We’ll have to see if anybody’s watching this forum or will watch others if they are held. But if the governor is smart, he’ll barnstorm the state and do them in every city. Most voters haven’t seen Schwarzenegger since the campaign, other than in brief snips on the news. They’ve seen and heard him portrayed as an ogre, a bully, an idiot. But his command of the issues is far better than it was two years ago, and he can articulately make his case for his measures, even in the face of tough questions from voters who disagree with him. He relied on his stump speech material at times, but he wasn’t overly scripted. He mixed in humor. He used anecdotes to make his points. He wasn’t perfect. But he was close to it. His opponents weren’t terrible, but they were what they were: defenders of the status quo. If two-thirds of Californians think the state is going in the wrong direction, they’re not likely to be convinced by these folks that everything is just fine.
Posted by dweintraub at 7:39 PM
"We need reform,. We have a broken system. That’s why you sent me to Sacramento. To fix the broken system. Please give me the tools.”
Posted by dweintraub at 7:25 PM
A questioner accuses Schwarzenegger of paving the way for a right-wing gerrymander.
Gov: In Ohio, the Republcians are mad at me because I have endorsed their redistricting measure and the Republicans are in the majority. This has nothing to do with Democrats versus Republicans. We don't even know what the outcomes will be...
Posted by dweintraub at 7:23 PM
Gov: The best things in this state were created by the people. The coastal commission. Stem cell research. Prop. 13.
Posted by dweintraub at 7:20 PM
Question: why not require competitive districts instead of just hoping judges will draw them that way?
Gov: The districts should be designed based on what makes sense as a district, rather than where the Republicans are and where the Democrats are. We have to draw the lines regardless of what the outcomes are.
We want to give the power back to the people. The politicians are fighting that.
Posted by dweintraub at 7:19 PM
Why draw new districts now?
Gov: The system is fixed. Out of 153 seats, none of them changed party. The politicians drew the district lines, picking their own voters rather than the voters picking the politicians. Democrats and Republicans alike. Both parties sat down and carved out from themselves districts to protect themselves.
Posted by dweintraub at 7:17 PM
My sense is that Schwarzenegger is doing pretty well in this format. He's going to want to have one of these every night until the election.
Posted by dweintraub at 7:14 PM
Question: be politically courageous. Reform Prop. 13. The schools need more money.
Gov: The people of California have voted for Proposition 13. ..People overwhelmingly have voted for that. I met a lady, an older lady, crying the day after the election. "Thank God ….I would have lost my house." It was unfair to the people of California.
Then he adds: $3 billion for the schools this year. A record amount. Where are the record outcomes?
Posted by dweintraub at 7:13 PM
Why give the gov unilateral powers over the budget?
There seems to be some confusion. The other side says it’s a power grab….
"They don’t want change. That’s the bottom line."
He then gives a pretty good answer on the mid-year budget cuts, and how the Legislature would have 45 days to make a decision. He doesn't mention that with the current line-up, Republicans would probably side with him and block the Democrats from acting.
"There is a balance of power there."
Posted by dweintraub at 7:08 PM
The governor gets several questions about 75. He says he's not going after union members, only the "union bosses."
"I think the people have sent legislators to Sacramento to represent the people, not to represent the unions."
Posted by dweintraub at 7:04 PM
Question: are you tryng to silence working people, members of unions?
Gov: "I'm a union member myself."
Use the money., he says of the unions. Use ten times as much money. But use it for members. Don't take money out of peoples paychecks without permission.
"We're just saying get permission."
Follow up: corporations don't get permission from shareholders.
Governor: "They should." Says he would support that on the ballot.
Posted by dweintraub at 6:59 PM
Gov gets a question from a Republican who's heard that Prop. 74 would give school districts an incentive to get rid of teachers early so they don't have to pay them more, and one from a Democrat who says states with one-year tenure to better than states with longer requirements.
Gov: "I"m not smart enough to come up with this." It was written by education leaders.
Actually, it was written by a Republican legislator.
Posted by dweintraub at 6:57 PM
From a Democrat whose son had aterrible teacher. The boy came home in tears. Why not mentor new teachers?
