Monday, June 28, 2021





        California voters resoundingly backed the idea of cash bail last fall, when they rejected Proposition 25 by a 56-44 percent margin, more than a 2 million-vote majority relegating a state law passed early in 2019 to the trash bin.


        And yet…it now seems likely that money bail will play a far smaller role in the criminal justice systems of the state’s two biggest urban centers than it ever has, despite the decisive vote,


        That’s because the district attorneys of both Los Angeles and San Francisco counties supported Prop. 25 and the law it sought to uphold, the 2019 SB 10 (not related to a currently active housing bill with the same number). The rejected 2019 law aimed to substitute judges’ risk assessments for bail as the method by which accused criminals would or would not be released while awaiting trial.


        Both Chesa Boudin of San Francisco and George Gascon in Los Angeles are determined to thwart the voters’ will – Gascon indicating he will go against majority of the electorate that voted him in. He ran on a platform including the elimination of cash bail, and it appears he has the power to make that come true in many cases no matter what voters may want. Yet, Los Angeles County voted by a 55-45 percent margin to keep cash bail going.


        If the wishes of the voters are denied, it will be far from the first time. Nor do their fast moves toward prosecutorial or judicial discretion in bail, rather than putting up cash or other valuables, seem likely to threaten the political fortunes of either district attorney.


        The precedents for disregarding the documented will of the voters are many, and very recent. Gov. Gavin Newsom, for example, soon after assuming office granted reprieves to more than 700 inmates on the state’s Death Row and ordered the execution chamber at San Quentin Prison dismantled. That way, no court order reversing his directive could be easily enforced.


        Newsom acted without regard for how cruel or heinous were the crimes committed by those sentenced to death, no matter how strongly the sentencing juries may have felt. This was despite the outcomes of two statewide votes to preserve the death penalty, one as recent as in 2016.


        Newsom, of course, promised during his 2018 election campaign, to be “accountable to the will of the voters.” So much for campaign promises.


        Newsom was joined later in 2019 by state legislators in defying another expression of the voters’ will when he signed a bill spreading rent controls to virtually all of California. This one applies to single-family homes and apartments more than 10 years old even in cities whose own rent-control laws specifically exempt them. He also signed a bill to end what sponsoring Assemblyman David Chiu of San Francisco calls rent gouging and another making evictions far more difficult.


        This came just after voters turned down Proposition 10 in 2018 by a 60-40 percent margin, rejecting a plan to let cities and counties adopt rent controls of any kind without local voters having a say. They voted by an identical margin last fall to reject a rerun of the same proposition, obviously realizing that rent controls have never solved housing shortages anywhere in California.


        Perhaps it’s the one-party rule that prevails both in Sacramento and the state’s two big urban centers that’s rendering leftist politicians fearless of facing voters’ wrath even when their clearly expressed will is reversed.


        Democrats hold every statewide office, plus huge majorities in both houses of the Legislature, besides having strangleholds on city councils and county boards in both Los Angeles and San Francisco. Who’s going to stop legislators or local officials from crossing the voters if the voters don’t act to stop them?


        Those officials all know the Republican label is so toxic in the most populous parts of California that merely defying or ignoring what the public wants will cost them nothing, so they do it without even hesitating.


        They’re doing it again this spring, the latest focus now on their eagerness to say hang the election returns and end cash bail.

    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough, The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It" is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit






         Sign outside the Water Garden, a sprawling Santa Monica office complex: Space available – 360,000 square feet.


        That’s a lot of vacant space in a prime location just blocks from the Pacific Ocean which features 17 acres of modern six-story buildings, fountains and basketball courts, a luxury gym, hallways of Italian and Brazilian marble, restaurant and commercial spaces and more. But so far, no takers.


        Similar signs and no-taker situations no longer merely dot the streets of Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and other centers of California commerce; they have gradually become ubiquitous.


