Tag Archive: Office of the Governor


Governor Newsom Calls for Nation’s First Air Tax On California’s Wealthiest

Proceeds To Fund New Air Quality And Climate Change Programs

April 15 To Become A State Holiday 

SACRAMENTO – Following up on his proposed “digital dividend” levy on data usage, California Governor Gavin Newsom today called upon the state Legislature to approve the nation’s first surcharge on the consumption of air by the Golden State’s wealthiest households.

Privileged Californians with assets (i.e., homes, cars, stocks, mutual funds, bonds, savings accounts, furniture … ) exceeding $500,000 will be assessed an annual surcharge of 1 percent of their total gross wealth. The yearly progressive surcharge will escalate to 2 percent for those with more than $1 million in total assets, eventually capping at 10 percent for those with accumulated wealth exceeding $1 billion or more.

“California’s new Rarefied Air Tax (RAT) is initially projected to raise approximately $3 billion in additional revenues to enhance air quality, combat climate change, and to establish a complementary agency to the California Air Resources Board (CARB),” said Newsom.

“The Golden State is the recognized leader in the usage of progressive revenue schemes to extract and redistribute literally billions from California’s achievers by means of income, sales, property, gas, vehicle, water, corporate, payroll, liquor, and weed taxes and soon a surcharge for those who choose to consume O2.  If the wealthy wish to avoid the Rarefied Air Tax, they can simply opt out of oxygen usage,” Newsom said.

According to the non-partisan Tax Foundation, California has fallen from the top to second in total taxation among states. New Jersey is now #1, California #2 and New York #3.

“We intend to restore our rightful place as the number one state in terms of progressive redistributive taxation,” said Newsom. “The appropriate annual total assets surcharge for O2  usage by those with wealth reaching and exceeding six-seven-eight figures is recognition of their moral obligation to pay their fair share for the rarefied California air they breathe and consume.”

To recognize and celebrate California’s nationwide leadership in taxation, Newsom signed a proclamation declaring that each April 15 (or following Monday if tax day falls on a weekend) as a paid public holiday for all Golden State public employees. Newsom urged the federal government and all other states to follow suit.

Fully anticipating constitutional challenges by mean-spirited, hateful, racist, sexist, homophobic and unpleasant non-profit tax foundations, Newsom called upon the state Department of Justice to prepare a vigorous defense against expected questions about the legality of RAT total asset surcharges for California’s wealthiest … those with assets exceeding $500,000 in riches.

California telegenic governor will hold a news conference in Room 1190 of the State Capitol today at 1 pm PDT to provide more details about the RAT tax. Tax-free air will be provided to all media attending the event.

Following the news conference, Governor Newsom will be available for photographs and to autograph full, medium and wallet-size glossy images of himself for adoring reporters and correspondents.

https://taxfoundation.org/individual-income-taxes-2019-state-business-tax-climate-index/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/02/08/golden-state-handcuffs/

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/california-goes-tax-wild-eyes-levies-on-everything-from-water-to-tires

 

 

We all lost a great one today.

He was one of the most popular governors in the proud history of California.

George Deukmejian was much more than the 35th chief executive of the Golden State.

For Almost DailyBrett, a former cub reporter with a fascination of all things political … and a little hair at the time (see photo above), meeting and working for George Deukmejian changed my life.

Instead of taking and keeping an eternal vow of poverty as a reporter, your author was serving as the press director of the Deukmejian Campaign Committee at 27-years-very-young.

My salary was $18,000 annually, but quite frankly I would have worked for nada for the experience. My transformation from a registered Democrat to a proud Reaganite Republican began in 1982. More importantly, my three-decade-plus career in public relations ensued with the gubernatorial primary and general election campaigns; we almost lost both until we won.

Sacramento was a hostile place in 1983. The other party controlled literally everything with the exception of the corner office. We needed the “Iron Duke” more than ever.

