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Posts Tagged ‘Dan Walters’



Press Clips: Special SOS-WWJD Edition w/o Flounder

Friday, February 4th, 2011

The Little Pulitzers: Scoop of the week honors to the inevitable Steve Harmon, first to jump on the key, unanswered question coming out of the new/old governor’s first* State of the State speech:

What Will Jerry Do if legislative Republicans stick to their irresponsible position of blocking a  measure on his $12 billion tax plan from a special election ballot?

Clearly aware that Brown has backed himself into a corner with his “no taxes without a vote,” as George Skelton sagely notes,  Harmon reports that labor groups and goons are quietly war gaming ways to punish groupthink knuckledraggers — already under double threat from the new reapportionment/top two primary rules that will reshape the political landscape of 2012 — by pressuring from the middle with some long overdue, district-by-district hardball (not to mix a metaphor):

Labor allies of Gov. Jerry Brown are actively considering backing moderate challengers in next year’s Republican legislative primary campaigns with the aim of forcing GOP incumbents to think twice about opposing Brown’s plan to push a tax extension measure on the ballot.

They are also considering ramping up direct mail efforts or door-to-door canvassing within the next several weeks in the districts of potentially vulnerable Republicans who continue to threaten to block a vote on Brown’s tax plan.

No sooner had the plugged-in Harmon used his not-for-attribution sources to stomp the competition than the redoubtable Kevin Yamamura battled back with a good second day yarn, broadening the story by getting Senate leader Darrell Steinberg and other D’s to think out loud about ways and means of forcing Reps to take ownership of the extra $12 billion in cuts that would be required if Brown’s tax plan flops.

Despite Jon Coupal’s intellectually dishonest effort to give the GOP cover by re-framing the special election debate, the plain facts are that the all-cuts crowd: 1) knows full well that whacking the $25 deficit solely with spending decreases is an unserious proposition, unless they pencil out the total budgets for higher ed and prisons, just for starters and; 2) lives in mortal terror that voters will go along with Brown’s bid to extend temporary higher tax rates, thus bringing to an abrupt end their interminable, one-note-symphony about tax cuts being the answer to all of life’s problems (and, in the process, eliminating the raison d’etre, not to mention the fat salaries, of Jarvis fetish advocates like Coupal).

Nonetheless, as the clock runs against Governor Gandalf’s March deadline to move the tax measure to the ballot, his biggest political problem remains the sad fact that a huge majority of Californians have not the slightest interest in lack the basic knowledge to follow the details and nuances of this debate, which preoccupies every waking hour of folks, like Calbuzz, who have no life.

Viz: a dandy myth-and-fact primer by the Bay Citizen’s Jonathan Weber (“Only six percent of adults can identify where the bulk of the state’s money comes from, and how it is spent”) or the more direct, people-are-really-stupid column by Dan Walters  (“Voters ignorance about budget matters a big factor”).

Costco Carla back in town: Carla Marinucci, working desperately to overcome her career-threatening blunder of missing the big Dr. Hackenflack dinner with the flimsy excuse that she was “on vacation,” partially redeemed herself in SOS week when the Little Pulitzer judges honored her with the George Gurdjieff Award for whirling dervish reporting.

The ace Chronicler’s recent, l’etat c’est moi self-appointment as CEO of Shaky Hands Productions was an enterprising if failed attempt to fake her way into the first stop on Meg Whitman’s Reinvention Tour; she didn’t let the disappointment of her brief-lived stint as a high-powered business executive, however, get in the way of quickly reaffirming her status as the best multi-platform political reporter in the state, as she and her trusty video camera were everywhere at once, finding stories that no one else had.

In the space of 21 hours and 13 minutes (you could look it up), Marinucci scored the best post-speech Silver Fox quotes about the GOP blockade of his budget proposal, scooped the world on Brown wandering into the Republicans’ well-oiled back-to-session bash and enabled the aforementioned Coupal in floating his Plan B special election trial balloon.

Whew. Inquiring minds want to know: Is the mighty Hearst Corporation paying overtime these days?

