By Gordon Mullin
California has had a robust initiative process built into our state constitution since 1911. We take great pride in our citizen-level powers to shake up all levels of our state officials and no branch, neither executive, legislative or judicial, is exempt.
We’ve booted out many an office holder over the last century but it certainly isn’t easy. Senator Marshall Black was the first of many to be recalled back in 1913. However most attempts fail to gather enough signatures to force a ballot.
Just considering California governors, there have been ten of them, both Republican and Democrat, who so provoked the wrath of our citizens that a recall effort was launched. However, all prior attempts failed to gather sufficient signatures to qualify for a recall ballot until 2003 when Gray Davis bumbled his way into California history by being not only the first to have a recall qualify but, as we all know, he lost and Arnold Schwarzenegger took over.
Which brings us to Gavin Newsom. He’s now the second governor of California to qualify for a recall ballot which will be held sometime this fall. Good.
In my view, he’s done such a dreadful job as governor that I’d be happy to see him ejected from Sacramento yesterday and we could have a random lottery of all California citizens to replace him and the winner would be hard pressed to do worse.
Of course, the best-known idiocy of Newsom was his dinner at the French Laundry last year at the height of the COVID pandemic, the details of which need no reminder here. But there’s more, far more.
For example, his signature making AB 5 law, is arguably his worst legislative blunder in California history. This legislation effectively bans independent work of any kind which makes you your own boss. The NAACP called it a “terrible law” and “two hundred economists, including a Nobel Laureate reported the law is ‘doing substantial, and avoidable, harm to the very people who now have the fewest resources and the worst alternatives available to them,’” according to a recent book, “Recall Newsom” by Kevin Kiley, a California State Assemblyman. Much of this column has been pulled from this well researched, definitive guide to the befuddlements of our governor.
Newsom’s response to the COVID-19 is illustrative starting with a letter sent to his arch nemesis, President Trump, in March 2020 where he projected “… roughly 56 percent of our population- 25.5 million people- will be infected with the virus over an eight-week period.” Aside from his appalling math skills- 25.5 million people constitute 65 percent of the population- the governor’s COVID mandates have been ill formed, capricious and unnecessarily ruinous to our small businesses throughout the last 16 months.
Newsom’s administrative dysfunctionality is epitomized by the state’s Employment Development Department which, during COVID, not only failed to handle the increased number of legitimate unemployment insurance claimants but blithefully handed out billions to fraudsters.
As my friend who has much experience as a small business owner told me, “the EDD can best be viewed as the love child of the DMV and the Department of Corrections.”
Currently, Newsom’s employment policies continue to devastate our family-owned commercial sector by agreeing to continue the $300 federal enhancement of unemployment benefits thereby inducing workers to stay home and not return to work.
I’ve talked to many local small business owners about this dysfunctional decision and they tell me that the major impediment to their company returning to normalcy is their inability to find workers. In short, the Biden administration, with Newsom’s unnecessary compliance, harms our small business sector, the most impacted component of our economy during COVID.
As well, our children have been negatively impacted by the governor’s inclination to keep our schools closed and the teacher unions happy. And the most harmed have been minority kids, the children of single parents or those who live in a home where both parents must work.
Recent studies reveal that for many of our school age kids, this has been a lost year. And not only have they been unable to learn, ancillary effects are equally devastating including increased depression and rising levels of suicide.
Unfortunately, there are abundant political maladies that can be attributed to Mr. Newsom but we don’t have space here. Over the next few months far more will be written both for and against the recall.
For those who have not made up their mind, I urge you to read Mr. Kiley’s book. It’s short, sad and frequently appalling. But the good news is that we soon get to dump Mr. Newsom and given the bar he has set, every reader of this column should know, they could do a better job.
Gordon Mullin is a financial planner who lives in San Luis Obispo.