Tag Archives: Sacramento Bee

Whitman Gets a HUGE Bailout As Santa Clara Co. Acknowledges Registration In 1999

Meg Whitman was seriously on the ropes for her apparent lack of voting or even registering to vote until she was 46 years old.  Her contradictory and downright puzzling alibis and statements after the fact were utterly mockable, and Chris Kelly did the honors, as he’s wont to do.  But all along, Whitman was looking for a lifeline – some discrepancy in the reporting that she could use to muddy the entire story, to “prove” that the Sacramento Bee was wrong in their reporting, even if 99% of the story remains true.  She has found that lifeline.

Republican candidate Meg Whitman was registered to vote in Santa Clara County for nine months in 1999, Santa Clara elections officials said today, admitting that they supplied inaccurate information to The Bee and other news organizations on the issue.

The Registrar of Voters had previously told The Bee and other media outlets that there was no record of Margaret Cushing Whitman being registered to vote or voting in Santa Clara County in its current voter registration database, on its older microfiche records, or in a separate database of canceled voter registrations.

On Monday, Whitman’s campaign said its own team had last week discovered a previously unknown record of Whitman being registered to vote. They said they found it in an archived Santa Clara County voter registration database […]

DFM then found an archival voting registration record for Whitman on an old back-up file of the county’s 1999 registration records not available to county staff, he said.

“The back-up file confirmed that Ms. Whitman was registered to vote in Palo Alto from February 8, 1999 to October 4, 1999,” Moreles said.

Importantly, no votes took place in Santa Clara County between February and October 1999.  And while Whitman, according to the Registrar of Voters, re-registered in a different county sometime after that, there is not yet a record of such a registration – at least not until 2002.

The point is that this doesn’t fundamentally change the story about Whitman’s voting record.  She still hasn’t produced the full records on her own; still hasn’t confirmed any registration or vote prior to 1999, when she was 43 years old; still hasn’t accounted for the “I clearly remember voting in 1984” remark she made on Fox News yesterday; still hasn’t clarified numerous contradictions in her evolving set of stories; and still hasn’t shown a voting record befitting any kind of engaged citizen.

However, she has one little data point where the Bee made a mistake.  And she’s sure to use that to try and discredit the whole article and the whole issue.  Whenever asked about this from now on, she’ll start with “The Sacramento Bee article was inaccurate.”  And she’ll be technically right.  And it won’t answer the question.

It’ll probably work, too.

It’s at least good enough for Rudy Giuliani to endorse her.

The SacBee’s take on the California NN09 Panel

I’m not sure I exactly know what to think:

Although Democrats enjoy strong majorities in both legislative houses and California’s congressional delegation – and hold all but two statewide offices – the left wing of the party is quite displeased, especially about cuts in health, welfare and education services to close a state budget deficit.

So what does the left want? A more aggressive legislative leadership and big changes in the state constitution, eliminating two-thirds votes for taxes and the budget are big on the agenda. Those and other goals were spelled out during a California-oriented panel discussion at the Netroots Nation convention in Pittsburgh, which featured several bloggers and policy wonks from the state.

Dante Atkins posted a rough transcript of the discussion by Dave Daye [sic], Jean Ross, Robert Cruickshank and Kai Stinchcombe on the Calitics website, available here.

Yeah, I wonder why we’re displeased!  Maybe, just maybe, it’s that despite our overwhelming majorities, we can’t pass any sort of policy that reflects Democratic values?

Don’t you just love how objective truth just flies out the window?  Of course, the comments are even more hilarious.

SacBee Agrees On Ending Tough On Crime And Passing Sane Prison Policy

The Sacramento Bee comes out for sensible, workable prison policy solutions, including an independent sentencing commission, that would reduce our prison budget and actually make the state safer.

That leaves the biggest issue that legislators need to tackle: California’s jumble of complicated, inconsistent and confusing sentencing laws. Other states have resolved the mess by creating an independent, professional, nonpartisan sentencing commission. The time is ripe for California to do the same.

