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Posts Tagged ‘AB 32’



Poiz Rips eMeg on Goldman but No Game Changer

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

Five minutes into the GOP governor’s debate, Steve Poizner ripped into Meg Whitman on her ties to Goldman Sachs – charging that “a lot of people got damaged by Goldman Sachs and Meg Whitman’s right in the middle of it.”

“Meg Whitman has massive investments in Goldman Sachs, made huge amounts of money from the collapse of the housing market, and then, when it was time for Goldman Sachs to get bailed out by taxpayers, Meg Whitman actively campaigned for a taxpayer funded (bailout). The question is, did she let people know?”

It was the first of a series of aggressive and effective attacks on eMeg’s character and ideology that he landed against his front-running rival for the Republican nomination for governor in Sunday’s hour-long debate at San Jose’s Tech Museum, a solid performance that Calbuzz scored as a win for Poizner.

But solid as his victory was in the only televised debate of the contest, it fell short of the kind of dramatic game changer that the state Insurance Commissioner needs to overcome the former eBay CEO’s commanding lead five weeks before the June 8 primary.

It’s a plain fact that debates rarely change the basic dynamics of a major political race, especially one broadcast at 5 p.m. on a splendidly sunny Sunday in May; beyond this, and despite her feckless answers on Goldman Sachs and other in-your-face challenges, Whitman to her credit never wilted under Poizner’s withering fire, nor did she hand him a truly memorable moment suitable for a devastating TV ad – no lasting image of blunder, weakness or faltering faux pas.

With both of the contenders pandering shamelessly to the Tea Party wing of the GOP on issues from immigration to gun control, the core of the proceedings was Poizner’s line of attack on her personal integrity over her multiple connections to scandal-tainted Goldman Sachs.

As Whitman stood by glowering, arms tightly crossed in a defensive posture, Poizner bluntly assailed both her ethics and her judgment, particularly for accepting from the investment bank repeated IPO stock issues, then quickly “spinning” them to make quick and easy profits worth millions – a practice that was later made illegal.

“I did not do anything wrong,” Whitman insisted at one point. “It was a legal and standard practice. With 20-20 hindsight, would I do it again? No, because it was called into question.”

Poizner pounded at her answer:

Wow, you really don’t get this Meg…You were the CEO of eBay receiving investment banking services from Goldman Sachs, then you joined the Goldman Sachs board and their compensation committee, then Goldman Sachs started to feed you these sweetheart deals, not one, not two but 100 of them, and you made a fortune, a separate fortune from your eBay fortune and then until you got caught you didn’t think anything was wrong. But the fact is, Congress investigated what you did, they called it corrupt, the SEC investigated what you did and immediately declared what you did illegal, and the eBay shareholders investigated what you did and they sued you. They sued you for a huge conflict of interest and the only reason why you paid back any of this money is because you had to settle the lawsuit.

Not to put too fine a point on it.

Here’s a look at some of the other highlights of the debate:

Immigration: Just days after declaring his opposition to Arizona’s controversial new law aimed at illegal immigrants, Poizner announced that he now supports the measure, claiming that new amendments will prevent it from authorizing de facto racial profiling by law enforcement. He repeated the mantra of actions he has said he would take as governor against illegals – “turning off the magnets” of education and social services, cracking down on employers who employ undocumented workers and “sanctuary cities” in California, and using state resources to increases security at the Mexican border.

Poizner also charged that Whitman supports “amnesty” based on earlier comments she made about support for legislation that would offer illegals a path to citizenship. Whitman, who has said she misspoke in making those comments, was left to deny that she backs “amnesty,” but scored some points by pointing to Poizner’s conversion on the Arizona law as emblematic of his flip flops on other issues, from his days as a moderate Republican candidate for the Assembly to his current full-throated, red meat conservatism:

“This is a classic case of Steve Poizner changing his mind,” she said, noting that he is “an engineer…every election cycle he engineers a new position” to match the moment.

Tea Party – Asked if they considered themselves members of the Tea Party movement, the two fell over each other gushing about it. “Yes, I’ve been to a whole bunch of Tea Party events…I find myself really in synch with the Tea Party,” Poizner said, while eMeg chimed in, “I am a supporter…they are at their core fiscal conservatives…if the Tea Partiers and others are looking for the tough fiscal conservative in this race, I promise you it is me.”

