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Posts Tagged ‘retirement’



Press Clips: Shane & Snitch Meet Maureen, Mutter

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Earth to Burton, Earth to Burton: In comments to the By God LA Times, state Demo party chief John Burton joined in the piling on of Martha Coakley, the humiliated-in-defeat candidate who ingloriously kicked away Ted Kennedy’s Democratic seat – but JoBu draws a Calbuzz penalty flag for a bonehead comment in doing so.

Speaking to the redoubtable duo of Evan Halper and Shane Goldmacher, Burton referenced Coakley’s now-infamous mega-gaffe, in which she incomprehensibly referred to legendary former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling as a “Yankee fan,” freezing in an instant a public image of herself as a suburban matron utterly disconnected from the average concerns of those who follow the Sawx.

Having shot herself in only one foot, she soon finished the job by mocking GOP foe Scott Brown for showing up in the cold to shake hands with hockey fans headed for a Bruins game at Fenway Park on New Year’s Day, at a time when she was, um, on vacation. To wit Burton:

Democratic Party Chairman John Burton said the party’s Senate candidate in Massachusetts, state Atty. Gen. Martha Coakley, was just a bad campaigner.

“Nobody in California that is running for office would take off for a weeklong vacation before the general election after a tough primary, and they probably would be standing out in front of Dodger Stadium or Candlestick Park shaking hands,” he said, alluding to one of Coakley’s widely cited gaffes involving the Boston Red Sox baseball team.

Memo to John: Baseball was last played at Candlestick Park on Sept. 30, 1999, when the dog-ass Dodgers hammered the hometown lads, 9-4. The Giants’ current facility, formerly known as PacBell Park, is now called ATT Park. We’re pretty sure you’ve been there, John, and just don’t remember. Time for your nappy, now.

Red Sox Nation: Amid the millions of trees sacrificed to the cause of explaining the victory of Republican Brown in Massachusetts, the Schilling incident stands out as the single most salient factor in the whole over-analyzed mess. Those inclined to more conventional, if not profound, analysis are directed to this swell four byline tic toc.

For our money though, Lisa Swan at The Faster Times nailed it in a well-reported take on how the Schilling Scandal became Coakley’s Snoopy-in-the-Tank defining moment, which included these comments from Schilling himself:

“It does reflect on an elected official’s relationship with her constituents. I don’t think that somebody who’s lived here their whole life, not understanding the importance of the prominence of the sports teams in this city, it’s a big deal to people,” he said.

“I think it’s another sign of her aloofness, and just the fact that she’s very out of touch, I think, with the people.”

(eMeg memo to staff: Why am I still waiting for that Power Point on the rosters of the Fresno Grizzlies and the Modesto Nuts?!?)

Heathcliff of San Francisco: Maureen Dowd’s kissy-poo column on SF Mayor Gavin Newsom stirred up a lot of cross-chatter about whether or not Prince Gavin had announced to MoDo his impending retirement from politics. Before we even get to that, though, one quick read of Dowd’s piece is all you need to know about why the Prince just couldn’t cut it in a tough, statewide race.

Self-important, self-regarding, self-absorbed and self-pitying, Newsom stops just short of taking to his fainting couch to comfort his sensitive soul from the cruel blows of an unfair world:

“I mean, oh, God,” he said, sipping green tea in his elegant office. “In a couple of years, you’ll see me as the clerk of a wine store.”

Oh, perish the thought. The overweening arrogance, condescension and utter contempt for working people found in that single sentence, and throughout the interview – “I mean, oh, God! ” – is difficult to overstate.

This is a guy who got carried by rich friends to some early success and now thinks the world owes him a ride in a sedan chair, an over-gelled poseur who screwed his best friend’s wife and now wants everyone to feel sorry for him cuz he didn’t have the stones to stick with a campaign he had no business starting in the first place.

We’re just sayin.’

