Tag Archives: Dave Cogdill

Legislative Leaders Given Kennedy Center “Profile in Courage” Award

I’ll have to admit, I’m a bit shocked by this:

Boston MA – The four members of California’s legislative leadership who in 2009 led a bi-partisan effort in a bid to close the state’s devastating budget deficit have been named this year’s recipients of the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award™.

Dave Cogdill, California State Senator and former Senate Republican Leader; Mike Villines, California State Assembly Member and former Assembly Republican Leader; Darrell Steinberg, California State Senator and Democratic Senate President pro Tem; and Karen Bass, California State Assembly Member, and former Democratic Speaker of the Assembly, were chosen in recognition of the political courage each demonstrated in standing up to the extraordinary constituent and party pressure they faced while working with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to address California’s severe financial crisis. (Press Release)

Look, I don’t want to take anything away from the enormous difficulties that these four faced in political terms. Cogdill and Villines were villified by leading voices on their own side (ie…John and Ken heads on a pike), while Bass and Steinberg were never going to get those votes. As for the Democratic leaders, well, Democrats are in a really tough position with the supermajority constraints.  It looks like they are working to do something

I suppose much of this is for history to answer.  But I will say this as somebody who worked to oppose Prop 1A personally and professionally, the February deal that was rejected on May 19 last year, we are still on the same road to shock doctrining that we were on in January 2009.  Nothing has changed on that front.

So, courage? Perhaps, if you mean courage in that, courage to keep the lights on sort of way.  But if we are to truly build a sustainable future for California, the heaping amounts of courage that will be required from our leaders will make this look like tiny in comparison.  In San Francisco terms, they had to jaywalk on Front Street.  We need leaders willing to crawl over Highway 101 in rush hour. Blindfolded.  On one leg.

Dave Cogdill Says He Won’t Run for Re-Election and It Has Got Mike Villines Thinking

Senator Dave Cogdill (R-Modesto), who used to be the Minority Leader until being tossed under the bus after the budget deal, announced that he will not be running for re-election. Despite not being termed out, Cogdill said that he accomplished what he came to Sacramento for, getting a water deal. Now he’s ready to ride off into the sunset.

But wait, there’s another part of this.  Cogdill is also on the Governor’s “Short list” to replace John Garamendi as Lt. Governor.  So, we may yet be hearing more from Cogdill.  That he lasted as long as he did as Senate Minority leader was something of an accomplishment. He was fighting uprisings constantly, and the caucus was none too pleased when he came back with the May 19 election deal.

Asm. Mike Villines (R-Clovis), who is currently running for insurance commissioner, has said he hasn’t ruled out running for the seat. The seat leans fairly Republican, while the Insurance Commissioner would be a tough fight for a Republican against any one of the three Democratic candidates.

Tony Strickland Never Changes

PhotobucketDuring his narrow victory over Hannah-Beth Jackson, I found this picture of a beaming Tony Strickland in front of some political signs he had stolen from an opposing campaign. Very cute.  Apparently being a little (or, in Strickland’s case, a big, tall) huckster is in his political DNA.

Back in 1998, fresh from his first election to the Assembly, he helped depose the guy who got him there, Rod Pacheco.  I guess if it worked for him once, Strickland figured why not do it again when he was central to deposing Dave Cogdill:

Next week marks the 10th anniversary of former Riverside County legislator Rod Pacheco’s unceremonious ouster as Assembly GOP leader.

Pacheco, now the county DA, was the last county lawmaker to lead any legislative caucus until restive Senate Republicans installed state Sen. Dennis Hollingsworth of Murrieta as minority leader during last month’s budget standoff.

At the center of both moves was Ventura County lawmaker Tony Strickland. (Press-Enterprise 3/30/09)

And guess what, Strickland got a promotion to assistant minority leader out of the coup.  Works out well for the hoops-shooting Senator from Ventura.  It appears that Strickland is trying to angle for the minority leader gig when Sen. Hollingsworth is termed out in 2010.  But, the fight between Runner will be a brutal one. Both are extremely ambitious, and extremely out of touch with the political views of the majority of the state.

