Posts Tagged ‘California Forward’



Meyer on Krusty: Why Exactly Did He Want This Job?

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

When Dianne Feinstein called Jerry Brown last winter to confirm what everyone in the world already knew – that she wasn’t going to run for governor, so the Democratic nomination was all his – Krusty responded that he was kind of hoping she would run so he wouldn’t have to.   When we reported the conversation at the time, we said that Brown was half-joking; after Leg Analyst Mac Taylor’s announcement this week that California faces a $25 billion budget deficit, now we’re thinking he wasn’t kidding at all.

As Calbuzzer Tom Meyer, Tim Gunn’s favorite editorial cartoonist,shows this week, the task is made far more difficult by a whole batch of initiatives passed by the state’s self-canceling-minded voters – More services – Less taxes! – not only hardy perennials like Props 13 and 98 but also Props 21, 22 and 26, a new trio of budget straitjackets passed in last week’s election.

Calbuzz is particularly miffed about Prop. 26, which for the first time imposes a two-thirds vote requirement for a whole batch of fees on corporate polluters and the like, because it snuck through with almost no coverage and little notice. As long-time readers know, the measure effectively voids the state Supreme Court’s decision in the Sinclair Paint decision, a business-backed effort that we first blew the whistle on way back when corporate types were trying to weasel it through buried deep inside a “good government” reform package being fronted by California Backward Forward.

As the full implications of Prop. 26 begin to dawn in Sacramento, we confess we’re kicking ourselves now for not screaming to the heavens about it more during the campaign, beyond the excellent Jean Ross piece we ran on its hidden agenda. While we, of course, criticize ourselves severely for the oversight, a full investigation by our Division of Corporate Responsibility and It Didn’t Happen On Our Shift Unaccountability absolves us from responsiblity and concludes that now it’s Krusty’s problem, not ours.

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Mac’s World: Here are Calbuzz Washington Correspondent Mackenzie Weinger’s latest whip counts and doped-out updates on the California House delegation amid the fierce maneuvering that has followed the Republican skunking of the Democrats in the mid-terms:

Despite her stated intention to remain her party’s leader in the 112th Congress, soon-to-be former Speaker Nancy Pelosi faces mounting opposition within the Democratic caucus.

As of November 12, 18 Democrats — including one Californian, Rep. Jim Costa (who declared victory this week, although votes are still being counted in the 20th CD) have said they will oppose Pelosi in her quest to become House Minority Leader. In the contest to become House Minority Whip, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) is leading Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) with 51 public backers to Clyburn’s 13.

(Update: The New York Times, quoting unnamed Democratic sources, is now reporting that the Hoyer-Clyburn fight has been resolved, and that the South Carolinian will accept a newly created #3 post in the caucus).

Among Clyburn’s backers is Rep. Xavier Becerra of L.A., a rising star in the party. He currently serves as vice chair of the Democratic Caucus and is angling to stay in that position, announcing his intentionto stay in leadership in a November 5 letter to fellow Democrats: “As your Vice Chair in the 111th Congress, I have devoted my energy and resources to pass our Democratic agenda…. In the coming days, I hope you will give me the opportunity to speak to you personally about my candidacy for Vice Chair.”

At the start of the week, there was discussion of possibly moving each leader below minority whip down a spot amid the Hoyer-Clyburn contest,; that would have left Becerra out of luck for his vice chairmanship. But the new Democratic Caucus election schedule for next Wednesday ends with the minority whip race, meaning leadership posts lower down the food chain should  be settled, protecting the currently unopposed Becerra.

The other Californians supporting Clyburn are Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, as well as Reps. Barbara Lee and Grace Napolitano. Hoyer’s California backing comes from Reps. Joe Baca, Howard Berman, Lois Capps, Dennis Cardoza, Sam Farr, Bob Filner, John Garamendi, Jane Harman, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Linda Sanchez, Adam Schiff, Brad Sherman, Jackie Speier and Henry Waxman.

Across the aisle as members of the new majority party, several California Republicans appear set to become major power brokers in the 112th Congress. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is currently unopposed for House Majority Whip.

