Thea Hood: To recall or not to recall?
Although allowed by our Constitution for any reason, what makes a recall credible? In the upcoming recall election of Gov. Gavin Newsom, do we see a corrupt leader or merely a group of discontented citizens?
First of all, a recall lacks credibility if it is partisan. The July Berkeley IGS Poll found that 47% of California voters most likely to participate in the recall election favor the recall of Newsom. Considering that only 25% of California voters registered as Republicans, who makes up the remaining voters?
Second, a recall possesses more credibility if it is led by the citizens of the state, not by a disgruntled politician or opposing political party. Newsom’s recall was started by a private citizen and has remained a citizen’s movement. The recall is not led by the Republican Party, as some have claimed, although they do endorse it. It is a citizen’s movement.
Third, a recall becomes inevitable if a politician betrays the trust of its citizens. So, let’s investigate. Has Newsom betrayed the trust of California’s citizens?
During his first year in office, Newsom signed and enforced AB 5, which bans independent workers. Hundreds of thousands of Californians, of all political ideologies, cried as their careers and livelihoods were totally destroyed. Many angry groups sprang up in opposition to AB 5, including Freelancers Against AB 5, a Facebook group which soon garnered 20,000 members — mainly Democrats.
At a cost of $21 million to taxpayers, Newsom ruthlessly enforced AB 5 through fines, penalties, harassment and bullying of those struggling to survive. Newsom unmercifully destroyed the lives of countless California citizens of all political parties, while appeasing the special interest lobbyists who wanted to force independent workers to join their unions so they could collect more dues.
Who do these lobbyists represent? To name just a few: PG&E, education unions, labor unions, state unions — now all frantically trying to prevent Newsom’s recall. And, by the way, the only current legislator who refuses to accept special interest money is Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, a name to remember.
Next, during Newsom’s second year in office, the pandemic hit. Newsom sprang into action — not to protect the citizens of California, but to grant himself emergency powers to rule unilaterally, for as long as he saw fit. The legislative arm of our government did not meet nor was it consulted for many months since Newsom decided he could run the state better by himself — an example of one-man-rule. And the pandemic provided the cover he needed.
During the pandemic, Newsom changed over 400 laws by fiat, through his 58 executive orders, ignoring the voice of Californians. He also created new laws, many unrelated to the pandemic or public health, all without legislative input — an example of blatant executive overreach, questioned even by his own party.
One of the most questionable unilateral deals Newsom made during the pandemic involved the attempted $1 billion no-bid purchase of grossly overpriced N95 masks through a California affiliate (whose lobbyist contributed $40,000 to Newsom’s gubernatorial campaign) for masks made in China from a company banned by the federal government — masks which ended up being rejected by a federal regulator for inferior quality. When there are no checks and balances, mistakes and corruption inevitably occur.
Meanwhile, as Newsom kept busy rewarding his lobbyists, he neglected his duties as governor to the people, evidenced by the declining state of affairs in California:
— Highest homeless population of any state, with a growth rate of 7% to 161,000.
— Highest state income tax of any state at 13%.
— Highest housing costs compared to income and value of a dollar.
— Highest gas tax in nation, with automatic yearly increases to repair roads.
— Roughest roads in nation.
— Most wildfires in nation.
— Most power outages of any state.
— Highest state debt in nation.
— Least educated state: 83% of adults completed high school (national average is 90%).
— Net population loss of 203,000 Californians.
Newsom is also guilty of blatantly overriding the votes of the citizens to pass his own laws in areas such as rent control and the death penalty; releasing criminals back onto the streets; giving illegal immigrants welfare, medical insurance, housing, education, food stamps and cell phones, while denying tax-paying citizens the same; failing to resolve water shortages; sending $1 billion in unemployment checks to prisoners, while millions of citizens are still waiting; providing sanctuary to illegal immigrants and criminals; blocking pharmacies from conducting COVID-19 testing; not utilizing 99.9% of workers signed up to help on the health-care front lines, due to union pressure; etc.
As you vote to “recall” or “not recall” Gov. Gavin Newsom, remember these three aspects of his reign: He rewards special interest lobbyists who control him rather than the citizens who elected him; he appeases the media who promote him rather than the citizens who elected him; and he rules the state unilaterally with no checks and balances, thus discrediting the voice of the Legislature and the citizens of California, regardless of political party.
He betrayed our trust. You don’t need to look any further than the French Laundry to see his true colors.
Thea Hood is a retired college professor, having taught in Australia, Zimbabwe, South Korea and California. She lives in Penn Valley.
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“You’ve heard me say this before: Every acre can and will burn someday in this state” — Cal Fire Director Thom Porter.