Tag Archive: California


As a relatively new press secretary for California Governor George Deukmejian in 1987, your author was more than a little surprised to learn that Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis was paying an unscheduled visit to his colleague and my boss, “The Iron Duke.”

Dukakis was standing before the governor’s office door in the cabinet room in the State Capitol in Sacramento. He was cordial and polite, and apologized for the unexpected visit. The 1980s were a different time, more to the point a better era.

The political media was tailing along with Governor Dukakis that particular Wednesday, May 20 as he was running for the 1988 Democratic nomination for president. Dukakis was certainly not looking for encouragement as George Deukmejian was a Reagan-Bush Republican. And yet, George Deukmejian made time for his National Governor’s Association colleague and friend, Michael Dukakis.

My boss was never enamored about “surprises,” but he gladly welcomed Dukakis. The two demonstrated to America then and now that civility can reign, even if he political differences run deep.

Years later, George Deukmejian and his wife, Gloria, were sitting on the beach in Hana, Maui about to enjoy a picnic lunch, when a voice cried out … “Duke!” It was the other Duke, Michael Dukakis and his wife Kitty. One can only imagine they had some great stories to tell that afternoon and got along swimmingly.

As we celebrate what would have been George Deukmejian’s 92nd. birthday tomorrow on D-Day (June 6), we need to contemplate that America in general and California in particular were very different places when the Duke was governor from 1983-1991.

Almost DailyBrett is proud to champion that Governor George Deukmejian (1928-2018) is the most popular chief executive in blue state California’s modern political history by more than a two-to-one margin (66 percent approval, 30 percent disapproval)

Better than The Gipper. Better than Jerry. Better than AH-Nold.

Loss of Civility

George Deukmejian privately lamented the loss of civility, even in tamer times … night-and-day different times.

He remembered his policy debates on the floor of the California State Senate as the Republican minority leader against George Moscone, the Democratic majority leader. And when the rhetorical exchange ended, the two Georges could be seen having a glass of wine. Seems quaint now. Actually it sounds better.

George Deukmejian was not one for rhetorical questions. Subsequently, his press secretary avoided them like the plague. And yet when Almost DailyBrett posed a rhetorical question on the 1982 campaign trail — ‘how many terms did he envision as governor?’ — He immediately responded,”two terms.” Even though California did not have term limits at the time, Deukmejian knew then and there … there would be no third term.

His reasoning. Like any governor, you want the people of California to ratify your administration and policy direction through re-election (e.g., 61-37 percent). If a governor runs for a third term, there is the problem of the tyranny of accumulated decisions and with each one the number of disappointed people inevitably grows.

Only one California Governor was elected a third term, Earl Warren (later appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court). One other pursued a third term (e.g., Pat Brown) and he lost to a certain movie actor.

What was his name?

As Almost DailyBrett looks over the 2020 political minefield, there is no chivalry. George Patton and Erwin Rommel will not come down from their tanks, shake hands, and then engage in battle with the victor winning the war.

There is zero civility similar to Deukmejian-Dukakis, Deukmejian-Moscone and the more celebrated relationship between Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill.

Today the President of the United States refuses to shake the hand of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and she responds by tearing up his State of the Union speech. Their collective hatred went downhill from there.

Your author certainly will not scold anyone for thinking that today’s divisions and tribal hatreds are now a permanent fixture of our troubled society. After all, politics is indeed a contact sport.

There was a lot of heat in political kitchens (paraphrasing the famous Harry S. Truman quote) even in the 1980s, but there were also times of consideration, politeness, cordiality and celebrated instances when civility indeed did reign across the fruited plain.

Happy Birthday Iron Duke. We miss you. We will always love you.

Some day this author will hopefully join you for a glass of wine in heaven, and ponder the lessons of the 1980s.

https://www.ctpost.com/politics/article/Jerry-Brown-boasts-approval-ratings-higher-than-8355461.php

https://www.capradio.org/articles/2018/05/08/george-deukmejian-ex-governor-of-california-dies/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2020/02/20/tearing-up-the-speech-paying-the-pr-price/

 

Almost DailyBrett’s super-smart tax accountant moved from California to … Nevada.

Wonder why?

How many other wise people did the math, followed in her footsteps, and made a move in their best lifestyle and financial interests?

Let’s see, the state income tax in California is the nation’s highest, maxing at 13.3 percent … for now. Yikes.

The state income tax in Nevada is … nada.

Hmmm … given a choice … what action will a clever tax accountant with disposable income make? Ditto for anyone else with a brain and a pulse.

Growing up, your author read countless accounts about people pulling up stakes in the rust belt and setting sights for the sun belt.

