Opinion » Rhetoric & Reason

Failure to lead



In a month, Californians will have an opportunity to send a message to Democrats across the nation that regular Americans, (meaning those without special privilege of wealth or political influence beyond their individual ballot) are fed up and are holding them accountable. I refer to the recall election for Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The San Luis Obispo Tribune was in an editorial lather on Sunday defending the indefensible by sounding the alarm that this election has national implications, and so it has. The Democratic supermajority in the California Legislature has worked overtime in putting this state into an economic ditch while it pays off political favors to multiple constituencies whose self-interest seldom benefits the people of this state.

Pick an issue, be it crime (which is overwhelming law enforcement in every major city in the state due in large part to the orchestrated campaign of Democrat activists to debase and delegitimize the police), water, energy, or the environment and Newsom has failed to lead.

Newsom supported radical calls for defunding police by millions of dollars and stripping peace officers of "qualified immunity," which protects them from malicious lawsuits designed to personally bankrupt officers for doing the job we pay them to do—protecting us from the most vicious members of our society. Even if an officer avoids bankruptcy, they face exorbitant legal fees. What officer will engage in the proactive policing that enables an officer to actually deter crimes, especially violent felonies committed against the most vulnerable of our populations? In the inner cities and minority-dominated neighborhoods, street gangs hold a reign of terror on local inhabitants without fear of police intervention.

On a lower scale, our homeless population, consisting of the mentally ill to extremely violent predators, renders our business districts and parks unsafe for moms, kids, or anyone else, with often obscene, violent behavior and massive litter. For a time these folks took over Venice Beach until the local police chief bucked the "woke tide" and cleaned up the beach area, following the law but aggressively using every tool in his toolbox to return the beach to local residents. Literally tons of garbage were removed along with so many hypodermic needles that they had to remove tons of beach sand and replace it lest a child get a needlestick while playing on the beach.

So how could Gov. Newsom have done better? First, he should have stood up against the tide of popular opinion in his own party and demanded that they stand down, back up his officers, and tell the special advocacy groups to pack sand (literally). Thanks to Newsom and his party, there isn't a major California city that is fit for ordinary citizens to live, work, or play. Major retail chains are closing up shop in city after city due to the effects of Proposition 47, which handcuffed police and exposed merchants to the continuous loss of inventory via legalized theft: $950/day per incident, every store, every day of the month. If major retail chains retreat and are closing shop, how do you expect mom-and-pops to survive? Newsom should have led the public and demanded Proposition 47's repeal—but he did nothing.

On every major issue Newsom has failed: He's still spending more than $100 billion on a high-speed passenger train to nowhere instead of killing this white elephant. It might make sense as a freight line that cleared passenger rail service on the coast but not in the Central Valley.

Newsom continues to ignore the drought and common sense. Water is the biggest "sleeper issue" for Californians but it affects all of us. He's denying water to California farmers, water they paid for, to flush it out to sea. He's tearing down hydroelectric dams in Oregon that provided emission-free electrical power and water for dry years even as Californians are facing rolling power blackouts and water rationing indefinitely. He's imposed arbitrary deadlines for conversion to an all-electric economy even though there isn't enough power to support it; he's not building power plants to replace lost energy while ignoring the massive, immoral environmental and human damage he will inflict on Californians and the most vulnerable overseas.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, he repeatedly ignored the rules he imposed upon us, kept his winery open but closed thousands of other businesses while maintaining personal privilege for his family. He continues to rule by decree, ignoring the Legislature by altering more than 400 laws, according to a lawsuit filed against Newsom. Even Democrats are displeased with his actions. Newsom also parrots political talking points on COVID-19, ignores scientific studies that challenge "woke dogma," and is a slave to public employee unions. Ask the parent of a public school student if they feel supported by Newsom and his union cronies that kept California schools closed when other states were open.

The cardinal sins of any politician are arrogance, a sense of entitlement, and a failure to lead: Newsom is guilty on all three counts. Californians need leadership, and I believe it's time we elect someone who's not a child of privilege. Δ

Al Fonzi had a 35-year military career, serving in both the Vietnam and Iraq wars. Respond with a letter to the editor emailed to letters@newtimesslo.com.

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