California Gov. Newsom failed to take promised pay cut, newspaper finds

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has been drawing his full monthly salary despite asking state workers in May to take a pay cut to alleviate the state’s burden in fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

Though elected state officials are exempt from such pay cuts, Newsom pledged that he would voluntarily slash his salary when he asked state workers to make that same sacrifice.

But a Thursday report from the Sacramento Bee revealed that Newsom has continued drawing his full monthly salary of $17,479.

A spokesman for Newsom's office blamed the matter on an "administrative error."

"The Governor publicly committed to taking the same pay cut as other state workers when he introduced his budget in May and has officially asked the Controller to adjust his pay, effective July 1," he said.  "The reductions for both July and August will be deduced for the next pay period."

Sacramento’s KOVR also reported that PlumpJack, a Northern California-based winery and hospitality company, founded and partly owned by Newsom, was open through early July – well after Newsom ordered all essential business closed in March.

Data released by the U.S. Treasury Department also shows that the wine company also received a loan worth $150,000 to $350,000 from the Paycheck Protection Program.

Data from the State Controller’s office shows that State Controller Betty Yee was the only one of California’s eight elected constitutional officers to take a pay cut last month, The Bee reported.

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Poor Planning Left California Short of Electricity in a Heat Wave

Everybody had known for days that a heat wave was about to wallop California. Yet a dashboard maintained by the organization that manages the state’s electric grid showed that scores of power plants were down or producing below peak strength, a stunning failure of planning, poor record keeping and sheer bad luck.

All told, power plants with the ability to produce almost 6,000 megawatts, or about 15 percent of the electricity on California’s grid, were reported as being offline when temperatures surged last Friday. The shortfall, which experts believe officials should have been able to avoid, forced managers of the grid to order rolling blackouts in the middle of a pandemic and as wildfires across the state were spreading.

But even if all of the missing capacity had been available, California would probably still have struggled to deliver enough electricity to homes where families were cranking up air-conditioners. That’s because the manager of the grid and state regulators were relying on power from plants that either had permanently shut down or could not have realistically achieved the targets set for them.

For example, the California Public Utilities Commission had assumed that hydroelectric plants would provide as much as 8,000 megawatts when demand peaked this summer. But that number appears to have failed to take into account low water levels at many dams, including the Big Creek Hydroelectric Project high in the Sierra Nevada. And those plants delivered only 5,514 megawatts last Friday, according to data from the nonprofit that manages the state’s grid and maintains records about power plants, the California Independent System Operator.

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California unemployment agency workers say internal problems are stalling claims process

As California grapples with a deluge of requests for unemployment benefits amid the COVID-19 pandemic, some state workers processing claims say they are buckling under pressure, hampered by outdated technology, bureaucratic red tape and a shortage of trained, experienced staff.

The state Employment Development Department is so overwhelmed that Gov. Gavin Newsom acknowledged last week that nearly 1 million unpaid claims may be eligible for payment but require more information, with estimates that the backlog won’t be eliminated until the end of September.

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California governor on the hot seat over pandemic response

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- California Gov. Gavin Newsom has had a summer of muddled messaging and bad news in the coronavirus fight, a trend crystallized this week by his delayed response to a data error that caused a backlog of nearly 300,000 virus test results.

“The buck stops with me, I'm accountable," he said in a tense Monday news conference, his first appearance since state officials revealed the error a week earlier. “No one’s trying to hide that, no one’s trying to mask that, we’re owning that, we’re moving forward to address those issues."

His tone couldn’t have been more different than it was in March, when California’s public battle with the virus began and the state initially avoided the worst outcomes. In commanding news conferences held almost daily, he announced the country's first statewide stay-at-home order and won mostly adherence from the state's 40 million residents.

But things began to change in May, when Newsom, under pressure from business leaders, allowed parts of the economy to begin reopening under a complicated, county-by-county process. Within weeks he reversed course as confirmed cases and the positive test rate rose.

The data backlog, which began at the end of July and continued because of a series of errors, led to the state under-counting the rate of virus spread and halted decision-making about what parts of the economy could open. Newsom has repeatedly stressed that those decisions will be made based on data.

