Ray Fowler

Since the recall procedure became part of the Golden State’s political landscape in 1911, there have been 179 recall attempts. However, petitioners have only been successful twice (2003 and 2021) in bringing a recall to a special election vote. Next month’s election is important, and it appears to be a coin toss. Hopefully, voters will focus on positions and not personalities when they mark their ballots. Gavin Newsom seems to be a likeable person, however, the question voters must answer can be simply stated: Has Gov. Newsom provided the leadership needed to tackle the serious issues facing Californians? 

A yes vote on the recall is not just about Californians being unhappy with Newsom’s response to the COVID pandemic and the lockdown, which saw businesses fail and children fall behind in school. The recall petition is about leadership, and it was introduced in February 2020 before stay-at-home orders were put in place. The petitioners’ initial grievances included high taxes, homelessness, immigration and other issues. The response from the state’s Democratic Party leadership has been to blame Republicans for the recall and to characterize it as a power grab. It’s difficult to keep the recall debate focused on positions when recall opponents try to link recall supporters to Jan. 6 insurrectionists and right-wing extremists. Those fringe elements do not represent conservatives and recall supporters any more than Antifa brawlers represent Democrats who oppose the recall. 

A yes vote on the recall means a change in leadership. The recall is not an undemocratic process even though recall opponents insist that our governor must be chosen by a majority of voters. If a new governor is elected Sept. 14, it’s more than likely the successful candidate will be elected by achieving a plurality of all votes cast. Most Californians are probably unaware that governors in California have been elected 14 times without achieving a majority of the votes cast … 14 times. Some opponents claim the recall petitioners have taken advantage of a low threshold of signatures to get a recall special election on the ballot. The threshold is 12% of votes cast for governor in the previous election … about 1.5 million signatures. The petitioners submitted 2.1 million signatures. Signers of the petition included Republicans, no party preference voters, and Democrats. Is the threshold too low? Consider the signature threshold to qualify an initiative to place a state constitutional amendment on the ballot … 8% of the votes cast in the previous election. 

There is one set numbers where Democrats clearly lead their opponents, and that is money raised for the recall campaign. Thus far, yes on the recall supporters have raised almost $8 million, but the folks opposing the recall have raised $58 million. With all that funding, why didn’t the Democratic Party place an established Democrat on the ballot, and back that candidate with some of the money raised by Democrats?

Some recall advocates have criticized the governor’s personal behaviors during the COVID lockdown, but it may not be fair to hold Gov. Newsom’s personal COVID gaffes against him. While those gaffes might have been exercises in poor judgment … everyone makes mistakes. However, the governor’s claim earlier this year that his COVID policies would be based on transparency and science even as he withheld COVID data from the public is a serious breach of trust and indicative of very poor leadership.

Has Gov. Newsom provided the leadership California needs to tackle serious issues facing the state? What does California’s future look like, and more importantly, how can Californians respond to future issues with a state public education system that currently ranks in the lower half of public schools across the country?

While no one can blame wildfires and drought on any governor, there are always other serious issues that a governor can address. Californians are beset with rising taxes, rising gas prices and rising crime. Plus, there is rising poverty … more than one-third of Californians live at or near the poverty level. With poverty staring nearly 15 million Californians squarely in the face, why is the current governor backing a high-speed rail project at a cost of billions and billions of dollars? It’s time for change in Sacramento.

Ray Fowler is a native Californian and 35-year resident of Redwood City. He retired as a naval aviator at the rank of captain, and he is a retired high school history teacher. Ray may be contacted at rayfowler@gmx.us.

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(13) comments

JustMike650

I can't wait for Ray to write his Autobiography - so that we can glean all his accomplishments and memories during his journey as a naval aviator - high school history teacher and police detective. Such a varied resume will certainly lead to many more guest perspectives.

Possibly soon - Ray will muse on the chances of Carlos Bolanos's reelection chances. [beam]

Ray Fowler

Mike

I am a humble pensioner with no interest in writing a biography. Send me an email... the address appears at the end of my guest perspective piece.

If you're a fan of my op-ed musings, you can check the following...

https://www.smdailyjournal.com/opinion/guest_perspectives/three-forms-of-violence/article_6efac8d2-5f80-11e7-9eb4-5362c1049fcd.html

https://www.smdailyjournal.com/opinion/guest-perspective-sacramento-heal-thyself/article_a625b002-3906-56d2-9de8-e3137030115e.html

https://www.smdailyjournal.com/opinion/guest_perspectives/op-ed-inbred-politics/article_899146ca-3d20-501d-a848-a6c9292a2b55.html

LTEs include these topics... human trafficking, 2016 election, artificial turf, Kamala and progressives, CTA propaganda, local leadership deficit, hope and politics, extremism and intolerance, Democrats in 2020, Somalia, Canepa cacophony, DMV and waiting, DMV good job, extending Obama's presidency, charter schools, immigration, liberal self-esteem, liberal media, college entrance testing, and In God We Trust.

My writing style is clunky and I am too wordy, but these submissions just may be a cure for insomnia.

Tafhdyd

Ray,

I guess it is only fair that I comment on your article even though we have discussed most of it before. I will put my opposition on the comment about the schools. Although the Governor has control of the state and schools, the current poor status of CA schools has nothing to do with Gavin. Maybe in the future he can be blamed for some of it but I don’t see it at the present.

