Monday, August 31, 2020




          California polls now show President Trump trails Democrat Joseph Biden in the upcoming presidential election by almost 40 percent in this state, a preposterous, totally unprecedented margin that spurs the incumbent to retaliate against this state at every opportunity.

          That was a major, unspoken motive when he issued an obviously unconstitutional order telling the Census Bureau to leave undocumented immigrants out of its supposedly complete count of every human being residing in the nation, stipulated in America’s foundational document.

          It was also one motive when the Trump-appointed Census chief Steven Dillingham ordered the population count to stop on Sept. 30, a month prior to what was planned earlier in the coronavirus pandemic, when it became clear there would be no way to get a complete count by that date.

          Never mind all that. When Dillingham issued his stop-by-Sept. 30 order, Trump trailed in every major national presidential poll, too, and in most surveys in swing states that flip back and forth between the major parties. Trump knows he could be forced from office on Jan. 20, and wants to harm his enemies (read: California and other states with large immigrant populations) while he can.

          The Sept. 30 closing date means the final Census results should be reported by year’s end, fully three weeks before a defeated president would leave office. It would then be impossible for the new chief executive to extend the deadline for final results, as would be needed if the count continued until Oct. 31. Biden, if elected, could not order an obvious Census undercount to be fixed by using administrative records, as he could if the results were finalized later.

          This all could have enormous detrimental effects on California – unless Californians get busy in the next few weeks and make sure they and all their neighbors get counted.

          As of late August, only about 65 percent of California residents had been tallied, with newly-hired Census takers due to start knocking on doors in droves this month. No one really knows how determined these temporary on-the-ground counters are or whether their final count will be anywhere near complete.

          Yes, there figures to be room for some correction. As it stands, former Census chiefs under Democratic Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and Republican George H.W. Bush predict a count that’s 10 percent to 12 percent low nationally. In California, with a hard to count and sometimes hard to find – but unquestionably large – population of undocumented immigrants, the undercount could be much higher.

          If that’s how it turns out, one recourse allowed by federal law might be a recount in 2025. That would be expensive and unprecedented. Still, no president before Trump ever tried to interfere with an honest count. His orders – like one for Census takers to ignore undocumented immigrants – are contrary to what Dillingham pledged during his 2019 Senate confirmation hearing: “independence from improper influence.” Uh-huh.

          For California, a serious undercount could mean the loss of two or three seats in Congress, which likely would translate into Republican gains in the House, as the those seats would be redirected to smaller states where complete counts are easier to do. Montana, Vermont and Nebraska might each get one more House seat. Major undercounts in Texas, Illinois, New York and Florida would also be likely under Trump’s orders, likely meaning other House slots would shift to states like Alabama and Arkansas, where there are fewer unauthorized immigrants accustomed to hiding from government workers like the Census takers.

          An undercount would also cause redirection of billions of dollars in federal grant money for everything from highways and sewers to post office buildings and other aid, much of which is divvied up on the basis of state and local population.

          But California is not helpless in all this. Unlike Texas, Georgia and other states with significant unauthorized immigrant populations, California early on earmarked almost $200 million for ethnic-based organizations to hire extra personnel to convince those they serve to get counted.

          These efforts were delayed by the pandemic, but must now ramp up seriously if California and the specific areas where the most immigrants live are not to be shorted on representation, funding and government services of all kinds.

    Email Thomas Elias at 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




          Evidence keeps mounting that California’s longtime housing shortage can be solved by market forces set loose by the lifestyle and workplace changes created by the coronavirus pandemic.

          Now the failure of the worst parts of a sweeping housing package in the state Legislature leaves the path clear for those market forces to work themselves out. Had the most wide-ranging of the bills passed, there could have been far less motivation for developers and local governments to heed the accelerating non-political forces.

          Potential housing effects of the viral crisis became noticeable almost immediately after “shelter-at-home” orders first came from county governments in the San Francisco Bay area, quickly followed by similar statewide decrees by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

          White collar workers for companies large and small were suddenly ordered to work from home, as companies from Internet giants like Twitter and Facebook to law firms, insurance companies, stock brokerages and many more provided technology for workers to work wherever they like.

