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Posts Tagged ‘Shane Goldmacher’



Press Clips: Early Props for Shane, Lucas & Siders

Friday, January 14th, 2011

Just as ambitious professional pols, flacks and wonks climb and clamber over each other for the chance to get hired up by a newly-elected governor, so too do nosy, pushy media types compete for position on the inside track.

For every grubby consultant or policy propeller head who sees himself as a future Karl Rove or the next Austin Goolsbee, there’s an ill-clad foot soldier in the daily war of words whose assignment to cover the new guy from Day One offers a fresh-as-spring-training opportunity to shine.

Working in the spotlight dawn of a nationally watched, nascent administration provides ink-stained types a rare promise of twinkling career possibilities, from book contracts (see: Cannon, Lou) to national TV gigs (“As you know, Rachel, there are many Jerry Browns”), perhaps even a prominent plug on Calbuzz itself (plenty of free parking!)

So it is that our Department of Media Communications and Clip Job Commentary has kept a close eye on  news coverage of the first days of Jerry Brown III. We’re watchful for potential signs of breakout media stardom among the pack of hacks who churn out the daily grind of reportage on all the twists, turns and incremental developments that shape the narratives about the 72-year old Silver Fox (here’s hoping they remember the Little People they met on the way up).

Welcome Budgeteers! To date among this lustrous field, we tip our fedoras to the energetic Shane Goldmacher of the LAT, who’s so far had the best inside pipeline and strongest reporting on Brown’s budget strategy, the only story that matters right now, and a yarn to which Chronicler-turned-blogger Greg Lucas has  added his considerable institutional knowledge and insight.

Lucas racked up a series of Hardest-Workin’-Man-in-Show Business awards in his salad days, and so hardly qualifies as a callow youth; truth be told, he’s approaching full geezerdom at an ever-accelerating rate. Still, his new gig as a regular commentator at Capitol Weekly, which complements his regular postings at California’s Capitol, seems to have brightened his scribbling style and infused him with a spurt, if not a full-flowing fountain, of youthful energy, viz. his recent Sally Quinn-like takeout on how Brown’s ascendance and Arnold’s departure are changing the social culture of Sacramento:

On the most superficial level, one obvious thing that’s vanished from the corner office in 2011 is hair. Burnt Sienna. Brooding mahogany. All gone. Less is more. Bald is beautiful. What other reason explains John Laird being named resources cabinet secretary?

Cowboy boots. Mood rings. Designer suits. All gone….

Governor’s office staff also appears to be out. Particularly videographers. Didn’t have those in the ’70s, why would they be needed now? Also out: human resources personnel. Apparently the 39th governor will just pop by the Office Max on 17th and J Street on his way into work to buy pencils and carbon paper….

Schnitzel is yesterday. Now it’s organic greens, usually eaten off someone else’s plate. Bean dip. Mexican food. Mom-and-pop Asian joints. Lazy Susan’s – makes it easier to get at other people’s food – are all also in the ascendancy.

Cigar smoking? Not so much. Smoking Tent? Hasta la vista.

Hummers and SUVs. Think Crown Victoria….

Hollywood stars – including Oprah and Jay Leno – are also history. Policy wonks now rule. St. Ignatius and Josiah Royce rock way harder than Wag Bennett and Danny DeVito. Treadmills trump free weights. Didactics over sound bites. Improvisation over intricately crafted production…

Also on the outs, at least at the moment, are tweets, press releases and the governor’s official website. Perhaps, as Brown famously said, he simply prefers to wait for “reality to emerge.”

Mr. Fly-on-the-Wall: For our money, though, the media MVP of the early going has been the indefatigable David Siders of the Bee, who’s provided a flurry of print and online pieces, the best of which embroider solid policy reporting with little gems of observed detail which reflect a well-developed eye for the absurd,  crucial to giving readers a full look at the whimsical singularity of Jerry Brown.

Out of the gate, Siders stomped the competition in owning the story about  Sutter the Corgi, Tryout First Canine of the First Couple; among other things the scoop artist got himself in position on inauguration night to capture this Jerry-being-Jerry bit:

Late Monday night, long after his inauguration was done and the parties died down, Gov. Jerry Brown and his wife, Anne Gust Brown, were together on the sidewalk outside their downtown loft.

They were walking a Corgi dog belonging to Brown’s sister, which Gust-Brown called “cute,” and Brown called “half a rat.”

