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Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Yamamura’



Maddaus on CD 36: Liberal vs Liberal vs Ultra-Liberal

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

As Secretary of State Debra Bowen jumped into the race for the 36th Congressional District race and L.A. city council member Janice Hahn added Sen. Dianne Feinstein to her long list of establishment endorsers, we heard from political writer Gene Maddaus, who took issue with some key elements of the Calbuzz early line, published last week.

Maddaus, who covers politics for the LA Weekly, is all over the campaign to succeed the departing Rep. Jane Harman day-to-day. Among his other lead-the-pack coverage – here, here and here – he broke the news of Bowen’s entry Tuesday. Here’s his take on our take of the race.

Gene Maddaus
Special to Calbuzz

1. Janice Hahn is no moderate. Along with Jose Huizar and Richard Alarcon, she is one of the three most liberal members of the (quite liberal) LA City Council. She opposed gang injunctions. She backed a $30 million tax to pay for more gang intervention workers. She is among the most likely to defend city jobs as an end in themselves. She would be a moderate in Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela, but not here.

2. The race isn’t so much about moderate vs. liberal — because Bowen and Hahn are both very liberal — as it is about a beer-track Democrat (Hahn) versus a wine-track Democrat (Bowen).

Bowen’s base is pro-choice, pro-consumer/trial lawyer, and pro-environment. Hahn’s base is labor labor labor, plus African-Americans. (That’s thanks to residual affection for Kenny Hahn, though, unfortunately for her, there aren’t many black voters in the 36th.)

If either of them is a moderate, it’s Bowen. She was a Republican in her misspent youth, and she had a reputation in the Assembly for bucking the party leadership. (Though that was probably out of necessity, since she represented a 50/50 district and the leadership was Willie Brown.)

3. The L.A. County Fed will back Hahn, and their support can be determinative in a low-turnout primary. UNITE HERE Local 11 (Maria-Elena’s old shop) endorsed Hahn last week, so the Fed can’t be far behind. Their turnout operation is justly feared/admired and union density is high in the Harbor area. Bowen’s hope would be that she can turn out wine-track Dems in the beach cities, where the Fed is less potent (ask Nick Karno in the 53rd AD) and that she can persuade independents and Republicans to back her in order to stop Hahn.

4. If anything, the jungle primary helps Bowen. Without it, Winograd and Bowen split the Westside liberal vote while Hahn has the Harbor/labor vote to herself. In the runoff, Hahn faces a token Republican. Advantage: Hahn. But with the jungle primary, Winograd gets kicked out after Round 1 and the Westside liberal vote consolidates behind Bowen. Advantage: Bowen. (Unless, of course, a Republican makes it through the runoff).

5. Both Hahn and Bowen are to the left of Harman, so now Winograd has to go even further left to maintain her brand. (Winograd’s questions for Bowen include: Will you visit Bradley Manning [the Wikileaks leaker] in solitary confinement?) A lot of that Winograd vote is anti-Harman. Not sure how seriously the electorate will take her this time around.

6. Harman said she’s resigning so the election can be consolidated with the special statewide vote on taxes. There’s a chance that this won’t cost the state any money, if a candidate gets 50% of the vote. If not, the runoff would be in August, when turnout is at its lowest and a good turnout operation is most important.

Harman also said that the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, where she’ll be taking over as executive director, approached her after the November election, because they didn’t like their first round of candidates to replace Lee Hamilton, the former Indiana congressman who’s retiring from the think tank.

The oil rig that wouldn’t die: Overlooked in much of the budget coverage that followed Kevin Yamamura’s scoop on the Legislative Analyst’s worst-case scenario report is the sudden resurfacing of the hugely contentious Tranquillon Ridge offshore oil drilling project.

Less than a year after ex-Governor Schwarzmuscle folded his long-sought effort to win approval of the Santa Barbara County coastal project, in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, analyst Mac Taylor tucked it into the new report his office prepared, which offers a detailed look at the kinds of cuts and other moves lawmakers would have to make if Governor Krusty doesn’t get his way on extending $12 billion in temporary tax hikes.

The T-Ridge project called for a new state oil lease – which would be the first since the 1969 Santa Barbara spill – authorizing the PXP oil company to drill into state waters from its existing Platform Irene facilities in federal water, more than three miles offshore from Vandenberg Air Force base.

