Florida’s Leaders Opposed Climate Aid. Now They’re Depending on It.

The New York Times

Florida’s Leaders Opposed Climate Aid. Now They’re Depending on It.

Christopher Flavelle and Jonathan Weisman – October 4, 2022

A helicopter carries evacuees from Pine Island, Fla., on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022. (Hilary Swift/The New York Times)
A helicopter carries evacuees from Pine Island, Fla., on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022. (Hilary Swift/The New York Times)

Hurricane Ian’s wrath made clear that Florida faces some of the most severe consequences of climate change anywhere in the country. But the state’s top elected leaders have opposed federal spending to help fortify states against and recover from climate disasters, as well as efforts to confront their underlying cause: the burning of fossil fuels.

Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott opposed last year’s bipartisan infrastructure law, which devotes some $50 billion to help states better prepare for events like Ian, because they said it was wasteful. And in August, they joined their fellow Republicans in the Senate to vote against a new climate law, which invests $369 billion in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the largest such effort in the country’s history.

At the same time, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has blocked the state’s pension fund from taking climate change into account when making investment decisions, saying that politics should be absent from financial calculations.

In the aftermath of Ian, those leaders want federal help to rebuild their state — but don’t want to discuss the underlying problem that is making hurricanes more powerful and destructive.

As Hurricane Ian approached Florida’s coast, the storm grew in intensity because it passed over ocean water that was 2 to 3 degrees warmer than normal for this time of year, NASA data show. Its destructive power was made worse by rising seas; the water off the southwest coast of Florida has risen more than 7 inches since 1965, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Finally, warmer air resulting from climate change increased the amount of rain that Ian dropped on Florida by at least 10%, or about 2 extra inches in some places, according to a study released last week.

Rubio has secured millions of dollars to restore the Everglades as a way to store floodwaters and repair coral reefs to buffer storm surges. One of his House colleagues, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a South Florida Republican, has secured billions for climate resiliency.

But none of the top Republicans in the state have supported legislation to curb the greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change.

With its sun and offshore wind, Florida could be a leader in renewable energy, said Rep. Kathy Castor, a Democrat who represents Tampa. Instead, it imports natural gas that it burns to produce electricity.

“To not admit that climate change is real and we need to address it bodes nothing but a harm for the future for Florida and the nation,” said Charlie Crist, a former Republican Florida governor who won a House seat as a Democrat and is now challenging DeSantis’ reelection.

Hurricane Ian is far from the first time Florida has felt the impacts of climate change. In Miami, the rising ocean means streets and sidewalks regularly flood during high tide, even on sunny days. In the Florida Keys, officials are looking at raising roadbeds that will otherwise become impassable.

Yet the state’s leaders have long resisted what scientists say is needed to stave off a catastrophic future: an aggressive pivot away from gas, oil and coal and toward solar, wind and other renewable energy sources.

“Attempting to reverse-engineer the U.S. economy to absolve our past climate sins — either through a carbon tax or some ‘Green New Deal’ scheme — will fail,” Rubio wrote in 2019. “None of those advocates can point to how even the most aggressive (and draconian) plan would improve the lives of Floridians.”

Scott, the former governor of Florida who is now the state’s junior senator, has argued the cost of attacking climate change is just too great.

“We clearly want to and need to address the impacts of climate change,” Scott told NPR last summer. “But we’ve got to do it in a fiscally responsible manner. We can’t put jobs at risk.”

Hurricane Ian could be among the costliest storms to hit Florida, with losses estimated in the tens of billions.

The two senators also voted against last year’s infrastructure bill, which provided about $50 billion toward climate resilience — the country’s largest single investment in measures designed to better protect people against the effects of climate change.

That bill, which passed the Senate with support from 19 Republicans, included measures designed to help protect against hurricanes. It provided billions for sea walls, storm pumps, elevating homes, flood control and other projects.

Many of those measures were co-written by another coastal Republican, Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, who called it “a major victory for Louisiana and our nation.” Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, also supported the bill. Both states face enormous threats from climate change.

But Rubio called it “wasteful,” while Scott said it was “reckless spending.” Both voted no.

Scott and DeSantis did not respond to requests for comment.

Dan Holler, a deputy chief of staff to Rubio, said the senator opposed the infrastructure bill because it included unnecessary measures, just as he opposed the final version of relief for Hurricane Sandy in 2013 because of what he called extraneous pork barrel spending.

But the larger issue, Holler said, is that those pushing broad measures to wean the nation from fossil fuels have yet to prove to Rubio that such efforts would actually slow sea level rise, calm storms or mitigate flooding.

Other Republicans offer similar explanations. Anna Paulina Luna, a Republican candidate expected to win the House district around Tampa Bay, spoke of the devastation she said she saw in Fort Myers, Pine Island and Sanibel Island.

“The damage is so catastrophic, we are going to need help,” she said Monday.

But Luna pushed back hard on the need to address climate change by cutting fossil fuel emissions. She called it “completely bonkers” that the United States would harm its own economy “while we send manufacturing to a country that is one of the top polluters of the world,” referring to China.

Crist sounded almost sympathetic as he discussed the bind that Florida Republicans find themselves in — accepting donations from the oil and gas industry, unwilling to raise the issue of climate change with their most loyal voters, while surveying the damage it is doing to their state.

The oil and gas industry is not a major source of campaign cash for politicians in Florida, where offshore drilling is prohibited. Rubio has received $223,239 from the oil and gas industry since 2017, which puts the industry at 15th on his donor list, federal records show. Scott has received $236,483 from oil and gas, his 14th most generous industry.

But the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which Scott leads, has received $3.2 million in oil and gas donations this campaign cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, eclipsed only by real estate, Wall Street and retirees. By contrast, the fossil fuel business isn’t among the top 20 industries that have given this cycle to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

“There’s an ‘ideological versus reality’ divide here that must be very excruciating to these Republican politicians,” Crist said.

Republicans in the state have taken steps to fund climate resilience and adaptation efforts but shy away from using the term “climate.” In 2017, Diaz-Balart, then the Republican chair of the House appropriations subcommittee that funds housing programs, secured $12 billion for “mitigation” measures in block grants to states and communities, $1.4 billion of that for Florida. The word “climate” did not appear in the definition of “mitigation.”

“If you’re from Florida, you should be leading on climate and environmental policy, and Republicans are still reticent to do that because they’re worried about primary politics,” Carlos Curbelo, a former Republican congressman from South Florida. “But on this, the consequences are so serious, it’s worth putting politics aside and addressing climate head on.”

While DeSantis announced a program last year to provide $1 billion over four years to local governments to address flooding, rising seas and other challenges, he has blocked his state’s pension plan from accounting for the environmental performance of companies in making investment decisions.