The remark was likely meant warmly. Hours earlier, an aide walking out of a post-inauguration reception inside the horseshoe was heard on a cell phone saying, “Jerry wants to know if there is anyone in his building who can get in to walk his dog. Is there anyone there who can do that?”

Despite his late night exertions, Siders was the first man on the scene at the governor’s office the next morning, turning out even before semi-chief-of-staff Jim Humes showed up at 7:30 a.m.

So by the time the governor himself showed up, Siders was well positioned to quiz Krusty on the burning question of what he planned to do with Arnold’s abandoned 800-lb bronze bear, and to record for posterity his you-kids-get-off-my-lawn reaction:

Brown: “What do you think we should do with it?”

Reporter: “Let kids climb on it.”

Brown: “Do we let kids climb on this? I don’t think this is too fun. That’s something we’re going to work on in the next few days.”

Pinocchio’s burrito: Siders also was first to figure out how to report responsibly the tricky story that Brown has ordered the size of his security detail reduced, something insiders had whispered about for several days but nobody had written.

He got the story the old-fashioned way: he asked the governor directly. Brown immediately confirmed the new policy, giving Siders a memorable  on-point quote that summed up the whole People’s Governor approach that instantly changed the atmosphere of the Capitol.

“I don’t like a lot of entourage,” said Brown, who was walking downstairs at the Capitol for a burrito..

The burrito also figured in a telling little vignette that Siders witnessed by again being in the right place at the right time:

Brown, heading downstairs to the basement cafeteria this afternoon for a rice, cheese and bean burrito, was met in the hallway by Visalia tourists Berta Mendez-Perez and Jose Perez and their children Sofia, 5; Diego, 8; and Alexandra, 10.

“We voted for you,” Mendez-Perez said.

Brown asked the children, “Did you follow the campaign?”

Alexandra nodded.

“You saw the TV commercials?” Brown asked.

They did.

“Did you see the one with the nose growing?” Brown said. “Her nose started growing because she wasn’t telling the truth. Your nose will grow, too, if you don’t tell the truth.”

And stay off my lawn, too.

Myth Busting: Latino Vote, Independents, Prop 13

Monday, January 10th, 2011

Calbuzz is here to correct two important myths from the 2010 general election in California, before they are committed permanently to history and passed along ignorantly like the so-called “Bradley Effect” and other dunderhead theories:

1) Latinos did not constitute 22% of the electorate as reported by the Edison Research exit poll and blabbed along by those who would make the Latino vote look more important than it is (for the record, our two posted references to the 22 % factor, one from a guest columnist, the other a suggestion, are here and here). Latinos accounted for 16% of the vote*,  just as the better pollsters had predicted (and just 1-point lower than the LA Times/USC poll found after the fact).

2) “Independents” did not account for 27% of the voters, as reported by the exit poll and some pollsters (we name no names) who rely on party identification – a practice Calbuzz can’t fathom when party registration is available. Actual independents, that is, decline-to-state voters, accounted for 17% of the electorate.

These facts, part of the data pulled from the final voter file by Bob Proctor of Statewide Information Systems of Sacramento*, are important because they demonstrate that Latinos were not driven to vote in historic numbers (although they apparently voted en masse for Jerry Brown over Meg Whitman), nor was there a surge (or depression) among independents.

The 2010 turnout in California was not a Democratic blow-out. Nor was there any important enthusiasm gap between the parties, as so many Republican operatives had predicted. In fact, the partisan composition of the 2010 general election was just about what you’d have expected if you had never listened to any of the self-proclaimed experts: 45% Democrat, 34% Republican and 17% independent (DTS).

Despite Mike Murphy’s predictions right up to election day, the Armies of eMeg produced no discernible bump in the GOP vote. Nor did the Democrats do much to goose the numbers. What they did do – and it was no mean feat – was get the Democrats, including Latinos, to vote heavily for the Democratic candidates.

Target mail may well have been a factor since an historic 51% of the vote was cast by mail – including 49% by those who are permanent absentee voters. And in case you were looking for some massive surge by youth, forget about it: 56% of the vote was cast by people age 50 and older while just 12% of the vote was cast by people age 18-29.

The fact that just 16%* of the electorate were Latinos does nothing to diminish their importance as a voting bloc. The fact remains that Meg Whitman, who lurched to the right on the issue of a “path to citizenship” during the GOP primary and who unceremoniously canned her Latino housekeeper, drove Latinos to Jerry Brown.

