Posts Tagged ‘oil drilling’

Barbour Flirts with CA Press, Ducks Key Questions

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

In a brief fly-by media avail, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour on Saturday ducked two of the more contentious issues facing any Republican seeking the GOP nomination for president in California: oil drilling off the California coast and a path to citizenship for immigrants living and working here illegally.

Before a dinner speech to the California Republican Party meeting in Sacramento, Barbour (who says he’ll decide on running for president by the end of April) took questions for about 10 minutes from reporters, demonstrating his masterful ability to respond without answering.

Asked about his stance on a path to citizenship, Barbour first cut off and argued with the premise of a question from San Francisco Chronicle reporter Carla Marinucci, who began, “You lobbied for the government of Mexico on the issue of amnesty and a path to citizenship . . . ”

“Actually, your facts are incorrect,” he said, saying his firm (but not he) had lobbied for the American Trucking Association in an attempt to ensure that American trucks would not be prohibited from Mexico if truckers had to return home before getting their visas renewed.

Not only is that version harshly at odds with documented reporting, which shows Barbour personally was a lobbyist for the Mexican government and helped push for more lenient treatment of Mexican nationals seeking to remain in the United States (which his critics called “amnesty”), but it also side-stepped the real question – which Calbuzz asked in a follow-up: Where does he stand on the issue of providing a path to citizenship?

“First, we have to close the border,” Barbour replied “Once we have a closed and secure and controlled border, then you can start talking about what should we do and what shouldn’t we do. But I can tell you, there’s not going to be any agreement among Americans until we close the border.”

In other remarks, Barbour has gone further, saying that whatever is decided, it cannot include “amnesty.”

When we tried another approach – “Is it your position that until the borders are closed, you cannot support a path to citizenship?” – Barbour replied:

“I don’t think there should be any attempt at overall immigration reform until the border’s closed. Now, there’s one thing that’s not part of the greater sort of broader immigration reform and that’s H1B visas. We ought to have a whole lot more H1B visas in the United States.

“It is silly for us to take these very, very bright young people from other countries that come here to go to school and they get great educations, PhDs, whatever, and then we make ‘em go home. We ought to make it easy for ‘em to stay here because we’re in a global battle for talent in the United States as well as a global battle for capital. So we need to do everything we can do to be the place where all the best talent in the world wants to come.”

He cut off another follow-up from Calbuzz that began, “What about housekeepers…”

We also asked whether he’d like to see more oil drilling off the coast of California and Barbour again took a duck:

“I’d like to see more drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico. Thirty percent of the oil produced in the United States  year before last come out of the Gulf of Mexico. Now we have a permatorium on the Gulf of Mexico drilling. The administration, now that gasoline has shot up, is saying ‘oh well we’ve given two permits in the last two weeks.’ Well, if you look at the fine print, the two permits are not for new wells to be drilled, they’re permits to resume drilling on wells that had already been started more than a year ago.”

What about here?

“I don’t know enough about it here. What I do know about is the Gulf because we have been drilling oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico for 50 years – 31,000 oil wells. And the United States depends on that production, a lot of people in my part of the country worry about the loss of jobs.

“Well, I do too. But more than that I worry about how when we reduce the amount of petroleum we produce in the United States it makes us more reliant on foreign oil and every president since 1973 has had a policy to try to make us less dependent on foreign oil . So stopping drilling in the Gulf, taking lands off line in Alaska, fighting the bringing in of tar sands produced oil in Canada – all of these things are contrary to a country that needs more American energy. And that’s what our policy should be – more American energy.”

Big Oil’s Hazardous Landscape on AB 32 Repeal

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

By Warner Chabot
Special to Calbuzz

When Texas oil refiners Valero and Tesoro were contemplating whether to buy their way onto the California ballot last winter, they envisioned a ripe environment for their proposition to repeal the state’s clean energy and air standards: skyrocketing unemployment rates, a Tea Party-inspired anti-regulation backlash, and increased skepticism about the science of global warming fueled by the rants of right-wing talking heads Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.

Sure, the state’s landmark climate law (AB 32) was popular – with 66 percent approval in a PPIC poll and 58 percent in the Field Poll. Yes, Attorney General Jerry Brown had saddled the initiative with a deadly accurate but inconvenient title and summary (“Suspends Air Pollution Control Laws Requiring Major Polluters to Report and Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions”). And, of course, the then-cheerleaders for the ballot initiative weren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer: gadfly Ted Costa (who has since announced his opposition to the measure after being pushed aside) and first-term Republican Assemblyman Dan Logue.