Among a whole batch of bitter political conflicts, the proposal caused a civil war within the green community in Santa Barbara, where the environmental movement began; some, led by the Environmental Defense Center, backed the lease as part of a negotiated package they said would end future drilling in federal waters from Irene and three other platforms. Others, notably former S.B. Democratic Assemblyman Pedro Nava, said it would set a dangerous precedent that could open California’s coast to more drilling.

For Brown, the project, one of the few  budget moves in Taylor’s report that would generate new revenue, would represent a special quandary. A longtime foe of offshore drilling, Gandalf would be under pressure to back the plan, estimated to bring $100 million a year into the treasury, because of his call for shared sacrifice across the political spectrum.

“Friggin’ cats only have 9 lives,” Nava, who led the opposition to the plan in the Legislature, told Calbuzz. “This feels like at least a dozen.”

ICYMI: There’s a do-gooder move afoot to take down various video posts of the truly bizarre clip of CBS LA correspondent Serene Branson’s live report from the Grammys the other night, amid still unanswered medical questions about whether she had some kind of neurological malfunction on the air. Before it’s gone for ever, you can judge for yourself.

Press Clips: Special SOS-WWJD Edition w/o Flounder

Friday, February 4th, 2011

The Little Pulitzers: Scoop of the week honors to the inevitable Steve Harmon, first to jump on the key, unanswered question coming out of the new/old governor’s first* State of the State speech:

What Will Jerry Do if legislative Republicans stick to their irresponsible position of blocking a  measure on his $12 billion tax plan from a special election ballot?

Clearly aware that Brown has backed himself into a corner with his “no taxes without a vote,” as George Skelton sagely notes,  Harmon reports that labor groups and goons are quietly war gaming ways to punish groupthink knuckledraggers — already under double threat from the new reapportionment/top two primary rules that will reshape the political landscape of 2012 — by pressuring from the middle with some long overdue, district-by-district hardball (not to mix a metaphor):

Labor allies of Gov. Jerry Brown are actively considering backing moderate challengers in next year’s Republican legislative primary campaigns with the aim of forcing GOP incumbents to think twice about opposing Brown’s plan to push a tax extension measure on the ballot.

They are also considering ramping up direct mail efforts or door-to-door canvassing within the next several weeks in the districts of potentially vulnerable Republicans who continue to threaten to block a vote on Brown’s tax plan.

No sooner had the plugged-in Harmon used his not-for-attribution sources to stomp the competition than the redoubtable Kevin Yamamura battled back with a good second day yarn, broadening the story by getting Senate leader Darrell Steinberg and other D’s to think out loud about ways and means of forcing Reps to take ownership of the extra $12 billion in cuts that would be required if Brown’s tax plan flops.

Despite Jon Coupal’s intellectually dishonest effort to give the GOP cover by re-framing the special election debate, the plain facts are that the all-cuts crowd: 1) knows full well that whacking the $25 deficit solely with spending decreases is an unserious proposition, unless they pencil out the total budgets for higher ed and prisons, just for starters and; 2) lives in mortal terror that voters will go along with Brown’s bid to extend temporary higher tax rates, thus bringing to an abrupt end their interminable, one-note-symphony about tax cuts being the answer to all of life’s problems (and, in the process, eliminating the raison d’etre, not to mention the fat salaries, of Jarvis fetish advocates like Coupal).

Nonetheless, as the clock runs against Governor Gandalf’s March deadline to move the tax measure to the ballot, his biggest political problem remains the sad fact that a huge majority of Californians have not the slightest interest in lack the basic knowledge to follow the details and nuances of this debate, which preoccupies every waking hour of folks, like Calbuzz, who have no life.

Viz: a dandy myth-and-fact primer by the Bay Citizen’s Jonathan Weber (“Only six percent of adults can identify where the bulk of the state’s money comes from, and how it is spent”) or the more direct, people-are-really-stupid column by Dan Walters  (“Voters ignorance about budget matters a big factor”).

Costco Carla back in town: Carla Marinucci, working desperately to overcome her career-threatening blunder of missing the big Dr. Hackenflack dinner with the flimsy excuse that she was “on vacation,” partially redeemed herself in SOS week when the Little Pulitzer judges honored her with the George Gurdjieff Award for whirling dervish reporting.

