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Archive for 2009



No Time for Cal Dems, but Tony V Makes Time in DC

Sunday, May 10th, 2009

tonyvin-dcIn case you missed it, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (not currently a candidate for governor, we’re told), who was so deep in budget negotiations he pulled out of a planned appearance at the California Democratic Party state convention a couple of weeks ago, took a breather from emergency fiscal talks this weekend to head to Washington for some serious hobnobbing at the White House Correspondents Dinner. But horror of horrors, as Kevin Roderick of LAObserved observed (under the headline “Isn’t that Mayor Newsom?”), Huffington Post caught this shot of him and posted it on their site with this caption: “Jason Binn (l), Matthew Settle (c) and Rachael Leigh Cook (r) with a guest.” Oooh. “That must really drive AV nuts,” chortled Gavin Newsom consultant Garry South.

PS — It’s the second pic in HuffoPo’s story.

Obama at the White House Correspondents Dinner

Sunday, May 10th, 2009

Calbuzz watched BHO at the DC Nerd Ball and thought he was was pretty darn good. So we commend this link to HuffPo with video of the performance. One of our favorite lines: Dick Cheney couldn’t make the dinner because he was writing his memoir, “How to shoot friends and interrogate people.” Here’s the link.

Weekend Flea Market: Lie Down with Dogs, Come Up with Items

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

blankface1Whither Tony V?: L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s abrupt cancellation of his appearance at the Democratic state convention, coupled with the consistent snarliness of his political handlers, has fueled speculation that Tony V. may not run for governor. But L.A. political insiders scoff at such gossip: “It looks like it’s going to be a Democratic year. If he doesn’t go now, in eight years he’ll be 66, and facing a whole new generation of young ‘uns,” said one savvy southland seer. “This is his shot.”

Still, local politicos are closely eyeballing the increasingly bitter brawl for city attorney between lawyer Carmen Trutanich and city councilman Jack Weiss as a measure of Villaraigosa’s strength. If Weiss, the mayor’s dog in this fight, loses on May 19, it will be one more bit of evidence, along with Tony’s unimpressive re-election numbers, that Antonio Alcalde’s standing with his political base ain’t all that.

Whitman Sampler: On the Republican side, Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner stepped up his attacks on GOP front-runner Meg Whitman this week, issuing no less than three statements ripping eMeg variously for ducking debates, stiffing the press and sugarcoating her tenure at eBay.

Weirdest move by the Poizneristas was a press release reprinting in full an article written for Capitol Weekly by Democratic consultant Garry South, Gavin Newsom’s strategist. The piece was South’s take on the problems faced by rich business executives who jump into politics, an issue we posted about on Monday. In recounting how he tackled the wealthy businessman Al Checchi while handling Gray Davis for governor, South saw similarities with Whitman:

“Whitman shares yet another commonality with Checchi – a spotty voting record,” he wrote. “Whitman didn’t bother to vote in four statewide elections since just 2003 – including the ‘03 recall election that put Gov. Schwarzenegger in office. À la Checchi, she hasn’t been able to verify whether she voted in the 1994 gubernatorial election, when the controversial anti-immigrant Prop. 187 was on the ballot. She has apologized for these lapses, saying she was busy running a company and had two kids. (Average voters with kids use that as an excuse for skipping the polling place?)”

Whitman has remained sanguine in the face of near-constant sniping from various corners, apparently believing that the Republican primary is more than a year away… Oh, it is?

Be that as it may, by remaining silent in the face of Poizner’s pounding, eMeg runs the risk that the narratives her rival is setting down – she’s afraid to debate, she’s afraid of the press, she’s doesn’t understand state issues – take hold, at least among the cognescenti and the media. If that happens, she may find down the road that her orchestrated efforts to “introduce” herself to voters will be hampered by a need for rehab, to undo the definition frame Poizner plunked on her early (now, about that Calbuzz interview request, Meg…)

Lust in his heart: Tom Campbell, the third Republican in the race, keeps plugging away in his terminally earnest energizer bunny manner, trying to make the race about…issues, fercryinoutloud.

Campbell this week delivered a big guest lecture on economics at UCLA, in which he raised the specter of unintended consequences arising from Obama’s John Maynard Keynes imitation:

“The growth in federal borrowing over the last six months has been greater than at any comparable time in American history, by a large amount,” Campbell said. “When the economy recovers, inflation is inevitable. A modest estimate, given the amount of money the federal government has printed, is in excess of 12% inflation.

“That has a direct cost to California because of the huge amounts our state borrows,” he added. “No one will buy a California bond at less than the expected rate of inflation. So, as systemic double-digit inflation, dead since Jimmy Carter, returns to our national economy, the effect will be particularly devastating on California’s ability to balance its budget.”

Oy.

Puff, puff, bail, bail: Greg Lucas, Calbuzz Capitol Correspondent, blogs his take on the dust-up over legalizing marijuana, over at California’s Capitol. His bottom line — not bloody likely anytime soon:

“Expansion of sin taxes hasn’t fared well in the Capitol… Although possession of less than an ounce of marijuana is an infraction, lawmakers are reluctant to back legislation that could make them appear soft-on-crime, fearing campaign attack pieces. That would make legalization of marijuana that much more difficult.”

The long goodbye: Latest twist in the sad saga of newspapers twisting slowly in the wind was a Senate subcommittee hearing on “The Future of Journalism” this week; chairman John Kerry and other members of the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body defended ink-stained wretches against the likes of print-killers Arianna Huffington and Marisa Mayer of Google.

Washington Post class clown Dana Milbank had the most succinct report here while the strongest testimony was delivered by David Simon, former cop shop reporter for the Baltimore Sun who took on the decline of newspapers in season five of his superb HBO series, “The Wire.”

Freudian parts dept: One of Gov. Schwarzenegger’s many signature moments in “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” comes when he wields a giant tear gas launcher against a bunch of cops while escaping from Cyberdyne Systems: “It’s definitely you,” adolescent hero John Connor tells Cyborg Arnold.

Now, one day after the governor promised fire-weary Santa Barbara residents he would do whatever it takes to conquer the raging Jesusita blaze, local smoke eaters got the firefighters’ equivalent of Arnold’s Big Gun: a DC-10 air tanker, which made repeated sorties over the fire Friday, dumping 12,000 gallons of retardant in a single drop.

“Chill out, dickwad.”

A Calbuzz Look Beyond the Obvious: PPIC’s Poll on the Loser Props

Friday, May 8th, 2009

Growling BearThe Public Policy Institute of California is out with a new poll and – we trust you’re sitting down, Maude – all the May 19 budget props (1A-1E) are losing. Even 1F (which blocks pay increases for state electeds in deficit years) has lost ground (though it’s still a likely winner).

Prop 1A, Governor Arnold’s Big Dog, deficit-limiting/tax-hiking/rainy-day-fund-building kitchen sink measure, is losing 52-35% among likely voters, and runs even lamer among those following the election most closely: 65% No Way Dude vs 29% Sounds Like a Great Idea.

As PPIC pollster and big kahuna Marc Baldassare put it: “The voters who are really tuned in are really turned off.”

Here’s the PPIC Prop rundown among likely voters and corresponding Field Poll results:
• Prop. 1A (Rainy Day Budget Stabilization Fund)
52% N, 35% Y, 13% DK. Field Poll: 49-40-11.
• Prop. 1B (Education Funding)
47% N, 40% Y, 13% DK. Field: 49-40-11.
• Prop. 1C (Lottery Modernization)
58% N, 32% Y, 10% DK. Field: 59-32-9.
• Prop. 1D (Children’s Services Funding)
45% N, 43% Y, 12% DK. Field: 49-40-11.
• Prop. 1E (Mental Health Funding)
48% N, 41% Y, 11% DK. Field: 51-40-9.
• Prop. 1F (Elected Officials Salaries)
73% Y, 24% N, 3% DK. Field: 71-24-5.