Among House committees, a batch of state GOPers are in line or vying for important chair positions: Rep. Dan Lungren, House Administration, Rep. Buck McKeon, Armed Services, Rep. Jerry Lewis, Appropriations, Rep. Darrell Issa, Oversight and Government Reform; Rep. David Dreier, Rules and Rep. Ed Royce, Financial Services.

Lewis, who served as the Appropriations chair in the 109th Congress, faces a challenge from Rep. Hal Rogers of Kentucky, another veteran on the panel. And Royce is vying against Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL), the current ranking minority member, for the top spot on the Financial Services committee.

With the GOP’s gains, of course, a number of California Democrats have lost powerful committee chairmanships: Rep. George Miller, Education and Labor; Rep. Henry Waxman,  Energy and Commerce;, Rep. Howard Berman, Foreign Affairs: Rep. Bob Filner, Veterans’ Affairs and Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Standards of Official Conduct.

In other California congressional news, Dreier, McKeon and Rep. John Campbell are now in DC as part of the GOP majority transition team. And, along with Costa, who claimed victory over Republican Andy Vidak, Democrat Jerry McNerney in the 11th district also crowned himself a winner, in his close race against Republican David Harmer. Neither Vidak nor Harmer have conceded.

ABC – Always Believe Calbuzz: There were many doubters among the Calbuzz cognoscenti – some of them on our own staff! – who whispered darkly that in the midst of the worst recession in decades, we were totally nuts to keep yammering on about the importance of Prop. 23, which sought to suspend California’s landmark climate change legislation. This just in: the “No” on Prop. 23 campaign wracked up more votes – 5,416,385 at press time – than any candidate or other initiative, yay or nay, on the statewide ballot.

In other toldja’ news, the record will show that the Calbuzz Sports Desk focused its reporting from spring training on the Giants vs. Rangers, the match-up that made it into the World Series. Sometimes we amaze even ourselves.

Happy 2010: Oy Vey, an Election is Breaking Out

Friday, January 1st, 2010

HangoverThe hoariest cliché in the news business – besides  Where Are They Now, the Irrelevant Anniversary yarn and frying an egg on the sidewalk during a heat wave – is the end-of-year Top 10 list.

And at Calbuzz, we’re nothing if not hoary clichés. Or maybe clichéd whores. Whatever.

As you find yourself face down in a bowl of gelatinous guacamole this New Year’s morn, trying to remember why you’re wearing rubber underwear and Raider wrist bands, here’s the Calbuzz Top 10 stories of the year, a 2010 primer for those who got drunk and missed 2009.

dianneworried2

Difi (Hearts) D.C. Calbuzz launched March 16, with a hiding-in-plain-sight perceptual scoop saying flatly that Senator Dianne Feinstein wouldn’t run for governor. Despite her septuagenarian coquette act and unstinting effort to keep a few moldering embers of interest flickering about a late-entry campaign, Difi’s demurrer was the biggest 2009 factor that shaped the race, which we’ve handicapped with updated analyses here and here. (This just in: she’s still older than the Golden Gate Bridge.)

jerryflippedThe re-incarnation of Jerry Brown.  Casting himself as “an apostle of common sense,” Brown sent a clear signal he was in it to win it when he gave Calbuzz an extended interview discussing the governor’s race, then promptly retreated to his tent to insist that he was  reviewing all his options. Right. While at least one would-be analyst suggested that Crusty the General cleared the field, he did no such thing: Brown’s singular status as the Democrats’ presumptive nominee emerged from the collapse of erstwhile rivals Gavin Newsom and Antonio Villaraigosa as  the Philandering Twins proved to be little more than a sideshow.

Why Rich Guys Don’t Win Elections. Back before it was fashionable, we reported on the sorry history of wealthy folks trying to buy top-line offices in California, a bit of Calbuzz conventional wisdom that will be challenged in 2010, with three zillionaires running for governor or Senate.caveman

Where did all the cavemen go? Way back in March, we noted the oddness of a California Republican primary race for governor without a true-blue movement conservative in the field  and, beginning with Arlen Specter’s party switch, we’ve tracked the way the Tea Party’s national purge movement is manifest in California.

