Newsom Now Owns the COVID-19 Pandemic

Just a few weeks ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom was boasting about California’s apparent success in suppressing COVID-19 infections in implicit contrast to other states, such as New York, that were being clobbered by the pandemic.

He called it “bending the curve” of the infection rate and decided to reopen vast sections of the economy that he had shuttered in March.

“We have to recognize you can’t be in a permanent state where people are locked away — for months and months and months and months on end — to see lives and livelihoods completely destroyed, without considering the health impact of those decisions as well,” Newsom rationalized.

In recent days, however, Newsom has reversed course, citing alarming increases in infection rates and deaths.

The governor closed bars, made wearing protective facemasks mandatory, reinstituted bans on indoor activities in 19 counties with high infection rates, formed “multi-agency strike teams” to crack down on “people who are thumbing their noses” at restrictions, and threatened counties with a loss of state funds if they balk.

“We have conditioned $2.5 billion in our state budget on applying the spirit and the letter of the law as it relates to health directives at the county level,” Newsom said. “If local officials are unwilling to enforce and are being dismissive, we will condition the distribution of those dollars.”

With these and other actions, Newsom dropped the pretense that fighting the pandemic was fundamentally in the hands of local officials and made it clear that he’s calling the shots. Newsom now owns the pandemic in California every bit as much as President Donald Trump owns it on a national level.

Newsom’s governorship will be defined by how he manages this crisis — especially since he’s fond of terming California a “nation-state” that goes its own way regardless of federal policy.

California could not have reopened had Newsom not declared that it was ready to do so because of relatively low infection rates and the reopening clearly sparked the surge. He said it himself last week: “We reopened our economy and more people mixed…”

However, he did not take any personal responsibility for the cause-and-effect relationship of those two events and seemed to be blaming Californians because they resumed the human interaction that he implied would be safe to resume.

There’s another aspect to the situation that’s also on Newsom — a fierce outbreak of infection in the state’s prisons.

Veteran journalist Dan Morain, in an article for California Healthline, reported in detail, “From Corcoran and Avenal state prisons in the arid Central Valley to historical San Quentin on the San Francisco Bay, California prisons have emerged as raging COVID-19 hot spots, even as the state annually spends more on inmate health care than other big states spend on their entire prison systems.”

San Quentin had no confirmed COVID-19 infections until, for some reason, it received a transfer of infected inmates. Its outbreak was so severe that the state Senate convened a special hearing during which legislators roasted prison officials — all Newsom appointees.

“That was nothing more than the worst prison health screwup in state history,” Assemblyman Marc Levine, whose district includes San Quentin, told the hearing. “We did not meet this moment.” It was an obvious dig at Newsom, who’s fond of the phrase, “meet the moment.”

Despite the infection surge, Newsom remains outwardly hopeful, saying, “We bent the curve in the state of California once, we will bend the curve again.”

However, if it doesn’t bend, Newsom — fairly or not — will bear the onus. It’s his pandemic now.

Dan Walters is a columnist for CALmatters

Proposition 19 is Latest Assault on taxpayers

The assaults on California property owners and taxpayers never stop. And once again the California Legislature has advanced a massive tax increase at the last possible moment when they thought no one was paying attention.

Assembly Constitutional Amendment No. 11 (ACA11), approved by the California Legislature, takes away Proposition 13 protections that California families have under current law and replaces them with a billion-dollar tax increase. Voters will have an opportunity to reject this scheme come November, as ACA11 will appear on the ballot as Proposition 19.

After the historic passage of Proposition 13 in 1978, Californians finally had certainty about their future property tax liability because increases in the “taxable value” of property were limited to 2 percent per year. Property would be reassessed to market value only when it changed hands. To prevent families from getting hit with huge tax increases, voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 58 in 1986, changing the state constitution to ensure that transfers of certain property between parents and children could occur without triggering the sticker shock of reassessment.

Under Prop. 58, a home of any value and up to a million dollars of assessed value of other property may be transferred between parents and children without reassessment. Proposition 19 (2020) would repeal Proposition 58 (1986) and force the reassessment of inherited or transferred property within families. The only exception is if the property is used as the principal residence of the person to whom it was transferred, and even that exclusion is capped.

To read the entire column, please click here.

Removing School Police Could Create Liability Issues for Districts

An outgrowth of the civil rights protests that target policing is the effort to close down police presence in schools. While the resolutions ending police responsibilities at schools speak to racial concerns and alternative safety programs, ending cooperation with school police not only raises safety fears but liability issues for the school districts.

School districts up and down California are considering, or have already decided, to end school policing. The Sacramento school district cut police spending from the school budget. The San Francisco district, which declared its schools sanctuary places from law enforcement, is ending its contract with police. Oakland Unified School District has its own police department, but the school district voted to close it down when union contracts end, diverting the $2.5 million for other purposes. Yesterday, Los Angeles Unified joined the parade, cutting the school police budget $25 million.

