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Daniel Weintraub

California Insider

A Weblog by
Sacramento Bee Columnist Daniel Weintraub

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« August 2006 | | October 2006 »
September 30, 2006


The LA Times is comparing Phil Angelides to Arianna Huffington, campaign-wise.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:59 PM

OC Reg: No on 83

The Orange County Register says 'Jessica's Law' is unnecessary.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:56 PM

The Bee on financial officers

The Sacramento Bee endorses Bill Lockyer for treasurer and John Chiang for controller.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:50 PM


Steven Greenhut thinks it's time for conservatives to think about supporting a revenue-neutral split roll initiative that would shift property tax relief from big business to residential property owners. Why? Because business groups like the Chamber of Commerce are opposing Proposition 90, the eminent domain and anti-regulation measure on the November ballot. Greenhut says he's only raising the idea to be mischievious, but then he makes a pretty serious argument for the proposal.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:40 PM

LAT: Schwarzenegger 50, Angelides 33

This is becoming a trend. The Times poll has Schwarzenegger up by 17. And they have Angelides stuck at 61-17 among Democrats while the governor is 88-3 among Republicans.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:46 PM

September 29, 2006

Here's a real flip-flop

Schwarzenegger signed the prescription drug discount bill today. With all the talk about him moving left and flip-flopping on issues, this is the one indisputable case of him abandoning a previous position and, arguably, pandering for votes. Last year, his position was that using the Medi-Cal program as leverage against the drug companies was wrong because it would put the poor's pharmaceutical options at risk. This year, he says that's ok. As far as I know, he has never really explained his change of heart. At least his opponents can no longer say he is in the pocket of the prescription drug industry.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:58 PM

One-way communication

The governor's strategists did one of their periodic conference calls with reporters today, and as usual, broke no news. Their primary message was that they continue to think that Angelides will improve his standing among Democrats before Election Day, but they would be happy to be wrong.

"We think this race is going to be close," Matt Dowd said. "We think the margin is going to close."

They want this message out so that if the race does grow closer, reporters will note that this was what everyone expected all along, and it's not a sign that Angelides is turning the tide. Of course, it could be a sign of that, even if it is what the campaigns -- and the press -- expect.

But from my perspective, this call was more instructive for what it said about the governor's campaign operation, and their willingness to engage, or not, with reporters.

I have not been on every one of these calls, but I noticed a new wrinkle today that was particularly infuriating. After each reporter asked a question, his or her line was immediately shut down, so they couldn't ask a follow-up or even for a clarification of what Matt Dowd or Steve Schmidt were saying. It's been my experience in the past on these calls, at least with other campaigns and offices, that the line is left open so a reporter can engage in a limited back-and-forth with the sources. Instead, this time, you got a question, then a self-serving sermon from the campaign folks, absolutely no follow-up, and on to the next question. Even if a reporter simply didn't understand an answer or missed a word or phrase, there was no way to ask them to repeat what they said.

In addition to being rude and even more self-serving than usual for political types, the new wrinkle makes Dowd and Schmidt look like cowards who can't handle a follow-up question or engage in intelligent back-and-forth with journalists. Given that they have a huge lead in the polls and pretty much everything in this race has been going their way, you have to wonder, what are they afraid of?

Posted by dweintraub at 11:51 AM

Gay marriage gaining support

BoiFromTroy notes a mostly overlooked number in this week's PPIC poll: for the first time ever (he says), a plurality of Californians say they support gay marriage. The result was 47-46.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:39 AM

PE: Yes on 1D, no on 88

The Riverside paper supports the school bond but opposes the statewide parcel tax for education.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:31 AM

Chron to open up endorsment process

The San Francisco Chronicle is trying to schedule 60-minute endorsement debates in front of its editorial board, which will be webcast by the CBS station in San Francisco. The first one, involving the candidates for attorney general, is scheduled for next Thursday.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:28 AM

LAT: No on 88

The parcel tax wouldn't provide much money for the schools, and the money it did generate would come with too many strings attached, the LA Times says.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:23 AM

U-T: mixed bag on public works

The Union Tribune endorses the transportation and flood control measures but opposes the housing, education and parks bonds.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:21 AM

A high cost for pretending

A 700-mile border fence would be an expensive, ineffective symbol, says the Orange County Register.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:16 AM

Field: bond measures lead narrowly

The latest Field Poll shows all five bond measures hanging on to at least narrow majorities, with the housing bond showing an unexpected surge that the pollster attributes to a favorable ballot summary.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:15 AM

September 28, 2006

Zogby: Schwarzenegger 43-Angelides 34

The latest Zogby/Wall Street Journal poll has Schwarzenegger leading, 43-34.

UPDATE: here is a free link to the poll.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:28 PM

Republicans in Spanish, Democrats in English

Democrat (and business) consultant Andre Pineda has some surprising thoughts on how Schwarzenegger has climbed to 30 percent in the polls among Latino voters and what Angelides should do about it. First thing: don't pander. Second thing: don't focus on immigration.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:55 AM

Join the crowd

The latest SurveyUSA poll has Schwarzenegger up by 14, at 52-38.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:39 AM

P-E: No on 86

The Riverside Press-Enterprise says the plan to increase tobacco taxes to pay for emergency rooms is "fiscally reckless."

Posted by dweintraub at 6:21 AM

Toward a less painful death penalty

The Long Beach Press-Telegram says the federal judge hearing the case over the use of lethal injection in capital punishment is doing a thorough job with a strange task.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:16 AM

Just hot air

The Contra Costa Times says maybe taxpayers should sue Bill Lockyer for wasting their money on global warming litigation against the automobile industry.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:12 AM

U-T: Yes on 85

The Union-Tribune says it's just common sense to require parents to be notified before doctors perform abortions on teen-age girls.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:02 AM

Deficit? What deficit?

The Orange County Register notes that Schwarzenegger is ignoring the state's biggest problem -- its structural budget deficit -- as he campaigns for a second term.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:59 AM

SacBee: Garamendi for No. 2

The Sacramento Bee endorses John Garamendi for lieutenant governor. Garamendi, the paper says, is a better fit than Tom McClintock for an office the paper says is unneccesary and should be eliminated.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:54 AM

September 27, 2006

Governor signs global warming bill

It's official: Schwarzenegger signed AB 32, as expected, on Treasure Island in San Francisco this morning.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:20 PM

High court to consider union dues question

The US Supreme Court has agreed to hear a union dues case from Washington state. The state Supreme Court there tossed out a voter-approved provision that required unions to get permission from their members before spending dues money for political purposes, similar to the proposal in California's Prop. 75 last year.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:17 PM

The ins and outs

Frank Russo has a penetrating analysis of the Field Poll entrails here.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:21 AM

Field Poll: Schwarzenegger 44, Angelides 34

The Field Poll results are not quite as bad for Angelides as the PPIC.

Schwarzenegger is leading, 44-34, with 7 percent for other candidates and 15 percent undecided.

Among Democrats, Angelides is up, 61-16.

Among Republicans, Schwarzenegger leads 77-4.

Among non-partisans and others, Schwarzenegger leads 51-23.

Men: Schwarzenegger 51, Angelides 29.

Women: Angelides 39, Schwarzenegger 36

Whites: Schwarzenegger 49, Angelides 30

Latino: Angelides 42, Schwarzenegger 30

Posted by dweintraub at 10:33 AM

Unlearning history

Seniors at UC Berkeley seem to know very little about American history, government and politics, according to a national survey. In fact, they know even less than freshmen at the university.

But they are not alone. According to the report, among seniors nationwide:

* Seniors lack basic knowledge of America's history. More than half, 53.4 percent, could not identify the correct century when the first American colony was established at Jamestown. And 55.4 percent could not recognize Yorktown as the battle that brought the American Revolution to an end (28 percent even thought the Civil War battle at Gettysburg the correct answer).

* College seniors are also ignorant of America's founding documents. Fewer than half, 47.9 percent, recognized that the line "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal," is from the Declaration of Independence. And an overwhelming majority, 72.8 percent, could not correctly identify the source of the idea of "a wall of separation" between church and state.