          Soon, television broadcasters were shown in living rooms and backyards viewers had never before seen.

          Vacancy signs proliferated in the densest of business districts from San Francisco to Santa Monica to Fresno, San Diego, Orange County and beyond. Said a stock brokerage vice president in Pasadena, “We spent $2 million over the last two years refurbishing our offices to accommodate more than 100 workers. Now we get five people a day working there. We don’t need all that space. Our people are as productive as ever; they’re just not in the office very often.”

          Realtors report record levels of vacancies, but a building boom propelled by previous state demands for more and more mixed-use office and commercial buildings has continued.

          As empty space appeared within existing buildings, spurred strictly by non-political events, state lawmakers kept pushing the most ambitious housing construction plan the Legislature ever saw.

          Pushed by Democrats like San Francisco state Sen. Scott Wiener, Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins of San Diego and Santa Monica Assemblyman Richard Bloom, this package included SB 902, allowing up to 10 units on any lot zoned for a single home; two other bills allowing developers to build more high-end units on one site if they constructed enough affordable ones on others; a fourth letting city councils overturn without a new popular vote all height-limit laws passed by local voters – and much more.

          But the 10-unit bill died in a committee, along with the prospect of developers trolling established low-rise neighborhoods with fat bankrolls to tempt homeowners sitting on large amounts of equity. So did several other major proposals in the package.

          If the lawmakers behind these measures paid any heed to what’s going on in their own districts, they might not have proposed these things, despite the strong support they quite predictably got from developers and building trade unions.

          For Twitter’s building in Wiener’s district  now stands mostly empty. Office towers in Atkins’ San Diego district are nowhere near filled and “for-lease” signs abound in downtown Santa Monica, barely a mile from Bloom’s home.

          These empty spaces and many more like them will likely produce more than 1 billion vacant square feet that can be turned into apartments and condominiums in all price ranges with far less work, in far less time and with far fewer lawsuits to fight them than pushing for new construction. Building trades workers will be kept busy doing the electric, plumbing, elevator, carpentry and drywall work needed to convert commercial space into residences. Established neighborhoods will remain intact.

          Yes, it will take some rezoning to accomplish this. But those changes are inevitable: cities and counties would otherwise stand to lose large amounts of property tax money as massive vacancies reduce the value of commercial buildings.

          If legislators are really interested in solving the housing problem, and not merely in self-aggrandizement or feathering the nests of their campaign donors, they will leave well enough alone, allowing the market forces to play out over the next two to three years. That way, California will see the millions of new housing units it needs far faster than it could have under any of the failed new laws.

    Email Thomas Elias at 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

Saturday, August 29, 2020




    LOS ANGELES – For the 12th time in the last 14 years, California Focus columnist Thomas Elias has won first prize for commentary in the annual competition of the Los Angeles Press Club.

    Winners for the year 2019 were announced late Saturday via a webcast, rather than at the club’s usual awards dinner, canceled due to the coronavirus.

    Elias won for his Jan. 7, 2019 column titled  “Solid standards needed for pre-fire power cutoffs.” This was one of a series of columns Elias has written over the last several years on utility problems and malfeasance.

     Said the judges, all members of other press clubs around the nation, “Elias provides excellent commentary, bringing important details to the readers.”

     The Elias column appears in 92 newspapers in all parts of California.



Monday, August 24, 2020




          “You can say whatever you want before Jan. 1 of an election year, because almost no one will remember.” – Tom Quinn, then campaign manager for ex-Gov. Jerry Brown, 1978

          Attention spans were already short 42 years ago and they have become far shorter since, especially in this era of lightning-fast news cycles often moved by Twitter and Facebook.

That reality has been a life preserver for many politicians, both in California and nationally, since Quinn first voiced it.

          But the truism is due for a big test in this era of the coronavirus crisis. American society, especially life in California, has rarely been disrupted so comprehensively as during the last six months.

