RECEIPTS PROVIDED: Violent Crime Skyrockets in CA But Newsom's Attempting to Block Tough-on-Crime Reforms

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

As bad as crime has been in California over the past 10 years, it's been increasing at a frightening pace over the last year as soft-on-crime district attorneys refuse to admit that their coddling of repeat violent criminals doesn't work - and Saturday night's armed robbery of a Secret Service agent who'd just been working on President Biden's detail is the perfect example.

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READ MORE: Joe Biden's America: Secret Service Agent Robbed During President's California Visit


If you thought that the state's Democrat governor, Gavin Newsom, might actually care about keeping families safe in his state, the email chain obtained Monday by CBS California between Newsom's chief of staff and the head of the California District Attorney's Association, Greg Totten, will disabuse you of that silly notion.

Newsom, who has presidential aspirations (despite repeated denials), has been making those attempts to look as if he's trying to do something about the problem. However, he is a true believer in "justice reform" and one of the architects (along with then-San Francisco DA George Gascòn) of 2014's Prop 47, which caused the problem to start with, so he can't support any attempts to repeal or "fix" Prop 47 without admitting that his genius ideas didn't work. Apparently, Newsom doesn't realize that one sign of intellectual and emotional maturity is the ability to recognize and admit when one is wrong or that one's idea didn't work.

And that's why he is pulling out all of the stops to derail The Homelessness, Drug Addiction, and Theft Reduction Act, a proposition that recently qualified for the November 2024 ballot and aims to fix Prop 47.

Newsom's administration, along with Democrat supermajority leaders in Sacramento, have drafted a slate of supposed public safety bills that are going through the legislative process with the aim of confusing voters so they'll think that the initiative isn't needed:

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Steve Maviglio is a Democratic strategist who said that while this tactic may be unpopular, it can be effective for Democrats concerned that the ballot initiative would lead to a return of mass incarceration in the state.

"A poison pill in legislation is designed to essentially kill something that they don't like," Maviglio said. "The goal is to confuse voters so they vote no."

However, any legislation passed can simply be undone next year when the Democrats will still have a comfortable majority (and could possibly retain the supermajority). If the Fix Prop 47 initiative is passed by voters, the legislature can't change its provisions, so it's a permanent and public L for Newsom.

Usually Newsom can bully the supermajority into doing his bidding, but there are too many Democrat legislators at this point who could lose their seats if they don't do something substantive about public safety for him to get away with that. And, the Republican minority has become extremely vocal and are united in their opposition and messaging (helped, obviously by the daily stories of repeat criminals committing new violent crimes), making it even more difficult for vulnerable Democrats to go along with Newsom's agenda.


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That slate of public safety bills is struggling in the legislature due to the above factors, and Newsom's scrambling with his Plan B, attempting to "work with" the California District Attorneys Association to get their buy-in on a legislative package and then drop the ballot initiative. That effort failed spectacularly over the weekend, and then Newsom's chief of staff, Dana Williamson, resorted to thuggery and bullying tactics in an email thread that was then leaked to CBS News California Investigates.

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The thread starts with Totten replying to a proposal from Newsom's office and pointing out that it really does nothing. Like, nothing at all:

Unfortunately, this proposal will not meaningfully and specifically address the necessary reforms proposed by the ballot initiative, particularly the retail theft crisis. This proposal does not address repeat theft, aggregation, excessive taking, or smash-and-grab thefts. Rather, this proposal seeks to amend the failure to appear statute rather than directly addressing the underlying criminal behavior and history of the defendant. This proposal would be rarely charged due to its extremely narrow scope, difficulty to prove, and the likelihood that it would rarely, if ever, apply to any offenders (please see the attached legal analysis). 

Totten then broaches the subject of working together on a legislative ballot measure, which would be a win/win and would save millions of dollars in campaign costs, before reminding Williamson that his coalition's ballot measure has already qualified for the ballot:

We have heard from others that there may be a willingness to entertain a legislative ballot measure in 2024 that addresses the retail theft and fentanyl public safety crisis. If that is accurate, we should meet. I have briefed members of our committee and other representatives from law enforcement, and I am sure they will all participate. 

As you know, The Homelessness, Drug Addiction, and Theft Reduction Act has qualified for the November 2024 ballot after submitting over 900,000 signatures. This ballot measure was drafted to provide holistic, compassionate, and common-sense solutions to the theft, fentanyl, and drug crisis that is plaguing California. 

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Williamson then makes attempts to get a meeting over the weekend (Father's Day weekend) since language needed to be put into the legislative package by Monday due to deadlines but refuses to put anything in writing except a promise that Newsom would be OK with a joint ballot measure - in 2026.

Totten replies that the public safety issues are too urgent to wait another two years then says:

If the administration is prepared to consider an amendment of Proposition 47 on the 2024 ballot, then we are happy to meet. If not, we understand and accept your decision, and don't believe further meetings would be productive. 

The above statement seems cordial enough, but you have to remember that Newsom isn't used to being rejected. Williamson then (at 10:15 PM; make your own assumptions as to mental status at that time on a Saturday night) replies:

If that's your position then I agree, there's nothing to talk about. It's really amazing how you are incapable of taking a win. And the consultants you're working with haven't won anything in a decade. Good luck.

She quickly follows up with:

And point of personal privilege, it's really rude that you agreed to a meeting and then backed out and didn't reply. 

This is why no one wants to work with you. 

While we all know that the thuggery and bullying happens on the regular, it's still stunning to see it in print. This isn't Williamson's first rodeo with making terrible remarks to her colleagues, though. She deleted her Twitter account the night of the debate between her boss and Ron DeSantis, after these tweets about California Labor Federation's Lorena Gonzalez and Rep. Kevin Kiley (R-CA):

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Showing that Williamson really meant what she said, on Monday "poison pills" were inserted into the pending public safety bills, sometimes over the objection of the bill authors and co-sponsors. Those amended bills go before committee Tuesday, even while Sacramento Democrats are fleeing the sinking ship like the rats they are.

Regarding the email thread, Totten told CBS:

"While I'm not willing to comment on negotiations about the ballot measure, I can say that we've had one objective in pursuing this ballot measure: to address the unintended consequences of parts of Proposition 47, which have resulted in a surge in retail theft, fentanyl trafficking, and overdose deaths. Additionally, we aim to provide stronger incentives for getting hard drug users into treatment. Unfortunately, state leaders are prioritizing politics over public safety."

And Newsom's office said:

We regularly engage with a diverse range of stakeholders from across the political spectrum. The California District Attorneys Association requested a meeting with our office but canceled. It appears their decision was based on a position that does not reflect the consensus of their broader coalition.

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Hmm, maybe this is why the Newsom administration likes to have non-disclosure agreements in place when they craft legislation?

The entire email thread can be read below.

RE Response to Governors Office Proposal Redacted by CBS Redacted by Jennifer Van Laar on Scribd


Editor's Note: This article was updated for clarity.

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