Another bid to recall Newsom and rob voters

Sore losers’ 7th effort to oust him is a waste, and points to larger ill: Unending elections due to denial

Gov. Gavin Newsom at a press conference in the state capitol following the first COVID-19 death in California. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

Gavin Newsom is hardly beyond reproach.

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California faces a massive budget deficit, which may be worse than the governor acknowledges. There’s been voluminous amounts of talk about but no end to the state’s housing and homelessness crises.

The time and energy Newsom devotes to boosting his national profile — traipsing around the country, running red-state ads promoting abortion rights — could be better spent at home. Instead of visiting Florida and Alabama, Newsom should take a tour of rural California, stopping in flyover places like Alturas, Sonora and Red Bluff.

It may not boost Newsom’s 2028 presidential prospects or win many converts. But it would acknowledge the disconnect their residents feel from the rest of the state, and show their concerns matter as much as those of Democrats in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

None of that, however, justifies the latest attempt to drive Newsom from office.

A group of Republicans involved in the failed 2021 recall effort announced this week that they’re trying again — marking the seventh attempt to short-circuit Newsom’s governorship.

It’s a waste of time and, potentially, a whole lot more taxpayer money. It should force lawmakers in Sacramento to finally make some badly needed fixes to the state’s broken recall process.

It’s also symptomatic of a larger ill.

For more than a generation, we’ve lived in the age of the permanent campaign. The line between governing and eyeing the next election has become indistinguishable — much to the chagrin of those who wish expedience and partisanship had less influence over lawmakers and their decisions.

But in recent years, the negative effects of the permanent campaign have been exceeded by something even more pernicious: the election without end.

Rather than admitting defeat, Donald Trump and his followers insist on relitigating the 2020 presidential contest. In Arizona, gubernatorial hopeful Kari Lake and other Republicanspulled the same stunt after losing their statewide races, refusing to recognize the results.

(For those who insist those elections were stolen, here’s a suggestion: Get together with Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy and discuss ways to prevent similar “fraud” in 2024. You’re welcome.)

Elections used to have winners and losers, with both sides acknowledging as much. Now those who don’t like the results simply refuse to accept the outcome, ignoring the will of voters.

In Oregon, that meant lawmakers boycotted the Legislature to deny majority Democrats a quorum. In Wisconsin, unhappy Republicans threatened to nullify a state Supreme Court election and impeach a liberal justice simply because their preferred candidate lost. (The legislators were finally shamed out of such a flagrantly undemocratic move.)

That mindset, that elections don’t count unless they turn out the way you wish, is evident in the renewed effort to recall Newsom.

Like him or not, he has twice been elected governor. He decisively beat back the attempted 2021 recall; the 61.9% “no” vote precisely matched Newsom’s winning percentage in 2018 — meaning nearly $250 million was spent on a special election so voters could say, in effect, yep, we meant it when we chose this guy.

They chose Newsom again in 2022, when he cruised to reelection.

The GOP is in pathetic shape in California. That’s nothing new. It’s been nearly two decades since voters elected a Republican governor, the sui generis Arnold Schwarzenegger.

So now the strategy seems to be, if you can’t beat ’em, harass ’em.

And make some money in the process.

The San Francisco Standard reported that Rescue California, the campaign committee behind the 2021 recall election, is more than $1 million in debt. Fundraising for the latest effort could easily wipe away that debt and reap a hefty sum for organizers who profited nicely from the last go-round.

In the weeks and months after that costly, pointless election, lawmakers in Sacramento considered ways to overhaul the recall process, which has aged poorly since its conception more than a century ago.

Click here to read the full story in the LA Times

John Seiler: Gray Davis never should have been recalled

As only he can, former Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recently enthused before a crowd at the Sacramento Press Club about the 20th anniversary of him becoming governor. That occurred after the recall of Gov. Gray Davis in Oct. 2003. 

Schwarzenegger’s charisma and immense popularity propelled him to victory. He met three times with the Orange County Register’s editorial board and was as charming as you see on TV. Each time in the large foyer of the Register building a couple hundred employees crowded in to see him as he entered with his entourage.

“It was the best seven years of my life, without a doubt,” Schwarzenegger said at the Sacramento shindig. “People I talked to said Sacramento doesn’t work. I had a clear vision of what I wanted to do, and I explained it to the people.” 

