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Saturday, 4 July 2020

Sour grapes: California governor Gavin Newsom shuts down wineries in 19 counties hit hard by COVID-19 - but keeps his OWN tasting room in Napa open

  • Governor Gavin Newsom issued executive order on Wednesday for 19 counties 
  • Counties in south and central California were ordered to shut indoor business 
  • Businesses had three days to move their operations outdoors due to COVID-19 
  • Wineries and vineyards were also shut down as part of Newsom's decree 
  • But order did not apply to Napa County, which has seen fewer COVID-19 cases
  • Newsom owns PlumpJack Estate Winery in Oakville section of Napa Valley 
  • It is part of multimillion-dollar portfolio of Newsom's properties in hospitality
  • Winery is among several properties co-owned by Newsom's PlumpJack Group
  • After he was elected governor in 2018, Newsom put assets in a blind trust 
California Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday ordered 19 counties to shut down their vineyards and wineries due to the rise in the number of cases of COVID-19, but his own in the relatively unscathed Napa Valley remains open.
The governor issued an executive order on Wednesday requiring establishments cease indoor operations.
These include restaurants, wineries and tasting rooms, movie theaters, family entertainment centers, zoos, museums, cardrooms and bars.
The order is a three-day decree that allows these businesses time to move their operations outdoors, where there is believed to be less risk of spreading the virus.
California Governor Gavin Newsom (seen above in Los Angeles on Friday) issued an executive order on Wednesday closing down wineries and tasting rooms in 19 counties in the southern and central parts of the state where there are surges in COVID-19 cases
California Governor Gavin Newsom (seen above in Los Angeles on Friday) issued an executive order on Wednesday closing down wineries and tasting rooms in 19 counties in the southern and central parts of the state where there are surges in COVID-19 cases
But the order did not apply to Napa County, home to PlumpJack Estate Winery, which is co-owned by the governor
But the order did not apply to Napa County, home to PlumpJack Estate Winery, which is co-owned by the governor
PlumpJack Winery is located in the Oakville section of Napa Valley, part of California's world-famous wine country
PlumpJack Winery is located in the Oakville section of Napa Valley, part of California's world-famous wine country
The governor ordered businesses in 19 counties to shut down for three days while they make preparations to move their operations outdoors
The governor ordered businesses in 19 counties to shut down for three days while they make preparations to move their operations outdoors 
The 19 counties that were named in the executive order are located mostly in Southern and Central California.
But Napa County, which is home to California’s world-famous wine country, has so far reported just 343 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Napa County was exempt from the governor’s order on Wednesday.
It is also home to PlumpJack Estate Winery in the Oakville section of Napa.
PlumpJack Estate Winery’s website indicates that a wine tasting is scheduled for July 7 - this coming Tuesday.
Newsom, a multimillionaire, is one of the wealthiest governors in America.
His wealth is derived from holdings in the hospitality industry, including wineries, vineyards, bars, restaurants, cafes, and hotels in the San Francisco Bay Area, .
Newsom and his wife reported more than $1.2million in income during his final year as the state’s lieutenant governor, the majority of it from outside business interests.
Newsom’s 2018 return showed nearly $394,000 in wages, of which about $151,000 was his state salary.
Newsom, a multimillionaire, is thought to be one of the nation's wealthiest governors. His portfolio of assets includes the Balboa Cafe in San Francisco
Newsom, a multimillionaire, is thought to be one of the nation's wealthiest governors. His portfolio of assets includes the Balboa Cafe in San Francisco
The governor's holdings also include the White Rabbit, a bar located in the Cow Hollow section of San Francisco
The governor's holdings also include the White Rabbit, a bar located in the Cow Hollow section of San Francisco
His wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, is a filmmaker and actress with her own outside income, though the couple filed jointly.
Their $1.2million in total income was reduced to about $973,000 in taxable income through various business and other deductions, including $25,683 in unspecified charitable contributions and declaring his four young children as dependents.
In 1992, Newsom and composer Gordon Getty, a descendant of the late oil baron J. Paul Getty, opened a wine shop in San Francisco called PlumpJack Wines.
The business then expanded after the two men acquired a 42-acre vineyard in the Napa Valley.
Newsom’s company has since expanded even further in the hospitality industry, amassing millions of dollars worth in assets.
According to its website, The PlumpJack Group owns and operates Balboa Cafe in San Francisco, a ski lift and lodge in Squaw Valley, several bars in the San Francisco Bay Area, and other properties.
Tax filings from 2018 show that Newsom and his wife own stock in PlumpJack Group.
The couple earned a combined salary of nearly $600,000 in 2018, according to Fox 26 TV.
Shortly after Newsom was elected governor in November 2018, he moved to place his ownership interest in PlumpJack Group into a blind trust.
Newsom also holds a stake in The Getaway, a boutique hotel located in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California
Newsom also holds a stake in The Getaway, a boutique hotel located in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California
Newsom transferred title and control of the businesses to a family friend, Shyla Hendrickson, a lawyer and certified public accountant who agreed to serve as a trustee.
Under the terms of the blind trust, Hendrickson has total authority over the assets, including the power to sell off Newsom’s stake without consulting him, according to the Los Angeles Times.
By law, Hendrickson is not allowed to talk to Newsom about business considerations.
Newsom’s sister, Hilary Newsom Callan, is president of PlumpJack Group, an arrangement that is legal under state law.
The governor is permitted to maintain his ownership stake in the company. He is also allowed to sign into law bills that benefit him financially as long as all residents of the state derive the same benefit.

