Governor. Gavin Newsom was shocked at how much garbage had been accumulated: looted boxes, trashed packages and cardboard boxes. “What the heck is happening?” “We look like a Third-World country,” he stated.
To see all that’s happening in the state, Governor Schwarzenegger needs to be more active and leave his Sacramento area home. Union Pacific executives offered the most shocking information regarding the detritus left behind by vandals who raided slow-moving freight trains as they head to an intermodal facility near downtown LA.
In a letter to Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón, the company pointed to a 160-percent increase in criminal theft in the county since last December. The disorder does not include pilfered packages or wanton vandalism. However, it also includes an increase in assaults and armed robberies against UP employees who are performing their jobs moving trains.
Here’s the kicker. Union Pacific, out of the hundreds of people arrested, “hasn’t been reached for court proceedings.” Newsom shouldn’t find this surprising. This is what Newsom discovered after meeting with fellow writers.
Business leaders described an administration that was more interested in placating unions than dealing forcefully with the port logjam—and uninterested in enlisting them to hammer out a solution. It’s the same theme whether it’s dealing with criminality, ports or COVID-19 shut downs. The governor’s team doesn’t have the bandwidth to tackle the issues that are eroding our quality of life. Perhaps he is too involved in planning for a takeover of state healthcare.
He announced his standard solution which includes new task force and higher spending. His Real Public Safety Plan “includes $255 million in grants for local law enforcement to increase presence at retail locations and combat organized retail crime,” which is fine, of course. Newsom isn’t able to keep the basics of the problem straight, so he wanders a bit.
Just as his water plan is more about restoring habitats and his infrastructure plan tilts heavily toward bicycle lanes and transit, Newsom’s rail-safety plan focuses on “getting guns and drugs off our streets.” This is what separates lefties like Newsom from traditional liberals like Jerry Brown. While they would be pushing for the same goals, these lefties would prefer to focus on basics. Stop the thefts, not gun control.
That’s a crucial point to make with regard to Gascón and other progressive prosecutors. Police unions were largely responsible for electing district attorneys. These officers often ignored police misbehavior and overcharged minor offences. Then, they lobbied to pass tough-on crime laws, which facilitated an increase in prison population. Many injustices have resulted from the justice system being too biased in favor of the government.
Although reform was long overdue, prosecutors are still responsible for prosecuting criminals. We are reminded by recent rail thefts as well the rise in brazen smash and grab retail robberies that DAs have to put into practice justice reforms. Unfortunately, there are still many dangerous people out there. Practically speaking, soaring crime rates—and widely publicized dystopian scenes, such as the one that Newsom witnessed—erode public support for sensible reforms.
Meanwhile, the homeless situation has been terrible for a while but is encroaching on our everyday lives. I recently picked up a friend at his newer suburban apartment—and a vast homeless encampment spread across the neighboring field like a grim scene from some impoverished distant country. In San Francisco, people leave their cars open to thieves so they can’t break the windows.
California is still a beautiful state. However, it has increasingly adopted third-world attributes. California has one of the highest proportions of super-rich people in America, which is evident from any trip along the coast. But it also has the highest percentage of poor people, using the Census Bureau’s cost-of-living-adjusted figures.
The progressives who control this state are obsessed with such South American-style inequality, but they seem more fixated on leveling (or chasing away) the rich rather than improving conditions for the poor and middle class. Their government-centric policies have pushed up everything and eroded public service, creating the economic gap.
Furthermore, they’ve made it tougher for people to work in service to unions and bureaucratic interests and cost-prohibitive to start a business. That’s another characteristic of poor, backward nations—government functionaries have inordinate control over ordinary people’s lives and extremely lucrative jobs are found in government agencies.
While these issues were present before Newsom took office, the situation is only becoming more serious. I’m pleased he finally is noticing the state’s escalating third-world conditions, but who feels confident that he has any clue what to do about them?
This column first appeared in The Orange County Register.