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Posts Tagged ‘interview’



More Thunder from eMeg’s Right; Carla Held Hostage

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Little noticed among all the Ken und John Sturm und Drang came  another right-wing whack at Meg Whitman’s campaign prevarications, from a less  cacophonous, but arguably more consequential, conservative quarter.

Peter Foy, a Ventura County supervisor and a favorite of Tea Party and other hardline precincts, took eMeg to task in a SignOnSan Diego piece (h/t Jon Fleischman) for her flip-flopping flexibility on immigration and climate change, a post showing that conservative dismay with Our Meg is not limited to the yakkers and shouters on the AM band.

Foy played a high-profile role in sinking Governor Schwarzmuscle’s budget plan in last year’s special election, characterizing both Whitman and Steve Poizner as “squishy” on that and other fiscal matters in an interview with Calbuzz at a time when he was taking a semi-serious look at running for the big job himself.

In his new piece, Foy declared himself “a Whitman supporter,” but was unstinting and surgical in slicing her in the very spots where she was pounded last week on talk radio.

It’s troubling that Meg Whitman – the billionaire first-time candidate seeking to become California’s next governor – is running the most conventional of too-clever-by-half campaigns. If she stubbornly continues this aloof tactical venture she will almost surely lose and won’t deserve to win…

While Whitman and her advisers understand the need to reach out to diverse constituencies, ham-handed efforts to woo Latinos (and other favored groups) are likely to both fail to launch and even blow up in their face…

They are likely to see this for the kaleidoscopic approach it is – inviting people to see what they want to see – and could punish Whitman even more severely than they would a different politician.

Here’s why. Whitman obviously has special appeal and the independent, outsider profile many voters say they are looking for. But if she’s simply going to advance the most expensive version of a bargain-basement campaign, Whitman is literally inviting voters to view her as calculating and even manipulative. While this is dangerous for a veteran politician, it’s lethal for a newcomer.

Over at Fox and Hounds, the estimable Joe Mathews argues that Meg’s appearance on John and Ken was a “Sister Souljah” moment that will help her image among independent voters by showing she’s not afraid to stand up to the most raucous elements of her party. We say: Not so much.

Unlike the talk show boys, Foy is a well-starched, perfectly respectable, establishment arch-conservative. As a political matter, it’s significant that he not only sounds the same  themes as John and Ken but also echoes the argument, made by independent voices like ours, plus progressive sites like Calitics, that Meg’s tell-everyone-what-they-want-to-hear pattern of behavior is most troubling, not as a policy issue, but as a character flaw.

…Their hearts and minds will follow: Maybe eMeg should stop with all the too clever by half moves and be more like Linda McMahon in taking a more ballsy approach.

Just askin’: Has there ever been a goofier idea by a news organization than the Chronicle’s effort to goose print circulation by delaying for 48 hours the posting of some of its best stories on SFGate?

A half-baked hybrid version of Rupert Murdoch’s attempt to force readers to pay for content one way or another (which itself is not exactly off to a roaring start) the Hearst Chron’s strategy of holding its own Sunday edition journalism hostage seems to be having three main effects:

1) it keeps some of the best work of its reporters out of the real-time conversation that drives the 24/7 news cycle;

2) it gives more eyeballs to the competition, as folks in search of new news head to the L.A. Times or SacBee to find it;

3) it drives traffic to aggregation sites which find and post the Chron’s stories despite the paper’s delusional notion that it can exercise singular control over the flow of online information.

For example, this Sunday the Chron kept Willie Brown’s column off the web, so readers in search of his latest take on the governor’s race (“Nerdy Jerry Brown a Formidable Opponent,” read the good hed, which was all a reader could read) was directed to this note:

This story is exclusive to the Chronicle’s Sunday print edition and will not appear on SFGate.com until 4:00 AM on Tuesday, August 10. To buy an electronic version of the Sunday paper now, go to…Print subscribers can go to…to sign up for free e-editions.

Hold your horses, Maude! Let’s forget that picnic and hike in the Berkeley hills – I really need to spend half the day navigating the Chron’s web site to read “Willie’s World.”