Safire’s corpse takes to spinning: Our Department of Vocabulary, Grammar and Spell Check Tune Ups was shocked – shocked! – to find Governor Brown committing a horrific crime of misusage in a Voice of the West SOS advancer: :

…if we don’t get this budget fixed, California will flounder, and it will really be a real impediment to doing all the other good things the state should be engaged in.

Flounder? Really? Seriously?

As every schoolboy knows:

5. FOUNDER vs. FLOUNDER

To founder means to sink or fail. A ship founders when it goes down–as does a company. To flounder means to act clumsily or ineffectively, or to thrash about helplessly. (As a mnemonic device, imagine a flounder on dry land, flopping about helplessly.)

~Before it finally foundered, the company floundered for several months.

Jesuit education, indeed.

Egyptology: It was John Madden who famously said “big players make big plays in big games” a lovely little homily that will apparently come as news to several of the nation’s biggest name, most overpaid, media hucksters.

While Anderson Cooper led the charge in doing Actual Reporting on the scene in Egypt, CBS diva Katie Couric spent the early days of the crisis  hard at work lavishing coca butter on her all-over tan in South Beach. To her credit, Katie finally got out of her lounge chair and made her way to Cairo — well after Brian Williams, Christiane Amanpour and other network types got there.

And the increasingly insufferable Tom Friedman, supposedly the world’s leading authority on the Mideast, was in Singapore, offering us yet another droning first person lecture about, well, we’re not sure about what, leaving it to firehorse colleague Nick Kristof to deliver the goods to Times readers.

ICYMI: We’re not sure who wrote his stuff, but Mitt Romney’s delivery of the Top 10 List on Letterman the other night was quite good, raising his score in the Calbuzz Republican Wannabe Standings by 1.4%.

Thank you, CalChannel: 20 years ago today, CalChannel started broadcasting gavel-to-gavel coverage of the California Legislature.  In celebration, they’re showing the greatest hits.

“The California Channel.” as they explain, “is an independent, non-profit public affairs cable network governed by California’s cable television industry, and modeled after the national CSPAN service. The channel’s primary mission is to provide Californians direct access to “gavel-to-gavel” proceedings of the California Legislature, and other forums where public policy is discussed, debated, and decided – all without editing, commentary, or analysis and with a balanced presentation of viewpoints. To view streaming and archived video, or to learn what station carries the California Channel on your local cable system, visit www.calchannel.com.”

Calbuzz pick: Packers 31-28.

* (The speech was technically Brown’s eighth SOS, as he was quick to remind everyone after Steinberg introduced him saying it was his seventh. Sic temper tyrannis).

Calbuzz Democracy vs. Flashreport Feudalism

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

The other morning, there was an intriguing headline slapped over a story on Flashreport, the conservative web site run by our favorite knuckle-dragging blogger and Republican operative, Jon Fleischman.

The actual article, from Sign On San Diego, was an interesting yarn about Arnold Schwarznegger’s utter failure to abolish a host of government commissions, despite famously boasting that he would “blow up boxes” within state government.

The bright red overline with which Fleischman festooned the piece, however, had nothing directly to do with its content but everything to do with his latest hobbyhorse, the GOP effort to prevent voters from getting to decide for themselves whether to back Jerry Brown’s tax plan to help balance the budget:

“Yet another reasons (sic) why we shouldn’t put taxes on the ballot,” his hed read.

Our key question about this: Huh?

The Flash’s editorial attempt to jam a square peg in a round hole (or, as we inelegantly used to say on the city desk, to stuff three pounds of shit in a two-pound bag) reflects an anxious political calculation by right-wing legislators and allied anti-tax, anti-government crusaders that they don’t dare allow a popular vote to determine whether Brown’s half-cuts, half-taxes deficit plan should be implemented.

Seemingly fearful that their arguments on the merits would not prevail in a statewide election test, they instead reserve to themselves the right to forbid ordinary people from having a decisive say about a momentous policy question that will shape the future of California.

Like a small band of feudal lords, they seek to dictate to the vassals and serfs what the shape and size of the state’s political and economic landscape shall be, placing their highest priority not on the will of the people, but on their own power, exercised through the tyranny of a tiny minority.

