If you have to keep moving the goalposts – your cause is invalid.
This blog post is an update about the California recall election, which was pushed by Trump supporters and/or Republicans. The group behind the recall, and all who signed it, are trying to steal an election. They keep moving the goalposts about why they want Governor Newsom to face a recall election. That’s a huge sign that their cause is invalid – and they know it.
The Republicans Behind the Recall Keep Moving the Goalpost
The first goalpost:
On April 1, 2021, Desert Sun reported that the man behind the push to Recall Newsom is Orrin Heatlie. According to the article, Orrin Heatlie found a video of California Gov. Gavin Newsom instructing immigrants in the country illegally not to open their doors to law enforcement unless the officers had a warrant.
In the article, Orrin Heatlie was described as a Republican who had a 25-year career in law enforcement, and who was a police sergeant.
The filing deadline for this recall was March 17, 2021 – but a judge gave the recall proponents an extra 120 days to collect signatures.
The second goalpost – throw it against the wall and see what sticks
Here are some of the reasons put on the ballot by the recall proponents:
- “Laws he [Governor Newsom] has implemented laws which are detrimental to the citizens of this state and our way of life.”
There isn’t any clear information about what laws the proponents are referring to, or how those laws are detrimental to their way of life. Personally, I think this is in there just to rile people up. It is unclear what, exactly “detrimental to our way of life”. means.
- “Laws he endorsed favor foreign nationals, in our country, illegally, over that of our own citizens.”
There is no clarification about what laws the proponents are referring to. We know that Orrin Heatlie was angered after watching a video of Governor Newsom instructing immigrants in the country illegally not to open their doors to law enforcement unless the officer had a warrant.
However, people who are citizens of the United States are also allowed to refuse to open the door to law enforcement unless the officer had a warrant. Both groups can do that. No one is being favored.
If I had to guess, the proponents could be referring to information on HealthCare.gov titled: “Health coverage for immigrants”. It says:
Immigrant families have important details to consider in the Health Insurance Marketplace. You’ll find information on rules and options for immigrants on these pages.
Most people in the following groups are eligible for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace: U.S. Citizens, U.S. Nationals, Lawfully present immigrants.
Undocumented immigrants aren’t eligible to buy Marketplace health coverage or premium tax credits and other savings on Marketplace plans. But they may apply for coverage on behalf of documented individuals.
- “People in this state suffer the highest taxes in the nation, the highest homelessness rates, and the lowest quality of life as a result.”
Sacramento Bee posted an article on February 20, 2020, titled: “Here’s how long Californians have to work to pay off taxes – and how other states compare”. From the article:
“California’s tax burden is higher than most states – but a lot of other states have it worse.
That’s the finding of a report from the nonpartisan Tax Foundation. It assigns each state a “Tax Freedom Day”, the day when residents of a state have collectively earned enough money to pay their total tax bill for the year.
Californians in theory had to work until April 20 last year to pay those bills, four days longer than the national average. The state is in a 38th place tie for highest tax burden, along with Maine and Washington…
California is in a tie with 38 other states for the highest tax burden. That means California does not have a higher tax burden than most states. It has the same tax burden as 37 other states.
50 states – minus the 38 states who have the same tax burden as California – leaves 13 states. The petitioners are wrong about this claim. The 13 states with lower tax burdens than California do not constitute “most states”.
- California has “the highest homeless rates…”
National Alliance to End Homelessness posted a “State of Homelessness: 2020 Edition”. It includes a map that people can scroll over in order to see the number of homeless people in each state.
- New York: 92,091 people experiencing homelessness – 47 homeless people per 10,000
- California: 151,278 people experiencing homelessness – 38 homeless people per 10,000
- Oregon: 15,876 people experiencing homelessness – 38 homeless people per 10,000
- Washington: 21,577 people experiencing homelessness – 29 homeless people per 10,000
- Massachusetts: 18,479 people experiencing homelessness – 27 homeless people per 10,000
The important part to look at is the number of homeless people per 10,000. Looking only at the population of a state – and the number of homeless people in that state – will give you incorrect results. This is because each state has its own population, which varies from state to state. The number of homeless people per 10,000 in each state gives a clearer view.
New York has the highest number of homeless people per 10,000. California and Oregon are tied for second place. Washington has the next highest number, followed by Massachusetts. The data, when read correctly, does not say that California has the highest homeless rate in the United States.