He started out with two good years of “blowing up the boxes” of government bureaucracy, cutting spending and canceling Davis’ unconstitutional car-tax increase. Unfortunately, he reversed his original vision and, thanks to his misrule, the state works less well than ever.

I now regret supporting the recall in Register editorials. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Davis governed badly, for example botching the 2000-01 energy crisis.

But it would have been better to just let him ride out three more years. Republicans could have primed themselves to win the governorship the normal way in 2006. 

Perhaps then-state Sen. Tom McClintock, now a U.S. representative and a fiscal hawk, would have won. 

Indeed, if Schwarzenegger had not butted in, McClintock might have won the 2003 recall replacement election. Instead, he garnered 13% to Schwarzenegger’s 49%. In second place was Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, who ran on the slogan, “No on Recall, Yes on Bustamante.” It was a weird year.

The key moment came after his reform initiatives lost in the special election Schwarzenegger called for Nov. 8, 2005. He announced, “The people have spoken.” Actually, it was attack ads funded by public-employee unions that had spoken, again. 

He turned sharply left. The spending restraint was gone, the general fund rising an incredible 25% in the next two years. 

At his smoking tent outside the Capitol, he thought he could negotiate with legislative Democrats like he did Hollywood executives. Instead, Senate President John Burton and other Old Bulls rolled him like a neophyte at a high-stakes poker game.

He passed two horrible pieces of legislation I’ve attacked at the time and ever since: Senate Bill 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006; and Senate Bill 375 in 2008, which restricted housing construction. My colleague Susan Shelley described the results in these pages, “AB32 has added extra costs to manufacturing and energy production in California, and SB375 has limited construction of new homes in affordable areas by trying to contain ‘sprawl’ and reduce driving…. Combined, these have driven home prices out of reach, which further discourages employers from locating here.”

Schwarzenegger still brags about these bills, featuring a picture of his 2006 AB 32 signing ceremony online at the USC Schwarzenegger Institute. 

At the recent Sacramento shindig, he lamented, “The only thing I’m interested in is president, and I can’t.” That’s not just a quip. His Oval Office dreams are detailed in Ian Halpern’s 2010 biography, “Governator: From Muscle Beach to His Quest for the White House, the Improbable Rise of Arnold Schwarzenegger.” He thought he could amend the Constitution to allow foreign-born candidates.

Except an amendment needs two-thirds approval from the Senate, most of whose members are hankering for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue themselves and wouldn’t want the competition.

Schwarzenegger’s tenure also ended with his stature “terminated.” The overspending caught up with him when the subprime recession hit, budget deficits ballooned and he increased taxes a record $13 billion in 2009. He left office commuting the murder sentence of the son of Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, enraging the victim’s family. 

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

How Many Legal Wrenches Can Santa Ana’s Recall Election Take? 

Santa Ana’s police union-backed City Council members won’t unstrap themselves from an imminent, police union-driven recall election that the county has officially decertified. 

Not only did County of Orange elections officials find – at the 11th hour – that they and recall petitioners used the wrong electoral map to gather and verify signatures and mail ballots to residents, but the county has since rescinded its certificate of the recall’s signatures entirely.

Yet the seat of City Councilmember Jessie Lopez – a vocal police union critic – seems headed for a Nov. 14 special election anyway, one costing more than $600,000 out of the city’s public purse.

It’s putting City Hall at odds with the OC Registrar of Voters, with both looking to the other for guidance on the issue.

The police union has already spent nearly half a million dollars in their campaign to unseat Lopez, which, if successful, would be the second time they’ve ousted an elected official who challenged officer salaries and the union’s political grip, since the turn of the decade.

Now it may be up to a judge to decide whether an election should proceed without the say of nearly 1,200 residents who should have received a mail ballot for this election but did not.

“That’s why we’re taking this corrupt recall to court,” announced Lopez in a campaign email asking for donations from supporters on Tuesday.

If Lopez is unseated, her replacement would only hold office for a year before the seat again goes up for grabs in the November 2024 presidential election. 

The situation comes after three police union-backed City Council members – Phil Bacerra, David Penaloza and Mayor Valerie Amezcua – refused to cancel the election at a Monday night special meeting, despite OC Registrar of Voters Bob Page’s office raising serious validity issues in an Oct. 26 letter to City Hall.

Page’s letter states that police union recall petitioners gathered voters’ signatures for an election based on the current map of Lopez’s ward, instead of the prior boundaries that existed when she was elected, before the ward was redistricted.