As for the speculation that Newsom is getting out of politics:

“This is it. God bless. It was fun while it lasted,” he said of his career, with a rueful smile. “Guys like me don’t necessarily progress very far, which is fine.”

Yuck.  SF Weekly’s resourceful “Snitch” blog quickly squeezed a damage control quote out of Newsom’s mouthpiece, who insisted that, oh no, the Great Man is in it on behalf of the Little People for the long haul.

He was speaking tongue-in-cheek…He intends to have a very active career in public service after he completes his second term as mayor. … His point when he says things like that is that he isn’t dependent on politics in the next election, that he can stand on principle and doesn’t feel a need to compromise his beliefs. (Is it just us, or does that not dependent on politics claptrap remind you of Sarah Palin?)

The Chronicle once again dispatched the reliable Heather Knight, who got stuck cleaning up the mess the last time Newsom summoned a reporter for a national publication to share his thoughts on retirement. In a piece featuring exactly the same hed - “Newsom discusses his future” – she churned out a nice, all-you-need-to-know, 26-word lede:

Nobody seems to know what the future holds for Mayor Gavin Newsom after he’s termed out of office in January 2012 – least of all Newsom himself.

Calbuzz sez: Don’t let the door hit you in the ass, pal.

Must read of the week: In a piece fraught with significance for Bay Area news types, media analyst and occasional Calbuzzer Alan Mutter dissects the pending bankruptcy of Dean Singleton’s MediaNews empire.

Among other things, Mutter’s piece offers new evidence of Hearst Corp.’s blundering since its ill-fated acquisition of the long-lost Old Chron in 2000.

After plowing well over $1 billion into a decade-long effort to salvage its ill-starred purchase of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Hearst Corp. now stands to lose another $317 million in the upcoming bankruptcy of MediaNews Group.

Hearst improbably put money into MediaNews, its direct competitor in northern California, in the hopes of reversing the almost continuous loses it has suffered since stepping up to buy the Chronicle in 2000. Instead of fixing the long-festering problem, Hearst became not just the biggest loser among the equity investors in MediaNews. It will be the only one.

The other big news from Fifth and Mish this week: its new, modified limited hangout print wall plan to keep some of their best stuff – like the Sunday Matier and Ross column – off the web until after the paper is printed, a head-in-the-sand idea if there ever was one, as the Oracle of Cruickshank made perfectly clear.

Just breathe into the bag: Our pal Steve Maviglio is usually pretty well-informed, which is why we made a couple calls about his post suggesting that the Coakley debacle will somehow trigger DiFi’s entry into the California governor’s race.

All but picking out the campaign signs and bumper strips for Herself, Maviglio spun his scenario deep into the heavens, going so far as to suggest a reprise of Feinstein’s 1992 Thelma and Louise act with Barbara Boxer.

Sorry man, it ain’t happening.

Scoop of the week: Nice work by Greg Lucas of California’s Capitol in scoring a copy of the internal Power Point presentation being used to try to reach agreement on a package of government reforms among the members of the two-house Special Committee on Fixing Everything in Sacramento in a Jiffy. Lucas reports:

A hearing of the Senate and Assembly Select Committees on Improving State Government to discuss the proposals was canceled January 19, apparently because of a lack of agreement over items on the list.

Howz that whole consensus thing workin’ for ya?

Clips: Rachel, Jaimee & Kalika Meet Ed Mendel

Friday, December 4th, 2009

rachel uchitelPersonally, I’d use a lob wedge, Elin: Obsessed with Rachel Uchitel (right), Jaimee Grubbs and Kalika Moquin, the entire staff of the Calbuzz Department of Celebrity Gawking and Guilty Pleasures has been severely reprimanded for spending far too much time hanging out at TMZ, Radar Online and usmagazine.com this week, following every twist, turn and sext message in the Tiger Woods School of Professional Driving saga.

