Newsom: Police And Firefighters Will Be Laid Off But We’ll Spend Millions To Enforce AB5

Gov. Gavin Newsom is leveraging the state’s $54.3 billion budget deficit. Give us what we want, he demands, or public safety programs will be cut.

At the same time, he wants $20 million to enforce Assembly Bill 5, maybe the most damaging piece of legislation that ever became law in California.

Appearing on CNN, Newsom said that if California doesn’t receive federal aid, “our heroes and first responders, our police officers and firefighters” will be the first to be “laid off by cities and counties.”

“The true heroes of this pandemic, our health care workers and nurses, those county health systems have been ravaged, their budgets have been devastated and depleted,” he said.

“They’re the first ones to be laid off.”

So we’re supposed to accept, says FrontPage Magazine’s Daniel Greenfield, that these “are the most expendable employees in California.”

“Not all the social justice and diversity personnel,” he continues. Nor “the vast useless corps of educational administrators.”

Further burdening California are 340,000 current and retired public employees enjoying yearly incomes of $100,000 or more. Total cost: $45 billion a year. One public school superintendent is taking down nearly $450,000 a year while at least three are making more than $350,000. Ten retired educators have pensions exceeding $300,000. Two retirees and two employees from the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts also have annual incomes of more than $300,000.

The federal aid Newsom is looking for would be allocated by the HEROES Act, a $3 trillion financial aid package for state and local governments approved by nine votes in the Democrat-dominated U.S. House. The Republican Senate won’t be as accommodating.

HEROES is a “political payoff” to House Speaker Pelosi’s constituents, Wyoming GOP Sen. John Barrasso said from the chamber floor, a “far-left fantasy,” and a rescue for “underwater blue state pension plans” that “will never become law.”

Because Sacramento is constitutionally bound to balance the budget, it’s obvious Newsom is counting on Washington. His revised budget would spend less than his January proposal, but the squeeze isn’t enough to close the $54 billion deficit. That gap will be bridged only with federal help.

While Newsom has decided California is a nation-state, it can’t print money like Washington does. So, the governor, who believes Congress and the president have a “moral and ethical obligation” to bail out states, is expecting to be saved by an outside source. He does not want an additional $14 billion in budget cuts to be automatically triggered if it doesn’t.

Officials are blaming the budget troubles on the pandemic, but City Journal’s Steven Malanga says “that’s clearly not true.” California’s creaky revenue system goes bust when the economy does, nevertheless it’s perpetually on a “spending spree,” which includes shelling out taxpayers’ dollars “to fix problems that the state’s own bad policies have worsened.” Though a $7 billion surplus was forecast for the current fiscal year before the pandemic, it’s foolish to think that more deficits aren’t coming.

“Even in a moderate downturn,” says Malanga, citing a Public Policy Institute of California study, there would be “revenue shortfalls averaging more than $22 billion a year for the next four years.”

Despite the budget straits, Newsom is still determined to spend $20 million to enforce AB5, the same amount he had set aside in his original budget proposal.

Money is fungible, and the funds could be better applied elsewhere. But even if the state sent those millions to local governments, they’d do little to stop first responder layoffs. The Los Angeles Fire Department alone collected more than $190 million in just overtime pay in fiscal 2018-2019.

But it’s still a misapplication of public funds and revealing of Sacramento’s mindset. Community needs can be used to negotiate the ransom terms of political extortion during a budget crisis, yet the provisions of a particularly destructive law, AB5, can not only not be temporarily suspended, they must be dutifully observed under the watch of the bureaucracy.

If only Newsom would use his executive authority to suspend the law at least until the economic storm has passed, the income earned by the independent contractors and freelancers whose work arrangements have been outlawed by AB5 would generate needed tax revenues, and they wouldn’t need unemployment or public assistance programs.

There’s no excuse for the governor to both block Californians from earning income and intentionally forgo a source of tax revenue, and to make it all worse by telling Washington to send money or public safety will be compromised.

This article was originally published by the Pacific Research Institute.

Bars, Gyms May Start To Reopen Soon

California officials said Friday that counties could begin reopening gyms, day camps, bars and some professional sports by as early as next Friday, but specifics remain unclear.

The state said it would release more detailed guidelines later. Officials stressed that such reopenings would be based on local conditions. Rural counties where COVID-19 has been less of a problem will likely be able to reopen much quicker.

