11 May

Why Support the Newman Recall?

There has been a lot of debate recently concerning the potential recall of State Senator Josh Newman of California’s 29th senate district. And rightfully so. Recalling a politician is no easy task, even when the impetus behind the recall is something as divisive as a widely unpopular gas and vehicle registration tax. It is an endeavor that oftentimes sees the enthusiasm of supporters and the public at large wane as the process goes on. This is completely understandable. The world of local politics is murky and toxic.

Ling Ling Chang, Suhkee Kang, and Josh Newman (subject of potential recall)

Here there be dragons.

So, why support a recall? The biggest reason for me is we didn’t have a say in approving this tax. Now, if you listen to our interview with Sen. Newman you will find that he believes that we did have a say in the tax. We elected him to the state senate to represent us and our interests. In doing so, we have implicitly given our approval to his actions, whatever they may be. We, in essence, stand behind his votes because they are our votes.

How ridiculous does that sound? That an elected politician would attempt to justify his vote for a controversial (and downright stupid) bill simply because he was duly elected is the height of hubris. Such a stance fails to address the very real concerns people have about the bill. The argument that “we had to do something” just doesn’t hold water. To continue with aqueous analogies, what is the point of bailing out a sinking ship when you have yet to patch up the hole?

There’s a lot of rhetoric out there right now regarding the gas tax. Most of it is moot now that Gov. Brown has signed SB1 into law, but it has bearing on my motivations behind supporting this recall. Here are some facts. California spent $419,090 per state-controlled highway mile in 2013. This put us at 44th of 50 in terms of total spending per mile. In that same year, we ranked 10th in the nation in total state-controlled highway miles at 18,535. That means in 2013 we spent nearly $7.8 billion on California highways only to have them be some of the worst roads in America. (source)

Our daily commute

A typical day on California highways.

We spend more to repair fewer miles of road than several other states. In 2013, Texas had 80,490 miles of state-controlled highways. That’s 4.3 times the mileage of California’s state-controlled highways. Given that fact, one would expect Texas’ cost per mile to be around the same magnitude difference from California’s. Not so. Texas only paid $177,357 per mile. They were able to service over 4 times the amount of mileage California did for nearly 2.4 times less money.

When we asked Sen. Newman about this discrepancy, he stated that there are many differences between Texas and California, which is true. California has a higher cost of living. California wages are typically higher than wages in Texas. Things just cost more here. All of that is true. However, it’s also true that Caltrans may be massively overstaffed. It may also be true that Texas has found cost-effective ways to service its larger state-controlled highway system than we have.

What we needed to do before passing this bill was to take a full audit of Caltrans and determine where and how we can cut costs. That’s just responsible governance. Instead, we get a manufactured crisis that won’t even come close to addressing the infrastructure issues we have in this state. We get a tax and fee increase that will cost working families hundreds of dollars extra per year (or more). We get a bill that has the potential of doing largely the opposite of its stated intention.

What we have is an unacceptably large pile of unanswered questions. The answer to those questions was not to pass a tax increase on the working and middle classes. Our elected officials owed us more than that. They still do. Josh Newman ran on being fiscally conservative. It’s part of the reason I voted for him. His actions have shown that he cares more about voting in lockstep with the Democrats in Sacramento than he does actually serving our district.

That is my main reason for supporting this recall. He has betrayed out trust. We didn’t have a voice in Sacramento when he voted for this tax and fee increase. We must use our voice now to recall him and elect a true advocate for our interests.

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5 thoughts on “Why Support the Newman Recall?

  1. It is premature to recall a senator that (on paper) is overall very moderate, a veteran (former US Army Captain), Yale Graduate, a family man with a new born and a businessman that championed getting veterans jobs. Not a career politician he’s an easy target. I’m for recalling the recall…give the guy at least a full term if he doesn’t perform then vote him out…

    • District 29 voters hired Josh Newman based on his insistence — both in speech and “on paper” — that he could work for them as a strong, party-independent advocate. But like any inflated resume, even the most promising campaign rhetoric will fall flat against the truth of actual job performance. Newman all too quickly failed that reality check when he chose to side with the very party bosses and special interests he’d once claimed to stand against. They lobbied for the same old, disproven tax solution to our same old transportation problem. In neglecting to audit this failed approach, to identify and remedy the underlying inefficiencies and excesses that plague the CalTran system, Newman not only seeks to perpetuate the cycle of wasteful spending but also exacerbate it by increasing the costs to taxpayers (or “freeloaders” as his favorite political careerist turned personal fundraiser now likes to say). But like most District 29 voters, I believe such critical error in judgement should cost Newman his salary–not the voters. Why live with a mistake for four years when common sense and a Constitutional right supports finding a more principled, fiscally effective candidate now.

    • Yes, Josh Newman also trumpets his past as an Army officer although he “led” in title only and not as a captain. He enlisted for four, uneventful peacetime years (stationed the longest in Hawaii) before choosing to leave just as the Gulf War was starting. Newman never commanded or supported those ground operations in any way; his sense of duty ceased when things got real, when service to country was most needed. And while it’s admirable that Newman speaks in support of veteran employment, his ArmedForce2Workforce web site attracts a daily average of just five unique visitors who exit after viewing only one page–not the meaningful job resource he once intended for vets although it did help champion Newman’s own career in his run for state senate.

  2. Do people see that senator Newman signed the gas tax with a constitutional amendment to use funds ONLY for the roads? No, they only see the tax. Look closer at the man before signing the re-call. The guy is willing to make hard decisions rather than chase what’s popular…that shows character the kind we need in office.

  3. Robert, do you read/listen to the content of sites you visit before adding your commentary? At a minimum please examine for your own edification the intentionally ambiguous verbiage on infrastructure funding in ACA-5, along with the many explicit exceptions to lockbox enforcement that you’ll find throughout that amendment. In short, the new gas taxes will not solely finance vehicle road repairs as Newman would mislead you to believe.

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