Jon Mays with beard

I know we are all supposed to forgive Gavin Newsom for the French Laundry situation since he apologized but it is still sticking in my craw. We are all human, and all make mistakes. Some of us even make poor judgment calls at times.

This is one for Newsom. It’s the same for Nancy Pelosi and her blowout debacle. Or the planned congressional dinner. Or the legislative junket to Maui. Though credit to Newsom for owning up to the mistake rather than ignoring it or attacking the person who leaked it.

Newsom has had quite the run these days in leading this state of California. Coronovirus, fires, power blackouts ... makes the halcyon days when he talked about taking on homelessness seem quaint. For the most part, unless you’re just angry for other reasons, Newsom has done a pretty decent job. He played ball with Trump to get us emergency declarations and the funding that came with it. He allowed some gas-fired plants to be used and for ships docked in our ports to use their own power to prevent future blackouts. With coronavirus, he has come up with new systems which may or may not be helpful in stopping the spread, but at least we have a plan in place and we are getting to know its ins and outs.

I suppose the part that bothers people is that we have been through a lot. Businesses are suffering. Most schools still aren’t open. The ones that are open, including the one Newsom sends his kids, seems to be doing OK. We are moving backwards in our tiers and there is concern schools may never open. Thanksgiving is coming and we haven’t seen our families in months. We are told we must avoid large gatherings and celebrations. And we do. Because we want to be responsible. The greater good, and all that. Then French Laundry.

We know Newsom is a rich guy and knows other rich guys. And the rich have found ways around the rules since the beginning of the pandemic. But when shop and restaurant owners are making the decision to shut down because of capricious tier changes after years of putting their blood, sweat and tears into their business, it gets to us. When average folks are having to balance their own conference calls or job training with children crying because they missed something their teacher said on Zoom or there are bandwidth problems, it gets to us. When there is no work at all and the rent is piling up and you just don’t know what to do, it gets to us. When you are working all the time with a skeleton crew with significantly less money coming in and there are worries you’re going to make it through this, it gets to us.

So really, we’re not angry with Newsom, we are just frustrated. And worried. And we expect more from our elected officials than “Let them eat cake.” Newsom is contrite and will continue to be contrite. We will eventually move on but, for now, we can focus on this particular flaw as evidence that our governor is less than perfect. Some may say this is a “gotcha” moment and no more. No. It is indication of something greater, and that is our collective frustration. These tiers have flaws and most people get upset when we sense injustice. There are theories that the shift backwards in tiers is to send us a message after we spent too much time gathering. But the message we got instead is, “I can gather, just not you.”

Newsom should keep this in mind. It is not so much the hypocrisy, it’s the frustration. We are playing by the rules. We don’t want to get sick and we don’t want others to get sick. We wear masks, we keep our interactions distant, we choose our activities wisely. We are making sacrifices. Some more than others know. And we expect the person at the top to be making the very same sacrifices. It’s that simple.


One interesting fact culled from the election results. While Proposition 18 lost statewide 56% to 44%, it passed in San Mateo County by 52% to 48%. The proposition aimed to allow 17-year-olds the ability to vote in the primary election as long as they were 18 by the time the general election rolled around. Legislation to place it on the ballot was authored by our own Assemblyman Speaker Pro Tem Kevin Mullin, D-South San Francisco. Hard to say if there was a hometown advantage, or if this county just thinks 17-year-olds can make those decisions while others in the state do not. It will be interesting to see if the idea returns.


Some of you may be wondering why I’m gracing this page today rather than Friday, my typical column day. We are skipping the opinion page tomorrow so I’m squeezing in today. Hope you don’t mind. I’ll see myself out.

Jon Mays is the editor in chief of the Daily Journal. He can be reached at Follow Jon on Twitter @jonmays.

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(25) comments


@Ray Fowler...


"Yes, bars are a problem" ... I can't quite believe the actions at the Grill House in The Shores ... The two owners, brothers who cook and bartend, must feel oblivious to rules and/or common sense The indoor % of their clientele must not know that expectations are 'in between sips' or post meal posture should be to 'slip' their masks back on, but perhaps the customers take their lead from the owners of said establishment.

Ray Fowler

I have not dropped in this year. I think only one brother runs the restaurant, now.

I have only witnessed a couple of persons over the past eight months who seem either clueless or oblivious (maybe that's the same...) re: masks and distancing.

You're correct. A business owner has got to set the example when they implement a COVID policy. Done and done.

Tommy Tee

Dirk--I didn't read Tafhyd saying it's ok to lie. He said it's pretty common politicians do. Take a look at Trump for the best example.


Perhaps now there will be welcomed comments regarding maskless activities of all kinds in and about our White House while it is withholding vital Covid information from the newly elected President of the United States..

Tommy Tee

Agree, JME. Trump is thwarting efforts to respond to Covid with his juvenile behavior.

