Why Brown Should Sign Initiatives Bill; Perry’s Lies


Alert Calbuzzers will not be surprised to learn that at 1 a.m. Saturday, the Legislature approved a bill assuring that statewide initiatives will henceforth be voted on in November general elections – when turnout is largest – and no longer at June elections, even if that’s the next regularly scheduled statewide election after the measure qualifies.

Masquerading as a good government reform, SB 202, by Sen. Loni Hancock of Oakland, was a power play by labor unions and the Democrats to allow the greatest number of voters to have a crack at ballot measures that often have major, long-term consequences for the state.

Exactly as we predicted, the bill was jammed through at the last minute by majority votes in both houses of the Legislature. There would have been virtually no awareness or discussion of the issue except that Calbuzz (and FlashReport, followed by others) wrote about it nearly two weeks before the deed was done.

It’s not how the system should work, but it is how the system does work. Moreover, it’s the right thing to do and Gov. Jerry Brown should sign it.

Why? Because a) elections have consequences, b) Republicans have proved themselves unwilling to actually participate in governing and c) it’s better that big changes in the law and Constitution should be voted on by the widest possible electorate.

“SB 202 simply affirms that the California Constitution is right when it says initiatives should be voted on in general elections,” Speaker John Pérez said. “We have had instances where far reaching proposals that affect all Californians are determined in the lowest turnout elections. We have a chance to fix that, and I’m not willing to choose complacency over the Constitution.”

“The legislation would also bring California in line with 18 out of 24 other initiative states that do not allow initiatives to be placed on primary or special election ballots because of low-voter turnout in these elections,” the Speaker’s office added in a written statement.

None of that is really why labor and the Democrats want this done. It’s because they don’t want things like paycheck protection and spending caps and pension restrictions placed on a ballot where there’s a lower turnout, which means a higher proportion of older, conservative and Republican voters.

It’s lovely that there’s a goo-goo patina on the deal. The reformers who argue that big measures should be voted on by the most voters will get a thrill up their legs. Isn’t that special?

But let’s be serious: This is about the majority party exercising its power to accomplish their goals. Which is a hell of a lot better than the minority party using its power to keep the majority from governing.

Do the right thing Jerry: sign the bill.

Coyote Ugly: It was Mark Twain who famously declared that “there are three kinds of lies – lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Texas Governor Rick Perry, just weeks after jumping into the Republican presidential race, took little time in touching all the bases.

For starters, while Perry’s account of killing a coyote while running  has quickly become part of his political mythology, it appears that this self-serving saga of man-confronts-beast-on-the-jogging track is taller than any tale Mr. Clemens ever spun.

Carol Flake Chapman, a veteran Texas reporter who knows whereof she speaks, closely examines the crucial details of Perry’s story in a 2,200 word deconstruction at Daily Beast and shows that it just doesn’t pass the smell test.

Chapman, who used to belong to the same running club as Perry, and also competed against him in shooting contests, brings the skepticism to the task that AP reporter Jim Vertuno, to whom the governor first peddled the yarn, did not, thus enabling Ranger Rick to spread his urban cowboy image across the nation.

There is no evidence, beyond Perry’s claim, that the incident happened at all, let alone the way he spun it; no witnesses, no report filed by the governor’s security detail, no corpus Canis latrans.

Perry claims that he happened to be packing his pistol that morning because he was afraid of snakes, and that it came in handy when the coyote in question “laser-locked” its attention on his daughter’s Labrador Retriever. He told the reporter that after “hollering” at the coyote and charging it, he proceeded to send it “where coyotes go” with just one laser-guided shot.

Presumably that would be coyote never-never land. Laser-like focus is no match, apparently, for the right firearm accessory. But however many times I try to rerun this scenario in my head, it just doesn’t make any sense, gun-wise or coyote-wise. And I’m not alone in that conclusion. There’s something about this story that just doesn’t smell right to folks who know something about guns, snakes, and coyotes.

Damn lies: Stretching, even fabricating, the truth about what is a relatively harmless matter (except for the allegedly unfortunate purported coyote), of course doesn’t make Perry much different from countless other politicians who embellish their reputations with self-admiring anecdotes.

