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Posts Tagged ‘Lieutenant Governor’



Gavin’$ Problem; M&R and the Politics of Outing

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Calbuzz has assiduously avoided writing about the race for (and machinations around) the office of Lieutenant Governor because we think  a) it’s a stupid statewide post that b) nobody cares about.

But while chatting with consultant Garry South about something else altogether, he mentioned that our old pal (and his former client) Prince Gavin Newsom of San Francisco could have some trouble if he decides to jump into the Gov Lite race.

South, a serious student of fund-raising rules in California, argued that under Fair Political Practices Commission regulations, as amended in 2000 by Prop. 34, Newsom’s major donors from the governor’s race – those who gave him anything more than the $6,500 limit in the LG’s race – cannot be tapped for more cash.

“They can’t give him another dime,” South insisted. “They’re maxed out.”

Of course, South is conflicted on this issue, since he’s now working for Lite Gov candidate Janice Hahn of the L.A. City Council, who, until Newsom started nosing around in the race, appeared to be facing only Kern County state Sen. Dean Florez for the Democratic nomination.

This isn’t about transferring money from one account to another, which Jerry Brown can do – making it possible for him to go back to the same people who gave him $6,500 for Attorney General and ask them for the difference up to $25,900, the maximum for a governor’s race.

We don’t recall a situation in California in which a candidate wipes out a governor’s campaign account and then wants trade down to another statewide office.

But Newsom friend and (for now) unpaid adviser Jason Kinney (South’s old ally and partner at California Strategies), says the Prince’s people have consulted with two different campaign law attorneys and have been told that Newsom can indeed go back to those maxed-out donors and get cash for a lite gov run – if he decides to file.

And Roman Porter, executive director of the FPPC, told Calbuzz he agrees with Kinney Newsom et al. The limits, he said, apply “per candidate, per election – it’s a separate election.” (BTW, Porter was actually at the hospital where his wife was in labor when he came to the phone to offer his perspective – way above and beyond the call of duty.)

Now, we’re not lawyers (we just pay them). But when we read the law (including the definition of a candidate) and when we think about it, South’s got a point. When you strip away all the parenthetical and qualifying clauses and update the dollar amounts the law says: Except a candidate for governor, a candidate for statewide elective office may not accept from a person any contribution totaling more than $6,500 per election.

 

If the law is designed to limit influence by a donor, why would it allow the donor to buy $25,900 in Gavin Newsom for Governor and then, when that collapses, another $6,500 in Gavin Newsom for Lieutenant Governor?

On the other hand, you can see why South would want to wipe out that $3 million funder base that Newsom tapped in his aborted governor’s campaign.

Injunction to follow.

In & out burger: Chroniclers Phil Matier and Andy Ross, the Butch and Sundance of California political reporters, fearlessly jumped off a journalistic cliff Sunday Feb. 7, when they identified as gay the federal judge now presiding over the volatile Prop. 8 case — Vaughn Walker.

A case study pitting an individual’s right to privacy versus the public’s right to know, the uncharacteristically nuanced M&R column stirred upset and concern in several quarters  – including their own newsroom. By outing Walker with their hetero-normative insensitivity, the argument went, the boys not only created an irrelevant distraction in the middle of the trial, but also handed gay marriage foes a handy argument to discount any trial rulings, or eventual decision, that undercut Prop. 8.

“What’s next?” one denizen of Fifth & Mission bitterly complained, “Tailing him to a bar? Peeking at his magazine subscriptions or his Netflix account?”

The thoughtful Brian Leubitz, who blogs about the trial at the Courage Campaign’s excellent Prop 8 Trial Tracker , argued the case against publicly disclosing Walker’s sexual orientation by raising this comparison:

So, did anybody comment about Justice Alito’s gender when he wrote the outrageous opinion in Ledbetter v Goodyear Tire that said that under the Civil Rights Act women could not sue after 180 days from the discriminatory decision, even if they didn’t know about the decision for years? The decision that ultimately spurred the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Act because it was so egregious?

Breaking it down, Calbuzz sees three key questions:

1-Did M&R “out” Walker?

No. Our dictionary defines “outing” as “The exposing of one assumed to be, or wishing to be, considered heterosexual as being gay, lesbian, or bisexual.” Although he hasn’t advertised his sexual orientation, Walker by all accounts has made no secret of it, either.