        It’s inevitable the real estate investment trusts which own most of these buildings will realize – as some commercial building owners already have – that housing is the main future use for billions of square feet left behind by white collar companies who have sent much of their staff home to work.


        Already, some conversions like this are underway in Los Angeles. They often require zoning changes, but a bill now active in the Legislature should soon make approvals for commercial-to-residential switches almost automatic. For if these large structures are left fallow very long, their values will drop – and so will the property tax revenue they produce for cities, counties and the state. The current proposed law would make the needed zoning changes a “by-right” matter, meaning owners would only need to apply for the change to happen.


        But all this appears to have gotten by several state senators, whose current proposed housing package includes several rewrites of bills rejected at the end of last year’s legislative session, measures that take dead aim at single-family neighborhoods.


        As before, the leader of this movement is the recently reelected Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco, whose own district includes sections of Market Street (one of the city’s main arteries) where vacancy signs advertise space in buildings fully occupied not long ago by the high-tech likes of Twitter and Mozilla, progenitor of the Firefox web browser.


        This makes little apparent impact on Wiener, whose crusade against single-family neighborhoods has persisted through more than four years, even though few of his proposals have ever passed.



        He is daunted neither by the many defeats his plans have suffered nor by the new reality, with more than enough room in existing buildings to solve the state’s entire housing shortage of as many as 3.5 million units.


        So he’s revived his plan to allow 10-unit apartment or condominium developments on any lot almost anywhere in California with no more than simple majority votes by city councils, even if local voters pass measures forbidding it. Wiener’s plan lost badly as Senate Bill (SB) 902 last year, but it’s back again under the title SB 10. The bill forbids reviews of such massive changes under CEQA, the California Environmental Quality Act.


        Also back is Wiener’s previously defeated plan to allow new housing for low-income families on any property owned by any religious institution, no matter how far it may be from the main facility of that church, synagogue, mosque or other institution. No one knows exactly how much land in California is owned by such groups, which often receive them as bequests, or where it all is. This amounts to sight-unseen approval of almost anything.


        It’s all part of that crusade against single-family neighborhoods, where most Californians aspire to live, but which Wiener condemns as “exclusionary” and which he says have “exacerbated income and racial segregation.” By which he means that he’d like all of California to look like the overcrowded Castro District where he lives, filled as it is with old wooden, potential firetrap buildings.


        Wiener apparently doesn’t care that if cities begin reclassifying R-1 neighborhoods into areas where 10 units can suddenly arise on “any parcel,” as his bill says, many of those neighborhoods could be flooded with developers knocking on doors, carrying fat bankrolls. It might become common for properties to sell for much more than any current listed value.


        On the other hand, all that ready-made, now vacant and easily converted square footage in office buildings may eventually combine with California’s slowed growth to discourage new building. Which could make the entire notion of a housing crisis obsolete.



    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough, The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It" is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit

Monday, June 21, 2021







        A national rise in anti-Jewish bigotry has allegedly spread to this state’s most prestigious university after earlier infecting the process of creating California’s new ethnic studies curriculum and spurring record amounts of anti-Semitic vandalism and violence over the last year.


        The strongest reaction to what’s happening at Stanford University, perpetually ranked among the world’s five leading academic institutions, comes in a complaint just filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) by a former decade-long director of Stanford’s student counseling service and a 13-year therapist there.


        The complaint filed for psychiatrist Ronald Albucher and therapist Sheila Levin, an eating disorder specialist, claims anti-Semitism created a year-long hostile work environment for them and others. What allegedly occurred at the counseling service is not unique either at Stanford or in California and the nation.


        Federal authorities and the Anti-Defamation League report anti-Semitic episodes, up dramatically over the previous year, rose even more after a nine-day exchange of rocket and missile fire between Israel and the Palestinian terror organization Hamas in mid-May.


        One incident saw pro-Palestinian activists drive several cars up to a Los Angeles restaurant and ask if anyone there was a Jew. They then bloodied several startled individuals before driving off.