But initiative strategist Mark Carpenter, a former tobacco lobbyist who fought California’s indoor smoking laws, apparently convinced the companies that those obstacles could be overcome by the deep pockets of Big Oil. After all, the $50 million or so it would take to win the campaign was chump change for an oil company that had just upped its CEO’s salary to $10.9 million, a 64 percent increase from the prior year.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the ballot.

In late April, some 1.7 million gallons of oil began gushing from a British Petroleum well in the Gulf of Mexico each day. Horrified Californians continue to be exposed daily to images of brown pelicans soaked in black oil, tar balls washing up on beaches, and devastated local economies.

That’s not exactly good PR for a ballot measure being bankrolled with $2 million from oil companies, including California offshore driller Venoco Inc. Cases in point: the immediate sharp decline in support for offshore oil drilling in California, according to a Los Angeles Times/USC poll and the defeat of a local measure to allow Venoco to begin slant drilling into the Santa Barbara channel.

Or look to the state Senate District 15 special election, as environmental champion and drilling opponent John Laird points out Assemblyman (and former Exxon employee) Sam Blakeslee’s support of the controversial Tranquillon Ridge oil drilling project.

Being associated with oil companies is political death this year.

On top of that, voters are beginning to focus on the economic downside of America’s addiction to oil. That is driving a renewed push in the nation’s capital for federal action to support a clean energy economy.

So it was no surprise then that President Obama bee-lined to California, the nation’s leader in renewable energy development, when he wanted to connect the dots between investment in clean energy and the oil spill. He put a bright national spotlight on AB 32’s renewable energy requirements, the driving force behind more than 500,000 clean tech jobs and $9 billion in solar, wind, and other renewable energy projects being built in California.

If the oil spill wasn’t bad enough for Valero’s fortunes, last week’s primary election results might be even more problematic. Two special interest propositions were dismissed by voters despite record-shattering spending by their corporate sponsors.

That will throw a wrench in Carpenter’s calculus for winning, which includes spending up to $50 million branding the oil company measure as a “jobs initiative.”

Voters and the media already are seeing through that fog, noting that it is a deceptive measure that has little to do with employment and everything to do with allowing the company to bypass pollution laws.

And no one is buying that the ballot measure is just a “temporary” suspension of the law either – particularly when the once-in-a-blue-moon economic conditions it specifies (banning implementation of the law unless the statewide unemployment rate exceeds 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters) have occurred just three times in the past 30 years.

It’s just that kind of deception that doomed Props 16 and 17.

The Valero initiative could well be strike three for special interest ballot measures, particularly because its high-profile CEO makes Enron’s Ken Lay and BP’s Tony Haywood look like church mice.

Valero chief exec Bill Kleese – recently named to MSNBC’s “Mad Money” Hall of Shame – dismisses climate change legislation as “alarmist.” He’s taken a lead role as chief attack dog in battling clean energy policy at the national scale as Chairman of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association. He also is the brains behind the AstroTurf “Voices for Energy” effort supporting Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s effort to strip EPA of its right to regulate greenhouse gases. (That measure failed in the U.S. Senate last week.).

Meanwhile, Republican and Democratic candidates alike are distancing themselves from the Big Oil initiative.

Meg Whitman, not wanting to give Jerry Brown further ammunition in the gubernatorial campaign, has refused to endorse it (as has Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado). Whitman’s distancing herself from the ballot measure comes despite her call for a one-year moratorium on AB 32. She’s declined to embrace an oil company-backed proposal unpopular among her Silicon Valley supporters, as well as suburban decline-to-state voters she views as key to victory in November.

Candidate Brown has come out strongly against the measure. Running against Big Oil, corporate special interest measures, and fat cat CEOs are all key components in the Brown playbook, and opposing the Dirty Energy Initiative fits nicely into that narrative.

It looks as if Big Oil picked the wrong time and the wrong place for this fight.

Warner Chabot is CEO of the California League of Conservation Voters

Memorial Day: Mystery, Militarism, Meg’s Mendacity

Monday, May 31st, 2010

Remind me again why we’re firing up the barbie? With best Memorial Day wishes, our Dustbin of History Department’s Division of  Holiday Research unearths this entry from the May 25, 2009 edition:

Limbering up for some rigorous holiday chillin’, Calbuzz made a quick online check to find the origin of Memorial Day, figuring we’d just casually…drop it in…to the barbecue conversation; as with most things political, however, the answer came neither quickly nor clearly, as it turns out bragging rights are in dispute and break down along red state-blue state lines.

