Thursday, April 28, 2005
According to the Chronicle article, Lockyer "decided not to spend the next 10 years of [his] life in partisan hand-to-hand combat," but has, apparently, decided that another 8 years in cushy elective office - hell, any office - will be, like, okay with him.
Anyone besides me getting a little tired of the office-bid-swapping going on in the party right now? Garamendi's running for what? Joe Dunn's green beer is to get us to vote for him for which office? Jerry Brown, really?
I'm amazed he's going to run for anything: remember, in one of my favorite convention anecdotes EVER, 2 conventions ago the Women's Caucus straight turned their backs to him when he came in to address the assembly. That just doesn't say "electable" to me.
Also: The Chron reports that Jerry Brown blogs. Yeah, and? We knew that. Catch up, kids.
To which we say - really? That's fantastic!
Echoing Rose Institute Fellow Doug Johnson's comments, Schwarzenegger said: "The key thing is not what is the year that we change the system, but that it will be changed." (reported in the L.A. Times).
The body of the article itself doesn't quite support the sweeping assertion that Schwarzenegger has let go of '06 completely, but it certainly looks like this reform proporsal will go the way of most of his others so far.
Wonder what this means for the re-elect . . . . .
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Wait . . . no we aren't.
And aside from who serves as Education Secretary is the very relevant and appropriate question: why do we have an Education Secretary. No really, check out the structure of state government. Who exactly IS in charge of schools?
First, from Germany, news we feel bad laughing about: Exploding Toads Puzzle German Scientists
Second, from Maryland, news we don't feel bad laughing about: Herd of Buffalo Disrupts Traffic in Maryland
Yeah, that's a scampering bison. Photographic proof of what I've been saying for years: bison cavort, play, prance, and frolic like really big puppies.
Finally, again from Maryland, news that we didn't feel bad laughing about turns into news about which we're mildly horrified: Wayward Buffalo's Owner to Slaughter Them
Not sure when our comments will be available again, or the disposition of comments on past posts. Clearly, the worst case scenario is that they're gone, but we hope that's not the case.
Thanks for your continued patience . . . . A comment-less site is less fun, we know . . . .
Monday, April 25, 2005
The voters surveyed prefer new lines be drawn and used by 2006, rather than 2011.
The Institute's press release correctly indicates that traditional opponents - the Speaker of the Assembly and the Senate President Pro Tempore - now support redistricting reform; however they neglect to clarify that the implementation timeline is still a significant sticking point and the main reason reform is currently still headed for the ballot box and not the governor's desk.
Also included in the Institute's data are numbers continuing to reflect that Schwarzenegger's approval rating is slipping - significantly among Democrats - with "others" close to evenly split on his performance.
Unshockingly, people still hate the legislature by about 17%. No data was included in the 6 page report on whether voters continue to think their own legislator is better than the mob as a whole.
California voters are also most concerned about legislative failure to pass timely budgets and legislative ties to special interests. Only 36% said they were very concerned about legislators drawing their own district lines (so they are safe from any challenges in elections) [no comment on the structure of that question's stucture]. No data indicates that respondents were asked if prior to the survey they had ever actively felt concerned about legislators drawing their own districts, though a later question did query those polled about their familiarity with gerrymandering.
More on reform:
The survey concedes that redistricting isn't a primary issue for all voters, with only two-thirds saying they have heard of and understand "gerrymandering." The survey reports 73% of voters agree that redistricting is a conflict of interest for the legislature.
The question posed: "Some people say it is a conflict of interest for legislators to draw their own election districts. Do you agree or disagree with that idea? Is that strongly?
From the order in which the report presents questions posed, this lengthier question was asked after the one described above:
After each census, the state legislature redraws the boundary lines for California's districts, which are then used to elect our representatives to Congress, the State Senate, and the State Assembly. This process is called redistricting. Have you heard or read the term gerrymandering, which is when redistricting is abused either to benefit one political party over the other or to benefit incumbents by making their districts safe from challengers?This question, then, contains a more complete picture of possible line-drawing antics. Sixty-eight percent of those surveyed said they had heard of the practice.
Around two-thirds of voters agreed that both an independent commission or a bipartisan panel of retired judges would be preferable to state legislators drawing the lines. The report does not, however, contain data ranking voters' preferences between commissions and bipartisan judicial panels.
Perhaps the most interesting voter-preference question pits gerrymandered districts for the purpose of increasing California's Capitol Hill clout against districts drawn to preserve compact, community-considerate units. Fifty percent prefered unified communities, with 14% not knowing their preference. No comment yet from David Dreier on his reaction to that statistic . . . .
The $64,000 Question:
The Institute's survey also asked voters about their preferences for when to implement reforms. They conclude that likely voters of all parties appear "more concerned with fixing a system that maintained party control in all 153 districts up for election in 2004 than concerned about comparisons to the Republican power grab in Texas last year."
For the record, however, voters were never directly asked about the Republican power grab in Texas. The analogy was drawn, according to a Rose Institute analyst, from voters' responses to whether they'd prefer D.C. power-play districts or community-based districts and their responses to whether the proposed reform is Schwarzenegger's honest effort to reform and improve California government or a Republican power grab.
Accordingly, voters indicated their preference that reforms take effect before the 2006 election with 59% supporting a 2006 (or 2008) redrawing over 31% favoring waiting until 2011.
No more information was given to survey participants regarding the role of the timing issue in the on-going struggle between Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders.
According to Rose Institute Consulting Fellow Douglas Johnson, redistricting reform proponents have been working toward reform for over 30 years, so if the success of Schwarzenegger's efforts turn on delaying implementation until 2011, he and others would still be satisfied.