In other states, successful sentencing commissions collect past and current sentencing information and analyze the impact of sentencing changes on prison populations, budgets and crime rates. They recommend an organizing framework for sentencing. Details on who makes appointments and who serves (judges, district attorneys, law enforcement, etc.) get worked out on a bipartisan basis.

Assembly Speaker Karen Bass and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg have shown interest in getting a bill passed. Assembly Bill 1376, which passed the Assembly and is now in the Senate, is the vehicle.

These prison solutions have been discussed for three decades; it’s time to act.

It’s about time this was recognized.  As General Barry McCaffrey has written, we have an addiction to prison in this country, and in particular in this state.  An all-too-prevalent “out of sight, out of mind” attitude has blinded the political leadership to the consequences of warehousing prisoners without giving them the tools to pay their debt to society and move on in a positive, successful fashion.  The sentencing commission bill has languished for years; it’s time to ignore fear and get this done.

The Smear Strategy On Clark Kelso

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown are teaming up, along with most of the political establishment in Sacramento actually, to try and get rid of Clark Kelso.  He’s the federal prison health care receiver who has been charged by a judge with ending the cruel and unusual punishment in state prisons and bring the medical treatment up to a Constitutional standard.  Nobody in Sacramento likes him because he insists on spending money to do that.  The argument is that Kelso has already improved prison health care so dramatically that his services are no longer needed.  And today, on the same day that Brown and the Administration’s officials went to court to get Kelso dismissed, two stories are leaked to the Sacramento Bee painting him in a bad light.

First, they printed an article that might as well have been an amicus brief for the court, both lauding the improvements in health care while assailing Kelso’s administrative capacity and costs:

Three years later, prisoners, clinicians and inmate advocates say conditions slowly are changing. Thanks to improvements in clinical staffing, many inmates get skilled, effective treatment. The court-appointed overseer of prison medical care, J. Clark Kelso, maintains that eventually his plans also will save the state billions of dollars.

But a Bee investigation of Kelso’s operations found clinical successes tempered by deadly lapses – including a rise in “possibly preventable deaths” and serious errors linked to fatalities. Administrative missteps have jeopardized the availability of specialist doctors. And the cost of the receiver’s operations and plans dwarfs spending by other states.

These arguments sound exactly like the dichotomy at the heart of the politicians’ case for dismissal – Kelso is good but not good enough, and he’s wasting money.  Just to prove the point, they added a sidebar claiming that Kelso is overpaying staff:

Given the state’s budget woes, the prison health care receivership has raised eyebrows for generous compensation of its employees. A state audit exposed exorbitant salaries in 2007 at the quasi-public agency. Yet enormous salaries remain common.

Last year, seven of 26 staffers – including two part-timers – still were paid more than the $225,000 annual rate earned by corrections chief Matthew Cate. Eight enjoy large Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation pensions on top of their salaries.

And prison doctors and nurses dominate the state’s best-paid roster. More than 240 doctors or nurses, state employees overseen by the receiver, were paid more than the $226,359 earned by the state prison department’s medical chief.

This just appears conspicuous to me.  Leading up to this hearing on Kelso’s dismissal, a major newspaper prints two exposés reflecting negatively on him.

State leaders are in no position to whine about money.  They caused this crisis and continue to cause it every single day through their gross negligence and failure to rein in out-of-control sentencing of non-violent offenders.  The parole system is a mess and increases recidivism.  There is a total failure of leadership at all levels, and somehow they’re trying to pin this on the independent receiver brought in to fix their failure?  I’m all for lowering prison costs, but the best way to do that is to reduce PRISONERS, not give them inadequate facilities or care or rehabilitation and treatment.  Sacramento’s elite doesn’t want to face that, so they Swift-Boat the people who tell them the truth and run away from the real challenges.

Where Are The Spending Cut Calculators?

In both the Friday and Saturday editions of the Los Angeles Times, right on page A1 above the fold, there was a graphic of a “tax calculator,” which projected the additional taxes an individual would pay based on certain factors like income, number of dependents and values of vehicles.  They have a corresponding tax calculator on their website where users can type in the data and get the precise tax hit coming to them.  The Sacramento Bee has the same thing.  Talk radio was having a field day with these calculators over the past couple days, getting people to call in and disclose their statistics and telling them how much money they will owe.  This led to perverse complaints like the lady making $126,000 a year ranting about an $800 tax increase.