“By far and away the most important thing is for county and local officials to use the state’s guidance and consider it in light of their own data, and their own trends,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of California Health and Human Services. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.

COVID-19 Pandemic, Climate Change, and Renewables

We are possibly witnessing the most destructive scientific fraud in the history of man via the COVID-19 pandemic while shutting down the U.S. economy. Hysteria has gone wild, destroying people’s lives. This level of “groupthink has drove unnecessary global shutdowns.” When the majority of U.S. deaths, and countries like Italy occur in nursing homes from the coronavirus it’s time to bring medical facts from physicians into this discussion.

One epidemiologist, Knut Wittkowski, has gone so far as to say: “we could open up again and forget the whole thing (COVID-19).” Stanford University School of Medicine professor, Dr. jay Bhattacharya, would likely agree with Dr. Wittkowski.

The death blow for ending U.S. and global lockdowns comes from the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC):

“The CDC has attempted to offer a real estimate of the overall death rate for COVID-19, and under its most likely scenario, the number is 0.26%. Officials estimate a 0.4% fatality rate among those who are symptomatic and project a 35% rate of asymptomatic cases among those infected, which drops the overall infection fatality rate (IFR) to just 0.26% — almost exactly where Stanford researchers pegged it a month ago.”

Seems Florida is the model for how to deal with this global contagion, and reopen economies. There are large issues that need to be dealt with immediately such as the U.S. and China on the brink of a new Cold War that triangulates India and Japan as the realist balancers in Asia. An Asian-based NATO could be in the offering with Japan, India, and the U.S. countering China in Asia.

What’s been fascinating during this shutdown are how COVID-19 models predicting millions of death (Governor Gavin Newsome of California said, “25 million Californians” could contract coronavirus and possibly die) are similar to climate models – both computer-generated model types have been consistently wrong.

Climate models also consistently overstate global warming by man (anthropogenic). But why? Easier to scare the world over warming or viral death than dealing with 1.4 billion Chinese who are an existential threat to the current global order led by the U.S. in place since World War II.

Consider global warming/climate change (GWCC): the earth’s climate is “rising at a microscopically slow pace.” NASA’s global temperature readings only go back to 1880, since that time frame the earth’s temperature went up 1.14 degrees Celsius. That averages out to an increase of 0.008 Celsius per year. Miniscule when prior geological periods were hotter, or cooler, and carbon dioxide was much higher.

Then climate models are clearly being shown to “project too much warming,” and climate modelers “have a vested self-interest in convincing people that climate modeling is accurate and worthy of continued funding.” If taxpayer monies dried up would climate modelers even care about GWCC? Same could be said of U.S. Governors, the World Health Organization, and interests wanting this shutdown to continue.

Renewables are finally being brought out into the global debate, and asked if they are worth more than natural gas or nuclear energy? Far-left filmmaker Michael Moore’s new documentary “Planet of the Humans” has “unmasked the power and money behind the renewables scam.”

Powerful film that has infuriated the global environmental movement, and revealed the devastating ecological impact emanating from wind turbines and solar panels. This clearly reveals the hypocrisy coming from men such as California coal-investing-billionaire – turned environmentalist Tom Steyer – who only cares about renewables to enrich his interests and investors.

The similarities to coronavirus shutdowns are eerily similar – state-sponsored shutdowns for political gain – similarly renewables need taxpayer subsidies to control electricity for the masses, albeit with “state-sponsored theft.” Theft of livelihoods, and theft of reliable and affordable electricity and energy when so far there have been no coronavirus spikes in places that have reopened in the U.S.

In that case, reopen the world, and U.S. economies with cheap and plentiful coal, or use emission-lowering, natural gas-fired power plants for electricity. But watch out for the “green de-development movement” that wants to prolong the coronavirus shutdown to push renewables, global warming facades, and socialism for greater government control. This movement parrots the untruthful media by saying air is cleaner now that economic activity has diminished via COVID-19 when that accusation is false – no, the air isn’t cleaner. Only natural gas usage has lowered emissions.

U.S. Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden wants to ban hydraulic fracturing (fracking) that would cost billions in lost tax revenues, economic activity, jobs, and increase the risk of global instability; since nothing in recent memory has changed U.S. foreign policy more than moving away from Middle East dictators for hydrocarbons. Literally, U.S. fracking has changed the world.