"The reform itself is more important than when [it occurs]," he said.
[And now to editorialize: I used to be a manager at the Rose Institute and involved in their past survey work. That doesn't stop me, however, from wishing they had delved more deeply into the timing issue to uncover whether voters would've still supported mid-decade redistricting if they were aware of the significant policy-based drawbacks (inaccurate, outdated data) and political drawbacks (arm-wrestling over the 2006/11 issue could gum up the whole thing and unnecessarily end hopes of reformists again). Also, few questions based on the actual proposal circulating for signatures were included. I acknowledge the limitations of this - and any - survey - but do hope for future surveys to capture what more fully-informed voters would say. Which of course, brings up the point that it's hard to be a fully informed voter and hard to go out and fully inform voters.
Technical notes: First, the report should be available via the link at the top of this post - but if it isn't, that's out of my control. Second, you'll note the comments are still broken. Still looking into it. Until then, use the email link in the side bar for comments purposes.]
Update: The link now directs to the report.
Though I'm not Villaraigosa supporter, I would definitely stick up for anyone who chose to slam him for poor Spanish skills. The "real Latino" syndrome is a fairly destructive force. Villaraigosa, for his part, is making his occasional grammatical errors (hey, I was never great at the subjunctive voice either) into fodder for self-deprecating humor: a humbling, very savvy tactic that the article notes also works well for George Bush.
Villaraigosa, for his part, offers this absolute truism:
"If I could speak Korean, Mandarin, Armenian and Farsi and there were cameras representing those stations, I would speak in those languages as well," he said.Also smart.
Language and cultural identity are thorny issues in Los Angeles politics and in California generally. During Arnold Schwarzenegger's bid for governor, his accent (Culeeeofrornia) was frequently mocked - which should bother you if you consider the guaranteed backlash against anyone mocking a Spanish or Chinese accent. Mocking Schwarzenegger is fun and easy enough to do on substantive grounds. Making fun of his second language, however . . . . The same, however, goes for intra-Latino community condemnation of Spanish language deficiency in candidates. It's both hypocritical and another example of an interest group eating its young.
It's a Catch-22 for Latinas like me who grew up in multi-cultural, English (with healthy doses of Italian) language homes. What's in my blood is in my blood - but what comes out of my mouth won't ever be from-infancy Spanish. It will always have been learned later in life, which to some, will never be good enough.
I hate giving credit to a Sagehen, but Pomona College alumn author Jamie Court correctly takes the paper to task for trying to make itself the Gray Lady of the Pacific. The paper certainly has changed since it became (an oft-neglected, increasingly money-losing) Tribune paper. Court highlights the LAT editorial staff's eastern roots, focus, and worship.
Trying to be as good as something else usually only guarantees you'll only ever be compared to it. To do right by its readers, the Times should represent this Coast's ethos. I never the extent of East Coast media bias until I lived out there for a piece. Forget liberal media bias. If you want to know what prejudices people, just look at a map.
Saturday, April 23, 2005
Friday, April 22, 2005
Via Metroblogging DC, a post on Senator Evan Bayh's Flickr account. Well, a lot of electeds blog, so why not Flickr, too?
Metblogger Tom doubts Bayh uploads his own photos - and so would I. It's interesting to watch as politicos take note of technological advances in astroturfing themselves . . . . It'll also be interesting to see how long before the FEC (or FPPC, as the case may be) decides that they need to act to regulate such things (hell, municipalities are trying already). And good luck with that . . . . For a fun at-home activity, try coming up with language to regulate politicians' use of the net for "electioneering" and see how many words you get into it before it becomes ragingly unconstitutional.
Thursday, April 21, 2005
This post, by metblog godfather and creator Sean Bonner has a very witty list of nerd info from his latest late-night visit with the nerds.
Number 5 wins Phoblog's top honor for Funniest List Item Relating To Star Wars Nerds.
As soon as I can dig up the photo of my in my 3d grade Princess Leia costume, I'll post it to back up my own Star Wars nerd cred. I even, cringe, spent the night before the Episode I premiere sleeping in a lawn chair on a sidewalk in Pasadena. Know what? Unfun. I slept through the end of the movie. Oh well . . .
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
The Bee quotes Bob Stern, "architect of the state's Political Reform Act," on his support of the reform. His take: public financing would result in more competitive elections and less special interest influence, resulting in a public confidence boost for electeds.
Stern estimates the cost at $70 million a year (to which I say: and how much more for the people outside the L.A. media market?).
The measure lowers the amount candidates foregoing public money are allowed to accept from donors and slaps violators with criminal penalities - something Stern thinks necessary since FPPC actions and fines just haven't shamed offenders the way PRA authors had planned.
Stern thought the "embarrassment of being fined by the FPPC" would make people feel so bad they wouldn't violate the law again. He was wrong.
Well, yeah, duh. Aside from the media and political consultants, no one really checks up on campaign contribution violations. In fact, ironically, it seems that campaign finance violation penalties do little more than encourage opponents of those violators to raise and spend more money publicizing said violations. Go fig. In that regard, PRA requirements amount to state-funded oppo research. Look - CalAccess has everything you need to hang high your opponent, the cheating, money-raising bastard!
As for the bill itself:
First off, any bill that defines the term "one party dominant legislative district" makes me twitch. There are debate requirements (adding some fun "compulsion to speak" shades to the usual "freedom of speech" issues that plague campaign finance reform efforts), "seed money" provisions, prohibitions on to whom voters can give some kind of oddly-formulated $5 initial qualifying contributions, and seems to contain no provisions pro-rating money on the practical costs of campaigning in vastly different regions of the state (though, direct mail is always the most adventageous use of candidates' coffers, and mail is mail).