When you and I went to school in the 50’s and 60’s California was a leader in education nation wide. Things started to slide in the 70’s due to a number of factors. One of which was a court case, Serrano vs Priest in the early 70’s. The courts upheld the plaintiff’s position that local control and funding of school districts was unfair because well-to-do communities had better schools than poor communities. (No surprise there) As I understand it the ruling limited the amount spent per student by the state and unfortunately ended up taking down the top rather than building up the bottom.

Another cause was the tax revolt and the passage of Prop 13 in ’78. It capped tax rates on all properties, not just residential and also made it a 2/3 majority to change any tax laws which further restricted funds to the schools. The Jarvis-Gann folks will argue that it is not true but I believe that was the grease on the skids that gave California schools their lead on the race to the bottom.

Ray Fowler

Tafhdyd

Au contraire mon frere... While Gavin may have inherited an under-performing school system from his Democratic Party predecessor, the downward spiral continued with Gavin in office. Now, with angry parents supporting the recall, he has pumped billions and billions of dollars into the state education system. That's not necessarily a bad thing... our kids deserve the best education we can provide. However, the record amount of money budgeted for our schools includes some one time cash infusions. What happens next year and the year after?

Then there is the issue of our state's chief executive allowing the teachers unions to delay in-person learning. I don't think we have to rehash the harm such a delay has caused our children. It appears schools opened when the teachers unions said they were ready to go back to the classroom... the teachers unions have paid at least 1.8 million dollars to Gavin's anti-recall campaign. Do you think school openings and campaign contributions are related? Sadly, the argument can be made that Gavin has put the interests of 300,000 teachers above the needs of 5.9 million children.

School financing is a disaster. With the amount of taxes Californians pay to the state, our public school system should be providing quality education in the most affluent neighborhoods and the most modest ones. However, our schools rank 37th nationally even though we pay the highest taxes. Hit the pause button... New Jersey and Minnesota also pay high taxes, yet their schools are ranked 3rd and 7th, respectively. Back to the play button... so, given our tax rate, why do our schools perform so poorly?

Tafhdyd

Ray,

I don't have time to research it but do you know what the differences are between the states with regard to the schools? How are they funded? Who controls them? Do they have more local control over curriculum, testing, etc.? Just having high taxes only makes apples to apples comparisons for taxes, not for schools, roads, law enforcement, etc.

Ray Fowler

Hi, Tafhdydicus

Public education certainly is part of the recall equation, and even though Gavin earned high marks for his initial COVID response, things have unraveled over the past year, and that includes the rancor which has accompanied the issue of schools reopening.

There are folks a lot smarter than me who compile data, analyze it, and produce school rankings. That data includes graduation rates, math and reading standardized test scores, SAT and ACT scores, and other factors like student-to-teacher ratios over many years. Such rankings can give you something close to an apples to apples comparison.

However, school funding also has to be part of the discussion when schools are ranked. California ranked 37th and spent about $13,000 per pupil (before the recent massive increase in our state's education budget). I mentioned that New Jersey ranks 3rd nationally. New Jerseyites spend $20,000 per pupil. So, more money means a higher ranking, right? Hmmm... I also mentioned Minnesota's 7th place ranking. Minnesotans spend only $12,500 for each pupil.

So, while some may expect a higher school ranking for California with the financial resources already allocated to our public schools... it's not happening. More money... properly channeled to the classroom... will help. And that begs the question... will our pubic school system ever get back to premier status it once enjoyed?

Coming full circle... public education is part of the recall equation but there are other issues in play.

Ray Fowler

[ohmy] Totally blushing face...

"... will our PUBLIC school system ever get back to premier status it once enjoyed?"

Terence Y

Ray, reading your letter, “It’s deja vu all over again” in the words of the great Yogi Berra. “Hey, Hey, Hey” in the words of the great Yogi Bear doesn’t seem appropriate. Thanks for the perfect counterpoint to Mr. Simon’s screed. And thanks to Mr. Mays for deciding to print these two letters at the same time. Readers can easily note contrasts between a measured argument and what reads to be a hissy fit from a kid who doesn’t get his way (I know, a bit harsh, but I call them as I see them) and attempts to play the victim, conveniently forgetting the BLM and Antifa rioters who caused over $1 billion in death and destruction to verifiable victims.

Ray Fowler

Hi, Terence

If someone likes Gavin, that's the only reason they need to support him, but some of those supporters have made personal attacks on the YES folks. I feel it's better to focus on positions instead of personalities whenever possible.

Some recall opponents have tried to stir up the voting public by comparing the YES recall folks to the January 6 insurrectionists and right-wing extremists. Hmmm... the wire services carried an interesting story earlier this week. The Reuters report said, in part, that the FBI found little evidence the January 6 attack was coordinated by Trump supporters or right-wing groups. There was a smattering of militia groups but no grand scheme to storm the Capitol.

Regardless... some of Gavin's supporters have tried to link the events of January 6 to folks supporting the recall. The DNC would like Californians to make that connection, but it is just false.

Tafhdyd

Ray,

Good job, you made the big time, picture and all.👍

Ray Fowler

Thanks, buddy...

Interestingly, Mark Simon's column in today's DJ espouses a different point of view. We'll see how much conversation follows...

Tafhdyd

Ray,

Time will tell so we will see what the response is. Chances are the hard left will say your all wet and the right will say Mr. Simon is all wet and our fantasy world friend will make some tired comments and a snide remark to try and belittle Mr. Simon as he does quite often.

wlydecker

Same goes for his column and today's LTE.

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