Forum weighs pros and cons of AB 32, Prop. 23

The Bay Area Council held a terrific forum yesterday on AB 32, California’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction law, and this November’s Proposition 23, which would suspend the law’s implementation.

The Council, a public policy advocacy organization representing the region’s largest employers, long has been a supporter of the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, and is already on record in opposition to Prop. 23, which would suspend AB 32’s implementation until the state’s unemployment rate has dropped to 5.5 percent or lower for four consecutive quarters.

Still, the council invited not only opponents of the measure, but also a consultant to the Yes on 23 campaign to address three to four dozen businesspeople at Thursday’s forum in the downtown Oakland offices of the Wendel Rosen Black & Dean law firm.

The forum was lengthy and chock full of interesting but complex information, so this’ll be a long one. Follow me after the jump for the full readout…
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‘No Plan’ ad builds on narrative that Brown has no purpose, but (surprise!) takes things out of context

Meg Whitman’s media team, ever on the prowl, digs into the Jerry Brown archives to find a couple of pearls from his vast treasury of quotes — in TV interviews, no less, the elixer of the visual-based reality we live in — to help further along one of the narratives they’ve been building: that he has no plan for pulling California out of its economic disaster.

Aptly, the newest of their statewide TV ads is titled, “No Plan,” and has Brown himself saying, in a pair of interviews in the mid-90s, that he “had no plan for California.” Nicely wrapped up, courtesy of the ever-unbridled Brown.

Here’s the ad:

A slight problem, as always in these 30-second ads, and increasingly and particularly in Whitman’ ads: context.

The first quote is pretty stark. It’s hard to get around the full force of “I had no plan for California.” It sounds like he walked into his first term as governor empty-handed, unprepared and, even more importantly, without purpose.

One person close to Brown conceded that “Jerry occasionally uses language that obscures his meaning. He thinks out loud in that Jesuit-educated way of thinking, where he makes a point not to advance an ideology but to weed out the truth. He likes being bombastic at times.”

The point that Brown was making, said campaign spokesman Sterling Clifford, was that “no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy, particularly for first-time candidates. You think you have a plan, and when you’re confronted with the realities of governing, what you had wasn’t workable.

“Legislative teams are a good example.”

Clifford’s last comment referred to Whitman’s widely-panned idea to create legislative teams to tackle various issues, something that committees already do.

Brown’s second remark that suggested he had “no plan,” was referring to his flat-tax proposal he carried as a presidential candidate in 1992.

Here’s part of the quote, in a 1996 interview on CNN’s Crossfire in which he was asked about Republican candidate Steve Forbes’ own flat tax plan, which gives better context to what he was saying:

“But he’ll find out the flat tax is not enough. You need a real plan, something I’ll acknowledge I did not have, Forbes does not have, nor do I think either Clinton or Dole (have). There is a tremendous skepticism out there. People are looking for somebody they can trust who really knows what needs to be done and can communicate the sense that he’s about to do it. Forbes is an early morning glory here where, whom I think will have a very tough time sustaining it.”

As for whether Brown has a plan now, the Brown campaign has not yet released a 48-page splashy photo-heavy marketing circular to match Whitman’s and may never. But it does have an eight point rewneable energy “action plan” that promises to creat a half million jobs, posted on its website.

Whitman spokesman Dan Comstock called the ad 100 percent accurate.

“Jerry Brown has a 40-year career in politics where he has never had a plan. When he ran for governor, he didn’t have a plan. When he ran for President, he didn’t have a plan. When he ran for Mayor, he didn’t have a plan. And now as he runs for governor, Jerry Brown continues to not offer a plan for California. In the words of Jerry Brown, ‘the plan is the process.'”


National Dems will buy airtime for McNerney

David Harmer

David Harmer, CD11 GOP nominee

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has selected Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, as one of 40 members of Congress whose districts will see a share of the $28 million worth of television airtime it has reserved leading up to the November election, according to the New York Times Caucus Blog.

The NYT described the inclusion of McNerney, among others, as a sign of worry from Democratic leaders. Democrats hope to stem an expected loss of seats in the mid-term election and retain majority control.

The GOP equivalent, the National Republican Congressional Committee, quickly declared the move as evidence that McNerney (and the other 39 Democrats) is in political trouble despite national analysts’ ratings that place the CD11 race in the Democrat’s court.

As one might expect, the campaign of McNerney’s challenger, Republican attorney David Harmer of Dougherty Valley, wholeheartedly concurred.

“It’s not unexpected that McNerney will receive help from (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi’s leadership,” said Harmer campaign spokesman Tim Clark. “(McNerney) has been a lockstep vote for her big-spending legislation time and again.  The Democrats are simply acknowledging that McNerney is in real trouble because of his votes for bigger government and more deficit spending.”

The New York Times blog says that the party selected the 40 districts “based on polling, candidate fund-raising and the strength of Republican opposition.”


Bay Area Dems push ‘public option’ health bill

Two Bay Area House members have helped introduce a bill to create a public health insurance option that would compete with private insurers in the Health Insurance Exchanges created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act health care reform signed into law by President Barack Obama earlier this year.

Reps. Pete Stark, D-Fremont; Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma; and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., say the Congressional Budget Office estimates H.R. 5808 would save $68 billion from 2014 to 2020, and that the public option would have, on average, premiums 5 to 7 percent lower than private plans in the Exchanges.

“Today, Consumers Union reported that Blue Cross Blue Shield plans amassed billions in surpluses as they raised rates for millions of Americans,” Stark, who chairs the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, said in a news release issued as the lawmakers held a Capitol Hill news conference today. “This is a good example of why we need a public option – to create an insurance plan that competes based on delivering quality, efficient care, not on delivering profits to shareholders. The result is more competition, better coverage, and lower premiums for millions of Americans.”

