What will the governor’s next job be?



You read it here first: Former California GOP spokesman Patrick Dorinson, a communications consultant and author of the Cowboy Libertarian blog, predicts that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s next job will be that of national green jobs czar, the post held previously held by the fired Van Jones.

Dorinson says he was watching the governor make the post-National Governors Association conference talk-show circuit, where Schwarzenegger  criticized Republicans for failing to cooperate with President Barack Obama and the jobs agenda. Schwarzenegger also had a private meeting with Obama.

“It came to me, Arnold wants the green jobs czar job,” Dorinson says. “He can travel around the country saying ‘That’s faaahntahstic!’ There are no responsibilities.”

Dorinson predicts an announcement around Christmastime or just after the first of the year. I’ll put it on my calendar and put Dorinson’s predictive powers to the test.

Do you have a prediction? Send it to me at lvorderbrueggen@bayareanewsgroup.com.

Meanwhile, Jones has landed on his feet.

As my colleague Josh Richman wrote today, Jones has a new job. The 41-year-old will serve at Center for American Progress as a senior fellow to lead its new Green Opportunity Initiative. He also has been appointed distinguished visiting fellow in the Center for African American Studies and in the Program in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

Jones is the Oakland social- and environmental-justice activist and author who went to Washington last year as Obama’s “green jobs czar,” only to be let go in the face of conservative criticism.


Berkeley-for-Berkeley swap on energy panel?

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today nominated two people, one of whom is from the East Bay, to the California Energy Commission.

Robert WeisenmillerRobert Weisenmiller, 61, of Berkeley, has been principal and co-founder of the energy consulting company MRW and Associates since 1986; earlier he was co-founder and executive vice-president of Independent Power Corporation from 1982 to 1986. Weisenmiller was this commission’s policy and program evaluation director from 1980 to 1982, special projects officer from 1978 to 1980 and assistant to the commissioner from 1977 to 1978.

And Anthony Eggert, 37, of Davis, has served as science and technology policy advisor to the chair of the California Air Resources Board since 2007; earlier he was an advisor on energy and climate policy to the Office of Federal Governmental Relations for the University of California, Office of the President in 2007 and associate research director for the University of California, Davis Institute of Transportation Studies from 2002 to 2006. Eggert worked for the Ford Motor Company as manager of the California Fuel Cell Partnership from 2001 to 2002 and project engineer of Vehicle Environmental Engineering from 1996 to 1999.

Both men are registered decline-to-state; if confirmed by the state Senate, they’ll earn an annual salary of $128,109.

“The Energy Commission plays a vital role in helping meet the aggressive environmental goals my Administration is committed to achieving, through streamlining the permitting of renewable energy projects to help break ground quicker and create jobs while maximizing the billions of dollars in federal treasury grant funds for renewable energy projects,” said Schwarzenegger in his news release. “Both Anthony and Robert are the best, most qualified individuals to serve this purpose on the commission. They have the necessary experience and know-how to push our energy policies forward and I am confident that their service will help California take another step on the path toward meeting our goal of 33 percent renewable energy by 2020.”

That is, of course, assuming this goal stays in place. More on that after the jump…
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Of false dilemmas and hostage-taking

The oil-for-parks plan I wrote about earlier doesn’t seem to be the only, or biggest, false dilemma Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is setting up in his state budget proposal.

The governor’s plan relies on collecting $6.9 billion more in federal tax dollars, what he calls California’s “fair share” owed the state for faulty reimbursement formulas and federal mandates. He says California gets back only 78 cents on every tax dollar it sends to Washington, D.C. – a far lower rate than many states – and deserves much more considering its costs as an economic engine and a border state.

If the federal government won’t ante up, the governor says, he can entirely eliminate the CalWORKS welfare program, the IHSS program, and the Healthy Families low-cost medical insurance program for children, while freezing Cal Grants for higher education, eliminating funding for University of California and California State University enrollment growth and cutting state worker salaries by another 5 percent, among other measures – a wholesale shredding of the state’s social safety net and educational system.

But many governors before and including Schwarzenegger have tried and failed to reformulate the federal government’s support of California; to put all responsibility for this now on California’s Congressional delegation, especially in a time of national economic crisis, is passing the thus-far-unachievable buck. Remember when Arnold pledged to be “The Collectinator” way back in 2003, upon meeting with a President of his own party while the national economy was in far better shape? At the time, he was talking about $50 billion.

Bruce Cain, who directs the University of California, Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies and UC’s Washington Center, might’ve said it best when I talked to him in late 2006 as San Francisco’s Nancy Pelosi was preparing to take over as Speaker of the House and named two Bay Area lawmakers to the powerful Appropriations Committee. Most federal spending is set by formula and isn’t easily changed, even by a change of leadership, he had said, so California wasn’t much more likely to get a significantly bigger slice of the budget pie now than it was before.

“You can’t expect to go from 79 cents on the dollar to 99 cents on the dollar because of this. You’re probably talking about maybe changing things by a couple of pennies,” Cain said at the time.

