Protesters gathered outside of L.A. Supervisor Sheila Kuehl’s house in Santa Monica Saturday. Kuehl is one of many elected officials who have been caught hypocritically doing what they lecture everyone else against doing because of the coronavirus pandemic. In Kuehl’s case, she was filmed dining outside just hours after voting to shut down outdoor dining for the people in Los Angeles County.
The ban on outdoor dining passed with a vote of 3-2 on November 24. Kuehl cast a yes vote. This was a hugely controversial escalation of the lockdown orders already in place in L.A. County to mitigate a rising spike of coronavirus cases. Restaurants and bars have been hit especially hard during the pandemic and are the first businesses to be shut down by local and state officials, not just in L.A. County but across the country. Many of the businesses forced to close down will never be able to re-open, leaving business owners without their livelihoods and employees unemployed.
A young woman’s struggle to keep her restaurant and bar open during the pandemic became publicized Friday in a viral video. Angela Marsden owns the Pineapple Hill Grill and Saloon in Sherman Oaks. She spent $80,000 to build an outdoor dining infrastructure in order to re-open and allow customers to dine in a socially distanced way. In a sane world, she would have been able to re-open her business this weekend. Instead, her business was again shut down by the outdoor dining ban. To add insult to injury, the Hollywood entertainment industry has been given exemptions from being restricted by the rules everyone else must live by and this became unbearably clear to Ms. Marsden Friday. She arrived at her establishment, just feet away, to find that an outdoor dining infrastructure very similar to her own was allowed to remain open because it serviced the cast and crew of a television production company. The entertainment business is deemed essential but businesses like that of Ms. Marden’s are not. It defies common sense.
Marsden’s reaction to the injustice of the county’s decision to close her business but leave open a spot for cast and crew members to eat went viral on social media. So, who better to show up in front of Sheila Kuehl’s house among the protesters than Ms. Marsden? The protesters were peacefully assembled but their message was clear – they want to work. She is seen in a video clip holding a poster and voicing her protest that she’s been shut down.
— Jamie Joseph (@jamiewritess) December 5, 2020
“We in the restaurant industry are losing everything!” Marsden shouted toward Kuehl’s home during Saturday’s protest, according to a video posted on Twitter. “We have bartenders with babies and children and they can’t pay their rent! They can’t eat — and it’s because of you, Sheila Cruel-y, as you laugh and dine and eat out!”
“Maybe we should hand over your paycheck to these businesses that have been shut down!” another protester said.
Soon after, the crowd started chanting, “Let us work!” “Let us work!”
One sign held by a protester showed California Gov. Gavin Newsom with devil’s horns and Kuehl with what appeared to be a wig in the style of Marie Antoinette, the 18th century French queen associated with the infamous quote, “Let them eat cake!”
Other sign slogans included: “I like paying my bills! Why am I not essential?”, “Politicians are 86’d,” and “Sheila, you are 86’d.”
Many of the protesters said they came out to join in because they saw Marsden’s video and her story. One spa owner told reporters that the county’s elected officials are “blaming the regular person” instead of admitting that lockdowns have not successfully stopped spikes in coronavirus cases.
Sheila Kuehl didn’t appear to be home during the protest. At the time of her vote, she justified the ban by saying the pandemic is a health emergency that must be taken seriously. That’s fine but what was the difference in dining outdoors the night of the county supervisors’ vote and, say, the next night when it was shut down though none of the dining conditions had changed? The production company’s outdoor tented facility was just feet away from Ms. Marsden’s business and it was still up and running. There is no difference, the decisions that choose winners and losers during the shutdowns are arbitrary and often look like random decisions.
Elected officials show that they don’t really believe what they are voting on, either. Most of all, they show what absolute hypocrites they are by living as they please, rules for the little people be damned.