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Posts Tagged ‘Joe Garafoli’



Secret Battle on Pinocchio Hat; Flash Nixes Tax Vote

Friday, January 28th, 2011

Now it can be told: At a crucial point in the race for governor, an internal campaign debate among Jerry Brown’s top advisers broke out over a hard-hitting TV ad that portrayed Republican rival Meg Whitman as Pinocchio, Calbuzz has learned.

The key tactical question at stake in the behind-the-scenes political battle: Whether or not to put a little yellow Tyrolean hat with a golden feather on top of eMeg’s head in the spot.

We’re not making this up.

In a wide-ranging investigation, our Department of High-Impact Probes and Overstuffed File Cabinets ferreted out the story via a series of confidential interviews with High-Powered Political Sources.

Because of the extreme sensitivity of the matter, Calbuzz scrupulously applied Bob Woodward’s rules for wide-ranging investigations, promising our sources anonymity in exchange for their pledges of candor, with the agreement that we would tell the story in the omniscient third-person voice, with direct quotations more or less aligned with reality.

Sources gave this account:

Shortly after Labor Day, Whitman unleashed an ad with Bill Clinton hitting Brown on his most vulnerable soft spot saying he was a tax-and-spend liberal who could not be trusted. Brown compounded the problem by insulting Clinton’s proclivities at a public event. But after Brown apologized to Clinton for his loose lips, Elvis put out a statement saying the charge he’d made in the 1992 debate clip Whitman was using was in fact based on an erroneous CNN report.

Newspapers, TV and radio outlets and online sites all reported that the Whitman ad was simply not true. But eMeg stood by the ad, arguing that it was accurate. Brown’s people needed to say Whitman was lying — in the nicest possible way, of course.

No Relation to Steve Glazer

Their consensus on how to answer, suggested by adman David Doak, was a 15-second spot that pictured eMeg as Pinocchio, with her nose growing during the ad to the size of a baseball bat, as a narrator recounted some of the lies she was telling about Brown.*

The ad was quickly produced by Joe Trippi’s shop with the enthusiastic endorsement of candidate Brown (who to this day never tires of claiming credit for it, or of confronting complete strangers to demand they tell him whether they saw it during the campaign) through the use of not-very-sophisticated graphics technology that made Meg’s nose get longer and longer.

Then the trouble began.

When the media team turned in the ad, alarm bells went off in the head of campaign manager Steve Glazer. He was deeply troubled by one crucial detail: was placing the little yellow hat on Meg’s head too demeaning to her?

Demeaning?” one source who liked the ad replied to Glazer’s question. “Steve, we’re making her nose grow four feet – how could it be more demeaning than that?”

Still, when Glazer’s concern was communicated to Brown and his wife, Anne Gust, Brown’s Oakland command ordered up another version of the spot that did not have the little hat on Meg’s head.

“You gotta be kiddin’ me,” one source thought to himself.

Nonetheless, alternative versions were produced, as the difficult question – hat or no hat – continued to divide Team Brown. Finally, a coast-to-coast conference call was convened, and the issue was put directly to Brown’s most senior media strategist.

“Do you think the hat is too demeaning?” he was asked.

Long seconds passed, while the fate of the entire Brown effort – along with the future of California – hung in the balance.

“No,” the Washington-based strategist said.

The rest is history.

The ad went on the air on September 14, and Meg’s negatives kept growing and growing, not unlike her Pinocchio nose, as Brown steadily built a lead. The most astonishing thing about the story may be that the Armies of Whitman did not issue a snarky statement about the hat — practically the only thing they didn’t whine about during the entire race.

* (For the record, the ad was actually kind of a rip-off of our oft-used Pinocchio-Meg graphic, not to mention totally derivative of a stock campaign ad that goes back to at least 1988).

Redeveloping redevelopment: Tom Meyer today nails the full-on absurdity of the outrage over the governor’s move to shutter the operations of local redevelopment agencies that’s being voiced by local political hacks and real estate developers across the state.

Armed with the new PPIC poll, which shows two-thirds of Californians agree with him on the issue, Brown is playing a strong political hand, notwithstanding the heavy breathing and harrumphing by a coalition of mayors who called on him this week to protest the long overdue bid to end the redevelopment scam of skimming property tax revenues for the purpose of empire building and skid greasing for way too many sleazy projects in which oleaginous developers and greedy politicians engage in mutual back scratching in an atmosphere of soft corruption.

