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Archive for 2011



How New District Maps Could Affect the State Budget

Friday, June 10th, 2011

Reapportionment – the decennial re-drawing of boundaries for legislative and congressional districts – is about as exciting to most people as watching the C-Span feed from the House Committee on Agriculture.

But wait! When the California Citizens Redistricting Commission releases proposed maps for new districts today, things could actually get interesting.

This time, instead of balancing districts by party registration, by voting blocs and by strongholds for various incumbents – as the system has nearly always operated – there are two principal considerations: 1) one-person-one-vote, or equal numeric representation and 2) the Voting Rights Act, which requires that historically underrepresented communities (like Latinos) cannot be diluted.

Contiguous districts, compactness, communities of interest – all of these kinds of concerns, even though called for by various court decisions, are secondary — which leaves folks in certain neighborhoods unhappy, but without much recourse.

What could matter is this: if, when final districts are adopted, some Republicans in the Assembly and/or Senate are thrown into the same districts, and if those districts are no longer safe GOP seats, it’s just possible that Gov. Jerry Brown might suddenly find himself with a reluctant Republican ally or two in his quest to find a budget solution.

It’s an outside possibility, we know. But not impossible.

The independent redistricting commission, created when voters approved Proposition 11 in 2008, was set up to end the inherent conflict of interest of having legislators draw their own district lines. That historic practice often resulted in seats that were either very safe Democratic or very safe Republican.

Overall, the previous system favored partisans from the extreme wings of both parties over moderates, fueling gridlock in a Legislature populated more by ideologues than pragmatists.

Just five days after the new proposed district maps are released, comes the constitutional deadline to pass the state budget – a deadline that has been historically missed with impunity. But with the passage of Prop. 25 last year, legislators will stop getting paid if the budget is not passed on time.

Democrats could, under the new law, pass the budget with a majority vote, obviating the Republicans altogether. But they’d still need two-thirds to extend or increase taxes.

After seeing their proposed new districts, a few Republican lawmakers just might reexamine their blanket opposition to taxes. With more Democrat-leaning Latinos in their districts, for example, some may decide to exchange ideological purity for pragmatic deal-making.

Or so Brown hopes.

Why Hold Back?

One place an election is taking place in the existing district is LA’s 36th CD, where Democrat Janice Hahn is up against Craig Huey, the Republican who outpolled Debra Bowen in the top-two primary. Seems like the Hahn campaign (Garry South, we recognize your tactics against Dick Riordan) decided to unload the heavy stuff right off the bat, not taking any chances.

Who wants to criminalize abortion, euthanize old people and wipe out family planning? You guessed it, poor Mr. Huey.

What looks like a walk-over for Hahn is, it appears, in part a function of the ideological purity of the GOP primary voters. As one Demorcatic operative tells Calbuzz privately:

Whatever else he is, Huey is for sure a no-taxes-ever, anti-gay marriage anti-abortion tea partier. Republican primary voters, in their finite wisdom, passed up Republicans like Mike Gin — who could have made it a serious contest on economic principles — to vote for Huey. So long as they keep doing that, the Republican Party in California will continue to be a shrinking party. The issue isn’t the ad, it’s the nomination of a guy vulnerable to the ad.

Must read of the week: The all-time, all-purpose, one-step, off-the-shelf apology for all occasions. Just add water.

Sarah Revere: “The Weiner is Coming!”

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

We began to suffer from Weiner Fatigue even before we read the revolting  Facebook exchanges between U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner and a 40-year-old Las Vegas blackjack dealer (which started, astonishingly, after Weiner got married to the spectacular Huma Abedinn). The Heartbreak of WF: also known as impoltence — the inability to become aroused by an otherwise titillating political development.

Let’s be blunt: The guy’s a perv and he needs some help. According to our resident psychiatrist, the eminent Dr. P.J. Hackenflack, there had to have been some, uh, payload payoff accompanying Weiner’s sexting with strangers over the internets. “Why else would a nice Jewish boy with a lovely wife sneak around like a one-handed chicken strangler?” Dr. H explained.

Which is just one reason why House Democratic Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi properly called for an ethics investigation into whether the New York congressman violated any rules or laws, like using official resources to send his potty-mouthed messages and/or photos of his now-legendary House member through the intertubes.

Inquiring minds may not want to know.

Still, as the New York and Washington media keep stuffing themselves on the story while pondering Big Questions like “Can Anthony Weiner survive?” – we confess to finding ourselves more troubled by the outspoken, impassioned ignorance (as our friend Mike Rezendes at the Boston Globe calls it) of Sarah Palin.