Renewables are likewise similar to coronavirus shutdowns for all the wrong reasons – both are killing the world. Wind turbines kill eagles, but energy companies produce life-saving products that fight coronavirus, and are an essential part of the post-COVID-19 recovery. Renewables destroy electrical supplies, adds zero value-add to electrical grids, and brings the highest electrical prices in the world whenever widely deployed.

Why would the world and particularly the U.S. (the arbitrator of global peace) ever use renewables (solar panels and wind turbines) for energy to electricity when they do not ever work as advertised? With the coronavirus still looming, a global depression a real possibility, and China on the hegemonic-march in Asia and globally, this isn’t the time to rely on unreliable coronavirus or climate change models for national security and health policies.

Moore’s documentary has exposed “’swindlers’ peddling misinformation and the environmental benefits of green energy.” Green energy hinders economic growth and recovery from COVID-19. With a looming great power competition taking place between China and the U.S. that should be based on principled realism, let’s do away with outdated efficacy models for renewables, man-made global warming, and COVID-19 estimates that have grossly overstated the death rates. Global peace, a return to normal, and prosperity are waiting for prudent, factual results.

California’s Debt Folly –Unnecessary spending on retiree health care is crushing the Golden State.

California has asked Washington for $14 billion in Covid-related support, in addition to the $8 billion already provided by the CARES Act. But because the state, with an annual General Fund of $150 billion, incurs more than $24 billion of annual expenses for pensions and other post-employment benefits (OPEB) — including post-employment subsidies for health insurance — a big chunk of the federal disbursement won’t go to schools, hospitals, or roads.

California’s pension problems are well known, but the OPEB crisis is almost as bad. California pays 100 percent of the health-insurance premiums for retired state employees and 90 percent of the premiums for retirees’ family members. As a result, the state incurs annual OPEB expenses of more than $7 billion. Because the state covers that cost with a combination of cash ($2.7 billion this year) and debt, California’s OPEB deficit is $85 billion, exceeding the amount of the state’s outstanding General Obligation Bonds, which—unlike OPEB debt—were approved by voters. OPEB subsidies for retired employees are not only gold-plated but also largely unnecessary, because California—alone among the states—offers its middle-class residents health-insurance subsidies on top of what they get from Washington. Under that program, individuals earning up to $75,000 per year, and families of four earning up to $150,000 per year, are entitled to support from Sacramento.

Retired state employees whom I know are embarrassed by their OPEB benefits. As early as age 50, they and their dependents get premium-free insurance and prescription-drug coverage; to pay for the largesse, the state diverts money from other programs. No other state offers such a rich OPEB program. Per resident, California incurs 60 times and 24 times the OPEB expense of Oregon and Colorado, respectively. Oregon caps its OPEB subsidies at $60 per month and eliminated the program for employees entering employment after 2003. Colorado caps its subsidies at $115 per month for retirees age 65 or older and $230 per month for retirees younger than age 65. California, again, pays for everything.

State government is not the only profligate OPEB spender in California. San Francisco incurs an annual OPEB expense of more than $400 million; the University of California, more than $1 billion. Eliminating OPEB at the Los Angeles Unified School District could provide teachers with $10,000 raises in annual compensation. Even during flush times, as recently as last year, OPEB payments forced layoffs at Sacramento’s public schools. These localities, and others throughout the Golden State, should follow the examples of the Ventura Unified School District, Stockton, and Glendale, which eliminated their OPEB programs to help preserve services for students and residents—and jobs for active employees.

Eliminating OPEB payouts would produce $2.5 billion in immediate cash savings and end the issuance of billions more in new debt every year, eliminating more than $80 billion of debt. The legislature has no justification for cutting other programs to preserve subsidies for retired state employees already protected by other health-insurance benefits. In good times, it’s absurd to divert money from public services to subsidies for special interests. In bad times, it’s unconscionable.

David Crane is president of Govern For California and Lecturer in Public Policy at Stanford University.

This article was originally published by City Journal Online.

U.S. Unemployment Rate Falls to 13.3%

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 13.3% in May from 14.7%, and 2.5 million jobs were added — a surprisingly positive reading in the midst of a recession that has paralyzed the economy in the wake of the viral pandemic.

The May job gain suggests that businesses have quickly been recalling workers as states have reopened their economies.

Other evidence has also shown that the job market meltdown triggered by the coronavirus has bottomed out. The number of people applying for unemployment benefits has declined for nine straight weeks. And the total number of people receiving such aid has essentially leveled off.

