California Is Clueless About Homelessness

“More money, more problems” might as well be the slogan for how San Francisco and Los Angeles approach homelessness.

Voters in both cities recently approved billions of dollars in new spending for supportive housing and services for homeless residents. Although the intentions are good and the resources are there, projects in both cities have suffered from major delays and cost overruns. Meanwhile, their homeless populations continue to grow.

San Francisco’s “safe sleeping” open-air tent encampments were supposed to get homeless people out of crowded, dangerous indoor shelters while still providing them with meals, showers, security, and social services. The funding for these sites came from Proposition C, a 2018 ballot initiative that imposed the largest tax increase in San Francisco’s history, raising $300 million for homelessness services.

The initiative won at the ballot box with 60 percent of the vote, even though most of the city’s political leaders came out against it. They argued that the tax hike was excessive and that the plan for spending all that money was vague and lacked accountability.

Those warnings proved prescient. Under Proposition C, the city is spending around $61,000 annually on each “safe sleeping” occupant, or $5,083 per month. By comparison, the median monthly rent for an apartment in San Francisco is $2,913.

In contrast with Proposition C, Proposition HHH, which Los Angeles voters approved in 2016, had the enthusiastic backing of Mayor Eric Garcetti, who saw it as the cornerstone of his plan to turn back a rising tide of homelessness. The $1.2 billion bond initiative included a much clearer spending plan and required that the city controller release an annual audit of its progress. It was supposed to build 10,000 new units of affordable and supportive housing over 10 years.

The city controller’s reports have shown that Los Angeles can spend homelessness dollars about as effectively as San Francisco. Five years after Proposition HHH’s passage, the city had managed to build only about 700 of the 10,000 promised units. In a recent ruling, U.S. District Court Judge David Carter said the city’s “inaction” on homelessness likely violates the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.

Both cities struggle with restrictive land use regulations that raise the costs and completion times of housing projects. Those rules have blocked private development and pushed rent prices up. The same red tape is now tripping up city officials who are trying to build shelter for the homeless.

This article was originally published by

California Desperate for Fossil Fuel to Keep the Lights On

The state that says it will be fully powered by renewables by 2045 has asked the federal government to find an electric reliability emergency which “requires intervention … to preserve the reliability of bulk electric power” in California. Following the request, the state’s grid operator issued two straight days of flex alerts, asking for voluntary energy conservation.

In a letter to U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm dated Sept. 7, the Independent System Operator requested and received an emergency order that would allow it “to dispatch additional generation that may be necessary for the CAISO to meet demand in the face of extremely challenging conditions including extreme heatwaves, multiple fires, high winds, and various grid issues.”

Grid Managers Ask for Natural Gas to Avoid Blackouts

Did CAISO ask for an additional 200 megawatts of power, enough to light 200,000 homes, from windmills? Or solar panels? No, it needed electricity from natural gas.

Yes, that natural gas. The source that policymakers across California are determined to eliminate from the state’s energy portfolio.

California’s recurring energy problems don’t inspire confidence that it will actually meet the 2045 renewables-only goal.

Last year the state was hit with rolling blackouts for the first time in nearly two decades. This year, at least a half dozen flex alerts encouraging customers to “set thermostats to 78 degrees or higher,” “avoid using major appliances, like dishwashers and clothes washers and dryers,” and “turn off all unnecessary lights” have been issued. How can officials expect to meet electricity demand in 2045, which will be in an era of significantly higher consumption, if demand is straining the grid in 2021?

Related Story: Opinion: Here Comes Drought Again, Why Is California Never Ready?

California Imports 33% of Power

It’s almost a certainty that California will have to buy electricity from other states in 2045 and beyond. It already imports a third of its power; more than any other state. While much of what is imported from the Northwest is generated by renewables, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, imports from Arizona, Baja California, Colorado, Mexico, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah include “natural gas, nuclear energy, coal, or other, unspecified, resources,” as well as renewables.