          Never before – not even when World War II saw fears of potential Japanese bombardments or invasion rise all along the West Coast – have Californians been told to “shelter in place,” starting with a patronizing, strong initial state suggestion that everyone over 65 stay home no matter what, not even emerging for groceries or medicines. These were supposedly to be delivered to them, but when Gov. Gavin Newsom announced his initial restrictions on seniors, he did it without arrangements of any kind for those vital deliveries.

          Which prompted seniors to do what they needed anyway, some joking about evading the “geriatric gestapo” when they left their homes. The order did not distinguish among seniors by what their health conditions might be, in a moment when the frailest, especially those with lung problems, were plainly in more danger than others from exposure to the virus.

          Newsom quickly closed gyms, where many seniors are longtime regulars who believe the exercise and camaraderie they find there helps them fight off illness. The closures spurred a gym-rat-driven run on barbells, which suddenly sold out at most sporting goods stores – while they were still open.

          But Newsom is not up for reelection this year. That makes President Trump the biggest test case for how much the voting public might remember of what transpired early this year.

          For more than a month, Trump consistently lied about the viral danger. First he downplayed it, saying it would never get far in America and that it was yet another “hoax” designed to harm him. Then he declared anyone who wanted to be tested for the infection could get a test – when almost no one could. This minimizing “fake news” continued until his son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner reportedly prevailed on him to declare a national emergency.

          Generally, national emergencies bring national planning and action. Not this time. Trump told state governors it’s up to them to get as many hospital ventilators and create as many new hospital beds as they could find, leaving the national stockpile of medical equipment untouched for weeks. He delayed assigning key tasks to the Army Corps of Engineers, uniquely equipped to help with them. “I am not responsible,” he declared.

          Through more than 5.4 million known cases and more than 170,000 deaths, this has remained a national emergency without a national response.

          Will any of this dent Trump’s support; do enough of his backers feel threatened by the coronavirus to hurt his reelection chances? Since the emergency declaration, Trump’s approval rating in various polls has ranged from 42 percent to 47 percent, with his disapproval ratings consistently registering higher.

          Those numbers are consistent with Trump’s pre-virus ratings, suggesting he has not been hurt by either his steadfast downplaying of coronavirus dangers or his administration’s failure to handle the pandemic. They also suggest his falsehood-tolerant base of support has not been reduced by the virus or any incompetence in fighting it.

          Despite noisy protests, meanwhile, poll results suggest Newsom’s almost daily briefings leave him just about as popular as before the virus hit hard. No one knows whether most voters will remember anything he’s done by the time his reelection bid rolls around in 2022. By then, the state will be dealing with a huge budget crunch.

          If the voting public’s ever-shortening attention span and its abbreviated memory prove politically life-saving for Trump, Newsom may eventually get similar treatment.

          Meanwhile, if Trump should lose this fall, it might just be because his viral missteps came after Jan. 1 of this election year.

    Email Thomas Elias at 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




          Never before in California’s long experience with power blackouts have systematic, preplanned outages been as short as the 20-minute to 30-minute electric shutdowns inflicted on about 3 million homes and businesses around the state in mid-August.

          Without doubt these blackouts were pre-planned. “(We will have) excessive weather conditions and a persistent shortage of electric supply for the California grid,” said a warning texted to electric customers hours ahead of the first outages.

          There was a lot odd about this, aside from the short span of the blackouts. Gov. Gavin Newsom said later he didn’t learn of the shutdowns until just beforehand, adding they were caused by record-level heat. It’s unprecedented for any governor not to know well in advance. What’s more, while temperatures set records in some places, it wasn’t by much –  a degree or two more than in the late summers of recent years.

          And, as was noted on social media, myriad California homes feature solar panels; schools and most power-using businesses were closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. So why any shortage? Trying to blame this on the gradual shift to renewable power from wind and sun, as President Trump did, explained nothing.

