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CAGOP pulls HOWZE endorsement — ISSA sues NEWSOM — UC nixes SAT — GIG COMPANIES drop first anti-AB 5 ads — FACEBOOK eyes remote shift



THE BUZZ: A vital House race could be slipping away from California Republicans.

Controversy has beset CA-10 candidate Ted Howze after POLITICO reported on bigoted, conspiratorial and inflammatory social media posts from his accounts. While Howze issued another denial yesterday, comparing his treatment to that of Brett Kavanaugh, Republican Party figures have publicly reproached the posts and begun backing away from a candidate who’s suddenly smelling toxic.


Last night the big blow fell: the California Republican Party unanimously yanked its endorsement, with Chair Jessica Millan Patterson underscoring a zero-tolerance policy for posts that she called “disgraceful, disgusting” and contradictory to “the values we hold or the Party we are building.” Tasked with rebuilding a party that has struggled to expand beyond its base, Patterson could ill-afford to back a candidate with this kind of baggage, denials or no.

The escalating exodus further scrambles a November political map in which control of the House hinges partly on seven red-to-blue California seats. Democratic CA-10 Rep. Josh Harder had been seen as one of the more vulnerable first-term California Dems after his come-from-behind win against former Rep. Jeff Denham in 2018. But Howze’s woes redound to Harder’s advantage: even before the CAGOP disavowal, Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball yesterday moved the district to “safe Democratic.”

Before the excrement hit the vent, California Republicans were celebrating: new Rep. Mike Garcia had just wrested back CA-25, giving the party its first reclaimed seat in decades and strengthening its hand going into November. Where once the party was preparing to challenge Rep. Katie Hill, a popular rising star, now it had a Republican incumbent on the ballot whose comfortable win energized the base.

But now the picture is murkier. And that’s without getting into the pandemic X-factor. Assumptions of surging liberal turnout have given way to the utter uncertainty of constrained campaigning with all-mail balloting — not to mention how a devastated economy affects voter perceptions.

Both CA-25 and CA-10 are filtering into other California races: Yesterday we saw one Democrat raising funds off of the need to defeat the “extreme, far-right, xenophobic” Howze; vulnerable Democratic freshman Rep. Gil Cisneros exhorted supporters that the CA-25 defeat “reminded us just how competitive Gil’s reelection is going to be in November.”

BUENOS DIAS, good Friday morning. Playbook is off on Monday while we all enjoy our (socially distanced!) Memorial Day weekend. We return on Tuesday.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “You can hear the desperation, the frustration — it’s extreme.” Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) joins colleagues in hammering the Employment Development Department’s failures to get money to constituents.

TWEET OF THE DAY: Tulare Sheriff Mike Boudreaux @MikeBoudreaux4: “As Sheriff my duty is to protect life and property.This obligation includes protecting rights and freedoms. COVID has become a political tool which is quickly impacting the future of public safety, schools, our children and freedoms. Only your vote/voices will change things now.”

WHERE’S GAVIN? Talking at noon today. As always, you can follow on Twitter or Facebook.

— ISSA V NEWSOM: “Issa sues California over November mail-ballot election,” by POLITICO’s Jeremy B. White: Republican congressional candidate Darrell Issa and a conservative group are suing to block California’s move to an all-mail November election. The complaint charges that Newsom’s order has scrambled Issa’s campaign by compelling him to “reevaluate his electoral strategy” and increasing the cost of running a campaign.

— “Former TV star Lori Loughlin, husband to plead guilty in college admissions scandal,” by POLITICO’s Bianca Quilantan: Loughlin, 55, has agreed to a sentence of two months in prison, a $150,000 fine and two years of supervised release with 100 hours of community service, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in Boston.

WRONG NUMBER — “She gets calls and texts meant for Elon Musk. Some are pretty weird,” by NPR’s Bobby Allyn: “There are a lot of people trying to reach celebrity entrepreneur Elon Musk. Sometimes, though, they get Lyndsay Tucker, a 25-year-old skin care consultant.”

