Restaurants along Third Avenue in Chula Vista set up outdoor dining amid the coronavirus pandemic. / Photo by Brittany Cruz-Fejeran

San Diego restaurants and the state are set for continued showdowns after a judge cleared the way this week for strip clubs and other dining establishments to reopen in defiance of the state’s stay-at-home order.

The state plans to appeal Superior Court Judge Joel Wolfheil’s ruling, and a hearing in a separate case brought by local gyms and restaurants seeking to reopen is slated for Friday afternoon, the Associated Press and City News Service report.

The news that restaurants in San Diego could reopen was cheered by Republican state lawmakers, who earlier this week wrote a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom urging him to allow them to reopen. The letter, signed by San Diego Sens. Pat Bates and Brian Jones, argued that restaurants should be considered essential.

That wasn’t the logic Wolfheil used in granting restaurants the ability to reopen – rather, he reasoned that the order didn’t appear to be based on evidence that restaurants were unsafe or that outbreaks had been tied to them.

Jones, who earlier this year tested positive for COVID-19 after attending an in-person gathering with other Republican lawmakers, triggering a quarantine that massively disrupted the lawmaking session, welcomed the ruling: “Thank you Judge Wohlfeil for acknowledging these shutdown orders are not grounded in evidence and allowing restaurants to reopen. I plan to eat out with my family ASAP!” he wrote on Twitter.

Outside observers have another take: “BAD,” tweeted public health scientist Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding.

Hueso Keeps Energy Committee Role

Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins announced committee assignments this week for the new legislative session, including her pick of Sen. Ben Hueso to continue chairing the Senate’s Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee.

The move comes despite a claim filed last month against the state Senate, Hueso and some of his staffers, alleging discrimination, harassment and a hostile work environment.

Over in the Assembly, San Diego Assemblyman Chris Ward and Assemblywoman Tasha Boerner Horvath have both been tapped to serve as assistant majority whips by Speaker Anthony Rendon.

Gonzalez Bill Explores Options to Address Learning Losses

Earlier this week, VOSD’s Will Huntsberry explored the question of whether this difficult school year deserves a wholesale re-do.

It’s an idea San Diego Unified does not appear to have any appetite for, but Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez introduced a bill this week attempting to split the baby by holding “pupils harmless due to circumstances that are out of their control as a result of the COVID-19 crisis” and enacting subsequent legislation that provides learning recovery opportunities.

What does that mean? Well, for one, it means no one has really figured out what to do yet. But it could include “more opportunities for summer classes and other pathways for academic intervention and course credit recovery, streamlining a student’s ability to retake their grade level, and providing special consideration for grades attained during the pandemic,” Gonzalez’s office wrote in a press release.

“Nobody wants me to do this bill,” Gonzalez told Huntsberry.

Out of Touch With Voters?

Political data guru Rob Pyers this week tweeted several examples of 2020 election outcomes he said demonstrated California lawmakers were out of touch with the voters in their district.

He cited Assemblywomen Lorena Gonzalez and Shirley Weber as two of the data points:

Gonzalez and Weber, of course, were also themselves on the ballot. They did considerably better than the individual ballot measures they supported: They won 71 percent and 65 percent of the vote, respectively.

Weber, meanwhile, was a different kind of voter: She is an elector to the Electoral College, and recently cast a vote for the Biden-Harris ticket. She talked with the New York Times about the experience.

Golden State News

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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