- “He has imposed sanctuary state status and fails to enforce immigration laws”
That is false. TIME reported an article in 2017 titled: “California Just Became a ‘Sanctuary State.’ Here’s What That Means.”
…California Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed a so-called “sanctuary state” bill that will limit cooperation between local officials and federal immigration enforcement. The measure is one of the most high-profile ways that Democrats in the state have sought to push back against the Republican agenda, as President Donald Trump has taken an hard line and other issues that are significant to Golden State lawmakers…
Clearly, it wasn’t Governor Gavin Newsom who “imposed” so-called ‘sanctuary state’ laws. Those laws went into affect while Governor Jerry Brown was in office. The proponents of the recall are angry at the wrong governor.
- “He has unilaterally over-ruled the will of the people regarding the death-penalty.”
Politico posted an article on March 12, 2019, titled: “Newsom to sign moratorium on executions in California”. From the article:
Gov. Gavin Newsom, arguing that the death penalty overwhelmingly discriminates against racial minorities and the poor, will sign an order Wednesday placing a moratorium on executions in California, according to his office. The move serves as an immediate reprieve for hundreds of prisoners currently housed on the nation’s largest Death Row.
Newsom’s executive order, to be signed Wednesday morning, withdraws California’s lethal injection protocol and immediately mandates the closure of the execution chamber at San Quentin State Prison, in Marin County. While the governor’s order will be a reprieve for 737 prisoners sentenced to death – including 24 who have exhausted all appeals – Newsom’s office stressed that his order would not provide for the release of any inmates or alter their convictions or sentences…
…California has not executed a prisoner since 2006, when a federal judge ruled that the state’s three-drug lethal injection protocol was unconstitutional and represented cruel and unusual punishment.
The state produced new lethal injection regulations in early 2018, but the process for reinstatement has been left tangled in the courts, facing challenges by the American Civil Liberties Union…
…As a basis for Newsom’s executive order, sources in the governor’s office offered statistics to suggest that the death sentence is overwhelmingly applied to people of color — who represent six in 10 people on California’s Death Row — and to those who have suffered from severe developmental disabilities, brain damage and childhood trauma…
…“Here is the bottom line: Our death penalty system has been — by any measure — a failure,’’ Newsom said in his statement. “It has discriminated against defendants who are mentally ill, black and brown, or can’t afford expensive legal representation. It has provided no public safety benefit or value as a deterrent. It has wasted billions of taxpayer dollars.”
“But most of all, the death penalty is absolute, irreversible and irreparable in the event of human error,” Newsom said….
Wikipedia has more information about Capital Punishment in California. Here are some key points:
A coalition of death penalty opponents, including law enforcement officials, murder victims’ family members, and wrongly convicted people launched an initiative campaign for the “Savings, Accountability, and Full Enforcement for California Act,” or SAFE California, in the 2011-2012 election cycle. The measure, which became Proposition 34, would replace the death penalty with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, require people sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole to work in order to pay restitution to victims’ families, and allocate approximately $30 million per year for three years to police departments for the purpose of solving open murder and rape cases. Supporters of the measure raised $6.5 million, dwarfing the $1 million raised by opponents of Proposition 34. The proposition was defeated with 52% against and 48% in favor.
Those numbers, 52% against, and 48% in favor, is really close for a ballot initiative. This data clearly shows that almost half of California voters were in favor of Proposition 34, and just a tiny bit more than half of California voters were against Proposition 34. That tiny margin between the two groups is not enough to define what the “will of the people” actually was.
After Governor Gavin Newsom placed a moratorium on the death penalty, by executive order, the state closed the Death Chamber at San Quentin State Prison. The Death Chamber was subsequently dismantled by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Although some pro-death penalty advocates have stated otherwise, no person sentenced to death in California was released or had their conviction or sentenced altered due to the promulgation of the Executive Order. (Emphasis mine.)
- “He seeks to impose additional burdens on our state by the following: removing the protections of Proposition 13…”
Ballotpedia has some information about Proposition 13. The first one was called “Tax Limitations Initiative”. It was on the ballot as an initiated constitutional amendment in California on June 6, 1978. It was pushed by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, a California based non-profit lobbying and policy organization that advocates against raising taxes in California.