Gov: I think it's important to help the new teachers. Support them. But they shouldn't get tenure for life after two years....We want to support our teachers but we need to make sure our children get the best education. We cannot get rid of the teacher because the unions are holding on. It's unfair. It's a broken system...
Posted by dweintraub at 6:52 PM
Gov starts off not answering the questions either. He is asked how can we recruit more teachers, and he gives his stump speech for 74.
"One thing I know for sure, that is, right now the way the system works we cannot get rid of teachers who are failing our students."
Posted by dweintraub at 6:50 PM
After closing statements, the Dems leave and Schwarzenegger prepares to enter.
Posted by dweintraub at 6:43 PM
DeMoro: We have the exterminator and the terminator.
(Even though Prop. 77 would prevent the very kind of redistricting DeLay engineered in Texas.)
Posted by dweintraub at 6:42 PM
Perata is asked about the coastal district that's 200 miles long and about 200 feet wide. He says they drew it that way to protect the incumbent -- and the coast. The liberal Democrat in that seat was a big environmentalist and they wanted to keep her seat safe.
Answering another question, Perata again admits that they take the needs of incumbents in mind.
Posted by dweintraub at 6:41 PM
Perata says if Prop. 77 passes there won't be time to implement it for 2006:
“It will be absolute chaos next year. Absolute chaos. Maybe that’s what the designers of this had in mind.”
Posted by dweintraub at 6:39 PM
Perata gets a tough question from a San Francisco Democrat and answers with some b.s. He says he has proposed an independent commission -- doesn't say his commissioners would be appointed by legislators. He says Prop. 77 allows legislators to pick the retired judges on the panel. Not true. The judges are nominated by the judicial council and the legislator helps winnow the list, but the final panel members are picked by lot.
Posted by dweintraub at 6:36 PM
Perata makes a good argument for his side:
"California's budget is a mess."
Posted by dweintraub at 6:31 PM
Another Democrat asks, why not use revenue-averaging to keep lawmakers from spending big surplusses?
DeMoro: It's all about giving the governor more power. We should raise business taxes instead.
Posted by dweintraub at 6:29 PM
Question from Craig Robertson., Republican from Hayward, a high school teacher.
Prop. 76 forces the state to repay its debts to local government. How can you oppose a proposition that will force the Legislature to keep its promises?
"This is really a Ponzi scheme. …All we’re doing in this particular proposition is to pit one group against another."
Posted by dweintraub at 6:27 PM
So far all of the questions have been pointed. The governor's people didn't pick this audience, but if they had, they couldn't have been any happier with the queries.
The Dems just took another question on why the public employee unions spent so much on Gray Davis when their members didn't support him, and another from a business woman complaining about high taxes.
Posted by dweintraub at 6:24 PM
A Democrat from Los Altos, and another tough question for Perata: why should union members be forced to pay dues for politics?
He hands off to DeMoro.
"The corporations outspend unions 13 to 1. The governor wants to make it 13 to 0...He wants a football field with one team."
Posted by dweintraub at 6:18 PM
A Republican nurse asks DeMoro, why are you spending so much money fighting the governor's proposal?
"How did teachers, nurses and firefighters become the enemy all in the sudden in California?"
The governor says it's not the nurses, it's their union. But the CNA's treasurer is a working nurse:
"She takes care of babies with cancer."
Posted by dweintraub at 6:15 PM
Another question along the same lines: Isn't it too hard, too lengthy a process, to fire a bad teacher?
Perata, a former teacher, parries. He talks about how hard it is to be a teacher.
"If you’ve never been in a classroom for real with 30 or 35 high school kids it’s like live ammunition for the very first time.”
Then, back to the talking points:
"We are talking about really the wrong thing. If we wanted to have a longer tenure process where there was more teacher training…I would be all for it. This I think is really a meat ax."
Posted by dweintraub at 6:13 PM
The first two questions: why should teachers have any different job protection from the rest of us?
Both DeMoro and Perata turn to their talking points: this was put on the ballot to punish teachers.