But if he’s willing to fib about a small thing, it’s not hard to imagine him lying about more important matters, like economic conditions in the Lone Star state, which he never tires of bragging on as some kind of economic utopia.

Au contraire, Dallas Morning News columnist Tod Robberson, wrote shortly after last week’s GOP presidential debate:

When Rick Perry tells Mitt Romney that “we” created more jobs in Texas in the last three months than Romney created in four years in Massachusetts, that only tells part of the story. Flip inside your Dallas Morning News today, and you’ll see one of the big items Perry conveniently forgot to mention in last night’s debate. Under Rick Perry, “we” have created more hungry people in Texas than 49 other states.

Texas ranks only behind Mississippi among states with the highest percentages of food-insecure households from 2008-2010. Nearly 19 percent of Texas households couldn’t get enough food to meet their needs during that period, according to a new report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Massachusetts ranks way at the bottom of the list, with only around 10 percent food insecurity.

If Texas has all the jobs, why are so many people going around hungry, Mr. Perry? Maybe that’s one of the questions Mitt Romney needs to ask his opponent the next time they debate.

Damn lying statistics: Perry relishes torturing the numbers to support his over-the-top claims about what a swell job he’s done boosting employment.

In part, Perry’s triumphalism on the subject is like the rooster taking credit for the sunrise (“The notion that Texas’ recent performance is due to some unusually favorable business climate is absurd,” said James K. Galbraith, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin), an argument Romney made during the debate.

Beyond that, however, there’s his dishonest use of stats in comparing Texas under his leadership to every other state in the union. (The Austin American-Statesman “PolitFact” feature does an excellent job of tracking the ever-changing iterations of Perry’s boasts about “creating jobs” ).

Two outside experts said the governor’s…claim overstates the Texas share of jobs created nationally.

Michael Brandl, a senior lecturer at the University of Texas McCombs School of Business, said the commission’s method of calculating the percentage wasn’t correct. By excluding all states with net job losses — regardless of any job gains in those states — the Texas share of total new jobs in the U.S. was overblown, even “laughable,” he said.

“To say it’s misleading is to be kind,” Brandi said. “It’s just not true.”

Memo to our California Republican friends: Caveat emptor.

Last word on 9/11: ICYMI, here is one of the most thoughtful counter-intuitive stories we’ve ever read about the cultural implications of the attacks.



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There are 10 comments for this post

  1. avatar thetruthsquad says:

    Re: November ballot story…

    There was no pension reform ballot measure that was likely to qualify for the June 2012 ballot anyway. None of the proposed initiatives have received any funding, nor are on the street for signature. The Legislature has, however, committed to work on the issue during the interim and it could possibly put something on the ballot itself, most likely in November.

  2. avatar pjhackenflack says:

    Still, they want to make sure that if and when “paycheck protection” comes around again, it will be voted on in a November general election.

  3. avatar pdperry says:

    You boys crack me up, but then that’s why I keep coming back…

    How is it that, “Reeps have proved themselves unwilling to actually participate, etc…” when those are the exact voters that turn-out in every election?

    No. It’s so much more important that people who only vote in select elections and have union-organized transportation to the polls get their voices heard.

    Every election is important and if people are too lazy to vote, screw’em.

    But then the Lazy Majority wouldn’t get their little voices heard. So glad you have such outstanding legislative leadership to help them…

    • avatar Donald from Pasadena says:

      Last I saw, unions account for only about 12% of the overall California workforce. Listening to people like you, you’d think it was an oppressive majority. Yet even at its height in the 1950s and ’60s, unions never represented more than 34% of the nation’s workers.

      You guys on the right are certainly adept at creating strawmen, tilting at windmills and belittling others who don’t necessarily agree with your version of the way things ought to be.

      But as I’ve seen it and observed over the years, the GOP’s problem is that while Republicans forever endeavor to rule, they disdain the actual due process of governance whenever they attain power. In that regard, I’d only need to point to today’s shameful events in the North Carolina legislature, where the GOP majority fast-tracked legislation to place on next year’s ballot a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, thereby avoiding the inconvenience of having to actually schedule the bill for pesky public hearings prior to its passage.