— “‘Giant step forward:’ Fresno lifts shelter-in-place next week, sets business reopen plan,” by the Fresno Bee’s Brianna Calix.

PULLBACK — “State tells Sacramento County to back off on allowing gatherings, fitness studios to open,” by the Sac Bee’s Tony Bizjak and Sam Stanton.

— “Virus cases spike in California county on Mexican border,” by the AP’s Elliot Spagat and Gregory Bull: “[T]he surge in the Imperial Valley region could hurt its perpetually struggling economy, which is heavily intertwined with the large industrial city of Mexicali, Mexico.”

ENFORCEMENT — “More than 400 citations issued across San Diego County for violations of COVID-19 orders,” by the San Diego U-T’s David Hernandez.

— “Orange County extends beach hours for Memorial Day weekend, reopens some parking lots,” by the LA Times’ Hannah Fry.

— “The striking racial divide in how Covid-19 has hit nursing homes,” via NYT with LAist and KPCC: “The situation at Gateway (Care and Rehabilitation nursing home in Hayward), which has had a diverse group of residents who are black, Latino, white and Asian, only grew worse once the pandemic hit, interviews with former residents, workers and relatives suggested.”

— “McConnell warns House Democrats over proxy voting on floor,” by POLITICO’s Andrew Desiderio and John Bresnahan: The Kentucky Republican’s comments are the latest GOP salvo against the plan, pushed through the House last week on a party-line vote by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).

FIRST HIT — “Tech companies launch first ads in fight against AB 5,” by POLITICO’s Jeremy B. White: New digital and television advertisements emphasize those themes. One spot features a real-estate agent talking about supplementing her income with app-based work, and another features a student relating how he earns money while in school.

— “California Democrat called HEROES Act a ‘Democratic wish list’ that would hurt her reelection,” by the Washington Examiner’s Kerry Picket: “‘The HEROES Act is dead on arrival. There was no bipartisan negotiation here and no effort at bipartisan negotiation, which I also think is problematic,’ [Rep. Katie] Porter said.”

— “Time to cut off Gov. Newsom’s blank check,” via the LA Times editorial board: “[N]ow that the state is moving from the emergency response phase into one of recovery, the governor needs to start sharing power again with the Legislature, as the state’s constitution intends.”

— “University of California eliminates SAT/ACT requirement,” by POLITICO’s Alexander Nieves: UC’s new policy, proposed by system President Janet Napolitano, calls for the SAT and ACT to be suspended through 2024 as the university attempts to develop its own testing standard. The tests will be completely eliminated in 2025, regardless of whether a new or modified UC-specific standard has been approved for use.

UNEMPLOYMENT WOES — “California lawmakers blast ‘atrocious’ UI system overloaded with 4.9M claims,” by POLITICO’s Katy Murphy: California state lawmakers unleashed their frustrations about the state’s unemployment system Thursday, demanding answers from an agency director about the problems their jobless constituents have endured trying to access the financial lifeline during the pandemic.

— “Jobless claims climb in California even as it begins to reopen,” by POLITICO’s Katy Murphy: One in five Californians has sought unemployment benefits over the last nine weeks, according to the latest official tally.

WORKER WAYS — “Third-way worker classification bill dies without a vote,” by POLITICO’s Jeremy B. White: The measure sponsored by the Marketplace Industry Association sought to create a novel labor code classification of “independent worker,” which would blend hourly flexibility and a guarantee of some benefits.

ABOUT THAT ARENA — “Without parking fees, Sacramento may have to cut services to pay Golden 1 Center debt,” by the Sac Bee’s Tony Bizjak and Dale Kasler: “If the city uses general fund dollars to help pay off its arena debt, it would take money that otherwise would go for police, street work, parks, libraries, and other basic services.”

