[BenIndy editor: For updated results check out Solano County Registrar of Voter’s Sept 14 election results here. As of Thursday Sept 16, breakdown results by City and precinct are not yet available. 12,500 to 23,000 ballots are received but not yet processed, mostly vote-by-mail ballots. Unofficial results as of Sept 16 show 2/3 voting NO by mail and 2/3 of a much smaller number voting YES on election day. As of today, 111,000+ voted by mail, and only 15,000+ voted on election day. – R. S.]
Solano was the Bay Area county most receptive to the Newsom recall
The Bay Area overwhelmingly opposed the Gavin Newsom recall, with San Francisco, Marin and Alameda counties all rejecting the recall at a rate of more than 80%.
But while almost every county in the Bay Area is currently reporting more than 70% of voters opposed to the recall, one Bay Area county flirted with the idea of a recall more than any other: Solano County.
State Sen. Bill Dodd’s recent bout with vertigo has nothing to do with the dizzying feeling he gets seeing the number of names — 46 — on the California Gubernatorial Recall Election ballot hitting mailboxes this week.
Not that Dodd, a former Republican, is concerned about potential replacements for Gavin Newsom. It’s the two boxes — “Yes” and “No” — he’s focusing on, backing up his support of the Democrat governor with a $75,000 mailer campaign.
The state’s Department of Finance says the recall election is costing taxpayers roughly $215.2 million — money Dodd believes “would go a long way of funding so many projects like improving Highway 37. There are so many needs. The idea we’re going to spend it on a sham recall effort doesn’t rise to the level of what I call good government.”
Just short of 1.5 million verified signatures were needed to trigger a statewide ballot. The state verified roughly 1.6 million signatures.
Recall organizers claim government overreach has led to dissatisfaction with Newsom’s leadership. They cite his executive order to phase out gasoline-powered cars by 2035 and rolling power outages to prevent wildfires, among other issues. They also cite a number of issues surrounding his handling of the coronavirus.
“There are a lot of people out there for some reason or other want to support this recall,” Dodd said by phone. “It’s my firm belief that a lot of things that have gone on — COVID-19, wildfires, utility shut-offs — since he became the chief executive officer of this state would happen no matter who is the governor of the state. He had little or no control over those things happening.”
Of the 22 million registered voters in California about 10 million (or 46%) are Democrat and 5 million (24%) are Republicans. The remaining 6.5 million (30%) are independents or registered to other parties, according to the most recent Report of Registration from the California Secretary of State released in February.
Newsom was elected in 2018, beating Republican challenger John Cox 61.9 % to 38.1%.
The thought of a sitting governor with that overwhelming a victory losing his job to someone with a comparatively minuscule portion of the vote on a crowded ballot doesn’t sit right with Dodd.
“They (recall supporters) are counting on this as their ‘January 6 opportunity’ to overturn the government, but doing it through a recall,” Dodd said, alluding to the failed takeover of the U.S. Capitol.
“This is what happens when either party can go too far,” said Dodd. “These are reactionary times.”
A main figure of that Capitol insurrection, an Arizona man wearing U.S. flag colors face paint, a furry hat and horns, is featured prominently on Dodd’s “Vote No” mailer. Another version of the mailer includes a photograph of the U.S. Capitol building from Jan. 6.
“His point is that the same people who stormed the Capitol are the same people who want to recall Newsom,” said Dodd spokesman Paul Payne.
Dodd is banking on the registered voter party difference to secure Newsom’s remaining term, set to end in January of 2023. Endorsed by Newsom in the 2016 state senate election, Dodd funded the mailout — “Are You Going to Let Them Win?” — as a reminder to vote and vote “No.”
“I think if the people of the state of California turn out and vote on this, I don’t think the chances are very good he will get recalled,” Dodd said. “I think we need to peel back the onion a little bit and stop and think what has been accomplished in terms of policies on climate change, trying to get a handle on the homeless, our budgets and what we’re investing in.”
“I ask that people just vote and let their voices be heard,” Dodd said, believing that “organizers of this recall see this as an opportunity to use COVID-19 and some of these other issues to try and move him out. They have a much better chance of getting someone elected through a recall than with a traditional election.”
Dodd believes recall supporters are counting on the heavy Democratic advantage to be distracted by the pandemic and forgo voting.
“If we don’t vote, we let them potentially win,” he said. “We know that if Democrats and independents vote in large numbers, this recall will fail.”
Dodd declined to speculate how a failed recall could backfire on Republicans.
“I’m not looking for a pound of flesh after this. For me, it’s about having them fail on this issue,” he said. “I’m happy to debate them or work with them on other issues that make sense for everyone who lives in the state or certainly in my district.”
Dodd believes there needs to be “some narrow criteria, whether a governor, legislator or local elected official” can be recalled. He cited Placerville, which is trying to recall four of its five council members because they want to “change the look of Main Street,” according to a recall organizer.
“That’s what elections are for,” Dodd said. “That’s direct democracy put in for a reason.”
Dodd, D-Napa, represents District 3, including all of Napa and Solano counties and parts of Contra Costa, Yolo and Sonoma counties.
