Numbers game

Jan 27, 2011

California voters give Brown mixed reviews, but they like the idea of a special election to decide the state budget, and they show some support for Gov. Brown's mix of taxes and cuts, according to a new poll from the Public Policy Institute of California. Dan Weintraub in HealthyCal offers this report.


"Interestingly, the poll found that Brown’s public approval rating is below 50 percent, his honeymoon apparently cut short by the severity of the state’s problems and the divergent views of a sharply divided electorate. Among all adults, just 41 percent said they approved of his performance so far, while 19 percent disapprove and 39 percent said they were unsure. Brown did better among likely voters, with 47 percent approving of his performance. Fifty-nine percent of Democrats, 27 percent of Republicans and 44 percent of independents approve of Brown’s performance."


"Voters’ general reaction to his budget was similarly tepid. But when asked about some of the specific proposals, Californians turned more positive. And the first reaction to his plan to take the issue to a special election in June was also positive."


The same PPIC poll, by the way,  shows voters in favor of abolishing redevelopment agencies, a key piece of Brown's budget. The agencies also came under fire from state data, which shows that their claims of job creation are suspect, according to the Riverside Press-Enterprise's Jim Miller.


"Many redevelopment agencies' recent reports to the state list few, if any, jobs created and little in the way of new construction or building rehabilitation, according to state data."


"Redevelopment has been a major issue since Gov. Jerry Brown unveiled a proposed budget that phases out the program and puts $1.7 billion of its revenue toward closing a $25.4 billion gap through June 2012"


Speaking of redevelopment, the big-city mayors don't like Brown's budget-cutting plans and told him so. The LAT's Mike Mishak has the story.


"Cities across the state have angrily denounced Brown's idea and rushed to shield the funds from any state raids. Hours before the mayors of the state's nine largest cities met with Brown on Wednesday, the Los Angeles City Council voted to spend up to $52 million in redevelopment funds on public improvements around a planned downtown museum."

"Redevelopment has become a flashpoint in the budget debate. State Controller John Chiang announced this week that his office would dispatch auditors to review the books of 18 redevelopment agencies. Cities say the agencies create jobs and transform blighted areas. But projects often involve subsidies that some labor unions call corporate welfare."


State lawmakers, meanwhile, expressed frustration over the cost of prison health care, including the spending by a federally appointed receiver who is running the troubled program, notes Jack Dolan in the LA Times.


"Amid California's budget crisis, the receiver put in charge of the prison health system by a federal judge has spent $82 million on blueprints for medical facilities that have been largely scrapped, more than $50,000 a month on an architectural consultant and millions hiring medical professionals — more per inmate than in many other states.

"After four years of pouring money into the system, however, receiver J. Clark Kelso told legislators Wednesday that he didn't know when the federal oversight might stop and suggested early release of chronically sick inmates as one quick way to cut costs."


Brown's flurry of appointments to the state PUC and the Energy Commission left one issue hanging -- the presidency of the PUC. 


From Capitol Weekly's John Howard: "The current PUC president is Michael Peevey, a former president of Southern California Edison and Edison International. He has headed the PUC for nearly a decade, and he has been a regulatory figure of unusual influence. His connections at the highest levels of the administrations of Gray Davis and Arnold Schwarzenegger translated into power at the PUC, where he was accompanied by political allies."


But now the political landscape has shifted dramatically. Both of Brown’s appointments are viewed as aggressively pro-consumer – ratepayer activist Michael Florio, 58, a lawyer with The Utility Reform Network, and Catherine Sandoval, 50, a Santa Clara University law school professor and communications expert, and a Rhodes Scholar..."


And from our "Vast Wasteland"  file comes the tale of the former TV executive who wound up getting snockered and jumping onto the tavern counter, where she did a striptease. 


"Ex-Channel 7 honcho Randi Goldklank — who resigned from the Boston station after a booze-fueled, airport tirade in 2008 — was arrested in Florida Sunday night after dancing like a stripper in a restaurant and threatening to put the arresting officer on the news, police said."


"Delray Beach police were called to The Office at 9:35 p.m. because an intoxicated woman was “doing innappropriate acts” and refused to leave, according to the police report, obtained by the Herald. Restaurant staff called police, saying Goldklank was “touching herself, removing her top and dancing on a pole like a stripper,” according to the report."


Literally, bellying up to the bar...

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