BOUNCEHOUSE BRAWL — “Lockdowns crippled his ‘bouncy house’ business. Nearly bankrupt, he’s pushing back,” by the LA Times’ Anita Chabria: “Without work, [Jim] Edmonds, like many others, is fighting through empty and anxious days. Increasingly desperate but feeling powerless, he has turned to political activism, ‘a world that I know nothing about,’ he said, but one that in just a few weeks has shifted from a radical thought to the only reasonable path he sees.”

— “What’s Cooking, Kamala Harris?” by Glamour’s Mattie Kahn: “On Sundays — barring national emergencies — Harris can be found near the stove, sometimes starting her prep work hours in advance. It’s a meditative process she can get lost in.”

MEA CULPA — A story we included in Thursday’s Playbook, “Inside Tesla’s Model 3 Factory, Where Safety Violations Keep Rising,” by Forbes’ Alan Ohnsman, was actually published in 2019. Playbook regrets the error.

A NEW WORLD — “Mark Zuckerberg: Half of Facebook may work remotely by 2030,” by NBC’s Dylan Byers: “That would mean a significant shift in the concentration of personnel that could radically alter how the company operates, as well as have an impact on the San Francisco Bay Area.”

— “Apple whistleblower calls for European privacy probes into Big Tech voice assistants,” by POLITICO’s Laura Kayali.

— “Uber uses Covid-19 as cue to take stock of strategy,” by the FT’s Dave Lee: “The feeling among many employees, particularly those being told to leave, is that Uber is using the pandemic as an opportunity to reshape the company as it tries to keep promises about becoming profitable.”

— “Will Smith and Kevin Hart are betting coronavirus will accelerate a shift toward virtual events,” by CNBC’s Ryan Browne.

— “Inside HBO Max’s scramble to launch a massive bet on streaming,” by the LA Times’ Meg James: “HBO Max’s launch will be a watershed moment as a major Hollywood player for nearly a century attempts a high-wire pivot into a new media powerhouse.”

— “As sheriff defies subpoena on jails, watchdog passes another on Kobe Bryant crash records,” by the LA Times’ Cindy Chang.

— “Arrests made at San Clemente rally fighting stay-at-home order,” by the OC Register’s Erika I. Ritchie.

— “New UC Merced chancellor is a farmworker’s son and UC alum,” by the LA Times’ Teresa Watanabe.

— “More than 50 Sacramento restaurants opening for dine-in service. Here’s the list,” by the Sac Bee’s Benjy Egel.

— “For booksellers in L.A., a partial reopening brings hope and anxiety,” by the LA Times’ Dorany Pineda.

— “Overlooked No More: When Hazel Ying Lee and Maggie Gee Soared the Skies,” by the NY Times’ Katie Hafner.

Anthony Reyes … Jay Carney is 55 … Dustin Moskovitz is 36 … Matt Roman … Jessie Mangaliman … Gene Fynes…David Schenkein

— DROP IN FOR A DRINK at Sacramento Press Club Hacks ‘n’ Flacks Happy Hour: The L.A. Times’ Seema Mehta and POLITICO’s Carla Marinucci — and some very special guests — will join veteran journalist Dan Morain, the president of the Sacramento Press Club, in hosting the first virtual Hacks ‘n’ Flacks Happy Hour, starting at 5:30 Friday, June 5. They’ll be bending elbows and talking politics and news — none of it fake — at the SacPressClub’s Facebook Page. To help the Sac Press Club fulfill their longtime mission of providing scholarships to the next generation of journalists, you can donate now.

‘’PELOSI” — Author Molly Ball, Time national political correspondent, discusses “Pelosi,’’ her revealing new biography of Speaker Nancy Pelosi with POLITICO’s Carla Marinucci at the Commonwealth Club of California June 10. 3 p.m. Register here for the online event.

CALIFORNIA POLICY IS ALWAYS CHANGING: Know your next move. From Sacramento to Silicon Valley, POLITICO California Pro provides policy professionals with the in-depth reporting and tools they need to get ahead of policy trends and political developments shaping the Golden State. To learn more about the exclusive insight and analysis this subscriber-only service offers, click here.

