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Posts Tagged ‘Dinner’



eMeg to Calbuzz: Get Your Own Damn Mailing List

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

As loyal readers know, our Department of Political Entertainments and Gemutlich Joie de Vivre has been pining by the phone for more than nine months now, eagerly awaiting Meg Whitman’s call in response to our courteous invitation for dinner.

We’ve been patient long enough.

Knowing that Team eMeg recently sent a letter to the California Nurses Association asking for their mailing list so that their candidate could have “a free and unfettered dialogue” with the group’s members, Calbuzz on Monday morning sent a similar request to the campaign’s communications shop, seeking their help so we can let her backers know what a raw deal we’re getting on the whole dinner thing:

“We’d like to get a copy of the Whitman campaign mailing list so we can communicate directly with your supporters,” about our invite, we wrote. “Please let us know when we may expect receipt.”

To our surprise, we hadn’t heard back by 2:30 p.m. and so sent a follow-up note:

“Did you send the mailing list yet?” we said. “Think it might have gone into spam.”

Still nothing.

So we finally bestirred ourselves to pick up the phone and call a high-powered, highly-placed campaign source to find out what the hold-up with the list was.

“I’m quite busy today,” the source said unhelpfully, if not volcanically, requesting anonymity on the grounds she didn’t want her name used. Besides, the source added, eMeg’s mailing list is taken entirely from the rolls of registered voters: “It’s all publicly available information.”

So we calculated the cost of mailing a letter complaining about the Whitman campaign’s lack of responsiveness to our dinner invitation to all of California’s registered voters, at 44 cents a pop: $7,469,893.64.

Sheesh. Couch cushion change for the Whitman campaign maybe, but almost a whole month’s worth of advertising revenue for Calbuzz.

Well, at least now we understand how frustrated eMeg must feel at the nurses’ totally unreasonable refusal to turn over their members’ personal information to her (not to mention that whole Queen Meg thing).

Believe it or not, the nurses group actually thinks a candidate for governor should show up at an event to address them in person. Maybe they should just invite her to dinner.

Update: The indefatigable Jack Chang reports over at Capitol Alert that the Whitman camp has now escalated its fight with the nurses union by launching a new web site attacking the organization’s leaders for spending money attacking eMeg.

The mouth that roars: Back when Jerry Brown was governor the first time, before indoor plumbing was installed at the Capitol, it wasn’t unusual to see him wander into one of Sacramento’s finer saloons, where he’d nurse a glass of white wine and hold forth to whatever collection of pols, hacks and press corps types happened to be assembled in good fellowship.

That image of Brown came to mind in recent days, when he got burned by one of his characteristically wide-ranging monologues, after talking to a radio reporter whom he happened to run into one morning shortly before the primary, while both were working out in the Oakland Hills.

Brown’s comparison of the Whitman media campaign to the Big Lie techniques of Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels  went viral as soon as eMeg’s minions discovered it on the blog of KCBS reporter Doug Sovern, and her army of spinners did an excellent job of keeping the story alive for days after.

Putting aside the widely-known political rule that whoever makes a Nazi reference always, deservedly, gets in trouble , the most intriguing question about the flap is how an old-school candidate like Brown, who’s open, accessible, ironic, candid and seat-of-the-pants will match up in a long, internets age campaign against a closed, secretive, humorless and obsessively controlled and controlling corporate marketing machine like Team eMeg’s.

“There are many lessons to be learned here,” Sovern wrote in his blog, a few days after his 15-minutes had ended.

If you’re running for public office in the 21st century – watch every word you say, and where you say it. Just as the rest of us should assume that any email or text we send could end up being viewed by just about anyone, politicians should always assume that anything they say could be recorded or reported…Jerry Brown isn’t the first to learn this the hard way; he’s just lucky no one happened to whip out an iPhone or Flip camera and video our exchange, so the world could see him say those words, the way I reported them.

Seema Mehta cut to the heart of the conundrum in a good LAT piece examining the contrast between how Brown handled his snafu and the way Whitman disposed of a potentially damaging NYT story reporting on how Herself got angry, then got physical with an aide back in her days as CEO of eBay.

Whitman did no interviews after the reports appeared about the physical altercation. Her spokesman Tucker Bounds dismissed that as “coincidental.”

“Meg has public events planned in the near term, and I’m confident you’ll be speaking with her soon,” he said.

By contrast, Brown has barely stopped talking since his comparison of Whitman’s campaign tactics to those of Joseph Goebbels surfaced on a news blog June 10.

The comments have continued to make headlines in part because of the Whitman campaign’s efforts. Her large staff, which include veterans of presidential campaigns and teams of opposition researchers and communications specialists, has trumpeted Brown’s remarks, blasting out seven e-mails over eight days with the latest developments.

But Brown kept the matter in the spotlight himself simply by answering questions, a response that seemed reasonable but served to regularly give the story new oxygen.

Brown’s own small, Bad News Bears team of media advisers shrugged off the Goebbels matter as a no-big-deal example of Jerry Being Jerry.

They argue that, in the end, Brown’s greatest strength will be his authenticity, which they believe will match up favorably for voters against the zillion dollar artifice of Meg-a-branding.

Maybe. But there’s a difference between being a provocative, iconoclastic public intellectual and acting like crazy Uncle Bob at Thanksgiving dinner. It’s a fine line that Brown would be well served not to cross.