The school district decisions on police have been made quickly in a highly emotional period of protests and self-examination. A longer-term view of studying the problem is in order.

There is undoubtedly a reason that the school districts created police forces or arranged for Service Resource Officers (SRO) to help keep the schools safe. Will those reasons disappear when the police are no longer present? Will the unspecified alternative safety programs be adequate to respond to trouble?

Reportedly, school staff in Oakland called police for help 2,000 times a year. Even if many of those requests for help are unwarranted, some certainly required police assistance.

While safety for the students and staff is the first priority for the school districts, another concern lurks in abandoning school police protection. Civil legal actions against the school districts could result if things go wrong.

In arguing against defunding school police, Dr. Michael Hinojosa, Dallas, Texas school superintendent, said, “When we think about Sandy Hook, Santa Fe, and all those other things, parents will never forgive us if something safety wise happens to their kids. We depend on our police department for safety and security and we expect our officers to build relationships with students.”

The idea is for police to know students and stop trouble before it begins. In that sense, it is a form of community policing.

While the extreme situations such as campus shootings are relatively rare—although not rare enough—by removing police from schools and danger strikes, the law enforcement responding to such a situation would be in a reactive mode. There will be class action lawsuits from parents who felt the school board actions of removing police put their children in jeopardy.

Before school boards reflexively change policies to satisfy current passions, they should pause and study all potential consequences of this action and keep in mind that their first responsibility is to safely protect the students, teachers, and staff.

Joel Fox is Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily.

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily.

Auditions for California Governor Are Officially Open

With little fanfare, the third attempt to recall Governor Newsom got underway on June 10th. Proponents have until November 17th to gather 2 million signed petitions, in order for 1.4 million of them to withstand verification and qualify the recall for a special election in early 2021.

There isn’t a seasoned political professional anywhere who takes this effort seriously, because without millions of dollars to pay signature gatherers, state ballot initiatives never qualify. But this season could be different.

Skeptics should consider just two questions: Are there more than 2 million California voters who would sign a recall petition, and if so, can the recall campaign find 2 million voters in California willing and able to sign a recall petition?

The answer to the first question is undoubtedly yes. There aren’t just 2 million California voters willing to sign a recall petition, there are at least twice that many. So why can’t they be found? To this, the answer is unequivocal. They can. And it doesn’t require millions of dollars any more. It requires a grassroots army, a technology platform to facilitate signature gathering, and publicity. And the grassroots army is already formed.

Behind this latest effort to recall Newsom there is an organization with tens of thousands of volunteer activists spread all over the state, with most of them already trained from the earlier recall efforts. The lead proponent, Orrin Heatlie, is a retired police sergeant who has, with extraordinary determination, built a good management team around him and is fully committed to the goal of qualifying a recall.

The online resource the Recall Gavin 2020 campaign has built is user friendly and offers a comprehensive array of tools including pages to download a petitioncirculate petitions, meet county coordinatorsvolunteerschedule events, and locate places to sign petitions. It is a state-of-the art resource, and heralds a revolution in citizen government.

The reasons to recall Gavin Newsom don’t have to be explained during a signature gathering campaign. Any one of California’s nearly 5 million citizens who voted for Trump in 2016 are more than likely to support a Newsom recall, as are millions of others who have been put off by Newsom’s performance since taking office. And over the next few months, millions more are going to reject Newsom as the economic fallout from the COVID pandemic triggers massive government service cuts and tax hikes.

A more pertinent argument against this recall effort is why bother qualifying a recall for a special election, if the general electorate won’t turn Newsom out of office? This is a good question, since it causes many potential supporters to not want to waste their time. But beyond the sheer disruptive value of making Newsom fight to stay in office, there is the chance that someone famous will jump into the race to be the new governor, a great candidate, someone with the common sense and courage to finish what Schwarzenegger started back in 2002.

Conservatives tend to condemn Schwarzenegger for his pivot back in 2006, but they conveniently forget some of the reasons for Schwarzenegger’s defection. When Schwarzenegger took office in 2003, he took aim straight at the public sector unions that even back then were running California’s state and local governments into the ground. He declared total war on these unions in 2005, putting four initiatives onto the state ballot: delayed teacher tenure (Prop. 74), paycheck protection (Prop. 75), spending caps (Prop. 76), and non-partisan redistricting (Prop. 77). His consultants talked him out of a fifth initiative, pension reform. And then what happened?

Where were the GOP members of the assembly and senate? Were they rising with one voice, putting their careers on the line to support a wholesale overhaul of California’s political landscape? Where were the big donors? Where were the consultants? Where were the grassroots? With rare exceptions, they didn’t show up. And the ones who did show up, underfunded, fought without passion. In a campaign that could have made history, Schwarzenegger was abandoned. His defection a year later must be understood in that context. But what he did represents a chance that does not have to be missed a second time.