* More than half of college seniors did not know that the Bill of Rights explicitly prohibits the establishment of an official religion for the United States.

* Nearly half of all college seniors, 49.4 percent, did not know that The Federalist Papers—foundational texts of America's constitutional order—were written in support of the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. Seniors actually scored lower than freshmen on this question by 5.7 percentage points, illustrating negative learning while at college.

* More than 75 percent of college seniors could not identify that the purpose of the Monroe Doctrine was to prevent foreign expansion in the Western Hemisphere.

* Even with their country at war in Iraq, fewer than half of seniors, 45.2 percent, could identify the Baath party as the main source of Saddam Hussein's political support. In fact, 12.2 percent believed that Saddam Hussein found his most reliable supporters in the Communist Party. Almost 5.7 percent chose Israel.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:27 AM

To your health

David Leonhardt defends rising health care costs.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:19 AM

Snatch the pebble

As Gov. Schwarzenegger prepares to sign California's global warming bill today, Glenn Reynolds offers a peek at the latest nuclear technology that may be our best hope of maintaining our standard of living in a carbon-light world.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:49 AM

Maslin: Bush linkage worth ten points

Steve Maviglio has more details on the Monterey County tryout of the Democratic Party's Schwarzenegger=Bush ad campaign. He's quoting from a Paul Maslin memo describing how the ad moved voters.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:52 AM

Let's party

Duane Dichiara says it's a myth that voters are less inclined these days to identify with one of the major political parties. Two-thirds of decline-to-state voters, he says, are strongly aligned with either the Republicans or the Democrats.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:47 AM

PE: No on 89

The Riverside paper says politicians shouldn't get public money for their campaigns.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:40 AM

Didn't they break the gridlock?

Bill Stall yearns for the old days in Sacramento when more people were into responsibility and public duty. I do too, but I am not sure the results would be very different from what the Legislature and the governor did this year.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:35 AM

Register: Free the Chronicle two

The Orange County Register says the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal should overturn the lower court ruling that threatens to send two San Francisco reporters to jail for refusing to reveal the source who gave them secret grand jury documents about the Barry Bonds steroids case.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:29 AM

Kids on drugs

The Mercury News urges the governor to sign SB 1288, a bill to expand alcohol and drug treatment for low-income youths. The local impact:

Santa Clara County has a huge stake in the governor's decision. Some 12,000 children living in Santa Clara County are in need of treatment for drug and alcohol problems. The county, facing a huge budget deficit, is in the process of cutting nearly $11 million from its $46 million drug and alcohol services budget. If Schwarzenegger vetoes the bill, the county won't be able to provide the funding to pick up the slack. And the lack of funds for treatment also may threaten to put the county's juvenile detention facility in danger of being out of compliance with state law.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:25 AM

September 26, 2006

PPIC: Schwarzenegger leading 48-31

The Public Policy Institute of California just released some new poll results on the governor's race, and they are not good for Angelides:

Among likely voters, Schwarzenegger is up by 48-31.

Angelides is leading among Democrats by 57-21.

Schwarzenegger is up among Republicans, 82-4.

Among independents, it's Schwarzenegger by 42-27.

Among men: 54-27.

Among women: 41-24.

Schwarzenegger is even getting 30 percent among Latinos.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:01 PM

Don't forget the gov's welcome home message to California troops

Bob Salladay posts a cry for help after 24 hours following the celebrity-studded, stage-managed, back-to-back-event-filled, prop-aided. photo-op-packed life that is Arnold Schwarzenegger. And oh yeah, where did they hide the men's room?

Posted by dweintraub at 2:46 PM

LAO: deficits projected

The LAO is out with its September review of the budget, post-dust settling. The bottom line: California is still facing a $4 billion to $5 billion gap annually between its projected revenues and spending over the next few years.

The money quote, so to speak:

The 2006-07 budget is balanced with a significant reserve. As noted above, however, revenues are over $7 billion less than expenditures in 2006-07, with the difference being covered by the drawdown of carryover reserves available from 2005-06. While nearly $3 billion of the difference is due to prepayments of budgetary debt, the remaining $4 billion-plus shortfall reflects ongoing difference between revenues and expenditures for General Fund programs. Based on our out-year estimates of revenues and expenditures, we estimate that this imbalance will continue in 2007-08 and 2008-09 absent corrective action, with annual operating shortfalls in the range of $4.5 billion and $5 billion projected for this period.

Here is the report.

Posted by dweintraub at 1:55 PM

Motive v. effect

Writing at DailyKos, the YesOn89 diarist does a nice job tracing the evolution of the coverage the California Chamber of Commerce got for its charge that Proposition 89 is a Trojan horse designed to make it easier for the nurses union to pass single-payer health care. As the diarist demonstrates, the chamber was effective in spreading the word, even though there does not appear to be any hard evidence that a future battle over single payer was the motive behind Prop. 89.

But is motive really the point here? What's important is the potential effect the initiative would have if it became law. The nurses were big supporters of the single payer plan in the Legislature this year, and have made the issue something of a crusade at the state and national level. Their campaign finance proposal, meanwhile, would cap business contributions to ballot measure committees at $10,000 each while allowing unlimited donations from the likes of the CNA and other unions.

So while it might be a "conspiracy theory" to say that the nurses wrote 89 to enable a single payer initiative, it's certainly accurate to say that 89, if it passed, would make it much easier for single-payer advocates to launch a government takeover of health care via the ballot box.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:40 PM

The disappointment index

Chris Reed speculates from deep inside the San Diego Union-Tribune on why the liberals on the editorial boards of the LA Times and the Sacramento Bee so often find themselves at odds with the Democratic Party and its allies in California. He's mostly right, I think.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:34 AM

Easy as ABC

The two new ads from the labor-backed Alliance for a Better California are here, at the top of the list. Both are very good.

One features three teachers who say the governor looked them in the eye and promised to pay back the $2 billion diverted from the growth in school funding under a 2004 budget deal. But then, they say, he reneged, and the teachers had to sue him to get the money back. Now the governor is saying once again that the schools will be his highest priority, but, the teachers ask, "Why would we trust him?"

The other has a teacher, a firefighter and a uniformed person identified as "an officer" (is he a correctional officer?) and draws liberally from clips of Schwarzenegger on the Tonight Show and elsewhere, including his infamous line in late 2004 about "kicking their butts." That one closes with a nurse driving home the point that they don't trust him.

What makes the ads powerful are the voices of real people, looking into the camera and talking about the governor, his promises and his betrayals. They are authentic. If the ads get extensive play, they should definitely have an effect on this campaign. Interestingly, they never mention Angelides. But they will certainly remind Democrats and many independents of why they were so down on Schwarzenegger a year ago, and raise questions about whether they should trust the "new Arnold."

The difference, though, is that this year, Schwarzenegger is already campaigning, on the offensive with a huge advertising buy that portrays him in a positive light and reminds voters of things he has done of which they approve. He is also using the power of his office to maximize his exposure, staging bill signings around the state with Democrats and liberal activists. That should certainly limit the damage these ads are able to do to his standing. But they will do damage.

I would expect the governor's people to respond with something seeking to set the record straight on education funding, which remains his achilles heel. Schwarzenegger has poured billions of new dollars into the schools, but most people still don't know that. I imagine they will before the campaign is over.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:40 AM

Study: retiree health care costs to soar

A new study for the California Health Care Foundation says public agencies in the state will be paying $31 billion a year by 2020 for the health care of their retired employees. That's about 10 times more than they are paying today. Part of that will be the result of rising health care costs generally. But a big chunk of it will be simply catching up, because public agencies have promised benefits to retirees without setting aside the money needed to pay for them.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:50 AM

Big blitz coming for Phil

Bob Salladay reports on the start of the long-awaited television blitz attacking Schwarzenegger from California's labor unions, mostly ithose representing ts public employees. The look will be similar to last year's campaign that defeated Schwarzenegger's ballot proposals, with nurses, firefighters, cops and teachers doing the talking. The theme will be: We can't trust him. At the same time, the Democratic Party has put up another ad seeking to tie Schwarzenegger to President Bush.