While Weiner has a problem – and will either stay in Congress or not – Palin is a problem.

It’s not just that she’s unselfconsciously stupid. Or that she’s unabashedly self-promotional and arrogant. It’s that she is aggressively anti-intellectual and anti-reality. She creates a world where facts are what she says they are, whether there is any basis in rationality for her assertions.

It is truly vile, offensive and odious to watch and listen to this woman twist objective reality into her personal pastiche. Her idiotic revisionist story of Paul Revere, as a Second Amendment adviser to the British, is just the latest example of Palin’s vapid, nutcase world view. Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post comes close to expressing our complete and utter contempt for Palin’s manipulations.

Even when the in-the-tank-for-the right Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday gently suggested, “You realized that you messed up about Paul Revere, don’t you?” Palin responded as follows:

You know what, I didn’t mess up about Paul Revere. Here’s what Paul Revere did. He warned the Americans that ‘the British were coming, the British were coming’ and they were going to try to take our arms. . . . But remember, the British had already been there . . . part of his ride was to warn the British that were already there that, ‘hey, you’re not going to succeed. You’re not going to take American arms. You are not going to beat our own well-armed persons, individual, private militia that we have.’ He did warn the British. And in a shout-out, gotcha-type of question that was asked of me, I answered candidly. And I know my American history.

Thank heavens for Stephen Colbert who defended Palin by validating her version of Revere’s ride the other night. Never has Michelle Bachmann looked so good.

And now this message from our conscience:

Many thanks to loyal Calbuzzer Cliff Barney for expressing his concern that we’ll stop writing about the budget just because the latest Dr. Hackenflack poll shows that huge majorities of imaginary respondents are tired of reading about it.

No worries, Cliff, no way you’ll find Calbuzz practicing poll-driven journalism – we’re in it until the last dog dies.

That said, it’s not exactly a big secret that budget policy isn’t quite our, um, métier; indeed, our oeuvre is all about politics: “poli,” from the Greek meaning “the many,” and “tics,” meaning “blood sucking parasites.”

So while we’ve done some swell analyses of the budget situation, if we do say ourselves (here, here and here, for example), the true, value-added service we provide to our readers on the budget — through regular features like Press Clips and Fishwrap — is to point to the best work of colleagues who are assigned to cover the substance of the story – for actual money! — and to sweat the details.

In that regard, some quick tips: 1) If you’re not starting your day with Rough and Tumble, (after checking Calbuzz, of course), your head’s not in the game; Jack Kavanagh pulls together not only the most comprehensive and balanced daily report on straight budget stuff, but also the most significant aggregation of reporting on key issues, from environment to education; 2) Kevin Yamamura of the Bee provides the press corps’ most solid, day in and day out budget coverage, and deserves a medal for his ongoing “Brown’s Countdown” series; 3) The California Budget Project’s reports are accurate, in-depth and detailed must-reads from a progressive perspective; 4) the Calbuzz Counting House and Financial Affairs Desk moonlights at the prize-winning Santa Barbara Independent, providing  week-in-review analysis of budget and other such weighty matters in the hugely popular Capitol Letters column.

Now back to the snark.

How the Calbuzz Blogroll Will Cover the Budget Deal

Monday, June 6th, 2011

A new poll by the Calbuzz Department of Market Research and Your Conclusion for a Price Surveys confirms our readers have “had it up to here” with state budget stories, chief poll taker and staff psychiatrist Dr. P.J. Hackenflack said Monday.

According to the poll, 11% of readers say they are “extremely bored” with the budget; 23% describe themselves as “extraordinarily bored;” and 56% say “we’ll come down to your office and eviscerate every one of you bastards if you run one more goddamn budget story.” The remaining 10%, still hung over from Hackenflack’s Inaugural Dinner, had no opinion.

Because perception in politics is just as important as reality and as a service to our readers, we’ve decided to start acting like there is a budget deal. So here’s the round-up of how it was covered around the state:

Brown, solons reach surprise budget accord: In a stunning end to the long budget battle, Gov. Jerry Brown announced early this morning that he and key Republican lawmakers have reached agreement  on a new state fiscal blueprint. Unfortunately, the big event left Brown unable to speak English: “Manus manum lavath,” he kept repeating to reporters. Kevin Yamamura and David Siders Capitol Alert

How the deal went down: Moments after Gov. Jerry Brown and a handful of Republicans struck a budget deal, a dazed-looking Sen. Bob Huff of Diamond Bar, the GOP leader, stumbled out of the governor’s office  and bitterly complained that First Lady Anne Gust Brown had locked him in a closet and subjected him to hours of loud music from her I-Pod playlist. “She made me listen to the Spice Girls, TLC, Riot Grrrl and I don’t even know what else. Shame on her.” Shane Goldmacher PolitiCal

