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Posts Tagged ‘Randy Shandobil’



Character Question: Meg, Nicky & the Smoking Letter

Friday, October 1st, 2010

After 19 months of mass market campaigning inside the most luxurious  cocoon money could buy, Meg Whitman on Thursday suddenly found herself in the political free-fire zone.

For a second straight day, Whitman flailed away in unfamiliar territory, far from her comfort zone of  message discipline and robotic recitations of talking points, as she and her army of high-priced purse-carriers desperately sought to spin and control a campaign crisis that kept spiraling out of control.

The meltdown was fueled by the undeniable facts that for nine years the privileged Republican candidate for governor employed an illegal alien as a housekeeper, and that this undocumented worker now was accusing her of having “treated me like garbage.”

“This has nothing to do with my character,” Whitman insisted to reporters at one point during a truly bizarre day in the campaign.

In fact, the white-hot controversy has everything to do with character, providing, for one of the few times in the race, a public test of her credibility, performance under pressure and ability to take responsibility and hold herself accountable for her own actions and decisions.

Alas, it is not a test she is passing with flying colors.

Calbuzz has noted several times before (here and here, for example) that Whitman has only a casual regard for the actual facts, relying instead on the Power of Money to shape the “truth” to fit her needs.

But here was a case of the billionaire prevaricator being exposed by a lowly Latina housekeeper who says she was told, after nine years of cleaning toilets: “You never have seen me and I have never seen you.”

A brief recap: In an extraordinary day in California politics, Whitman’s campaign convened a morning press conference in Santa Monica, to try to soothe a state press corps in full bay, and to put to rest the heated dispute over the candidate’s long-term employment relationship with Nicky Diaz, her 31-year old former housekeeper.

For nearly an hour, Whitman answered questions by insisting she had done “absolutely” nothing wrong.

Constantly flashing a broad grin that seemed in its affect strangely out-of-sync with her words, she variously blamed, with the scantest of circumstantial evidence, Diaz and her attorney, Gloria Allred, public employee unions and Jerry Brown, the Democratic nominee for governor, for concocting a mysterious  conspiracy to “smear” her and to derail her campaign.

In her remarks to reporters, Whitman also stated categorically that she and her husband, Dr. Griffith Harsh, had never received or seen a purported 2003 “no-match” letter from the government that raised questions about Diaz’s Social Security number, a document which might have alerted them to the fact that their Mexican-born employee was not legally in the U.S. (She even offered, in response to a silly question, to take a lie detector test — a pledge she later conditioned on Jerry Brown taking one too. Right.)

Diaz had said, at a tearful press conference one day earlier, that Whitman’s husband had given her this letter with instructions to “deal with this.” But the candidate on Thursday expressed absolute certainty that she and her neurosurgeon husband knew nothing about any such document – “they may have sent something, but we never saw it” – and charged that Diaz might have stolen the letter from the mailbox and was now being “manipulated” to participate in the “politics of personal destruction” by the Allred-Brown-Jimmy Hoffa Cabal.

“All the allegations are completely untrue’’ she said. “The Brown campaign and Gloria Allred are doing a massive smear campaign on me and my family.”

Less than an hour later, however, the famously obnoxious celeb lawyer Allred aggressively smacked down Whitman with what she called “the smoking letter,” an official government missive raising questions about Diaz’s Social Security documentation. It was sent by the SSA, dated April 2003, and addressed to eMeg and her husband; for good measure, it also had a handwritten note on the bottom, in what Diaz said was Dr. Harsh’s handwriting, instructing her to “check on this.” Said Allred:

Meg Whitman is exposed as a liar and a hypocrite. She should now apologize to the press, the public and Nicky…Meg Whitman should be ashamed and embarrassed.

Soon after, the strange day took another strange turn, when Whitman strategists again summoned reporters, this time onto a conference call in which they tried to explain away Allred’s evidence.

eMeg handler Rob Stutzman, who would neither confirm nor deny the handwriting was Dr. Harsh’s said:

What we have here is a letter that is seven years old. If this letter is authentic, Dr. Harsh very reasonably does not recall ever seeing it. And also, has the very reasonable and likely conclusion that if the letter is authentic, his frame of mind was completely focused on making sure that Nicky appropriately was going to receive her Social Security credit and therefore her benefit some day. Which makes sense, if that was the case, that he would leave a note, making sure she saw it and at some point would return it.