This is a crucial moment in the campaign. As the end of September approaches, Angelides needs to pull closer to Schwarzenegger in the polls if he is to be in position to make a credible dash to the finish. This ad spending should shore up the treasurer's support among Democrats, at least, and if it does that, he will be within mid-single digits by early October. If not, he'll be finished.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:55 AM

'Let the shopping begin'

The Chronicle takes a look at what Thursday's opening of the new downtown mall, built around a Bloomingdales department store, says about the city and ts future.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:31 AM

LAT: No on 87

The LA Times calls the oil tax initiative a "spectacularly bad idea."

More: The Riverside Press-Enterprise agrees.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:27 AM

September 25, 2006

The letter of the law

Election law blogger Rick Hasen argues that a literal reading of the election code suggests that the Democrat ads attacking Schwarzenegger are within the law. He says ads promoting Angelides, if they identified him, would not be kosher.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:20 PM

Governor signs Darfur bill

Gov. Schwarzenegger this morning signed legislation to end state investments in Sudan to try to pressure the government there to end genocidal violence in Darfur.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:21 PM

Home prices hold even as sales plummet

For you bubble watchers, the California Assn. of Realtors reports today that August home sales were down 30 percent from a year ago, but the median price was up 1.6 percent. The Realtors expect those prices to start coming down before the end of the year.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:37 PM

Phil's Iraq gambit

Randy Bayne says Angelides is right to take a stand against the war and promise to try to bring home California's National Guard troops if he is elected -- even if the position he is taking is legally and politically dubious.

While I disagree with Angelides' proposal, I see nothing wrong with a governor, or potential governor, using his position to oppose a war if he thinks it is wrong. The governor of California is expected to be a leader on national issues. Nothing should be outside his purview, especially a matter as serious as the war in Iraq.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:24 PM

The decline-to-state state

Bill Cavala says the surge in decline-to-state voters is a self-feeding phenomenon that is likely to continue. As candidates try harder to get the attention of those disinterested voters, he says, campaigns cost more. As campaigns cost more in a world where contributions are limited, wealthy candidates and independent expenditures play a greater role, and both tend to blur party issues in favor of other messages. This in turn drives more people away from registering by party. And so on. Makes sense to me.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:00 PM

Dem bills

Frank Russo says the governor's veto patterns show that Schwarzenegger is more partisan than he lets on. I suspect, however, that this is primarily a function of whose bills get through the Legislature. Perhaps Russo could also tally up the bills that the governor signs by partisan affiliation as well, and let us know those numbers.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:25 AM

Power plays

In Sacramento, the SEIU is using an environmental lawsuit as leverage to try to force Sutter Hospital to let the union organize its workers without opposition. In Riverside, the union helped block a bond measure for seismic safety repairs to Valley Health System hospitals and then said it would back a bond proposal if the district approved a new contract. The Riverside Press Enterprise isn't impressed.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:11 AM

PE: No on 90

The Riverside Press-Enterprise says the eminent domain initiative goes too far.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:07 AM

PT: Not all fees are created equal

The normally fee-averse Long Beach Press-Telegram says it wishes Schwarzenegger had signed legislation to slap a $30 fee on every container moving through the ports of Long Beach and LA. The money would have gone toward mitigating the environmental and traffic effects of trade.

But Jon Fleischman says the governor made the right move.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:05 AM

Keeping mum, even about their secrecy

The Contra Costa Times takes on a bizzare case of secrecy at the state's Department of Boating and Waterways. This hardly sounds like the "open government" that Schwarzenegger promised when he ran for governor in 2003.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:03 AM


Ryan Sager says migrating Californians are turning the West's politics blue.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:57 AM

LAT: No on 85

The Times says the parental notification initiative would do more harm than good.

The Riverside Press Enterprise is also opposed.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:55 AM

SacBee: No on 89

The Sacramento Bee says the "clean money" initiative is a power play, not real reform.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:51 AM

September 23, 2006

PE: No on 1C

The Long Beach paper says voters should reject the housing bond.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:01 AM

'Forgotten victory'

The Union-Tribune says voters should remember what Schwarzenegger did to turn around the workers' comp system.

In its other editorial today, the paper says making it easier for unions to organize casino workers should not be the top issue in evaluating the latest compacts the governor has negotiated with the tribes.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:51 AM

September 22, 2006

Back to the tax issue

The Schwarzenegger campaign says it's putting up two new ads today. One celebrates the governor's resolve in refusing to raise taxes and says he also lived up to pledges to create new jobs, fully fund education and protect children.

The other ad repeats the campaign's ridiculous assertion that Angelides wants to raise taxes by $18 billion. Everyone knows Angelides wants to raise taxes, and wants to raise them by many billions. But the Schwarzenegger camp loses credibility when it keeps repeating that number, which they created by adding up every tax or spending proposal for which Angelides ever had a kind word. By the same token, you could say Schwarzenegger is going to raise taxes by $600 million because he just endorsed the federal court receiver's plan to add new medical beds in the state prisons. And so on. Angelides has copped to supporting $5 billion in new taxes. Isn't that enough to make their point?

The ads should be viewable here later today.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:06 AM

The $40 million man

Stephen Bing

Stephen Bing's incredible commitment to the oil tax initiative.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:34 AM

The schnitzel factor

Julia Rosen wonders where communication ends and manipulation begins when it comes to the governor.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:32 AM

Did he use a GPS bracelet?

David Broder

Steve Maviglio has been tracking David Broder of the Washington Post as he travels through Sacramento.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:30 AM

Chron: let the sun shine in

The Chronicle says the governor should sign SB 1521, which would make it easier for reporters to interview prison inmates.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:24 AM

The rich get richer (in the Silicon Valley)

Writing in the New York Times, Berkeley prof Hal Varian shows how just five US counties, including three in the Bay Area, have skewed the nation's income (and income inequality) numbers. All five, by the way, are liberal counties whose voters tend to favor income redistribution.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:18 AM

U-T: Veto these bills

The Union-Tribune finds five bills on the governor's desk that the paper says he should veto. They are AB 2444, AB 680, AB 2108, SB 1578, and AB 695. Most of them are nanny-state proposals.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:13 AM

Register, Times: Lockyer should cease and desist

The Orange County Register says the Lockyer action against the auto companies is a nuisance suit.

And in a rare agreement with its libertarian neighbor to the south, the LA Times says the Lockyer suit is "silly." An excerpt:

For Lockyer, this is hardly a first. He joined several other states two years ago to file an almost identical lawsuit over the emission of greenhouse gases by power companies. That suit was rejected by the courts; the states are appealing. The judge zeroed in neatly on the problem at hand: Fighting global warming is a complex regulatory job that belongs to the legislative and executive branches. Once laws are in place, companies that break those laws should be made to pay. But holding law-abiding companies liable for the government's past failures is another matter.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:10 AM

Merc: No on 83

The Mercury looks at how Jessica's law has worked, or not worked, in Iowa, and says it would be a mistake to adopt it here.

The Riverside Press-Enterprise, meanwhile, says voters should approve the measure.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:07 AM

Eat your spinach, but beware

The Sacramento Bee says state health inspectors aren't doing enough to ensure the spinach we buy is free of contaminants.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:05 AM

What a state


On Thursday I spent much of the day at San Quentin state prison, including a few minutes on death row, in the company of several hundred convicted murderers. That's about the worst California has to offer. A few hours later, I was watching the sun set from the top of Mt. Tamalpais. You can't get much better than that. I have lived in this state for 46 years but had never been to Mt. Tam. Glorious. Alas. I didn't bring a camera. This shot is from the parks department.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:00 AM

September 21, 2006

Sue me

Carl Zichella of the Sierra Club explains why Lockyer's lawsuit against the auto companies is the right thing to do. But shouldn't Lockyer be suing me, too? My car didn't warm the globe a bit until I put some gas in it and started the engine.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:46 AM

It's that time of the year

Rex Babin. See a larger version here.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:45 AM

Up against the wall

The LA Times says a 700-mile fence would do nothing to address the "root causes" of illegal immigration. Patt Morrison also weighs in.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:37 AM

U-T: No on 89

The San Diego paper says "clean money" is hardly saintly.