Feb. 26, 1983: California Gov. and Mrs. Deukmejian, left, watch as Mrs. George Finlayson, wife of the British Consul General, curtsies before Queen Elizabeth II in a reception line at the Broadway Street Pier in San Diego. This photo was published in the Feb. 27, 1983 LA Times.

Our friendly adversaries in the Capitol Press Corps, who were not predisposed to our way of seeing the world, deep down respected “The Duke.” They would state that George Deukmejian was a little dull (his favorite color was … “gray”), but his team was well-organized. The Deukmejian administration spoke in one voice from the first day to the last day eight years later.

It was well known that others were offering their champions as press secretary when the job came open in 1987. There was little secret that I wanted the job, primarily based upon my institutional memory about everything and anything George Deukmejian.

The governor had faith in me, and gave a chance so many others would have denied me. For three years, I served as his spokesperson and a chief message developer. The first day became the next day. The first week became the second week. The first month …

Looking back on his years as governor, your author still remembers pushing the media horde back just to give him a glimpse of the horrifically damaged Cypress Structure the day after the October 17,1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake.

LOS ANGELES – JUNE 07: Governor George Deukmejian campaigns for George Bush on June 7, 1988 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Grecco)

Each year after leaving the Office of the Governor in December 1989, George Deukmejian never missed sending a holiday card or a note now and then. When my first wife, Robin passed away, (he attended our wedding as governor), he called me to offer his condolences. That is the George Deukmejian I knew, kind and considerate right up to today … this sad, last day.

“We”, “Us”, “Our”

George Deukmejian always spoke in first-person plural, never wanting to draw undue attention to himself even though he was the chief executive of the largest state of the union. In a rare occasion in which he would employ the first-person singular, he once said: “my tear ducts are close to my eyes.”

His lifelong campaign was for public safety. He bravely called for California’s assault weapon ban when little Korean children were murdered by an AK-47 on a Stockton schoolyard. The NRA went crazy. What else is new?

The suffering endured by his ancestors in the 1915 Armenian Genocide always brought sad memories every April 24, and opposition to the Reagan administration’s stance on Turkey.

Many focus on his judicial appointments (yours truly wrote the vast majority of these news releases), his expansion of the state prison system, and his support for highways to get people to work … but seem to forget his lifelong dedication to human rights.

Then California Attorney George “Duke” Deukmejian and wonderful wife, Gloria at the Deukmejian for Governor headquarters opening in Manahattan Beach sirca 1982.

George Deukmejian was a committed fiscal-integrity, public-safety conservative. There were no flip-flops with the governor. He was at total peace with his philosophy.

And when the day was done, it was done. He went home to Gloria, his children, the noisy beagles and his one consistent vice, jamoca almond fudge.

Almost DailyBrett sensed this day was coming. My only regret is that I wished for the time and at least one more opportunity to be with him in these last years … just to say hello, and goodbye.

Your author will sign off with a tear from the ducts close to his eyes. He will make a promise to only use the first person plural. He will always remember the man who gave him a chance, when others would not.

George Deukmejian was the Governor, who changed my life.

http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-sac-skelton-george-deukmejian-20180510-story.html

 

 

“Barbara Bush was a generous and smart and amazing racist who, along with her husband, raised a war criminal. Fuck outta here with your nice words.” – Fresno State English Professor Randa Jarrar in a tweet upon the passing of former First Lady Barbara Bush

“I’m happy the witch is dead. can’t wait for the rest of her family to fall to their demise the way 1.5 million iraqis have. byyyeeeeeee.” – Another tweet by Creative Writing Professor JarrarThe body was still warm on Tuesday.

And shortly thereafter, the race card was played with the nasty labels of “war criminal” thrown into tweets filled with unmitigated hatred. This time the ugly words were uttered by a tenured Fresno State Creative Writing Professor Randa Jarrar.