“We are prioritizing the financial security of the people of Florida over whimsical notions of a utopian tomorrow,” DeSantis said in a statement announcing the decision.

DeSantis’ record on other climate decisions may also come back to haunt him. As a congressman in 2013, he voted against a bill to provide extra disaster aid to victims of Hurricane Sandy — the same type of extra support that Florida is now seeking for Ian.

On Friday, Rubio and Scott wrote to their Senate colleagues asking them to support a package of disaster aid. Like DeSantis, Rubio opposed a similar measure after Sandy struck the Northeast in 2012. (Scott had not yet been elected to the Senate.)

Yoca Arditi-Rocha, executive director of the CLEO Institute, a nonprofit group in Florida that promotes climate change education, advocacy and resilience, said the state’s top elected officials need to do much more than react after disaster strikes.

“Florida will continue to be on the front lines of more destructive hurricanes fueled by a warming climate,” Arditi-Rocha said. “We need Republican leaders to step up.”

Nicolle Wallace Slams Wall Street Journal’s Condemnation Of Trump

HuffPost

Nicolle Wallace Slams Wall Street Journal’s Condemnation Of Trump

Lee Moran – October 4, 2022

The conservative Wall Street Journal’s condemnation of Donald Trump over his latest violent rhetoric rang somewhat hollow for MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace.

On Monday’s broadcast of “Deadline: White House,” Wallace welcomed the Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper’s denunciation of Trump’s suggestion on his Truth Social platform that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has a “DEATH WISH” for supporting “Democrat sponsored Bills.”

But the Journal was “seven years too late to the parade,” Wallace said, pointing out its past support of Trump. The Journal has repeatedlyflip-flopped on Trump and last year even published a letter to the editor from him containing unchecked conspiracy theories about the 2020 election.

The Journal did “more laundering and legitimizing of Donald Trump’s presidency than perhaps any other outlet,” said Wallace, who was the White House communications director for former President George W. Bush.

“They’re as culpable as any news organization in this country for his presidency and his ongoing viability as a political figure,” she added.

In its editorial, the publication’s board warned of real-life consequences to Trump’s words.

It wrote:

Mr. Trump’s apologists claim he merely meant Mr. McConnell has a political death wish, but that isn’t what he wrote. It’s all too easy to imagine some fanatic taking Mr. Trump seriously and literally, and attempting to kill Mr. McConnell. Many supporters took Mr. Trump’s rhetoric about former Vice President Mike Pence all too seriously on Jan. 6.

Republican’s Plan if They Take Back the Congress in November

CNN: Previously Published

26 things Rick Scott’s ‘rescue’ plan for America would do

(October 4, 2022) – Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large February 23, 2022

01 Rick Scott FILE 1118

Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesCNN — 

Florida Sen. Rick Scott kicked off the 2024 2022 campaign on Tuesday by releasing an 11-point plan “to rescue America.”

“If Republicans return to Washington’s business as usual, if we have no bigger plan than to be a speed bump on the road to America’s collapse, we don’t deserve to govern,” Scott wrote in the plan’s introduction. “We must resolve to aim higher than the Republican Congresses that came before us. Americans deserve to know what we will do.”

Scott’s decision to put his name to a series of specific proposals for what Republicans could and should do if they retake the Senate and House this fall stands in direct contrast to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has pointedly refused to offer an alternative policy agenda.

When asked last month what the GOP’s agenda would be if they took control of Congress, McConnell told reporters: “That is a very good question and I’ll let you know when we take it back.”

Scott seems to acknowledge the fact that he is rebelling against his party leadership, writing: “Like the ‘Contract with America’ before it, the Washington insiders will hate this plan.” (The Contract with America was the Republican agenda unveiled during the 1994 midterms, when the GOP won control of the House.)

Why did Scott do it then? Well, at least in part (a large part) because of politics. Scott, the former governor of Florida who was elected to the Senate in 2018, has his eye on bigger prizes. He’s currently serving as the chairman of the Senate Republican campaign arm and has done very little to knock down talk that he would be interested in a presidential bid down the line.

This plan feels like the sort of thing that could become the basis of a Scott presidential run, whether in 2024 or 2028.

So what’s actually in the plan? A fair amount of it is just red-meat rhetoric sure to make the base of the party happy. But amid the spin – and the attacks on Democrats, “wokeness” and the media – there are some actual policy proposals. Let’s go through them.

1. Kids in public schools would say the Pledge of Allegiance and be required to stand for the National Anthem. They also would have to “honor” the American flag.

2. The Department of Education would close. “Education is a state function,” wrote Scott.

3. The government would never be able to ask you to disclose your race, ethnicity or skin color “on any government form.” (On a related note, the US Census Bureau is on line one, Sen. Scott.)

4. The US military would engage in “ZERO diversity training” or “any woke ideological indoctrination that divides our troops.”

5. If a college or university uses affirmative action in admissions, it would be “ineligible for federal funding and will lose their tax-exempt status.”

6. “Strict” mandatory minimum sentences would be required in every case in which a police officer is seriously injured.

7. Any “attempt to deny our 2nd Amendment freedoms” would be strongly opposed.

8. The wall along the US southern border would be completed and named after former President Donald Trump.

9. Immigrants to the US would not be able to collect unemployment benefits or welfare until they have lived in the country for seven years.

10. So-called sanctuary cities would be stripped of all federal funding.

11. The federal budget would be balanced and, if not, members of Congress would not be paid.

12. All Americans would pay some income tax “to have skin in the game.” (At present, roughly half of Americans do not pay taxes because their taxable income doesn’t meet a minimum threshold.)

13. Federal debt ceiling increases would be prohibited unless accompanied by a declaration of war.

14. All federally elected officials, as well as all federal workers, would be subject to a 12-year term limit.

15 All federal legislation would have a sunset provision five years after it passes. (People currently on Social Security or Medicare might be particularly interested in that one.)

16. Funding for the IRS, as well as its workforce, would be cut by 50%.

17. Politicians would be banned from becoming lobbyists when they leave office.

18. Voter ID would become the law of the land. “All arguments against voter ID are in favor of fraud,” according to Scott.

19. Same-day voter registration would be banned.

20. “No federal program or tax laws will reward people for being unmarried or discriminate against marriage.”

21. No government form would offer options related to “gender identity” or “sexual preference”

22. Biological males would be banned from competing in women’s sports.

23. “All social media platforms that censor speech and cancel people will be treated like publishers and subject to legal action.”

24. No tax dollars could be used for “diversity training or other woke indoctrination that is hostile to faith.”

25. No dues would be paid to the United Nations or “any international organization that undermines the national interests of the USA.”

26. “The weather is always changing. We take climate change seriously, but not hysterically. We will not adopt nutty policies that harm our economy or our jobs.”

There’s more in there, but those are the main points.