With that in mind, this week’s coveted Little Pulitzer Investigative Punditry award goes to Charles P. Pierce, whose sharp Esquire essay on the situation not only raises some actual intriguing social issues, but also is simply the best thing written about the case.

…when Tiger ran his Escalade over a hydrant and into a tree, and his reputation squarely into a ditch, he then produced a cover story that smacked of implausibility, when it didn’t smack of utter science fiction. Listening to Tiger explain how he’d managed to hit two stationary objects within thirty yards of his driveway — and how his plucky wife pulled him from his non-burning vehicle by smashing the back window with a golf club — was like listening to Peter Lorre telling Bogart in The Maltese Falcon, ‘I certainly wish you would have invented a more reasonable story. I felt distinctly like an idiot repeating it.’

Like virtually every politician in America (Barney Frank comes to mind as a notable exception) Woods has worked tirelessly to construct an idealized image of himself and to control as closely as possible the way he is portrayed in the media. And just like every politician who missteps into scandal, he now is paying a steep price for falling from grace, a cultural narrative that Pierce, who got bashed by Team Tiger when he wrote some unflattering things a decade ago, gets just right:

But the more impenetrable Tiger’s cocoon was, the more fragile it became. It was increasingly vulnerable to anything that happened that was out of the control of the people who built and sustained it, and the events of last week certainly qualify. Now he’s got one of those major Media Things on his hands, and there is nothing that he, nor IMG, nor the clinging sponsors, nor anyone else can do about it. He is going to be everyone’s breakfast for the foreseeable future…And he’s going to be some kind of punch line for the most of the rest of his public career.

Old guycalperss win again: Mega-kudos to our old friend Ed Mendel, who carries off this week’s prize for Investigative Blogging for his recent splendid scoop, disclosing how the California Public Employees Retirement System lost $1 billion in a blind faith purchase of goofy investments which turned out to be backed by subprime mortgages and other risky assets.

Mendel and Calbuzz are both so old that we met when he worked for the Sacramento Union, the first newspaper west of the Mississippi fercrineoutloud. A 30-year veteran foot soldier in the war of words, he’s  reinvented himself online as the state’s most dogged reporter regularly covering CalPERS and CalSTRS, which have two of the world’s biggest investment portfolios, along with 80 other public employee pension funds.

His latest excloo, explaining how fund execs fell for exotic financial instruments called “structured investment vehicles,” is a reminder that California’s  enormous public pension systems have long been inadequately covered, when covered at all; despite the billions at stake, the story’s historically proven just too complicated and filled with too many numbers to hold the interest of your average High-Powered News Executive.

Amid the continuing collapse of California’s finances, however, untangling the system’s byzantine structures and multi-layered scams is not only an increasingly important political yarn but also a terrific example of throwback public interest journalism, making Mendel’s site a must read.

leonard_downie_140x140

The future starts here: Media junkies in need of a new doorstop, or with a spare eight or nine hours on their hands, are well advised to check out “The Reconstruction of American Journalism,” the 15,766 word opus by Washpost suit Len Downie and journalism egghead Michael Schudson, in the current issue of Columbia Journalism Review.

Despite its arid tone, the piece does a swell job of describing and defining the seismically disrupted news and information landscape of today. The yarn  comprehensively catalogues and analyzes virtually every major business model and experimental form of journalistic enterprise swirling in the Wild West new media world, concluding with a list of recommendations to nurture and sustain what the writers dub “accountability journalism.”

What is under threat is independent reporting that provides information, investigation, analysis and community knowledge, particularly in the coverage of local affairs. Reporting the news means telling citizens what they would not otherwise know. ‘It’s so simple it sounds stupid at first, but when you think about it, it is our fundamental advantage,’ says Tim McGuire, a former editor of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. ‘We’ve got to tell people stuff they don’t know.’