Minority Leader Zed wants a new deal

Ol’ Zed Hollingsworth has announced that “a majority” of his caucus opposes the deal, and he wants to reopen negotiations. From Cap Alert

Newly minted Senate GOP leader Dennis Hollingsworth said Wednesday morning that he opposes balancing the state’s books with any new taxes and that he would like to reopen budget talks.

The Murrieta Republican, whose caucus ousted ex-leader Dave Cogdill late last night, said his “hope is that this deal doesn’t make it through.”

“The vast majority of my caucus does not want to see a budget passed with a tax increase,” Hollingsworth said. “To the extent that that requires the budget negotiations to be reopened, then that may be necessary.” (SacBee 2/18/09

Both Schwarzenegger and Steinberg seem to be ignoring the Temecula Republican Minority Leader.  I think what he doesn’t get is that second to last word. Minority.  He is the Minority Leader, and the Democrats do not need him, or a majority of his caucus to get the package to the Governor’s desk.

With Cogdill and Ashburn still looking like they are set to vote, the final question is who is pissed off enough by Hollingsworth’s coup, Maldo or Cox, to vote for the budget.  With the budget supposedly set for the next 17 months or so, the next time we’ll have to negotiate with Hollingsworth will be in 2010. By that point, hopefully there will be some sort of 2/3 elimination plan on the ballot, and Hollingsworth might be a little bit more amenable to reason.  Perhaps…

Did George Runner Just Depose Dave Cogdill as Senate Minority Leader? UPDATED: It’s Hollingsworth

My inbox is abuzz right about now.  I figure as long as I’m posting the well-sourced rumors, I might as well go ahead and post this bombshell.  It seems Sen. George Runner has gathered the votes to topple Sen. Dave Cogdill as Senate Minority Leader.

The tension was visible between the two men for a while now, and given the speech that Runner gave a couple of nights ago this shouldn’t shock anybody.  If anybody has video of that speech, let me know, I’d love to post it.  Basically Runner argued that the Democrats were trying to create this budget crisis so that we could raise taxes.  Riiiight, that’s what happened. George Runner is basically insane, and negotiating with this man in the future will make negotiating with Cogdill a walk in the park.

Obviously, this throws a wrench in the gears of the budget deal.  It seems likely that the three Republican votes for the deal are still there. (Ashburn, Cogdill, and Cox) But given that the Governor has left the building, I would expect this to continue on until at least tomorrow.

UPDATE: I see from my twitter feed that Capitol Weekly has heard about the Runner coup, but I can’t find anything online yet.

UPDATE2: Now the LA Times has the story, but without Runner’s name on it.

UPDATE3: Chuck DeVore tweets that it’s Runner for 45 days, but DeVore lost his own coup attempt, so take it with a grain of salt for now…

UPDATE4: Dave here.  Apparently Cogdill, Maldonado, Cox and Asburn abstained from the leadership vote, which remains unclear as the other 11 are still meeting.  Meanwhile, Dean Florez called a vote and Cox asked for a 30-minute continuance at 12:45am.  John Myers is claiming there’s no deal on a 3rd vote for the budget as currently configured, so the big question is this – would Dems have to re-negotiate with a new Senate Minority Leader on this, or are the 3 votes locked up?  Everybody knew Cogdill was a goner (including Cogdill, he offered his resignation over the weekend), but what’s crucial here is if the negotiations are already over.

UPDATE5: Via Myers, Cogdill confirms that he’s no longer the leader but says that he will vote for the budget, saying he thinks it’s the best deal out there.  He also said he believes there are now three GOP votes.  Actually I think this putsch might make passage MORE likely.

UPDATE6: Confirmed – new Senate GOP leader is Dennis Hollingsworth, SD-36 (Murrieta-Temecula).

More Budget Intrigue

A few quick updates.

First: Two great sources of Twitter updates. John Myers Capitol Notes here and Anthony Wright of Health Access here.

From the twitter updates I’ve seen so far, it looks like the Governor is leaning very, very hard on Cogdill, Ashburn and Dave Cox.  At this point it looks like Sen. Cox (R-Fair Oaks) is the key vote.  Incidentally, Maldanado is doing us no favors.  Good thing nobody ran against him last year.

Another interesting tidbit from the Capitol: Asm Chuck DeVore, (R-OC) and Republican candidate for Boxer’s Senate seat, attempted a coup on Assembly Minority Leader Mike Villines.  It failed.

