Why should I cancel the governor?

Photo+by+Unsplash.+Photo+by+%40element5digital

Photo by Unsplash. Photo by @element5digital

This fall, we will be asked to decide whether or not to retain Gavin Newsom as our governor. As Republicans across the country decry the unfairness of cancel culture, they demand the cancelling of voting rights, transgender rights, and here in California, the duly elected leader of our state.

I believe it’s our duty to learn as much about this process as possible, but more importantly, the reasoning behind this conservative effort to usurp executive power.

Keep in mind that California has only had one successful recall of a governor. In 2003, Governor Gray Davis was recalled, and Californians elected Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in his stead.

Accused of mismanaging state resources, Davis left the Golden State with an eye-popping $38 billion deficit and an approval rating of just 22%. In 2009, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger left office with an approval rating slightly higher than 27%.

As of March, Gov. Newsom’s approval rating was 53% and has been trending upward largely because of the state’s vaccination effort, despite having dinner without a mask. 

So why recall him? Is he wracked with scandal, misdeeds and cover-ups? The source of this initiative should highlight why Newsom is unfit to run the state.

The specific language in the recall petition, submitted by ex-law-enforcement-turned-activist and Folsom resident Orrin Heatlie reads thusly:

“The grounds for this recall are as Follows: Governor Newsom has implemented laws which are detrimental to the citizens of this state and our way of life. Laws he endorsed favor foreign nationals, in our country illegally, over that of our own citizens. People in this state suffer the highest taxes in the nation, the highest homelessness rates, and the lowest quality of life as a result. He has imposed sanctuary state status and fails to enforce immigration laws. He unilaterally over-ruled the will of the people regarding the death penalty. He seeks to impose additional burdens on our state by the following; removing the protections of Proposition 13, rationing our water use, increasing taxes and restricting parental rights. Having no other recourse, we the people have come together to take this action, remedy these misdeeds and prevent further injustices.”

Let’s dissect this.

“Laws [Newsom] endorsed favor foreign nationals, in our country illegally, over that of our own citizens.”

Aside from the semantics of labelling anyone as “illegal,” to which laws is Heatlie referring? Perhaps it was the one-time $500 payments to undocumented individuals in 2020 in lieu of them not receiving any of the federal assistance the rest of the country received in the first stimulus package. These individuals work California fields, drive on California roads and contribute to local economies. I hardly think that assistance for families qualifies a governor for recall. Furthermore, it’s difficult to take this accusation seriously on the topic of immigration from someone who tweeted in 2019, “Microchip all illegal immigrants. It works! Just ask Animal control!”

People in this state suffer the highest taxes in the nation, the highest homelessness rates, and the lowest quality of life as a result.

·         Regarding the highest taxes in the nation, it’s only natural that the largest economy in the U.S. — and the fifth largest in the world — would collect the most taxes.

·         California’s unhoused situation existed long before Newsom and will continue to be an issue, regardless of who succeeds him.

·         The label of “lowest quality of life” is simply preposterous. No metric was cited to validate such a claim, and as someone who grew up in the South, I can attest that this is simply untrue. Heatlie has clearly never used his “metric” to study residents of southeast Missouri, northern Mississippi, West Virginia or eastern Arkansas.

He has imposed sanctuary state status and fails to enforce immigration laws.

This is an argument of preference, not law. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the legality of “sanctuary state” designations. As far as “failing” to enforce immigration laws, Heatlie’s claim stems from the state not wanting to waste resources to hunt down and extradite the deportation of millions of otherwise law-abiding individuals. 

As of 2014, the latest data estimated by the state, between 2.35 and 2.6 million undocumented people reside in California, a number that’s been decreasing since 2007. As far as specific actions, Heatlie could mean:

·         AB 1747: prohibits the use of noncriminal information from the state’s telecommunications database for immigration enforcement purposes.

·         SB 225: allows noncitizen Californians the ability to pursue civic engagement and public services through service in boards and commissions.

·         AB 668: codifies the common law privilege against civil arrest when that arrest is conducted without a judicial warrant.

·         AB 1645: facilitating California college campuses with a Dreamer Resource Liaison.

Which is it, Heatlie? How are any of these detrimental to the state?

He unilaterally over-ruled the will of the people regarding the death penalty.