The CJR piece suffers from one big flaw: a foreshortened, MSM gatekeeper perspective that looks more to the past than the future for solutions, mistaking the map for the territory. Jan Schaffer, director of American University’s Institute for Interactive Journalism, sums the problem up in one of several critiques of the report smartly offered in the same issue:

If we really want to reconstruct American journalism, we need to look at more than the supply side; we need to explore the demand side, too. We need to start paying attention to the trail of clues in the new-media ecosystem and follow those ‘breadcrumbs.’ What ailing industry would look for a fix that only thinks of ‘us,’ the news suppliers, and not ‘them,’ the news consumers? I don’t hear from any of those consumers in this report.

Still, the Downie-Schudson collaboration offers a first-rate overview pulling together all the crucial strands of what’s happening in the post-newspaper, post-network news report world of journalism. You can find it here.

Why toraboraladenRumsfeld is a bigger weenie than you even thought: After Obama’s big speech on Afghanistan the other night, the insufferable Donald Rumsfeld started whining that the president had unfairly trashed him by describing how the former Defense Secretary in December 2001 shined on urgent requests for more troops to help capture or kill Osama Bin Laden, when the U.S. had him cornered in a rugged area of the eastern White Mountains known as Tora Bora.

Thanks to the Chron’s trusty Carolyn Lochhead, who pointed to a just-released Senate Foreign Relations Committee report about the incident,  however, the full scope of the blunder by Rumsfeld and top commander General Tommy Franks becomes clear.

When Gary Berntsen, the senior CIA paramilitary commander on the scene, went to Major General Dell Dailey, commander of U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan to plead for the troops, he was flatly turned down “on orders from Franks at U.S. Central Command Headquarters,” according to the report, “Tora Bora revisited: How we failed to get bin Laden and why it matters today.”

Dailey refused to deploy U.S. troops, explaining that he feared alienating Afghan allies.

“I don’t give a damn about offending our allies,” Bernsten shouted. “I only care about eliminating al Qaeda and delivering bin Laden’s head in a box.”

Dailey said that the military’s position was firm and Bernsten replied, “Screw that.”

Whatever you think of Obama’s just-announced policy on the Af-Pak war, the report is a well-written, extraordinary narrative that goes a long way to explaining why we’re still mired in Afghanistan eight years later.

Diane.von.Ferstenberg.2005

Well they’ve got to be at least half right: Our pal Carla Marinucci made us green with envy once again with her blog post reporting all the A-list names – Jeffrey and Marilyn Katzenberg, Kate Capshaw and Stephen Spielberg, Peter Morton, Chet and Janice Pipkin, Rob Reiner, Stewart and Lynda Resnick, David Geffen, Wallis Annenberg, Sebastian Paul and Marybelle Musco, Stephen Bing, Larry Ellison, Diane Von Furstenberg, yada yada yada – who pitched in big bucks to Jerry Brown’s (shhh) campaign for governor at his big Brentwood fundraiser last month.

But we were kinda’ baffled when she reported in the same piece that the funder had raised Crusty only $700K in November, which seemed rather low. Then came Carla’s Chronicle colleagues (we love the smell of alliteration in the morning), Phil Matier and Andy Ross, who reported a few days later that the AG had raised $1.65 million for the month.  Figuring there’s no one left on the copy desk to reconcile such matters at the paper these days, we did our own actual reporting and came up with $1,577,700, giving the nod to M&R on this one.

Mlingleaholo Fail: The Calbuzz Maui bureau is more than a little miffed at our former colleague Greg Lucas, who spoiled our world exclusive about the budget woes of Hawaii’s state government with his own scoop on this crucial, pressing national story over at California’s Capitol.

Just when we were poised to deduct the total cost of our Napili Bay junket  by cobbling together a quick and dirty post buttressed by a couple of stats  ripped off from the Honolulu Advertiser, here comes Lucas, who gets an actual copy of Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle’s budget message, beating us to the punch by writing off his own trip to Kaui a couple weeks earlier.

Mele kalikimaka to you too, bruddah.