        Violent anti-Semitism like this revives one of the world’s oldest plagues. The Los Angeles beatings occurred in a far more publicly visible place than the deadly synagogue shootings in Pittsburgh and Poway.


        The anti-Semitism evidenced in the Stanford complaint and the creation of the ethnic studies curriculum has not been so open. While creating the curriculum, for example, advocates of Critical Ethnic Studies quietly included Jews in stating that pale-skinned immigrant groups gave up all or most of their prior identities after arrival in America, eagerly accepting “white privilege.” That’s obviously false.


        This pattern repeated at Stanford, the complaint charges, when a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) program in the student counseling service “advanced anti-Semitic tropes concerning Jewish power, conspiracy and control and endorsed the narrative that Jews support white supremacy…”



        In fact, Jews were leading supporters of civil rights in America long before the Freedom Riders of the 1960s, where they made up about half of all white participants.


        The EEOC complaint says the DEI program “refused to address (increasing on campus) incidents of anti-Semitism including…drawing of Nazi-style swastikas in prominent locations, including within Memorial Church,” a Stanford landmark.


        A week before the complaint was filed, Rabbi Jessica Kirschner, head of Stanford’s Jewish student organization Hillel, wrote to Jewish alumni that anti-Semitism has infected student-to-student relations on campus.


        She said multiple Jewish students have been confronted by fellow students saying things like “Don’t talk to me if you’re Jewish.”


        Imagine the strong response if the targets had been Black or Latino. So far, Stanford has done nothing.


        The EEOC complaint also cited a presentation to pre-doctoral students by the counseling service that announced a program exploring “how Jews are connected to white supremacy.” Stanford administrators allegedly ignored objections to this for more than a year before the federal complaint was made.


        “These things reinforce anti-Semitic stereotypes,” said Alyza Lewin, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights, which filed the complaint. “They create a false picture of Jews as negative beings. That encourages the kind of anti-Semitism we are seeing nationally.”


        Neither accepting nor denying any of this, Stanford deplored the alleged incidents. “Stanford forcefully rejects anti-Semitism in all its forms,” a spokesperson told a reporter.


Added Dee Mostofi, Stanford’s assistant vice president of media relations, “…We are launching a…program this summer and fall aimed at recognizing and addressing bias and discrimination.” This action may be too little and too late to prevent harm to Stanford’s reputation and could harm recruiting of faculty and students.


        Rabbi Kirschner told alumni she will soon meet with Stanford President Marc Tessier Lavigne, “who has assured me he is committed to deploying university resources to address anti-Semitism…”


        Meanwhile, the university responses look tepid to many alumni.


        Said Lewin, “What happens to the university’s reputation depends on how it responds. Stanford has the opportunity to become a real leader in fighting all kinds of bias, including racism and anti-Semitism.”


     No one knows yet whether it will do that.



    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It," is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit






     Vice President Kamala Harris took a lot of heat for her performance in her first foreign trip as the nation’s No. 2 official, some bloggers calling her excursion into Latin America “a continuation of her failure theater.”

        That phrase came from a conservative website, but the far left also blasted Harris for telling the poorest of the Central American poor “Do not come” to the United States.

         The remark had future electoral implications because Harris’ fellow Democrats of most stripes are sympathetic to poor but enterprising immigrants from countries like Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. They blanched upon hearing her simple statement of the immigration preferences of the current administration and all other recent ones.

        Donald Trump, for example, took heat for his treatment of immigrants, especially children. But Barack Obama’s administration, with current President Joe Biden as vice president, actually deported more prospective newcomers to America.

        Whether Biden seeks a second term or becomes a caretaker president who leaves after just one, it’s all but certain Harris will one day run again for America’s highest office.

        If she does, she could collide with Gavin Newsom, provided the governor survives this fall’s recall election, as every nonpartisan poll indicates he will – and by a handy margin. As a rule, politicians who triumph over recall attempts are strengthened, the best California example being Dianne Feinstein, an unbeatable U.S. Senate candidate after she trampled a recall attempt while mayor of San Francisco.