Meanwhile, here in the present, any aspirant to becoming governor of California may see a powerful synergy between this grassroots army, turning in hundreds of thousands of signatures every week, and putting their own influence and endorsement behind the recall. Who is waiting in the wings? Who would like to seize this opportunity to save California, and by extension, possibly realign politics across the nation?

This is the wild card, the tantalizing possibility, that gives greater life not only to an attempt to qualify the recall for the ballot, but to prevail in the special election, and send Gavin Newsom into an early and ignominious retirement.

There is another potential synergy at work in this recall. By supporting the recall campaign there is a chance for establishment GOP officeholders, professional operatives, and major donors to reestablish a relationship of trust and partnership with their own GOP grassroots. Go find a candidate who, like Schwarzenegger, has the charisma to win the special election and the courage to try to transform the entire state with one comprehensive slate of ballot initiatives, and this time, don’t turn your back on them.

California is ready for change. California’s voters are realizing that until the cost-of-living is lowered through regulatory reform, and the schools are improved by standing up to the teachers unions, their lives are just going to get harder. Newsom is just the latest embodiment of the party that got Californians into this struggle to survive.

This recall campaign is a chance for California’s GOP to be relevant again, and a chance for all Californians to realize that Democrats are not making their lives better, no matter how many BLM bromides they utter, or statues they topple.

This article originally appeared on the website California Globe.

John Wayne under assault by Democrats, Los Angeles Times

Earlier this week I counted nine negative stories on President Trump in the first 9 pages of the Los Angeles Times print edition. Am I surprised? No, because it is axiomatic that the main stream news media absolutely hates Donald Trump. There is simply no division of editorial bias and news reporting today in the MSM when it comes to Trump. So called “news stories” about Trump never simply report naked facts, there is always and continually an evident editorial bias in the news reports.

So I also was not too surprised to see the Los Angeles Times now join with the official position of the Orange County Democratic Party and editorialize on July 1 in favor of removing Newport Beach film legend John Wayne’s name from Orange County Airport. The Time’s “news” reporting of the issue, lead by a Trump-hating reporter, had already given the clue of the editorial to come, and most certainly was coordinated with the official Democratic Party. The Times paternally tells us that Orange County government was “immature” years ago when it named the Airport after the Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient and Oscar winning local actor of international fame. They tell us he is irrelevant to young people (presumably he is to the uninformed and selfish millennial who actually took the notes from the Democrats in writing the editorial) and castigate him for a something he said once in a Playboy interview 49 years ago.

Wayne’s observation in that interview deserves condemnation. But as Orange County Republican Party chairman Fred Whitaker states as his party’s position, in condemning Wayne’s comment, we can also learn from it. I agree with Fred. We can learn from the full legacy of these historical figures. We can learn from Bill Clinton’s perjury and infidelity. We can learn from John F. Kennedy’s flaws. But we don’t need to erase Clinton, JFK, or John Wayne for that matter, from history.

Our new Republican Congressman Mike Garcia had the guts to not talk to the Los Angeles Times reporter before the recent special election because he knew they would end up editorializing against him and supporting his opponent the weekend of the election.  Sure enough they printed a slanted news story on the crucial Friday before the election, reporting he would not respond for comment, and then they printed their endorsement of his opponent on the next day.  But Garcia won the election, and by a lot. Garcia correctly ignored the Times, and still won.

Not only has social media marginalized the impact and importance of the LA Times, its news and editorials, but also the journalism of today, which is characterized by a total breakdown in the separation of the news room and commentary/opinion page, contributing to loss of credibility.  The LA Times just doesn’t report news touching politics fairly, it does so with bias, and will predictably continue to report on John Wayne Airport with bias, because the news reporters and the editorial writers cannot be distinguished.  

Some observers may say “it has always been that way.” But years ago, the paper would deny it.  In past, a candidate for office HAD to talk to the reporter regardless because it was such an important news provider and people actually fell for the idea of honest reporting of news.  Now we live in a different era when a news maker, like Garica, can call “a spade a spade” because the bias is so palpable, and there are other more important ways to honestly communicate with voters.   Twenty years ago I would tell a candidate they HAD to talk to the LA Times reporter, despite the bias, the weekend before the election.  Today, after the initial “introduction” piece early in a campaign, I would advise a conservative candidate to simply not talk to the Times at all, because it would be a net loss to the candidate and not help the public understand what he or she was really about.

What the Times could do to truly help their younger readers to understand the real life and full legacy of John Wayne, is to publish an honest retrospective of him and his career. But I don’t expect the Democratic Party wants the newspaper to do that, so I’m not holding my breath.

This November: The Do-Over Ballot

Label the coming election on ballot measures the Do-Over Ballot. Many of the propositions headed for the November ballot are intended to re-do previous actions taken by voters and/or legislators. 