Matier and Ross went out of their way not to out Walker, and their reporting showed pretty clearly that he didn’t feel outed: First, they called him up to ask him directly about his sexual orientation, to which he gave a “no comment.” Not long after, however, they received a call from another federal judge, described as a “friend (and) confidant” of Walker; this judge told them he had spoken to Walker, who was concerned that “people will come to the conclusion that (Walker) wants to conceal his sexuality.”

“He has a private life and he doesn’t conceal it, but doesn’t think it is relevant to his decisions in any case, and he doesn’t bring it to bear in any decisions,” said the judge, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the Prop. 8 trial.

“Is it newsworthy?” he said of Walker’s orientation, and laughed, “Yes.”

2-Is Walker’s sexual orientation a story? Yes.

The backgrounds of judges matters, and Walker’s is no less a story as Alito holding  membership in the Federalist Society, or Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s “wise Latina” speech. Walker clearly doesn’t hide his sexuality and, if he ends up overturning Prop. 8, its backers will use everything they can to challenge the legitimacy of his opinion in the appeal or the media, or both.

At that point, the Chronicle would find itself explaining why they didn’t report the fact in the first place, just as the Portland Oregonian did a disservice to readers in the 1990s by sitting on information about former Senator Bob Packwood sexually harassing a series of staffers, and then was caught out when the facts were disclosed by another news organization. Journalists are in the business of making information public, not withholding it, or calculating in advance the potential political impacts of publishing or not.

3-Does it make a difference to the case? It shouldn’t.

For starters, as state Senator Mark Leno pointed out to M&R, no one made an issue of the sexual orientation of members of the state Supreme Court when they heard the first challenge to Prop. 8. So why should Walker being gay matter any more or less?

Also, there’s plenty of evidence that the judge keeps his personal beliefs separate from his professional actions and values, and holds himself to the ethical standard famously compounded by the late Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter:

As a member of this court, I am not justified in writing my private notions of policy into the Constitution, no matter how deeply I may cherish them or how mischievous I may deem their disregard.

 

Walker was reviled in the gay community for years because he represented, as an attorney, the U.S. Olympic Committee when it won a case disallowing San Francisco’s Gay Olympics from using that name. In fact, as Chron editorial page editor John Diaz pointed out in a strong follow-up edit on Tuesday, there’s great irony in the suggestion that Walker is in the tank for the gay community:

Vaughn Walker almost lost his chance to reach the federal bench because of claims that he was anti-gay and hostile to civil rights. Two dozen House Democrats, led by Rep. Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, opposed his nomination because of his alleged “insensitivity” to gays and the poor. His first appointment, from President Ronald Reagan in 1987, stalled out in the Senate Judiciary Committee…Back then, Walker struggled to assure skeptical liberals that, as a judge, he could rule with impartiality…

Bottom line: Chronicle editors made the right call in publishing the M&R column as is, and in doing so followed the most fundamental principle of the Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists:

Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public’s right to know.

Press Clips: Nice work by Jackson West at NBC Bay Area in shedding light on eMeg Whitman’s claims about layoffs during her tenure at eBay…High Concept of the Week, from Steven Pearlstein in the Washpost: Obama should show some leadership…High Concept II, from Alan Mutter: journalists should get paid.

Today’s sign the end of civilization is near: It’s open season on Smokey the Bear.

Lingerie to Lite Gov: Top 10 Quotes of the Week

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

From the Saints’ Superbowl win to the smash mouth campaigns for governor and Senate and the Assembly’s goal line stand against Abel Maldonado’s nomination for lite gov, it was a week of thrills and spills in spectator sports of all kinds. Here’s a look at the most memorable things anyone said about what happened.

We’re going to take a hiatus on this issue.
– Jim Wunderman, CEO of the Bay Area Council, pulling the plug on the group’s planned initiative to convene a state constitutional convention, because of a lack of money.

It would mean a great deal to Bikram if, in lieu of giving him a birthday gift,that you instead make a donation to Jerry Brown’s 2010 Exploratory Committee for Governor of the State of California.
–Invitation for a birthday celebration tonight from multi-millionaire yoga mogul Bikram Choudury, creator of Bikram Yoga, in which practitioners – including California’s Attorney General – perform a series of poses in a room heated to 105 degrees.

