Part of me grudgingly admires the balls it takes for a public servant to flout social-distancing rules in Cali after weeks of the governor being lambasted for doing that very thing and with the state now on the brink of another lockdown, crushing businesses near and far.
There’s an almost exhibitionist quality to it. Letting down your guard on social distancing is like being naked in your home and unthinkingly strolling past a window. It’s embarrassing if someone outside happens to notice, but everyone can relate to an absentminded moment. Letting down your guard on social distancing when you know people are watching — when the media is on the lookout for this stuff, relishing stories about official hypocrisy on COVID restrictions — is more like heading down to the park in a trenchcoat and flashing people.
Do these A-holes want to get caught? Are they getting a weird thrill from it, a little power trip derived from their notoriety as policymakers?
First up: The mayor of San Jose.
The NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit has learned [Mayor Sam] Liccardo celebrated [Thanksgiving] with his elderly parents at their Saratoga home with an unknown number of other guests. While the mayor’s staff did confirm the dinner took place, they have not disclosed how many other people attended, how many different households were present, and whether any of those in attendance wore masks while not eating…
Last week, Liccardo urged his more than 33,000 Twitter followers to cancel “big gatherings this year” and noted the importance of following safety protocols, even with friends and family…
“Keep your holiday gatherings to your immediate household members only,” warned Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody during a November 14 virtual town hall. “I cannot emphasize enough, gathering with friends and family who are not in your household is not safe.”
Initially Liccardo’s office told the media he was staying home for Thanksgiving before correcting that statement. His spokesman then assured reporters that the Thanksgiving gathering at his parents’ home was held outdoors and was socially distanced, but he also emphasized repeatedly that it was a “private event — not public.” Which should matter … why? What’s that got to do with the guidance about limiting holiday meals to one’s own household? The virus travels when households mix, not just when they mix in public.
Up next: Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who cast the deciding vote last Tuesday in ordering all outdoor dining in the county to be discontinued and who decided to celebrate that vote by heading out to Santa Monica for a little, uh, outdoor dining.
A spokesperson for Kuehl provided FOX 11 the following brief statement:
“She did dine al fresco at Il Forno on the very last day it was permissible. She loves Il Forno, has been saddened to see it, like so many restaurants, suffer from a decline in revenue. She ate there, taking appropriate precautions, and sadly will not dine there again until our Public Health Orders permit.”
During Tuesday’s L.A. County Board of Supervisors meeting, Kuehl referred to outside dining as “a most dangerous situation” over what she described as a risk of tables of unmasked patrons potentially exposing their servers to the coronavirus.
“This is a serious health emergency and we must take it seriously,” Kuehl said.
The ban on outdoor dining didn’t take effect until the following evening so she wasn’t technically breaking the rules, but obviously it’s idiotic and hypocritical to partake in a practice which you deem so hazardous that it needs to be banned imminently. It reminds me of Bill de Blasio warning back in March as NYC was locking down that bars could be shuttered at any moment — and then advising New Yorkers that “If you love your neighborhood bar, go there now” before it closed. One last big virus-spreading hurrah before the new rules take effect, in other words. Evidently that was Kuehl’s “logic” in opting for a last meal outdoors at an L.A. eatery as well.
One local restaurant may have found the secret to avoiding the new restrictions. Since California’s politicians evidently aren’t bound by the same rules as everyone else, all you need to do is market yourself to those politicians and you can stay open.
This Redondo Beach restaurant has a not so subtle message for CA. Owner Alex says he’s defying LA County orders to close outdoor dining because it’s not about him, it’s about all the workers that rely on him for livelihoods, and he can’t leave them stranded right before Christmas pic.twitter.com/rRlUGlKbkR
— Christina Pascucci (@ChristinaKTLA) November 29, 2020
Question: Are we being too hard on people like Liccardo and Kuehl? My strong instinct is to say “f*** no, we’re not being hard enough,” but everyone’s struggling with the burdens of social distancing after nine months. As odious as they are, our leadership class is still made up of human beings. These people crave normalcy just as we all do and are prone to lapses just as we all are.
I propose a compromise: They leave the leadership class by resigning from office and we stop hounding them for their hypocrisy. Seems like a square deal to me.
Speaking of brazenly flouting good social-distancing practices, the White House will host numerous Christmas and holiday parties this year despite the fact that multiple outbreaks have already been seeded inside that building and there are many more cases circulating in the population now than there were when Trump got infected. Can’t call that hypocrisy, though: The president and his political aides have been abundantly clear for months that they don’t care how much the virus spreads. So what more fitting way to end Trump’s presidency and the year 2020 than with a new round of COVID pox parties at the presidential mansion? Exit quotation from WaPo: “Most guests will not be tested in advance, an official said.”