The ballot initiative was designed to:
- require that properties be taxed at no more than 1 percent of their full cash value shown on the 1975-1976 assessment rolls and limit annual increases of (taxable) value to the inflation rate or 2 percent, whichever was less.
- upon the transfer of properties, allow them to be reassessed at one percent of their sale price and reset the limit on annual increases of assessed value.
- prohibit the state legislature from enacting new taxes on the value or sale of properties
- require a two-thirds vote of the state legislature to increase non-property taxes.
- require local governments to refer to special taxes to the ballot and require a two-thirds vote of electors.
- make the state government responsible for distributing property tax revenue among local governments.
This ballot initiative passed with 65.79% of voters saying YES, and 35.21% of voters saying NO.
In 2010, there was another Proposition 13 titled: “Seismic Retrofitting Reassessment Exemption Amendment”.
Here is what this Proposition 13 was designed to do:
- Provides that construction to seismically retrofit existing buildings will not trigger reassessment of property tax value, regardless of the type of building.
- Sets a statewide standard for the types of seismic retrofit improvements exempt from reassessment.
- Limits the exemption from reassessment to specific components or construction or reconstruction that qualify as seismic retrofit improvements, as defined by the Legislature.
In short, this was about making buildings safer from earthquakes by adding structures that would work in ways that would prevent the building from collapsing. It was also about ensuring that homeowners (or building owners) wouldn’t end up with a higher tax rate because of the retrofitting.
This Proposition 13 passed with 85.97% of voters saying YES and 15.03% of voters saying NO.
Wikipedia has information about the 2020 Proposition 13 which was titled: “Public Preschool, K-12, and College Health and Safety Bond Act of 2020”. It was on the March 2020 ballot.
Here’s what this Proposition 13 would have done:
- Allowed the state to borrow $15 billion by selling general obligation bonds, and would allocate $9 billion for K-12 facilities statewide as well as $2 billion for the state’s community college system, $2 billion for the University of California, and $2 billion for the California State University.
- Of the $9 billion earmarked for preschool and K-12 schools, $5.2 billion would have gone towards renovating existing facilities. $2.8 billion would have gone towards new school construction, and the remaining $1 billion would have been evenly split between career technical sites and charter schools.
- Smaller preschool and K-12 schools would have received priority for funding.
- The measure would have funded asbestos removal, seismic retrofitting and other capital improvements on various California preschool, K-12, and college campuses.
- The measure contained provisions that would have eliminated school impact fees on multifamily housing development within half a mile of train and bus stations.
- The measure would have loosened limits on local school district borrowing. High school and elementary school districts would have been allowed to borrow 2 percent of the assessed value of nearby properties, up from 1.25 percent. Unified school districts, along with community college districts, would have been able to borrow 4 percent of the assessed value of nearby properties, up from 2.5 percent.
- School districts that were less able to raise funding for construction projects with underserved student populations (being determined by the percent of low-income students, foster youth, or English language learners in the district) would have been eligible for matching state funds, for upwards of 55 to 65 percent of the total project cost. This initiative required unionized labor for these projects.
This proposition 13 failed to pass. 53.0% of voters said NO. 47% of voters said yes. There was only a small percentage of difference between the NO group and the YES group.
Why do the proponents of the recall think that Governor Gavin Newsom “removed the protections of Proposition 13?” There is no clear answer to that question to be found in the recall ballot information. As such, I decided to do a little digging to see what they could possibly mean with that claim.
On January 14, 2021, the Office of Governor Gavin Newsom website posted a press release titled: “Governor Newsom Launches Transparency, Accountability and Assistance Measures in the State’s Safe Schools for All Plan.” From the press release:
Governor Gavin Newsom announced the launch of transparency, accountability, and assistance measures related to the Safe Schools for All Plan. The Safe Schools for All Hub… was launched as a one-stop shop for information about safe in-person instruction, and will be updated frequently…
…Today’s announcement follows on the December unveiling of the Safe Schools for All Plan, and reflects on the best available science regarding safe in-person instruction, which the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) recently summarized. The Plan is built on four pillars (1) funding; (2) safety & mitigation; (3) oversight & assistance; and (4) transparency & accountability.
The four pillars of the Governor’s Safe Schools for All Plan advance a comprehensive, multi-faceted strategy to ensure that, as transmission rates decrease, the first priority for California communities is to resume in-person instruction. Schools should reopen safely according to a phased-in approach that prioritizes our youngest students and students disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, including students with disabilities.
