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Daniel Weintraub

California Insider

A Weblog by
Sacramento Bee Columnist Daniel Weintraub

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« September 18, 2003 | | September 20, 2003 »
September 19, 2003

Ted Costa rips Shelley's legal strategy

Recall sponsor Ted Costa’s lawyers have just filed a motion with the court asking to split the allotted 30 minutes of time with the attorney general, who is representing Secretary of State Kevin Shelley. The attorney general wants to keep the entire 30 minutes to himself. But Shelley, Costa argues in the motion, has confined his legal arguments to date in this case to process, arguing that the case is not properly before the court because the state’s settlement in a prior lawsuit allowed the use of punch card voting until March 2004. Shelley, the motion says, “has left it to Costa – a private citizen – to develop the entire factual record concerning competing voting technologies, to muster the constitutional arguments as to why the impeding election does not violate the Equal Protection Clause and to bring before the Court the manifold public policy concerns that auger against an injunction and for the People’s right to vote….In fairness to the public interests at stake, and for the sake of complete presentation of the case, the Court should allocate to Appellee Costa the bulk of Appellees’ collective argument time.”

Posted by dweintraub at 4:56 PM

The 9th Circuit lineup

How Appealing analyzes the 11-judge panel picked by lottery to review the three-judge panel's decision. His take: as conservative as it could get. Link via PrestoPundit.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:41 PM

Indian casino money for Cruz and Tom

The Pechanga/Sycuan Indians today reported spending $924,000 on mail and phone banks on behalf of Cruz Bustamante.

The Morongo Band of Mission Indians yesterday reported spending $471,000 on its first television buy for Tom McClintock.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:17 PM

Shelley: filing would reopen

Secretary of State Kevin Shelley said today that he believes the entire recall election will have to be restarted from the beginning if the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals does not reverse its three-judge panel’s ruling postponing the Oct. 7 election date. Shelley said that means candidate filing, which was such a zoo the first time around, would reopen, with a new filing deadline 59 days before the March 2 election, or any other election date set by the court. He also said he believes that ballots already cast, which now total more than 500,000, would have to be destroyed. But he wouldn’t say whether he intends to appeal to the Supreme Court if the 11-judge en banc panel does not vacate the earlier ruling. “Much of it depends on the timing,” he said, adding that voters and elections officials need a certain amount of time before the election to know for sure that the balloting will proceed.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:56 PM

9th Circuit to hear case en banc

The 9th Circuit has decided to review the three-judge panel's ruling postponing the Oct. 7 election. Here is a story on CNN.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:25 AM

Every planet on Earth

Gray Davis in his first term famously said that he thought the Legislature's job was to implement his vision. People have been asking him ever since what his vision is. He was asked again Wednesday night at his "town hall" forum with a friendly audience in Sacramento. He fumbled the question terribly with some much-quoted remarks about people from "every planet" settling in California. Below I have transcribed the entire answer. While it got better, and there are glimpses of some thought about the nature of California, he still, after nearly 30 years in state government and five as governor, has great trouble succinctly stating his view of where California is today and where he'd like to take it. Here is the full quote:

"My vision is to make the most diverse state on earth, and we have people from every planet on the earth in this state, ah, we have the sons and daughters of people from every planet, of every country on earth, in this state. We are about 50 years ahead of the rest to America. We have no ethnic majority any more. I want to prove we cannot just survive, we can succeed. Let me tell you why. Most of the of folks that come here are the sons and daughters of middle class parents someplace else, they are enterprising, hard working, and they are able to attract capital from whatever country they came from into whatever business they’re doing. And that creates jobs for folks that are already here, gives them opportunity. And that’s why I want to make sure education is open everybody, that we have scholarships for kids who get a B-average in their school and if they have financial challenges then we’ll pay for all the academic costs of any public college they can get admitted to on their own merit. That wasn’t the law before I became governor. It’s the law now. It’s a tremendous motivator for young people. It is also a way in which a teacher can motivate a young child who doesn’t have two nickels to their name. Because it doesn’t matter, if they get a B-average. I am very excited about this state. It has great opportunities. They say California rides point on America. Some things we do we do really well. Some thing we do not do as well. But I want to prove we can succeed, big time."

Posted by dweintraub at 10:37 AM

Let the sun shine, let...

