Despite a wave of smash and grab robberies throughout his state, Governor Gavin Newsom is leaving California to promote a new children’s book he wrote.
The governor suffers from dyslexia – he said in an interview recently that he still can’t spell the word ‘dress’ – and wanted to help children who suffered as well.
He says his book was inspired by his own struggle with the condition, and has released a glossy video of himself reading the tome on a sun-dappled baseball field, in marked contrast to recent videos of violent scenes now unfolding across the Golden State with alarming regularity.
News of his jaunt has angered many locals, one of whom tweeted: ‘As California crumbles, hey buy my children’s book.’
Another suggested Newsom’s attempt at fiction was a ‘back-up plan’ devised before a recall election earlier this year, which his career ultimately survived.
Despite a wave of smash and grab robberies throughout his state, Governor Gavin Newsom is headed out on tour to promote a new children’s book he wrote
Newsom is beginning the tour for Ben & Emma’s Big Hit in New York City this week, leaving California on Monday
And a third tweeter condemned Newsom’s apparent desire to help children with the picture book, writing: ‘You make kids with learning disabilities wear masks all day… Great look advertising your book right now.’
Newsom said he also can’t read aloud from a piece of paper in public. That’s why his speeches are long, mostly from memory and sprinkled with some awkward moments when his words bump into each other.
He’s had dyslexia for most of his life, but it came into sharper focus for him recently after watching some of his own children fall behind in reading.
Newsom posted a video to social media reading the book to his two children. Newsom himself suffers from dyslexia
Newsom’s jaunt across the US comes as organized groups of thieves continue to terrorize cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, brazenly looting retail stores for thousands of dollars-worth of goods, often in front of customers and staff.
The governor expressed little sympathy for anyone involved in an interview last week, although locals say he needs to match the tough talk with actual reforms that crack down on crime.
‘If people are breaking in, people stealing your property, they need to be arrested. Police need to arrest them. Prosecutors need to prosecute them. Judges need to hold people accountable for breaking the law,’ Newsom said.
‘These are not victimless crimes, and I have no empathy for these criminal elements.’
Last week, LA police arrested 14 suspects alleged to have been involved in 11 recent smash-and-grab robberies at stores last month, where nearly $340,000 worth of merchandise was stolen in strikes on an LA Nordstrom, a Lululemon in Studio City, a Fairfax district store, and a CVS pharmacy in South LA.
However, due to city’s zero-bail policies, the suspects were all released within hours of being handcuffed and are currently walking the streets while they wait for their cases to go to court.
‘If you look at the 14 people arrested, they could have been charged, there could have been bail amounts set, but none of that was done because the district attorney refuses to take a leadership position on this issue,’ Siddall told Fox, slamming Gascon office’s do-nothing approach to the rampant crime wave currently afflicting cities all across the Golden State.
In a statement sent to the outlet Monday, Gascon’s office said that it was looking into the suspects’ cases with LAPD officials and ‘will hold those responsible accountable.’
This year alone, through November 27, there were 7,542 robberies in Los Angeles, LAPD’s most recent data, as compared to 7,258 last year – a 3.9 per cent increase.
A map shows the locations of some of the major smash-and-grab robberies that have recently taken place in Southern California
There were 7,542 robberies in Los Angeles this year through November 27, the LAPD’s most recent data indicate, which represents a 3.9 per cent increase from last year
Crime in general is up 8 percent in San Francisco, though despite the recent wave of lootings, robberies have gone down year-to-year 5.2 percent
A Nordstrom in Walnut Creek was just one of the stores across California that has had to cope with robberies
One example of the recent smash and grab lootings was when nine thieves smashed a glass display with hammers at a Concord jeweler
Among the latest of the brazen of robberies in LA was a pair or robbers who cornered a mother with her baby on the driveway of her mansion as she waited for its electronic gates to close on Sunday.
The Los Angeles Police Department, which shared footage of the crime on Twitter, is asking for help finding the suspects who robbed the mother in broad daylight.
The unidentified woman is seen in the video walking into her driveway with her infant in a stroller.
The two robbers walk past the home, then turn around and walk inside before the electronic gates could close.
They then back the woman against the wall of her property, take a diaper bag off her back and grab a cooler from inside her stroller before fleeing in a car parked outside.
‘Fearing for her and her child’s safety, the victim complied’ with the thieves demands that she hand over her belongings, the LAPD wrote in its Twitter post.’
Among the latest of the brazen of robberies in LA includes a pair or robbers who cornered a mother with her baby on the driveway of her mansion as she waited for its electronic gates to close on Sunday
The attack came after, legendary music executive Clarence Avant’s wife of 54 years, Jacqueline Avant, was killed last Tuesday by a gunman in what police fear may have been a home invasion at their $7 million mansion in Beverly Hills.