Poizner’s record – Whitman was at her best in assailing Poizner’s political shape shifting, noting that he backed a 2004 ballot initiative to lower the Proposition 13 vote threshold on school bonds and opposed President Bush’s tax cuts, while also accusing him of increasing the budget in the Insurance Commissioner’s office. The latter charge led to an inconclusive exchange, as the rivals hurled conflicting newspaper reports on the issue: “You just do not know what you’re talking about,” Poizner snarled at Whitman, “They (the Sacramento Bee) called you a liar.”

Whitman’s record – Playing directly to the GOP right-wing, Poizner repeatedly hit eMeg for taking a cruise that was organized to examine the issue of global warming, and for having embraced the ideas of Van Jones, the left-wing green energy activist who was fired by the Obama White House after a series of his past radical statements were made public. He also blasted her for having supported Barbara Boxer’s re-election in 2004, ostensibly because Boxer opposed a new tax on internet services: “Because Barbara Boxer took a certain position on an Internet tax that would personally benefit her and her investment funds…Is that the way you make decisions about who to endorse?”

Right-wing pandering – Beyond their gushing comments about the Tea Party, both rushed to woo right-wingers on other issues.  Both of them blasted California’s AB32 climate change laws, and refused to say that they believe global warming is caused by human activity, claiming the science is unclear on the question, and both also claimed to support “open carry” anti-gun control legislation.

Voting – After refusing to say she had done anything wrong on Goldman Sachs, Whitman switched course on questions about her poor voting record and offered a direct apology:  “I was not as engaged and connected as I should have been…but I’m 100% engaged now.” But Poizner sharply criticized Whitman for her failure to vote until the last several years: “Not voting is a big deal — you can’t just wash it away with a simple apology.”

Near the end of the debate, Whitman made a statement that will reflect the frame of the rest of the primary campaign: “So I would ask you, not to judge me on the mistakes I have made, but the ideas that I have to fix California, to restore California to its greatness.”

As eMeg tries to spend the next five weeks telling voters about her ideas, you can be sure Poizner will stay tightly focused on telling them about her mistakes.

How Brown and Whitman Will Frame the Gov Race

Monday, April 26th, 2010

The Calbuzz Department of Prognostication and Power Tools has no formal opinion about the outcome of the fight between eMeg Whitman and Steve “The Commish” Poizner for the Republican nomination for governor.

But looking ahead, we just think it makes most sense to consider how Crusty the Attorney General Jerry Brown, a notorious skinflint, will try to frame the debate against eMeg’s unprecedented, $150 million Leviathan campaign.

You could say the fundamental question will be: Who do voters hate the most? A bloated-spending, jet-hopping, Goldman-Sachs-financed, tax-return-hiding, vote-averse corporate CEO? Or a lifelong, failed, dysfunctional, unreliable, flip-flopping, corrupt, know-it-all, career politician? Pick your poison.

Those surely will be elements of the messages Whitman and Brown will use to seek to destroy one another.

But our mission here is bigger than a mere string of invective characterizations. We are looking for what political scientists call a “frame” – a construction of ideas, metaphors, anecdotes, stereotypes, arguments and even (gasp) facts – for the campaign.megp

First, how will Whitman, with her untold millions, frame the debate? Most likely, as a contest between a successful and competent businesswoman against the aforementioned failed and dysfunctional politician. That’s what eMeg’s people believe – in their heart of hearts and their bulging pocketbooks, too – really defines the race.

Running against a Democrat like Jerry Brown is not rocket science. And rich candidates have failed in California in the past, not because they were rich but because they were stupid. Whitman has no idea what she’s doing but Mike Murphy & Co. are not stupid. They’ve made a couple of political errors (opposing AB 32 and calling for building more prisons) but in the primary, at least, they’ve gotten results from all that overspending.

It likely won’t be long before Poizner is dispatched and Whitman will be picking apart Brown’s record since, as a matter of fact, he’s been on most sides of most issues at one time or another over his long career. He has – his allies will have to admit — evolved, expanded and contracted, risen and fallen, twisted and turned and twisted back again.

So what can Brown do against $150 million? How can he frame the race successfully?

Can he, we wonder, turn Whitman’s greatest strength – her money – into a liability? Can he weaponize her money, turn it against her and drive it like a stake through her heart?

“She’s doing that herself,” said one Brown adviser. “She’s spending so much, Jerry doesn’t have to make the point.”