      As most parents and grandparents can tell you, four- and five-year-old are quite good at crossing their arms, scowling at you and saying “No!” It would be nice to see the Republicans demonstrate for once that they aren’t emotionally stunted at the pre-school level in perpetuity.

      As the late Hawaii Gov. John Burns once told a political opponent, “Look, any goddamned fool can draw a line in the sand – but who am I to argue with one?”

    • avatar pdperry says:

      Oh, I’m sorry DfP. Did I belittle you?

      “People like me…”

      Seems the pot’s calling the kettle black again.

      And, last I checked, we’re in California. What they do in North Carolina isn’t my concern when I see what the state employee unions and their sycophants in the California Legislature are up to.

      Can you say, “union dues for babysitters”?

      And you’re not really a disinterested observer regarding your Reep “observations.”

      It would appear you have very strong beliefs (Which I am not “belittling”) and I have mine (Which you don’t seem to appreciate very much, but I’ll try to get over it.).

      Reeps vote. A large portion of Dems don’t, unless someone makes it easy enough for them. Fortunately, for you, there’s more Dems than Reeps, so you’ll usually get your way.

      But, if you want to complain about belittling, go ahead and cast that first stone…

      Oh, you already did.

  4. avatar chuckmcfadden says:

    pd, your oddball perspective is amusing. The majority is not “little voices.” It’s true that Republicans — the few of them left in California — do vote in large percentages, bless ’em. But the “boys” are talking about Republican legislators, who, yes indeed, have refused to participate. Stonewalling is not participation. And Horrors! unions actually transporting voters! What’s next? Voting by mail?

    • avatar pdperry says:

      LOL. You kids can’t even pass the Chron’s smell test.

      “November initiatives (SB202). Democrats want to push ballot initiatives from the June to the November ballot. Why? Because party leaders want the advantage of a heavy turnout during a general election. This end-of-session rush job is bad enough as a partisan power play, but, worse yet, it undoes a key element of a 2009 budget deal (struck by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders of both parties) that was included to get Republican votes on tax increases. It shifts the vote on a constitutional budget reform bill (spending limit, rainy-day fund) from the agreed-on June 2012 to November 2014. In effect, the Democrats are pulling a double cross on a deal they made with Republicans – a deal that cost the two GOP legislative leaders dearly, effectively ending their political careers. It’s a slimy move – partisanship at its worst. Veto it.”

      Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/09/12/EDS91L3ENE.DTL#ixzz1Xwn3DKRt

  5. avatar chrisfinnie says:

    To give the devil his due, Perry appears to have mastered one concept that clearly wasn’t taught at Texas A&M when he went there (or his dismal GPA might have been higher): If you tell a lie often enough, people accept it as truth. You wouldn’t believe the number of stories I’ve read by supposed “journalists” that repeat this job creation line without qualification. Few note that the energy boom created most of the better jobs. Or the federal government. And that the rest, as you note, are low-wage jobs that don’t pay enough to keep food on the table.

    Nor do they provide benefits, giving Texas one of the highest rates of uninsured residents in the nation. Since Texas is a small-government state, this means the state doesn’t provide safety-net services for these poor folks. Leaving Texas residents up the proverbial creek when they get sick.

  6. avatar sqrjn says:

    thanks for the Tom Junod link

  7. avatar cbarney says:

    i don’t quite see how this

    “The legislation would also bring California in line with 18 out of 24 other initiative states that do not allow initiatives to be placed on primary or special election ballots because of low-voter turnout in these elections,” the Speaker’s office added in a written statement.

    differs all that much from this:

    None of that is really why labor and the Democrats want this done. It’s because they don’t want things like paycheck protection and spending caps and pension restrictions placed on a ballot where there’s a lower turnout, which means a higher proportion of older, conservative and Republican voters.

    spun differently, sure, but still pretty much the same thing. low turnout is low turnout. which is why you want the guv to sign it.

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