What you gotta’ love about PPIC is that the late Bill Hewlett’s gonzo endowment, plus lotsa cash money from the James Irvine Foundation, lets these guys poll huge samples – in this case 2,005 respondents (+/- 2%), among whom they identify 1,080 likely voters (+/- 3%). Of course, size doesn’t always matter, since there’s not much real props news here beyond the lean, mean Field Poll published April 29.

Other numbers from PPIC, however, offer some important insight into the political landscape in California: voters are in an incredibly cranky and pessimistic state of mind. Check it:

– 91% say the state is in a recession
– 76% say the state’s headed in the wrong direction.
– 75% expect bad times financially for California in the next year.
– 51% have already lost a job or are concerned that they or a family member will lose a job.

More political gloom and doom:

– 80% disapprove of the Legislature.
– 76% say the state is run by a few big interests.
– 71% say people in government waste tax money.
– 56% disapprove of the governor.
– 16% say they trust state government to do what’s right all or most of the time.

Key nuance: While state pols are basically dead to likely voters (think Al Pacino kissing Fredo in Godfather II) and only 39% approve of the “job” Congress is doing – a staggering 66% of likelies, and 72% of all adults, approve of Barack Obama’s performance as president. Hmmm . . .

The underlying message: Those leading California today are, not to put too fine a point on it, UTTERLY TONE DEAF!

Cogito, ergo sum: When 47% of adults – and 57% of Californians making less than $40K – say they’re somewhat or very concerned they may lose their job in the next year, you have to be out of your bloody mind to propose anything that even smells like a tax increase for working people.

Will some candidate for governor tap into the voters’ fear and loathing? Will 2010 be the year of soak-the-rich populism? Will class warfare be the call of the wily? Stay tuned to Calbuzz. Plenty of free parking.

Arnold on Prop. 1A Cuts for Firefighting: Never Mind

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

govfireAs Calbuzz foresaw several days ago, Gov. Arnold turned up in Santa Barbara Thursday, canceling a staged “Wildfire Awareness Week” event in Riverside in favor of preening for the cameras on the scene of an actual, out-of-control, wind-whipped wildfire that has local residents on the run.

The switch in venues wasn’t the only big change for the governor: He also altered his tune about the impact on public safety if his Proposition 1A is defeated at the May 19 special election.

Earlier in the week, absent the messy political inconvenience of speaking in front of a real natural disaster, Schwarzenegger threatened voters that he would lay off nearly 2,000 state firefighters if his pet initiative is defeated. On Thursday, hours after declaring a state of emergency for the uncontained Jesusista fire, the Terminator assured Santa Barbarians they needn’t fear an inadequate state emergency response, however:

“First of all, let me just make it clear, because there’s always the question that comes up, what happens to the fire departments and to the budget if those initiatives don’t pass,” Schwarzenegger told reporters. “The first thing you should know is, I will always fight and get every dollar I can for public safety, that is the important thing you should know.”

“No. 2, it is very clear that when the initiatives fail there will be $6 billion less that will be available, so therefore there will have to be additional cuts made, if it is in law enforcement, fire, education,” he added. “. . . But I will fight for every dollar, and will always make sure we have enough manpower and enough engines and helicopters ready to fight those fires.”

(Note the interesting slip there: “when” the initiatives fail, not “if.”)

Inside baseball: Our Legal Affairs Department was forced to evacuate Wednesday evening, when the dread sundowner winds blew 60 mph to the south, and we got the reverse 911 call to split; tonight, the wind’s blowing the other way, and we’re hunkered down at Calbuzz headquarters with pizza and fresh double A batteries in the flashlight.

Once again, for the best real time coverage of the Santa Barbara fire, go to our friends at Noozhawk or the Santa Barbara Independent.