No Relation to Grover Norquist

In this, these tinhorn barons and viscounts are assisted by yeomen and henchmen like Fleischman* and the Washington-based nihilist Grover (“drown it in the bathtub”) Norquist, who darkly threaten with political annihilation any independent-minded Republican who might be inclined to provide Brown one of the handful of votes he needs to put his crucial tax proposal on the June ballot.**

It must be noted that a few thoughtful Republicans, represented by the erudite Tony Quinn, applaud the notion of an election on the budget issue as a bracing and clarifying exercise in direct democracy.

But as we’ve pointed out here and here, the stubborn unwillingness of the Armies of Howard to hear the people’s voice on Brown’s proposal truly is confounding; after all, the Coupal-Fleischman-Fox cabal never tires of hectoring us about their categorical certainty that all right-thinking people hate all taxes always, period, paragraph, end of story.

If that’s true, then why miss the chance to prove it, once and for all, and deal Brown and his allies an early, crushing defeat that will not only inflict a severe blow on his governorship but also mortally wound the public education system, medical and social services they apparently despise? ***

The answer, of course, is that Brown’s tax measure, which calls for extending for five years $12 billion in temporary higher tax rates passed two years ago, is only one piece, albeit a determinative one, of a more complicated fiscal prescription.

It also includes a dramatic realignment plan for state and local governments, as well as $12 billion in cuts that not even his testosterone-soaked Republican predecessor had the cojones to propose  - a total package that the new/old governor might actually have the political skill to explain effectively to voters, despite its enormous complexity. As we argued earlier:

Local officials with the power to determine levels of service — based on local support – will finally, and properly, have the tools to make some tough decisions about local programs and pensions – while also facing the up-close-and-personal political consequences of making them.

And when the drown-the-baby-in-the-bathtub anti-government types scream about all this, proponents can reply: We’re for democracy and for empowering local government. It’s the other guys who are for keeping all the power up in Sacramento and in smoke-filled back rooms where THEY have power. We want to return power to the people, to local communities, where you can keep an eye on how money is spent and for what.

No Relation to Grover Norquist

Beyond this scenario, scary to the Norquists of the world, whose personal livelihoods depend on convincing people that government never does anything good, lies the demonstrable fact that a large majority of Californians haven’t even noticed the allegedly ruinous tax increases they keep blathering about:

Interestingly, only 36% of voters – 30% of Democrats, 47% of Republicans and 21% of independents – were even aware that $8 billion in temporary tax increases were enacted in 2009. Nearly two thirds of the voters – 64% — did not know that taxes had been raised.

More: A solid majority of voters currently supports extending the taxes to avoid deeper budget cuts – although people also want to be convinced they’ll get good value for their money, precisely the assurance Brown stands prepared to try to deliver and demonstrate to them. To quote ourselves:

So there you have the battle lines: One side will argue that Brown’s plan isn’t a plan at all and that it will raise taxes to keep bloated government in Sacramento. The other side will argue that Brown and the Legislature have a plan and that they’re seeking a temporary extension of current taxes in order to streamline government in Sacramento.

It’s all about whose message is more compelling and believable, whose is better framed and delivered.

Bottom line: The no-tax amen corner over at Flashreport is just too chicken to have that argument. Cluck, cluck.

_________

*Steve Harmon did a terrific job  of undercutting Fleischman’s claim that his band of right-wingers effectively punished Republican office holders who voted for taxes the last time around.

** Quinn and Dan Walters both have posited possible alternative pathways to the ballot for Brown’s proposal.

*** Peter Schrag provides a factual look, complete with Actual Reporting, at what an all-cuts deficit plan would look like.

The Calbuzz Plan for Budget Reform and World Peace

Monday, December 20th, 2010

Thirty-two years ago, over the strenuous objections from then-Gov. Jerry Brown and nearly every Democratic and Republican official in public life, California voters passed Proposition 13 by 65-35%, slashing property taxes and requiring a two-thirds vote to increase local taxes of virtually any sort.

Brown and the Legislature swiftly rode to the rescue with AB 8 and SB 154, using the $5 billion state surplus to funnel money back to cities, counties and school districts, which meant voters did not absorb the impact of their decision through the immediate reduction of services.