Update by Robert: DeVore resigned his post as whip in the aftermath of the apparent leadership struggle, thereby taking his ball and going home:

“For these reasons, I believe it is appropriate for me to resign as Chief Republican Whip, effective immediately.  I can no longer participate as a leader on a team that is preparing to make a fundamental mistake of colossal proportions.  For the sake of California I hope I am wrong – however, I fear I am right and that this tax increase and budget deal will result in more harm to the Golden State than good.”

In the Byzantine world of Yacht Party politics this of course is good news for his chances of winning the party’s nomination to get pummeled by Barbara Boxer in 2010.

Update by Brian: Per John Myers’ tweets it appears Dave Cox is trying to get Prop 10 (tobacco tax) money diverted from children’s health care programs. So far, it seems the Democrats are resisting. While we’re speaking of kids, the CA Budget Project has a chart (PDF) of how much the deal would cut from K12 funding by district.

Update by Brian 6:30am: Well, it seems the legislators have pulled an all-nighter, as the Senate continues to be one vote short.  John Myers has been a real sport and tweeted throughout. Sen. Cox announced at about 1am that he was a no on the budget, despite the changes to Prop 10 that were done only to please him. On another note, apparently when the Assembly went into lockdown, they really went into lockdown, Assembly sergeants-at-arms at the doors and everything. Over in the Senate, they dimmed the lights.

This process has been a disaster.  The worst of everything that we’ve been going through for months, even years, with the Republicans.  This is a fancy stick-up, with a patina of legitimacy. Who knows if a deal will be reached, but at this point there can be no question from the High Broderists who caused this.  Every newspaper, every television station, every radio station should do what the Media News group did and call out the Republicans for their stickup of the state.  

Their sheer cowardice to face down their own interest groups is remarkable. It is truly a sad day when a group of elected leaders, when faced with a clear policy decision between what is good for the state and what is good for the politician, have decided that they choose themselves.  They have willingly played along with the anti-tax rigid ideology, and their capacity to actually lead on their own has withered away.

What happens from here is anybody’s guess. Maybe they get the additional vote, maybe they don’t.  Perhaps, Arnold will be willing to sign the majority budget agreement that the Democrats passed back in December now, because lord knows we cannot simply do nothing.  Arnold wanted to play brinksman, well here it is.  We are standing at the precipice, does he want to jump?

Update by Brian: Quick thought – how big is that LA Board of Supes victory by former Sen. Mark Ridley-Thomas.  If he were still in the Senate, rather than the seat being vacant until March, the deal would have gone through by now. You have to wonder whether maybe labor wishes they hadn’t worked quite so hard to help him defeat Bernard Parks…

Budget Follies: By the Skin Of Its Teeth

A day after Calitics called the roll of the Yacht Party on the budget deal to be voted upon tomorrow in the State Senate, Shane Goldmacher does the same and comes up with just three Republicans who haven’t signaled a no vote:

The field of potential Republican votes for the budget compromise in the Senate — widely viewed as the most challenging caucus to corral support — has narrowed so significantly that only three members have yet to throw cold water on the tentative deal.

That happens to be the bare minimum of Republican votes needed to pass the $40 billion-plus budget plan.

Those three are Senate Republican leader Dave Cogdill, Sen. Dave Cox of Fair Oaks and Sen. Roy Ashburn of Bakersfield.

Neither Ashburn, Cox OR Cogdill said they would actually vote for the budget, by the way.  You can read all of the statements at the link.  It should be noted that normally, the Senate would need only two Republican votes to pass, but since Mark Ridley-Thomas’ seat is vacant (he was elected to the LA County Board of Supervisors in November) until the March special election, it takes three.

That basically means that full caucus unity is needed from the Democrats, and these three votes would have to come through, for the budget to pass.  And we know that Lou Correa is wavering.

And the outside pressure is on.  Opportunists like Steve Poizner are slamming the deal, and advocacy groups on both sides are urging a no vote.

GOP conservatives were incensed at the notion of a colleague supporting tax hikes, while labor and environmental groups were mad at what they consider Democratic concessions.

