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Posts Tagged ‘Flash Report’



Reform Won’t Cut It; We Need Legislators With Guts

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

By Gary Delsohn
Special to Calbuzz

Some very smart people, many of them friends of mine, have created a cottage industry arguing that California is in desperate need of political reform.

We’ve seen books, opinion page essays, incessant blogging and groups like California Forward offer insightful analyses about the laundry list of structural fixes needed to stop the constant bickering and budget crises that paralyze the Capitol year-in, year-out.

We even have a European billionaire talking about reform who seems to have captivated the media and other good government folks, not for anything he’s done or proposed, but because he’s so rich he likes to fly around the world in his jet and live in posh hotel suites instead of residing in any one place.

Of course, we need a tax code that reflects our 21st Century economy, one that is more broadly based and is not held hostage to the vagaries of Wall Street.

Sure, we need fair, competitive elections and honestly drawn legislative districts.  We need to ditch term limits, or at the very least refine them, so we can again have a legislature with wise old hands.

Everyone knows the state is not well served when self-serving lobbyists and consultants are better informed and more experienced than our legislators.

It would be nice if we could count on legislators to spend no more than the state takes in, but since we cannot, we also need a spending cap like the one already slated for the 2012 ballot.

These will all help future governors and legislators do their jobs more effectively.  Maybe we even need some of the other reforms floating around like pay-as-you-go and two-year budgeting.

But none of these will fix our state.

What California needs more than anything else are elected officials with — to use a polite term — guts and vision.

How about Democrats willing to stand up to the public employee labor unions?  Democrats who will tell their labor donors without equivocation that California can no longer afford overly generous pensions and other lifetime benefits.

We need those same Democrats to tell the unions, “Sure you hate privatizing even the most obscure state service, but that’s too bad.  California is broke. We need to be more efficient and competitive.  If you don’t like it, vote me out of office.  This is about saving our state, not your union.”

We need Republicans with the courage to act as adults about the state’s revenue crisis and not be intimidated by what right-wing radio shows or the Flash Report will say if they do the right thing. Because every Republican in the Legislature who is intellectually honest knows you cannot solve a $25 billion budget shortfall by cuts alone.  Unless, of course, you want to decimate state government.

We need the same Republicans to wake up and realize California’s environment is arguably its most precious asset, so stop scheming to undermine or delay every piece of legislation that seeks to protect and enhance it.

No constitutional convention, initiative or reform love-in will give us any of those kinds of politicians. We need our elected officials to rise to the occasion, show some guts and vision and do what’s best for the state, not what’s best for their political parties or resumes.

The media have an important role to play here, too. It requires more than just parroting what the zealots say under the guise of fair reporting.

When Yvonne Walker, head of SEIU’s Local 100 tells a Sacramento TV reporter after Gov. Brown’s state of the state speech that Gov. Schwarzenegger declared war on state workers because he needed an enemy, which she did, it would be nice if the reporter knew enough or cared enough to push back.

All that was needed was a simple, “But the state’s broke. Social services and programs for the needy are being axed. Taxpayers are paying more. If California is busted, don’t state workers have to expect some cuts, too?”

It’s not difficult to see the outline of a deal that can be struck between Gov. Brown’s quite reasonable proposed budget solution of cuts and taxes and Republicans’ unreasonable no-tax obsession.

Approve the cuts and tax extensions that Brown has proposed, craft lasting pension reform and some honest regulatory relief for business that gets the state’s economy out of the deep freeze. Then have Democrats and Republicans stand together to explain it to voters.

Compared to what we’re watching as people sacrifice their lives to fix broken governments in the rest of the world, this is small potatoes.

And I’m sorry, the need for civil discourse notwithstanding, we should not even be talking about the goofy notion of countering Brown’s proposed tax package with an alternative proposal to cut taxes by the same amount.

I spent seven years at the Capitol — four as a reporter for the Sacramento Bee and three as Gov. Schwarzenegger’s chief speechwriter — and that idea is as lame as it gets.

Brown was right when he said, “Further tax cuts take us further down the road. You got to get real here. Don’t say, ‘I’m going to solve this problem by creating a whole bunch of newer problems.’”  The tax cut idea is childish and counter-productive.

My fondest hope for California is that we continue the reform momentum we have seen the past few years.  But it will never take the place of leaders with backbone who are willing to make the tough, unpopular decisions our current state of affairs require.

Those people need to step up and be heard right now.

Gary Delsohn, a private media consultant, is a former reporter for the Sacramento Bee who served as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s chief speech writer from 2006 to 2009. He is currently working with Schwarzenegger on a variety of writing projects.

Right Thinking: Musings of a True Conservative

Friday, June 18th, 2010

By Jon Fleischman
Special to Calbuzz

You kids get off my lawn! As a daily reader of Calbuzz, it’s easy to start calling Jerry Brown “Krusty.”  But lately he really has been living up to the name.

Between the Goebbels-Whitman comparison, and telling reporters that he’ll talk about his economic plans after he’s elected, you get the impression of a codger who should be retiring and taking it easy.  Certainly not someone running for the state’s top elective office.