The holiday formerly known as Decoration Day was started by freed slaves in celebration of Union soldiers who died in prison camps, according to Newsweek, but a Purdue history professor in a new book traces it to Southern ladies honoring Confederate troops. The official, establishment version, promulgated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has it both ways, stating that Yankees and Rebs alike got flowers on their graves at Decoration Day I in 1868. Maybe we won’t mention it after all.

Not sure how the NYT missed this one: Mega-kudos to Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., who appears to be one of the few politicians in America to use Memorial Day as an opportunity to think seriously about the costs and benefits of our current military policy.

Beyond the 5,000 lives of American service members that have been lost in Iraq – seven years after W. strutted across that carrier deck – and Afghanistan – launched Oct. 7, 2001 -Schakowsky reports that, as of Sunday, the nation has spent $1 trillion – (twelve zeros cq) – on the two conflicts:

This month, we mark the seventh anniversary of President Bush’s declaration of “mission accomplished” in Iraq, yet five American soldiers have been killed there in May alone. Iraqis went to the polls nearly three months ago, but the political system remains so fractured that no party has been able to piece together a coalition. There are some indications that sectarian violence is again on the rise.

The only clear winner of the Iraq war is Iran. Their mortal enemy, Saddam Hussein, was taken out and fellow Shiites are in charge. Iran has been emboldened to the point of threatening the stability of the region and the world with its growing nuclear capability.

And then there’s Afghanistan, which, after nearly a decade of war, represents the longest continuous U.S. military engagement ever. Even the non-partisan Congressional Research Service recently declared the situation in Afghanistan as a “deteriorating security situation and no comprehensive political outcome yet in sight.” And the U.S. military just suffered its 1,000th casualty in Afghanistan on Friday.

So the real question is: What have we bought for $1 trillion? Are we safer? As our troops and treasure are still locked down in Iraq and Afghanistan, terrorists are training, recruiting and organizing in Somalia, Yemen and dozens of other places around the globe. While it appears that we have made significant progress in weakening Al Qaeda’s network, we have increasing concerns about homegrown terrorists.

Oil, oil everywhere: As long as we’re talking awful, intractable problems, no less a figure than Obama environment and energy adviser Carol Browner has now declared that the ongoing, day-to-day horror show of the Deepwater Horizon disaster is “probably the worst environmental disaster we’ve ever faced in this country.”

“Probably?” Really? “Probably?” Ya’ think?

On the day the offshore rig exploded and sank, we wrote that at the very least, the tragedy would doom efforts to expand offshore drilling in California’s state waters (citing the incident, Schwarzenegger gave up on his pet Tranquillon Ridge project not long after); not wanting to seem ghoulish at the time, we said it was too early then to assess the broader political implications.

It’s now clear that it is a true, catastrophic event that will have policy and political reverberations for decades to come; one thing that seems certain already is that it has inflicted serious, potentially fatal, damage to Obama’s presidency.

The White House communications operation, which already failed the president during the stimulus, health care and financial reform debates, has disgraced itself once again; combined with Obama’s too-cool-for-school personal style, the Administration’s utter failure to display a shred of forceful leadership in the crisis has not only put the lie to his claims of competence but once again undercut his promise to take back control of the government from corporate interests, leaving him to appear weak, hapless and way over his head, reminding us of nothing so much as Jimmy Carter’s impotent, failed performance during the Iran hostage crisis.

We want Hillary.

Whitman lies: Even as the L.A. Times poll has restored the mantle of inevitability to Meg Whitman’ quest for the Republican nomination for governor, it’s becoming clearer by the day that eMeg has but a passing acquaintance with the truth.

Having previously dissembled about her voting record, her residency in California, her cynical pandering on immigration, her ties to Goldman Sachs and the release of her tax returns, among other issues, Her Megness is now claiming with a straight face that she’s always opposed offshore oil drilling.

Aw, come on.

Calbuzz has asked Whitman face-to-face about offshore oil drilling twice, once on Sept. 1, 2009 and again on May 20, 2010, following the disaster in the Gulf, when she acknowledged she’d changed her position.

Here’s what she said the first time:

We have to say times have changed and we’ve got to look at this again…

I would say that when I started this process, I was against offshore oil drilling and then I began to understand deeply the new technology that is available to extract oil from existing wells – slant drilling and other things and I think we ought to look at this very carefully because there’s no question that the resources off the coast of California and other parts of the country can help us rescue our dependence on foreign oil.