That trend continues unabated today except when it comes to one sun belt state in particular, California.

After the upcoming 2020 decennial Census, the Golden State is projected to lose a seat in Congress (and a corresponding electoral vote) for the first time in its 171-year history.

California Governor Gavin Newsom and his Sacramento disciples are desperately trying to ensure an accurate count to avoid the indignity under their watch associated with losing an electoral vote.

Let’s see, California with 12 percent of the nation’s population is the “home” to 22 percent of the nation’s homeless. Can California count those who don’t have a home — even newly arrived homeless — as residents? What about those who came across a Southern border … ? Count the names on the tombstones?

Oh heck, let’s just slap on a few more social engineering regulations (e.g., rent control, solar panel installation requirements) and raise taxes again and again … and pretend what’s happening is not happening.

Which State Gains From California’s Diaspora?

We know from CNBC’s Robert Frank that population outflows are costing New York $10 billion in revenues (largest hit in the nation), and Florida is gaining $16 billion in increased revenues as a result of in-migration.

The same report indicated that California is losing $8 billion in state revenues. Those lost souls are no longer in the gravitational pull of the Franchise Tax Board (FTB) and Golden State regulatory social engineers.

California and Alabama (two peas in a pod?) appear to be the only sun belt states slated to lose congressional seats after the next Census.

Conversely, there are nine states in the union with zero state income taxes, and none of them will lose a congressional seat. In fact, Texas is set to gain three congressional seats from 36 to 39, and Florida is expected to add two more from 27 to 29. These two red states are getting politically stronger.

Should we assume that no state income tax Texas or Florida will benefit from California’s lost congressional seat?

Considering that California lost 700,000 residents in 2018 alone, and 86,000 of this number moved to Tejas … the red Lone Star State could be the beneficiary of the blue Golden State’s electoral college loss.

Late last year, retail investment pioneer Charles Schwab announced it will move its corporate headquarters from San Francisco to Dallas. Can you blame them?

Let’s see, the corporate tax in San Francisco is 8.84 percent, Dallas, 0.75 percent. San Francisco also imposes a 0.38 percent payroll tax, and a 0.6 percent gross receipts tax. Typical monthly rents in The City are $3,870 and only $1,200 in Big D.

Looking North, Looking East …

Keep in mind that no sales tax Oregon is expected to gain one congressional seat, raising its number of electoral votes from seven to eight for the 2024 general election. The Grand Canyon State anticipates adding another seat to its congressional delegation, increasing Arizona’s electoral votes from 11 to 12.

To be fair, this Almost DailyBrett analysis needs to acknowledge that California with its gorgeous weather and picturesque coastline, not to mention Silicon Valley, will still have the largest electoral count just with 54 votes, instead of 55.

As a press secretary for former California Governor George Deukmejian (two terms, 1983-1991), your author noted the Golden State’s Electoral College count was 45 in 1980, 47 in 1984 and 1988, and 54 in 1992. California’s electoral college number jumped nine congressional seats in those heady days, when the state was not raising taxes and not burdening it’s citizens and businesses with onerous regulations and social engineering schemes.

Taxes and rising expenses/burdens are not the only reasons for the flight of California’s Growing Diaspora. Congestion is becoming unbearable with 2 million more joining the commuting ranks since … 2010.

Housing costs are prohibitive, not to mention the property taxes that go along with these rising market values. The sweet two-bed, one-bath 960-square foot Oakland fixer-upper (see photo above) is on the market right now for … $988,000.

Nice curb appeal.

Some may want to sweep the lost congressional seat under the proverbial rug and recite tired stats about California being one of the largest economies in the world. Almost DailyBrett sees the loss of an electoral vote as the canary in the mine.

People are voting with their feet, and California is the loser … Texas, Arizona, Nevada and Oregon are the winners.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-12-31/la-me-ln-california-apportionment-2020-census

California likely to lose congressional seat for first time in history after 2020 Census

https://www.dallasnews.com/business/real-estate/2019/12/10/almost-700000-californians-moved-out-of-state-last-year/

https://www.wsj.com/articles/schwab-leaves-san-francisco-for-texas-11574900348

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/06/20/californias-growing-diaspora/

California’s inept central planners

Walking along Berlin’s Tiergarten park trails, one must be wary of stepping in the Hundehaufen.

On virtually any street in the permissive sanctuary city San Francisco, one is hard pressed to avoid encountering Peoplehaufen as well as needles and refuse.

San Francisco has long been a donut with a hole in the middle. The multi-millionaires of Rincon Tower literally must negotiate homeless, druggies and poop droppings to enter and leave their trendy lofty pads. The middle class is nowhere to be found.