What really went on? It’s hard to be certain, in part because neither the Southern California Edison Co. nor the California Independent System Operator (CalISO), which runs the state’s electric grid, answered specific questions about how close to capacity several power plants operated during the shortages. “This all looks highly suspicious,” said Bill Powers, a San Diego engineer expert on utility operations.

The real cause of the problems that inconvenienced some customers, but never enough to produce much lawsuit liability, may have been a recent utility phenomenon known as “blackout blackmail.”

          The Southern California Gas Co. used this tactic several times in the last few years to keep its Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility open in the hills above the Porter Ranch area of Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley.

          It needs the gas storage, SoCalGas claimed, to prevent blackouts in summer, when gas-fired power plants sometimes at full strength. But most plants almost never approach capacity, and there were no actual blackouts while Aliso Canyon was virtually empty after its massive leaks starting in 2015.

          So this was clearly blackmail, the nation’s biggest gas utility trying to scare customers and politicians into letting it keep a hazardous facility open.

          The timing of the latest blackouts suggests a different sort of possible blackmail. These outages began less than three weeks before the state Water Resources Control Board is due in early September to consider keeping open most of the generating units at four gas-fired power plants cooled by Pacific Ocean water at Huntington Beach, Long Beach, Redondo Beach and Ormond Beach near Oxnard.

          All had been set to close by year’s end, reducing greenhouse gases as part of California’s climate change strategy. But the state Public Utilities Commission earlier this year okayed a reprieve, moving plant closing dates back by anywhere from one to three years.

          Together, affected units at the four facilities can produce 3,812 megawatts, far more than enough to make up the stated shortfall of less than 1,500 megawatts cited by CalISO during the blackouts. One megawatt powers one home for about 15 months.

No one will say whether the four plants operated near capacity on the blackout days. They usually run far below those levels: In 2018, the highest average load on any unit of the four plants was 10.1 percent of capacity at Alamitos Unit 3 in Long Beach.

Edison, CalISO and the plants’ owners, Virginia-based AES Corp. and Houston-based GenOn Energy Holdings, want the generating stations left open. The PUC said OK, as it usually does when utilities want something.

Because no one can or will say whether these plants operated near capacity before and during the latest outages, it’s impossible to be sure this episode aimed to intimidate the water quality board, which has the final say.

That’s why it’s a good thing Newsom quickly ordered an investigation, and why that investigation – unlike several others involving the PUC – must actually go forward rather than dying out quietly.

    Email Thomas Elias at 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

Monday, August 17, 2020




          Charles Manson is dead and buried in a location known only to very few, the secrecy intended to prevent that site from becoming a shrine for cult followers who still pore over every move made by the mass murder mastermind and his “family” during their heyday in the late 1960s.

          But the Manson murders, remarkable for their vicious and political quality, remain in the headlines because his gang members seem to come up for parole continuously, some being presented by their lawyers and even parole commissioners as model prisoners deserving release more than 50 years after their crime spree.

          Here’s the bottom line: None of the Manson murderers should ever go free, no matter how many prisoners are released because of the coronavirus. Their crimes, as ex-Gov. Jerry Brown once stated in rejecting a parole board decision, were simply too horrible, no matter how much they may have reformed.

          The current parole applicant is Leslie Van Houten, whose release has repeatedly been approved by the parole board, most recently in late July. Sentenced to seven years to life imprisonment in 1978, her fate now rests with Gov. Gavin Newsom, who rejected parole for her early in his term. Newsom was a mere toddler when the 70-year-old committed her crimes. He is now in a 120-day period before he must veto the latest board decision or let it stand.

          In contrast to Newsom, Brown remembered the Manson crimes well. He lived in the Laurel Canyon area of Los Angeles while the “family” ran wild, cutting off ears, smearing bloody racist messages on victims’ walls and killing anyone they found at their intended victims’ homes. Brown’s quarters were just two canyons east of Benedict Canyon, where the Manson group executed actress Sharon Tate and four others in and around her sprawling mansion in the Santa Monica Mountains above Beverly Hills.

