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Archive for 2010



Shocker: Jerry Wants 3-Way With Meg and Steve

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

In challenging Republicans Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner to an unprecedented series of pre-primary, three-way debates Brown signaled a willingness to plunge into the general election for governor even before the candidates have been chosen – as long as it’s on somebody else’s dime.

“Come out from behind those glittering poppy fields, those beautiful car crashes on top of the mountain,” he told the delegates at the California Democratic Party state convention, referring to TV ads from Republican wannabes Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner. “This is going to be mano a mano, one candidate against the other. Let’s hear the different ideas.”

The partisan crowd at the Democratic state convention, many of whom have waited for months for Brown to aggressively engage in the campaign, reacted with enthusiasm. Which was job No. 1 for the weekend for the 72-year-old attorney general and presumptive party nominee.

The unexpected debate gambit – coming after advisers suggested for days that Brown would refrain from aiming fire at Whitman and Poizner – was a shrewd tactical win-win for crafty Crusty the General, for at least three reasons:

1- The debate challenge, which fired up delegates, showed nervous Democrats that Brown is no drooling Jerryiatric and will stop turning the other cheek as Republicans bash him with abandon.

Click to Gluck

2- It is an attempt to help Poizner, who’s been attacking eMeg on the airwaves for several weeks, by making her look like a chicken and fueling the narrative that she’s hiding and trying to buy the election.

3- With no heavy lifting, Brown won the news cycle and scored an ongoing talking point – What do you mean I’m not campaigning? She’s the one who’s ducking me.

“We cannot delay debating solutions. The need is immediate and millions and millions of dollars in an orgy of spending for TV commercials is not a substitute for an honest and open discussion,” Brown said.

Brown’s change of heart apparently came after he saw new private polling that reportedly shows Poizner closing the gaping margin Whitman has enjoyed in the GOP primary. He also apparently was swayed to go on the offense after seeing a Republican Governor’s Association ad – very similar to the California Chamber of Commerce “issues” ad that was pulled because it was so purely anti-Brown.

Asked at press conference after his speech what he would do if only one of the Republicans accepted the challenge, Brown said that would not do. Calbuzz asked if he really thinks they both will accept.

“I wouldn’t have made the challenge if I didn’t take into account the possibility they might accept it,” he said, drawing a laugh from reporters.

On cue, Poizner’s camp immediately accepted the invitation. Communications director Jarrod Agen:

“Steve Poizner is happy to debate his plan for California against lying corporate CEO Meg Whitman and special interest career politician Jerry Brown. We match up nicely against those two and are willing to debate anywhere, anytime. The voters of California deserve to see these candidates discuss solutions for California and answer difficult questions in an unscripted, unedited setting.”

And not surprisingly, for a campaign that is in the lead, Whitman’s chief consultant Mike Murphy, was considerably less interested:

“It a cynical ploy to elevate Poizner. Jacques must have thought up that one,” he said, referring to Jacques Barzaghi, Brown’s former inscrutable aide de camp.”Jerry should debate this own primary opponents and his own record since he’s been on every side of every issue.

Hearing that Whitman demurred, Poizner’s Agen said, “The Republican nominee will have to debate Jerry Brown. If Meg Whitman is afraid to debate him, then she should not be the Republican nominee.”

Brown, too, responded to the Whitman campaign’s rejection of the call for three-way debates:

Private corporations sometimes hide behind slick advertising campaigns, but it’s wrong for a serious political candidate to do the same.  I urge Meg Whitman to reconsider.  Surely, if she believes she is good enough to be governor of California she must also consider herself competent enough to appear with her opponents.  A candidate for public office should not act like a used car salesperson who relies on misleading TV ads.  Public service is a higher calling, one that demands integrity, openness and honesty.  I encourage Meg Whitman to join with Steve Poizner and me in three joint appearances.

Live from Los Angeles: Donkeys Run Wild

Saturday, April 17th, 2010


The big news at the convention: Jerry Brown challenges Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner to a three-way, pre-primary debate. It has to be all three of them, he said later at a news conference. More from Calbuzz on Jerry’s intriguing proposal to come.