To his credit, Fresno State University President Joseph I. Castro immediately disassociated the university from Jarrar’s stunning tweets.

FSU Provost Lynette Zelezny said the professor’s horrific comments are under review in accordance with the university’s collective bargaining agreement (CBA). She was asked whether Jarrar could be fired. Zelezny answered the subjunctive question with the affirmative.

When it comes to tenure, CBAs and academic freedom and Jarrar’s outrageous tweets, Almost DailyBrett will take the “under” when it comes to firing a tenured professor.

If Jarrar is not fired, does that mean that tenured professors can say whatever they want, no matter how vile? Are we better as an academic community as a result?

First Amendment Rights/Academic Freedom? 

“I will never be fired.” – Jarrar

We all have the First Amendment Right of Free Speech, regardless of the level of maliciousness.

And tenured professors have “academic freedom.”

The question remains how far does “academic freedom” and CBAs extend when it comes to termination with cause?

Jarrar is taunting the administration of Fresno State, and quite frankly universities and colleges across the country.

When is too much, too much … or is the sky the limit, if there are any limits at all?

Can a university simply proclaim that a tenured professor in question can speak for himself or herself no matter how destructive the comments?

Almost DailyBrett takes issue with this notion.

As the former Press Secretary for the California Office of the Governor (e.g., George Deukmejian), the author of Almost DailyBrett did not have the academic freedom protection enjoyed by tenured professors. Instead your blog writer was an agent of the state, serving at the express pleasure of the governor.

There was zero separation between my own personal comments and my official duties as press secretary. When the phone rang at home at 1 am and a reporter was on the line, yours truly was not a private citizen but a 24/7/365 representative of the Office of the Governor for the largest state in the union.

Likewise, Professor Jarrar is indeed a wealthy $100,000 per year agent of the State of California, and by extension Fresno State University.

She is teaching the leaders of tomorrow, which should make any decent person shudder.

Where Are The University Presidents?

“A professor with tenure does not have blanket protection to say and do what they wish. We are all held accountable for our actions.” – FSU President Castro

Will there ever be a time when a rhetorical red line is crossed by a tenured professor?

Will President Castro eventually succumb to the pressure of his tenured faculty, simply slap Jarrar on the wrist, and let her back into her classroom with a big cat-who-swallowed-the-canary smile on her face?

Will he and others in the administration by omission send the image of an uncaring Fresno State University to students, parents and alumni? Will the university president essentially pardon a professor, who wishes for the quick deaths of a revered American family that produced two presidents?

The deciding question is not free speech, academic freedom and collective bargaining agreements.

The real issue is accountability vs. no accountability, when there is no doubt a red line has been trampled.

An agent of the state has betrayed her trust.

Will FSU President Castro and Provost Zelezny have the courage to stand up for decency in these vitriolic times?

Almost DailyBrett is hoping that is the case.

Don’t hold your breath.

Almost DailyBrett note: As predicted Professor Randa Jarrar was not fired because of her tenure. Her insensitive tweets and arrogant referral of critics to call a State of Arizona mental health hotline notwithstanding. President Castro wants to assure FSU donors that Jarrar doesn’t speak for the university. Let the checks be written.

http://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/education/article209227364.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2018/04/18/after-calling-barbara-bush-an-amazing-racist-a-professor-taunts-critics-i-will-never-be-fired/?noredirect=on

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-secrets-of-a-great-first-spouse-1524177700

https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/first_amendment

http://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/education/article209752459.html

 

The author of Almost DailyBrett will not drive on the Alaskan Way Viaduct in Seattle.

Yes, a reported 110,000 motorists each day use the picturesque Route 99 with its views of Puget Sound.

alaskaviaduct1

Just don’t count me among those who make the drive. The same applies for walking under the double-decker highway to check out the restaurants, shops and amusements fronting the water.

The reason is simple: Memories of Loma Prieta.