Also, check out the paper's other editorial today, on the potential for problems in the county pension fund. The whole "Enron by the Bay" mess involved only the city.

An excerpt:

In 2002, as markets tanked and budget deficits loomed, county supervisors approved a staggering 50 percent increase in retirement benefits for 34,000 workers (including 12,000 retirees). This plunged the pension fund $1.1 billion into debt. Now, after selling bonds and failing to make sufficient payments each year, the county's overall pension debt stands at $2.7 billion. That figure includes $1.3 billion in outstanding bonds and an estimated $1.4 billion in unfunded obligations to retirees.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:34 AM

Merc: No on 85

The Mercury says parental notification is a misguided attempt to help girls.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:29 AM

Bee: No on 87

The Sacramento Bee opposes the oil tax. Not a good sign for the proponents.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:28 AM

Now they're blogging

The folks at Majority Report took the cork out of their blogging machine yesterday and went wild. Among the postings are a wrap-up of the press club debate between Sundheim and Torres, a rebuttal to the Reason study on the public works projects and a short but snappy item and Angelides "preaching to the choir." Welcome back, guys.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:21 AM

Maybe Phil should sponsor a contest too

Want free tuition at CSU for a year? Make a creative video mocking the governor. The contest is sponsored by the university's faculty union. The winner will be aired as a commerical on the Daily Show.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:11 AM

September 20, 2006

Making laws really is like making sausage (or schnitzel)

In an editorial meeting this morning with the Sacramento Bee, Gov. Schwarzenegger explained the way he has changed his approach to working with the Legislature from last year to this year:

“I’m much more inclusive. Last year was one of those situations where…it was the approach that was wrong. To go out in the state of the state (speech) and say, ‘Hey, you do this in the next two months and if you don’t, I go to the people,’ I think that was too harsh. It makes everybody feel defensive: If that’s his approach I’m not going to help him. It was kind of like I expect you to do this.

"It’s communication.

"You know it is the same thing, I can go to my wife and I can go and say, ‘Look, I have some friends coming over from Austria and I expect you to make the best wiener schnitzels they’ve ever eaten. This is absolutely a must.’ She most likely will burn that and they will all choke to death. That’s what she would do.

"But if I say to Maria, ‘I have some friends coming over from Austria, and the Austrians claim that Americans don’t know how to make wiener schnitzel. Let’s show them. I know you make the best wiener schnitzels in town. Better than my mother ever made. It is unbelievable. You make those wiener schnitzels, and its going to be a winner.’ Now my wife is going to kick in and go and do everything she can because it’s a different approach.

"It’s communication. It’s the way you talk to people.”

Posted by dweintraub at 1:21 PM

Angelides on health care

Phil Angelides says the answer to our health care problems is more government control of the health care industry: a cap of 10 percent on overhead and profit for HMOs. But no limit, apparently, on what HMOs can spend paying hospitals, doctors, pharmacies and labs, where most of the costs in health care actually are. Read the whole plan here.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:44 PM

Lockyer sues automakers

Attorney General Bill Lockyer has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the "Big Six" automobile manufacturers over the issue of global warming.

From the press release:

The complaint alleges that under federal and state common law the automakers have created a public nuisance by producing “millions of vehicles that collectively emit massive quantities of carbon dioxide,” a greenhouse gas that traps atmospheric heat and causes global warming. Under the law, a “public nuisance” is an unreasonable interference with a public right, or an action that interferes with or causes harm to life, health or property. The complaint asks the court to hold the defendants liable for damages, including future harm, caused by their ongoing, substantial contribution to the public nuisance of global warming.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:16 AM

First, fire all the consultants

"Saigon Bob" (not Mulholland) has some free but harsh advice for his fellow Democrat, Phil Angelides:

At this point in the campaign, I would suggest that Angelides dismiss his pollsters, and most of his campaign management and almost go it alone. Perhaps, he could save enough money to buy television commercials that informed voters about what he would do differently than Schwarzenegger as Governor of California. He doesn't need any more negative researchers or a big press office or even a campaign director. He just needs to go on the road and sell his case, not in hotel news conferences, but in the fields of Delano, and the nursing homes, where people have lost their health insurance.

There are many other issues and strategies which I could suggest at this point, but they would probably be ignored. One suggestion I will make: Stop pointing the finger at your opponent and make positive suggestions on what issues will improve the quality of life for the average Californian.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:41 AM

Reason opposes bond measures

The Reason Foundation and the Performance Institute say the infrastructure bonds would fritter away too much money for ongoing programs and not enough on construction of public works. An AP story is here. You can find their full analysis here.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:59 AM

U-T: No on 86

The Union-Tribune opposes Prop. 86, the tobacco tax initiative:

If state leaders said California must fix a health care system that leads millions of people to seek routine care in emergency rooms, we'd be enthusiastic about having such a debate. If those same leaders said something more must be done to discourage smoking, we'd be interested in hearing their ideas. Nevertheless, wedging two issues worthy of attention into a mish-mash of an initiative is highly unlikely to yield thoughtful public policy.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:50 AM

Bee: No on 88

The Sacramento Bee opposes Prop. 88, which would levy a statewide parcel tax to raise more money for schools. The editorial says this is another example of piecemeal change in an education finance system that needs a comprehensive evaluation and overhaul.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:47 AM

English is good enough, court says

Rick Hasen reports here on the Ninth Circuit reversing an earlier ruling that had held recall petitions had to be circulated in multiple languages.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:20 AM

Sex offenders, part 1

Schwarzenegger this morning is expected to sign SB 1128, a bipartisan bill on sex offenders that lengthens sentences and monitoring without the extreme residency rules that are part of Proposition 83, which many fear would drive all paroled sex offenders to rural areas.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:12 AM

Shades of 1994

Robert Salladay on the state of the governor's race: is a blow-out brewing?

Posted by dweintraub at 6:06 AM

September 19, 2006

August revenues $45 m below projection

August revenues were $45 million below forecasts for the month, the Finance Department reports, including a big dip in sales tax revenue because more money came in at the end of July than was expected. Overall, for July and August combined, revenues are $381 million above forecast. The report is here.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:12 PM

Sillen to order 5,000 medical prison beds

The court-appointed receiver in charge of health care in the state prisons says he will order the construction of 5,000 new medical beds for inmates who need health care. Sillen had asked the Legislature and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to pass a bill paving the way for the construction of new medical prison cells. Schwarzenegger agreed but the Legislature balked. Now Sillen says he will do it on his own.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:41 PM

Brown ad in race against Doolittle

Charlie Brown, the retired military officer going up against John Doolittle in California's 4th CD, has put up a commercial on cable television. It highlights his military record and says he would fight for "real conservative value" like "leading with integrity, balancing budgets, securing our borders, energy independence, and real support for our troops." The ad never mentions Doolittle or the fact that Brown is a Democrat in the heavily Republican district. You can watch it here.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:36 PM

But will he campaign with the governor?

Kate Folmar reports that Steve Westly has formed something called the California Leadership Committee, a PAC to funnel money into the campaigns of moderate Democrats. His first targets: Lou Correa and Nicole Parra. Steve Maviglio, meanwhile, notes that Westly is also helping the campaigns of the two transportation finance measures backed by Schwarzenegger, Props 1a and 1b.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:55 AM

Unintended consequence

Proposition 83 is a misguided threat to public safety because it would drive paroled sex offenders into suburbia and beyond, says the Sacramento Bee.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:24 AM

This seems crazy

The Chronicle asks why a state with an acute shortage of beds for mentally ill prisoners has a mental hospital for sex offenders that is only one-quarter full.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:14 AM

20 percent by 2010

The Merc urges the governor to sign SB 107, which would require California utilitities to get 20 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2010.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:09 AM

Another one bites the dust

OC Register political reporter (and surfer) Martin Wisckol regrets the closing of the Huntington Beach hostel, where, he says, surfers from around the world would pay $22 a night to crash between days on the water.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:04 AM

September 18, 2006

Our mistake

Mea Culpa. In this item I tweaked Cruz Bustamante for, among other things, showing up for an editorial board meeting at the Bee that was not on our schedule. Turns out it should have been. Cruz's campaign has produced electronic evidence of one of our writers inviting him for that date and time. He must be so light by now that he simply fell off the schedule.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:18 PM

Governor signs bills on oceans, LA schools

Schwarzenegger has signed a bunch of coastal protection bills today, along with Antonio Villaraigosa's school takeover bill.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:07 PM

A tape worm

Joe Mathews says the Schwarzenegger audio tape is nothing compared to what might be the real treasure trove: video.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:03 PM


Matier and Ross say a new poll (from a Democratic pollster) has the governor up by 20.