Bruce Springsteen’s 2006 song, “Long Walk Home,” offered a stark metaphor for George W. Bush’s America. The protagonist returns to a hometown peopled by friends who, having abandoned their ideals, have become strangers to him.
Since 2016, that feeling has rung true for many of us, arguably to an even greater extent.
But the song is also resolute and hopeful about the long walk back to enduring ideals, a better town and a better country. Its most memorable lines are:
You know that flag flying over the courthouse means certain things are set in stone
Who we are, what we’ll do and what we won’t
That positive message came to mind this week, as the nation stepped back from a president who would do anything he could get away with and as we took key steps toward installing a successor who values the public interest and public health.
More specifically, the Electoral College officially affirmed Joe Biden as President-elect. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other top Republicans finally recognized Biden’s win, albeit shamefully belatedly.
Moreover, a New York nurse received the first shot in the national coronavirus inoculation campaign. The FDA cleared a second vaccine for imminent approval.
To use a phrase that Donald Trump misused so often, so dishonestly and so ridiculously, we’re finally rounding the corner.
A Rough Road
We still face an awfully long, awfully rough road ahead. In addition to the good news, the week also saw the United States top 300,000 official Covid fatalities (with the true Covid toll, measured in excess deaths, standing at over 350,00).
The worst is yet to come this deadly winter. Total lives lost here could reach half a million or more. Debates and egregious inequities regarding vaccine distribution will roil our country and the world.
We also could see Trump at his worst in his final weeks in office. Both before and after he sails off into his post-presidency sewer, he’ll do his best to poison our democracy. His supporters will try to make a fiasco out of Congress’s normally pro forma tallying of electoral votes on January 6. And if there is one lesson we’ve learned about Trump, there’s no low to which he won’t go, including lows we might not even imagine.
Finally, it’s clear that our problems transcend Trump. Even if he disappears from the scene, he’ll leave behind a Republican Party whose de facto denigration of democracy is only rivaled by its refusal to address climate change and the myriad other problems plaguing the country. What’s worse, a big chunk of the public supports such stands.
Back to Bruce
Which brings us back to Bruce and to some sense of hope. His assertion, “that flag flying over the courthouse means certain things are set in stone,” takes on retrospective resonance. The judiciary, including many Trump appointees, consistently rejected the president’s preposterous attempts to overturn the election. That flag still flies.
Springsteen’s insistence that there are certain things we won’t do originally applied to the Bush administration’s violations of our values, with torture topping the list. The administration shattered standards set in stone (even as it upheld some others, such as the president preaching tolerance toward Muslims in the aftermath of 9/11). It did so at the price of what the flag represents, of ideals we needed to restore.
Trump has committed so many transgressions that it’s hard to know where to begin listing what he’s done that previous American presidents would not do. Costing hundreds of thousands of lives through pandemic denialism and lies? Ripping hundreds of migrant children from their parents, perhaps permanently? Spewing and spreading hate at every opportunity? Seeking to destroy our democracy?
We’ve Been Here Before
But let’s recall the good news: This week saw us set out on the long walk to undo Trump’s legacy, to restore some normalcy and decency to our governance, to launch policies that will help millions of Americans and – after months of incompetence, indifference and disinformation – to conquer Covid.
We’ve trekked on such paths many times before in our history, never completing the journey but often achieving significant success. Springsteen wrote “Long Road Home” two years before Barack Obama’s election most recently took us back onto a positive course.
Obama’s presidency was far from perfect. However, he led the country out of a very dark phase, rescued it from an economic abyss, enacted health care reforms that helped many millions and otherwise showed us what our better angels can accomplish. The fact that Trump succeeded Obama does not negate such progress.
A “Long Road Home” also says this:
Here everybody has a neighbor, everybody has a friend
Everybody has a reason to begin again
My father said, “Son, we’re lucky in this town, it’s a beautiful place to be born…
We can begin again by grasping how lucky we still are, compared to so many other countries on their own obstruction-strewn roads.
I know that “lucky” is that last word we might want to use, in view of both the last four years and our many troubling long-term trends. I by no means suggest that we should be happy with our situation.
Nonetheless, America’s relative levels of wealth, education, resources, security and institutional independence and competence place us in a better state than numerous less fortunate nations. We should remain aware that reformers and ordinary citizens in those places have prevailed over their own, even more desperate plights or are now striving to do so.
Consider South Africa, for instance. Nelson Mandela aptly named his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom partly because of the decades of sustained struggle he and his anti-apartheid movement undertook. Like his fellow non-white citizens, he endured potentially spirit-crushing racist indignities and abuses for much of his life. He then spent 27 years in prison.
And he prevailed, leading the defeat of apartheid and ascending to his country’s presidency in 1994.
And consider Cambodia. As I write this, an old friend and other leaders of the country’s pro-democracy opposition party plan to fly back there from abroad early next month, to face trial and quite possibly jail on trumped-up charges.
Why? In order to shine an international light on the repressive thugocracy ruling the country. And to continue, potentially at great cost, their own long walks to freedom.