Removing some property tax limits, changing other property tax rules, undoing a ban on affirmative action, toughening criminal penalties—all these ballot measures are intended to undo what California voters did with initiative measures in the past.

There are also attempts to undo legislative actions. There is a referendum to turn over the law passed by the legislature to eliminate cash bail. There is an initiative to separate app-linked drivers that work with companies like Uber, Lyft and DoorDash from the new labor mandates of AB 5, the worker classification law. There is a measure to supplant rent control limitations set by the legislature with a broader rent control law.

The California ballot is giving current voters a chance to reconsider what was codified in the past and rewrite the law.

However, just because voters can make changes does not mean they will or they should. The wisdom on certain issues expressed by voters in the past can stand the test of time. 

With the direct democracy system in California, issues presented to the voters does not necessarily mean that there is a groundswell of support to change a law or create a law. Many times, the issues are presented to the voters from a special interest perspective. Those who have an interest to change the law can muster enough support—and money—to qualify a measure for the ballot. But it is a large leap from qualification to approval by voters. Maybe that’s why historically only about one-third of all initiatives that make the California ballot pass.

Likewise, legislative actions accomplished within the cozy confines of the capitol building may or may not find broader approval when voters have a chance to speak on the matters through the ballot box.

Highlighting the ballot issues in November that reflect decisions made by voters in the “old days”—defined as more than 20 years ago—are the changes to Proposition 13, other property tax laws and reversing judgment on affirmative action.

Proposition 13 passed in a landslide 42 years ago to place limitations on property taxes. Since California has a unified property tax on all properties since statehood, the limitations covered both residential and commercial property. At the time Prop 13 appeared on the ballot, a split roll was also offered to voters that would apply different tax assessment criteria to residential and commercial property. The voters rejected that proposal. Now comes the latest attempt to split the tax roll with a $12 billion tax increase on business property.

In addition, Proposition of 58 of 1986 and Proposition 193 of 1996, which granted transfer of property between parents and children and grandparents and children without raising property taxes, would be altered by a legislative proposal that carries other provisions, including efforts to help with wildfires. (The legislative proposal was a compromise to replace an initiative that had already qualified for the ballot.)

Repeal of affirmative action occurred in 1996, with 54.5% of the voters supporting Proposition 209. With the question of unequal treatment of Blacks the burning issue of the day, a supermajority in the legislature decided it was time to repeal Proposition 209 and placed a repeal measure on the ballot.

The legislature’s 1995 Costa-Hawkins bill placed limits on local rent control. An initiative similar to one voters defeated in 2018 has qualified for the ballot to give local governments power to ignore the legislature’s Costa-Hawkins limitations.

Over twenty-plus years after these laws came into being, activists and legislators looking at the changed political landscape think the time is right to present alternatives to voters.

But not all measures in the Do-Over ballot want to change laws that go back decades. Other efforts of a Do-Over are of more recent vintage.

A ballot measure to change reforms brought by 2014’s Proposition 47, which recategorized some nonviolent offenses as misdemeanors rather than felonies has been criticized by the law enforcement community. An initiative statute has qualified for the ballot to reestablish some criminal activities as felonies. Given the debate over treatment of minorities within the justice system, this measure will also share the attention of change in the current political environment.

Both the cash bail restriction and the worker classification bill faced heated opposition in the legislature and once they became law, the opposition switched to the ballot front, as is a custom in California, to undo them either in whole or in part.

A referendum froze the bail law from being implemented until the voters pass judgment in November. The worker classification law, AB 5, is on the books but the piece of it that affects the app-driver industry is being challenged by the companies directly affected. The initiative proponents would declare the drivers are independent contractors and are not covered by the law. Ironically, AB 5 was created chiefly with the app-driver workers in mind.

In a democracy, voters’ attitudes can be tested anew. In some cases, many voters would be new to the issue at hand and see it through modern-day sensibilities. Yet, the judgments of preceding generations won’t be easily cast aside.

There will be additional ballot propositions in November to consider but the voters of 2020 have the chance to re-do a number of policy issues in the state that were created previously. We’ll see if they think it’s time for a Do-Over.

Joel Fox is Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily.

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily.

Why A Newsom Recall Can Succeed

There isn’t a political professional to be found in California who believes that the current attempt to recall Gavin Newsom will succeed. With petitions approved for circulation and a deadline of November 17, recall campaign volunteers are trying to defy the momentum of history.

To recall a sitting governor in California today, based on the voter turnout in the November 2018 state election, proponents will have to turn in 2.0 million signed petitions in order to yield, after verification of signatures, addresses, registration status, eliminating duplicates, etc., a net total of 1,495,709 validated petitions. Without millions to pay professional signature gatherers, this is considered impossible.