“About 10% of California’s total electricity imports are from coal-fired power plants,” says the EIA, though essentially all of the state’s “imports of coal-fired generation are projected to end by 2026.”

We’ll see. Again, if California is having trouble with its current lineup of power sources, how will it meet increased demand in a short five years unless it relies on cheap, reliable fossil fuels?

Though “no one knows for sure how much solar and wind will be needed, or if it will be there, because of technological constraints and the variable and intermittent nature of solar and land-use requirements,” says Todd Royal, co-author of three books on energy, to be fully renewable as planned by 2045, output from those sources will have to not only be doubled or even tripled but likely more than quadrupled.

Including geothermal, roughly 38% of California’s in-state-generated electricity was produced by renewable sources last year. But we can exclude large hydroelectric power (9.4% of the renewables portfolio) from the future, because it will not be welcomed in the mix. That will leave solar (currently a little more than 13%) and wind (about 11%) to carry the bulk of in-state generation.

That’s no easy hill to climb. The California Energy Commission admits that achieving “clean electricity generation capacity” will require “a record-breaking rate” of development “for the next 25 years.” The renewables crusade will also need to overcome NIMBYs, who have banded together to stop and delay wind and solar projects worldwide.

Don’t Be Surprised if Utility Rates Double or Triple

And there’s the grid itself, which has neither the “capability nor capacity to add large amounts of renewables,” says Royal. Because California’s is already “one of America’s least-reliable electric grids,” according to energy writer Robert Bryce, “restricting the use of natural gas” means it will inevitably be subject to an increased demand for electricity, which will undermine its already shaky reliability. The clean energy transition will simply have to wait “until brand new grids are built,” says Royal.

Whether the transition goes as planned, or stalls as some expect, the process will be painful. “Rapid reductions in natural gas consumption,” says Bryce, “could cause rates to double or triple.”

One wonders how much the green zealots care about that, if they even care at all.

Kerry Jackson is a fellow with the Center for California Reform at the Pacific Research Institute. He wrote this exclusively for GV Wire.

This article was originally published by the Pacific Research Institute.

California’s War on Bacon Has Tempers Sizzling in Farming States

Photo by Wright Brand Bacon on Unsplash

From the first state in the nation to offer prison inmates an all-vegan menu, California voters passed a ballot measure in 2018 mandating more living space for veal calves, cows and pigs, and banned the confinement of egg-laying hens in cages.

Proposition 12, the Farm Animal Confinement Initiative, also set up a ban on the sale of these agricultural products in California that don’t meet the new requirements, attempting to influence how farmers in other states raise their animals.

That’s so California.

The Golden State has banned Fois Gras, sharkfin soup, plastic straws, “junk food” in schools, micro-beads in cosmetics, plastic grocery bags, Trans-fats, and now bacon? California even imposed a ban on fur products.

The rest of the country does not appreciate California’s nanny regulations as they reverberate across the land.

According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, there are two deadlines in Proposition 12:

  • The first requires egg-laying hens to be housed with a minimum of 144 square inches per hen and calves raised for veal housed with a minimum of forty-three square feet per calf by January 1, 2020.
  • The second deadline goes into effect January 1, 2022 for egg-laying hens to be housed cage-free and breeding pigs raised with twenty-four square feet per pig.

So January 1st California will begin enforcing Prop. 12 that requires this extra space for breeding pigs, egg-laying chickens and veal calves. “National veal and egg producers are optimistic they can meet the new standards, but only 4% of hog operations now comply with the new rules,” USA Today reported. “Unless the courts intervene or the state temporarily allows non-compliant meat to be sold in the state, California will lose almost all of its pork supply, much of which comes from Iowa.”

“America’s farmers and livestock producers have had enough of left-wing states like California imposing their radically clueless ideas on them and they’re taking their fight to Congress,” PJ Media reported.