The snafu also poses a political problem for Newsom, a Democratic rising star who is up for reelection in 2022 and is believed to have his eye on even higher office. His decisions in the crisis will help forge his legacy — good or bad — and so far, they are getting mixed reviews.

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San Diego, San Jose Mayors Back Uber And Lyft In California Gig Worker Labor Battle

The mayors of San Diego and San Jose—the second and third largest cities in California—urged a judge Wednesday to delay enforcement of a law requiring Uber and Lyft to make their drivers employees, saying it would cause “irreparable harm” if the ridesharing companies make good on their threat to temporarily shut down service in the state on Thursday.

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Newsom nears pivotal decision: Should California try to reopen again? Mayor Faulconer Weighs In

Newsom will face his toughest test as soon as Tuesday when San Diego County is expected to get off the state's list of coronavirus trouble spots. Not only would the county of 3.3 million become the most populous to shed its watch list status, it features a Republican big city mayor who has been driving hard to reopen businesses in a more politically moderate region — and who may be the GOP's best hope to challenge Newsom in two years.

“We’re off the watch list, but there’s not a process that currently exists for businesses to get back to work,” San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer told POLITICO in an interview Monday. “We’ve asked before and we’ll ask once again, where does our county go next?”

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San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer on being removed from COVID-19 monitoring list

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced Tuesday that the city would begin allowing gyms, fitness businesses and places of worship to operate in city parks beginning Monday.

“There is no city better than San Diego to take advantage of the fact that COVID-19 has a harder time spreading outdoors. Using parks as part of our pandemic relief response will help the mental health and physical health of thousands of San Diegans,” Faulconer said.

Faulconer joined Good Morning San Diego to discuss COVID-19, energy, and SDSU West campus.

San Diego County has officially been removed from the state’s COVID-19 monitoring list, setting in motion a 14-day countdown that could see K-12 students back in the classroom as soon as Sept. 1, depending on the guidance of individual school districts.

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Faulconer Wades Into Uber Fight

Mayor Kevin Faulconer joined with San Jose’s mayor Wednesday in a letter urging the state Court of Appeal to halt an earlier court order that would force Uber and Lyft to comply with AB 5, a state law limiting when companies can classify workers as independent contractors.

Last week, a San Francisco judge ruled that the city attorneys arguing the rideshare companies were violating the law were likely to prevail – and ordered that Uber must stop classifying its drivers as independent contractors as the lawsuit plays out.

Faulconer and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo are asking the appellate court to suspend that order to prevent the companies from following through on their threats to pull out of California if forced to comply.

“A stay could provide an opportunity for parties to come together with state leaders to negotiate a resolution to this complex issue,” Faulconer and Liccardo wrote. But love it or hate it, coming together to create a solution on this complex issue is what state leaders already did in enacting AB 5.

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Pressure mounts on Newsom for reopening plan

The state doesn’t currently allow indoor businesses to reopen in counties no longer on the watch list, though Newsom said Tuesday new guidelines are “very shortly forthcoming.” 

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer on Friday: “What does a county do when it gets off California’s COVID watch list? No one knows because state guidelines haven’t been set. … (This) exacerbates an increasingly difficult economic situation, and undermines the credibility of and compliance with the state’s public health order.”

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Mayor Faulconer urges action to avoid Uber & Lyft from leaving California due to AB 5

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer joined San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo Wednesday to urge an appeals court to stay an injunction that they said would lead to a statewide shutdown of Uber and Lyft’s operations starting this Friday.

The rideshare companies recently lost a court battle regarding Assembly Bill 5, with a judge ruling the companies must classify their drivers as employees rather than independent contractors in order to comply with the law, which went into effect Jan. 1

AB 5 was authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher, and co-authored by San Diego Mayoral candidate, Assemblyman Todd Gloria.

Faulconer and Liccardo also proposed the creation of a portable benefit fund for independent contractors that the companies would be required to pay into.

“Being forced into a situation where shutting down service is the only viable option hurts everyone at a moment when we need to pull together to help more Californians make ends meet,” the mayors said. “We call on all parties to turn this political standoff into a foundation for productive conversation about new ways to preserve a valued service and fairly compensate independent workers. California can choose to continue to implement solutions that lead the innovation economy, or to be led by others. The livelihoods of nearly one million residents depends on California choosing to lead.”

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