Posts Tagged ‘UC Merced’

Surf’s Up: We Read This Stuff So You Don’t Have To

Sunday, May 17th, 2009

surferNeed to get away? Amid the endless sky-is-falling media situationers on the budget mess published elsewhere, sometime Calbuzzer Greg Lucas looks closely at Arnold’s new alternatives and concludes that Demos will find about $15 billion worth of politically palatable moves there – enough to get them 70 percent of the way to the gov’s worst-case $21B scenario…

As one door closes: One of the all-time top 10 clichés in the Political Writer’s Handbook is that every crisis represents both risks and opportunities. Over at Flashreport, our friend Jon Fleischman manages to be positively Reganesque about the big chance for change presented by the budget mess, in a nice piece that combines the usual bromides about markets with compassionate concern for the folks who will be hurt. Meanwhile The Economist brings big picture perspective to Tuesday’s election, concluding that only a constitutional convention aimed at rebuilding state government from scratch can save “ungovernable” California.

Michelle Speaks: Calbuzzer Jessica Trounstine stirred up a lively debate here about UC Merced a couple days, using Michelle Obama’s commencement address as a point of departure. For those who missed the First Lady’s actual speech Huffpost has complete text and video here.

Conspiracy Theorist Alert: Not sure what it means but Barron’s reports that liberal uber money man George Soros recently took a stake in Houston-based PXP, the oil company that would benefit from the gov’s bid to approve a new offshore drilling lease in Santa Barbara.

Calbuzz gets results: The NYT discovers the California governor’s race in a dozy rehash that’s mostly notable for the fact that it’s the first major MSM piece on the campaign that doesn’t even mention the possibility that Difi will run. Calbuzz gets results!

Forest and the trees: Big Bad Dan Walters has a good one that argues persuasively that California is largely responsible for triggering the global banking crisis and puts in appropriate context the pathetic “fantasyland” effort by GOP legislators to solve the state’s economy woes with a couple cheesy bills about business regulations.

Audacious Hope Brings Michelle Obama to UC Merced

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

michelleA Calbuzz Special Report

By Jessica Trounstine

First Lady Michelle Obama will deliver the commencement address at the University of California Merced on Saturday, honoring the first graduating class that began as freshman at the state’s newest public university campus.

This is an illustrious moment for a university with no short list of challenges.

The Central Valley has long been neglected by economic fortune, reflected in the struggle to build and sustain a university campus there. The UC Regents fought an exhausting battle to win environmental approval of the design and site; in the first year, enrollment at the campus was lackluster; like the other nine UC campuses, it now faces cutbacks, as California’s budget threatens to collapse into a black hole. And yet . . . out of the agricultural dust has risen what promises to be a brilliant future.

Michelle Obama’s acceptance of the invitation to speak at UCM represents this potential, and it represents a level of achievement that already is extraordinary. This is a collection of residents, students, faculty, staff and administrators who seem like Wild West pioneers — committed to a future that others had too little imagination (or grit) to envision.

Merced and the Valley have long been the heart of the state’s agricultural engine. For much (perhaps most) of its history, it also has been sneered at by the rest of the state. Michelle’s decision to make UCM her one and only graduation appearance has brought a modicum of respect from the outside — a little “Wow, really?!” by San Franciscans and New Yorkers alike — while drawing national media attention here, here and here.

Although this attention is what the campus needs, it also has brought to the surface some of the tensions arising from the establishment of the university at this unfortunate moment in history. It’s expensive to build a first class research institution.

The widely reported escalating price tag of the graduation — which has grown to $700,000 from an original budget of $100,000 — is just one small example of these looming costs. The fights it has engendered are not likely to go away any time soon.

Even so, the community of UCM has had the audacity to hope for it anyway, and I’m immensely proud it will be my new home.

Jessica Trounstine, author of “Political Monopolies in American Cities,” is an Assistant Professor of Politics and Public Affairs at Princeton University and incoming Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of California Merced.

Surf’s Up: Arnold’s Remake Bombs and More

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

Wildermuth_mugCalbuzz webgems of the week: In his previous incarnation, Gov. Arnold made a lot of money doing action movie sequels, but his political remake on the issue of a state rainy day fund is way over the line in its shameful stealing from the original, as John Wildermuth shows in this take-down from his Chronicle blog, COMPLETE WITH CAPITAL LETTERS.

For those still confused about next Tuesday’s ballot props, even after the 12th or 13th reading, it may help to get out of the weeds and just decide based on who’s for and against them, in which this case this new site offers a useful guide to endorsements pro and con.

One of the most frequently heard charges on behalf of Prop. 1B, and of education funding in general, is that California ranks at the bottom of per-pupil spending among all states, but GOP wannabe governor Tom Campbell brings his gimlet eye to bear in debunking that claim.

Congressional Quarterly takes an early look at the 2010 governor’s race in this state of play piece. While mostly a rehash, it does have a nice nugget in the last graf – talk about burying the lede – in noting that the senior senator from California is fronting a Capitol Hill softball team called “Never Say Di.”

Lots of excitement at UC Merced in advance of First Lady Michelle Obama’s scheduled commencement address there Saturday; unfortunately, lots of cost overruns too, as reported by Scott Jason of the Sun-Star, which may not go down well in the wake of the UC Regents raising tuition yet again because of the budget mess. UCSB students meanwhile have gotten off the beach to protest cuts in programs like tutoring and counseling.

Calbuzz isn’t sure whether our recent rant helped spur Meg Whitman to start granting more interviews, but this kissy-poo encounter with Orange County Register blogger Martin Wisckol shows her Megness is already pointing toward the general election, though how exactly her plan to run California like an overseas sweat shop will attract “women, Hispanics and 18-25 year olds” ain’t exactly clear.