In my life, I have never seen a “spending cut calculator,” where someone good plug in the services they rely on, like how many school-age children they have, or how many roads they take to work, or how many police officers and firefighters serve their community, or what social services they or their families rely on, and how much they stand to lose in THAT equation.  Tax calculators show bias toward the gated community screamers on the right who see their money being piled away for nothing.  A spending cut calculator would actually show the impact to a much larger cross-section of society, putting far more people at risk than a below 1% hit to their bottom line.

But of course, people who are perceived to depend on state services probably don’t log on to the LA Times and the Sacramento Bee websites very often to calculate their tax burden.  In reality, we all depend on the state for roads and law enforcement and libraries and schools and county hospitals and on and on.  And in Los Angeles County, one in five residents – almost 2.2 million people – receive some form of public aid.  So wouldn’t it make sense to portray the real cost of spending cuts in the same way that tax increases are portrayed?

Contra Dan Walters, it is completely untrue that “liberal Web sites” are unilaterally condemning cuts to education and health & welfare spending.  We fully understand that a $42 billion dollar hole cannot be filled by revenue alone.  We certainly condemn corporate tax cuts at a time of massive deficits, or counter-productive actions like selling the lottery, which will produce net losses in the long-term.  But there is no question that the media mentality is to highlight the tax side of the equation over the spending side, and dramatically portray the tax increases – splashed across the front page – while relegating the spending cuts to further down the page.  It feeds the tax revolt and distorts the debate.  And it’s completely irresponsible.

CA-04: Sac Bee Endorses Charlie Brown: UPDATED with new poll numbers showing Brown ahead

The biggest newspaper in the region, the Sacramento Bee, makes the case for Charlie Brown and a new direction in the district, particularly on the area of putting pragmatism above ideology.  Now, I don’t totally agree with all the conclusions of the editorial, but the last bit is unquestionably true:

Brown understands that the that the mortgage crisis, the collapse of the financial system, the credit crunch and the recession are real. He would have supported the rescue plan because doing nothing was worse than doing something, though he believes Congress has done a poor job of selling the package. And the final package assured taxpayers get any profits, required congressional oversight, banned golden parachutes.

This is telling. McClintock sticks to ideology; Brown pragmatically puts the nation first.

The nation and the 4th District need to find ways out of partisan and ideological gridlock. Elect Charlie Brown to Congress.

Now, if the final package wasn’t such a dog with fleas that the feds have basically scrapped it, and if the banks weren’t using it to collect free money instead of facilitating lending, this would be a stronger argument.  Whatever; the Bee’s endorsements have been profoundly odd, and have seemed to value bipartisan seriousness over everything.  But I think there’s a difference between rejecting partisanship and abandoning core principles.  I think that Charlie Brown will govern the way he has campaigned, by working through problems and using his best judgment based on his values and principles.  Tom McClintock is incapable of adapting to changing information whatsoever.

What he will do is try to play dirty to win the election, including sending nasty robocalls throughout the district because they’re cheap for his cash-strapped campaign.  The problem is that they haven’t done a good job of checking their call lists.  The Brown campaign, for example, got robocalled.

UPDATE: The latest poll shows Brown expanding his slim but measurable lead.

Research 2000 for Daily Kos. 10/20-22. Likely voters. MoE 5% (9/23-25 results)

McClintock (R) 42 (41)

Brown (D) 48 (46)

Among early voters (13 percent of respondents)

McClintock (R) 38

Brown (D) 56

Brown takes independents 51-34.  McClintock’s fav/unfav is at 44/42.  Brown is at 49/29.  And McClintock is out of the cash he’d need to push up Brown’s unfavorables.  

This is very good news.  Let’s get this seat.  Stay for Change.

Do state employees have a right to privacy?

Or should I ask: Do state employees have to assume that newspapers will put their name, title and salary into a searchable database.  Or what about a more specific question: what is the added public benefit from having names attached to salary and title information?

