August 13, 2020 Your Source for Brentwood News

Time for Newsom to Get Tough on Virus Scofflaws

By Tom Elias, Brentwood News columnist

It became plain during the July 4 holiday weekend that Los Angeles County has at least a partially scofflaw sheriff. So do several other California counties. They’re essentially enforcing only laws and rules they like.

As coronavirus hospital admissions neared capacities just before the nation’s 244th birthday, doctors readied rationing schemes deciding who would get ventilators in case of a shortage. Then Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered beaches and their parking lots closed in most coastal counties to slow the contagion.

When similar orders prevailed during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva stationed deputies at regular intervals along his county’s vast strands, their mere presence warding off would-be surfers and others who merely wanted to lounge on the sand. California bent the COVID curve.

But not this time. A holiday drive along more than 20 miles of beaches revealed shut-down parking lots and plenty of “Closed” signs – but no deputies. As a result, wherever roadside parking was possible along the Pacific Coast Highway, beaches were crowded, surfers clambering down bluffs and cliffs headed for the unusually high waves that prevailed.

No deputies could be seen trying to hinder them, let alone write citations. If the pandemic revival of late June and early July continues into August, this will likely be part of the reason, just as big, mostly unmasked and un-socially-distanced Memorial Day beach and protest crowds helped cause the state’s second onslaught of COVID-19.

Newsom, who almost daily issues edicts governing business and personal behavior, did little. Yes, before the holiday, he threatened to take some state funding from counties that wouldn’t follow orders on mask use and beach closings. The threats were paper tigers.

This was also true of his response when Merced County Sheriff Vernon Warnke refused to enforce state orders in May and June, claiming they meant “economic slaughter.” Now cases are surging in Merced County and Warnke is recanting.

Through all this, the scofflaw sheriffs continue commanding their corps of deputies as if they were tough law enforcement officers. They have not been penalized, making a mockery of state authority.

It’s not unique to California. Hours after Washington Gov. Jay Inslee ordered his state’s residents to mask up in public, the sheriff of rural Lewis County told a crowd to go barefaced. Carrying a megaphone and wearing his uniform to prove he spoke officially, Sheriff Robert Snaza exhorted constituents, “Don’t be a sheep.”

This amounted to an endorsement of risking death for themselves and others.

It’s essentially a rebellion by local sheriffs against governors trying to save lives by using their emergency powers, one of the highest duties of any public official.

But at least five California sheriffs and a couple of mayors have told constituents Newsom’s orders are “unconstitutional and unenforceable.”

Given what’s happened around those counties, with caseloads and death tolls rising daily, it’s high time Newsom did more than just talk.

It is politic to urge citizens to be responsible, as the governor continually does. But the Memorial Day beach scenes, the unmasked protest marches and the actions of countless restaurant and bar customers demonstrate he must do something more dramatic.

Newsom has dispatched several hundred state inspectors to enforce rules on businesses, but they sometimes work unpredictably and even at odds with his orders. One example: restaurants in Morgan Hill that followed the pre-Fourth of July order to close indoor operations were told to shut down outside tables – not part of the state order. Overall, inspectors issued at least seven citations on their first day out and hundreds since.

Newsom says he hopes persuasion will be enough to get Californians to follow his orders. It has not worked well enough, leniency most likely costing at least some lives.

Which makes it high time Newsom put teeth in his orders. Yes, some localities fine face mask recalcitrants hundreds of dollars when they persist after being warned, but no one has punished scofflaw sheriffs and mayors.

If they won’t uphold rules they’re sworn to enforce, those officials should either be removed from office or see their agencies lose major state funding. The carrot plainly hasn’t worked well enough; it’s time for the stick.

Email Thomas Elias at [email protected] His book, “The Burzynski Breakthrough, The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It” is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit www.californiafocus.net

Related Posts

Screen Sitters Helping Busy Parents During the COVID-19 Pandemic

August 12, 2020

August 12, 2020

Creating an enriching experience for virtual learning By Toi Creel As millions of parents across the world have been forced...

Video Service Captures Memories With Loved Ones Before Tragedy Arises

August 12, 2020

August 12, 2020

Preserving memories with Von Runtenberg Memories By Toi Creel One of the most difficult things to go through in life...

County Surpasses 5,000 COVID-19 Deaths

August 11, 2020

August 11, 2020

Hospitalizations continue to decline By Sam Catanzaro L.A. County reached a somber milestone Tuesday of over 5,000 COVID- 19 deaths....

Edify TV: Westsiders Embracing Aquatic Activities

August 10, 2020

August 10, 2020

While social and physical distancing continues, Westsiders have been taking to the ocean for some sunshine and recreation. Learn more...

Local Pet Resort and Spa Helping Frontline Workers: Brentwood Beat – August, 10, 2020

August 10, 2020

August 10, 2020

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * Local Pet Resort and Spa Helping Frontline Workers * Coronavirus Cases...

Edify TV: Flurry of Development in Westside Neighborhood

August 10, 2020

August 10, 2020

A Westside neighborhood, known for its ramen restaurants and all things Japanese, is undergoing a flurry of development. Learn more...

Edify TV: Notable Westside Properties Hit Market

August 10, 2020

August 10, 2020

From architecturally unique houses in Venice and Pacific Palisades to a property once valued at $100 million in Bel Air,...

L.A. County Exceeds 200,000 Positive COVID-19 Cases

August 6, 2020

August 6, 2020

Younger adults continue to make up the majority of new COVID-19 cases County health officials say. The Los Angeles County...

Open Air Homes: Bringing High-End Rentals to LA

August 6, 2020

August 6, 2020

By Toi Creel In 2012 Brad Greiner, an independent filmmaker found himself in a financial pinch where he could no...

2 Brentwood Students Win Prestigious Scholarship and Mentoring

August 6, 2020

August 6, 2020

Lena Jones, Hannah Kim of The Archer School named Milken Scholars Two Brentwood high school students have won prestigious scholarships...

Former UCLA Doctor Facing Additional Sexual Assault Chargers: Brentwood Beat – August, 6, 2020

August 6, 2020

August 6, 2020

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * Former UCLA Doctor Facing Additional Sexual Assault Chargers * LA Will...

Nursing Home Visitors: Improvement, but Not Much

August 4, 2020

August 4, 2020

By Tom Elias, Brentwood News Columnist The good news in California nursing homes this summer is that some are allowing...

Getty Experiences Number of COVID-19 Cases Among Staff

August 4, 2020

August 4, 2020

Staff members at both Getty Center and Getty Villa test positive for virus By Sam Catanzaro While both remain closed...

County Health Officials Express Cautious Optimism on COVID-19 Trends

August 3, 2020

August 3, 2020

County health officials cite closure of bars and other indoor venues as factor behind trends By Sam Catanzaro Health officials...

NBA All-Star Blake Griffin Purchases Luxury Home in Brentwood: Brentwood Beat – August, 3, 2020

August 3, 2020

August 3, 2020

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * NBA All-Star Blake Griffin Purchases Luxury Home in Brentwood * LA...

Comments
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *