Tag Archive: Jerry Brown


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/

Some of us celebrate our diversity.

For decades we have used the metaphor “melting pot” to describe America.

California Governor Jerry Brown in his first go-around as the state’s chief executive even labeled the Golden State as a “mosaic” to describe the various ethnicities, creeds and orientations that populate the left coast state.

mosaic

And yet a mosaic is a series of pieces, separated by channels of grout. Each one is separate and distinct from the other. We may talk about diversity and mosaics, but in reality aren’t we really just part of the segments that comprise The Segmentation Society?

Can this realization be the root of our inability to come together for a common cause? And when we do (e.g., immediate aftermath of September 11), this camaraderie does not last long.

And if anything aren’t we championing the brilliance of those who make the most hay out of segments…err…demographics? Are you listening David Alexrod?

Barack Obama won a second term putting together a blue-state coalition that included so many  black, yellow, brown, young, secular, single-female mosaic pieces. The other chips of broken china need not apply.

Eight years earlier, George W. Bush won his own second term through the assembly of a red-state coalition that included so many white, brown, older, religious, married-female mosaic pieces. The other pieces were not necessary to complete the Electoral-College puzzle. Are you listening Karl Rove?

For the shrinking-in-influence news media, particularly those on cable television, the lucrative answer to The Segmentation Society has been to turn to the polemics.

The Pew Research Center’s State of the News Media 2013 report pointed to growing trend toward editorial rather than reportorial content. MSNBC on the left “leads” the way with 85 percent of its 2007-2012 content being opinion or commentary with only 15 percent being straight news. Fox News on the right devotes 55 percent of its airtime on opinion and commentary with 45 percent for hard news. CNN wins or loses (e.g. low Nielsen ratings) this contest with 46 percent opinion and commentary and 54 for news gathering.

oreilly

Amplifying the point, Pew reported that MSNBC owned by Comcast directed only $240 million for news gathering, while Fox News run by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation devotes the cable industry leading $820 million for reporting.

Fox News president Roger Ailes made the correct business decision that conservatives were an underserved segment and wanted a network that met their needs. Enter Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and on occasion, Bill O’Reilly.

MSNBC saw itself as the liberal counterweight to Fox News and bludgeons conservatives by means of the tender mercies of Lawrence O’Donnell, Rachel Maddow, Ed Schultz, Chris Matthews and at one time, the fair and “balanced” Keith Olbermann.

Rachel%20Maddow%2008_grid-4x2

Elections are won picking up segments (demographics) and tossing them into the electoral shopping cart.

Networks reel in the dough as if it was manna from heaven by throwing editorial and commentary red meat to the true believers whether they be aligned with the left or the right. It really doesn’t matter as long as confiscatory advertising rates can be charged

To the public relations community, which according to Pew now has a 3.6 to 1.0 ratio “advantage” over the remaining journalists, the goal is to use conventional and digital means to reach the stakeholders…the targeted segments.

In choreographing a public relations campaign is the goal to identify the segment or to craft the message that appeals to the segment…or both?

Social media outlets with their trusty algorithms allow us to segment ourselves through our key strokes and send related ads to the right side of our Facebook page. Whether we like it or not (most would say “not”), we just pigeonholed ourselves.

And each time we pigeonhole ourselves, we place ourselves into an ever narrower portion of the pie or bar chart. We are individuals after all with our own particular DNA and cell structures.

This is all brings us back to the original point. Should we be celebrating diversity? Should we hold out that we can all come together for common good? Or should we realize that majority rule means using digital tools…the ones and zeroes of binary code…to reach those demographics, mosaic pieces, segments…that are most likely to buy the product or pull the lever?

It seems that train has already left that station, if you don’t mind one more metaphor.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffbercovici/2013/03/18/pew-study-finds-msnbc-the-most-opinionated-cable-news-channel-by-far/

http://stateofthemedia.org/2013/overview-5/

For pilots the rule is clear: Eight hours from bottle to throttle.

At least one tech company has provided general guidance for its sales pros: No outgoing emails after a second beer (or second glass of wine).

