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Golden State Green Gurus Get Down

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

Matt Kettmann mug shotBy Matt Kettmann
Special to Calbuzz
More than 500 of California’s leading advocates of green just concluded the 8th annual Sustainability Conference, one of the most important environmental conventions in the state. Sponsored jointly by the UC, CSU and Community College systems, the green gaggle spent five days at UCSB hearing from big thinkers, sharing success stories and complaining collaboratively about what’s preventing total world eco-domination. Here’s an on-the-scene review of conference highlights by Calbuzzer Matt Kettmann, senior editor of the Santa Barbara Independent who  writes about the environment for Time, and Indie intern Susannah Lopez.

Sustainability Saves People: Keynoter Dave Newport, director of the environmental center at the University of Colorado-Boulder, provided an alternately funny and grim overview, using color-coded maps to show growing global environmental inequalities, with Africa and India suffering the most.

He also quantified costs of climate change, saying that 300,000 people die each year amid $125 billion in economic losses: “This chunk of rock is going to be just fine,” he said of the earth. “What we’re really doing is killing the people on it.”

The solution lies in “making sustainability social” by making direct connections between eco-movements and immediate human impacts, he added. Example: purchasing organic, locally grown food reduces carbon emissions due to less driving, financially benefits farmers and improves consumer health. “The best way to preserve the environment through sustainability is to focus on people first,” Newport said.

Water, water everywhere: UC San Diego’s Jan Kleissl uses wireless monitors on rooftops and fields to track “evapotranspiration” on campus, where 366,000 gallons of water a day go for landscaping. The idea is to reduce the amount of water wastefully poured into the ground by using data to increase awareness of how much of it quickly leaves the ground.

Josiah Raison Cain, a UC Davis expert on using water flow to “make less-bad cities,” explained that current design methods try “to force water to move through our cities which are inherently out of sync with the way water wants to flow.” This attitude leads to flooding, heat waves, and other manmade problems.

He proposes to “intercept” water through better designs, which include living roofs and living walls. Among other projects: a fancy off-the-grid environmental education institute in San Francisco’s Hunter’s Point and the state’s agriculture department building in Sacramento, which uses chicken coops under solar panels on the roof and rotating live walls of greenery to feed resident goats.

Water into wine: It takes six bottles of water to make one bottle of wine, a problem that the planned Robert Mondavi Institute for winemaking, beer brewing, and food sciences at UC Davis will address, by using “cleaning-in-place” systems, according to David Block, vice chair of viticulture at the campus. The systems were pioneered by dairy farmers and pharmaceutical companies, they require less water and chemicals, are faster and more reliable. Plus: guilt-free wine consumption.

Composting Bruins: UCLA’s dorms and dining halls are rapidly reducing waste, in compliance with a UC system goal of zero waste goal by 2020. UCLA emphasized composting in awarding their new waste collection contract to Athens of Los Angeles; the company sponsored tutorials, trained staff in recycling, and organized students to form the Waste Watchers to track tossed foodstuffs – seems the average student throws out more than a cheeseburger’s worth per day. The lesson, according to UCLA’s Rob Gilbert: “You have influence as a large buyer on how the corporations do things.”

What Higher Ed is doing: A panel unfortunately titled “Rethinking Diversion Rates and Innovations in Waste Management,” featured members of UCSB’s Laboratory Research and Technical Staff (LabRATS) who described their web-based surplus inventory program, modeled on eBay and Craigslist, that extends the life of campus resources by connecting those with extra electro junk to those who need said junk. More here.

Santa Monica College Professor Pete Morris said the institution leads the way in community college greening, which they’ve achieved by progressing in an “organic, non-linear way.” They’re working on getting more rigid, though, because hard-fought efforts to formally establish an environmental science/ studies track at the community college level have been shot down, an unfortunate development given the large number of students interested in green majors.

What Higher Ed Isn’t Doing: Chico State’s Scott McNall, who spoke on “institutionalizing sustainability,” said universities should be more aggressive in teaching the next generation a new value system, incorporating ideas about sustainability into all disciplines: “This is not about recycling cans and bottles,” he said. “It’s about recycling our values.”

Halli Bovia, sustainability coordinator at Chico State, called for “a chancellor’s mandate in our system for climate policy.” Unlike the UC system, which has a climate action plan and other sustainability requirements, Bovia said CSUs are lacking such guidance. “We need to have some continuity if we’re going to be effective at all,” she said.

