Stay Aggressive and Scattered, Governor

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

The media reviews of Gavin Newsom’s first year as governor are rolling in. And they are mostly mixed.

The main criticism is that Newsom too unfocused. His agenda is too large, his attention too scattered. 

That’s nonsense.

The state simply has too many challenges—challenges that went unaddressed during the widely acclaimed—but insufficiently ambitious—governorship of Jerry Brown. Being scattered is just the nature of the job—if you’re really going to govern.

Indeed, a long Los Angeles Times story that made the “Newsom lacks focus” case concluded with complaints from environmentalists and others that the governor had been ignoring their issues. 

There is one Newsom failing in the critiques that I do think is correct. That Newsom and his team sometimes move too fast, and aren’t great at communicating. I’ve had some experience with that.

So my own advice would be: Stay ambitious. Heck, take on even more things if you can. But do it all a bit more deliberately.

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