        If Newsom beats the recall and then wins reelection next year, he could choose to run for Feinstein’s Senate seat in 2024, when she will be 90, or he could opt to run for president and thus crash into Harris.

        That would be a huge change. Newsom and Harris have shared campaign managers for many years and have long had an informal understanding never to oppose each other’s ambitions.

        That’s why Newsom, then lieutenant governor, stood by quietly awaiting a 2018 run for governor while Harris won an open Senate seat with little competition in 2016. But their understanding might not survive the reality that time is passing and neither is getting younger.

        Until Harris’ Latin American trip, Newsom had never uttered a critical word about the vice president, who – like Newsom -- got her start in San Francisco politics, winning two terms as district attorney before becoming California’s attorney general and then a senator.

        But Harris no sooner returned to Washington, D.C.. from her trip than Newsom checked in on the side of left-wing Democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who earlier blasted Harris for her anti-immigration remarks. In a press conference just after Harris’ return, Newsom observed that “California has long had a different approach to immigration, a more inclusive approach.” He added that he has consulted with other federal officials about “how California can be more supportive in terms of the needs of asylum seekers.”

        That’s not exactly the Harris approach these days. In fact, her blunt advice for the Central American poor to stay put was reminiscent of her generally pro-police responses to law enforcement excesses while she was attorney general.

        So could Newsom and Harris ever face off in a presidential primary? Their mutual campaign manager, Dan Newman, did not respond to emails seeking to ask him about that possibility.

        For sure, it would be entirely unprecedented for two top politicos from the same state to vie for the same party’s nomination for president. It could set up a situation where they split what amounts to a pro-California vote, letting someone else slip past and get the nomination.

        Right now, Harris is best positioned to win the next Democratic nomination race, whenever and however Biden leaves the Oval Office. But she could be weakened in a primary by alienating the party’s left, which demonstrated its clout by keeping Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders a prominent candidate for most of the last decade.

        Newsom, of course, could also opt to play the waiting-his-turn game again and spend years in the Senate if he took the Feinstein seat.

        There’s a lot uncertain here for both Harris and Newsom, but the possibilities are entertaining, at the very least.



    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It," is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit

Monday, June 14, 2021







        It’s no secret that plenty of folks in California’s rural northern counties would love to leave the Golden State and form one of their own – the most persistent such plan has been called the State of Jefferson since the notion first appeared in the 1940s.


        Rural residents in counties from Lassen to Lake have long felt dominated in setting policies affecting their rivers, timber and other essentials by the urban masses of the San Francisco Bay area and Southern California.


        This feeling took off in earnest in the 1960s, after the U.S. Supreme Court’s One Person, One Vote decision deprived northern counties of the kind of strong representation they previously enjoyed, where square miles often counted as much as population. No longer could those counties shape the entire California freeway system, as the late state Sen. Randolph Collier did during the more than 20 years he represented several North Coast counties, for just one example.


        Then most of Southern California gradually became as politically liberal as the Bay area, and rural counties felt even more forlorn. They’ve devised scheme after scheme to split away into their own state. The problem has always been that they’d need a “yes” vote from the full state – not just their part – in order to do this, and that’s not in the cards.


        So there’s never been a statewide vote on this issue, which nevertheless doesn’t stop ideas from percolating.


        The newest has trickled south from rural eastern Oregon, whose denizens now have begun to feel similarly toward the Portland/Salem/Eugene areas of the Willamette River Valley as some Northern Californians do about California’s coastal counties from Marin south. They’d like to become part of consistently conservative Idaho, five Oregon counties said in votes last fall.


        Oregonians pushing for new boundaries want to free themselves from the parts of their current state most infested by emigrating former Californians and their liberal ideas.


        They’d like to take with them California counties that have flirted with the State of Jefferson idea.


        If realized, their plan would create a Greater Idaho taking in some of the most scenic, most mountainous, timber- and river-rich parts of the American West.


