Archive for the ‘Proposition 13’ Category



Jerry ‘Been There, Done That’ Brown Hits the Air

Monday, September 6th, 2010

After months of being pounded on TV by Meg Whitman and her allies, Jerry Brown takes to the airwaves this week, introducing himself to younger voters, reminding older voters of better times and reassuring them all – especially moderate and independent swing voters — that he will not raise taxes without a vote of the people. His first ad is here.

Krusty the General’s first 30-second spot – released at 7 a.m. on Labor Day — asserts that when he was governor in the 1970s and 80s, “He cut waste, got rid of the mansion and the limo; budgets were balanced; four billion in tax cuts; world-class schools and universities; clean energy promoted; one-point nine million new jobs created. California was working.”

Then Brown tells viewers, “California needs major changes. We have to live within our means. We have to return power and decision-making to the local level, closer to the people. And no new taxes without voter approval.”

The takeaway (we still wonder if it’s really sticky) is delivered by a voice-over: “Jerry Brown: the knowledge and know-how to get California working again.”

eMeg spent about $24 million over the summer portraying the attorney general and former governor as a failed and hypocritical tax-and-spend liberal. But Krusty’s allies in the labor movement spent about $10 million over the same period attacking Whitman to keep Brown from falling hopelessly behind — as Kathleen Brown and Phil Angelides did in earlier contests. As a result, the race has remained – in most reliable polls – nearly a dead heat.

The question insiders have been wondering all summer was this: Once Brown takes to the air, what will he say? What’s his message?

The release of his first TV ad (we hear the buy is more than $1.5 million for the first six days) begins to answer that question. Brown is in effect saying – especially to crucial swing voters – “I’m a safe alternative to that woman who has been assaulting your senses all summer. California was working when I was governor and I’ll make it work again. I’m frugal, experienced and I know what I’m doing.”

Made by longtime Brown ally and media meister Joe Trippi, the ad seeks to convince voters that Brown was and remains a tightwad with the experience and integrity to govern California at a time of crisis. Brown’s campaign brain trust – after much polling and many focus groups – understands that the No. 1 concern about him among independents is whether he’ll raise taxes and spend like a drunken sailor.

Calbuzz was only somewhat surprised that Bob Dylan’s “My Back Pages” wasn’t the soundtrack, with Jerry twanging:

A self-ordained professor’s tongue, too serious to fool,
Spouted out that liberty is just equality in school.
“Equality,” I spoke the word, as if a wedding vow.
Ah, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.

While footage for this ad was shot in San Francisco, other footage, still to be stitched into commercials, was shot at director Francis Ford Coppola’s private facility in Napa.

What the Brown ad campaign still lacks is a tight, strategic message like “Change You Can Believe In,” “Compassionate Conservative,” or “A New Deal.” Brown’s bumper stickers just say “Jerry Brown,” suggesting that the man is the message.

Always seeking to be helpful, we’ve consulted Calbuzzers G.K. Chesterton, St. Ignatius, Pierre Teillhard de Chardin and E.F. Schumacher to come up with some proposals that are a bit snappier than “Let’s Get California Working Again”:

– “Jerry Brown: Been There, Done That.”

– “Too Cheap to Fail.”

– “This Time I’ll Get it Right.”

– “Jerry Brown: No Sale on My Watch.”

– “Too Old to Lose.”

– “Age Quod Agis.”

Update: A couple of other notes:

1-Krusty wisely got a serious eyebrow job before taping the spot. The e-blast press release that was sent out with the ad trumpets Brown’s “energy,” among several references aimed at heading off the Gandalf issue, a message that would be seriously undercut without the key cosmetic fix you read about here first, which takes about 900 years off his face.

2-The ad is narrated by actor Peter Coyote, a long-time pal of Brown’s whom he appointed to the California Arts Council in his first turn as governor, a board that became very controversial during the same era, after Krusty also  appointed Jane Fonda, then widely known as “Hanoi Jane.”

3-Don’t be shocked if the “no new taxes without voter approval” kicker becomes a point of contention between him and eMeg.

Along with his call for returning power to the “local level,” Brown appears to be offering the framework for a proposal, kicked around the Legislature in several forms, to return responsibility to cities and counties for some programs the state took over funding after passage of Prop. 13; the trade-off would be letting local voters decide about financing them.