Well, that makes everything perfectly clear.

Pathetic lies: Far from putting the matter to rest, the shaky, if not panicked, daylong performance by the candidate and Team Whitman  further undercut eMeg’s credibility, as she made a series of formless and unsubstantiated accusations in an effort to deflect attention from her own actions:

Nicky stole the mail. On Wednesday, the Chron’s Joe Garofoli asked eMeg this question:

Did you ever receive any notification from the Social Security Administration or any other government agency that the number this housekeeper had provided did not match the name or that there was any other discrepancy with the papers that had been filed?

Whitman answered flatly: “No.”

At Thursday’s press conference, she shifted gears, now admitting the possible existence of such a letter, but suggesting that if was sent, Diaz probably stole it from the mail.

She may have intercepted the letter, it’s very possible, I have no other explanation…Nicky did bring in the mail and sort the mail. If she got a letter two weeks before alerting her to a problem and saying we’re going to alert your employer she might have been on the lookout for that letter….. It pains me to say that because, gosh, that’s not the Nicky I knew.

Gosh, it sure isn’t.

(BTW, Griff stood by Meg’s side when she was denying ever having received a letter from the Social Security Administration and did not say, “Oh wait, honey, I forgot to tell you. Nicky didn’t swipe that letter, I read it, filled it out part way and wrote her a little note on it.”)

Despite Whitman’s defamatory comments about Diaz, whose version of events was confirmed by the document produced by Allred, Stutzman gruffly insisted there will be no apology from eMeg for having slimed her former employee.

No… Nicky has willingly allowed herself to be used…It’s unfortunate…But make no mistake: Nicky is participating in something that is 100% political and it is 100% designed to harm Meg’s ability to succeed in this campaign .

Nicky Diaz, POW: Whitman said repeatedly that Diaz “doesn’t know what she’s gotten herself into,” and is being “manipulated” by Allred, who’s allegedly feeding her false things to say. (Does Whitman really think her former housekeeper, part of her “extended family,”  is that stupid and porous?)

At one point during her press conference, Meg rather astonishingly said: “I think Nicky had a gun to her head.”

No word yet on what kind of gun or who’s holding it.

Meanwhile, here’s an alternative explanation: Diaz felt like she got royally screwed by Meg Whitman and the good doctor and figured she had some wages and expenses coming to her. (She was, after all, paid at a rate of $17,940 a year compared to the $20,770 per month that eMeg pays campaign consultant Mike Murphy.) So maybe she just decided to get herself a bad-ass lawyer to help her get what she thinks she’s owed.

Of all the nerve.

It’s all Jerry Brown’s fault:   “I absolutely believe this is linked to the Brown campaign, 100%,” Meg said at her press conference. Not 98%, mind you, One Hundred Percent.

Former state Democratic party chairman Bill Press recapped her argument on MSNBC last night this way (we’re paraphrasing here):

Meg Whitman employed an illegal immigrant for nine years.
When she found out, she fired her.
And whose fault is this? Jerry Brown’s.

We didn’t hire an undocumented immigrant to work in our house,” chimed in Brown flack Sterling Clifford, who figures prominently in the Whitman camp’s evidence for their magic bullet theory.

Part of the proof  of the evil plot that Team Whitman pointed to was a Spanish-language TV ad titled “Nueve Años,” whipped up and released Thursday as part of a $5 million campaign by the Service Employees International Union. The ad says, in part: “Whitman attacks undocumented workers to win votes, but an undocumented woman worked in her home for nine years . . .   Whitman says one thing in Spanish, something different in English.  The real Meg Whitman has no shame. She’s (tiene dos caras) a two-faced woman.”

Meg’s people also fingered a Wednesday night report on KTVU-TV, in which political reporter Randy Shandobil recounted a conversation he had with Clifford a couple of weeks ago, during which the spokesman told Randy that he’d heard Whitman had a “housekeeper problem” (his words, not Clifford’s). Shandobil acknowledged that Clifford was “just passing along rumors.”

We’re shocked – shocked! – that a campaign operative was actually gossiping with a political reporter.

Psst, here’s more breaking news: Calbuzz hereby admits that we sometimes talk off the record with campaign hacks and that they sometimes tell us about rumors they’ve heard that they think we should check out.