It’s just incredible. The Legislature is broken. It’s chaos.
Sen. Abel Maldonado, discovering news that stays news, one day after the Assembly, more or less, rejected Gov. Schwarzmuscle’s nomination of him as lieutenant governor.

It is now very clear that the entire Republican Party must unite behind Meg’s campaign. We have an outstanding party standard bearer. Since last summer, Meg has led among GOP voters in every independent poll by enormous margins, and those same polls show that she is the strongest Republican candidate against Jerry Brown.
Former Governor and Meg Whitman campaign chairman Pete Wilson, attempting to cancel the June 7 primary, and forgetting the oldest cliches in politics:  “The only poll that matters is the one on election day.”

I’ll pay you with a pair of autographed panties.
Angelyne, famous-for-being famous L.A. billboard model and newbie candidate for governor, thanking Chronicler Joe Garafoli for explaining the meaning of the word “secession” to her.

What did Tom Campbell know and when did he know it?
Julie Soderlund, campaign manager for Carly Fiorina, getting waaayyy carried away with an unconfirmed report that rival Campbell cut a sleazy deal with Whitman to switch from the campaign for governor to Senate.

Just one thing – what’s NASCAR?
Calbuzzer Cicero, channeling Steve Poizner after our memo recommending The Commish go down-scale blue collar in his bid for the Republican nomination for governor.

Before last night, I never really understood how horrible and unfair it must be to be a man. Having a job. Dressing oneself and taking out the recycling. Practicing basic human hygiene. A devastating existence made more trying by the presence of a demanding, overbearing woman. You might even have to carry her lip balm. The horror.
–Huffpost bloggers Jehmu Greene and Shelby Knox bemoaning a series of anti-feminist Superbowl ads featuring henpecked husbands.

Change out of that skirt, Jason.
–Sportscaster Jim Nantz, narrating a Superbowl Ad in which a guy goes lingerie shopping with his girlfriend instead of watching the game.

We were very impressed with the job her hand did at the Tea Party Convention.  And we said to ourselves, let’s give Sarah Palin’s hand a job.
–Fox News Chief Roger Ailes, as channeled by Andy Borowitz, extending a job offer to the former Republican vice-presidential nominee after she used her left palm as a cheat sheet before a live interview.

Arnold Tries Again on T-Ridge & Rumors of the Week

Saturday, January 9th, 2010

offshoreGovernor Schwarzmuscle rolled out a new version of his twice-defeated plan for expanded offshore drilling Friday, but it’s tough to imagine his latest tweaks changing many minds.

Despite his 0-2 record in pushing for a lease to allow the PXP energy company to drill in state waters off the coast of Santa Barbara, Arnold doggedly added the Tranquillon Ridge offshore oil project to his just released, ugly budget plan.

As a financial proposal, the much chronicled project (memo to those who’ve been sightseeing in Albania since May: see Calbuzz archive) is intended to generate a quick, couple hundred million bucks for the recession ravaged state treasury. Politically, however, Schwarzenegger must overcome the passionate and visceral opposition to offshore drilling which reflects longstanding California environmental policy.

The project was voted down by the State Lands Commission early last year, then rejected by the Legislature at the end of the long summer budget battle. Now Schwarzenegger is trying again, tarting up the proposal politically with some key tactical changes:

Process: The budget plan calls for T-Ridge to be sent back to the State Lands Commission for rehearing.

The change is crucial, because reconsideration by the lands commission is exactly what the faction of environmentalists who back the project, led by Santa Barbara’ Environmental Defense Center, have been seeking, as an alternative to Schwarzenegger muscling the matter through the Legislature. His move instantly paid off in the form of a quick EDC statement in support of the governor’s latest plan:krop_lg

“We look forward to the opportunity to have this project reconsidered by the State Lands Commission,” said Linda Krop, EDC’s chief counsel, expressing “appreciation” to the governor. “Reconsideration by the State Lands Commission is the only process that we support to address this unique proposal.”

Despite the new process, however, Schwarzenegger’s budget document also states that if the drilling plan is “not approved by the Commission, legislation will be necessary,” making it clear that he will take another run at the Legislature if state lands turns it down again.

