Archive for the ‘Susan Kennedy’ Category



Arnold’s Exit Reeks; Must Read for Political Junkies

Friday, January 7th, 2011

Our first inclination was to let Arnold Schwarzenegger’s long-awaited and very welcome departure from Sacramento pass, feeling content to bid good riddance to bad rubbish without remarking on the occasion.

Unfortunately, and despite the big blast of fresh air that Jerry Brown’s inauguration blew into the capital this week, the atmosphere still reeks of the feculent odor produced by the final acts of the phony huckster who held California captive to his unbridled narcissism for the past seven years.

The parade of hacks, sycophants and cronies that he and his Chief of Staff Susan Kennedy shamelessly appointed to six-figure scam government jobs is reprehensible enough; sadly, however, it differs mainly in degree from the actions of previous one-step-ahead-of-the-posse administrations. What is truly different, and truly stomach-churning, is Schwarzenegger’s cowardly action in reducing the prison sentence of the punk son of former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez in the knife attack killing of a student at the San Diego State campus several years ago.

What Dan Walters properly and precisely labeled the “foul stench”  of Schwarzenegger’s move had one and only one motive – to misuse his public trust power to do a personal favor for a political ally; the big bad movie tough guy didn’t even have the courage – let alone the common decency – to notify the dead kid’s family, who had to learn the news from a reporter while  the gutless ex-governor sneaked out of town like a “con man on the run,” as Chronicler Deb Saunders aptly put it.

It’s instructive that young Nunez, clearly raised with a keen sense of entitlement, boasted to his friends after the killing that his father was a big shot who would help them avoid the need to take responsibility for their craven actions.

In a broad sense, the most destructive impact of Schwarzenegger’s move is the message it sends to Californians that they’re right to hold a low opinion of state government as a fix-is-in special interest operation doling out goodies and personal rewards to privileged insiders – even one convicted of a senseless act of manslaughter – while treating as a bunch of chumps ordinary folks whose daddies don’t happen to be close pals of the governor.

“The significant damage is that his behavior merely reaffirms the cynicism and disgust most Californians hold for the institution of government,” George Skelton wrote in an on-the-money column on the matter.  And as Tom Meyer illustrates today, the spectacle of such disgusting behavior performed by an alleged, self-described “reformer” is a mockery that reveals Schwarzenegger to be a bigger fraud than even Calbuzz thought possible.


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Life after (thank God) Arnold: If you didn’t get a copy under the Christmas tree this year and you’re jonesin’ for a fix of unfiltered California politics, you should pick up a copy of “California After Arnold,” an insightful look at where we’ve been and where we might be headed by a couple of longtime Democratic intellectuals.

Steve Cummings and Patrick Reddy have gone to a lot of trouble to pull together an enormous compendium of polling, census and voting data on California, which is just the 208-page appendix to their smart analysis of  Schwarzenegger’s election and governorship and a survey of the history, structure and likely future of California politics.

This is not a breezy read. But it’s packed with keen observations and research that allows them to make conclusions like:

– The preliminary assessment (of Schwarzenegger’s performance) is on the edge of either a B-minus or a C-plus.

– From a fiscal standpoint, Jerry Brown was much more like Ronald Reagan than Pat Brown.

– For some forty years, Californians have wanted a blue state culture financed on a red state budget.

– Proposition 187 shook the Hispanic giant out of its slumber because it threatened the one thing they consider most precious – their children.

Besides having the brilliance to quote liberally from Calbuzz, Cummings and Reddy appear to have read and digested every poll, voting tabulation, census factoid and consultant’s playbook for the past several decades.

Their unflinching analysis of Tom Bradley’s narrow loss to George Deukmejian in 1982 not only considers the effect of the Handgun Registration Initiative and lackluster Latino turnout for the black Democrat, but even extends to “urban white precincts that were in close proximity to black neighborhoods.”

If Tom Bradley had won every white Democrat who voted for the extremely unpopular Jerry Brown [for US Senate] that same day, he would have been governor of the nation’s most populous state. There is no explanation for the loss of white working class voters other than race.

Published after the 2010 governor’s race had begun but before it was over, Cummings and Reddy provided nice capsule profiles of the various candidates but were unable to analyze the outcome.

