By Dawn Collier
Public safety was the biggest winner in California’s primary election on Tuesday. Voters across the state pushed back against politicians whose “criminal justice reform” experiments have resulted in a historic crime wave. Footage of brazen flash mob-style robberies of California businesses, from drugstores to high-end retailers, have shocked the nation, among the many factors coinciding with a mass exodus of Californians to other states. For the second year in a row, the state has lost population.
This week, from San Francisco to San Diego, voters said “enough is enough.”
San Francisco voters recalled District Attorney Chesa Boudin Tuesday, with some 60 percent of ballots cast in favor of giving the prosecutor the boot. Boudin’s outster in the nation’s most liberal city has garnered national media attention because, let’s face it, if prosecutorial malfeasance can’t make it there, it can’t make it anywhere.
Like other progressive prosecutors who came into office in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests, Boudin got rid of cash bail, preferred diversion to punishing criminals, and maligned police. That trifecta of bad ideas has resulted in a nearly 8 percent jump in crime and a 20 percent increase in larcenies in San Francisco.
What has progressives skittish is that the recall effort was organized by angry Democrats who are fed up with out-of-control crime and a homeless problem that continues to get worse. To get a sense of just how much city residents have had it with Boudin, consider the enthusiasm of recall proponents on election night:
“Supporters of the recall gathered at a bar in the Marina district, packed tightly into an indoor space with thumping hits from the early 2010s. The crowd repeatedly broke into chants of ‘Recall! Recall!’ and a woman crowd-surfed above the heads of supporters. Men outside celebrated with cigars.”
The unabashed jubilance reflects long-festering frustration with Boudin but also other city leaders.
“There is anger at the failure of government, the failure of City Hall, to address pressing problems,” David Lee, a political science lecturer at San Francisco State University told The New York Times.
Former mayor Willie Brown condemned Boudin with faint praise, describing the failed DA as “a warrior for the downtrodden” but “certainly not a prosecutor.”
After his decisive defeat, Boudin pledged to continue what he called a “movement, not a moment.” But that movement appears to be in its final moment. Voters in L.A. also pushed back against their county’s progressive prosecutor on Election Day…
High-profile Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva received the most votes for county sheriff Tuesday and will move forward to a run-off in November.
Villanueva, a Democrat, provoked the ire of party officials for speaking out against progressives’ “defund the police” rhetoric and for his refusal to enforce the city’s Covid health mandates. Villanueva has repeatedly called on L.A.’s ne’re-do-well district attorney George Gascón to prosecute criminals and address out-of-control homeless encampments. In a post-election news conference, Gascón said police, not criminals, commit crimes.
Villanueva said homicides increased 94 percent and auto thefts rose 59 percent in Los Angeles from 2019-2021, surging under Gascón. As a result, Gascón is now facing his second recall attempt since taking office.
“My only goal is to make LA livable again,” Villanueva said on the campaign trail. “The main tragedy of this county and city government is they only allow one ideology, only one point of view on every single thing they do.”
“I want to introduce conservative voices, moderate voices on both sides of the aisle, and I’m going to protect and defend the Woke crowd, as confused as they may be… They just don’t get to have every single seat,” he said. “Woke-ism is on the ropes. Let’s put it out of its misery in 2022.”
Crime was also at the heart of the victory speech given by former San Diego City Councilman David Alvarez this week. Voters selected Alvarez to fill the remainder of the term left open by union shill Lorena Gonzalez in San Diego’s 80th Assembly district.
Notably, Alvarez made an appeal to more moderate and conservative voters and pledged to protect constituents from increasing crime in the district. He also promised to “‘change’ a Sacramento” that has a Democratic supermajority.
Although ballots are still being counted, Alvarez’s lead appears substantial enough to secure victory. However, he’s trailing Councilwoman Georgette Gómez in the parallel primary race to fill the seat in the next term. Gómez and Alvarez will likely face-off against each other in the November election.
As California politicians — and campaign managers — take stock of Tuesday’s results, one thing is clear: Public safety is a top priority for Californians across the political spectrum.
The Long View
In addition to the good news from Tuesday, there’s this news flash: The California Teachers Association (CTA) is running into strong headwinds. Internal documents obtained by investigative reporter Mike Antonucci show the union’s leaders project a loss of 4.000 members in the next year. The documents also reveal concerns that enrollment declines will imperil job security for public school teachers.
CPC’s take: Declining enrollments are a result of California’s population decline — and the population decline is driven in part by the extraordinary costs of public education in the state and the failure of California schools to educate their students. Yes, you’ll hear union leaders say that California’s schools are starving for cash; in fact, of course, California pays more per student than any other state in the nation — “The latest state budget proposal includes a record $128.3 billion for K-12 education,” Antonucci notes, a figure “that almost matches the entire state budget of Texas.” And what do Caifornians earn on that investment: A Bottom 10 ranking among the nation’s schools.
If we hope to end the exodus, we must make quality education available to every Californian. That will require an end to government union domination of California.
The CTA’s suicide run at politics will end by hurting teachers, students and their families and taxpayers. “The union has lost more than 35,000 members since its high-water mark in 2018,” says Antonucci. “That’s equivalent to the entire membership of the Colorado Education Association.
The California union thinks the bleeding will continue. Its 2022-23 budget assumes a loss of almost 4,000 more working members from March 2022 levels. And there are even bigger worries on the horizon.”
One of those “bigger worries” is the success of our work to help teachers leave the CTA. If you already support that work, thank you. If you’d like to begin now, learn more here.
A Final Word
There was other big news in California: the state’s task force on reparations for black Americans published its massive, 500-page interim report — interim! 500 pages! — with a catalog of recommendations to redress what it called “atrocities in every sector.” Among the recommendations: end the segregation of California’s public schools.
CPC’s take: We agree that our public schools are segregated — but that’s largely because of teacher union opposition to school choice. Trapping students in schools that have failed the black community for generations is a feature of limiting families to schools by zip code. While the CTA and its obsequious locals denounce choice as a “conservative attack on public schools,” a 2021 California Policy Center poll showed school choice received high marks — especially among African Americans in the state.
Our own Larry Sand said it best: “Ten empirical studies have examined private school choice programs, and nine find that the programs reduce segregation, while one shows no visible difference.”
The rich will always have school choice. It’s up to all of us to make sure that everyone else has that choice, too. In that struggle, our opponent is the California Teachers Association.