When we asked Whitman about the idea during the Republican state convention last March, after it had been raised by state senate Democrats, she flatly opposed the notion, saying no taxes should be raised, whether local voters approved them or not.

Update II: Three hours after Brown’s ad was released, an under assistant deputy flack from eMeg sent out a response reprising her summer attacks on Brown, saying he “is the last person we can trust for ‘major change’ in Sacramento.”

After 40 years in politics protecting the status quo, it’s no surprise that Jerry Brown is kicking off his campaign with a misleading historic renovation of his own record.

And for anyone who’s ever remodeled their house, or even just seen “The Money Pit,” you know how painful those historic renovations can be.

Calbuzz Must-Read: Mathews-Paul Reform Opus

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

We finally set aside a few hours to sit down with “California Crackup,” the Joe Mathews-Mark Paul collaboration that closely analyzes the state’s political dysfunction, and it was time well spent: they’ve written a terrific book.

Cataloging the multiple, inter-locking political elements that caused the collapse of governance in California, the two veteran political writers draw these pieces together into a lucid framework that offers not only a clear diagnosis, but also a serious prescription for what ails the not-so-Golden State.

The clarity of their writing and the cogency of their argument put to shame the content of the current campaign for governor.

The contrast between their comprehensive, in-depth and detailed take on the state’s fractured political system with the worn-out platitudes mouthed by Republican nominee Meg Whitman and the vapid avoidances of Democrat Jerry Brown underscores the superficiality and lack of substance in the politics of California in 2010.

The civic moment is defined by more than bad news. What makes this moment seem different – makes it feel like what Californians call “earthquake weather” – is that California seems unable to talk about the crisis in a way that gets to the bottom of things and points to a better day…At the heart of the civic moment is the fear that California lacks even a language, and an understanding, equal to its calamity.

What Mathews and Paul attempt in “California Crackup” is to provide such a language, an effort in which they largely succeed.

Starting with an insightful sketch of early state history that shapes and drives their narrative,  they make all that follows – the corporate abuse of the ballot initiative system, the unintended consequences and anti-democratic impacts of Proposition 13, the dominance of Sacramento by lobbyists and special interests, the over-reaching of public employee unions, for starters – seem like inevitable developments that year after year have steadily sucked all accountability and integrity out of the system.

The whole system must be rethought with an eye to the sheer scale of California, a place grown too large and too various to be successfully governed from the top. Democracy and accountability would be the buzzwords. Windows must be opened so Californians can see in, peer out, and keep an eye on each other. This will require a Great Unwinding of old rules.

By setting forth an inarguable set of facts and a vocabulary for analyzing them, Mathews and Paul produce a potential shared agenda for change in California that seeks to include those provincial stakeholders — voters, consumers and taxpayers – who were long ago abandoned by the Capitol insider culture of corrupt deal making and fix-is-in demagoguery.

Skimming the cream. The three things we found most interesting:

1-Past is prologue: If you don’t have time to read the whole book (c’mon, it’s only about 200 pages) at least pick it up the next time you’re browsing and take a few minutes to read Chapter 2, which presents an intriguing look at the political stumbles, historical accidents and random influences  (California’s first constitution was overwhelmingly approved without being read, as the delegates were determined to go home before lunch) on which our current political structure rests.

First came the hastily scribbled original constitution, drafted at a rogue gathering convened by the military on behalf of a state the U.S. government had failed to recognize. Second were the three decades of failed attempts to put meat on the bones of that first constitution, culminating in the 1878-79 convention, perhaps the greatest civic disaster in the history of a state with a talent for disaster. Third were the sixty years of amendments, more than three hundred of them, nearly all aimed at remedying the consequences, intended and not, of the 1879 disaster. After a break for the Second World War, fourth came the attempt to edit out the worst of those amendments and turn California’s amateur government into a professional one. California is now in its fifth wave, a breaker that took off in the 1970s and still has not crested: a tsunami of ballot initiatives that, in the name of putting the fear of public anger in California’s professional politicians, threatens the whole enterprise.