But he will. He’ll be the frugal pragmatist who sold the state plane, refused the governor’s mansion, slept on the floor in an apartment, drove in a blue Plymouth instead of a limousine and who’s doing the people’s business; while she’s flying in private jets, spending like Paris Hilton on steroids and refusing to disclose her taxes, perhaps because they’ll show she’s still hooked up with Goldman Sachs from whom she’s gotten special, secret deals.

He’ll be the cheapskate, curbside populist, casting her as the profligate, arrogant billionaire. He’s from the mean streets of Oakland by way of Calcutta (forget Cal and Yale); she’s from Atherton by way of Long Island, the horsey set and Princeton.

Most important, Brown will argue that while he’s authentic, she is artificial. He’s the real deal; she’s a brand name. He’s meat and potatoes; she’s Mrs. Potato Head.

He will try to frame the debate using free media as much as possible (as he did with the debate challenge to Whitman and Poizner). Whether it will work is totally unclear. Conventional wisdom suggests you cannot reach and move voters in California unless you are on paid TV. Constantly.

That’s not going to be an option for Brown. Instead, he’ll rely on Jerry Brown Kung Fu. Whether that’s enough, Grasshopper, we know not, yet.

Live from Los Angeles: Donkeys Run Wild

Saturday, April 17th, 2010


The big news at the convention: Jerry Brown challenges Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner to a three-way, pre-primary debate. It has to be all three of them, he said later at a news conference. More from Calbuzz on Jerry’s intriguing proposal to come.

11:10 Treasurer Bill Lockyer is challenging Meg Whitman’s assertions that California has one of the largest state governments and highest state tax rates in the nation, using a blizzard of stats and assailing Republicans for “selfish, scare-mongering, stupid and silly” policies.

10:33: The diminutive Barbara Boxer is asking delegates to stand with us against “Wall Street on steroids” and to join her in making California the hub for clean energy jobs  and ending tax breaks for corporations and the rich and add tax breaks for the middle class and small businesses.

Biggest whoppers: Boxer boasting of “working across party lines” on Capitol Hill and making a priority of reducing  the deficit. Best Line: Talking up health care as a big positive for Dems, she said: “Why would I want to pull the plug on grandma – I am grandma!”

10:24 Boxer was introduced and came through the center of the convention platform to a loud and enthusiastic non-spontaneous demonstration to the sounds of “Aint’ No Mountain High Enough” by Tammy Terrell and Marvin Gaye.

10:00 Chairman John Burton introduced Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis as “the only liberal in the Cabinet.” She delivered a tough partisan speech in which she challenged Republicans to campaign on a platform of opposing health care: “Bring it on,” she said repeatedly.

9:30 – After taking two buses, three cabs and a shuttle, Calbuzz finally made our way from the J.W. Marriott lobby to the L.A. Convention Center at the far end of the Earth.

Barbara Boxer scheduled a press conference before her speech. When she walked in, she went out of her way to greet Mickey Kaus, the pioneer blogger who’s filed a Democratic primary challenge to her. “I wanted to meet my opponent,” she said shaking his hand.

Kaus, who’s been banned from addressing the convention, told us he was allowed to come Boxer’s newser on condition he not ask any questions. In other non-news, Boxer said two reasons that the polls are close in her race is that she has “three strong (Republican) opponents who’ve been beating her up for months and voters haven’t been“paying attention to what I’ve done.”

In response to Calbuzz, she also offered a strong endorsement of AB32, arguing that Gov. Schwarzmuscle’s climate change legislation is necessary to jump-start a green energy industry in the state.  A batch of assembled press and bloggers had a bunch of questions left, but Boxer’s handlers cut it off at 9:45, saying she had to go make her speech to the delegates.

AB32 is Popular; Gunning for Campbell and Brown

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

Loyal Calbuzzers know that we have argued repeatedly that betting against the environmental impulses of the California voter is risky business and the latest Field Research Corp. data on AB32 — the pioneering measure to control greenhouse gases — confirms that argument.

Nearly six in 10 voters (58%) said they favor the 2006 California law “that requires the state to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases that cause global warming by about 17 percent over the next 10 years.”

Nearly seven in 10 voters (69%) agreed that the state “can reduce greenhouse gases and expand jobs and economic prosperity at the same time.” That, however, was down from 74% in 2008 and 83% in 2007 — a reflection of the effects of recession.