It’s an attempt – both rhetorically and from a policy perspective – to make permanent many of the changes that Trump ushered in during his four years in office. It’s a promise of all the things you liked about Trump without some of the bombast and unpredictability. It’s a blueprint for Trumpism without Trump.

‘DEATH WISH’? What Trump and his wannabes did in one weekend should scare us all.

USA Today

‘DEATH WISH’? What Trump and his wannabes did in one weekend should scare us all.

Rex Huppke, USA TODAY – October 3, 2022

In the Republican Party of Donald Trump and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, only those faithful to Trump’s cult-like MAGA movement are safe.

Democrats are called the enemy, labeled killers. And even Republicans who don’t embrace MAGA dogma – any lost election was stolen, Trump is always right . – have a death wish.

Trump, the current front-runner for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination should he decide to run, took to Truth Social on Friday night and attacked Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell because he voted for legislation sponsored by Democrats: “He has a DEATH WISH.”

Trump threatens McConnell, hurls racist nickname at Elaine Chao

Trump then launched a racist attack on McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, who served in Trump’s Cabinet when he was president: “Must immediately seek help and advise from his China loving wife, Coco Chow!”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and his wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, in 2020.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and his wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, in 2020.

We know from Jan. 6, 2021, that Trump has potentially violent followers who take cues from him, so there’s no way to see the “DEATH WISH” comment as anything more than a veiled threat.

With racist garbage about the wife of a high-ranking member of the party Trump claims to represent, the former president shows the world his true nature for the 10 millionth time. And by misspelling “advice” as “advise,” Trump shows the world, also for the 10 millionth time, that he can’t be bothered with little things like attention to detail.

Michigan Republicans line up to kiss Trump’s ring

This is dangerous rhetoric, but rather than stand up to it, many Republicans remained silent over the weekend. In fact, several Republicans joined Trump at a Saturday rally in Michiganincluding GOP candidates for the state’s three highest offices: Tudor Dixon, running for governor; Matthew DePerno, running for attorney general; and Kristina Karamo, running for secretary of state.

Greene, of Georgia, was also there and, as if to impress Trump with violent rhetoric of her own, told the crowd: “I’m not going to mince words with you all. Democrats want Republicans dead, and they have already started the killings.”

That is absolute insanity. And like Trump’s comments directed at McConnell, it’s sickeningly dangerous. Not to mention false.

Trump and Greene make it clear that no one disloyal is safe

Saying a Republican has a “DEATH WISH” because he did his job and voted for legislation puts a target on the back of that Republican. Saying Democrats “have already started the killings” provides a justification for violence against anyone who happens to be a Democrat. Openly spouting a racist nickname against a woman of Asian heritage tells people, during a time of rising anti-Asian hate crimes, that it’s OK to be hateful.

Former President Donald Trump and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene at a golf tournament in Bedminster, N.J., on July 30, 2022.
Former President Donald Trump and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene at a golf tournament in Bedminster, N.J., on July 30, 2022.

And this all happened over the course of TWO DAYS!

Republicans keep their mouths shut in face of Trump’s hatefulness

Any serious response from so-called reasonable Republican elected leaders? Nope. GOP Sen. Rick Scott, asked several times about Trump’s words, told CNN he doesn’t “condone violence” and added the useless, mealy mouthed comment: “I hope no one is racist.”

How courageous. Republican leaders won’t say a thing, even to defend themselves, even when it’s clear Trump and his MAGA minions have loyalty only to themselves.

For the sizable swath of voters and politicians who remain loyal to Trump despite his falling approval numbers, this is not the behavior of a political party. This is the behavior of a cult: fealty to one individual; zero tolerance for any who stray from the core beliefs; threats of violence toward any who step out of line; characterizing those who disagree as existential threats.

MAGA followers think you are not a Democrat; you are a member of a party now actively killing Republicans. You are not a mainstream conservative; you are a person with a death wish.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2022.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2022.
How can Americans of good conscious not come together to shut this down?

How is it possible those of us who see how wildly messed up this all is can’t come together as one in condemnation? How is it possible for Republicans to continue supporting a malignant figure who would unleash his hateful hounds on them in a heartbeat?

As Trump and pathetic wannabes like Greene have committed outrage after outrage after outrage, each time sinking to new depths, there’s a common refrain: Ignore them. Don’t give them the attention they crave.

Like it or not, Trump and Greene have power and stand to gain more

That’s fine if you’re fending off a meaningless internet troll, but as I’ve said already, Trump is likely to be the next Republican candidate for president. And he is, of course, a former president. He’s not nobody.

Greene is a big-time fundraiser for Republicans and someone routinely praised by Trump and revered by his loyal followers. As much as we’d like her to be nobody, she’s not.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga.

These cartoonish MAGA knuckleheads have power, and if we don’t denounce them, if we don’t vote them into oblivion, they stand to gain more. Real danger could follow because as they made clear over just one weekend, they will come for you if you’re an apostate Republican. They will come for you if you’re a Democrat because they’ll be told you’re coming for them.

Let’s stop dancing around it and call the MAGA movement what it is

They will come for any who question them. Because they’re not a political movement..

They’re a dangerous and swiftly worsening cult.

And they need to be denounced by everyone, including Republicans who still value basic human decency. Then they need to be rejected by voters, en masse and with thunderous force.

Marjorie Taylor Greene deceptively tells Trump rally that Democrat ‘killings’ of Republicans have already started

Insider

Marjorie Taylor Greene deceptively tells Trump rally that Democrat ‘killings’ of Republicans have already started

Joshua Zitser – October 2, 2022

Majorie Taylor Greene waves to the crowd before she makes speaks during a Save America rally on October 1, 2022 in Warren, Michigan. Emily Elconin/Getty Images
Marjorie Taylor Greene deceptively tells Trump rally that Democrat ‘killings’ of Republicans have already started

Marjorie Taylor Greene spoke at a rally for Donald Trump in Michigan on Saturday night.

A video shows her accusing Democrats of murdering Republicans, saying the “killings” have already begun.

She referenced two local stories, neither of which appear to back the claim that Republicans are being hunted down.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene deceptively claimed at a rally for former President Donald Trump in Warren, Michigan, on Saturday that Democrats are murdering Republicans.

“I’m not going to mince words with you all,” Greene said. “Democrats want Republicans dead. They’ve already started the killings.”

Greene, who has repeatedly spread bizarre conspiracy theories, went on to reference two local news stories to support her baseless claim that Democrats are hunting down GOP voters.

“An 18-year-old was run down by a Democrat driver who confessed to killing the teenager simply because he was a Republican,” said Greene. The claim was met with boos from the crowd.