11:10 Treasurer Bill Lockyer is challenging Meg Whitman’s assertions that California has one of the largest state governments and highest state tax rates in the nation, using a blizzard of stats and assailing Republicans for “selfish, scare-mongering, stupid and silly” policies.

10:33: The diminutive Barbara Boxer is asking delegates to stand with us against “Wall Street on steroids” and to join her in making California the hub for clean energy jobs  and ending tax breaks for corporations and the rich and add tax breaks for the middle class and small businesses.

Biggest whoppers: Boxer boasting of “working across party lines” on Capitol Hill and making a priority of reducing  the deficit. Best Line: Talking up health care as a big positive for Dems, she said: “Why would I want to pull the plug on grandma – I am grandma!”

10:24 Boxer was introduced and came through the center of the convention platform to a loud and enthusiastic non-spontaneous demonstration to the sounds of “Aint’ No Mountain High Enough” by Tammy Terrell and Marvin Gaye.

10:00 Chairman John Burton introduced Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis as “the only liberal in the Cabinet.” She delivered a tough partisan speech in which she challenged Republicans to campaign on a platform of opposing health care: “Bring it on,” she said repeatedly.

9:30 – After taking two buses, three cabs and a shuttle, Calbuzz finally made our way from the J.W. Marriott lobby to the L.A. Convention Center at the far end of the Earth.

Barbara Boxer scheduled a press conference before her speech. When she walked in, she went out of her way to greet Mickey Kaus, the pioneer blogger who’s filed a Democratic primary challenge to her. “I wanted to meet my opponent,” she said shaking his hand.

Kaus, who’s been banned from addressing the convention, told us he was allowed to come Boxer’s newser on condition he not ask any questions. In other non-news, Boxer said two reasons that the polls are close in her race is that she has “three strong (Republican) opponents who’ve been beating her up for months and voters haven’t been“paying attention to what I’ve done.”

In response to Calbuzz, she also offered a strong endorsement of AB32, arguing that Gov. Schwarzmuscle’s climate change legislation is necessary to jump-start a green energy industry in the state.  A batch of assembled press and bloggers had a bunch of questions left, but Boxer’s handlers cut it off at 9:45, saying she had to go make her speech to the delegates.

Key Questions Emerge as Dem Party Confab Opens

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

As the Calbuzz National Affairs desk settled into our sky box high above the floor of the California Democratic Convention, our battalion of political correspondents buttonholed delegates, honored guests and party hacks alike to answer the 10 key questions looming over the weekend events:

1-Will Jerry Brown manage to stay awake for the Young Democrats party? With Brown’s unopposed stroll to the party’s nomination for governor sucking all drama from the proceedings, Crusty’s job this weekend is to energize the several thousand activists on hand, who are in a grumpy frame of mind because of Meg-a-Million’s fast start on the Republican side. The under-30 set, who weren’t born the last time Jerry was governor but whose enthusiasm will be important come November, are in particular need of wooing; alas they don’t start partying until 9 p.m. tonight, and the 72-year old Brown’s handlers must hope he hasn’t slipped into his jammies by then.

2-Can Dr. H avoid the paparazzi? The second annual Dr. P.J. Hackenflack Democratic Convention Dinner is scheduled for tonight at a hush-hush exclusive location, with a celebrity-packed A list roster of glittering guests. But in the land of TMZ, a fish as big as Dr. H will be hard-pressed to protect his privacy.

3-Will United States Senator Barbara Boxer Herself stalk out when some rude blogger calls her “Ma’am”? At last year’s convention, California’s junior senator looked like a mortal lock for re-election, but things seemed to start to unravel for her when she famously condescended to a top military officer at a committee hearing not long after. Now the episode has become a metaphor for Boxer’s arrogance and sense of entitlement after 18 years in office, amid the worst political atmosphere for arrogant, entitled incumbent Democrats in a generation.