          Van Houten, then a 19-year-old acoloyte of the wild-eyed, mesmerizing Manson, was not along on her friends’ run to the home of Tate, wife of director Roman Polanski. The life of the director, now living in exile in Poland after fleeing the country while awaiting sentencing for statutory rape, might have been very different had Tate lived.

          Van Houten became deeply involved in grisly murder the night after the Tate murders, which terrorized Southern California. She joined fellow killers Charles (Tex) Watson and Patricia Krenwinkle, breaking into the home of grocer Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary in the Los Feliz area of the Hollywood Hills.

          Van Houten’s admitted job was to hold down Mrs. LaBianca while Watson and Krenwinkle repeatedly stabbed her. She then added 14 stabs of her own (later saying it was “about 16”). Next, she daubed racist slogans in Mrs. LaBianca’s blood on several interior surfaces of the house. And she carved the word “WAR” into the stomach of Leno LaBianca, murdered with his wife.

          If murderers can eventually go free after behaving as brutally as Van Houten did in 1969, what value does California place on human life? If Van Houten, who now looks like someone’s bespectacled granny, can go free, what would that say to others who might contemplate similar crimes?

          Her lawyer, however, has long claimed she fell under Manson’s evil influence while using drugs after a troubled childhood. Van Houten grew up in an affluent Los Angeles suburb with two adopted siblings and parents who divorced when she was 14. Such circumstances do not often produce bloodthirsty killers.

          There is little doubt Van Houten, like fellow incarcerated Manson followers Watson, Bruce Davis and her late pal Susan Atkins, has been an exemplary prisoner. Some prison chaplains bemoan her continued incarceration because she has become “a deep and noble person.”

          Those folks never saw Atkins, Van Houten and a few other Manson followers repeatedly enter courtrooms with carved X’s on their foreheads to mark their devotion to Manson – even though they had been separated from him for many months by then.

          Which suggests his malignant influence was lasting.

          The bottom line: Freeing Van Houten or any “family” members would send a dangerous message to other murderous individuals: Live long enough and this society will eventually forgive you, no matter how evil your actions.

     Email Thomas Elias at 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, go to




          For almost 30 years, a small clique of politicians from the San Francisco Bay area has ruled in California, holding all the state’s ticket-topping offices except when muscleman actor Arnold Schwarzenegger partially jostled them aside for awhile in the early 2000s.

          In fact, Bay area politicians have reigned supreme through most of the last century, even after the state’s population center moved south to the Los Angeles and San Diego regions.

          The bipartisan Bay area dominance brought to power people like Earl Warren, William F. Knowland, both Edmund Browns, Alan Cranston, S.I. Hayakawa, Dianne Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, Nancy Pelosi, Kamala Harris and current Gov. Gavin Newsom, a former San Francisco mayor. They thoroughly outnumbered Southern California politicians in high office like Ronald Reagan, Pete Wilson, Goodwin Knight and Gray Davis.

          But if the current Democratic Party ticket with Harris joining former Vice President Joseph Biden prevails in November, the modern Bay area grouping that’s included Boxer, Feinstein, Newsom, Pelosi and Harris may see its grip on the state loosened. That will be up to Newsom.

          For if Biden and Harris manage to oust President Trump, as current polling indicates they well might do, Newsom must choose a new California senator to replace his old friend Harris. His top priorities will be to name someone with a pragmatically liberal bent like his own and to make sure that person has a strong chance to hold the seat in the 2022 election, when Harris’ term would end anyway.

          The last time a California governor got to choose a senator, Wilson picked an obscure Republican state legislator from Orange County, John Seymour. Feinstein devastated Seymour in 1992 when the former San Francisco mayor ousted him by a 16 percent margin.

          There’s also the gender question: does Newsom want to keep California’s Senate delegation exclusively female, as it has been since 1992, when Feinstein and Boxer won office in parallel, simultaneous votes? Boxer took a full six-year term and Feinstein filled out the two years left on the other seat. She easily won six more years in office in 1994 and has been there since.