        This plan has several big differences from the state of Jefferson, which upsets Democrats because if it happened, it would likely give Republicans two new seats in the U.S. Senate, making Democratic control there and in the Electoral College significantly less achievable.


        Instead, the new Greater Idaho would still have only two senators, the Senate itself would hold at 100 members and the Electoral College wouldn’t change much. And getting the rural counties of both Oregon and California away from political control by urban Democrats might give those rural places far more power to determine their own policies on water, renewable energy, smog control and many other issues where their voters consistently disagree with current state governments.


        But analysis reveals this plan as even goofier than the State of Jefferson, which has yet to prove it could be economically viable if it should ever come to exist. Also, for the rural counties of both Oregon and California to join Idaho, they would need yes votes from the full electorates in all three states involved – not a very likely prospect.


        Urban Oregonians are no more likely to approve the departure of the tourist tax dollars produced along the Columbia River and in the Cascade Mountains than coastal Californians are to part willingly from the ski resorts, national parks, forests and other tourist enterprises of the northern Sierra Nevada and the North Coast.


        But the State of Jefferson state of mind is not going away. “Rural people and rural counties no longer have a voice,” Mark Baird, one of the new plan’s advocates, told a reporter. “If this (new idea) turns out to be the shortest route to liberty and representation, I’ll give it a go.”


        Yet, the greater Idaho plan is even less likely to succeed than the State of Jefferson ever has been. Which nevertheless won’t prevent anyone from longing for the “good old days” when rural counties were the sparsely populated little tails that wagged the big urban dogs.



    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It," is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit








        It began with a press conference at the White House in early February 2020. The President took the podium and announced the coronavirus was about to disappear. Not just from public consciousness, he meant, but from his radar.


        This might have been Donald Trump’s seminal error. For COVID-19 went on to kill more than 600,000 Americans and also bury many thousands of businesses, large and small.


        His handling of the virus became the main issue of last year’s presidential election until Trump made the repeated big lie about rampant voting fraud an even bigger issue. In the end, both matters moved millions of former Trump voters into current President Joe Biden’s column because both revealed Trump as a persistent, determined liar, a reality that remains his albatross today while he tries to resurrect his political career.


        But Trump has not been alone on this journey. He took many millions of Americans with him, convincing them to adopt his stated belief system.


        Now we fast forward to the spring of 2021, almost 18 months after Trump’s ultra wrong reading of Covid’s future.


        He is long gone from the White House and may never return, no matter what he may claim, depending on the outcome of a variety of criminal investigations into his activities before and during his presidency. But Trump’s questioning the seriousness of the virus remains in play, carried on by many of his supporters. These folks are still skeptical it ever really represented a threat, despite all the deaths state, local and federal medical authorities attribute to it.


        Millions among Trump’s following believe COVID 19 is little more than an influenza variant that only killed people with prior conditions exacerbated by the new virus. Many also doubt both the necessity and the efficacy of the three main vaccines still being injected into the arms of myriad Americans over 12.


        Wrote one reader of this column, “The ‘vaccine’ for Covid…harms human RNA and does nothing to cure or prevent the COVID-19 virus…Bill Gates and Anthony Fauci both are profiting from the ‘vaccine’ and had a hand in developing the virus itself.” That message comes straight from the list of claims made regularly by active Trump supporters.


        Their beliefs were among the reasons why, early in the vaccine rollout, polls showed about half of Republicans planning to forego getting vaccinated. That figure is down somewhat now, but remains far higher than the 5 percent of Democrats who tell pollsters they plan never to be jabbed.


        Those survey results are playing out in real life around California. In counties where Republicans dominate state and local elections, about half the percentage of senior citizens got the shots as in counties dominated by Democrats.


        In counties like Tehama, Shasta and Del Norte, only about one-third of folks over 65 had been fully vaccinated by late spring, compared with about two-thirds in suburban counties like Contra Costa and Marin, where Democrats run the local governments.