“The Bay Bridge is in the Water”

This coming Friday is the 25th anniversary of the 6.9 on the Richter magnitude scale Loma Prieta Earthquake that struck at 5:04 pm PDT just as the Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants were preparing for Game Three of the 1989 World Series in antiquated Candlestick Park.

There is something about earthquakes. Once you have experienced a trembler, you instinctively know when it is déjà vu all over again. My first was the 1971 Sylmar Quake in Southern California, registering 6.6 on the Richter. There was a book case above my bed with two huge marble bookends (“dinosaur eggs”); one of which almost hit me in the head.

Twenty-eight years later, the Capitol dome in Sacramento was shaking violently. Al Michaels and Tim McCarver went off the air (in this case, not a good thing). There are no fault lines in the vicinity of California’s capital city.

My assistant press secretary was experiencing her first earthquake. She asked me to “make it stop. Please make it stop.” My influence was and remains limited when it comes to Mother Nature.

As the press secretary for California Governor George Deukmejian, I picked up the phone and called the Office of Emergency Services. OES will always take a phone call for the Office of the Governor.

baybridge1.jph

Their info was sketchy, but here were the details: A major 6.9 earthquake hit the Bay Area. The Bay Bridge is in the water. San Francisco is on fire. The 880 Cypress Street Viaduct or Cypress Structure came down. The governor is in Germany … Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

Compounding matters were urgent thoughts about my deputy press secretary. He was sitting in the upper deck on Candlestick Park when Loma Prieta struck. Did he ride the upper deck down to the lower deck?

‘Stop thinking this way, let’s just pray for the best.’

Media Types Come Unglued

Our phone lines lit up (there were no cell phones, let alone texting back in the stone ages) with one reporter after another calling, and I was serving as the lead spokesperson for the State of California. Instinct governed me to buy time. Even though I was told the eight-mile, double-decked Bay Bridge (16 miles of cars and trucks) were in the water, I did not know that as a fact. All press secretaries make mistakes, particularly when one takes upwards of 70 media calls in a typical day. Thankfully I did not share the preliminary info from OES, which easily would have triggered shock headlines around the world.

As it mercifully turned out the entire Bay Bridge was not in the water, but a section of the top layer of the cantilever came down onto the bottom deck. The Marina District of San Francisco was on fire, but it was not 1906 all over again for the City by the Bay. The Cypress Street Viaduct collapsed with the top deck crushing cars and motorists on the lower deck, killing 41 of the 63 who perished in Loma Prieta.

The next day, I was playing lion-tamer beside the Cypress Structure with about 400 reporters, including dozens of cameras and sound booms, and one Governor George Deukmejian who was trying to personally assess the damage. It was the first time that I experienced the smell of death. Again, my instinct was clicking.

As the days went on, the media cover took a sinister turn. It was no longer, who, what, when, where and how … but why did the Cypress Structure come down? Who was responsible? Gee, I thought it was Mother Nature.

cypressstructure

Did the governor veto funds for earthquake retrofit? Ahh … no. Did the state spend the funds for earthquake retrofit? Ahh … yes. Was the earthquake retrofit work completed? Ahh … yes, the first phase was complete. How does Caltrans test earthquake retrofits? Ahh … the Caltrans engineers shake models (You can’t shake a freeway).

One chain-smoking reporter for the now-hanging-on-by-its-fingernails San Francisco Examiner came up and proclaimed her reason for the collapse of the Cypress Structure: “(Caca) happens.”

Eventually the media lost interest in Loma Prieta, the very same natural disaster that inflicted an estimated $6 billion in damage and wounded nearly 4,000 in addition to those who lost their lives. In the Office of the Governor, we continued to set up gubernatorial tours of towns and cities impacted by the quake (e.g., Santa Cruz County) even though some media outlets passed on the story. It was the right thing to do.

