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Posts Tagged ‘Little Pulitzer’



Press Clips: Three Columns and a Bird In the Hand

Friday, October 30th, 2009

none_skelton_Score one for old school: The best columnists are first and foremost good reporters, as George Skelton proved anew this week, with a splendid 848-word takedown of Meg Whitman for the latest in her string of brazen departures from the truth. Capturing the coveted Calbuzz Little Pulitzer for Investigative Punditry,  George did an honest day’s worth of Actual Reporting to absolutely nail eMeg with a piece called “Meg Whitman’s Radio Whoppers” (memo to copy desk: nice hed).

The L.A. Timesman painstakingly demolished her phony claim that state spending has increased 80 percent in 10 years – for those keeping score at home, the true, slightly smaller, figure is, um, 27 percent:

We instinctively grant latitude to advertisers, whether they’re peddling politicians, dog food or miracle paring knives. But we do expect that an ad will not flat-out lie…

Now, in the very first series of radio ads in the 2010 gubernatorial race, comes blatant baloney from billionaire political novice Meg Whitman, the former chief executive of EBay who is running for the Republican nomination.

Blatant baloney indeed. This is now at least the third time in a few weeks that Her Megness has been exposed as an almost total stranger to the truth. After her ceaseless dissembling about her disgraceful voting record and the bald-faced lie she told conservative radio yakker Eric Hogue in promising to debate Steve Poizner three times before winter, this latest bit of stinky cheese has the full aroma of something rancid.

As we used to say at the city desk, if it happens once it’s news, twice it’s a coincidence and three times, it’s a trend.

vidablueWeintraub Watch: Ahem, ahem (sound of ponderous throat-clearing):

The last time California elected a governor who was pro-life, Ronald Reagan was president, Vida Blue was pitching for the San Francisco Giants and Gavin Newsom, now San Francisco’s mayor, was a sophomore at the University of Santa Clara . It was 1986 when George Deukmejian beat Tom Bradley in a re-match of their 1982 nail-biter.

We offer that ersatz column lede as an antidote to this unfortunately real one:

“The last time California elected a governor from Northern California, John F. Kennedy was president, the San Francisco Giants had just won their first National League pennant, and Gavin Newsom, now San Francisco’s mayor, had not been born. It was 1962 when Gov. Edmund G. Brown won a second term by defeating Richard M. Nixon.”

Now, Calbuzz is simply delighted that Dan Weintraub got himself a forum in the ByGodAllMighty New York Times (even if only in the NYT’s skimpy Bay Area pages), but we really wish he’d borrow a page from Skelton’s book and do some actual reporting so he could write something relevant about California politics.

The stop-the-presses premise of last Sunday’s column – that the state in 2010 will elect a governor from Northern, not Southern, California – is nothing but fluffy flapdoodle. (Especially when, just the week before, Weintraub teed up a chin-stroker quoting a top legislator as saying, “The whole Northern California versus Southern California frame is so 1980s. It’s different now”).

Lest this seem unduly harsh, we hasten to add that we, of all people, understand how truly difficult it is to come up with ONE COLUMN A WEEK(!!!). Because we’re collegial and collaborative fellows who understand that There Is No “I” in T-E-A-M, here are some suggested ledes for future – strange but true! – political anomaly columns:

1-The 2010 governor’s race is the first in memory in which 60 percent of the candidates have first names with five letters  while only 40 percent have three, The Times has learned.

2-Next year’s election will mark the sixth consecutive contest for governor of California without a strong Armenian-American in the field, according to veteran political professionals on this coast.

3-For only the third time this century, a gubernatorial campaign will be conducted without a contender named Angelides strongly positioned to win his party’s nomination, sources said.

You could look it up.

joe_matthews280x350

Going, going, con-con: Our Department of Drill Down Policy Analysis and Professional Wonkery  is still working its way with a yellow highlighter through the 8,000 words of the second of two initiatives sponsored by the Bay Area Council aimed at convening a constitutional convention in California.

While awaiting what we like to call their work product deliverable, we deduce that the best online package put together on the proposals to date  may be found over at Fox and Hounds, where proprietor Joel Fox, the estimable Joe Mathews and the inevitable John Wildermuth cobbled together an examination of the matter from various perspectives.

The reliably nimble Mathews piece,which posits a batch of not-so-frequently-asked questions, is the best place to start, as he gets elbow deep in the crankcase grease of the thing, and pulls out some surprising spare parts:

So what’s not on the table?

Raising or reducing taxes and fees. Specifically, the convention’s revisions, amendments or suggested statutory changes “may not include new language, or alter existing language, that (1) directly imposes or reduces any taxes or fees; (2) sets the frequency at which real property is assessed or re-assessed; or (3) defines “change in ownership’ as it relates to any tax or fee.’”

Are you kidding?

