Archive for the ‘California State Budget’ Category



Lockyer: Both Parties Must Bend to Repair California

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

State Treasurer Bill Lockyer, one of the most experienced and durable Democratic politicians in California, was the keynote speaker at the 2010 governor’s race post-mortem hosted by the Institute of Governmental Affairs at UC Berkeley. Here’s the text of his lucid prepared remarks, delivered Jan. 22, 2011 at the Hotel Shattuck Plaza in Berkeley.

By Bill Lockyer

Several years ago, Thomas Frank wrote a book titled “What’s the Matter with Kansas?”  The book was Mr. Frank’s attempt to explain, from his admittedly liberal perspective, the American heartland’s attraction to conservatism.

After the 2010 elections, I would not be surprised to see a conservative writer pen a book entitled “What’s the Matter with California?” in an attempt to explain how and why the Republican tidal wave broke at the California border. It’s a question worthy of exploration.

Why were the California results so unique?

There was a Democratic sweep of every statewide constitutional office; there was not a single loss of a California congressional or Senate seat held by Democrats; and there was a pick up of one Democratic seat in the Assembly.

My explanation starts with one counter-intuitive fact: The California results were not the result of some hyped-up turnout in the Democratic base or of a depressed Republican turnout. An examination of the actual election results, as opposed to the exit polls or post-election polling, shows that the 2010 turnout in every demographic group were within a percentage or two of the 2006 turnout . . . with a few exceptions.

One interesting exception was 18-24 year-old voters, who turned out at a 6.4 percentage points higher level than in 2006. And 25-34 year-old voters also improved their turnout by 3.6 percent. At the same time, Republicans increased their overall turnout by 3.6 percentage points and DTS (decline to state) voter participation expanded by 3.4 percent.

Exit polls in other states do show varying degrees of higher turnout among Republican base voters along with some depressed numbers in the Democratic base. But, in California, we simply had a decent turnout among all voters.

So, if turnout doesn’t explain California’s Democratic exceptionalism, what does?

I believe California has a structural firewall that protected Democrats against the Republican “shellacking”.

Democrats continue to win substantial majorities of women, Latinos, African Americans, Asians, younger voters, gay and lesbian voters, coastal voters, liberals, and college educated voters. You combine that coalition with the majority of “moderate” and DTS voters who express their preference for Democratic candidates in almost every election and you have to ask: “Who the hell is left to vote for the Republicans?”

Simply answered, Republicans are the party of older white voters from inland California, a base too small to win in 21st Century California. These demographics have been with us for 20 years now and show no sign of changing.

This electoral reality deeply impacts how we govern in California. The shrinking Republican Party is so dominated by conservative voters that competitive Republican primaries damage Republican nominees who have to work their way through the litmus test minefield of taxes, immigration, abortion, gay rights, and the environment, and let’s not forget the “John and Ken primary ” test.

Remember, the most successful Republican candidate in recent years, Arnold Schwarzenegger, never ran in a competitive Republican Primary.

For Democrats, the challenge is not how we put together a successful campaign coalition, but how we govern successfully. And, for Democrats, at this moment in history the challenge of governing is how do we restore fiscal reality to our state budget and, at the same time, grow our state’s economy.

Democrats run for public office because we believe that government should play an active role in improving the lives of its citizens. Very few Democrats run for office because they want to shrink the size of government.

In 2011, and beyond, Democrats will have to defer their historic ideological mission for another time and accept the responsibility of cutting government spending now. This duty will inevitably put a Democratic governor, Democratic constitutional officers, and a Democratic legislature at odds with some Democratic constituencies and interest groups.

And, these Democratic elected officials cannot shrink from this responsibility.

California voters overwhelmingly have chosen Democrats to lead them out of this economic crisis and, if we fail, the political consequences in future elections will be profound.

Gov. Brown has opened this debate by coming forward with an honest budget based on real numbers, free of phony accounting gimmicks. Its basic premise is that half of the answer to erasing the deficit should come from cuts in spending and half should come by extending taxes that are scheduled to expire. This is both sound policy and good politics.

As political leaders and as voters, if we do not support and follow this path and close our budget deficit, the consequences will be profound and Draconian.

The question is: How does our legislature respond?

Our inability to create bi-partisan compromises in our state’s budget has resulted in an endless shell game that has mired California in a persistent and ever-growing budget deficit. Too often the expedient has trumped the prudent.

Democrats must prove that they are willing to make substantial cuts in government spending to have credibility in this debate with voters and with Republican colleagues. The fact is that voters are likely to reject (again) the governor’s call to extend expiring taxes unless they see real budget cuts passed by the legislature.

Republicans must begin to participate fully in the governing of California and Democrats should welcome their participation. If Republicans fail in their responsibility, they will continue to be a shrinking minority party.

Republicans must negotiate with the governor and their Democratic colleagues in good faith and take the litmus tests off the table. This will begin to make the Republican Party relevant to the future of California.

To my Republican friends, I ask a simple question: “What good has all the political posturing done for the Republican Party?” When you can’t make political progress in California during a national Republican landslide, it is time to try a new approach.

No Relation to Grover Norquist

When Grover Norquist, a professional anti-tax activist based in D.C., demands every California Republican legislator sign a no tax pledge, a pledge that he insists includes denying the people the right to vote on the path forward, we really are in the Twilight Zone.

If Republicans are hostages to their litmus test politics, they won’t be at the table that works out the budget fix. Republican voices and ideas will not be a part of the solution.

Now, let’s talk about the “elephant” in the room. Democrats cannot expect Republicans to commit political suicide in order to pass a budget. That is why Democrats must be prepared to negotiate with Republicans on spending cuts that last as long as the tax hike extensions. Should either party come out of budget negotiations declaring victory, California will be the loser.

Democrats and Republicans can choose another way. Together, we can turn California around.

Fifty years ago this week, in his 1961 inaugural address, John F. Kennedy spoke words, in another context, that apply to this day and this time.

“United, there is little we cannot do. Divided, there is little we can do.”

eMeg: $203,767 Per Day; Brown’s Budget Record

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

As Governor Schwarz- muscle and the Legislature grow ever closer to California’s all-time Belated Budget Record, Jerry Brown keeps promising he can do better in getting a state spending plan approved in a timely fashion.

Krusty basically says he’ll jump into the budget briar patch moments after being elected, lock Democrats and Republicans in a room and then just turn on the charm, a strategy that draws cackles of derision from GOP rival Meg Whitman, who says his record on the matter during his first turn as governor belies his promise. As she recently put it:

The best indication of the future is what you have done in the past, and seven out of eight of Jerry Brown’s budgets were late.

Inspired by the fact-checking exploits of Brooks Jackson, we set out to test the veracity of eMeg’s charge; well, to be more precise, we dispatched Calbuzz intern Emily DeRuy, a UC San Diego honors grad, to do the heavy factoid analyzing. Based on data we gathered from the California Department of Finance, Emily filed this report:

The California Legislature is required to pass a budget each year by June 15. The governor then has 12 working days, or until June 30, to approve it. The budget takes effect on July 1, at the start of the new fiscal year. However, the budget is routinely signed well after the deadline. In the last 33 years, the governor has only met the target date nine times, five of those in the mid-1980s. The 2008-2009 budget was the most delayed, at 85 days late. On average, the budget has been signed 20 days after the deadline.*

The P.J. Hackenflack Scale, a scientific measurement of gubernatorial performance which calculates the average number of days before or after the July 1 deadline by which a governor signs the budget, shows:

– Jerry Brown: five budgets on time or early, three late; average = 4.375 days late.
– George Deukmejian: three budgets early, five late; average = 8 days late.
– Gray Davis: two budgets on time or early, three late; average = 25 days late.
– Pete Wilson: one budget on time, seven late; average = 29.75 days late.
– Arnold Schwarzenegger: one budget on time, five late; average = 35 days late (this does NOT include the 2010-2011 budget which is 78 days late and counting as of today, which will drive up Arnold’s average delay if and when the 2010-11 version ever gets signed).

Does Krusty the General rank best because he was a better governor than all the others? Of course not. What the numbers do show is that getting a budget signed by the constitutional deadline has become increasingly unlikely, given the partisan divisions and gridlock in Sacramento.

Also that, once again, Her Megness has her facts wrong. If she wants to smack Brown around for late budgets again, we have no doubt that she’ll take even stronger whacks at Deukmejian and Wilson, her campaign chairman..

*(The Department of Finance chart above does not include Jerry Brown’s first two budgets. When they are included, the final numbers show the budget was signed by the deadline 10 times for an average of 19 days after the deadline).

Fun with numbers: To the surprise of no one, eMeg has already shattered New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s self-funding record for a U.S. political campaign – with seven weeks left to go before the November 2 election.

With her most recent $15 million check to herself, eMeg has now personally forked out $119,075,806.11, according to the ever-punctilious Jack Chang.