We can ignore such other nations’ struggles that should inspire us. We can view the wreckage Trump has wrought as impossible to overcome. We can surrender to the obstacles that he, McConnell and so many others throw in our path. We can understandably wonder what kind of populace accords him so many votes.
Or we can accept that the fight for freedom is never-ending, that the long walk home is grueling and that, while we can never get all the way there, we have reason to begin again.
Repost from The Missoulian [Editor: Pay attention to Alberta! Changes there will send ripples all along the rails in the U.S., from the Upper Midwest to the East Coast, West Coast and Gulf Coast. Congratulations to Rachel Notley and the New Democratic Party! – RS]
Alberta election could send tremors through Montana economy
By Rob Chaney, May 09, 2015 5:30 pm
Montana’s political seismograph didn’t rattle much last Tuesday when its neighbor to the north underwent a governmental earthquake.
But that could change in the coming weeks, as the citizens of Alberta absorb the magnitude of their replacement of Canada’s longest-standing political party rulers with a left-wing opposition pledged to look hard at its energy economy.
“The Progressive Conservative Party has been in power two years longer than I’ve been alive,” said University of Montana biology professor Mark Hebblewhite, a 42-year-old Alberta native. “I think this is a real response to the ongoing mismanagement of Alberta’s bounty. One thing that hit the nail on the head was how the province went from being overrun with money to crashing in another bust. People get really tired of it.”
The New Democratic Party took 53 seats in the Alberta Parliament in Tuesday’s election. Another traditional minority group, the Wildrose Party, surprisingly found itself in second place with 21 seats. The Progressive Conservatives held onto just 10 seats.
NDP party leader Rachel Notley was credited for a remarkable political ground game that unseated Progressive Conservative Party leader Jim Prentice – a man widely considered a future leader of all Canada. Prentice resigned from his post on election night and said he was at least temporarily leaving politics.
Alberta’s entire United States border runs along Montana, from the western edge of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park to the 110th Meridian north of Havre. The province and state share the spine of the Rocky Mountains and the beginnings of the great mid-continental prairies.
They also share a relatively recent surge in energy development. Over the past decade while Montana has exploited its Bakken oil and gas fields along the border with North Dakota, Alberta has been opening massive production in tar sands petroleum near Fort McMurray.
Oil from the tar sands has become both a political and social controversy.
New Democratic Party officials have questioned the need for the Keystone XL pipeline that would run south from Alberta, through a corner of Montana and down to refineries in Oklahoma and Texas. The Obama administration has stalled permitting of the international border crossing, while Montana’s bipartisan congressional delegation has supported it.
“If the Keystone XL doesn’t happen, the amount of rail traffic leaving Alberta would be impacted significantly from that decision,” said Bentek Energy senior analyst Jenna Delaney. “Currently, taking the Keystone XL out would increase petroleum unit trains by five a day out of Alberta. And Transport Canada officials say residents in Canada are very concerned with rail traveling through their communities.”
Moving petroleum by rail has become an issue in both Canada and the United States, signposted most recently by last week’s explosion of a group of oil tank cars near Heimdal, North Dakota.
Caryn Miske of the Flathead Basin Commission said the prospect of moving more oil trains along the southern border of Glacier National Park is under close scrutiny.
“We’re already seeing impacts from the amount of oil that’s moving around,” Miske said. “The number of trains and cars carrying oil has increased, and that’s really concerning, considering how many near-misses we’ve had.”
Burlington Northern Santa Fe has a freight line that runs out of Alberta into Montana at Sweet Grass, although there’s not much cross-border oil traffic there yet.
Delaney said another factor of the government change could be the NDP’s campaign pledge to revamp the province’s tax structure on energy development.
“They’re looking at increasing income taxes and royalty rates to corporations, which the oil companies aren’t happy about,” Delaney said. “The last time I was in Calgary, the atmosphere was already a little bleak. If taxes are raised on corporations, I don’t know how they might respond. Companies with offices in other places might shift people away from Calgary.”
Much of the province’s energy economy has extremely expensive initial start-up costs. Energy analysts have already been forecasting a drop in Albertan oil production as new projects slip below their break-even points with falling oil prices.
Delaney said that could have an impact on Montana’s economy, as the demand for megaloads of oil field equipment transported across the state stalls.
Longtime conservation activist Stephen Legault said the provincial government’s failure to manage its oil wealth led to great voter frustration.
“We’re drilling 20,000 wells a year in Alberta, and we’re $7 billion in the hole economically,” Legault said. “That’s largely because when oil goes below $75 a barrel, provincial coffers take a massive hit.”
The result has been a government unable to fix damage from the floods that ravaged Calgary in 2013, or even to send land management officials to cross-border conferences in Montana.
While the new government has majority control of Alberta’s Parliament, its influence over the provincial agencies could be a murkier matter. Those departments have had decades of one-party control appointing their directors and staffs.
“If I was south of the border looking north, I wouldn’t expect to see anything dramatic right away,” Legault said. “We’ve had five changes of government since 1905. The bureaucracy is so deeply entrenched after 45 years of one-party rule, it’s going to take years for a new government to put in place the people it wants to create change.”