Other governors of both parties managed to better protect education, health and social services without the federal fix than Schwarzenegger has. Is he admitting his own failure? Is he merely creating a pretext for these draconian cuts he fully expects to make later in his final year in office, already knowing full well that the federal pot at the end of the rainbow isn’t likely to materialize?

Or is this a show of action-movie bravado, holding a gun to the head of California’s poor, elderly, disabled and students and hoping Congress will blink? And if it’s this, then isn’t it something the action-movie villain does, not the hero?

UPDATE @ 5:46 P.M.: I just spoke with Mary Beth Sullivan, executive director of the California Institute for Federal Policy Research, who agreed with Cain’s 2006 sentiments.

“Once you get into tweaking the formulas, you’re into whose ox gets gored,” she said – that is, reformulating to California’s benefit requires reformulating to some other state or states’ detriment, so it’s usually a slow, hard process with few returns. “All other governors tried it too…. It’s a laudable purpose because quite frankly if he gets it up to 80 cents on the dollar, that’s something, but is it realistic to think he can do it? I don’t think so.”

Congress might pass another stimulus bill with direct help for California and other budget-stricken states, she said, but like the first stimulus bill, that’ll be one-time funding, not a permanent reformulation. Beyond that, Congress is likely to start focusing on the national budget deficit, a process that might not be pretty for any of the states. So, she said, the best California should be hoping for is another one-time influx and maybe some tweaking around the edges.

That said, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer insists the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act already has made Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s data obsolete.

Boxer’s office put out a report today estimating that Recovery Act money, coupled with the fall in Californians’ federal tax revenues due to the struggling economy, made it so that California received $1.45 for every $1 in federal tax dollars it sent to Washington in Fiscal 2009; Schwarzenegger’s 78-cents-on-the-dollar figure is based on data from 2005, which economically speaking was a different world entirely.

I pointed out that ARRA funding is one-time-only, not a reformulation that supports California going forward. Boxer’s staff acknowledged this, but also noted ARRA funding is still pouring into California during this budget crisis; they ballparked that the state has received about $18 billion so far, and there’s another $37 billion still in the pipeline.

The overall message from Boxer’s camp: Congress and the Obama Administration have been helping California – and other states – a lot, but can’t be expected to cure all of Sacramento’s ills.


Martinez mayor appointed to Bay Area water board



Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has appointed Martinez Mayor Rob Schroder to the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board.

He also reappointed to the board Lafayette resident Shalom Eliahu, 82, who has served on the board since 2000. Eliahu is president of Solo Engineer Consulting and has also worked in Israel for a construction solar evaporation plant.  He is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Schroder, 56, has been Martinez mayor since 2002 and is president and chief financial officer of Schroder Insurance Services. Schroder also serves on the Contra Costa Local Agency Formation Commission, is an appointed director for the Contra Costa County Transit Authority and is a member of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute.

Both men are registered decline to state, although Schroder had been a Republican until late 2008.

The appointments require Senate confirmation.


Schwarzenegger’s chief of staff to jump ship?

(This post comes courtesy of Steve Harmon, our man in Sacramento…)

The administration is knocking down rumors that Susan Kennedy, the all-powerful and influential chief of staff for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, is preparing to leave the administration for a job with Mercury Public Affairs to shepherd the water bond campaign.

“No,” said Aaron McLear, spokesman for Schwarzenegger. “It’s not happening.”

But sources say it makes sense that she would head to a political firm with close ties to Schwarzenegger. With Schwarzenegger heading into his final year, many of his cabinet members and staffers are likely to bail on him seeking stable employment.

With Finance Director Mike Genest having announced his departure last week, Kennedy is likely to stay on at least until the administration assembles the budget in January, sources said. At that point, one source said, she would take her water expertise to Mercury, which is expected to be a prominent player in the bond campaign – if not the main campaign committee for it. Mercury most recently ran Schwarzenegger’s ballot measure campaign on redistricting.

“I was told by a good source – a very senior person from inside the horseshoe – six, seven weeks ago that once she got water done, she’d go to Mercury to make some money off the campaign,” one source said, asking not to be identified.

Credited as a central figure in ushering the water deal through the Legislature, Kennedy would be a perfect addition to Mercury. Steve Schmidt, who ran the governor’s re-election campaign in 2006 is a partner, as is Adam Mendelsohn, ex-Schwarzenegger communications director and deputy chief of staff under Kennedy.

Fabian Nunez, the former Democratic Assembly Speaker, is also a partner, and would welcome another Democrat in the Republican-leaning firm. Kennedy previously served as deputy chief of staff for Schwarzenegger’s predecessor, Gray Davis, and was a central player in water politics then, too.

One source familiar with the dynamics of the water bond pooh-poohed the speculation, saying it may have grown out of a lunch meeting that Kennedy had with stakeholders discussing a potential water bond campaign.

“Coming out of that, someone got the wrong idea,” said the source, who asked not to be identified because the source was not authorized to talk.