But even before the final combatants were known, they predicted, “If the general election is between Brown and a conservative, Brown will win. The Republicans have simply no one to match up with him.”

They got that right, too.

Make way, make way: Looks like your Calbuzzers aren’t the only ones to look askance at the excessive self-regard and blatantly over-the-top ambition to be governor that have marked the early days in office of Attorney General Kamala (Landslide) Harris.

” So far, there is plenty of evidence that she’s running. Her inauguration lasted almost twice as long as Jerry Brown’s swearing-in, and she promised much more,” writes the Sacbee’s ace editorial columnist Dan Morain. “It’s heady to be a contender for governor, maybe the front-runner. Harris has the talent to rise. But first, she needs to tend to the job she has and leave foreign policy to her pal in the White House…”

Slimy Parsky Oil Play and a Yorba Linda Lecher

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

waynepunchAs we first reported late Wednesday, tax reform commission Chairman Gerald Parsky sucker-punched at least some members of his panel by sending them an unexpected, last-minute recommendation to generate “tens of billions of dollars” of new revenue by vastly expanding offshore oil drilling in state waters.

Also in the last-minute materials was the final proposal for a nearly-flat (two-tier) personal income tax  that would give a massive tax cut to the richest California taxpayers and a teensy-weensy slice to the poorest taxpayers. Coupled with the knuckle-dragging business net receipts tax, the Parsky proposals are about as regressive as musclebound Gov. Schwarzblunder and his diminutive, cigar-sucking sidekick Susan Kennedy could ask for.

But at least commissioners and the public knew that was coming.  The revival of Schwarzenegger’s proposal (which we understand was the brainchild of his economics guru David Crane) to gain approval of the twice-defeated Tranquillon Ridge offshore oil project as a tax-revenue scheme — now that was a nasty surprise.

“There are several economic reasons for permitting new oil leases,” reads the oil-drilling recommendation, to be considered by the commission today, when it meets to craft a final proposal to send to the governor and Legislature. “Unlike all other revenue sources, the oil companies, which would make these new royalty payments, have requested the ability to do so. Revenues from this source would create no economic distortions, and the economic activity being taxes could not migrate elsewhere.”

The recommendation came as a shock, not only because the offshore issue was only casually discussed during the commission’s months of hearings, but also because it deepened the atmosphere of secrecy and sleight-of-hand in which Parsky assembled the agenda for the panel’s final, crucial meeting. As a political matter, such an expansion of offshore drilling would also directly conflict with decades of state policy, in which environmental protection of coastal waters and beaches have trumped economic issues, resulting in a long-held moratorium on new leases.

The proposal for more offshore drilling seems to have worked its way onto the commission’s plate at least in part at the request of conservative Hoover Institution economist Michael Boskin, who also sits on the board of Exxon Mobil.

The commission’s analysis cites a State Lands Commission study estimating that there are 1.635 billion barrels of “recoverable oil on state lands that are not currently under lease.” The U.S. Minerals Management Services, which controls leasing and drilling on federal lands beyond three miles from shore, projects an additional 10.1 billion barrels that remain “undiscovered but is technically recoverable.”

Current royalties paid by oil companies on a small number of existing, small state leases vary from 16.7 percent to 55 percent of the revenues they generate, which altogether yield about $400 million for the state.

“If the ban (on new leases) were lifted,” the recommendation says, “it could make available the 1.63 billion barrels (and) California would receive a share of revenue from new leases on federal lands off of the state’s coast.”

“Over time, the state could receive as much as $34 billion in royalty revenues from new leases in California waters, assuming oil trades on average $70 per barrel and the average royalty rate is 30 percent.”

The recommendation, sure to draw the ire of environmentalists and coastal legislators, pointedly does not suggest imposing a new severance tax on oil companies. California is the only oil-producing state that does not have such a tax, which is being pushed in the legislature by several members of the Assembly, including Assemblymen Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara, and Alberto Torrico, D-Fremont.