Evil backstabbing liberal RINOs must be crushed: I just got off the phone with Grover Norquist, and he said that the renegade sell-out Gang of Four did his Tax Pledge with a pinky swear, so it’s a real solemn oath that stays in effect their whole entire lives, just like the Mafia. Boy is he pissed. Just wait until John and Ken find out. Jon Fleischman Flashreport

Brown shows true colors by caving into cult: By betraying the progressive community’s principled demand to impose a 93% personal income tax rate on everyone who’s not a public employee, Jerry Brown has revealed himself as yet another weasely corporate Democrat surrendering to the Two Santa Claus demands of the Republican Zombie Death Cult. Robert Cruickshank Calitics

Cute Welsh Corgi brokered tax deal: First Dog Sutter Brown gave an exclusive interview to Shaky Hands Productions! He rolled over on his back with his little paws up in the air and those cute brown eyes got all white from being stuck up the back of his head and everything, and then Comrade Garofoli asked him how the budget negotiations were: “Ruff, ruff,” he said. Carla Marinucci and Joe Garofoli Politicsblog

Skelton: Finally the adults show up: Thirty years ago, Jerry Brown was young and stupid and liberal. Today he’s old and slightly less stupid but, most importantly, a bipartisan moderate centrist. Partisanship, grrrrr. Harrumph, grumble, grrrr. George Skelton Capitol Journal

Walters: False elation of budget deal portends gloomy future: Many years ago, when I was a young police reporter, terrible things happened that made me understand everything always gets worse. So pay no attention to the so-called “budget deal” reached in the Capitol. Just wait. Dan Walters in the Sacramento Bee

Jarvis is turning over in his grave: Californians do not want higher taxes. Howard Jarvis told me so. He whispered it right in my ear: “Jon,” he said, “Californians do not want higher taxes.” So send money right now to the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. It’s the only hope you have. Jon Coupal Fox and Hounds

72 Fundraisers Slated for Tonight: Budget deal. Bah. They cut the money for restaurant nutrition labeling inspections to pay the welfare chiselers. One thing never changes, though: they’ll all be shaking down lobbyists with expensive booze and food, starting tonight. Check out my  restaurant reviews. Greg Lucas California’s Capitol

What it means for state bureaucrats: LAO confirms DOF statement that BOE receipts will grow, as DOC and CalTrans fear worst and CTA says Prop 98 Test 2 future depends on SEIU. Steinberg to hold big press conference.  Torey van Oot and Jim Sanders Capitol Alert

How Cap Weekly’s Top 100 did in budget deal: Who’s up: Brown, Blakeslee, Blumenfield. Who’s down: Newsom, Harris, Strickland. Revised list in this week’s print edition. Staff of Capitol Weekly

Brown shuns radio invite to talk budget and Kings future: Not content with destroying one-tenth of the nation’s economy, Jerry Brown has shown true cowardice by refusing to come on the air with me to discuss what his so-called “agreement” means for the future of NBA basketball in Sacramento. Go Tribe! Eric Hogue Hoguenews

Good guys win, bad guys headed to deepest pit of hell: Whatever else you can say about the big budget deal Gov. Brown reached with the obstinate, obstructionist, just-say-no Republicans, my clients made out like bandits. Steven Maviglio California Majority Report

Why is this a surprise? The always weak California press corps, which is even more decimated now,  is shocked that Jerry Brown cut a budget deal with Republicans. Boy, are they stupid. I knew it all along. All of it. Really. As I wrote before. I’m not surprised at all. Huffington Post

Podcast: Brown budget combines taxes and spending: Jerry Brown said he would seek a “balance” in a new budget. Did he do it? What is balance anyway? Is it the same as “balanced?” How about a “balancing act?” Are they, existentially speaking, the same thing? Or not?  Listen as Anthony York and I talk to each other. John Myers Capital Notes

Schwarzenegger says Brown’s lack of love child helped him balance budget: Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger admits that he would have done a better job managing the state’s finances if he could have only managed to keep his pants zipped. “They told me I couldn’t ‘hold my own’ in Sacramento,” he said in a prepared statement. “So I figured, if I can’t hold my own, who will? I’m sorry it led to this.” Mark Z. Barabak in the Los Angeles Times

Calbuzz: Budget Deal Little Pulitzers: Sex! Drugs! Scandal! Jerry Roberts and Phil Trounstine Calbuzz