Readers encountered a similar M.C. Escher-like maze if they clicked on Carla Marinucci’s Sunday blog post (hopefully through the link on the Calbuzz Blogroll of Honor) where she offered a sketchy version of Jerry Brown’s just-released jobs plan, then appended this sad little lose-friends-and-don’t influence people note:

UPDATE: Check today’s San Francisco Chronicle for a “print-only” exclusive analysis of the jobs proposals being offered by both gubernatorial candidates, Brown and Whitman, as well as the candidates for U.S. Senate — Democratic incumbent Barbara Boxer and GOP challenger Carly Fiorina. The “print only” exclusive will be released to the web on Tuesday morning…

Rather than wait until Tuesday morning, however, political junkies who cared found the very good, “exclusive analysis” of the jobs issue, which Marinucci co-wrote with boy wonder Drew Joseph, over at Jack Kavanagh’s Rough & Tumble , where it was posted more than 24 hours before it appeared “exclusively” on SFGate.

While the pathway the story took to R&T is not entirely clear, at least one key thing is: keeping information barricaded behind walls is kind of like running the 100-yard dash with water cupped safely in your hands.

Update 7:41 a.m. Rough and Tumble’s Jack Kavanagh checks in with this on the Chron/48-hour delay imbroglio:

I never link to Chronicle stories that are being withheld from the Internet on Sunday.

I only link to items readily available on the Chronicle site or the Chronicle politics blog.

The story you referenced by Carla was either available on the site or on the blog.

By the time the stories that are withheld by the Chronicle on Sunday are released on the following Wednesday, I generally ignore them mainly because by that time they are generally pretty stale.

Emphasis in original. We rest our case.

Memo to Frank Vega: Great Cesar’s Ghost, man! Free Willie, Carla, Drew, Phil, Andy and all political prisoners!

Brown at Google: The Value of Being Random

Monday, April 12th, 2010

We were innocently sitting in the front row the other day, listening to Attorney General Jerry Brown’s “fireside chat” (sans hearth or fire) with Google CEO Eric Schmidt, when Brown demonstrated once again why he is the most intriguing  character in California, and perhaps American, politics.

And why – if he can reach enough of them – he is capable of making  himself popular with the well-educated, middle-of-the-road, moderate, non-partisan, younger and middle-age voters who are the fulcrum of electoral victory in California.

Asked by Schmidt – whose questions were as smart and penetrating as any experienced political writer could ask – whether his “progressive” ideas from the 1970s and ‘80s are still relevant, Brown pointed to his interest then and now in renewable energy sources.

“At that time, we were talking about solar hot water. Now we’re talking about solar photovoltaic. But it’s the same thing — the introduction of new ideas,” he said.

“California is a state of imagination. And imagination is what we need to get out of the bind. We need to change the design. We need to introduce new ideas, and, quite frankly, I’ve always been interested in the creative mind.”

He then mentioned a teacher he’d once had, whom he later appointed as a regent of the University of California, and who had inscribed for Brown in one of his books, “The new comes out of the random.”

“The new comes out of the random,” Brown repeated with a smile. “I’ve been thinking a lot about that. Some people think I’m a little random. But unless you’re open to possibilities, you rarely come up with something new. If you are rigidly programmed, if you’re managing what is, you can’t create what really needs to be.”

Brown’s reference, Calbuzz learned later, was to “Mind and Nature,” by Gregory Bateson, the brilliant British anthropologist and systems theoretician (and former husband of anthropologist Margaret Mead), whom Brown, then 40, put on the Board of Regents at age 74 in 1978, where he served until his death in 1980.

“The immediate task of this book is to construct a picture of how the world is joined together in its mental aspects,” Bateson wrote in 1979 in “Mind and Nature.”

How do ideas, information, steps of logical or pragmatic consistency, and the like fit together? How is logic, the classical procedure for making chains of ideas, related to an outside world of things and creatures, parts and wholes? Do ideas really occur in chains, or is this lineal (see Glossary) structure imposed on them by scholars and philosophers? How is the world of logic, which eschews “circular argument,” related to a world in which circular trains of causation are the rule rather than the exception?

As if to prove Bateson’s theory of “circular trains of causation,” Brown described an important evolution in his thinking about the value of legislation.