4-Has Jerry improved his salsa steps? The headline act of the weekend is Los Lobos, which will be performing at the L.A. Convention Center on Saturday night. Political observers will be watching closely to see if Brown’s awkward moves have improved from the ’70s when he was kicking it with girlfriend Linda Ronstadt at Lucy’s El Adobe.

5-Will this be Nancy Pelosi’s last state convention as Speaker? Talking to the most liberal crowd outside of Cuba, Pelosi will no doubt be hozannaed to the heavens, if not nominated for sainthood, for her leadership in passing health care reform.  She should enjoy it while she can, since the legislation is viewed considerably less favorably by voters in the districts of dozens of Democratic members, whose defeats could trigger a Republican takeover of the House.

6-Will Mickey Kaus collect any items for his blog? Kaus, the Mr. Crankypants blogger who’s mounted a symbolic centrist challenge to Boxer, has been banned from speaking to the convention by Democratic Party Minister of Annoyance John Burton.  Mickey writes some of the smartest contrarianisms on the web, so hopefully he’ll at least pick up some stuff for his site.

7-How many times will the words “Goldman Sachs” be uttered from the podium? Even before theSEC’s legal move against the giant investment bank on Friday, Goldman Sachs was emerging as a leading villain of coming Democratic rip jobs on eMeg, whose seamy history as a board member challenged the limits of ethics, if not the law. Brown previewed the line of attack late Friday, when he combined a shot at Whitman’s Wall Street connections with her effort to buy the election: “The rules of democracy are not changed just because a billionaire decides she wants to be governor…You can’t have a hostile takeover of the democratic process.”

8-Will Gavin Newsom and Garry South make it pistols at 10 paces? Political consultant South has done some serious trash talking about Prince Gavin, who quit the campaign  for governor that South was running and now is running for Lieutenant Governor, against South’s new client, L.A. City Council member Janice Hahn. The pair got within a few feet of each other at a convention bash last night, but Gavin wouldn’t even look at Garry: “He’s conflict and confrontation averse,” said South.

9-Will anybody top the spread put on by the CCPOA? The California Correctional Peace Officers Association– thank you Michael Flores –  set a high bar with their Friday cocktail party reception honoring Speaker John Perez: salmon-caviar canapés, satay chicken, crab cake balls, fresh shrimp, pot stickers, egg rolls and an open bar. Today’s “Taco Truck Throwdown,” presented by Perez and Senate leader Darrell Steinberg could mount a serious challenge. Rest  assured Calbuzz will be there to do some Actual Reporting.

10-Will live blogging drive traffic or drive away traffic? Calbuzz will be indefatigably bringing every minute of non-stop action from the podium, assuming we get up in time.

P.S. Late Friday Calbuzz stumbled onto an oddity: Newsom’s reception — sponsored and approved by labor unions — was catered by non-union restaurateur Wolfgang Puck.  At first, Calbuzz thought this might have been a bonehead,  rookie mistake at the all-union-all-the-time Demo convention. But it turns out steady hand Cal Strat consultant Jason Kinney, who worked his butt off to organize the event, got the whole deal sanctioned by all the key state and local labor groups. And in fact, the sponsors of the event included the teachers, nurses, faculty and farm workers unions.  On your behalf, Calbuzz tested the martinis and the chocolate at Newsom rival Janice Hahn’s and found them far superior to Puck’s potato chip, red licorice and crudite spread. But, Newsom’s event at the Target Terrace above the Grammy Museum had live entertainment with Lisa Loeb, Benji Madden and Steven Weber while Hahn just had a boom box.

Why Brown Won’t Unload on eMeg at Dem Convo

Friday, April 16th, 2010

You could argue that Jerry Brown, who is going to be his party’s nominee for governor, ought to accept the notion that Meg Whitman is going to be the Republican nominee and should begin campaigning against her at the California Democratic Party convention this weekend in LA.

The general election is already under way, says this argument, posited mostly by progressive Democrats, and Brown is just wasting time, letting Whitman get away with murder as she gains positive name ID using corporate CEO as a brand. Given the scandal in the banking industry, Wall Street’s misadventures and the collapse of the American economy, who would ever have thought that a candidate could gain traction as a corporate bigwig?

