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Posts Tagged ‘Greg Lucas’



Checklist for Lt. Newsom; GOP Seeks Presidentials

Monday, January 31st, 2011

When Gavin Newsom made like Achilles and took to brooding in his tent, back in the dark days of 2009 after quitting the race for governor and before re-emerging as a candidate for lite gov, the ex-mayor of San Francisco imperiously mocked the state job he now holds:

“What does the lieutenant governor do?” he said at the time. “For the life of me, I don’t know.”

Today, as Calbuzz formally demotes Newsom from the rank of Prince Gavin to the status of Lieutenant Starbuck, our intrepid cartoonist Tom Meyer offers his own, extremely helpful, suggestion to get the good lieutenant started on a new job description.

“What should Newsom do with his time?” politics guru Jack Pitney recently remarked to the indefatigable Jack Chang. “Accept speaking invitations, do lots of talks, spend time with the family, help raise his kids. It’s essentially a non-job.”

It’s true, of course, that the lite gov’s most solemn constitutional duty is to get up every morning, make sure Governor Brown is still breathing and then go back to bed. And sure, there are plenty of boring and conventional ways for newly-elected Newsom to spend his days.

But in our unstinting efforts to find positive solutions to intractable problems – we’re from the press, we’re here to help! – we’ve come up with a short list of other assignments for Lt. Starbuck to not only make himself useful but also keep his handsome mug squarely on the political radar in Sacramento.

Become California’s Chief Deputy Recycling Officer. Newsom will never be able to match the legendary tree hugger cred of Brown, who was totally green long before Kermit the Frog. But between banning plastic water bottles and starting an organic garden at City Hall, the erstwhile prince built his own, not inconsiderable, rep as a verdant pol. So what better way to save the Earth, while simultaneously meeting and greeting the folks who matter in Sacramento, than by making daily rounds of the Capitol, collecting bottles, cans and unread newspapers (as most, sadly, are).

Stop the squirrels from panhandling in Capitol Park. As S.F. Mayor,  Newsom spent considerable time and political capital trying to tamp down the city’s well-earned image as a happy haven for aggressive, snarling street people. Now he has a splendid chance to apply those skills by forging a pragmatic but humane approach to handling the begging squirrels of Capitol Park (especially the nasty gray ones)– maybe with a new program for tourists to kick into a Rodent Food Bank instead of offering the annoying critters nuts and seeds on an individual basis.

Wash and service Kamala’s car. Sure, Attorney General Kamala Harris is Starbuck’s future rival for the Democratic nomination for governor, but unlike him, she has, you know,  an actual job. While saving the Department of Justice a few bucks by volunteering to change the oil and wax down Herself’s state-financed ride, Gavin might even generate a few extra bucks for the general fund by connecting with other customers in the Capitol’s basement garage.

Launch a new state escort service. A recent study found that Sacramento is one of the few towns west of the Mississippi with a healthy surplus of single women over men. Given that Gavin’s greatest political asset is his movie star mien – hey, is that Matthew McConaughey?-  why not put his good looks to work as the star attraction of California’s new Department of Arm Candy and Society Walkers, safely squiring unattached females to fundraisers and other big events in Sacramento’s non-stop social whirl?

Serve as the Legislature’s designated driver. Every year, it seems, at least one prominent state lawmaker gets stopped on a DUI, endangering his political career when word of his scandalous behavior reaches the district back home. What better insider gig for a guy with lots of time on his hands than hanging around the bar at Lucca and cheerfully grabbing the keys to ensure some soused solon gets safely tucked in bed?

Rearrange Jerry’s books. Our pal Greg Lucas recently provided a terrific guided tour through the eclectic and expansive personal library of Governor Gandalf, noting that his bookcase is “brimming — without organization — with topics like religion, urban planning, history, psychology and mysticism.”

Surely Gavin could earn himself some Brownie points – and begin working off the early demerits he racked up by undercutting Jerry’s bid to whack the U.C. budget – by spending a few hours getting the gubernatorial athenaeum in order, hopefully employing the Dewey decimal system, which the old-school Silver Fox would doubtlessly prefer.

On the day he was inaugurated this month, Newsom pathetically pleaded with reporters, who showed up to watch his swearing in but quickly decamped to fry some bigger fish: “This is the last time you’re going to want to talk to me,” he said. “Don’t forget me.”

No worries, lieutenant, we wouldn’t think of it.

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Let the games begin: We hear the California Republican Party, struggling to recover its footing after getting pasted in November, is assiduously putting out feelers to potential 2012 presidential contenders in hopes of attracting some attention to its March 18-20 convention in Sacramento.