2-Jerry’s role: Mathews and Paul draw a portrait of the young Governor  Jerry Brown during the crucial years just before, during and after the passage of Prop. 13, when a statewide crisis of homeowners being strangled by ever-escalating property tax bills was met with inaction, if not indifference by pols in Sacramento, which is anything but flattering:

Two things stood in the way of action. One was a governor more interested in big ideas and the grand sweep of technology and history than in the boring details of tax policy or the grunt work of passing legislation. Brown didn’t want to squander the whole surplus on helping homeowners. “The single biggest difficulty we had was the Department of Finance said ‘you can’t commit more than $300 or $400 million to property tax relief,’” remembers State Treasurer Bill Lockyer, then a member of the Assembly. “It was such a small amount that you really couldn’t provide significant enough relief for people to really think it mattered.” Brown had his own priorities – cutting the tax on business inventories and shooting California’s very own communications satellite into space. A large surplus, at a time when New York City was broke, could be held up in his impending reelection campaign as evidence of his tightfistedness (Brown now maintains that he was holding on to the surplus because he anticipated an economic downturn).

3-Solutions. The boyz get into some neck-deep, weed whacking wonkery in the second half of the book, when they offer up a menu of major reform proposals for starting to fix the broken political system.

Putting aside the question of whether actually offering actual solutions for problems is a gross violation of the Political Writers’ Code of Chronic Carping, the Mathews-Paul  disquisition on such poli sci matters as proportional representation, unicameral legislatures and instant runoff voting is both refreshing and consequential in its presentation to the reader of two key insights: a) things don’t have to be this way forever – our current system of elections and governance is not only not written in stone, it’s in many ways an exception to best practices elsewhere in the country and the world; b) changing the system in a substantive way requires much bigger ideas than the kind of nibbling-around-the-margins notions offered by California Forward and other small bore reformers.

The state’s current stalemate, while a formidable obstacle, is no more formidable than that faced by those who framed the state’s constitution in the 19th century, or than that confronted by the Progressives a century ago, when they elected a governor in the face of opposition from both parties and the railroad. And the changes we propose are far less radical than the Progressives’ push for direct democracy, which represented a sharp break with American history and its Madisonian system of divided government, checks and balances, and suspicion of government.

The fall of 2011 will mark the centennial of the 1911 special election in which the Progressives remade the state government’s operating system. It is long past time for an update.

Nice work, guys. Calbuzz sez: check it out.

Press Clips: Hardnose vs Brown Nose Reporting

Saturday, June 26th, 2010

If the emperor has no clothes – simply avert your eyes: In a week when Michael Hastings reminded everyone what tough, hard nose reporting looks like, here comes David Brooks to offer a perfect glimpse of its polar opposite: brown-nose reporting.

As the world now knows, Hastings’ long-form piece in Rolling Stone not only uncovered a culture of arrogance, disrespect, and trash-talking of civilian leadership in the inner circle of General Stanley McChrystal, but also disclosed a festering conflict at the highest levels over U.S. policy in Afghanistan between and among senior military and government leaders.

But to Brooks, the mealy-mouthed moderate conservative columnist for the NYT, Hastings is simply a gossip-mongering ruffian without the refined sensibilities and fine feelings needed to appreciate and understand that matters such as a general’s actual candid words are never to be reported.

“The most interesting part of my job is that I get to observe powerful people at close quarters,” Brooks began (gag).

General McChrystal was excellent at his job. He had outstanding relations with the White House and entirely proper relationships with his various civilian partners in the State Department and beyond. He set up a superb decision-making apparatus that deftly used military and civilian expertise.

But McChrystal, like everyone else, kvetched. And having apparently missed the last 50 years of cultural history, he did so on the record, in front of a reporter. And this reporter, being a product of the culture of exposure, made the kvetching the center of his magazine profile.

By putting the kvetching in the magazine, the reporter essentially took run-of-the-mill complaining and turned it into a direct challenge to presidential authority. He took a successful general and made it impossible for President Obama to retain him.

Imagine – Hastings put it in the magazine. We can only imagine how much inside stuff Brooks gets to see and hear in the course of his days, but never bothers to share with his readers because then…he wouldn’t get to “observe powerful people at close quarters.”