          The statewide electability requirement probably would eliminate folks getting frequent mentions now, like Oakland Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Orange County Congresswoman Katie Porter and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. None has run for statewide office and all have low name recognition, which likely would prompt serious opposition in 2022. Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis is another possibility, but the Sacramento resident has been very low profile in her current office, leaving her not yet widely known to voters.

          All this could mean the seat goes to a male for the first time in 28 years. Strong male possibilities include statewide officers like Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Secretary of State Alex Padilla. Either would provide Senate representation for the first time to California’s huge Latino populace, now the state’s largest ethnic group with about 39 percent of all Californians. Both are proven vote-getters.

          Becerra, a former East Los Angeles congressman, won big in 2018 in his first statewide run, while Padilla, once the youngest member of the Los Angeles city council, will be termed out in 2022, but will surely seek another office whether he gets the potential Senate appointment or not.

          Other possible male appointees are Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Pasadena Congressman Adam Schiff. Garcetti was a co-chair of the Biden campaign task force evaluating potential vice presidential candidates, while Schiff, like most others in Congress, has never sought statewide office but gained significant fame through his leadership of efforts to impeach Trump.

          Any of the prominent Southern Californians would make a stronger statewide candidate today than any current Bay area possibility, simply because each has a stronger and larger electoral and popularity base than any Northern California hopeful.

          Of course, a couple of years in the Senate could give anyone getting Newsom’s nod a major opportunity to develop their own large base.

          All of which means that unless Newsom is determined to perpetuate the Bay area hegemony in California if this possible Senate opening becomes real next winter, the seat probably should go to someone from Southern California.

    Email Thomas Elias at 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

Monday, August 10, 2020




          The ethnic studies curriculum now entering a public comment period before its scheduled adoption by the state Board of Education next spring is improved from last year’s rejected abomination, but remains a far cry from what it should be.

          In short, closer but still no cigar.

          The major improvement is that the new proposed curriculum this time recommends teaching about more forms of historic prejudice than the prior version, sent back to the drawing board almost exactly a year ago because it omitted so much.

          For example, the world’s oldest form of bigotry, anti-Semitism, didn’t get a mention in the previous version. Now it’s on the list of just over a dozen forms of historic discrimination and persecution.

          Wow! What good news for the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust before and during World War II. They are at least recognized, but how many classrooms will see anything about this actually taught? Yes, a few classes are visited each year by Holocaust survivors telling their stories, but since most are in their late 80s and 90s, it’s questionable how long that can go on.

          Here are just a couple of the major weaknesses of the curriculum plan, which would form the background for making ethnic studies a graduation requirement for California public schools, as it recently became a requirement for any California State University diploma:

          The plan instructs teachers to deal mostly with the history of whatever ethnic group makes up the majority of their class. Since most public school students for the foreseeable future will be Latino, that mandates a lot of teaching about Hispanic history.

          Perhaps students will learn how smallpox brought to the New World by Spanish adventurers allowed Hernan Cortez to conquer the powerful Aztec and Maya civilizations in Mexico with a force that began with barely 200 men.  Perhaps they will be taught how some indigenous Mexicans turned against the Aztecs because of their brutality to those they had previously conquered.

          Maybe they’ll be taught about the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, in which Mexico ceded 55 percent of its prior territory to the United States after the Mexican-American War, including most of present-day Arizona, California, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Nevada and Utah. Maybe they’ll learn that some Mexican-American activists since the 1970s have pushed the concept of Aztlan, a mythical nation that would take former Mexican territory from America, and never mind who has lived there since the mid-1800s.

          It’s OK to teach about this, if done deftly and not as propaganda making students feel victimized. But it would not educate students about the other ethnic groups they will surely encounter while living in the world’s most diverse society. This state, after all, features native speakers of more than 80 languages.

          Another weakness: the curriculum still divides Californians into four basic groups, as demanded by the Critical Ethnic Studies Association, an academic group focusing on “colonialism and conquest, racial chattel slavery and white supremacist (doctrines).”

