On this day in 1999, The San Francisco Chronicle had a report about the boondoggle now besetting us all — an article that makes clear propaganda has driven the bullet train from the beginning:
Depending on your perspective, the California dream of a bullet train speeding between the Bay Area and Southern California is either stuck at the platform or inching its way out of the station.
The California High Speed Rail Authority has decided not to go to the voters in November 2000 and ask for $25 billion to build a 700-mile high-speed rail line with trains running up to 220 mph. The authority instead wants to advance in small steps, starting with $25 million worth of preliminary engineering and environmental studies that would take two years. An additional four years of more detailed work would precede construction. The first high-speed train would zip out of the station in 2016, the authority projects.
That leaves the California bullet train in an awkward position. To lurch forward, high-speed rail needs support — and money — from a governor who once called it a “Buck Rogers” idea, a Legislature that has until now distanced itself from the costly project and a public disdainful of big government projects and tax increases to pay for them. …
The speedy rail network would link Sacramento and the Bay Area with Los Angeles and San Diego, slicing through the San Joaquin Valley en route. An express trip from San Francisco to San Diego would take about 3 1/2 hours. Los Angeles would be just a 2 1/2-hour ride away.
According to the authority’s business report, the bullet train would be competitive with in-state air travel, offering significantly cheaper tickets and comparable travel times if getting to and from increasingly crowded airports is taken into account.
The authority estimates that the bullet trains would carry more than 42 million riders a year and produce $900 million a year in revenue — $300 million in profits.
In other words, in 1999, the authority was saying the bullet train would have double the ridership of all of Amtrak, which operated in 46 states in 1999 and had 21.5 million riders. Even more ridiculously, the authority was predicting a 50 percent operating profit — $600 million in operating costs, $900 million in revenue. Sheesh.
The mythmaking dates from the very beginning. That’s a polite way of saying the lying began from day one.
On this date in 1991, newspapers covering the New Hampshire presidential primary paid particular attention to former and future California Gov. Jerry Brown, whose stump speech focused on Occupy-type themes of class resentment. A sampling of the coverage, this from the Boston Globe:
As he campaigns for the Democratic presidential nomination, Jerry Brown often asks how many people never gave $ 1,000 to a politician. Generally, every hand goes up. He uses the response to support his argument that politics is controlled by big contributors and the media, which he said wants to change. …
Brown continued to hammer away at the system yesterday, citing his outsider status. He said two television networks, NBC and CNN, were part of a group trying to perpetuate a corrupt political system because they objected to his repeating during air time a toll-free telephone number he uses to sign up support.
“But it’s a lot more honest than going into a room and raising $50,000 at a single time,” said Brown, who asks for contributions of no more than $100.
He gave an illustration of this political elitism. When he flew to New Hampshire, Brown said, he was offered first-class airplane seats even though he paid for coach. He was a former California governor, a presidential candidate, a celebrity.
“I’m a member of an oligarchy,” he said. “If you try to bring about change, they try to keep you out.” …
Brown voiced the same themes in a speech to 1,000 Manchester Central High School students, quoting Republicans who said the political system had gone wrong — President Eisenhower on the dangers of the military-industrial complex, activist Kevin Phillips on how the rich benefited during the Reagan administration, Vice President Dan Quayle‘s competitiveness council on how government does not work.
That was Jerry 20 years ago. Now he says that politics in California is controlled by Jon Coupal and John & Ken, never mentioning the CTA, CFT, SEIU, AFSCME, etc., and never mentioning that he is “a member of the oligarchy.”
During this week in 1996, the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing began investigating appalling allegations involving state Sen. Richard Polanco, D-Los Angeles. The probe concluded with a confidential settlement in which the California Senate paid $117,200 to Karri Velasquez, 34, for what was reported as “unspecified ‘emotional and physical injuries’ she suffered while an employee of the powerful lawmaker for three years, ending in 1998. The agreement provided another $14,708 to Velasquez for back pay and administrative leave. As part of the deal, she agreed to quit.”
This wasn’t all Polanco was up to. It also turned out that the married lawmaker had fathered a child with a senior member of his staff — and kept the woman on his staff.
When this story broke, I was a news columnist for the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin in Ontario, and I heard from many sources that were quite a few similar stories in Sacramento that hadn’t ended up exposing the offending lawmaker. But they may yet come out. Jerry Sandusky!
Where is Polanco now? WIkipedia says he has a “lucrative” career as a lobbyist.