Posted by dweintraub at 1:58 PM

Is this for real?

It looks as if somebody from the governor's office might have hacked the labor coalition's blog at the Alliance for a Better California. How else to explain the posting from "vikingsfanatic" with a list of budget reforms that could have been written by Schwarzenegger himself?

A sampling:

Zero-based budgeting: Begin each budget at 0 and require everything to be justified yearly.

No spending a dollar more than we take in.

Require 10% of revenues be put into a reserve and 20% of revenues be used to pay off debt. The 20% may only be waived if it's more than we are able to pay off.

Reduce the requirement to a simple majority while preserving 2/3 for tax increases.

Repeal spending mandates in Proposition 98, 49 and 63.

Restore the governor's authority to make mid-year cuts if revenues fall below forecast. The Legislature would then be able to pass an alternative set of cuts if it chooses to, and that would become law instead.

UPDATE: Julia Rosen advises that at their site, anyone who registers can blog. So think of the Viking fan as the equivalent of a commenter on most sites or a diarist at DailyKos.

Posted by dweintraub at 1:39 PM

Way back then

The LA Times takes a look at the PPIC's report on voting patterns -- from the vantage point of 2030.

Posted by dweintraub at 1:32 PM

Bad and getting worse

Santa Clara County's public health care system is in a downward spiral, says the Mercury News.

Posted by dweintraub at 1:27 PM

Weight isn't the only thing Cruz is losing

Steve Poizner says Cruz Bustamante has missed the deadline for filing a 250-word statement to be included in the Nov. 7 ballot pamphlet. If so, it wouldn't be the first time recently that the Cruzinator has had his wires crossed. Last Monday, we saw him at Sacramento International Airport trying to reel a Southwest jetliner back to the gate from the tarmac so he could get on, after missing his flight. The plane left without him.

This item originally tweaked Cruz for showing up at a Bee editorial board meeting that was not on our schedule. For an explanation, see this new item.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:47 AM

September 16, 2006

The Hindu ruling

The Riverside Press Enterprise says a recent court ruling on the state's textbook adoption rules will open the door to "every activist group to lobby for its version of history."

Posted by dweintraub at 8:45 AM

Not rocket science

The Contra Costa Times urges the governor to sign SB 1655, which would give principals in low-performing schools more power to hire the best teachers they can find, even if they are not the most senior.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:35 AM

Playing ball in the house

The Sacramento Bee says Proposition 90 -- the eminent domain and more initiative -- is the most far-reaching measure on the ballot. And the paper opposes it.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:14 AM

Making connections

An LA teacher writes on why Indian food is spicy, and why he does not like standardized tests. I still think the battle between teaching facts and teaching "critical thinking" is mostly a false one. I'd bet any student who could think critically about World War II, for example, would also have a pretty good understanding of the facts surrounding that war. There is no reason students cannot learn things and also learn how to think about those things.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:57 AM

September 15, 2006

Treehuggers and crossdressers

Mike Spence talks about a rift between the California Republican Assembly and the Schwarzenegger camp over the CRA's online get-out-the-vote campaign.

An excerpt:

We have to be honest about this. The Governor's campaign while emphasizing no new taxes is built around billions of bond debt and signing bills that appeal to tree huggers, crossdressers and the nanny staters.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:43 PM

Money to burn

Stephen Bing has kicked in another $10 million for the oil tax initiative, making his contribution to date more than $26 million. John Myers has more here.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:34 PM

Did Phil ever serve in the Navy?

Frank Russo takes a look at a new Sacramento wing of the organization that led the swift boat veterans campaign against John Kerry in 2004. It's called the Economic Freedom Fund and so far its sole donor is Bob Perry, the Texas homebuilder whose money go the swift boat vets on the air.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:30 PM

McClintock would like to be governor

Tom McClintock/Photo by Brian Baer

Not a shock, but it's a bit refreshing to hear a politician admit what everyone else already knows: he's ambitious. After all, McClintock did run for the job three years ago.

Here's an excerpt of what he told the Bee's Capitol bureau this morning:

"No one has any business running for lieutenant governor without the intention of becoming governor...It's disingenuous for anyone running for this office to say, 'Well, I don't intend to be governor. I just want to be the best lieutenant governor the state's ever had.' "

You can find a story with audio links here.

Posted by dweintraub at 1:22 PM

Unemployment edges up in August

California employers added about 37,000 jobs in August even as the state's unemployment rate nudged up to 4.9 percent, the EDD reports. All the numbers are here.

Posted by dweintraub at 1:18 PM

Brown takes to the airwaves

My boss, David Holwerk, likes to talk about the "Three Gs" that tend to dominate political campaigns but generally don't make good fodder for editorials because most readers have long since made up their minds about them: Guns, gays and gynecology (an alliterative stand-in for abortion). This week, Jerry Brown launches a series of ads that hit on two of the three. But instead of gays, he's talking about the Big E: the environment. This ad, on Chuck Poochigian's vote against banning 50-caliber ammunition, could be particularly devastating.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:59 AM

A wider bell curve

Jerry Bowyer has some provocative thoughts on what he calls the "new secular religion of income equality." I like his colored pill analogy in concept, but I don't think it applies to the past 10 years. That's probably one big reason this issue resonates.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:12 AM

September 14, 2006

No hands

The governor plans to sign SB 1613, which will require drivers to use a hands-free device when they use a wireless phone in their vehicle.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:34 PM

Google is starting a for-profit charity to fight poverty, disease and global warming. To run it, they have hired a "61-year-old physician and public health expert, (who) has studied under a Hindu guru in a monastery at the foothills of the Himalayas and worked as a Silicon Valley entrepreneur." In the New York Times.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:04 PM

Welcome to the party. Not.

I and others who wrote about the PPIC study on voting patterns and demographics focused on the gap between voters and nonvoters when it comes to ethnicity, wealth, education and other characteristics.

But there was another nugget buried in the report that's worth noting:

In 1990, California had 12 million voters registered as members of the two major parties. Today, after an increase of 5.7 million in the adult population, 3.4 million in the population of eligible voters, and about 2 million in the number of registered voters, we still have 12 million voters registered to the two major parties. Together, they have not grown at all.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:29 AM

Capitol Weekly awards

Capitol Weekly releases the results from its insiders' poll on the toughest, smartest, most powerful, hardest working legislators, plus more on staff and lobbyists. Is the "governor's pet" a deer?

Posted by dweintraub at 10:28 AM

September 13, 2006

Debate format

I understand why Angelides wants more debates, but I am puzzled at why he does not consider the format for the Oct. 7 event to be a true debate. Why would he want journalists in there asking questions that the governor could duck for 30 seconds or a minute when Angelides himself could use his "conversation time" to ask the questions himself, and follow-up, until the governor is forced to answer? Here is the California Broadcasters Association description of the format:

The debate format will be: an hour in length; candidates will be seated at a table at the moderator’s left and right; no opening or closing statements; voters will be asked for suggested questions; questions will be asked by the moderator; those questions will initiate a conversation between the candidates; the discussion on each question will last as long as it is productive; we will alternate between each candidate to start the question discussion; in lieu of closing statements, each candidate asks one question of the other for discussion.