Greene appears to be referring to an incident in North Dakota in which a man fatally struck a teenager with his SUV. The 41-year-old suspect, who fled the fatal crash scene, told police that he believed the 18-year-old victim was “part of a Republican extremist group” and had been “threatening him,” per Dailymail.com.

However, North Dakota Highway Patrol Captain Bryan Niewind told Fox News that his department’s investigations have “uncovered no evidence to support the claim” that the murder had anything to do with politics or that the victim was a Republican.

Greene also referenced an 83-year-old woman in Michigan who was “shot in the back for advocating for the unborn.”

It refers to another local story in which a Michigan man reportedly shot an elderly pro-life volunteer who he said refused to leave his property. The unnamed canvasser got into a “screaming” match with the man’s wife over abortion, per Fox News. The Michigan man, speaking to News 8, said he shot the 83-year-old by “accident” after accusing her several times of trespassing.

It is not known whether the Michigan man is a Democrat. The elderly woman survived. Michigan State Police is investigating the incident.

Greene continued her speech by making additional incendiary remarks. “Joe Biden has declared every freedom-loving American an enemy of the state,” she said.

It was Trump who used this specific terminology, referring to President Joe Biden as an “enemy of the state” during a rally in Pennsylvania last month.

“We will take back our country from the communists who have stolen it and want us to disappear,” she continued. “We will expose the unelected bureaucrats, the real enemies within, who have abused their power and have declared political warfare on the greatest president this country has ever had.”

Insider contacted Greene for comment but did not immediately receive a response.

Kagan warns the Supreme Court must ‘act like a court’ to keep Americans’ faith

USA Today

Kagan warns the Supreme Court must ‘act like a court’ to keep Americans’ faith

John Fritze, USA TODAY – October 1, 2022

WASHINGTON – Associate Justice Elena Kagan isn’t waiting to get back onto the Supreme Court’s bench before posing some tough questions.

As the high court readied itself for another consequential term, Kagan used a series of public appearances to describe how she believes the court should function – and to warn that Americans will lose faith if the institution is viewed as another political branch.

It goes without saying that the former solicitor general and dean of Harvard Law School chose her words carefully, declining to cite by name the landmark decision in June  to overturn Roe v. Wade, for instance, or a major ruling days later that has left many gun regulations in states across the country on shaky ground under the Second Amendment.

But one need not squint too hard to see Kagan’s meaning.

“The court shouldn’t be wandering around just inserting itself into every hot button issue in America, and it especially, you know, shouldn’t be doing that in a way that reflects one ideology or one…set of political views over another,” she said Sept. 19 during a question-and-answer session at Salve Regina University in Rhode Island.

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Elena Kagan addresses the crowd alongside Jim Ludes, vice president for strategic initiatives at Salve Regina University, during a visit to the school's campus on Monday, Sept. 19, 2022.
U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Elena Kagan addresses the crowd alongside Jim Ludes, vice president for strategic initiatives at Salve Regina University, during a visit to the school’s campus on Monday, Sept. 19, 2022.

Roberts: Chief Justice defends Supreme Court’s legitimacy post-Roe

Guns: Trump banned bump stocks after deadly Las Vegas shooting. Now the issue is in the Supreme Court’s hands

“A court does best when it keeps to the legal issues, when it doesn’t allow personal political views, personal policy views to an affect or infect, its judging,” said Kagan, who was nominated by President Barack Obama in 2010. “And the worst moments for the court have been times when judges have allowed that to happen.”

Kagan made a nearly identical point a week earlier at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law and again at an earlier event in New York.

Her remarks come after a term in which the court’s 6-3 conservative majority consistently decided the biggest cases – on abortionguns and religion – in ways that aligned closely to conservative political ideology. The rulings caused outrage on the left, led to protests outside some of the justices’ homes and sent the court’s approval rating into a tailspin.

Opinion: How should Republicans answer questions about abortion? Stand firm on the side of life.

The high court begins hearing cases during its new term on Oct. 3. On the docket so far: whether universities may consider race in admissions, whether certain matrimonial businesses may turn away customers seeking services for their same-sex weddings, and how much oversight state legislatures will have in setting the rules for federal elections

Only 28% of Americans have a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the Supreme Court, down from 39% two years ago, according to a Marquette Law School poll in July.  That poll found that approval of the court had fallen to 38% compared with 66% in 2020.

Abortion: Alito dismisses criticism from global leaders of decision overturning Roe

Chief Justice John Roberts defended the court’s work last month, arguing that while its opinions are open to criticism from the public, the institution’s legitimacy shouldn’t be called into question “simply because people disagree with an opinion.”

Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan participates in a panel discussion with Hari Osofsky, dean of the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, in the Law School's Thorne Auditorium, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022.
Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan participates in a panel discussion with Hari Osofsky, dean of the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, in the Law School’s Thorne Auditorium, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022.

In the abortion case, Roberts voted to uphold a Mississippi law that banned most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, but he – unlike the five other conservative justices – did not see the need to overturn Roe. The chief justice joined his conservative colleagues in the Second Amendment case.

“Lately, the criticism is phrased in terms of, you know, because of these opinions, it calls into question the legitimacy of the court,” Roberts said at a judicial conference in Colorado. “If they want to say that its legitimacy is in question, they’re free to do so. But I don’t understand the connection between opinions that people disagree with and the legitimacy of the court.”

That view has drawn pushback from critics who say it’s only partly about the outcome of individual cases. It’s also the case, they say, that the high court repeatedly upheld its  1973 Roe v. Wade decision until former President Donald Trump nominated and won confirmation for three justices, giving conservatives a super majority. Trump repeatedly promised to nominate judges who would overturn Roe v. Wade.

Without mentioning Roberts, Kagan indicated her point was broader: That Americans need to have confidence the Supreme Court’s decisions are based on judicial philosophies and doctrines that are applied evenly – regardless of whether the outcome matches the party platform of the president who nominated the justices in the majority.    

“The thing that builds up reservoirs of public confidence is…the court acting like a court and not acting like an extension of the political process,” she said.

“I’m not talking about the popularity of particular Supreme Court decisions,” Kagan said at the Northwestern event last week. “What I am talking about is what gives the people in our country a sort of underlying sense that the court is doing its job.”

The US Navy said ‘traces’ of jet fuel were found in the water on the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz. A sailor says the problem was way worse.

Business Insider

The US Navy said ‘traces’ of jet fuel were found in the water on the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz. A sailor says the problem was way worse.

Jake Epstein – October 1, 2022

Washing down on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz
Washing down on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz.US Navy
  • The US Navy said it found only “traces” of jet fuel in the water on the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz.
  • But a sailor told Insider that they were exposed to an “unhealthy amount” of fuel and shared a photo as evidence.
  • They also said they didn’t immediately receive medical attention, despite health concerns.

