Quantcast

Posts Tagged ‘San Francisco Bay Guardian’



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: Chronicle Climbs Back in the Ring

Friday, July 24th, 2009

2gavinsNewsom vs. Newsom: Mega-kudos to Chronicler Carla Marinucci for leading the charge in her own newsroom to pull together a Page One takeout on Gavin Newsom’s exaggerated campaign claims about his record as San Francisco’s mayor.

The Wednesday piece occupied a big chunk of front page real estate, carried three bylines –-  political scribbler Joe Garofoli and City Hall beat pounder Heather Knight teamed with the hardest working woman in show business –- and served as a marker to establish the fact that Newsom routinely overblows his accomplishments on the trail.

Most notably, the paper knocked down Prince Gavin’s oft-repeated claims that he balanced the city budget without tax increases and that every high school graduate in town is “guaranteed a college education.”

On other issues, however, the piece was hardly dispositive in its overreliance on he-said-he-said equivocation and the spin of Newsom handler Eric Jaye; a too-brief examination of Newsom’s signature health care program, for example, did establish that he tries to hog credit for it, but didn’t address the substantive question of whether or how well the damn thing works. Where’s the low-wage bus boy who can tell whether he now gets medical care or the restaurant owner who says what it’s doing to his business?

Hopefully, this is just the first of a series of “Newsom Watch” pieces that will drill down in detail on his record; like it or not, other California media, not to mention the voters, will rely on the paper to vet their guy as he tries to claim the governorship. In the same way that the L.A. Times would have been expected to perform a scorched earth number on Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s record had he decided to run, the Chron has front-line responsibility for holding Newsom accountable for his words and actions.

guardian

On Guard: Those seeking a fiercer test of Newsom’s campaign claims against his record are directed to a 4,147 word opus published by the weekly San Francisco Bay Guardian.

Granted, the Guardian is not exactly the Christian Science Monitor when it comes to unbiased journalism; editor and publisher Bruce Brugmann is famous for bragging on the advocacy stances of his paper’s “Print the news and raise hell” journalism. And its lefty agenda on issues from pot to public power may not be shared by the millions of mainstream California voters Newsom is out trying to woo.

Beyond the paper’s disagreements with Newsom over specific issues, however, city editor Steven T. Jones reported and wrote a helluva’ piece that also deals with more fundamental qualities of leadership –- political relations with the legislative branch,  calculations about risking political capital and issues of transparency and secrecy, for example.

“The central persona being pushed by the Newsom campaign — that of a post partisan progressive who has united fractious San Francisco around innovative, common sense solutions to the most vexing problems using his considerable courage and political skills –- seems like pure fiction to most City Hall watchers,” Jones wrote.

“Newsom’s platform and persona are what voters want to hear right now — and they’re just believable enough to be an easy sell for modern media manipulators.”

Which is a good reason why the San Francisco media should keep chipping away at this key California political story.

gay_marriage_210Delay for gay marriage? Over at Politics Blog Chronster Garofoli  has been closely tracking the debate within the gay community on whether to push a repeal-Prop. 8 initiative next year, or wait until the bigger turnout 2012 national election. As he reports here and here the advantage seems to rest with those in favor of holding off.

As a political matter, it’s an important decision that carries implications for next year’s campaign for governor, especially for Prince Gavin. He faces steep hill to climb in overcoming Attorney General Jerry Brown, and needs all the toe-holds he can find to do it; a 2010 gay marriage campaign could give a nice boost of passion to the Prince’s primary effort, allowing him to, um, marry his own effort to the energy and enthusiasm of a Prop. 8 repeal bid.

Notwithstanding Brown’s no-on-8 stand before California’s  Supreme Court, despite the statewide vote in favor of the measure, Gavin’s out-of-left-field blessing of gay weddings in San Francisco set off the national debate of same-sex marriage, an historic and iconic action that trump’s General Jerry’s late-to-the-party stance. Whether you like it or not.