"I believe we have on the books now everything that is necessary... I think this was simply a way to punish and blame teachers for what's wrong with education."
Posted by dweintraub at 6:09 PM
First up: the governor's opponents. Represented by Senate Leader Don Perata and nurses union leader Rose Ann DeMoro.
Posted by dweintraub at 6:02 PM
Sometimes it's hard to tell the spinner from the spin-ee. Bee columnist Dan Walters, left, gives Republican Steve Poizner a thumbnail history of redistricting reform.
Posted by dweintraub at 5:33 PM
Word is that the governor's opposing presenter at the Fresno forum scheduled for Friday will be none other than Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante. Too bad they won't be sharing the stage. That would almost be worth the drive.
Posted by dweintraub at 5:30 PM
Todd Harris, spokesman for the governor's campaign team (facing camera), tries to persuade LA Times columnist George Skelton that Schwarzenegger really can do more with less.
Posted by dweintraub at 5:29 PM
Posted by dweintraub at 5:25 PM
Remember the infamous women's conference a year ago at which Schwarzenegger uttered the line he now wishes he never did -- about kicking the "butts" of the special interests in Sacramento? The nurses who took the line as an attack on them, embraced it and turned it into their rallying cry are promising to return to the scene of the crime when the gov holds the conference in Long Beach again on Thursday. Shum Preston, a spokesman for the California Nurses Assn., is in spin alley tonight doing advance work for a protest the union is sponsoring outside Thursday's event.
Posted by dweintraub at 5:14 PM
The forum tonight is at the Lesher Theater in downtown Walnut Creek. A few reporters may be inside the hall, but since you can't tape in there, or type, not many working scribes will want to be in the audience. So the event's organizers have set up a makeshift press room at Massimo Ristorante, a little place across the street and down the block. The room has a few televisions and, allegedly, a wi-fi line, though my colleagues seem to be having trouble using it. (I brought my own connection via an EVDO-capable cellular card.) The press room also doubles as "spin alley" -- and it's lousy with the consultants, spokespeople, etc for the campaigns, who are already plying their trade an hour before start time.
Posted by dweintraub at 5:02 PM
The gov's office informs that he will indeed face voters at least twice more before the election. He is taping an event with Univision on Tuesday and doing a live event in Fresno on Friday.
Posted by dweintraub at 4:29 PM
I'm planning to live-blog the special election campaign forum in Walnut Creek tonight. The event is the only one scheduled so far at which Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will take questions from an audience not selected by his staff or allies. It starts at 6 p.m. and will be aired on KTVU in the Bay Area but nowhere else. Senate Leader Don Perata and Rose Ann DeMoro, executive director of the California Nurses Assn., will take the stage for the first half of the 90-minute event. The governor will appear alone during the second half. So if Monday Night Football isn't holding your interest, stop by here for a fix of political news and analysis.
Posted by dweintraub at 1:04 PM
George Skelton is right when he says part of the governor's rationale for Prop. 76 is at best confusing: Schwarzenegger wants to limit spending, he says, so he can spend more on the state's infrastructure. But even if the governor has not done a good job articulating it, there is some logic to that argument. If you're constantly fighting debt, deficits and short-term shortfalls, you're never going to have the discipline to invest in your future, even if those investments are necessary to improve your long-term financial condition. Smoothing out the state's revenue swings and tweaking the Prop. 98 formulas could put the state on a more stable path going forward, allowing it to plan ahead and spend more money on repairing and rebuilding California's inadequate public works.
UPDATE: There's also an even simpler explanation (which often is the best): Prop. 76 itself mandates that in big revenue years, some of the new money be set aside and spent on infrastructure. So it does this almost by definition.
UPDATE 2: The San Jose Mercury-News endorses Prop. 76.
Posted by dweintraub at 11:29 AM
Assemblyman Joe Canciamilla of Contra Costa County is scheduled to endorse Proposition 77 today, the first (and probably only) Democrat in the Legislature to break from the party leadership and support the measure that would take the job of drawing district boundaries away from politicians and give it to a panel of retired judges.
Posted by dweintraub at 10:36 AM