For communications choreographers there is no definitive edict, hopefully just instinctive common sense: Be at your wits as much as possible.

deschutes

For the author of Almost DailyBrett, the personally imposed no second beer rule goes back to my days as the press secretary for former California Governor George Deukmejian. Besides the fact that the governor’s previous job was serving as the state’s attorney general (“California’s Top Cop”), there was the simple matter that media phone calls coming at any time; day or night; weekdays or weekends.

The phone rang at 1 am.

I sleepily answered: “Hello…”

“Sorry to bother you at home at this late hour (or early hour, si vous plait), but there has been an earthquake in Coalinga…”

Whenever you hear the phrase, “Sorry to bother you at home…,” you automatically know that you are on-the-record whether you are having a good day or bad day; a good night or bad night…and whatever your personal condition. I made it a point to always be in as close-to-possible perfectly sober condition.

At the risk of violating the dreaded too-much-information (TMI) rule, one morning I was in the shower. My wife knocked on the glass door and handed me the cordless phone. I turned off the water. It was KSDO Radio in San Diego wanting a morning drive-time comment from Governor Deukmejian’s press secretary at that exact (great acoustical) moment. It was my first and only au naturel stand-up and it was a good thing for the impressionable youth of San Diego that radio is not a visual medium.

As we are now being treated on a daily basis to real and/or perceived “gaffes” by President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney and quotable members of their respective staffs, we need to be reminded about what your mom told you about sleep and alcohol…You need oodles of the former and you must be careful with the latter.

Since taking the job as the governor’s press secretary (and watching him sign anti-drunk driving bill after anti-drunk driving bill into law), I have always tried to avoid the second beer or glass of wine. Truth be known, I am a relative light weight when it comes to alcohol. I also decline any alcohol at lunchtime with the infrequent exception of a college football tailgate party in the fall.

Think of it this way, it is tough enough to always be an effective and glib spokesperson/message developer for your employer, whether it be a governor, a chief executive officer or agency client. There are certain days when you are simply not bringing you’re “A-game” mentally, no matter how hard you try. The answer is to be always ready to perform to the best of your ability. You must be prepared to provide communications choreography counsel or to serve as a top spokesperson…and sometimes that translates into an on-the-spot, thinking-on-your-feet undertaking. Alcohol simply does not help, even though it may even give you liquid courage that you simply do not need or want.

sacramento

At times, I would have nightmares about being summoned into Governor Deukmejian’s office to explain a flubbed quote in which evil alcohol contributed to my misstatement. He would have been perfectly justified in asking for my resignation. Fortunately, that nightmare was just that, a nightmare. I did have the experience of being called into the corner office to discuss my quotes, but mercifully that happened only twice and never because of exogenous intoxicants.

The purpose of my ramblings and recollections here is to counsel PR and communications counselors to avoid as much as possible multiple-drink “on background” briefings with key editors, analysts, bloggers etc. Should we use our best qualitative skills to nurture relationships with influential stakeholders? Absolutely. That is an essential part of our job. Should we avoid being overtly glib under the influence to the amusement of reporters and to the detriment of our boss? Natürlich.

Everyone in Sacramento back in the 1970s/1980s/1990s remembers the legendary B.T. Collins, an absolutely delightful wounded, highly decorated Vietnam vet, who as a Republican served as the chief of staff to Democratic Governor Jerry Brown in his first tenure as California’s chief executive.

BTCollins

B.T. was being interviewed for a profile piece over ever-present drinks by feature writer Bella Stumbo of the Los Angeles Times. It must have been quite a night(s) at the watering hole(s). When the story came out, B.T. commented about how Jerry Brown was intellectually “out in Uranus half the time.”

He added that the grease on Brown’s “disgusting” follicly challenged hair (at the time) was so thick, “that the dandruff couldn’t get out.” B.T. reportedly offered his resignation when the story appeared. Brown to his credit declined to accept B.T.’s letter of resignation.

I am happy to report; I was never that colorful when serving as Governor Deukmejian’s press secretary. Sometimes bland and boring is a good thing.

http://all-things-aviation.com/aviation/8-hours-between-bottle-and-throttle/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B._T._Collins

http://articles.latimes.com/2002/dec/07/local/me-stumbo7

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1983_Coalinga_earthquake

There comes a time in every political administration when directing blame at previous incumbent, so-in-so, comes across as weak finger-pointing rather than a strong proclamation of historical fact.