Shocking photos obtained by DailyMail.com show the musician’s decimated sliding glass doors, though police pointedly declined to confirm that robbery was the suspected motive, saying all possibilities are under consideration.
Law enforcement sources told the LA Times that at least one burglar made it into the mansion before Jacqueline was killed.
Aariel Maynor, 29, a career criminal, was arrested on Wednesday for the murder.
On November 26, Black Friday, LA looters ransacked a Home Depot, taking a slew of tools such as crowbars, mallets and sledgehammers that LAPD officials say will likely be used in future heists. Thieves also busted into a Bottega Veneta store.
A suspect wields a hammer during a jewelry store robbery in Los Angeles in November
On November 22, about two dozen robbers smashed their way into an LA Nordstrom, making off with $5,000 worth of merchandise. A CVS pharmacy in the city was struck just an hour later, where looters stole $8,000 from a cash register. Police said that the 14 arrests made last week were in connection to these attacks.
Two days later, police in Palo Alto announced that two women had been arrested in connection with an attempt to steal items from the RealReal clothing boutique downtown.
At the time, cops detailed how 30 to 40 people arrived in some 20 cars and tried to break down the glass front door but it held. A security guard then reported the effort via a 911 call, which spurred the crowd to flee as police started to arrive.
The suspects were subsequently stopped in a car near the scene, where police said they found at least $15,000 in clothes from a second RealReal location that was burglarized in Larkspur earlier that night.
In another incident later that day, five more people pleaded not guilty to felony charges involving thefts – this time in San Francisco.
Nine people were initially charged in the string of attacks on San Francisco stores such Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Bloomingdale’s in the city’s downtown area and in Union Square – a posh shopping district popular with tourists that was teeming with holiday shoppers.
Aside from the organized crime rings, the growing problem has been attributed to police officers’ apparent reluctance to pursue such criminals in the current political climate, prosecutors’ failure to prioritize larceny and theft, and the decriminalization of low-level offenses in some jurisdictions.
Two weeks ago, the San Francisco Bay Area saw a relentless string of audacious ‘smash-and-grab’ robberies, including an incident involving a gaggle of hammer-wielding masked bandits who ransacked jewelry, sunglasses and clothing stores at the Southland Mall in the San Jose suburb of Hayward on November 21.
That same evening, packs of thieves ransacked a sunglasses store and a Lululemon store in San Jose, stealing nearly $50,000 in merchandise – an incident also related to the recent arrests made by LAPD.
The day prior, on November 20, police said as many as 80 suspects, some wearing ski masks and carrying crowbars, targeted a Nordstrom in the San Francisco suburb of Walnut Creek, assaulting employees and stealing merchandise before fleeing in waiting cars, police and witnesses said.
Another incident, on November 19, saw roving bands of thieves brandishing hammers and crowbars hit a string of high-end retailers, including Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Bloomingdales, as well as a Walgreens pharmacy and several marijuana dispensaries, in the vicinity of Union Square in San Francisco, a high-end area popular with tourist that was crowded with holiday shoppers.
California’s Proposition 47 – lighter sentences for thieves
Proposition 47 was passed by California voters on November 5, 2014.
It made some ‘non-violent’ property crimes, where the value of the stolen goods does not exceed $950, into misdemeanors.
It also made some ‘simple’ drug possession offenses into misdemeanors, and allows past convictions for these charges to be reduced to a misdemeanor by a court.
Under California law, though, if two or more person’s conspire to ‘cheat and defraud any person or any property, by any means which are in themselves criminal’ they can face no more than one year in county prison, a fine of $10,000 or a combination of the two.
Similar strikes have been reported in other parts of the country as well, in fellow crime-ridden metropolises like Chicago and New York.
Both Los Angeles and San Francisco recently placed in the top 10 for the National Retail Federation’s list of cities most impacted by organized retail theft – with LA earning the dubious honor of the top spot. Southern California cities San Francisco and Sacramento each took the 8 and 9 spots, respectively.
The zero-bail strategy currently employed by Gascon’s office – a policy that was statewide until last year but kept in place within the LA County Superior Court system – was initially intended to reduce the city’s jail populations, as The City of Angels grappled with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, Los Angeles police Chief Michel Moore said Monday that the effort is ill-founded.
‘There are individuals in communities that look at that as a lack of consequences, a lack of deterrence and open season in which to go and commit these types of crimes,’ LA’s top cop told KNX Radio on Monday.
‘The crisis during COVID, while well-intended, the impact it had on the criminal justice system was significant and severe that it’s developing another crisis in public safety. We have an offender base that commits and are willing to commit serious and violent crimes and we need to make sure the criminal justice system acts as a deterrent.’
