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Andrew McDowell, who owns a cafe in downtown Los Angeles, says Gavin Newsom’s recall election is a waste of time and money.
It’s not that he’s a huge Newsom fan. It’s that Newsom is due for re-election next year, so why spend the time and money now?
McDowell says the $ 276 million hold the September 14 elections should instead be spent on grants for struggling small businesses. “If we were running California as a business, we wouldn’t be wasting that kind of money on these things that really won’t impact the bottom line in the long run.”
Even though his business has suffered during COVID-19 shutdowns, McDowell is also giving Newsom some slack to deal with an unprecedented crisis.
âWe didn’t bring in a governor to get us through a pandemic, but to handle our normal day-to-day life. Then they get put in this furnace and we say, ‘Hey, you really didn’t do a good job. McDowell said.
âI really think our take on our governor’s performance should be, what has he tried, what has he learned?
Remember that supporters and Republicans who want to be the next governor are not so forgiving.
Some criticize Newsom’s pandemic security measures as being too restrictive and devastating for small businesses. Others call him a hypocrite, citing the infamous French laundry dinner he attended without a mask during a statewide indoor dining ban and repeating false statements that the cellar he founded has remained open.
For some business owners, the pain during the pandemic is on top of long-standing frustrations with the cost of living in California, which could motivate them to vote to recall Newsom. The leading small business advocacy group, however, is not taking a position on the recall given the divergent views of its members.
For its part, Newsom – who presents himself as an entrepreneur – has taken steps to help small business owners, including tax breaks for business owners who have received federal relief loans. Using a huge state budget surplus and a burst of federal aid, the governor also pushed the biggest economic stimulus ever, which included $ 2 billion in grants to 180,939 small businesses and nonprofits, according to California Office of the Small Business Advocate. Three additional funding rounds were announced at the end of July, bringing the total to $ 4 billion.
The state has also tried to help small businesses sell online, while providing free masks and hand sanitizer.
But not everyone received grants – or it wasn’t enough to keep them going. In California, nearly 40,000 small businesses had closed in September 2020, according to Yelp data analyzed by the New York Times.
According to the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp. impact in Los Angeles County was particularly pronounced, where, according to 2019 census data, 88% of businesses had less than 20 employees – places such as restaurants, bars and hairdressing salons.
For supporters of the recall the election, closures and Newsom’s backing for a law that required employers to offer benefits to concert workers were among the reasons to revoke it.
Republican candidates are courting small business owners, mainly by denigrating the governor’s approach to dealing with the coronavirus, but also by coming up with their own proposals.
Kevin faulconer, a former mayor of San Diego, said he would lift business capacity limits related to COVID and offered a small relief fund for restaurants.
Larry Elder, a radio host and former small business owner, highlighted the impact of crime on small businesses and openly expressed his opposition to a minimum wage.
John cox, also a former small business owner, pledged tax cuts to make California more business-friendly, while Kevin kiley, a member of the Rocklin assembly, said he would use executive powers to overturn onerous regulations like those regarding concert workers. Kiley and Caitlyn jenner spoke out against a state law that allows employees to sue and recover civil penalties for labor code violations.
Meanwhile, the Democrat Kevin Paffrath, real estate agent and host of a YouTube finance show, has a simplified authorization platform for businesses.
The political positions held by Elder and Kiley, in particular, appeal to some small business owners. Among them, Baret Lepejian, whose Burbank Restaurant was fenced by the city for violating public health orders – an allegation it denies.
Lepejian bought Tinhorn Flats, a longtime Burbank establishment, in 2004, but he’s unlikely to reopen it, at least not in the city. Its shutdown fueled his motivation to vote against Newsom.
âThe only thing I say over and over to anyone I meet in person is that none, and I mean none of this, is about public safety,â he said. “It’s about 100% power and control, that’s what’s happening.”
Brianna Knight, a 31-year-old Fresno resident with clients statewide, was one of the lucky ones. Her holistic skin care business has performed well during the pandemic.
State grants helped, but so did his âover-planningâ – six months in advance at times. Before the pandemic, Knight also launched a clinical skin care line, allowing it to pack in-home facial kits for its customers once COVID-19 struck.
Although she remained afloat, Knight said she was unsure how she would vote on the recall. She said she needed to do more research on the candidates and wanted to see how the next phase of the pandemic unfolded.
âI really think we need new leadership, but I don’t know if the time is right,â she said. “And I’m only saying this because right now California is in the purple (COVID level) and we’re planning a possible shutdown again. So the leadership transition right now – sometimes it gets worse.”
Knight said she wants new leadership because of the way the pandemic has been handled, including shutting down businesses that heads of state deemed non-essential.
âI do corrective skin care, so acne, so even with a pandemic these clients still have a problem,â she said. “I think what they considered wasn’t as important – was important to a lot of people, and we weren’t recognized.”
Knight said the back-and-forth over closures – California began to turn back just weeks after the Grand reopening of June 15 – did not help.
âThere has to be consistency in business to some extent,â she said. “Change is inevitable, but when it comes to things like this I feel like it hasn’t been handled as well as it could have been.”
Federal help was a big help last year, added McDowell, the owner of the LA cafe, but this year there has been less help available. This means that small business owners like him are still struggling.
âEveryone feels that everything is fine again and is back to normal,â he said. “And it never was.”
Cecilia Vazquez, 54, who had to shut down her jewelry store in the University Heights area of ââSan Diego County for four months. But like McDowell, she doesn’t blame Newsom directly.
âI don’t think anybody was ready. Nobody really knew what to do,â said Vazquez, whose store Jenner recently visited. “We were all trying to do our best.”
Thousands of small business owners across California are still trying to survive a pandemic that is in its fourth wave. Even with the reopening, some restaurants and other service establishments are struggling to hire workers – or are have to pay more and offer benefits.
Then there are companies that also have to deal with forest fires and drought.
Data San Francisco-based software company, Womply showed that the deadly camp fire of 2018 resulted in the permanent closure of 13% of local businesses located near the fire, while in 2019, 6.6% of businesses closed after the Kincade fire in Sonoma County.
In 2020, California experienced its the most destructive fire season in history, with 4.2 million acres burned. In 2021 so far, it’s not much better. The Dixie Fire always on is already the second largest in the history of the state, having blackened over 600,000 acres in Butte, Plumas, Lassen and Tehama counties.
John Kabateck, California director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, said opinions on the recall vary among its members, but many are too busy dealing with bigger concerns. Among them: finding qualified employees, dealing with the payroll and preparing for a “huge spike” in their unemployment insurance contributions.
âThe only thing we have a duty to provide to small business owners during tough times – at all times – is predictability and certainty,â Kabateck said in an interview Wednesday. âCertainly the pandemic, the wildfires, the drought – all of these things, whether natural or man-made – create fear and uncertainty in your average small employer. We choose to focus our time and resources. on helping these moms. -and-pop through these tough times. “
James Long, who lives in McKinleyville in Humboldt County and owns a security services company, said he didn’t think a governor – Democrat or Republican – could have successfully overcome the many crises that have plagued the ‘State.
So he’s prepared to give Newsom the benefit of the doubt.
âHe had just become governor, and then this pandemic struck. Then all hell broke loose,â Long said. “Then we have all these other problems, we have wildfire. Let’s not let ourselves fall on the man.”