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Posts Tagged ‘Charles Reed’



Jerry Brown vs. Charlie Sheen; Higher Ed Hypocrisy

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

As Jerry Brown prepares to hit the road to campaign for his tax plan, our Department of Political Tour Logistics and Grateful Dead Wannabes has drafted a strategy memo with seven key words of advice for the governor:

Try not to act like Charlie Sheen.

As Tom Meyer illustrates today, there are eerie similarities between the  governor’s upcoming tax extension road show and the whack-job actor’s current “Violent Torpedo of Truth” tour.

Both men are scions of a famous father who paved the way for his son’s success in the same profession; both now face an epic crisis that may define his career; both are seeking to escape his predicament by trying to get his hands on other people’s money – Brown in order to finance public schools and health care while cleaning up the state’s fiscal mess, Sheen to make up what he lost by being fired from his highly-rated TV show for the purpose of maintaining his party hearty jones for coke and hookers.

As Brown heads off to far-flung locales in a bid to bring pressure on Republican lawmakers, however, he’s well advised to avoid the blunders Sheen committed in venturing onto unfamiliar turf, far from Mulholland Drive orgies and sensory delights, for his disastrous opening night appearance in Detroit:

1-Don’t refer to women as goddesses. When Sheen hit the stage, he swiftly introduced his self-styled “goddesses,” the porn star and the alleged actress with whom he lives, who promptly locked lips, to wild applause.

Although Anne Gust Brown, Brown’s wife and most trusted adviser, would probably appreciate deification, the other most important woman in his life, Department of Finance director Ana Matosantos, would surely find it unprofessional, if not a matter for the EEOC. More broadly, Brown needs help from every women voter, the most likely group to back his pitch for public schools, and acting like a drooling degenerate creepo sleaze would run the risk of losing their support.

2-Don’t threaten to pummel Bob Dutton. Sheen keeps boasting about his “fire breathing fists,” and how he plans to use them on his former producer and his ex-co-star, as well as Dr. Drew of “Celebrity Rehab,” who said the actor should be on psychiatric medication (“I think me and [Dr. Drew] should jump in the ring and he should see how unstable these fists of flaming fury are,” responded Sheen).

As much as ex-boxer Brown might justifiably harbor similar feelings for Dutton, the whining menopausal GOP senate leader,  he’s probably better off maintaining a veneer of bipartisanship, at least in Dutton’s Rancho Cucamonga  district.

3-Don’t say “I’ve already got your  fucking money, dude.” Sheen used those very words to bait a booing audience member in Detroit, as others loudly demanded refunds. On his tour, Brown no doubt will face folks who are understandably suspicious of politicians treating the public treasury as a  personal bank account, so the governor needs to avoid sounding entitled, while selling his tax plan as an extension of his skinflint cheapskate brand.

In the end, the biggest difference between Governor Krusty and Crazy Charlie is this: Brown (who has never claimed to have tiger blood in his veins) lives in a world based on facts, and will appeal to voters on the basis of rational argument, while Sheen (a self-described warlock) lives in a la-la-land world of fantasy, much like, oh say, most legislative Republicans.

In the California GOP’s world, truth is whatever they say it is. The laws of arithmetic don’t apply, the poor and destitute are invisible, workers don’t have rights, education can be fixed in a jiffy with vouchers and home schools, and corporate loopholes and business-biased tax policies are crucial characteristics of “free markets.”

Selling tax extensions in Inland California is not an easy task for Brown – employing facts, figures and hard evidence to win over citizens whose elected representatives and anti-tax “advocates” have for decades  cynically fed them a steady diet of failed ideology, flat earth sloganeering and Fox News bloviation.

Be careful out there, governor.

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I’m studying for a Ph.D in Poltroonery: Calbuzz yields to no one in our support for California’s system of higher education: we have not only studied but also worked in the system ourselves, we have kids and friends on campuses throughout the state and we staunchly believe that high-quality public universities, colleges and community colleges are crucial to the civic and economic health and future of the state.

So it pained us to see that 250 administrators from public universities and colleges descended on Sacramento Tuesday to argue that they should under no circumstances be asked to absorb any more than the $1.4 billion in cuts they’ve been given because of California’s budget deficit.

“We have done our part,” CSU Chancellor Charles Reed told a crowd outside the Capitol at the start of a day of lobbying. “But you know what? That’s enough.”

Oh really? And if there are no tax extensions or other new revenue sources approved, who should suffer further cutbacks: widows and children, the elderly, blind and disabled? Please, oh self-interested scholars, spare us your self-pity.