The Governor’s 2021-22 State Budget proposed a historic level of funding for schools – nearly $90 billion, including $3.8 billion above the Proposition 98 Guarantee, fulfilling a long-term commitment to treat the Guarantee as a floor, not a ceiling.
The Budget proposes early action to provide relief to schools managing the pandemic:
- Expanded Learning ($4.6 billion). The Governor proposes $4.6 billion for schools to expand educational opportunities, including summer school, prioritizing students from low-income families, homeless youth, and others disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
- In-Person Instruction ($2 billion). The Governor also proposes immediate action on $2 billion for schools to safely resume in-person instruction, prioritizing schools that are safely open now or plan to safely reopen in February and March…
These proposed investments build in existing state and federal funds to support school responses to COVID-19, including $5.3 billion from California’s 2020-21 State Budget, $1.8 billion from CARES Act I and $6.7 billion from CARES Act II. For example, by February 2021, Los Angeles Unified School District will have received an average of more than $2 million per school to support quality distance learning and to safely resume in-person instruction…
My best guess is that because the Safe Schools for All Plan requires money to be spent on schools – and because the most recent Proposition 13 also involved funding for schools – that is why the proponents of the recall election are against it. They think that funding for schools – especially schools that are woefully underfunded – somehow “removes the protections of Proposition 13.”
- “He seeks to impose additional burdens on our state by the following: … rationing our water use…”
On July 8, 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom posted a press release titled: “As Drought Conditions Intensify, Governor Newsom Calls on Californians to Take Simple Actions to Conserve Water”. From the press release:
Amid intensifying drought and record-breaking temperatures across the Western United States, Governor Gavin Newsom today added nine counties to the regional drought state of emergency and called on Californians to voluntarily reduce their water use by 15 percent with simple measures to protect water reserves if drought conditions continue and to help maintain critical flows for fish and wildlife whenever possible…
…The Governor today signed an Executive Order calling on all Californians to voluntarily reduce their water use by 15 percent compared to 2020 levels through simple actions such as reducing landscape irrigation, running dishwashers and washing machines only when full, finding and fixing leaks, installing water-efficient showerheads and taking shorter showers. These voluntary efforts complement specific local conservation goals already in place in some communities experiencing acute water shortage conditions this summer.
State officials estimate that an additional 15 percent voluntary reduction by urban water users from 2020 levels could save as much as 850,000 acre-feet of water over the next year for future use, or enough to supply more than 1.7 million households for a year…
The key word in this press release is voluntary. No one is being forced to comply with the executive order. As such, saying that Governor Newsom is “rationing our water use” is misinformation. People are being asked to do that themselves, voluntarily. People who are selfish can ignore the executive order and face no penalty. There are no “additional burdens” in this situation.
- “He seeks to impose additional burdens on our state by the following: …increasing taxes…”
Ballotpedia has some background on what taxes were increased, why they were increased, and what the higher taxes would be used on. Here is some key information:
The California Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 (RRAA), also known as Senate Bill 1 (SB 1) was enacted into law on April 28, 2017. The RRAA increased transportation-related taxes and fees, including the gas tax, diesel excise tax, and diesel sales tax, and was designed to dedicate the revenue to transportation infrastructure. The increased taxes went into effect on November 1, 2017. According to the state Senate Appropriations Committee, the RRAA was expected to generate an estimated $5.2 billion per year or $52.4 billion between 2017 and 2027.
Most Democrats in the California State Legislature supported the RRAA. Most Republicans in the California State Legislature voted against it. Governor Jerry Brown signed the legislation into law, saying, “Safe and smooth roads make California a better place to live and strengthen our economy. This legislation will put people to work.”
Once again, the proponents of the recall are angry at the wrong governor. Governor Jerry Brown signed the RRAA into law. Governor Gavin Newsom was not elected until 2018.
In 2018, California Proposition 6 “Voter Approval for Future Gas and Vehicle Taxes and 2017 Tax Repeal Initiative (2018)” was placed on the ballot in California as an initiated constitutional amendment on November 6, 2018. Ballotpedia has more details:
A YES vote supported this initiative to:
- repeal fuel tax increase and vehicle fees that were enacted in 2017, including the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 (RRAA) and
- require voter approval (via ballot propositions) for the California State Legislature to impose, increase, or extend fuel taxes or vehicle fees in the future.