Noting that he had “started a law called the Political Reform Act of 1974,” he later had the experience, as mayor of Oakland, of finding that “there was one of the provisions that would have stopped me from promoting economic growth.

“So I went to court and actually had part of the law that I wrote invalidated,” he said. “I think it’s a very salutary experience to both make laws and unmake them all in the same lifetime. Because, you see, every law has unintended consequences.”

To which, he later added:

Another thing I didn’t appreciate as governor, — ‘cause each governor signs about 800 to 1,000 new laws a year — and when you pass a law, somebody’s got to enforce that darned thing. It isn’t just “Do good.” It’s, “If you don’t do good, you can get sued and go to jail or pay a tax.”

And as attorney general, my office is often called upon to enforce these laws.
And businesses run afoul of many of them. And there’s just tens of thousands of ‘thou shalt not.’ And the density and the reach of the invasive, minute prescriptions is breathtaking. I’ve developed a very healthy distaste for legislation.

Now, with Jerry Brown one never knows (do one?) whether what he says will have any relationship to what he will do.

He ran for president not long after winning the chairmanship of the California Democratic Party; he decided to run for governor after telling people he wouldn’t leave his post as Attorney General. He was against Proposition 13 before he was for it. In one presidential campaign he wouldn’t take contributions over $100 because taking more was a sure sign of corruption; today he’s tapping every fat-cat donor he can find, hoping to have enough to compete against Meg Whitman’s multi-millions.

With Brown, certain commitments are elastic. Or as he told Calbuzz in March: “Adaptation is the essence of evolution. And those who don’t adapt go extinct.”

Still, Brown’s suggestion that he’s learned something about the unintended consequences of legislation has a certain verisimilitude or what Steven Colbert might call truthiness.

In part, that’s because Brown has shaped and observed California politics over so many years that he has an incredibly long (some might say long-in-the-tooth) view.

Asked by Schmidt to discuss the impact of Proposition 13, Brown, who re-iterated his pledge to support no new taxes unless the people vote for them, offered this compelling narrative:

Yeah, Prop. 13 passed in ’78. By the way, it attracted the highest turnout ever for a state primary election. And since that time, almost right afterwards, one ballot measure after another constraining the governor, the legislature, setting down more and more precise rules on how things need to be done

So what you have here is, you have a chess game of government with fewer and fewer moves. And that is driven by the frustration. So people have a widespread disgust at the mechanism of representation. So people then put on the ballot, often special interests, some attractive-sounding measure. And people vote for it.

But the more they embed the system with these constraints, the more difficult it is to perform, and the performance declines, and people want more and more initiatives to correct it. So we’re in a cycle, a rather destructive cycle. And to get out of that, first of all, we need to get beyond that.

And I think the way we need to get beyond it is to make the governing process more transparent, to make the key elements of government, the education, higher and K-12, the prison system, the water, the energy, the roads, the medical care, make those key elements transparent, accessible, understandable so people know, what are their tax dollars going for, what is it doing, and where are the areas where we can modify.

And, quite frankly, I think I can conduct that kind of transparent process that will reconnect the citizenry to their own government, something that I think has very much been lost in recent years.

Who knows if Brown has the skill, the focus, the commitment to actually break that “destructive cycle?” But he absolutely understands a key factor in rendering California ungovernable. Can he convince voters that he can both manage what is and create what needs to be? That’s no random question.

GOP Extra: Shocker – eMeg Meets the Press

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Calbuzz gets results: Suddenly shifting gears on media strategy, Meg Whitman showed up at the Republican state convention Friday and promptly met with California political reporters for a full-on,  one-hour press conference that made us wonder why they’ve been hiding and sneaking her out of the back door for the last year.

Now if she goes to dinner with us, we may have to actually quit bitching and moaning about the whole issue of her accessibility.

“It’s the first of more to come,” eMeg said of her give-and-take session with political writers. “We’re now getting down to the short strokes of the primary so you’ll see more of this, and I’ll be doing more and more one-on-one interviews.”

As a short-term political matter, Team Whitman’s move to have the candidate hang  with the political pencil press, after months of missteps, stumbles and embarrassing flights from reporters at campaign events, stops the bleeding on a self-inflicted wound.