Latest evidence of how we’ll all manage to do just fine without redevelopment’s ’50s- and ’60s-era land use theory and practice comes in a dandy piece by Jim Miller of the Press-Enterprise.

In an impressive display of Actual Reporting, Miller checked the mandated state reports filed by a batch of agencies and found they “list few, if any, jobs created and little in the way of new construction or building rehabilitation.” Best stuff: the hemming and hawing by officials desperate to explain away the story told by the very documents they filed themselves, including this gem from John Shirey, president of the (all rise) California Redevelopment Association:

Unfortunately, those reports often get filled out by finance people because most of the report is financial,” Shirey said. “Finance people, they’re not in sales. They don’t take advantage of the chance to put down accomplishments.

“If it doesn’t get picked up by the redevelopment staff, then you see what you see, which is a lot of blanks,” he said.

So we see.

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No-diversity university: Here’s how bad the sexism was at last weekend’s big Berkeley conference on the governor’s race: Even Calbuzz noticed.

Somewhere between the first panel, featuring eight white guys, and the final panel, featuring seven white guys, we took a demographic stroll through the lineups for all of the two days of presentations. Counting panelists and moderators, here are the stats:

31 men
5 women
34 white people
2 minorities

Apparently, we weren’t alone in raising our untrimmed eyebrows at the disconnect between the conference population and that of, you know,  California. Soon after the event ended, some pretty pissed off political women started posting this video on their Facebook pages, and it’s now careening far and wide across the internets.  More from the estimable Joe Garafoli.

Flash tells why Brown’s tax measure should not be on the ballot

In response to the post on Calbuzz last week arguing that lawmakers should place on the ballot Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to extend, for five years, certain tax increases that were passed in 2009, we asked our friend Jon Fleischman, editor and publisher of the conservative FlashReport (whom we likened to a feudal yeoman), to present the other side. Here’s his argument.

The main reason why legislators should not put a tax increase measure on the ballot is that raising taxes is a bad idea, and the idea of placing a measure before voters in essence plays “kick the can” for four or five months, when problems should be addressed now.

Based on the fact that voters rejected the last seven tax-increase measures before them, and in fact rejected these exact tax increases (but for a shorter duration) in a 2009 special election, the Legislature should not be going to the public again. This is a democratic republic, and our elected representatives should do their jobs.

It is also important to look at the politics of a special election on raising taxes. The reality is that all of the various special interest groups (with the state’s cash-heavy public employee unions at the front of the line) will spend literally tens of millions of dollars to influence voters.

It will be a full-scale effort to use any means possible to connive overtaxed Californians into taxing themselves even more. Unfortunately the ability of taxpayer protection groups to raise the kinds of funds it takes to seriously debunk the landslide of misleading ads is very limited. That is why it is critical to hold the line against a ballot measure at all costs.

An additional consideration for Republican legislators is that after seven years of Arnold Schwarzenegger being the top Republican in the state (we saw some of the effects of the impact of that this last November), we need to restore the brand name of the Grand Old Party. Once a party that voters knew would oppose higher taxes, now that message is unclear. Nothing could be more damaging to a party trying to regain relevance that to abandon such a core issue.

You can be absolutely certain that a well-financed campaign for those tax increases on a special election ballot would make a huge deal over the “bi-partisan cooperation” to place the tax increase before voters. It would completely undermine the ability of the minority party to make the case for making a change in who is in charge of the Capitol.

If the left wants the public to vote on higher taxes, they can qualify a ballot measure (the unions can do that with just a fraction of their campaign funds). But at least if they go that route, it will be made clear to voters that Republicans had no part in it.

DiFi Shocker: Whadya Mean She’s Not Running?!?!?

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Feinstein shocker: We were floored – floored! – at Dianne Feinstein’s announcement in Orange County Tuesday that she’s decided not to run for governor.

Not because she turned thumbs down on the campaign, but because as a Convent of the Sacred Heart girl, we expected she would have the grace and courtesy to hold off until the official first anniversary of the piece with which we launched Calbuzz – “Why Dianne Feinstein Won’t Run for Governor” – so we could mark the momentous occasion in a properly flamboyant manner.