Still, the numbers underscore the strategic problem GOP front-runner Meg Whitman has created for herself in the governor’s race by saying she would suspend AB32 and, in more recent remarks, suggesting she would jettison the law altogether, in the name of saving and expanding jobs.

Republicans oppose AB32 64-32% and conservatives oppose it 66-30%. But non-partisans support it 61-35% and moderates support the measure 64-31%. And among Democrats and liberals — forget about it: 73-23% and 84-12% respectively. (The data are from a Field Research Corp. survey of 503 registered voters March 9-15 with a margin of error of +/- 4.5%.)

So taking a stand against AB32 might help Whitman among conservative Republican primary voters — although it’s not clear she attracts them vis a vis Steve Poizner with this position. But her position will be a serious problem for her among the moderate Democratic and independent voters she would need to attract in November if she hopes to beat Democrat Jerry Brown.

Not only does Whitman continue to cite a study supporting her position that has been thoroughly debunked and repudiated, but she opens herself to Brown’s argument — as he laid it out to Calbuzz — that she is “dead wrong on the importance of reducing carbon pollution” for the sake of the environment in general and for “the lungs of little children in Southern California” in particular. Ouch.

Dudley faces danger: While the new LAT/USC poll showed that Tom Campbell remains the nominal front-runner in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, the political landscape in the last two months of the campaign looks very treacherous for him for three key reasons:

1-The National Organization for Marriage, a leader in the fight to pass Proposition 8, has targeted Campbell. The group has announced it is spending $300,000 on ads that call attention to his opposition to Prop. 8 and support for same-sex marriage, positions that are sharply at odds with most Republicans. The same group played a role in helping Scott Brown win Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat and in driving Democrat Dede Soczzafava in last year’s big special congressional election in New York.

Campbell, whose moderate views on social issues have given him trouble among conservatives in the past, has been in whistle-past-the-graveyard mode for months, insisting that the state of the economy will totally overshadow controversies like gay marriage in 2010. But the LAT poll showed that Republicans oppose it 62-to-28; the anti-gay marriage group has put out results of a poll they commissioned which supposedly shows only 2 percent of GOP voters know of his position on the issue. Even discounting the likely bias in the survey, that’s a helluva hill to climb.

2-The LAT poll shows that Carly Fiorina, Campbell’s chief rival, now holds a tiny lead, 30-to-28, among self described conservatives (who oppose gay marriage 70-to-22). While statistically insignificant, the finding is still a bad omen for Campbell, who holds at least a small lead among  virtually every other category of voter in the survey.

3-Campbell’s first-quarter fund-raising was less than stellar. Having announced a primary goal of $7 million, Dudley managed to raise only $1.6 million in the first quarter, which put him way behind Fiorina – who had $2.5 million in the bank as of December 31 – even before she reports her own first-quarter numbers. Given the advantage she holds in having her own money to spend, it’s not hard to imagine him getting buried under a barrage of negative ads in the next 60 days.

Meanwhile, on the attack ad front: University of California President Mark Yudof, a member of the California Chamber of Commerce Board, when asked whether he approves or disapproves of the attack ad on Brown produced by Chamber CEO Allan Zeremberg (but sold in advance to the board as issue advocacy), at first replied through a spokesman:

“President Yudof was not aware of this ad and did not participate in its approval. As a leader of a public university, he is non-partisan. He is looking into the circumstances surrounding the advertisement.”

When pressed further by Calbuzz to say whether he approves or disapproves of the ad, Yudof said, again through a spokesman, “He did not and does not approve of it.”

We then found this on his Facebook page:

CSU Chancellor Charles Reed would only say — through his spokesman — “The chancellor was not consulted and did not see the ad. That type of political activity is not something the CSU or the chancellor are involved in.”

He would NOT say he disapproves of the ad, leaving Calbuzz to conclude that he must approve of it since the board he serves on approved the expenditure.

As for Community College Chancellor Jack Scott — also a Cal Chamber board member — we couldn’t even get a comment from his outfit. So we assume he, too, must approve of the attack on Brown as well.

Good luck keeping those jobs if Brown gets elected guys.

Meanwhile, The California Democratic Party announced it would be filing an FPPC complaint against Whitman on grounds that her chairman, Pete Wilson, participated in the decision to fund the TV ad which is alleged to be an illegal in-kind contribution.

“This sleazy attack ad is obviously being done at the behest of the Meg Whitman campaign,” said CPD Chairman John Burton. “Clearly, there is collusion taking place and the intent couldn’t be plainer: to circumvent California law with regard to in-kind contributions.”

