Idiot Rogue Supervisors Steel & Wagner Slap down HCA in defense of Nomad’s “Cantina.”




Well, if THIS isn’t all kinds of stupid and wrong at the same time, then I don’t know what IS.  I guess these people, specifically Supervisors Don Wagner and Shawn Steel’s Wife Michelle, exist in their own little far-right bubble, either isolated from or indifferent to any adult advice.

Well now look what they’ve gone and done, if not blasting out a hasty, illiterate press release supporting a lawbreaking restaurant against their own Health Care Agency’s meek attempts to enforce the law – and once again acting apparently without the approval of the rest of the Board of Supervisors:


“Over the weekend, media reports stated that Orange County’s Health Care Agency contacted the owner of Nomads Cantina [sic] in San Clement [sic] regarding the restaurant’s efforts at reopening. HCA threatened the owner with permit suspension, in complete contradiction to the Board of Supervisors’ Guidelines passed unanimously last week. We have worked with HCA leadership about this unfortunate unilateral department action.  [did Michelle write that last sentence?  ‘We’ve worked with them about it’?]

“We understand that HCA will be promptly rescinding all threats and will take no enforcement action against Nomads [sic] as long as it continues to comply with Orange County’s Guidelines. Further enforcement action pursuant to state or local orders will be up to the appropriate state or local law enforcement officials.”

(By the way it is “Nomad’s Canteen” and the town is “San Clemente.”)

Where to start?  A little background, if you missed the recent news: a fun-loving San Clemente establishment called Nomad’s Canteen got a lot of attention over the weekend for opening up in defiance of state orders.  According to the Register:

“Dozens of diners sat at tables on the sunny deck or inside around the beach-themed bar, toasting margaritas and enjoying poke bowls. People stood a foot or two from each other, waiting for tables to open up. And almost no one, from the staff to the customers, wore masks.”

The Canteen’s owner Jeff Gourley spoke of how badly the shutdown orders were affecting his business, and meanwhile his place has become a cause célèbre to the “rebellious types” who resent the Governor’s stay-at-home orders. 

Well, the idea of civil disobedience as I understand it, is you defy a law you believe to be unjust, and you accept the consequences, and maybe if you’re successful that law gets changed.  And sure enough, agents of the county HCA (Health Care Agency), DOING THEIR JOB, threatened Gourley with loss of his license if he continued this behavior.

Spoilsport Health Nazi, slapped down.

So NOW the two Trumpiest and most childlike of our five County Supervisors have jumped in to bash their own health agency, claiming Nomad’s is “complying with OC’s guidelines” which they passed (and we lampooned) last week.  Couple of problems there…

1. These are guidelines for businesses to follow WHEN BUSINESSES ARE RE-OPENED; businesses were not CLOSED by the County; they were closed by the STATE; and the County has NOT VOTED to re-open businesses, even if they COULD.  As even crazy Don and Michelle admit in last week’s release, these “recommendations follow the Orange County Health Care Agency and do not supersede any conflicting or more restrictive orders issued by local governments, the State of California, or the Federal Government.”

2. Guidelines?  It’s impossible NOT to “comply” with the guidelines the Supervisors released last week, as they are only GUIDELINES.  Every suggestion was couched in words like “should.”  Gourley didn’t need to make the customers and staff keep six feet distance, because the guidelines only said that they SHOULD.  So he didn’t, and he was still in compliance with “guidelines.”  He didn’t need to make his staff and customers wear face coverings, because the guidelines only said that they SHOULD.  So they didn’t, but still complied with “guidelines.”

I could … no, let’s make it YOU.  You could cover yourself in COVID blood and walk down PCH embracing strangers, you could french-kiss them even, and you would still be in compliance with OCBoS guidelines.  Or maybe I need to show you this again so you understand:

And why is it these two Rogue Supervisors again, releasing such crazy shit on their own?  What do Do, Bartlett, and Chaffee think about Steel and Wagner slapping down the Health Care Agency for doing their job, and for behaving as though the Board had voted to re-open OC businesses, which they never did?  Should be a colorful meeting tomorrow morning!

Sounds like the Governor and his cops are going to have to enforce the law down in San Clemente, because we lack any adult leadership here.  See you on the other side.

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at, or 714-235-VERN.