On top of that, in closed door discussions before council members took their vote on Monday night, City Hall’s top attorney, Sonia Carvalho, advised council members to rescind the city’s own certification of the recall, according to remarks from the dais by Council Member Johnathan Ryan Hernandez.

Instead, council members on Monday deadlocked.


“The Registrar of Voters will continue to conduct the recall election using the current map of Ward 3 until we receive new direction from the City to use the 2020 map of Ward 3. The City Clerk is the elections official for the election. The Registrar of Voters provides election services at the direction of the City and the City Clerk,” Page wrote in a Tuesday email.

Above is a map of Santa Ana voters who should be voting in the Nov. 14 recall election but were not mailed ballots. Credit: Provided by the OC Registrar of Voters

In an Oct. 27 letter responding to Page’s original notice, city officials asked for more guidance from county officials. 

“The City should not be left alone in deciding how to proceed, based on the error, regardless of who is responsible for it,” Carvahlo wrote

The county’s top attorney, Leon Page, responded that the county is relying on direction from the city.

Recall organizers and police union-backed council members have criticized Page’s office for recognizing the error so late in the game.

Page said he noticed the issue after receiving an email from the Kings County Registrar of Voters “asking other county elections officials in the state for advice regarding a recall effort involving school district officials elected before and after redistricting.”

“This request prompted me to re-examine how we reviewed the Ward 3 recall petition and are administering the recall election pursuant to the request of the City of Santa Ana,” Page said in an email.

In light of the 11th hour controversy, Page added that his office has “started to review our procedures and checklists to identify opportunities to improve how we support city clerks.”

On Monday, Page signed a “superseding” certificate rescinding the one he issued on July 17 – first reported by freelance journalist Ben Camacho – which originally determined enough valid signatures from voters in Lopez’s ward to move forward with the election. 

The following day, in a Facebook post, Councilmember Penaloza said he no longer endorsed the recall campaign.

In his post, Penaloza echoed police union-backed colleagues’ remarks on Monday, that council members shouldn’t be the ones to cancel the election. 

“The integrity of our elections is way too important and sacred for politicians to be the ones who decide whether an election currently taking place gets canceled or not, especially after many Santa Ana residents have already cast their votes. That is not a decision that I should be the one to have to make.”

Yet Page has said his elections office depends on the City Council’s direction on how to proceed.

Requests for comment from council members Phil Bacerra and Valerie Amezcua went unreturned on Wednesday. 

On Tuesday, OC Supervisor and former Santa Ana Mayor Vicente Sarmieneto publicly questioned the integrity of the police union recall.

“The Santa Ana City Council had the opportunity to do the right thing,” said Sarmiento during supervisors’ regular meeting. “The rules are that when a person is going to be recalled, they should be recalled by those same voters that voted you in.”

Click here to read the full article in the Voice of OC

Gascón Recall Effort Fails as LA Registrar Recorder Denies 200K Signatures

‘If this was my recall team, I’d definitely look into it – Something is off’

Los Angeles County Registrar Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan announced on Monday that the recall petition of LA District Attorney George Gascon failed to reach the needed number of signatures, only garnering 520,050 of the needed 566,867 needed to be on the November 2022 ballot.

In July, LA Mayoral candidate and current Rep. Karen Bass said “My focus is going to be on the mayor’s race…I’m not going to be focused on the recall,” reported, and said she “then went on to characterize the chances the recall will qualify for the ballot as ‘doubtful.’”

When the second recall attempt against Gascon kicked off in January following the failed 2021 attempt, the number of signatures quickly grew. By June, so many had been collected that the safety goal was being reached and criminals in the County were so worried of it succeeding that many began asking for more plea deals ahead of such a recall being on the ballot. Around 716,000 were turned in by the early July deadline, with number of signatures widely being seen as enough, as previous petitions, such as the Gavin Newsom recall campaign in 2021, had only a 20% rejection rate.

“I wouldn’t say it’s in the bag or we’ll be complacent, but as far as public opinion is concerned, George Gascon is toast,” said Recall DA George Gascon Tim Lineberger spokesman last month.

However, on Monday, 195,783 signatures of the 715,833 turned in were invalidated, causing the recall petition to not advance.

“Based on the examination and verification, which conducted in compliance with the statutory and regulatory requirements of the California Government Code, Elections Code, and Code of Regulations, 520,050 signatures were found to be valid and 195,783 were found to be invalid,” said Logan on Monday. “Therefore, the petition has failed to meet the sufficiency requirements and no further action shall be taken on the petition.”