PS: We note that eMeg DID take a question from radio yakker and Whitman sycophant Eric Hogue in which she blithely dismissed the New York Times story about her physically shoving an eBay employee as a “misunderstanding” and a “verbal dispute,” thereby basically calling the New York Times report a lie. Wonder if the Gray Lady is gonna stand by and let eMeg smack her around (kinda like they reported she did to Young Mi Kim back in June of 2007).

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.

Desperate Times & Measures: Our Dinner with eMeg

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

dinnerwithmegTop-flight pros that we are, Calbuzz does not take it personally that we’ve been repeatedly stiffed on our multiple requests to interview Meg Whitman.

Just because eMeg has shined on our bid for a sit-down for six months, refused us access to one of her fundraisers in our own backyard and blown us off when she came through town the last time,  doesn’t mean she’s trying to avoid us. We understand that she’s very, very busy, and has lots of important stuff to do, like braiding her horse’s tail (or kissing other horses asses, like Dick Riordan).

So the Calbuzz Department of  Soirees and Social Planning decided to make it easier for her to clear some time on her calendar. Right around Labor Day, we visited the Whitman for Governor web site, clicked on the icon to “Request Meg to attend your Event” and emailed her a personal, special invitation to a lovely private event, namely Chinese dinner with the entire Calbuzz staff at Zen Peninsula, conveniently located in Millbrae, not far from her home.

Almost immediately we got back a pleasant response: “Thank you for your invitation,” said the subject line on the email from eMeg’s very own “Director of Scheduling” who said:

“Thank you for submitting an invitation for Meg Whitman to participate in your event. Our team will review your request and get back to you as soon as possible with any follow up questions in regards to the Dinner with Calbuzz.

“In the meantime, please sign up on our website at www.MegWhitman.com to receive regular email updates. Also, you can check out our website for news about the campaign and information about upcoming events with Meg.

“Thanks for supporting Meg and thank you for your invitation!”

Oh boy, oh boy, we thought, we’re finally on our way to getting to some serious face time, rubbing our hands at the delightful prospect of really, really getting to know Her Megness in what you might call your up and close personal way. Be still my beating Fleischeart!

Then we waited. And waited. And waited. Nothing, nada, not a word.

Finally, when we had just about decided our invite must have been squeezed out by Meg’s spam filter, we heard from the lavamoric Sarah Pompei, Whitman’s campaign press secretary, who rang us up on September 29.

“Meg appreciates your invitation to dinner,” she said, without a hint of disdain or irony. “This just isn’t a good time, but she really looks forward to having dinner with Calbuzz. We’ll get back to you.”

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, we thought. We studied up on dim sum, went out and rented tuxes, lined up a limo and launched a Google search to find out what her favorite flowers were so we could bring a bouquet.

Sadly, we’re still waiting by the phone for Meg to call. We can’t for the life of us figure out what’s happened to our invite now. All we can say is, please call us eMeg, your flowers are wilting.

joanofarcattacksSpeaking of annoying things about eMeg, we wonder if anyone is as deeply offended as we are by her campaign slogan:  “I refuse to let California fail.”

Really? You refuse? All by yourself? And you’re gonna’ save us? All by yourself?

Her tagline goes directly to what we find most troubling about Whitman’s candidacy, about which we’ve ranted oh, say, 12 or 13 times: the underlying assumption that being governor is kind of like being queen, where you just decree that things will happen and everyone else falls in line.

As a practical matter, politics is a team sport, and the idea that “I” can accomplish anything, no matter how a big wheel you were at eBay, is simply ludicrous. Governing – as opposed to being governor – requires a great deal of emotional intelligence and insight, and the ability to convince, cajole, con, wheedle, flatter, threaten, reward and punish. As we’ve wondered aloud before: What in eMeg’s background demonstrates that she has any clue how to handle the Assemblyman from Parlier who says, “Sure, I’ll vote for your budget just as soon as you include $4 million for a swimming pool in my community center”?

We can see the commercial now. eMeg in armor on horseback: “Je refuse de permettre à la Californie à l’échec.”

navaNew greasy tax: The last time Californians had the chance to impose a severance tax on oil companies doing business in the state, they turned it down, big time.

By a 55-to-45 split, voters in 2006 rejected Proposition 87, a measure backed by a coalition of environmental, health and consumer groups that sought to impose a tax on companies that extract oil in the state and to earmark the revenue for alternative energy and green technology projects.

But Assemblyman and Attorney General hopeful Pedro Nava, who unveiled a bill Monday to impose a 10 percent severance taxes on California oil producers, thinks the political landscape has changed considerably since then.

“People are now in a position where they can actually feel the cuts we made last year,” said Nava, who represents oil spill central in Santa Barbara.

Nava’s legislation, known as AB 1-6X since it’s being introduced in the Legislature’s sixth special session, would generate about $1.5 billion annually for the general fund. He said he so far has 15 co-sponsors in the Assembly, which he reads as sign that public sentiment is running in favor of California joining every other oil producing state in levying an extraction tax.

“When the public realizes (oil companies) are the only industry that gets this special treatment, support will grow,” he said.

You read it here first: The folks from Exxon Mobil and Chevron won’t be kicking into Pedro’s campaign for AG. Always trust Calbuzz scoops.