With less than a month in office, California Governor Gavin Newsom seems to offer something for everyone. You have to give it to the governor – he’s a slick salesman. Some legislators and activists are clearly buying everything he is selling, only to be left confused a few days later.
On January 4, 2019, the Sacramento Bee ran with the headline, “It’s official, Gavin Newsom and his family will move to the governor’s mansion in Sacramento.” Less than two weeks later the Bee had a new headline, “Gavin Newsom’s family plans to move to $3.7 million Fair Oaks mansion.” Gov. Newsom failed to tell the media that the Newsoms had purchased the property in December 2018.
In Gov. Newsom’s first State of the State Address, Californians might have heard one thing, Newsom meant another, and in certain areas few to no specifics were offered.
The governor admitted that the high-speed rail project is an abject failure. Here is how the media saw it:
San Francisco Chronicle: “Newsom says California high-speed rail must focus on Central Valley”
Bloomberg News: “California’s Newsom Scales Back Plans for High-Speed Rail Line”
KPIX (CBS): “Gov. Newsom Puts Brakes On California’s High-Speed Rail Plan”
The very next day, Gov. Newsom called all this talk “Fake News.” Gov. Newsom’s tweet: “Fake news. We’re building high-speed rail, connecting the Central Valley and beyond. This is CA’s money, allocated by Congress for this project. We’re not giving it back. The train is leaving the station — better get on board!” (2/13/19, 6:10 PM)
The post-Tweet Los Angeles Times headline: “Newsom blames the media, not his own words, for confusion over high-speed rail’s future.”
When discussing California Water Fix, Gov. Newsom said he opposes the twin-tunnels project. Instead, he wants to build just one tunnel that may or may not equal the size and scope of the current twin-tunnels proposal. He said nothing about cost.
Gov. Newsom also dedicated a good portion of his speech to talk about new commissions, boards, czars and task forces. This is just another way of saying, “Under my administration I will be greatly expanding the size and scope of government.”
With each commission, board, czar and blue ribbon task force comes staff, studies, reports and recommendations, all of which are sure to cost hundreds of millions of dollars per entity. What you can count on is that, ultimately, the governor and his czars will raise taxes to pay for all the shiny new programs and task forces.
What is scary about Gov. Newsom is not what he says but what he doesn’t say and how many members of the Legislature will fall for the salesman’s empty promises.
If this past month is any indication of what we can expect in the future, we will continue to see slickly delivered speeches that offer something for everyone; that may be full of contradictions; and that will need to be parsed out slowly, word by word, just to glean the actuality behind the false front.
Gil Duran, the Sacramento Bee opinion editor wrote this past week: “As mayor of San Francisco, @GavinNewsom was infamously combative with reporters – insulting them, ducking them and, once, even sinking his teeth into a KTVU reporter’s microphone, Is he returning to old habits?” (Tweet, 2/15/19, 4:18 PM)
So far we haven’t seen or heard of any behavior like that, but Gov. Newsom’s superficial promises may fool those who want to believe and they definitely should make used car salesmen proud. Californians deserve more transparency and honesty from the governor.
Raul Riesgo is a public relations expert who has been featured on Spanish language news outlets Telemundo and Mundo Fox News discussing both political and Latino community issues. He has also been a news reporter for two Los Angeles area newspapers writing on variety of community and social topics. He authored a historical narrative on the development of the city of Pico Rivera, California. The book was featured on CNN’s Special Report “Latinos in America.”