She got unfavorable national attention this week, when she refused to take questions after inviting the media to cover an event in Oakland. Friday’s performance may also take a big bite out of a narrative being pushed by GOP rival Steve Poizner – that Whitman is too aloof, imperious and controlling to open herself to the normal rigors faced by candidates in California.

“I don’t think we handled it very well,” she said of this week’s incident at the Port of Oakland. “I should have taken questions. It’s one of those days on the campaign trail where things don’t go how they’re supposed to.”

At the convention site Hyatt Regency Santa Clara, Whitman handled questions ranging from taxes to temperament, from pensions to prisons, from immigration to her investments (which were the subject Friday of a must-read piece in the L.A. Times).  Although she frequently retreated to talking points, she was direct, facile and responsive in discussing a host of policy issues, as well as the politics of the campaign.

“Steve has changed his mind on many, many issues, immigration is just one of them,” she said of her GOP rival. “When he ran for Assembly in 2004, in a largely Democratic district, he had a very different tune on a whole host of issues.”

At one point, Calbuzz asked her about her recent threat to veto every piece legislation except those focused on her agenda of job creation, spending reduction and education improvements. We asked her to explain what in her background equipped her for dealing with the push and pull of political forces in the Legislature and, while we didn’t really get an answer to that, she responded without hesitation to a question of whether she thought her veto stance sends the right message to a co-equal branch of government.

“I do,” she said. “I think it’s firm and its ‘listen, here’s my approach, here’s what I want to get done, here’s what the people of California expect us to do so let’s focus on these three things.

“I think by saying ‘I will veto everything’ except for public safety, I mean, if we have an earthquake or something, right, we’re going to be realistic about it, but I think by saying ‘we’re not going to do any of the other stuff, let’s put all of our energies against these three things,’ and I have to tell you the nearly 700 pieces of legislation that were signed into law last year, virtually none of this was on point to the crisis…

“The legislature is interested in many things but they’re interested in being re-elected, so can we focus the Legislature around my three priorities?”

Like Jerry Brown on his announcement tour last week, Whitman said she would move the Legislature in part by improving personal relationships between it and the governor’s office.

“I think in many ways this is about relationships. The next governor has to move to Sacramento…you’ve got to buy a house, you’ve got to be part of that community you’ve got to know every state senator by name, every Assembly person by name. You’ve got to build the relationship because life is about relationships…

“Trust is an important thing and consistency is an important way to build trust and one of the things that hasn’t happened here has been consistency.”

We’ll have more on eMeg’s take on issues in days to come.

Update 10:35 pm: eMeg shudda quit while she was ahead.

Instead she decided to test the limits of human endurance and deliver a speech that was reliably reported to be left over from her middle school student council election to an audience of 500 Republican delegates seemingly struggling to stay awake, who applauded enthusiastically at exactly three lines: a) “I want to eliminate the capital gains tax”; b) “we will win the battle to give rank and file union members the right to protect their paychecks”; c) “Thank you for inviting me to speak to you tonight…thank you.”

The highlight, such as it was, came during her introduction by former GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney, one of her mentors. Romney, who was celebrating his 63rd birthday – who says Mormons don’t know how to have fun? – stumbled all over himself in introducing her:

“She’s soft on the inside and hard as nails on the…” he began. “…Excuse me…she’s soft on the outside and hard as nails on the inside,” he added, never really explaining how he would know such a thing.

Earlier Poizner had his own news conference, and channeled the Energizer Bunny cranked up on about three Red Bulls. He hammered eMeg on a host of issues, most especially illegal immigration.

Poizner said as governor he would “yank the business license” of companies that employ illegals,  move to secure the state’s border  “with the National Guard if necessary” and “turn off the magnets” by ending “all taxpayer funded benefits for illegals – not because anyone’s being heartless – this is about ending the magnets so that people don’t come here in the first place.”

“Meg Whitman is not willing to do that. I supported Prop. 187, she does not support Prop. 187,” he said. “It’s one of these important distinctions between the two of us that’s critical.”

Poizner speaks to the delegates Saturday night.