BTW: There’s no frigging way the agenda and agenda packet was ready early enough for the public to have legal notice. Not that Parsky seems to give a rat’s butt.

duvall

Eternal Filthiness of the Adulterous  Mind: To be honest, Calbuzz had never heard of (now) ex-Assemblyman Mike Duvall, a Republican from Yorba Linda, until Wednesday morning. But after this and this , and his resignation a few hours later, it’s hard to imagine there’s anyone left on the planet who hasn’t heard of him now. Seriously, you just know that in, oh say, Guinea Bissau or the Republic of Nauru or on Chuuk Island, guys were walking up to their friends all day and saying, “Mike Duvall,” and then both of them would fall down in the street and laugh uncontrollably.

We’ll leave it to others to draw the great moral lessons implicit in the NFW tale of a dumbass holy roller, family values, fat lying tub of goo who brags over an open mike about cheating with kinky sex, not only on his wife but also on his mistress, in favor of noting that no matter what he does or where he goes the rest of his life, Mike Duvall will be a walking double entendre:

Take for example, this lede on a recent Capitol Weekly piece about him:

“If you want to know what issues are important to Assemblyman Mike Duvall, R-Brea, just look at what he did the other weekend.”

Or this from his soon-to-be shut down web site:

“In February 2009 Assemblyman Duvall was named “Legislator of the Year for 2008″ by the California Attractions and Parks Association for his opposition to Governor Schwarzenegger’s proposed ‘fun tax.’”

You also gotta wonder whether Chapman University wants its plaque back:

“Chapman University awarded Duvall the Ethics in America Award in 2000 for his ‘demonstration of the highest standards of ethical integrity.’”

And finally this: The hearing room where Duvall let his potty mouth run wild is festooned with a large color portrait of the late, great Jesse Unruh, a man of great appetites who famously said of lobbyists, “If you can’t take their money, drink their liquor, fuck their women, and then come in here the next day and vote against them, you don’t belong here.”

Of course, that was in the days before women were lobbyists.

PS: Get this, from Duvall’s web site:  “I want to make it clear that my decision to resign is in no way an admission that I had an affair or affairs. My offense was engaging in inappropriate story-telling and I regret my language and choice of words. The resulting media coverage was proving to be an unneeded distraction to my colleagues and I resigned in the hope that my decision would allow them to return to the business of the state.”

Got it.

Jerry Brown and the Woman With a Glass Eye

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

jerrybrownprofileEvery time we see a suggestion that millionaire former Controller Steve Westly might jump into the 2010 governor’s race (which – Yo Willie! – isn’t happening*), we’re reminded of the last time he and Jerry Brown sought the same office. The year was 1988, and Brown big footed his way into the race for California Democratic Party Chairman,  which had been looking like a sure thing for Westly.

The former governor parachuting into the contest was a huge disappointment for party Vice Chairman Westly, who, back then in his pre-eBay days, was an earnest grass-roots activist.

Before grabbing the party chairmanship in the winter of 1989, however, Brown ran into a bit of trouble with liberal party regulars on a key Democratic issue: abortion. The matter is unlikely to come up specifically in the 2010 governor’s race primary because, as a public official, Brown has been an unwavering supporter of pro-choice policies.

But back then, Brown professed that he was personally opposed to abortion and acknowledged he had recently urged clemency for one of the nation’s most visible and fanatical anti-abortion activists.

joanandrewsA few weeks before the election for state party chairman, the San Jose Mercury News revealed that Brown had written to Florida state officials earlier in the year on behalf of Joan Andrews, a pro-life crusader from Delaware. She had been sentenced to five years on burglary charges for her part in the 1986 storming of a Pensacola abortion clinic in which equipment was damaged and two workers were slightly injured.

”People are shocked and very dismayed,” the lefty field director of the 24,000-member California Abortion Rights Action League said at the time. Her name was Susan Kennedy, and she’s since evolved into Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s hard-nosed, cigar-smoking chief of staff.

“Jerry Brown stated that his private position on abortion would not affect his ability to lead the party,” Kennedy said at the time. “But the very fact that he wrote this letter on behalf of Joan Andrews clearly steps across the line of having personal beliefs into the public and political realm of crusading for those beliefs.”

At the time, Brown said that ”My position is just what it was before.”

“I am against abortion and I feel more strongly than ever about that,” he said. “But I also deeply respect the autonomy and integrity of each person and that means to me that you trust women to make these judgments on their own and not to call upon the coercive power of the state.”

