Sep 8, 2021

Will There Be a Subtotal Recall on September 14?

Will apathy play a role—and who cares, anyway?

By Ed Goldman
The old expression, “Suppose they gave a party and nobody came?” is starting to sound like it applies to another party: Democrats.

It’s been my party since I was old enough to vote and, in time, learned how to simultaneously hold my nose and vote—but why bring up Bill, Hillary and Gavin when we were having such a nice chat?

Edgy Cartoon

Gavin a Wonderful Time

It was also the party of my parents and grandparents. None of them would recognize it today. They voted for Franklin Delano Roosevelt four times, Harry S Truman, Adlai Stevenson twice, and JFK and LBJ once each. My grandparents and Dad were gone by the time Jimmy Carter won his sole term. I’m pretty sure they’d have loved Barack Obama and even Joe Biden.

My Grandma Molly, a Russian immigrant, so despised Richard Nixon that one afternoon in 1971, when I took her for her preferred cocktail, a highball, in the “Sky Room” at the long-vanished Breakers Hotel in Long Beach, I thought we’d be arrested.

She had just told me she was supporting George McGovern for president, then suddenly said, in a voice much louder than her usual tone, “They should kill that Nixon! Just shoot him and be done with it!” I asked her to quiet down and said we could be arrested for seeming to threaten the president. “We?” she said. “Why ‘we’? You didn’t say it!” I explained that, either way, I was still a new reporter and even if it was “my grandma who got pinched by the Feds” (she loved when I tough-talked like this), someone would mention that a journalist bailed her out. 

“‘Journalist?!'” she said. “You may be a journalist. But you’re my grandson, Edellah.” 

What brings this up is that, as you know, we’re having an election in six days to recall or retain Governor Gavin Newsom. 

Even if you’re one of our readers in 16 states besides California, and God love you for that, you probably know Newsom as the telegenic fellow who shows up at wildfire media ops looking as though he’d just stepped out of the J. Peterman catalogue and then threw an REI jacket over his Pendleton shirt and wide-wale corduroys. He sprinkles his statements with a few manly words like “hell” and “damn” to remind us he’s seriously miffed about climate change. But his sense of style is almost the equal of his emotional tone-deafness. He flashes a quick-silver smile at inappropriate moments (like when he’s telling the state’s residents to mask/don’t mask/re-mask) and its teachers to stay home/come back/return home.

His behavioral inconsistencies have made national news. There was that maskless lobbyist-sponsored dinner at French Laundry (a really wonderful restaurant, by the way) while there was a mandate in place for everyone in the state who hadn’t been invited to cover the lower half of their faces.  

He’s also been an unfaithful husband, but that’s between his First Partner, as his wife refers to herself, and him. Besides, to the best of my knowledge, marital fidelity has been an impeachable defense only once, with Bill Clinton.  

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Even so, my party has yet to put up a serious candidate to replace Newsom should he actually be removed from office.

It’s beginning to feel as though it might be a case of (Sub)Total Recall if Democrats collectively conclude that Newsom “couldn’t possibly” lose the election, just as, five years ago, they felt that Hillary Clinton also “couldn’t possibly.”

Unintentionally making things worse are headlines like this, from the August 25 edition of the Sacramento Bee, whose editorial policies are middle-Left leaning: “5 ordinary people among those running for governor.” 

Are we meant to infer from this that the clowns who get the most ink—including Larry Elder, a bloated conservative who’ll never be accused of over-thinking on any issue; John Cox, who appears in campaign ads with a bear that has more charisma than the candidate; former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, whose major claim to fame seems to have been getting alcohol banned from Southern California beaches; and Gavin himself—are somehow extraordinary? That if you look up “exceptionalism” in the dictionary their snapshots will pop up?

I’m not exactly tormented by the recall. I’m against it, though not the process itself, but I am torn about it, just as I was when Gray Davis was yanked from office a month shy of 18 years ago. 

I found Davis somewhat ineffectual; I find Newsom somewhat laughable. But I’ve found neither of them grossly incompetent nor malevolent. And I hate to use this comparison but there are and have been much worse governors in the United States, from both political parties. To name just three: Andrew Cuomo (D-NY), Greg Abbott (R-Texas) and Ron DeSantis (R-Neptune).

We’ll see how this shakes out, unpacks or unravels, depending upon your preferred cliché, on September 14. I’m scheduled to return from an out-of-state wedding that day. If as we’re landing I see black smoke billowing from below, I’ll assume it’s because of a new wildfire, not a new governor. Only new Popes get that kind of reception.

Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).

Yes, Virginia

A Weekly Blog by Virginia Varela

President and CEO, Golden Pacific Bank

photo by Phoebe Verkouw


A banker friend of mine recently said, “Wow, it’s hard not to be depressed these days given the resurgence of COVID, Hurricane Ida, California fires, New York flooding, and the mess in Afghanistan.”

I couldn’t agree more.

A collective national depression looms over us. Statistics show that addiction and suicide have greatly increased during the past 18 months. It’s easy to be caught up in negativity—and bringing a sense of depression and mental exhaustion to the workplace, while understandable, can be toxic.

Questions: As a leader, how does one encourage self-care and happiness at work? How does one encourage positive thinking and emotions that are known to improve mental and physical wellness?

Answers: Start with oneself. Set an example.

While I may not be a great one to talk, I do try to check in with my own body and mind. I fortunately have some wonderful friends and colleagues who remind me when my attitude needs adjusting.

Real happiness starts with oneself. For me, I’ve found that diving into work and accomplishing one task at a time makes me feel better, happier, and more satisfied with my job. I’ve been told I have a good work ethic (which translates to: Doesn’t know when to stop).

But I don’t care if you call me a workaholic. I like a sense of organization and structure and accomplishment. It makes me happy. And I believe that happiness is key to the overall operational flow and success of an organization. When staff are healthier, more engaged in their work, having fun together, respectful of each other, and overall happier, a company or small business is able to run smoother.

At the end of the day, work is work. However, it doesn’t need to be unpleasant or stressful all of the time. Everyone involved will benefit when individuals are excited and motivated and enjoy the company of the people they go to work with.

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