Abel Maldonado: The administration’s clear political calculation is that  Senator Abel Maldonado, whom Schwarzenegger has nominated for  Lieutenant Governor, would vote for the measure on the lands commission.

The Lite Gov is one of three members of the commission, and John Garamendi, the former occupant of the office who was recently elected to Congress, cast the deciding vote against PXP’s plan last year. Although Maldonado also voted against it as a state senator, his well-earned reputation for political opportunism makes it not unlikely he’d see things the governor’s way if the Legislature confirms him.

State Parks: The money generated by the PXP project would be earmarked for state parks, many of which were slated for closure last year, until Schwarzenegger reinstated funding. By tying the new lease to parks financing, he forces a choice for the lesser of two environmental evils.

Pedro-Nava“The governor has truly sunk to a new low, by making the parks system, the jewel of California, reliant on new offshore oil drilling,” said Assemblyman Pedro Nava, who has led legislative opposition to the drilling proposal.

Warming to his task, Nava said that linking parks and offshore oil was like “offering a rent reduction to a victim of domestic violence in exchange for forcing them to go back and live with the abuser.”

That little vein in his ample forehead throbbing vigorously, he added:

“If anybody thinks there wasn’t an agreement reached by Abel Maldonado (with Schwarzenegger) then think again. This is one of the most cynical acts I’ve ever seen.”

Beyond the PXP conflict, the offshore debate is certain to become even more combative this year with the introduction by Republican Chuck DeVore, an Orange County assemblyman and contender for the U.S. Senate nomination, of legislation to effectively open up the entire California coastline to new drilling.devore

DeVore said his plan, which would impose a 40 percent royalty on offshore oil and natural gas extraction, could generate as much as $16 billion by 2011: “My proposal generates billions of dollars this year, when California needs it most,” he said.  “Allowing new offshore leases under this plan prevents cuts to education, public safety and other government services.”

T-Ridge and the DeVore measure are the latest examples of the intertwined politics of the economy and the environment moving center stage in 2010 campaigns.  Check back on Monday for more on this development.

Rumors of the week: Calbuzz hears that Steve Cooley, L.A.’s hardass, three-term district attorney, plans to jump into the Republican race for Attorney General, perhaps as early as next week.

SteveCooley_picCooley’s entry would be a game-changer in the race, giving the GOP a top-drawer candidate with a good chance to win statewide office. Cooley also offers a sharp contrast to Democratic front-runner Kamala Harris, the San Francisco district attorney who’s against the death penalty and  embroiled in controversy over a program to funnel illegal immigrant felons into a jobs program instead of prison.

Add rumors: We got no inside info on this one, but we won’t be surprised if GOP wannabe governor Tom Campbell announces a switch to the Senate soon after his impending return from his Panamanian vacaciones. Bill Whalen’s got a good post looking at the implications of such a move.

Quote of the week:* Our pal Alan Mutter, noted media analyst and Chicago deep dish pizza aficionado, was interviewed by the New York Times for a story about the struggle of newspaper owners against the rise of the web, and replied:

“One of the problems is newspapers fired so many journalists and turned Mutterthem loose to start so many blogs,” Mr. Mutter said. “They should have executed them. They wouldn’t have had competition. But they foolishly let them out alive.”

*Calbuzzer Alert: Send us your nominees for Quote of the Week, which we’ll run each Saturday. Winners get two free Calbuzz buttons; second place gets three.

Press Clips: And Now, the Calbuzz “Little Pulitzers”

Friday, September 4th, 2009

leomccarthyChecking Arnold’s respirations: The late, great Speaker Leo Tarcissus McCarthy, who also served three terms as Lieutenant Governor, used to joke, sort of, that his chief duty was to get up in the morning, make sure the governor was still breathing, then go back to bed.

With incumbent Lite Gov John Garamendi apparently headed for Congress after skunking the field in the 10th CD special the other night, speculation abounds about who the Terminator might pick to replace him (of which the weirdest is the strange-bedfellow suggestion by state Demo chair John Burton that Republican and ex-L.A. Mayor Dick Riordan would make a fine seat-warmer).

