavirus surge: “It is Gov. Newsom that we can thank for that drop.” The accolades go on, but you get the idea.

On Tuesday, the list of allies vocally backing Newsom got a little bit longer. President Biden entered the fray, with his press secretary tweeting that Biden “clearly opposes” any effort to recall Newsom.

[Read the story: “Biden opposes effort to recall Newsom, White House says” in the Los Angeles Times]

As my Sacramento colleague Phil Willon reports, Press Secretary Jen Psaki issued the statement in a tweet Tuesday afternoon shortly after she fielded a question about Biden’s position on the recall effort during a White House briefing and responded that she had not discussed the matter with the president.

The lovefest comes amid recent public opinion polls that have shown Newsom’s job approval ratings plummeting, driven largely by discontent over the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As Phil explains in his story, that drop has only added fuel to the ongoing recall campaign against the governor, which has yet to qualify for the ballot. The March 17 deadline for signature gathering is a little more than a month away.

And now, here’s what’s happening:


Senate votes that Trump impeachment trial is constitutional: After a widely panned opening-day performance by the legal team of former President Trump, the Senate voted Tuesday that the Constitution allows for his impeachment trial to proceed for actions he committed while in office. The 56-to-44 vote clears the path for up to four days of arguments on whether Trump should be convicted for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. House impeachment managers begin their case Wednesday. Los Angeles Times

More California elementary school students could begin returning to their classrooms by the spring if Newsom and lawmakers settle their differences over when teachers and staff receive COVID-19 vaccinations, an agreement the governor suggested Monday could be reached in the next few days. Los Angeles Times

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L.A. Super Bowl committee releases logo and plans for 2022 game at SoFi Stadium: Originally, this year’s Super Bowl was awarded to L.A., but construction delays at the Inglewood stadium led to Tampa stepping in to host this year’s game and L.A. being awarded the next one. Los Angeles Times

LACMA has put Michael Govan’s Mid-Wilshire home on the market, less than than a year after buying the $2.2-million property to house the museum director. The museum is selling the house to make up for pandemic-related losses, and Govan will no longer received museum-owned housing as a perk of employment. Los Angeles Times

Did a Beverly Hills cop blast Sublime to avoid being filmed by an activist? Police officers in Beverly Hills have been playing music while being filmed, seemingly in an effort to trigger Instagram’s copyright filters, which would make videos containing copyrighted music subject to removal. Vice


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Removing a condom without consent during intercourse would be classified as sexual battery under a proposed California law. The bill was introduced Monday by Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens). Los Angeles Times


A number of public interest attorneys filed a lawsuit seeking to halt in-person traffic and eviction trials held in Los Angeles County, claiming COVID-19 prevention protocols are failing after two court interpreters died of the virus in recent weeks. Los Angeles Times

Mourners with flowers at a vigil outside a government building
Mourners outside City Hall attend a vigil for Sergio Cafaro, 56, and Daniel Felix, 66, two court interpreters at Los Angeles County Superior Court who died of COVID-19.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)


California still faces acute shortages of COVID-19 vaccine as concerns about equity rise: Officials throughout California have lamented the limited and variable vaccine shipments they’ve received, saying they have the capacity and capability to provide significantly more shots. Los Angeles Times

Mass-vaccination site launches at 49ers stadium in Santa Clara: It could become the largest vaccine hub in the state if it meets its goal of doling out 15,000 shots a day. Los Angeles Times



Salesforce, San Francisco’s largest private employer, will permanently allow flexible or remote work for most employees. The move marks a major shift that could dampen downtown’s economic recovery well beyond the coronavirus pandemic. San Francisco Chronicle

Antonio Bernabe, hard-charging immigrant rights advocate, dies of COVID-19. Bernabe was a legend in Southern California immigrant rights circles for his decades of organizing and unwavering immigration reform advocacy. Los Angeles Times

A poem to start your Wednesday: “Ship of Theseus” by Rodney Gomez.

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For the record: The Loma Prieta earthquake was in 1989, not 1984, as misstated in yesterday’s newsletter.


Los Angeles: sunny, 64. San Diego: sunny, 61. San Francisco: sunny, 57. San Jose: sunny, 64. Fresno: sunny, 68. Sacramento: partly sunny, 66.


Today’s California memory comes from Steve Zoloth:


Growing up in the 1950s, there were many ways to have fun. Nothing compared with riding the No. 7 Pico bus. I could go downtown to my dad, or later to get to Santa Monica College. I didn’t need the bus to walk to Apple Pan or see the circus in the empty lot that is now Westside Pavilion. But the best was going to the Santa Monica Pier, with poles and bait, to fish. We had to return, of course, and, not surprisingly, we always had seats, since we were covered with bait and carried mackerel flopping in buckets.

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints, ideas and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes.