Remember Gavin’s Newsom’s old “Care Not Cash” phrase? He’s dusting off that rhetoric with the new phrase “Treatment Not Tents,” in hopes of pushing California voters to pass his $6.38 billion mental health bond.

Back when Gavin Newsom was mayor of San Francisco, he had the mid-2000s slogan “Care Not Cash” to describe his campaign to focus on providing those in need with services rather than cash payments. Well, 20 years later he is governor, and a homelessness problem  remains perhaps his greatest political weakness. So you may see ads on TV and Facebook wherein Newsom is now using the expression “Treatment Not Tents” to describe his statewide $6.38 billion mental health bond called Prop 1, the only statewide measure on your upcoming March 5 primary ballot.

In campaign materials, Newsom says Prop 1 “will prioritize getting people off the streets, out of tents and into treatment.” An ABC News explainer of Prop 1 notes it will put more state control over how counties use state funds to treat people experiencing homelessness, drug addiction, and mental health services. It would also build more shelters and supportive housing. And yes it is a multi-billion-dollar bond, so the deficit-ravaged state would be borrowing yet more money, and paying it back with interest.  

So there will always be opposition to any “tax and spend more” type measure. But the League Of Women Voters has also come out swinging against Prop 1, noting the $6.38 billion doesn’t directly fund treatment, but instead shelters and supportive housing that the state could compel people into.

“The bond portion of the measure was rushed through the legislature with last-minute amendments that opened the door to funding involuntary treatment in locked facilities,” the League Of Women Voters says in their recommendation against Prop 1. They add that “community-based care is more effective than institutionalization,” and that “incentivizing institutionalization will both lead to worse health outcomes and curtail individual liberties.”


And last week, Mission Local noted some political skullduggery that SF DA Brooke Jenkins started a state-level Prop 1 political committee to avoid local campaign contribution limits. That committee is making “Prop 1 ads” that are basically just Brooke Jenkins ads. This does not say anything about the merits or drawbacks of Prop 1, its just a curious campaign finance footnote.  

But speaking of campaign finance, the latest state filings (click on “Ballot Measures”) show that the Prop 1 campaign has raised $15 million from donors whose names you would not expect to hear in the same sentence. Very curiously, Uber donated $4.5 million to the campaign, while Sonoma County tribal group the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria gave $1.5 million. A prison guard union gave $1 million, as did a construction trade union. Other construction unions made smaller donations, likely favoring the measure because it would bring them more building work.

And as CalMatters notes, Prop 1 opponents have only raised $1,000.

A separate CalMatters article covers the history of mental health efforts in California. It notes that we didn’t have these kinds of mental health problems on the streets in the 1950s, because back in those days, we simply threw people into institutions.

Prop 1 supporters say the measure could seriously improve the homelessness and drug addiction crises in California communities today. Its critics say we’re just going back to that old model from the 1950s where we indiscrimately institutionalized people.

Related: Wealthy Donors Funneling a Fortune to Make Prop. 1 Ads That Are Basically Just Brooke Jenkins Ads [SFNews]

Image: YesOnProp1 via Youtube