They explain how:

“Senators Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-Kan.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), John Cornyn (R-Texas), and Cindy Hyde-Smith, (R-Miss.) were motivated to introduce new legislation called the Exposing Agricultural Trade Suppression Act (EATS Act) in order to counter California’s Proposition 12 (Prop 12).”

Protect the Harvest reports the congressional legislation was ‘introduced in the U.S. Senate aimed at preventing states and local governments from interfering with agricultural interstate commerce.’ The EATS Act protects agricultural producers across the country from acts like California’s Prop 12, which requires livestock producers outside of California to conform to animal housing and other standards set by radical animal rights activists under the guise of ‘public health.’”

“It shouldn’t be up to California to tell other states how they should be producing their agricultural products,” Grassley told WNAX in an interview. “California is not only being unfair to its own consumers but to producers in other states and is likely violating the U.S. Constitution with Proposition 12.”

Yahoo reported in July that bacon may actually disappear in California because pork farmers can’t retool farms very easily to provide more space for hogs.

With Californians consuming more than 15% of all pork produced in the U.S., the “ban” could drive the cost of pork way up.

“It’s no surprise other states don’t like being forced to adhere to California’s left-wing laws,” PJ Media reported. “Mississippians don’t like the idea of liberal states like California imposing their radical ideas on us or dictating how our farmers and ranchers do their jobs,” said Hyde-Smith, who serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee. “I’m sure that’s the case from coast to coast.”

This latest ban clearly is not endearing Californians to the rest of the country. One commenter said, “Enjoy your Beggin Strips!” Another commenter went even further: “Enjoy your Beyond Meat fake bacon with cat-food ingredients.”

Katy Grimes, the Editor of the California Globe, is a long-time Investigative Journalist covering the California State Capitol, and the co-author of California’s War Against Donald Trump: Who Wins? Who Loses?

This article was originally published by the California Globe.

San Francisco Will Provide Monthly Stipends To Discourage Gun Violence.

San Francisco has a new plan to stem a recent surge in deadly shootings: pay potential shooters. That’s the principle behind the city’s new Dream Keeper Fellowship, which will enroll 30 individuals deemed at high risk of shooting or being shot and pay them a $300 monthly stipend. They can collect an additional $200 per month for completing such milestones as taking job interviews, complying with probation, or meeting with the life coach assigned to them.

The program has a certain logic. Crime is a highly concentrated phenomenon: in San Francisco, police analysis has found that just 12 criminal gangs are the major drivers of shootings. If incentives work, then paying people not to shoot could conceivably drive down crime.

But evidence is far from conclusive that such programs work. Research conducted on a similar program in neighboring Richmond claimed to find large effects on violence. But it did so using a “synthetic control,” in effect combining data from jurisdictions similar to Richmond to create a “synthetic” comparison city. That method entailed comparing the crime statistics of large areas in order to discern the effect of a program on just 30 people, suggesting that any finding was likely just statistical noise. And it produced the counterintuitive finding that Richmond’s fellowship pushed non-firearm violence up—a sign that the program didn’t actually cause the positive result on firearms.

In general, programs like San Francisco’s resemble “focused deterrence” methods, in which high-risk individuals meet with police and community stakeholders and are offered ways out of violence, but are told to stop engaging in it or face serious consequences. Some experts are skeptical that focused deterrence is well-supported by evidence, and San Francisco’s approach lacks a stick to complement its carrot. Moreover, focused deterrence and similar fellowships usually tie payouts to completion of explicit goals. San Francisco’s offers an unconditional cash transfer—a payment with no strings attached.

Even if San Francisco’s approach does work, we should be clear about what city officials are proposing to do: use limited public funds to pay thousands of dollars a year to those considered likely perpetrators of violence in their city—a group which likely includes some of San Francisco’s most violent felons. Sheryl Davis, executive director of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, told the San Francisco Examiner that $6,000 a year is a far better deal financially compared with the cost of incarcerating these individuals. Such arguments invoke what writer Helen Andrews once called “bloodless moralism”: an insistence that “moral questions are . . . merely empirical,” paired with an unwillingness to make “moral claims on moral grounds.” If we can pay people not to shoot each other, Davis seems to say, isn’t that more cost-effective than incarceration?