California enters July 4th weekend with many beaches closed as governor urges residents to wear masks and avoid gatherings

Newsom urged Californians on Thursday to turn to their 'better angels' and use common sense by wearing masks and skipping traditional gatherings with family and friends during the holiday weekend - a message echoed by local officials who previously sparred with the governor over his virus orders.
Infections and hospitalizations are rising rapidly in many parts of California and at a news conference Newsom was pressed repeatedly on whether the state is being aggressive enough in enforcing his health mandates, especially an order to wear masks that was put in place two weeks ago.
Newsom previously noted he has established teams of state regulators to target businesses that don’t enforce the mask rule or follow other requirements for social distancing and hygiene. 
Surfers walk from the water along a closed and empty Venice beach on Friday
Surfers walk from the water along a closed and empty Venice beach on Friday
State authorities also sent letters Thursday to every employer - about 350,000 businesses - warning that failure to implement the face coverings order could result in fines and potential criminal prosecution.
But the governor acknowledged authorities can only do so much when it comes to the behavior of individuals outside business settings.
'We're not going into everybody's backyard and enforcing,' he said. 
'We're just encouraging people to be safe, to be thoughtful about themselves and others.'
Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s top health official, called the holiday weekend a 'big deal' for efforts to contain the virus and urged people to behave differently than they did on Memorial Day weekend, when many gathered socially. 
Authorities say that behavior helped spur the latest surge of cases.
'This is another time for Californians to pay attention to what happened over the last month and make a different set of decisions now,' he said.
Across the state, local officials largely parroted the governor’s words about the importance of personal responsibility. But they also took action. 
Along the coast, many beaches and parks were closed or access was restricted.
Fireworks shows were canceled up and down the state.   
In West Hollywood, Santa Monica and Monterey, officials announced they were ready to fine people who don’t wear masks.
People crowd Pacific Beach in San Diego ahead of the Fourth of July holiday on Friday
People crowd Pacific Beach in San Diego ahead of the Fourth of July holiday on Friday
Coco Cocozzella, who wore a black face covering while outside in Sacramento, said masks are 'kind of a pain' but she doesn’t mind the state mandating she wear one. 
At home, she said, she keeps hers on a hook with her keys to remember to take it when she goes out.
She said fines are a step too far but people who don’t wear a mask should be 'stopped and warned.' 
'You should get a little scared,' she said.
California had been on a good trajectory with its virus efforts until mid-June. 
As infections rose markedly, Newsom took action this week. 
Los Angeles and 18 other counties with the most troubling virus increases were forced to shutter bars, forbid inside restaurant dining and close movie theaters, among other things.
More than 2,200 additional cases of COVID-19 were reported Thursday in Los Angeles County. 
In addition, nearly 1,900 people were hospitalized - the largest number since early May - and 28 per cent of them are in intensive care, the county reported.
'Unfortunately, we continue to see negative trends in the data and we urgently need to make a change in the trajectory,' Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said. 
'We must make sure we are not unnecessarily spending time outside with others and use this opportunity as a countywide reset. We need everyone’s help.'
San Diego, the state's second-largest county, previously wasn’t among the 19 counties - including virtually all of Southern California - that are on the state watch list. 
But local authorities said Thursday the state had notified them that San Diego County would join the list Friday following a series of outbreaks this week.
In neighboring Orange County, where officials had fought Newsom’s order to close down beaches and the health officer resigned due to harassment that followed her order to wear face coverings, Supervisor Michelle Steel and Sheriff Don Barnes advised people to wear masks. 
The sheriff said his deputies will urge voluntary compliance rather than use aggressive enforcement.
Meanwhile, in Santa Clara County in the San Francisco Bay Area, Public Health Officer Sara Cody announced hair and nail salons, gyms and other businesses could open by July 13, even as the county followed state orders to close bars and other establishments because its cases are rising.
Cody was the architect of the stay-at-home order in the Bay Area that preceded Newsom’s statewide order by several days in March.
Cody criticized Newsom’s rapid reopening of the economy in early June. 
But she now says that even with increases in cases and hospitalizations in her county, she felt comfortable setting a date to reopen additional businesses. 
The new order is about 'acknowledging that we have been sheltering in place for a very long time' and need 'something sustainable because we're going to be at this for a while,' she said.
Newsom also announced a new public awareness campaign with billboards, TV and radio ads and social media posts urging Californians to wear face coverings and reminding them of the danger of the virus. 


One ad shows a person breathing on a ventilator with a mask that reads: 'Even without symptoms, you can spread COVID-19. And people can die. People like your mom.'
'If you think this hasn't or wont impact you because it hasn’t impacted you, I hope to disabuse you of that,' Newsom said during his news conference.
The ads are starting in English and Spanish and will eventually run in seven languages. 
The effort also includes social media ads and will focus specifically on Black and Latino communities, which are being disproportionately impacted by the virus.
The new campaign is funded in part by Silicon Valley groups and philanthropists, including Tom Steyer, a former Democratic presidential candidate and head of Newsom’s Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery.

Gov Gavin Newsom issues new COVID guidelines after numbers rise

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