Posts Tagged ‘convention’

Tony V to Skip Dem Cattle Call; Won’t "Twitter While Rome Burns"

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

At 2:20 pm today, the California Democratic Party released a list of speakers at this weekend’s convention in Sacramento with one big name glaringly absent: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Exactly one hour and 32 minutes later, Villaraigosa’s press office sent out a release announcing: “Mayor Villaraigosa today announced that he will convene emergency weekend meetings with union leaders to tackle the city’s budget crisis.

“Talks will focus on ways to close a $530 million budget deficit through shared sacrifice and shared responsibility. The Mayor will begin meetings in City Hall with labor leaders on Friday evening and will continue through the weekend.”

“It is imperative that we act now to save jobs and protect services here in Los Angeles. That’s why I’m meeting with our City union leaders,” Mayor Villaraigosa said. “We’re going to brew a pot of coffee and roll up our sleeves to get it done. We can’t solve this unprecedented economic crisis with the old politics as usual.”

Reminded us immediately of when Gov. Pete Wilson used the same excuse – budget negotiations in Sacramento – to skip the 1992 Republican National Convention in Houston for his own political reasons (in his case, because he didn’t want to be associated with the party’s ultra right-wing platform).

Calbuzz asked Tony V spokesman Sean Clegg if the emergency budget session was just a lame excuse to skip the convention. “It’s exactly the opposite of that,” Clegg said. “The city of Los Angeles and most cities across California are facing an unprecedented economic crisis and jobs come first.”

Clegg said Villaraigosa is putting the needs of his city before his personal political fortunes by trying to pull together an agreement that would require labor unions to give back some hard-earned gains in order to save jobs and services in Los Angeles.

“This is a leadership moment. Antonio Villaraigosa is not going to Twitter while Rome burns,” Clegg said — a clear shot at the other mayor who would be governor: San Francisco’s Gavin Newsom.

We can hear Newsom’s spinners cackling already – and we haven’t even spoken to them yet. It’s their desperate hope that Tony V will not enter the race, leaving Prince Gavin a shot at being the anti-Jerry Brown candidate.

Especially when a new poll by Tulchin Research – Democratic but not affiliated with any governor’s campaign – came out at 3:53 p.m. announcing that while Brown is still the leading candidate at 31%, Newsom is in second place at 16% with Villaraigosa in third at 12%.

With a 4.5% margin of error, the poll of 472 likely Democratic primary voters is further Newsom cackle fodder.

Burton Takes a Duck on Special Election Props

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

For a guy known as a cut-to-the-bone straight talker, John Burton sounded awfully bashful when we asked him about the May 19 special election.

Burton, expected to win slam-dunk election as the new chair of the California Democratic Party at its convention this weekend in Sacramento, dodged and demurred when Calbuzz asked where he stands on the half-dozen contentious initiatives on next month’s ballot.

Rather than declaring his views, Burton resorted to a famous line delivered by Peter Sellers, in the 1959 British flick “I’m All Right, Jack,” in which the comic actor plays a trade unionist suspected of being a communist:

“My politics are a matter between my conscience and the ballot box,” said Burton, channeling Sellers.

Burton being Burton, there are any number of possible explanations for his reticence about the May 19 Einstein Election, in which the governor and Democratic legislative leaders have foisted a batch of complicated budget issues before voters:

  1. On the eve of the election for party chair, he didn’t want to get between elected officials, who mostly support the props, and activists, many of whom don’t.
  2. He wanted to be respectful of the convention process, in which delegates are expected to take up resolutions about the props.
  3. Like Jerry Brown (up to a few days ago), he hasn’t read them yet.
  4. He was just being a prick.

In any case, pressed on the question of whether his lifelong bleeding heart liberalism would allow him to back some of the permanent budget cuts that would result if Prop. 1A is passed, Mr. Almost Chairman responded with a classic Burtonism:

“I think when it’s all over, the ones getting fucked will be the poor people.”

The 76-year old seabiscuit — a former state senate leader, assemblyman and congressman — was slightly more forthcoming when we asked him why, exactly, he wanted to be party chairman:

“The power and the glory,” he snarled. (Burton omitted any mention of the money, although the $133,000 salary for party chair matches that of his old job as senate president pro tem).

While his only opponent, party volunteer Chris Finnie, wants to make big changes in the mission and operations of the party, Burton was very clear that his top priorities would be protecting and expanding the Democrats’ hold over elected offices in California.

“We have a very important election next year,” he said. “We have a need for a Democratic governor, we got reapportionment, we have to re-elect Barbara (Boxer), and change the two-thirds vote” needed to pass a budget.

Over the past few months, Burton has been attacked by some netroots Democrats for his throwback, ward-heeler style, and accused of not being web savvy enough to lead the party in the 21st century.

“I got a Facebook, I got that shit,” he told Calbuzz, adding that he draws the line at tweeting on Twitter.

“That’s the way you’ve got to communicate now, and we’re going to be very current and techie in getting messages out quickly,” he added. “But am I going to have a computer attached to my rear end? No.”

The “vote” for party chair will take place Saturday.