This proposal seems to be fairly vulnerable to attack - legally as well as politically. We'll keep tabs on it . . . .
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Well, yeah, they are, apparently.
And why the surprise over the brilliance of player Milton Bradley? Hello, if anyone should be good at a game, shouldn't it be a guy named Milton Bradley?
I'm just sayin' . . . .
A representative of the Center for Law and Religious Freedom said, mystifyingly:
However, M. Casey Mattox of the Center for Law and Religious Freedom -- the group affiliated with the Christian Legal Society that sued Blagojevich -- said he objects to the provision in Boxer's bill that forces pharmacists to refer patients to another store to get their prescription filled. "Most pharmacies are comfortable with referring. But that will be too much for some. ''No, women aren't inconvenienced by having to go to another pharmacy - they (and society generally) are, however, incredibly inconvenienced by unwanted pregnancy. Which also, by the way, should inconvenience the willfully ignorant pharmacist who has probably encouraged an abortion each time he or she discourages the use of the Pill or the Morning After Pill. Time is of the utmost importance when taking emergency contraception - so that cross-town delay when Joe Pharm denies you and you have to visit Tom Pharm can mean the difference between preventing conception (hey medical expert: sperm lives quite awhile, comparatively speaking) and encouraging irresponsible conception.
He said Congress should be more concerned with protecting the rights of pharmacists than with those of women who might be inconvenienced by having to go another pharmacy to get their prescriptions filled.
Denying the Morning After Pill would be almost understandable (but still not okay) were it not based on a gross, medical misconception (cringe-worthy pun, sorry) that's allowed, if not encouraged, to flourish by the morals police running rampant in our communities and in our legislatures.
There's no "slippery slope" argument here. If you're against abortion, you should be all for the Morning After Pill since it prevents the problem to begin with (not in every case, but frequently). If you're against premarital sex, you're doing a bad job advocating abstinence if there's a girl in front of you needing emergency contraception. It's a little late for a lecture.
Give her the Pill.
Apparently, there's been an abnormal amount of invalid signatures on the petitions gathered so far - a lot of dublicates that he attributes to confusion over the plethora of proposals out there.
As the Roundup guys snarked - we're also sure it has nothing to do with the rabid, $2 a person signature gatherers out there.
We love redistricting reform - but we hate Ted Costa. And this proposal still misses the point when it contains language that would force a mid-decade redistricting (one based on six year old, very inaccurate census data).
Help this initiative go down: if you see signature gatherers hunting for this proposal, don't sign. And tell your friends not to sign either. It's flawed. It can be revised and still make the ballot. It's a really, really bad way to allow policy-by-threat.
Monday, April 18, 2005
The trouble is that the human papilloma virus (HPV) is sexually transmitted. So to prevent infection, girls will have to be vaccinated before they become sexually active, which could be a problem in many countries.[insert shriek of dismay here]
In the US, for instance, religious groups are gearing up to oppose vaccination, despite a survey showing 80 per cent of parents favour vaccinating their daughters. "Abstinence is the best way to prevent HPV," says Bridget Maher of the Family Research Council, a leading Christian lobby group that has made much of the fact that, because it can spread by skin contact, condoms are not as effective against HPV as they are against other viruses such as HIV.
"Giving the HPV vaccine to young women could be potentially harmful, because they may see it as a licence to engage in premarital sex," Maher claims, though it is arguable how many young women have even heard of the virus.
The small issue here is the question of whether many young women have even heard of HPV.
The bigger question is: if you could ensure that your daughter could be safe from even one form of cancer - even if it's rare and relatively treatable, if caught in time - why on God's green earth would you hesitate for a second? Especially when it might be a brilliantly effective vaccination:
Vaccines are producing good results in clinical trials, and the first could be licensed as early as next year. GlaxoSmithKline announced in November 2004 that its vaccine, which contains two strains of HPV thought to cause 70 per cent of cervical cancers, had prevented 90 per cent of new infections and all persistent infections. The US-based firm Merck announced similar results last week with its vaccine, which contains the same two cancer-causing HPV strains plus two strains that cause genital warts.What's not to love?
The article also notes that vaccinating men might be the best way to safeguard women. Sounds like a great idea since, aside from the warts-causing strains - men are pretty much untouched by HPV and can merrily pass HPV along without ever thinking about it or popping up positive via STD screening that isn't looking for HPV in men anyway.
Newsflash - most men have it. Meaning virgin-brides will probably be infected by their husbands on their wedding nights. Why not irradicate disease when given the chance?
Sunday, April 17, 2005
Now, for observations on the convention, generally:
Having a convention in Los Angeles anywhere but the Bonaventure is just plain wrong. I support my union brothers and sisters, so I understand why we weren't there, but, please, everyone, back to the table and settle these disputes because spreading the convention and delegates between the Los Angeles Convention Center and hotels in downtown, K-town, and - wait for it - Manhattan Beach just ain't cricket. Bring me my color coded elevators and revolving bar, stat! I think this year's location alone was responsible for half the weekend's unfunness.
I watched exactly 10 minutes of general session action, on Saturday morning. Nancy Pelosi, a brief Boxer intro by Party Chairman Art Torres, and a bit of Boxer herself. Other than that, I ran around, headless-chicken style, dealing with CYD issues, candidates, decisions, and logistics.
Per tradition, Friday night was our annual CYD/CCD Caucus and LaRouche Smackdown '05. Some of them got in - including the notorious Big Red and newbie creep Linebacker Guy (real names unknown, well, I know Linebacker Guy's supposed name, but I'm not giving him a google-hit here) - along with some of their flunkies. They were relatively well-behaved, comparatively speaking. But I still wish they'd just disappear. Their Saturday afternoon choral performance, however, was as dulcet and lovely as ever. In case you were wondering, they shall still overcome.