Of the nearly 200,000 invalidated signatures, 88,000 were not registered, 43,593 were duplicates, 32,187 were a different address, 9,490 were mismatched signatures, 7,344 were canceled, 5,374 were out of county addresses, with 9,300 being uncounted under the ‘other’ category.

Those against the recall attempt celebrated on Monday, with a Gascon campaign spokesperson saying “We are obviously glad to move forward from this attempted political power grab, but we also understand that there is far more work that needs to be done. And we remain strongly committed to that work. The DA’s primary focus is and has always been keeping us safe and creating a more equitable justice system for all. Today’s announcement does not change that.”

Gascon himself also gave a brief tweet, echoing similar sentiments.

Click here to read the full article at the California Globe

Taxpayers on Hook as Gascón Brings in Nation’s Highest-Paid Attorney in Legal Battle with His Own Prosecutors

 Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón, whose own deputies sued him for permission to charge repeat offenders to the fullest extent of the law, has pulled out all the stops in his California Supreme Court appeal against them, retaining one of the nation’s top lawyers.

Neal K. Katyal, a former Acting U.S. Solicitor General who represented Al Gore in the 2000 election dispute and has appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court dozens of times, is also reportedly one of the country’s highest-paid attorneys.

Reuters reported in May that the Georgetown law professor and partner at Hogan Lovells was charging as much as $2,465 an hour to represent a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson in a bankruptcy case. At the time, that was more than the $2,295 an hour former Attorney General Eric Holder was billing.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón sued by Deputy DA

“That’s high, but appellate experts like him are in high demand,” said Neama Rahmani, a former federal prosecutor and Los Angeles-based trial attorney.

Katyal is one of the most accomplished lawyers in the country. He has argued before the U.S. Supreme Court dozens of times, according to his Georgetown bio. He also faced a storm of criticism in late 2020 after defending two large corporations in a child slavery lawsuit that reached the Supreme Court.

“When you hire the former Acting Solicitor General to handle an appeal, it’s a big deal,” Rahmani told Fox News Digital.

But the expenditure could amount to a waste of taxpayers’ money if Gascón fails in front of the Supreme Court.

Rahmani said Gascón’s chances of prevailing “are low,” noting that the courts have already upheld similar sentencing schemes.

“It’s unfortunate that Gascón is spending so much time and money litigating against his own front-line prosecutors and challenging California’s Three Strikes law, which is well-established and supported by the majority of California voters,” he said. “Especially as he faces a likely recall.”

SUGGESTED: DA Gascón recall effort: County officials to proceed with full review of signatures

Gascón’s office did not immediately respond to questions about how much taxpayer money is going toward paying Hogan Lovells or Katyal.

The Democrat Gascón is facing a recall effort and rising crime, as well as a storm of criticism over his handling of high-profile cases involving egregious crimes, including the 26-year-old trans child molester who was incarcerated in a juvenile facility nearly a decade after attacking a 10-year-old girl in a Denny’s bathroom.

In the past two weeks, as the recall effort cleared several roadblocks, Gascón disbanded the unit in his office tasked with notifying crime victims of their assailants’ parole hearings and taken his appeal against a lawsuit that blocked his directive banning prosecutors from charging strikes under California law to the state Supreme Court. In June, he said he had secured an “appropriate” sentence of five to seven months in juvenile probation camp for a wrong-way-driving teen in a stolen car who pleaded guilty to mowing down a mother walking her infant son in a stroller.

Katyal, who argued in appellate court that Gascón should be able to implement his unilateral directives over the Association of Deputy District Attorneys, wrote the opposite in a 2020 op-ed for the New York Times, critics said. Katyal and fellow Georgetown law professor Joshua Geltzer disputed the decision of the Justice Department, under then-Attorney General Bill Bar, to drop criminal charges against former Trump adviser Michael Flynn.

SUGGESTED: Whittier to vote on bypassing LA DA Gascón on misdemeanor crimes

“Fortunately, in our system, a prosecutor’s say-so is not enough to drop a prosecution,” they wrote. “It requires the approval of the court. And while judges rarely interfere with such decisions, this is that rare case.”

Neither Katyal nor Geltzer responded to requests for comment.