Has a stinking pile of human poop replaced the brown bear as California’s mascot?

Is the abandoned high-speed train from nowhere (e.g., Bakersfield) to nowhere (e.g., Merced) become another metaphor for a one-party autocratic state in which so much as gone so wrong, way too fast?

The Golden State with about 12 percent of the country’s population is the “home” to approximately 135,000 homeless or 22 percent of the nation’s total.

For the first time after the 2010 census, California did not gain a new congressional district (electoral vote). After the next census, the Golden State will contract by one congressional district, and actually lose an electoral vote.

Part of the reason is a serious undercount (unreporting undocumented folks) by the state’s population experts. The other reason is people are leaving (net 1 million or 2.5 percent of California’s American resident population outflow in 10 years ending in 2016), accelerating the growing Golden State diaspora.

California will move from 55 to only 54 electoral votes – still the most in the nation – and yet the 40-million person state has less sway over the presidential general election winner.

The blue state is in the bag. Republicans can still raise money in California – The Mother’s Milk of Politics – only to spend it in states that matter (i.e., Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida).

California can still brag about its fantabulous weather, the software and hardware geeks of Silicon Valley, and how its $3 trillion GDP places California only behind the U.S., China, Japan and Germany in business productivity (not business climate).

The only problem with these assertions is they were all true back in the 1980s, when the author of Almost DailyBrett served for eight years as a chief message developer and spokesperson for California Governor George Deukmejian.

California was a “Great State” with a “Great Governor” back then. You can’t make that assertion today, not even close.

In the following decade, your author served in a similar capacity for Silicon Valley’s largest industry, the microcircuit designers and manufacturers.

Being modest, Almost DailyBrett knows a thing or two about California. Alas your author, similar to so many others is viewing California with great regret across state lines (e.g., no sales tax, lower cost Oregon).

Speaking ex-cathedra, the chances are slim and none – and “Slim” is out of town – that your author will ever again reside in über-congested California with its stratospheric property values, staggering high taxes of every sort imaginable, and intractable problems including rampant homelessness, acute Central Valley poverty, illegal immigration and yes, poop on the streets.

Want to purchase for $840,000 or more a 1,000-square feet fixer-upper 1905-era bungalow with an annual $9,000 property tax bill in God-awful San Jose? Undoubtedly, it is freeway close to your work in bucolic Milpitas five miles away. It will only take 45-minutes to get there.

No Checks. No Balances

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” – John Dalberg-Acton, English politician, historian and writer

California is in dire need of an “Iron Duke.”

Alas, the Duke passed away and undoubtedly resides in heaven. What could he be thinking as he looks down at what was once the greatest state in the nation on his watch, only to see it easily passed by no-state income tax Texas and Florida?

Governor George Deukmejian refused to raise taxes to close a $1.5 billion deficit, a going away gift from his predecessor Jerry Brown. California’s vibrant economy with all Golden State geographies contributing, retired that staggering debt (1980s dollars) in less than one year without demanding taxpayers dig deeper into their wallets.

Next month, California will once again increase its highest gas taxes in the country (an excise tax of $0.473 on top of a $2.25 per gallon state sales tax). The state income tax regime ranges from 1 percent to 13.3 percent. The sales tax in Los Angeles County is (gasp), 10.5 percent.

Believe it or not, San Francisco City County is lower at 8.75 percent.

In 10 days, California with its record $21.5 billion surplus will surpass New Jersey as the state imposing the largest tax burden on its citizens. Something is not working in California. Will another tax, another entitlement, another social engineering scheme save the day?

Similar to other one-party “C” states (i.e., China, Cuba), California needs a loyal opposition, a few brave souls to demand that homo-sapien poop on the streets is not an acceptable representation of what once was, The Golden State.

Heroes are hard to find in Sacramento these days.

Oh heck, let’s just enjoy another California $15 six-pack with 10.5 percent sales tax and mandated deposit fee. Cheers.

https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/06/california-third-world-state-corruption-crime-infrastructure/

https://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-california-economy-gdp-20180504-story.html

https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-sac-skelton-democrats-census-trump-2020-20180125-story.html

https://lao.ca.gov/laoecontax/article/detail/265

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/04/01/californias-rarefied-air-tax/

Oregon has long been a taxing problem for California.

Motoring south along Oregon 101 last March, your author noted the strategically located presence of “Stateline Cannabis” about 100 yards north of the California line … and 0.40 mile away the Golden State’s Smith River Agricultural Inspection Station.