The US Navy acknowledged recently that the water the crew of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz uses to bathe and drink was contaminated by what it described as “traces” of jet fuel, but a sailor on the ship said the situation was worse than the service first let on.

The crew learned about two weeks ago that the water supply had a problem. Specifically, the water had become a troublingly discolored fluid with a bad smell, a sailor said. Testing found what the Navy said were “detectable traces” of hydrocarbons, a chemical component of jet fuel.

In a recent interview with Insider, a sailor aboard the ship described a situation that appears to be far worse than what was initially indicated by the Navy.

“We were exposed to an unhealthy amount of JP-5,” the Nimitz sailor, whose identity is known to Insider but is being withheld due to concerns about the possibility of retribution, said this week. JP-5, or jet-propellant-5, is a kerosene-based fuel that is used in military aircraft and is a go-to for the Navy’s carrier air wings.

Related video: The true cost of the most advanced aircraft carrier, USS Ford

 https://s.yimg.com/rx/martini/builds/49027198/executor.htmlScroll back up to restore default view.

The sailor explained that although they and their shipmates drank and showered with the contaminated water, they were initially denied medical attention for issues that were believed to be related to their exposure to jet fuel.

After earlier Navy assurances there had been no ill effects, a spokesman for 3rd Fleet told Insider on Friday that five sailors have reported health issues that could be related to the contamination and that the ship’s leadership is monitoring the situation. In an overnight update, Insider was informed the number has since risen to 10.

Cmdr. Sean Robertson, a fleet spokesperson, told Insider on Friday that “if we receive any additional reports of potentially contaminated water, we will immediately investigate and take appropriate action to safeguard the crew.” The parents of the sailor Insider spoke with said at that time that the carrier’s medical team was still turning away some sailors.

Discovering jet fuel in the water

The sailor said they were first informed there was jet fuel in the water on the evening of September 16. A Navy spokesperson confirmed this date to Task & Purpose, one of the outlets that along with Navy Times first reported on the problem, and said that the crew “immediately took action.”

The sailor said that the ship’s commanding officer announced to the ship that night that jet fuel had been discovered in the water, stressing that the crew of roughly 3,000 should not drink it and that they should drink only distributed bottled water until they returned to port.

The sailor said that later that night, however, they were told by the ship’s executive officer and the commanding officer that the water was actually safe to drink and that there was nothing to worry about.

“It was not safe to drink,” the sailor said. “People believed the CO and XO, and people were showering in this stuff.”

On the morning of September 17, the aircraft carrier arrived at San Diego’s Naval Air Station North Island, and by noon, the carrier was connected to the local water supply. It wasn’t until that point that the Nimitz leadership reversed course again and said the water was actually unsafe to drink and shower in, the sailor said.

Throughout the night and through the morning, people were under the impression that the water was safe, despite indications that it wasn’t, the sailor said.

“Medical was refusing to see patients or acknowledge that anything going on with patients or different sailors had anything related to the JP-5,” the sailor said, adding that medical staff “refused” to note the JP-5 exposure in sailors’ records.

The Nimitz sailor said that one fellow service member was throwing up while another had a rash. In a separate interview with Insider, the sailor’s parents — whose identities are also known to Insider but are being withheld to protect the sailor — said they noticed their sailor had developed a dry cough after the exposure.

“Medical was telling us that it’ll just pass through you,” the sailor said. They said that after reviewing a safety data sheet, which has information about hazardous chemicals, and cross-referencing their jet fuel exposure, it was clear they should seek medical attention.

Sailors participate in a countermeasure wash down on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz
Sailors participate in a countermeasure wash down on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz.US Navy
Testing the water

The sailor explained that when the ship’s water tanks were opened for inspection late on September 17, a “thick layer of JP-5 on top of the potable water” was found. The next step was trying to flush the jet fuel out of the system.

They said that starting the next day on September 18, crewmembers began conducting taste- and smell-tests of the ship’s water — a process that continued for at least the following 10 days and something the sailor described as a “big concern.”

Though Cmdr. Robertson did not say anything about taste testing, he did tell Insider that a “sniffer team” of Nimitz sailors has been tasked with checking out “hot spots,” areas with concerning odors.

The process described by the sailor involved filling and then dumping the water tanks and then sampling the water for jet fuel. In draining the tank, however, they frequently spotted the fuel leaving residue along the sides of the tank.

“So basically what we’re doing is draining the water out, filling it back up, and letting the JP-5 coat the sides of the tank,” the sailor said.

By September 21, the water on the carrier had been laboratory-tested twice.

A Navy official told Insider that an initial test of water samples from September 19 did not “detect measurable amounts of fuel hydrocarbons.” The official said more testing on water samples from the Nimitz’s potable water tanks on September 21, however, did reveal “detectable traces of hydrocarbons.” The Navy did not disclose the specific amount detected.

But the sailor rejected the notion that there were only “traces” of jet fuel, pointing to the “thick layer” of fuel they saw on top of the water in samples.

The aircraft carrier was supposed to depart San Diego late last week, but it ended up staying in port. The sailor speculated that this may have been because of media coverage and attention, which they said is what initially triggered the laboratory tests — not the crew’s suspicion that there was still jet fuel in the water.

To highlight the visible impact of the jet fuel contaminating the water, the sailor’s family provided Insider with a screenshot of a text exchange between the parents and the sailor.

A screenshot of a text exchange with a photo of a sample of what was identified as water from the USS Nimitz contaminated with jet fuel.
A screenshot of a text exchange with a photo of a sample of what a sailor said was water from the USS Nimitz contaminated with jet fuel.Courtesy photo

In the exchange is a photograph, shared with the sailor by a shipmate. The photo was taken shortly after it was first announced that there was jet fuel in the water, the sailor said, and appears to show a water sample — drawn from a water fountain — consisting of a thick, green, layer on the top and a murky, white layer on the bottom.

Working through the aftermath

The sailor said that as of this week, some of their fellow Navy sailors were still drinking and showering with the contaminated water because “we don’t have much of another option.”

The shore water looks clear and has gotten better, they said, but the smell and taste of jet fuel still lingers, as residual amounts continue to stick to the water tanks and piping.

“So the only way we can get all the contamination out of the tank is by completely draining it and scrubbing it, because the way JP-5 sticks to metal,” the sailor said.

Cmdr. Robertson told Insider in an email on Friday that the potable water system on the Nimitz continues to be evaluated so sailors get the “highest quality water” when the ship eventually leaves San Diego.

“The health and well-being of all of our Sailors is our top priority,” he added. “To that end, Nimitz leadership encourages the crew daily to report to medical immediately if they exhibit any illness or injury that could potentially be caused by exposure to contaminated water.”

As of Friday, Robertson said, 10 sailors have reported health issues that “could be associated with JP-5 ingestion, with no new reports in the last 24 hours.”

