Author Archives: Editor

About Editor

I am a long time resident of San Francisco who has long been dismayed by Newsom's neoliberal, anti-homeless, pro-authoritarian, gentrifying, hypocritical policies.

Gavin Newsom vetoes sensible policies!

Likely because he feels that they might come to haunt him when he inevitably runs for president (and hopefully loses).

There is the veto of aid to destitute seniors who do not have documentation. Controversial in that the right wing might attack it.

Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed legislation late Sunday night that would have made undocumented seniors eligible for California’s cash assistance program. The bill, authored by Assemblyman Juan Carrillo, D-Palmdale, would have provided $1,100 to $1,900 per month to undocumented individuals who are blind, disabled or older than 65. Currently, California’s Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants (CAPI) is limited to people with eligible immigration status. The measure overwhelmingly passed the Legislature last month.

Then there is the veto of the sensible bill to provide free condoms to high school seniors. Again, the right might inflame hyesteria. Newsom, being none too intellectual himself, vetoed this bill.

The bill would have required all public schools that have grades nine through 12 to make condoms available for free to all students. It would have required public schools with grades seven through 12 to allow condoms to be made available as part of educational or public health programs.

The excuse was that the expense was too high. Yet, there were funds for electrifying buses.

Then there was the ban against decriminalizing psychedelics. There is no doubt the Scott Wiener is doing this so that corporations can profit through extract sales, but this is also a controversial move.

And the last thing Newsom wants is controversy!

But Newsom will support robo-trucks.

“I’m really hoping the robots take over sooner rather than later and give us increased safety,” Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), who chairs the body’s transportation committee, said during floor debate. Despite documented issues like vehicles stopping unexpectedly and blocking fire trucks, Friedman said, “DMV continues to issue permits for them to keep operating — I believe for profit reasons rather than public safety reasons.”

Do we see campaign contribution considerations involved here?

Finally, here is some cogent commentary from Jill Filipolic about Newsom’s overuse of his veto power.

Gavin Newsom allegedly blocks Meagan Markle’s phone number

Gavin Newsom allegedly blocks Meagan Markle’s phone number

Two comments here: First of all, there is no senate vacancy currently. Secondly, it is astonishing that this is news. Thirdly, she is not a US citizen and has no government experience. So how would that even be a possibility?

NY Times asks “Will Gavin Newsom gut CEQA?”…/newsom-california-building…

‘What the Hell Happened to the California of the ’50s and ’60s?’

By the time I talked to Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, he was clearly frustrated. “This is ridiculous,” he said. “These guys write reports and they protest. But we need to build. You can’t be serious about climate and the environment without reforming permitting and procurement in this state.”

It hurts to get hammered by your friends. And that’s what’s happening to Newsom. More than 100 environmental groups — including the Sierra Club of California and The Environmental Defense Center — are joining together to fight a package Newsom designed to make it easier to build infrastructure in California.

For Newsom, it’s a wounding break. “I licked envelopes for these nonprofits as a kid. My father was on the board of the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund for more than a decade,” he told me. “This was my life. But this rigidity and ideological purity is really going to hurt progress. I did the climate bills last year, and these same groups were celebrating that. But that means nothing unless we can deliver. That was the what; this is the how.”

The environmental movement is dealing with a bit of dog-that-caught-the-car confusion these days. Hundreds of billions of dollars are pouring into infrastructure for clean energy, and decarbonization targets that were once out of the question are being etched into law. That’s particularly true in California, which has committed to being carbon neutral, and to running its electricity grid on 100 percent clean energy, by 2045.

Hitting these goals requires California to almost quadruple the amount of electricity it can generate — and shift what it now gets from polluting fuels to clean sources. That means turning huge areas of land over to solar farms, wind turbines and geothermal systems. It means building the transmission lines to move that energy from where it’s made to where it’s needed. It means dotting the landscape with enough electric vehicle charging stations to make the state’s proposed ban on cars with internal combustion engines possible. Taken as a whole, it’s a construction task bigger than anything the state has ever attempted, and it needs to be completed at a speed that nothing in the state’s recent history suggests is possible.

California has become notorious not for what it builds, but for what it fails to build. And Newsom knows it. “I watched as a mayor and then a lieutenant governor and now governor as years became decades on high-speed rail,” he told me. “People are losing trust and confidence in our ability to build big things. People look at me all the time and ask, ‘What the hell happened to the California of the ’50s and ’60s?’”

But Newsom’s immediate problem is the Biden administration. Because it, too, has become focused on how difficult it has become to build — and not just in California. “These delays are pervasive at every level of government — federal, state and local,” John Podesta, a senior adviser to President Biden on clean energy, said in a speech last month. “We got so good at stopping projects that we forgot how to build things in America.”