Terence Y

I hate to tell you, Mr. Emanuel, the election isn’t over yet.


Great article Jon.


The safest way to celebrate #Thanksgiving is with your household members. Cook traditional family recipes, have a virtual dinner with your friends and family, or watch parades and movies from your cozy couch. More tips:

Tommy Tee

That's what I'm doing. With 1,000,000 new cases just in the last week alone, it's worrisome.

Ray Fowler

Hello, Jon

I am also frustrated. While most Californians generally approve of the job Gavin Newsom is doing during the pandemic, what I find frustrating is a disconnect between the governor's words and what actually happens on the ground.

Remember the deal he inked for 200 protective masks? Not delivered as promised. Bumping up the number of daily COVID tests in California last spring... not delivered as promised. Even without the the pandemic, homelessness is a major problem in California. Unhoused folks are susceptible to violence and disease. The governor pushed for thousands of hotel rooms to ease the homelessness problem. Again, not delivered as promised. Now, when we are instructed to wear masks and eschew dinner gatherings, the example we expect from our governor has not been delivered.

Our state's economy last year was the fifth largest in the world. Yet, today, we are staring recession, large scale unemployment and a massive amount of business failures in the face. However, billions and billions of dollars are still committed to a high-speed rail project that will not connect our major population centers. What are our priorities?

I can only imagine Mr. Newsom's frustration level. To be fair, governing a state with the largest population in the US has got to be immensely challenging... maybe the job is too big. However, we must play the hand dealt to us... we have one governor and he has to set a tone of guarded optimism while guiding the ship through dark waters. So, while I don't always agree with Gavin Newsom's politics, he deserves our support and an opportunity to set priorities, then... he must deliver on promises made.

And if refraining from attending dinner parties during the current surge of COVID cases is a stated priority, then everyone should refrain. That's a promise our governor can deliver.

Ray Fowler

Hello again, Jon

Yes, as you pointed out, this COVID situation is frustrating, and the governor took action about an hour ago to make it even more disheartening. He is implementing a nighttime curfew.

I wrote earlier today, "...governing a state with the largest population in the US has got to be immensely challenging... maybe the job is too big." Maybe it is. But I also wrote our governor "deserves our support and an opportunity to set priorities, then... deliver on promises made."

That's a tall order, and maybe made taller by a curfew policy that discourages gatherings late at night. I'm curious... how much of the current surge can be attributed to large social gatherings after 10 pm... how many seniors leave their care facilities to hoot and holler after 10 pm... will the French Laundry have to close to all patrons after 10 pm?

Yes, a month-long nighttime curfew will have an effect on COVID numbers, but is this move by the governor an overreach? As it appears the curfew will apply to private residences... the answer is "yes."



The curfew brings up too many variables to discuss in the short time I have before dinner. I will add that bars and restaurants are shown to be spreaders of the virus to a much larger degree than many other venues. A curfew for the top 3 to 5 venue types that lead to a higher spread of the virus I see as reasonable but I can't say much for the personal residences and low level venues. People will do what they are going to do even if it harms themselves and others. If they can't party from 8 till midnight they will party from 6 till 10.

Speaking of drinking, are you strictly Scotch or do you also enjoy a good Bourbon?

Ray Fowler

And the last shall be first... Scotch.

Yes, bars are a problem. Agreed. While they are potential spreaders, is a curfew for 94% of the state's population the answer? I still think it is an overreach. Partly because it will have minimal impact on the most vulnerable among us and partly because... as you pointed out... this curfew can be easily circumvented. Nanny state on steroids.

Maybe Gavin could shut down the businesses where spreading is more likely. As most people are not out after 10 pm anyway, do we really need the type of curfew slated to go into effect this weekend?

Terence Y

Hi Ray – amusing questions on your part, probably rhetorical. Although I would like to see an “official” answer them. However, do we really think people will honor the curfew or anything from Newsom since it comes on the heels of hypocritical behavior from Newsom and other “officials”? Reports indicate that law enforcement from Orange County, Sacramento, and El Dorado will not enforce the curfew. Maybe someone can make headlines by snapping pictures of Newsom breaking curfew, similar to the person who exposed Newsom's hypocritical behavior at his dinner party.

Ray Fowler

Wow... I thought I was sometimes rough on Dem politicians. Yes... the questions were an attempt to bring some levity to the discussion. Gavin is a smart guy, but he made a mistake. Smart guys and gals (don't want to be sexist) make mistakes. OK. So, while that episode will remain part of our collective past, I would hope that we... all of us... can get behind some measures to hold the line against a surge. No more gaffes... they just distract from the really important stuff (IMO).

Hey! It's the weekend. Relax and take care of yourself...



