SD29: Final Segment of Josh Newman Interview: AQMD, High Speed Rail, Racial Preferences

Editor’s Note: In fifth and final part of OC Daily’s interview with Josh Newman (conducted on August 3), the dark horse Democratic candidate in Senate District 29, we discuss the SB 1387 bill to pack the SCAQMD Board of Directors – despite Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon’s down-to-the-wire efforts, SB 1387 ultimately failed to pass the legislature. We also discuss the deportation of criminal illegal immigrants and racial/ethnic preferences in higher education.]

Matthew Cunningham: There’s a bill in the legislature…SB 1387, that would double the number of state-appointed members AQMD Board of Directors. Last year the Orange County city council members decided to replace their representative from the AQMB board. They got rid of Miguel Polido and replaced him with Dwight Robinson from Lake Forest. There was a certain level of partisan overlay, but it had more to do with.. it was presented that way in the media, but it was more to do with approach to regulating business stationary sources.

Now the response has been.. Kevin De Leon has a bill to to add three more members to the board of directors, giving the Senate President Pro Tem, the Assembly Speaker, and the Governor each two appointees instead of just one. They would have to be environmental justice organization members. Everybody realizes what this is: they lost control and now they want to change the rules. If you were in the state Senate right now, would you vote for or against that bill, as it’s presented?

Josh Newman: The question is really, for whom do you work, right? If you’re a member of the state Senate or the Assembly, for whom do you work? That is really the question. In my belief, my approach is going to be really simple: you work for the residents and constituents of senate district 29, and you do what is best for them, and you do what is best on balance for California. If you fall prey to this kind of short-term political calculation, it never works out well. But Kevin De Leon would say, or opponents to that bill would say, well this is in the best interest of the people of California, best interest of Orange County.

Of course they would do that.

Everyone can say that, but – that doesn’t mean the constituents feel that way. Honestly, right? That’s the question, which is of course they’re going to say that, but one of the big problems with California politics now is the Third House. Whose house are you closer to when you’re in Sacramento? You’re closer to the Third House than to your neighbor’s house. That seems to permeate the system in a way that makes people really frustrated. There’s actually nothing really wrong with partisanship when partisanship is informed by principles, but partisanship for its own sake doesn’t get anybody anywhere.

MC: Here’s an issue that lots of local leftists get agitated about. When we incarcerate criminals who are here illegally, do you think they ought to be deported or not? There are local activists who actively agitate against deporting illegal immigrant criminals in our jails. They want the Santa Ana City Council to shut down the city jail and to not house illegals who are criminals.

JN: You’ve got to make a distinction about the level of crime, don’t you?

MC: Let’s say a dangerous criminal, a crime that results in physical harm or physical jeopardy for somebody. A felony.

JN: Serve the time. Serve the time, then deport them. One of the problems with deportation-

MC: Deporting them basically at the beginning or the end of the process? If you want to deport them, are they going to end up in their home country’s prison or are they just going to end up in their home country and come back?

JN: They’ll come back. Immigration closure is actually way down, but I think data that shows they do come back. I actually take seriously the experience of local law enforcement. They’re not so biased that they’re making stuff up.

They do come back. For serious crimes, the criminal justice system is there to not only punish, but to protect. If you simply deport somebody to parts unknown, you’re not necessarily protecting anybody if it’s serious crimes.

MC: The High Speed Rail program. Do you support the governor’s program, or moving on to something else?

JN: The problem with high speed rail is that it’s either going to work all or nothing. All or nothing, and it’s going to be such a lag between the verdict on it. The money competes with other needs and other resources, and that’s a real problem. If you make the case that we’re going to allocate the full amount and it’s going to be matched by federal funds – which we know will come to California – and we’re going to ride this through all the way to the end, then yes.

If there’s any possibility that it dead ends along the way, that’s going to be really unfortunate and it will be at the expense of other things we could have done.

MC: If a ballot measure to repeal high speed rail were on the ballot, would you vote yes or no?

JN: To put it on the ballot? I’d put it on the ballot. If it’s to put it on a ballot, by all means. I would say yes, because you do get.. it’s a charged issue. When some people start calling it the crazy train, it has a certain effect. I think the average Californian does have, I think, a basis for that question, which is, is this a good expense? Is this a good investment? If they don’t have the assurance that it’s actually going to go from the terminus to its destination – if it is going to go from like Modesto to Fresno – that’s not going to do a lot of people a lot of good. There might be a better use for those funds.

If you look at other countries, like China. Even in Shanghai, where they have.. if you go to Shanghai, and it’s a perfect example of how one system can do what our system has trouble with. You go to Shanghai. You can take the.. there’s a magnetic levitation train that goes like 300 miles an hour. It’s awesome. But it costs billions of dollars, and it’s a proof of concept, right? The Chinese government can do these things. They can take the money. They are not on any particular timetable. There isn’t any political pressure. Then there’s not a sense that it competes for resources. In California where people originally say, “I think, you’re going to do that now, versus something else like fixing our roads, like fixing our schools.” That’s a fair conversation to have, particularly if there’s a fear that we’re not going to be able to get to the end of this process.

We’re not so flush now in California that you can allocate X billions of dollars and say, “It’s an experiment; we’re going to see what happens.” If it’s a 20-year cycle, what’s the world going to look like in 20 years? Is that necessarily going to solve the transit problem? I think most reasonably guessed question is: Do you see yourself going from LA to San Francisco on a regular basis? Are you going to go at 300 miles an hour from LA to Anaheim? No. The question is, who does this serve? Now if it’s a federal R&D project, hey, let’s participate on some reasonable level. If we think that we’re going to see a net gain on this investment, the average citizen is really skeptical, and I respect that.

MC: In 1996, voters approved Prop 209, banning the use of race, sex, color, ethnicity, national origin in recruitment and admissions at our state universities. Ever since, there’s been push back from the Left about getting rid of it. Did you vote for or against Prop 209?

JN: I think I voted for it.

MC: Do you still support it?

JN: Yes. I mean, it’s not so obvious if there’s a better system that you would impose in its place. The problem right now with our post secondary education system is not that – it’s lack of resources, it’s lack of space.

End of interview.



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