Rounding off and discounting the couch change, this means that she has spent an average of $203,767.12 on each and every one of the 584 days since she declared her candidacy.

For those keeping score at home that works out to a 24/7 average of $8490.29 per hour, $141.50 per minute, and $2.36 per second.

Talk about in for a dime, in for a dollar.

Tea Party surge surges: The brilliant Beltway pundits who totally whiffed on forecasting the victory of Palin whack job clone Christine O’Donnell in the Republican Senate primary in Delaware didn’t miss a step in pivoting to educate all of us provincial types about What It All Means.

Our three cents:

1-By essentially taking The First State off the table as a possible Republican pick up of a Democrat seat – even Karl Rove thinks she’s nuts -  O’Donnell’s nomination will likely mean Barbara Boxer’s tough race against Carly Fiorina is going to get even tougher.

Although the GOP is generally loathe to spend on longshots and lost causes in California, Babs’ seat has instantly gone from would-be-nice to must-have in their recalculations for taking control of the Senate. So look for more big money to pour in like the multimillions the U.S. Chamber just started spending to bash Boxer on the airwaves.

2-It’s not likely Fiorina will get much oomph in California from the alleged national Tea Party wave (just ask Republican nominee Chuck DeVore). The TP’s most ballyhooed wins have come in low-population states – Alaska, Delaware, Nevada and Kentucky – where what they’ve actually accomplished has been to expand the universe of GOP primary voters.

Hurricane Carly has a much bigger problem trying to get back to the political center to attract some coastal moderate and independent voters than she does in pandering further to the three-cornered hat brigade.

3-Former Delaware Governor and current Rep. Mike Castle’s defeat signals that the ancient species known as a “moderate Republican” is now way beyond endangered and is pretty defunct.

Castle, who was close to a mortal lock to capture Joe Biden’s old Senate from the Democrats, is by all accounts a decent, dedicated and effective congressman who knows how to work across the aisle – no more politics as usual! – to get important things done quietly. That his own party turned him out is testament to the blood-lust cannibalism that Fox News has wrought, and his post-election comments add further evidence in support of the Calbuzz Death of Truth theory.

This just in: Jerry Brown is up with a new 30-second positive starting today. It couldn’t be simpler: Brown looks directly into the camera and delivers a little tough love straight talk, Most interesting to us is his reference to “at this stage in my life,” which both addresses the Gandalf issue and offers a subtle contrast with President eMeg’s motivation for running.

Our state is in a real mess. And I’m not going to give you any phony plans or snappy slogans that don’t go anywhere. We have to make some tough decisions. We have to live within our means, we’ve got to take the power from the state capital and move it down to the local level, closer to the people.  And no new taxes without voter approval. We’ve got to pull together not as Republicans or as Democrats, but as Californians first. And at this stage in my life, I’m prepared to do exactly that.

Brown spokeshuman Sterling Clifford says the new ad is joining, not replacing the 15-second Pinocchio spots in rotation. 

PS: After a bit of lawyering, Comcast, at least, is reportedly going to put the California Teachers Association ad attacking Meg Whitman back on the air. Joe Garofoli of the Chron has all the details.

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.

Ross Baseball Budget Plan: Now More Than Ever

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

At first glance, the Legislature’s scheduled votes on competing Democrat and Republican budget plans in both houses Tuesday looks like just one more skirmish in the endless partisan war over state finances. In fact, it could be the crucial first step in forging a long-term solution to the annual budget melt-down. When Calbuzz –- issue-driven, solution-oriented! — heard about the head-to-head budget votes, it reminded us that exactly this framework was the key to a reform of the process first proposed here 15 months ago by our pal Richie Ross. As nothing’s changed at the Capitol, the notion looks better than ever, so we’re re-offering the piece with our Seal of Approval. Anyone have a better idea?

By Richie Ross
Special to Calbuzz

I didn’t appreciate baseball arbitration until I experienced it.

In his Indian Gaming Compacts, Governor Schwarzenegger added a “baseball arbitration” dispute process to use whenever an Indian Tribe and a local government couldn’t resolve differences in negotiating an “Intergovernmental Service Agreement” to mitigate the impacts a casino could have on local government services.

In the case of the Buena Vista Rancheria and Amador County, the sides were so far apart in 2006 that the County Supervisors put an advisory measure on the ballot and 80% of the voters opposed the Tribe’s casino no matter what they offered to local government.

The “negotiations” went on for 3 years until the Tribe triggered the arbitration provision in the Compact. Baseball arbitration.