This just in: Hastings fires back at Brooks:

More on McChrystal media: The pink-shirted, purple-tied Brooks wasn’t the only journo whose nose was put out of joint by the Hastings report. Jon Stewart’s crew put together a nice mash-up of Beltway MSM types tut-tutting about the bombshell piece.

When the camera cut back to him after the video clips, Stewart had donned a pair of black horn rims which he removed to solemnly announce, in best Cronkite-doing-JFK-assassination style: “At approximately 11:04 Eastern Standard Time, the American news media finally realized they kind of sucked.”

Politico also enmeshed itself in the thorny issue of journalistic ethical relativism, with a long report on the Rolling Stone piece that included this intriguing paragraph:

McChrystal, an expert on counter-terrorism and counterinsurgency, has long been thought to be uniquely qualified to lead in Afghanistan. But he is not known for being media savvy. Hastings, who has covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for two years, according to the magazine, is not well-known within the Defense Department. And as a freelance reporter, Hastings would be considered a bigger risk to be given unfettered access, compared with a beat reporter, who would not risk burning bridges by publishing many of McChrystal’s remarks. (emph. ours)

In other words, a beat reporter would never be so craven as Hastings and actually report the truth – it might affect his access!

It’s instructive that a few hours after the piece was posted, Politico substituted a new version, with that very telling paragraph excised.  Jay Rosen had a swell time dissecting that move over at Press Think.

The Brooks/Politico journalism thought police were joined in their pecksniffian pronouncements by the Washington Post, which weighed in with a yarn quoting anonymous military sources accusing Rolling Stone of having violated rules of attribution in getting their scoop.

McChrystal was betrayed when the journalist quoted banter among the general and his staff, much of which they thought was off the record.

Hastings and his editor both vehemently deny this, but you can be sure that it’s only a matter of time before that view becomes received Beltway wisdom about the Rolling Stone piece. After all, if the story was worth reporting, surely someone worth knowing would have reported it.

Huh? Wuddhe say? Kudos to California Watch for their terrific new feature “Politics Verbatim” which provides horse’s mouth statements and speech excerpts from candidates in the 2010 campaigns. It’s a great resource because, with apologies to Joe Mathews, it really does matter what politicians say.

Because Calwatch is focused on the importance of language in politics, however, we were surprised to find this construction in their recent piece on Meg’s hypocritical new ad on immigration:

Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman set to work courting support among Latinos last week after a brutal GOP primary battle that forced her to take a loud and hard stance against immigration issues.

Forced her? Really?

Actually eMeg chose to follow Steve Poizner down the shameful road of immigrant bashing in the primary because she was far more worried about her own skin than in standing up and taking a principled position on the issue. And why not – she knew she could then just turn around and spend a couple million more trying to fool people into thinking that’s what she’d done all along. Forced? C’mon.

On the other hand, Joe: Hat tip to Joe Matthews for exposing some of the falsehoods in eMeg’s snappy 60-second, golden-oldies hit on Krusty the General. Under the Calbuzzworthy headline “Shocker! In New Ad Meg Whitman comes Out Against Prop 13″ Joe writes:

Should we feel sorry for Brown? Not in the least. By failing to level with voters about Prop 13 and the need to change the budget system it helped launch, Brown created this opening for Meg’s mischief. But Whitman is doing a disservice to the state and its voters (particularly those who don’t know or don’t remember the history) by misrepresenting a very important and relevant part of our state’s.

She should pull the ad. In the meantime, California TV stations, which have an obligation to serve the public, could honor that obligation by refusing to run it.

Say Cheez: The truth isn’t the only thing eMeg is doing violence to with her new ad:  Cheezburger Network, host of a batch of popular sites including FAIL blog, is crying rip-off. Cheezburger founder Ben Huh has issued an angry statement assailing the Whitman campaign for appropriating the look and feel of their “fail” schtick for the anti-Brown ad:

We want to make it VERY clear that FAIL Blog nor the Cheezburger Network had any involvement or knowledge of the Whitman campaign use of a screenshot of FAIL Blog. In fact, the screenshot portrayed in the video never existed because the Whitman campaign faked the content within the screenshot. FAIL Blog or the Cheezburger Network has never been involved in any endorsement of any candidate or political party and do not plan to do so….

We demand a written apology from the Whitman campaign and the removal of the video.

No response from Team eMeg on the demand.