He said symptoms — which include headache, diarrhea, and rashes — were present between September 17 and September 26. None of those individuals are “currently reporting any symptoms that might be associated with JP-5 ingestion,” he said.

The parents of the sailor with which Insider spoke said in a separate interview that they have been reaching out to various lawmakers to try and voice their concerns, but they haven’t had much luck getting responses.

“Serving this country is a privilege,” one parent said. “But in return, I expect the leadership to support the soldiers and the sailors and to take care of them.”

Hurricane Ian could cripple Florida’s home insurance industry

ABC News

Hurricane Ian could cripple Florida’s home insurance industry

Alexis Christoforous – September 29, 2022

Hurricane Ian could cripple Florida’s already-fragile homeowners insurance market. Experts say a major storm like Ian could push some of those insurance companies into insolvency, making it harder for people to collect on claims.

Since January 2020, at least a dozen insurance companies in the state have gone out of business, including six this year alone. Nearly 30 others are on the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation’s “Watch List” because of financial instability.

“Hurricane Ian will test the financial preparedness of some insurers to cover losses to their portfolios, in particular smaller Florida carriers with high exposure concentrations in the impacted areas,” Jeff Waters, an analyst at Moody’s Analytics subsidiary RMS and a meteorologist, told ABC News. Waters said Florida is a peak catastrophe zone for reinsurers, and those with exposure will likely incur meaningful losses.

PHOTO: This aerial photo shows damaged homes and debris in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers, Fla.  (Wilfredo Lee/AP)
PHOTO: This aerial photo shows damaged homes and debris in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers, Fla. (Wilfredo Lee/AP)

More than 1 million homes on the Florida Gulf Coast are in the storm’s path, and while Ian’s track and severity can change in the coming days, one early estimate pegs the potential reconstruction cost at $258 billion, according to Corelogic, a property analytics firm.

Industry analysts say years of rampant and frivolous litigation and scams have brought Florida’s home-insurance market to its knees, with many large insurers like Allstate and State Farm, reducing their exposure to the state in the past decade.

MORE: What Hurricane Ian means for food and gas prices

“Insurers most exposed to the storm will be the Florida-only insurers, which we define as insurance companies with at least 75% of their homeowners and commercial property premiums written in Florida,” according to a report from Moody’s Analytics submitted to ABC News.

The state-run, taxpayer-subsidized Citizens Property Insurance Corp. stands to lose the most. As more local insurance companies in Florida have closed their doors, Citizens has seen its number of policyholders swell from 700,000 to more than 1 million in just the past year.

Florida state Sen. Jeff Brandes, a Republican from St. Petersburg and a vocal critic of Florida’s insurance industry, warns that if Citizens can’t pay its claims, Floridians should brace for assessments to go up on their own insurance policies under a state law that allows it to assess non-customers to pay out claims.

“Every policy holder in the state of Florida, home and auto, should be watching this storm very carefully because it could have a direct impact on their pocketbooks,” said Brandes. He predicts policy holders will see rate hikes of up to 40% next year as a result of Ian.

A spokesperson for Citizens tells ABC News that if their preliminary estimate of 225,000 claims and $3.8 billion in losses holds, the insurer of last resort would be in a position to pay all claims without having to levy a “hurricane tax” on residents.

Florida is already home to the highest insurance premiums in the U.S., something Charlie Crist, the former Florida governor running against incumbent Gov. Ron DeSantis, blames on his opponent.

“Gov. DeSantis let these insurance companies double Floridians’ rates and they’re still going belly up when homeowners need them most. You pay and pay and pay, and the insurance company isn’t there for you in the end anyway,” Crist said in a statement Monday.

A spokesperson for DeSantis did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

In May, DeSantis signed a bipartisan property insurance reform bill into law that poured $2 billion into a reinsurance relief program and $150 million into a grant program for hurricane retrofitting. Among other things, it prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage based on the age of a roof and limits attorney fees on frivolous claims and lawsuits.

At a news conference Tuesday, DeSantis said a lot of the damage from Ian would be from flooding and storm surge. DeSantis said the danger with the Tampa Bay area is that the water has no place to go, noting that the area has close to 1 million residents enrolled in a national flood insurance program.

PHOTO: A man begins cleaning up after Hurricane Ian moved through the Gulf Coast of Florida on Sept. 29, 2022 in Punta Gorda, Fla. (Win Mcnamee/Getty Images)
PHOTO: A man begins cleaning up after Hurricane Ian moved through the Gulf Coast of Florida on Sept. 29, 2022 in Punta Gorda, Fla. (Win Mcnamee/Getty Images)

Homeowner policies typically do not cover flood damage, and most homeowners located in a flood zone often get coverage from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Most private property insurance companies insure primarily for wind damage.

President Joe Biden on Thursday approved DeSantis’ request for a disaster declaration for a number of counties in the state. It includes grants for temporary housing and home repairs and low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses.

MORE: Biden coordinates with DeSantis and Fla. officials, warns oil companies as Hurricane Ian hits

“The expense will be higher because of higher construction costs and overall inflation,” Denise Rappmund, the vice president of Moody’s Public Project and Infrastructure Finance Group, told ABC News. “FEMA is the key source of aid following a natural disaster, but much of the costs to repair and rebuild damaged property will be borne by property insurers who will benefit from $2 billion of state-funded reinsurance.”

Analysts say Hurricane Ian has the potential to be among the four costliest storms in U.S. history, mostly because Florida’s population has exploded in recent years.

No state in the eastern U.S. has grown faster in population than Florida in the past decade and the state’s fastest growing cities: Tampa, Fort Myers and Sarasota, are all in the storm’s path. Analysts warn that more people and more homes mean that a major storm could become more destructive and costly.

Trump suffers setback as appeals panel rejects Cannon ruling

Politico

Trump suffers setback as appeals panel rejects Cannon ruling

Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein – September 21, 2022

AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

A three-judge appeals court panel has granted the Justice Department’s request to block aspects of U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon’s ruling that delayed a criminal investigation into highly sensitive documents seized from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.

The panel ruled that Cannon, a Trump appointee, erred when she temporarily prevented federal prosecutors from using the roughly 100 documents — marked as classified – recovered from Trump’s estate as part of a criminal inquiry.

Trump “has not even attempted to show that he has a need to know the information contained in the classified documents,” the panel ruled in a 29-page decision. “Nor has he established that the current administration has waived that requirement for these documents.”

Two of the three judges on the panel, Andrew Brasher and Britt Grant, were appointed to the court by Trump. The third, Robin Rosenbaum, was appointed by President Barack Obama. In the unanimous decision, the judges declared it “self-evident” that the public interest favored allowing the Justice Department to determine whether any of the records were improperly disclosed, risking national security damage.

