Governor Grundy puts Orange County, but not San Diego County, on restriction
Just a few hours ago, I got back from La Jolla, a rich and deep-blue enclave of the city of San Diego that's the home of Mitt Romney. The just-after-sunset beach traipse was to see the bioluminescence event. Beach waves turn glow-in-the-dark at night as a result of the red tide, and it's a rare and completely yowza thing to see. Of course it drew a crowd. Street parking was competitive. The cars just kept coming and coming on Coast Boulevard near Wipeout Beach, and visitors bunched up at stoplights to use crosswalks — no slipping across the streets real quick to get to the shore view from the cliffs. Here's a bit of the pre-weekend flavor, and this was far from the most crowded scene I saw. You can see that the groups have masks, look more like friends than families, and aren't socially distancing. You can bet there's going to be more, much more, with the upcoming weekend's bioluminescence viewing.
I decided that this photo was relevant because California's Gov. Gavin Newsom singled out Orange County and none of the other Southern California counties for full beach shutdowns. Newsom claimed that a news photograph of Newport Beach proved that nobody was socially distancing in the O.C. Never mind that Orange County has a far lower rate of COVID-19 infection than the heavily urbanized areas such as Los Angeles. COVID-19 deaths in the O.C. number 45, while deaths in next-door Los Angeles County have hit 1,045.
And never mind that sunlight and fresh air, such as are found on beaches, are a natural disinfectant. More specifically, never mind that beach transmission of disease is extremely rare.
The whole shutdown looked suspicious, vindictive, even — San Diego and Orange County officials all pleaded to the governor not to do it. But only Orange County got it, something that, as I noted earlier, pretty much had the odor of Mrs. Grundy punishing the whole class for something Reggie and Veronica did.
Turns out it was worse, much worse. Newsom let Lumpy and Eddie Haskell get away with even worse because he had favorites. Political favorites.
San Diego County's coastal cities are now reliably blue. Orange County is historically red, but ballot-harvesting has somehow made it blue.
It wasn't that Orange County was the most defiant. Actually, San Diego County was. Both Orange and San Diego Counties had organized angry protests earlier — Encinitas in San Diego County had at least two organized protests, with hundreds of angry surfers and multiple arrests, while Huntington Beach in the O.C. had one small beachgoer protest. But again, only Orange County got the restrictions.
Newsom claimed that it was the news photograph that did them in, supposedly showing Newport Beach visitors supposedly not socially distancing. I disputed whether that was really happening in this item here, and on Twitter, some Orange County denizens argued that news photos could very easily be distorted to make crowds appear bigger than they were.
Newsom's response was creepy: he released a list of all the things Californians were still allowed to do, which included watch sunsets, and he said Orange County officials had been great in cooperating with the state and that his move against the entire county was "just a little tightening."
“Orange County’s been on our list of health concerns. They’ve done a wonderful job down there, I just think we can tighten up a little bit."— eap (@eaparkstweet) May 1, 2020
He wants to throw his weight around for no reason other than he can. Abuse of power.
If there's another protest in Sacramento, I'll join. https://t.co/302MneEgh9
Now Newport Beach and Huntington Beach are suing, and an emergency protest is being planned for today, in Sacramento and probably locally. The Orange County sheriff, meanwhile, has announced he's not going to play Newsom's beach cop, marching surfers off to the pokey while bona fide child-molesters are being let out in the same county to "protect" them from COVID-19.
Thing is, the Orange County beachgoers can now flock to San Diego and Los Angeles Counties for their fresh air fix. That's not a big problem. They'll get their beach in San Onofre and Vista and Oceanside, in Del Mar and Encinitas and Carlsbad and La Jolla, as well as El Segundo and Venice and Santa Monica and Malibu, making all of those beaches more crowded. But hey, nobody's enforcing in those parts.
The people the shutdown is really going to hurt are all the Orange County small businesses up and down the crowded Orange County coast. Those are the ones who just got the Newsom death sentence — the bike shops, art galleries, surfboard rentals, flip-flop-making companies (hey, Rainbow!), bars, restaurants, and cafés.
It raises questions about what Newsom might be thinking. Orange County is historically right-wing and there's an election coming up. The county has just swung blue in the last midterm, based not on election night returns, but ballot-harvesting, which one by one by one managed to flip every seat in the historically red county blue.
Is Newsom convinced he's got the county in the bag for the general election half a year away? He's just provoked a huge sagebrush rebellion in that country along with lawsuits and likely scenes of street rage. Things like this have the potential to flip elections from blue to red and Newsom knows it.
What gives here? Is he convinced the ballot-harvestors have got Orange County so rigged it doesn't matter how anyone votes? He knows the place is red, he's likely punishing them because they are red, yet he fears no electoral consequences.
If so, one can only hope that he's wrong about this and he'll be in for a surprise. But rigging is evil stuff and this highlights that these beach cities ought to be just as vigilant about electoral corruption in the works, given that Newsom fears absolutely no consequences for his fundamentally unfair act on one politically inconvenient county.
Image credit: Photo illustration by Monica Showalter with use of public domain sources.