Officials in San Jose and Santa Clara County slammed zero-bail last week when two suspects allegedly involved in a Halloween murder were freed to await trial outside of jail walls.
Another case in Los Angeles County resulted in a car-theft suspect being arrested 13 times over 12 weeks.
Others blame the voter-approved measure Proposition 47 -passed by California voters on November 5, 2014 – which reclassified felony thefts cases under $950 to misdemeanors.
Siddall, however, disagrees, and said Monday that Gascon bears sole responsibility for the dangerous phenomenon.
‘We didn’t have these flash mobs for many, many years,’ Siddall said. ‘You really cannot blame Prop 47. When people are engaged in a conspiracy to commit larceny, that becomes a felony. You can’t say that the law is weak on these issues. You can’t say that the judiciary is weak on these issues.’
‘Ben & Emma’s Big Hit,’ published by Philomel books, comes out Tuesday. The book tells the story of a young boy named Ben who uses baseball to cope with his dyslexia, along with the help from a caring teacher and a friend.
The book is presented as a bridge to help some children with dyslexia understand why it’s harder for them to read. But beyond that, it’s a semi-autobiographical account of Newsom’s childhood that offers a glimpse of what shaped his personality and his politics.
‘It doesn’t go away. I’m dealing with this every day,’ Newsom said in an interview with The Associated Press. ‘So many folks (with dyslexia) do give up, and that has tragic consequences. And others that don’t (give up) start to discover that this is the greatest gift in their life and they can’t imagine a life without it. That’s really been my experience.’
He has pledged to donate all proceeds from the book to the International Dyslexia Association.
Newsom said his dyslexia caused him to make a lot of mistakes in school that isolated him and made him feel anxious about reading. He said he often pretended to be sick to get out of reading in class.
But over time, Newsom said making mistakes made him resilient, which he said has become a useful tool in the world of politics.
‘The problem is, we’re in a racket, where anytime I make a mistake, man it’s all over the AP. And that’s hard, right? And that’s why we’re cautious. But in that caution, perhaps, is the biggest mistake in politics and why people can’t stand (politicians) anymore,’ Newsom said.
But Newsom said people with dyslexia are ‘experts in mistakes.’
‘We’re like, pros,’ he said.
Ben & Emma’s Big Hit was released in bookstores nationwide on Tuesday, with the governor launching his east coast tour to support it
‘Help us inspire other kids to see their learning differences as gifts–rather than obstacles to overcome,’ the governor said in a statement, adding that all proceeds would go to charity
Newsom didn’t learn he was dyslexic until he was 10, when he discovered some medical evaluations about him in his mother’s room. His mother, who was single and worked multiple jobs to support him and his sister, had kept the diagnosis from him in an effort to protect him.
But Newsom said learning that he had the disability was a relief because he realized why he had been struggling in school and that it had nothing to do with his intelligence. The discovery taught him to overcompensate for his flaws – something he says he still does.
Newsom said he can’t read and understand anything without making notes, including underlining, circling and putting stars next to words.
But that makes it hard to read speeches in public, so he compensated by developing his memory. His annual news conference announcing his state budget proposal often lasts for more than two hours as Newsom, without notes, recites facts and figures he has painstakingly memorized.
‘You could ask me any budget number from last year – public education, $123.9 billion,’ Newsom said. ‘I have to be right because I have to overcompensate because I´m so often wrong. And so you just you learn you have to do more. You have to be more, you have to work harder. You have to, in order to compete.’
The book – printed in a special font designed to help dyslexic people read it more easily – has a baseball theme because, as a kid, Newsom said his self-esteem strengthened on the baseball diamond, where he saw the field of play better than words written on pages.
Newsom was good enough to get a partial baseball scholarship to Santa Clara University. He didn’t play much, but it allowed him to get a four-year degree, which Newsom said changed his life. After graduation, he founded a winery that grew to include a number of restaurants, wineries and retail stores before entering politics.
Now 54 with four young children, Newsom said he’s seeing dyslexia from a new parental perspective and that it has given him a deeper appreciation for his mother, Tessa Newsom.
She died in 2002 and there is a subtle homage to her in the book. One scene takes place in the hallway of the school. Above the door is the room number ‘5902,’ which corresponds to May 9, 2002, the day Newsom’s mother died.
‘It´s the one thing I never, you know, was able to express to her is a deep appreciation for what she did for me and how much she sacrificed and how hard that must have been for her,’ he said. ‘That’s what this book is about. It’s about authenticity. It’s about marching down your own path. It’s about making mistakes. It’s about not fearing failure.’