That, however, was a far cry from the statements attributed to Brown earlier that year by Sister Mary Ann Walsh of the National Catholic News Service, who had written that Brown said he sees “the killing of the unborn as crazy.”

Even more upsetting for some Democrats was Brown’s intercession on behalf of Andrews, then a 40-year-old Roman Catholic activist who had been arrested more than 130 times. Arch-conservative former Republican Congressman Robert Dornan of Garden Grove, had praised her as “a new martyr on the world stage of human rights causes.”

”To me, this is a clear civil rights issue,” Brown said back then, explaining his support for Andrews.

mother-teresa

He said Mother Teresa first told him about Andrews’ case when he was working at her House of the Pure Heart in Calcutta. “I told her I did not believe that there was any woman incarcerated for five years for a non-violent, trespass offense. And I said I’d look into it for her.”

Sentenced to five years for the Pensacola case after refusing to pledge not to break into the clinic in the future, Andrews caused a furor when she arrived at the Broward Correctional Institution. She resisted a mandatory strip- search, jumping off an examining table, banging her head on the floor and throwing her glass eye across the room, according to news reports from Florida.

Prison officials said Andrews was an uncooperative prisoner and kept her segregated from other prisoners.

‘The issue was,” said Brown, “should a person convicted of non-violent crimes, who’s not cooperating with the prison authorities, be in solitary confinement for five years?”

Andrews, who was married years later and became Joan Andrews Bell, has been arrested and jailed scores of times in the intervening years, including most recently in May 2009 at Notre Dame, as part of an anti-Obama anti-abortion demonstration.

In April of 2006, LA City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo tried to use the issue against Brown in his campaign for attorney general, arguing: “He says he is pro-choice, but he wrote a letter on behalf of an abortion terrorist for clemency, to get out of jail early, which she did, and then went on to attack more abortion clinics across the United States.”

“It’s absurd,” Brown told the LA Times. “When Mother Teresa asks you to do something that is fairly reasonable, most people would do it. [Andrews Bell] spent 2 1/2 years in solitary confinement. The sentence was longer than a lot of robbers were getting at the time. I said it was wrong, what she did, but the question was, was 2 1/2 years in solitary confinement enough?”

Brown scooped up endorsements from abortion rights leaders, including Nancy Casady of the California Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, among others, and the issue did not  surface again.

As a political matter in the 2010 governor’s race, the episode is unlikely to pose  trouble for Brown on the policy issue of abortion — but it could be used to illustrate and underscore his reputation as a political chameleon who has re-invented himself countless times.

“It wasn’t a problem for the Democrats. It wasn’t a problem in the Attorney General’s race. What’s the point? It’s old news,” Brown told Calbuzz with a hint of irritation.

Brown’s stance in favor of choice is second nature to him, he said – like being in favor of the minimum wage, collective bargaining or the right of people to get married. He said he put funding for abortion into MediCal back when the Legislature was opposed to it and he still supports funding in MediCal and for family-planning clinics. “It’s a level of obviousness that you cannot convert it into an issue,” he told us.

Perhaps. But Brown’s clemency letter for Andrews just might qualify as one of what Garry South, rival Gavin Newsom’s consultant, refers to as the “huge number of contradictions, conflicted positions and controversies that Democrats are going to have to consider” about Brown.

kamasutra

“When you get the full grasp of Jerry Brown’s record over 40 years, it’s an embarrassment of riches,” said the Duke of Darkness. “He’s not going to be able to cherry-pick what he wants people to know about his record,” South said, pointing, for example to Brown’s support for the flat tax during his 1992 campaign for president.  Said South:

“This guy’s had more incarnations than Zelig and he’s taken more positions than there are in the Kama Sutra.”

* With Willie Brown and others peddling stories about Steve Westly running for governor, Calbuzz figured, hey, since we’ve done all this “actual reporting” anyway, why not just call the guy and ask him if there’s any chance he’d get into the 2010 governor’s race.

“I’m completely focused on being the best father I can be and building one of the best clean-tech venture capital funds ever created,” Westly said.  Of course, he added, he’s hoping to run statewide some time in the future. But now’s not the time.