On this date in 1995, Herb Caen reported that Assembly Speaker Willie Brown‘s girlfriend, assistant Alameda County DA Kamala Harris, would not get the high post she was expected to receive in the administration of San Francisco DA-elect Terence Hallinan. Yes, that Kamala Harris, the current California attorney general. Harris was then 31, Brown 61. They had first been linked by Caen on March 22, 1994, in an item about Brown’s raucous 60th birthday party. July 6, 1994 was a landmark day in the Willie Brown-Kamala Harris relationship. It was the first day since they began dating that Harris was more than half Brown’s age.
On this date in 1992, SCOTUS gave its blessing to budget shenanigans by Gov. Pete Wilson and the Legislature that preshadowed the present era of constant budget shenanigans. This is from AP:
The Supreme Court Monday allowed California to tap $1.9 billion in public employee pension money to help fill a massive state budget gap.
The court, without comment, rejected the state retirement system board’s argument that such action by legislators last year unconstitutionally canceled a contract obligation to its employees.
California faced an unprecedented $14.3 billion budget deficit in June 1991 when state lawmakers voted to change the pension plan covering nearly a million state and local government employees.
But you notice what’s radically different about that budget maneuver than the ones we see nowadays? That one discomfited public employee unions by forcing changes in their pensions. Can you imagine state lawmakers jerking around public employee unions in such fashion today? They’d be sent upstairs without dinner and lose their allowances.
On this day in 1998, Associated Press political writer Doug Willis penned an analysis piece headlined “Davis stumbles badly in his flip-flop over pay raises”:
Gov.-elect Gray Davis attempted some semantic gymnastics worthy of President Clinton last week as he tried to justify his acceptance of a fat pay raise which he earlier condemned and rejected. …
The pay raise of 26 percent for the governor and similar raises for other elected officials were enacted nine months ago by the Citizens Compensation Commission, and the raises took effect last week.
When they were passed, Davis was then trailing in the Dem primary for governor, and he trashed them in classic angry populist terms. More from Willis:
Davis said he was “shocked and disappointed” at the “unthinkable” raises granted by the commission, urged the panel to reconsider its action, and said that as governor he wouldn’t accept the raise.
Then, however, he got elected and began parsing his own pledge:
“For most of the last six years, I’ve taken a 5 percent pay cut. I will continue to do that as governor,” Davis told reporters, acknowledging after follow-up questions that he intends to accept a salary of $156,750.
That is an increase of 19.6 percent over the $131,040 salary that lame duck Gov. Pete Wilson earned until this past week, and it is a 68 percent increase over the $93,366 annual salary Davis received as lieutenant governor.
But as Willis noted, the Grayster wasn’t about to admit anything, sounding like Ryan Braun indignantly denying used PEDs.
“I’m not taking the pay raise. The pay raise is (to) $165,000. I’m not taking it,” Davis said.
Questioned again and again – in all responding to seven variations of the same question – Davis adamantly refused to give an inch.
“No. I’m not taking it,” he said.
“I’m not taking the full amount of the pay raise that I am entitled by law to take,” he replied another time.
“As lieutenant governor, I’ve not taken a full pay raise. As governor, I’m not taking a full pay raise,” he said yet another time.
I loved revisiting this story. The Calwhine “Today in history” feature: It doesn’t just celebrate history. It celebrates stupid history.
On this day in 1991, Arnold Schwarzenegger offered fresh evidence he was the biggest movie star in the world. The Orange County Register reported that “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” had smashed the previous record of advance orders for a video rental title. The 700,000 orders were more than 50,000 greater than the previous record holder, “Dances With Wolves.” “T2″ had been the biggest hit of summer 1991, grossing $183 million in ticket sales by Labor Day. Elsewhere on that day in 1991, The Washington Post reported that a Planet Hollywood restaurant would be built in the D.C. area. Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis and Sylvester Stallone were high-profile partners in that venture. According to Wikipedia, its stock price tumbled steadily after its opening-day high of $32, falling to less than $1 in 1999. Schwarzenegger left as a partner the next year.
On this date in 1990, The Los Angeles Times ran a piece asking prominent Californians to speculate on Jerry Brown’s political future. Excerpts:
John Burton, member of the state Assembly (D-San Francisco):
Probably, not unlike me, his future is behind him . . . . I would think he could win a statewide primary; I think he would be certain to lose in the general election.
If he is looking for a political resurrection, he would have to do an infinitely better job than he has done in the last two years as state party chair. He raised a lot of money, but nobody knows where it went . . . .
My theory is that he will run around the state sounding some clarion call to what the party should be, whatever that is. And then, a year from now, he will say there is nobody who can sound the clarion call for the future of our party but me — and then run for office.