“For our part, we cannot discern why Plaintiff would have an individual interest in or need for any of the one-hundred documents with classification markings,” the appeals court wrote in an opinion that listed no individual judge as the author.

While Cannon speculated in her ruling that allowing investigators continued access to the documents could result in leaks of their contents, the appeals panel brushed aside that concern.

“Permitting the United States to retain the documents does not suggest that they will be released; indeed, a purpose of the United States’s efforts in investigating the recovered classified documents is to limit unauthorized disclosure of the information they contain,” the appeals judges wrote. “Not only that, but any authorized official who makes an improper disclosure risks her own criminal liability.”

The 11th Circuit’s rules appear to preclude any attempt to ask the full bench of that court to reconsider the government’s motion, but Trump could seek emergency relief from the Supreme Court.

Trump attorney Christopher Kise did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the ruling.

The appeals court’s opinion was unsparing toward Cannon and replete with indications that the appeals judges took a vastly different approach to the document fight than she did.

Trump’s legal team, Cannon and even a senior judge that she appointed as a special master have generally referred to the national-security documents at issue as “marked classified,” deferring at least to a degree to Trump’s claim that he declassified all the records found at Mar-a-Lago, despite a lack of evidence buttressing his assertion. But the appeals court panel took a different approach, often referring without qualification to the records as “classified.”

They also characterized the public dispute over potential declassification of the documents as a “red herring,” contending that even if true, “that would not explain why [Trump] has a personal interest in them.”

Throughout their ruling, the three judges made clear they had little patience for Trump’s freewheeling claims about the status of the 100 documents, noting that he had presented no evidence to support those public assertions. And they noted drily that there’s a common sense reason for documents to include classified markings.

“Classified documents are marked to show they are classified, for instance, with their classification level,” the panel observed.

The timing of the appeals court’s decision, coming less than 24 hours after the parties’ completed legal briefing on the issue, also signaled that the panel viewed the question as straightforward.

Rising homelessness is tearing California cities apart

Politico

Rising homelessness is tearing California cities apart

Lara Korte and Jeremy B. White – September 21, 2022

Jae C. Hong/AP Photo

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A crew of state workers arrived early one hot summer day to clear dozens of people camped under a dusty overpass near California’s Capitol. The camp’s residents gathered their tents, coolers and furniture and shifted less than 100 feet across the street to city-owned land, where they’ve been ever since.

But maybe not for much longer.

The city of Sacramento is taking a harder line on homeless encampments, and is expected to start enforcing a new ban on public camping by the end of the month — if the courts allow.

As the pandemic recedes, elected officials across deep-blue California are reacting to intense public pressure to erase the most visible signs of homelessness. Democratic leaders who once would have been loath to forcibly remove people from sidewalks, parks and alongside highways are increasingly imposing camping bans, often while framing the policies as compassionate.

“Enforcement has its place,” said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, a Democrat who has spent much of the past year trying to soothe public anger in a city that has seen its unsheltered homeless population surpass that of San Francisco — 5,000 in the most recent count compared with San Francisco’s 4,400. “I think it’s right for cities to say, ‘You know, there are certain places where it’s just not appropriate to camp.'”

Steinberg is one of many California Democrats who have long focused their efforts to curb homelessness on services and shelter, but now find themselves backing more punitive measures as the problem encroaches on public feelings of peace and safety. It’s a striking shift for a state where 113,000 people sleep outdoors on any given night, per the latest statewide analysis released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2020. California’s relatively mild climate makes it possible to live outdoors year-round, and more than half of the nation’s unsheltered homeless people live here.

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom recently announced the state had cleared 1,200 encampments in the past year, attempting to soften the message with a series of visits to social service programs. But without enough beds to shelter unhoused people, advocates say efforts to clear encampments are nothing more than cosmetic political stunts that essentially shuffle the problem from street corner to another.

Steinberg, a liberal Democrat who resisted forcibly removing people until more shelters can come online, has for more than 20 years championed mental health and substance abuse programs as ways to get people off the street. But such programs have been largely unable to keep up with the rising number of homeless people in cities like Sacramento, where local leaders are now besieged by angry citizens demanding a change.

He and many of his fellow Democratic mayors around the state are not unsympathetic to their cause. San Diego has penalized people refusing shelter. Oakland upped its rate of camp closures as the pandemic receded. San Jose is scrambling to clear scores of people from an area near the airport or risk losing federal funding.

“No one’s happy to have to do this,” San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said earlier this summer as he discussed ticketing people who refuse shelter. “We’re doing everything we can to provide people with better choices than the street.”

Other Democratic leaders around the country, facing similar pressure, have also moved to clear out encampments and push homeless people out of public spaces. New York City Mayor Eric Adams, a former police captain who won his office on a pledge to fight crime, came under fire this year for his removal of homeless people from subways and transit hubs. The city’s shelter system is now bursting at the seams.

In California, where the percentage of people living day-to-day on the streets is far higher than New York, the shortage of shelter beds has caused friction and embroiled local and state officials in court challenges.

A recent court decision requires local governments to provide enough beds before clearing encampments — a mandate that does not apply to state property. But that’s easier said than done in a state where there are three to four times as many homeless people as shelter beds.

California’s homelessness problem has deep, gnarled roots dating back decades, but has become increasingly pronounced in recent years. Tents and tarps on sidewalks, in parks and under freeways have become a near-ubiquitous symbol of the state’s enduring crisis. A pandemic-spurred project to move people from encampments to motels has lapsed, and eviction moratoriums have dissolved. Homelessness is a top concern for voters in the liberal state, and as Democrats prepare for the midterm elections, Newsom and other leaders have been eager to show voters they’re taking action.

But the practice of clearing out camps can be a futile exercise, particularly when the people being forced to pack up their tents have nowhere else to go or simply end up doing the same thing just a few blocks away.


Weeks after state transportation workers cleared the space under the Sacramento highway, people are still camped out along a city sidewalk across the street, with blankets, chairs, tires and shelves spilling out onto the street and, at times, blocking driveways.

Syeda Inamdar, who owns a small office building on the block, said her tenant is afraid to come to work because of the camp. A nearby Starbucks abruptly closed earlier this year, citing safety concerns.

“This is not safe for anybody,” said Inamdar, who is sympathetic to the people in the camp but says she’s nevertheless thinking of just giving up and selling the property.

Jay Edwards, a homeless man in his 60s, said he and many of his fellow residents felt safer under the overpass, where their tents didn’t block footpaths and people didn’t bother them. Newsom and others have described living situations like his — in a blue tent, with a dirty mattress, surrounded by piles of random belongings and trash — as inhumane. Edwards disagreed.

“It’s not inhumane,” he said. “It’s the people’s attitudes that make it inhumane.”