It’s not impossible. Not with the power of the internet and social media. Skeptics must consider only two factors: Are there more than 2.0 million California voters who would sign a recall petition? The answer to that is undoubtedly yes. The second question is more to the point: Can the recall campaign find 2.0 million voters in California willing and able to sign a recall petition?

To this second question, the professionals would have an immediate and unequivocal answer. No. But they are mistaken. In today’s fraught political environment, in this season of heightened political awareness, in this era of internet access, Gavin Newsom is one viral video away from seeing his name on a recall ballot, in a special election to be held in early 2021.

Newsom, to his credit, is taking the Recall Gavin 2020 campaign more seriously than the thousands of members of California’s conservative establishment elite, who remain skeptical. Around the time recall petitions were approved for circulation by the California Secretary of State, Newsom released an official statement in response:

“GOVERNOR GAVIN NEWSOM’S ANSWER TO RECALL STATEMENT: WARNING: THIS UNWARRANTED RECALL EFFORT WILL COST CALIFORNIA TAXPAYERS 81 MILLION DOLLARS! IT IS BEING PUSHED BY POLITICAL EXTREMISTS SUPPORTING PRESIDENT TRUMP’S HATEFUL ATTACKS ON CALIFORNIA. In 2018 California voters elected Governor Gavin Newsom by historic margins. As Governor, Newsom is working to 1) increase funding for public education, 2) protect and secure Californians’ health and health care, 3) improve water, roads, and bridges, 4) address the challenges of housing affordability and homelessness, and 5) prepare for the threats of wildfires. Our budget is balanced. Our fiscal reserves are unprecedented. Our economy and employment are historically strong. Yet a handful of partisan activists supporting President Trump and his dangerous agenda to divide America are trying to overturn the definitive will of California voters and bring Washington’s broken government to California with this recall effort. The last thing California needs is another wasteful special election, supported by those who demonize California’s people and attack California’s values. Do not be fooled – California’s police officers, firefighters, first responders, public school teachers, health providers, and business leaders all STRONGLY OPPOSE this costly recall. DO NOT HAND OVER YOUR SIGNATURE, YOUR SUPPORT OR YOUR PERSONAL, PRIVATE INFORMATION TO THIS DESTRUCTIVE RECALL SCHEME.”

Who is the “Political Extremist?”

To lead off by calling the recall proponents “political extremists” who are “supporting President Trump’s hateful attacks on California” is unfortunately typical of not just Newsom, but all Democrats. They always start by smearing their opponents. But Newsom goes on to defend his record, and every point he makes invites vigorous rebuttal.

Newsom claims to be “working” on the following five big projects, “1) increase funding for public education, 2) protect and secure Californians’ health and health care, 3) improve water, roads, and bridges, 4) address the challenges of housing affordability and homelessness, and 5) prepare for the threats of wildfires.”

An objective examination of Newsom’s performance on each of these five projects yields withering criticisms. His drive to increase funding for public education is a gift to the teachers unions, who have monopolized public education. For over a generation they emphasized leftist indoctrination over genuine education. Their failures have been especially felt in California’s low income inner cities. These unions protect bad teachers and disruptive students, they shut down any attempts to introduce alternatives such as charter schools, and they never saw a tax increase or budget boost they didn’t like. By all means, Gov. Newsom, give them more money.

As for California’s need for “secure” health care, Newsom has not done anything to lift the restrictions on the number of nursing graduates coming out of California’s colleges and universities. He hasn’t even signed a waiver to permit independent contractors to continue to work for clinics and hospitals during the COVID crisis. And he’s willing to spend hundreds of millions to provide free health care to undocumented immigrants, which even if motivated by compassion, ignores the challenges facing millions of working citizens who still cannot afford health care in California.

And then there’s “improve water, roads, and bridges.” Where? Newsom continues to try to fund “High Speed Rail,” wasting billions, instead of improving infrastructure Californians need. Has Newsom ever said a word about reforming CalTrans, the state department responsible for implementing road improvements, where additional billions are squandered? Has he done anything to reform CEQA, California’s disastrous Environmental Quality Act, which ties any attempt to improve roads up in the bureaucracies and courts for years, costing additional billions?

When it comes to “housing affordability and homelessness,” Newsom’s record is a corrupt joke. His solution to housing affordability ought to be to deregulate the process of building new suburbs and enabling infrastructure. Instead, since California’s state government has made it impossible for developers to sell affordable homes and still make a profit, Newsom has conned voters into passing tens of billions in bond financings. These billions are used to pay Newsom’s cronies, who are building “affordable” housing at an average cost well in excess of a half-million per unit.