The usual parade of electeds visited the caucus meeting - and it was largely my job to let our bouncers know that, yes, that really is Senator Migden, and, yes, please allow her and her staffer entry. Anyone running for anything hits all the caucuses, so while we still can't quite keep straight who's running for what, this week, we gave 'em all mic time anyway.
Friday wrapped up with two notable (okay, two that I visited) hospitality suites, which I mentioned before.
Saturday started with a 9am, contentious credentials committee meeting. Aside from the fact that we met in the LACC foyer and had to stand for lack of meeting space, it was just like the chartering battles of old, except that I had to keep the natives at bay, parliamentarily-speaking. Though I kept my personal views of the issues largely to myself during the meeting, I was happy to have my views accurately presented (through no coaching on my part) by delegates from UCSB, Mira Loma High School (I love those kids - a car full of high school students driven by one's mother), and the San Diego YDs. Per tradition, all charters cleared - but you can bet this Parliamentarian is going to convene some bylaws revision working groups right quick.
Fast forward to what some readers really care about (and what some other readers couldn't care less about): the CYD elections.
In a fitting tribute to the elections of '03, the only contested race was determined by a one-vote margin. Crystal Strait narrowly defeated Scott Ogus after a very, very hard fought race that pitted too many friends and allies against each other. There were some iffy procedural moments, a little bit of rules jockeying, some fudging, some bitching, ample moaning, and finally, the whole bloody mess ended - at least for this go-round. I won't comment much on the race from now on - other than to say that it was, without a doubt, CYD-or-not, absolutely the toughest political - or was it personal? or is that "or" an "and?" or can you really ever draw that line? - decision I have yet faced. CYD may be the training pond, kids, but don't underestimate the dangers of the deep-end.
There's always great momentum after a CYD election - and I look forward to what's next for our little-organization-that-could.
Apparently, the rest of the State Party was doing stuff too. And yes, I was around for that too - including the regional director contest in my home region (my guy one, after a vote that fell along some very interesting, potentially telling demographic lines). Apparently, one region's vote came down to a coin toss after a tied ballot. That would've been fun to watch. According to the LAT, we were combative and at time jubilant this year, contrasted with last year's "grim" San Jose convention.
I recall being much more jubilant last year - but then again, I was staring down a final in 72 hours last year, so who am I to be objective?
I didn't get too much of a chance to focus on the three biggest gubernatorial candidates - though I did see Westly address our Friday night caucus and Angelides address our Friday night CYD party. I didn't see Lockyer - while I didn't exactly avoid him, I didn't seek him out either. At this point, it's hard to see a future in which I'd ever support Bill "Screw Gray Davis" Lockyer. But you can never say never in politics. Except that I'd never wear a Bill Lockyer lanyard for my delegate pass - despite his having cornered that market for at least 2 years now (last year I subbed my Herb J. Wesson, Jr. lanyard, this year, the Joe Dunn green mardi o'gras beads).
L.G. candidate (as of now) John Garamendi worked the crowds non-stop - planting himself at the LACC entrance and shaking as many hands as possible. That certainly gets points. I don't recall seeing Jackie Speier around, but if she's still an L.G. candidate, I assume she was there. Debra Bowen was stumping for SoS in '06. And Liz Figueroa wins the least-political-most-fem-friendly logo (photo coming soon).
Though the party is uniformly chomping at the bit to replace Schwarzenegger, this convention didn't really settle the question of who will win the chance to oppose him. That'll be next year's convention.
Highlight of the weekend A: Meeting some fabulously enthusiastic, grounded, focused, and intelligent YD chapters - all of which gave me great hope for the coming year.
Highlight of the weekend B: Seeing, briefly, Howard Dean walk past me in the hallway. Was it more than a bummer that he didn't rally all the troops, just those willing and able to make the Saturday night dinner? Yes. Was it a nice, visual reminder of why there were so many enthusiastic, progressive, ready-to-work, new delegates around this year? Absolutely.
See you again in '06.
Today was all about new faces, old faces, old problems, and new directions.
There will be more wrap up tomorrow, but in the meantime, the CDP has a Blog as well. Mostly, it's Bob's Blog, as in Bob Mulholland, but there's also a CDP staffer blogging about the convention as well.
Saturday, April 16, 2005
Jeff Johnson lives in a Volkswagen bus and spends his days outside a San Diego Target store, flagging down shoppers.Yup. Your democracy, slowly being purchased, voter by voter, dollar by dollar, by Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Everyone who stops is potentially worth at least a dollar to him, sometimes $10 or more.
But Johnson isn't a panhandler. He's more like a street vendor – and there are hundreds like him swarming around California this spring, peddling direct democracy.
I rememberd this morning, as I raced up the 110 why I usually stay at a hotel near the convention. Commuting to work is bad enough - commuting to a political event on a lovely Saturday morning - well - that's just sad. But, you know I can't miss this - these are my peeps.
I'm currently sitting with my fellow Region 17 delegates in the main hall watching Nancy Pelosi rally the faithful. With a nod to Clinton-era State of the Union addresses, she's calling out numerous front-row honored guests - the locked-out grocery worker, the struggling student, the veteran, the teacher, the nurse: in other words, the Arnold Schwarzenegger's 10 most wanted list.
Last night was all about catching up with old friends and reviewing hospitality suites. Top draws: Joe Dunn's Irish party with free green beer and Janice Hahn's Martini and Chocolate party (photo on its way). There were others, but since I was wearing my I'm-taller-than-you-evil-LaRouchie-infultrator heels, I was toast by 10:30. Had to hit the YD party, of course, which was fun.