Unlike most arbitrations, in which a neutral finder of fact weighs the two sides, looks for middle ground, then crafts a solution to impose on the parties, baseball’s version is an all-or-nothing proposition. The arbitrator looks at the final position of each side and chooses one. Each side only knows its own final position, not the other. One side’s position is chosen in its entirety. The other is rejected.

The results in the Buena Vista Rancheria-Amador County dispute were fascinating — after all, I get paid to fight with people. Even though I believed the Tribe was right and the County was wrong, I found myself looking for ways to help the Tribe moderate its position to enhance its appeal to the arbitrator (and avoid a final position that could end up losing everything).

Reacting as wisely as she could based on best guesses about what the county’s final position might look like, Tribal Chairwoman Rhonda Morningstar Pope knew that winning in baseball arbitration meant giving up some strongly felt positions in order to achieve a successful deal from a County Board of Supervisors that didn’t want a deal at all.

In the end, the Tribe guessed right. Their final position never had to be arbitrated at all. The County accepted it. No one won. No one lost. Both sides moderated their positions and behavior.

So here’s how the idea would work step-by-step:

1. Institute a two-year budget process. The idea’s been around for a long time. It’s used in a number of other states. Seems to work fine.

2. Start the fiscal year on December 1. There’s nothing magical about the current July 1 start. The Feds start in October. A lot of businesses start in January. So let’s move the state’s to December 1 of the even-numbered years.

3. Make Republicans and Democrats write a complete budget. Right now, Republicans hang on to the 2/3rds majority requirement because they say it’s the only way they can be relevant. But they never have to write a complete budget plan, they just potshot the Democrats’ plan. That’s an accountability-free zone. And Democrats tell their groups how they wish they could raise the taxes to save programs but the Republicans won’t let them.

4. Put both budgets on the general election ballot — baseball arbitration style. Neither needs a majority. The one with the most votes wins.

Voters and the “winners” will live with the outcome for two years. If we like the budget we had, we’ll reward them with re-election and another budget. If they sold us on a turkey, we’ll punish them at the polls and probably give the other side’s budget a chance.

Prediction: Republican politicians will have to moderate their political position and pledges because they might win their “all-cuts” budget battle and risk getting wiped out at the polls when they stand for re-election. And Democrats will finally have to face the fact that voters may not want to cut but sure as heck won’t want to raise every tax that every interest group asks for.

I think both parties would find themselves modifying their positions on budgets because a political “victory” in one-year might mean election losses the next.

Consequences will moderate behavior. Voters will have to live with their decisions. And so will both parties. A budget process with consequences. Consequences of rejection now if you are extreme, or rejection later if you get what you want now. That just might work. It’s worth a try.

Richie Ross has nearly 40 years experience, in and out of government, as a political strategist and campaign consultant.

Post Mortem: GOP’s Top 10 Shocking Sights

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

SAN DIEGO — You know you’re struggling to craft a strong political message when your top convention speaker is a guy running for secretary of state who shows up wearing a hard hat, demonstrates merely average rhetorical skills and lifts his best line from a 34-year old movie.

As the state Republican convention ended Sunday, the best news for the GOP was that almost nothing happened, at least nothing that might be of the slightest interest to what you call your Real People.

For the political junkie crowd, however, there was no shortage of spectator entertainment. Here are the Top 10 events of a Lost Weekend in San Diego.

10-Calbuzz gets carded: The convention’s biggest surprise came when a thickly muscled bouncer demanded that your Calbuzz correspondents (combined age: 122) produce I.D. to gain admittance to some second-rate pizza-joint-with-a-full-bar in the Gaslamp Quarter which they stumbled upon in the pre-dawn hours. The move by Thor (not his real name) reflected not only his apparent legal blindness, but also some CYA concerns he clearly felt in noting we were two decades younger than the average GOP convention worthy swarming the streets.

9-The CRA deems Meg a squish: The closest thing to a conflict, let alone drama, was the right-wing California Republican Assembly’s unauthorized, opening day press conference assailing Meg Whitman for her softening views on immigration and climate change. The CRA’s unhappiness was  manifest in a proposed resolution urging the party to formally endorse Arizona’s immigration law, which eMeg opposes; party chair Ron Nehring, with a major assist from state Senator Tony Strickland, worked behind the scenes to ensure the proposal didn’t see the light of day.