A NO vote opposed this initiative, thus:
- keeping the fuel tax increases and vehicle fees that were enacted in 2017, including the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 (RRAA) in place, and
- allowing the state legislature to continue to impose, increase, or extend fuel taxes or vehicle fees through a two-thirds vote of each chamber and without voter approval.
A total of 43.18% of voters said YES. A total of 56.82% of voters said NO. California Proposition 6 failed.
CBS Los Angeles reported the following:
…The push to repeal the gas tax was spearheaded by former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio, and funded in part by Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox, who co-authored a ballot argument that dismissed contentions that the tax hike was critical to fixing the state’s roads and improving transportation in the state.
Opponents, among them Gov. Jerry Brown, had blasted the proposition and dismissed it as a “Republican stunt to get a few of their losers returned to Congress”.
Governor Newsom was elected in 2018, but his term did not start until 2019. He defeated his Republican opponent, John Cox. Governor Jerry Brown was still in office when California Proposition 6 was on the ballot. It would be incorrect to blame Governor Newsom for the results. I suppose the proponents of the recall election would be correct to blame the voters – but that probably wouldn’t be as “flashy” as some of their other claims.
It would also be incorrect to blame Governor Newsom for the effects of a bill that a previous legislature voted for, that a previous Governor signed into law, and that survived an attempt to remove it via Proposition before he became Governor.
The RRAA was designed to incrementally increase the tax on gas, over years. CBS Los Angeles provided some information about this in an article that was posted on July 1, 2021. From the article:
Californians going to the pump will likely notice another increase in gas prices Thursday, as a new state gas tax hike takes effect.
The new tax will increase the price of regular six-tenths of a cent, which will bring the state gas excise tax to 51.1 cents per gallon. The tax on diesel will increase by four-tenths of a cent to 38.9 cents.
The hike is part of Senate Bill 1, the Road Repair & Accountability Act, which the California Legislature passed in April of 2017 and includes increases in gas taxes and vehicle registration fees. The money raised by the gas tax goes towards paying for bridge and road repairs.
The tax increases annually based on the California Consumer Price Index.
When it took effect in November of 2017, it increased the gas tax by 12 cents. It then went up another 5.6 cents in July of 2019., to 47.3 cents per gallon. It went up another 3.2 cents in July of 2020 to 50.5 cents…
…The average price of gas in Los Angeles County Thursday was $4.31 a gallon. Southern California gas prices are currently at their highest rate since 2015…
It is understandable that people would be angry about the cost of gas going up. This is especially true for people who didn’t bother to get online to find out why the cost was getting higher. Claiming that Governor Gavin Newsom caused this is not only incorrect, it is also misinformation.
- “He seeks to impose additional burdens on our state by the following: …restricting parental rights.”
This is an incredibly vague claim. We are left to guess what parental rights the proponents of the recall were referring to. That leaves this claim open to changing what rights it refers to, again and again, if the proponents want to stir up like-minded people.
On July 17, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom posted a press release titled: “Governor Gavin Newsom Lays Out Pandemic Plan for Learning and Safe Schools”. From the press release:
…Governor Gavin Newsom today announced his plan for learning and safe schools ahead of the 2020-2021 school year, as the California Department of Public Health issued a framework for when and how schools should reopen for in-person instruction…
…The Governor’s plan centers on five key areas:
1 Safe in-person school based on local health data
The California Department of Public Health today issued updated school guidance that includes using existing epidemiological metrics to determine if school districts can start in-person instruction. CDPH currently uses six indicators to track the level of COVID-19 infection in each California county as well as the preparedness of the county health care system – data that includes the number of new infections per 100,000 residents, the test positivity rate, and the change in hospitalization rate, among others. Any county that does not meet the state’s benchmarks is put on the County Monitoring List.