Why won’t this woman go out with us? Win or lose, eMeg’s campaign is poised to become 2010’s most entertaining show for fans of politicmegs as spectator sport. With an imperious manner not seen since Catherine the Great, a campaign budget bigger than the GDP of Belize and an army of consultants the size of the U.S. Postal Service, eMeg has already provided the cognoscenti lotsa laughs with a smash hit performance about her voting record, her messy corporate divorce from Craigslist  and her passionate bid to win the hearts and minds of people who don’t vote in California. That this titan of industry apparently lives in mortal fear of sitting down to Dim Sum with Calbuzz  just adds to the general hilarity (memo to legal dept: check on residuals and copyright for Calbuzz “eMeg” coinage).

outrageThe voters are outside, and man are they pissed. From the May 19 special election debacle to the real-life terror of living through a withering recession, Californians are in a foul mood for the ages. The electorate is changing and they want change, but no one now in the arena seems to know exactly what that’s supposed to look like.

Why California can’t be governed. The flip side of populist anger at Sacramento is the inconvenient truth that voters themselves are largely responsible for tying state government into knots, having approved three decades worth of low-tax-high-spending initiatives and a series of crackpot  reforms, from term limits to  the tyranny of minority rule, which add up to Capitol policy makers lacking the tools or clout to do what needs doing.

What does rsinclairpainteform look like? The upside of all the doom and gloom about state government is that it’s yielded some of the most interesting reform measures since Hiram Johnson was chewing on Abe Reuf’s leg. Despite the collapse of tax reform, led by the screw-the-pooch performance by Friend of Arnold Gerald Parsky, the seriousness and substance of policy questions being raised by advocates for a constitutional convention and for the California Forward reform measure are complex, intriguing and important – even when they get deep, deep into the weeds on issues from Prop. 13 to the crucial Sinclair Paint decision.

Environment vs economy. California’s economic decline has reignited a long-simmering debate about the economic impacts of the state’s sweeping environmental protections. eMeg has already thrown down the gauntlet, calling for a roll back of the landmark AB32 climate change legislation, which is likely to become a big deal in the election this year. The other environmental debate that just won’t go away is the bitter dispute about the Tranquillon Ridge offshore project, an issue whose weeds Calbuzz never tires of whacking.

calbuzzartThe Calbuzz Haiku Contest. Amid all the political and policy fun and games, the best thing about Calbuzz’s first year has been getting in touch with a community of highly informed readers, thoughtful commenters and roster of triple smart guest writers (thanks Penny Elia, Merv Field, Steve Maviglio, David Ferry, Jon Fleischman, Fran Gibson, Ron Kaye, Fred Keeley, Linda Krop, Greg Lucas, Mark Massara, Bob Naylor, Mark Paul, Heather Reger, Susan Rose, Jean Ross, Richie Ross, Marc Sandalow, Tanya Schevitz, Dan Schnur, Don Sipple, Phil Ting, Evan Wagstaff, Anthony Wright and the late Msrs. Dylan Thomas and Mark Twain, as well as the members of the Calbuzz Board of Anonymous Advisers – you know who you are and we promised not to say).

See you Monday.

2010: Initiatives Pandemic! Goo-Goos Run Wild!

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

pokerBack in August we warned of a back-room deal inside California Forward – the good government reform group – that involved taking away the Legislature’s ability to raise fees by majority vote in exchange for allowing the state budget to be passed by majority vote instead of the two-thirds required now.

Not much of a deal for liberals, since California Forward’s proposals still would require a two-thirds vote to raise taxes, and it’s unclear how significant the former would be without the latter.

But the process people – the folks who believe that passing a budget by majority vote is crucial to governing and would give the majority party a modicum of more running room – were so eager to make it possible to pass budgets that they were willing to trade off a right recognized by the courts in Sinclair Paint vs. Board of Equalization, 15 Cal.4th at 881.

sinclairpaintThat’s the authority of the Legislature to impose “mitigation fees” on business with a majority vote. Although the Legislature has never done it, there was consideration in the last set of budget negotiations of raising state park entry fees to cover costs that previously had been paid by tax revenues. Under Sinclair, it appears, the Legislature might well be able to do that with a majority vote.