For our money, however, the estimable Joe Mathews is on the right track, in this piece excavated from the files of Fox & Hounds, to wit: Does California really need a lieutenant governor? The 30 employees of the office are no doubt Fine People and Great Americans, and the $3 million they cost is a decidedly modest amount, but bottom line? How much would taxpayers really suffer from cutting back our delegation to the Shanghai Wine and Cheese Exposition ?

suehortonThree Dot Awards: This week’s Calbuzz “Little Pulitzer” prize for High-Impact Performance goes to Sue Horton, indefatigable editor of the op-ed page at the By God L.A. Times, who scooped the world by landing a piece by online TV journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee, their first since being released from captivity in North Korea…

Best of  Show for the week’s political reporting goes to Merc Newsman Mike Zapler for his sharp piece on how Hewlett-Packard peddled millions of dollars of electronics to Iran, in violation of U.S. trade policy, under the fine leadership of Hurricane Carly Fiorina…

nancy

Top Honors in the investigative category go to the Contra Costa Times for compiling and publishing a data base with the salaries of 134,000 public employees in the Bay Area, including a whopping $876,831 paid to one Nancy Farber for running the tiny Washington Township public health care district in southern Alameda County; turns out the district employs four of the top 10 salaried folks in the survey. Talk about your Cadillac health care – now there’s the place you wanna get sick.  Or hired.

And the coveted “If It’s News, It’s News to Us” prize to the Sacto B-, for waking up from a long and snuggly nap to breathlessly report that Steve Westly “unequivocally” isn’t running for governor, more than two weeks after the Calbuzz knock down of that silly rumor peddled by Willie Brown in the, um, news pages of the Chron. This just in to the Bee: World War II Unequivocally Over!

george_lakoffAnd another thing, Barack: We’re drowning in blog posts offering earnest, unctuous and cheap, bad advice to the president about what he should, shouldn’t, did and didn’t do in selling health care reform to the nation. As he prepares to deliver a crucial speech on the subject at a special joint session of Congress next week, one of the few pieces worth perusing comes from George Lakoff, noted  Bezerkley chrome dome and author of several books on how language shapes perception. The piece by Lakoff, who’s the (all rise) Richard and Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at Cal, is even longer than his title, but well worth the effort.

Homer_British_Museum

Context on context: David Dayen, world’s most prolific blogger, takes a brief time-out from accepting online journalism awards to message from his perch at Calitics that he’s certain we misstated the context of now-infamous comments by Bert Stead, self-proclaimed “right-wing terrorist” at Rep. Wally Herger’s town hall meeting. Says the Dayen of Delphi:

“The right-wing terrorist” comment is a ‘vamp’ – but on a report delivered by the Department of Homeland Security back in April on right-wing terrorism, which conservatives howled about and eventually forced a retraction. Because conservative extremists have never resorted to violence to make their political points (Holocaust museum, Jim Adkisson in Tennessee, Tim McVeigh). Conservatives have been wearing the label as a badge of honor since April. Here’s a site that started in May. ”

So noted.

Garamendi Fired By His Political Consultant

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Making high-tech history, Silicon Valley political consultant Jude Barry has announced his resignation from John Garamendi’s campaign for governor on his Facebook page.

A class act, Barry wouldn’t go beyond the statement he posted to his FB friends when we reached him Tuesday. But it’s not hard to imagine why he bailed: Eight months into the mission, Garamendi has yet to find campaign co-chairs or, more importantly, finance co-chairs, which suggests his fundraising reports won’t be front page news. He and wife Patty seem set on running a Ma and Pa Kettle operation. And don’t even get us started about trying to get an email answered by the campaign.

Beyond the organizational problems, however, there is simply no clear rationale for a Garamendi candidacy: Dudley Do Right has already run and lost for governor twice — to Tom Bradley in the 1982 Democratic primary and to Kathleen Brown in the 1994 primary; now he’s facing the Three Strikes law for politicians (In an earlier post, we incorrectly reported that Garamendi had also run in the 2003 recall election for governor; calbuzz regrets the error).

“I like John Garamendi and appreciate the opportunity to have worked with him and many other good people on his team, both on the campaign and in the Lieutenant Governor’s office,” Barry said in his Face post on Monday. “But, at this point, I’ve done all I can to help him. I don’t think I can do much more and it doesn’t feel right to just hang around the campaign. I wish John and the campaign good luck.”