Stuart K. Spencer,Republican political consultant:
I think he will be running again. I probably felt more strongly about that prior to the last election — because he took so much heat from his own party. I think it is going to be tougher for him. He has great resiliency. He is a man of ideas, and if his ideas coincide with what the public wants, I think, in any given time, he could be successful. I am not sure his ideas are consistent with society right now, but elections always come down to a choice of people.
I would never write Jerry Brown off. A lot of people would. I wouldn’t. He is a great campaigner. The same thing his father was.
Peter D. Kelly, Los Angeles attorney and former state Democratic Party chairman, 1983-84, 1987-88:
He would be such a big name in the Democratic primary (in 1992) for the United States Senate that there is good reason to believe that he might be able to pull it off. He has name recognition that would have to matter in a crowded Democratic primary. …
Richard Katz,member of the state Assembly (D-Sylmar):I think his future is very limited . . . by the fact that he still doesn’t understand where he parted company with the voters many years ago.
If I was taking a philosophy class, or wanted to have an intellectual discourse on the nature of politics, he would be a wonderful person to engage with. From the standpoint of meeting the day-to-day needs of the people of California, and being able to deliver services that people look to government for, he falls short. ….
My other concern was that he never was strong as an administrator, and what the party needs is a nuts-and-bolts administrator to put together the nuts-and-bolts party operation of registration and get-out-the-vote. That’s where he fell on his face. He raised $2 million his first year. At the end of that first year he had, I believe, $20,000 left, going into the election year, and no program in place for registration and get-out-the-vote. That is the function of the party.
Tom Quinn, president of Americom International Corp.; manager of Brown’s 1974 gubernatorial campaign:
I think his future is very bright. My guess is that Jerry Brown will be back in public office soon, and will do very, very well. ….
On this date in 1994, as he continued to burnish his reputation as a stenographer of Democratic talking points, George Skelton wrote a column about Willie Brown’s outmaneuvering of Republicans to retain control of the Assembly that described Brown as a “folk hero.” A hero, you see, is a Democrat who thwarts Republicans. Brown got a Republican lawmaker named Paul Horcher to vote for him to remain as speaker, which was completely out of character for the conservative politician. This wasn’t at all shady, in Skelton’s assessment:
What did Brown promise Horcher? Nothing, they both insist. And I believe it.
Feel free to groan. This is from the L.A. Times in 2003:
Paul Horcher, the former assemblyman from Diamond Bar who turned on his fellow Republicans to help Brown control the speakership at the end of his tenure, has had an executive job at City Hall since Brown’s [1999 San Francisco] mayoral election.
George Skelton was even willing to be seen as a naive naif if it helped the cause. Wait a minute — that should be present tense. “Is even willing ….”
C. Reed, Investigative Whiner, targeting R. Reiner, Taxpayer Waterboarder
On this day in 2006, the story broke that San Diego Democrat Juan Vargas – who had just ended a long run as chairman of the Assembly Insurance Committee – had accepted a job as vice president of California external affairs for Safeco, a Washington state insurer that hoped to ramp up operations in the Golden State. Even by Sacramento standards, this was a jaw-dropper. Vargas had frequently been accused of having a cozy relationship with the insurance companies he was supposed to help regulate. He had responded to this perception by calling it unfair and promising never to work in the insurance industry. Instead, he started his insurance career the day he left office. When Safeco was acquired by Liberty Mutual Group, one of the largest insurance companies in the world, Vargas got another high-level executive post.
Did this hurt him? Apparently not with the forgiving voters in state Senate District 40, which covers southern San Diego County, all of Imperial County and part of Riverside County. Vargas is finishing his first year as a state senator. He is chairman of the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee, so expect him to go to work for Wells Fargo or Citigroup beginning Dec. 3, 2018.
On this day in 2006, the Kumbayafornia craze was still gearing up, with many folks pretending, and some actually believing, that newly re-elected Arnold Schwarzenegger had figured out a way to govern that would soon be copied by all fractious political bodies around the world. I and other editorial writers had a teleconference with Arnold about his new redistricting reform measure. The governor expressed confidence he could get the measure passed and put before voters by using the same bipartisan approach seen in the last session of the Legislature. Would he push for a ballot initiative via a petition campaign if the Legislature once again blocked reform? I asked. Arnold scoffed at the possibility this could happen. Of course, just three months before this Senate President Don Perata, and possibly Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, had sandbagged a redistricting reform measure at the absolute last second as the session wrapped up in early September. Arnold was wrong, and I was right. Redistricting reform via the Legislature was sandbagged again.