The overall job cuts have widened economic disparities that have disproportionately hurt minorities and lower-educated workers. Though the unemployment rate for white Americans was 12.4% May, it was 17.6% for Hispanics and 16.8% for African-Americans. …

Click here to read the full article from the Orange County Register.

California lawmakers agree to close $54.3 billion budget gap

California’s Legislative leaders on Wednesday rejected billions of dollars in budget cuts to public schools and health care services that Gov. Gavin Newsom had proposed, setting up a fight with the governor over how to close the state’s estimated $54.3 billion budget deficit.

Flush with cash just six months ago, California’s revenues have plummeted since March after Newsom ordered everyone to stay home to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Since then, more than 5 million people have filed for unemployment benefits.

Newsom, a Democrat, and the state’s Democratic-dominated Legislature have pleaded with Congress to send the state more money to help cover that shortfall — so far without success. Last month, Newsom proposed a new spending plan that would cut billions from public schools and eliminate some health benefits for people unless Congress sent the state more money by July 1. …

Click here to read the full article from the Associated Press.

Mayor to seek budget cuts in LAPD

When Los Angeles was plunged into a budget crisis earlier this year, progressive activists demanded that the City Council slash spending at the Police Department, saying it’s wrong to boost funding for officers while cutting other urgently needed services.

The debate over police spending at City Hall has only intensified after several days of protests against police brutality, the LAPD’s response to those demonstrations and the looting that sometimes followed.

Activists with Black Lives Matter, Ground Game LA and other grassroots groups say incidents in recent days where officers have used aggressive tactics including projectiles and batons only reinforce the need to defund the LAPD. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.

California is Ready to Get Rid of Newsom

Across California on May 1, tens of thousands protested in defiance of the lockdown orders. In Sacramento, the west lawn of the state capitol building was filled with protesters, with thousands more marching along the sidewalk surrounding the capitol grounds. Additional thousands driving their cars and honking their horns created three hours of total gridlock on the streets that looped around the capitol. Noteworthy protests have occurred in San DiegoEncinitasLaguna BeachHuntington BeachPaso RoblesSanta Rosa, and even tiny Lakeport on the shores of Clear Lake. There is no end in sight.

While the media has typecast these growing protests as populated by right-wing extremists, Trump supporters, and remnants of a geriatric Tea Party movement, the reality in California is different.

In Laguna Beach, the protest was organized by surfers. Overall, these protests included people who claimed they have never been involved in politics, people who identified themselves as former Democrats, and young people. Thousands and thousands of youth; children, teenagers, college students, twenty-somethings. A generation is waking up.

And among the constituencies outraged by the shutdown are not only people who can’t work, or people who can’t run their businesses, or free speech advocates, defenders of the 2nd amendment, and anti-vaccine activists, but also devout Christians.

As perhaps the biggest and most politically neglected constituency in California, in poking Christians, Newsom may have poked a sleeping giant one time too many. An inflection point will be reached this month, as growing numbers of pastors in California and across the nation have declared they will open their churches to congregants.

Of course the question boils down to this: is this health emergency sufficiently dire to merit an ongoing lockdown that has turned the entire nation into a minimum security prison? And unfortunately, there isn’t much information available to Americans that doesn’t come with an agenda.

Why have the data on death rates been skewed upwards? Why have the social media and search monopolies suppressed contrarian information, such as the possible efficacy of hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin and zinc? Why can’t general practitioners prescribe these drugs, or try other promising therapies, before the disease becomes life threatening?

Questions are endless and urgent. Is there enough focus on therapies, along with trying to develop a vaccine? Why, at a time like this, has the media attacked every move by the president, while defending every move by Democrats? Why is the media defending the fascist regime of China? Why didn’t Americans try the Swedish approach, encouraging social distancing and prioritizing resources to protect the most vulnerable? Why does the United States stand on the brink of economic suicide, when maybe, just maybe, other tactics could have managed the pandemic without destroying the economy?

It isn’t unreasonable to ask these questions, and when the answers are unsatisfactory, anger grows.

Newsom’s Record Invites Criticism

It’s also not unreasonable to take issue with Newsom’s performance as governor before this crisis began.

Apart from doing whatever the public employee unions and his left-wing billionaire donors tell him to do, he really hasn’t pleased anyone. If you work as an independent contractor, Governor Newsom put you out of a job by signing AB 5. This draconian and poorly conceived law, written for the state legislature by the unions, requires companies to hire independent contractors as employees. Instead, and in an instant, most of them lost their jobs.