Arnold vs Calbuzz; eMeg’s Ad Buy; Memo to Media

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Calbuzz contributor Susan Rose, in a post filed Tuesday, roundly bashed Governor Arnold, characterizing his tenure as “a combination of insults, bullying, threats and failures.” After the post, David Crane, Special Adviser to Governor Schwarzenegger, asked for a chance to respond:

By David Crane
Special to Calbuzz

Susan Rose’s recent attack on Governor Schwarzenegger shows an utter disregard for facts.

Ms. Rose conveniently left out the single most important fact about the state budget, namely that explosive growth in government-employee compensation is responsible for crowding out spending for all those social programs she favors.

As one example, from 2003-2010, retirement benefit costs took more than $25 billion away from higher education, parks & recreation, environmental protection, health & human services and other important programs.  As another example, the per employee cost of compensation nearly doubled over the last ten years, stripping money from programs.

All of these costs were cemented into place by contracts and legislation passed by the last administration.  Governor Schwarzenegger has fought mightily to reform those contracts and legislation but legislators in hock to special interests refuse to budge.

Ms. Rose’s column is just another example of non-fact-based partisanship designed to fulfill the wishes of one special interest or another.  The real fact is that the only way to protect programs is by reforming government employee compensation.   While Ms. Rose is happy to raise taxes in order to keep paying more to government employees, Governor Schwarzenegger is not.

Actions speak louder than words. When Ms. Rose is ready to do something about the damage being caused by out-of-control government employee compensation it’ll be time to listen to her.

All eMeg All the Time: The Calbuzz Department of Dumpster Diving & Green Earth Recycling has stumbled upon an internal report from Meg Whitman’s campaign which details the size and reach of her current advertising buy, which can be described in two words: Holy Cow.

The campaign’s Gross Rating Point report, measuring total delivery of the current week’s broadcast ad schedule in 11 markets in California, shows that eMeg’s buy is comparable to what a fully-loaded campaign might ordinarily deliver in the closing weeks of a heated race – not three months before a primary that she’s prohibitively leading.

“These are some big fuckin’ numbers,” said Bill Carrick, the veteran Democratic media consultant after reviewing the report. “She’s buying the whole shebang.”

As a practical matter, 1,000 GRPs a week means that an average TV viewer in a large market would have about 10 opportunities a week to see a Meg Whitman ad;  in smaller markets, with only two or three stations, 700-800 GRPs would be a significant buy. Here’s what the internal campaign report shows she’s doing around the state (N.B. Calbuzz did not independently confirm these numbers):

–Bakersfield 806
–Chico-Redding 603
–Eureka 631
–Fresno-Visalia 986
–L.A. 1,008
–Monterey-Salinas 635
–Palm Springs 806
–Sacramento 984
–San Diego 1,008
–San Francisco 702
–Santa Barbara 929

“With this buy, the chances of not seeing a Meg Whitman spot are pretty slim,” Carrick said.

According to the report, Steve Poizner’s current buy in various markets is a fraction of eMeg’s – ranging from 15 to 50 percent – which seems in the ballpark, based on anecdotal reports from several veteran California media consultants who watch TV incessantly.

One Republican source not affiliated with the governor’s race said he thought the eMeg strategy of going on the air so heavy so early in the campaign might backfire:

“She’s way overdoing it – she’s going to wear out her welcome.”

Meg wears out her welcome: And that’s exactly what the Great Woman did in the East Bay yesterday, when she set off a row with veteran Bay Area political reporters by once again refusing to take any questions – after inviting press coverage of her tour of the Union Pacific Railroad site at the Port of Oakland. Chronicler Carla Marinucci picks up the story:

Then came the news that Whitman also wouldn’t take questions; reporters had been called in to “see” her make statements on “how she could be helpful as governor” on jobs and the economy, Whitman spokeswoman Sarah Pompei said.

Veteran reporters, who included KTVU’s Randy Shandobil and KPIX’s Hank Plante, were among the crowd that wasn’t amused. Question: is Whitman a candidate for governor, or a museum piece to be “watched” by reporters?

Pompei told reporters Whitman said the no press tour was a Union Pacific call — that the company’s officials did not want media coverage. (Union Pacific spokesman Aaron Hunt begs to differ. He just told us that “we planned, actually, to have press talk with Meg on the tour….we understood there would be media availability and we wanted to work with that.”)