Reflecting back to my days as former California Governor George Deukmejian’s second press secretary, I distinctly recall a meeting of the entire senior staff chaired by the governor. The message was clear: No more blaming Jerry Brown… (His first tenure of Jerry Brown as governor of California).

George Deukmejian Campaigning

The reason: This was not our first rodeo. The stewardship of the state was our responsibility. From this point forward, there would be no more public denunciation of the administration of the state by our predecessor. This point was particular relevant to me as I was duly serving as the governor’s chief spokesman, historian and message developer.

Making this rhetorical pivot was not as easy as it seems. We had literally spent months heading into years reminding anybody and everybody who would listen that Brown left us a $1.5 billion deficit (almost seems quaint by today’s standards). We fought against a myriad of tax increases proposed by the opposition, even to the point of forcing the governor to live in Sacramento’s best hotel at the time, the Holiday Inn (a long story for another time). When the smoke settled, the state retired the deficit without raising taxes and we established a $1 billion reserve for emergencies.

Those were the days my friends, I thought they would never end…

And yet with any administration, there were fires to put out and FUBARs to fix. Our toxics program was a mess, requiring the program to be run out of the chief of staff’s office. There was a massive delay in the doling out of restitution to victims of violent crime, prompting Mike Wallace to call me demanding a “60 Minutes” interview with the governor.

And let’s not forget that Mother Nature can be very unkind. There were fires. There were floods. There was the drought. There were states of emergency. And there was the Loma Prieta Earthquake, resulting in me being told that the “Bay Bridge is in the Water!”

cypressstructure

One would think that an administration would be given a Mulligan for a natural catastrophe. One would be thinking incorrectly. When the top deck of the Cypress Structure of the 880 came crashing down on the motorists of the lower deck, the ladies and gentlemen of the Capitol Press Corps wanted to immediately assign blame to us. We were at the top and a permanent bull’s eye was affixed to our collective backsides. It’s totally unfair, but nothing is totally fair in politics and government. As Mary Matalin has said repeatedly: “Politics is a contact sport.”

Obviously, it would have been ridiculous to bring up the name of Jerry Brown in the context of the toxics mess, the failure of the victims of violent crime compensation program and of course, the Earthquake. Believe it or not, Mother Nature can be equally cruel to Democrats and Republicans alike.

Surveying the present day landscape, the Obama administration is well beyond its infancy, honeymoon period, and the much ballyhooed “First 100 days.” The administration of George W. Bush matters less with every passing day. Election Day is four months away. It is no longer early; in fact it is way past early.

Pointing fingers at the most famous denizen of Crawford, Texas and proclaiming, “It could have been worse” does not harken back to the bold statements of Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, Harry Truman, JFK or the Gipper. Even Bill Clinton’s, “I didn’t have sex with that woman, Monica Lewinsky…” comes across more decisive.

Friday’s poor jobs report with only 80,000 created and the unemployment rate remaining stuck at 8.2 percent for June (while there were 85,000 first-time applications for disability in the same month) calls for an all-hands on deck crisis communications exercise.

Instead of blaming the predecessor the hard and fast rules for crisis communication should come into play in the face of inevitable adversity: Tell the truth; Tell it All; Tell it Fast and Move On (Isn’t there an organization by that name?).

Repeating the playbook of former President George H.W. Bush in combating both Clinton and a lousy economy by telling everyone that conditions are getting better, when they are clearly heading south, is a time-proven loser. The best approach is to look at the crummy economy right in the proverbial eye and sneer.

What is the administration going to do about it? After three-point-five years, what course correction needs to be undertaken? The escalating entitlements (e.g., Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid) consume about 60 percent of the federal budget. How about reforming these programs? Frau Merkel raised Germany’s retirement age from 65-to-67, reflecting that we are living longer, and at the same time cutting costs. Even with this monumental change, she is still in office, more popular than ever. They are still serving Helles und Dünkles in the Augustiner Keller in München. Imagine that?

Some would warn against spooking seniors and getting Harry’s bowels in an uproar and Nancy’s knickers in a twist. The alternative would be to convince the more than 20 million unemployed and underemployed people, and the 16 million underwater mortgage holders that everything is getting better…when they know that is not the case.