As for California’s homeless, instead of providing cost-effective shelters in low cost areas of California’s beleaguered counties, Newsom, along with all the Democratic mayors, have allowed the homeless to take over downtown areas and choice neighborhoods throughout the state. By the tens of thousands, these homeless squatters openly consume hard drugs, steal to support their habits, harass working residents, and often cope with terrifying mental illness. Does Newsom challenge any of the laws and court rulings that might allow the state to help these homeless? Of course not. Build “supportive housing” instead, on expensive real estate. Newsom’s performance on California’s homeless crisis epitomizes cowardice and corruption.

Point five in Newsom’s description of his priority projects is to “prepare for wildfires.” This is laughable. Has Newsom ever acknowledged that poor forestry management is the reason California is experiencing catastrophic wildfires, or that droughts just as severe as those in recent years have occurred for centuries? Has Newsom made any credible attempt to allow timber companies to selectively harvest mature trees, many of them dying, in exchange for also clearing away underbrush? That deal would cost taxpayers nothing. Has Newsom admitted that most of the stress on the forests is because the trees have become too dense due to fire suppression, preventing healthy trees from getting enough nutrients? Or will he keep on bellowing “climate change,” and use that mantra to tighten the screws of the regulatory state?

When it comes to political solutions, Newsom is the extremist. He is a puppet of the teachers union, an organization with extremist views that they pass on to California’s captive youth through the public school system. He is a puppet of extreme environmentalists, a powerful lobby that effectively fights any attempts to build cost-effective transportation assets or housing subdivisions. He is a puppet of crony developers who rely on subsidies and tax breaks to build a handful of ridiculously expensive “affordable” or “supportive” housing units, solving nothing. And he is a puppet of the compassion brigades, who think letting people kill themselves on the streets with heroin and methamphetamine is respecting their “lifestyle.”

Newsom’s Comeuppance is Inevitable

While the “projects” Newsom touts as his accomplishments merely reveal him to be a dangerous fraud, what he states next offers clues to his dismal political future. He writes “Our budget is balanced. Our fiscal reserves are unprecedented. Our economy and employment are historically strong.”

Now we know Gavin Newsom isn’t this stupid. He submitted his statement against the latest recall effort in June. Newsom knew perfectly well that California’s 2020-21 budget is now forecast to have a $54 billion deficit. As for “fiscal reserves” that are “unprecedented,” really? How much? At best, $18 billion, much of which will be used up in this fiscal year, and which in any case is nowhere near the $54 billion they’re going to need next year.

More to the point, however, Newsom’s “historically strong” economy was on thin ice before the pandemic wreaked catastrophic damage on it. Has Gavin Newsom ever stuck his neck out and explained that by most credible estimates, the unfunded pension liability for California’s state and local government agencies now tops nearly a half trillion dollars? Where does he think he’s going to find all that money? Has Newsom ever suggested that maybe, just maybe, California’s public sector workers might accept lower pension benefit accruals at least for future work? Of course not. Public sector unions, along with tech billionaires, own Gavin Newsom.

Instead of focusing on these economic challenges, and calling for meaningful reforms to public education, housing polices, environmental regulations, and how we help the homeless, Newsom spouts Black Lives Matter slogans. He says nothing as the legislature decides to remove the statue of Christoper Columbus – on of the bravest human beings the world has ever seen – from the state capitol rotunda. To be exceedingly generous, and at best, this is useless posturing.

If Gavin Newsom weren’t a coward and a puppet, deserving to be recalled, he would tell the truth: People with low incomes in California will be helped, regardless of the color of their skin, if California’s cost-of-living is lowered through regulatory reform, and the schools are improved by standing up to the teachers unions.

Eventually these truths will be understood by the majority of Californians, and Gavin Newsom will be swept into political oblivion. Don’t feel sorry for him. The coiffured aristocrat will merely retire to one of his wine estates, enjoying that life of hereditary privilege and obscene wealth that he so readily condemns in his public statements.

Californians may yet defy the skeptics, and confound the professionals. They may send this embodiment of Democratic party dysfunction to an early retirement.

This article originally appeared on the website American Greatness.

Sacramento’s Budget Games Are Both Silly and Harmful to Californians

California’s budget process has become so warped it would make even Niccolò Machiavelli blush. The annual spending plan was never easy for citizens, the media and even political insiders to understand. But for the last decade, it has been perverted into a wholly political process devoid of transparency.

Sacramento politicians will crow that they have faithfully performed their constitutional duty by passing an “on time” budget. True, the main budget bill (Senate Bill 74) was passed on June 15, just hours before the constitutional deadline. But no one should be fooled into thinking that the technical passage of the budget bill has any real meaning. Ever since 2010, it has become common to enact politically motivated legislation in so-called budget “trailer bills” as a means to avoid public scrutiny.

