Lorena Gonzalez received $418 worth of Disneyland tickets on March 7 before it closed on March 14 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Disneyland has been closed since March 14, sending ripples of angst through the ranks of investors and tourists alike. But before the park locked its gates against the COVID-19 pandemic, a crew of state Assembly and Senate Democrats got free tickets of admission worth thousands of dollars, according to the company’s first-quarter lobbying disclosure report, filed April 21. Among the lucky legislators was Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez — who with husband Nathan Fletcher has been a longtime recipient of free park passes — receiving $418 worth of Disneyland tickets on March 7. The Gonzalez family trips to Disney have become traditional. Last year on March 2, she tweeted a photo of the couple and their combined family at the main gate, saying, “With all my boys at @Disneyland today! Not stopped by a little rain!” Her 2019 personal disclosure form, filed this February, showed the value of the tickets to be $500.
Nathan Fletcher – tagging along to Happiest Place on Earth
This year her fellow Assembly Democrat Jim Cooper got $500 in complimentary admission, as did colleagues Joaquin Arambula and Eduardo Garcia. District 3 California Board of Equalization member Tony Vasquez also received the $500 freebie package. Senate Democrat Ben Hueso, currently running for a seat on the San Diego Board of Supervisors, got tickets valued at $209 on the same date, as did Assemblyman Robert Rivas. Democratic senator Lena Gonzalez, no relation to Lorena, picked up tickets worth $500. Meanwhile, as Disney begins tentatively planning for reopening the parks in a post-COVID-19 world, some customers say they won’t be returning soon. “I will not be back to any part of Disney until the hype and mask-wearing has been discontinued,” said one quoted by the Washington Post. “It has nothing to do with being upset about the inconvenience and everything to do with my being treated as a free responsible adult.”
Nobody’s sure when going to concerts will be safe again in the wake of the global coronavirus meltdown. Still, the San Diego county fair board staff is already out booking big name acts for June of next year and taking heat from one its members for building a new music venue. Train, the American rock band from San Francisco, is set for Friday, June 11 as a paid show and dinner package, at $325,000. The next highest paid is to be country star Brantley Gilbert on June 12 for $285,000. Then comes TLC at $135,000. Folk and blues singer Melissa Etheridge gets only $75,000 for a June 9 show.
Brantley Gilbert – booked at $285K for next year’s Del Mar Fair
Lack of immediate refunds for a Gilbert concert canceled by coronavirus earlier this month by the Red Rocks Amphitheatre outside of Denver, owned by the city and county, has riled some fans. “If the event cannot be rescheduled once the ban is lifted, a refund will automatically be issued to the credit card you used to purchase, within 30 business days,” the sponsor emailed ticketholders after the cancellation. That didn’t sit right with Aaron Batte, who complained about the policy to TV station KDVR. “We don’t know if or when there will be a new date. Should we be patient and wait for 30 days to go by, 60 days to go by, 90 days to go by, just to then find out they can’t get it rescheduled — and now they’ve held on to that money, in my case, almost a year?” As for the Del Mar fair, Chula Vista attorney David Watson quit the board last month, asserting that management had gone awry. “Even before the advent of COVID-19, the organization was facing extreme financial turmoil because of historical reliance on horse racing revenues,” Watson said in a statement cited by the Union-Tribune April 21. “Significant bond financing is based on future revenue from racing as well as the creation of a new concert venue. Those revenues are now at great risk.”
Conjugal suite life
Anaheim’s Magic Kingdom isn’t the only venue visited for free by county supervisor Nathan Fletcher and his spouse, Assembly Democrat Lorena Gonzalez, per Fletcher’s financial disclosure Form 700 for 2019, filed with the county March 16. On January 7, 2019, the couple got “2 suite tickets” from AT&T valued at $469. Though no destination is named, the Orlando Magic played the Kings at Sacramento’s Golden1 Center, where the cell phone giant has a luxury suite to provide legislator freebies. On January 17, the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians gave a "spouse only Gift" of admission to the casino lobby's Back to Session Bash in Sacramento. Gonzalez also picked up two dinners valued at $126 and $113 from Viejas in March and April, per Fletcher's disclosure. In addition, Fletcher disclosed a trip with Gonzalez to Puerto Rico in December of last year hosted by the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators. The amount of $2495 was a gift “to Spouse who is an elected” and spoke at the event. There was “no additional cost for sharing room,” according to the filing. The biggest conjugal free travel tab of 2019 belonged to termed-out Republican Greg Cox, who racked up $25,620 in “travel/lodging expenses for attendance at meetings” of the National Association of Counties in 2019. The same group also picked up $3623 in travel costs for Cox’s wife Cheryl to board meetings during the year, the filing says.