Here’s what she said the second time:

Historically I was against offshore oil drilling, but I am the living example of someone who believes technology can enable you to do things you’d never dream you could do. So I wanted to look into slant drilling…and convene a group to say, you know, ‘is this possible to do with zero to minimal environmental risk?’

I will say what has happened in Louisiana I think has raised the bar on what, you know, technology is going to be able to have to do, and what we can assure ourselves of. Because, gosh, you look at what has happened in the Gulf, the economic devastation of the shrimpers, the fishermen. I mean you’re starting to see it now go on the north shore of the coast of Florida there, the hospitality industry is at risk.

So I think it has absolutely raised the bar in terms of what we would need to feel comfortable with to go forward. So right now, I’m a no on offshore oil drilling.

So, according to her own chronology, eMeg a) was “historically” against offshore drilling; b) changed her mind after she started running for governor because she “began to understand deeply the new technology that is available”; c) changed her mind again after Deepwater Horizon and is currently against coastal drilling.

For “right now,” anyway.

Team eMeg Brags on Poll; John Laird Strikes on Oil

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Meg Whitman’s top campaign strategists convened a conference call with California political writers Tuesday to claim they were on the cusp of victory in the race for the Republican nomination for governor.

Beating their chests over a new internal poll* they said shows eMeg skunking Steve Poizner by 26 points, campaign advisers Mike Murphy and Jeff Randle not only boasted of having “an integrated campaign” machine bristling with more weapons than the Empire’s Death Star but also bragged that their latest TV ads brilliantly succeeded, if they do say so themselves, in effectively vanquishing their GOP rival.

“This is quite a comeback for Meg Whitman,” Murphy said. “There’s no doubt the race is now breaking very strongly in Meg’s favor.”

Mike Murphy

Jeff and I said on the last call we did like this with you all that we would – that voters were confused – by the misleading and in many areas highly inaccurate Poizner/Democratic attack campaign and we would endeavor in the Meg Whitman campaign to unconfuse them.

And so we took a lot of action: Meg is working hard on the stump, some new television ads, some new radio ads. All of which we put into effect about two weeks ago and I’m very happy to say those ads have had an extremely positive effect. Voters are becoming unconfused…

While their triumphalist tone was slightly modulated by some CYA boilerplate – “There is no complacency in the campaign” (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) – it seemed pretty clear that Murphy and Randle genuinely believed that what they were saying is true. Which led us to wonder about one nagging question:

Why are they telling us this now?

Think about it: If you’re pitching a no-hitter, ahead by 12 runs with two outs and the bases empty in the bottom of the ninth, do you suddenly step off the rubber and scream – “I’m really, really winning by a lot now! – to the fans in the stands?

We’re just sayin’.

In seeking an explanation, Calbuzz turned to our Staff Psychiatrist, Dr. P.J. Hackenflack, who posited five possible reasons for Team Whitman’s behavior (solution below):

a) Murphy is like that guy who takes a little blue pill, then calls up his friends and starts yelling,  “Dude – it’s been FOUR HOURS, man!”

b) Henry Gomez ordered them to do it after Meg complained that all the horse people at the Woodside Starbucks were saying she hadn’t got her money’s worth for her $68 million.

c) Meg demanded that her handlers go out and explain to those ruffian reporters that the 60-second ad she had personally written had magically turned the whole thing around.

d) Murphy’s jammed up for cash, and is hoping he’ll get his $500K win bonus a little early.

e) The Whitman campaign badly wants to discourage and depress Poizner, so that he doesn’t complicate their lives in the next two weeks by going to the wallet for another $5-10 million.

Calbuzz sez: a) and e).

*McLaughlin & Associates, paid by the Whitman campaign, says the race is 53-27% after surveying 600 likely GOP primary voters May 23-24, margin of error +/- 4%.

Sam Blakeslee

Laird Draws First Blood on Blakeslee in Maldo’s Old District

If you go to Republican Sam Blakeslee’s campaign web page for the special election in what was Abel Maldonado’s SD15 you’ll find out he’s committed to schools, reforming the state budget, strengthening the economy, energy efficiency, public safety and ethics. What you won’t find is that the Assemblyman from San Luis Obispo was the No. 1 water carrier for the Tranquillon Ridge offshore oil drilling proposal.

But his Democratic opponent, John Laird of Santa Cruz, today launches a TV campaign to remind voters in the district that “even as the oil slick harms the Gulf Coast, politicians like former Exxon executive and current State Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee are still saying, ‘Drill baby, drill.’”