2010 was the year when the budget process was corrupted by the passage of Proposition 25, ironically titled the “On-Time Budget Act of 2010.” (“Trailer bills” and their cousins, “junior budget bills,” are now passed well after the constitutional deadline of June 15th). Voters were told three things about Prop. 25: First, budgets would now be passed on time; second, the budget process would be transparent; and third, legislators would forfeit their pay if the budget was not passed on time. All three were lies. Moreover, because the primary goal of Proposition 25 was to reduce the vote threshold for passage of the budget bill from two-thirds to a simple majority, it deprives the minority party of any meaningful input or oversight.

Proposition 25 perverted the budget process in three distinct ways. First, since 2010, dozens of bills have been designated as “budget related” which have nothing to do with the budget. These bills frequently have some token appropriation for a nominal amount (e.g. $1,000) in a weak effort to say the legislation is somehow related to the budget. This now means that there really isn’t any budget bill at all but an endless series of bills that are introduced throughout the year.

To read the entire column, please click here.

The Green Delusion Continues to Perpetuate Costs Upon the Poor

Those marketing the green delusion have convinced themselves and the public that intermittent electricity from wind and solar are somehow “clean, green, renewable and sustainable”. They have successfully kept transparency from those paying for the green delusion of any information that would damage their message.

Facts about greater human and ecological impacts around the world from intermittent electricity systems favored by the climate cult are numerous and purposely withheld from the Californians that can least afford rates that are already among the highest in the nation for electricity and fuel and the same Californians that represent less than half of one percent (0.5%) of the world’s population (40 million vs. 8 billion). Among a few subjects the climate cult avoids transparency are:

  • Moving to electricity ALONE and eliminating fossil fuels would mean America would have to replace 100% of its gasoline and all its oil and natural gas feed stocks for pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, paints, synthetic fibers, fertilizers, and plastics for cell phones, computers, car bodies, packaging, wind turbine blades, solar panel films and more than 6,000 products that are manufactured from petroleum derivatives. As a reminder, without transportation and the leisure and entertainment industries that did not exist before 1900, we would have no commerce.
  • Dependency on intermittent electricity from wind and solar resulted in California importing up to 29 percent of its electricity to meet its demands. To the detriment of those that can least afford expensive energy, that lavishly expensive imported electricity has contributed to the poorest residents, particularly Latinos and African Americans, paying more than 50 percent more for electricity than the rest of the country.
  • The impact of power plant closures in California are destined to increase the cost of power as California plans to shuttle three natural gas power plants and its last nuclear power plant. Those four power plants have been providing continuous uninterruptible electricity to Californians. With the state having no plans to replace the closure capacity with intermittent electricity from wind and solar, the state will need to import more high-priced electricity to fill the void and let residents and businesses pay the premium.
  • The climate cult is fearful of sharing that all the mineral products and metals needed to make wind turbines, solar panels, and EV batteries are mined and processed in places like Baotou, Inner Mongolia, Bolivia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, mostly under Chinese control, under minimal to nonexistent labor, wage, environmental, reclamation, and worker health and safety regulations. The mere extraction of those exotic minerals presents social challenges, human rights abuses, and environmental degradations worldwide.
  • Those numerous documentaries about the atrocities that the workers are put through in the cobalt mines, i.e. actually digging the mines by hand along with the horrendous living conditions. Amnesty International has documented children and adults mining cobalt in narrow man-made tunnels along with the exposure to the dangerous gases emitted during the procurement of these rare minerals. 
  • For cobalt alone, over 40,000 Congolese children, as young as four years old, slave away alongside their parents in mines, for a dollar a day, risking cave-ins and being exposed constantly to filthy, toxic, radioactive mud, dust, water and air. 
  • These environmental and human rights travesties can happen only under a system of rampant double standards, i.e., if they do NOT occur in the backyard of the climate cult, they are okay with any and all adverse impacts on foreign sites.
  • Even if California or the entire USA eliminated all fossil fuel use tomorrow – it would not make an iota of difference for global carbon dioxide levels as China and India have more than 5,000 coal fired power plants and are building 600 more to provide their populations with scalable, reliable, and affordable electricity, that will continue to increase emissions.
    • o Since 1990 CO2 emissions from the Developed world have decreased, whereas the Developing world has shown a fourfold increase since 1985.  This differential has arisen because of:
      • the off shoring of major CO2 emitting industries to parts of the world that have less rigorous environmental standards or who care less about CO2 emissions.
      • the growing use of Coal-firing for electricity generation in the Developing world.

The primary reason that the climate cult is voraciously against transparency of any data about intermittent electricity from wind and solar favored by them, is that they would need to justify to the rural, poor, minority and working-class families and communities that  the public needs to accept  the worldwide ecological, health and economic damages being inflicted in pursuit of their pseudo-renewable electricity utopia. Additionally, for those that can least afford the passion for intermittent electricity, they need to morally accept that Africans, Asians, and Latin Americans must endure slave labor status to advance the climate cult agenda.