          These folks also dominated the design of last year’s rejected ethnic studies plan. It failed because rather than work toward racial harmony, it focused falsehoods, divisive issues and longstanding grudges.

          There was little concentration on achievements of any ethnic group, especially leaving out all positives about European colonists and other white immigrants who designed the country that became the most successful on Earth, both economically and, often, in living up to its democratic ideals.

          Ignore that history and students will get a warped education on what it means to be American, how the nation was shaped and how to get along with others who look different from them. Or as Williamson Evers, a visiting scholar at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, said, “They’re leaving out all kinds of ethnic groups…who had to work their way into success, and how they did it. There may be important lessons there.”

          It’s possible the new plan will get more revisions to make it fairer and more accurate, while accomplishing state Schools Supt. Tony Thurmond’s stated goal of promoting a “fairer, more just society.”

          But the plan doesn’t get near that yet, so it should be sent back for a second rewrite unless it’s improved considerably before next spring.       

    Email Thomas Elias at 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




          Give Gov. Gavin Newsom credit for being gutsy about trying to shepherd almost 40 million Californians through the coronavirus crisis of disease and economic disaster.

          He knows there’s an active drive to recall him; he sees rallies resisting his orders; he’s seen demonstrators chain themselves to his fence, and he knows that out of so many Californians, at least one-eighth, or 5 million, are likely infuriated with his beach closings, school closures and other attempts to spur behavior that might crimp viral contagion.

          This means there are more than enough angry voters to provide the 1.495 million valid voter signatures needed to set up a special recall election sometime next year. The deadline for gathering those signatures is Nov. 17, but it’s not likely to happen because the drive is too poorly funded to put enough petition carriers in the field – even if contact-shy Californians were willing to get close and sign a petition on someone’s clipboard.

          Still, Newsom was a close observer 17 years ago when former Gov. Gray Davis was recalled and replaced by movie muscleman Arnold Schwarzenegger. He knows it’s possible.

          Now Newsom confronts data glitches and case undercounts, plus resistance and lawsuits. His most vocal opposition comes from folks who don’t like wearing face masks because they’re inconvenient and from religious congregations feeling they have the right to meet without restrictions or social distancing, indoors or out. Some churches also resent rules curbing public singing, said to be a prime spreader of the virus.

          Several churches have sued, some claiming it’s discriminatory to allow protest rallies and marches but not indoor religious services. Not that protest marches are “allowed;” most don’t bother with permits and many are unplanned despite claims from some conservatives that all are masterminded by the loosely-organized anarchist Antifa movement – even though organized anarchism is an oxymoron.

          “Singing in church is our right, a Biblical mandate,” said Kevin Green, pastor of Calvary Chapel in Fort Bragg, asserting there are higher laws than Newsom’s emergency orders. He blasts what he and others call Newsom’s “inconsistency” in treatment of churchgoers and protesters.

          Pastor Greg Fairrington (cq) of Rocklin in conservative Placer County told online viewers in early July, as the coronavirus rampaged around California, that it was “time to come back” to church, bashing “fake media” for exaggerating the pandemic. Fairrington also has said he intends to run for governor, meaning that if a recall should reach a statewide ballot, he would likely try to replace Newsom.

          A news release from his Destiny Christian Church said it will continue following federal guidelines on “social distancing, masking, taking temperatures, hand-washing and other sanitation,” all while holding services indoors. The release encouraged “at-risk, sick or uncomfortable” individuals to stay home. Of course, with half the virus cases this summer reportedly among people aged 18 to 45, almost all adults are plainly at risk.

          The Newsom recall is also about more than his emergency decrees limiting personal freedom of movement and contacts. One recall donor emailed that “this man is pressing a socialist agenda. This state will be destroyed under the (Democratic) supermajority. His gun control agenda threatens lives and businesses…”

          The actual recall petition says Newsom has “implemented laws…detrimental to our way of life. Laws he endorsed favor foreign nationals in our country illegally over…our own citizens.” It continues with a litany of complaints including alleged Newsom failures on homelessness and “restricting parental rights.”