        In one largely pro-Republican area, the health officer for Del Norte County, hard by the Oregon border, told a reporter that “We definitely (have) in common…a fairly high percentage of people who are vaccine hesitant.” Del Norte County last fall gave Trump a 62 percent majority.


        Even since the county expanded vaccine eligibility to everyone over 12, said health officer Dr. Warren Rehwaldt, available vaccination time slots often go unused.


        Meanwhile, long lines of cars waited in the huge parking lots of places like Dodger Stadium, the Forum and Cal State Northridge in urban, Democratic Los Angeles County, which cut its Covid incidence down by more than 28 percent after the first two weeks vaccinations were open to everyone over 50.


        Which means that contrary to the reader who said vaccines don’t work, they clearly do. Just ask operators of nursing homes, where caseloads and deaths from the virus are down by more than 96 percent from last winter’s peak levels.


        The links between politics and vaccine hesitation are very clear, furthered by the half-hearted endorsement the fully vaccinated Trump gave the shots.


        It remains to be seen whether health officials can cut through such resistance or whether needed herd immunity can be achieved even if they can’t.      



    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It," is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit

Monday, June 7, 2021








        For decades it was a truism that for a Republican to have a chance in a statewide election, they would first need to win a majority of 250,000 votes or more in Orange County, the firmest conservative bastion in California.


        Republicans will apparently need a new formula, though, in order to unseat Gov. Gavin Newsom in the upcoming recall election.


        That’s the most immediate takeaway from both the 2020 election results and a springtime poll conducted by City of Orange-based Chapman University, an increasingly prominent Orange County institution.


        Here’s what happened in 2020: Ex-President Trump lost the county by 154,000 votes, Joe Biden outpolling him by a margin of 834,000 to 680,000, or 55 percent to 44 percent.


        This was a hugely worse performance than Republican businessman John Cox turned in against Newsom in 2018, when Newsom won the county with 50.1 percent of the vote. It means either that tens of thousands of 2018 Republican voters turned against Trump last year, or that more and more Democrats are moving into the county, just south of Los Angeles.


        The Chapman survey also found the OC is much greener in its outlook than 10 years ago and that under-40 voters tend to support the Democratic agenda of climate change action and government programs to solve problems far more than their older neighbors.


        Those sentiments are what recall supporters must overcome if they’re to reverse the 2020 tide and oust Newsom, who repeatedly labels their effort a “Republican power grab.”


        For the old truism still holds to a large degree. If Republicans can’t do much better in Orange County – one of the few places in the state where party registration is not completely dominated by Democrats – they will have no chance to win the recall, unless one or two major Democrats jump into the recall field and thus remove its currently strong GOP identity.


        That identity is one big reason only about 40 percent of Californians surveyed in several recent polls have expressed intent to give Newsom an early exit. The percentage is quite similar to the vote that most Republican candidates have gotten in recent statewide elections.

        It’s those younger voters – especially the under-30’s – who now give the Democrats much of their edge, both in Orange County and elsewhere.


        Young voters went for Biden over Trump by a margin of more than 57-43 percent last year, while their elders voted Trump by about 52-48 percent.


        So far, there’s no documented reason to believe they will turn against the Democratic incumbent governor this year in numbers anywhere close to the majority needed to kick him out.


        But so far, none of the significant Republican recall candidates has even attempted to adopt positions like those the Chapman survey showed are most favored by the majority of Orange County voters, let alone by the under-40 contingent among them.


        Fully 95 percent of the county’s majority Democrats said they are worried about climate change. Plus, 47 percent of Republicans – whose major politicians often deny that climate change is real – agreed with the Democrats.


        Chapman reported that the change in the OC’s viewpoints comes because “older, more conservative residents are exiting the county population and are being replaced by younger, more moderate-to-liberal residents.” That’s a politic way of saying the older, more conservative Orange County voters on whom Republicans once depended are now dying out or moving out.