But it’s important to understand that while the Latino vote is growing in California, it still has a long way to go. The Giant is awake and pissed off at the Republicans, but it has yet to throw its weight around as it will some day.

About Proposition 13:  Calbuzz readers know that we have already laid out the Path to Normalization of the California budget in excruciating exactitude but when Anthony York of the By-God LA Times reported the other day that Jerry Brown “walked right up to the third rail of California politics,” we think some confusion may have been unleashed.

We weren’t there (what’s new) so we’re relying on York and others who reported that Silver Fox said, “Proposition 13, because it took away the power of counties to tax, for the most part, it sent the decisions up to Sacramento. So we want to redistribute all that.”

What Brown (and Senate Majority Leader Darrell Steinberg) are NOT talking about, it should be made clear, is fooling around with the property tax on homes as permanently reduced by Proposition 13 (although splitting off commercial and industrial property off for separate treatment might be in the mix).

Rather it sounds like they’re talking about giving cities, counties and school districts the ability to raise other kinds of taxes and/or bonds with a majority or 55% vote (as opposed to the 2/3 vote required by Proposition 13) to go along with taking over the responsibility for programs and services that have been paid for by the state since Proposition 13.

So note to Sacramento tax watchers: It’s highly unlikely that Brown and his allies would screw with the property tax. But they might well want to make it easier for local entities to raise taxes and bonds on their own for the services they want to deliver.

For a good wrap of Brown’s budget challenges and intentions, check Ken McLaughlin and Paul Rogers of the Murky News. And for a well-sourced look at what the governor is likely to unveil today, check out Shane Goldmacher’s lookforward in Sunday’s By-God LA Times.

And thanks to Calbuzzer Jay Johnson, who sent us this cool Photoshop of  Jerry and the upcoming budget.

So much for taking personal responsibility: While it may be over the top argue that Sarah Palin has “blood on her hands” in the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 19 others in Arizona, it’s revolting to watch Palinistas try to wash their hands of any responsibility by declaring they’re shocked – shocked! – that anyone could even hint the slightest connection to the horror  and her frequent, reckless use of violent rhetoric and weaponry images.

For Palin’s mouthpiece to claim that the crosshairs icon the loudmouth demagogue slapped on Giffords’ district last fall was really an innocent  “surveyors’ symbol”  not only ignores Palin’s own description of it as a “bullseye” but more importantly ignores her history of smirking viciousness in suggesting that those who disagree with her deserve the same fate as the caribou she delights in slaughtering:

“Don’t retreat, reload,” indeed.

And while we’re at it, we have to note our disgust with Palin apologists like the smarmy twit Howard Kurtz of the Beastly Daily Beast, who seems utterly incapable of understanding that the atmosphere of violence promoted by Palin et. al. is not just a riff on standard political fare.

Howie the Genius apparently sees poor St. Sarah as a victim of a media drive-by: “One of the first to be dragged into this sickening ritual of guilt by association: Sarah Palin. . . . This kind of rhetoric is highly unfortunate. The use of the crosshairs was dumb. But it’s a long stretch from such excessive language and symbols to holding a public official accountable for a murderer who opens fire on a political gathering and kills a half-dozen people, including a 9-year-old girl.”

Wrong, wrong, wrong. Sickening, too.

* After this post appeared, a respected Sacramento consultant passed along to us counts made by Political Data Inc. which, by adding in about 140,000 foreign-born voters who apparently did not have Spanish surnames, would increase the total Latino vote to 17%. It’s possible also, as a friend from the LA Times suggested to us, that some Latino voters, like Latinas who have married and taken their husband’s non-Spanish name, might also have been under-counted. But this can’t add much to the total percentage of Latino voters.

Press Clips: Fun Facts & Fine Kerfuffles

Friday, July 31st, 2009

mbaldassareWelcome to the NFL: Torey Van Oot, the rookie California blogger hired by the Bee to juice up its online “Capitol Alert” (which has flagged considerably since the departure for the L.A. Times of the indefatigable Shane Goldmacher) set off a fine kerfuffle Thursday over polling, politics and the smash-mouth issue of offshore oil drilling in California.

Van Oot put up an early morning post about the new PPIC poll’s finding that a majority of Californians now favor offshore oil drilling. The item included an attack on the institute’s survey methodology by anti-drilling Assemblyman Pedro Nava, who called the results “completely worthless” and opined that “PPIC should find another line of work, if this is the best they can do.”

