Every burned town is tragic. But Newsom needs to lead with science, not sentiment, in the aftermath of Camp fire. What should Newsom’s plan? And who would that lead with him?
I’ve covered the fires of the past four years, the Camp fire being the most egregious.
This is going to be a long post.
To begin, though, it’s worth taking stock of what’s happening with the state.
A year ago, Newsom had the California Democratic Party looking for a new presidential candidate. A month later, he won the governorship of California for a second time, replacing Jerry Brown, who was a lame duck governor and Newsom had not won his party’s endorsement for a fourth consecutive year.
That’s not exactly a recipe for victory in the state. It’ll take something else for him to build a winning coalition in November. He must persuade voters to elect a more progressive Democratic governor with whom he can work alongside for a second term. He needs to court a broader set of voters than he’d need to win his party’s nomination in 2016 if he’s to compete for the White House.
The governor has already made mistakes regarding the handling of the Camp fire. But he must learn from them and do better.
Here, then, is what it means to be governor of California:
You’re the state’s chief executive, making decisions for the people.
The most important decision you can make for Californians is how to keep them safe.
That means you must understand the latest science of fire management.
It means you’re committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
It means you’ll reduce the state’s dependence on fossil fuel in transportation, electricity and heating.
And it means you’ll protect public health.
Newsom’s predecessor, Jerry Brown, was an environmentalist in the mold of San Francisco’s Dianne Feinstein. He pushed a state government shutdown to fund $12.5 billion in green initiatives, with the governor overseeing the decisions.
That style was the right one for California in terms of environmental action. But it was a mistake to neglect the state’s ability to control its own forests.