Driving my Mazda Miata little green chariot with its Oregon “Pacific Wonderland” plates, your clean-cut Almost DailyBrett author and his wonderful spouse, Jeanne, were simply waved through the inspection station.

Had to think: ‘What’s the point of the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) Smith River Agricultural Inspection Station, if they just send you on your merry way?’

The short answer is California is trying to protect its largest industry – agriculture — from dangerous pests. The question that immediately came to mind: What about Stateline Cannabis’ agricultural products?

Statewide Cannabis describes its business as a homeopathic pharmacy. Does the State of California agree?

Why should the Golden State care?

Oregon has zero sales tax.

In contrast, California has sales taxes up the wazoo, including an incomprehensible 10.5 percent in Los Angeles County.

Immediately germane to the Oregon 101 border region, California’s Del Norte County collects sales taxes of 7.5 percent and Humboldt County, 8.75 percent.

Oregon does charge a 17 percent tax on cannabis sales, including marijuana sold at Statewide Cannabis.

California in turn assesses the statewide sales tax, plus a given county’s portion of the sales tax, a 15 percent excise tax and a cannabis business tax. A $100 retail pot price results in a $124.20 total sales price.

Any which way you assess the question, cannabis is cheaper in Oregon than California.

More to the point, the export of cannabis from Oregon across state lines ist verboten, regardless of the fact that Mary Jane is also legal in Washington to the north and California to the south.

What if the Almost DailyBrett author was sporting a ratty beard and was driving a wreck on wheels with California plates … would he and his wonderful spouse, Jeanne, be merely waved through the Smith River Agricultural Inspection Station?

Don’t think so.

California Sales Tax + Interest for An Oregon Subaru?

Back in the 20th Century, your author purchased a new $16,000 Subaru Legacy as a lawful resident of Portland, Oregon. There were zero sales taxes charged or paid.

As Martha (Stewart) would say: “That’s a good thing.”

Two years later with a move to the Bay Area, there was the necessary evil in the form of an agonizing, mind-numbing and desultory visit to California DMV to register the Subaru and secure its plates and tags.

Houston we have a problem.

The State of California under the aegis of former Governor Pete Wilson’s Department of Motor Vehicles would not register Almost DailyBrett’s Subaru Legacy even though the car was bought legally two years prior in Portland, Oregon with no-sales-tax.

No amount of honey or vinegar was going to change a bureaucrat’s mind that day. It was pound sand all the way.

Pleasanton DMV flat-out refused to register the Subaru and provide the necessary plates and tags unless and until the applicable Alameda County sales tax was paid (presently 9.75 percent) applicable at the time of the sale (forget about depreciation) plus two years of compounding interest.

Your frosted author wrote a four-figure check on the spot in order to register the car. As the say in Avenue Q, it sucks to be me.

You can only imagine the surprise two years later when an unexpected envelope from California DMV arrived in your author’s mail box. California lost a lawsuit and was required to pay back the two years of improperly assessed sales tax, plus interest.

Thank you, Howard Jarvis Tax Association.

The Dynamic Effect of Tax Increases

“The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to procure the largest quantity of feathers with the least possible amount of hissing.” – France Minister of Finance Jean-Baptiste Colbert

“Tax the rich. Tax the rich. Tax the rich. We did. Now, God forbid, the rich leave.” — New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

Almost DailyBrett is not making any aspirations against the folks at Stateline Cannabis, who are making a living selling a once-taboo product.

The inevitable issue is that many Californians will one way or another react and respond to ever-increasing taxes – call it the dynamic effect.

If a short drive over the California-Oregon border will result in paying less … plenty less … for homeopathic pharmaceutical products, don’t you suppose more than a few folks will be naughty rather than nice?

Something tells Almost DailyBrett the Smith River Agricultural Inspection Station is looking for more than hitch-hiking insects.

https://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/news/2018/12/31/oregon-pot-marijuana-exporting-weed-out-state/2415786002/

https://www.wweek.com/news/2018/04/18/oregon-grew-more-cannabis-than-customers-can-smoke-now-shops-and-farmers-are-left-with-mountains-of-unwanted-bud/

https://www.currypilot.com/csp/mediapool/sites/CurryPilot/News/story.csp?cid=4264302&sid=919&fid=151

https://www.salestaxhandbook.com/california/rates

https://www.oregon.gov/olcc/marijuana/Pages/FAQs-Taxes.aspx

https://lumatax.com/blog/california-cannabis-sales-tax-everything-you-need-to-know/

https://mjbizdaily.com/legal-hurdles-interstate-cannabis-exports-oregon/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/07/23/mary-jane-supply-and-demand/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/04/01/californias-rarefied-air-tax/

 

As a member of the California Governor’s Press Office team, all I wanted was a good wire-service photo, just one-awesome still … and okay maybe some video too.