Want to make an impact? POLITICO California has a variety of solutions available for partners looking to reach and activate the most influential people in the Golden State. Have a petition you want signed? A cause you’re promoting? Seeking to increase brand awareness amongst this key audience? Share your message with our influential readers to foster engagement and drive action. Contact Jesse Shapiro to find out how: [email protected].

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Embr is a co-op game about firefighting in the gig economy




As we increasingly rely on delivery and ride-sharing apps to connect us with basic goods and services, it’s worth wondering how that system might play out applied to other public utilities – venture capitalists in the tech sector, after all, are measuring the drapes on services like public transportation and education. Embr is a game that provides a satirical peek at what “Uber, but for fighting fires” might look like.

As a game, Embr is a manic co-op affair for up to four players – start out thinking Overcooked or Moving Out and you’ll be in the right neighborhood. The action has you barreling into residential conflagrations armed only with a hose and some instructions gleaned from your firefighting app. You’ve got to try to put out the fire, sure, but the important thing is to make sure you get paid.

“With Embr, we set out to shine a satirical alight on the gig economy – not in terms of the people making those deliveries and driving those taxis, but rather the companies at the top powering this particular brand of venture capitalism and deregulation,” said Howard Tsao, the team lead for Embr at Muse Games. “On a gameplay basis, we also wanted to see just what mayhem would occur if the untrained masses headed out with a hose and tried to put out fires in the same way people deliver take-out or drive people around in makeshift taxis.”

Here’s the trailer:

YouTube Thumbnail

“The end result is just as fun and frenetic as we thought it would be,” Tsao said. “It just makes you appreciate what a difficult and almost impossible job real-life firefighters do.”

You’ll have to rush to put out fires, potentially stealing anything salvageable in the process, and spend the money you ‘earn’ on upgrades to your firefighting equipment – after all, you’ve got to keep up with rival firefighting app Hosr (naturally, it’s a Canadian outfit).

Embr launched in early access on Steam and Stadia this week, and publisher Curve Digital says cross-platform multiplayer is enabled, as well as iCUE integration for PC players with Corsair peripherals installed. Muse says it plans on “expanding the game significantly” while Embr is in early access.

For more fun with friends, check out our list of the best co-op games on PC in 2020.

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Ask Sonny Anything… Worst gig ever?




Steve….welcome in to our shin dig. Reminds me sometimes of Lavonia, Georgia, or Columbus, Ohio. The good times.

The worst circumstances. There were several that I would think twice before going there again. Now, I have a choice… then I didn’t.

1. Winter of 1953 – We were working in Knoxville, TN for Cas Walker, since November 6. Bobby was 22 (just released from the Marine Corp and back from Korea), I was 16. Downtown Knoxville, flatbed truck bed, 25 degrees, snowing hard, 1 week before Christmas. When Cas said play, you play or go…. in this case we had to play or we wouldn’t get our $25 that week. But Lord, it was cold. My right hand was numb, I couldn’t feel the picks, trying to play the banjo and it had a skin head. Enos Johnson and L.E. White were there with Bobby and I. Thirty of the coldest minutes known to man.

2. November 1955 – Quebec Canada, snowing for a week, we had been playing every night for that week, no crowds, Not enough gas in the car to get back to Wheeling….Stress 101….5 PM…Kids were playing Hockey in the street. 7 PM a few people started to gather. 7:30…No one showed up to open the building, we needed every penny to buy gas…Food? What’s that? We needed gas for the hungry car. Top priority.. I found a window unlocked which I opened, climbed in and with a flash light found a light switch, unlocked and opened the front door, stood there and collected $490… did our show, people were happy, we were ecstatic, they loaded the car, while I locked the front door, locked the back door, turned off the lights, climbed back out the window, went back to Wheeling…still broke, but lived in the USA to play another day.

