Posts Tagged ‘David Siders’

Press Clips: Early Props for Shane, Lucas & Siders

Friday, January 14th, 2011

Just as ambitious professional pols, flacks and wonks climb and clamber over each other for the chance to get hired up by a newly-elected governor, so too do nosy, pushy media types compete for position on the inside track.

For every grubby consultant or policy propeller head who sees himself as a future Karl Rove or the next Austin Goolsbee, there’s an ill-clad foot soldier in the daily war of words whose assignment to cover the new guy from Day One offers a fresh-as-spring-training opportunity to shine.

Working in the spotlight dawn of a nationally watched, nascent administration provides ink-stained types a rare promise of twinkling career possibilities, from book contracts (see: Cannon, Lou) to national TV gigs (“As you know, Rachel, there are many Jerry Browns”), perhaps even a prominent plug on Calbuzz itself (plenty of free parking!)

So it is that our Department of Media Communications and Clip Job Commentary has kept a close eye on  news coverage of the first days of Jerry Brown III. We’re watchful for potential signs of breakout media stardom among the pack of hacks who churn out the daily grind of reportage on all the twists, turns and incremental developments that shape the narratives about the 72-year old Silver Fox (here’s hoping they remember the Little People they met on the way up).

Welcome Budgeteers! To date among this lustrous field, we tip our fedoras to the energetic Shane Goldmacher of the LAT, who’s so far had the best inside pipeline and strongest reporting on Brown’s budget strategy, the only story that matters right now, and a yarn to which Chronicler-turned-blogger Greg Lucas has  added his considerable institutional knowledge and insight.

Lucas racked up a series of Hardest-Workin’-Man-in-Show Business awards in his salad days, and so hardly qualifies as a callow youth; truth be told, he’s approaching full geezerdom at an ever-accelerating rate. Still, his new gig as a regular commentator at Capitol Weekly, which complements his regular postings at California’s Capitol, seems to have brightened his scribbling style and infused him with a spurt, if not a full-flowing fountain, of youthful energy, viz. his recent Sally Quinn-like takeout on how Brown’s ascendance and Arnold’s departure are changing the social culture of Sacramento:

On the most superficial level, one obvious thing that’s vanished from the corner office in 2011 is hair. Burnt Sienna. Brooding mahogany. All gone. Less is more. Bald is beautiful. What other reason explains John Laird being named resources cabinet secretary?

Cowboy boots. Mood rings. Designer suits. All gone….

Governor’s office staff also appears to be out. Particularly videographers. Didn’t have those in the ’70s, why would they be needed now? Also out: human resources personnel. Apparently the 39th governor will just pop by the Office Max on 17th and J Street on his way into work to buy pencils and carbon paper….

Schnitzel is yesterday. Now it’s organic greens, usually eaten off someone else’s plate. Bean dip. Mexican food. Mom-and-pop Asian joints. Lazy Susan’s – makes it easier to get at other people’s food – are all also in the ascendancy.

Cigar smoking? Not so much. Smoking Tent? Hasta la vista.

Hummers and SUVs. Think Crown Victoria….

Hollywood stars – including Oprah and Jay Leno – are also history. Policy wonks now rule. St. Ignatius and Josiah Royce rock way harder than Wag Bennett and Danny DeVito. Treadmills trump free weights. Didactics over sound bites. Improvisation over intricately crafted production…

Also on the outs, at least at the moment, are tweets, press releases and the governor’s official website. Perhaps, as Brown famously said, he simply prefers to wait for “reality to emerge.”

Mr. Fly-on-the-Wall: For our money, though, the media MVP of the early going has been the indefatigable David Siders of the Bee, who’s provided a flurry of print and online pieces, the best of which embroider solid policy reporting with little gems of observed detail which reflect a well-developed eye for the absurd,  crucial to giving readers a full look at the whimsical singularity of Jerry Brown.

Out of the gate, Siders stomped the competition in owning the story about  Sutter the Corgi, Tryout First Canine of the First Couple; among other things the scoop artist got himself in position on inauguration night to capture this Jerry-being-Jerry bit:

Late Monday night, long after his inauguration was done and the parties died down, Gov. Jerry Brown and his wife, Anne Gust Brown, were together on the sidewalk outside their downtown loft.