“This is diametrically opposed to his position on this case,” Eric Siddall, the vice president of the Los Angeles Association of Deputy District Attorneys, which initially sued Gascón over the three-strikes policy in December 2020, said of the Flynn op-ed Tuesday.

Eric George, the Ellis George Cipollone O’Brien Annaguey LLP partner representing the Association of Deputy District Attorneys, described Katyal as a “very good lawyer” Tuesday but said last week that he is confident in the ADDA’s case before the state’s Supreme Court.

“Each of the four respected jurists who have considered the matter has validated our client’s claims, and we are confident the California Supreme Court will take no action to interfere with the injunction against Mr. Gascón,” he said.

In June, the Second Appellate District Court upheld portions of a lower court’s injunction that said Gascón cannot refuse to charge three-strike cases, which can dramatically increase prison sentences for some of the most serious repeat offenders.

Gascón is hoping to have the court’s order overturned, arguing that it is “draconian,” creates “a dangerous precedent” and amounts to “taking the charging decision out of a prosecutor’s hands.”

“The district attorney overstates his authority,” the Second Appellate District ruling reads. “He is an elected official who must comply with the law, not a sovereign with absolute, unreviewable discretion.”

Gascón recall Proponents Deliver 717,000 Signatures to County

Former DA Steve Cooley, one of the recall organizers, called the campaign ‘a Herculean effort with a lot of moving parts to obtain the signatures’

Campaign organizers seeking to recall embattled Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón submitted 717,000 signatures to election officials Wednesday, July 6, hoping to force an election that could oust him after less than two years on the job.

A group of sign-waving recall supporters, many of them families of murder victims critical of Gascon’s policies, greeted a truck that delivered the petitions to the Los Angeles County Registrar’s Office in Norwalk. Supporters need 566,857 signatures — representing 10% of the total registered voters in the county at the time of the November 2020 election that Gascon won — to qualify the recall for the ballot.

Supporters hope the extra signatures will provide a sufficient cushion to allow for disqualified signatures.

“It was a Herculean effort with a lot of moving parts to obtain the signatures,” said former Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley, who is co-chairman of campaign to recall Gascon.

Wednesday was the county deadline to submit the recall petitions. Cooley predicted that if the signatures are certified, Gascón will be turned out of office in a landslide.

30 days to verify signatures

The county will have 30 days to verify the signatures before scheduling a recall vote.

“They are still determining whether they will count the entire submission, or only a 5% sample batch,” campaign spokesman Tim Lineberger said. “If the recall ultimately qualifies, it would likely take place in a special election early next year. For it to appear on the November ballot, the process would likely need to be expedited.”

If the recall issue qualifies, the same ballot will ask voters to choose a replacement candidate for district attorney. The candidate with the most votes would capture the election outright without a runoff election.

While the initial campaign to recall Gascón fizzled early last year due to a lack of signatures and the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rebooted effort that began in October has received a groundswell of public support and endorsements from unlikely political corners.

“This effort was different from the first effort in that skilled professionals took over the reins of the effort,” Cooley said. “They were very dedicated to the cause. The first effort was buoyed by a lot of enthusiasm but not the leadership nor organization to obtain the needed signatures in the required time frame. There were lessons learned from the first unsuccessful effort, the most important of which is that certain skill sets are vitally required to succeed in a recall effort.”

Recall proponents

The Los Angeles Association of Deputy District Attorneys, the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the Los Angeles County Professional Peace Officers Association along with county Supervisor Kathryn Barger have endorsed the recall.

“I typically support election outcomes as a way of respecting the public’s right to choose, but our D.A.’s policies have led to disastrous consequences,” Barger said in a statement issued in May. “Public safety in L.A. County has visibly deteriorated. I believe Gascón must be replaced with someone that is committed to championing victims’ rights, safety and justice.”

In a stunning reversal, former Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck withdrew his support for Gascón, saying the public would be better served by a district attorney who “emphasizes the rights of victims and the safety of our police officers.”

Gascón did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday, directing inquiries to his campaign spokesperson.

“We are waiting to hear the official count of validated signatures,” Elise Moore, his spokesperson, said in an email. “This will likely take several weeks. In the meantime, we remain focused on the work of keeping communities safe and creating a more equitable justice system, as we have been since day one.”

