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Is there knead to recall Newsom over the half-baked Panera $20 wage exemption?
panera bread
Fresh bread baked on-site at Panera. It’s the “treat” the non-French Laundry crowd indulges in.

Gavin Newsom is doing himself no favors by once again acting as if he were a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

First, he decrees Californians to mask up dining at restaurants during the pandemic.

Then he channels Marie Antoinette and dines sans mask at The French Laundry on Nov. 6, 2020.

Newsom said he was following his decree given the group he was dining with that included corporate healthcare lobbyists — at least it wasn’t one of the times he’s been known to break bread with PG&E top brass — because the dining area was mostly outdoors.

Then, a day later, a photo surfaces that clearly shows Newsom and his dining partners eating inside without a mask in sight.

Apparently Newsom’s inability to not put his foot in the mouth when mixing politics with food extends from ritzy joints with $150 appetizers to fast food places that encase run-of-the-mill salads to go in plastic.

The latest political food caper involves his gloating over signing the California law raising minimum wage for specific fast food jobs to $20 an hour starting April 1.

Clearly, Newsom’s priorities when it comes to valuing jobs puts those complex, highly skilled, and critical jobs such as processing fast food orders  over non-essential jobs such as dialysis technicians.

That’s because Newsom pushed to up fast food workers’ pay first, and not that of healthcare workers.

Could it have anything to do with the fact on Nov. 6, 2020 he was dining and smooching at the $350 per plate French Laundry with a group that included two prominent lobbyists representing corporate healthcare concerns?

The pushback centers around an exception to the law regarding fast food concerns with 60 more locations in California that was clear from the first day it hit the news as proposed legislation.

The exception was for fast food restaurants that sold bread baked on site.

In the “gotcha” culture that drives the feeble excuse these days for political discourse, those who can’t resist trying to recall Newsom every 12 months latched on to the exemption by noting it had an odd odor.

The odor they were referring to, of course, is political favors cooked into law.

The ingredients for what was brushed off by Newsom as being an exception that is part of the “political  sausage” nature of getting legislation passed was one Greg Flynn.

Flynn owns a ton of restaurant franchises across the dining spectrum, including 24 Panera locations in the Golden State.

Flynn went to the same high school at the same time as Newsom, although they didn’t meet until years later.

Flynn was adamantly against the $20 minimum wage for select fast food workers.

Flynn gave north of $100,000 altogether to Newsom’s effort to fight his recall and a general election campaign.

And let’s be honest. The reason the delineated fast food jobs were targeted is they were positions with concerns mostly owned by the boogeymen of American politics — CEOs of for-profit concerns.

How else can you conclude given those with 59 or less restaurants in California where exempted?

It wasn’t because making $15.50 an hour was a “living wage” for them as opposed to the $20  an hour law that Newsom signed his name to back in September.

And that is where the rub comes in.

One assumes someone who is taking to the national stage as a politician cloaked in the clothing of a voice of reason, that he read what he signed.

Virtually everyone else that did and reported on it, shared the “bread baked on site” exception to the fast food $20 minimum wage requirement.

Neither Newsom or his office dismissed such widespread characterizations as being an alternative fact.

The reason was simple. There is only one fast food concern that could possibly qualify for the exemption. And that is Panera.

So what does Newsom do when it comes up in his victory lap celebrating the impending April 1 implementation of the $20 minimum fast food wage as he is defending the new law?

He characterized Panera bread as being the reason for the exemption as “absurd.”

Then his “office” doubles down.

Now we are told the exemption “legally’ doesn’t apply to any fast food place that bakes the bread on site but mixes the dough off site.

Here’s the entire segment of the section referencing the bakery exemption in Assembly Bill 257 that Newsom signed into law:

“An establishment that on September 1, 2022, operates a bakery that produces for sale on the establishment’s premises bread as defined under Part 136 of Subchapter B of Chapter I of Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations shall not be considered a fast food restaurant, so long as it continues to operate such a bakery. This exemption applies only where the establishment produces for sale bread as a stand-alone menu item, and does not apply if the bread is available for sale solely as part of another menu item.”

Enough said.

Now for the real question given it is unlikely the genie is going back into the bottle, regardless of the overall fairness to all workers and the economic hurt it is likely to inflict on others via collateral damage.

Should the Panera exception be the justifying catalyst for yet another recall attempt to remove Newsom from office?

The answer is no.

And it’s not just because some of the key recall backers want to put Newsom under political fire while he prances around the country using his bully pulpit of being governor of the largest state in the union to apparently gin up a 2028 run for the White House.

It’s because at this point a recall, short of Newsom being prosecuted as a silent partner of the Unabomber, is absurd.

The man is termed out when 2026 winds down.

Yes, a recall could get on the ballot with enough time for someone else to serve as governor.

But who?

With all due respect, the best the Republicans could get to run for senate is Steve Garvey.

The most likely candidate to prevail in a recall election is a moderate Democrat.

The last time around it was clear there weren’t any Democrats with political capital willing to risk it by committing political suicide.

Let’s just call Newsom what Newsom is. He’s not Mother Teresa. He’s a politician.

As such, he has a reptilian instinct to look for excuses when he gets flak for decisions he makes instead of — pardon the political incorrectness of the term — manning up.

This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at