The Biden administration is pumping hundreds of billions of dollars into decarbonization. And it wants to make sure it gets a return on that money. So it’s making states compete for federal grants, and one way it’s judging them is on whether the state has made it easy to build. That has become an issue for California.

“We’re agnostic as to where these investments go,” Jennifer Granholm, the secretary of energy, told the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. But California is competing against states that have done permitting reform, and they’re making that case. Her advice was blunt: “Whatever you can do to help bring the costs down to make yourselves competitive and to speed things up I think would go a long way to making more manufacturing come to this area.”

Adding to Newsom’s problems is that California’s recent surpluses have turned to deficits. He needs federal money, and lots of it, to make good on his climate promises. If California falls shorts on those grants, it falls short of its goals. “We’re going to lose billions and billions of dollars in the status quo,” he told me. “The state can’t backfill that. And we’re losing some of it to red states! I’m indignant about that. The beneficiaries of a lot of these dollars are red states that don’t give a damn about these issues, and they’re getting the projects. We’re not getting the money because our rules are getting in the way.”

The breadth of the opposition, and the emotion in Newsom’s defense, left me a bit unprepared for his actual permitting package, which is a collection of mostly modest, numbingly specific policies. When a lawsuit is brought under the California Environmental Quality Act, should all emails sent between agency staffers be part of the record, or only those communications seen by the decision makers? Should environmental litigation be confined to 270 days for certain classes of infrastructure? Should the California Department of Transportation contract jobs out by type, or does it need to run a new contracting process for each task? Should 15 endangered species currently classified as “fully protected” be reclassified as “threatened” to make building near them less onerous? And on it goes.

This isn’t a root-and-branch reform of California’s environmental protection bills. It doesn’t follow recent housing reforms that use statewide planning processes to bypass local governments. The proposed changes to the California Environmental Quality Act are arguably more modest than the changes made, with barely any notice, to the National Environmental Policy Act as part of the debt ceiling deal.

Much of the fight is being framed as a dispute over process. Newsom, as he often does, is pushing the package through an expedited process. It could pass in mere weeks. The opposition groups say that moving so fast “excludes the public and stakeholders and avoids open and transparent deliberation of important and complicated policies.”

Newsom rolls his eyes at this. Those same groups, he told me, “had our back when we passed the environmental bills last year through the same process. And those goals mean nothing without this.”

I talked with David Pettit, a senior attorney at the National Resources Defense Council. His organization opposes Newsom’s package, but he didn’t describe it as particularly consequential. He mostly sounded puzzled. “I don’t think this’ll let the governor go to the feds and say, ‘look how quickly we can build.’”

Pettit has filed plenty of lawsuits under the California Environmental Quality Act, and he thought the courts would ignore Newsom’s attempt to speed up their rulings. “It’s the judges who determine if it’s feasible or not,” he told me. And he seemed offended by Newsom’s effort to short-circuit the process. “Wouldn’t it be better to bring everybody to the table and go through the Legislature?” he asked. “Get the environmental justice groups, the tribes, hash out what this means? It could be done in regular session by the end of year.”

There’s merit to the argument that Newsom is trying to rush his package through the Legislature. But it’s also clear that the groups opposing his package don’t want to use a slower, broader process as an opportunity to strengthen the package’s provisions. They want to use it as an opportunity to weaken or block Newsom’s package.

The coalition’s letter worries that Newsom’s package “reduces application of environmental review,” that it “would undermine the California Endangered Species Act” and so on. The California Environmental Justice Alliance sent me a statement that said, in bold type, “Requiring a court to resolve an action within 270 days to the extent feasible is harmful to low-income and EJ” — which stands for environmental justice — “communities.” It doesn’t get much clearer than that.

Here’s the hard part: All of these concerns are justified, at least some of the time. Laws like the California Environmental Quality Act have been used to block countless harmful projects. A faster, more streamlined process could make it easier to build solar farms and rail systems, but it could also make it easier to build infrastructure that communities have reason to oppose.

“I come at this trying to take care of and represent my clients who live next door to a proposed development and want a species protected and don’t want more highways jammed through,” Pettit told me.

The claim Newsom is making is not that all development is good but that development has become too easy to stop or at least delay. Is he right? You can say it depends on the project in question. But policymakers have to set broad rules. The harder development is to stop, the likelier it is that bad projects will be built. The easier development is to stop, the likelier it is that good projects will be blocked. And even that oversimplifies it. Often, the question isn’t whether a project is good or bad, but who it helps and who bears its costs. A wind farm may be good for the state but a genuine annoyance to its neighbors.

I’m a little skeptical that Newsom’s package is consequential enough to merit the controversy it has created. But the fight isn’t just about this package. Everyone involved believes there are many permitting reforms yet to come, as the world warms, and the clock ticks down on California’s goals, and the federal government begins to apply more pressure.

