Opinion: By flouting pandemic rules, some California Democrats show arrogance and hypocrisy
On Tuesday, three more high-ranking California elected officials joined Gov. Gavin Newsom in the What Were They Thinking? club.
Newsom, you may recall, attended a dinner at the ritzy French Laundry in Napa Valley in early November to celebrate the birthday of a lobbyist friend in a group larger than the state recommends is safe. Was it technically allowable? Perhaps, but it was still incredibly bad optics for the person leading the state’s COVID-19 pandemic response to be spotted partying at one of the most exclusive and expensive restaurants in the country just as new cases were surging in his home state and new restrictions were looming.
You’d think that the drubbing Newsom received in the press, and is still receiving weeks later, would have served as an effective cautionary tale for other elected officials. You’d be wrong.
Even as the French Laundry story was breaking, California legislators from both sides of the aisle jetted off to Hawaii to hang out with lobbyists and lawmakers from other states for an annual junket — despite the fact that the state they served was asking everyone else not to travel if they could help it.
And now the club ranks have swelled again with the addition of three leaders in the state who were caught ignoring the same pandemic guidance they are preaching to the masses:
- Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who was spotted eating al fresco at a Santa Monica restaurant last week just hours after she cast a vote supporting a temporary closure of outdoor dining in the county. Her justification? Outdoor dining poses too much of a health risk.
- San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, who spent Thanksgiving at a family dinner that included eight people from five households. State public health orders limit gatherings to no more than three households. He knew that.
- And San Francisco Mayor London Breed, who attended a birthday dinner at the French Laundry, the night after the governor’s dinner in a group of eight. Her city prohibits restaurants from serving groups larger than six.
Really, what were they thinking?
Maybe it’s unfair to expect elected officials not to trip up when it seems everyone else is doing the same. They are human and, really, how many among us haven’t done something risky in the last 10 months that would look bad if it were splashed all over Twitter? But things aren’t fair for anyone right now. So, too bad. Elected officials have always been held to a higher standard because of the power they wield, and this crisis has set the bar even higher.
A cure for the common opinion
Get thought-provoking perspectives with our weekly newsletter.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.