For those who know PPIC president Mark Baldassare (along with the Field Poll’s Mark torey22DiCamillo) as one of the smartest, most trustworthy and thoughtful pollsters in the nation, Nava’s wild man act was an hysteric, over-the-top, shoot-the-messenger rip job that ignored the rather important facts that a) PPIC has been asking the same question since 2003 and b) there’s undeniable evidence throughout their data that a significant shift in public opinion on the offshore issue has taken place (primarily among independents).

The piece was notable for one other reason: it carried not a word from Baldassare, or anyone at PPIC, responding to Nava’s charges, although he  directly assailed the professionalism and competence of the San Francisco-based outfit.

A few hours later, apparently after Baldassare and the Bee Blogger had a full and frank exchange of views, Van Oot posted an update that included a 243-word response from the pollster, which looked like a billboard slapped up on the page, setting the record straight about his methodology:

“At the end of the day, we feel it’s our obligation to as accurately as possible reflect the opinions of all Californians in our polling, so particularly on controversial issues like this one, we take special care to use national survey questions and repeat questions over time to give us a sense of whether opinions are changing,” he concluded.

A feperry white 2w hours after that, Nava issued a press release walking back his direct criticism of PPIC. Transforming himself into a journalism critic, he instead insisted that the media had “misled” the public by writing too narrowly about the offshore drilling question instead of taking a broader approach to other data about environmental issues that “should have been the focus of yesterday’s stories.”

Yo! Perry White! Here’s a tip from the political desk: When you’re in a hole, first stop digging.

World’s First Legislator: The Handbook of Political Writing Cliches requires that all stories about California’s budget include at least one use of the phrase “draconian cuts,” as confirmed by a random check of recent budget yarns in the Bee-minus, the Chron and the By God L.A. Times, as well a quick Google search of “draconian cuts California budget” (126,000 hits).

Ever desperate for a fresh angle, Calbuzz assigned our highly trained and highly paid Department of Evolutionary Linguistics to get to the bottom of this hoary phrase. A wide-ranging investigation, including an in-depth check of Wikipedia, revealed that it derives, neither from Harry Potter pal Draco Malfoy nor Star Wars Imperial Knight Antares Draco, but rather from the uni-named Draco, credited as “the first legislator of ancient Athens.”

Besides his more or less direct responsibility for the free cars, per diem payments and fulltime salaries for part-time work afforded today’s California lawmakers, Mr. Draco also laid down the first written constitution, a rather harsh collection of laws that required debtors to be forced into slavery and called for capital punishment for even minor offenses.

Draco, according to Plutarch, “when asked why he had fixed the punishment of death for most offences, answered that he considered these lesser crimes to deserve it, and that he had no greater punishment for more important ones.”

Ouch.

Eventually karmic justice caught up with Draco, who reportedly died after a demagogic performance at the Aeginetan theatre, when his supporters, in a traditional sign of approval,  “threw so many hats and shirts and cloaks on his head that he suffocated, and was buried in that selfsame theatre.”

Now there’s an idea for a ballot initiative to rein in the Legislature.

More fun facts about language: Calbuzz’s political correctness antennae stood straight up when the redoubtable David Dayen over at Calitics referred to our most recent budget rant, not once but thrice, as “shrill.”

Now while it’s true that the members of the Calbuzz Executive Content Production Team are not technically, well, of the female persuasion, we have been around long enough to know that calling someone “shrill” is just asking to be denounced by sensitive souls, such as ourselves, for some type of “phobia” or “ism.”

But now comes Dayen, graciously concealing his smirk at our utter lack of hipness, to disclose that “shrill” represents a compliment in what you call your online blogging community, high praise for cutting to the bone instead of mealy-mouthing an issue, as explained here.

So little time, so much to learn.

How to fix California: A prolific sort, Dayen churned out an excellent thumb-sucker on a California constitutional convention, one of a pair of intriguing posts this week that highlight the vast ideological divide over the ways and means needed to fix the state.

Chris Reed over at Politicker offered the second, a brisk policy prescription for the excessive spending and trough-feeding public employees whom he perceives as the fundamental cause of the Mess in Sacramento, a package which includes a tight spending cap, pension reform and restrictions on political donations by unions.To Dayen, though, the problem is much more one of structure: “Right now, we have a progressive legislature and a conservative system, which frustrates efforts at accountability.”