Party activists, of course, will be there to elect leaders, establish rules for top-two primaries and other fascinating chores, but whether normal people even notice the event may hinge on whether any presidentials come courting.

Included on the GOP’s wish list: Haley Barbour, Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney. Of course, they have to extend a warm invitation to Tundra Queen Sarah Palin, too, but we hear that some in the party dearly hope she won’t want to show, since she would consume all the oxygen and turn the convention into a Tea Party Extravaganza, when serious party rebuilding is what’s called for.

Calbuzz is not in the party building business but we sure would like to see the California GOP become relevant again in statewide elections: it’d be better for political reporters, not to mention democracy, if there was a little competition of ideas in California. That’s why we posted our Memo to the GOP (key item: figure out a way to support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants without sacrificing your Republican principles).

Meanwhile, back in the United States of Washington, D.C., the 2012 sweepstakes is already well underway. If you’re already behind — for shame! — here’s a preliminary reading list:

– Chris “The Fix” Cillizza offers an early line on the electoral college, concluding that Obama’s not nearly in the sad shape some would-be rivals would have you think.

– The Chron produced a swell set of charts for their pre-SOTU coverage comparing Obama’s standing on some economic and political measurables with those of recent presidents.

– The Times details how national political blogs are cranking up to go completely nuts with coverage.

Politico confirms the accuracy of the Times story.

– Politico also smokes out our own Rob Stutzman, a key 2008 Mitt Romney operative, to buttress their situationer showing that Mighty Mitt is encountering a level of skepticism among political professionals that’s hardly befitting an alleged front-runner:

“I’m keeping my powder dry for now,” said Stutzman, Romney’s top California adviser in 2008. “I think new congressional maps and Senate races may provide the most exciting campaign opportunities in ’12.”

At least since that whole Meg Whitman thing, anyway.

Why football is America’s Game: The Jets blew their chance at the Super Bowl with a bunch of dog-ass play calls in a crucial series at the Steelers’ goal line last week, which means the big game’s entertainment value will be considerably lessened without the performance art stylings of madman head coach Rex Ryan.

Press Clips: Early Props for Shane, Lucas & Siders

Friday, January 14th, 2011

Just as ambitious professional pols, flacks and wonks climb and clamber over each other for the chance to get hired up by a newly-elected governor, so too do nosy, pushy media types compete for position on the inside track.

For every grubby consultant or policy propeller head who sees himself as a future Karl Rove or the next Austin Goolsbee, there’s an ill-clad foot soldier in the daily war of words whose assignment to cover the new guy from Day One offers a fresh-as-spring-training opportunity to shine.

Working in the spotlight dawn of a nationally watched, nascent administration provides ink-stained types a rare promise of twinkling career possibilities, from book contracts (see: Cannon, Lou) to national TV gigs (“As you know, Rachel, there are many Jerry Browns”), perhaps even a prominent plug on Calbuzz itself (plenty of free parking!)

So it is that our Department of Media Communications and Clip Job Commentary has kept a close eye on  news coverage of the first days of Jerry Brown III. We’re watchful for potential signs of breakout media stardom among the pack of hacks who churn out the daily grind of reportage on all the twists, turns and incremental developments that shape the narratives about the 72-year old Silver Fox (here’s hoping they remember the Little People they met on the way up).

Welcome Budgeteers! To date among this lustrous field, we tip our fedoras to the energetic Shane Goldmacher of the LAT, who’s so far had the best inside pipeline and strongest reporting on Brown’s budget strategy, the only story that matters right now, and a yarn to which Chronicler-turned-blogger Greg Lucas has  added his considerable institutional knowledge and insight.

Lucas racked up a series of Hardest-Workin’-Man-in-Show Business awards in his salad days, and so hardly qualifies as a callow youth; truth be told, he’s approaching full geezerdom at an ever-accelerating rate. Still, his new gig as a regular commentator at Capitol Weekly, which complements his regular postings at California’s Capitol, seems to have brightened his scribbling style and infused him with a spurt, if not a full-flowing fountain, of youthful energy, viz. his recent Sally Quinn-like takeout on how Brown’s ascendance and Arnold’s departure are changing the social culture of Sacramento:

On the most superficial level, one obvious thing that’s vanished from the corner office in 2011 is hair. Burnt Sienna. Brooding mahogany. All gone. Less is more. Bald is beautiful. What other reason explains John Laird being named resources cabinet secretary?

Cowboy boots. Mood rings. Designer suits. All gone….

Governor’s office staff also appears to be out. Particularly videographers. Didn’t have those in the ’70s, why would they be needed now? Also out: human resources personnel. Apparently the 39th governor will just pop by the Office Max on 17th and J Street on his way into work to buy pencils and carbon paper….