The ace Chronicler’s recent, l’etat c’est moi self-appointment as CEO of Shaky Hands Productions was an enterprising if failed attempt to fake her way into the first stop on Meg Whitman’s Reinvention Tour; she didn’t let the disappointment of her brief-lived stint as a high-powered business executive, however, get in the way of quickly reaffirming her status as the best multi-platform political reporter in the state, as she and her trusty video camera were everywhere at once, finding stories that no one else had.

In the space of 21 hours and 13 minutes (you could look it up), Marinucci scored the best post-speech Silver Fox quotes about the GOP blockade of his budget proposal, scooped the world on Brown wandering into the Republicans’ well-oiled back-to-session bash and enabled the aforementioned Coupal in floating his Plan B special election trial balloon.

Whew. Inquiring minds want to know: Is the mighty Hearst Corporation paying overtime these days?

Safire’s corpse takes to spinning: Our Department of Vocabulary, Grammar and Spell Check Tune Ups was shocked – shocked! – to find Governor Brown committing a horrific crime of misusage in a Voice of the West SOS advancer: :

…if we don’t get this budget fixed, California will flounder, and it will really be a real impediment to doing all the other good things the state should be engaged in.

Flounder? Really? Seriously?

As every schoolboy knows:

5. FOUNDER vs. FLOUNDER

To founder means to sink or fail. A ship founders when it goes down–as does a company. To flounder means to act clumsily or ineffectively, or to thrash about helplessly. (As a mnemonic device, imagine a flounder on dry land, flopping about helplessly.)

~Before it finally foundered, the company floundered for several months.

Jesuit education, indeed.

Egyptology: It was John Madden who famously said “big players make big plays in big games” a lovely little homily that will apparently come as news to several of the nation’s biggest name, most overpaid, media hucksters.

While Anderson Cooper led the charge in doing Actual Reporting on the scene in Egypt, CBS diva Katie Couric spent the early days of the crisis  hard at work lavishing coca butter on her all-over tan in South Beach. To her credit, Katie finally got out of her lounge chair and made her way to Cairo — well after Brian Williams, Christiane Amanpour and other network types got there.

And the increasingly insufferable Tom Friedman, supposedly the world’s leading authority on the Mideast, was in Singapore, offering us yet another droning first person lecture about, well, we’re not sure about what, leaving it to firehorse colleague Nick Kristof to deliver the goods to Times readers.

ICYMI: We’re not sure who wrote his stuff, but Mitt Romney’s delivery of the Top 10 List on Letterman the other night was quite good, raising his score in the Calbuzz Republican Wannabe Standings by 1.4%.

Thank you, CalChannel: 20 years ago today, CalChannel started broadcasting gavel-to-gavel coverage of the California Legislature.  In celebration, they’re showing the greatest hits.

“The California Channel.” as they explain, “is an independent, non-profit public affairs cable network governed by California’s cable television industry, and modeled after the national CSPAN service. The channel’s primary mission is to provide Californians direct access to “gavel-to-gavel” proceedings of the California Legislature, and other forums where public policy is discussed, debated, and decided – all without editing, commentary, or analysis and with a balanced presentation of viewpoints. To view streaming and archived video, or to learn what station carries the California Channel on your local cable system, visit www.calchannel.com.”

Calbuzz pick: Packers 31-28.

* (The speech was technically Brown’s eighth SOS, as he was quick to remind everyone after Steinberg introduced him saying it was his seventh. Sic temper tyrannis).

Taxes and Taxidermists: Your Money At Work

Friday, January 21st, 2011

A Google search of the words “taxes” and “quotations” yields 2.3 million results, and a wide-ranging, scrupulously sketchy scientific survey shows that 95% of them fall into one of two categories: 1) traditional, if tired, sentiments of the garden variety kvetching and caterwauling mode; 2) traditional, if tired, cheap one-liners, some of which still retain their zip.

“Taxes grow without rain,” goes the Jewish proverb, which set the template for several centuries worth of bellyaching jokes by public wits, from Mark Twain (“What is the difference between a taxidermist and a tax collector?  The taxidermist takes only your skin”) to Will Rogers (“Alexander Hamilton started the U.S. Treasury with nothing and that was the closest our country has ever been to being even”) and the late, great Arthur Godfrey (“I am proud to be paying taxes in the United States. The only thing is, I could be just as proud for half of the money”).