So the dire consequences that the opponents of Proposition 13 had predicted didn’t happen – at least right away.

As a practical matter, a huge financial burden was shifted from local governments to Sacramento and the state’s general fund instantly ballooned by 40% — from $11.7 billion in 1977-78 to $16.3 billion in 1978-79. As a political matter, Prop. 13 opponents were easily portrayed as Chickens Little—and conservative advocates were free ever after to peddle the canard that the tax cut had no impact on local services.

While the numbers now seem quaint — in light of general fund spending plans that soared as high as $103 billion under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger – that 40% one-year increase was a financial earthquake that fundamentally transformed the political landscape of California. And while many things have happened in the intervening years – notably the narrow 1988 passage of the Proposition 98 guarantee for funding public schools — the overall mechanism to pay for a huge chunk of the operating cost of California’s cities, counties and school districts has remained a state responsibility.

It’s time to cut the cord.

The general idea is neither new nor hard to understand. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg last year proposed a partial plan to “devolve” some services and funds to local governments.

“The only alternative in this difficult fiscal environment is to rethink the roles of government at both the state and local levels and shift programs, along with the dollars to run them, closer to the people served,” Steinberg said at the time. And Gov-elect Brown echoed the theme in his campaign commercials: “We’ve got to take power from the state capital and move it down to the local level, closer to the people.”

Strategically, Brown during the campaign pointedly did NOT explain what that really meant. As Calbuzz noted many times, however, the underlying premise of Brown’s idea was that both power and responsibility must transfer to the local level for the idea to work. In Brown’s recent public hearings on the budget mess, it didn’t take long for the fullness of that implication to emerge. As reported from last week’s session in L.A.:

One dilemma, he said, was that the state tries to make sense out of competing outlooks from regions that have little in common — an argument, he said, for shifting many of the state’s responsibilities to local governments.

“When we take so many local decisions and put them all at the state Capitol, then we have all these different perceptions working on the problem,” he said. “That’s why we get a lot of breakdown and gridlock. Because people see the world differently.”

Based on recent conversations with Steinberg’s staff and Department of Finance types, it’s clear that the transfer of pre-Prop. 13 fiscal responsibilities of cities, counties and school districts back to the locals would account for about 40-50% of the state’s general fund. What’s also clear is that divesting the responsibility for those programs would require the governor and Legislature, by some to-be-determined process, to also provide cities, counties and school districts the authority to find a way to pay for them, most logically through a majority or 55 percent vote of local voters.

So if county residents want a fully staffed sheriff’s department and health services, if a city wants cops, libraries and parks, if a school district wants athletics and music, the residents would have to find the funds to pay for those services, by deciding to raise their own taxes. No more pass-through state funds, no more hocus pocus.

Precisely how California gets to this solution is a level of detail the Calbuzz Department of Management Delegation and Big Picture Thinking is prepared to leave to Sacramento’s legions of hotly talented legislative architects. In this, we associate ourselves with the famous words of the Babylonian sage Hillel who said, after declaring the Golden Rule the essence of Jewish law:  “The rest is commentary.”

No less a modern sage than Big Dan Walters has suggested a pathway to a temporary local tax solution until the full Calbuzz Modest Proposal could be enacted and implemented. As Walters explained it to us in an email, legislative Democrats could quickly pass two new budgets with a majority vote – one with taxes and one without:

“Tax bills would be framed as amendments to an existing statutory initiative that’s germane, such as Steinberg’s income tax surtax for mental health a few seasons back. The Constitution allows the Legislature to propose amendments to statutory initiatives and doesn’t require two-thirds vote to do so because it doesn’t amend Constitution.

“If done in special session, the package (which also could short-circuit election deadlines as in 2009) would take effect 90 days after adjournment of the session. Thus, if done by mid-February it could be on ballot in mid-May — say May 17 when runoffs in LA city elections would be held, perhaps boosting Democratic (pro-tax) turnout somewhat and offsetting what otherwise could be anti-tax Republican turnout.