Why am I asking all of these questions?  Well, the SacBee decided to create a searchable database of state employees’ salaries on their website.  Needless to say state employees are upset.  Yesterday SEIU 1000 staged a protest in front of the newspaper’s offices.  The leadership presented 3,000 signatures demanding that the database be taken down.  SacBee:

Union President Jim Hard told the protesters that he was “disgusted” by what he described as the paper’s “crass commercialism” and “callous disregard” for his members’ safety.

“Our union is completely in favor of public access to information regarding the use of their tax money, the pay scales, the classifications, the number of state employees and comparisons in any reasonable fashion to counties, cities and the public sector,” Hard said. “But to post my name up there, I’d like The Bee to explain how that helps any public policy of public finance discussion or issue.”

There is no significant need or public sunshine benefit to attaching people’s names to salary/title information.

Some state workers are already feeling the repercussions of the Bee’s actions.

The paper’s explanations have not satisfied state workers. At Wednesday’s rally, Dana Meza, who has worked at the Department of Motor Vehicles for eight years, said that since the salaries were posted “some people actually were called by bill collectors.”

Aleta Prudhomme, an employee at the Department of Social Services, said her husband, a correctional officer, once had his identity stolen, and she fears it’s going to happen again. “I just don’t see how this is really helpful,” Prudhomme said of the database.

The paper is arguing that the data has always been available and that the paper is making sure that it is not just accessible by journalists and lawyers.  That may be true, but there is a big difference from people having to request the information through state sunshine law disclosure rules and have it be in a searchable database.  Just because you can do it that does not mean that you should.

California Newspapers and the Internet

With circulation dropping, California papers are pursing contrasting tactics. While the LA Times is in limbo between either being bought or sucking, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Sacramento Bee are telegraphing the approaches they will be taking to survive.

The AP reported on the Bee:

The Sacramento Bee is closing its bureaus in Los Angeles and San Francisco and offering buyout packages to a handful of editorial employees as it struggles with declining revenue and circulation. […]

The paper is increasing the staff of its Capitol bureau and next month will begin offering a subscription-based politics and government Web site, [Executive Editor Rick] Rodriguez said.

The Bee’s parent, The McClatchy Co. of Sacramento, grew to the nation’s second-largest newspaper publishing company this year when it purchased Knight Ridder Inc., a transaction that was final in June.

Even though I am a political junky, I don’t see myself getting a subscription to a political site run by the Bee. As the paper in a political city, I think that McClatchy should look at the trend in Washington to see why this makes no sense. In DC, the premier subscription site has always been The Hotline, which has spent the last two years providing more and more and more content outside of the subscription wall. There is no point in getting a subscription to Roll Call, if they break news the AP will cover it and it will end up on the blogs if it is interesting. Meanwhile, The Hill has far more penetration with a free website.

I think it makes sense for the Bee to increase political coverage, but putting it behind a subscription wall prevents the Bee from fully participating in the conversation.

Over at SFGate:

So Bronstein, who at the turn of the millennium was arguably the most influential media figure in San Francisco, now has pretenders to that throne: Craig Newmark of Craigslist, Markos Moulitsas of the Daily Kos political blog, and the social networking geniuses at Web sites like Digg, Flickr, Upcoming, and Yelp, not to mention South Bay Web behemoths Google and Yahoo, or Dean Singleton and his suburban newspaper archipelago. At the old Examiner, Bronstein reveled in the role of underdog – David to the Chronicle’s Goliath. Now Bronstein controls the lumbering old-media giant, and a thousand Davids lie in wait with slingshots.

The soul-searching at the Chronicle caused by this competitive landscape has led to a journalistic transformation of the paper. It is no longer where editors think first to put breaking news – that role is consigned to SFGate.com. But if computers, 24-hour cable TV channels, and Web-enabled phones render most news old by the time the paper is printed, who will need the Chronicle and its reporters? Bronstein is working on a new formula that could be copied by others seeking survival, and print journalism may have to take a back seat. […]

In 36 years, Bronstein has risen to the very pinnacle of the region’s news hierarchy with a combination of talent, charm, pluck, and luck. The college dropout who drifted West with dreams of freelancing articles about toilets as the creative centers of homes now finds himself running the biggest newspaper in Northern California, one that is trying to show the way onto the Web for others to follow. He could also go down in history as the captain who sank the Chronicle ship.

