Ten Weeks Before Recall, Newsom Says CA Is 'Too Damn Dirty,' Wants Taxpayers to Pony Up $13.5 Billion for Cleanup

AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

Now that there’s a date set for the California gubernatorial recall election – and now that a strong candidate with statewide, bipartisan support has entered the race – Gavin Newsom suddenly acknowledges that rampant homelessness and piles of rotting garbage in the state’s cities are more than just small problems. He carefully picked up some trash along a highway Wednesday in conjunction with a presser announcing, of course, that the state’s throwing money toward attempting to solve a problem that they created.

Newsom’s comments in the press conference were some of the most tone-deaf comments I’ve ever heard come out of his mouth, which is saying something:

“This is an unprecedented effort to acknowledge what all of us recognize as we drive around this state. It’s too damn dirty. Time to clean up the state. Time to be a little bit more accountable. Time to use our tax dollars a little bit more appropriately. People want to see the results of their hard work….”

Is Newsom just now noticing this? The filth didn’t just appear overnight. In fact, the state’s roadways used to be fully landscaped until Caltrans yanked out trees and ground cover that had become expensive to maintain, mainly because they weren’t drought tolerant, about 20 years ago. Replacement trees and shrubs were planted, but something went wrong along the way, and in many areas, freeway offramps and right-of-ways are now full of weeds and poorly maintained trees. Homeless encampments have filled the void in urban areas, and in the suburbs, litter piles up.

At least in Los Angeles, Caltrans execs blamed the pandemic for the trash explosion, but NBC Los Angeles found that to be – surprise – not true.

The NBC4 I-Team has been documenting increasing mountains of trash on the 101, 10, and 170 freeways for two years, and has noticed the filth has gotten considerably worse during the pandemic.

“We had a period of time at the beginning of the pandemic where we were unable to pick up trash… so we got behind the eight ball,” [Caltrans Supervisor Tony] Tavares told NBC4.

But Caltrans records obtained by the I-Team show the agency stopped picking up trash on key areas of LA’s freeways long before the pandemic began. For example, a huge area of uncollected trash under the 10 Freeway near LA’s Fashion District hasn’t had a clean up by Caltrans since 2018. And the mess on the 101 Freeway offramp near Deacon Henyard’s church hasn’t been cleaned up since March 2019–a full year before the pandemic.

Tavares told NBC Los Angeles that he was embarrassed by the trash problem and that they could be doing a better job, claiming that he was now running crews on the weekends to tackle the problem. The NBC story was published in February 2021, yet Newsom was still decrying the situation on July 7. What happened? It’s as if Newsom really didn’t care until the recall was a reality.

And yes, Gavin, it’s beyond time to use our tax dollars appropriately and be a little bit more accountable. Why were they ever used inappropriately? If we hadn’t diverted money Caltrans could have used in their budget to do a half-assed, over-budget, and over-schedule job of building a bullet train, the roadways might not be such a mess. If Newsom and his cronies had continued to enforce littering, loitering, vagrancy, trespassing, vandalism, and other laws, and held people accountable, then perhaps we wouldn’t have this issue.

Newsom has been either the Governor or Lieutenant Governor for the last 10 years. In theory, during his travels throughout the state, he’s had to notice the disrepair and utter filth lining them. Then again, since Newsom lives in a multi-acre, gated estate in the suburbs, his wife wasn’t forced to push their children’s strollers past people suffering from untreated mental illness and dodge piles of human feces to take them to preschool. Still, he’s been aware of the problem and has done exactly nothing – until forced to.

Newsom then noted that the state has made an “unprecedented” $12 billion investment in the new budget targeted at getting homeless people off the streets and into transitional housing. As has been reported ad nauseam, despite trillions of dollars being thrown at this exact scheme over the last decade, the homeless population in California still exploded. Project Roomkey, designed to get homeless people off the streets during the COVID pandemic by essentially taking over hotels and allowing the homeless people to ruin them, was an abject failure.

As Politico’s Carla Marinucci reported, Newsom crowed that “More resources than any time in CA history” are aimed at solving the problem.

During the Q&A session, one reporter described a common situation in which Caltrans will clean up an encampment at one freeway underpass, and then a new encampment will appear days later at another underpass and asked Newsom what kind of coordination will occur between state and local governments to avoid this. Newsom replied:

I recognize the whack-a-mole nature that you’ve described. But moreover, I hope…everybody recognizes this. Never in California’s history have we actually A, had a plan to address the issue of encampments and homeless, and 2, had the resources that we’re putting out this year.

Setting aside Newsom’s use of A and then 2 when listing out his points, why the hell haven’t we had a plan to address the issue of encampments and homeless until now? Encampments have been a major problem for years; they’ve been the source of numerous brush fires and are the scene of countless rapes, stabbings, shootings, and brutal murders (such as lighting a disabled man’s tent on fire while he slept inside).

In addition, encampments pose a health hazard to all who live there and all who work with the homeless population, like Rev. Andy Bales in Los Angeles who lost part of a leg to an infection he acquired while working on Skid Row. It took this long for the state to come up with a plan? Sorry, Gavin. Game over.

Newsom continued:

What we announced here today is $1.1 billion of state funds that will leverage and match with local funds to clean up the state. What we announced a number of months ago was a $12 billion commitment to address homelessness in all its forms and manifestations. That $12 billion gives local government unprecedented resources to get people off the streets and out of encampments, into shelters, into hotels, motels, and into supportive housing. It’s unprecedented in California’s history.

To get people off the streets into things like Project Roomkey? Without changes to state laws regarding conservatorship, forced inpatient mental health or drug addiction treatment, and revocation of probation or parole, and without enforcing vagrancy, loitering, littering, public intoxication laws, and the like (and actually prosecuting them), good luck with that.

Incredibly, Newsom ended his answer by stealing a sentiment that many, including myself, Townhall’s Kurt Schlichter, and Dr. Drew have said for years:

There’s nothing compassionate, nothing compassionate, about people living in encampments. Period, full stop.

Newsom has had 10-plus years to do something about it, and all of his “solutions” have only made it worse. He’s lectured us about being “compassionate” to our “unhoused neighbors” while standing back and watching as hundreds of thousands of people fell deeper into addiction and disease, unable to take care of their basic needs. He wagged his finger at people he believed were selfishly concerned for their family’s safety or the viability of their business as the tent cities spread their tentacles out of the downtown areas and into family neighborhoods while at the same time ignoring the tens of thousands of vulnerable people (mostly women) who were repeatedly raped or mugged or forced into prostitution in encampments. And he blathered on about “we’re all in this together” over the last year as thousands of homeless people were murdered or died on a street, alone, surrounded by filth and other people’s bodily fluids.

Nope. The only “Clean California” campaign voters are on board with this year is the one where we pack up the contents of Gavin Newsom’s office and deliver the boxes to his home in Marin County. We’re done tolerating Gavin Newsom’s California.

If you can stomach the staccato and the unnaturally massive smile, here’s the video of the event.