The Kumbayafornia myth lasted about four more months. Then everyone realized that just because the gov did Dems’ bidding by passing AB 32, an infrastructure bond and another bill or two, that didn’t mean California wasn’t still fundamentally broken. Were any Sacramento purveyors of the Kumbayafornia Krapola embarrassed? Nah. They all tried to pretend they’d never bought into it. Baloney.
On this date in 2009, I was brutalized by Dan Walters. His column in the Sacramento Bee that day detailed the crazy Hien Tran scandal at the California Air Resources Board. Tran was a top scientist at the air board in charge of a study calling for sweeping, onerous, costly changes in rules on diesel emissions. He was also a fraud. He claimed to have a Ph.D. in statistics from UC Davis. Instead, he had a mail-order degree from a diploma mill associated with a fugitive pedophile. Yet top officials at the air board didn’t even fire him or seriously question his research before board members approved sweeping changes based on his “work” in December 2008.
I knew the story inside-out because I owned it. For months, I was the only journalist in the state who covered the scandal. I wrote five U-T editorials, four bylined U-T columns and blogged 11 times on Tran and the air board’s cover-up of his fraud. One of the items was linked in December 2008 by Rough & Tumble, the starting point everyday for most Sacramento journalists. For a couple of hours, in fact, it was the lead item on Rough & Tumble.
Did Dan mention this? Nope. Here’s what he wrote:
Although reports of Tran’s deception circulated for months, including a couple of brief media mentions, it wasn’t until recently that CARB officials publicly acknowledged it.
I pointed out how completely, utterly inaccurate this was to Dan, and he refused to run a correction. Hell, he didn’t even admit he did anything wrong.
Now here’s where it goes from being pathetic to outrageous: None of Walters’ bosses would agree to run a correction either.
And so my semi-friendship with Walters came to an end, and my respect for the Bee’s editors plummeted. Walters didn’t make a minor mistake. He made a whopper. But he’s high-profile, so maybe he’s too big to fail. When I hear people question Dan’s work, I give them the benefit of the doubt every time. A journalist who’s both sloppy with the facts and refuses to admit mistakes is a scary combo.
I’m still waiting for an apology, Dan.
In the mean time, you stay classy!
On this date in 2006, the Boston Globe printed a detailed report on the seeming hypocrisy of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s newly tough stand on illegal immigration:
SUCHITEPEQUEZ, Guatemala — Outside his aqua-colored concrete house here, Rene Alvarez Rosales paused under an almond tree to answer questions about a subject with which he has surprising familiarity: Governor Mitt Romney’s Belmont lawn.
For about eight years, Rosales said, he worked on and off landscaping the grounds at Romney’s home, occasionally getting a “buenos dias” from Romney or a drink of water from his wife, Ann.
“She is very nice,” said Rosales, 49. About 6 miles away in Copado, a 37-year-old man who recently returned to Guatemala from the United States told a similar story, describing long days tending Romney’s 2 1/2-acre grounds.
“They wanted that house to look really nice,” said the worker, who asked to remain anonymous. “It took a long time.” As Governor Mitt Romney explores a presidential bid, he has grown outspoken in his criticism of illegal immigration. But, for a decade, the governor has used a landscaping company that relies heavily on workers like these, illegal Guatemalan immigrants … .
The Globe recently interviewed four current and former employees of Community Lawn Service with a Heart, the tiny Chelsea-based company that provides upkeep of Romney’s property. …
Asked by a reporter yesterday about his use of Community Lawn Service with a Heart, Romney, who was hosting the Republican Governors Association conference in Miami, said, “Aw, geez,” and walked away.
This kind of stuff haunts Mitt. But it also haunts Newt Gingrich and so many more GOP leaders, including many would-be presidents. They’ve never figured out a way to finesse this issue and their past pragmatism/moderation and their current dogmatism.
But the truth is the whole party is schizo on the issue. If I hear one more GOP candidate tout a 2,000-mile border fence, I’ll scream. Turning off the jobs magnet would make a fence superflous. But Republican-affiliated interest groups, led by the Chamber of Commerce, have made it impossible to turn off the jobs magnet.
The fundamental perception that Democrats are for illegal immigration and Republicans are against it doesn’t hold up when you see what the powerful forces in Washington are actually doing. Business likes cheap labor. Unions are wary of it.
This drives Washington’s decision-making much more than is commonly understood. In 2009 and 2010, Democrats controlled the White House and Congress. If they wanted to pass “comprehensive immigration reform,” it would have been a piece of cake.
On this day in 2005, The Los Angeles Times editorial page commented on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s and the Public Utilities Commission’s efforts to do an end run around the Legislature to implement provisions of a ballyhooed bill that had failed to pass. The bill would have pushed homebuilders to make solar panels an option on to new homes and given incentives to homeowners to put up solar panels. The Times observed that …
Strange to say, it wasn’t pressure from developers that sank the bill. Rather, unions were able to work in requirements on things like union-scale pay for solar installation that made the bill unworkable.