John Laird

Which has the effect of raising  two things Blakeslee is apparently not too keen on mentioning: 1) his background as an Exxon executive who fought for PXP’s proposal to  expand offshore oil drilling in Santa Barbara and 2) that he actually is an Assemblyman (his ballot designation will be “independent business owner”).

Blakeslee’s web site does say that after getting his PhD from UC Santa Barbara in geophysics, he “worked as a research scientist at Exxon’s research lab in Texas, where he received a patent for inventing an innovative technique for imaging geological formations. Later, he moved into management and became a strategic planner where he was responsible for creating and managing Exxon budgets.”

It doesn’t mention that he actually joined Exxon’s Production Research in the Borehole Geophysics Group. Maybe that sounds a little too much like an oil driller. (We can just see the tag line, inspired by Dianne Feinstein’s ad against Michael Huffington in 1994: “A San Luis oilman central Californians just can’t trust.”)

If you are one of those Calbuzzers who follows legislative intrigue, you may recall that we noted in September 2009 that “fingers were pointed at Blakeslee last month when Capitol Weekly disclosed that the Assembly vote on the PXP measure had been expunged from the record.” He denied it, but everyone in Sacramento was pretty sure he was the guy – as minority leader — who had the slate wiped.

Laird’s ad buy – about $350,000 in Salinas, Santa Barbara and on cable in San Jose – is likely enough to inject offshore oil drilling into the contest. Armed with a new FM3 survey showing the race a dead heat – each candidate with about a third of the vote – Laird is banking on a finding that 56% of likely special election voters are opposed to allowing more offshore oil drilling.

Blakeslee has his own ad up – a nice positive in which he pledges to “fight to stop the waste and turn California around.” Not one mean word about what a liberal, special-interest, job-killing tree-hugger Laird is. So there’s no question: Laird is firing the first shot here.

It’s his sad good fortune that offshore oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico has raised to an extraordinary level an issue on which he actually has fought most of his political career. As he says in his ad:

Enough is enough. I’m John Laird. Protecting California’s coastline is crucial to our economy and our way of life. That’s why I’ve always stood up to the oil companies and worked to prevent more drilling off our coasts. Because the risks to California’s future are just too great.

That’s powerful stuff.

New Secret Offshore Deal, AB32 Rollback Brawl

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

In the latest twist in the Tranquillon Ridge saga, Calbuzz has learned that PXP oil company and its environmental allies have submitted a new proposed agreement to the State Lands Commission aimed at authorizing expanded drilling off the coast of Santa Barbara.

Our efforts to learn how the new proposal differs from an earlier version, which the commission rejected last year, were unsuccessful, however, because neither the parties nor the commission would release a copy, saying the document is a draft, and the deal is still under review. (Our all-you-need-to-know primer on T-Ridge is here).

“We signed a confidentiality agreement,” Paul Thayer, Executive Officer of the Lands Commission, told us. “They want to get our reaction to it. It’s being reviewed at a staff level, and we’ve also asked the (Attorney General’s) office to look at it.”

The previous PXP-EDC agreement, reached in 2008, was kept secret until Calbuzz obtained a copy and published the document. At a time when controversy is still simmering over elements of the first agreement, key opponents of the project are unhappy with the news that an amended version of the proposed deal is, at least for now, being kept confidential.

“I’m disappointed that PXP and EDC are going down the same failed road,” said Democratic Assemblyman Pedro Nava, whose district adjoins the proposed new drilling. “Whatever the new agreement says, apparently both PXP and EDC believe it can’t stand public scrutiny and so they are hiding it.”

“PXP likes to claim some kind of oil company executive privilege,” he added.

As a political matter, the secrecy of the first agreement played a key role, both in its defeat before the commission, and in the widespread opposition to the T-Ridge deal generated among other environmental groups.

When Calbuzz disclosed the text of that agreement, representatives of both PXP and the Santa Barbara-based Environmental Defense Center told us they were working on a second version, aimed at addressing various concerns that commissioners expressed in voting against the plan last year. Both organizations said that the amended agreement would be made public.

“No, it is not final yet,” Linda Krop, chief counsel for the EDC, emailed us when we asked for a copy of the new agreement.

“We have nothing to hide,” said Scott Winters, a spokesman for PXP. “Once the agreement is final, we will release to the public.”

“Substantial amendments have been added to clarify the enforceability concerns raised by the State Lands Commission (SLC) staff and members of the environmental community,” Winters added in email responses to our questions.