“Framing tax measures as amendments to past initiative may, in fact, may be only legal way to place taxes before voters; that’s how 2009 measures were framed. If it’s done that’s probably how it will be done since Republicans won’t sanction taxes even going to voters . . . (and this process) is the only way legally and politically it could be done.”

All that could buy time to get to what we’re suggesting –a wholesale restructuring of the way local government is financed.

The general line for the political movement that would get us there is this: return power to the people. With its echoes of the 1960s (God, how we miss those times) those words might not be exactly the preferred slogan, but the fundamental point is clear: transfer power away from Sacramento hacks and back to local communities.

Of course, the Prop. 13 fetishists will scream to the heavens that the idea of allowing local taxes to be raised with a 50% or 55% majority (even if such tax hikes are required to include sunset provisions, which help them pass) offends the laws of nature. They’ll call it an unholy attack on the Sacred Cult of Howard and predictably go nuts.

Let them. Voters in California trust local decision-makers far more than they do the Legislature and they deserve the right to choose – by majority vote – whether to hand the power to those local officials to actually govern. Local school board members, city council members and supervisors are far more susceptible at election time to the decisions of grassroots voters than are state lawmakers representing huge far-flung districts.

Local officials with the power to determine levels of service — based on local support – will finally, and properly, have the tools to make some tough decisions about local programs and pensions – while also facing the up-close-and-personal political consequences of making them.

And when the drown-the-baby-in-the-bathtub anti-government types scream about all this, proponents can reply: We’re for democracy and for empowering local government. It’s the other guys who are for keeping all the power up in Sacramento and in smoke-filled back rooms where THEY have power. We want to return power to the people, to local communities, where you can keep an eye on how money is spent and for what.

A lot has happened in the 32 years since Proposition 13 that will have to be taken into account. The landmark Serrano vs Priest decision, for example, will require that school districts aren’t wildly underfinanced in one community and lavishly funded in another. Proposition 98 will have to be handled. All kinds of state mandates that don’t include funding will have to be altered. See Hillel: on commentary.

California state government has plenty to do to fund and repair higher education, highways, state parks, state law enforcement, prisons, state courts, environmental protection, natural resources and the like, just as state government did before Proposition 13.

But three decades after the great transfer of power to Sacramento, it’s time to fight for power to local communities, for sanity in government finance and even, we dare say, for democracy.

Fishwrap: Jerry Gets Cosmic, Meg Prez Fever Grows

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

There are doubtless many reasons why Meg Whitman won’t accept Jerry Brown’s invite to 10 town halls around the state – strategy, scheduling and skittishness, for starters.

While she’s now agreed to one cheesy debate a couple weeks before the election, eMeg’s unwillingness to commit to more clearly derives from the knowledge that, in a sustained series of match-ups, she’s simply got no answer for Brown’s Zen Jesuit epistemological style.

Which was on full display the day after the primary in an interview conducted by ABC’s Diane Sawyer who, among other things, elicited this improvisational analysis of the deeper meaning of politics:

Well, at the end of the day, what really is this all about? The fundamental quest is: How do we touch our spirituality? How do we touch that innermost part of our being? And how are we open to that same thing in other people?

That’s the intimacy, the spirituality, that you don’t normally find in politics.But it’s the other side. After everything quiets down, you’re still yourself. And there’s still life and death. When I was studying in Japan, before you’d mediate … in the evening, someone would hit a block a few times. And then someone would intone: ‘Life and death is a serious matter. Time waits for no man. Do your best.’ And that, I think, could be the spirit of this campaign.

Or not.

When does eMeg leave for Iowa? Lost amid the well deserved criticism Brown is taking over the comparison he drew between Whitman and Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels are some other comments he made during his “jogging talk” conversation with Doug Sovern of KCBS:  his recycling of the Calbuzz theory that eMeg’s pursuit of the governorship is really about her desire to be president.

She wants to be president. That’s her ambition, the first woman president. That’s what this is all about.

For those who want in on the ground floor of this deal, there’s already a Meg Whitman for President 2012 (four years too early in our view) Facebook page. Remember you read it here first.

