Nov 15, 2019

Welcome to Your World

By Ed Goldman
If you’re just joining us—well, of course you are, this is the first day of this column—let me set the stage for what I hope to have follow every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, unless it’s a national holiday or my wife insists I take a day off. Since I’m not married, the latter is unlikely to occur. But I like to allow for possibilities.
By way of brief introduction, since I moved to California with my family in 1958—my dad had just retired, at the age of 42, from the New York City Fire Department—I’ve lived or had homes in Southern California, Capitola (which they keep next door to Santa Cruz) and San Francisco (whose airport is adjacent to the mecca of Millbrae, which lists “plane-spotting” as a tourist activity on theculturetrip.com). 

In 1976, after my dad passed away, I moved to Sacramento, the state’s capital—a government town that entered the world stage by opening the Golden 1 Center in 2016, a magnificent ultra-modern, eco-friendly indoor arena in which the Sacramento Kings are widely celebrated for winning a few NBA games each season.

I love California.

If you’ve done much traveling around the United States or in Europe, you may find yourself continually re-surprised by how much this state has to offer in terms of diversity, topography, culture and even colorful history—though we certainly pale by comparison in the latter department to much older cities, like Rome, Paris, Philadelphia and even Baraboo, Wisconsin, which is said was the site of a Kickapoo village as early as 1665. (The Kickapoo tribe speaks Algonquian, according to my research assistant Howdy Neausommuch. You’ll meet my entire fact-checking team in due course—including my social-media expert Sy Bursitis; market research consultant York Ray-Zee; literary agent Les DuLaunch; and my lawyer/janitor Will “Skip” Towne. Will has been disbarred twice—though oddly, as a janitor, not as a lawyer. 

This column won’t spend an inordinate amount of time discussing the activities of the State Legislature, even though its members have a lot to do with the creation of this column. 

You see, in 2018, the California Supreme Court issued something familiarly called the Dynamex Decision, which came down hard on employers who used fulltime contractors but didn’t pay them like fulltime employees, mainly in the ride-hailing business, as it’s called. (It really should be called the ride-clicking business, no? You “hail” a cab, at airports, hotels or outside office buildings in movies set in big cities. The only time I “hailed” a Lyft or Uber driver was when he was driving away with my briefcase in the backseat).

Anyway, once the Legislature got ahold of it, Assembly Bill 5—which I’ve nicknamed the Organized Labor Full-Employment Act for Democrats Seeking Re-election—was several weeks ago, codified, which sounds like a process for turning legislation into a bottom-feeding fish. 

The new law forced many businesses in the state to either hire their consultants or face very expensive lawsuits. To be sure, there were some notable exemptions for jobs vital to the commonwealth, such as doctors, lawyers, real estate agents and hair cutters. Newspaper delivery people were granted a one-year reprieve, presumably to give newspapers time to go out of business on their own.

The law was “codified, which sounds like a process for turning legislation into a bottom-feeding fish.”
This is what prompted the owners of American City Business Journals to end my six-times-weekly column at its Sacramento beachhead after an eight-year run.

During the column’s entire run—five days a week online, one day in print—I remained a freelance writer. I suppose I wanted it that way, since I hadn’t been anyone’s employee since leaving my last real job in January of 1984, as assistant director of the UC Davis Medical Center. (That had been a mutual decision, by the way. The director of the hospital said, Get out,” and I said, “Okay.”) Then again, neither the publisher nor editor of the Sacramento Business Journal ever offered me an actual job complete with medical benefits, forced retirement and a mandatory invitation to the annual office party, at which I’d have sampled Midge From Accounting’s legendary rum balls.

You’ll meet some of your fellow Californians in this column (with real names, unlike my aforementioned staff). Most of them are involved in some sort of nonprofit endeavor, just as I am with this column, though their work is much worthier of your attention. I hope you’ll come along for the flight, which may be occasionally bumpy owing to the fact that I have this weakness for forming opinions and sometimes seeing the absolute silliness in our culture of instant communication and time-delayed understanding.

So please fasten your seatbelts. The Goldman State is about to take off.

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Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).