And there it is, spectator sports fans: two looks at the dysfunction of state government from opposite ends of the telescope, a case study of the political chasm a con con will have to confront and bridge.

Lou_Cannon-175Must reads of the week: For those looking for one piece on California’s woe that puts it all together, Lou Cannon offers up a smart and stylish overview on Politics Daily that shows why he’s a Hall of Fame political writer…Nice scooplet by Anthony York at Capitol Weekly, who reports that the final vote on last week’s defeat of Arnold’s offshore oil drilling proposal mysteriously disappeared from the official record of the Assembly….Finally, Kevin Roderick, the City of Angels bard who never sleeps, dashed off this very Calbuzz kind of item that demonstrates the true power and importance of links:

Best city for deli: L.A.?

From the Jewish Journal’s food blog, posted by editor Rob Eshman:

‘I just got a peek inside David Sax’s new book, “Save the Deli,“ due out Oct. 19, and can report that it is official: L.A. is the best deli city in America.

Bite that, New York….’”

Why Voters Really, Really Hate the Budget Props

Monday, May 11th, 2009

scream1The question in the new poll by the Public Policy Institute of California that best captures the state’s political zeitgeist is this:

“Would you say the state government is pretty much run by a few big interests looking out for themselves, or is it run for the benefit of all the people?”

The response of those surveyed was resounding and universal, regardless of party, gender, age, education, or whether they got a good night’s sleep: By virtually every measure, three out of four Californians believe that in Sacramento, the fix is in. Among likely voters, 76 percent say special interests dominate, the biggest margin since PPIC started breaking out data from this group on this question five years ago.

In other words, when ordinary people think of the Capitol, they see insiders skimming the financial and political cream, while they’re stuck on the outside looking in, noses pressed to the window.

In that atmosphere, it’s hard to imagine a more bone-headed scheme than Propositions 1A-1E that the Capitol’s political elites could have devised to convince voters to support the dead-of-night budget bail-out that Arnold and legislative leaders concocted back in February.

The measures may be -– as Calbuzzer Fred Keeley noted here back in March -– the best bad deal you’ll get. But a man from Mars, or even, say, New Jersey, who suddenly arrived in California and took a look at this special election collection of political detritus would be easily forgiven for thinking it was devised by a gang of alien con men, living in an alternate universe and addicted to speaking in acronyms and obfuscatory legal gibberish jargon.

Most media coverage of the props campaign (including here) has focused on the back and forth about tax increases versus program cuts, and its predictable, tit-for-tat ideological rhetoric. Forget that for a moment — take a step back and just look at these things through the eyes of a normal voter who doesn’t his spend his life poring through The Target Book and getting iPhone RSS feeds from the Leg Analyst’s office. Here’s you what you see:

1. The props were carefully crafted to avoid causing any pain or requiring any sacrifice by Sacramento’s heavyweight special interests.

While the governor’s initiatives would require a working stiff to pay more at the K-Mart checkout stand, at the DMV registration window and at the 7-11 lotto ticket counter, the oil, alcohol and entertainment industries, the mighty California Teachers Association and the Native American casino operators, among others, get a pass: in exchange they’ve ponied up millions to help Arnold pass the props.

Rich details of this dynamic were reported out in a recent piece of terrific investigative work by the indefatigable Shane Goldmacher, published in the Sacramento Bee, here and here.

“The entire architecture of the ballot pact that emerged was heavily shaped by leaders’ desire to please – or at least neutralize – the state’s most powerful political players,” wrote scoop artist Shane.* “Now, some of those very interest groups protected in the budget deal are bankrolling the campaign to ratify it.”

2. The props were written with stultifying complexity, the better to sell them to voters with simple-minded sound bites.

While you don’t necessarily need a graduate degree in physics to understand the May 19 measures, you damned well better know someone who does, and is willing to spend a couple hours walking you through the ballot’s differential equations.

In one of the most telling columns of the campaign, our grizzled friend George Skelton of the L.A. Times recounted how Schwarzenegger called him up to complain because he kept writing that Prop. 1A is complicated:

“It’s already complicated as it is,” the governor says, ’but the more you write about how complicated it is, the more complicated you make the complication.” “Explain it a little bit simpler,” he urges in a phone chat.