How does that work, if you’re a “non-essential” writer, musician, or artist, or, more to the point, an “essential” nurse, caregiver, or truck driver? Essential or non-essential, workers need to work. With one signature, Newsom robbed millions of Californians of that right. Before the pandemic hit.

And then there’s California’s 150,000 homeless, seeded with tens of thousands of criminals granted early release to relieve overcrowding, or released because in California drug and theft crimes now carry less punishment than traffic tickets.

These homeless, some of them merely down on their luck, others hardened predators, have turned California’s streets and sidewalks into a public toilet, with many of them stealing to support their drug habits, and none of them held remotely accountable for their behavior. They could have been rounded up and treated, overnight. The national guard could move them onto public land and help them recover. Because among other things, the homeless constituted a health emergency. Before the pandemic hit.

So why is it Governor Newsom could lock up nearly 40 million residents of his state, at the same time as he lets the homeless consolidate their control of entire cities? Could it be the homeless are a useful political tool? Never mind that Democratic policies created unaffordable housing, decriminalized petty theft and hard drugs, and emptied the jails.

Now the Democrat allies in the media and the well heeled nonprofits can point their cameras at these squalid “urban refugees” and scream “social injustice.” Taxes must be raised. Bureaucrats must be hired. Massive borrowing must be approved for affordable housing bonds. And developers make tens of billions, building a handful of palaces for a lucky few, solving nothing, at an average cost to the taxpayer of $500,000 per unit.

One of Newsom’s Democratic cronies, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, presides over a city council that is considering using federal bailout money to buy up homes where landlords have been prohibited from evicting tenants.

Let that sink in. Instead of using federal bailout money to help tenants pay rent, the Los Angeles city council is poised to wait till the small landlords go belly up so they can buy their live-in duplexes and triplexes out of foreclosure, evict them, and fill those homes with homeless people. Eventually their developer friends will consolidate the properties and demolish them to build high rises. You can’t make this stuff up.

Newsom can blame the pandemic for the imploding revenues that doom his state to budget deficits that will make the great recession look like a picnic, but voters will see right through that.

Did Gavin Newsom ever stand up to the teachers unions, and tell them they’ll never get another dime until they agree to reform CalSTRS, the teachers’ pension fund? No, but he let these unions successfully advocate for curricula that, among other things, “challenges binary concepts about gender” in third grade.

Did Gavin Newsom ever put forward a pension reform measure to save CalPERS, the largest public employee pension fund in the world, along with CalSTRS and dozens of other pension systems catering to California’s public employees? No. Everybody knew these pension funds were bankrupting California’s cities and counties and state agencies before the pandemic hit.

With a record like that, you’d think Governor Newsom would realize he was on thin ice. But how did he cope with the pandemic? He became King Newsom, issuing executive orders without consulting the legislature. He even spent $1.0 billion of taxpayer money to buy masks from a Chinese company, and the public still doesn’t have the details of that transaction.

Newsom’s Coronavirus “task force” is led by billionaire Tom Steyer, who when he isn’t paying for Democrat ballot harvesting, wants to save the planet by forcing Californians to live in small apartments and ride trains everywhere. Joining Steyer on Newsom’s dream team are dozens of other grandees, including none other than the disgraced Gray Davis, who may take comfort in knowing he may not be the only California governor to be recalled much longer.

A few months ago a rag tag team of volunteers, with no money and little previous experience in politics, gathered nearly 300,000 valid signatures in a failed attempt to recall Gavin Newsom. While this wasn’t even close to the just over 1.0 million signatures they needed, this is nonetheless an unprecedented accomplishment. They learned a lot, and now they’re trying again, this time with the ability to ride the momentum of an awakened electorate.

Have you lost your business? Have you lost your job? Do you think it was worth it, or do you think things could have been handled differently?

Gavin Newsom has a lot of explaining to do. But it may well be too little, too late to save his political career.

This article originally appeared on the website American Greatness.

California will mail ballots to all voters

Citing public health concerns over millions of Californians showing up at voting locations this fall, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday ordered ballots to be mailed to the state’s 20.6 million voters for the November election while insisting there will need to also be new rules for anyone who participates in person.