Portsiders dominate the B minus: I was on a panel last Wednesday with Stuart Leavenworth, the opinion page editor of the Sacramento Bee, talking to a room full of Republican candidates.

It was rather amusing to hear him acknowledge to all assembled that the total number of Republicans on the Sacramento Bee editorial board is… zero.  But then again, if you keep an eye on their editorials, that isn’t too surprising.

The doctor is in: If the California Medical Association backs a Democrat pickup of Assembly District 5, where Republican Roger Niello is termed out, that means only one thing: the CMA is pushing for a two-thirds Democratic majority in the legislature.

The fact that a doctor is the Democratic candidate really is irrelevant.  The fact that Doctor Richard Pan is a hardcore liberal does matter.

Family feud: Either former Assembly Republican Leader Mike Villines will be the GOP nominee for Insurance Commissioner, or he won’t.  But if he is, he will have a big challenge ahead of him.

Most Republicans supported Brian FitzGerald because of his superior ballot title (“Department’s Enforcement Attorney” to Villines’ “Businessman/State Assemblyman”).  But many Republicans voted against Villines because of his unrepentant role as an architect of the largest tax increase in California history.

Time for retirement: If we are going to solve our state’s public pension tsunami problem, two bold ideas are going to have to be on the table.

First, we need to move public employees to a 401(k)-style retirement plan in which the government, as an employer, pays out each year but is then done with its obligation; responsibility for the management of that employee’s fund, and for the decision of when it is valued high enough to retire, should be on the individual employee.

The other point: you can’t solve the problem by simply changing the rules for new hires.  Current employees will need to have a new, less generous benefit for their remaining years of service, such as the 401(k)-style account.

Insiders and outsiders: The apparent victory of Minuteman founder Tim Donnelly in Assembly District 59 is heartening to conservatives.

Not only because it is cool to know that you can win the GOP nomination in a Republican seat with just $22,000 and a lot of volunteers – but because the voters will be sending a strong voice to Sacramento to oppose the kind of insider, tax hiking deal that led to incumbent Anthony Adams’ retirement in that very seat.

Coastal views: This Tuesday’s special election to fill the vacancy in Senate District 15 presents a stark contrast to voters.

Democrat John Laird is so liberal that he makes his moderate Republican opponent, Sam Blakeslee, look like a right-winger.  What is the differentiating issue that matters?  Laird wants to raise taxes so the government sector can grow (or shrink less), Blakeslee wants to keep taxes low, so that the private sector can recover and produce more jobs.

Memo to Frisco: A note to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors who are implementing a new regulation out of concerns of radioactivity coming from cell phones: It’s not the phones, it’s the drugs and your status as an international magnet for freaky people that are the causes of strangeness in your city.

Kudos to a pal: Congratulations are really in order to my longtime friend Jeff Randle.  Jeff and I came up in politics at the same time, though on different paths within the Republican Party.

All of these years later, I’m happily publishing a website.  Jeff, on the other hand, is playing a lead role in the election of the next Governor of California.  Very impressive, Jeff.  You deserve much credit – the next round of beers are on you (what you do pays better than what I do).

Jon Fleischman is editor and publisher of FlashReport and Vice Chairman, South of the California Republican Party.  His views are his own.

Calbuzz, Web Partners Ask Gov Rivals to Debate

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Three of California’s leading political websites have invited the two major-party candidates for governor to participate in the state’s first Blogosphere Debate.

Calbuzz, FlashReport and Calitics, in partnership with the College of Social Sciences at San Jose State University and the Commonwealth Club Silicon Valley, today sent a letter outlining the debate to Mike Murphy and Steve Glazer of the campaigns of Republican nominee Meg Whitman and Democratic nominee Jerry Brown.

Here’s the letter that was emailed today:

Dear Mike and Steve,

On behalf of Calbuzz, FlashReport and Calitics, we are pleased to invite Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown to participate in a two-person, first-ever California Blogosphere Debate. The College of Social Sciences at San Jose State University and the Commonwealth Club Silicon Valley will also serve as debate sponsors.

As you may know, the Washington Post has named Calbuzz, FlashReport and Calitics the three leading political web sites in California. Collectively we provide on a daily basis a full range of political perspectives and analysis, from conservative to moderate to progressive.

We have secured Morris Dailey auditorium at San Jose State University for the afternoon and evening of Monday September 13th (with back-up possibilities on the 14th and 15th). The specific time of the debate would be decided later in consultation with the campaigns, but we anticipate a 60-minute event, scheduled at a time between 4 pm and 7 pm. The format, with final details to be determined, would likely include the following:

– Moderator: John Myers of KQED (pending approval from KQED)
– One questioner each from Calbuzz, FlashReport and Calitics
– Two-minute opening and closing remarks from candidates
– One question for both candidates from each panelist with two-minute responses
– Two questions for each candidate from each panelist with two-minute responses
– One minute rebuttal from each candidate for each question
– Introduction, follow-ups as permitted by moderator and closing statements.

This means each candidate would field six questions: three common questions for both candidates and three questions specific to each candidate. Both candidates would have an opportunity for rebuttal on every question.