        Said Chapman Prof. Fred Smoller, one of the survey’s authors, “We’ve found the (OC) is not nearly as conservative as its portrayal in the national media.”


        That will have implications beyond the recall. Whether it wins or loses, the changed complexion of Orange County threatens the GOP’s ability to hang onto the congressional seats it won back there last year, after they had been held by Democrats for the previous two years.


        These formerly solid Republican seats now figure to become swing districts that can go either way in any given election, a major change with implications both local and national.


        But the most immediate portent might be for the recall, which has virtually no chance of polling a 250,000 majority in Orange County this year, something that might doom it long before the vote is taken.



    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough, The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It" is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit







        Maybe it was because of the constant harping by Republican candidates to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom in the upcoming recall election. Or maybe he would have done it anyway.


        But Newsom and the state government he heads are at long last moving to relieve one of the major causes of the homelessness that plagues almost all parts of California.


        People who canvass the homeless camps each year to get as accurate a count as possible have long reported that mental illness is one of the problem’s most important causes. Some semi-official estimates place the mentally ill component of the homeless at about 20 percent. Others have it as high as 40 percent.


        This is not a new phenomenon: Since the capacity of many state mental hospitals was reduced or eliminated by then-Gov. Ronald Reagan in the early 1970s, the mentally ill often have had nowhere to live but in tents, cardboard boxes or (for the lucky among them) covered pickup trucks or aged motor homes.


        What is new is that state government is about to throw significant money at mental health. Sure, it’s a relatively minor part of Newsom’s $100 billion big-spending pandemic recovery plan, also designed to help him fend off the ongoing campaign to recall him.


        But it’s still a total of about $6 billion, nearly half what Newsom proposes to spend on building new apartments and buying hotels and motels to create up to 46,000 homeless living units – if the targets are willing to participate. Half that housing will come with counseling services, too. It remains to be seen how many takers those programs will have.


        Meanwhile, if money can help solve problems, perhaps there will be a dent in the huge mental illness difficulties that have plagued marginal Californians for decades.


        Newsom’s plan includes $2.45 billion for new or renewed capacity in the public mental health system, some of which was diverted long ago to other uses, including a Cal State campus. It also includes $4 billion for behavioral health services for children and youth. Plus $950 million for school-based programs and $430 million for expansion of early psychosis treatment and youth drop-in wellness centers.


        Whatever its motivation, this is in part a response to a February Kaiser Family Foundation poll reporting 40 percent of American adults say they suffer from anxiety or depressive disorders, four times as many as reported before the pandemic.


        That makes the expanded mental health spending a response to COVID-19 and its accompanying isolated lifestyles in addition to homelessness. If there’s follow-though, this level of new spending and activity can’t help reduce a serious cause of problems that send many previously solid citizens into street living.


        As might be expected, mental health officials and therapists at all levels appear thrilled at the new emphasis on their efforts.


        “(This) budget proposal shows our state understands how critical it is for us to invest in behavioral health in order for California to fully recover from the…past year and be prepared to meet the ongoing surge of need for mental health…services,” said Veronica Kelley, president of the statewide County Behavioral Health Directors Assn. and director of San Bernardino County’s mental health department.


        “Counties will be able to build brick-and-mortar capacity, combined with workforce investment, to address systemic gaps left by decades of underinvestment.”


        Before Newsom began traveling the state in mid-May to publicize his recovery plan (also campaigning to keep his job), no one expected anything close to this level of investment in mental health.


        By itself, it will not end homelessness, because mental illness is only one cause, along with things like the lack of jobs for newly-released convicts, the fact that some other states offer convicted “minor” criminals bus tickets here in lieu of jail time and economic conditions that can drive people from homes they can no longer afford.


        But if at least some of the current homeless or newly housed are willing to take advantage of the new resources coming their way, there’s a chance the money can reduce this seemingly intractable problem.


        And if a recall is what it takes to motivate politicians to attack problems at their sources, maybe we should have them regularly.




     Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It," is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, go to