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In Dueling Fresno Stops, Newsom Picks Up Litter While Cox Brings Trash Ball
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By David Taub, Senior Reporter
Published 3 years ago on
July 8, 2021

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Gov. Gavin Newsom made a stop at a Fresno freeway onramp to help Caltrans pick up the trash.

Newsom, with blue jeans, a dark t-shirt and California bear cap, used a picker and his gloved hands to pick up trash and debris. He helped clean alongside Caltrans workers and city of Fresno officials. Deputy mayor Matthew Grundy worked while in his suit and a hardhat.

“I care deeply about Fresno. I care deeply about this community. A lot of challenges out here with droughts, wildfires, stress and impacts on the ag community. But there’s another remarkable narrative in Fresno that’s emerging. It’s not just emerging, it’s very present when you hear this entrepreneurial energy, this vibrancy,” Newsom said.

It is part of his $1.1 billion plan to clean trash and graffiti from California’s highways, roads and other public spaces, an effort he said will beautify the state and create up to 11,000 jobs.

The Fresno stop, at the southwest corner of Herndon Avenue and Highway 41, was one of at least three stops Newsom made to promote his “Statewide Day of Action.” He also made a stop in Contra Costa County in the Bay Area and was headed to southern California next.

Justifies the Gas Tax

With cars zooming around one of Fresno’s busiest intersections, Newsom justified California’s gas tax increase that went into effect July 1. Several Republican legislators asked Newsom to cancel the increase, which they say brought the total state gas tax to 51.1 cents per gallon.

“The voters rejected that overwhelmingly. The legislature advanced an effort… to continue to rebuild our infrastructure. You can’t have a free lunch. End of the day, we want to rebuild our roads, bridges. And, you know, we got potholes in Fresno that are old enough to qualify for Medicare,” Newsom said.

The state legislature approved SB 1 in 2017 that raised gas taxes to fund infrastructure projects. A voter attempt to repeal the measure failed.

“So you can about who can point fingers, complain about it. Or we can do something about it. Ronald Reagan was the principal proponent of gas taxes. The Republican Party negotiated with the Biden administration, promoting gas taxes,” Newsom said.

Statewide Clean Up Plan

Newsom said the most the state has spent previously on clean up was $110 million.

“This is an unprecedented effort to acknowledge what all of us recognize as we drive around this state: It’s too damn dirty!” Newsom said from the side of a San Francisco Bay Area highway earlier on Wednesday.

At-risk youth and people who were formerly homeless or formerly incarcerated will be given priority for the jobs created by the three-year program. In the last week, he said 400 people have already been hired or offered a job, Newsom said.

The cleanup comes amid growing frustration with homeless encampments that have sprouted under highway overpasses and near freeway exit and entry ramps throughout California in the last few years. The encampments have grown during the pandemic, and many are crammed with discarded sofas, mattresses, and other trash.

An estimated 161,000 people are experiencing homelessness in the nation’s most populous state, more than in any other. Advocates say they can’t house people quickly enough with a shortage of housing units and high rents.

The Clean California program funds are not allowed to be used to displace people experiencing homelessness.

Cox Also Campaigns in Fresno

Hours before Newsom arrived, one of his opponents in the upcoming recall election appeared in downtown Fresno.

John Cox, a Republican candidate for California governor, has been campaigning with an 8-foot ball of trash to tout his homelessness plan, which calls for forcing homeless people into mental health or addiction treatment before providing them with housing.

Cox spoke with reporters in the Fresno County civil courthouse parking lot.

Newsom dismissed Cox’s  ideas.

“I respond to serious proposals,” Newsom said.

The Democratic governor pointed out Wednesday that he has proposed $12 billion to get more people experiencing homelessness off the streets and into homes of their own.

“We have been able to draw down an extra 6000 permanent housing units using federal dollars. And we want to replicate that success. And by the way, that success is demonstrable here in Fresno. You’ve been able to get 293 people out of encampments,” Newsom said.

Associated Press content was used in this report.

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David Taub,
Senior Reporter
Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

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