Last week as polls showed that Newsom stood an actual chance of being recalled in the upcoming election, he started making noise about homeless camps. Newsom went to the clearing of a camp in Stockton and watched approvingly as it was torn down. He told a reporter for the LA Times the camps were “not acceptable.”
Fast forward to this week and Newsom has gone from applauding the workers as they clear the camps to actually joining them for some manual labor. Monday Newsom dressed down and joined workers clearing a camp in Berkeley:
Gov. Gavin Newsom visited a homeless encampment and helped remove debris in Berkeley on Monday, joining a Caltrans crew cleaning up a long-standing encampment along Interstate 80 at University Avenue…
“What you see here is unacceptable,” Newsom said. “We had a big fire here. This is a high safety risk, a public health risk. There are hundreds and hundreds of rats running around. People should not live in conditions like this and we’ve accepted it too long.”
Here’s some video of his efforts. To his credit, he’s actually doing some work, though you may notice that he’s working alone while all of the other workers in reflective yellow vests are together in the distance.
I actually agree with everything Newsom is saying and doing here. He’s right that California has allowed these camps to grow for too long and that it’s not safe, healthy or smart for the people living in them or the people forced to live near them. But I also don’t think it’s a coincidence that he’s suddenly gone from talking tough on this issue to becoming a part-time Caltrans worker, at least when the cameras are rolling.
A poll released three weeks ago showed that 52% of respondents judged Newsom’s response to the homeless crisis to be “poor.” The same poll found that homelessness was tied with housing costs as the top issue facing California. All of that to say, Californians are worried about this and they don’t think Newsom has done much about it.
In fact, that may be one reason for the wall of apathy among so many Democrats. Newsom is facing a real chance of being recalled in a state where Democrats vastly outnumber Republicans because, at least so far, no one in his party is excited about rescuing him. So with the vote just weeks away, the governor is desperate to show voters he’s engaged on this issue. If necessary, he’ll get out there and haul the junk away himself!
This would be a lot more believable if he’d done any of this before the recall race tightened. Doing it now looks like a desperate plea for attention by someone who knows he’s in trouble, because that’s exactly what it is. And you can bet that if he survives the recall next month, he’ll go right back to white button-down shirts and sitting on the sidelines as the homeless crisis gets worse.
Here’s a local news report from Fox 2: