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Archive for 2009



Swap Meet: Willie, Lou & Jerry Brown Haiku Contest

Saturday, October 10th, 2009

jerrypixilatedWhen analysts over at the  Calbuzz Department of Eastern Philosophy and Rancid Incense heard that Jerry Brown had doubled his lead in the Democratic race for governor by the clever method of not campaigning, they dashed off a memo offering the newsroom their complete analysis:

Sitting peacefully doing nothing
Spring comes
and the grass grows all by itself

Their steal [NOT a haiku] from Lao Tzu sparked an epiphany for those of us in the Content Preparation, Generation and Presentation Division: Brown’s secret campaign strategy is to spend the rest of the race at his Oakland loft, sitting in the full lotus position, clad in a saffron robe.

Armed with that insight, Calbuzz has decided our coverage of Brown’s gubernatorial bid will be reported entirely in haiku, as in this, our  campaign preview:

Run by not running
Seek to win without seeking
This is Jerry Brown

As sensitive New Media guys fully committed to multi-platform, interactive community-of-interest conversations with our readers, we’re seeking your input for our haiku-driven coverage.

Send your best political haiku -– a three line poem with 5 syllables in the first line, 7 in the second and 5 in the third –- to the Calbuzz Jerry Brown Haiku Contest at calbuzzer@gmail.com. We’ll publish top entries and the best one -– she who wins by losing -– will get two Calbuzzer buttons and a free 500-word rant.

Ommm..

What the Field Poll found: Hurricane Carly Fiorina, who apparently thought she’d waltz into the GOP Senate race and be embraced, instead finds herself in a death dance with Chuck DeVore, an unknown knuckle-dragging assemblyman from Orange County who actually has paid a few political dues. But six in 10 Republican primary voters have no idea who they support yet. Meanwhile, Sen. Babs of Marin, with no opposition on the Dem side, beats Fiorina 49-35% and DeVore 50-33%. Calbuzz wasn’t able to break this big news on Friday because after the Field Poll had generously shared the governor’s race results with us on Wednesday for Thursday’s post, some MSM subscribers whined that our piddling little NSM (New Stream Media) web site shouldn’t be able to get results until after the big boys have published them (since they pay for access and we don’t). Boo Hoo.   (We also think it’s ’cause we give better poll than they do, but hey, whatever.)

FDRObama cures cancer – GOP sees socialist plot: The shameful spectacle of Republicans rushing to trash and belittle President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize Friday once again suggests that American politics in the digital age are more angry, coarse and vicious than at any previous point in history. Not so fast, says Hall of Fame historian and journalist Lou Cannon, who’s written a swell piece over at Politics Daily arguing that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Taking a leisurely stroll through the archives of the Hoover Institution, Cannon compares the unrelenting attacks on Obama to those against Franklin Roosevelt, among other presidents, and concludes that they’re “unfortunately (in) our tradition of verbal savaging even the best of presidents.” And he notes that the demagoguery of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh are nothing new to the airwaves:

It may be that the most unrestrained of today’s anti-Obama extremists have an edge on their predecessors in sheer goofiness. The notion that Obama was born in Kenya or is a secret Muslim has embedded itself in conspiracy theories accepted by untold thousands of Americans. In terms of viciousness, I think the FDR-haters were the worst…

“A Detroit radio priest, Father Charles Coughlin, seemed to be locked in a perverse competition with Gerald L.K. Smith, his Protestant equivalent in hate-mongering, to see whose attacks on FDR could be more vile.

Calbuzz wonders why the Democrats are so slow to take a page from the Republican playbook and start smacking Beck, Limbaugh, O’Reilly et. al. as ANTI-AMERICAN for all their hoping that Chicago wouldn’t get the Olympics and their complaining that the president is given the Nobel Peace Prize. Where are the patriotic, flag-waving, outraged Democrats, fulminating about how the disloyal right-wingers are wishing ill for our beloved country?

donkey

Tom vs. the Terminator: Speaking of coarse politics, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano’s much-publicized crude and rude behavior when Gov. Arnold made an invited, if unexpected, appearance at a Democratic event in San Francisco the other night proved anew the adage that liberals love free speech, unless you’re not a liberal.