8-Carly tap dances on immigration. Though the right-wing faithful are well pleased with Senate nominee Carly Fiorina, at least in contrast to wanna guv eMeg, the CRA’s resolution also put the Hurricane on the spot, at a time when she is ever-so-quietly trying to shift to the political center on several issues. Closely questioned by Calbuzz at her Saturday post-speech press conference about the wisdom of the state GOP going on record in the matter, Carly put on a fabulous display of bobbing and weaving before allowing that the proposal was “appropriate.”

7-Mom loves me more than you. Strickland, the party’s nominee for controller, and secretary of state hopeful Damon Dunn battled during their Friday night speeches to see who could suck up to Meg more. Dunn (who arrived at the podium wearing a white hard hat– see above –  for a sight gag that flopped) briefly interrupted the angry tone of his speech (“I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore,” he kept repeating, quoting the 1976 film “Network”) to gush that “Meg Whitman won my heart,” while Strickland batted goo-goo eyes at her while declaring with terminal earnestness that he’s proud to be “part of what I call ‘Team Whitman.’” Yuck.

6-Strangers in the night. After-hours party sources told Calbuzz it was no accident that eMeg and iCarly never crossed paths at the convention, because Whitman, having made generous contributions to the  GOP, made clear that’s how she wanted it. eMeg no doubt has marginal concerns that Carly’s hard line on issues like abortion, gun control and offshore oil might reflect harmfully on her own mad dash to the center, but the bottom line is simply this: as a political performer, Fiorina is three times the candidate Meg is, and her sharp, punchy and engaging presentation style casts a big shadow on Whitman’s awkward plodding.

5-San Francisco Democrats. As we noted right after the primary, Republicans got a political gift when Democrats nominated a ticket of constitutional nominees heavily tilted to Bay Area liberals. Lite Gov. Abel Maldonado put the Gavin Newsom piece of the package together all weekend, including this must-see video he showed the delegates during his Saturday night speech.

4-Dutch treat. As reporters milled around the press pen early Friday evening, our Assistant Deputy Managing Editor for Cultural Sensitivity and Linguistic Ethnic Profiling got an emergency summons to smooth over a potentially volatile situation, when ace SacBee blogger Torey Van Oot challenged the blatant inaccuracy of “The Tulip,” the nickname Calbuzz gave her in our convention advance. “I’m not Dutch,” she archly informed us, leading management to issue a formal apology, along with a copy desk memo announcing that her new nickname is “Don’t Call Me Dutch.”

3-Cooley’s debut. We got our first extended look at GOP Attorney General nominee Steve Cooley, the L.A. district attorney, and he did a boffo job of ripping the mask off  rival Kamala Harris, the other San Francisco liberal on the Democratic ticket. With his hangdog,  baggy suit, old-school style, Cooley is every inch the career prosecutor, and his authentic outrage was palpable over Harris’s handling of the Edwin Ramos triple murder case and her failure to seek the death penalty in the killing of police officer Isaac Espinoza; when Calbuzz asked him after his speech why he didn’t even mention San Francisco’s drug lab scandal, which Harris also stands in the middle of, he replied, “I only had a certain amount of time.”

2-Meg’s secret message to Goldman Sachs. We’re still trying to parse out precisely what eMeg meant when she dropped this code word thought balloon into the middle of her speech on Friday night: “Do you know who’s as excited about this election as we are? The people of New York. They have suffered the financial reforms that are going to crimp our ability to raise capital and they want California to turn the corner.”

Whether she was complaining that poor Goldman Sachs is suffering unduly under new federal financial regulations, or suggesting that Wall Street types would joyously celebrate the election of a like-minded $oul, you can safely bet that Jerry Brown will use the quote to help paint her as the darling of investment bankers everywhere.

1-The Dr. Hackenflack Dinner: Once again, all right-thinking people agreed, the unquestioned highlight of the convention was the Dr. P.J. Hackenflack dinner, which brought a top-drawer collection of players together at Osetra. Amid fun, frivolity and a wide variety of alcoholic beverages, the group cast secret written ballots for the candidates they think, as of today, will win (not who they prefer). The results:

Governor: Brown 12,  Whitman 5
Senator: Boxer 10, Fiorina 7

The not-so-random voter sample included: Republican operatives (5); MSM reporters (5); Bloggers (3); Civilians (3); Recovering journalist (1). A sixth MSM reporter refused to cast a ballot (don’t ask), making turnout 94%.

Consumer Advisory: This is heir to the same group that a dozen years ago  voted conclusively that Al Checchi would win the Democratic nomination for governor in 1998.