Schools located in counties that are on the Monitoring List must not physically open for in-person instruction until their county has come off the Monitoring List for 14 consecutive days. Schools in counties that have not been on the Monitoring List for the prior 14 days may begin in-person instruction, following public health guidance. School community members – including parents, teachers, staff and students – can track daily data on whether and why their county is on the Monitoring List…
The Department also issued updated guidance for when schools must physically close and revert to distance learning because of COVID-19 infections. Following a confirmed case of a student who was at school during his or her infectious period, other exposed students and staff should be quarantined for 14 days. The school should revert to distance learning when multiple cohorts have cases or 5 percent of students and staff test positive within a 14-day period. The district should revert to distance learning when 25 percent or more of its schools have been physically closed due to COVID-19 within 14 days. Closure decisions should be made in consultation with local health officers. After 14 days, school districts may return to in-person instruction with the approval of the local public health officer.
2 Strong mask requirements for anyone in the school
In the updated guidance, all staff and students in 3rd grade and above will be required to wear a mask or face covering. Students in 2nd grade and below are strongly encouraged to wear a face covering. Students should be provided a face covering if they do not have one. The state has delivered over 18 million face coverings to schools to support them to reopen and ensure all students can participate in learning.
3 Physical distancing requirements and other adaptations
In the updated guidance, CDPH requires that all adults stay 6 feet from one another and 6 feet away from children, while students should maintain 6 feet of distance from one another as practicable. Anyone entering the school must do a health screen, and any student or staff exhibiting a fever or other symptoms will be immediately sent home. The guidance also provides that if anyone in a student or staff member’s household is sick, they too should stay home.
4 Regular testing and dedicated contact tracing for outbreaks at schools
The public health guidance recommends staff in every California school be tested for COVID-19 periodically based on local disease trends and as testing capacity allows. The Governor also announced today that the state will provide resources and technical assistance for COVID-19 investigations in school settings.
5 Rigorous distance learning
Over the course of the pandemic, most schools will likely face physical closure at some point due to COVID-19. The Legislature and Governor Newsom enacted a budget that provided $5.3 billion in additional funding to support learning, and set requirements to ensure schools provide rigorous and grade-appropriate instruction. Under newly enacted state law, school districts are required to provide:
- Devices and connectivity so that every child can participate in distance learning.
- Daily live interaction for every child with teachers and other students.
- Class assignments that are challenging and equivalent to in-person instruction.
- Targeted supports and interventions for English learners and special education students.
On August 8, 2020, CBS Los Angeles posted an article titled: “Southern California Parents Sue Gov. Newsom Over Restrictions On In-Person Schooling”. From the article:
Parents across Southern California are suing Governor Gavin Newsom over restrictions on in-person schooling, alleging that those restrictions have deprived children across the state of the opportunity for meaningful education…
On August 13, 2020, NBC News posted an article titled: “California parents sue Gov. Gavin Newsom to open schools for in-person learning.” It was written by Elisha Fieldstadt. From the article:
Parents who are suing the governor of California to allow schools to open for in-person learning said Thursday that their children are suffering academically and psychologically…
…California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced last month that all schools – both public and private – in counties that are on the list for rising coronavirus cases could not resume in-person classes when school restarts, and would have to meet strict criteria before reopening.
At the time, 32 of the state’s 58 counties were on the list, including the majority of California’s population and its biggest cities – Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco, according to NBC Bay Area.
The state serves 6.7 million students are many of the state’s 1,000 school districts are set to start back up in mid-to-late August…
…The week Newsom announced his plan to mostly delay opening schools for in-person learning, California reported its second-highest one-day total in infection rates and deaths since the start of the pandemic. The following week, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in California surpassed New York’s total for the most in the United States…
…The California Teachers Association, which represents 310,000 members, agrees with Newsom.
“The health and safety of all students and staff must be first priority and guiding principle in opening public schools and colleges for the 2020-21 school year,” the association said. “When we physically return to school campuses, it needs to be planned and deliberate with safety and public health at the forefront of all decision-making and with the involvement of educators and parents.”
I was unable to find a lawsuit that was against Governor Gavin Newsom. Instead, I found a few lawsuits that were against a specific California county, or a specific California school district.
To me, this multitude of complaints given by proponents of the recall sound like a “throw everything against a wall and see what sticks” effort. Some of them are so vague that it would enable a person to fill in the blanks with whatever they wanted to. Some were against actions taken by previous governors.
The Third goalpost
On November 13, 2020, San Francisco Chronicle posted an article titled: “Newsom attended French Laundry party with more households than California advises during the pandemic.” It as written by Alexi Koseff. From the article:
Gov. Gavin Newsom attended a birthday party for a political adviser last week that included people from several households, the type of gathering his administration has discouraged during the coronavirus pandemic.
