In August, it will be 20 months since Gavin Newsom was sworn in as the 40th Governor of California. Since that time, the new Governor has demonstrated an almost uncanny ability to ignore the interests of large segments of Californians, including many who voted for him. Like his predecessor Jerry Brown, Governor Newsom seems to operate on the presumption that most of the people he represents are stupid. He demonstrated this just three months after his election. On March 13, 2019, Newsom issued an executive order granting a reprieve to every murderer on California’s death row, citing his personal opposition to the death penalty. “If someone kills, we do not kill. We’re better than that,” he told reporters. Yet in a 2016 interview with the Modesto Bee editorial board, Newsom said he would “be accountable to the will of the voters” if elected governor. “I would not get my personal opinions in the way of the public’s right to make a determination of where they want to take us.” That same year, California voters rejected a ballot measure abolishing the death penalty and voted to pass an initiative to speed up its enforcement. During his 2018 campaign for Governor, Newsom reiterated his respect for the wishes of state voters saying he didn’t, “want to get ahead of the will of the voters.” He was obviously lying.

In May 2019, Newsom answered the request of a political friend in Oakland to announce seven pardons, including one to a gang member for soliciting murder and another convicted of robbery. Both of these offenders were Cambodians whom, due to the pardons, avoided deportation for their crimes. In September 2019, the Governor signed AB 5 into law. It forced companies, including Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash, who employ part-time gig workers as independent contractors to make them employees, requiring employer taxes and paid benefits. The bill put thousands of retirees, students, artists, and others who prefer managing their own schedules out of work. It is likely that most of these people, if they voted, voted for Newsom. A ballot measure (Proposition 22) has qualified for California’s November 3 ballot, which would repeal AB 5, with regard to app-based drivers.

On September 13, 2019, Governor Newsom commuted the sentences of 21 prison inmates, most of whom were convicted of murder or attempted murder and 7 of whom had been serving life terms with no chance of parole. A month later, Newsom signed several bills benefitting criminals. One bill, AB 136 by San Francisco Democrat Scott Wiener, removes the one-year sentence increase for each prior conviction of a habitual felon. Another bill prevents a prosecutor or a judge from striking a potential juror with prior felony convictions from serving on a jury in a criminal case. Newsom also signed AB 1076, which tasks the state Department of Justice to automatically erase the criminal records of offenders who have completed their sentences, rather than have the offenders petition to have them expunged. The bill was supported by Californians for Safety and Justice, one of several pro-criminal groups funded by George Soros.

On March 19, 2020, Governor Newsom began his schizophrenic governance of the state during the COVID-19 pandemic, ordering the strictest lockdown in the U. S., lumping businesses, parks, and schools in over two dozen counties that had no virus cases with population centers, such as Los Angeles, Alameda, and San Diego Counties which had hundreds. A week later, the Governor authorized the Judicial Council to announce new rules for local courts due to the pandemic. One of the new rules was to require the release without bail of all people arrested for nonviolent and property crimes. Within weeks, as thousands of offenders were released, car thefts, commercial burglary, and shootings began to increase sharply.

On April 13, 2020, the Governor announced the early release of 3,500 criminals from state prisons to protect them and other inmates from the virus. In May, the Governor’s Department of Social Services offered nursing homes $1,000 per day for each COVID-19 patient they took in. A spokesperson for nursing homes called it a “recipe for disaster.”

On Monday, May 25, a week after Governor Newsom announced some relaxing of California’s coronavirus lockdown, a black repeat offender named George Floyd was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis. Within two days, thousands of protesters simultaneously took to the streets in an estimated 120 U. S. cities, including Los Angeles, Oakland, and San Francisco. The protests were accompanied by attacks on police, violence, arson, and looting of businesses. Law enforcement in these cities was almost nonexistent, as local officials restricted police from confronting the rioters. By Friday March 29, virtually every city in the state was dealing with swarms of organized protesters streaming through downtown and into the suburbs. State offices and the Legislature were closed, freeways were blocked, and several law enforcement officers were killed or injured. At noon that day, the Governor used part of his daily televised pandemic update to tell the protesters, “I pray that all of us that want to express ourselves do so thoughtfully and gently, but forcefully, in terms of expressing themselves as they should and as they must.”

After riots escalated over the weekend, and the President threatened to take federal action to protect cities if mayors and governors failed to act, Governor Newsom released National Guard troops to cities where mayors were requesting help to restore order. By June 1, curfews were established in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, and other cities, and while they were not strictly enforced, in most communities the protests subsided. Throughout the week of often-violent protests, Newsom’s statements echoed those of the state’s most liberal mayors, which blamed systemic racism as justification for the carnage. In a televised statement, Newsom said, “The black community is not responsible for what’s happening in this country—we are.” The governor continued with, “People have lost patience for a reason.”

For once he was right. Most Californians had lost patience with the weak response to the violent protests organized by Black Lives Matter and other radical groups. Even George Floyd’s family decried the rioting. As the Governor, it was Newsom’s responsibility to take action to protect the law-abiding public when it became obvious that the protests would be violent. Instead he sympathized with the rioters and sat on his hands for almost a week, as criminals roamed the streets looking for targets. During that time, the Los Angeles Police Department reported that the number of murders had skyrocketed by 250% between May 31 and June 6, while the number of shooting victims surged by 56%. This does not take into account the toll of the property destruction, fires, and looting that law-abiding Californians suffered that week.

Remarkably, there was no concern expressed by the Governor about the spread of the coronavirus as thousands of protesters packed city streets across the state. As widely reported by the Centers for Disease Control, the incubation period for the virus is 14 days. On July 11, just over a month after the protests, Newsom has reinstituted a statewide lockdown on California’s economy due to a spike in infections since mid-June, which the state attributes to “family gatherings.” This new lockdown came one day after Newsom announced his plan to release another 8,000 criminals from state prisons to protect them from the virus.

And, to think, some people still believe that electing Governor Gavin was a good idea.

Michael Rushford