And that photo and related earned-media would capture/cover Governor Duke and Mrs. Duke greeting the Prince of Wales and the Princess at Expo ’86 in Vancouver, B.C.diananews

Guess the best-laid plans of PR dudes/dudettes and mice often go astray …

… or to be more precise, fainted on the floor of the California Pavilion.

Princess Diana, the ever-telegenic Princess of Wales, ended up lying unconscious on the floor of our pavilion in front of dozens of American, Canadien and always charming Fleet Street reporters and photographers about 50-feet away from my loafers.

Say “goodbye” to one great photo; enter an international crisis communications incident relating to probably the most famous celebrity on the planet at the time in about four nanoseconds.

Out Cold on The Floor of the California Pavilion

“She (Princess Diana) was walking along and had gotten to the bicycle exhibit. It appeared to me that she moved closer to her husband (Prince Camilla Parker Bowles) and sort of tapped him on the arm and was beginning to say something when she fainted – very gracefully.” – California Governor George Deukmejian

It was an unusually warm day in early May in Vancouver, B.C. The Pacific Northwest is considered to be situated a temperate-maritime climate (read: clouds and rain), but on this day El Sol was high in the sky and the temps were mucho calor.

The British media described the Royals May 6 schedule as “heavy and relentless” including stops at the Saudi Arabian, Russian, British, American and the California pavilions. They even labeled our pavilion as “stuffy” even though “The Californias” was largely designed by Disney.

Prince Charlie and Lady Di were at the height of their global celebrity, five years after their supposedly fairy tale wedding ceremony. Literally thousands of gawkers were lined-up outside for a mere glimpse of the royals.

The photographers were particularly out in force, including undoubtedly some of the same Paparazzi types that later contributed to Princess Diana’s ultimate demise in 1997.

As it turns out, the geography of Expo ’86 grounds and its dozens of pavilions mandated that the California pavilion was last on the royal couple’s exhausting schedule. That’s where Governor Deukmejian, Gloria Deukmejian, Chief of Staff Steve Merksamer and the author of Almost DailyBrett waited.georgegloria

Another factor that contributed to my desire for a super photo of the Duke and the Prince/Princess was that 1986 was a gubernatorial election year in the Golden State. We were running way in front of our two-time challenger, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, but nonetheless we were following the George Deukmejian Laws of Politics:

  1. Take Nothing for Granted;
  2. Always Run As If You Are Running Behind

Even though Expo ’86 was not a campaign event and easily qualified as official gubernatorial business promoting California as superb vacation destination, there was no denying the political implications in the traditional blue state.

Was The Princess in “Delicate” Condition?

“We have certainly heard nothing about her being pregnant though I am sure she will be given a check-up by her doctors when she returns home just to make sure.” — Vic Chapman, Buckingham Palace press secretary

Once the princess slumped to the floor of our pavilion, the Royal Family folks summoned the doctor and his ammonia inhalants. The media were immediately ushered outside among the throngs. The governor, Mrs. Deukmejian, Steve Merksamer and yours truly were moved into a holding room.

We were just in the process of being debriefed by the governor, when a Buckingham Palace type entered and announced that the Prince of Wales wished to continue the tour sans his fainted spouse … and you wonder why the marriage went kaputt 10 years later?

The governor expressed his concern to Charlie Prince of Wales, who gave him a look that translated, “This woman is embarrassing me again.” It was time to get back to the tour, which was cut short the moment Diana was revived.

Outside Buckingham Palace press secretary Vic Chapman was fending off the Fleet Street piranha inquiring whether the Princess was preggers. He insisted that was indeed not the case, which spurred further questions including: “How would you Mr. XY Chromosomes know?”

Just as the good government is good politics, it is also sound expedient politics to simply show compassion to someone, who seemed to break under the heat and the pressure. I was proud of my boss: California’s Governor George Deukmejian.

Alas I can’t say the same for Prince Charlie, who was personally mortified and was seemingly unconcerned about his spouse.

He ultimately opted for ground beef (e.g., Camilla) as opposed to filet mignon (e.g., Diana).

It is still troubling nearly 30 years later to reflect on Diana prone on the floor of the California pavilion; it is far worse to contemplate her fatal car crash as she was chased by the Paparazzi.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufaxGcxfdPQ

http://articles.latimes.com/1986-05-07/news/mn-3572_1_princess-diana

http://articles.philly.com/1986-05-07/news/26051483_1_diana-princess-royal-visit-charles-and-diana

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diana,_Princess_of_Wales

 

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