A broken clock is right twice a day. California Governor Gavin Newsom became the poster child for that analogy when he vetoed Senate Bill 57 on Monday. The bill would have authorized legal operation of drug harm reduction centers in the major metropolises of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Oakland. In San Francisco, a test-pilot program where people could use illegal drugs under medical supervision has been active since January.
My colleague Levon Satamian acknowledged that, for once, Newsom actually got it right.
This is a terrible bill and a short-term win for Californians. Credit where credit is due, Newsom made the right decision, possibly his only decision that did not hurt California or San Francisco in his 18 years in politics.
Much of the reporting on Newsom’s veto gives him praise for avoiding a political landmine, and some allude to the fact that Newsom is no doubt feathering his bed in the event he does run for president in 2024.
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In rejecting the measure, Newsom expressed concern about what he called the “unintended consequences” of allowing an unlimited number of supervised consumption sites without additional safeguards. It was a perilous decision for him as he takes steps to raise his national profile, pitting his progressive ideals and allies against opponents and members of his own party who viewed the bill as enabling drug use.
With his presidential aspirations, approving these sites would definitely not fly in Flyover country.
Even before the veto of SB 57, San Francisco Mayor London Breed had made the decision to shut down the test-pilot program by the end of the year. There is scant coverage about this from the local or state papers–Newsom’s “homegrown team” doing their usual PR work.
But the U.K. Daily Mail did a very deep dive on what little reduction in harm has occurred in eight months, along with corruption and mishandling of funds resident in the program.
San Francisco’s notorious taxpayer-funded open-air drugs market will close at the end of the year – after the facility that’s said to have cost $19m in taxpayer cash treated just one in every 1,000 users and failed to cut fatal overdose numbers.
The Linkage Center in the Tenderloin, at the heart of San Francisco’s civic center, opened in January and was intended to help the city’s large population of homeless people and drug addicts to find help.
But critics say the site, rented at a cost of $75,000 a month, has failed to curtail the problem in the crime-ridden city, which recently recalled its woke DA Chesa Boudin amid a spike in crimes blamed for a sharp decline in locals’ quality of life.
They note that only 0.1 percent of those using the site were directed to treatment in the first five months, despite the estimated $19 million spent in running costs.
Between January and April, just 18 of the 23,367 drug users who visited the site were referred for treatment.
Furthermore, the rate of fatal overdoses has not declined in a meaningful way: in January the office of the chief medical examiner reported 49 deaths, and last month there were 45.
And the center even went on to quietly drop the word ‘linkage’ from its title, because so few of the drug abusers who visited were being linked to any meaningful form of help.
In 2021, Rhode Island’s legislature approved a two-year pilot program to establish these harm reduction sites throughout the state. New York City did the same later that year. Any documented information on whether these programs are faring better or worse than San Francisco’s test is yet to be seen. What has been seen in San Francisco, and in Oregon from Measure 110 (their attempt at harm reduction), is that drug addiction has increased, rather than decreased.
The legacy media reports are also failing to acknowledge that open-air drug markets (whether legal or illegal), and the havoc wreaked in once safe, peaceful neighborhoods, is well documented. So, no matter how well-intentioned these programs are, they only lead to disintegrating communities and failure, rather than success.
This video of San Francisco school children walking through a corridor of homeless drug addicts went viral and received the appropriate outrage for a reason: this is a picture of the so-called “unintended consequences” that Newsom gave as the reason for his veto of the bill.
Except, Newsom knows the consequences are neither unknown or unintended. Thanks to progressive district attorneys, Prop 47, and Newsom’s failure to stem the tide of homelessness, California citizens who live in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Oakland are already living in a dystopian world of crime run amok, looting, and being the subject of true homicide stories just by stepping out of their doors.
In Chicago, one Westside resident penned an op-ed in the Sun-Times, discussing the tragic decline of his neighborhood because of an illegal market that law enforcement does little to curtail.
Eight a.m. is when it begins. Between one to three men drive up in a vehicle, park their car and stand on the sidewalk. Soon, another vehicle with three to four men inside will arrive. And while children are headed to nearby schools, these men begin to sell.
As the day progresses, another car drives up and parks. Another four people get out and join those who are already on the block. If you live on the block, you may not see them. But on a summer day, you hear constant calls of “nuk, nuk, nuk” indicating what they have available for sale to cars as they drive past.
Drive further down the street and the calls will change, indicating a variety of other drugs for sale. By mid-afternoon, on any given day, there can be 15 people selling different items.
Four p.m. comes and yet another car drives up. This time, the car is full of the children of those who are selling on the street. They arrive to play, to hang out with their families, to watch, and sometimes, join their parent(s) plying their trade. The air fills with a variety of calls, as “nuk” and “8-ball” are interspersed with children laughing, yelling, crying.
At least three times a week, an argument breaks out among the sellers. The others in the group always seem to calm things down before weapons are drawn, but it’s only a matter of time till that happens. Marked police cars drive down the street, but then another call of warning is yelled out the moment the police car is seen, and the sales stop until the police are gone. The dealers sometimes mock the police as they drive past.
While in Boston, the police have had to up their patrols of certain neighborhoods, after five stabbings over three days occurred in open-air drug markets.
Whether legally-sanctioned or illegal, Newsom knows, and Americans who don’t live in blue state hellscapes know that harm reduction centers are a scourge, producing the devolution of society rather than the progression. With Newsom’s eyes on the prize of running for president, his veto of SB 57 was a calculated move to appear more centrist, and less progressive. We’ll see how it plays in those red states he’s been attempting to court.
Knowing Newsom’s duplicitousness, he probably engineered this theater with full complicity from his Democrat legislative super majority.
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