Madeline Sophie Barat would be soooo disappointed in you, Dianne.

We did, however, get a kick out of the world-weary tone of Dena Bunis, the Register’s DC chef de bureau, in reporting the news:

I don’t know anyone in political circles who really thought Feinstein was going to give up the chairmanship of the Intelligence Committee – she’s the first woman to hold that post – to try for another run for California’s chief executive.

Ha! Excuse us while we build a stadium big enough to hold our laughter. Yeah right, no brilliant California cognoscenti insiders had that thought for a second – which is why stories speculating about DiFi jumping into the race got recycled through the California press (and blogosphere) with the regularity of the garbage guys picking up the cans on Monday morning. Sheesh.

There we were, out on the limb, as everyone from Costco Carla to the Oracle of Cruickshank seemed hell bent on sawing off our perch just to see if they could send us crashing to the ground. (Memo to Scott Sabatini at examiner.com: We’ll take our Momo’s martinis very dry).

What’s the matter – Larry King wasn’t available? So after months of bashing Meg Whitman for spending all her time talking to national media types instead of the greasy grubs of the California political press corps, Steve Poizner now decides to nominate a couple of Beltway Wise Guys to moderate the one and only debate he knows he’ll get with the elusive eMeg.

In a letter to the New Majority, the band of fat cats who are sponsoring the debate on March 15, Poizner campaign manager Jim Bognet tells the group’s leaders they have “an opportunity to raise the profile of the New Majority and you are in the rare position to garner significant statewide coverage for the event. “

Fortunately, two well-known and respected journalists have already expressed interest in moderating the debate:

–Juan Williams, Fox News and National Public Radio
–Mark Halperin, Time Magazine and Author of “Game Change”

We feel strongly that this debate should be viewed by as many Californians as possible and involving either of these journalists would greatly increase the likelihood of national cable news coverage or statewide coverage from network affiliates. Having this debate widely televised is key to giving Republican voters across the state the opportunity to learn about the candidates.

You gotta be kiddin’, Bognet. Putting aside the most obvious choice for neutral, well-informed, if not well-groomed, moderators (we name no names) there’s a whole batch of distinguished California types who’d not only do a superb job of making the trains run on time for the TV cameras, but actually know something about  state issues. Think John Diaz, Jack Kavanagh and Warren Olney for starters, not to mention the esteemed Dr. P.J. Hackenflack who, we have on strong authority, is free that evening.

At least she’s consistent: Joe Garafoli’s tape of eMeg cutting and running after one question from the reporters who showed up to cover her Baja Commonwealth Club appearance in Lafayette the other night is an instant classic. Although the quality of the video is only slightly worse than a 7-11 security camera might get of the guy cadging cookies over in Aisle 3, the spectacle of Whitman being hustled away, as if being chased by hyenas, while Costco Carla is in mid-follow-up mode, is priceless.

The volcanic Sara Pompei, one of the cutters-and-runners featured in the tape, insists eMeg is getting a bad rap on the whole she’s-afraid-to-talk-to-informed-reporters meme, noting that the candidate doled out a couple minutes each to several Bay Area TV types this week, including our old friend Hank Plante, who managed a couple nuggets out of her, including her claim that she can identify $15 billion in savings in the budget.

(Hey Meg, here’s a thought: If you really know where to trim $15 billion why not send a note to H.D. Palmer over in Finance and tell the poor, ignorant bastard where he’s overlooking the obvious savings that you, in all your wisdom, have divined.)

Even as eMeg starts to ease into talking to reporters who actually live here, however, communications director Tucker Bounds let the cat out of the bag in talking to Steve Harmon of  the CoCo Times:

The simple truth is this: California voters watch their local TV news a lot more than they read their local newspaper, and as a result, Meg Whitman has been interviewing with local newscasts at virtually every stop along the campaign trail.

Wait ’til the by-God L.A. Times reads that!

Foy coy no longer: Few Californians statewide have likely heard of Ventura County Supervisor Peter Foy, but his endorsement of Poizner this week was a nice little pick-up for The Commish. A darling of the Tea Party set, the name of the conservative Foy was widely batted about early this year as a possible movement conservative to challenge the squishes Poizner and Whitman.