No news is, eh, no news: Calbuzz, FlashReport and Calitics have received no word from Jerry Brown or Meg Whitman in response to our invitation for a Sept. 13 debate between them — with us as questioners.

The hall is booked at San Jose State; the university, the college of Social Sciences and Commonwealth Club of Silicon Valley all have agreed to sponsor. But the candidates seem: 1) too scared of this group of questioners to step up; 2) sure it’s a bad idea to respond before knowing if the other camp is too chicken to respond; 3) not entirely happy with Calbuzz for all our, um, irreverence about them; 4) all of the above. No worries, we have Plan B up our sleeves. Stay tuned.

Redeem this, buster: Just what do you have to do to disqualify yourself for a job in the fancy-pants world of network and big-time cable news? Judging from CNN’s embrace of disgraced NY Gov. Eliot Spitzer, it seems like the Road to Redemption is getting shorter by the minute. It took Marv Albert two full years! (as if that was enough) before NBC put him back on the air calling NBA games after he plead guilty to misdemeanor assault and battery when, during his felony trial for forcible sodomy, DNA tests proved that bite marks on the victim’s back were his. Now CNN will give Spitzer a show with convenient conservative columnist Kathleen Parker (formerly of the San Jose Mercury News, btw) after the whoring former gov blogged for Slate and analyzed for MSNBC. Sheesh.

Two Weeks to Go: Calderon Meets Condoleezza

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Two weeks before the June 8 primary election, the fight for the Republican nomination for governor has come down to this: Raising Arizona vs. Big Love.

As Meg Whitman rolled out a new ad, featuring her Mormon mentor Mitt Romney and a cast of thousands attesting to her conservative bona fides, Steve Poizner doubled down with his own spot, whacking his rival for not backing The Grand Canyon State’s illegal immigration crackdown law.

After more than a year of campaigning, and in excess of $100 million in collective spending, eMeg and The Commish have begun making their final arguments to GOP voters, each trying to define the election with the same basic message: I’m the true right-winger in this race.

Two moderate Republicans trying to tart themselves up as right-wingers, Her Megness and Poiz have both sought to expose their rival as a liberal-in-drag , pointing fingers and hurling mighty oaths at the other over  character – You’re a non-voting, Wall Street scumbag pornographer! No, you’re a partial birth abortion-loving, lying hypocrite! – and ideology – You’re a Jarvis-hating, solar panel-hugging union tool! No, you’re a tax-loving, smelt-smooching,  Van Jones fellow traveler!

Because both are hobbled in making their case to the right-wing voters who dominate Republican primaries in California by the lack of a long or consistent conservative record, it’s not surprising, as they enter the stretch run, that the latest ad for each rests on third-party validators – and invalidators – to establish movement authenticity cred.

Whitman’s latest ad takes the more direct approach.

She trots out a trio of iconic conservative Republicans to testify on her behalf. Mindful that Poizner has undermined her with his Goldman Sachs attacks, presidential wannabe Romney praises her “integrity,” while Condoleeza Rice lends her hard-line rep as George Bush’s National Security Advisor and Secretary of State to endorsing eMeg’s “values” and “strength” and Prop. 13 guru Jon Coupal blesses her as the “only one real fiscal conservative” who will protect taxpayers.

“Strong…fiscal conservative…leader,” the three say serially to end the spot.

Poizner takes an oppositional approach, employing anti-endorsements to send a message on immigration as a signifier of his conservative credentials.

Not since John C. Fremont opened a can of whupass on the forces of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna  has anyone taken a  bigger swing at Mexico: using a news clip of Felipe Calderon’s speech to Congress last week, during which he bashed the new Arizona law, the ad directly links Whitman and the Mexican president as backers of amnesty and anything-goes immigration policy on one side, and Poizner squarely on the other, as it builds on a previous spot connecting eMeg to the alleged policy of President Obama.

“Do you want a governor who has the same position on illegal immigration as the president of Mexico?” the announcer intones.

Messaging aside, three more key points:

1-From what we can glean, eMeg is still out-spending Poizner about 2-to-1 heading into the final days; he’s already got a decidedly uphill fight and, without forking out significantly more cash, it’s hard to see how he pulls it out.