Calbuzz last year was among the first to throw a flag on eMeg’s obsessive avoidance of the California press corps as a significant campaign issue. (While Steve Poizner and Jerry Brown have both granted us extended interviews, the ticking clock on our request for a sit-down with Her Megness is now six months, three days and counting).

After Tuesday’s disgraceful performance, it seems clear that there are serious issues of  temperament and judgment – control freak arrogance, fear and contempt for reporters whose job is to serve as the eyes and ears of ordinary voters, for starters – that raise questions about her fitness to handle elected office and public life.

Here’s a suggestion for our campaign trail media colleagues: Don’t reward eMeg’s bad behavior. She’s not the governor, she’s not even the nominee of her party, she is a CANDIDATE for the nomination, and so far she has earned exactly nothing.

If Whitman is unwilling to abide by the norms and forms appropriate to a political campaign, then she should not receive coverage appropriate for candidates who do. Stop running stories on any Whitman events in which she refuses to take questions from reporters. Period.

Brown Speaks: “This Is Very Different From 1975″

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

Since his youthful days as governor, Jerry Brown told Calbuzz, he’s learned the political importance of  personalities and patience – two lessons that, if elected again, he would use to shatter Sacramento’s “specter of paralysis.”

One day after formally announcing he’s a candidate for governor, the 71-year old Democratic state attorney general told us he would “focus like a laser beam” on curing California’s chronic budget deficits by “pressing and engaging” all 120 legislators into a grinding process to find authentic solutions to the budget mess.

“This is very different from 1975 when I was in a hurry, I was impatient, I wanted to hit the ball out of the park, new ideas and bold appointments,” Brown said of his years as a brash, 30-something governor. “Now what I’ve seen is that things take time.”

In a 45-minute telephone interview from his car, Brown ranged from St. Ignatius to the Serrano-Priest legal decision on school finance, discoursing in a high-energy, low-punctuation style on everything from taxes to teaching citizenship in public education. Brown’s detailed and substantive answers to a host of policy questions showed a level of personal interest and intellectual engagement that belied the ambivalence he appeared to feel about running for governor in the months leading up his announcement.

“I like this kind of work and I think I could really make a contribution to clean up the mess in Sacramento. . . . I feel I’ve invested an enormous part of my life in understanding many of the issues that are alive today and urgent and very much call out for solutions,” he told us. “So on balance it struck me as something that I’d like to do. I’m very excited about doing it . . . I found myself, boy, I was very very excited about this opportunity.”

In the interview, Brown’s Kerouacian verbal style careened from point to point, as he marshaled facts and recalled figures from history to build and embroider his arguments without regard to the norms of periods and commas or, seemingly at times, even the need to draw breath.

Here are some highlights of the interview:

THE PERSONAL

For those who have watched Brown for years, his most surprising comments came when he talked about the personal dimension of politics. In Sacramento,  he earned a reputation as a brilliant but self-involved cold-fish with a high-handed disregard, even contempt, for the personal niceties of politics and the subjective perspectives of other politicians. His current expressed attitude, however, conjured comparisons to the style of his late father, Gov. Pat Brown, a politician of the hail-fellow-well-met old school.

Brown recalled the advice given him when he was governor by the late Brien T. (B.T.) Collins. A legendary Capitol figure, Collins was a hard drinking, foul-mouthed former Green Beret who lost an arm and a leg in combat in Vietnam –  a conservative Republican who served Brown first as director of the California Conservation Corps and later as his chief of staff. Beloved by the press corps, whom he excoriated as “scumbags of the fourth estate,”  Collins never hesitated to tell his boss exactly what was on his mind.

Another thing that I’ve learned, that I’ve really learned – personalities. I remember B.T. Collins would say, “Brown, you don’t get it. Politics is about personalities.” And I get that – it’s about the personalities of the Republicans and the Democrats. And I’m going to take that very seriously. I’m going to listen to them.

THE POLITICAL

In a 180-degree reversal from his previous tenure, Brown said that he would work to restore civility and affability to Sacramento, by entertaining with his wife, Anne Gust Brown, groups of legislators and policy makers in an atmosphere of bonhomie and open interchange.