The endorsement of the pro-life Foy will capture the attention of right-wing believers among GOP insiders, folks who actually work on political campaigns:

As much as anything else, we need to have confidence in our governor and a belief in the values and principles he or she will bring to the job. But I ask you today to consider something perhaps even more important: We must also evaluate the judgment and instinct of our candidate and give special consideration to how they will approach those challenges and circumstance we do not foresee today. Whatever the issue, I am confident Steve Poizner will not veer off the conservative course.

Unlike a certain Van Jones-loving, Delta Smelt-coddling, Barbara Boxer kissy-pooing, other so-called Republican he could name but chooses not to in the event she wins the nomination.

In other news: Don Ringe today presents an exclusive interview with Sarah Palin, opining why Foy would have been just the ticket for the state GOP.

Never trust Husband #9: The AP finally tumbled to the fact that “Prince” Frederic van Anhalt, ninth spouse of Zsa Zsa Gabor, has decided to throw his crown into the ring as an independent candidate for governor.

Those who think he’s just another amusing goofball candidate, may wish to check out his background, chronicled in graphic detail by TMZ here, here and here.

Lingerie to Lite Gov: Top 10 Quotes of the Week

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

From the Saints’ Superbowl win to the smash mouth campaigns for governor and Senate and the Assembly’s goal line stand against Abel Maldonado’s nomination for lite gov, it was a week of thrills and spills in spectator sports of all kinds. Here’s a look at the most memorable things anyone said about what happened.

We’re going to take a hiatus on this issue.
- Jim Wunderman, CEO of the Bay Area Council, pulling the plug on the group’s planned initiative to convene a state constitutional convention, because of a lack of money.

It would mean a great deal to Bikram if, in lieu of giving him a birthday gift,that you instead make a donation to Jerry Brown’s 2010 Exploratory Committee for Governor of the State of California.
–Invitation for a birthday celebration tonight from multi-millionaire yoga mogul Bikram Choudury, creator of Bikram Yoga, in which practitioners – including California’s Attorney General – perform a series of poses in a room heated to 105 degrees.

It’s just incredible. The Legislature is broken. It’s chaos.
Sen. Abel Maldonado, discovering news that stays news, one day after the Assembly, more or less, rejected Gov. Schwarzmuscle’s nomination of him as lieutenant governor.

It is now very clear that the entire Republican Party must unite behind Meg’s campaign. We have an outstanding party standard bearer. Since last summer, Meg has led among GOP voters in every independent poll by enormous margins, and those same polls show that she is the strongest Republican candidate against Jerry Brown.
Former Governor and Meg Whitman campaign chairman Pete Wilson, attempting to cancel the June 7 primary, and forgetting the oldest cliches in politics:  “The only poll that matters is the one on election day.”

I’ll pay you with a pair of autographed panties.
Angelyne, famous-for-being famous L.A. billboard model and newbie candidate for governor, thanking Chronicler Joe Garafoli for explaining the meaning of the word “secession” to her.

What did Tom Campbell know and when did he know it?
Julie Soderlund, campaign manager for Carly Fiorina, getting waaayyy carried away with an unconfirmed report that rival Campbell cut a sleazy deal with Whitman to switch from the campaign for governor to Senate.

Just one thing – what’s NASCAR?
Calbuzzer Cicero, channeling Steve Poizner after our memo recommending The Commish go down-scale blue collar in his bid for the Republican nomination for governor.

Before last night, I never really understood how horrible and unfair it must be to be a man. Having a job. Dressing oneself and taking out the recycling. Practicing basic human hygiene. A devastating existence made more trying by the presence of a demanding, overbearing woman. You might even have to carry her lip balm. The horror.
–Huffpost bloggers Jehmu Greene and Shelby Knox bemoaning a series of anti-feminist Superbowl ads featuring henpecked husbands.

Change out of that skirt, Jason.
–Sportscaster Jim Nantz, narrating a Superbowl Ad in which a guy goes lingerie shopping with his girlfriend instead of watching the game.

We were very impressed with the job her hand did at the Tea Party Convention.  And we said to ourselves, let’s give Sarah Palin’s hand a job.
–Fox News Chief Roger Ailes, as channeled by Andy Borowitz, extending a job offer to the former Republican vice-presidential nominee after she used her left palm as a cheat sheet before a live interview.