Why Gov. Gavin Newsom’s disappearance from the public eye was inopportune

Gov. Gavin Newsom
“The kids, literally, they kind of had an intervention,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said, explaining that his family thought he wasn’t spending enough time at home.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Wednesday, Nov. 10. I’m Justin Ray.

Gov. Gavin Newsom made his first public appearance in two weeks after plenty of speculation about his absence.

On Tuesday, he appeared at the 2021 California Economic Summit, sponsored by California Forward, where he participated in an onstage conversation with his former top economic advisor, Lenny Mendonca.

Though Newsom did not take questions from reporters, he did address the elephant in the room. So what did he say about his retreat from the public eye? Here’s how Newsom addressed his disappearance, and two reasons why the timing of his absence wasn’t the best.

Newsom explains his absence

At the beginning of the conversation (which you can watch here), the governor explained that his kids were not happy about their father’s busy schedule.


He said that after the state’s recall election, he worked on signing bills. Then, by the time his scheduled trip to Scotland for the U.N. climate summit rolled around, his children were fed up.

“The kids, literally, they kind of had an intervention,” Newsom said. “They said they couldn’t believe I was going to miss Halloween. I woke up that next morning with something that is probably familiar to a lot of parents, that knot in your stomach, that I had no damn choice, I had to cancel that trip.”

He said he went to his kids’ soccer tournament and took them trick-or-treating. “It’s been probably the most productive week I’ve had since I’ve been governor,” Newsom said.

Two reasons why his absence was poorly timed

Taking a break to spend time with family is a cause many can relate to, particularly during the pandemic, when parenting has become even more complicated. The Times launched a parenting newsletter this year for this very reason.

But the absence came at an inopportune time for two reasons, both of which pertain to COVID-19.

Given how important this moment is, Newsom’s public messaging is crucial. It doesn’t help that pictures published by Vogue appear to show Newsom and his wife attending the lavish marriage ceremony of Ivy Getty, the great-granddaughter of J. Paul Getty, to photographer Tobias Engel at San Francisco City Hall — attendance that may, for some, recall Newsom’s decision to attend the now-infamous French Laundry dinner.

The Times wrote at length about the situation, which included a much-discussed (and since-deleted) social media post by Newsom’s wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, as well as why one expert calls the controversy an “unforced error.”

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

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Los Angeles attorney Wogai Mohmand is spearheading an effort to convince the U.S. government to expand a fast track for legal entry to the United States. The process, known as humanitarian parole, could help thousands of Afghans as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is struggling to process the applications it has already received. Project ANAR — Afghan Network for Advocacy and Resources — led by Mohmand and two other Afghan American women, draws on past models of similar U.S. aid to groups from Latin America and South Asia. So far, the group has helped some 9,000 Afghans apply for parole to enter the U.S. Los Angeles Times

Ethan Ward, an unhoused communities reporter for KPCC/LAist, has a three-part series detailing how members of the LGBTQ community make up a large portion of people in the city experiencing housing insecurity. “The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority’s 2020 Homeless Count found nearly 36% of the unhoused population identified as gay or lesbian. They are also more likely to be Black, Latino, and/or LGBTQ+, lack employment, a support system, or positive adult relationships,” Ward wrote to me. The first piece tells the story of Tryron Ramsey, who at 22 was kicked out of his home for being gay. The second explains how a bisexual woman, 63, spent five years couch-surfing and how the experience harmed her mental health. The final article highlights how transgender and nonbinary people face unique housing challenges. LAist

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SCOTUS case about Orange County Muslims. I wanted to put on your radar a case before the Supreme Court involving California. Three O.C. Muslim men sued after the Federal Bureau of Investigation hired a man, Craig Monteilh, to pose as a convert to Islam. In 2006 and 2007, he recorded thousands of hours of conversations and compiled names and phone numbers. When he began to talk in the mosque about violent jihad, several of the Muslim men reported him to the FBI. Three of the men who met with and were surveilled by Monteilh sued the FBI in federal court, alleging they were targeted because of their religion. But the federal government moved to dismiss the suit, arguing that the claims couldn’t be litigated without risking the disclosure of state secrets. The Supreme Court case is meant to decide whether or not that argument is valid. Los Angeles Times


Turlock High stabbing suspect has first court hearing. Yesterday, I told you about the stabbing at a Central Valley high school and a teacher who heroically intervened. The suspect in the attack had his first court hearing Tuesday. He is charged with attempted murder and three enhancements, which were not read in court. According to the Modesto Bee, rumors were posted to social media that the alleged attacker had been bullied by the victim. However, Turlock Police Sgt. Mike Parmley said, “at this point in the investigation, there is no indication there was bullying between either student.” Modesto Bee

A woman, 30, was arrested on suspicion of shooting her husband, 28, in the leg during an argument in the parking lot of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The incident occurred around 4:30 p.m., a half-hour before the park closed, San Diego police said. Officers found the victim and his wife in the parking lot, as well as a 9 mm handgun, police said. The victim was taken to a hospital for treatment of a gunshot wound to his left knee. San Diego Union-Tribune

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Is it time for you to get a booster shot? We have an interactive webpage that allows you to find out. COVID-19 booster shots are now available for many Americans. But they’re not recommended for everyone. The Times has put together some questions to ask yourself before you seek out an extra shot. Of course, our answers are no substitute for actual medical advice. Your best bet is always to talk to your doctor. Los Angeles Times

Is it time for the booster shot? Here are things to consider.
(Los Angeles Times)

COVID-19 hospitalizations have risen significantly in the Inland Empire and Central Valley, bringing new concerns about whether the shift represents a precursor to a wider spike in California as the winter holidays approach. Hospitalizations have remained fairly flat in some areas with relatively high vaccination rates, including the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles County. But in some areas with lower vaccination rates, such as Riverside, San Bernardino and Fresno counties, conditions are deteriorating, with hospitalizations up by more than 20% in recent weeks. Los Angeles Times


They live rent-free on San Francisco Bay. But now their ‘floating homeless encampment’ faces extinction. Greg Baker likes to say that the only way he’s leaving his home, a broken-down 40-foot sailboat anchored in the sparkling estuary north of the Golden Gate Bridge, is in handcuffs or a black plastic bag. But Baker and his fellow anchor-outs, as they’re known, have long lived illegally and rent-free in the sightline of some of America’s priciest real estate, and now authorities in Sausalito and other neighboring communities want them gone. The battle has pitted the forces of gentrification against Sausalito’s fading identity as a freewheeling maritime town that has always been a refuge for rebels and dropouts. Los Angeles Times

Officials prepare to crush an old boat at the dock of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Sausalito.
Officials prepare to crush an old boat at the dock of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Sausalito.
(Rachel Scheier / For the Times)

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Los Angeles: 69 San Diego: See this photo of a cat sleeping on top of a whole bunch of bags of chips. 70 San Francisco: Rain 62 San Jose: 68 Fresno: 67 Sacramento: See this dog hug a dude while riding an escalator. 63


Today’s California memory is from Marie Davis:

As a child on my family’s chicken ranch in 1950s Granada Hills, I used to tromp through the five acres of endless adventures hidden in the tall grasses. There was a walnut orchard to the west, sweet tangerines to the north, an onion farm south and horses across the fence to the west. There was little to hem in a kid’s dreams but the distant purple San Gabriel and blond Santa Susana mountains. One day I found a boulder studded with seashells! I must have been 6 and remember my astonishment as if it were yesterday! I became a geologist and am still practicing with that wonder in my soul these 70 years later.

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

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