Now California Forward has submitted two initiatives for the 2010 ballot. The first is focused on improving the budget process, both with the majority vote and by introducing a batch of newfangled management techniques like, oh say, “results and accountability.” The second is aimed at beginning to untangle the knotty relationship between state and local governments.

As we first reported, the proposal offered by California Forward would take away the Legislature’s Sinclair-backed authority to levy fees by majority vote, a power that manufacturers and other industries view with considerable anxiety. Here’s what it says (strikeout is language that is killed and underline is new language):

SECTION SEVEN. Section 3 of Article XIII A of the California Constitution is amended to read:

SEC. 3. From and after the effective date of this article, any changes in state taxes enacted for the purpose of increasing revenues collected pursuant thereto whether by increased rates, or changes in methods of computation, or imposition of a new tax, must be imposed by an Act passed by not less than two-thirds of all members elected to each of the two houses of the Legislature, except that no new ad valorem taxes on real property, or sales or transaction taxes on the sales of real property may be imposed. In addition, any bill that imposes a fee that replaces revenue that in the same or the prior fiscal year was generated by a tax must be passed by no less than two-thirds of all members elected to each of the two houses of the Legislature.

Fred Keeley, Cal Forward’s most avid pro-tax liberal, says he’s thinks giving up the majority vote on fees that replace taxes in exchange for a majority vote on the budget is a good deal. And Bob Hertzberg, the former Assembly Speaker and co-chairman of Cal Forward, thinks it’s not even a close call.

Calbuzz has no dog in the fight, other than to call attention to the fact that this is something the business interests in California have been adamant about and – with this measure – would obtain.

Take the initiative: Cal Forward is the ultimate non-partisan goo-goo group – backed by the California Endowment, Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, James Irvine Foundation, and David and Lucile Packard Foundation and other non-profit heavyweights – and its reform package is far more incremental than the constitutional convention agenda being pushed by the Bay Area Council and its allies, also for the 2010 ballot.

In submitting their measures to the Secretary of State, Cal Forward put out a FAQ that took a gentle jab at the con-con idea:

 

“A convention would bring several hundred volunteers together for a limited time to discuss many possible ways for changing California’s Constitution – there’s no telling what decisions they would make (emphasis ours). The California Forward plan instead takes specific policies that are already working in other states and put them to work in California, helping us balance our budget, improve services and reduce waste.

Sniff, sniff.

P.S. Assuming Cal Forward and the Bay Area Council both qualify their measures for 2010, the internecine reform battle will be just one intriguing feature of what is shaping as a most entertaining ballot, with free-swinging proposals on legalizing marijuana, cracking down on public employee pensions and rewriting Prop. 13 to allow split roll assessments among the dozens of initiatives in various stages of qualifying.

Latest tally from the Secretary of State’s offices shows four measures already qualified for the ballot (three in the primary and the big water bond in the general) with 24 in circulation for signatures and other 51 awaiting Title and Summary in Jerry Brown’s office (here’s hoping the AG isn’t taping calls about all of them, or we’ll never get voter handbooks mailed out in time).

lisavFollow that scooplet: Speaking of initiatives, nice work by Lisa Vorderbrueggen over at Political Blotter, who flagged a Center for Governmental Studies report showing that most of the ballot measures hamstringing the Governor and Legislature on budget matters come from…the Governor and Legislature.

“Most of the ballot-box budgeting has come from you,” Bob Stern, president of the goo-goo  group (they’re everywhere!) told the Senate and Assembly Select Committees on Improving State Government, which met in Oakland last week.

“A new analysis from the nonprofit Center for Governmental Studies…shows that of the $11.85 billion worth of ballot measures voters approved between 1988 and 2009, 83 percent were placed on the ballot by the Legislature…

So much for all the national media geniuses who parachuted in to report on California’s budget mess and concluded that the main problem is those whacky Left Coast voters running amok with goofy initiatives.