Flea Market: Budget Bingo, Babs Growls, Meg Ducks
Budget winners and losers: While it’s hard to say there were any winners in the latest budget debacle, Democratic Assemblyman – and Attorney General wannabe’ – Pedro Nava certainly scored major political points.
Nava, whose Santa Barbara district would have been directly affected by passage of the governor’s proposed approval of the Tranquillon Ridge offshore oil project, led the push-back against it within the Legislature that resulted in its defeat in the Assembly on a vote of 28-to-43.
A leader of the Coastal Caucus, Nava worked furiously over the last few days to help rally more than 50 environmental organizations to pressure Democrats to oppose the measure, despite some complex internecine politics among coastal protection advocates about the project.
When the deal went down, he’d scored an impressive triumph over Arnold that is certain to raise his visibility and his political stature, as he campaigns for the Democratic nomination for AG against San Francisco D.A. Kamala Harris and a pack of fellow Assembly members.
The list of political losers, much easier to identify in the battle, was led by Senator Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker Karen Bass. They can’t be proud of the front-page photo in Wednesday’s L.A. Times, which pictured them looking almost star-struck, yukking it up with Schwarzenegger as they announced a budget agreement in which he took them to the cleaners. While Steinberg and Bass get all puffed up about how “responsible” and statesmanlike they were in reaching a deal, the plain fact is that they gave away the store in terms of Democratic priorities and values.
Looking at the outcome, it’s hard to believe that the Democrats enjoy huge majorities in both houses; sure the two-thirds vote makes things tough, but the Steinberg-Bass performance of caving in every time the Republicans threaten to hold their breaths until they turn blue strikes Calbuzz as little more than appeasement.
After the shameful spectacle of the Legislature pulling yet another adolescent all-nighter, deciding and disposing of heaps of substantive policy in the dead of night without a pretense of serious deliberation, all Calbuzz can say is: Richie Ross was right. Bring on baseball arbitration.
Babs Blowing It? Politico files an intriguing piece reporting angst, anxiety and concern among Capitol Hill insiders over Sen. Barbara Boxer’s handling of landmark climate change legislation in the Environment and Public Works Committee, which she chairs.
The combination of Boxer’s ideological certainty and personal abrasiveness underscore “the danger of having an outspoken partisan liberal in charge of making the kinds of compromises needed to get cap and trade through the Senate,” write Lisa Lerer and Manu Raju.
“One of the criticisms that comes down on Boxer a great deal is that she takes it to really a very personal level,” said one Democratic staffer.
As a political matter, Boxer’s success or failure in getting a climate change bill through the Senate will have a big impact on her re-election campaign next year. Characteristically, Boxer sees absolutely no merit in the views of those who criticize her performance: “That only revs up my people,” she told Politico.
Mayor Jerry Miracle Worker?: Now that the Chronicle has begun examining Gavin Newsom’s campaign claims about his accomplishments as mayor of San Francisco, the Oakland Tribune, armed with the resources of the mighty Media News chain, will surely want to take a look at what Jerry Brown is saying about his tenure as mayor of that city.
In Brown’s case, his mayoralty is less of a pressing issue since he’s not basing his campaign for governor on his record during those years. Still it’s worthwhile truth testing such statements as, “During his tenure as Oakland mayor, Brown successfully reversed decades of neglect and economic decay and made Oakland one of the top ten green cities in America.”
That’s one of the assertions on the Attorney General’s “Brown 2010” web site. Other claims: Brown brought “10,000 new residents to the heart of the city” and created “a new urban vitality of art galleries, restaurants and festivals” while “personally” founding the Oakland School for the Arts and the Oakland Military Institute.
Oakland: City of Gold? Inquiring minds want to know.
Historic summit falls in forest: With local governments across California lining up to sue the state over the seizure of some $5 billion in the budget, it’s instructive to note that five hundred local officials, representing the cities, counties and school boards hardest hit by California’s budget mess, managed to slip in and out of Sacramento last weekend and miraculously escape notice by the hyper-vigilant forces of the political press corps.
The state’s first-ever “Local Government Summit,” organized by a coalition of top-rank advocacy groups*, convened at the Hyatt Regency for two days of working meetings aimed at forging a collective strategy for navigating both the current economic mess and the state’s burgeoning movement for political reform.
“It was the first time in history these groups gathered together,” said Santa Barbara county Supervisor Janet Wolf, who flew in for the event. “It was something like I’ve never been to before.”
Among other briefers, the group heard from Fred Silva of California Forward and Jim Wunderman of the Bay Area Council, the two organizations pushing the hardest to fix the state’s broken system of governance; the locals also heard about a new Maslin, Maullin and Associates poll on statewide attitudes toward state and local government.
The group concluded by identifying four key reforms on which there was broad agreement – changing term limits, reducing the two-thirds vote requirement for local taxes, requiring ballot initiatives to identify funding sources and protecting local funds from raids by the state, that last an issue that gained considerable importance with the new budget agreement, which seizes some $2 billion in local redevelopment funds, property and gas taxes.