Not much scoop here. The top of the ticket merry-go-round continues: as of today, Joe Dunn is running for treasurer, John Garamendi for Lt. Governor, and, of course, all the remaining state wide office holders are running for Governor. Angelides gave a reasonably rousing speech to the YDs last night. And he helped sponsor the event, so, you know, go Angelides.
A point of personal pride - the Democrats of the Claremont Colleges won the first "Biggest Pain in Bush's Ass Award" for . . . I don't know, campaigning and stuff. Doesn't matter - GO STAGS! (uh, and sagehens, I guess. But their football team still sucks).
Next up today - a quick parliamentary stint at the California College Democrats elections, some youth voter training, and the moment I know I've been waiting for all these months - the California Young Democrat elections featuring the first contested presidential race in I don't know how long.
Which gives me about seven hours to figure out which candidate gets my votes.
Time to listen to Boxer now . . . .
Friday, April 15, 2005
In other Demo maneuvering news - Steve Westley will join Angelides and Lockyer this weekend in their attempts to woo Democrats' support for a 2006 gubernatorial bid. Um, psst, Mr. Westley, remember that time you were all like, yeah Arnold, yeah (bogus, band-aid) Props 57 and 58? I do. And so will a lot of delegates, journos, and writers. Don't feel bad, though, I also remember Bill Lockyer making some rather impolitic comments about the recall. We're certainly not sure which Democrat will rise to the top by the Primary - but we hope it's not one who'll get creamed.
As far as this weekend goes - just remember boys, we're judging you as much on the quality of your receptions as the content of your character. Oh, which doesn't at all mean we won't eat your food and vote for the other guy anyway.
We'll see what kind of WiFi access is out there, but you can bet there will be some audioblogging fun this weekend.
In the meantime, I'm tossing my two cents in over at blogging.la as well.
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
Frist and other Republicans contend that changing the filibuster rule would apply to only judicial nominees and would not affect the right of the minority party to filibuster legislation. But in a report made public Tuesday, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, Congress' research arm, disagreed with that analysis.Well, yeah. But at the end of the day, legislative bodies get to do whatever they want, rules-wise. If the Senate wanted to, it could even pass a law to change it's rules, but that could still be undone by a procedural floor action. That's just how it works - and it's a beautiful thing. The argument that Republicans should be mindful of what they change, lest it be used against them in the future when they're the minority party again (god willing), is both true and hollow. If you look at the history of procedural jockeying, both parties have become quite adept at using the weapons at their disposal regardless of voting stregth.
If "a change to the rules were accomplished by a majority vote, nothing would prevent other changes to the rules from being proposed, which could then conceivably be accomplished with a majority vote to end debate on them as well," the research service wrote.
The filibuster is the sacred cow, of course, and, on principle, shouldn't be changed. But there's still no rule against, uh, rules.
Phoblog's still with Jimmy, though.
In other L.A. news: The Dodgers kicked a little more Giants tail in their season home opener at the fancied up Dodger Stadium yesterday. Reader SK had been bragging earlier in the day about enjoying watching the Giants beat the Dodgers - but I guess he IM-ed too soon. Not everyone loves the stadium changes, however - most problematic, new luxury seats that have screwed over long-time season ticket owners. Dodger stadium really shouldn't be mucked with, ever - especially at the expense of longtime, dedicated fans.
But, if the alternative is tear it down and move it, idiot-style, next to Staples Center, then, by all means, tinker away in Chavez Ravine.
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
LAT writer Dan Morain looks the perils of "direct democracy" (yes, that's an appropriate use of quotes as well as a snarkified use of "scare quotes" - insert finger motion here" and lessons Schwarzenegger is learning already:
Fewer than a fourth of the initiatives proposed ever make it to the ballot in California, and nearly two-thirds of those that go to a state vote fail. There are many reasons why.Morain implies in these grafs that failed initiatives are - well - a failure. Non-passage, in fact, is much a success for the system as passage. Morain cites what he sees as missteps along the way that have already cost Schwarzenegger one proposal and may soon take down others. Miscalculating opposition stregnth, drafting errors, unfortunate-for-him titles and summaries . . . . True, they may bode ill for Schwarzenegger's chances of adding another notch on his electoral bedpost, but does it really hurt California?
Initiative promoters make mistakes when they write them. Backers miscalculate their support; foes outflank and outspend them. Initiative promoters can't control their ideas once they become public. And for the most part, voters are skeptics.
Obviously, I'd argue the answer to that is no.
My point: it's not a bad thing that so many initiatives fail. In this climate, when the initiatives are offered specifically to circumvent the Legislature - that's your Legislature, kids - then they absolutely should fail since they haven't been properly contemplated by representatives nor given the chance to be properly contemplated by voters who are bombarded with soundbite crap instead of intelligent discourse on the proposals.
It's an interesting piece on the troubles facing Schwarzenegger - so as a Democrat, I love it. Anything that helps highlight the true nature of his new clothes is fabulous. But as an objective political analysis, it fails on its face because its basic assumption - that a proposition failing is a problem - is flawed. Deeply.
I still disagree with his policy, of course, but had his handlers let him be himself instead of trying to make him the un-fun, humorless big brother during his presidential bid, perhaps things would've gone differently.
Lesson: if your candidate is funny, let him be funny. Bob Dole is a natural - and Phoblographer* always rewards the funny.
Monday, April 11, 2005
Sunday, April 10, 2005
Bonus points for the first reader to correctly identify the other Claremont Colleges graduate mentioned in the article.
Yeah, that about covers it.