Schnitzel is yesterday. Now it’s organic greens, usually eaten off someone else’s plate. Bean dip. Mexican food. Mom-and-pop Asian joints. Lazy Susan’s – makes it easier to get at other people’s food – are all also in the ascendancy.

Cigar smoking? Not so much. Smoking Tent? Hasta la vista.

Hummers and SUVs. Think Crown Victoria….

Hollywood stars – including Oprah and Jay Leno – are also history. Policy wonks now rule. St. Ignatius and Josiah Royce rock way harder than Wag Bennett and Danny DeVito. Treadmills trump free weights. Didactics over sound bites. Improvisation over intricately crafted production…

Also on the outs, at least at the moment, are tweets, press releases and the governor’s official website. Perhaps, as Brown famously said, he simply prefers to wait for “reality to emerge.”

Mr. Fly-on-the-Wall: For our money, though, the media MVP of the early going has been the indefatigable David Siders of the Bee, who’s provided a flurry of print and online pieces, the best of which embroider solid policy reporting with little gems of observed detail which reflect a well-developed eye for the absurd,  crucial to giving readers a full look at the whimsical singularity of Jerry Brown.

Out of the gate, Siders stomped the competition in owning the story about  Sutter the Corgi, Tryout First Canine of the First Couple; among other things the scoop artist got himself in position on inauguration night to capture this Jerry-being-Jerry bit:

Late Monday night, long after his inauguration was done and the parties died down, Gov. Jerry Brown and his wife, Anne Gust Brown, were together on the sidewalk outside their downtown loft.

They were walking a Corgi dog belonging to Brown’s sister, which Gust-Brown called “cute,” and Brown called “half a rat.”

The remark was likely meant warmly. Hours earlier, an aide walking out of a post-inauguration reception inside the horseshoe was heard on a cell phone saying, “Jerry wants to know if there is anyone in his building who can get in to walk his dog. Is there anyone there who can do that?”

Despite his late night exertions, Siders was the first man on the scene at the governor’s office the next morning, turning out even before semi-chief-of-staff Jim Humes showed up at 7:30 a.m.

So by the time the governor himself showed up, Siders was well positioned to quiz Krusty on the burning question of what he planned to do with Arnold’s abandoned 800-lb bronze bear, and to record for posterity his you-kids-get-off-my-lawn reaction:

Brown: “What do you think we should do with it?”

Reporter: “Let kids climb on it.”

Brown: “Do we let kids climb on this? I don’t think this is too fun. That’s something we’re going to work on in the next few days.”

Pinocchio’s burrito: Siders also was first to figure out how to report responsibly the tricky story that Brown has ordered the size of his security detail reduced, something insiders had whispered about for several days but nobody had written.

He got the story the old-fashioned way: he asked the governor directly. Brown immediately confirmed the new policy, giving Siders a memorable  on-point quote that summed up the whole People’s Governor approach that instantly changed the atmosphere of the Capitol.

“I don’t like a lot of entourage,” said Brown, who was walking downstairs at the Capitol for a burrito..

The burrito also figured in a telling little vignette that Siders witnessed by again being in the right place at the right time:

Brown, heading downstairs to the basement cafeteria this afternoon for a rice, cheese and bean burrito, was met in the hallway by Visalia tourists Berta Mendez-Perez and Jose Perez and their children Sofia, 5; Diego, 8; and Alexandra, 10.

“We voted for you,” Mendez-Perez said.

Brown asked the children, “Did you follow the campaign?”

Alexandra nodded.

“You saw the TV commercials?” Brown asked.

They did.

“Did you see the one with the nose growing?” Brown said. “Her nose started growing because she wasn’t telling the truth. Your nose will grow, too, if you don’t tell the truth.”

And stay off my lawn, too.

Calbuzz Rescues Inaugural from Crashing Boredom

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

Calbuzz staff psychiatrist Dr. P.J. Hackenflack greatly enhanced his reputation as the Perle Mesta of California Monday night, as he tossed the toughest-ticket bash of Inaugural Week, featuring fine cuisine and libation, fine fellowship and the brightest stars in the state’s glittering political firmament.

In a political social whirl otherwise dominated by an event where the big payoff was a couple of dogs and a small bag of chips, Calbuzz party organizers agreed with each other that their gathering of First Amendment scumbags and rapacious consultants was by far the best shindig of the week.

Unfortunately for the good Doctor H., he missed his own soiree, after passing out cold beneath a banquet room table from rapidly throwing down 13 or 14  double Jamesons on the rocks several hours before his guests arrived.