They were walking a Corgi dog belonging to Brown’s sister, which Gust-Brown called “cute,” and Brown called “half a rat.”

The remark was likely meant warmly. Hours earlier, an aide walking out of a post-inauguration reception inside the horseshoe was heard on a cell phone saying, “Jerry wants to know if there is anyone in his building who can get in to walk his dog. Is there anyone there who can do that?”

Despite his late night exertions, Siders was the first man on the scene at the governor’s office the next morning, turning out even before semi-chief-of-staff Jim Humes showed up at 7:30 a.m.

So by the time the governor himself showed up, Siders was well positioned to quiz Krusty on the burning question of what he planned to do with Arnold’s abandoned 800-lb bronze bear, and to record for posterity his you-kids-get-off-my-lawn reaction:

Brown: “What do you think we should do with it?”

Reporter: “Let kids climb on it.”

Brown: “Do we let kids climb on this? I don’t think this is too fun. That’s something we’re going to work on in the next few days.”

Pinocchio’s burrito: Siders also was first to figure out how to report responsibly the tricky story that Brown has ordered the size of his security detail reduced, something insiders had whispered about for several days but nobody had written.

He got the story the old-fashioned way: he asked the governor directly. Brown immediately confirmed the new policy, giving Siders a memorable  on-point quote that summed up the whole People’s Governor approach that instantly changed the atmosphere of the Capitol.

“I don’t like a lot of entourage,” said Brown, who was walking downstairs at the Capitol for a burrito..

The burrito also figured in a telling little vignette that Siders witnessed by again being in the right place at the right time:

Brown, heading downstairs to the basement cafeteria this afternoon for a rice, cheese and bean burrito, was met in the hallway by Visalia tourists Berta Mendez-Perez and Jose Perez and their children Sofia, 5; Diego, 8; and Alexandra, 10.

“We voted for you,” Mendez-Perez said.

Brown asked the children, “Did you follow the campaign?”

Alexandra nodded.

“You saw the TV commercials?” Brown asked.

They did.

“Did you see the one with the nose growing?” Brown said. “Her nose started growing because she wasn’t telling the truth. Your nose will grow, too, if you don’t tell the truth.”

And stay off my lawn, too.

Brown Proposes Baseball Arbitration Budget Plan

Monday, September 20th, 2010

On a recent appearance on “Good Day L.A.,” the popular morning show on KTTV Fox 11, Jerry Brown endorsed the framework of the “Baseball Arbitration Budget Plan,” first proposed by political consultant Richie Ross on Calbuzz.

The proposal is designed to short circuit the annual bitter and sustained gridlock over California’s finances, if no compromise budget agreement can   be reached in a specified time; at that point, Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature would each put forth their own version of a spending plan and both plans would be presented to voters, who would select one or the other as the state’s fiscal blueprint for the next budget cycle.

This either-or process is similar to that used by Major League Baseball to resolve contract disputes between players and teams.

In the version presented by Brown, responding to questions posed by Good Day L.A.’s Jillian Reynolds and Dorothy Lucey (pictured below), the governor could also prepare a third budget document, which he said should be on a special election ballot.

The interview took place last Wednesday,  with Brown motor-mouthing as if someone had spiked his green tea. The interview began with a discussion of the TV ads being aired by him and Republican rival Meg Whitman; the hosts did not appear to be aware of  Ross’s Calbuzz proposal.

Reynolds: …but when do you get to the (crosstalk), I hear you, but I’d like to hear the issues.

Brown: Okay, the issue, the issue is, that the state, the Republicans and the Democrats can’t work together, they’re just in polar opposite positions. One says ‘don’t cut,’ one says, ‘don’t tax.’

Lucey: But how are you going to pull them together? I asked Meg this, Schwarzenegger obviously couldn’t do it.

Brown: I’ll tell you how. The governor usually waits and releases their budget in January. Then they come back in June and start talking to the leadership. I’m going to start in November – the week after the election I’m going to call all 120 (legislators) together and I’m going to work them, every day if I have to, until we get the budget solution .

If they can’t agree on a solution, I’m going to ask the Republicans, ‘give me your best offer,’ and I’m going to ask the Democrats, ‘give me yours,’ and I’m going to put mine in – we’ll go to the people and get a vote at a special election. (cross talk) That’s how we’ll resolve it.