Where were Charlie Reed, UC President Mark Yudof and community college Chancellor Jack Scott when the crucial need was rounding up two Republicans in the Assembly and two in the Senate to put tax extensions on the ballot to head off doubling the universities’ $1.4 billion haircut?

Where were the organized legions of trustees, boards of directors, alumni associations*, lobbyists and cronies putting the screws to GOP legislators? They didn’t have the guts to come out, push and pressure for tax extensions and now they want to be protected? What unmitigated gall.

Had the higher education lobby worked and argued fiercely and publicly for extending taxes and fees, they’d be in a far stronger position to fight against further cuts and scenarios of turning away 400,000 community college students, more from CSUs and UCs, not to mention raising tuition and slashing whole programs, institutes, courses and offerings.

Instead, the fainthearted “leaders” of the higher education community let Brown and the legislative Democrats do all the heavy lifting on the overall budget strategy while they singularly argued for more revenue only for California’s once-great system of higher ed. And now, caught once again in the divide-and-conquer budget trap, they call for special treatment.

All of which brings to mind the words of our most venerable mentor, sage and metaphysical consultant, the great Calbuzzer, Confucius:

To know what is right and not do it is the worst cowardice.

*UPDATE: Thanks to Adrian Diaz for informing us (after our post) that the Cal Alumni Association DID press its members to push for tax extensions with this letter:

Dear Cal Alumni and Friends,

On February 18, the Cal Alumni Association (CAA) Board of Directors, in an unprecedented action, voted to support placing Governor Jerry Brown’s current proposal for maintaining existing taxes on the June 2011 ballot.

Why did the CAA Board take this action? Without the maintenance of existing taxes, the excellence and access of UC Berkeley will be jeopardized by further drastic budget cuts.

In 2009-2010, all departments at UC Berkeley, including academic departments, took a permanent budget cut averaging 19 percent. Last year, approximately 600 staff positions were eliminated. Another 280 are slated for elimination this year. State funding for UC Berkeley is now less than federal funding, less than student fees, and less than private donations.

What can you do? Before Californians can vote on the maintenance of existing taxes, the measure first has to get on the June ballot. The State Legislature must decide by March 10, 2011 to get the measure on the ballot.

Please send an email telling your legislator to put a revenue measure on the ballot, so California voters can decide whether to maintain existing taxes that will help save UC Berkeley.

Governor Brown’s budget already includes a $500 million cut to the UC budget. Without the tax extensions, the Legislative Analyst Office predicts that the UC budget could be cut by an additional $500 million. Of this $1 billion reduction, $160 million could be cut from the UC Berkeleycampus alone.

Californians face a difficult choice — do we balance the state budget by cutting expenditures alone or do we minimizing the damage to one of our greatest educational institutions by balancing the budget with a combination of expense reduction and revenue generation?

While we recognize that no one likes to pay taxes, we are also assured that the Governor’s current proposal does not include any new taxes, only an extension of the existing taxes. Please send an email telling your legislator to put a revenue measure on the ballot, so California voters can decide.

Join the Cal Alumni Association in our efforts to ensure the excellence of our alma mater for today’s Cal students and future generations of Golden Bears.

Fiat Lux,

Alan C. Mendelson ’69
President, CAA Board of Directors

Puerile Polls, Pennant Races and Pigeon Hearts

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

Calbuzz has made no secret that we think the Rasmussen Poll, with its automated calling, God-knows-what sampling technique and conservative bias, is basically crap. So we don’t pay much attention to it, even when its results seem in the ballpark. You know: a monkey typing for an infinite amount of time could produce Hamlet, etc.

So two weeks ago, when Rasmussen had the California governor’s race with Meg Whitman at 51% and Jerry Brown at 43%, and Whitman’s guard dog Mike Murphy predicted we’d trash the poll, we just said, “Why bother?” And we were going to just pay no nevermind again when, on Wednesday, we saw that Rasmussen now has the race at 48-45% for Whitman — although exactly NOTHING happened between the two surveys to move the needle (Brown’s new ad wasn’t even up yet).

But for some unknown reason, some media outlets give credence to Rasmussen, so we thought we’d just note a couple of findings that ought to steer our esteemed colleagues away from circulating this survey swill.

Here’s all you need to know: the new Rasmussen poll has Whitman beating Brown among liberals 62-35%. That’s absurd. At the same time a poll from CNN, done by Opinion Research Corp., has Meg over Jerry 48-46%, with liberals voting for Brown 80-16%, which sounds about right.

Rasmussen also has Whitman beating Brown 62-31% among voters 65 and older, compared to the CNN poll which has Brown over Whitman 50-47% in the same age group. Another stupid Rasmussen result.