Regardless, we shouldn’t pay people specifically for their willingness to refrain from deadly violence—any more than we should pay them for not selling drugs or abusing their children. San Franciscans should be up in arms: public dollars that could be spent on their schools or roads or to clean up the city’s piles of trash are being handed out instead as a form of protection money.

Charles Fain Lehman is a fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal.

This article was originally published by City Journal Online.

Protect The Recall Power From Politicians

It is the richest of ironies that those who identify as progressives today bear no resemblance to the true progressives of the early 1900s, including California Gov. Hiram Johnson. In fact, so-called “progressives” today seek to tear down Johnson’s legacy of clean government and fighting special interests. This includes efforts to weaken the powers of direct democracy, which Johnson recognized as an indispensable tool to bypass an indolent, unresponsive, and corrupt political system.

The latest assault on direct democracy is brought to us by Assemblyman Marc Berman, D-Silicon Valley, and Senator Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, who are upset that California citizens launched a recall against Gov. Gavin Newsom. The fact that the recall failed — which one would assume would satisfy Newsom’s allies — is of little consequence to these politicians.

Berman and Glazer would be well-served by leaving their offices in the Capitol for an hour or two and wandering over to the California Museum to see the exhibit on Newsom’s predecessor by more than a century. This is what they would learn about Gov. Hiram Johnson: “Whether serving as an attorney, a California governor, or a United States senator, Hiram Warren Johnson placed principles solidly above politics. His progressive vision of a better society became the stepping-off point for California’s journey through the 20th century.”

Hiram Johnson’s biography includes the fact that in his first case as a prosecutor he secured a conviction in a prominent graft and bribery case, which established him as an anti-corruption champion. Less than two years after becoming the leader of the Progressive movement, he was elected governor in 1910 promising to confront special interests — especially the all-powerful railroads — and return political power back to the people. These progressive reforms led to a major revision of the state’s constitution in 1911.

To read the entire column, please click here.

Green Myopia Hindering California’s Efforts To Control Wildfires

If it’s Tuesday, or Wednesday, or any other day of the week, and there’s a fire gone wild, threatening someone’s home or business, then this must be California.

Other states have wildfires, of course, but no one in the Midwest or New England wonders what in the world is going on in Washington or Oregon or struggles to understand why those states can’t do a better job of controlling wildfires. Many in California don’t understand what’s going on, either.

More acreage burned in California this year than over the same period in 2020. The Dixie Fire alone has destroyed 920,000 acres, an area about as large as Rhode Island. Only one other California fire has been bigger: 2020’s August Complex fire. The Caldor Fire, second-largest this year and 15th-largest in state history, is a direct threat to the Lake Tahoe basin. All told, more than 2 million acres have been lost.

Blame misplaced priorities. As state policymakers chase the latest green-energy scheme, aging utility equipment, responsible for at least 40 percent of the most destructive wildfires in California history, goes unrepaired. And the resulting fires undermine California’s climate-change policies, says Daniel Kolkey, author of a chapter in the Pacific Research Institute’s new book Saving California.

“Devastating fires not only reduce the role that California’s forests play as a ‘sink’ to sequester carbon emissions from the atmosphere, but they also neutralize the benefits of the state’s carbon emission reductions,” writes Kolkey. “For instance, the fires in 2018 released more than 45 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, producing more than nine times more emissions than were reduced in 2017.”

Green myopia has also blocked efforts to remove the fuel that drives wildfires. For decades environmental activists, wielding enormous political clout in Sacramento, have obstructed forest thinning, brush removal, and controlled burns whenever possible. These are not outlandish ideas driven by corporate greed but proven methods for containing wildfires. Native Americans had enough “ancient wisdom,” says Kolkey, to use controlled burns to manage fire risk. More recently, it was a controlled burn that “slowed the advance” of the California Rim Fire in 2013, says Kolkey, and allowed “firefighters to get ahead of the burn, saving a number of homes.”