I’ve always got a kick out of the demise of SB1 in fall 2005 because it offered such a perfect example of the pecking order within the Democratic power.
Let’s express this in equation form.
Unions > Greens
Trial lawyers > Greens
Greens > Developers
Developers > Social justice advocates
Unions > (Trial lawyers + Greens + Developers + Social justice advocates)
However, it’s not accurate to says ….
Unions > Everyone else combined
What makes me say that? Because the Legislature actually passed a bill this year over strong union opposition, indeed, outspoken union opposition. It allows non-medical personnel to give inoculations to kids suffering epileptic seizures and was fought bitterly by unions who said this would make it less likely that schools nurses would be rehired when education budgets rebound.
That was too craven even for the union devotees in the Legislature. Which brings us to our final equation. For Democratic Party honcho John Burton, who called the bill “dangerous,” here is his pecking order:
Preserving/creating union jobs > Dead kids
On this date in 2007, I wrote a long blog post expressing my disbelief that The Associated Press constantly cited a group, the Foundation for Taxpayer & Consumer Rights, as a reputable source of commentary on many issues without mentioning that the foundation refused to disclose its backers but which was widely believed to be funded by and pursuing the agenda of trial lawyers. “My Nexis hunt for AP stories over the past five years that mentioned the FTCR got 82 hits. How many times in 82 stories did AP mention the foundation’s stonewalling about its backers? Zero.” Instead, it was always called a “Santa Monica-based taxpayers foundation,” or “a Santa Monica consumer group” or a California nonprofit. FTCR has since changed its name to Consumer Watchdog. A Nexis hunt for AP stories about Consumer Watchdog over the past four years turned up how many stories noting that the group which grills others over privacy and hypocrisy is mum about its own financing? You guessed it. Zero. It’s still a watchdog group or a nonprofit or an advocacy group. AP should be ashamed. I can think of no other powerful entity in California that gets away with hiding key details about itself with the acquiescence of the world’s biggest wire service.
According to published reports coming out this day, more than 1.1 million copies of former President George W. Bush‘s memoirs, “Decision Points,” have been sold in the 18 days since its release. Hundreds of thousands of readers are stunned to learn that Bush 43 considers himself a very good president who barely made any mistakes. That bizarre decision to supersize Clinton-era policies by pushing lenders to minimize down-payments on homes? The many horrible appointees to key positions (it was hardly just Brownie)? All that is trivia. What’s important is that GWB thinks he was doing everything for the good of America, and if, in retrospect, he was wrong about 70 percent of the time, so be it. His heart was in the right place, you see, and isn’t that what matters?
On this day in 2006, exemplifying the conventional wisdom that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had pulled off some sort of magic trick by acquiescing to Democratic lawmakers to get Democratic-beloved major bills passed, Fresno Bee Editorial Page Editor Jim Boren wrote a column headlined, “Gravitating to the center makes for a successful career.”
State opinion leaders would tout this baloney for months, before an AP piece tersely noted that Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez thought it was a crock. David Broder was still repeating the myth in June 2007, however, raising basic questions about all the reporting he’d done from state capitals his entire career.
In fact, 2006 was a horrible year for California. Billions in surplus revenue was spent, instead of being set aside, exacerbating the inevitable budget problems when revenue ebbed. And the centerpiece of Arnold’s alleged awesome accomplishments, AB 32, was supposed to inspire the rest of the world to switch to costlier but cleaner energy. It hasn’t. (Why is this type blue? Don’t ask me.)
As a result, California is locked into escalating energy costs that competing states and nations won’t have to deal with — and defenders continue to insist that AB 32 will be a net job creator. These economic Jim Joneses argue with a straight face that making a key variable in business costs much higher here will somehow be a good thing.
Who disagrees? Obama’s energy secretary. Steven Chu testified to Congress in 2009 that a unilateral shift away from fossil fuels would put the U.S. at a sharp economic disadvantage, so there needed to be a concerted worldwide effort. It hasn’t happened. Yet the geniuses at the Sac Bee and L.A. Times pretend that only climate change skeptics doubt the wisdom of AB 32. The Green Kool-Aid doesn’t kill. It just deranges.
In case you’ve ever asked”How do I write a newspaper for you” Or”What should I include in it,” you are not alone. The world is full of people that are struggling with how to write a write paper for me paper for someone else. The chief rationale is simple, there are many things that need to be considered and listed down at a newspaper.