Just In: Kennedy Whacks Davis, More on Gov Money

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

kennedycigarNasty Ringer from inside the Horseshoe: So Calbuzz is reading along Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal’s slobber job on Gov. Arnold’s COS Susan Kennedy and suddenly — KABOOM! — she smacks her former patron Gray Davis upside the head with a crowbar:

“Gray Davis would still be governor today if he had the chops [i.e. “balls”] to stand up to the unions and if the Democrats weren’t so pig-headed and owned by the special interests,” said the diminutive cigar-chomping Ms. Kennedy.

This, from a putative Democrat who owes her job to Davis, who made her his cabinet secretary, deputy chief of staff and then put her on the PUC. Kennedy is no press rookie either — having been communications chief for US Sen. Dianne Feinstein before going to work for Davis in 1999.

Kennedy also knows – as well as anyone – that while the CCPOA, CTA and AFL-CIO all had their hooks into Davis (and her), had it not been for Enron and the energy crisis, Davis never would have lost his job.

We tried to get a reaction from Davis but he wouldn’t bite. “I’m not going there,” he insisted. gray-davis“I’m a senior statesman now. I don’t get into disputes.”

An associate of his at Loeb and Loeb in LA, however, said Kennedy sent an email apology to Davis. And a friend of Kennedy’s in Sacramento said she had been trying to aim her fire at the unions (who had made life difficult for the penny-pinching Davis) and felt terrible that she shot her former boss in the face instead.

As long as we had Davis on the phone, we asked him if he wasn’t feeling just a little bit of schadenfreude watching Gov. Schwarzenegger try to handle the budget he so loudly pledged to streamline.

Again, he wouldn’t take the bait. “I don’t take any glee in seeing the difficulty Californians are facing,” Davis said. But, he noted, “It’s abundantly clear that just because you change governors you don’t change the financial condition of the state.”

megcrop1The Meg and Jerry Show: The preliminary numbers on first round fund-raising are in and, as expected, Meg Whitman is dominating the GOP Money Primary, reporting contributions of $6.5 million in the first five months of her campaign. That amount is in addition to $4 million she has donated herself.

The numbers reported by the campaign do not make it clear how much she has spent, with what appears to a much higher overhead operation than any of her rivals, nor does it say how much eMeg has in the bank.

Our Monday post on the Money Primary offered some caveats about over-interpreting Whitman’s big haul, but by any measure it’s an impressive effort by a rookie candidate, and her spin posse took full advantage, quoting campaign chairman Pete Wilson: “There is no more certain measure of enthusiasm for a candidate than heavy early campaign contributors.”

Republican foe Steve Poizner reported raising $1.2 million to date, and pointedly noted that most of his contributions were $100 or less in contrasting his strategic approach to that of Megabucks Meg, a fellow member of the uber-wealth club.

” “Our campaign has focused heavily on generating support at the grassroots level from hard-working California voters and these numbers reflect our success in earning that support,” the  insurance commissioner said in a release. “We will have the funds needed to communicate our message throughout the state, from now to the primary and beyond.”

Republican Tom Campbell, who’ll spend the campaign with his nose to the windows of the counting houses of his two party rivals, said he had raised just under $500,000, had no debts and about $300,000 cash on hand.

As we reported yesterday, General Jerry’s $7.4 million haul exceeded expectations, and dwarfed the $1.6 million raised by Gavin Newsom, who joined Poizner in talking up the number of small donors who’d given him cash.

But here’s a worry for Newsom: He has thus far raised $2.8 million and reported $1.1 million cash on hand. If our Calbuzzer math is right, that would mean he has spent $1.7 million –- or about 60% of his money raised. Yow, that burns.

gavinnytimes

Times Weighs In: On the other hand, Gavin Hood cops the cover photo of this Sunday’s New York Times magazine, featuring Mark Leibovich’s 8,300 word situationer on the California governor’s race.

Leibovich, formerly of the SJ Mercury News, is a graceful writer and a fine reporter, and his piece provides a solid one-stop fill, bristling with good quotes and anecdotes, about where the 2010 race stands, at least for that small handful of Californians who have inexplicably failed to follow Calbuzz in recent months.

At first glance, Newsom comes off as the big winner of the piece, both because of the Nixon Redux, guy-on-the-beach-in-a-suit photo that graces the cover, and because the San Francisco mayor is also the entry point into the Times story.