The decision makes California the first state in the nation to temporarily shift to all-mail voting as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic — prompted, Newsom said, by the likelihood that public health conditions will not have improved to a level at which millions of people could show up on a single day to cast a ballot.

“There’s a lot of excitement around this November’s election in terms of making sure that you can conduct yourself in a safe way, and make sure your health is protected,” Newsom said during a midday event. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.

Grassroots Infrastructure for Initiatives and Recalls is Growing in California

Earlier this month the effort to recall Gavin Newsom was officially ended. As reported in the Times of San Diego on March 17, “Last week, the California Secretary of State’s Office informed Erin Cruz of Palm Springs that her petition effort to oust the Democratic governor had failed.

A year earlier, an initiative to repeal California’s gas tax made it onto the ballot, only to be defeated in the general election of November 2018. These represent two significant failures on the part of populist conservative reformers in California. But the story of these two failed attempts at change should not dishearten activists.

The ability for underfunded, technologically savvy groups of activists to use the initiative and referendum process to attempt fundamental change in California is a mega-trend that has just begun. It represents an existential threat to California’s ruling establishment. Without major donors, without support from political parties or the media, a movement has formed that does not yet realize its power.

The Recall Gavin petition drive was launched by author and current congressional candidate Erin Cruz and a core group of committed activists. Within 150 days they had to attempt to gather a daunting 1,495,709 signatures. They ended up collecting a gross total of 352,271 signed petitions, of which 281,917 were verified and valid. This may not have been nearly enough to put a recall onto a statewide ballot, but it is nonetheless an astonishing and record-setting achievement, because they did this with nothing. No significant donations. No professional signature gatherers.

The Gas Tax Repeal in 2018, launched by Carl DeMaio, was a hybrid effort, enlisting the support of volunteers as well as hiring professional signature gatherers. But DeMaio’s pioneering tactics, which utilized volunteers not only to gather signatures but also to verify signed petitions, permitted his organization to negotiate nonexclusive arrangements with professional signature gathering firms, and ultimately brought the total cost to qualify the initiative down to a fraction of what a conventional effort would have cost.

Grassroots Initiatives Enabled by Technology Are the Future

Change in California is not coming from the state legislators, who are controlled by the overwhelming power of public sector unions in an alliance with left-leaning billionaires and compliant corporations. Apart from the unlikely entrance of a maverick billionaire into the fray, cases where California’s business sector fights this alliance are rare. While private sector interests do have some fight left in them – the upcoming campaign against the split-roll initiative and the effort to repeal portions of AB 5 are examples – for the most part the fights they choose are defensive, and the strategy they prefer is compromise and tactical retreat.

What California’s state legislators and elite power structure have not reckoned on, however, is the growing potential for activists, linked together and coordinated using online resources, to put transformative initiatives, referendums and recalls onto the state ballot. There are millions of Californians who feel completely disenfranchised by California’s political establishment who can now be mobilized using online assets. Compared to past election cycles, the cost today to do this is negligible.

Organizations that worked on the Newsom Recall and the Gas Tax Repeal remain active, and are launching new campaigns. Erin Cruz’s Restoring America Now Action Fund is actively moving towards circulating a petition to recall Xavier Becerra, and has announced plans to launch additional recalls of top state elected officials. Orrin Heatlie, a retired law enforcement officer who was involved with Cruz on the first Recall Gavin effort, has launched the California Patriot Coalition and is on the verge of circulating a 2nd petition attempting to recall Newsom. Carl DeMaio’s Reform California organization remains active and could become involved in new initiative efforts.

Overcoming Obstacles to Establishing Grassroots Power

The technology to allow registered voters to download, print, sign, circulate, and even verify signatures is already present. Even ten years ago, such a comprehensive set of online assets would not have been feasible, but a lot has changed in a decade. Today, virtually everyone, including senior citizens, are online and know how to navigate a browser to download and print a document. Today it is possible – at zero cost – to shoot an instructional video with a smart phone, then upload it so anyone can watch it. Today, social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are used by tens of millions of Californians, making it possible for powerful groups to form virtually overnight and, and at no cost, get directed to websites that will assist them to download, print and sign ballot petitions.

An example of the power of social media can be found in the latest recall Newsom effort led by Orrin Heatlie, who has created Facebook groups dedicated to the recall in every county in California. Anyone interested in trying again to recall the governor can go into Facebook, search on the term “Recall Gavin 2020,” and the main page will come up. Members can then be directed to the site for their particular county. Tens of thousands of Californians have already joined these Facebook groups.