“If we’re going to win elections in 2010, we have to say that we’re the other party ? that we’re going to stop tax increases,” said Jon Fleischman, a conservative blogger and a vice chairman in the state Republican Party.

Jeanine Meyer Rodriguez, spokeswoman for the state council of Service Employees International Union, representing 750,000 workers statewide, was upset by spending restraints and billions in budget cuts in the proposal.

“We’re making it clear to all the legislators that if they vote for this, they’re not representing our members,” she said.

This morning’s Republican press release painted the budget as a necessary evil, so the skids are being greased for passage.  Still, with nobody owning the bill and lots of variables, it’s entirely possible that it goes down tomorrow.  Given some of the details, I’m not convinced that’s a bad thing.  But clearly, tomorrow should be… interesting.

What Is This “Deal” You Speak Of?

I think we may be a little premature in calling this budget a done deal.  Dave Cogdill says it’s the best the GOP could get, but won’t even commit to voting for it HIMSELF:

“My deal, one more time, has always been that I would try my best to get it to a position where I felt it was as good as I could get and I was willing to release my members,” Cogdill said in a brief interview in the hallway outside his office. “That’s where I am. So I’m not guaranteeing any votes; it’s up to them (his members) to make that decision.”

“But I’ve negotiated it to the point where I think it doesn’t get any better,” Cogdill said.

Asked if he specifically would support the package, Cogdill hedged, “We’re waiting to see all the language and all of that so I’m not ready to commit who the votes will be at this point.”

Not a guarantee at all.  This still could be torpedoed when the votes come in.  In fact, Abel Maldonado, thought to be the most likely Yacht Party member to vote yes, had this to say:

“All I can say is that there’s still another $1 million for John Chiang for furniture in this budget so it’s an easy vote ‘no’ for Maldonado,” the Santa Maria Republican said.

That’s a reference to the recent spat between Maldonado and state Controller John Chiang over furniture purchases.

Doesn’t seem like a deal to me.  And Maldonado is an idiot, because the Controller budget was appropriated before Chiang showed up and was probably agreed to by him at the time.  But this isn’t about intellectual consistency.  It’s about looking for any excuse for the Yacht Party to hide from their responsibilities.

…oh, and the whole thing could be sunk by Lou Correa.  Awesome.

Update by Robert: Someone needs to ask Abel Maldonado why he thinks chairs come before children.

Fleischman Wags the Yacht Party

Good ol’ Jon Fleischman is at it again. It seems Jon is getting a bit worried that some of his fellow Republicans aren’t willing to throw the state off the cliff.  Yup, Jon wants to break the unions, break the state, and break the government for all but the wealthiest amongst us.  Developing nation status here we come!

What did he do today? Why he brought a resolution for consideration by the California Republican Party, of which he is one of the vice chairmen.

Fleischman, who publishes the conservative FlashReport Web site, said the resolution is meant as a “stick” to dissuade GOP legislators from agreeing to any budget plan with higher taxes crafted with majority Democrats and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“I think it is fair to say that if you are a Republican and, between now and the February convention, you vote for tax increases, you are likely to be censured by your party and cast out among the unwanted,” he said.

The resolution goes one step further than a censure. It calls for changes in party bylaws to allow the Republican Party “to campaign and contribute funds against these pro-tax Republican legislators in primaries, and in general elections.” (CapAlert 2/2/09)

As a member of the resolutions committee on the Democratic side, my guess is that this will face substantial heat.  But, as Nate Silver pointed out for the national GOP, the Yacht party is in a death spiral in California to an even greater extent.  As it loses supporters, its base clamors for more attention.  And, as you can see, the base is a rigidly ideological beast in search of a failed state.  That in turn turns more voters off, and the spiral continues.  This is a generally progressive state, with only one party that speaks to anything resembling a majority of the state.

So, who knows, maybe this will pass, and Fleischman will be touted as a hero as he seeks to become some sort of Chief Wingnut. But as he bloviates about bringing the state down, at least we get a peek at his real agenda:

“It makes no sense that in the private sector there is massive downsizing of companies and there is no right-sizing taking place in government,” he said.