We'll do our best to keep the content coming over the next few weeks - but our gut tells us it'll be famine (studying for finals shuts down valuable blogging areas of brain) or feast (studying for finals unbearable, prompting much procrastination-by-blogging).
Before crunch time, however (and just days before final #1, oh goody), it's time for the 2005 State Democratic Convention. We're working on some kind of blogging angle for the festivities which are sure to be a blur of delegate wooing by would-be Dem gubernatorial nominees (bring on the buttons and beer, fellas - oh, and some winning policies and electoral strategy will be greatly appreciated), anxious YD politicking, and a reaffirming of the comforting Democratic camaraderie that's keeps us coming back year after year.
Stay tuned . . . .
The Chronicle profiles Schwarzenegger's picture perfect promotional productions - his recent "Kitchen Cabinet" meetings around the state (uh, in the redder parts, actually. Speaking of which, tap tap, Dems, you might want to plan that next convention for, say, Fresno). Let's hope there's no Hollywood ending for his latest efforts to rid California of its pesky representative government:
"[Kitchen Cabinet attendees are] not average people. They're opinion leaders,'' O'Connor said. The kitchen Cabinet approach "gives the appearance of broadening the point of view -- so it doesn't look like ... the Chamber (of Commerce) or consultants or money are driving everything. But experienced press people know that this is a shell game.''Okay, so YOU don't coach them, but you're still calling up farm league players - of course, they know how to play the game.
Santa Rosa's carefully chosen crowd included a demographically diverse cross section: three women -- a female police officer, a health care specialist, an educator -- and two men -- a young Asian businessman and a Latino banker.
All of them, Schwarzenegger's staff acknowledged, were recommended by Citizens to Save California, the political arm pushing the governor's reform agenda; four were directly invited by Michael Hauser, president of the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce; a fifth said she received an invitation from her good friend, an attorney who is a Schwarzenegger appointee.
Rob Stutzman, Schwarzenegger's communications director, argues that the format "provides some genuine dialogue. The governor really enjoys them, and people can ask anything they want. ... We don't coach them.''
The participants come armed with questions, of course. And one commentator says that Schwarzenegger probably really does listen to them because "he of all governors is more finely tuned to the views of political opinion."
The article has a nice profile of the Santa Rosa event that will warm the heart of advance types everywhere.
It may be worth noting that, as the guys over at The Roundup have continually mentioned, Schwarzenegger's Kitchen Cabinets haven't generated a whole lot of ink. Note further that the Chron ink is a process story - and not wholly flattering - not a substantive, man-of-the-people-and-his-band-of-merry-policy-proposal story. I'm just sayin' . . .
I hope Schwarzenegger blinks on the rest of his reform proposals so we can avoid this fall special election. Or the people and media continue their getting-wise trend to his electoral antics. I need a November off. So do the voters.
Thursday, April 07, 2005
A star-shaped figure (*) used chiefly to indicate an omission, a reference to a footnote, or an unattested word, sound, or affix.
Sometimes, you read a story and you just know it's an iceberg. No, not something likely to sink a ship - something that is deceptively small and easily comprehended above the surface, but is really a hulking, unknown form below the surface.
This story on the source of the Schiavo memo is such a story.
An aide stepped forward, claimed the pen (keyboard), and resigned for having written the document widely criticized as hard evidence of Republican calculation and cunning.
The GOP was shocked over the document, of course - not us, not us, we'd never . . . . .
But such memos are written all the time. Staffers at the behest of their members or simply on their own initiative - initiative they expect rewarded - think politically. That's their job. The more people you have watching the big picture - the policy, the politics, the PR - the more effective you'll be.
The staffer takes the fall. Perhaps he deserved it. Perhaps he didn't.
The story is littered with asterisks, if you know how to see them.
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
Good work, Sean.
Hard to tell from the website what comes next (it seems there's lil'twin regulations now - one good, one not so), but we'll keep tabs on it.
Now that's a disclosure we can get behind.
Paid gatherers get around $1 a signature, all while looking like their doing the people's work out there, whipping support and delivering to the voters apple-pie-pure initiatives. In reality, of course, today's initiatives are the monied off-spring of unelected, unaccountable, usually unknown billionaires who believe their own PR.
Bowen's proposal would require circulators to label petitions either "volunteer circulator" or "paid circulator." I'm sure there are ways around that, truth being a squidgy thing at times, but it's a start. The bill would also require the petitions to list the top five proponent donors. That's good as far as it goes, but until we figure out how to force more organizational/PAC honesty than "Californians to Save California's California," or "California Grandmothers for Apple-Pie Reformation," such disclosure will be only mildly helpful. The article doesn't acknowledge this problem until the last graf - but don't underestimate the power of a good name.
Says Bowen, in the Merc piece:
``It's a way of letting people know who they're dealing with -- if it's a real, classic initiative, a grass-roots effort, or whether there are large funders who potentially have a stake in whether it's passed,'' said Bowen, who is running for secretary of state in 2006. ``I think people deserve to know who is paying for it -- it's really simple.''We're unsure about what's really grass-roots anymore, and, frankly, anyone supporting anything usually does so because he/she/it has a stake in its outcome, but we get her point.
Who's against it?
So far, her bill has no formal opposition -- although some political consultants think it could be a hassle or could discourage people from participating in California's cherished direct democracy. The concept of initiatives was first launched by Progressive Gov. Hiram Johnson to combat the influence of the state's railroad barons.[Please excuse the following, but we can't control ourselves:]
``It frankly is onerous and is an attempt to undermine the initiative process,'' said Republican consultant Kevin Spillane, who has worked on several statewide initiative campaigns, including a recent effort to create an open primary. ``It's dressed up in the guise of open government and disclosure, but in reality what it's trying to do is discourage people from signing and create additional burdens.''. . .