Jamie Court of Consumer Watchdog also fired off a complaint letter to the FPPC.

Brown’s campaign used the ad as an opportunity to appeal for money and then late in the day Brown campaign manager Steve Glazer called on the Chamber to withdraw its  ad after “numerous Chamber Board members denied giving authorization to create it or Chamber dues to put it on the air.”

Said Glazer’s release: “Under the guise of an issue ad, the Chamber falsely ties Brown to job losses and budget shortfalls from the past two years, when California was led by a Republican governor. ”

Addendum: Late Wednesday, the Brown campaign released a letter from four Chamber board members — George Kieffer, Kevin Rattner, Robert Simonds and Cindy Starrett — calling on Zaremberg to stop funding the ads and pull them off the air because “to any reasonably minded person this is nothing more than a typical political attack ad.”

The hard-working Torey Van Oot of the Sac Bee Minus has the story and a link to a pdf of the letter here.

Keeley: California Forward Not Dead, Still Kicking

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

By Fred Keeley
Special to Calbuzz

I come to praise California Forward, not to bury it.

Actually, I have no real issue with Calbuzz’s micro-reporting on the narrow point of whether or not California Forward’s efforts to have the legislature and governor place a real budget process reform measure on the November ballot, will be successful.

I do have an issue with Calbuzz using that as the measure of California Forward’s overall effectiveness in the broader area of fixing California’s broken tools for governance in the 21st Century.

As many of your readers know, California Forward was founded a couple of years ago with the support of a hand-full of large California foundations who had grown exasperated by the rapid decline of California’s governance capacity.

Whether the issue was and is education, environmental protection, healthy economy, human services, or any of the other major issues facing our state, California seems to have become mostly incapable of making progress.

Obviously, there are exceptions, with the most notable being AB 32, the state’s landmark and comprehensive global climate change statute. For the most part, and regardless of the state’s economic condition, Sacramento has become a place where good ideas seem to go to die.

California Forward, a bi-partisan (or, some would argue, a non-partisan) organization came into existence to deeply examine what is broken in California’s systems of governance, and to build support for thoughtful, best-practices reforms. It has been known from the start that many of the solutions are likely to take a few years to achieve, while some may be able to be adopted more quickly.

In 2008, California Forward joined other “Goo Goos” such as the League of Women Voters, Common Cause and AARP, to sponsor the statewide ballot measure that took the decadal redistricting of legislative lines out of the hands of legislators, and put it in the hands of an independent commission.

That effort is underway now, and there are those who want to see it succeed, and others who are attempting to smother it in the crib. Regardless, it is one of the reforms that many who look at California’s governance tools believe needs exactly this reform.

For a couple of years, California Forward has worked both inside and outside Sacramento to develop a set of “best practices” reforms of California’s perennially late and “not worth waiting for” budget-making system. The California Forward package includes two-year budgeting, budgeting by objectives, mandatory oversight of the governor’s implementation of the budget by the legislature, and other items used by many, many states that are considered well managed.

The clear 600-pound gorilla in the budget reform room is the majority vote. California Forward is recommending that the existing two-thirds vote to adopt the budget be replaced by a simple majority vote provision in the state constitution. This would put California in the same place as 47 of the 50 states who have just such a provision. This change would NOT change the current requirement to obtain a 2/3rd’s vote to raise taxes.

Other issues on our agenda include term limit reform, initiative reform, and campaign financing. Each will take more time to develop into a broadly-supported reform.

I have read with interest your obituary of Repair California, the folks who wanted to get a Constitutional Convention to the ballot. I have also read your pieces on other budget reform efforts, such as that by Professor Lakoff at the University of California Berkeley.

I hasten to add that I respect both efforts, as it is critically important for as many voices and ideas as possible to be in the mix if ideas to fix California’s broken governance tools.

California Forward is, however, different. We are taking a multi-year, multi-subject approach to solving our vexing governance problems. We are very likely to have to take a few laps around many tracks to get all of this done, but we will get it done. California should accept nothing less.

To accomplish that, California Forward is undertaking an unprecedented civic engagement project. What I like to call the California Conversation. This project, which has been approved by California Forward’s board of directors and is deep into the design stage, is an attempt to have a conversation with literally millions of Californians regarding the state of governance in California, and what can be done to fix it.

This, too, is likely to take time to do it right — and to make changes that will provide lasting improvements.