The state has given more than $12 billion in recent years to help local governments build housing and shelter. But it could be years before those units are built.

In Sacramento, city and county leaders just made it easier for authorities to clear tents from sidewalks and along a popular river trail. But some want even tougher laws. Earlier this year, a coalition of Sacramento business owners approached city councilors hoping to put a measure on the November ballot that would compel the city to move camps blocking sidewalks and create more shelter for those they moved. The Council, whose members run without party affiliation, voted to put the measure on the ballot, with some caveats that enlist the help of the county. Councilmember Katie Valenzuela was one of two members who voted against it.

She said moving the camps won’t help the root of the problem, and the city can’t afford the amount of space that would be necessary to house people cleared from encampments.

“People are saying ‘oh you’ve got the space to do this, just put them all on 100 acres.’ That’s not how this works,” she said.

Newsom appears to be feeling the pressure as well, channeling voter frustration by calling proliferating encampments “unacceptable” and pointing to the litter-filled highway underpasses he cleans during press events as evidence the state has become “too damn dirty.”

Historically, California governors have been reluctant to funnel significant resources to combat the homeless problem. But Newsom, a former mayor of San Francisco, has made it a centerpiece of his administration. The governor has secured hundreds of millions of dollars to help local governments address encampments by offering residents services and helping them find shelter, on top of the billions of dollars California has poured into homelessness more broadly and a state program to convert hotels and motels into low-income housing.

But those efforts aren’t happening fast enough for many in California, including merchants who are languishing in downtowns that are inundated with tents, tarps and other refuse from the people who have taken up residence on sidewalks and street corners. Business owners in San Francisco’s historic Castro District threatened to stop paying taxes last month if city officials didn’t do something about the vandalism, littering and frequent display of psychotic episodes that are a result of the neighborhood’s homeless population.

The governor has also personally weighed in when those efforts collided with resistance from courts and local governments. Earlier this year, he decried a federal judge for “moving the goal posts” in an order that blocked CalTrans from removing a camp in San Rafael. The Newsom administration and Oakland also clashed over a sprawling encampment where a July fire menaced a nearby utility facility that stored explosive oxygen tanks.

A judge blasted both the state and the city for trading blame while failing to find shelter for camp residents, accusing the parties of wanting “to wash their hands of this particular problem” and blocking the state’s plan to clear the site. Newsom excoriated the judge’s order and subsequently threatened to pull funding from Oakland, arguing the city was shirking its obligations. The judge ultimately allowed the clearing to proceed despite camp residents outnumbering available city beds.

Those tensions illustrate a larger test for the housing first philosophy that Newsom and other Democrats espouse. The basic premise is that long-term housing is the starting point for getting people off the streets. But it would take years to address California’s chasmic housing shortage while people are clamoring for solutions to street homelessness now.

The governor’s top homelessness adviser, Jason Elliott, said it was “impossible to say” if the state had sufficient short-term shelter for everyone living outside and conceded that “we don’t have enough money to afford a home for every person who experiences homelessness.” But he argued the state could and should move swiftly on “the most unsafe” sites, calling it a first step to help people.

“The criticism that we should not do anything about dangerous, unsafe encampments until we achieve millions of more units, I think, ignores the seriousness of the problem,” Elliott said. “Street homelessness is deeply dangerous and unsafe for people in the community and for people living in those tents.”

Addiction and mental illness can drive people into homelessness and keep them there, which has fueled Newsom’s push for a civil court system that would create treatment plans for those with the most critical needs and allow involuntary commitment for people who do not participate. The CARE Courts program, which Newsom is expected to sign into law soon, is estimated to help between 7,000 and 12,000 people — a small portion of the more than 160,000 Californians without stable housing.

Outside of interventions in critical mental health cases, policymakers broadly agree that poverty and a dearth of affordable housing are still driving more Californians to live on the street and that, on any given day, more people may become homeless than find housing.

Wary advocates are responding with legal challenges.

Oakland amended an ordinance barring camping near locations including homes, schools and businesses after advocates for the homeless sued, calling the policy inhumane. Advocacy groups in Sacramento unsuccessfully sued to block a ballot measure they called cruel and unusual.

In Los Angeles, a sprawling lawsuit over encampments endangering public welfare has produced a vow to build more shelters — and created the legal authority to clear people from public spaces. Last year, the LA City Council prohibited people from sleeping in sensitive public spaces selected by council members in a move the city of Riverside emulated. Then, Los Angeles bolstered its prohibition in early August by banning camping near schools and daycares, acting at the behest of school district officials who warned children were being traumatized and threatened by people in a growing number of encampments.

A backlash erupted as protesters filled the City Council chambers, chanting and shouting over speakers as they accused council members of inflicting death and violence on homeless people. Authorities ultimately cleared the chambers before lawmakers could return and vote. The proposal passed overwhelmingly with the blessing of Rep. Karen Bass, a Democrat running for LA mayor. But dissenters accused the Council of displacing the problem.

“When you don’t house people, when you don’t offer real housing resources to people at a particular location, the best outcome that you can hope for from a law like this is that people move 500 feet down the street,” Councilmember Nithya Raman said in an interview. “I’m up against a wall. I don’t have any available shelter, and I would imagine other council members are feeling the same way.”

Seventy percent of California’s homeless population is unsheltered, according to a recent Stanford University study, compared to New York, where the figure is 5 percent. The same study found that a large portion of the California homeless population have either a severe mental illness or long-term substance abuse problem, or both.

State and local officials have feuded for decades over who bears responsibility for housing and caring for people with severe mental health illnesses — those who might have been institutionalized a half-century ago, before the national closure of state-funded psychiatric hospitals.

Steinberg, the Sacramento mayor, has been trying to solve this problem for decades. In 2004, as a state legislator, he authored a landmark ballot measure, the Mental Health Services Act, which charged a 1 percent income tax on earnings more than $1 million to provide funding for mental health programs. Steinberg and others have praised the measure as a success, and some reports show that those who participate in the programs funded by the law see a reduction in homelessness.

But nearly two decades later, Steinberg is now dealing with a sprawling homeless population. Sacramento’s bans on camping along sidewalks and along the scenic river trail are set to go into effect at the end of the month. The city ban would classify a violation as a misdemeanor, but homeless people are not supposed to be automatically jailed or fined unless there are extraordinary circumstances, per a companion resolution Steinberg introduced.

With the upcoming ballot measure, championed by business leaders, the city is prepared to put tougher enforcement laws to voters in November, despite fierce criticism and legal challenges from advocates for homeless people. Steinberg said it’s still worth a shot.

“It is not perfect and it is not the way I would write it,” he said of the ballot measure. “But it is progress toward what I believe is essential: that people have a right to housing, shelter and treatment and in a very imperfect way.”