New high-tech habits augur poorly for any newspaper. Several editors at the Chronicle lamented that their grown children never read the newspaper. Tom Leonard, the librarian of UC Berkeley and an accomplished journalism historian, sheepishly admitted that he couldn’t reliably critique the Chronicle’s redesigned front page because he now reads its content mostly on SFGate, where he can get it free.

This seems to make far more sense, but the Chronicle still has a long way to go. There seems to be lack of basic standards (see this which doesn’t include a single link to any of the material quoted). Not to pick on the Chron’s political blog, but there are 17 authors listed as contributing and there wasn’t a single post December 2-3, 7-10, 16-17, 22-27 and there hasn’t been a post since the 28th. With the Bee hiding behind a subscription wall and the Chron on vacation, is there a vacuum waiting to be filled?

CA-04: SacBee endorses Charlie Brown over 15% Doolittle

(By the way, courtesy of Brown’s website, we have some internal polling data that shows Doolittle up by only 2 points(41-39), well within the margin. Give Charlie some support, this is a winnable race. Volunteer here or donate here. – promoted by SFBrianCL)

In what will hopefully be a major domino in the tide that will wash the corrupt John Doolittle out of office in CA-04, the Sacramento Bee has endorsed the Democratic candidate Charlie Brown

The nation’s Capitol needs a shake-up.

Congressional Republicans have been corrupted by a decade of power. They have been in charge during a war in Iraq that drags on and a buildup of deficits and debt. Democrats have not provided an effective opposition.

Congress needs fresh faces. In California’s 4th Congressional District, it’s time to replace 16-year incumbent John Doolittle, R-Roseville, and send Democrat Charlie Brown of Roseville to Congress….Doolittle is emblematic of what’s wrong in Washington — all-too-cozy relations among lobbyists, politicians, their spouses and staffers. … Doolittle and his wife are caught up in a troubling web of relationships. (SacBee 9/17/06)

Doolittle, the 13-term Republican representative, has been embroiled in scandal.  Besides the Abramoff scandal, which recently brought down Ohio Republican powerhouse Bob Ney, Doolittle has been criticized for his practice of giving 15% of his campaign contributions to his wife for “raising them”.  Of course, in California due to community property laws, that money is equally is his own.  Does that seem right that a candidate takes money from his own contributions?

Of course, the scandal doesn’t end there.  Doolittle has also been involved with Duke Cunningham’s good buddy Brent Wilkes.  Doolittle won Wilkes contracts worth approximately $37 million.

Unlike Doolittle, Brown is speaking honestly with the people of the fourth.  He is for a phased Iraq redeployment (basically the Murtha plan) and more accurately reflects the values of the District.  His military and police background are a natural fit for this district, which runs from the Sacramento suburbs up to the Tahoe area. Of course, Charlie is on the Calitics ActBlue page.  I’ll just let the Bee take this one home:

Doolittle is in trouble, but Brown needs money to trumpet his message in this large district.

Doolittle has a legacy of money and influence-peddling that has left the nation with unbalanced budgets, ballooning earmarks and a mess in Iraq. Brown has a lifelong commitment to public service. The choice is clear. Elect Charlie Brown. (SacBee 9/17/06)

[From NCP] Walters Scornful, Incoherent on Clean Money Bill

[Originally posted at NorCal Politics on February 7, 2006]

I’ve had this Dan Walters column bookmarked for several days now.  It’s a discussion of AB 583, the clean money bill recently passed by the California Assembly, entirely without Republican support.  The bill itself is modeled after recent legislation in Arizona and Maine, and essentially allows candidates who raise a certain amount of small donations to then run their campaign with public financing.  The goal is to minimize the role of moneyed interests in California’s politics, which I believe is a worthy goal.

Continue reading [From NCP] Walters Scornful, Incoherent on Clean Money Bill