Let us hope the now-silent majority can restore law, order, civil debate, thoughtful reflection on our complex history, and rational resolution of these thorny problems as current climate policies are essentially discriminatory toward poor people and minorities worldwide.

Ronald Stein is Founder and Ambassador for Energy & Infrastructure of PTS Advance, headquartered in Irvine, California.

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily.

California City Dwellers Vote With Their SUVs

As my daughter recently searched for a new apartment in San Francisco’s typically overheated market, she experienced an unusual situation: Falling rent prices, less competition for available units and – get this – landlords who were calling her to sweeten the deal. Prices still are astoundingly high, but the supply-and-demand dynamic has noticeably shifted. Rents are down 5 percent in the city and even more in some nearby communities as people leave the area.

The outmigration has been evident long before COVID-19. “Real-estate site Redfin found that San Francisco lost more residents than any other city in the US in the last quarter of 2017,” according to a recent report in Business Insider. “A 2018 survey from the Bay Area Council advocacy group found that 46 percent of residents said they planned to leave the region.”

Of course, the coronavirus situation has accelerated the trend. The most obvious reason: People increasingly are working at home. There’s little reason to pay outlandish prices — the median home price in San Francisco (including condos) is $1.3 million — when you can live in a more affordable and spacious home elsewhere. San Francisco remains a beautiful and energetic place, but it’s easy to visit on the weekends and avoid the day-to-day hassles.

Pundits have debated the role of population density in spreading diseases such as the coronavirus. I don’t think people are leaving out of fear of the virus, per se — but because of the heavy-handed approaches big-city officials have taken toward dealing with its spread. In my Sacramento exurb, the shutdowns were a nuisance, but life went on largely as before. In San Francisco and other dense cities, normal life came to a halt. No one wants to be a prisoner in a 600-square-foot apartment.

“After months of forced stillness, unable to make many major decisions or follow through on some already planned, people are jumping into one of the biggest life changes there is and moving out of cities,” the Washington Post reported this month. Myriad news stories provide anecdotal evidence of people of all age groups fleeing for greener, lower-density pastures. The softening urban real-estate markets suggest there’s more to this than hype.

The unraveling social order in many big cities is another likely cause of the exodus. There’s nothing wrong with peaceful protests against police abuse and racial inequality, but the riots, looting and creation of wacky “autonomous zones” in downtown areas add to the already sprawling homeless crisis that makes urban life increasingly intolerable.

Given the generally incompetent elected leadership of San Francisco and most other major cities, there’s a ballpark-zero chance that they will adopt the right policies to improve the quality of life. In fact, urban residents in California can expect yet another wave of tax increases to help clean up the mess. Anti-eviction ordinances will discourage people from maintaining rental properties. The recent shutdowns are obliterating small restaurants and businesses, which undermines one of the pleasures of living in urban environments. Things might get worse before they get better.

Ironically, California officials have long tried to force people, through urban growth boundaries, to live in higher-density surroundings. The state has shifted its transportation priorities away from freeway and road building toward transit systems and bike lanes. State officials have punished counties for permitting single-family suburban-style developments. The goal is cram more people into the existing urban footprint — and leave the remaining outskirts as permanent open space.

I have nothing against urban living, but it ought to be a choice rather than a government mandate. Increasingly, we see the public resisting these edicts. Who can blame them? The New Urbanists believe that living cheek-by-jowl will create social harmony by increasing interactions with our neighbors. But life in San Francisco, Seattle, and New York City hardly is a utopian dream. These cities seem to be the least harmonious places around.

urthermore, transit systems are a miserable way to get around, which might explain why transit ridership is falling nationwide (with a handful of exceptions). Once again, people are voting with their feet — or at least with their mini-SUVs. Progressives have been pushing for urbanization, but have never grappled with this reality: The political leaders in urban areas have made a mess of everything, from schools systems to housing markets. They’ve made urban life unpleasant.

We all know how San Francisco has turned over large expanses of public spaces to the homeless and pays six-figure salaries to city workers who scoop poop from the sidewalks. I write this not as a San Francisco basher, but as someone who loves the city and is heartbroken at the way poor policy choices are making it so unlivable. Such cities, which have become home mainly to the super-wealthy and the destitute, should never be the model for an entire state.

On a sidenote, I suspect that so many young people have taken to the streets in protest not mainly because of concerns about policing and racial inequality — but because of a general sense of despair at their future prospects. Thanks to policies that have driven home prices into the theater of the absurd, even gainfully employed San Franciscans view home ownership, that bedrock of middle-class aspiration and family formation, as an unreachable goal.

No wonder so many Americans are leaving these places and heading toward suburbs, small towns, and rural areas. As always, people vote with their feet. I don’t blame coronavirus for that trend — but I do blame the politicians whose policies have left most people with few other choices.

Steven Greenhut is Western region director for the R Street Institute. Write to him at [email protected]

This article was originally published by the American Spectator