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Newsom’s credibility undermined by forest fire prevention claims

By on June 28, 2021 0

In summary

An investigation into California Governor Gavin’s forest fire prevention claims is yet another example of how he is undermining his own credibility.

Gavin Newsom’s penchant for extravagant – and ultimately false – promises, predictions and claims of success make him his own worst enemy.

His tendency was evident even before he became governor, most notably in his ridiculous 2018 campaign pledge that he would solve California’s chronic housing shortage by building 3.5 million new units by 2025.

A few months later, right after his inauguration, he made another exaggerated promise that haunts him as well, once again illustrating how he self-inflicts damage on his credibility.

One of Newsom’s first acts as governor was to declare an aggressive new wildfire prevention program, claiming that “everyone has had enough” and stating that the state’s approach “must fundamentally switch “.

However, last week Capital Public Radio and National Public Radio’s California Newsroom reported finding a deep gulf between reality and what Newsom had promised and claimed to have achieved later.

Their deep dive into forest fire prevention files “found that the governor has distorted his accomplishments and even divested in forest fire prevention. The survey found that Newsom overestimated, by 690%, the number of acres treated with fuel cuts and prescribed burns in the very forest projects it said needed to be prioritized to protect the most vulnerable communities in the world. ‘State. Newsom said 35 “priority projects” completed as a result of its executive order resulted in fire prevention work on 90,000 acres. But the state’s own data shows the actual number is 11,399. “

Surfacing as the state faces another destructive fire season and Newsom faces a recall election, the revelations once again describe a governor whose statements tend to be as unreliable as they are selfish.

This trend has often manifested itself during the many months in which he single-handedly managed the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Newsom was eager to show leadership by announcing, with fanfare, agreements to acquire much-needed masks to fight the disease. However, as CalMatters later reported, “In one case, the state got its money back after bankers raised suspicions about a $ 456.9 million bank transfer to a company called Blue Flame, a Planned down payment for 100 million N95 masks (and) a subsequent agreement to buy N95 masks from a company called BYD was delayed because federal health officials did not initially certify the masks. “

On several occasions, Newsom would claim progress on COVID-19, lift some restrictions, then re-impose them when infections increased, confusing the public, devastating small businesses and fueling the recall campaign.

Public radio reporters who discovered the loopholes in Newsom’s wildfire prevention claims went to great lengths to get the governor’s explanation, but were rejected.

Instead, the head of the state firefighting agency, Thom Porter, “admitted that the figures cited by Newsom were incorrect and took responsibility for the governor’s false statements.” Porter, who supported Newsom in a series of press conferences in which the governor bragged about his accomplishments, said Cal Fire had “neither done our job to educate the public, nor the office of the governor “on how to talk about his forest fire prevention efforts. “

It is a tradition of the Capitol dishonored by time: something embarrasses a governor and a subordinate takes public responsibility for it. This happened last year when Dr Sonia Angell, head of the public health department, resigned after authorities revealed a backlog of infection cases that undermined Newsom’s public claims about progress against COVID -19.

Wildfires are a matter of life and death, and the legislature owes the public a full assessment of what is being done and what is not being done to mitigate the danger.

Legislative leaders should order State Auditor Elaine Howle, whose independence and thoroughness are not in question, to lay out the facts. Otherwise, they are complicit in the deception.