It was just a few months ago that Calbuzz was defending con con sponsors in their dispute with Capitol Weekly, which had reported that Bay Area Council types were quietly maneuvering to banish debate about Proposition 13 from the convention agenda. Now it appears CapWeekly had it right along.

middle_fingerA Middle Finger Scoop: Mega-kudos to Tim Redmond, our mildly eccentric old friend at the SF Bay Guardian, who scooped the world with his blog post demonstrating that Governor Schwarzmuscle had issued a veto message about one of SF Assman Tom Ammiano’s bills that spelled out “I Fuck You” with the first letter of the first word in nine consecutive lines.

When we emailed Redmond (who apparently was not wearing a Dr, Hackenflack decoder ring) how he’d cracked the code, he said:

Honestly, I got a tip to look at it (as you know, once you’ve been doing this for 25 years people call with all kinds of stuff), and once you look at it it’s pretty clear. Amazing, huh?

Absolutely bro. Another amazing thing was that rival news organizations jumped in to follow Redmond’s scoop, rather than pooh-poohing it or pretending it didn’t exist, in direct violation of traditional San Francisco journalistic practice. The consistently quick off the mark S.F. Weekly, the Guardian’s chief rival, came back with its own scoop, reporting that a top  mathematician put the odds at  1 in 2 billion that the governor’s salute to Ammiano was a coincidence, while the dry-witted John Diaz at the Chron used the same technique to embed his own secret message to the governor (“grow up girlie-man”) in an editorial tut-tutting at Arnold for the stunt.

Good times.

Press Clips: And Now, the Calbuzz “Little Pulitzers”

Friday, September 4th, 2009

leomccarthyChecking Arnold’s respirations: The late, great Speaker Leo Tarcissus McCarthy, who also served three terms as Lieutenant Governor, used to joke, sort of, that his chief duty was to get up in the morning, make sure the governor was still breathing, then go back to bed.

With incumbent Lite Gov John Garamendi apparently headed for Congress after skunking the field in the 10th CD special the other night, speculation abounds about who the Terminator might pick to replace him (of which the weirdest is the strange-bedfellow suggestion by state Demo chair John Burton that Republican and ex-L.A. Mayor Dick Riordan would make a fine seat-warmer).

For our money, however, the estimable Joe Mathews is on the right track, in this piece excavated from the files of Fox & Hounds, to wit: Does California really need a lieutenant governor? The 30 employees of the office are no doubt Fine People and Great Americans, and the $3 million they cost is a decidedly modest amount, but bottom line? How much would taxpayers really suffer from cutting back our delegation to the Shanghai Wine and Cheese Exposition ?

suehortonThree Dot Awards: This week’s Calbuzz “Little Pulitzer” prize for High-Impact Performance goes to Sue Horton, indefatigable editor of the op-ed page at the By God L.A. Times, who scooped the world by landing a piece by online TV journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee, their first since being released from captivity in North Korea…

Best of  Show for the week’s political reporting goes to Merc Newsman Mike Zapler for his sharp piece on how Hewlett-Packard peddled millions of dollars of electronics to Iran, in violation of U.S. trade policy, under the fine leadership of Hurricane Carly Fiorina…

nancy

Top Honors in the investigative category go to the Contra Costa Times for compiling and publishing a data base with the salaries of 134,000 public employees in the Bay Area, including a whopping $876,831 paid to one Nancy Farber for running the tiny Washington Township public health care district in southern Alameda County; turns out the district employs four of the top 10 salaried folks in the survey. Talk about your Cadillac health care – now there’s the place you wanna get sick.  Or hired.

And the coveted “If It’s News, It’s News to Us” prize to the Sacto B-, for waking up from a long and snuggly nap to breathlessly report that Steve Westly “unequivocally” isn’t running for governor, more than two weeks after the Calbuzz knock down of that silly rumor peddled by Willie Brown in the, um, news pages of the Chron. This just in to the Bee: World War II Unequivocally Over!

george_lakoffAnd another thing, Barack: We’re drowning in blog posts offering earnest, unctuous and cheap, bad advice to the president about what he should, shouldn’t, did and didn’t do in selling health care reform to the nation. As he prepares to deliver a crucial speech on the subject at a special joint session of Congress next week, one of the few pieces worth perusing comes from George Lakoff, noted  Bezerkley chrome dome and author of several books on how language shapes perception. The piece by Lakoff, who’s the (all rise) Richard and Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at Cal, is even longer than his title, but well worth the effort.

Homer_British_Museum

Context on context: David Dayen, world’s most prolific blogger, takes a brief time-out from accepting online journalism awards to message from his perch at Calitics that he’s certain we misstated the context of now-infamous comments by Bert Stead, self-proclaimed “right-wing terrorist” at Rep. Wally Herger’s town hall meeting. Says the Dayen of Delphi:

“The right-wing terrorist” comment is a ‘vamp’ – but on a report delivered by the Department of Homeland Security back in April on right-wing terrorism, which conservatives howled about and eventually forced a retraction. Because conservative extremists have never resorted to violence to make their political points (Holocaust museum, Jim Adkisson in Tennessee, Tim McVeigh). Conservatives have been wearing the label as a badge of honor since April. Here’s a site that started in May. ”

So noted.