Other obstacles to keeping wildfires in check include the 1970 California Environmental Quality Act, which prohibits any public agency from embarking on a fuels-reduction project until it complies with the law’s thicket of regulations, and the 1973 Z’berg Nejedly Forest Practice Act, which “prohibits a person from conducting timber operations, as defined, unless a timber harvesting plan prepared by a registered professional forester has been submitted to, and is approved by, the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.”

Clearing through these legal and regulatory thickets is costly and time consuming. Kolkey suggests that Sacramento pass legislation requiring only “a single permit from a single agency for prescribed burns and other thinning methods . . . which allows for a streamlined process.” Failing to take this step while California is scorched every year is negligence.

Federal agencies manage 19 million of the state’s 33 million acres of forest, so Washington, D.C. also needs to take action. With two senators and the largest state delegation in the House, California theoretically has the muscle to move Congress, but Senator Dianne Feinstein learned two decades ago how dangerous it can be even for a Democrat to cross the green lobby. In 2002, the Sierra Club “roasted” her for daring to insist that logging could help ease wildfire threats.

Feinstein’s most recent attempt to stop the damage, the Wildfire Emergency Act, might fare better. The bill can go only so far, though, since it fails explicitly to expand commercial timber harvesting, which the state itself recognizes can help “achieve forest health goals.” One hopes Feinstein recognizes that this issue is important enough to risk getting politically burned again.

Kerry Jackson is a fellow with the Center for California Reform at the Pacific Research Institute.

This article was originally published by City Journal Online.

Banning Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers Could Have Unintended Consequences in Next Power Outage

Californians who have been seen power supplies become more unreliable in recent years have increasingly turned to gas-powered electric generators to keep the lights on during “public safety power shutoffs.”

According to the industry trade group, there are 1.5 million portable generators in use in California today.  The average gas-powered generator can provide 10-12 hours of power to run lights, phone chargers, refrigerators, microwaves and more, with a simple refueling keeping them powered another half-day.

But gas-powered portable generators may be on the outs in California under legislation passed last week and placed on Gov. Newsom’s desk.

According to the Assembly Floor Analysis, Assembly Bill 1346 would “require the Air Resources Board to adopt cost-effective and technologically feasible regulations to prohibit engine exhaust and evaporative emissions from new ‘small off-road engines.’”  It’s another example of a well-meaning bill that would generate serious unintended consequences if it becomes law.

The industry trade group notes that zero-emission power generators wouldn’t work very well in lengthy power shutoffs as current models only have the capacity to run the lights, appliances and technology listed above for between 35 minutes and 3 hours.  In addition, they can’t be recharged very easily during outages without expensive solar panels or backup batteries.

The Senate Floor Analysis of AB 1346 also notes that “while portable power stations such as the popular Goal Zero Yeti can provide power without any associated noise or emissions from the unit, they are ultimately constrained by battery capacity.”  These alternatives “can also be five to twenty times the cost of fossil-fuel powered options.”

Joseph Harding, technical director of the Portable Generator Manufacturers’ Association, says that “when someone turns to a portable generator, it’s out of necessity . . . (to) keep food from spoiling, keep water available, to maintain communication with the outside world, even keep vital medical equipment operating.”

Measures like AB 1346 are examples of the state making big policy changes and imposing sweeping new mandates at a time when technology and the marketplace just haven’t caught up yet.  As much as they try, policymakers can’t dictate people’s buying habits or the evolution of technology by passing a bill.  And when policymakers go down this road, it is ultimately consumers and entrepreneurs who will pay the price.

And as noted in PRI’s “Legislating Energy Poverty” study, California’s big government energy mandates also haven’t proven very successful in lowering emissions compared to other states with more market-based energy policies who have achieved greater reductions than the once-Golden State.