The Hunt for Green Jobs: Los Angeles Trade Tech, which integrates sustainability into courses from green construction, sustainable land-use, and real-estate development to alternate fuel systems technology and sustainable design architecture, was recommended for those seeking green jobs.

The L.A. Community College District has a renewable energy and sustainability program, which focuses on reducing energy and water consumption, and reducing our carbon footprint. The district features renewable energy technology studies, including concentrated solar power, wind, bio-mass, geothermal, hydrogen, and electrical energy.

Beware Greenwashers: The new popularity of green products has generated a wave of “greenwashing” scammers, warned Alicia Culver, owner and executive director of the Green Purchasing Institute. She explained a product’s environmental impact is defined in “shades of green,” through factors like amount of recyclable content, bio-based content, or mercury content. She noted the increasing popularity of EPP’s, or Environmentally Preferable Products, which demonstrate a reduced negative or increased positive impact on human health and the environment when compared to competing products.

Car Share Everywhere: After a year of contract negotiations, both the UC and CSU systems have signed contracts with ZipCar for campus ride-sharing programs, one of the larger sustainability programs to bridge the higher ed divide.

Living Roofs – Who Knew? Cain of UC Davis described the “cascading manifests” of living roofs. They’re great places for growing food in a greenhouse, especially for massive-acre-big buildings stores, he said, noting that “two major national (grocery) chains are very interested in this process.” Living roofs cool homes, trap water, and grow food, and also attract butterflies, hummingbirds, and, Cain hopes, migratory bird species; common house cats are decimating the latter, which Cain hopes can find sanctuary on living roofs. Tweet that.

Saturday Swap Meet: Jacko, Farrah & Ed, RIP

Saturday, June 27th, 2009

sanfordThat was the week that was: We’ll leave to more talented social commentators the task of weaving together the sad, always-happens-in-threes departures of Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson, and focus instead on another crossover entertainer who seared himself into the nation’s consciousness with a breakthrough performance this week: South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford.

As everyone who’s watched Sanford’s narcissistic, nihilistic, nut ball performance in confessing to an Argentine love affair already knows (anyone who hasn’t is banned from reading further until you do ), the guy flat-out retired the Loony Tunes Lifetime Achievement Award with an excruciating, stream of consciousness, political-train-wreck-in-public act.

Between his opening incoherence – “I won’t begin in any particular spot” – his self-pitying Andrew Lloyd Webber knockoff – “oddly enough, I spent the last five days of my life crying in Argentina” – and his extraordinary explanation of how he’d violated moral law – “the biggest self of self is indeed self” – Sanford managed the seemingly impossible feat of mmariaaking Rod Blagoevich and Sarah Palin seem like Ozzie and Harriet.

(Calbuzz finds it fascinating that Sanford’s Argentine lover,  María Belén Chapur, was a producer at the television network America from 2001 to 2002 — kinda reminds us of LA Mayor Tony V’s fixation on TV babes.)

Oh sure, between eMeg, Prince Gavin and General Jerry, our own field of candidates for governor includes a few eccentricities and some borderline weirdness. But Calbuzz feels a profound sense of journalistic injustice at being denied the career peak experience of covering a total whack job like Sanford.

In our view, the only decent thing for Sanford to do — with just 18 months left in his term, Palmetto State legislators screaming for his head and almost a year to go before California’s primary — is to move to the left coast and jump into the Republican primary with twin barrels aimed at both feet. Please, governor, you’re the only one who can save us from the earnestness of Tom Campbell, the grumpiness of Steve Poizner and the unctuousness of Meg Whitman. Plus: great connections to BA from LAX.

BTW, the Sanford saga produced some yeoperson efforts by the ladies and gentleman of the press. Top honors in the print category go to the San Jose Mercury News for a keeper front page, carefully crafted for single copy sales, which featured a big foto of the wild man and a red, screamer hed: “What Was He Thinking?” Online division kudos to the Washpost for its special, Sanford edition slide show titled: “Interactive: A history of political sex scandals.” Interactive? Really?

Don’t Invitems: Capitol Weekly and the Bay Area Council went head-to-head twice within a few days over the former’s coverage of the latter’s proposal for a constitutional convention.