Mark our words: when it gets down to the wire, and reputable pollsters have weighed in with serious results from legitimate polling, outfits like Rasmussen and Survey USA will post surveys right on the money. However they get there.

P.S.For a more complete discussion of the Calbuzz Standards for Polling, Decency and Free Lunch see this discussion from our Department of Weights and Measures.

Political pennant races: In the final week of August, the San Diego Padres led major league baseball’s Western Division by a comfortable 6.5 games, Vegas oddsmakers made them a 97.2% lock to make the playoffs and their fans were buzzing about probable post-season pitching rotations.

Then they lost 10 games in a row.

At the start of play last night, the Pads led the never-quit Giants by exactly one game, amid the caterwauling and hair-pulling of fans desperate to figure out why their team had suddenly collapsed.

The answer was simple. The Padres had merely run up against one of the venerable unwritten rules of baseball: The pennant race doesn’t start until September.

Baseball’s long history of amazing stretch runs – the ’51 Giants, the ’78 Yankees and the ’95 Mariners for starters – came to mind amid the quickly cementing Beltway conventional wisdom that Republicans are guaranteed to seize control of the House in November and, most likely,  the Senate as well.

A series of national polls, which show that voters strongly prefer a generic GOP congressional candidate over a Democratic one, has generated widespread mockery of a purportedly failed president and ignited (sheesh) created a tsunami of GOP/Fox News triumphalism, summed up best by the single fact that a Google search of John Boehner, the GOP House leader and wannabe Speaker, and the words “measuring the drapes” yields 31,900 hits.

Calbuzz would never presume to claim the unfailing wisdom of the godlike Larry Sabato or the clairvoyance of the sage Charlie Cook.  All we know is a) generic polls don’t mean squat in a local congressional district dogfight; b) trash talking in the clubhouse don’t win games on the field; c) that’s why they have horse races.

So while we’re not making any predictions about the congressional mid-terms, we do note Chris Cillizza’s pretty clear-eyed observation that the  real battle will come down to who wins the definitional fight to frame what the races are about  – a national referendum on the Administration or a district-by-district, state-by-state comparison between two competing candidates.

Oh, and did we mention that the only poll that matters is the one on election day?

Annals of weenie-hood: The Calbuzz Department of Ethical Standards and Goo-Goo Meritorious Service presents gold badges of honor to Mark Yudof and Jack Scott, UC president and community college system chancellor respectively, for resigning from the state Chamber of Commerce board of directors to protest that august body’s taking sides in the race for governor. (CSU president Charles Reed, who remains on the board, apparently has more elastic standards).

Said Scott:

I do not believe the board is using sound judgment by catapulting the California Chamber of Commerce into the center of a fierce political contest…It is destructive to the chamber’s core mission and the businesses it represents when it becomes a partisan operation.

While we admire Scott’s pluck, not to mention his choice of the woefully underused verb “catapult,” we have no beef with the Chamber looking out for their member’s interests by endorsing Republican Meg Whitman and her tax cuts for corporations and the rich. Nor do we begrudge them their decision to spend big bucks running TV ads trashing Jerry Brown.

What does rankle, however, is their lily-livered, pigeon-hearted, weak-kneed, yellow-bellied, gutless spinelessness in hiding behind the skirts of the phony pretense that what they’re putting on the air is some kind of “issue ad.”

These guys and eMeg spend half their lives whining about the injustice of unions airing independent expenditure committee spots in support of Brown, but at least the labor goons have enough courage in their convictions to identify themselves on campaign spending reports.

C’mon Zaremberg, get those weenies on your board to man up for once in their craven, cowardly lives.

Three dot lounge: Must have been an off-year for Dick: Senator Difi clocks in only at #10 on the list of the richest members of Congress…We don’t understand why Denis Thierault appears to have been the only one to report on a fascinating study that shows Democrat counties send Sacramento more in revenue than they get back in services, while GOP counties represented by anti-government types end up on the plus side of the ledger; drown the baby in the bathtub indeed…We’re glad we’re not the only ones grumbling about Fred Thompson peddling reverse mortgages on late night cable for a company that preys on old folks…Amid all the brouhaha about Krusty’s  terms as mayor of Oakland, Steve Harmon has written the best reported piece on his record we’ve seen…Bad taste costs no more

Chamber Yanks Attack on Brown; Fish Odor Lingers

Friday, April 9th, 2010

Under fire from board members, Attorney General Jerry Brown and editorial writers, California Chamber of Commerce CEO Allan Zaremberg on Thursday decided to cut short the TV ad campaign attack he produced and financed with $1.3 million from the Chamber’s coffers.