Truth be told, Calbuzz has actually done this with operatives from the Whitman campaign! We name no names. (And, unlike some, burn no sources.)

BTW, Calbuzz asked Stutzman on the conference call, even if Jerry Brown was behind exposing eMeg’s employment of an illegal housekeeper, what difference would that make?

“What difference it makes is that this entire stunt, in the way it’s been drawn out particularly over the last couple of days, is completely designed to influence a political race,” Stutzman replied.

Asked Calbuzz: “What’s wrong with that? This is a political race.”

We didn’t get a real answer before we were cut off.

Documents, what documents? Whitman points to the driver’s license and Social Security card that Diaz presented when she first went to work for her and her husband back in 2000 as evidence that they had assurances Nicki was legal, even though they were being taken in by her.

To prove the point, they released a copy of an I-9 immigration service form that Diaz had signed swearing that she was legally in the country and authorized to work. The same form contains a line for the employer to sign, swearing that she has checked out the employee’s documents and believes everything is on the up and up.

However, neither Meg nor Dr. Harsh signed Diaz’s I-9 attesting to this.

When Whitman was questioned about her failure to sign on Thursday, she said: “I don’t know whether we signed it or not.”

Memo to Meg: you’re the one who put out the document, girlfriend, go have yourself a read.

We always play by the rules: In describing her views on hiring household help, Whitman told reporters that she always insisted that they be legal.

A few minutes later, however, Whitman admitted that when Diaz went on maternity leave for three months, she was replaced by one of the housekeeper’s friends, adding that she didn’t know whether or not the second woman was legal and could not recall whether or not she made an effort to find out.

Claiming she would only hire “someone who was 100% legal,” Meg assured reporters that, “Griff and I play by the rules.”

Except when we don’t.

Dateline Moraga: Live Blogging the Senate Debate

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Play-by-play below, but here’s the bottom line: Nobody “won” the debate which means Carly Fiorina did not do what she had to do — kneecap Barbara  Boxer or force her to make a mistake.

Fiorina, a smart, articulate and attractive candidate stood toe-to-toe with a United States Senator and handled herself with skill and grace.

Boxer defended her record in the U.S. Senate and pushed issues like choice, climate change and gun control into the debate that put Fiorina on the defensive.

The single matter that emerged that likely will resonate most: Fiorina’s record of laying off 30,000 workers as CEO of Hewlett-Packard — in Boxer’s terms (not entirely accurate) of shipping those jobs to China.

Her response — sometimes you have to cut some jobs in order to save others — sounded like an eerie echo of  the famous line from the Vietnam War: “We had to destroy the village in order to save it.” (That’s how it’s remembered even if it’s not exactly right.) And it wasn’t just a slip of the tongue — Fiorina said it in the debate and at her press conference afterwards as well.

We wonder if this will come back to haunt Fiorina: “This is the 21st Century — any job can go anywhere.” BTW, in the debate she said: “It’s an agonizing choice (for a CEO) to lose some jobs in order to save more.”

It was a clear contrast. Fiorina is a tough conservative who would overturn Roe v Wade if she had the opportunity, is opposed to California’s AB 32 climate-change law and would extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest taxpayers.

Boxer is a die-hard liberal who is known as a partisan, pushes cap and trade legislation, would end the Bush tax cuts for the rich and is more worried about easing the way for illegal immigrants than she is about securing the U.S.-Mexico border.

Untested political newcomer versus career politician. Republican stalwart versus Democratic diehard.

The most baffling thing is this: Why won’t Fiorina, who sees AB 32 as a “job killer,” come out in support of Prop. 23 — which would gut the measure? Pushed at her press conference, she made all the arguments against Prop. 23 but refused to take a stand. All she would offer is that when it comes time to vote, she will take a position.

Also, what happened to term limits that Fiorina is so hot for? Never came up.

It was a lively debate, showed the ideological contrast between the candidates and gave viewers a chance to see both candidates talk and chew gum at the same time, so to speak. Carly was more tightly wound, but crisp; Boxer was more conversational but equally sharp on her attack points.

Boxer kept saying she’s enacted a thousand measures but could not refute Fiorina’s assertion that she’s only got her name on four bills. Not much for a 18-year Senator.

(Live blog begins here.)