Others see an unintended benefit: If collecting signatures becomes more complicated, professionals could become even more indispensable.
It takes several hundred thousand signatures to qualify an initiative for the ballot, so nearly all successful campaigns work with professional firms that send out thousands of people to canvass the state. Typically, it costs $1 million to qualify an initiative -- or more if time is short.
For Fred Kimball, president of Kimball Petition Management outside of Los Angeles, the changes Bowen is proposing would amount to ``a higher printing bill'' for petitions.
``Sure, it's a pain for the treasurers; for us it doesn't change things at all,'' he said. ``Honest to God, the harder they make the process, the more they need us.''
Look, yeah, it might make more work for the attorneys who do the legwork necessary to decrease the chance for pre-election challenges, the ones who clear petitions for circulation, etc, but it doesn't make the paid petitioner's job more difficult. They aren't WRITING the damn things. Hell, half the time, they aren't even READING the damn things.
The process isn't difficult. But it is expensive. Mostly litigation costs and general legal work. And people don't volunteer. Which shows they don't care THAT much about the issues, doesn't it? They'll vote on it after proponents spend millions of dollars to beat it into them that they should. But if the issue were really the will of the people, what Californians demand, as Schwarzenegger et al would have you believe, then why aren't people lining up to volunteer to collect signatures?
This isn't our cherished direct democracy. It's rich people's cherished direct democracy.
You give Phoblog $2 million dollars and we'll get whatever you want on the ballot. Done. With as much insulation from legal challenges as possible. And a big, pretty bow.
Other efforts to pass similar requirements have failed - under both Reep and Dem governors. Schwarzenegger would be wise to support this measure. If he's really committed to blowing up boxes, he should start by blowing proponent obfuscation off ballot boxes.
Before you sign that petition ...
You may recently have been approached by a professional signature gatherer seeking your name to qualify Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's four reform initiatives for a special election to be held in the fall.
Like migrant workers who follow various harvests, signature gatherers work during the political season, collecting $1.25 for each name they reap.
The situation smells a little ripe for a couple of reasons.
First, after saying he is a politician who can't be bought, Schwarzenegger has been raising millions of dollars in business contributions to pay for the initiative campaign. Just how independent can he be with those contributors?
Second, the process of hiring people to gather names has a manipulative feel to it.
For example, one of these gatherers at a recent farmers' market identified himself as an unemployed man who lives in Lake County, Fla. He said he was given a round-trip ticket to California, assigned to San Luis Obispo County -- where, he was told, people will sign anything -- and put up in a motel.
There's nothing illegal about the way the governor chooses to advance his agenda, although it doesn't quite pass the populist sniff test. But we think some transparency is in order, and that's where Sen. Debra Bowen, D-Redondo Beach, comes in.
Bowen has authored SB 469, a bill that would require initiative petition carriers to identify if they're volunteer or paid. Her measure, which had its first reading Tuesday, would also identify who the top five donors to each initiative are.
We agree with Bowen that "It's a way of letting people know who they dealing with ... if it's a real, classic initiative, a grassroots effort or whether there are large funders who potentially have a stake in whether it's passed."
Bowen's proposal deserves support. In the interim, if you're approached by a petition carrier, take the initiative to ask if they're paid or volunteer. More importantly, ask which special interest group stands to gain by passage of the initiative -- a question we should ask of every ballot measure.
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Here's a little AP blurb, however, that cries out for the appropriately pun heavy, cleaver post title. A truck hauling lunch meat went out of control in upstate New York, causing it's trailer to catch on fire. Apparently, the driver had it on cruise control, hit a curve, and lost his lunch.
So, creative readers, hit us with your best post title, in the comments section below.
I grew up on the coast, I love the coast, a clean, accessible coast, with healthy sea lions and sea cucumbers and whales, etc. But the Coastal Commission also deserves a healthy smackdown. They derailed the lighting of the Vincent Thomas Bridge based on objections predicated on the notion that decorative bridge lights might jeopardize a species of subtropical migratory songbird. Decorative lights IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PORT OF LOS ANGELES. Anyone been there? How much light do you think it takes to unload a container ship after dark? Uh-huh, you get picture.
Were this a blawg and not a blog, I'd launch into a discussion of the administrative state and the validity of the current appointment structure. But it's not a blawg. You can thank me later.
There are interesting issues, however, that fit in nicely with our meta-representative-government-themes. So post-ruling, we might return to this . . . .
Yeah, I didn't think so either.
In other mayoral-race news, Hahn may be dealing with new ethics issues. Puffed up issues due to the race, I'm sure, but it'll be a problem for him nonetheless.
L.A. Observed covers the LAT article on the issue - and highlights an evaluation of the new investigation from Republican strategist Allan Hoffenblum (balanced) and a mention of harsh port-related criticism following a 2003 audit by Laura Chick. Chick certainly seems to have it in for Hahn. I wonder what he did to her.
Seems they are using classical music to clear loitering teens out of a particularly trouble-prone alley.
Somewhere, my music teacher is clutching her head and screaming in frustration.
I suppose it's cheaper than a big iron gate. But, of course, there go years of Hollywood schmaltz based on the transformative powers of classical music. Sorry, Mr. Holland.
