Brown’s Slip Up Gives Neel a Small Opening
Just when you thought the 2014 governor’s race was a done deal and that Jerry Brown had a lock on a fourth term, he has exposed an unexpected weakness that gives Republican Neel Kashkari a shot at a huge chunk of the vote: diaper-changing dads whom Brown has scorned.
It’s not an insignificant bloc of voters. Based on wild-ass guesstimates from our friends at the Field Poll and the Public Policy Institute of California — who have absolutely no responsibility for this number –the Calbuzz Bureau of Weights, Measures and Pampers estimates there could be 500,000 to 700,000 potential diaper dad voters out there, just waiting for that Kashkari mailer explaining how Gov. Brown has dissed them.
Brown in recent weeks repeatedly made national news by acting on landmark laws affecting high-profile matters from smart phones and sexual assault to gun control and plastic bags.
With much less ado, however, he brushed aside a more practical and down-to-earth concern of many average persons of the male persuasion: frazzled dads of the 1 million or so babies and toddlers who struggle with the day-to-day heartbreak of potty training.
With a swipe of his pen, Brown vetoed two bills, which passed the Legislature with near-unanimous support, to require businesses like restaurants and theaters to provide at least one diaper-changing table accessible to men.
Brown’s grocery store scanner? The biggest knock on Brown, both political and personal, is that he’s spent his whole life in elected office, a highborn prince catered to by legions of acolytes and staffers, who’s never had to deal with the real world’s stresses. He erased any doubt about this with his rarefied veto message of the two bills, by Democratic senators Lois Wolk of Davis and Ricardo Lara of Bell Gardens:
“At a time when so many have raised concerns about the number of regulations in California, I believe it would be more prudent to leave the matter of diaper changing stations to the private sector. Already, many businesses have taken steps to accommodate their customers in this regard.”
Yeah, right, governor, you tell a toddler carrying a full load to wait until the private sector gets around to providing a space for fathers to clean them up.
“Changing your baby on a bathroom floor is never fun and grosses me out,” posted one dad on a Reddit forum that drew 500 responses to Brown’s action. “I’ve actually gotten pretty decent at changing him while he stands because of the lack of changing stations in men’s restrooms though. I used to just go out to the car but that shouldn’t be the best option because then I have to go the restroom anyway to wash my hands.”
Memo to Jesuit Brown: Semper in excretia sumussolim profundum variat.
If it’s news, it’s news to us: We were entertaining at the summer place in Cote d’Azur when this news first hit our desk, but would betray our raison d’être if we failed belatedly to report that Sacramento is the least covered state capital in the nation.
That is one conclusion that may be drawn from a recent Pew Research Center study of the number of professional journalists covering state government. According to the study, while the number of statehouse reporters has declined steadily since at least 1998, it plummeted 35 percent in the past 10 years; today there are a total of 1,592 reporters covering the 50 state capitals.
With 43, California ranks second in the overall number of state reporters (to Texas, with 53) which works out to just 0.6 journalists per 500,000 residents, easily the worst in the U.S. Nationwide, the median percentage is 1.6 reporters per half-million residents, with small population states like Vermont (10.4), Alaska (5.6) and Wyoming not surprisingly leading the list.
As newspapers have withdrawn reporters from statehouses, others have attempted to fill the gap. For-profit and nonprofit digital news organizations, ideological outlets and high-priced publications aimed at insiders have popped up all over the country, often staffed by veteran reporters with experience covering state government. These nontraditional outlets employ 126 full-time statehouse reporters (17% of all full-time reporters). But that does not make up for the 164 newspaper statehouse jobs lost since 2003.
We name no names.
We’ll always have car dealers: Speaking of moldy reports, we’ve just caught up with the Gallup poll’s ratings about the most and least ethical professions in America; as newspapers grow closer to extinction, and readers’ memories grow shorter, we’re delighted to note that print reporters have risen to only the 8th least trusted workers in the nation.
Goody-goody nurses and grade school teachers top the list, of course (but pharmacists? Seriously? Then what about bartenders?); proclaiming from the rooftops with the booming voice of nearly 100 years of ink-stained wretch service, however, we note that newspaper reporters totally skunk lawyers, TV reporters (with apologies to the Palm Spring Bureau), Mad Men, lawyers, state officeholders, lawyers, car salespeople, Members of Congress, lawyers, lobbyists, and lawyers.
The changing diapers story should have been closer to the ratings of reporters story.