Disclosure: I served on the CBA's advisory committee in 2003 that discussed possible formats for debates.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:33 PM

Governor to sign public health bill

Sen. Deborah Ortiz says she has been told that the governor will sign SB 162, which creates a separate Public Health Department headed by a doctor. The department will break free of the current Department of Health Services, which spends most of its resources managing the massive Medi-Cal insurance program for the poor. The switch is supposed to help California better prepare for public health emergencies.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:07 PM

Campaign face-off: Oct. 7

Phil Angelides has accepted what his campaign is calling a "joint appearance" -- not a debate -- with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for Oct. 7. This appears to be the one and only face-off between the two major candidates for governor. But Angelides says he wants more, and he wants a more traditional debate, with candidates standing at lecterns and questioned by a panel of journalists. The Oct. 7 event, sponsored by the California Broadcasters Association, will be a more casual affair, with the two candidates in a "conversation" moderated by former newscaster and one-time Assemblyman Stan Statham.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:04 PM

Ackerman: No on 90

Senate Republican Leader Dick Ackerman breaks with most in his party to oppose Proposition 90, the eminent domain initiative. Ackerman does not like a second feature in the measure that would require governments to compensate land owners for reduced property values due to regulations.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:23 AM

A campaign on steroids?

Bill Bradley says the Angelides campaign has a lot bigger problems than its difficulty explaining its role in obtaining a private Schwarzenegger audio tape.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:19 AM

Immigration evolution

Robert Salladay parses the governor's words on immigration. He says Schwarzenegger is becoming more specific, and more Bush-like.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:13 AM

Stem cell lifespan

David Jensen says California's new stem cell agency is likely to be around for a lot longer than the 10 years originally projected.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:11 AM

September 12, 2006

Auditor slaps governor on homeland security

The state auditor finds that the Schwarzenegger Administration has been a sloppy manager of its Homeland Security programs.

An excerpt:

Our review of the State's administration of 10 federal grants for homeland security and bioterrorism preparedness revealed several concerns. First, we question whether California's two major statewide, full-scale exercises have sufficiently tested the ability of the State's medical and health systems to respond to emergencies. Without adequate testing California cannot be certain that its medical and health systems can respond to all emergencies. Second, California has been slow in spending federal funds awarded to improve homeland security in the State. As of June 30, 2006, the State had spent only 42 percent of the $954 million in homeland security funds awarded to it from 2001 through 2005. Impediments to quicker spending include the length of time to award allocations to local entities. In one instance nearly 10.5 months passed between the start of the award period and the awarding of the allocations by the Governor's Office of Homeland Security (State Homeland Security). Further, reasons offered by local jurisdictions to explain the slow spending include the State's slow process for reimbursing local jurisdictions for their homeland security expenses and the short time allowed for developing budgets coupled with a time consuming budget revision process.

Another concern regarding the administration of funds for emergency preparedness is that the Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Emergency Services) is behind schedule in its receipt and review of the emergency operations plans for 35 of California's 58 counties and those of 17 of 19 state entities that are key responders during emergencies. Therefore, California has less assurance that these plans will effectively guide the entities in their responses to emergencies.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:21 PM

Angelides manager: we were the source

Angelides campaign manager Cathy Calfo admitted a few minutes ago that the Angelides campaign was the source of the Los Angeles Times story revealing a privately recorded conversation involving Gov. Schwarzenegger and his top aides. But Calfo says the audio file was downloaded from a link in a Schwarzenegger press release, and no one on her staff “hacked” the governor’s Web site or accessed a password protected area.

Still, Calfo told reporters this afternoon that she was “not happy” when she learned Monday that her staff was the source for the Times story because that was a decision that “should have been made at the highest levels of the campaign.” Had she been consulted, she said, she might have suggested that reporters be directed to the Web site where the audio file was stored rather than given a copy of the file itself.

Calfo said the campaign is in possession of more than four hours of recordings downloaded from the site. Only six minutes have so far been released.

Although Calfo said she believes the staff members who told her they had not entered a password-protected site, she said the campaign is “doing an internal investigation” of exactly what transpired. Calfo also had some harsh words for Schwarzenegger’s office, which has implied that the recording was downloaded after a breach of the office’s security system.

“Their comments are outrageous,” she said. “They made a mistake and they are now they are trying to cover it up.”

Calfo said the staff members, a press aide and a researcher, followed a link in an Aug. 29 press release that included a recording of the governor’s comments at CSU Long Beach regarding the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

This is the link – now dead – that was provided in that release:

Calfo said the staff “backed up” on that link to see the entire directory of files available (also not possible today) and downloaded more than four hours of material. She wouldn’t release those recordings Tuesday nor say what they contained.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:46 PM

Governor signs minimum wage bill

Schwarzenegger has signed AB 1835, which will increase California's minimum wage to $8 an hour by Jan. 1, 2008. The minimum is currently $6.75.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:51 AM

Online voter guide

The California Voter Foundation has posted its guide to the November election here.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:24 AM

'Keep the debate civil'

Schwarzenegger on immigration:

To the immigrant rights activists I say: Change your message. When I came to America, I wrapped myself in the flag because I wanted to be a part of the American dream. I worked hard, learned English and followed the laws. I learned the customs and culture of my new country. I spent time with English-speakers just so I could hear them talk and learn the language from them.

Being an immigrant is like being a guest in someone's house. Your hosts go about their daily routine. You can sit on the couch and do your own thing, or you can ask, "What can I do to help? How can I be a part of this household?"

What people see today when immigrant rights activists march in the streets carrying Mexican flags and angry signs is that you do not want to join America's house. The message that sends is that you do not want to learn our language or our culture. Unlike the message sent by the masses of Irish, Italian, German and Asian immigrants, whom Americans now proudly call our "melting pot," these images suggest that Mexican immigrants do not want to make that effort.

I do not believe that this is the message most Mexican immigrants — legal or illegal — wish to send. I believe that most Mexican immigrants are as proud to be part of America as I was. They are some of the hardest working and strongest believers in the American dream. So my message to you is: Carry your home country in your heart, but carry the American flag in our streets.

He also has some advice for the anti-immigration crowd. You can read the whole thing here.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:59 AM

An 'affectionate memoir'

Speaking of secrets, Carla Marinucci reviews "Arnold and Me," a book by Barbara Outland Baker, who was Schwarzenegger's girlfriend for six years when he was in his early 20s and at the peak of his bodybuilding career. Marinucci describes the book as a "detailed and most affectionate memoir," and Schwarzenegger wrote a forward, in which he cautions that some of the author's recollections of events differ from his own. In the book, Outland Baker writes about many of Schwarzenegger's personality traits -- his desire for control, his ability to read people "as if they're naked," and his manipulative personality -- that have also been evident in his political career. And of course there's lots on sex and drugs. Interesting stuff.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:55 AM

Hacks and flaks

This Bee story makes it clear that the Angelides campaign accessed the governor's private audio tape before the recording was made public in the LA Times last week. Now the question is whether they got the recording by hacking into a protected system or if Schwarzenegger's office left it in an open part of its Web site. If it turns out that someone in the Angelides camp hacked the governor's computer system, that's going to be a serious blow to the challenger. If, on the other hand, the governor's staff left private recordings in a public place, they will end up looking stupid.

Bill Bradley has more here, including speculation that the Angelides camp was able to use an unguarded back door entrance to troll through a directory of audio recordings on the governor's site that were not meant to be public. Bill might be onto something here. I know that when reporters interview the governor one-on-one, the office will transcribe the conversation and then give the journalist an Internet link to the private site that allows access to the transcription. It's possible that the Democrats found a way to get into a directory for that site without a password.

Curiously, The Times does not seem to have a story or even a blog item this morning on the Angelides camp admission that they downloaded the file before the original story was published. This story simply reports that the CHP is investigating the matter.

More: Donald Lathbury at California Majority Report seems to have pretty intimate knowledge of how the governor's Web site worked, and how the recording could have been downloaded without actually hacking the site.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:57 AM

September 11, 2006

"Hot" story update

Democratic bloggers have been suggesting today that the Schwarzenegger audio tape got out not through a breach of computer security but because it was stored in an unguarded spot on the Internet accessible to the public. The governor's legal affairs secretary, Andrea Hoch, just put out a statement contradicting that speculation:

"As a result of the Governor's Office internal audit, this office discovered that on August 29 and 30, 2006, an unknown person or persons downloaded an audio file from the Governor's Office computer system. The Governor's Office has identified the IP address used for this action. This access was unauthorized and constitutes a breach of one or more security protocols within the Governor's Office, which allowed unknown persons to access private files stored in a password protected area of the Governor's Office network computer system. This information has been forwarded to the California Highway Patrol for its ongoing investigation. As other information is discovered during this internal audit, the Governor's Office will forward additional information to the California Highway Patrol."