“Newsom sees the job of governor as a potentially exhilarating high-wire act,” Leibovich writes. “’We’re in a moment of crisis that requires order-of-magnitude change, dramatic change,’ he told me. ‘Candidly, if things were going very well, I don’t think I’d be the best person for the job.’”

But Newsom’s political vulnerabilities, from his Prince Gavin sense of entitlement to his unease in discussing the adulterous affair he had with a top aide’s wife several years ago, also clearly come through.

“There is indeed about Newsom something of that quintessential California type, the overgrown and hyperactive child,” the piece reports. “Immensely gifted but flawed, he is a jumble of self-regard, self-confidence and self-immolation – potential greatness and a potential train wreck in the same metrosexual package.”

Leibo interviewed all of the contenders, as well as Gov. Arnold, and the up-close-and-personal treatment he affords each of them is worth the price of admission.

From Jerry Brown’s recounting of receiving advice from the Big Dick (“’Richard Nixon once said to me, ‘Don’t peak too soon,’” Brown said) and the tiresome sameness of Meg Whitman’s cipher campaign (“All of her campaign events appear to be held in the exact same ballroom, whether they are in a Radisson, a Hyatt or a Doubletree”) to Steve Poizner’s bummer-dude manner (“On behalf of Californians, I apologize to the rest of the country”) and Tom Campbell’s terminally earnest hopefulness (“Campbell said that a large field of candidates will help him”), the Timesman offers telling glimpses behind the masks of the candidates.

IOU an explanation: Amid the thousands of dead trees sacrificed to reports that the state has started issuing IOUs’, the most valuable piece of journalism has been offered not by the political press corps but by Chronicle business columnist Kathleen Pender.

You can find Pender’s smart Q&A about the IOU situation here

Dr. Hackenflack Answers Your Budget Questions

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

dr-hackenflackWith the defeat of the budget propositions and Sacramento in gridlock, readers are feeling anxious and depressed about state finances, and have flooded the mailbox of our Chief Political Psychiatrist and Barbecue Chef, Dr. P. J. Hackenflack. With the approval of the Calbuzz Ethics and Privacy Committee, the good doctor agreed to share some of his replies.

Dear Dr. Hackenflack
I heard that Arnold is giving a big speech on the budget today to all the members of the Legislature crowded together on the Assembly floor. What is he going say?
– Howard J. in Paradise
FIRE!!!!

Dear Doc,
I read where Arnold’s Chief of Staff Susan Kennedy said California’s tax structure is “too progressive.” How is that possible?
– Miss Vicky in Marin
She’s a recovering liberal who thinks rich people pay waayyy too much in income taxes.

Dear Dr. H.,
Do the Republican legislators have any innovative ideas for cutting the budget?
– Lonesome in Folsom
Yes. They’re pretty sure we can save billions by building new prisons right next to public high schools, so graduates can go directly to jail.

My Dear Doctor,
Some blog quoted Senator Feinstein as saying Californians deserve all the budget cuts ‘cuz they didn’t vote for Props 1A and 1B. What kind of leadership is that?
– Hope in Brentwood
It’s part of her three-pronged program for California: eat your vegetables, be in bed by 9 p.m. and go directly to the principal’s office at once.

Herr Professor Hackenflack,
Someone told me the Democrats have a plan to fix the budget and the water crisis the same time. What gives?
– Worried in Weed
Once a month, taxpayers toss cash into “The Peripheral Canal of Money,” which pumps it upstream, through the Delta, and directly into the treasury. It’s for the children.

Dear Esteemed Doctor,
The governor says he’s going to close all the state parks. Will they ever re-open?
– Smokey in Shasta
Yes. Before long, the 40,000 state employees that Governor eMeg plans to fire will be living in them.

Hey Doc,
Why doesn’t the governor just come out and tell us what he wants to do to keep California afloat?
– Bruce from Pasadena
Despite all his macho and muscles, he actually has no idea how to swim.

Dear Dr. Hackster,
Isn’t the answer to this whole budget mess giving local government the power to raise taxes with a majority vote?
– Edmund from Oakland
You need to check with Howard J. in Paradise.