Advertisement
Politics

Newsletter: Gov. Gavin Newsom, the ‘homeless czar,’ hits the road to see conditions for himself

Essential Politics
Essential Politics
(LAT)

There are few policy topics with which Gov. Gavin Newsom has more familiarity than homelessness.

As a San Francisco supervisor in 2002, he drew national attention with his “care not cash” effort that favored funding for shelters and services over monthly stipends for those who spent their days and nights on the city’s streets. Now, more than 17 years later, it’s understandable that, as governor, he’s decided to be his own point person on addressing an issue that has become a statewide crisis.

Newsletter
Get our Essential Politics newsletter

The latest news, analysis and insights from our bureau chiefs in Sacramento and D.C.

You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.

Case in point: During a stemwinder of a news conference on Friday rolling out his proposed state budget, Newsom scoffed at those who wondered about his broken campaign promise to appoint someone to lead his administration’s anti-homelessness effort.

“You want to know who’s the homeless czar?” Newsom asked reporters. “I’m the homeless czar in the state of California.”

HOMELESSNESS TOUR, TASK FORCE REPORT

With the number of men, women and children on California’s streets topping 150,000 in the most recent federal report, the governor is embarking on a weeklong tour of communities across the state to see some of the services being offered. On Monday, he heads to the Sierra foothills community of Grass Valley to view a facility that focuses on mental health assistance. He’ll visit locations in the Bay Area, Central Valley, Inland Empire and Los Angeles by week’s end.

Newsom’s weeklong focus on the topic comes as the task force he appointed is scheduled to send him a list of recommendations on Monday. And it comes on the heels of his budget proposal to allocate some $1.4 billion to homelessness services and healthcare, much of that as direct grants to local providers.

One note on the politics of this week: The governor looks as if he will be subtly reminding Californians that the path forward isn’t a partisan one. His event on Monday will include the Legislature’s newest member, Assemblywoman Megan Dahle (R-Bieber). And the itinerary looks to include a number of Republican-friendly communities, whose GOP legislators may also be invited to discuss what the state can — and should — do in the weeks and months to come.

NEWSOM’S NEW BUDGET

The $222-billion state budget proposal Newsom sent to the Legislature last week offered few surprises beyond efforts on homelessness and prescription drugs, the latter of which includes a first-in-the-nation effort for the state to sell its own generic medications.

The governor took strides to offer a few early items to Democratic legislators, like Medi-Cal benefits for seniors who are in the U.S. illegally and more slots in preschool classes for children from low-income families. But it’s worth keeping a close eye on the bigger picture: How much in additional spending will lawmakers demand, and how much will Newsom ultimately embrace? As the independent Legislative Analyst’s Office pointed out in October, long-term spending under the budget enacted over the summer will amount to almost $6 billion a year once fully implemented.

For now, the ball’s in the court of legislators. Fiscal committees in both houses will begin to review Newsom’s plan next week.

Newsom is also promoting more spending on wildfire prevention. And he’s proposed a tax on vaping products, one he insisted last week will find broad support in the Legislature. Then there was a bit of budget suspense hinted about on Friday when the governor said he’s working on creating a new state park, even though he won’t yet reveal the location.

And Newsom’s budget Q&A with state Capitol reporters — almost as long as the Netfix movie “The Irishman”was full of interesting glimpses into the politics and personality of California’s 40th governor.

Enjoying this newsletter? Consider subscribing to the Los Angeles Times
Your support helps us deliver the news that matters most. Become a subscriber.

NATIONAL ROUNDUP

President Trump’s senior aides struggled Sunday to reconcile conflicting statements over the reasons for killing a top Iranian general, including Trump’s assertion that attacks were being actively planned against a quartet of American embassies.

— Iowa political experts say Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s day job representing a neighboring state, her Midwestern values and the work she has put into meeting voters in big cities and small towns could result in a surprise payoff when Iowans caucus on Feb. 3.

— After months of running on unconventional campaign strategies, cool branding and novel ideas, Andrew Yang is now trying to make it on the real, and often uncool, campaign trail through Iowa and New Hampshire.

— The reins of political power in the U.S. for the next decade could be determined in this year’s elections — not necessarily by who wins the presidency, but by thousands of lower-profile contests for state legislative seats across the country.

TODAY’S ESSENTIALS

— The story of a defunct Burbank school highlights a larger problem with the regulation of for-profit colleges and the aftermath when they fail, say legal experts: No level of government in California, from local prosecutors to federal and state education officials, has enough interest or responsibility to examine these cases.

Mary Nichols has long been the force behind California’s crusade to reduce air pollution, clean car emissions and lead the United States in addressing climate change. But in what she says is probably her last year leading the state’s Air Resources Board, she faces the prospect of the U.S. Supreme Court, tilted to the right by Trump appointees, crippling California’s ability to set its own pollution standards.

— The Newsom administration is nearing a deal with Huntington Beach that would end a contentious lawsuit over the city’s alleged failure to plan for more affordable housing.

— An anti-vaccine protester who allegedly threw a menstrual cup filled with blood onto California state senators last year has been charged with two felonies, according to court records.

— California is sending a team of disaster specialists to help Puerto Rico recover from a series of earthquakes that caused more than $100 million in damage along the island’s southern coast, the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services announced.

— Of the 51 people who filed paperwork to run for the L.A. City Council or school board, 18 of them — more than 35% — did not make it past the signature-gathering process. That’s a greater share of the candidate pool than in any of the city’s last four regular and special elections.

Stay in touch
Keep up with breaking news on our Politics page. And are you following us on Twitter at @latimespolitics?

Did someone forward you this? Sign up here to get Essential Politics in your inbox.

Until next time, send your comments, suggestions and news tips to politics@latimes.com.


Newsletter
Get our Essential Politics newsletter

The latest news, analysis and insights from our bureau chiefs in Sacramento and D.C.

You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.
Advertisement