The hardest working woman in show business  reports that Willie Brown, who accompanied Schwarzenegger to the event after they both were invited by the organizers, was livid at what happened. Brown, one of the most partisan Democrats in the history of the world, of course comes from an unfortunately fading era, when people who disagreed politically could actually sit in the same room without acting like total jerks:

(The governor) and former President Bill Clinton — at the Fairmont for the President’s Cup golf tournament — were invited to attend the Democrats’ event “by the hosts…the fundraiser organizers,” Brown told us. Clinton declined the invite; Schwarzenegger accepted.

“Ammiano conducted himself somewhat similar to Joe Wilson,” Brown said, referring to the GOP congressman who incurred Democratic wrath when he shouted “You lie” to President Obama during a speech to Congress.

“It was inappropriate to invite anyone in and shout at them, I don’t care who it is. It could be George Bush,” said Brown. “You don’t do that. If you don’t wish to be in their presence, then don’t invite them.”

“You’re talking about utter stupidity,” Brown said.

Amen.

Finally — From the Poizon Commissioner for your enjoyment:

Press Clips: Little Pulitzers, eMeg Registration Redux

Friday, October 9th, 2009

megpointtwirlWhat eMeg didn’t know and when she didn’t know it: The whole world watched this week in wondrous fascination the spectacle of wannabe governor Meg Whitman publicly reconciling her recollections about when she registered to vote, when she voted and when she thinks she may remember that she might have voted.

Every day, it seemed, brought a new report of some voter registrar with a pen protector in his shirt pocket unearthing yet another dusty document that represented a new clue to the abiding mystery of eMeg’s lousy voting record. At this rate, Calbuzz is cautiously optimistic that, by the time the June primary rolls around, Her Megness will be well on her way to offering up a story she can actually stick to. A couple observations:

1. There’s one person who’s responsible for keeping this story alive for weeks: Meg Whitman. Her evolving explanations about her voting record, her  “go find it” arrogance while the Bee was reporting its big story, and her famous deer-in-the-headlights press conference, revealed a candidate who was ill-prepared for the spotlight of a high-profile political race.

Much blame for this resides with her brigades of high-end consultants, to whom she’s forked out several gazillion dollars, but who failed to protect her by doing an inadequate job on self-oppo research for their own candidate. For eMeg’s sake, Calbuzz hopes this is a teachable moment for her and her campaign staff.

2. Andrew McIntosh of the Bee, who triggered the controversy with his Sept. 24 investigation, does not deserve to be dissed for his reporting. The guy touched all the bases, and the small potatoes revisions in his reporting all came about because three primary sources he conscientiously interviewed – registrars in San Francisco, Santa Clara and Ohio – provided him bum information and changed their stories under the white hot glare of media exposure.

3. We stand by our oft-stated criticism of eMeg’s speech to the February Republican state convention, in which she offered a misleading, 81-word narrative about her voting history. It may be a nit-picking point that she registered in 1999, not 1998, but her clear suggestion in the speech that her registration was clean after that remains a substantial misstatement.

As a political matter, this should teach her that the press will pay attention to every word she says as a candidate, let alone as governor (particularly in a high-profile formal speech — remember W. and yellow cake?). In a high visibility race, getting the truth kinda, sorta right ain’t gonna’ cut it.

In writing about the wobbly statements in her speech, we said there were three possibilities for why she said what she said: a) she simply read what was written for her in the text; b) she delusionally believed that what she was saying was true; c) she was telling a whopper. For the record the correct answer is b).

wildermuth4. As long as we’re unearthing ancient, archival documents, a Calbuzz HO to John Wildermuth, who scooped the world by being the first to report on eMeg’s shoddy voting record, in a Chronicle story on Sept. 4, 2008, more than a year before the Bee caused big ripples in the pond. Big John’s piece lacked some of the excruciating detail of the McIntosh yarn and, truth be told, buried the news in the third graf (was Brewer stuck in traffic that day?) But he had it first, and he had it right.

5. Having gotten her sea legs (avoid clichés like the plague – ed.) by going through the crucible of the vote kerfuffle (block that metaphor –ed.) we’re hopeful that Her Megness will finally stop ducking debates, not to mention her long-awaited Calbuzz interview. And thank you for that.

tucker

The Calbuzz Little Pulitzers: Top Investigative Reporting honors of the week to the Chron’s Jill Tucker for a tough piece on how SF School Board President Kim-Shree Maufas abused the district’s credit card for junkets and her jones for Starbucks; Tucker’s story, put together through public records research, won’t change the world, but it’s a shining example of the kind of local shoe leather reporting that, sadly, is fast disappearing amid the demise of newspapers.

The week’s Top Feature was churned out by the industrious Stu Woo of the Wall Street Journal, who put a lovely touch on his reader about the alarming trend of California lawmakers sleeping on the floor of the Legislature. Money quote, from SF Assemblyman Tom Ammiano: “As I like to say, I haven’t slept with this many people since the ’70s.”

Michael Hiltzik of the LAT captured first prize for News Analysis for ruthlessly shooting the wounded in his takeout on the myriad failings of Gerry Parsky and his doomed and dog-ass Tax Commission.

A special laminated, composition-grade pine plaque award for Expense Account Reporting to Paul Harris of the limey Guardian for a splendid clip job on California – The Ninth Circle of Hell. In old school style, Harris paid once-over-lightly visits to all the mandatory stops (with the curious and rather glaring exception of, um, Sacramento) to retell the hoary tale of how the Golden State is no longer golden. The great tipoff: an exclusive interview with famed Berkeley foodie guru Alice Waters, which doubtless sent the Guardian’s accounting department reeling.

none_skelton_Punditry of the Week award to our irascible old friend George Skelton at the ByGodLATimes, who batted out a damn good column on Monday, demonstrating to the Dayen of Delphi and others who snap at him for “High Broderism” or “Arch Skeltonism” for whatever sin-against-the-left deed he’s done, that he subscribes to that favorite line of ours from ee cummings’ “i sing of Olaf glad and big”: “there is some shit i will not eat.”

Also worthy of a mention: Steve Harmon’s piece in the CoCo Times does a nice job of digging into an obvious question raised by eMeg Explanation #62, the claim that she didn’t vote because she was focused on family and children: What do the feminists say about that?

And the Nikki Finke Nikki Finke Award for Nikke Finke’s Letterman and CBS post that showing, yet again, why Hollywood is so afraid of her.

Today’s sign the end of civilization is near: Hurry – deadline’s coming up for the Comb Your Hair Like Gavin Newsom Contest

Poll: Jerry’s Big Lead; Meg, Tom, Steve Still Unknown

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

demcollageWhen Big Bill Clinton endorsed Prince Gavin of San Francisco, Calbuzz was not convinced that it would be what one analyst called a “potential game-changer.” We also suggested that Newsom was ill-advised to have said: “Mark my words, these polls are going to change dramatically.”

So when the Field Poll, which is released today, found that Crusty the Attorney General Brown is leading Newsom by 20 points — 47-27% among registered voters (compared to 26-16% in March) — well…as Nikki Finke says: TOLDJA! And game-change-predicters take note: the poll was conducted Sept. 18-Oct. 5 — right when His Gavinship should have been getting a big, fat, sloppy, wet Clinton bounce.

Oops. Worse for Newsom, because it’s so early (eight months out), the Field Poll was based just on registered voters, not likely voters. And so only 49% of the voters surveyed were age 50 and older and. In fact, according to the best private pollsters who model elections, more than 60% of the June 2010 electorate is likely to be 50 and older. And guess who does better among the older voters? Well, in the new Field Poll, Crusty beats the Prince 51-21% among those 40 and older and 62-17% among those 65 and older.

Yow.

reepcollageWe’ll come back to the Democrats in a minute. But there’s some cool findings in the Republican race as well: Mr. (or Ms.) Undecided is leading the race with 49%, followed by eMeg Whitman at 22%, Pretty Boy Tom Campbell at 20% and the Steve “The Commish” Poizner at a measly 9%.

Wow! Meg has spent millions already and has got herself a whopping 2-point lead over Campbell, who hasn’t got a pot to piss in. And Poizner, despite all his Sturm und Drang, hasn’t shown he can break out of a paper bag. If Campbell had money, he might just win the damn thing – which would put the Democrats in a real bind in November ‘cause (though he’s plenty conservative on economic issues) there’s no way you could make him out to be a knuckle-dragger.

It’s worth noting, of course, that the poll was taken while the eMeg non-voting story was bubbling which tells us either a) the voting issue has kept Meg from pulling ahead or b) the voting issue has knocked Meg on her keister or c) nobody cares about the voting issue.

Bad news for the Reeps though: not only does Brown crush the Republican field in simulated match-ups (50-29% over Whitman, 48-27% over Campbell and 50-25% over Poizner), but Newsom beats ‘em too (albeit a lot less convincingly: 40-31% over Whitman, 39-33% over Campbell and 39-30% over Poizner.)

What the Field Poll shows – almost identically to the J Moore Methods Poll we covered at length in June – is that younger voters don’t know Jerry Brown and older voters don’t know what Gavin Newsom stands for (except for Proposition 8, which hurts him among this age cohort). Overall, Brown’s favorability rating among Democrats, 57-18%, is much stronger than Newsom’s at 41-22%. Worse for Newsom: While Brown’s favorable-unfavorable among independents is 44-26%, Newsom’s is 35-35%. Brown’s even got a 26% favorable among Republicans, compared to Newsom’s 9% favorable.

The brightest spots for Newsom in the survey are that Brown only leads him 43-38% in Northern California, compared to 50-19% in Southern California. Also, he actually beats Brown among voters 18-39 by 41-32%. Too bad for Newsom that even in Field’s estimation, that age cohort is just 24% of the voters while others – like Jim Moore – predict the 18-39s will comprise just 14% of the vote in June 2010.

Nobody knows who the hell the Republicans are. Even Whitman, with her millions and her magazine covers and her corporate cachet, is unknown to 68% of the voters, including 61% of the Republicans. Among those Republicans who have an opinion, it’s 29% favorable and 10% unfavorable.

About the same for Campbell: He’s a little better known than Meg statewide, with 59% of voters who have no opinion about him, including 60% of the Republicans. His fav-unfav among the Republicans is 25-15%.

Likewise Poizner statewide: 61% of voters have no opinion about him, including 60% of Reeps, who split 24-16% fav-unfav on the Commish.

Just to cover their behinds, the Field Poll threw Democratic U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein into the mix on some questions, although she has made clear she doesn’t plan to run,  confirming the Calbuzz thesis set forth back when we launched March. And of course, if thrown into the Democratic race, Feinstein leads with 40%, compared to 27% for Brown and 16% for Newsom.

The Field Poll surveyed 1,005 registered voters, including 496 Democratic primary voters and 373 Republican primary voters in English and Spanish Sept. 18-Oct. 5. Voters were selected at random from the list of registered voters in California and were called both on land lines and cell phones. Results were weighted to known distributions of registered voters by party and other demographics. The margin of error for the overall sample is +/- 3.2% and for the sub-samples it is +/- 4.5%.

South Smacks LA Blog’s Dis; H-Carly Blows Off Coast

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

014-141Garry trashes LA Blog rumor: Our eyebrows caught fire when we read an item about SF Mayor Gavin Newsom and former President Bill Clinton, posted by Michael Higby on the LA blog “Mayor Sam’s Sister City,” that said in part:

You heard it here first on Mayor Sam – according to various accounts across California, Garry South has scolded Prince Gavin into a corner and is forcing him to finally fundraise if he wants to be viable. In fact, South has made his pronouncement to many outside of Team Newsom to the point that this old dead Mayor would now hear it. Either raise $5 million by December or drop out!

Now, we know, from sources, that our friend Garry is pushing the Prince of Prides to raise more money to be competitive with Crusty the General Brown, who’s sitting on about seven times the cash Gavin’s got. But we also know South’s no idiot and isn’t likely to be giving orders to his clients or telling other people that he’d given a client an ultimatum. So we asked him about it and got back an email eyeful:

garrysouthThis is complete, utter bullshit, and I categorically deny it.  “Mayor Sam” never talked to me to pass any of these hearsay assertions by me, and he is just picking up and disseminating intentional disinformation from the Brown camp — including Brown himself, who’s too busy “doing his job as AG” to debate, but has time to hang on the phone in his Oakland loft starting and spreading rumors about Newsom.  I don’t give my candidates ultimatums of any sort.  I stuck with [Gray] Davis when he was running fifth in the Field Poll at 8 percent of the vote, and being massively outspent by two multi-millionaires, and when I took on the [Steve] Westly campaign, he was running fourth in the Field Poll, also with 8 percent.  I would never advise Newsom to drop out, so Brown can lollygag his way through an uncontested primary, running a lazy, perfunctory, do-it-yourself ”campaign,” then be a big, fat and happy sitting duck in the November 2010 general election (think Dan Lungren in 1998).

Even if we overlook “Mayor Sam’s” headline typos (above), we still gotta think South’s  got a point here:  He knew what he was getting into when he signed up with Gavin.

On, as the editorial writers like to say, the other hand, it doesn’t help your cause when you get pieces written like this in Newsweek under the headline: “The Impending Implosion of California Gov Hopeful Gavin Newsom.” Ouch.

strategic vision

Lies, damn lies and statistics: Remember back last winter when Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton in Iowa and everybody thought he’d go on to beat her in New Hampshire? When he didn’t, everybody wanted to know what’s wrong with those damn polls anyway.

In the wake of the debacle, the American Association for Public Opinion Research launched a study of the polling in New Hampshire. You’d have to be a total polling geek to know this (we name no names) but one company -– Strategic Vision LLC — wouldn’t or couldn’t give AAPOR simple, basic information like “who sponsored the survey; who conducted it; a description of the underlying sampling frame; an accounting of how ‘likely voters’ were identified and selected; response rates; and a description of any weighting or estimating procedures used.”

So last week, when AAPOR, a most conservative, punctilious, conscientious, scrupulous group – what you call your model of propriety — said Strategic Vision has “repeatedly refused to release essential facts about polls it published prior to the 2008 presidential primaries in New Hampshire and Wisconsin,” it caused something of a media stir because a number of news outlets had been using Strategic Vision’s bullshit polls.

There’s not much AAPOR can do to Strategic Vision, except declare the firm in “violation of the association’s Code of Professional Ethics and Practices.” But as the New York Times noted:

“The controversy has also led to a critical examination of the indiscriminate use of poll numbers. Strategic Vision’s polls have been cited by numerous news organizations, including The Associated Press, The Washington Post, MSNBC, Fox News and, on at least three occasions, The New York Times, even though the company has repeatedly failed to provide supporting data and the methodology for its surveys.”

Calbuzz finds all this pretty damned interesting, especially given the surfeit of polls already taken, with many more to be released, leaked and peddled in the California governor and Senate races. Which motivates our Department of Weights and Measures to remind readers of Calbuzz Standards for Polling, Decency and Free Lunch (HO to AAPOR) and the key information to know about any poll:

– Who paid for the poll and why was it done?
– Who did the poll?
– How was the poll conducted?– How many people were interviewed and what’s the margin of sampling error?
–  How were those people chosen? (Probability or non-probability sample? Random sampling? Non-random method?)
– What area or what group were people chosen from? (That is, what was the population being represented?)
– When were the interviews conducted?
– How were the interviews conducted?
– What questions were asked? Were they clearly worded, balanced and unbiased?
– What order were the questions asked in? Could an earlier question influence the answer of a later question that is central to your story or the conclusions drawn?
– Are the results based on the answers of all the people interviewed, or only a subset? If a subset, how many?
– Were the data weighted, and if so, to what?

Full disclosure: We may not know the answer to every one of our questions before we write about a survey or a specific finding, if we have previous experience with the pollster that causes us to have confidence in his or her methods and motives. As general guidelines, though, these are pretty good.

McCain 2008Hurricane Carly moves offshore: Would-be California Senator Carly Fiorina’s recent no-show at the Republican convention has some conservative commentators harrumphing, in part because no one’s quite sure where she stands on a fair number of important issues.

