TV star-turned-politician: Do as I say not as I do

By Joseph Farah

Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl was one of my favorite TV stars circa 1963 when “Zelda” would characteristically wrinkle up her nose to show Dobie Gillis what she thought of him.

Oh, those were the good old days.

Today Sheila Kuehl is an 80-year-old political hack who, like so many politicians, uses COVID-19 safety concerns to preach against doing exactly what she will do. And there’s nothing funny about it.

Just last week after voting to ban outdoor dining at restaurants in her county, she couldn’t wait to go to her favorite little Italian place, Il Forno Trattoria, and break the bad news to the staff. After referring to outside dining as “a most dangerous situation” at the supervisors meeting last Tuesday, she was caught red-handed. Kuehl couldn’t wait even a day to do what she would deny others the right to do.

“This is a serious health emergency and we must take it seriously,” Kuehl said. “The servers are not protected from us, and they’re not protected from their other tables that they’re serving at that particular time, plus all the hours in which they’re working.”

Her dutiful spokesman made the best of a bad situation.

“She did dine al fresco at Il Forno on the very last day it was permissible,” he said. “She loves Il Forno, has been saddened to see it, like so many restaurants, suffer from a decline in revenue. She ate there, taking appropriate precautions, and sadly will not dine there again until our Public Health Orders permit.”

Kuehl, along with supervisors Hilda Solis and Mark Ridley-Thomas, voiced their support for the order, which passed by a 3-2 margin. Board of Supervisors Chair Kathryn Barger and Supervisor Janice Hahn unsuccessfully presented a last-minute measure to overturn the decision.

“For [Dr. Davis] to say that they’re depending on the CDC when we’ve been doing this for seven months and, in fact, have been doing inspections that we don’t have data, and yet we are targeting one industry and saying with the number of cases rising we are going to set [restaurants] down to me is irresponsible,” Barger said.

She argued that data from the Department of Public Health showed only 10% to 15% of positive cases reported come from dining out with someone who tested positive, while more than 50% reported being at a private social gathering with someone who tested positive.

“It’s frustrating to me that we are doing something that has no correlation to the surge, none,” she said. “We know what it is. It is public gatherings. And by closing restaurants, many of these people that have reservations are going to go where? Gatherings with other families because many of them didn’t have any plans. So I think it’s going to have the complete opposite effect.”

The order was issued before Thanksgiving amid a rising number of cases and hospitalizations. It’s expected to remain for at least three weeks.

Meanwhile, California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday said a “drastic” new lockdown order might be necessary if coronavirus cases continue to rise.

That will not affect his dining choices or Kuehl’s.

See Sheila Kuehl as “Zelda”:


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