Calbuzz went to the extraordinary expense of dispatching the entire National Affairs Desk to St. Mary’s College in Moraga (De La Salle Christian Brothers) to cover the Barbara Boxer-Carly Fiorina U.S. Senate debate – and has been promptly relegated, with the rest of the press corps, to watch the event on a giant TV while the real deal goes down across the way in the LeFevre Theatre.

Plenty of free parking here where it’s 97 degrees outside and TV correspondents are trying not to sweat on camera during their stand-ups.

Cookies too, thanks to the terrific St. Mary’s communications staff – chocolate chip, peanut butter, double chocolate and (ugh) raisin – along with a bunch of fruit that Calbuzz hasn’t the slightest interest in touching.

We’ll be live blogging the debate as soon as it starts in about 15 minutes.

6:57 p.m. KTVU, which is co-sponsoring the debate with the Chron and KQED-FM, just showed live shot of extremely sweaty protesters outside.

“Carly, no es mi amiga” vs. “Boxer, you’re fired.”

Inside the press room, Jon Fleischman of FlashReport, just called the debate for Fiorina.

7:00 – It’s on. Big hand for Carla Marincucci’s hair in the press room.

Boxer, wearing a gray pantsuit, is on the left. Fiorina, in a teal skirt suit, is on the right.

First opening to Carly: “I have lived the American dream.” Trying to give herself blue collar roots, even though her father was a law professor who was almost appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We need some common sense and problem solving ability in Washington, D.C.” First whack at Babs:  She’s been in D.C. forever and her policies have been disastrous. Very aggressive in taking on the incumbent.

Boxer: “I’ve enacted a thousand measures,” coming right back at Fiorina charge that she’s done nothing. Whack at Carly: I’m working to stop companies from shipping jobs overseas. And, oh yeah, Carly got fired and took $100 million in severance.

Great start.

Marinucci asks first question of Fiorina:

Carly says it’s all about jobs — tax cuts — Carla asks — small business owners are struggling — death tax — Boxer voted for taxes — to create jobs we need to make sure business is free from stangling regulation and taxation.

Boxer says 16,500 teachers got pink slips, what’s important than out children — my opponent called the bill a disgrace — but she doesn’t like it because we paid for it by stopping tax breaks from companies overseas.

Question 2: Scott Shafer asks Babs whether Iraq war “was worth it.” She says she opposed the war but voted for more money for troops and veterans. Credits Obama for getting out, and supports him in Afghanistan but supports hard time line to bring troops home “by 2011″

Carly staff is walking around the press room dropping off  “Debate Fact Sheet” on everybody’s work station, challenging BB’s earlier assertions.

Carly on Iraq: Boxer’s “rhetoric doesn’t match her record.” Attacks Boxer for not voting for body armor, and also hits on her on small business legislation speaking government-speak gibberish about “TARP Jr.” and “TARP Sr.”

Question about immigrants: Carly wants to educate everyone but she’s against amnesty for people here illegally –

Boxer says she’s proud of her record on veterans — says Carly called immigration reform “a distraction” — we need comprehensive immigration reform.

Question 4 comes on tape from a guy in Oakland named Tim Tam who wants to know why Boxer doesn’t give somebody else a chance after 28 years in the Senate. Barbara sez “there’s a clear choice” and turns it to hit Carly: “We don’t need those Wall Street values.”

Fiorina says Boxer “mischaracterizes my record” on shipping jobs overseas. “Agonizing choice to lose some jobs in order to save more.”

Next question from Tom Watson, retired HP executive who bashes Fiorina with her record of “right sourcing” jobs and saying that no one has “a God given right” to a job. Great question.

Carly is now listing all the countries in the world – not to mention “Texas and Brazil” about….something…she seems to have been caught a little off guard by this.

Strong comeback on jobs by Boxer noting that Fiorina has opposed every jobs bill that’s come up since she started running.

Carly asks Boxer about famous incident when she asked General not to call her “ma’am.” She gives same answer as Calbuzz previously supported reported.

Fiorina comes back to say that Boxer is using H-P “a treasure of California” as a “political football.”

Randy Shandobil the moderator tells both of them to stop going over time, and get to the point and answer the damn questions. Yay Randy.

Shafer asks about gay marriage. Fiorina says marriage should be “between a man and a woman.” Says that because voters had such a clear decision “not appropriate” for “a single judge” to overturn. Umm, isn’t that why we have three branches of government?