We envision candidates standing at podiums with television lighting. Neither candidate would use scripts, notes or props although they may take notes during the debate. A pre-arranged coin toss would determine the order, with the candidates given the option of opening first or closing last. We would offer a live feed to any television or radio station or online broadcaster interested in carrying the debate. We anticipate one pool camera crew to shoot the debate.

As you’re aware the news industry is in a state of radical transformation, with the internet steadily playing a larger and more significant role in setting the public agenda. We believe that our proposal offers a unique and historic opportunity for your campaigns to play an important role in shaping that agenda, and we hope you will give this invitation your most serious consideration. Please respond by 5 p.m., Friday, June 25.

Very truly yours,

Phil Trounstine, Jerry Roberts, Jon Fleischman, Brian Leubitz, Robert Cruickshank

PPIC Confirms Poiz Surge, eMeg Drop: It’s a Race!

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

Amid the most expensive and one of the meaner Republican primary fights ever in California,  Steve Poizner has moved within striking distance of Meg Whitman, whose support has plummeted in the last 60 days, according to the latest survey by the non-partisan Public Policy Institute of California.

The survey, completed Sunday and including 411 likely Republican primary voters, found Whitman with 38% and Poizner at 29% leaving 31% undecided. The finding represented a huge surge for The Commish, from 11% in March, and a precipitous drop for eMeg, from 61% in March. The margin of error for the GOP primary results was ±5%.

The new survey is the first substantive, independent evidence of the big Poizner move, a trend first claimed by his own campaign two weeks ago, when his strategists released some of their internal polling, and suggested by other private and media polls.

According to PPIC, the biggest movement away from Whitman was among non-college graduates, among whom she lost 29 percentage points, and — somewhat counter-intuitively — voters with incomes greater than $80,000, among whom she lost 28 points. The survey did not shed much light on why the race has tightened.

Nevertheless, the often low-key, academic and understated PPIC was impressed enough by the results to title its release:  “Stunning Drop in Whitman’s Support Transforms GOP Race for Governor.”

With Whitman dropping another $4 million on Tuesday, bringing her total to a staggering $68 million, it remains an open question whether Poizner has the will to throw enough of his own money into the race.  He’s in for $24 million thus far. But unless he pours big money into the final weeks — and spends it on a sharp and effective message –  it’s hard to see how he can close the gap.

PPIC also found that while the Republicans have been slicing and dicing one another, Democrat Jerry Brown has retaken the lead in simulated November match-ups against Whitman and Poizner. Krusty the General leads eMeg 42-37% (compared to trailing 39-44% in March) and he leads the Commish 45-32%, unchanged from previous surveys.

The general election match-ups were based on interviews with 1,168 likely voters for a margin of error of ±3%.

In the increasingly contentious GOP race for the U.S. Senate, Carly Fiorina and Tom Campbell remain locked at 25-23% (it was 24-23% in March), while Chuck DeVore has doubled his support to 16%. Democratic U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer still defeats all three GOP challenges in simulated match-ups: 46-40% over Campbell; 48-39% over Fiorina, and 50-39% over DeVore.

Against Whitman, Brown holds 70% of the Democrats, while she holds 69% of the Republicans. But Brown has a small lead — 38-34% — among the pivotal independent voters, according to PPIC.

The survey also shows a marked gender gap, with Whitman holding a tiny 42-40% lead among men but Brown holding a substantial 45-33% lead among women. This could prove highly significant since part of the rationale for a Whitman candidacy is that she would have a theoretical possibility of peeling women away from Brown in a general election. Thus far, that dynamic is not in evidence.

Bad News for Our Friends at Flash Report

Straight from PPIC’s release:

“Of the four main spending categories of the state budget, Californians are the most willing to consider a tax increase to spare K–12 education from budget cuts (69%), while just over half would pay higher taxes to maintain current funding levels for higher education (54%) or for health and human services (54%). A large majority (79%) opposes paying higher taxes to spare prisons and corrections from budget cuts.

“Californians would consider some other ways to raise revenues: 67 percent favor raising the top rate of the state income tax paid by the wealthiest Californians and 58 percent would favor raising state taxes paid by California corporations. Residents are much less likely to support extending the state sales tax to services that are not currently taxed (35%) or increasing the vehicle license fee (28%).”

Pre-Gnawing on a Fresh Bone

BTW, when we read Steve Harmon’s piece about eMeg’s Mike Murphy trying to pre-spin the PPIC poll, we were really proud that Ye Ole Swashbuckler Murph hadn’t tried to pre-spin Calbuzz. We figured he thought we wouldn’t drink his Kool-Aid. But after our Wednesday item dissing the Fox & Hounds poll, Murph wrote to us insisting we are dead wrong.

“You’re 12 days behind,” Murph wrote. ” Truth is Meg is way up now.  SBAC poll is right.  Actually latest numbers are more than +25.  Two new private polls.  Why do you think Poiz won’t release his POS tracking?  Ad you panned worked really well.  You gotta spend more time with GOP primary voters and you’d understand.   I’m not trying to place an item, just telling you what’s true.”

And thank you for that.