Archive for 2009

Jerry Brown Backs Prop. 1A

Sunday, April 12th, 2009

This Just In: Attorney General Jerry Brown is supporting Proposition 1A, the linchpin measure on the May 19 special election ballot to impose a new spending cap on state government and extend $16 billion in tax increases, the former governor said in an interview with calbuzz.

The 2010 contender for governor was tepid in his endorsement of the measure, but credited Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders for their effort in crafting a compromise: “The budget thing is complicated and it is daunting,” he said. “They tried . . . and did the best they could to come up with something.”

“You can’t make the perfect the enemy of the possible,” Brown told calbuzz.

Brown is the final major candidate in the early gubernatorial field to take a public stand on Prop. 1A. His position aligns with that taken by two Democratic rivals, mayors Gavin Newsom of San Francisco and Antonio Villargairosa of Los Angeles. Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, also a Democrat, opposes the measure. On the Republican side, Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman oppose Prop. 1A, while moderate former U.S. Rep. Tom Campbell supports it.

The measure is one of five initiatives the governor and Legislature placed on the ballot to enact a February budget deal that purports to close a $42 billion projected deficit for the current and next fiscal years. Without passage of the measures, that deal falls apart and Schwarzenegger and Democratic leaders will be forced into further negotiations over the deficit. A statewide survey released late last month by the Public Policy Institute of California showed the initiative losing.

In the interview with calbuzz, Brown declined to take positions on the other ballot measures yet: “I have to read them” he said.

Tomorrow: check back for more calbuzz on Brown’s first extensive interview about the 2010 governor’s race.

Ask Dr. Hackenflack: Secrets to Mysteries of California Gov’s Race

Saturday, April 11th, 2009

Dr. P.J. Hackenflack, Calbuzz staff political psychiatrist, has received a load of letters about the candidates in the 2010 California governor’s race. At the urging of the Calbuzz Senior Executive Management Team, he agreed to share a few with our readers.

Dear Dr. Hackenflack,
How can Jerry Brown be governor? Isn’t there some law against a guy holding the top office twice in the same life?
— Wondering in Willits
Yes, but Jerry enjoys immunity, having slipped through a breach in the space-time continuum, which taught him there is no past or future, only now.

I saw a TV ad with Gavin Newsom telling people they should accept gay marriage regardless of how they felt about it. Does that mean I have to vote for him even if I like somebody else?
— Bruce from Burlingame
Yes you do, according to Newsom adviser Garry South. Whether you like it or not.

Hi Doc,
I know Meg Whitman was CEO of eBay but I don’t get how that prepares her to cut deals with legislators, manage hot button social issues or lead an economic behemoth like California.
— Skeptical in Stanislaus
Me neither.

Dear Dr. H,
I hear that Antonio Villaraigosa is planning to run, even though he just told voters in L.A. he really, really wanted to be re-elected mayor. Why is he doing this?
— Juanita, San Joaquin
He heard that Telemundo has a new reporter on the political beat.

My Dear Doctor Hackenflack,
How can Jerry Brown be governor – isn’t he older than the Oakland Hills?
— Dianne in Presidio Terrace
Definitely not. It’s true that Jerry is older than the ball point pen, but when the Oakland-Bay Bridge opened, he was already two.

Wussup Doc,
Steve Poizner might be, like, totally awesome, but he’s, like, the insurance commissioner? Isn’t being governor, like, sort of a big next step?
– -Tiffany in Tujunga
Yes, but Gray Davis provides a great example of how to ride a cheesy statewide office into a failed governorship.

To: Dr. P.J. Hackenflack
From: Bert in San Jose
It is my understanding that Tom Campbell has not raised much money and is campaigning primarily by writing a blog. Does being a blogger qualify him to be governor of our state?
Who cares, as long as he links to calbuzz?

Dear Doctor,
When Arnold became governor he called Democrats “economic girlie men,” but he turned out to be kind of a wimp himself. What he will do when he leaves office?
— Maria, Los Angeles
Work tirelessly to promote the metrosexual agenda.

How can Jerry Brown be governor – isn’t he like gum on your shoe?
— Anne from Oakland

Send your questions for Dr. Hackenflack to calbuzzer@gmail.com. If Dr. H selects your question, you’ll win a free, limited edition “I’m a Calbuzzer” button, suitable for wearing.

Jack Kavanagh’s Rough & Tumble Deserves Top Honors

Friday, April 10th, 2009

We were delighted to be named by the Washington Post’s “The Fix” as one of the top three political web sites in California, along with Flashreport and Calitics. But there is one web site that wasn’t named that — in our opinion — is a vital resource for anyone following California politics. That’s Rough & Tumble, by Jack Kavanagh.

Jack has been pulling together the most relevant California political news on his site for years — day in and day out. He’s fair, open-minded and one of the hardest-working guys in the business.

Jack’s web site generates 18,000 to 20,000 page views a day: it’s tremendously successful and rightfully so. It’s the granddaddy of California political sites. (There are many other great sites, but Jack’s is in a class by itself.)

Calbuzz is indebted to Rough & Tumble: More people come to our site from Rough & Tumble than any other single source. We urge Chris Cillizza, who publishes “The Fix” for the Washington Post to add Rough & Tumble to his list of top California sites.