I’d like to meet them in public, in private. I’m going to have . . . you know my father used to have dinners at the ranch and people from both parties would bring their wives over . . . I’m sure Anne will be a great hostess here, we’re going to have a lot of interaction . . .

The last time I didn’t have a wife and I had a spartan furnished apartment. Now I’ve got a wife and a beautiful home in Oakland and I’ll find an appropriate venue in Sacramento but I certainly think we can use the old mansion for dinners with the legislature to carry on the kind of camaraderie that built this state up until the recent descent into dysfunctionality.

THE POLICY

Brown said California’s need is for a governor who will focus relentlessly on ending “the charade” of years of smoke and mirrors budgeting and find a bipartisan political solution based on dragging every member of the Legislature into a process that would force each of them to “take ownership” of a solution. He’d show the Legislature exactly where the hole in the budget is and insist they help fix it (without increasing taxes, absent a vote of the people, which he said is one of his fundamental principles).

There’s no one in elected office who has spent more time on the state budget of California than I have…

But I’m not going to engage in a charade. The budget I present is going to be an honest budget . . . and we’re going to have to take several years to get it done, and I understand that now – and the patience and dealing with the personalities and no smoke and mirrors . . . starting in December. I won’t be governor yet, but if I’m elected I’ll be there and I’m going to know how to spend the time.

THE PROCESS

I’m extremely excited and I have this idea that I hope is not delusional that by engaging all 120 legislators, by starting in December, by focusing on the budget, by not going to Washington, not going to Israel, not going anywhere, (no) photo ops, but just dealing with this problem and personally engaging these people.

And I’m not talking about a couple of hours with the Big Five in January, I’m talking about starting in December with the entire legislature, asking them to send their staffs to another room and taking as long,  as many hours a week, as many hours a day, as many days a week, weeks,  months, however long it takes, I’m going to wrestle this budget to the ground and shape up a few key components that we have to deal with, after cutting the obvious and the obvious I think you have to start with the governor’s office . . .

I’m going to call in the campaign patrons of all these legislators and union and business people maybe religious activists, Tea Party people for the Republicans, and just discuss with them the future of California. Because I didn’t make this mess. I’ve been watching it, as a mayor and now as the lawyer to these people, but substantively, it’s been the governor and the legislature and they’re confronting this thing.

But you know, it’s not about brains, they’ve been balancing on the debt-fueled bubble that the people in Washington – Greenspan, credit swaps, Bush tax cuts, all that stuff, the war,  mortgages – this has created a false economy that has now been substantially reduced by trillions and we’ve got a real problem here – high unemployment, people losing their jobs, houses – and I think the key is to come in with the experience and where I am in my life and give it . . . to engage people sincerely, with empathy, with patience and we’ll do the best job we can.

THE POSTSCRIPT

And at the end of that time, I believe, whether it takes two or three months or four or five months, the people in this state are going to understand these are the choices and we’ll make whatever choices we have to make to align the spending with the revenues, because that’s what we gotta do that the end of the day.

The real motto here, which is the motto of the Oakland Military Institute, is age quod agis – which is “do what you are doing.” Do that which you are doing, focus on it entirely. And I’m going to focus on this budget like a laser beam . . . because the spectacle of a failed state is scaring away business investment . . . So I want to wrestle the budget to the ground, get it in shape, then [develop] a work-out plan,  that while it will take several years, the framework will be there to inspire confidence. That’s my goal.

CALBUZZ CAVEAT

You can admire Brown’s earnestly expressed commitment to ensuring that every legislator — Democrats and Republicans alike — has a stake in solving the budget crisis in Sacramento. But there’s problem in all this. If past is prologue, a substantial cadre of Republican legislators have made it clear — as Abel Maldonado told us they did in caucus last year — that they don’t want to solve California’s budget crisis. They’d rather see the state face bankruptcy, to hasten the dismantling of government. In other words, no matter how good his intentions may be, Brown (or any governor) may face an immovable ideological object that cannot be cajoled, cadiddled or otherwise convinced to participate in fixing the budget mess.