Digging deeper into this trove of popular wisdom, however, intrepid Calbuzz researchers also discovered a handful of famous comments that posit a contrary, and now quaint, community-minded notion:

“Taxes, after all, are dues that we pay for the privileges of membership in an organized society,” said Franklin Roosevelt, a belief concisely seconded by Oliver Wendell Holmes – “I like to pay taxes – with them I buy civilization” –and thirded much more loquaciously (quite naturally, since he was French) the 18th century economist and statesman Turgot: “The expenses of government, having for their object the interest of all, should be borne by everyone, and the more a man enjoys the advantages of society, the more he ought to hold himself honored in contributing to those expenses.”

All this comes to mind as new/old Gov. Jerry Brown has stirred up a very basic, and crucially important, statewide public policy debate, namely: exactly what kind of government do Californians want and expect, and exactly how much are they willing to pay for it?

Behind all the in-the-weeds arguments about IHSS caregiver rates, CSU per-unit fees and gas tax swap extension legislation lurks the fundamental contradiction, disclosed in countless opinion surveys, that Golden State residents demand and desire a deep level of public services, while fiercely rejecting the laws of arithmetic requiring them to dig deep to finance them.

Argumentum ad populum.

As Tom Meyer illustrates today, the good citizens of Arizona have recently endured a pragmatic and painful lesson in the consequences of having a raging psychotic walking freely in their midst, not to mention brazenly buying high-powered weapons.

As recriminations and debate about who is at fault for the horror and slaughter inflicted on innocent families by Jared Loughener – Rush Limbaugh! Karl Marx! Bad parents! – taxpayer-funded government services (the kind no doubt administered by lazy, loafing bureaucrats), which once might have responded to the clear, numerous and public warning signs that the killer was mentally melting down, are scarce and getting scarcer.

“It’s a perfect storm here in Arizona,” Matt Heinz, a Tucson physician, state legislator and friend of the gravely wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, told the WashPost.  “Services are being slashed and burned. Potentially in the next few months we’ll be releasing thousands of folks from their relative stability. Our community resources are strapped beyond belief. And the state, which you’d think would be the safety net – we’ve lit the net on fire.”

Taxidermists, indeed.

You, too, can win big prizes: Issue driven and solution oriented, Calbuzz always aims to do our part. So today we’re presenting the first of what we hope is a series of innovative ideas from you, Our Loyal Readers, to help ease California’s fiscal woes.

Got an original idea for cutting state expenses or raising revenues? Email it to calbuzzer@gmail.com and win two – count ‘em, two! – free Calbuzz buttons with our famous redheaded-guy-with-his-finger-in-the-socket logo.

Our first Big Idea from Capitol employee Sarah Weaver:

I work a few floors above where former GAS had his smoking tent.  Now that it’s gone, I respectfully suggest that GJB should put a Zen garden down there.  The Astroturf looks weird, and I think we’d all be entertained watching him draw lines in the sand.

Entertained, hell. Let’s charge admission and rake in big bucks for the general fund!

Top honors for Sacramento scribblers: Sacbee’s Kevin Yamamura, whose daily budget coverage is a must-read, offers a good look at how some special interests are still doing well…The hypocrisy-puncturing Dan Morain calls out lawmakers who constantly bray about cutting taxes but never stop shoveling it into their pie holes with both hands while feeding at the public trough (Warning: contains large dosage of Actual Reporting)…Nice piece by Cap Weekly’s John Howard on how the Silver Fox is changing Capitol  atmospherics…Timm Herdt provides all you need to know to follow the brain-numbing debate about de-funding redevelopment agencies…Last word on the importance, or lack of same, to the Arizona massacre of Palin-style face-ripping political speech goes to Frank Rich …When nothing else will do but a good reader on the history of U.S. adventurism in Africa: Adam Hochschild on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Patrice Lumumba.

No F*&%ing Way! That’s the title and the point in a sharp new ad about the GOP attack on health care by Move On. Might not be a big hit in the heartland, but then again, maybe it strikes a chord.

Dr. H. Secret Decoder Ring Memo to Flash: Some free management advice:  Never contract out your wet work - always do it yourself. “Bet you won’t say that to my face!” Really? Seriously? Where do you find these guys – Miss Joslin’s Ding Dong School? Next up: “Wah! He hit me!”

Calbuzz picks: Steelers and Packers (pained as we are — Buckeyes — to pick either of these evil empires).