The first flap focused on a Weekly piece published Monday, in which Malcolm Maclachlan reported that the council was circulating a draft convention call that would bar changes to Proposition 13. When we checked out the report, Council execs grumbled that the Weekly had overreached in its sweeping assertion. Because the Calbuzzer motto is, “We’re from the press – we’re here to help,” we offered our own report that addressed the nuances of the council’s position on the complex issue, ever eager to heal a breach between two organizations we respect.

Then on Thursday, Maclachlan filed again, this time reporting that the Council was moving to “hand off” the campaign for a convention to an independent third party. At this, council vice president John Grubb let his feelings show – hollering “foul” and loudly demanding a correction.

At issue in the new dispute is a report about a panel of “experts” that the Council plans to convene for the purpose of wording and framing the exact questions that convention delegates would consider; the language this panel will draft is to be included in the “call to convention” initiative BAC is aiming at the November 2010 ballot.

The Weekly story suggests the “experts” panel gives the council a pass-the-buck way to escape the political heat they’re getting from anti-tax groups threatening to oppose the convention if it tackles Prop. 13. Not so, insists Grubb, who told us the “experts” panel has been part of the plan all along, and that the Council fully intends to remain the lead dog on the constitutional convention campaign.

“It was kind of weird to have your obituary written,” Grubb said of the latest Weekly story, “without having participated in your death.”

Anthony York, the editor of the Weekly, told us he’s confident the story is factually accurate, but “understands (Grubb’s) sensitivity” to the suggestion the council is ceding control of the convention process. York called it “a semantic difference” and said he’s invited Grubb to submit a letter or a commentary addressing his concerns.

Putting aside the journalistic subtleties here, the crucial substantive  issue is how and whether the convention deals with Prop. 13. Whatever your favorite cliché for the tax-cut measure – political third rail, elephant in the room, the Big Enchilada – trying to revise California’s system of governance without dealing with the multiple strands of Prop. 13 is like trying to blog without links; it kinda’ misses the point.

dianne_feinstein

Dissin’ Dianne: Back in the day, when she was Empress of San Francisco, Sen. Dianne Feinstein once chewed out a Chronicle reporter for running a scoop that disclosed a draft plan for a new ballpark that Her Honor wasn’t yet ready to make public: “I don’t want any more premature ejaculations in the paper,” she told him angrily, promptly generating a follow-up story that prominently featured her lovely comment.

The old quote came to mind this week, when DiFi again got in trouble for being candid with a reporter, this time on a Sunday talk show, where she threw cold water on President Obama’s big health care reform plan: “Well, to be candid with you, I don’t know that he has the votes right now,” she told CNN’s John King. “I think there’s a lot of concern in the Democratic caucus.”

Damn that candor.

It didn’t take long for the armies of the netroots to launch a full-scale attack, led by Moveon.org, which rallied its members to swamp her office with calls assailing her for politically incorrect (for a Democrat) thought. By week’s end, as David “Comrade” Dayen reported on Calitics ,  Moveon and its coalition had organized a full-bore, multi-platform assault.

With an arsenal of Facebook, Twitter and My Space weapons arrayed against her, Feinstein responded with a throwback press release featuring a laundry list of principles she would support in health care . The techno mismatch of the fight between an old-school pol and new generation social network forces was fascinating to behold – who knew from one-click re-Tweets? – and made us start to wonder if maybe Dan Schnur might be on to something with his out-of-right-field prediction in a L.A. Times op-ed: “Feinstein is an unlikely candidate for re-election in 2012.”

Wussup on the internets: Mega-kudos to Nikki Finke, who sold her DeadlineHollywoodDaily.com site for a reported $14 million , which establishes a decent enough price floor for when it comes time to unload Calbuzz in a month or so (why of course, Tom Campbell will drive more traffic than Jacko!). Don’t miss Finke’s post-sale grilling by arch-rival Sharon Waxman, who runs The Wrap.

In other internets news, the Public Policy Institute of California has an interesting new survey on digital usage in the state, including a full and frank examination of the 12 people who actually use Twitter. Key finding: internet use has increased from 70 to 76 percent over the past year (clearly due almost entirely to the launch of Calbuzz).

Must read of the week: “California to Feds: Drop Dead,” Joe Mathews’s terrific piece over at Fox and Hounds analyzing the chutzpah of Obama et al in refusing loan guarantees for California.

Finally, we note Kevin Roderick’s classy tribute to TMZ for their ace online reporting on Michael Jackson’s death — which killed the traditional media in LA.