Politics of pensions: To date, Brown has spent much time talking about issues that are of great interest to him – town hall meetings, Meg’s massive financial advantage in the campaign, his alleged roots in the “mean streets” of Oakland  – but not so much about things that might actually affect actual voters – say, jobs, the economy or some specific ideas for dealing with the sorry state of the state’s finances.

On the latter point, Brown at some stage is going to have find a way to address the festering problem of public employee pensions: while his allies in labor would no doubt much prefer that he didn’t, there is growing resentment about the disconnect between the cushy retirement benefits that many government workers receive and the cat food prospects  available to what you like to call your ordinary people.

Exhibit A: voters this week in San Francisco – the only city where people actually like paying taxes – approved a ballot measure that requires increased contributions from new public workers and that begins to address the scandal of “spiking” pensions by which benefits are pegged to  often inflated salaries earned in the last year on the job.

Governor Schwarzmuscle has already made pension reform a centerpiece of this year’s budget battle, ensuring it will be a high-profile issue for months, at a time when reporters around the state – most notably Dan Borenstein and Ed Mendel – keep churning out reporting on excesses, and eMeg hammers on the problem every time she gives a speech.

That’s not to mention the related outrage that many labor agreements detailing pension benefits are top secret in jurisdictions around the state, as noted by the First Amendment Coalition:

Public unions in California turned distrustful of voters and ambivalent about government transparency. In the mid-1990s unions backed improvements to the Brown Act, California’s open meeting law, but also inserted a provision assuring that the public would have no access to collective bargaining agreements negotiated by cities and counties—often representing 70% or more of their total operating budgets—until after the agreements are signed.

What happens when voters and the press have no opportunity to question elected officials about how they propose to pay for a lower retirement age, health care for retirees’ dependents, richer pension formulas and the like? The officials make contractual promises that are unaffordable, unsustainable (and, in general, don’t come due until after those elected officials have left office). In the case of Vallejo, in northern California, this veil of secrecy, and the symbiotic relationship it fosters, has led to municipal bankruptcy.

Memo to Jerry: Add pensions to “Jogging Talk” file.

Press Clips: Don’t miss Tony Quinn’s excellent analysis of the right-wing’s historic primary losses. Karen Tumulty is worth reading on why CEOs struggle as electeds. Dan Walters takes the first stab at sorting out the Meg-Jerry exchange on Brown’s first incarnation budget record.

John Myers cuts to the heart of the eMeg-Krusty leadership argument. Lance Williams offers a post-Prop. 14 historic look at non-partisan voting in California. Rep. Anthony Wiener gets gored by a goat.

Fix My Ticket: Why Lite Gov Candidates May Matter

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

California has no history of major party candidates for governor and lite gov running as a single entry, but both sides in the 2010 campaign are suddenly talking ticket.

“I can’t recall any time that the governor ran with a lieutenant governor as a team – that would be unique,” the venerable Allan Hoffenblum told Calbuzz.*

Co-founder and publisher of the invaluable California Target Book, and a recovering Republican consultant, Hoffenblum added: “Often as not, they kind of run away from each other.”

Despite bipartisan memories of politically troubled lieutenant governors of the past (see Curb, Mike and Dymally, Mervyn), there’s widespread chatter among California’s chattering class these days over scenarios that posit the major candidates for governor may actually benefit – or actually suffer – from their party’s nominees for lite guv.

On the Republican side, the confirmation of Abel Maldonado to fill the #2 spot has sparked speculation that GOP front-runner Meg Whitman could boost her general election chances, if she wins the nomination, by raising Abel to a veritable partnership position on the ticket.

Hoffenblum said that in order to win election, Whitman’s must pull at least one third of the Latino vote, and having the first Republican Latino to hold statewide office since 1875 , who happens to speak Spanish, could help.

“I can see Meg trying to work closely with Abel Maldonado,” Hoffenblum told us. “Nothing would be better for her.”

Of course, the notion depends entirely on Maldonado surviving a primary battle against state Senator Sam Aanestad, in one of those chest-beating fight-for-the-soul of the Republican party type things .