Thayer said the Commission’s review of the proposal was conditioned on keeping its contents confidential.

Nava said the Commission’s willingness to enter into a confidentiality agreement with an applicant “certainly piques my interest.”

“I’ll be inquiring into the terms and conditions under which (SLC) entered into such an agreement.”

Weed whacker alert: PXP’s Winters said that release of the new agreement depended entirely on when the lands commission scheduled another hearing on the project.

“As of right now, the SLC has not calendared this matter for a re-hearing. PXP’s hope is that the SLC will move expeditiously to hold a re-hearing,” he said. “The sooner the SLC schedules a hearing, the sooner the public will have another chance to consider the benefits offered by the project to discuss whether approval is in fact in the best interest of the state.”

We asked Thayer when PXP might get a new hearing in front of the commission. He said it depended on whether they filed a new application for the project, or requested a rehearing on their previous application. A new application would require staff to review it within 30 days, and commissioners to act in 180 or fewer days, he said. But PXP has asked for a faster method to gain approval, such as a rehearing. “We’ve never done one,” Thayer said, adding that the staff is investigating the possibility of such a procedure.

Jerry Blasted on AB32: The folks behind the movement to suspend AB32, California’s historic climate-change legislation, are furious at Attorney General Jerry Brown for the ballot title he has assigned to what they were hoping to sell as the “California Jobs Initiative.”

Crusty’s title:

Suspends air pollution control laws requiring major polluters to report and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming until unemployment drops below specified level for full year.

(Which is a little like titling the initiative to legalize marijuana as follows: Ushers in an era of human kindness and peace on earth through availability of non-toxic and eco-friendly natural substances).

The anti-AB32 initiative is backed by Assemblyman Dan Logue of Chico and U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock,  Ted Costa and others who argue the legislation is a job killer – as Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner also contend.

Score round one for Californians for Clean Energy and Jobs, who has hired our old pal Steve Maviglio to manage the opposition.

As a political matter, Brown has hardly been neutral about AB32. In fact, when he was on KGO Radio last week he referred to people opposing the measure as “Neanderthals . . . who want to turn the clock backwards.”

Here’s the dilemma for business interests who’d like to chip in to kill AB32:

1) this is likely the only legacy achievement Gov. Schwarzmuscle has going for him and he’s not going to be happy with people who try to kill it and 2) with a ballot summary like that, who’s going to vote to give a break to “major polluters”?

You never know. Maybe eMeg or the Commish will toss in a few million to the effort and campaign for it. Of course, we think it will backfire in a general election, but hey, stranger things have happened in California politics.

GOP ratfuck update: As close readers will recall, an online firefight broke out last December between Chip Hanlon, proprietor of the Red County web sites, and Aaron Park (formerly known as Sgt. York),  who was one of his bloggers. When Hanlon fired Park/York for secretly being on Steve Poizner’s payroll, we gave Hanlon a hat tip for “canning Sgt. York and disclosing the matter to his readers.”

Given what we knew then, it made sense to note that, “At a time when ethical blogging is too often an oxymoron, it’s nice to see somebody step up to defend his credibility.”

Since then, we’ve learned more, which colors our HT just a bit: It seems that buried deep in eMeg’s campaign finance report is a $20,000 disbursement to Green Faucet LLC, which is an investment firm owned by Chip Hanlon and also the parent company of his Red County web sites. The payment was made about a week after Hanlon fired Park, the erstwhile, paid Poizner sock puppet.

Hanlon tells us this was a straight-up business exchange: eMeg bought advertising on his web sites. And sure enough, her ads are there. But we spoke with another advertiser on Red County who’s paying about $300 a month – closer to the going rate for small political sites – for equivalent exposure on Red County sites. Which suggests the $20K from eMeg could be a big, fat subsidy to Hanlon – not much different than the $2,500 a month Park was getting from Poizner (and which, he says, eMeg’s people tried to match).

All of which raises questions about the use of web site commentary by MSM media, like when the Mercury News recently called on Matt Cunningham, a featured Red County blogger, to comment on Poizner’s charge that eMeg’s consultant had tried to bribe him out of the governor’s race. If you really want to get into the internecine Orange County GOP rat-fucking, you can catch up to the action here and here and here.

(Memo to eMeg Marketing Dept: Our New York-based, commission-paid advertising staff would be well pleased to get $20K for ads on Calbuzz. Hell, they’d even take $300 a month like Poizner is paying for his ad on the page. Plenty of free parking.)