Reform has ‘broad support’

Cristine Soto DeBerry, executive director of the Prosecutors Alliance of California, said the recall effort is being bankrolled by “fringe conservatives, political operatives, and mega-donors” that support former President Donald Trump and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“Criminal justice reform has broad support from people across the political spectrum as voters know the status quo has failed them on every level,” DeBerry said in a statement. “This is a system defined by soaring rates of recidivism, shocking levels of racial disparities and wasteful spending of taxpayer money. It is a system that created a revolving door from the streets to our jails and prisons while ignoring the underlying problems that drive crime in the first place.”

DeBerry added that Gascón, who served 30 years with the LAPD and previously as San Francisco district attorney, was elected to prioritize “safety, accountability, healing and justice.”

Click here to read the full article in the Los Angeles Daily News

Voters Recall D.A. Chesa Boudin

Reformist prosecutor in San Francisco will not finish first term amid social problems.

SAN FRANCISCO — Embattled Dist. Atty. Chesa Boudin, who became a lightning rod for debates over crime and homelessness in San Francisco, will not finish his first term as the city’s top prosecutor.

With more than 61% of voters backing the recall of the 41-year-old reformer candidate, the Associated Press and the San Francisco Chronicle called the race Tuesday night.

The bitter, expensive recall election has become a referendum on some of San Francisco’s most painfully visible social problems, including homelessness, property crime and drug addiction.

The recall campaign has painted Boudin as a soft-on-crime prosecutor who doesn’t care about public safety. It has tied his criminal reform policies to high-profile crimes, including a fatal hit-and-run involving a man on parole, a series of smash-and-grab robberies from high-end Union Square stores and attacks against elderly Asian American residents.

“Safe is not a word I’d use to describe San Francisco,” said Raj Marwari, 40, who lives in the Marina District and works in finance. He said he voted to recall Boudin because “obviously, things have gotten worse in every way,” including homelessness. He said he’s embarrassed when his parents from Texas visit the city.

Removing Boudin from office won’t solve everything, Marwari said, but “when the player’s doing bad, you’ve got to pull ’em.”

Property and violent crimes fell by double-digit percentages during Bou-din’s first two years in office. But some individual categories of crime surged in the same time frame: Burglaries rose 47%; motor vehicle theft, 36%. Homicides also increased, though the city saw its lowest number of killings in more than a half-century in 2019.

Like other prosecutors in the nationwide movement to reimagine the criminal justice system, Boudin ran on a platform to reduce mass incarceration and divert low-level offenders into drug and mental health treatment instead of jail cells.

His loss could have national implications, including for Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. George Gascón, who is facing his second recall attempt in two years.

During his 2½-year tenure, Boudin has refused to seek the death penalty or try juveniles as adults. He has reduced the use of sentencing enhancements. A San Francisco police officer stood trial for excessive force this year for the first time, though the officer, Terrance Stangle, was acquitted.

Boudin and his supporters fanned out across the city Tuesday to hand out pamphlets urging a “no” vote on the recall, known as Proposition H. As he campaigned along Divisadero Street in a neighborhood known as NoPa (North of the Panhandle), Boudin said he was “feeling great.”

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

More S.F. Voters Supported Recall Of School Board Members Than Elected Them In 2018

More San Franciscans voted to recall three school board members than elected them in 2018, despite a relatively low turnout in the special election last week.

With nearly 175,000 votes counted, and few remaining ballots still outstanding, the tally demonstrated a clear landslide and countered claims that the recall was a Republican-fueled election dominated by white families frustrated with the board’s progressive politics.

The voter turnout as of Friday was at 35%.

More than 131,000 voters ousted board member Alison Collins, who received 122,865 votes in 2018 when she was elected to the job.

Board President Gabriela López received 123,463 recall votes compared with 117,843 in 2018, while Faauuga Moliga received 117,843 recall votes, nearly 10,000 more than the 107,989 who elected him.

The data also shows that a majority of voters in every neighborhood in San Francisco supported the removal of Collins and López, while all but one, North Bernal Heights, voted to oust Moliga.

The recall divided the city for the past year, with a grassroots effort of frustrated parents and community members pushing for the board members’ removal over the slow reopening of schools during the pandemic and the board’s focus on controversial issues such as renaming 44 school sites and ending the merit-based admission system at Lowell High School.

Opponents of the recall said that the election was a waste of time, money and energy that could have been better directed toward students and that commissioners were carrying out a racial justice agenda that many voters back and is meant to address inequity in the schools. They pointed out wealthy investors, including some Republicans, largely bankrolled the recall effort.