AB 1346 would also have a negative impact on entrepreneurship.  As PRI’s Wayne Winegarden writes in his upcoming final study in the Breaking Down Barriers to Entrepreneurship series, new government regulations as envisioned in the bill are typical of the regulations that make it so difficult for individuals to start or grow a gardening business in California.

It would make it difficult and more expensive for lawn businesses to operate.  For example, there are many battery-powered leaf blowers on the market today for commercial use.  However, a review by The Spruce of the “8 best cordless leaf blowers of 2021” notes that some models have “hard to find replacement batteries” while the “battery takes a long time to recharge” for others.  The Assembly Floor Analysis of AB 1346 notes, “for commercial uses, there is very little market for zero-emission equipment as today’s technology is relatively expensive and requires multiple batteries and/or frequent recharting and replacement.”

A June Washington Post article on the push for battery-powered lawn equipment described how a Florida-based landscaping firm has “its landscaping vans . . . outfitted with solar panels to recharge the batters on the go” at a conversion cost of $100,000 per van.  The firm’s president says customers are charged “10 to 20 percent more than his competitors.”

Californians now await Newsom’s verdict to see if they’ll have to go out of state to buy a gas-powered generator or will have to sit in the dark the next time the power goes out.

Tim Anaya is the Pacific Research Institute’s senior director of communications and the Sacramento office.

This article was originally published by Pacific Research Institute.

Reflections On The California Recall

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

What started as a lark, then became an impossible dream — a conservative resurgence, starting in California — ended, like many past efforts, in electoral defeat. With his overwhelming victory in the recall election, California Governor Gavin Newsom and his backers have consolidated their hold on the state for the foreseeable future.

One can quibble about the political wisdom of the recall gambit, particularly given that Newsom was up for reelection next year. But the main reason for the stunning defeat lay with the state’s highly bifurcated political economy, which might sustain a progressive mega-majority in the Golden State, but also alienates some voters—and limits the national appeal of the progressive governance model that Newsom embodies.

The sinking of the state’s once-buoyant middle class undermines the base for a two-party politics in California. The kinds of taxpayers who called the state home during the 1980s and 1990s are leaving, and few families are moving in. Many of the leading companies that employed middle-class workers—McKesson, Hewlett Packard, the oil and aerospace industries—are fleeing at a quickening pace.

California today works primarily for two key Newsom constituencies: unionized public employees and pop culture, tech, and financial leaders. Money from these groups gave Newsom a massive advantage in advertising and organizing. Newsom’s coffers exceeded those of the nearly bankrupt recall campaign and all the prospective candidates combined by almost three to one. The combination of tech IPOs and federal money has also financed massive relief funds for a third Newsom constituency—California’s highest percentage-in-the-nation poor population—allowing the governor to act like a modern-day Boss Tweed.

This electoral triangle remains too entrenched to dislodge, at least for now. Massive spending secured the votes of disengaged voters, even as the San Francisco Chronicle warned about “an alarming enthusiasm gap” among Democrats. The effort to reach enough of these voters clearly worked.

The media played its assigned role. The overwhelmingly progressive press never much liked Newsom, but the threat of a potential Republican governor in the person of Larry Elder, the leader among the challengers, drove them to partisan distraction. Paul Krugman framed the recall as an assault on California’s “progressive success story.” The New York Times’s Ezra Klein referred to Newsom as a leader of “substance,” just months after he’d observed that the state has deteriorated so badly that it makes “liberals squirm.”

With the recall threat gone, Sacramento insiders expect more progressive moves—such as attempts to tax wealth, including unrealized gains, from the upper-middle class. More pressure will be brought to bear to restrict the use of contract workers, particularly with the recent court overturning of Proposition 22. The state will accelerate its program of ever-more stringent restrictions on water and energy use.

