Archive for the ‘Proposition 16’ Category



Where’s Wald…. uh, Political Reform in California?

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

By Richie Ross
Special to Calbuzz

Remember the dot com bust?  Lots of people invested lots of money in lots of web stuff that didn’t end up doing much.

Too many of them were selling e-stuff about selling e-stuff.  They didn’t make real stuff.  They didn’t create value.  They were based on processes. And in the end, their over-priced stocks weren’t worth anything.  The dot com bubble burst.

For the last 18 months there’s been lots of breathless chatter about the need to “reform” California government, especially the two-thirds vote requirement.

Leading the charge for reform was Waldo.  You know him. He’s the geeky guy in the red-and-white striped shirt, glasses and knit cap who’s hard to locate.  So where was Waldo?

The signs of Waldo’s reform bubble busting surfaced last year.

First, the Bay Area Council announced that their much-discussed Constitutional Convention wouldn’t address Proposition 13 and its two-thirds vote requirement.

Then on January 14, one of the Bay Area Council’s key corporate sponsors, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) announced they had qualified their initiative to expand the two-thirds vote requirement to communities seeking to establish or expand a public power alternative to PG&E’s monopoly.

Finally, on February 13, we read that the Constitutional Convention effort had “fizzled.” The Bay Area Council “didn’t have the money” to qualify the initiatives necessary to allow a vote on having a Convention.

PG&E went on to spend $46 million on Proposition 16.  Where was Waldo?

Before rushing to mount a high horse and condemn PG&E, let’s take a moment for introspection.  Was PG&E unique in their insincere association with “good government reform” throughout 2009 followed by a banal display of self-interest?

All through 2009, California Forward competed for the “Waldo Top Reformer” title with the Bay Area Council.

But when it came down to it, they too tried to put together a “reform” which would expand the two-thirds beyond taxes and apply it to fees adopted by the legislature for environmental protection.

Putting aside both their motivation or the merits of whatever they thought they were doing, California Forward put themselves in a position where they were compromised on the two-thirds vote debate… they couldn’t attack Proposition 16 even if they were inclined.

And why did the No on 16 campaign only raise $90,000?

If the campaign against Proposition 16 had a dollar for every speech ever made about the evil of two-thirds, then it would have been able to compete against PG&E.  Thank God the newspapers stepped up their game and did a good job exposing the Proposition 16 scam.  Waldo didn’t.

PG&E is a big political contributor.  They give tons of money.  Lots and lots of that money goes to politicians who give speeches condemning the two-thirds vote.  But outside of three or four elected folks who contributed to the No on 16 campaign, PG&E bought silence.  Yes, even Waldo’s.

It seems that interest groups only oppose the two-thirds vote when it hurts their own stuff, not because of some high-minded majority-rule principle.

If the two-thirds vote violates what people think is right, why wouldn’t people who’ve taken PG&E’s money have donated it to the No on 16 campaign?

In the end, everyone talked more than they cared.  And some talked out of both sides of their mouth.

Next up:  all of those who did nothing will point to Proposition 16’s defeat as proof that the two-thirds vote is unpopular and ought not apply to their “stuff.”  Hmmm.

Waldo the Reformer’s bubble has burst.  Like the dot com bubble, there wasn’t much to it.

Richie Ross’s controversial Calbuzz piece on using the baseball arbitration system to deal with the state budget is looking better and better.

Fishwrap: Mac Attack, Goo Goo Guide, Hot Sex

Friday, May 28th, 2010

Betting the farm on illegal immigration (as Calbuzz predicted), Steve Poizner on Thursday launched a new TV spot, featuring GOP rock star Congressman Tom McClintock (as Calbuzz suggested) explicitly appealing to Republicans to reject Meg Whitman.

“This time our choice for governor matters,” McClintock says directly to the camera. “And it comes down to this: Steve Poizner supported Arizona’s law to stop illegal immigration; Meg Whitman cut and ran.

“This time, let’s have a governor from the Republican wing of the Republican Party – Steve Poizner.”

Up until now neither candidate has put money into television ads appealing directly to partisans, but Poizner, who is running behind in every public poll, now is seeking to rally the GOP base with an explicit partisan pitch. (Poizner, for example, has until now appealed to conservatives and occasionally referenced “Republican”  on the screen, but this ad takes partisanship to a new level.)

Does it mean he’s desperate to rally his base or is he within striking range and needs to peel away a few more conservative Republicans? Or both?

Clip and take to the polls: Kudos to California Choices.org for coming up with a nifty comprehensive grid that shows who’s for and against what ballot measures in the June primary.

The ultimate non-partisan goo-goos, the group has collected and collated  the initiative endorsement picks of more than 40 newspapers, non-profits, unions and other political groups. California Choices is an academic collaboration focused on political reform in the state which includes Cal’s Institute of Governmental Studies, Stanford’s Bill Lane Center, Sac State’s Center for California Studies and Next 10, a non-profit funded by venture capitalist F. Noel Perry.

For fans of the cui bono school of political analysis, or those who are just too bored or lazy to read the voter handbook, the endorsement guide provides a useful means for preparing your own ballot cheat sheet, simply by aligning yourself with the groups that most reflect your views.