Woolsey, who co-chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said that as the deficit keeps growing, “so does the need for a program that can save billions of dollars and improve health care while doing it. The robust public option offers lower-cost competition to private insurance companies. This will make insurance more affordable for those who do not have it and keep insurance affordable for those who do.”

Among the bill’s 128 original co-sponsors are Reps. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; George Miller, D-Martinez; John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove; Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough; Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto; Mike Honda, D-San Jose; and Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose.

Absent from that list, for those keeping count, is Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, who’s generally thought to be the only Bay Area Democratic incumbent in a tough re-election race this November. However, McNerney serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which will be this bill’s first stop, so perhaps we’ll see where he stands on this soon enough.


Another conservative seeks to take on Pete Stark

Is there a TEA Party fly in the Republican ointment in the 13th Congressional District, or vice versa?

Most of the local “TEA Party” conservatives had seemed to gravitate toward “Coach” Luis Garcia, 49, of Fremont, an information technology worker at Cisco Systems, in last month’s GOP primary as their man to challenge Rep. Pete Stark in November.

Forest BakerBut business executive Forest Baker, 62, won the GOP primary with almost 55 percent of the vote to Garcia’s 45 percent. Baker as of last October was registered to vote at an address in Mountain View, which lies in Rep. Anna Eshoo’s 14th Congressional District; Congressional candidates are not, however, required to live within the bounds of the district in which they seek election, only within the same state.

Now information is circulating on at least one local conservative mailing list urging people to take a look at Chris Pareja, who apparently is working to get on November’s ballot as an independent. From the message I received:

He is an excellent conservative candidate – the only conservative in the race. Forest Baker is the Republican candidate, but is a RINO who believes the Constitution is a living document and does not need to be strictly adhered to. He has no chance to beat Stark, but Pareja can get votes from independents and Democrats, as well as Republicans if he can get enough signatures on his petition to get on the ballot.

Chris ParejaPareja, 38, of Hayward, runs the Pleasanton-based B2B Power Exchange, a business networking outfit. On his website, he describes himself as a “Tea Party Independent” galvanized into political activity by last year’s health-care reform debate.

“I am sick and tired of the ‘Democrat’ versus ‘Republican’ bickering. In fact, I find that when I remove the labels, Americans agree on issues 70% of the time!” he wrote. “Democrats, Independents and Republicans have all told me they feel America has been hijacked by career politicians that believe they can dictate what is best for the people. But every day, citizens – many of whom have never watched politics very closely – are starting to wake up to what is happening in Washington DC (and Sacramento), and they want to put their country back on track.”


Trouble brewing for Whitman among conservatives?

Meg Whitman could have a conservative revolt on her hands over her shifting positions on illegal immigration. Just listen in on the John and Ken show that aired earlier this week.

The two popular conservative talk show hosts, John Kobyit and Ken Chiampou, for Los Angeles radio station, KFI, were apoplectic over what they considered to be Whitman’s “pandering” to Latino voters by reversing herself on a number of issues, including workplace raids. They bashed her new Spanish-language ad, and are urging listeners on their Web site to “call Meg Whitman and tell her not to take your vote for granted and to stop pandering to the open borders crowd.”

They also urge listeners to “bombard” her Facebook page. “We are catching wind they are removing any and all criticisms of her immigration pandering.”

Ken Chiampou complained of the two “completely different campaigns” Whitman’s running — “one where she’s making it clear to illegal aliens that they’re welcome in California and nothing bad will happen to them while she’s governor.

“And the other version of her campaign, where she’s talking to whites, blacks, Asians and other Hispanics who hate illegal immigration. She’s trying to give us signals like, ‘don’t worry, I’m not going to put up with this crap anymore and we’re going to get a handle on whatever we can do.’

“You can’t have it both ways! We’re going to keep the pressure on her on her until she explains these contradictory messages.

“She’s definitely got two distinct messages and they’re incompatible with one another other. And you people in the Whitman war room, don’t even try to spin it, ok?

“I can see you’re trying to spin this, you’re trying to square the circle with this, but you can’t do it. It’s not possible. The more you do it, the more bad coverage you’re going to get.”

Whitman is beginning to emphasize more heavily her opposition to the Arizona illegal immigration law now that she’s appealing to Latino voters, Ken Chiampou said.

“Now, why is she so anti the Arizona law? Because she doesn’t want to piss off Latino voters. I want her to admit that. Because there’s no reason to be against the Arizona law,” Chiampou said. “There can’t be any real reason for it other than she doesn’t want to piss off Hispanic voters. … Why wouldn’t she push for an Arizona-type law? If it’s needed in Arizona, it’s certainly needed here. … I’m trying to find out where her heart and mind is.”

“We’ll talk about this every day until Nov. 2. We definitely can cost her more than a few points” in the polls, Chiampou said.

They couldn’t believe that Whitman wouldn’t appear on their show to face questions.

“We reached out to her for her to appear on our show and she ‘s not available!” said John Kobyit.

“She should be available,” Ken said. “She’s he’s got a cellphone She should call now and explain herself. And you know what? I’d like to have her explain herself and not have to run through 16 filters with her stupid campaign consultants. These campaign consultants, they’re an ugly, stupid bunch of people.”

They then ran through a handful of emails from conservative listeners who threatened to sit out the election if Whitman doesn’t buckle down on illegal immigration.

One, from Peggy, went like this: “I can’t tell you how offended I was last night when you played the 30-second commercial that talked about Latino children being the future. B.S.! My son is the future. We sent him to a private school because of the threat of bilingual education.”