So says Boxer, noting that America has a system of checks and balances. She cites Justice Ron George’s opinion opposing Prop. 8.

Fiorina gnomes just dropped off fifth fact check – almost make you think they had them ready in advance.

Boxer is asked about bipartisanship — is she too partisan — she says he works with Republicans all the time — a time line for withdrawl from Afghanistan is one example.

Carly says Barbara is long on talk and short on achievement — one of the most bitterly partisan — only has four bills with her name on them –

Carla asks about Roe v Wade — I am pro life, because of my personal experiences, her husband’s mother was told to abort him for health reasons — recognize that not everyone agrees with me — I am comfortable funding for adult stem cell research — but if embryos are produced for destruction then she’s opposed — says Boxer’s positions are extreme — has said a baby doesn’t have rights until it leaves the hospital –

Randy — Roe v Wade — she acknowledges she would overturn if she had the opportunity.

Boxer says she respects people’s — says Fiorina would criminalize women and doctors — says this is not about personal views.

Re. the “four bills” says she’s approved 1,000 Boxer provisions — you can see them online.

Shafer asks when Dems are going to stop blaming Bush and Rep congress for economic woes. Boxer says “we have” and are working on it…now she’s talking about the good old Clinton years and is blaming Bush for “the worst job creation record since Herbert Hoover.” “We didn’t get here overnight and we’re not going to solve it overnight.”

Fiorina: “Recovery summer has become the summer of despair in California.” She hits Boxer for voting for stimulus bill which she says “has failed.” Good riff on Boxer record of voting against balanced budget amendments: “Her record is crystal clear.”

Fiorina is asked if she thinks global warming is real or just a problem with the weather as she said in an ad — Carly says the ad was about military security — says we need a national and comprehensive energy bill — not answering whether she’s for Prop. 23 — we need to fund energy R&D — we cannot put bills in place that punish energy—

Randy re asks — Prop 23 — says her focus is on national policy — says she hasn’t taken a position — AB 32 is a job killer.

Boxer — if you cant take a stand on Prop 23, I don’t know what you will take a stand on — it’s a critical issue — my opponents is used to creating jobs in China, Germany, etc. – which would be the result of overturning AB 32 — “no bill I ever wrote superseded CA law.”

St. Mary’ student asks about ag policy. Zzzzz.

Fiorina now hitting BB on water – claims Babs “pressured” Feinstein to drop an amendment…

Viewer question – why do you think it’s a good idea for people on terrorist no fly list to have guns – what – are you nuts?

CF: “The no fly list isn’t particularly well managed.” We should not be taking constitutional rights away from citizens and giving them to terrorists – and that’s exactly what Barbara Boxer wants to do.”

BB: “It’s hard to know where to start.” Boxer trumpets her legislation letting pilots be armed.” Recalls watching debate where Fiorina said this and says Tom Campbell get excited “for the first time in his life.”

“Oh my goodness,” Boxer says Campbell said.

How about the assault weapons ban? Fiorina says it’s far too broad…Babs says dumping it “makes no sense at all.” Big wet kiss to Difi for sponsoring the bill.

Closing statements:

Carly: She’s been struck by the “beauty” of California. Also fear, anxiety and uncertainty. Recounts alleged anecdotal conversations with people who don’t like regulation…very sappy yarn about some lady who said she’d never voted but registered to vote for Carly and “don’t forget us.” Oy. She’s for average people who “give a lot and ask for a little.”

Barbara: “This a very clear choice.” I’m fighting for jobs and she laid off 30K people and sent jobs to China. Made in America vs. Made in China. Someone fighting for tax cuts for middle class and someone fighting for CEOs and billionaires. Clean energy vs someone supported by big oil and big coal. Pro-choice – Fiorina would “turn a woman into a criminal” for having an abortion…Offshore oil. I fought for Wall Street reform and she acts “just like a Wall Street CEO.”

Randy apologizes for not getting to more questions. No worries man, good work.

eMeg’s Video Feeds Put TV Stations on the Spot

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

When we saw Mike Sugarman’s piece on KPIX-TV about Meg Whitman’s new media tactic — shooting video of campaign events, uplinking to a communications satellite and making the video available to TV stations throughout the state — we thought that was a pretty clever use of her vast resources.

