Eber | 10 things Newsom must do to fulfill his destiny


By Richard Eber, California Political News and Views 

It is not the fault of the once and future king of California politics had little to do during his two terms in office as Lt. Governor of the Golden State.  Gavin Newsom did his best to stay in the spotlight.  Outside of running for the past five years to replace Jerry Brown, the former Mayor of San Francisco had to be content to be a spokesman for primarily  civil rights issues.

Promoting the  LGBT cause, legalizing marijuana, supporting Sanctuary City’s, and opposing Donald Trump at every opportunity, were Newsom’s greatest achievements.  Now these days of waging battles against mostly straw men are over.  He must now preside over a state that has immediate problems that must be resolved.

As a so called “Progressive” with big ideas, Newsom will have to change more than a SUBWAY franchise operating under new management, if he has any hope of being effectively  managing the Golden State.

Although his predecessor Jerry Brown lauded himself for leaving a surplus of 9 billion dollars when he leaves office, this amount is about as fragile as an ice sculpture surviving in Death Valley.  The State budget is mired in a trillion dollar deficit with its pension obligations to Government workers managed by CalPERS and CalSTRS

In addition discretionary spending is limited because of funds earmarked for education, entitlements, housing needs, Sanctuary City expenses, and a host of other essential services.  Also to be considered are the billions of dollars of expenses each year needed to cover bond obligations.

On top of this there is no indication that Newsom and his progressive partners in the legislature are going to limit their spending in any way.  Without Governor Brown to thwart some of their plans we can expect the Legislature to provide Universal Health Care and pre-school programs prior to when children enter kindergarten.

When the legislature goes on their usual unfunded spending spree,  will  Newsom do the usual Progressive stunt by placing the burden of supplying additional revenue on wealthy tax payers?  Do democrats have any realization that if they go too far, their “Golden Gooses” will flee the state?

Thus far there is considerable evidence that the exodus of business from California is well under way. In campaign ads for candidates in Texas the battle cry was “Don’t Californiacate us.”  It does not take a genius to fill in the dots of over regulation, high taxes, poor public school education, and loss of individual freedom that the citizens of the Lone Star State have rejected in the past.

So what must Gavin Newsom do to be an effective Governor?

  1. In taking on the task of running the 8th largest economy in the world stop spending your time worrying about political correctness, restroom choice, and figuring out ways to further regulate firearms sales. Stuff like legalizing weed and what constitutes in progressive world a hate crime, looks good on paper but does little impact the lives of 40 million residents of California.
  2. Stop the constant criticism and hatred of Donald Trump. Everyone knows you despise him Gavin.  Instead, for the next two years focus on areas where the Federal Government can help California with grants and assistance.  If this means the end of filing frivolous lawsuits that accomplish very little, so be it.
  3. Exercise independence with regards to improving public education in California. As difficult as it might be, you must separate yourself from the teacher’s union who helped elect you and the huge majority Democrats enjoy in both chambers of the legislature.  Co-operate with Superintendent of Public Instruction Marshall Tuck and work with him to help fix the education system in our State which is in the bottom 10% nationally in English and Math competence.  At the same time stop all the virulent criticism of Betsy DeVos who has had nothing to do with California’s failing public education system.
  4. Work with Chuck Reed, Democrats, Republicans, and Decline to State citizens to find a solution to the trillion dollars pension deficit at CalPERS. Taking billions of discretionary funds from the budget, as Jerry Brown did to shore up the system, needs to stop.  At the same time don’t expect new sales taxes being imposed by local communities for employee retirement obligations to continue indefinitely without severe political consequences. Governor Newsom, you must show leadership to scale down the “California Rule” with the State Supreme Court if any solution to the pension crisis is to be found.
  5. Properly funds highway transportation and infrastructure needs beyond the 5 billion a year earmarked by revenues from gas tax and vehicle registration fees imposed on citizens last year. Instead of Jerry Brown giving a loan/gift to CalPERS for 6 billion last year and spending new higher property tax revenue on new entitlement programs, take care of transportation needs including a solution of what to do with the Bullet Train fiasco.
  6. Deal honestly with the housing shortage in California which is primary the product of over regulation, and poor zoning decisions of where residential property can be constructed  Rethink government  policies trying to eliminate single family homes in favor of large mega projects built in urban areas near mass transit systems.  While some of this type of construction has its benefits, doing too much social engineering to discourage a less congested suburban lifestyle is a big mistake.
  7. Instead of passing water bond issues that do little to deal with the chronic lack of water in the state for farmers and residents, solve this shortage by building storage facilities while balancing the need to preserve valuable watershed and wildlife. To accomplish this goal, the Governor will need to do what is right rather than trying to please everyone.
  8. Forget about the state providing medical coverage for all. The cost of doing this is too expensive and would destroy what’s left of a positive business climate in California.  Work with California’s Senators and House Representatives to enact reform in this area.  Again, sitting around blaming Donald Trump for all that ails you is not a winning strategy.
  9. Cut State Government waste which is costing California tax payers billions of dollar a year in tainted port expense. This involves every agency from law enforcement, to Cal Trans, education (K-1 thru college) and just about everything Sacramento is involved with. Perhaps it is time to appoint and listen to Little Hoover like committee and make changes even if it adversely affects those who monetarily supported your campaign.
  10. Scale down the Sanctuary City movement of California trying to conduct their own foreign policy. This not only alienates conservatives of both parties in Washington D.C. but also puts a heavy burden on Taxpayers footing the bill for entitlements given to immigrants by Sacramento.  The best thing the Newsom administration could do for their undocumented friends is to work with their representatives to pass a comprehensive  immigration package thru Congress

As a progressive democrat making tough decisions, mostly about money, you will have to emulate your processor Jerry Brown and do some unpopular things that will irritate your base.  If critics complain about you, as they did about Brown being “the closest thing to a Republican in Sacramento”, wear this suit as a badge of honor.  Being governor is more than taking pot shots at perceived enemies and giving in to special interests of all flavors.

Let’s hope your stint as Lt. Governor was similar to King Henry the fifth hanging out with Falstaff and his band of scoundrels at the Eastcheap Tavern before ascending the thrown of England. Unless you are recalled Gavin, all Californian’s are depending on you for leadership these next four years.

Richard Eber studied journalism at the University of Oregon. He writes about politics, culture, education restaurants, and was former city and sports editor of UCSB Daily. Richard is president of Amerasa Rapid Transit, a specialized freight forwarder.

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