Opinion: Two unrelated topics — Politics gets too dirty for one candidate and it’s time for an audit on how Covid was handled

Daily Post Editor

Giselle Hale’s decision to withdraw from the Assembly race was a surprise.

As reported in Saturday’s Post, Hale said she decided to drop out because of the toll the negative advertising was having on her two daughters, ages 5 and 8.

Hale’s decision gives the job to opponent Diane Papan.

It’s hard for me to understand how Hale, a Redwood City councilwoman and 2022 mayor, didn’t realize that the campaign would include personal attacks. That’s how it’s done these days.

A generation ago, two candidates could have a cordial discussion about an issue without attacking one another personally.

Remember the stories about President Reagan and Democratic House Speaker Tip O’Neill? During the work day, they would argue about the issues. But at the end of the day, they could put aside their differences and share some whiskey.

Today a candidate is liable to be called a racist or a homophobe if they say the wrong thing. And even if your opponent doesn’t trash you, a Twitter mob will impugn your character.

It doesn’t matter what the facts of an issue might be, it’s all about calling your opponent names and destroying their reputation.

Good candidates scared off

I run into people all the time who would make good local leaders, but they say they’d never run because of how ugly it gets.

I’m surprised Hale didn’t know that when she signed up to run.

Seven candidates ran for the 21st District Assembly seat being vacated by Kevin Mullin, who is hoping to get elected to Congress. In the June primary, Papan was first with 31% of the vote. She would have faced Hale in November, who got 20%.

Because of the timing of Hale’s announcement — coming after the sign-up period for the primary — third-place candidate, Republican Mark Gilham, won’t be moving up to take on Papan.

Papan and Hale are both Democrats. Perhaps the big difference is that Hale had the support of YIMBY activists and labor unions who wanted more housing while Papan was backed by the real estate industry.

Papan is now the de facto winner of the seat. The November election is just a formality.

• • •

Time for an independent audit on how counties handled the Covid pandemic

New York state is doing something Santa Clara and San Mateo counties ought to copy.

New York plans to hire an independent auditor to review the state’s response to the Covid pandemic, the Associated Press reports. The report will include a planning guide for future emergencies and examine the number of nursing home deaths, the reopening of schools and the closure of businesses.

It’s crucial that an outside, independent organization conduct such an audit. You can’t have officials investigating their own conduct because they’ll just say that everything they did was fine.

It’s time to consider this before the evidence is shredded and memories become foggy.

Among the questions I’ve got are:

1. Was it necessary to keep the schools closed so long?

2. Who decided in Santa Clara County that it was a good idea to place tougher restrictions on churches than Home Depot or Costco? The U.S. Supreme Court had a problem with this too and ordered the reopening of churches.

3. The first vaccines became available in December 2020 and the county was still distributing them six months later. Who screwed this up?

4. Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody would frequently order new restrictions without disclosing the science behind those decisions. If the county was “following the science,” what was the science? And what do other medical professionals think about those decisions.

5. Why was the per capita death rate from Covid higher in Santa Clara County than any other Bay Area county?

6. How many suicides were there in the two counties due to lives that were changed by Covid? How many business people killed themselves because everything they had worked for was destroyed by a county health department edict?

7. How many county employees got “Covid bonuses” even though they worked from home during the pandemic?

Let’s hire some outside investigators to get to the bottom of these questions once and for all. The next time there’s a pandemic, we don’t want to repeat the same mistakes.

Editor Dave Price’s column appears on Mondays. His email address is [email protected].


  1. Diane Papan received 41.3 percent of the votes in AD21; Hale received 19.8 percent. The next highest vote getter, Republican Mark Gilham had 19.5 percent of the votes. Four other candidates split the remaining 18.7 percent. Barring some sort of total catastrophe in Papan’s campaign, there was no path forward for Hale.

    What I suspect is that while YIMBY money and influence lined up behind Hale, Papan benefited from her and her family’s longstanding CA DEM ties. Both candidates received much of their financial support from outside the district, including Marc Berman’s parents’ partnership with CA YIMBY to fund an IE for Hale. It’s only “dark money” when it isn’t benefitting you.

  2. Once again, Dave makes some great points following an ideology of common sense.

    Having moved from California after watching it turn into something that would have been unrecognizable 50-years ago, we landed in a State with a balanced budget, a thriving economy and genuinely nice people. Covid-19 restrictions were minimal. Within a few months, kids were NOT required to mask up at schools. Remote education lasted less than 60-days. Restaurants were allowed to stay open if they wanted to.

    With the minimal restrictions, life continued just fine. Our neighboring State had some of the harshest restrictions in the Country. They are still trying to impose masking and closures at the slightest uptick in the number of cases being reported. Despite these “social control” measures, there was no difference in the numbers of reported cases between the States. There was a marked difference in data regarding the mental health of young people and crime statistics in the two States.

    Government efforts to tell people how to live their lives more often than not backfires. Minimal government interference leads to a much happier life.

  3. Well said Dave on the Covid response questions, especially the last four on the list.

    We must never allow lockdowns, mask mandates, and take the shot or lose your job policies ever again. The people responsible for this are criminals and should be punished to the fullest extent before we can move on.

  4. The covid response was an epic disaster. Kids are still suffering with the effects of the lockdown and mandates. And the community colleges and many workplaces still require the jab as well as masking. The Bay Area is becoming a covid disaster area thanks to the public health response.

  5. Hold onto your masks and your zoom connection, Gavin Newsom has declared an emergency for monkeypox. But super spreader events like the San Francisco kink festival continue. And as far as I know the Covid emergency also continues. As they say, never let a crisis go to waste,

  6. We no longer have to speculate about what would happen if the economy was shut down, if people were locked up and muzzled, if hospitals emergency plans didn’t really exist, what would happen if old people exposed to the virus were forced into nursing homes to infect the most vulnerable, if thin paper masks have any value whatsoever, if politicians suspended constitutionally protected rights, if people were denied the means and the right to earn a living, if the treasury was raided to give out trillions in free money, if the relative orderliness of the world pre-Covid could ever be restored. We don’t have to wonder any more if our health authorities are reliable – they weren’t, they aren’t. The lock-downs should never have happened and should never happen again. We will once again have to confront a national emergency someday. We should take a really hard look at what was done and not do it ever again.

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