Friday Fishwrap: Gay Marriage Wars and More

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

Gay Blades Come Out Again: The cultural war over gay marriage has suddenly re-emerged nationally, setting the stage for volatile political developments in California when the Prop. 8 decision comes down between now and June.

Last Friday’s decision by the Iowa Supreme Court that found unconstitutional a state ban on same-sex marriage was followed within days by enactment of a pro-gay marriage law in Vermont and passage of another in the District of Columbia. All this could push the issue directly before Congress, as similar measures move ahead in New York and other states.

The flurry of activity triggered an all-hands-alert among religious foes of gay marriage, led by an outfit called the National Organization for Marriage, which rushed to air in California and other key states a dubious TV spot that uses paid actors to mouth lines of supposedly real people whose purported lives are about to be allegedly disrupted by “The Gathering Storm.” (And for a good spoof of the ad, try this.)

Foes of Prop. 8 meanwhile are sniffing defeat in court and planning mass demonstrations if the California Supremes uphold the initiative ban on gay marriage passed last November. The court has until June 3 to issue its ruling.

All of which complicates the lives of the candidates for governor. After months of mouthing platitudes about the green economy, as all-recession-all-the-time stories blanketed the news cycle, wannabes now face the unpleasant prospect of getting whipsawed between two highly motivated enemy camps: ardent progressive and gay activists demanding civil rights for all versus impassioned conservative evangelicals and other churched groups, fiercely intent on protecting their most sacred values from doom.

SF Mayor Gavin Newsom may be buffeted the most. In a Democratic primary in which liberal voters have an outsize influence, the marriage issue may help Newsom, whose biggest claim to fame to date is ordering S.F. bureaucrats to issue marriage licenses to gays. It also reinforces his strength with younger voters who are bemused by all the fuss their elders make about who sleeps with whom.

But just when Newsom is trying to introduce himself in Southern California as a model of innovative and effective leadership, he once again will be associated with a polarized issue that promptly reinforces his political roots in a city known for its ultra-liberal values. Much worse for him, though, is the now-famous “whether you like it or not” clip, which shows him as an arrogant young man, blithely dismissive of the 50% of Californians who disagree with him. Net effect: Negative.

Jerry Brown, who used his powers as attorney general to oppose the voter-approved Prop. 8 before the Supreme Court, thereby blunts any major gains Newsom might otherwise reap from the issue in the primary. Beyond that, anybody who’s strongly against gay marriage isn’t bloody likely to be for Jerry Brown in any case. Net: Wash.

Steve Poizner and Meg Whitman, two moderate Republicans trying to masquerade as true-believer conservatives to court right-wing GOP primary voters, will both come under new scrutiny and pressure to bow to the Christian right on this and other social issues.* The whole exercise will underscore for California Republican Assembly types that they don’t yet have a real horse in the race. Net: Negative.

As General-Governor-Mayor-Chairman-Secretary Brown told us when we asked him about the issue: “Politicians don’t like 50% issues – they’re looking for 80% issues” . . .

Big Foot Watch: You know your home state governor’s race is gonna be fun when the New York Times lets one of its best, brightest and sharpest writers journey west to gather string for a piece on the future of politics in California. That’s wussup with our old pal Mark Leibovich, formerly of the San Jose Mercury News, who’s coming to the Golden State soon. In case you aren’t familiar with Mark, he’s the guy who so deftly filleted Hardballer Chris Matthews, ex of the S.F. Examiner, in the NYT magazine that Chris himself dined out on the piece . . .

Hacks to Flacks: The list of California political journos fleeing newspapers to jump to the other side is growing. Latest is Mary Anne Ostrom, who hangs it up after 21 years at the Merc News to work as an adviser to Whitman for “policy, communications and online outreach.” She tells calbuzz that it’s “not just the dire state of newspapers. I crave a change (and) I’ve always been curious about the inner workings of a campaign.” Ostrom joins ex-S.F.Chronicle WashBuroMan Zach Coile, who jumped ship to mouthpiece for US Sen. Barbara Boxer . . .

We’re just sayin: First challenge for our old colleague Mary Anne: Do something about the insipid “Ask Meg” clips on the campaign’s slick web site, which include fluff like eMeg saying that the secret to fixing education is to “set ourselves a goal of being No. 1 again.” Or maybe do something about Meg’s vapid Tweets (“In Silicon Valley working today!”). Like make her stop, already.

* Although, as we have noted before and Bill Bradley notes in his comment, Whitman strongly opposed Prop. 8 during the campaign

Washington Post Ranks Calbuzz a Top Political Site in California

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

Less than a month into the mission (and even before our redesign), calbuzz.com was named one of the top three political blogs/sites in California Thursday, by The Washington Post’s “The Fix,” written by that paper’s top blogger, Chris Cillizza.

As the ultimate insider’s insider journalist in Our Nation’s Capitol, Cillizza publishes an annual list of “the best political blog (or blogs) in each of the 50 states.” In his updated list, which appears on the home page of his blog every day, Cillizza put calbuzz in the Golden State’s top tier, joined by our friends at FlashReport and Calitics, both featured in our blogroll.

Cillizza made his selections based on recommendations of readers, which means we got a bunch of support from calbuzzers across the state. We hugely appreciate not only your readership but also the great contributions made by calbuzz contributors from every point on the political spectrum, from Fred Keeley to Dan Schnur, from H.D. Palmer to Jude Barry.

You can see Cillizza’s entire list here. Thanks again for your support.