Why don't you call your friends at Project Veritas and have them doctor a photo of Gavin to make it look like he is in violation. They specialize in that sort of deceitful activity as you know. Then you will have another baseless fact to tout in your comments.

Ray Fowler

Senior moment... or typing too fast (probably the former).

I thought my comment was directed to Tafhdyd. Sorry.

However, it does not matter. COVID is not a partisan issue. I don't think we'll see the governor making any other gaffes in the near future. I'm sure we would all like to see a reasonable plan with a good chance in blunting the surge put in place.

Ray Fowler

OK, Terence... just for you.

While I don't like how this curfew is being rolled out, my libertarian bent is conflicted. On one hand, I don't like the state stepping in and heaping a curfew onto the pile of regulations that seems to keep ever growing. On the other, the libertarian mantra... do what you want as long as you harm no one else... may not fit well. In other words, we do need a plan to protect those among us who are vulnerable... is a curfew part of that plan?

No, I'm not wearing my tin foil hat, but is a curfew the harbinger for no government services or business access unless you can show a negative COVID test... or no such services or access unless you can show a recent vaccination certificate?

Where are your papers?

Terence Y

Hi Ray – since none of my family is in a senior care home, I haven’t remained up to date on what San Mateo or other counties have been doing to prevent the elderly from contracting Covid. Since a high percentage of deaths occur in care homes, I would assume, maybe wrongly, that priority has been given to prevent infections at those homes. I’m pretty sure 94% of the population does not reside in care homes, so a curfew will not be effective – just hollow actions to give the appearance of doing something. As with other past edicts, I plan on ignoring the curfew edict. At worst, I’ll just claim to be homeless as they are exempt from the curfew. Look at that, in Newsom’s California, now even homeless folks have more rights than homies. I guess no equal protection after all. And regarding showing a negative COVID test for services, remember that one is only negative at the time one took the test. Minutes, or even hours later, one could be positive.

Terence Y

And now we find out two California Medical Association officials were among the people dining with Newsom at the French Laundry. The same CMA group who has been pushing people to wear masks. Hmm. Makes you wonder what all these people know about the effectiveness of wearing masks or social distancing. BTW, yet another study (I believe a Danish study) just came out showing masks don’t protect the wearer from contracting the Covid cooties. Based on CA contracting Covid at very high rates, although everyone is wearing masks, it sounds like the studies are valid.

Ray Fowler

Hi, Terence

Good to see you're up and at 'em this morning. You pose a good question... why are experts who are telling us to wear masks and to keep our distance from others not wearing masks and sitting with others not wearing masks?

Of course I care about folks in South Dakota, Florida and New York, but my focus is right here. What are we doing in California? It's kinda obvious that we need policies to help protect our vulnerable population (I am in that category). When I last checked, just over half of California's COVID deaths occurred in facilities that provide care for the elderly. Can we protect them and keep the rest of the state open with some modifications? Maybe... I don't know. That's why Mr. Newsom is the governor and I'm not in Sacramento.

I'm not a numbers guy, and the numbers flying around the media about the pandemic can be confusing. However, we do know that COVID poses a serious threat to a specific segment of our population, and even though mortality figures are smaller than originally thought, let's put our focus on protecting the vulnerable. Everyone is destined to join the group sooner or later.

Again, I'm not a numbers guy, however, here is a number that may provide some perspective... the National Institutes of Health reports that medical errors may account for more than 250,000 deaths annually. What?! (Don't get much of a chance to use an interrobang but it fits here.) Has this ginormous statistic resulted in lock downs, extra screenings or new policies? Nope.

Michael B. Reiner, PhD

Jon Mays has it correct. Whether you favor Democrat or Republican, this shows that the elite play by different rules than the rest of us “little people.” Bad judgment? If so, that calls into question all judgments. An apology? Apologies are cheap. Better to ask for forgiveness than permission, so the aphorism goes. If the governor can’t follow the rules he established, I ain’t following the speed limit. Who cares if my recklessness endangers others. I’m getting what I want; a joy ride.

Dirk van Ulden

Newsom was a flake when he was a supervisor in SFco, appointed by Willy Brown. Even during his mea culpa speech he was lying about the location of the dinner. The pictures taken by another guest at the restaurant shows him clearly sitting inside, not outside as he stated. This guy was never truthful and never will be.


So Dirk, I was always under the impression that all politicians lie to some degree (some much more than others) and it is my job to decide how much of lie it is and if it really makes a difference. Would you care to list a few of the politicians on either side of the aisle you think are honest, or at least don't lie as much as others?

Dirk van Ulden

Taffy - in other words, it is OK to lie? Just because it is done that does not make it alright. do you have children, and if so, are you telling them that it is just fine?


Dirk, maybe you read my comment too fast. I just read it again to be sure but no where did I say it was OK to lie. I said that it was my impression that politicians lie to some degree or another. Take another look.

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