It is easy to overstate the difficulties of doing something as radical as putting a half dozen or more initiatives onto California’s state ballot by November 2022. But while the professional consultants who advise activists to only try for one or two initiatives are not necessarily right, there is a limit. How many petitions shall a volunteer circulator be asked to carry? How many petitions shall a supporter be asked to download, print and sign? It is safe to say that fewer than three would be too few, but more than ten would almost certainly be too many. A consensus must form around roughly a half-dozen measures, and that won’t be easy.

One obstacle, if the goal is not only to make the ballot, but to win, is to avoid initiatives that are divisive to the voters. That is not to suggest avoiding initiatives that will trigger fierce institutional opposition. An initiative to reform union work rules, as attempted by the Vergara case which lost on a technicality, would arouse the full resources of the teachers union in opposition. That’s fine. But avoid initiatives that split California’s electorate into two bitterly opposed camps. We all know what those are. Steer clear of them. And that, too, will not be easy, because often the most committed and effective activists are those who care about one and only one issue. Their support is required. They must be respected and convinced to be part of a broader movement.

Another obstacle, perhaps the biggest, is to avoid diluting efforts. Across the state, there are groups of potential volunteers that want to be part of something big and are ready to support it with their individual donations and volunteer time. But which something? Will it be the recall Becerra effort, or the 2nd recall Newsom effort? And as the calendar winds its way into the 2022 election cycle, with several attractive reform initiatives being circulated, which one will they support?

The solution here is also not easy, but it is necessary. The grassroots, statewide groups of volunteers that intend to circulate reform initiatives will have to cooperate with each other. There are a few levels of cooperation, and the higher the level of cooperation that can be achieved, the better. Here are some ideas:

Ways Statewide Reform Initiative Organizations Can Cooperate

1 – At the very least, statewide groups cannot put out competing initiatives that both accomplish the same goal. During the recent Newsom recall effort, not only was Erin Cruz’s group circulating a petition, but another group led by James Veltmeyer also had a recall petition approved for circulation. Although Veltmeyer’s effort never acquired momentum, it created confusion among potential supporters. In a different set of circumstances in the future, duplicate petitions might destroy the chances of either to succeed.

2 – The next level of cooperation would be for the various county organizations that are set up to receive and verify signed petitions to cooperate with each other. This could be via an agreement between the statewide groups sponsoring them. For example, Orrin Heatlie’s California Patriot Coalition already has active networks in every county. DeMaio’s network of county organizations can presumably be activated at any time. Erin Cruz has announced the intention to mobilize organizations at the county level in the near future. What these statewide groups can do, along with not launching duplicate petitions, is to promise to forward signed petitions that one county group receives by mistake, to the correct county group. If that is impractical, then they can exchange with each other a single statewide address, and agree to forward petitions to the correct statewide group. This will prevent any petitions being lost.

3 – The ultimate level of cooperation would be for the statewide groups to share the resources of their county volunteer organizations. This could work on a county by county basis. But if, in a particular county, the volunteers for one statewide initiative effort have a backlog of thousands of signed petitions they need to verify, and in that same county, another statewide initiative effort has over-capacity because they have more volunteers available than petitions requiring verification, they could assist the other group. This would reassure volunteers that they aren’t in the wrong place. It would let them know that regardless of which organization they support, they will still be part of a unified effort to transform California.

Another way to cooperate would be to share online code. While the websites and databases necessary to run these efforts have already largely been built, each organization has online strengths and weaknesses. Sharing best practices would go a long way towards shortening the learning curve, and could spell the difference between success or failure for some efforts.

To coordinate a cooperative effort, the California State GOP could get involved, once their focus on November 2020 is behind them. But grassroots reform can occur with or without the CAGOP. In some respects, if the groups pushing these initiatives avoid extreme propositions that divide the electorate, it might be better for them to remain totally nonpartisan. Reforming public education, restoring law and order, rewriting CEQA for the 21st century, financing new water and transportation infrastructure, and saving the pension funds are not partisan issues, nor are they extreme. They are populist issues with broad support from Californians of all types.

Technology and populism can align to allow ordinary Californians to fix their broken state. California is ripe for a fundamental political realignment, and for the first time, California’s grassroots voters can take matters into their own hands.

This article originally appeared on the website California Globe.