Ever a heroic solider in the daily war of words, Skelton performed a mighty yeoman effort to explain the damn thing as simply as possible, but was forced to conclude:

“Sorry, governor, Prop. 1A is complicated. It defies a simple explanation, especially when linked with a tax bill and school funding prop.”

This just in: The CTA, now bombarding the airwaves with Yes-on-1A-and-1B ads, doesn’t want the voters to bother their silly little heads with all those boring complications; so they put a teacher in their new ad to say that defeat of the two props “won’t hurt the politicians, just the students.”

3. The political perspective of the props has far more to do with inside-the-cul-de-Sac tactics and strategy than with the real lives of real people.

Thus, Capitol courtier scribes devote reams of column inches to admiring the inside baseball nuances of the props – e.g. Dan Weintraub on “Anti-tax activists miss the point of Prop. 1A” — than analyzing how the tax increases would affect the millions of Californians who’ve lost their jobs, or expect to, any day now; the little people, it seems, are just too simple to understand the deliciously Machiavellian subtleties of their political masters.

As a policy matter, the potential fall-out from the likely defeat of the major budget props – a state government cash shortage, unpaid vendors, poor and sick people missing benefit checks, cancellation of construction projects, public employee layoffs – will dramatically raise the stakes for coming up with a solution to the budget mess that voters find palatable.

Memo to the Big Five: There’s a lot of anger out there and more political fast talk and financial con games on your part is only going to stoke it. For a tutorial in how to talk about this stuff without insulting people’s intelligence, you might check out this video from the New American Foundation, the non-partisan, non-profit think tank led by former WashPost managing editor Steve Coll.

*Scoopster Shane has been scooped up by the LA Times Capitol bureau — a big blow to the Sac Bee.

Dr. H’s Glittering Bash Opens Demo Weekend Meet

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

Delegates to the California Democratic Party cast a contentious key vote Friday in favor of all six of the ballot propositions on the May 19 ballot – but the hottest action on opening night of the Sacramento convention came at the A-list party hosted by Calbuzz staff psychiatrist Dr. P.J. Hackenflack.

Following heated debate, the vote by the party’s Resolutions Committee was a victory for the Democratic establishment, and came over the objections of grass and netroots delegates who fiercely oppose the half-dozen budget measures put on the ballot by Governor Schwarzenegger and Democratic legislative leaders; the volatile debate is expected to resurface Sunday, when resolutions are to be voted on on the convention floor.

The atmosphere was far friendlier a few hours later at Lucca, the fashionable J-Street restaurant where the esteemed Dr. H welcomed political and media luminaries for the First Annual Meeting of the Dr. Hackenflack Senior Advisory Board. After consuming 13 or 14 cocktails in the bar, members of the group adjourned to a private back room for their choice of penne pasta, chicken risotto, grilled salmon and braised short ribs. The event was graciously underwritten in part by a bipartisan coalition led by Alpha consultants Gale Kaufman and Donna Lucas, who picked up the tab for a number of deadbeats who ate and ran. (We know where you live, weasels.) Also kicking in was top drawer Sacto consultant Jason Kinney.

Guests included Attorney General and gubernatorial front-runner Jerry Brown (pictured here earlier in the day expressing his appreciation for the premise of a piece by Carla Marinucci of the S.F. Chronicle); the redoubtable Garry South, chief strategist for Brown rival SF Mayor Gavin Newsom; Capitol power couple, Ms. Lucas escorted by blogger/consort Greg; Capitol Alert’s Shane Goldmacher , the hardest working man in show business; Dave Lesher, communications guru for the Public Policy Institute of California; Beth Willon, communications director for Lite Gov John Garamendi; Democratic consultants for LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Ace Smith and Dan Newman; also consultants Steve Maviglio and Roger Salazar, pollster Ben Tulchin and longtime Democratic linebacker Ed Emerson; and political writers Michael Finnegan of the LA Times, Marinucci and John Wildermuth of the Chronicle, Peter Hecht of the SacBee and Bill Bradley of New West Notes.

Best story of the night: Garry South on former Ohio Gov. Dick Celeste’s wife and her anatomically correct Christmas cookies. Weirdest moment: Lady from another party hands cell phone to Jerry Brown to take a call from famed SF attorney William Coblentz, special counsel to California Gov. Edmund G. “Pat” Brown (1959 to 1961).

Attendees all received much-coveted “I’m a Calbuzzer” pins, suitable for shameless promotion.