Still, the 90 or so revelers who were actually conscious for the big party, held at fabulous Lucca restaurant (plenty of valet parking), did their best to overcome their disappointment at his absence, dining on smoked chicken risotto, chicken saltimbocca, pan roasted salmon and grilled bistro steak, consuming mass quantities of Ray Station Merlot, Kendall Jackson Chardonnay and Camelot Cabernet, and enjoying an evening utterly bereft of the tedious, mind-numbing speechifying that characterizes most such events in Sacramento.

Plus, they got a really cool credential — the type which the skinflint Brown operation provided to no one covering his big day.

Consistent with the post-post-partisan values and ethics of Calbuzz — which hold that folks of differing political persuasions are to view their rivals not as bitter enemies, but as nutty neighbors — Republican operatives like Adam Mendelsohn, Jim Brulte, Kevin Spillane, Marty Wilson, Beth Miller and Julie Soderlund (special kudos to Rob Stutzman and Mitch Zak for being the only ex-members of the GOP’s Legions of eMeg with the stones to show up) mixed and mingled with leading Democratic lights, including Tom Quinn, David Townsend, Joe Trippi, Donna Bojarsky, Jim Moore, Steve Glazer, Jason Kinney, Roger Salazar, Steve Maviglio, Karen Skelton  and Garry South (whose frequent harsh criticisms of Jerry Brown’s campaign for governor make him an intraparty marked man, matched Stutz and Zak’s raw courage in taking his place  at the festivities), while other hacks (widely suspected of  RINO tendencies by some in the Neanderthal Caucus) including Jack Flanigan, Bob Naylor, Donna Lucas and Don Sipple, added to a gemutlicht ambience of general hilarity.

Along with members of the Capitol press corps that Calbuzz actually knows (apologies to Sactown hacks we don’t know), world-class media types, including New York Times L.A. bureau chief Adam Ngourney, by-God L.A. Times sage George Skelton and national political correspondent Mark Barabak, A.P. political writers Juliet Williams and Judy Lin and KCRA-TV’s inimitable Kevin Riggs sprinkled the crowd, as Greg Lucas of “California’s Capitol,” Joel Fox of “Fox and Hounds” and Torey Van Oot of “Capitol Alert” ably represented the political blogosphere and blindingly insightful eggheads and policy makers like Dan Schnur, H.D. Palmer, Dave Lesher, Nancy McFadden and Peter Schrag raised the average I.Q. of the room at least a point or two.

Here stood newly sworn-in governor Brown, huddling with newly named Resources Secretary John Laird over matters of apparent great urgency.

There was new First Lady Anne Gust, explaining to an astonished inaugural witness how she was surprised to find out she was introducing her husband about two minutes before his swearing in.

Across the room,  almost Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom passionately held forth on the insider intricacies of San Francisco politics that have delayed his swearing in (see Agnos, Art and his five votes).

We even have a boozy recollection of overhearing Krusty and the Prince dividing up the world: Gavin focuses on economic development and UC and stays out of Jerry’s way as he tries to run the government. Such a deal.

Worried Democrats meanwhile kept an anxious eye on Brown, lest he keel over and make incumbent Lite Gov Abel Maldonado a full-term governor before Newsom takes the oath of office.

A good time was had by all, except for the aforementioned, utterly plastered Dr. H. There were no injuries.

Budget Shocker: Things Are $3 Billion Worse Already

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

While the Big Picture Team at Calbuzz prefers to view the foibles of state government from 30,000 feet (See: Convention, constitutional), our Green Eye Shade Division is equally committed to keeping an eye on that pesky budget deficit that has Sacramento in a mighty dither.

Here’s their one word report from today: AAAAGGGHHHH!!!

Just as Governor Deltoids and Delta Force Legis were limbering up to slash $21 billion from the budget, along comes analyst Mac Taylor to clue them in that the deficit is closer to $24 billion – not to mention that a great many of Arnold’s proposed solutions are bushwah.

Greg Lucas, Calbuzz’s well-informed source about all things fiscal, blogs a complete report here.

Weekend Flea Market: Lie Down with Dogs, Come Up with Items

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

blankface1Whither Tony V?: L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s abrupt cancellation of his appearance at the Democratic state convention, coupled with the consistent snarliness of his political handlers, has fueled speculation that Tony V. may not run for governor. But L.A. political insiders scoff at such gossip: “It looks like it’s going to be a Democratic year. If he doesn’t go now, in eight years he’ll be 66, and facing a whole new generation of young ‘uns,” said one savvy southland seer. “This is his shot.”