2-Whatever else the ad war has accomplished, it’s a safe bet that it’s driven the negatives of both Republicans way up. We’ll know more after seeing the USC/LA Times and Field polls but we hear that favorability ratings among general election voters for Whitman and Poizner are both under water – about 3-to-4 negative – while Brown’s is up to about 5-to-3 in positive territory.

3-If that’s the case,  whoever wins the GOP nomination  may want to spend some time digging out of their negative favorability hole before attacking Brown. And that would be a huge relief to Krusty  who’s been able to save cash and political capital while  lambasting his GOP rivals as “apostles of ignorance and darkness.”

“ I don’t think they’re even healthy for the mind,” Brown said of the two ad campaigns last week. ” I think they’re contaminating the children who may see these things.”

Jerry’s Cash Cache

Back in the first week of May, when Calbuzz first reported on the California Democratic Party’s Goldman Sachs anti-Whitman TV ad masquerading as an “issues ad,” we had what we thought was solid information from Democratic sources that the CDP’s initial buy – of just under $1 million – would be followed by a couple more weeks.

Since Attorney General Jerry Brown had raised the money for the CPD’s ad buy, it made sense that the ad would keep running for a while in hopes of weakening Whitman’s favorability among Democrats, independents and perhaps even some Republicans. (BTW, it was when we tried to discuss this with CDP Chairman John Burton that he said fuck you told us to go fuck ourselves.)

Well, something happened that our sources didn’t anticipate: with the CPD ad in the mix while Steve Poizner was unloading ads on Whitman about Goldman Sachs, illegal immigration and her voting record, eMeg’s favorability ratings got so bad so fast, Krusty the General Brown – a renowned cheapskate – decided he didn’t need to spend all that money on the Goldman ad.

Which is where the $2.25 million came from that Brown received on Friday from the California Democratic Party. Which is part of the reason we won’t be too surprised if, when Brown’s next money report is filed, he has about $20 million on hand.

Stupid Poll Tricks

Remember when we mentioned that the Survey USA poll on May 10 that found Whitman with a mere 2-point lead over Poizner was most likely a pile of horse manure? Well lo and behold, Survey USA, with its fancy schmancy robotic pre-recorded calls, now says Whitman leads 54-27. Of course, there’s no explanation why Poizner would have dropped 10 points or why Whitman would have picked up 15. But who cares? It’s all just numbers, right?

The Daily Kos poll, by Research 2000, which has Whitman leading Poizner 46-36%, sounds more sound to us.

Get a room, willya?: Mickey Kaus, the blogosphere’s favorite son candidate for U.S. Senate, wants Barbara Boxer to meet him at the Holiday Inn.

Grabbag: Big Ideas, Bad Ideas, Burton Ideas

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

One of the coolest new campaign tools we’ve ever seen was developed recently by 32-year-old Crystal Martin, a marketing consultant in Yuba City, who thought up and produced an audio mailer for Democrat Jim Reed of Redding, who is running against U.S. Rep. Wally Herger (R-Chico).

It’s an audio mailer — like those greeting cards you can get with recorded songs and voices — that recounts how Herger said “Amen, God bless you, now that’s a great American,” after a man stood up at one of his town hall meetings in Redding and declared himself a “proud right-wing terrorist.”

You can see the mailer here and listen to the pitch — mostly in Reed’s voice. But the mailer also includes a recording of  Keith Olbermann of MSNBC’s “Countdown,” who labeled Herger the “Worst Person in the World.”

Having raised very little money, Reed’s initial mailing was just 2,500. But the mailers generated attention, in the Redding Record Searchlight and on Daily Kos, after a writer for the blog got one in the mail and immediately wrote it up.

Martin, a graduate of UC Davis, said she came up with the idea at her daughter Lorelai’s fourth birthday party when the little girl threw away other birthday cards and was only interested in the one that had audio. “I had an epiphany,” Martin said. If she could do that for clients, people might actually listen to what they had to say.

So she searched until she found a company that could produce the voice chip in bulk and made it happen — for about $1.50 per mailer. The idea was so hot, she’s already picked up jobs from AARP and from a big conservation group.

Martin’s consulting business is Smart Marketing and her new venture is Mailpow, which also now has a system for recording individual voices which can then be sent to legislators, voters or whomever. Calbuzz is impressed.