Should iCarly capture the nomination, however, one area where she’s sure to have sharp differences with incumbent Barbara Boxer will be whether to expand oil drilling off the coast of California.

As a senior surrogate for the McCain-Palin ticket last year (at least until she got booted for dissing the ticket-topper’s executive skills), the HP Hurricane eagerly endorsed expanded offshore drilling, as in this CNN interview, as well as a “Face the Nation” appearance in which she flogged McCain’s mid-campaign move to a drill-baby-drill position:

“We have very sizeable reserves of oil off our shores and now is the time for us to take control of our own energy future. We must. It’s a matter of economic security, national security and environmental security as well.”

For the record, Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, iCarly’s GOP rival, also backs more offshore drilling, which ensures a sharp contrast with longtime whale hugger Boxer in the general election, regardless of who captures the Republican nomination.

7723_Gottfried_LeibnizAs the eMeg turns: The funniest and best written second day story on Meg Whitman’s belated letter assailing the SacBee’s no-vote probe comes from comedy writer Chris Kelly over at Huffpost.

Casting eMeg as “Multipersonality Meg” for her sequential series of shifting statements about voting, Kelly offers a rigorous, line-by-line deconstruction of the Bee missive, improbably finishing with an homage to the 17th century logician Gottfried Leibniz:

The frontrunner for the Republican nomination for Governor of California just proved she votes using the argumentum ad ignorantiam and the transitivity of implication.

Now that’s a candidate who values education.

That which cannot be disproved must be believed. The evidence that Meg Whitman voted sometime between her 18th birthday and her 46th is that there’s no proof she didn’t. (Except her own admission, before she began the process of reconciling her recollections.) The other evidence that Meg Whitman voted is that Nancy Pelosi voted. The evidence that Nancy Pelosi voted is that there’s no evidence that she did.

And in a tomb in Hanover, Leibniz’s head explodes.


Clinton’s Low-Energy Gavin Pitch; eMeg Cries Foul

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

billandgavinBy Heather Reger
Special to Calbuzz

Former President Bill Clinton praised San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom for his contributions to energy efficiency Monday at a joint appearance in L.A. that, well, lacked energy.

A few hours before Clinton appeared at a closed-to-the-press, Newsom-for-governor fundraiser at the Biltmore Hotel, the pair toured the LEED-certified Science and Technology Building at Los Angeles City College, then spoke to a few dozen students, faculty and trustees in the Martin Luther King Jr. Library.

Both wearing baby blue ties, Clinton and Newsom spoke about the green economy, health care policy and the number of foreclosures in California – but said little about the mayor’s bid for the Democratic nomination for governor.

After weeks of build-up and ballyhoo about Clinton’s endorsement of Newsom, the former president said more about his support for energy efficiency than his support for the gubernatorial candidate. The closest he came was when he said Newsom doesn’t “just talk it, he walks the walk” on energy and environmental issues.

“San Francisco may be the greenest community in the entire country, and it’s because of his leadership,” Clinton said, finally mentioning Newsom about 20 minutes into the program.

Asked why there was not a more formal statement of endorsement, Newsom campaign manager Garry South said, “What do you think that was? That’s why we are here.”

After the hour-long event, neither Clinton nor Newsom took questions, although there were more than a dozen reporters on hand. There was little reaction from the audience, except for brief applause when Newsom mentioned San Francisco’s universal health care plan.

In his remarks, the former president said that energy efficiency was the “central key to economic recovery,” and he said that Newsom had helped cut utility bills for city residents by $17.5 million and deserved credit for a program that offers homeowners up to $7,000 for installation of solar panels.

In his comments, Newsom thanked both Clinton and state Senator Alex Padilla, his campaign chairman, who was also on hand, for their support. He told the small crowd that we need to stop being a “state of consumers and start being producers.”

“There is nothing wrong with California that can’t be fixed with what’s right with California,” he added.

South refused to discuss any details about the fundraiser last night, including how many people, who they were or how much they were contributing, let alone what they ate for dinner. “In the four campaigns I have helped run, I have never given out that information,” he said to a question about the total take expected from the event.