Brown vs. Newsom: The Tale of the Tape

Friday, June 26th, 2009

chartThe latest J Moore Methods survey finds Jerry Brown leading Gavin Newsom in a two-way race for the 2010 Democratic nomination for governor 46-to-26 percent.  It’s the first serious poll we know about that considers a Brown-Newsom match-up.

Because at least half of us at Calbuzz have been in the polling business (hint: it’s the much younger guy), we’re pretty darn careful about putting much stock in private polls. In this case, however, we’ve got data (and crosstabs) from a guy whose work and reputation we know is rock solid, whose client is NOT one of the candidates and who has no horse in the race.

So with 525 completed surveys with Democrats and independents and a 4.7 percent margin of error, this June 20-23 phone survey of California voters is packed with reliable data about the shape of the Democratic race.

Newsom’s spinners see a 46-26 percent race as a half empty glass for Brown. It’s a sign of weakness, they argue, that a current statewide official, former governor and son of a governor, who’s been on the state ballot 13 times can’t manage 50% against a statewide newbie from San Francisco.

Good spin, but just that.

Not only does Brown – who has yet to announce his candidacy — hold a 20-point lead more than a year before the primary, but among voters age 60 and older, the AG’s lead is 54-20 percent. And that matters because, as Moore told us:  “The average age in the June 2010 Democratic primary electorate will likely be over 60.”

As Calbuzz sees it, Newsom has a humungous challenge.

According to data from the Secretary of  State, the average age of a voter in November 2008 (that’s the Obama election, for Calbuzzers with short memories) was 50, and Moore’s polling suggests the average age of voters in the November 2010 general will be about 57.

The aging electorate – a function of both the Baby Boom bubble working its way through the system and a younger generation of voters who are not as politically engaged – not only favors Brown over Newsom in the primary but also is likely to help the General in the general as well.

Newsom’s best numbers against Brown come among voters age 18-39, where he is ahead 37-26 percent in a two-man contest.  But Moore’s projections show this cohort would represent just 20 percent of the primary electorate.

Brown holds strong leads within other age categories: 49-to-28 percent among voters 40-59 (41 percent of the primary electorate) and 54-to-20 percent among voters aged 60 and older (38 percent of the primary voters).

Newsom also shows strength on his Bay Area home turf.  Democrats and independents hold a favorable view of him – 55-to-21 percent  – and he runs slightly ahead of Brown — 41-to-37 percent in the head-to-head match-up in the Bay Area.

However, Brown’s favorability in the Bay Area is even stronger – 54-to-13 (plus 41 percentage points) compared to Newsom’s plus 34 points). Brown also leads the one-on-one match-up in all other regions of the state: 46-to-24 percent in LA County; 52-to-16 percent in other Southern California, and 52-to-26 percent in other Northern California counties.

Moore’s poll included statistically significant measures both before and after L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa dropped out this week.

On the key measure of ethnic voters, Tony V held 34 percent of Latinos, compared to 28 percent for Brown and 9 percent for Newsom.

But with Antonio out of the way, Brown zooms to a 51-to-22 percent edge over Newsom among Latinos — a 23-point gain for the old guy and 13-point gain for the fresh-faced kid.

Latinos obviously know Brown a lot better than they know Newsom: 63 percent say they know who Brown is and his favorable-unfavorable among them is 42-to-3. By comparison, 41 percent of Latinos know Newsom, and his favorable-unfavorable is 15-to-8 percent.

Brown’s biggest problem lies squarely in the area where Newsom and campaign strategist Garry South have him in their sights:

“Younger people don’t know what Jerry stands for,” Moore said.

chart2While 46 percent of Democratic and independent voters overall say they agree with Brown on important issues, that number is just 24 percent among the 18-39 voters, compared to 50 percent among those 40-59 and 53 percent among voters 60 and older.

Overall, 38 percent of voters think they agree with Newsom on the issues, but he’s strongest among those 18-39 years old (41 percent) and 40-59 (43 percent) and weakest among voters 60 and older (30 percent).

Newsom’s problem is the opposite of Brown’s: “He has to tell older voters he’s got what it takes to be governor,” Moore said.

Among all Democrats and independents, just 41 percent agree that Newsom has “sufficient skills to be governor,” and the view of his readiness to be governor declines as voters get older: 47 percent among those 18-39 say he’s ready, compared to 44 percent among those 40-59 and 35 percent among those 60 and older.