This actually has some merit, but there’s context to consider — context conveniently omitted by Heatlie. In 2016, California voters narrowly rejected proposition 62 that would abolish capital punishment. In March 2019, Newsom signed an order that stated there would be no more death sentences as long as he’s governor.

Citing the expense of death row and the overwhelming possibility of these sentences being applied to innocent individuals, Newsom was steadfast in his resolve. In a statement shortly after signing the order, Newsom further described the legality of his actions.

“The people of California have entrusted me,” Newsom said, “with the constitutional right to do what I am doing. I have been crystal clear about my opposition to the death penalty. I don’t think it comes as a surprise. The constitution and the laws of this state afford me the right to do this. The law does not change; it will only change with voters or the Supreme Court.”

He seeks to impose additional burdens on our state by the following; removing the protections of Proposition 13, rationing our water use, increasing taxes and restricting parental rights.

Of the many propositions labeled “13,” Heatlie’s probably referring to  Newsom addressing the 1978 tax law called Proposition 13, which endorsed a ballot measure to update this 43-year-old law, known as Proposition 15. In this instance, he merely initiated a ballot measure so voters could decide. This was then amended to include Proposition 19, which allows older homeowners and wildfire victims to retain their Proposition 13 status.

California experienced drought for years. Newsom is not responsible for drought, he’s responsible for the well-being of the state. Claims of financial penalties for over-watering have been disproven. Innovations such as low-flow toilets and more efficient watering methods have been explored. Moreover, this initiative sets water efficiency standards for utility companies and was introduced by Gov. Jerry Brown, not Newsom.

Taxes will always increase. It’s illogical to assume that taxes won’t be raised, and equally illogical to blame a leader for accommodating the state’s needs insofar as infrastructure, education and public services. Raising taxes may push out uber wealth radicals like Elon Musk, but that’s the price of funding a credible government. 

Going back to the unhoused, one can’t complain about that situation and, in the same breath, complain about giving money that would ease that situation. It’s unfortunate that Heatlie wasn’t more specific because Newsom is certainly not raising income tax – he’s continuously stood against raising income tax and has yet to do so.

I’m curious to know which rights, specifically, Heatlie claims are restricting to parents. It might be Assembly Bill 175, which grants autonomous, health and reproductive rights to foster youth. 

Bill 175 also allows foster youth to keep phone and text records private from foster parents and the right to be identified by their preferred name and gender.

Or, Heatlie could be referring to the lawsuit against Newsom from over a dozen parents in southern California over the state’s COVID-19 restrictions which demanded that students learn virtually, “forcing” parents to choose between work and monitoring their children’s education.

The former makes Heatlie sound hostile toward foster and transgender youth, the latter paints him as someone misunderstanding the dynamic differences between public safety and corporate America’s relentless demand for labor.

Heatlie and his organization, Recall Gavin 2020, did not respond to multiple requests for comment and clarification.

Recall Gavin 2020’s Chief Financial Officer Robin McCrea, a former Chico State College of Agriculture budget officer, did not respond to multiple requests for comment and clarification.

The organization’s partner in this effort, The Patriot Coalition, did not respond to multiple requests for comment and clarification.

The Butte County Republican Party did not respond to multiple requests for comment and clarification.

California State Senator Jim Nielson, who represents our district in the Sacramento Capitol, did not respond to multiple requests for comment and clarification.

Chico City Assemblyman Jim Gallagher did not respond to multiple requests for comment and clarification.

This is, without speculation, a Republican-led effort to wrest control of California, despite the will of a voting majority. This small faction wants us to cancel our elected executive official to appease a minority of constituents, pouting because they can’t have their way.

If this is such an important issue for Republicans, from the local to the state level, I’d think they would enlighten us all to exactly why we should spend an estimated $400 million to recall a governor whose term is up for a vote in November 2022.

If they’re so confident that Californians are outraged with Newsom’s administration, they should be just as confident that he’ll be replaced in the next election cycle and act accordingly in the meantime.

Like any election result that doesn’t go the way we want, we should build toward resolve, not resentment. This Republican faction has turned that resentment to rebellion, without concrete reasoning or rationale.

Chico State students: Do not take this recall lightly. Do not think for a moment that recalling Newsom is an initiative that is based in fact, in logic or has your best interests in mind. Do your homework, do your research. This fall, when that ballot arrives, vote “no.”

Ian Hilton can be reached at [email protected].