In this environment, California’s blue-collar workers face a grim future unless they’re employed by the state. Progressive success drives out the very businesses—manufacturing, suburban homebuilding, the once-robust oil-and-gas sector—that historically employed middle-income workers. Indeed, the lack of stable jobs and a dependence on low-paid service workers contribute to the state’s highest-in-the-nation unemployment rate. One out of every three households, notes the United Way, find achieving even basic security “elusive.”

Newsom’s victory is more of a reality check for the Republican Party than an endorsement of progressive policies. Voter dissatisfaction, particularly among minorities and the young, has not waned. Polls show that many Californians don’t see Newsom as effective at battling such problems as deepening income inequality, homelessness, rising crime, fires, and the pandemic. Some longtime progressives broke with the governor. But the state Republican Party could not capitalize—a sign that it remains largely marginal, particularly in the highly populated coastal areas, where dislike of Donald Trump has tarnished its brand.

To shift emphasis from Newsom’s failures, the local and national media, the state’s political establishment, and academics denounced the recall push as an operation carried out by Trumpian extremists. By the end of the election, the ongoing wildfires were being cast not as an indictment of Newsom’s failed forest-management policies but of Republican inaction on climate change. Unrelated events—such as Texas Republicans passage of a restrictive abortion bill—may have helped Newsom, too.

The story may not be quite over, though. In 2020, voters defeated a tax increase backed by Mark Zuckerberg and other tech leaders and shot down an affirmative action measure supported by virtually every element of the state establishment. The reservoir of resentment and potential future turmoil remains deep. Even before Covid, 53 percent of Californians were considering leaving; almost two-thirds thought the state’s best days were behind it. The New York Times may see California as a multicultural exemplar, but a 2019 University of California, Berkeley poll showed that 58 percent of African-Americans, 44 percent of Asian-Americans, and 43 percent of Latinos were considering leaving the state. A recent poll from Sacramento’s Chamber of Commerce showed that roughly one-fourth of the workforce was contemplating a move out within three years.

Californians sense that the status quo does not work in their favor. In this sense, Elder’s taking of roughly 40 percent of the vote in the now-discarded replacement primary may prove a first step to restoring two-party politics in the state. Elder’s sometimes-extreme libertarianism eventually got him in trouble, but a self-made African-American with a keen taste for political debate made for an appealing contrast with John Cox, the GOP’s weak 2018 gubernatorial candidate. Elder connected with Latinos and some younger people, and he made a brilliant contrast with the haughty Newsom and his wealthy supporters. Maybe Elder is not the ideal candidate, but he opened a class-based political approach that could bear fruit with the right spokesman.

When Elder spoke out for agency and aspiration as opposed to victimhood, he borrowed a Republican theme that worked well in 2020, particularly among Asians and LatinosAs late as July, before the media, advertising, and voter-turnout tsunamis formed, both those demographic groups favored the recall. Even the reliably progressive Los Angeles Times columnist Gustavo Arellano admitted that, among Hispanics, Newsom was about “as loved as a stale Mexican coke.”

If they want to become relevant in the state again, though, Republicans need a constructive agenda. The next opportunity could take place under more difficult circumstances for progressives. The expensive and unreliable electrical grid will continue to cause problems. The state is in such trouble that it has been forced to propose building five “temporary” gas plants to keep the lights on. Meantime, green-driven reluctance to stop water releases to the ocean risks taking jobs from workers in the now politically marginalized interior. Some 6,600 Central Valley farmers have already been told not to expect deliveries this year. Pension debt will mount; schools will surely not improve with the state’s new ethnic studies curriculum. As the expansion of the welfare state competes with the demands of the public sector, the financial crush could lead to a tax hike—forcing California Democrats to choose between their wealthiest backers and the union–social welfare juggernaut.