Brown currently enjoys a huge advantage on this fundamental measure, as 69 percent of  primary voters say he’s got what it takes, which breaks down this way:  40 percent among those 18-39;  74 percent among those 40-59; and 78 percent among those 60 and older.

Moore emphasized the importance of this measure. Among voters who actually cast ballots in June 2008, Newsom scores just 39-to-23 percent compared to 77-to-8 percent for Brown.

Bottom line: To have a chance in a one-on-one primary race against Brown, Newsom is going to have to go beyond a straight generational pitch and find a way to convince large numbers of middle-age and geezer Democrats he’s got the Right (or Left) Stuff.

Calbuzz Emptor Caveats (that’s Latin for covering our ass)

1. There hasn’t been a campaign yet, and things always change when punches get thrown.

2. External events – an initiative challenge to Prop. 8 or an extraordinary Newsom registration and turnout effort among young voters – could change the makeup of the June 2010 primary electorate.

3. Time’s running short, but it’s not too late for a wild card candidate to jump in the race and scramble the dynamics.

4. Jerry’s really old.

5. Conventional wisdom is always wrong.

– By Jerry Roberts and Phil Trounstine

How California Became Ungovernable

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

brokengovernmentA few hours after California voters approved his Proposition 13 tax-cut measure on June 6, 1978, a bibulous and exultant Howard Jarvis dropped his pants for the benefit of a few reporters gathered in his suite at the L.A. Biltmore.

A reporter had asked Jarvis why he was limping, so his ostensible reason was to show a large, ugly bruise, which he’d suffered in a fall a few days before, on his ample, boxer-clad behind.

The surprise gesture, however, also afforded the earthy and profane Jarvis a chance to display his contempt for the press and, by extension, the political class that had mocked him and opposed his cherished measure.

Thirty years later, the ghost of Jarvis and his legacy initiative still aim antipathy, scorn and disdain at California’s government and its leaders.

Proposition 13 was the first, and most far-reaching, in a cascade of political decisions over the last three decades that have shaped the thoroughly dysfunctional structure of governance in the state.

Simply put, California today is ungovernable.

As state and local officials struggle to weather a fiscal crisis that threatens to drive California into insolvency, they wield power with the damaged machinery of a patchwork government system that lacks accountability, encourages stalemate and drifts but cannot be steered.

In this system, elected leaders carry responsibility, but not authority, for far-reaching policies about public revenues and resources. That’s not governance — it’s reactive management of a deeply flawed status quo.

Here is a look at six key factors that have made California impossible to govern.

Proposition 13: The fiscal effect of Proposition 13 itself is only part of the damage the initiative did to California. Even worse have been the methods Capitol politicians devised to try to lessen the measure’s financial impact.

After Proposition 13 passed, then-Gov. Jerry Brown and the Democrat-dominated Legislature realigned — “tangled” would be more accurate — the relationship between state and local governments by effectively shifting control of remaining property tax revenue to Sacramento.

In a crisis atmosphere, they radically transformed California’s political landscape, taking power and responsibility for health, welfare, schools and other local services away from city councils, boards of supervisors and school boards, thereby establishing today’s chaotic maze of overlapping jurisdiction, which defies efforts at accountability.

Budget initiatives: Proposition 13 also ushered in an era of ballot-box budgeting, as fiscal initiatives became a favored special-interest tool to take control of public fund expenditures.

A series of post-13 initiatives — including measures creating the lottery, financing public schools by mathematical formula and earmarking revenues for special programs, from mental health to medical care — established an exquisitely complex state budget calculus that has hamstrung the rational operations of government.

Gerrymandering: The once-a-decade process of redrawing political maps based on the census has created an increasingly partisan and polarized Capitol atmosphere.

Reapportionment has become essentially an incumbent protection effort, as lawmakers craft districts for themselves that are either safely Democratic or safely Republican. In this way, the crucial contests are party primaries, not the general elections. Because primaries draw the most partisan voters, the most conservative Republicans and the most liberal Democrats tend to win the nominations that guarantee election in November.

The dynamic locks in ideological polarization in Sacramento, where lawmakers have little motivation to compromise.

Term limits: Despite the claims of backers, the 1990 term-limits initiative did not get rid of career politicians — it simply changed the arc of their careers. Instead of spending decades in the same Assembly or Senate district seat, legislators now begin to position themselves for the next office — or job as a lobbyist — as soon as they arrive in Sacramento.