Despite the high stakes for local government in both the budget crisis and reform movement, the summit was blacked out in the media; except for one brief advancer in the Bee’s Capitol Alert feed, the only media coverage we found was in a few small, community papers.**
* (The summit was organized by the League of California Cities, the California State Association of Counties and the California School Boards Association).
** Timm (Old School) Herdt, the indefatigable Capitol correspondent for the Ventura County Star, notes that he reported the conference, folding his stuff into a Monday situationer on local government outrage about the budget. Calbuzz regrets the oversight.
Hold that line: We’re gushingly grateful to our friends over at Flashreport for their links to our stuff, but respectfully object to the teaser they attached to our recent post about governor wannabe Meg Whitman kicking another gazillion dollars into her campaign: “Clearly these guys don’t like eMeg. LOL.” We like the LOL part all right, but where in the name of Zeus did they ever get the notion we don’t like Her Megness?
Fact is, we don’t know enough about Whitman to like her or dislike her. She could be the incarnation of Mother Teresa for all we know, since her handlers have spent months rebuffing our efforts to interview their candidate, treating the broken down old newspaper hacks at Calbuzz like the second coming of Woodward and Bernstein. Their stance leads us to employ a journalistic shibboleth straight from the editorial writers handbook: What does Whitman have to hide?
Sure, we’ve proferred eMeg a few gentle love taps, not because of who she is or what she stands for, but precisely because she hasn’t provided enough information about herself or what she stands for so that a reasonable person can make an informed judgment about her. Meg Checchi instead seems determined to float about the gritty give-and-take of politics, air months of ads picturing her with her horse and then parachute into the governor’s mansion as the natural-born heiress to Ronald Reagan.
Well, guys, from what you actually write, this makes Schwarzenegger the big winner in the budget fight.
Why not just say it?
The budget sucks, of course. And your real world alternative would be … What?
>The list of political losers, much easier to identify in the battle, was led by Senator Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker Karen Bass. They can’t be proud of the front-page photo in Wednesday’s L.A. Times, which pictured them looking almost star-struck, yukking it up with Schwarzenegger as they announced a budget agreement in which he took them to the cleaners.
Go ahead and add Orange County to your list of losers.
Republicans have been pushing asset sales as part of their Roadmap to Recovery, with Orange County Republicans leading the charge in talking about finding waste and fraud.
Dems were happy to oblige them, but curiously only found one major asset on the list that at one time included San Quentin the LA Collisseum, and other landmarks, the Orange County Fairgrounds, owned by the state as the 32 Agricultural District.
OC Fairground Board members and Orange County pols imagine that they can sell the Fairgrounds to some non-profit and keep the Fair pumping out its artery-clogging specialties like chocolate-covered bacon, corn-dogs as big as your arm, and deep-fried Twinkies. Unfortunately, the actual law says it has to be sold to generate maximum possible income to the state.
Just so you know, those of us in the Capitol press corps were busy covering state budget negotiations while the local govt folks were meeting. Our ranks are dwindled and we have to pick our spots these days, and clearly, the twentysomethingbillion budget plan was the most important story of the week.
Love your Web site,
— E.J. Schultz, Fresno Bee
I couldn’t agree less w/ BB: How can Mr. Puffy Green Gov. be considered a ‘winner’ with his enviro rep destroyed by fervent support for filthy fossil fuels? He’ll be remembered as the all talk climate change poser who ran back to dinosaur juice the second the going got tough. And oh yeah, how about the worst budget deficits in State history……
As for Nava, score one for the good guy. If enviros put money where their mouths are, Nava would not only be raising ten times more cash, but would be a shoe in for the Dem. nomination for AG as well.
As for losers, how out of touch is Sen. leader Steinberg? To join the anti-enviro Gov. in boosting new offshore oil drilling is to get yer ass fried on the third rail of California politics. Why in the world would he tie his chain to AS on that loser?
Read more carefully before launching into your tirade.
As an Oakland resident I can say first hand that the initiatives taken by Jerry Brown had an extraordinary impact on the City. The new UpTown District with the renovated Fox Theater, new restaurants and clubs is a direct result of his work. Oakland still has its problems but Jerry Brown certainly deserves credit for leaving the City in much better shape than he found it…
Didn’t get around to seeing this till now. I don’t remember anyone getting all puffed about anything. How about some simple math. Two years ago the state passed a budget that brought in $105 billion in general fund revenue. Today, it’s $85 billion. Even given that reality, with the Governor proposing eliminating the safety net and Hollingsworth backing around $19 billion cuts at one point (the Gov’s and some of the LAOs), the Legislature saved programs for the poorest. This is and should be the highest priority for any Democrat. Period. Especially when the state is leaking money and there’s a Republican governor. More math: The two thirds. It makes it “tough?” Just “tough?” The only tax increase passed in the Legislature for the last 18 years happened in February. Yeah, I’d say that’s “tough.” – Jim Evans, Communications Director, Darrell Steinberg.