Posted by dweintraub at 5:13 PM

WSJ poll: Schwarzenegger by 3.5

The Angelides camp is touting a Wall Street Journal/Zogby poll that shows the Democrat trailing by only 3.5 points, 43.5 to 40. But the same poll has Schwarzenegger up by almost twice that margin when minor candidates are included (the Green Party's Camejo takes 6 percent). And the poll shows Schwarzenegger leading by one point among Hispanics, which can't be good news for Angelides. But it's early yet. I still believe this race will be in the mid-single digits as we head down the stretch in October, after Democrats begin to coalesce around their party's nominee.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:49 PM

A little bit here...

Bob Salladay details a bunch of the little things Schwarzenegger is doing to try to reduce the Democrats' usual advantage among California's diverse ethnic electorate.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:30 AM

September 10, 2006

Facing the future

I think this budding dispute involving FaceBook, a MySpace-style web community that caters to students, has implications for the future of online politics. The short story is that the creators of FaceBook made some changes that the users didn't like. Overnight, hundreds of thousands of them responded, demanding that the changes be rescinded. This is how the youth of America are learning to communicate and network and get their way. For now they are focused on something we might think is frivolous, although I wouldn't necessarily characterize personal relationships that way. Especially for college students, relationships are about the most important thing in their lives. When other things become just as important, look for them to increasingly use these same kind of networking impulses to express their views...

Posted by dweintraub at 7:50 AM

September 8, 2006

Schwarzenegger accepts debate offer

Gov. Schwarzenegger has accepted an invitation to debate Phil Angelides, from the California Broadcasters Association, for Oct. 7. That's a Saturday. And chances are it will be at night. It's not as if the governor is trying to limit the viewing audience or anything....This will presumably be the one and only invitation he accepts, judging by his team's comments to date.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:15 PM

Blow by blow

Shane Goldmacher wraps up today's "hot" story developments with a minute by minute chronology.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:43 PM

Schwarzenegger: 'I'm sorry.'

Gov. Schwarzenegger has apologized for his remarks about Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia, even as Garcia says no apology is necessary:

Schwarzenegger, according to the LA Times:

"Anyone out there that feels offended by these comments, I just want to say I'm sorry. The fact is that if I would hear this kind of comments in my house, by my kids, I would be upset, and today, when I read it in the papers, it's something when you say things, but it is another thing when you read it in the paper. It made me cringe. It made me feel uncomfortable. And so this is why I thought I should come out and address the issue right away."

Posted by dweintraub at 11:43 AM

Escalation time

The Democrats are now moving to escalate the reaction to Schwarzenegger's comments. They are rolling out UFW co-founder and civil rights acitvist Dolores Huerta and the National Latino Congress to attack the governor for his "racially charged" comments.

Bonnie Garcia, meanwhile, is quoted in a Schwarzenegger campaign statement attacking Angelides for trying to make partisan hay out of the comments.

UPDATE: Bob Mulholland, meanwhile, says it wasn't him.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:35 AM

One man's productivity...

Chris Reed and his colleagues at the Union-Tribune ed board have been mounting a counter attack to the general consensus -- which I share -- that the just-completed legislative session was unusually productive.

The problem is that there are at least two ways of making that judgment. I make mine based on the goals of the participants -- the governor and legislative leaders. Schwarzenegger and his counterparts in the Legislature achieved many if not most of their major goals: a public works package, a budget that paid down debt and gave more money to schools, a global warming bill, a minimum wage increase, a prescription drug discount program.

Now if you don't like these things, then you might consider the very same session an abject failure. But that does not make it any less productive. It just makes it productive in a destructive way. That's different. And I think that is what Reed is trying to say.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:34 AM

More react

Bill Bradley thinks The Times got the tape from a transcription service.

Jon Fleischman thinks the snippet was taken out of context, and says his own private conversations with Schwarzenegger have been even racier.

Crystal Strait says the governor's comments about Bonnie Garcia are "degrading" -- and then makes a not-so-flattering comment of her own about the legislator's figure.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:18 AM

Reactions to 'hot' tape

Phil Angelides is reacting cautiously, at least at first, to the revelation of a private Schwarzenegger conversation in which the governor uses ethnic and cultural stereoptyping while referring to a Latina legislator's personality as "hot." The Democratic nominee put out a short statement this morning from his campaign office:

“Once again, Governor Schwarzenegger has used language that is deeply offensive to all Californians and embarrassed our state. His comments reflect a disturbing pattern of behavior. The Governor has a responsibility to conduct himself with dignity.”

Republican Party Chairman Duf Sundheim, meanwhile, is attacking the messenger and demanding that the LA Times reveal who gave them the tape.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:11 AM

A 'hot' Latina and a deer in the headlights

The LA Times scores a copy of an audio tape -- apparently recorded in the governor's office -- in which Schwarzenegger and aides discuss how they really feel about several Republican legislators. Given the nature of story, revealing a private conversation about a sensitive subject, it's remarkably tame. The most explosive part, if it can be called that, is when Schwarzenegger leans on ethnic stereotypes to describe a Latina legislator as having a "hot" personality. But it turns out that the lawmaker -- Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia -- says she refers to herself in exactly the same terms. Schwarzenegger and chief of staff Susan Kennedy also express their displeasure with former Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy for not doing enough to help them pass the governor's public works bond package, and the governor refers to the Assembly Republican Caucus as a "wild" bunch. Kennedy says the new Republican leader, George Plescia, reminds her of a deer that wanders into her yard when she leaves the gate open, which is not an inaccurate description of the relatively inexperienced lawmaker. Fun stuff, and you can listen to the whole thing for yourself. More intriguing than anything in the conversation is why was the tape made, and who gave it to The Times? This is the second time that the Times has been let in on a private conversation involving Schwarzenegger and his team. Somebody in there doesn't like the boss.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:30 AM

September 7, 2006

Who needs a leg secretary?

Flashreport has posted a list of 20 bills they want the governor to veto.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:55 PM

Steve Barr, anyone?

Ben Austin handicaps the early field for the next race for mayor of LA, whenever that might be.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:51 PM

Schwarzenegger signs pre-school bill

Gov. Schwarzenegger has signed AB 172, his alternative to the Prop. 82 preschool ballot measure that was defeated in June. This measure targets $100 million to preschools serving mostly low-income children.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:30 PM

Schwarzenegger rejects unemployment bill

The governor has vetoed AB 1884, which sought to give unemployment benefits to workers who are locked out during a labor dispute with their employer.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:28 PM

Edwards to stump for Angelides

John Edwards is coming to California Friday to campaign for Phil Angelides with the SEIU health care workers union. Their focus: universal health care. The announcement dings Schwarzenegger for his veto of SB 840, the single-payer proposal, but Angelides does not support that measure, either.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:22 AM

September 6, 2006

Governor rejects gay school bill

Gov. Schwarzenegger has vetoed a controversial bill that was promoted as a way to prohibit discrimination against gays in public school teaching and text books.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:13 PM

Guards v. Schwarzenegger

The prison guards have endorsed Phil Angelides, giving him a potential $10 million-plus shot in the arm and a loud voice to portray Schwarzenegger's criminal justice policies as bad for the state. It's funny how these things come full circle.

Schwarzenegger ran on a campaign to reduce the power of "special interests" in the Capitol, and there has been plenty of debate about what he meant by that and how well he succeeded. But there can be no denying that the CCPOA's 30,000 members exercise far more power over public policy than their numbers in a state of 37 million people would suggest. And they do so mainly because they have the ability to assess their members and collect and spend millions of dollars in political money every year. They are a classic special interest. And despite Schwarzenegger's late attempts to woo them at least toward neutrality, he apparently would not bend far enough to their will, and now they will try to get rid of him.