The dinner the night of Nov. 6 at the famed French Laundry in Yountville in Napa County brought together at least 12 people to celebrate the 50th birthday of Jason Kinney, a longtime friend and adviser to Newsom who is also a partner at the lobbying firm Axiom Advisors. In addition, to the governor, his wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, was in attendance.
State guidelines limit gatherings, defined as “social situations that bring together people from different households at the same time in a single space or place,” to no more than three households. Representatives for Kinney and Newsom declined to specify how many households the diners represented, but did not dispute that it was more than three.
Nathan Click, communications director for Newsom, initially defended the birthday celebration because it took place outdoors at a restaurant, which must follow separate coronavirus safety regulations developed by the state for the dining industry. That guidance is silent on whether people from more than three households can dine together.
After The Chronicle published a story online about the dinner, Newsom issued an additional statement acknowledging the party was an error in judgement.
“While our family followed the restaurant’s health protocols and took safety precautions, we should have modeled better behavior and not joined the dinner,” the governor said…
What is the French Laundry? According to Wikipedia, The French Laundry is a French and American restaurant located in Yountville, California, in the Napa Valley. The chef and owner of the French Laundry is Thomas Keller. The restaurant building dates from 1900 and was added to the list of National Register of Historic Places in 1978.
On November 16, 2020, Los Angeles Times posted an article titled: “Newsom apologizes for French Laundry dinner amid COVID-19”. It was written by Taryn Luna and Phil Wilson. From the article:
Gov. Gavin Newsom apologized Monday for visiting a Napa Valley restaurant with people from other households, saying his behavior contradicted the spirit of the safety guidelines and precautions he asked Californians to adhere to during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I want to apologize to you because I need to preach and practice, not just preach and not practice, and I’ve done my best to do that,” Newsom said. “We’re all human. We all fall short sometimes.”
Newsom acknowledged that the faux pas may result in a loss of his moral authority on the coronavirus as California experiences a major surge in cases. The governor discussed his own behavior on the same day that he announced a reversal of his reopening plans and ordered 28 counties to return to the purple tier – 94% of Californians will be under the state’s most restrictive guidelines as of Tuesday…
…Newsom and his wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, attended a birthday party for his political advisor Jason Kinney, a registered lobbyist, at the Michelin-starred French Laundry restaurant in Yountville on Nov. 6, first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle. The governor visited the restaurant with more than three other households at the same time that he and his administration were warning Californians not to gather with their own families during Thanksgiving.
California’s COVID-19 safety guidelines limit the number of households at a private gathering, but do not explicitly impose those same rules on restaurant patrons. State guidelines updated in November allow private gatherings of no more than three households at a park or outdoor space. Rules for dining say restaurants should “limit the number of patrons at a single table to a household unit or patrons who have asked to be seated together,” without stating any limits on the number of households that can sit at a table…
On November 23, 2020, Politico posted an article titled: “French Laundry snafu reignites longshot Newsom recall drive”. It was written by Carla Marinucci. From the article:
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s pandemic group outing to the French Laundry and his decision to send his kids to in-person private school are reigniting talk of a recall that was once relegated to the fringes of conservative groups in deep blue California.
In a collision of unfortunate events for Newsom, conservative activists last week won a 120-day court extension to continue gathering recall signatures, and they’re hoping to capitalize on events so damaging for the governor that he has avoided reporters for a week despite an escalating pandemic crisis…
…Before Newsom’s foibles, the governor had strong approval ratings in October, approaching 60 percent overall, while Democrats enjoy nearly a 2-to-1 registration advantage over Republicans in the state. But party activists are betting that a new round of business closures and a curfew during a fast-moving coronavirus spread – and the flurry of damaging French Laundry stories – will help them with another longshot bid that worked spectacularly in 2003…
…The order by Sacramento Superior Court Judge James P. Arguelles last week gives recall proponents – which include GOP donors, activists, and electeds – a 120-day extension until March 17 to gather signatures because he agreed they were unfairly limited by the Covid-19 pandemic…
…The bar is extremely high. Organizers would need to collect nearly 1.5 million valid signatures – which means they’d actually need closer to 2 million to feel confident because of the generally high share of invalid signers for any petition. And they would have to find all of these supporters during a pandemic, when voters are less accessible in person and uncomfortable interacting with signature gathers. Qualifying for a recall could take several million dollars, far more than 17 years ago…
The Fourth Goalpost
On March 16, 2021, Governing posted an article titled: “Why Gavin Newsom Is Likely to Survive Recall Threat”. It was written by Alan Greenblatt. From the article:
…Republicans complain that Newsom has botched the health response, keeping schools and businesses closed, while the state’s unemployment system was bilked for billions of dollars in fraudulent payments. “This historic recall movement is becoming a reality because millions of Californians are ready for change,” says Kevin Faulconer, a former San Diego mayor and Republican candidate for governor. “It’s time to turn the page on the failures of Gavin Newsom’s failed administration.”