3. Presque Isle, Maine – Summertime 1968. Bobby, Dale Sledd, Ronnie Reno, and I (that’s me of course, how else would I know…DUH). We go on stage at the fairgrounds with over 5000 people in the bleachers. By our 3rd or 4th song the large, unhappy crowd had thinned down considerably. They left in droves of 20-50 each…’twas a mass exodus. There might have been 200-300 diehards remaining. Man, we didn’t even want to look at one another. Embarrassed, there must be another word, I know what that word is too, but it is not appropriate in mixed company. We felt better after I went to the office and collected our dough. I found out they had advertised us as The Osmond Brothers. I can just hear the conversation between a couple old ladies…”Which one is Marie?”

Steve, this probably doesn’t answer your question but these were a few of the trying times which makes one appreciate the good ones, and also makes one realize that there must, simply must be a higher power.


Hi Sonny. Sure Fire is one of my favorite tunes. Can you tell us how that one came about? All the best, Chuck.

Chuck V.

Chuck, come on in here…Thank you for your time. It’s appreciated you know. Sure Fire is a mandolin tune written by my brother Bobby. The Wilburn Brothers, Doyle, Teddy, Leslie, and Lester are the people responsible for quite a lot of the successful paths we took which brought us to this town and being able to further our career playing the music we grew up around. And not to mention a membership in the Greatest show in the history of Country/Bluegrass Music…The Grand Ole Opry…back when that membership really meant something.

I mention all of the above to get to the point that the Wilburns owned a publishing Company with the name of Sure-Fire Music. We recorded many of the songs Teddy found for us, and Bobby wrote several too, all which were published by Sure-Fire… One being an instrumental with the name of Sure Fire. Great tune played by close to 100% of all mandolin players.


Ok, I’ll bite. Tell us about the great con job of the recording industry. Truly enjoy your music and have been a fan as long as I can remember. Thanks for giving us an inside view. Your music has always been the best.

Larry Stahl

Larry, I don’t want to do this, but it says ask me anything. I do appreciate your time and I thank you.

1959. We realized that we HAD to have a good record deal and The Grand Ole Opry. The Wilburn Brothers seemed to be the most probable to get that done for us.

Fast forward to Doyle Wilburn’s office, Nashville, April of 1963. Doyle is on the phone with Owen Bradley, head of Decca records in Nashville. He is telling Owen that we are good and Chet Adkins is going to sign us on RCA this afternoon. Owen can get us for Decca if he’ll do it NOW.

Owen says No. We’re devastated.

Yes, we had been to Chet at RCA and he turned us down flat. Doyle says not to worry, he’s not done yet. He puts a call in to New York, the absolute head guy of Decca (seems like I remember his name as Sid). Doyle tells him the same story and that Owen has turned us down, and Decca would be losing a good group to RCA if he didn’t do something right them. And he closed that with “Have I ever steered you wrong?” He hung up and Doyle looked at us Bobby, Benny Birchfield and I and just smiled and winked. He said, “Owen will call in about 10 minutes.”

I will swear to this as truth. Under 10 minutes his secretary opened the door and said…”Mr. Bradley is on Line 5.” Doyle picked up and said “Owen, how you doin’?” “Yeah, They’re still here….sure, we’ll be right over.”

So, all this happened within a period of 45-60 minutes and we signed the first of 13 one year contracts with Decca.

We told Doyle we needed the Opry and he promised that in 18 months. 13 months later, late July 1964 we were members of the aforementioned Grand Ole Opry. Wilburns were a powerful bunch mid ’50s throughout the ’60s . s


Hi Sonny, It’s always so good to read your posts at Banjo Hangout and on Bluegrass Today. I have Chief MP-13 built in 2007, which is a good un of course. Sounds and looks awesome! Do you know how many of the MP Chiefs were made? Thanks so much!