          Newsom has not commented on this effort against him. He has not rescinded an iota of his priorities or his latest emergency orders, either, even as he admits making mistakes like reopening much of the state too soon in the spring, before most counties had met standards he set.

          Perhaps this seeming confidence comes because Newsom’s overall job approval ratings remain consistently favorable, despite massive unemployment and other problems inflicted on Californians by the pandemic and his responses to it.

          The bottom line: Whether or not you like all he’s done, there is no doubt Newsom is sticking to the mission and the duty he’s said he must carry out: trying to save as many California lives as possible from a very deadly and contagious disease.

    Email Thomas Elias at 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

Monday, August 3, 2020




          Across America, protests and rallies crying “Black Lives Matter” have featured thousands of demonstrators wearing no masks, taking no care to social distance and not bothering to sanitize their hands very often.

          They’re ostensibly pushing for social justice and racial and economic equality, calling for fair treatment and less violence from police and other authorities and in effect demanding more equity in hiring and education.

          But their frequent disregard for the contagion of the ongoing coronavirus plague often accomplishes the opposite: They and others who disregard simple but sometimes inconvenient precautions are very ironically and tragically helping push the greatest force for inequality since Jim Crow.

          That’s the virus, which afflicts low-income minority residents of California in far higher numbers than whites, who are often more affluent.

          Latinos, for the strongest example, make up about 39 percent of California’s population, but account for 56 percent of all COVID-19 diagnoses and 45.7 percent of deaths from the virus. African Americans are 6.5 percent of the populace and about the same percentage of COVID-19 cases, but 8.5 percent of deaths from the virus. Geographic data indicates the virus also strikes disproportionately in lower-income locales, especially those heavily populated by farmworkers.

          So the coronavirus plainly hits minorities with low incomes harder than whites, especially those in the most affluent areas. Which means that the more protesters, partiers, beachgoers and others disregard tactics known to stem viral contagion, the more they promote racial inequality.

          But the inequities encouraged by the pandemic go much deeper than  caseload and death statistics, revealing as those can be.

          It turns out COVID-19’s most lasting effect may be on education, where impacts may affect student performance and achievement for more than a decade. It’s a new form of segregation, based more on economic class than on race – but class lines often coincide with racial ones.

          The reasons for this stem from the vitally necessary decision to keep most public schools closed this fall, the bulk of what used to be classroom teaching now done electronically via services like Zoom and Google Classroom.

          On the surface, this seems to treat rich and poor alike, every public school student seemingly subject to the same pluses and minuses from remote learning. Except that the wealthy can do something about it when their children’s wifi fails, while the poor often cannot. The wealthy are often able to stay home with their children during the pandemic, while a far higher proportion of the poor work in menial jobs now considered essential, from farmworkers to street cleaners.

          So the likelihood of children having adult supervision while they learn via screens is far less among low income minorities than among whites. Whether or not distance learning can be effective, there is no doubt that without adult supervision, children are more likely to wander away from screens or not to sign on at all. Even while they’re online, their attention wanders more if they are not supervised.

          The result inevitably will be that the rich get richer educations while the poor get poorer. Depending on how long this goes on, its effects could be lifelong.

          Other educational advantages are also manifesting from affluence during the pandemic. Besides the large percentage of the wealthy who opt out of public school problems with online schooling by sending their kids to private schools, large numbers of public school parents have already begun setting up “pods” of up to 10 children, with several families combining to hire tutors at $40 per hour or more.

          Newspapers around the state report tutors and former schoolteachers who post notices of their availability are getting multiple calls from groups of parents seeking stable education for their children. Parents also are using social media to find like-minded others, the result being that those who can afford to kick in for better education are buying extra opportunities for their kids.

          That situation led former San Francisco Mayor and ex-state Assembly Speaker Willie Brown to observe the other day that the virus is leading to new forms of segregated education.

          He’s right, and so long as the virus endures, there’s little low-income parents can do about it.

    Email Thomas Elias at 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