When it comes to crisis communications, the predetermined emergency plan loses its luster. Instead, your instinct and training needs to kick in. Even though it is tough to be cool, calm and collected that is exactly what is required. And by all means don’t tell reporters, “The Bay Bridge is in the water.”

And maybe you shouldn’t walk under the Alaskan Viaduct either.

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

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1989_Loma_Prieta_earthquake

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

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

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

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1971_San_Fernando_earthquake

 

 

The capitol building was shaking violently. And yet there are no faults in the immediate vicinity of Sacramento.

Instantly, I picked up the phone and called the State Office of Emergency Services. I inquired about the first reports that “San Francisco is on fire” and “The Bay Bridge is in the water.” I was numb and couldn’t even conceive the horrific nature of the 6.9 on-the-Richter-scale, Loma Prieta Earthquake http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loma_Prieta_Earthquake. It was October 17, 1989 and I was the press secretary to California Governor George Deukmejian http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Deukmejian. This one was on our watch.

Reading and watching the news reports today of the reported 8.8-on-the-Richter-scale earthquake in Chile it is almost impossible to comprehend the magnitude of the quake. The Chile trembler is at least 100 times more powerful than the Loma Prieta Earthquake that rocked Northern California. A seismologist can tell you for sure what is the difference in degree, but rest assured it is huge.

baybridge

For those in public relations/crisis communications, a major natural disaster requires you to throw away the manual. Yes contact information is incredibly valuable, but you are left to your instincts and your training as a reporter/journalist. Who? What? When? Why? How? You are now a hunter-gatherer, in this case you are searching and clawing for information, particularly correct information. What are the facts? What is the truth on the ground? Is the Bay Bridge really in the water? More importantly, what are you (e.g. State of California) going to do about it?

The first three days after the Earthquake were mainly focused on getting the governor to the site (he was in Frankfurt, Germany when Loma Prieta hit) and coordinating the state’s emergency response. The media was constantly reporting changing figures about where was the epicenter? What was the intensity? How many have been killed and injured? And what are the damage estimates? Fair enough.

And then, the reporting took a more sinister turn.cypressstructure

The biggest issue in Loma Prieta was the collapse of the Cypress Street Viaduct of the “Nasty Nimitz,” Interstate 880 in Oakland, CA http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cypress_Street_Viaduct. A 1.25-mile section of the freeway failed with the top deck crushing cars on the lower deck, killing 41 drivers and passengers. The media wanted to know who was responsible.

Gee, wasn’t it Mother Nature?

Did Governor Deukmejian veto funds for earthquake retrofit? Did the state allocate funds for earthquake retrofit? Did the state actually complete the earthquake retrofit work? Why did the freeway collapse? Why were the Caltrans (California Department of Transportation) engineers wrong? The questions came pouring in. Thankfully we had not vetoed funds. We had actually allocated these resources. Work had been done, but still the freeway collapsed.

Here is my question that is just as relevant today as it was 21 years ago: Why was the media so obsessed with assigning blame in a natural disaster? No one wanted the Cypress Structure to come down, but it did. There are always lessons to be learned after any disaster.

Finally after 10 days of this grueling exercise, a chain-smoking reporter came up to me and in her raspy voice she summed up what happened to the Cypress structure, “(Caca) happens.”reporters

The media has a job to do in providing valuable information to the public about a natural disaster, but don’t be mistaken into thinking we are all in this together. If you are working for a major public official or a major corporation in an affected area, you should understand that the Fourth Estate is more than happy to make this your responsibility. For reporters, the bigger you are, the harder you can fall and we are not talking about bridges and buildings. Effective crisis communications also involves never letting down your guard and being as vigilant about protecting reputations as ever.

In the final analysis, your organization needs to be part of the answer. You need to demonstrate your concern about your own employees, your communities and society as a whole. For the State of California, we worked to tirelessly to demonstrate our response to the earthquake and care for the people who were affected. In fact, we continued to work on our response long after the media grew tired and weary of the story.

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