Gov. Schwarzenegger prepared California, Dems dropped the ball

By Barbara Simpson

Unless you have lived in California, you have no idea how twisted and vicious the reporting of “news” can be. I have lived here for years, and in that time have also worked in news for both radio and television, locally and nationally. Over the years, it has become more and more opinionated and biased.

As far as news reporting here is concerned, the only accepted position is anti-GOP and now, totally anti-Trump.

As far as I am concerned, it is disgusting and dangerous – both to the future of the news “business” and to the future of the country.

Ideally, the role of the press is to keep the citizens informed of what is transpiring in the country in terms of politics and world events.

What we are faced with now is that the media present the world a view of the United States as a country with a leader who is not well-regarded by the citizens and who, in their view, is a liar and not mentally stable.

Our print media here are virtually non-existent, and I admit, I get most of my news from the internet – looking at domestic and international coverage. But I also listen to local talk radio, which presents another view of what has transpired and what it might mean.

As someone who has worked in talk radio as a host for years, I learned from the experts and realize that the job of the host is to challenge the audience to see what is happening and what it means.

Unfortunately, what the listeners get today is a political viewpoint with no room for dissent.

Example: The number of deaths from coronavirus in nursing homes. As more and more details are learned as to the number of infected residents as well as the number of deaths, the state has been silent about what they know. Most of what we know about this aspect of the ravages of COVID-19 in California comes from families and not from the government.

Example: In Visalia, in Tulare County, 71 residents and 41 staffers have tested positive for the virus. At the Redwood Springs Healthcare Center, six residents are dead and eight are in acute care. But this information comes from the center’s administrator not from the state.

In fact, California doesn’t require the release of such information even if we are in the midst of a pandemic – which we are.

It’s interesting that under Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the goal was to inform the public as to what was transpiring concerning public safety.

Another aspect of what transpired and what it means is the result of the legacy of former Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown.

While it is not possible to find out from the media exactly what happened, it is clear that Jerry Brown essentially abolished the efforts of predecessor Arnold Schwarzenegger to prepare California for a pandemic.

Little by little, the details of what transpired have come out. According to a report in CalMatters, Schwarzenegger created the Emergency Medical Services Authority, which invested millions in a stockpile of equipment, supplies and three huge mobile hospitals, equipped for surgery, X-rays and intensive care.

At the time, Gov. Schwarzenegger said, “In light of the pandemic flu risk, it is absolutely a critical investment. I’m not willing to gamble with the people’s safety.”

Further details revealed that there was a massive store of supplies: “50 million N95 respirators, 2,400 portable ventilators, and kits to set up 21,000 additional patient beds wherever they were needed.”

It was a heroic vision for the future – but five years later, it was gone! The Brown administration, faced with huge deficits accumulated during the Great Recession, cut funding for the plan. Supplies were allowed to expire, and the equipment was donated to local hospitals and medical agencies – but they got no money to maintain them.

It was over and virtually no one in the public knew about it – and quite honestly, they still don’t.

It was the Sacramento Bee that recently broke the story with the details of Schwarzenegger’s plan and what happened to it. It also went on to report a continued reduction in public health services during Brown’s governorship, even as the economy grew and thrived.

The report continued that “over the last decade, state public health spending has been flat in terms of dollars, but its share of the budget is now half of what it once was.”

And then there’s this – the sharp reduction in the number of public health laboratories, which leaves “the state with about the same number of labs it had in 1950.”

It’s no wonder it takes so long to get tests for COVID-19 taken and processed. But now that it’s been made public about the deliberate elimination of a massive stockpile of supplies and equipment under the Brown administration, there should be an uproar.

But there isn’t.

The story broke, was reported in several print news outlets and then … silence. I discovered this information online plus from a Dan Walters column for Cal Matters in my local newspaper.

I know that local talk radio depends on news coverage for much of its content, and there has not been one word about this scandalous situation – and I know why.

The blame here rests on Jerry Brown, and he is a Democrat. As a result the story has been buried. Had he been a Republican, he would have been pilloried.

Consider how Donald Trump is berated daily for the “fact” that he was and is unprepared for the pandemic. Whether that is true or not, it doesn’t matter to the media. All that matters to them is that Trump is a Republican, and therefore it’s all his fault. They hate him and his politics and are barely holding their breath until he is out of office, one way or another.

Another interesting aspect of this California media-politics story is how the current governor, Gavin Newsom, is treated. To the media, Gavin can do no wrong, and while he is hailed for his handling of the pandemic in the state, there is not a word said about the fact that a prior Democrat short-changed the public safety of Californians – and we’re paying the price now.

And Jerry Brown?

When asked by a reporter about all this – he had no comment.

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