Or, as he wrote on his Web site on Monday, “State government needs to do less, with less,”(CapAlert 2/2/09)

Of course, the state should run counter to the economic times.  Anybody with an introductory economic class knows that.  The government is most needed when the state is in bad shape, and now is not the time to be slashing budgets, firing teachers, furloughing workers that are trying to process unemployment claims, and destroying workers’ rights.  No, this is the time to increase government spending, and doing it through the least economically painful method. Unfortunately, Republicans are barring every possible escape route. It’s like Dwight Shrute is playing games with the fire drills or something.

Legislative Republicans on the State of the State: What if we made sense?

Just when you thought the Republicans don’t have anything to say, well, they say something. Mike Villines issues a question of What ifs. Many of them conflicted with each other if interpreted in any logical way.  Others are the same old tired Republican truisms that we’ve heard for years.  You know them, You hate them.  “waste, fraud and abuse” and “eliminate bureaucracy” to just name two of the golden oldies.

Of course, they don’t actually present any workable ideas, other than the same old “no more taxes.” But, you know, they are totally going to clear the state of the three-headed boogeymen of waste fraud and abuse.  The same damn boogeymen that have been dominating Sacramento for the past quarter decade.  You’d think the Republicans could clear some of that out during the 21 of 26 years that they’ve held the Governor’s gig.  Or perhaps it works better as a cliche than an actual policy? No, that would be cynical, and Republicans are never cynical.

By the way, did anybody else want to take a nap after watching this?

Transcript, and a whole slew of Republican Senators’ statements, over the flip.


   I’m Senate Republican Leader Dave Cogdill.


   I’m Assembly Republican Leader Mike Villines.

   California today is a state of problems, not a state of promise.

   It seems every time you open a newspaper, you read stories about our budget problems . . . Our unemployment rate . . . And our crumbling roads, levees and hospitals.

   Then there’s our declining schools . . . Not to mention our broken political system.

   Sometimes it seems things are hopeless in California.

   But what if it didn’t have to be this way?

   What if we didn’t have the highest unemployment rate in 12 years?

   What if we had a more competitive business climate?

   What if we passed state budgets on-time and ones that reflected the priorities of working families – and not special interests?

   What if we put jobs first and restored California as a place where opportunity was plentiful for our farmers and our small business owners who have made our state great?

   What if we reformed the system to ensure government worked for the people – and not the other way around?

   What if state government put Californians first for a change?

   This doesn’t have to be a dream . . . it can be a reality.


   Californians deserve better from their state government.

   That’s why Republicans are fighting to change our state and pass reforms that will build a stronger California.

   We want to:

       * Get Californians back to work by lowering costs and promoting job creation.

       * Eliminate bureaucracy to help businesses hire more workers and prosper.

       * Give local schools more flexibility to put more dollars in the classroom for our children.

       * Help eliminate waste, fraud and abuse wherever it exists.

       * Provide greater oversight in how bureaucrats are spending your hard-earned tax dollars.

       * Reform our broken budget system.

       * Enact a spending limit to help our state live within its means.

       * And reject tax increases that hurt California families and devastate our economy.

   This is our vision for the Golden State in the year ahead.


   By focusing on these priorities, I know we can make California the state of opportunity, prosperity and progress that it ought to be.


   Thank you for taking the time to listen to us.

Statements from GOP Senators:

SACRAMENTO – Senate Republicans offer their comments regarding Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s State of the State Address:

Senate Republican Leader Dave Cogdill (R-Modesto) – “The Governor’s decision to dispense with the primetime pageantry of years past is appropriate in light of California’s dire financial condition. We see eye to eye on the fact that getting unemployed Californians back to work is vital to our economic recovery, and I’ve been pleased with his insistence that economic stimulus must be an integral component of any budget package.

“I also agree that our budget system is broken and in need of substantive and lasting reform. Senate Republicans have been proposing structural reforms of the budget process for years, and we’ll continue to press for them.”

Senator George Runner (R-Antelope Valley), Caucus Chair – “The Governor mentioned the political catchphrase of 2008: ‘change.’ The change that California needs to implement is to stop the ongoing cycle of overspending taxpayers’ dollars. California can beg, steal or borrow $40 billion today, but if we continue to spend with abandon we will be $20 billion in the hole tomorrow. Now is the time to live within ours means; we must adopt a spending limit, hold the taxations of our citizens to a minimum and allow government to provide only the most basic needs.”