Gary….Thanks for following Banjo Hangout and do you realize how long the Hangout thing has been going? I said that because I want to remind everyone who reads this that Terry Herd and John Lawless have endured me for one, uno, ein, year with this episode. My goodness.

Gary you asked how many Maple Chief banjos were built…I would guess probably 250-300 range. Maybe 50-75 Mahogany and Walnut. That number is a guess. I don’t want to actually get down in the floor with books and figure it out. Too hard to get up. It was all fun though. June 16 will be 22 years. And I didn’t spend one cent advertising the Chief banjo. I wanted them to sell themselves and they did. I didn’t want to be in the banjo building business, just make a professional quality banjo, reasonable price. I did that. Only a few banjo companies left…reason… folks started building they own…(they comes from Raymond Huffmaster.) That’s my opinion.



Kirk and Kate Schaumannk wanted to know about Jim Mills’ Old Banjo Seminar. I’m sorry to say I don’t know that but I will try to get your interest known to Jimmy and perhaps he’ll follow through.


Ask Sonny Anything is a recurring feature where our readers pose questions to the great Sonny Osborne, one half of the iconic Osborne Brothers

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Challenge To California Law Giving Gig Workers Benefits Will Go Before Voters On November Ballot – CBS San Francisco




SACRAMENTO (AP) — A ballot initiative backed by business giants Uber, Lyft and DoorDash is now set to go before California voters in November, a multimillion-dollar shot aimed at excluding the companies from a law that would make them give more benefits and wage protections to their drivers.

California approved the labor law last year, the strictest in the country around when employers can classify workers as independent contractors. It’s aimed at pushing businesses to put more freelancers and independent workers on payroll, ensuring access to benefits and minimum wages. Praised by labor groups, the sweeping law set off lawsuits from independent contractors like truck drivers and freelance writers who say it puts them out of work.

Titans of the so-called gig economy like Uber are mounting the fiercest resistance. Joined with ride-hailing rival Lyft and food-delivery service DoorDash, they want California voters in November to essentially exempt app-based drivers from the law’s restrictions. All three committed to spend at least $30 million each promoting the measure, surely making it one of California’s most expensive ballot fights.

California’s secretary of state announced late on Friday the measure became eligible for the ballot after collecting over 623,000 signatures.

If the companies are successful in California, it could set a national precedent.

The companies want the power to keep their workers independent, proposing as part of the ballot measure a new law that would give drivers who work at least 25 hours a week full health coverage and benefits if they are injured on the job. Drivers would be able to work across any app and earn a base of 120% of minimum wage plus more based on miles driven.

California upped the stakes over the fight when it sued Uber and Lyft in early May for allegedly misclassifying its drivers as independent contractors under the law. The coalition leading the ballot initiative, Protect App-Based Drivers & Services, claims to represent 60,000 drivers and said the lawsuit would lead to job losses during the pandemic-induced recession.

Labor organizations have vowed to fight the initiative since it began collecting signatures this year, but campaigning will be uncertain due to the coronavirus outbreak derailing traditional canvassing efforts. Campaigners said in late February they had already collected over a million signatures to qualify the initiative, much more than required.

“It’s a power grab by Uber and Lyft to essentially write a law that exempts them from basic worker protections,” said Steve Smith, a spokesman for the California Labor Federation, which plans to replace door knocking with more phone calls and texts to voters in opposition. “It’s going to be a bit of a battle royale.”

Stacey Wells, a spokeswoman for the ballot campaign, said the proposal is a “win-win for drivers.”

She said 80% of the million or so drivers in California work for apps for fewer than 20 hours a week. The new benefits will be a draw for drivers, she said, “versus a rigid employment model that’s going to prevent them from working on multiple apps with a set schedule.”

Critics also accuse the law of unfairly targeting some industries. Freelancer groups for journalists and photographers earlier this year unsuccessfully argued the law cannot exempt some writers from the its rules while it holds freelance news journalists to a stricter standard. They are appealing a federal judge’s dismissal of the case.

© Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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