Heather Reger is a Southern California freelance writer and former editor in chief of the Panther at Chapman University. If you dare, you can watch the whole event here.

jerryand billdebateCalbuzz gets results: Wussup with this? After all the breathless MSM reporting of Clinton’s endorsement of Newsom – in which the loooong history of Jerry Brown’s tough attacks on the Clintons was  ignored – suddenly, after Calbuzz lays it all out, now it’s like common knowledge as in this lame-ass Bee story? Sheesh.

And while we’re at it, and since we try to give proper credit (and blame) wherever it’s due, what’s with pilfering one of our best quotes of the year:  South’s “When you get the full grasp of Jerry Brown’s record over 40 years, it’s an embarrassment of riches. This guy’s had more incarnations than Zelig and he’s taken more positions than there are in the Kama Sutra,” which was lifted, cut and condensed without attribution by the Chronicle. But we don’t complain.

megpointing

Her Megness throws a late flag: Eleven days after the Sacramento Bee published an investigation about Meg Whitman‘s lack of a voting record, nine days after she slogged through an excruciating press conference on the subject, and a week after she started granting interviews about it – without challenging a single assertion in the piece – eMeg has now decided the story was wrong.

In a widely circulated letter, and backed up by right-wing yakker Hugh Hewitt , Whitman communications director Tucker Bounds demands the Bee publish a correction and a partial retraction. We’ll leave it to Team Whitman and Bee editors to sort that out with a few brief observations:

1-In his letter, Bounds says that eMeg registered in Santa Clara County on  Feb. 8, 1999 and that the affidavit number for her registration is 70CE223397. But when Calbuzz called the county registrar to confirm that, we were told there is no such record. “We don’t have any of those combinations of numbers in the record,” said voting clerk Roselle Ricafort. “We can’t find any trace…even in the microfiche.”

(Sez eMeg flack, the volcanic Sarah Pompei: “Meg’s voter registration affidavit number was lifted directly from the 1999 Santa Clara County voter roll, and had been confirmed by our campaign team – twice. After triple-checking the registration with the Santa Clara County elections office on previous occasions, we’re confident that Meg was registered and confident that we did more verification work than the Sacramento Bee”).

2-Even if such a registration exists, it does not explain the issue we’ve been harping on – why eMeg told the Republican convention last winter that she registered in 1998 as a Decline to State independent and then offered an elaborate explanation to back up the claim,  despite the lack of evidence about her alleged predicate action.

3-If Whitman had questions about the Bee report, why did she wait nearly two weeks to raise them, particularly after fielding reporters’ questions on the subject, in some cases with answers that conflict with what the campaign said yesterday?

We’re just sayin’.

This just in, 10/7 in the afternoon: “Republican candidate Meg Whitman was registered to vote in Santa Clara County for nine months in 1999, Santa Clara elections officials said today, admitting that they supplied inaccurate information to The Bee and other news organizations on the issue.” The Sacramento Bee corrects the record and we’re happy to link.

mrs-potato-head1

Merc fails to deliver: We were excited when we saw the headline: “Can Meg Whitman’s eBay success translate in Sacramento?” on a story by old pals Ken McLaughlin and Pete Carey – especially because Pete is one of the last great investigative reporters still working in California. But the story never even came close to answering the question in the headline or even to backing up this nut graf:

“While her corporate track record suggests that Whitman would bring a new brand of leadership to state government, it also makes clear she has never faced anything quite like the political dysfunction that grips the Golden State.” We at Calbuzz are prepared to believe that, but the Merc never demonstrated it – there was nothing in the article comparing what Meg did at eBay or anywhere else to what she’d have to do in Sacramento.

And it looked to us that there was a lot more in Pete’s notebook that didn’t make it into the story about Meg’s acceptance of “friends and family” stock from Goldman Sachs, with whom she was a private client and made $1.78 million – after she hired Goldman to take eBay public in 1998. Whitman was later named in a congressional report that called the IPO system rigged and corrupt. We wanted more: the Merc is the paper of record for eMeg and they should unload what they’ve got and not pussyfoot around about the ethical charges – which this story did.