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California’s Government is a Mess of Bureaucratic Dysfunction and Aristocratic Indifference



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LOS ANGELES — As the pandemic spikes, the economy convulses and democracy fissures, the urgent need to restore faith in government cries out for leaders with authenticity.

Instead, in one costly dinner, Gov. Gavin Newsom dramatized the chasm that divides California — more severely than North versus South or inland versus the coast. Flouting his own guidelines and exhortations to Californians to avoid socializing, Governor Newsom and his wife joined a birthday celebration for a friend — and prominent lobbyist — at the luxurious French Laundry restaurant in the Napa Valley. It is hard to say which was more astounding, the hypocrisy or the hubris.

Blurry photos from the dinner capture a careless, Gatsby-esque vibe, the governor seated next to top officials for the California Medical Association. At the “board room” where the party appears to have been held, prix fixe meals can start at $450 per person; the political power broker and Newsom mentor Willie Brown wrote that he heard the meal’s wine bill alone “was $12,000.”

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