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From San Juan to Sacramento

Lessons from the resignation of Puerto Rico’s governor

By Lloyd Billingsley, July 28, 2019 7:34 am

Last week in the U.S. Territory of Puerto Rico, Governor Ricardo Rosselló announced he would resign, following nearly two weeks of protests in the capital of San Juan. Some 3,500 miles away in the Golden State, Californians can find guidance in those events.

As CBS News reported, after a federal corruption investigation, leaked messages revealed the governor and his associates, “disparaging a political opponent as a ‘whore,’ poking fun at an obese man, and joking about feeding a cadaver from the island’s backlogged morgue to a critic.” The messages sparked the mass protests and now the resignation of  Ricardo Rosselló.

Corruption has long been a problem on the island, but what touched off the protests was the governor’s antipathy for the people he was supposed to represent. That kind of disrespect is hardly limited to Puerto Rico.

Newly elected California governor Gavin Newson did not hold forums in places such as Huntington Beach, Bakersfield, Yuba City, and Eureka to get a sense of the people’s concerns. Before attempting anything like that, Gavin Newsom flew off to El Salvador. There, the California governor pledged to increase investment in the Central American nation, which he does not represent. This was not the only way the governor showed that Californians were not his first priority.

California’s $215 billion budget, biggest in state history, included nearly $100 million for health care for foreign nationals illegally present in the United States. It also included $14.1 million for a new courthouse in El Dorado County, which was long overdue.

The 106-year-old building on Main Street in Placerville lacks holding space, so detainees must be held in public corridors before trial. Jurors meet in crowded public hallways, and attorneys have no conference rooms for clients. Even so, Gov. Newsom vetoed the funds, claiming that the project was “premature,” but it wasn’t just a financial matter.

El Dorado County tends to vote Republican and as Newsom recently told Politico, “Republicans are into the politics of what Californian was into in the 1990s, and they’ll go to the same direction – into the waste bin of history, the way Republicans of the ‘90s have gone.”

The new governor thus echoes President Ronald Reagan’s 1982 speech, in which the former California governor said the march of freedom and democracy “will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash-heap of history as it has left other tyrannies.” Newsom is using that kind of language not for a tyranny such as Cuba or Venezuela. He is using it for Californians who vote in ways that displease the governor.

Gov. Newsom is also on record that he spent much of his life in “the reddest parts of the state,” has “deep respect” for the people, and claims, “I actually care about them.” When the governor consigns them to waste bin of history, those Californians can be sure that he doesn’t.

On the corruption side, California’s bullet-train bosses are covering their tracks by stripping the HSRA website of key documents. Californians are now assured that the perpetually dysfunctional DMV is going to get worse. On the other hand, the DMV was a great success at registering voters, whether or not they were in fact eligible to vote.

With 1.5 million voters added to the rolls from 2014 to 2018, the DMV won’t say how many ineligible voters actually voted. Secretary of State Alex Padilla refuses to cooperate with federal problems of election fraud, and won’t even say how many ineligible voters are present in the state.

With that crucial information effectively covered up, Californians can be forgiven wondering if the illegals get sanctuary protection and taxpayer-funded health care in exchange for their votes. That would be illegal, and harm the prospects of reform through the ballot box.

One thing Californians did during the 1990s was to ban racial and ethnic preferences in state education, employment and contracting through the California Civil Rights Initiative, the 1996 Proposition 209.

Governor Newsom doesn’t like that state law, and consigns its supporters to the waste bin of history. At some point, before more than the DMV gets worse, Californians could start protesting long and loud all over the state, particularly in Sacramento. As Puerto Ricans showed, determined protest can deliver results.

Lloyd Billingsley

Lloyd Billingsley is the author of Sexual Terrorist, about the Golden State Killer, and A Shut and Open Case, about a California murder trial prolonged by Proposition 57 and recent legislation. Lloyd is a fellow with the Independent Institute and his work has appeared in the Daily Caller, City Journal, Orange County Register, Wall Street Journal and many other publications. Bill of Writes: Dispatches from the Political Correctness Battlefield is a collection of his journalism.
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