Whitman’s succeeded so far because no one is attacking her from the left (except Level the Playing Field and the California Accountability Project, neither of which has put their anti-Meg slams into serious TV). eMeg’s GOP opponent, Steve Poizner, attacks Whitman from the right – which actually helps her look somewhat moderate in the general election against Brown.

So with all the news organizations gathered in LA for the Democratic convention, why not use the opportunity to get some free media and launch an all-out attack against eMeg? Frame it around three bullet points:

1) She’s a corporate fat cat who’s out of touch with real people and in cahoots with the greedy, bloodsucking parasites on Wall Street who have wrecked our economy.

2) She’d undo California’s progressive laws seeking to reverse global warming and set polar bears out on ice floes.

3) She’d build more prisons at the expense of schools – how’s that supposed to help California grow jobs and become more competitive in the modern economy?

Yes, Brown could fall prey to the siren song of a full-time, 24-7, balls-to-the-wall general election starting right now. And be broke by Labor Day.

Further, you might ask, why would he want to poke a stick at Whitman right now? Let sleeping billionaires lie seems to make more sense. Why do anything to encourage Whitman to start spending any of her unlimited funds on Brown any earlier than it’s gonna happen anyway?

Which is why, when Brown speaks Saturday, he’s likely to rally the Democratic base and speak harshly in general about Republicans, but not too personally about Whitman. There will be some obvious references: you can’t do a populist jeremiad without bellowing about the bankers on Wall Street and their black-hearted corporate cronies. But don’t expect too much about Goldman Sachs, eBay stock spinning and investments in Skype.

As one strategist close to the Brown campaign told Calbuzz: “It would be a waste of opposition research to roll it out now.”

Sure, we’d love to see the fireworks. But then again, we don’t have to maintain the fire.

That’s the story of the Hurricane: Once again, Carly Fiorina is shocked – shocked! – to learn of alleged unsavory, perhaps illegal, conduct by employees under her watch as CEO of Hewlett-Packard. As all good Calbuzzers know, Hurricane Carly has already professed to know nothin’ about nothin’ to do with HP’s shipments to Iran of hundreds of millions of dollars of products, through a third party company, during her tenure.

Now comes the Wall Street Journal (subscription) to report that the SEC and the U.S. Justice Department have joined the governments of Russia and Germany in investigating allegations that HP went to the wallet for $11 million in bribes to win a lucrative contract with the Russian prosecutor general’s office, while Fiorina was in charge. So, for the second time, iCarly is rolling out her see-no-evil, hear-no-evil act:

“Carly has no knowledge of these alleged actions,” said her spokeswoman, Amy Thoma. “When she served as the CEO of HP if she had been aware of any illegal or inappropriate behavior by any employee she would have taken action immediately to terminate the parties involved.”

Which leaves four possibilities:

1) Double agents in the German and Russian governments, joined by moles in the SEC and DOJ, have all been duped by demon sheep in the Chuck DeVore for Senate campaign into leaking word of a baseless, phony investigation.

2) Fiorina, who never stops boasting of what a swell job she did as HP CEO, was simply ignorant of what was going on in her own company.

3) The whole messy business has slipped her mind.

4) She’s lying.

Calbuzz bets: 2) or 4).

eMeg’s Video Feeds Put TV Stations on the Spot

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

When we saw Mike Sugarman’s piece on KPIX-TV about Meg Whitman’s new media tactic — shooting video of campaign events, uplinking to a communications satellite and making the video available to TV stations throughout the state — we thought that was a pretty clever use of her vast resources.

A video news release (VNR) is really just the electronic version of a good old-fashioned press release. And if a campaign — or an officeholder — can afford it, why not distribute video? It’s really up to the TV stations to decide whether to use spoon-fed, edited material from a candidate or official, just like newspapers have to decide whether to publish press releases.