Voters specifically targeted Collins over racially offensive tweets she made before her election, saying Asian Americans used “white supremacist thinking to assimilate and ‘get ahead.’”

Amid calls for her resignation from city leaders and community groups, she sued the district and five fellow board members for $87 million after the board stripped her of the vice presidency and her seat on committees. The lawsuit was tossed out of court before the first hearing.

Within the next few weeks, Mayor London Breed is expected to appoint replacements to finish out the commissioners’ terms, which end in early January 2023. To remain in office, the replacements would have to run in the upcoming November election, but might have an edge as incumbents.

“The voters of this city have delivered a clear message that the school board must focus on the essentials of delivering a well-run school system above all else,” Breed said in a statement on election night. “There are many critical decisions in the coming months — addressing a significant budget deficit, hiring a new Superintendent, and navigating our emergence from this pandemic. … The school district has a lot of work to do.”

Collins and López remain in office, and will not officially be removed until 10 days after the Board of Supervisors accepts the results. New board members would probably take seats around March 11. Moliga, however, stepped down Wednesday. His seat will be vacant until Breed appoints a replacement.

Collins and López remained defiant last week, attributing the recall to white supremacy, a backlash against social justice issues and deep-pocketed Republicans.

“So if you fight for racial justice, this is the consequence,” López said Thursday on Twitter. “Don’t be mistaken, white supremacists are enjoying this. And the support of the recall is aligned with this.”

Click here to read the full article at the SF Chronicle

S.F. School Board Recall: Alison Collins, Gabriela López and Faauuga Moliga Ousted

San Francisco voters overwhelmingly supported the ouster of three school board members Tuesday in the city’s first recall election in nearly 40 years.

The landslide decision means board President Gabriela López and members Alison Collins and Faauuga Moliga will officially be removed from office and replaced by mayoral appointments 10 days after the election is officially accepted by the Board of Supervisors.

The new board members are likely to take office in mid-March. The three were the only school board members who had served long enough to be eligible for a recall.

The recall divided the city for the past year, with a grassroots effort of frustrated parents and community members pushing for the trustees’ removal over the slow reopening of schools during the pandemic and the board’s focus on controversial issues like renaming 44 school sites and ending the merit-based admission system at Lowell High School.

Supervisor Hillary Ronen said she wasn’t surprised by the results.

“We faced the hardest time of our entire lives as parents and as students in public schools and this Board of Education focused on issues that weren’t about dealing with the immediate crisis of the day, and they didn’t show the leadership that that was necessary and that parents needed to hear, and that kids needed to hear,” said Ronen.

At least a hundred recall backers had gathered in the back room of Manny’s Cafe in the Mission District on Tuesday night.

“This is what happens when you try to rename the schools in the middle of a pandemic!” exclaimed David Thompson a.k.a “Gaybraham” Lincoln, an SFUSD parent dressed in head-to-toe rainbow drag and towering platform shoes, who described his persona as a form of protest. “We wanted to show the diversity of the community behind this recall. I knew they were going to say, ‘Oh isn’t it just a bunch of Republicans?’ and I’m like, do I look like a Republican?”

Within the next few weeks, Mayor London Breed is expected to appoint replacements to finish out the commissioners’ terms, which end in early January 2023. To remain in office, the replacements would have to run in the upcoming November election, but would have an edge as incumbents.

Click here to read the full article at the San Francisco Chronicle

Signatures for recall of Sen. Newman certified, election expected in June

Signatures calling for the Republican-backed recall election of state Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton, were certified on Friday by Secretary of State Alex Padilla, making it official that the effort has qualified for the ballot.

The date of the election will be determined by Gov. Jerry Brown, with many expecting it to coincide with June 5 primary. Democratic lawmakers tweaked state law last year to expand the time frame when such elections could be held. Beside the cost savings of running the elections together, the June 5 date would sidestep a freestanding special election in which Republicans typically turn out in greater proportions than Democrats.

The GOP targeted Newman after he voted to increase the gas tax by 12-cents-per gallon to pay for a 10-year, $52 billion roads and transportation improvement project championed by Brown, who has vowed to provide Newman with the help he needs to fend off the recall.

The freshman senator was singled out because he was considered the most vulnerable to being beaten by a Republican. His 2016 election gave Democrats a two-thirds supermajority that allowed them to raise taxes without a single GOP vote. …

Click here to read the full article from the Orange County Register