Is The French Laundry a front behind some kind of GOP-run sting operation?
It’s a legitimate question at this point. The chic $350-a-head Napa Valley restaurant played host to a Nov. 6 birthday party that cost California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom all moral authority on COVID-19 restrictions.
Newsom, who has aggressively pushed guidelines that restrict gatherings to no more than three households, require them to be held outdoors and with six feet of social distancing between members of different households in virtually all of the Golden State, attended the party — which, in case you’ve forgotten and even have to ask, included more than three households.
But it was outdoors, right? That’s what a spokeswoman for the party’s host, a close ally of Newsom’s, said.
EXCLUSIVE: We’ve obtained photos of Governor Gavin Newsom at the Napa dinner party he’s in hot water over. The photos call into question just how outdoors the dinner was. A witness who took photos tells us his group was so loud, the sliding doors had to be closed. 10pm on @FOXLA pic.twitter.com/gtOVEwa864
— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) November 18, 2020
That’s apparently the “outdoors,” and without six feet of social distancing or a mask to be seen.
“I made a bad mistake,” Newsom would later say. Which, well, yes.
So that was Nov. 6. On Nov. 7, another Democratic COVID-19 restrictions hawk, Mayor London Breed of San Francisco, decided to throw away her authority on the matter, as well. And in the same place, too.
According to a Tuesday article in the San Francisco Chronicle, a spokesman for Breed confirmed she attended a 60th birthday party for socialite Gorretti Lo Lui at The French Laundry.
“The party of eight dined in the same kind of partially enclosed room with a ceiling and chandelier as Newsom did — making it more of an indoor dining experience than an outdoor one,” the Chronicle’s Heather Knight reported.
While Breed spokesman Jeff Cretan said the party was a “small family birthday dinner,” he didn’t provide the number of households in attendance.
Now, it’s worth noting before we go forward that in both cases, this was totally legal at the time in Napa County, where The French Laundry is located. There was no cap on the number of households that could be seated in restaurants nor any bans on indoor dining.
However, both Breed and Newsom had been (and remain) outspoken about people radically changing their behavior to defeat COVID-19.
For Halloween, try alternatives like virtual costume contests, an at-home haunted house, scavenger hunts, or outdoor costume parades. Trick-or-treating is not encouraged, but we do have tips (https://t.co/XtMU5RvgLU) about how to do trick-or-treat safely if you choose to do it.
— London Breed (@LondonBreed) October 30, 2020
As for Mayor Breed, while her dinner was legal in Napa County, it wasn’t in her own city. That’s because San Francisco had tougher rules for dining than any other parts of the state, including a prohibition of seating more than six people — either indoors or outside — unless they lived together.
Three days after the dinner at the French Laundry, San Francisco shut down in-restaurant dining entirely.
“I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that everyone act responsibly to reduce the spread of the virus,” Breed said in a Nov. 10 statement. “Every San Franciscan needs to do their part so that we can start moving in the right direction again.”
“I know this is not the news our residents and businesses wanted to hear, but as I’ve said all along, we’re making decisions based on the data we’re seeing on the ground.”
Today we’re announcing the following steps:
– Rolling back indoor dining.
– Movie theaters and gyms will remain at 25% capacity, but the maximum number will go down from 100 to 50.
– Pausing indoor instruction at our high schools.
More info: https://t.co/ZiNNIWQEmU
— London Breed (@LondonBreed) November 10, 2020
In addition to all this, California was one of three states on the West Coast — along with Oregon and Washington — to issue a wide-ranging travel advisory less than a week after Breed’s dinner, which “urge[d] against non-essential out-of-state travel, ask people to self-quarantine for 14 days after arriving from another state or country and encourage residents to stay local,” according to a news release fro Newsom’s office.
While the order was aimed at intrastate travel, the “travel advisories recommend individuals limit their interactions to their immediate household,” the release said.
The French Laundry is in Yountville, more than an hour’s drive from both San Francisco and Sacramento, the respective homes of Mayor Breed and Gov. Newsom. That doesn’t qualify as local by any stretch of the imagination.
Again, what Breed and Newsom did wasn’t illegal, especially since the advisory was issued a week after the dinners. It’s impossible they didn’t know this was potentially coming down the pike, however — which was yet another reason they shouldn’t have done this and another example of how these rules are for the plebes.
At present, Newsom is contemplating a stay-at-home order for the almost all of the state after a dramatic uptick in cases, according to SFGate — something that’ll be an interesting feat to pull off, particularly given the exhaustion everyone feels toward lockdowns, how hard they are to enforce and how laughable it would be to have Newsom announcing it.
Newsom and Breed are far from the only ones in California high officialdom immersed in the rules-for-thee culture out there.
“San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo told people to avoid big gatherings for Thanksgiving, but attended his elderly parents’ holiday dinner in Saratoga with other relatives from five households,” the Chronicle reported. “Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl voted to ban outdoor dining last week — and hours later was spotted dining outside at an Italian restaurant in Santa Monica.
That’s where these things have real-life consequences, at least if you buy that severe restrictions can short-circuit the dramatic uptick in COVID cases at this point.
“Any increase in cynicism about our political leaders right now can potentially be costly,” said Jason McDaniel, associate professor of political science at San Francisco State University.
“Our elected leaders should hold themselves to a higher standard. The mayor and the governor before her failed to meet that higher standard.”
But I thought these rules were supposed to be the plebes. Politicians don’t catch COVID-19.
Well, at least Democratic politicians. Republicans catch it all the time — as well they should, the degenerate science deniers.
Don’t worry, though. London Breed has learned her lesson and will, going forward, only attend socialites’ birthday parties if they’re on Zoom.
“Now, with case rates rising, and Bay Area counties moving back into the purple tier, she is once again limiting her actions and is encouraging all San Franciscans to do the same,” Cretan said.
Of course she is.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.