A video news release (VNR) is really just the electronic version of a good old-fashioned press release. And if a campaign — or an officeholder — can afford it, why not distribute video? It’s really up to the TV stations to decide whether to use spoon-fed, edited material from a candidate or official, just like newspapers have to decide whether to publish press releases.

But then eMeg’s GOP opponent Steve Poizner unleashed spokesman Jarrod Agen to charge:

Meg Whitman crossed another line in this race by spending her millions to spread her campaign propaganda in tailored sound bites to news stations. This latest action from Meg Whitman of sending ‘Video News Releases’ to media outlets across the state is not only further proof that she cannot handle an unscripted environment, but it breaches the ethics of journalism. First it was staged town halls, now Meg Whitman is trying to buy positive coverage.

Oh puh-leeze.

Democrat Jerry Brown’s complaint was no more sensible, although it was at least more succinct:  “Meg Whitman isn’t just happy buying commercial breaks, now she’s trying to buy the newscasts, too.”

Yo! Crusty! You want some cheese with that whine?

Here’s the deal: The Whitman campaign is rolling in dough. They can afford to send a videographer on the road with their candidate. They can afford to rent a satellite truck and sat time and make B roll available to TV stations at the same time they’re offering one-on-one satellite interviews with those stations. What’s the problem?

Randy Shandobil of KTVU, the best TV reporter in the Bay Area, said he expects his station will likely ignore eMeg’s video feeds, unless there’s some extraordinary reason to use the footage and then it would be labeled as having been provided by the campaign.

Our old friend Dan Rosenheim, news director at KPIX-TV, pretty much endorsed that outlook. And he agreed with Calbuzz that there’s nothing unusual about candidates using every trick in the book to get coverage.

“The burden in this case is on the news organizations,” said Rosenheim.

The problem is this: small stations around the state with few resources will be sorely tempted to put up eMeg’s video as if it were their own and that’s just unethical. But as Rosenheim notes, that’s a challenge for the news outlets — not publicity-seeking candidates.

This is not the same thing, by the way, as producing and sending out phony news stories with actors pretending to be TV reporters and anchors — as Gov. Schwarzmuscle and former President Shrub tried. This is just packaged video footage.

In the meantime, Steve and Jerry would be advised to save their complaints for when eMeg really does go over the line.

Hey, a little bit of mold never hurt anybody: At a time when MSM journalists increasingly spend their days tweeting, Facebooking, You Tubing and otherwise digitally passing virtual time, it’s good to see somebody’s still doing some old fashioned reporting.

So we’re delighted to award a Calbuzz Gold Medal for Resourceful Reporting and Dumpster Diving to Alicia Lewis and Ashli Briggs, the two CSU Stanislaus students who uncovered the secret documents outlining Sarah Palin’s sweet deal to speak on campus in June.

It’s surely coincidental, of course, that the dynamic duo who pulled this stuff literally out of the trash are both political science majors, although any campaign looking for a couple of hungry young oppo research types could clearly do a lot worse.

The pair’s disclosures about the high-end perks Palin demands in exchange for showing up and blathering for an hour or so have made national news, despite the sad fact that they’ve had to share their 15 minutes with Leland Yee, the media windbag state senator from San Francisco.

A word of caution going forward for Lewis and Briggs (whom the university is now absurdly trying to demonize): this line of work can be dangerous. In the future, be sure to heed these dumpster diving best practices guidelines from All Things Frugal.

Equipment

If you are going in the evening, you are going to need something to light up the dumpster. Some people carry a small flashlight. They attach a cord to it, and then hold it in their teeth to keep their hands free. Others wear a headlamp! You can find them at reasonable prices in the bike area of discount stores.

You need something to pull the stuff to you- some kind of pole with a hook at the end. A hoe works. You can also buy long poles that will pick up a quarter in the corner of an empty dumpster.

A stepping stool will help you reach over the top.
Bags- Trash Bags, Plastic Bags, etc., and duct tape in case your bag splits open.
Wet wipes to clean up with, and anti-bacterial lotion for afterwards.

A basic first aid kit, in case you hurt yourself.