Monday, April 04, 2005
Thanks to reader CS for this story - San Francisco May Regulate Blogging:
Just when you thought the Federal Election Commission had it out for the blogosphere, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors took it up a notch and announced yesterday that it will soon vote on a city ordinance that would require local bloggers to register with the city Ethics Commission and report all blog-related costs that exceed $1,000 in the aggregate.The proposal seeks to regulate "electioneering communications" - from which the blog angle derives. Proposed Sec. 1.161.5(c) defines "Electioneering Communication" as any communication, including but not limited to any broadcast, cable, satellite, radio, internet, or telephone communication, and any mailing, flyer, doorhanger, brochure, card, sign, billboard, facsimilie, or printed advertisment that (A) refers to a clearly identified candidate for City elective office (or someone up for a recall), AND (B) is distributed within 90 days prior to an election to 500 or more individuals who are registered/eligible to register [that'd be most everyone over 18, folks]. (Emphasis and snark added.) The section establishes a rebuttable presumption that any broadcast, radio, billboard, is going to hit 500 such people.
Blogs that mention candidates for local office that receive more than 500 hits will be forced to pay a registration fee and will be subject to website traffic audits, according to Chad Jacobs, a San Francisco City Attorney.
The term does NOT include expenditures (the official kind already disclosed under state law); stuff the city pays for; conversation (except some phone conversations); bumber stickers [phew]; news items [here's the blogger's most logical out - though of course we run into that iffy bloggers-as-journos issue again]; and other sundry exceptions.
The City reporting requirements would require disclosure by every person who makes payments for electioneer communications in an aggregate amount of $1000 during any calendar year. Well, how much of this blog is electioneering - or could be - under the definition here? I don't spend over $1000 year, I assure you (unless you count opportunity cost or the potential fair market value of my product - were there any); but I think the metblog might. Of course, over there, I'm one of the few political-leaning bloggers, so would we have to divide the costs per blogger, per post, to see if we reach $1000 year?
In practical terms, oversight and enforcement of this ordinance would be impossible. It would, however, be a nifty way to smack down a particular website or drag your opponent into a disclosure-fest of meaningless paperwork. Hijinx also ensue when candidates dig up sites to lift a field's expenditure ceiling when the aggregate internet promotion of a candidate exceeds the voluntary spending limits.
Word has it at least one Supervisor will be offering an amendment to remove internet regulation from the proposal. That's an excellent start.
I'm certainly not househunting right now, but with friends looking, and other friends applying fresh paint to their new homes, this LAT article on interest-only home loans caught my eye. The loan structure is a gamble - risking both the buyers' security and the market itself.
The graf that prompted a post, however, highlighted the last bubble-bursting event in California:
The last statewide downturn in housing came 15 years ago, sparked by large job losses in Southern California's defense and aerospace industries. Nothing like that is happening now. Many experts forecast prices to continue to rise, but more moderately.That's mostly good news - but note the deleterious effect of defense cut backs - and remember that BRAC is gearing up - with California installations squarely on the chopping block.
Just an observation.
Sunday, April 03, 2005
Saturday, April 02, 2005
So consider this the ask. Send tips and thoughts via email or leave it in the comments box below.
Also - anyone have T-Mobile? How's the coverage? Service (customer, etc)? Hidden charges? General impressions?
Friday, April 01, 2005
I really did think I'd make it this time - but as many people have suspected, law school and I have never really been a great fit.
So when opportunity knocked last night, I ran to answer the door.
As you know, I blog over at Metroblogging San Francisco. It's part of a worldwide family of blogs - around 30 up till now. But we're going global, uh, globaler!
I'll let the Metblogfather Jason explain:
Sean and Jason, knowing my penchant for all things political, have asked me to head up the government relations branch of the Yahoo blogging empire-in-the-making. For a moment we joked about a nice in-house counsel position, but since I wouldn't be counsel until sometime during Summer '06, and Yahoo was so, shall we say, generous, we figured, hell, we'll hire a stable of lawyers and I can play the reindeer games I'm really good at.
Sean has finally posted the news we've been trying REALLY HARD to keep under our belts for a while now. Yahoo! has acquired a 45% stake in Metroblogging! Read the full details here. As our first order of business we're consolidating some of our competitors and we just finalized a deal to purchase local San Francisco blog SFist. We have also acquired a small office in Soma on 4th street and will be moving in early next week. We are only purchasing SFist out of the entire -ist network at this time because we feel they offer the most value to the Metroblogging network. We're REALLY excited that Yahoo! has the vision to invest into the world of blogging and we're glad we are glad to be joining Flickr as one of their latest investments. Stay tuned for more announcements as get moved into our new digs. Stay tuned for the official press release on Monday.
With the latest questions and controversies over what legal protections are afforded bloggers, now's the right time to fight on the front lines for blogger rights. Yahoo News combined with the reach of Metblogs should position us to guide new media policy for years to come.
So long law school, hello legitimate work.
Blog on, friends.
Update: In the words of Mike Meyer's eternally wise Wayne - Fished IN! Gotcha, kids. C'mon now . . . . I never thought this would actually get anyone. I realized I scored a big win when my older, concerned sister called to ask if our dad had stroke when he read the news. I then suggested she read the top of her browser. And the side bar. The top of your browser read, for the day, "Fauxblographer*" and my links exaulted "Giuliani in '08!" and provided handy links to all thing GOP, The Weekly Standard, and Rush Limbaugh's website.
Also - my bio read:
Published by Christiana Dominguez, Phoblographer* seeks to capture and analyze the news, policy, and trends shaping California, the nation, and the world. A graduate of Claremont McKenna College, Miss Dominguez previously served on the board of the California Young Democrats and worked for many Democratic officials, causes, and candidates before she saw the light, embraced the emerging moral majority and decided to climb aboard the red state express.The disclaimer changed to:
Phoblographer* endeavors to link only to what is reasonably trustworthy. Except for all the crap that's linked above. Duh. April Fools, suckas.And perhaps by favorite bit - aside from the sneaky "Fauxblog" clue, this bit of photoshop art from my friend Brad:
Happy April Fools' Day!