Example: the guide shows clearly that Prop. 16, the zillion dollar initiative financed by the greedheads at PG&E, which is aimed at killing in the crib any new attempts to approve public power in the state,  is opposed by all right thinking people everywhere; virtually everyone on the list except –- surprise, surprise — the state Chamber of Commerce, the Republican party, the conservative California Taxpayers Association and the corporate-dominated Bay Area Council (we’re not sure how the L.A. Daily News, none of whose readers are served by PG&E, got in there) — is agin it.

And Prop. 14, the open primary initiative, which has set off a furious, dithering debate among members of the High-Powered Calbuzz Executive Board of Senior Executives and Maintenance Engineers, is backed by almost every newspaper editorial board in the state — but opposed by every political party and union on the list.

We figure that anything the Republicans and Democrats agree is terrible might be really good, although the determinative signifier for us, as usual, is the AARP, which casts an “aye” vote on Prop. 14.

Life in imitation of art: Not since the Great Tiger Woods Mistress Count have we wasted as much time cruising the internets as we’ve frittered away in recent days following every twist and turn of South Carolina’s Nikki Haley (maybe-maybe-not) Sex Scandal.

In the wake of the infamous Argentina-Appalachian Trail dalliance of Mark Sanford, Will Folks, a political blogger and former aide to the Palmetto State governor, has offered up a bizarre confession in which he admits to a purported affair with Haley, a state representative who’s the Palin-Tea Party favorite to succeed the Luv Guv.

Folks, who’s been backing Haley in the governor’s race, on Monday put up a post on his FITSNews.com blog (“Unfair. Imbalanced.”) that he’d had “an inappropriate physical relationship” with state Rep. Haley, saying that he was doing so only because he’d been “pressured and threatened” by unnamed political consultants and reporters, and he’s too chivalrous to say more:

I will not be discussing the details of that relationship, nor will I be granting any additional interviews about it to members of the media beyond what I have already been compelled to confirm.

Well, not exactly.

After Haley immediately and categorically denied the allegation, FITSNews.com started dribbling out a non-stop series of archived text messages, cell phone records and hints of “compromising” photos in an effort to stand up his claim; to date, his documentation has gone right up the edge of confirmation but not quite made it.

As the muggy Body Heat mystery of this incestuous redneck political drama deepens, there are a few things that have become clear:

1-There’s something really weird in the water in South Carolina.

2-Haley is what you call your Rather Striking Woman, while Folks looks like an oaf, not your most common recipe for sultry romance.

3-The non-stop posts that FITSNews keeps putting up have seriously spiked his traffic.

In light of this, Calbuzz is now duty-bound to inform our readers that Dr. P.J. Hackenflack, our staff psychiatrist, recently confessed, in the course of an emotional and tearful meeting with our stockholders, that he for some time has carried on “illicit, horny-toad relations” with at least one prominent candidate for an important statewide office in California.

Unfortunately, we can’t tell you more. But keep checking back (and click on the ads!) anyway, just in case we do.

Read of the week: E.J. Dionne on how red state anti-government warriors learned to stop worrying and love socialism.

Meyer Nails PG&E’s Prop 16; Poizner Bites eMeg

Saturday, May 1st, 2010

There’s rich irony in the fact that the man who gave California the initiative process — Hiram Johnson — fought against what was then the dominant utility in the state: the Southern Pacific Railroad. And that he’d be rolling over in his grave today to see another dominant utility — Pacific Gas and Electric Co. — using the initiative process in a naked bid to further entrench its monopoly power in half the state.

Tom Meyer’s take on Prop. 16, the June 8 primary initiative backed by $35 million from PG&E., won’t get much argument from a group of local public utilties, which are suing to get the measure off the ballot, charging that it’s an illegal effort by PG&E to destroy competition. Whether it’s illegal or not, Calbuzz is not equipped to judge. But there’s little doubt that seeking to require a two-thirds vote for communities that want to create their own public power is a pure-bred play to kill competition.

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Not so subtle: vulture picking at carrion

Poizner Flips Meg the Bird: His bird of choice just happens to be the vulture, as in “Goldman Sachs Vulture Funds” to which Steve Poizner links Meg Whitman in his first truly populist hit on Whitman in a 30-second TV spot. Calbuzz prediction: if he puts enough money behind this ad, he will take Whitman down several notches. Whether it’s enough to close the gap is doubtful, but this is the toughest ad we’ve seen out of the Poizner camp.

“This type of pathetic distortion is exactly what Republicans expect from Team Brown and it’s convincing evidence that Steve Poizner has joined it,” replied Whitman spokesvolcano Sarah Pompei. “The truth is that Jerry Brown’s union allies and Steve Poizner will say and do anything to try and defeat Meg Whitman who is the only fiscal conservative running for Governor.”

Both Sides Now: Great catch by our friend Anthony York of Capitol Weekly and the LA Times Blog who noticed that Goldman Sachs has hired Mark Fabiani to defend the investment bank’s reputation while his partner, Chris Lehane, is a principal in the  anti-Whitman group Level the Playing Field which has attacked eMeg viciously for her ties to . . .  Goldman Sachs.