Senator Sam Aanestad (R-Grass Valley) – “Senate and Assembly Republicans remain committed to working with our counterparts on the other side of the aisle and the Governor to solve the budget problem facing California. But there are no votes in either Republican caucus for any tax or fee hikes until permanent cuts and budget reforms are adopted by both houses of the State Legislature and signed by the Governor.”

Senator Roy Ashburn (R-Bakersfield) – “The Governor struck the right tone with his speech – less talk and more action. California is in an economic state of emergency and the lives of many Californians is made worse by the endless budget negotiations. There will have to be compromise on both sides and as the Governor said, real political courage is needed to move the negotiations forward.”

Senator John Benoit (R-Bermuda Dunes) -“I join the Governor in his commitment to stabilizing the budget prior to anything else. This task requires the cohesiveness of all legislators to save the State money so we can provide the environment necessary to spur California’s business community into productivity and job creation. We must consider free-market measures and embrace cuts in State overspending, regulatory relief, reforming programs and a real spending cap to address California’s $42 billion deficit.”

Senator Jeff Denham (R-Merced) – “California needs the action and courage Governor of 2004. Promises were made that boxes would be blown up and waste would be cut. The time to detonate the California Performance Review’s recommendations of selling off underutilized properties, like San Quentin Prison, and abolishing the Waste Board is long overdue.”

Senator Bob Dutton (R-Rancho Cucamonga) – “I completely agree with the Governor that the State of California is in a state of emergency and our focus as a Legislature should be on permanently fixing the state’s budget that now projects a deficit of $42 billion over the next 18 months. This state of emergency is not only affecting state government, but all Californians who are struggling to pay their mortgage, wondering if they will be able to hold on to their job, or watching their savings and retirement funds disappear.

“A major part of the solution to this problem must be to lift the government burdens that have been placed on businesses – driving jobs out of this state over the past several years. We must do much more to protect the jobs we have while we work to create new jobs. We must make California a more business-friendly state, creating new business opportunities and energizing the entrepreneurial spirit that has made this state great.

“I look forward to working with the Governor and my colleagues in finding ways to fix this state’s budget crisis and once and for all bring state spending in line with revenues.”

Senator Tom Harman ( R-Huntington Beach) – “The Governor’s comments today underscore the seriousness of what we already know – that California is at a crossroads. The national economy is in a free fall with no end in sight and it seems unlikely California’s economy will rebound anytime soon. Every day in America 17,000 people lose their jobs, 11,000 lose their health insurance and 9,000 families have their homes foreclosed upon.

“In our haste to address the state’s fiscal problems I want to be sure the policies we adopt do not make things harder for struggling Californians. Tax increases would fall into that category. Californians are already among the top taxed people in the nation. I would urge the legislative leaders and the Governor of the need to act quickly but without haste. California cannot afford mistakes. Any meaningful solution to this crisis must address both the immediate cash crunch and long term job growth. Helping businesses and jobs flourish in California will result in a robust state treasury.”

Senator Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) – “2008 was a tough year. A weakened economy, a decline in the housing market, and a lack of the Legislature’s will to rein in government spending has wreaked havoc on the hardworking taxpayers of California. As we look to 2009, I am encouraged that the Governor’s top priority will be to restore the foundation of our state’s fiscal house, for we are hamstrung by a budget crisis that dwarfs all other issues.”

Senator Tony Strickland (R-Thousand Oaks) – “I think the Governor is right that this is a year of political courage. We need an overhaul on reform, not a bandage solution that equates to a Bill Murray movie of Groundhog Day where we relive the same budget problems year after year. I am hopeful that we will move forward with real structural reform.”

Senator Mark Wyland (R-Carlsbad) – “I’m pleased that Governor Schwarzenegger is focused 100 percent on reforming and balancing California’s budget. In fact, I propose that this year the Legislature work with the Governor to focus exclusively on the budget first, then only his legislative package-and I’ve introduced measures to accomplish this. It’s the excess of unnecessary bills clogging the Legislature that weigh us down and take our attention away from what we should really be doing: evaluating the effectiveness of state programs and working on nothing but crafting a fiscally responsible budget for an entire year each session.”

(selected audio files also available here)