The Issue Is: California AG nominee Rob Bonta and sports columnist Bill Plaschke

It’s been another busy week in California.

As counties across the state continue to ease restrictions, it was announced that by April 15 all adults over the age of 16 will be eligible for a coronavirus vaccine.

That hopeful news comes as leaders and activists across the state rallied against a rise in hate crimes against the Asian American community.

Someone who hopes to address that spike is State Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Alameda), who this week was nominated by Governor Gavin Newsom to serve as the state’s next Attorney General.

To discuss these issues and more, Elex Michaelson is joined on The Issue Is by Bonta himself, in his first TV interview since being nominated for Attorney General, as well as Los Angeles Times Sports Columnist Bill Plaschke.



BACKGROUND: With his nomination to the position of California Attorney General, State Assemblyman Rob Bonta is poised to become the first Filipino to hold the title. That potentially history-making appointment comes at a time when hate crimes against Asian Americans are on the rise, new data revealing that between 2019 and 2020, while hate crimes in general fell by 7%, the number of hate crimes against Asian Americans rose 150%, from 49 incidents to 122.

BONTA’S CENTRAL TAKE: "The Asian American community, and I know this from lived experience, from personal experience, as a member of the API community, is in a state of crisis right now, it’s a full-on state of emergency… we had once the individuals spat on and yelled at, later pushed down and punched in the face and assaulted, and now being murdered. And so it is really important for the people’s attorney, the chief law officer of the state of California, to see and value our API community, and to care, and also to take action…"



BACKGROUND: When Assemblyman Rob Bonta was nominated this week to serve as California’s next Attorney General, by his side was his mother. Bonta’s mother was a missionary in the Philippines when President Marcos declared martial law. After the Bonta family settled in California, Bonta’s parents spent years working alongside Dolores Huerta, Cesar Chavez, and the United Farmworkers of America.

BONTA’S CENTRAL TAKE: "She said to me what she says to me so often, that she loves me and that she’s proud of me, and that has been a fuel for me, and an anchor, and a foundation of support for so long… She was a lawful, permanent resident in this country for decades, until 2010, when I had my first competitive election for City Council in my hometown of Alameda, and she became a citizen so she could vote for me. So my mom has been my biggest supporter, and my biggest inspiration, for as long as I can remember."



BACKGROUND: When the new Major League Baseball season kicks off on April 1, fans in California will be able to attend games in-person for the first time since 2019. Earlier this month, as the Golden State experienced lower infection and higher vaccination rates, it was announced that outdoor stadiums would be allowed to open, at decreased capacity, for California residents only. While The San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Angels, and Oakland A’s will all open their season at home on April 1, the San Francisco Giants and the World Series Champion Dodgers won’t play at home until April 9.

PLASCHKE’S CENTRAL TAKE: "It’s huge for our city… Last year, the world, when Kobe Bryant passed, the world saw us grieve, and then, in the ensuing twelve months, nobody heard us cheer… we couldn’t share in the joy, we won two championships last year, in a 16 day span, and we missed it. The fans missed it. LA missed it. There was no "I Love LA," there was no seventh-inning stretch, there was no parade, there was no standing ovation, there was no hugs of the guy sitting behind you, or spilling beer on the woman in front of you. There was none of that. Sports, at its best, is a shared experience… There’s only going to be 11,000 people [at Dodger Stadium], but the roar will be unbelievable, the atmosphere will be incredible… This is a city of champions, and it was a city of silence, and we’re finally getting our voice back."



BACKGROUND: This week, Earvin "Magic" Johnson, the legendary Lakers point guard, and co-owner of the Dodgers, joined Mayor Eric Garcetti, comedian Aresnio Hall, and actor Danny Trejo, to encourage residents of South LA to receive their COVID-19 vaccines. The effort, which involved the trio of celebrities receiving their first doses on-camera, comes as the state announced plans to expand vaccine eligibility to all adults over the age of 16 on April 15. 

PLASCHKE’S CENTRAL TAKE: "Oh, it’s huge, because the same way that athletes have taken stands on other political issues, people look up to them… People need to see that these are the strongest and most fit among us, and that they’re willing to get their vaccine. It’s so important to get the vaccine. It’s also important, I think, to get fans back in the stands. I think, just because the gates are open, doesn’t mean that every fan feels safe going back in there, and would you feel safe sitting court-side at an NBA game if a player wasn’t vaccinated? I’m not so sure of that . So I think, for a lot of reasons, the athletes need to do it…"


The Issue Is: with Elex Michaelson is California's only statewide political show. For showtimes and more information, go to

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