But then eMeg’s GOP opponent Steve Poizner unleashed spokesman Jarrod Agen to charge:

Meg Whitman crossed another line in this race by spending her millions to spread her campaign propaganda in tailored sound bites to news stations. This latest action from Meg Whitman of sending ‘Video News Releases’ to media outlets across the state is not only further proof that she cannot handle an unscripted environment, but it breaches the ethics of journalism. First it was staged town halls, now Meg Whitman is trying to buy positive coverage.

Oh puh-leeze.

Democrat Jerry Brown’s complaint was no more sensible, although it was at least more succinct:  “Meg Whitman isn’t just happy buying commercial breaks, now she’s trying to buy the newscasts, too.”

Yo! Crusty! You want some cheese with that whine?

Here’s the deal: The Whitman campaign is rolling in dough. They can afford to send a videographer on the road with their candidate. They can afford to rent a satellite truck and sat time and make B roll available to TV stations at the same time they’re offering one-on-one satellite interviews with those stations. What’s the problem?

Randy Shandobil of KTVU, the best TV reporter in the Bay Area, said he expects his station will likely ignore eMeg’s video feeds, unless there’s some extraordinary reason to use the footage and then it would be labeled as having been provided by the campaign.

Our old friend Dan Rosenheim, news director at KPIX-TV, pretty much endorsed that outlook. And he agreed with Calbuzz that there’s nothing unusual about candidates using every trick in the book to get coverage.

“The burden in this case is on the news organizations,” said Rosenheim.

The problem is this: small stations around the state with few resources will be sorely tempted to put up eMeg’s video as if it were their own and that’s just unethical. But as Rosenheim notes, that’s a challenge for the news outlets — not publicity-seeking candidates.

This is not the same thing, by the way, as producing and sending out phony news stories with actors pretending to be TV reporters and anchors — as Gov. Schwarzmuscle and former President Shrub tried. This is just packaged video footage.

In the meantime, Steve and Jerry would be advised to save their complaints for when eMeg really does go over the line.

Hey, a little bit of mold never hurt anybody: At a time when MSM journalists increasingly spend their days tweeting, Facebooking, You Tubing and otherwise digitally passing virtual time, it’s good to see somebody’s still doing some old fashioned reporting.

So we’re delighted to award a Calbuzz Gold Medal for Resourceful Reporting and Dumpster Diving to Alicia Lewis and Ashli Briggs, the two CSU Stanislaus students who uncovered the secret documents outlining Sarah Palin’s sweet deal to speak on campus in June.

It’s surely coincidental, of course, that the dynamic duo who pulled this stuff literally out of the trash are both political science majors, although any campaign looking for a couple of hungry young oppo research types could clearly do a lot worse.

The pair’s disclosures about the high-end perks Palin demands in exchange for showing up and blathering for an hour or so have made national news, despite the sad fact that they’ve had to share their 15 minutes with Leland Yee, the media windbag state senator from San Francisco.

A word of caution going forward for Lewis and Briggs (whom the university is now absurdly trying to demonize): this line of work can be dangerous. In the future, be sure to heed these dumpster diving best practices guidelines from All Things Frugal.

Equipment

If you are going in the evening, you are going to need something to light up the dumpster. Some people carry a small flashlight. They attach a cord to it, and then hold it in their teeth to keep their hands free. Others wear a headlamp! You can find them at reasonable prices in the bike area of discount stores.

You need something to pull the stuff to you- some kind of pole with a hook at the end. A hoe works. You can also buy long poles that will pick up a quarter in the corner of an empty dumpster.

A stepping stool will help you reach over the top.
Bags- Trash Bags, Plastic Bags, etc., and duct tape in case your bag splits open.
Wet wipes to clean up with, and anti-bacterial lotion for afterwards.

A basic first aid kit, in case you hurt yourself.

– Never climb into a Dumpster with Medical and Hazardous Waste. Anyone can throw out a needle that could jab you. Wear protective clothing.
– Lids that suddenly slam shut when windy.
– Sharp Objects.
– Icky stuff- like dead animals.
– Make sure that there are no ordinances that make this activity illegal in your area.