It will be interesting to see if he tries to ignore their attacks or if he makes some attempt, as he did with the Indian gaming tribes in 2003, to portray the guards as the narrow group that they are, interested, as a union should be, more in pay and health benefits and pensions than the greater good of the state.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:22 PM

Blog notes

Bill Bradley has some details on the LA Times new political blog, though I hear it is set to launch on Monday, not tomorrow as he reports....Meanwhile, Phil Angelides has retooled his site with a livelier, fresher feel....And in my print column tomorrow I plan to take a look at how Bush's former webmaster has been reworking Schwarzenegger's official state web site.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:28 AM

A gay pride parade of bills

Equality California reports that a record 14 bills sponsored by the gay rights movement have reached the governor's desk. Schwarzenegger has already signed four and vetoed two, while eight are still pending.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:10 AM

A different take on shrinkage

Stephen Rose says the middle class is shrinking -- because more families are better off.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:05 AM

September 5, 2006

Schwarzenegger schedules trade mission to Mexico

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today called Mexico's President-elect Calderon to congratulate him, according to the governor's office, and scheduled a trade mission to the country for Nov. 9 and 10, immediately after the California elections.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:58 PM

Why Phil?

Phil Trounstine says the Angelides message or messages sound like, well, Greek to him.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:05 PM

Single payer faces veto

Schwarzenegger says today that he is going to veto SB 840, the single-payer health care bill, because it relies too much on government to run the health care system.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:24 AM

Governable again?

Taking stock of the end of the legislative session now that the dust has settled, it appears that Gov. Schwarzenegger has had an extraordinarily successful year for a governor working with a Legislature controlled by the opposition in an election year. I don't necessarily agree with everything he has done, but by his standards, both on policy and politics, it is hard to see how he could have done much better.

He got a budget on time that did not erase the state's fiscal problem but narrowed the gap, paid down some debt, resolved his bitter conflict with the education lobby and dedicated much of a spring revenue surge to one-time commitments rather than ongoing programs.

He placed on the ballot an infrastructure package that asks the voters to approve nearly $40 billion in bonds for transportation, schools, housing and flood control.

He negotiated a compromise with the Legislature to adopt a groundbreaking measure putting California out front among the states in the fight against global warming.

He cut a deal with lawmakers to increase the minimum wage without indexing it to inflation.

He reached agreement on a plan to provide cheaper prescription drugs to low-income and middle-income Californians.

And there were many other, more modest achievements. On the other side of the ledger, his biggest failure was probably the loss of his flood control package due to his inability to come to terms with Senate Leader Don Perata and members of the Assembly pushing for more limits on growth in flood-prone areas. He also failed to persuade the Legislature to cough up money for more prison bed space, and never presented a thoroughly vetted and sensible plan to reduce the number of non-violent inmates in the prisons.

Although conventional wisdom is that Schwarzenegger has completely remade his governing philosophy en route to striking the deals he did get, only on prescription drugs did he do a real about-face, agreeing to use Medi-Cal's leverage as a hammer to try to get the drug companies to offer discounts to Californians. He opposed using that tactic a year ago but dropped his opposition when he agreed to this package.

But on the budget, infrastructure, global warming and the minimum wage, all the deals were well within the paramaters he staked out even before his debacle at the polls in last year's special election. On the details, he gave up some things, and the Democrats in the Legislature gave up some things. But that's what governing is all about.

People who are close to the Capitol may be too wrapped up in their own partisan or interest-group warfare to realize that the "gridlock" we all like to complain about has largely ended. Schwarzenegger deserves a lot of credit for that. But so do the Democratic leaders in the Legislature, who had all the incentive in the world to jam the governor with bills they knew he would veto and do nothing on the bills they knew he would sign. For the most part that didn't happen.

It will be interesting to see if this reality begins to permeate first with opinion leaders and then, ever, with a public that for good reason has been highly cynical about politics and government and especially down on state government.

NOTE: An earlier version of this item described the prescription drug plan as being for "middle income" Californians. A reader points out that it would also provide benefits to low-income residents who don't have any drug coverage now because they don't qualify for existing public programs.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:45 AM

Labor negotiations


Sacramento County workers are striking today. The main issue seems to be, as it often is in labor disputes, health care benefits. But this story is more about the service impacts and does not give a whole lot of detail about the impasse. And I am not sure it is available. It seems to me that negotiations with public employee unions should be more transparent. We should know exactly what the county has offered, and what the unions are demanding. How else can a citizen take sides? And prompting people to take sides, moving public opinion, is obviously what a strike is all about. Tyically these negotiations at all levels of government are done in secret, and the final agreement is a done deal by the time we see the details. That seems wrong to me.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:27 AM

The Villaraigosa factor

It is probably a commentary on the current condition of the Angelides campaign that today's long-expected announcement of an endorsement from the Democrat mayor of the state's largest city actually qualifies as news. Antonio Villaraigosa, a buddy of the governor, is finally, officially, backing his party's nominee. He held out until now, we are told, to avoid complicating negotiations over his plan to take partial control of the LA city schools. His delay was a reflection generally of Angelides' problem coralling stray Democrats into his camp. Will his commitment now also signal that Democrats are ready to "come home" to Angelides?

Posted by dweintraub at 9:23 AM

September 1, 2006

Trouble for bonds?

The poll this week by the Public Policy Institute of California included some surprises, particularly for supporters of the governor's infrastructure bonds on the November ballot.
Those polled showed the most support for the affordable housing bond, Proposition 1C, with 57 percent in favor, even though that was the proposition assumed to be most in trouble. The least favorable infrastructure proposal was the transportation bond, with 50 percent support, even though Californians generally list roads and highways as their top priority.
The results suggest that dollar amounts may affect how voters view these proposals. The housing bond is the least expensive, at $2.85 billion, and received the most support. The flood control bond, costing $4.1 billion, was the second most popular in the poll, followed by education bond ($10.4 billion) and the transportation bond ($19.9 billion).
Also surprising: Seemingly low support (40 percent yes, 45 percent no) for Proposition 84, a ballot initiative to finance water, parks, flood control and conservation projects. Supporters blame the Attorney General's ballot description and say they haven't started their campaign yet.
-- Stuart Leavenworth

Posted by dweintraub at 2:37 PM

Don the Ripper

Give credit to Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata for his masterful job of making it seem like the Assembly killed flood control legislation this year, even though his hand was on the knife.
The Bee's front page headline was "Flood bill killed in Assembly."
The Stockton Record reported that the package "drowned in the Assembly under a tsunami of opposition that ranged from builders to farmers to local governments to the California Chamber of Commerce."
Lost in this blood bath was the fact that the Assembly, not the Senate, set the table for debate on flood control this session. Perata only brought along the knife set. Slicing and dicing, Perata chopped up the Assembly's bills and then reassembled parts of them into an omnibus package at the last minute.
The smorgesborg bill, AB 1665, included elements taken from legislation authored by Assemblymen John Laird and Dave Jones, who then urged Assemblywoman Lois Wolk to endorse the package. Wolk was preparing a floor statement in support. But then some sharp eyes noted that language written by Perata and Sen. Mike Machado of Linden could have created some unintended nightmares for local governments.
One provision would have required cities to demonstrate that any levee upgrades they performed would not add to flood risks downstream. That's a pretty tall order.
In 1986, for instance, flooding and levee breaks in Yuba County prevented a wall of water from surging down the Sacramento River toward Sacramento. Arguably, if Yuba fixes their levees, Sacramento will bear more risks during such flood events in the future.
Does that mean Yuba shouldn't be allowed to upgrade its levees? I doubt that anyone would argue such. Yet Machado and Perata's provision might have created such an effect.
Thus, the bill died in the Assembly. That may have been Perata's intent. He also was able to create some Assembly infighting and end up with a result that satisfied one of his major campaign contributors, the California Building Industry Association.
All in all, a pretty good day for the Don.
--Stuart Leavenworth

Posted by dweintraub at 2:09 PM



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Daniel Weintraub


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