In addition to the recall, Newsom faces a lawsuit from parents angry about schools still closed to in-person learning. The issue has trapped the governor between two important constituencies…
…Governors of most states that allow recalls either are facing or have faced recall attempts over the past year. During the pandemic, its become a common way for people to express dissatisfaction, whether they’re mad because restrictions are too severe or not sever enough. Newsom — the first governor to issue a stay-at-home order last year and one of the first to impose a statewide mask mandate — has faced a half-dozen recall attempts during his short time in office…
…So why are so many people signing? It doesn’t matter what the original impetus might be. Anyone with a grudge against the governor – over gun control or taxes, say – might sign. In Newsom’s case its clearly COVID-19 that’s the main driver.
“The big factor is pandemic fatigue,” says Kim Nalder, a Sacramento State University political scientist. “Psychologically, people want to have someone to blame. Anyone who was in this position at this time would be targeted”…
What was the EDD thing about?
On July 30, 2020, CBS San Francisco posted an article titled: “California Lawmakers Slam EDD for Slow Payouts During COVID-19 Pandemic”. From the article:
California lawmakers accused the leader of the state’s unemployment department of failing the pubic in a tense hearing Thursday that featured the stories of people waiting weeks or months to receive their benefits after losing their jobs because of the pandemic.
More than 1.2 million claims, about a fifth of all applicants, haven’t been paid out, either because the applicants haven’t taken the right steps or because they are ineligible, said Sharon Hillard, head of the Employment Development Department. It will take until September to process about 239,000 of those that are mostly ready to go but are backlogged…
…The coronavirus pandemic caused millions of Californians to lose their jobs starting in March, and the state paid out $55 billion, including federal dollars, across 9.3 million claims, Hillard said. Applications skyrocketed by more than 3,000% from March to May compared to January and February, according to the agency.
The hearing came a day after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a new “strike team” to improve the department. The agency has already spent millions contracting with outside vendors to improve its technology and provide more call center workers. By October, it plans to contract to completely redo its information technology system, a timeline lawmakers said wasn’t nearly quick enough…
…The strike team Newsom created will have 45 days to produce a report on how to make the agency more digital and consumer friendly. The agency will also begin weekly outreach to applicants who need to send in more information or certify their claims, which must be done every two weeks.
In other words, there are people who already didn’t like Governor Newsom who signed the petition because they were tired of the pandemic. The goalpost has been moved again.
This mess wasn’t caused by Governor Gavin Newsom, but some people are blaming him anyway. Eventually, it was discovered that there were a whole lot of people who obtained EDD benefits through fraud. Here’s a brief look at some of the fraud, which was posted on CBS San Francisco:
- A state prison inmate suspected of involvement in a COVID-19 unemployment fraud ring across inmates pleaded no contest to charges of conspiracy to commit fraud, San Mateo County prosecutors said.
- From March to August, more than 35,000 inmates were named in claims filed with the California Employment Development Department, with more than 20,000 being paid, according to Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert. At least 158 claims were filed for 133 death-row inmates, resulting in more than $420,000 in benefits paid.
- Five suspects were arrested in connection with bilking approximately $1 million from the California Employment Development Department (EDD), the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety announced Thursday. The department said it identified at least 100 potential victims of EDD fraud and there could be thousands more after officers discovered a treasure trove of evidence in the hotel room of a burglary suspect.
There are more stories about the EDD fraud, but this will do for the purposes of this blog.
In other words, there are people who already didn’t like Governor Newsom who signed the petition because they were tired of the pandemic and/or frustrated by the failures of the EDD. The goalpost has been moved again.
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