With University of California President Mark Yudof raising a stink (but relative silence from CSU and community college chancellors Charlie Reed and Jack Scott)*, with at least four Chamber board members in open revolt, with the Sacramento Bee labeling Zaremberg’s ad campaign a “cannonball of dishonesty,” and with the Attorney General and his former businesswoman wife lighting up board members, Zaremberg beat a hasty retreat.

Aren’t you glad Calbuzz blew the whistle on all this?

We have no idea what Zaremberg thought he was doing when he got authorization from his board to do issue ads and then produced and bought TV time for an attack ad that blames Brown for Proposition 13, a $200 billion deficit, spiraling taxation and the decline of civilization as we know it. We don’t know because the chicken-livered Chamber CEO won’t even come to the phone when we call.

He did speak to the Chronicle and to  Capitol Weekly, telling them: “We’re ready to move on to the next phase of our paid media campaign . . . We believe we’ve accomplished what we tried to accomplish with the first ad, which is bring attention to these important issues. We probably got a little more attention than we expected.”

What?  “Accomplished what we tried to accomplish with the first ad?” You gotta be kidding?

“California is facing serious challenges, and the voters deserve honesty from candidates and organizations like the Chamber of Commerce,” Brown campaign manager Steve Glazer said. “This ad was misleading, the funding is a mystery and it should never have been aired. We’re pleased the ad is down, and we hope the Chamber will return to a more constructive role in public affairs.”

Calbuzz checked with ad traffic managers at stations in Sacramento and Los Angeles who said, indeed, orders have been received to replace “Enough Is Enough” — the attack ad — with an ad titled “Plan,” which they had not yet seen.

We also heard that while the Chamber board had only approved issue ads in general, Zaremberg’s executive committee approved the specific ad. But we were unable to reach the chair of that committee, Larree M. Renda, executive vice president, chief strategist and administrative officer of  Safeway Inc. Wonder how happy Safeway is with Zaremberg, now?

Late Thursday, Tucker Bounds of the Meg Whitman campaign put out a statement alleging that Brown had “spent the last several days directly telephoning the top executives of companies who sit on the California Chamber of Commerce board to threaten both labor unrest from his allies and direct regulatory action from his office.”

Bounds offered no individual names and campaign spokeswoman Sarah Pompei could not either. But their pal and fellow Republican partisan Chip Hanlon, over at Red County, said Brown had threatened labor unrest and other investigations in conversations with executives from Safeway and the Bank of America.

If true, of course, this would represent a serious misuse of power by the Attorney General of California. But according to Brown’s spokesman Sterling Clifford, who said he was within earshot of all the calls the Browns made to Chamber board members, “It is frankly and flatly false. It’s a face-saving, desperate statement of a campaign whose allies attempted to circumvent campaign finance law and were uncovered.”

If we hear from some Chamber members that Brown was stupid enough to threaten them, we’ll be among the first to call for him to be held to account. In the meantime, here’s what’s bothering at us about all this: something’s fishy over at the Cal Chamber.

Why hide who the donors are who financed the ad? That’s what Zaremberg did by having the Chamber produce and place the ad instead of running the operation through the Chamber’s Political Action Committee, which would have to disclose the donors.

The Chamber can argue that’s because this was an “issue ad” — not a political ad — which may be legally true but practically specious.  Even if it was legally an issue ad because it never called for viewers to vote for or against anyone, this was an attack ad — pure and simple.

Why was the ad — which decries job losses in California — produced at Interface Media Group in Washington, DC, and why was it placed by Mentzer Media of Townsend, MD? Who made the ad? Who financed it? Did anyone at the Chamber get a commission or a fee?

Can someone explain this transaction? Does the Chamber board want to know?

* Update, 3:40 p.m. The following is a joint statement from California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott, California State University Chancellor Charles B. Reed, and University of California President Mark Yudof:

While our campuses are forums for free and unfettered discussion of ideas, as leaders of California’s three public higher education systems we do not engage in partisan politics and we have some concerns about the advertisement recently released by the California Chamber of Commerce.

Though we serve on the Chamber’s 100-plus member board, we were not consulted about this advertisement and were not aware of it prior to it becoming public. We each have independently expressed our concerns to the Chamber, and it is our understanding that the ad has been pulled.

We value our inclusion on the Chamber board, which provides an opportunity to interact with business leaders on issues that are of vital importance to the future of California. This is a dialogue that has been of great benefit to higher education, the business community and the state as a whole. We hope Chamber leadership will understand and address our need not to be drawn into partisan politics through participation in the Chamber.

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.