California

Californian Town Declares Itself a Constitutional Republic to Oppose the State’s Covid Laws

The city council of Oroville, located in northern California, has passed a resolution to label itself as a constitutional republic to express dissent against the state’s Covid restrictions. This latest symbolic gesture further shows the divide between state level lawmakers and California’s more rural regions, with the city also refusing to enforce a ban on indoor dining last year. The Guardian has the story.

Oroville leaders said the designation was a way of affirming the city’s values and pushing back against state rules it doesn’t agree with, although a legal expert said the designation was merely a gesture and did not grant the city any new authority.

Tensions have existed throughout the pandemic between the rural north and California’s leadership, which has been among the first to implement lockdowns, mask mandates and vaccination requirements.

In Butte county, fierce opposition to Covid lockdowns and school closures drove support for recalling the state’s governor, Gavin Newsom, with 51% of voters in the county backing the ultimately failed effort. Newsom’s policies, however, appear to have worked and the state had the lowest Covid infection rate in the U.S. last month.

Last year, Oroville refused to enforce state requirements prohibiting indoor dining. Butte county, where Oroville is located, declined to recommend a mask mandate earlier this fall, even as cases surged and a local medical centre reported treating more patients than at any other point during the pandemic.

Before passing the resolution, council members argued they were taking a stand and advocating for residents to make their own health choices.

“I assure you folks that great thought was put into every bit of this”, the city’s mayor, Chuck Reynolds, said. “Nobody willy-nilly threw something to grandstand”.

But the city’s declaration does not shield it from following federal and state laws, said Lisa Pruitt, a rural law expert at the University of California, Davis, who said it was not clear what the designation meant.

“A municipality cannot unilaterally declare itself not subject to the laws of the state of California”, Pruitt said. “Whatever they mean by constitutional republic you can’t say hocus pocus and make it happen”.

Worth reading in full.

Californian Burger Restaurant Shut Down For Refusing to Enforce Vaccine Passports

A second In–N–Out burger restaurant has been forcibly closed by the Californian health authorities following the chain’s continuous refusal to abide by Government mandates ordering businesses to check their customers for vaccination passports or proof of a negative Covid test. In a statement, the business has openly declared that it refuses “to become the vaccination police” and segregate its customers based on who has and hasn’t received a medical procedure. The Guardian has the story.

Public health authorities see vaccination enforcement requirements as vital tools in slowing Covid at a time when 1,500 or more Americans are dying each day from the virus. However, In-N-Out, based in Irvine, in southern California, has consistently refused to heed the requirements in the Bay Area, which are some of the strictest in the state.

“We refuse to become the vaccination police for any government. It is unreasonable, invasive, and unsafe to force our restaurant associates to segregate customers into those who may be served and those who may not,” In-N-Out said in a statement.

The only In-N-Out in San Francisco, which is located on the city’s popular Fisherman’s Wharf, was closed for several days in October for defying the city’s public health rules, which a company executive had described as “clear governmental overreach.”

“We fiercely disagree with any government dictate that forces a private company to discriminate against customers who choose to patronise their business,” Arnie Wensinger, the company’s Chief Legal and Business Officer, wrote.

The restaurant reopened last week but is supposed to only offer takeout and outdoor dining. EaterSF reported on Tuesday that the location was again under investigation by the city’s public health department over a complaint that it has continued to allow indoor dining.

The city’s health department told the outlet it would “take the next steps to address any observed violations”.

In-N-Out’s refusal to enforce vaccination rules has prompted an outpouring of support from conservative politicians, including Mike Pence. The beloved chain is owned by conservative Christians, and several executives have made donations to the Republican party and Donald Trump.

Worth reading in full.

Postcard From California

We’re publishing a new addition to our long-running series ‘Around the World in 80 Lockdowns’ today, this one from California. It’s by Clive Pinder, one of the tireless Daily Sceptic moderators who’s been labouring for free for more than a year. Here is an extract:

Today San Francisco feels like a ghost town, highlighting the detritus and misery of a growing homeless population. Businesses are closing not just because people with means are fleeing the city, but because the District Attorney refuses to prosecute any theft of property worth less than $999 or any business that refuses to police the mandatory vaccinations required of customers. (See this article in the Babylon Bee that sums up the absurdity of the situation in San Francisco.)

A visit to see Mickey, Snow White and Goofy at Disneyland is hardly an escape to a magic kingdom. Parades, fireworks and other activities are suspended and while Mickey isn’t wearing a mask, all up-close encounters with him, Minnie, Cinderella and other characters are forbidden.

Vaccinations don’t help either. Despite 61% of Californians being fully vaccinated with many more having antibodies, the mantra of ‘flatten the curve’ has been condemned to the dustbin of broken promises just as it has in the U.K.. In its place California became the first state in the nation to insist school children from five years old and college students are vaccinated. Strangely, in another act of gross hypocrisy, the Governor declined not to mandate vaccines for teachers after the all-powerful unions, who happen to be among his largest donors, objected.

Worth reading in full.

Richest Man in World Leaves California, Describing Lockdown Restrictions as “Fascist”

Elon Musk is moving Tesla’s headquarters from Silicon Valley to Texas after criticising lockdown measures by local leaders as “fascist”. The Telegraph has more.

The electric car company will move from Palo Alto to the Texas capital, Austin, Mr. Musk told a meeting of Tesla shareholders, making it the biggest company to quit Silicon Valley for the Lone Star state yet. Tesla is also building a giant “gigafactory” in Austin.

Mr. Musk told investors: “I’m excited to announce that we’re moving our headquarters to Austin, Texas… Just to be clear, though, we will continue to expand our activities in California.”

The Tesla billionaire has been an outspoken critic of some of California’s coronavirus policies, at one stage calling them “fascist”, after they forced the car company to close its plant in Fremont due to lockdowns.

In May last year, Mr. Musk sued state officials, claimed Tesla would move its headquarters and threatened to shut down manufacturing in California. Mr. Musk moved his home to Texas last December.

But Texas has also looked to lure companies with lucrative tax breaks. This year, Texas will offer tax breaks totalling $44.5 billion (£33 billion), including $14 billion in property tax breaks and billions of dollars in breaks for car sales. The state has no income tax. It also has some of the lowest energy prices in the US and loose business regulations.

California has also proved prohibitively expensive for living costs, with soaring property prices.

Tesla is not the first technology company to abandon Silicon Valley. Palantir, a big data company founded by Republican supporter Peter Thiel, left California for Denver, Colorado. Others including HP and Oracle, which was founded by Republican Party donor Larry Ellison, have both also relocated.

Worth reading in full.