Keeping score: We have great respect for Joel Fox, keeper of the Prop. 13 flame, even if we often disagree with him on policy matters, but his attempt to trumpet a third-rate poll, purportedly showing Meg Whitman 17 points ahead of Steve Poizner in the GOP primary, is utterly lame.

The survey is sponsored by Fox’s own Small Business Action Committee, and with him and his Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association cronies strongly backing eMeg, the poll has zero credibility.

Its fanfare release was no doubt aimed at changing the campaign narrative showing Poizner closing fast on Whitman, but if the new PPIC poll, scheduled to be made public tonight, confirms that the GOP race is close, Fox’s move will look just plain silly.

As the outfit most afflicted with OCD about public opinion research methodology, Calbuzz is pleased to see that no one in and around the Rough and Tumble orbit bit on the Fox poll, except for radio talk show host and blogger Eric Hogue, who’s in the tank for Whitman anyway.

On the other hand, we totally agree with Hogue’s argument that Poizner’s dumb attack on eMeg over pornography is beyond the pale.

Putting aside the constitutional issues, the move not only looks desperate but also is likely to backfire: Whitman’s connection to porn being peddled on eBay is tangential at best, and raising the subject three weeks out from the election makes Poizner, not her, the one who seems sleazy.

As for Whitman’s new big idea, convening a statewide “grand jury” to investigate alleged waste, fraud and abuse in government spending: Really?  Brother Lucas over at California’s Capitol reported out this dog with fleas, and said most of what needed to be said to put it to rest.

Except for one item: As far as Calbuzz can tell, the governor doesn’t have the power to convene a grand jury. We asked Whitman’s campaign to tell us what authority would allow it and spokesman Tucker Bounds told us: “Meg would pursue legislation to create the Statewide Grand Jury on Fraud, Waste and Abuse.” Oh. So she wouldn’t have the power to do what she’s proposing unless the Democrats gave it to her? Right.

Shooting at lifeboats: Although Governor Schwarzmuscle’s abrupt withdrawal of support for the Tranquillon Ridge oil project off  Santa Barbara effectively killed the project, a just released analysis by the State Lands Commission suggests the proposal probably wouldn’t have won approval in any case.

The study, sent by Executive Officer Paul Thayer to the three members of the commission Tuesday, concludes that a revised agreement between the PXP oil company and Santa Barbara’s Environmental Defense Center did not allay several environmental and legal concerns that led to the project’s defeat last year.

After the commission, on a 2-to-1 vote, turned down the first PXP-EDC agreement in 2009, the oil company and the enviros reworked their previously-secret agreement and released a new version last month,  hoping the changes would overcome opposition by commissioner and state Controller John Chiang, or win the support of recently appointed Lieutenant Governor Abel Maldonado; the third member of the commission represents the governor, who strongly backed the T-Ridge proposal until his recent flip flop.

But a review by the staff of the commission concluded that promises by PXP to stop drilling in federal waters, in exchange for a new lease to drill into state waters from an existing platform, might not be legally enforceable, because authority for the federal leases would rest with U.S. Mineral Management Service, regardless of the terms of the PXP-EDC agreement.

The staff also said that a new state lease could encourage oil industry efforts to gain more leases for drilling in federal waters, by breaking a 40-year precedent of not allowing new drilling in waters controlled by California, up to three miles from shore.

“Further, the new agreement does not address the Commission’s concern over the increased risk of oil spills created by oil and gas development at Tranquillon Ridge,” the report said. “This risk and its consequences have been demonstrated in the past off Santa Barbara and are now affirmed by the huge spill in the Gulf of Mexico following the explosion and loss of the Deepwater Horizon platform.”

The Burton correction goes national: Check out NPR’s “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!”. Go to the 00:49 mark in the “Lightning Fill in the Blank” portion of the show to hear John Burton and his “Go bleep yourself” correction on Calbuzz as an answer in the national news quiz.

Also, Jason Linkins at Huffington Post took note in his Eat the Press column.

If that’s not enough, check out Craig Silverman’s “Regret the Error” column in Columbia Journalism Review, in which the whole back story is spelled out and the “correction” is analyzed in terms of who wanted (and got) what out of the deal.