We faced FUBARs in the Deukmejian years. We admitted them, took responsibility and most importantly said what we were going to do about them. Fast forwarding to the present, the days of pointing fingers to sun-scorched Texas are over. The real question is whether the days of accepting responsibility and proposing change that we can trust are already behind us.

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/04/08/hot-boxing-for-mike-wallace/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/is-the-skirt-more-powerful-than-the-suit/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/08/17/potus-and-little-ole-me/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2010/02/27/the-bay-bridge-is-in-the-water/

 

 

 

 

 

The series of intensely covered noisy protests at  state capitols in Madison and Columbus brought back vivid memories for me of those who repeatedly threatened during the 1980s to take over the governor’s reception area, yes, the reception area.

During my service as the press secretary to former California Governor George Deukmejian, you could always count on one group or another to take over the governor’s reception area at least once, if not twice a week. Wonder how I ever slept at night?

And if you are thinking that occupying state capitols and governor’s reception areas only impacts GOP chief executives, keep in mind that our Democratic predecessor (successor?) by the name of Jerry Brown installed nicely varnished, but highly uncomfortable benches in the waiting area to discourage long-term visits. These benches were not very forgiving for reclining and sitting tushies.

calgov

The Theatre of the Absurd would play out each week in the following fashion. Let’s say a group with a clear (mis)understanding between the responsibilities of the federal and state governments decides to go to Sacramento (of all places) and demand that the US get out of Central America. Hint: Sacramento is nowhere near Washington, D.C. in terms of location, authority or infinite wisdom.

You see there was this irritating guy by the name of Daniel Ortega and his Sandinistas (and just like Jerry Brown, he is still there) that were waving red flags in Nicaragua and getting the executive branch so mad that they even sent a Marine Colonel down to the White House basement to lead the fight against them. What was the name of that colonel? Hmmm…

Anyway, the “US Out of Central America” crowd would call the always receptive and easily excitable Capitol Press Corps in Sacramento and say that they were going to occupy the governor’s reception area if they don’t get to see the governor. Of course, they never called and asked for an appointment in the first place. Details, details.

So the time would come and the protesters would arrive with the cameras and newsies coming along and demand to the always affable and she-has-seen-every-nut-case-more-than-once receptionist Jackie Habacker Grunwald that they must see the governor. Jackie would then ask politely if they had an appointment…”Appointment, we don’t need no stinking appointment.” And then the theatre performance would ensue.

My phone would soon be ringing inside the governor’s press office, about 25 feet away from the reception area and the first of several media calls would breathlessly announce that the governor’s reception area was being taken over.

And I would reply: “Again? How many times has it been this week?”

Reporter: “Will the governor see them?”

Me: “Do they have an appointment?”

Reporter: “So the governor is not going to see them?”

Me: “If he did, what should he do? The presence of US forces overseas is a responsibility of the federal government. Alas, we are just a mere nation-state.”

Reporter: “Well, I guess they are going to seize the reception area.”

Me: “And let me tell you what is going to happen. At five minutes to six, the state police are going to announce that the governor’s office is closing in five minutes and they will ask the protesters to leave…”

Reporter: “Ah…uh…”

Me: “And then at 6 pm, the state police are going to politely announce that the governor’s office is closed, so please depart…”

Reporter” “Ya…”

Me: ”And then at 6:05 pm, the state police will announce that anyone who does not leave will be escorted out, cited and eventually released, which is exactly what the protesters want…and guess what?”

Reporter: “What?”

Me: “You get to cover it all because you are being used.”

Reporter: “Used!”

Me: “And then you will call me next week when the next group comes in and demands to see the governor because of Paraquat spraying of marijuana or whatever, and then they will take over the reception area…and you get to cover that charade as well. Get the picture.”

Even though my attitude was sarcastic and some may even say jaded, the key point is to not overreact because that is what the protesters want. The public will eventually tire of these tactics and tune them out. Stick to your principles and ride it out. And remember when it comes to democracy: it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/03/01/AR2011030106108.html?wpisrc=nl_politics

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Ortega

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oliver_North

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran%E2%80%93Contra_affair

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacramento,_California

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paraquat

http://articles.latimes.com/keyword/governors-suits

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