Longtime political analyst Tony Quinn, Hoffenblum’s Target Book colleague, agreed that Maldonado could prove an asset to eMeg, and suggested that eMeg might even discover a sudden rush of generosity towards Maldonado.

Although a gov-lite gov mutual aid pact has “never happened before,” Quinn said, Maldonado “could definitely help her.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see her try to help Maldonado get the nomination sub rosa,” he added. “It would be smart for her to see that he gets the nomination.”

(Calbuzz sez: We would not be too surprised if eMeg finds a spare $1 million in the sofa cushions and feels a sudden onset of generosity towards Maldonado.)

Even if Maldo wins the nomination, and even if he helps Whitman in the general, of course, he could still easily lose in November to the Democrats, among whom there’s some top-of-the-ticket intrigue as well.

With San Francisco Mayor Prince Gavin Newsom and L.A. City Council member Janice Hahn competing for the nomination, her handlers unveiled “Jerry and Janice” campaign signs at the party convention this month.

Planned and produced without the assent of Jerry Brown’s campaign for governor, the slogan served the purpose of sharply making the political point that, even if Hahn didn’t help Brown, as a woman from Southern California, she potentially would hurt him less than having Newsom running for lieutenant governor.

Having two white male San Francisco Bay Democrats at the top of the ballot would give Republicans a big target, not only ideologically, in a year when voters are worried about government spending, but also demographically, in a campaign where the GOP could turn the tables and become the party offering diversity in its statewide slate.

Offshore update: With the still growing oil spill off the coast of Louisiana now about 2,000 square miles in size, NASA has produced some extraordinary images of the mess.

As we’ve reported, the political fallout from the spill could impact the future  chances Governor Schwarzmuscle’s pet Tranquillon Ridge project. First shot comes from Assemblyman Pedro Nava, a staunch foe of the proposal who was recently named the new chair of the Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials committee; he plans to hold “an investigative hearing” in Hermosa Beach on Friday to examine the “threats” posed by drilling.

“Given the disaster in the Gulf, we need to evaluate the dangers posed by both off-shore and on-shore oil drilling in California,” Nava said in a statement announcing the hearing.  “Many parts of the state are impacted by oil development and drilling.  Whether it is Hermosa Beach and Baldwin Hills in Los Angeles County or Santa Barbara…we must make sure that we do not have the type of catastrophe that is occurring in the Gulf of Mexico.”

First the verdict, then the trial.

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire: Calbuzz mistakenly reported the other day that Jerry Brown had sold the state airplane. We couldn’t remember where we got that alleged factoid which, the Sacramento Bee’s Dan Walters informed us, was wrong. Ronald Reagan sold the plane. Tuesday, we found the source of our mistake: it was in Jerry Brown’s own video — the one they showed at the Democratic Party state convention and the one that’s on his web site here (or at least it was before we spoke to Brown campaign manager Steve Glazer who tried to argue that it wasn’t their mistake, they just pulled together news clips!). “He sold the governor’s executive jet and travels commercially,” the narrator intones in the video. After first trying to argue that the mistake was Mike Wallace’s or Morley Safer’s, Glazer finally said, “I’m sorry that our video had a factual inaccuracy and you reprinted it.”

* From the Calbuzz Department of Corrections: Steve Merksamer and Kurt Schuparra, two of the sharpest guys in Sacramento, noted a couple of instances where candidates for  governor and lieutenant governor ran as a team.

According to Kurt, “In 1966, Ronald Reagan and Robert Finch ran ads in the LA Times and other papers, with a picture of them together, urging voters to “Elect California’s new team,” a duo with “common sense and integrity” and committed to dealing firmly with ‘Beatniks, taxes, riots, [and] crime.’  Like Reagan, Finch won by a wide margin.”

In addition, says Steve, “Reagan and Ed Reinecke ran as a ticket in 1970.  Advertising was joint and billboards throughout the state said “reelect Reagan/Reinecke Team 70.”

We note that Finch later joined Richard Nixon’s administration as Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare and later as Counselor to the President  until his resignation in 1973. Reinecke resigned his post after he was indicted by the Watergate Grand Jury in 1974 on three counts of perjury before Sam Ervin’s Senate Watergate Committee.