The Calbuzz Division of Wonkery and Ennui listened in Wednesday evening as San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom answered questions from Calitics whiz kid Brian Leubitz and others in an on-line town hall – a format in which Newsom was able to demonstrate the breadth and depth of his knowledge on issues.
You name it – Prince Gavin has thought about it and has something to say: constitutional convention, health care, Prop. 13, redistricting, sales taxes, economic development, workforce training, higher education, etc., etc. etc. and especially – his top, key, special, most important priority: “to make California the No. 1 green economy – not as a consumer but as a producer.”
Yes he speaks in run-on sentences with constant stream-of-consciousness asides to himself and his listeners commenting on what he just said or is about to say with just a wisp of “aren’t you glad I’m here to tell you about this” in every utterance. But you gotta give Newsom credit: He knows his stuff.
And he’s not afraid to take stands on issues – unlike Crusty the General Jerry Brown who is laying in the weeds until he has to come out – on everything from tax policy to spending to political reform. (The link for the video is here.)
Like any smart pol, Newsom tries to finesse certain kinds of issues as in: “Let’s not accept the parameters that we have to tax or we have to cut.” But he’s willing to advocate that in a constitutional convention – which he wholeheartedly endorses — Prop. 13 (at least for industrial and commercial property) and Prop. 98 should be on the table but gay marriage and other social issues should not be.
He calls himself a pro-business, pro-jobs Democrat, but he also advocates adopting an oil-severance tax, increasing the tobacco tax and restoring the vehicle license fee (which under Gov. Schwartzmuscle has blown a $27-billion hole in the budget.).
Fifty minutes into the discussion, Newsom was asked to respond to Meg Whitman’s pledge to overturn AB 32 – the California Global Warming Solutions Act – and he used the question to attack Brown, complaining that he has to speak out against Whitman because he’s got no Democratic opponent to debate.
Despite his one little whiny moment, the Calitics Town Hall was one of those campaign events that give voters a chance to get a real feel for a candidate – well, a cyber feel anyway. Good questions and strong answers. Too bad only 426 people tuned in*. At that rate, a guy would have to do about 37,000 of these things to reach the California electorate. Just kidding…It’s all good exposure.
* That’s what Brian told us Wednesday evening. On Thursday, Lisa McIntire of the Newsom campaign said: “According to Ustream, we had 5,452 unique viewers and 8,803 total viewers.”
Chicken eMeg ducks and covers again: Ms. AWOL Whitman, who couldn’t be bothered to vote for most of her adult life, now finds candidate debates, that other creaky staple of the democratic system, tres, tres outré as well.
Thus Her Megness will be washing her hair or grooming her horse or something equally important next Wednesday, when GOP rivals Steve Poizner and Tom Campbell face off at Chapman Brandman University to debate the sorry state of California’s finances. Having invited the GOP contenders for governor via Twitter, organizers figure why stop now: Friday’s the last day to tweet your questions for the candidates at #cadebate.
eMeg’s profile in courage: On the other hand, as editorial writers never tire of saying, Calbuzz kudos to Whitman for not trying to paint the corners in pitching her pro-choice stance in an interview with Jon Fleischman over at Flashreport.
Fleischman and, doubtless, many of his readers are staunchly pro-life, but eMeg didn’t flinch, even arguing on behalf of public financing of abortions for poor women in the exchange with Flash, who also deserves credit for running the piece even though it strikes at the heart of his world view.
Hear, hear Commissioner Laffer: As long as we’re getting all misty and handing out plaudits for political cojones, a shout-out to Poizner for filling in details of his plan to slash taxes across the board and cut spending another 10 percent. Whatever you think of Poizner’s proposal, and Calbuzz is pretty dubious about this whole Laffer Curve thing, the man definitely ain’t trying to cheap out the specifics.
After being accused at the Republican convention of not having done his homework on the bottom line effects of his tax cuts, the Commish unloosed a 3,995 word opening statement (you could look it up) on the economic impacts of his proposal in a conference call with reporters this week, followed by a full Power Point presentation posted on his web site.
If GOP voters actually care about what their candidates want to do as governor, not to mention who has thought seriously about this stuff and who hasn’t, eMeg will run a distant third to Poizner and Campbell, who released his own door stop budget plan a few months back,
Over at California Progress Report, Bill Cavala, elder statesman of the Capitol Consultant Corps, bemoans O’Connell’s no-go as a symptom of a failed campaign finance system, but to us it looked like a simple case of not enough want-to; the plain fact is, Handsome Jack had a notable lack of what you call your fire in the belly.
Must read of the week: Tony Quinn, who is to reapportionment what Yo Yo Ma is to the cello, has a swell piece at Fox and Hounds that offers a smart sneak peek at the 2011 redistricting fight, in which he foresees Dems picking up a congressional seat even as California may stand to lose one.
Take the cash and let the credit go: Thanks to the miracle of the internets, and the mighty labors of The Hotline, we can report not so exclusively that Barbara Boxer is sitting on $6.35 million cash in the bank as of Sept. 30, while GOP Senate wannabe Chuck DeVore has juuuust a teeny bit less, with $144,733 en banc. It’ll be a while before we have any idea how much Carly Fiorina is prepared to spend. No jokes here: our condolences to Fiorina for the loss of her 35-year-old step-daughter Lori Ann.