– Never climb into a Dumpster with Medical and Hazardous Waste. Anyone can throw out a needle that could jab you. Wear protective clothing.
– Lids that suddenly slam shut when windy.
– Sharp Objects.
– Icky stuff- like dead animals.
– Make sure that there are no ordinances that make this activity illegal in your area.

eMeg Meltdown II & What Poiz Will Renounce Next

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

eMeg Shipwreck, The Sequel: Meg Whitman got a little payback Wednesday for her year-long campaign  to stiff the California political press corps in favor of giving interviews to friendly national types, when The Fix, the Washpost’s widely read national politics blog, did a long post that featured video of her embarrassing media meltdown in Oakland the day before.

Kudos to Randy Shandobil of KTVU and Hank Plante of  KPIX, who each turned in a nice piece of story-telling on the debacle, giving insiders and other hacks across the state and nation a chance to hoot and cackle at the spectacle. Given the breathtaking stupidity of the play, it’s a challenge to pick one favorite image from the event:

a) eMeg’s Alfred E. Neuman act, as she sits behind a mike wearing a moronic rictus grin and utters the words that serve as the brand of her whole campaign: “I think we’re not going to be taking questions right this minute.”

b) The unfortunate Sarah Pompei’s portrayal of Ron Ziegler, after Her Megness turns to her press secretary in doe-eyed desperation: “How do you want to handle this, Sarah?”  Pompei first shoos the press out of the room, as a guy who looks like the third-string nose tackle for USC starts blocking and body checking the cameras, before the campaign mouthpiece fabricates a total whopper about Union Pacific, host for the event, being the ones who imposed the no-question rule.

c) The bizarre shot of a white screen hurriedly set up to block any video of Whitman being interviewed by Debra Saunders, the Chron’s conservative pundit. Knowing from long experience that the most dangerous place you can ever stand is between Debra and a TV camera, we’re pretty sure that if there were pictures, they’d show the columnist gnashing her teeth throughout the sit-down with eMeg.

Calbuzz pick: a).

Being a CEO means never having to say you’re sorry: Both Shandobil and Plante reported at the end of their yarns that Whitman personally called them late in the afternoon to apologize for what happened, although her explanation to Randy – more press showed up at the event than they expected – makes absolutely no sense.

The pencil press was less fortunate in the area of soothed feelings: Josh Richman of the Bay Area News Group did receive a smooth-it-over call from the lavamoric Pompei, but Chronicler Carla “Costco” Marinucci got zilch. We’re sure it’s just a coincidence that she’s the one who’s been leading the charge in demanding that eMeg be more accessible to the press.

What will Steve disavow next? Channeling his inner Goldwater, Steve Poizner in recent weeks has energetically been tossing red meat to the true believers – crack down on illegals, slash taxes of every kind, etc. – while piling up a host of high-profile right wing-endorsements, from Mr. Cranky Pants himself, Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Sirloin, to the Tea Party-tinged California Republican Assembly.

Along the way, of course, the Commish has also enthusiastically jettisoned a batch of common sense policy stances from his not-so-long-ago days as a liberal moderate Republican, from offering school districts an easier way to pass bonds to backing public funding of abortions for poor women.

While these flip flops make him look like a total weenie neo-neo-con who’s seen the light, sources close to our imagination tell Calbuzz that Poizner is reportedly making plans to renounce more of his past positions, in an effort to attract more conservative support.  Be alert for these upcoming big moves by The Commish.

1-Retitling his tax and spending cut agenda from the “10-10-10 plan” to the “11-11-11 plan.”

“The number 10 smacks of statist, Stalinist-era, five-year plans and 10-year programs,” we hear that Poizner plans to say.  “But 11, as a prime number divisible only by 1 and itself, represents the essence of individualism and liberty, core principles of my life for the last couple months, unlike that commie Meg Whitman.”

2-Changing his name legally from “Steve Poizner” to “Steve Patriot.”

“Since boyhood, having a “Z” in my name has troubled me,” a draft Poizner press release says. “The letter recalls  Eurotrash egghead poetry places like Czechoslavkia and Islamo-fascist outposts like Azerbaijan, where the liberal Meg Whitman would no doubt feel right at home.”

3-Demanding his wife return to him the $21,000 he sent to the Democrats and Al Gore.

“I swear she told me the money was for the Visa bill,” reads a talking point memo from inside the campaign. “So today I’m calling on my wife to re-deposit the money in our checking account, so I can buy more ads in Fresno bashing eMeg as a commie liberal.”

Today’s sign the end of civilization is near: Just think what she could have gotten if she sold the little buggers on eBay.

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.