Still, local politicos are closely eyeballing the increasingly bitter brawl for city attorney between lawyer Carmen Trutanich and city councilman Jack Weiss as a measure of Villaraigosa’s strength. If Weiss, the mayor’s dog in this fight, loses on May 19, it will be one more bit of evidence, along with Tony’s unimpressive re-election numbers, that Antonio Alcalde’s standing with his political base ain’t all that.

Whitman Sampler: On the Republican side, Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner stepped up his attacks on GOP front-runner Meg Whitman this week, issuing no less than three statements ripping eMeg variously for ducking debates, stiffing the press and sugarcoating her tenure at eBay.

Weirdest move by the Poizneristas was a press release reprinting in full an article written for Capitol Weekly by Democratic consultant Garry South, Gavin Newsom’s strategist. The piece was South’s take on the problems faced by rich business executives who jump into politics, an issue we posted about on Monday. In recounting how he tackled the wealthy businessman Al Checchi while handling Gray Davis for governor, South saw similarities with Whitman:

“Whitman shares yet another commonality with Checchi – a spotty voting record,” he wrote. “Whitman didn’t bother to vote in four statewide elections since just 2003 – including the ‘03 recall election that put Gov. Schwarzenegger in office. À la Checchi, she hasn’t been able to verify whether she voted in the 1994 gubernatorial election, when the controversial anti-immigrant Prop. 187 was on the ballot. She has apologized for these lapses, saying she was busy running a company and had two kids. (Average voters with kids use that as an excuse for skipping the polling place?)”

Whitman has remained sanguine in the face of near-constant sniping from various corners, apparently believing that the Republican primary is more than a year away… Oh, it is?

Be that as it may, by remaining silent in the face of Poizner’s pounding, eMeg runs the risk that the narratives her rival is setting down – she’s afraid to debate, she’s afraid of the press, she’s doesn’t understand state issues – take hold, at least among the cognescenti and the media. If that happens, she may find down the road that her orchestrated efforts to “introduce” herself to voters will be hampered by a need for rehab, to undo the definition frame Poizner plunked on her early (now, about that Calbuzz interview request, Meg…)

Lust in his heart: Tom Campbell, the third Republican in the race, keeps plugging away in his terminally earnest energizer bunny manner, trying to make the race about…issues, fercryinoutloud.

Campbell this week delivered a big guest lecture on economics at UCLA, in which he raised the specter of unintended consequences arising from Obama’s John Maynard Keynes imitation:

“The growth in federal borrowing over the last six months has been greater than at any comparable time in American history, by a large amount,” Campbell said. “When the economy recovers, inflation is inevitable. A modest estimate, given the amount of money the federal government has printed, is in excess of 12% inflation.

“That has a direct cost to California because of the huge amounts our state borrows,” he added. “No one will buy a California bond at less than the expected rate of inflation. So, as systemic double-digit inflation, dead since Jimmy Carter, returns to our national economy, the effect will be particularly devastating on California’s ability to balance its budget.”

Oy.

Puff, puff, bail, bail: Greg Lucas, Calbuzz Capitol Correspondent, blogs his take on the dust-up over legalizing marijuana, over at California’s Capitol. His bottom line — not bloody likely anytime soon:

“Expansion of sin taxes hasn’t fared well in the Capitol… Although possession of less than an ounce of marijuana is an infraction, lawmakers are reluctant to back legislation that could make them appear soft-on-crime, fearing campaign attack pieces. That would make legalization of marijuana that much more difficult.”

The long goodbye: Latest twist in the sad saga of newspapers twisting slowly in the wind was a Senate subcommittee hearing on “The Future of Journalism” this week; chairman John Kerry and other members of the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body defended ink-stained wretches against the likes of print-killers Arianna Huffington and Marisa Mayer of Google.

Washington Post class clown Dana Milbank had the most succinct report here while the strongest testimony was delivered by David Simon, former cop shop reporter for the Baltimore Sun who took on the decline of newspapers in season five of his superb HBO series, “The Wire.”

Freudian parts dept: One of Gov. Schwarzenegger’s many signature moments in “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” comes when he wields a giant tear gas launcher against a bunch of cops while escaping from Cyberdyne Systems: “It’s definitely you,” adolescent hero John Connor tells Cyborg Arnold.

Now, one day after the governor promised fire-weary Santa Barbara residents he would do whatever it takes to conquer the raging Jesusita blaze, local smoke eaters got the firefighters’ equivalent of Arnold’s Big Gun: a DC-10 air tanker, which made repeated sorties over the fire Friday, dumping 12,000 gallons of retardant in a single drop.

“Chill out, dickwad.”