As the East Bay turns: Amid the reams of coverage about the whole Nadia Lockyer drugs/booze/sex/email/missing person/politics scandal, the smartest piece we’ve read came from Chip Johnson, the Chronicle’s talented if woefully underpaid East Bay columnist.
All in all, the Bay Area MSM acquitted itself well in the seamy-but-still important soap opera story, with special mention due the dogged Julia Prodis Sulek, who scored the still exclusive interview with the troubled former Alameda County supervisor, along with old Chroniclers Phil Matier and Andy Ross, whose sequential scoops kept pushing the search for the truth forward, as well as Dan Borenstein, the first to issue an eminently sensible call for Lockyer to resign, in a fine column that was both tough and empathetic.
But it was left to Johnson to parse the politics of the mess, and to remind everyone exactly how voters came to elect a person so ill-suited to office:
It’s easy to dismiss the dramatic fall of Alameda County Supervisor Nadia Lockyer as the failings of an addict. But it was much more than that. A system – our political system – created her.
Our political system allows one person, like state Treasurer Bill Lockyer, to run for a statewide office, collect millions of dollars in donations and then bestow those funds like a kingmaker in lower-level races – like a county supervisor’s race…
The accomplices to the political hijacking ran the gamut from labor leaders to politicians looking to move up the ladder and liberal voter groups who take their cues from Democratic leadership.
There is enough blame to go around – and voters deserve some of it, too. They can claim they were duped by their leaders, misled by campaign rhetoric, but at the end of the day their only responsibility was to choose a qualified leader at the ballot box, and they fell asleep at the wheel.
Calbuzz sez: Check it out.
Seven degrees of separate reality: Our old friend Tim Redmond of the Bay Guardian blogged a critique of the Calbuzz critique of Twitter, whereupon Jeff Sonderman of Mediawire, the industry blog for the Poynter Institute, journalism’s top educational outfit for working journalists, held forth on the exchange. He drew into the discussion yet another online posting, this one from the Awl, written by former Gawker editor Choire Sicha, which bashes MSM reporters for incessantly tweeting during Rupert Murdoch’s testimony to the British government’s investigation of the London tabloid hacking scandal.
To recap for those keeping score at home: a media blog for a news business training center references an online posting attacking print reporters for using Twitter to cover a global media mogul’s testimony about tabloid reporters using electronic surveillance to score stories (whew), by way of analyzing a blog posting by an alternative weekly editor about a web posting by two recovering newspaper types about how tweeting represents the decline of civilization as we know it.
Speaking of the Guardian, congrats and best wishes to Jean Dibble and Bruce Brugmann, the first boss at least half of us had in journalism, on their sale of the paper to Brand Ex after 368 consecutive years printing the news and raising hell. Here’s hoping the new owners keep pounding away on the Raker Act.
Weed whacker alert: Buried deep within the data of this week’s PPIC poll are some intriguing numbers about public attitudes towards Governor Gandalf’s proposed school finance reforms that may help shape the debate over his tax hike initiative.
The results, largely overlooked in MSM coverage of the poll (which understandably focused on the tenuous majority lead now held by the governor’s tax measure), suggest that Brown’s pitch for the tax increase as a way to save public schools would be strengthened by simultaneously selling his pending proposal to increase local control over education.
The centerpiece of his reform plan is the elimination of about 40 state-mandated categorical aid programs, which local administrators and elected officials have long complained entrap them in red tape while shackling their flexibility and authority to manage their own schools.
PPIC found that 89 percent of those it identified as likely voters say that local schools and districts should have “the most control” in deciding how state money for public education is spent – compared to 6 percent (six, count ‘em, six) who say Sacramento should have the authority. More: 81 percent of likelies say locals should have “more flexibility” in spending money that the state now “earmarks,” i.e. categorical aid, and 75 percent are somewhat, or very, confident that local schools would use such money wisely.
What is less clear is how much support Brown would have for other, more controversial elements of his reform package. Beyond giving each school district what amounts to a per-pupil bloc grant of about $6,500 a year, he also is proposing to give extra money to district that have a) more low-income students and/or b) more students still learning English.
Just 54 percent of likely voters say they back the idea of sending extra funding to schools with more poor kids, compared to 41 percent who oppose it. And, as if more evidence was needed of how much race and ethnicity underpin politics in California, only 40 percent of likelies say schools with a greater number of non-English speaking students should get more money, compared to 54 percent who are against such a policy.
Bottom line: Watch for Brown soon to start talking more about his schools plan as the next item on his “realignment” agenda, amid a growing debate in the Capitol over a) how the state can impose accountability on locals under such a dramatically revamped finance system and b) the fairness, or lack thereof, of favoring poor districts over wealthier ones.
P.S. For policy wonks and other masochists, the indispensable John Fensterwald has the fullest and best-informed discussion of Brown’s “weighted funding” reform plan. Warning: do not read and operate heavy machinery.
What do women want: Mega-kudos to Calbuzzer Susan Rose, whose writings here and here helped bring visibility to Krusty’s effort to defund the state Commission on the Status of Women, a move that was checked this week when commission chair Geena Davis joined Speaker John Perez in announcing a new funding plan to keep the board going. Nice work by all.
Memo to producers of “The Prince Gavin Show” — It’s become more important than ever to ensure that Kim Karashian is the first big “get” for Gavin’s exciting new Current TV show. The L.A. City Council is on the brink of adding Armenian to the list of languages in which election ballots are printed, giving Kim K. a much broader power base that’s likely to expand her political ambition beyond being merely the mayor of Glendale.
She already may be mulling a statewide campaign, sources close to our imagination say, even perhaps the lieutenant governorship, a $159,000-a-year gig that apparently would leave her plenty of free time for her reality TV career.