The up-or-out system rewards short-term, self-interested political thinking more than long-term policymaking in the public interest. Term limits also make lobbyists, not the Legislature, the repository of Capitol policy expertise; that lobbyists are happen to be useful in raising campaign cash adds an overlay of soft corruption to the process.

Boom or bust taxation: Since Proposition 13, state government has become increasingly dependent on volatile sources of revenue — the sales, corporation and progressive personal income taxes — that generate annual shifts in tax collections corresponding closely to the business cycle.

When economic times are good, as during the dot-com and housing bubbles, money pours in and there’s little political incentive — in fact, term limits creates a perverse disincentive — for long-term financial planning.

When revenues contract, the Capitol has rarely made real spending reductions, preferring to wait for the next boom.

The two-thirds vote: California is one of only three states requiring a two-thirds legislative vote to pass a budget, one of 16 requiring a two-thirds vote to raise taxes — and the only state to require both.

The budget requirement has been in the Constitution since the New Deal; the tax restriction began with Proposition 13. In the polarized atmosphere of Sacramento, the two-thirds rules effectively hand a veto to the minority party. Under these conditions, stalemate and deadlock on key fiscal issues have become the political norm.

So what can be done about the dysfunction? In the next few weeks, a blue-ribbon commission is set to recommend sweeping changes in the tax system to stabilize revenue collections. Voters last fall approved Proposition 11, which takes away the Legislature’s power to draw its their own districts in favor of an independent commission.

Next year, as they elect a new governor, Californians also will vote on a system of “open primary” elections aimed at aiding moderates, and they also will probably decide on one or more initiatives to dump the two-thirds budget vote requirement.

California Forward, a bipartisan good government group financed by major foundations, is crafting proposals to conform government systems and processes to modern management methods. And the business-oriented Bay Area Council is pushing initiatives for a state constitutional convention, the first since 1879, to wipe the slate clean and build a new, rational structure for state government.

“The seriousness of the problem has reached a crescendo,” said Jim Wunderman, CEO of the Bay Area Council. “The public is making a statement, loud and clear, that they expect action.”

– By Jerry Roberts and Phil Trounstine

This piece appeared today, as well, in the Los Angeles Times.

UCSB Forecast: CA May Be Headed for Depression

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

billwatkinsAs California’s recession steadily worsens with no end in sight, the state’s economy may descend into a full-blown depression, according to a new statewide forecast released Wednesday.

The state’s budget meltdown weighs heavily on California’s economy, according to the respected UCSB Economic Forecast, fueled by the political ineptitude of the Capitol’s leaders, who show that “even when faced with extraordinary crises, California is unable to make hard decisions.”

“California’s economy continues its descent into the depth of its most serious recession since World War II,” economist and Calbuzz contributor Bill Watkins writes in the forecast.“…It is possible that when this is over this recession will meet the technical definition of a depression in California.”

The UCSB forecast ( membership), presented to a business group today in Salinas, presents a gloomier picture than some other recent economic reports, which have projected a recovery beginning in 2010.

By any measure – employment, housing, retail, tourism, industrial, banking – the UCSB study found little evidence for optimism and plenty for California’s economy continuing “to perform far worse than will the U.S. economy.”

Forecasting “continuing job losses and declining economic activity,” Watkins said his analysis of economic data and trends found “no signs of any positive innovations in the forecast horizon.”

The state budget mess presents a two-track problem, because tax increases and spending cuts both accelerate a negative feedback loop that deepens the slowdown in the overall economy:

“California’s budget issues are likely to be made worse by continuing economic decline,” he wrote. “Perversely, the budget then negatively feeds back into the economy.

“The problem is not likely to see relief, at least in terms of increased revenues, before late 2011. Therefore, it is likely that the uncertainty associated with the budget and the declining spending or increased taxation will be a drag on California’s economy for several quarters to come.”

Watkins also cast a jaundiced eye on the efforts of the governor and the Legislature, saying politicians of both parties have simply reverted to knee jerk positions during an extraordinary crisis that requires bold leadership and innovative solutions:

“It is truly striking to see politicians of both parties use the same arguments in the current budget debate that they have used for years” in the wake of the May 19 special election debacle, he said.

“Interpretations of that election have varied, but it’s impossible to interpret the election as a resounding affirmation of the status quo. But, based on what I’m hearing from Sacramento, that appears to be the position that our political leaders are taking.”

– By Jerry Roberts and Phil Trounstine