These are the beginning stages of a transition from a liberalism that spends to a liberalism that builds. It’s going to be messy. Until now, progressives have been mostly united in the fight against climate change. They wanted more money for clean energy and more ambitious targets for phasing out fossil fuels and they got it. Now that new energy system needs to be built, and fast. And progressives are nowhere near agreement on how to do that.

Politico: Newsom talks wealth with Musk

This conversation is really revealing!

Politico writes: But none of that was brought up on Wednesday. Musk cheerfully noted that Newsom was “one of the first to buy a Tesla Roadster back in the day” — noting he would have had to put down $100,000 to reserve one in 2007. That also means Newsom would have been one of the first Californians to buy an electric vehicle. According to data from the state’s energy commission, only 112 zero-emission vehicles had been sold by 2010.

“That was a healthy deposit you had to make,” Newsom said, joking he made the purchase “back when I had money.”

“That was a lot of money in 2007,” Musk said.

“It’s still a lot of money,” Newsom replied. “Trust me, brother, you haven’t looked at my salary … We had about the same net worth back then, 20 years ago.”

Full transcript of Dahle versus Newsom debate!

The transcript is here:

Unfortunately, Dahle is farther to the right and even more slavishly pro-corporate than Newsom!

Newsom, when asked to admit a mistake, skirts the issue and does not talk about any political mistake or bad governance decision he had made:

Scott Shafer: All right. We are short on time, but we want to ask you a question that’s a little bit of a curveball. And, Governor, let’s start with you. Name a time in your life you were wrong about something and did a complete about face. How did you realize your mistake and what did you do to remedy it and make sure it wouldn’t happen again?

Gavin Newsom: I mean, there’s there’s a myriad of issues where that’s the case. Look, mistakes are a portal of discovery. I have a failure award in businesses I’ve started, really one of the great prides in my life is starting a business right out of college. Putting pen to paper and creating roughly 1,000 jobs at peak. One of the things I always encouraged was initiative. Risk taking, not recklessness. And if we make a mistake, we learn from that mistake and we try not to repeat it. Now, let me be specific. Over the course of my life, personally, professionally, in every way, shape or form, I’ve been iterative. There are things that I asserted that I learned from that didn’t turn out to be as clear as I had hoped or consequences intended that turned out to actually produce the results as intended.

Scott Shafer: Can you be specific?

Gavin Newsom: Dozens of them. I’ll tell you, one of the perhaps most significant ones, I have a significant learning disability. I couldn’t read or couldn’t write, and I was doing speech therapy as a kid. I thought I was dumb and I made the mistake of falling prey to that. Back of the classroom, not raising my hand, feeling other than, feeling lesser than. And that’s why I don’t like bullies. I don’t like cruelty. I don’t like people that humiliate other people. And I learned I wasn’t that person. I’ll tell you, that’s the most profound mistake I made early in my life that I did not did not learn quickly enough that all of us are unique. All of us have a unique expression, and all of us deserve dignity and respect. And as a young child, I didn’t fully embrace that or understand that. And that was a mistake.

Newsom falls radically short of California housing goals!

CalMatters reports:

Measured against the goal he set for himself, Newsom’s record is less impressive. Just 13% of the 3.5 million homes he campaigned on building have been permitted, let alone built. He’s walked back the goal many times, settling on a new target earlier this year: Cities need to have planned a combined 2.5 million homes by 2030. So, 1 million fewer homes planned for, not built, and over a longer time frame.

Newsom rejects controls on outdoor lighting!

Facts don’t matter!

The NY Times writes: A.B. 2382: Light pollution

This bill aiming to reduce light pollution would have required all outdoor lights on state properties to have anti-light pollution shields, as well as motion sensors or automatic dimming or shut-off functions to limit the amount of light they project.

Newsom said the costs associated with changing light requirements at 24,000 state buildings “may cost millions of dollars not accounted for in the budget.”

Assemblyman Alex Lee, who introduced the bill, called the veto “extremely disappointing.” “This bill would have protected our night skies and migratory species, while reducing wasteful and unnecessary electricity consumption,” Lee told The Los Angeles Times.

Gavin, the Presidential race and controversies

Evan Symon, of the California Globe, evaluates his chances. Symon writes:

But let’s push all of what he did back in. And look, I typed “Gavin Newsom controversies” into Google and got 909,000 pages back. When I was gathering links of what he had done just as Governor from the Globe’s archives, it looked like I was going into the Library of Congress. Even giving a highlight reel would still make for a small book. Suffice it to say that for every good or successful thing Newsom has backed, such as the Care not Cash program in San Francisco in the early 2000’s that replaced giving straight cash to the homeless for medical care and other health programs, there has been one other that had disastrous consequences, like extramarital affairs with wives of his own aides.

We showed another side of Con Not Cash in our 2016 post here.

Newsom’s policies for the unhoused are discussed in the Sacramento Bee here.