Majority rules: Brown also confirmed that he supports Proposition 25 on the November ballot. The initiative calls for the current requirement that a budget must receive a two-thirds vote of the Legislature, a state constitutional provision dating to the FDR era, be reduced to a majority vote.

Following up Brown’s special election remarks, Steve Edwards, the program’s host, noted that Whitman opposes Prop. 25, which Brown answered by saying:

Well, she doesn’t believe in the majority. I’m going to vote for it. It’s not a cure-all, but I say, ‘yes, the majority rules in this country’ – that’s the budget, not taxes – and when the people of Oakland voted for more money by 70 percent, Meg said the people of Oakland were wrong, they don’t have a right to vote because Meg says, ‘I know best,’ and I don’t think that’s the right answer.

Taken together, Brown’s statements on Prop. 25, and on the statewide vote process for resolving budget deadlock, represent the most substantive commentary by either candidate about their ideas for resolving the now-routine delays in passing a budget; in the current impasse, the longest in history, Schwarzenegger and the Legislature do not seem close to a solution nearly three months past the July 1 start of the fiscal year.

The Ross Reform Plan: Ross, a longtime Sacramento-based consultant, first raised the innovative idea of using a baseball arbitration-style popular vote to settle partisan differences over the budget in a Calbuzz guest commentary on May 18, 2009.  In his piece, he noted that Governor Schwarzenegger had used the process in helping to resolve disputes over Indian gaming casinos between tribes and local governments.

Unlike most arbitrations, in which a neutral finder of fact weighs the two sides, looks for middle ground, then crafts a solution to impose on the parties, baseball’s version is an all-or-nothing proposition. The arbitrator looks at the final position of each side and chooses one. Each side only knows its own final position, not the other. One side’s position is chosen in its entirety. The other is rejected…

Saying he believed the idea would work best after adoption of a two-year budget cycle, Ross proposed three steps that would follow:

2. Start the fiscal year on December 1. There’s nothing magical about the current July 1 start. The Feds start in October. A lot of businesses start in January. So let’s move the state’s to December 1 of the even-numbered years.

3. Make Republicans and Democrats write a complete budget. Right now, Republicans hang on to the 2/3rds majority requirement because they say it’s the only way they can be relevant. But they never have to write a complete budget plan, they just potshot the Democrats’ plan. That’s an accountability-free zone. And Democrats tell their groups how they wish they could raise the taxes to save programs but the Republicans won’t let them.

4. Put both budgets on the general election ballot — baseball arbitration style. Neither needs a majority. The one with the most votes wins.

Voters and the “winners” will live with the outcome for two years. If we like the budget we had, we’ll reward them with re-election and another budget. If they sold us on a turkey, we’ll punish them at the polls and probably give the other side’s budget a chance.

Noting that nothing changed in Sacramento in the nearly year-and-a-half since his piece first ran, Calbuzz re-published it on August 31, under a headline that said: “Ross Baseball Budget Plan: Now More Than Ever.”

What would eMeg do: David Siders’ strong piece in Sunday’s SacBee examined the crucial question about Whitman’s candidacy: whether the command-and-control management skills of CEO are useful, or even suitable, for an executive position in government, which requires more persuasion, tact and consensus-building.

It’s instructive that during the campaign, Whitman has done plenty of bashing of the governor and legislators for being late with the budget, but offered no solutions much beyond threats to crack heads. Siders reports:

When asked in Folsom how she would address the state budget impasse, one of the most persistent problems in Sacramento, Whitman said, “I would have chained them (legislative leaders) to the desk to get this done.”

“This is about leadership,” she said.

Corzine never knew what hit him: The killer quote in the Siders piece came from recently ousted New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, who was first elected to office on bold promises that he would bring his private business skills to bear on government, after a successful career at Goldman-Sachs:

Jon Corzine, the former Goldman Sachs executive, senator and one-term governor of New Jersey told Newsweek this year that he, like Whitman, thought “the managerial skill set would be helpful.”

It wasn’t, he said.

“The idea that you’re accountable to a bottom line and to a payroll in managing a business – it gives voters the confidence that you have the right skills (to govern),” Corzine told Newsweek. “But it’s 20,000 people vs. 9 million. I don’t think candidates get the scale and scope of what governing is. You don’t have the flexibility you imagined. There’s no exact translation.”

Are you listening, Meg?