In the near term, Newsom’s recall victory could be seen as a boon to President Biden. Yet short of a massive federal bailout, the bill will come due for governance failures in this remarkably gifted state. And if the Biden agenda doesn’t survive next year’s midterms, neither can the wan hopes of extending California’s agenda nationally. Governor Newsom has survived the recall, but that doesn’t mean that the Golden State is destined to become the role model for the country—it might not even represent the inevitable future for most Californians.

Joel Kotkin is a fellow at Chapman University and the executive director of the Urban Reform Institute.

This article was originally published by City Journal Online.

How Gavin Newsom Survived The Recall

For a moment this summer, Gavin Newsom’s inner circle feared the effort to recall him could be drawing uncomfortably close.

In late July and early August, the Delta variant of the coronavirus was raging, threatening school reopenings in the fall. Public polling showed many Democrats were so apathetic about voting that it was possible — if turnout was low enough — that a Republican could win.

“Clearly there was a time in the summer where the thing went from … this optimism [about Covid] like, ‘Oh, the war is over, it’s ended,’ to ‘Oh, shit,’” said Ace Smith, Newsom’s lead strategist.

Against that backdrop, principals involved in the campaign detailed a furious effort by Newsom’s campaign to put the race out of Republicans’ reach. The turning point for the campaign, according to Newsom’s strategists, came in the governor’s adoption of aggressive mask and vaccine mandates — both widely popular in California — and in Newsom’s avalanche of spending depicting his top Republican opponent, Larry Elder, as an anti-science clone of former President Donald Trump.

“It was about making the campaign a referendum on the opposition, not just a kind of a dunking booth exercise on the incumbent,” said Sean Clegg, a senior Newsom strategist who oversaw paid media and messaging for the campaign.

Clegg reduced the Newsom campaign’s closing argument not to a rejection of the alternative: “A ‘Yes’ vote for this recall means electing a pro-Trump, anti-vaccine Republican who is going to reverse the mandates on Day One.” It was the presentation of that “simple choice,” Smith said, that marked the “turning point” in the campaign, cementing Newsom’s victory.

By Labor Day, Newsom had turned what started as an up-or-down vote on his governorship into a choice between him and Elder, the radio show host Newsom relentlessly tethered to Trump — with a predictable outcome in this staunchly Democratic state. For Newsom, the emergence of Elder as the GOP’s standard-bearer was an unexpected gift, so beneficial to the governor that many Republicans came to resent Elder for turning the race into a traditional — and unwinnable — choice election. …

Click here to read the full article from Politico

California Needs Election Reform

Last week, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill requiring that voters produce identification to show that they are legally entitled to vote. Notwithstanding the fact that 80% of Americans support voter ID laws, progressives claim that such laws constitute “voter suppression.”

But to see what real voter suppression is, one need only move west to California where political leaders routinely act to nullify election results. Let us count the ways.

First, last November, California voters approved Proposition 22, which permitted some classifications of gig workers to retain their status as independent contractors. But in what is just the latest example of progressive hypocrisy, there was much cheering on the left side of the political aisle over a court ruling striking down Proposition 22, the voter-approved initiative protecting drivers in the gig economy. When progressives don’t like the results of an election, they often attempt to get a judge to overrule the will of the electorate.

Second, voters also rejected legislation, via the referendum power, that would have eliminated cash bail in California. Turns out that Californians are concerned with increasing crime and still think cash bail is an effective way to ensure that those charged with crimes appear in court. But the California Legislature has tried, not just once, but twice to counter voters’ intent. First, one bill would flip the way referendum votes are counted so that a “no” vote would mean “yes.” But since that would take a constitutional amendment, they are trying to weaken the cash bail system so severely that it would be an effective repeal. This is contrary to what the voters want.

Third, progressives are circling the wagons to protect Gavin Newsom from being recalled and have manipulated the timing of the election in a manner which they thought would give them an advantage. While the rise of the new Covid variant and endless wildfires has probably neutralized that strategy, you can’t say that they didn’t try. In fact, the legislation changing timing of the recall election was just one of many bills enacted by progressives to give them an advantage in election contests.

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