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposal to open up California’s public records to public scrutiny would be a radical and long overdue transformation of the way state government does business. Veteran Capitol reporters know that the Public Records Act is misnamed. It should be the un-Public Records Act. It has so many exemptions that almost every important document in government hands is now secret. In particular, communications with the governor and drafts of proposals, as well as records of the governor’s schedule and with whom he is meeting, are all secret. Critics say government discussion would be “chilled” if bureaucrats and advisers knew their words would become public. I doubt it. Other states, particularly Florida, allow broad public access to government records and don’t seem to suffer from it. While some sensitive discussions would no doubt be re-routed, the state simply does too much business among too many people for everyone to be censoring or hiding their views all the time. Allowing public access to internal documents would give citizens a much better sense of how their government was being influenced, how decisions were being made, and on what information their servants were basing their actions. California reporters, and citizens who do this kind of work, know we are far more limited in our access to information than watchdogs in other states and even those who track the federal government. If a gnome in the Department of Finance warned Gray Davis that a fiscal train wreck was coming and he ignored it, we would never know, because current law keeps such correspondence secret. If someone advised Davis that the electricity industry was about to implode, we’d never know it, because all correspondence to the governor is exempt from the public records act. If the governor signs a bill at the bidding of a big donor despite credible evidence that the bill would harm the public interest, we would never know it, because advice to the governor on legislation from his departments is not public under the public records act. If a draft of an important report is altered later for political purposes, we’d probably never know about it, because it is very difficult to get drafts of reports from the executive branch. If Californians want to take back control of their government, they first need to know what their government is doing, and why. Re-writing the public records act to actually make records public would be a huge first step in that direction.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:02 AM

Floating above the fray

The next few days will be crucial to the campaign of Arnold Schwarzenegger if the Oct. 7 election date is restored by the courts. His one major remaining Republican rival, Tom McClintock, is about to benefit from television commercials paid for by the wealthiest interest group in California – the Indian tribes who run gambling casinos. McClintock and all the other candidates, meanwhile, are combining forces to ridicule the actor for ducking all but one debate, and for choosing as his only debate one with a format in which the questions have been released in advance. His opponents either don’t know or don’t care that the format also allows for 90 minutes of free-flowing give and take among all the candidates, with all of them free to ask each other any question they like. The media have picked up on the everybody-ganging-up-on-Arnold theme, which is more fun to write about than the sort of serious political reform proposals the candidate offered Thursday in Sacramento. How Schwarzenegger responds to all of this may well decide the election, which remains a toss-up in independent polling. If he stays above the fray, laughs off the attacks and notes that his foes are being financed by the very interest groups he has threatened to sweep from the Capitol, it could solidify his campaign and win support in the days leading up to the election (if there is one). If, on the other hand, he attacks and snipes and whines about his opponents (as he did on Thursday), voters will likely see him as weak and partisan, not the kind of leader who can bring people together for the greater good of the state. It is truly extraordinary to see candidates from across the political spectrum, including a major Republican and major Democrat, working together to undermine one of their rivals. That seems, again, to play right into Schwarzenegger’s hands, reinforcing the “outsider” persona that his own campaign has so far failed to emphasize. But as Reagan so often showed, words, gestures and body language matter at times like this. One example: I remember how Reagan almost never used the word “Democrat” when criticizing his opponents. I always assumed that this was because he wanted every possible Democrat to vote for him, and he figured that blasting the party by name would make its members defensive and less likely to support him. So he always said things like “there are those who would undermine our security…” or “my opponents say…” Schwarzenegger has his moments as a communicator, but he hasn’t mastered that skill of using words that unite even as they define his differences with the opposition. With intense interest focused on his every move, his every word, he will need that skill in the next few days, and in the debate next week, if he is going to win this campaign.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:18 AM

Schwarzenegger's reform proposals

Here is the Bee's story on Schwarzenegger's political reform proposals, the most comprehensive analysis of the package in any of today's papers.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:54 AM

Balloting slows

Nearly 500,000 ballots have already been cast, putting California on a pace to equal or surpass turnout in a regular general election. But what was a geyser has slowed to a trickle since the 9th Circuit court ruling. Here is a story from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:37 AM



At Crossroads, a panel of experts and the public debate the future of health care in California. We'd like you to join the conversation.

Daniel Weintraub


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