Tag Archive: Proposition 13


“In seeking truth you have to get both sides of a story.” – Walter Cronkite, CBS anchor from 1962-1981

“Walter Cronkite could not get a job in the media today.” – Harvard Law Professor Alan Derschowitz

 “As a former journalist and former press secretary, you should know there has never been ‘objective journalism.’” – Professor teaching digital journalism to college students

“Never” leaves absolutely no room for nuance, much less retreat.

According to my dear faculty colleague and friend (and presumably many more kindred spirits), objective journalism “never” existed even at times (e.g., 1960s and 1970s) when Walter Cronkite was widely regarded as “The Most Trusted Man in America.”

If you don’t believe the ex-cathedra summation by a Ph.D in Journalism, just visit your nearest modern-day college journalism/communication (indoctrination) classroom.

Or how about famous correspondents crying on national television when political results do not match their impeccably high moral standards (e.g., ABC’s Martha Raddatz on 2016 election night or MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow upon the 2019 release of the Müller Report conclusions).

As a cub reporter covering politics on a daily basis way back in the stone-age 1970s, there were times when your Almost DailyBrett author nodded his head, rolled his eyes or told a cynical joke … as skeptical reporters are prone to do.

We all harbored our own personal opinions, just like everyone else.

The real question is whether our opinions unprofessionally showed up in our copy and/or broadcasts? Were we truly open-minded, professional and yes, objective in carrying out our responsibilities to readers and/or viewers?

The best reporters/correspondents covered both sides of a given issue (e.g., California’s Proposition 13 tax revolt), and most importantly did not allow their personal analysis and interpretation to corrupt and pollute their stories.

As a former press secretary to a Republican governor, Almost DailyBrett knew for a fact the vast majority of reporters, editors, and correspondents were philosophically aligned to the left side of the great political divide.

Having acknowledged the obvious, virtually every reporter played a great devil’s advocate to elicit the strongest (and most newsworthy) response from yours truly. In almost all cases our point of view was fairly represented in the resulting copy or broadcast.

There were times when your author detected a bias in the questioning toward a predetermined narrative. In these cases, all responses that corresponded to the story line were seized upon and all those that didn’t fit were ignored.

Your author called out these unprofessional reporters for exhibiting a preset philosophical bias, resulting in an unpleasant conversation.

These unfortunate instances were the exception then; they are the norm today.

What Are Future Journalists Being Taught In Today’s Universities And Colleges?

Instead of actually covering the news for a grateful public, are future reporters, editors and correspondents being groomed by doctrinaire university professors to be the next wave of social justice warriors with notepads, microphones and cameras?

Is their mission to take the side, to advance the cause, to silence the opposition and ultimately bring down a president?

Rather than reporting the news, will they use their journalistic licenses to fashion stories, which are really poorly disguised or denuded editorials, interpretation and analysis that conform to the narrative?

If the prescribed goal is an ever-present, all-powerful taxing, redistributive, gift-giving socialist society, will tomorrow’s “journalists” be only favorable in their coverage to facts that conform to the orthodoxy? Likewise, will they be cynical, dismissive and downright hostile to any statements that do not pass social justice litmus tests?

Maybe that explains journalistic mutations in the forms of Jim Acosta, Anderson Cooper, Don Lemon and Rachel Maddow?

It was widely known that Walter Cronkite was liberal in his political orientation. Having said that, he always insisted upon fairness – yes objectivity – in the coverage of Democrats and even Republicans.

Some will claim the media’s collective decline in public esteem is directly attributable to their new-found designation as “the enemy of the people.” They will place 100 percent of the blame at the feet of the 45th POTUS.

Almost DailyBrett believes the media elite needs to collectively reassess the unfortunate trend toward oppositional journalism, interpretation, analysis and editorializing, and once again embrace professionalism in the form of true objectivity.

Let’s hope objectivity can once again rise from the ashes.

http://www.cnn.com/2012/06/05/opinion/brinkley-walter-cronkite/index.html

https://cronkite.asu.edu/about/walter-cronkite-and-asu/walter-cronkite-biography

https://brandingforresults.com/walter-cronkite/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/02/15/oppositional-journalism/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/12/27/dan-rather-father-of-affirmational-journalism/

“Nancy Pelosi needs to come back from Hawaii. Less hula, more moola for the Department (of Homeland Security) and Customs and Border Patrol, funding our border security.”  — Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway

The optics were awful.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi headed to Hawaii for resort time at the $1,000-to-$5,000 per night Fairmont Orchid, while the U.S. government was partially shut down.

In contrast, President Trump cancelled his Xmas and New Year’s planned vacation time at the Mar-a-Lago resort.

The story was covered by Fox News and the New York Post among others. For some reason, the New York Times, Washington Post and the big networks did not report Nancy’s between Xmas and New Year Kona spa days on the Big Island.

Reminds Almost DailyBrett of the adage: If Nancy swam in the Pacific and the New York Times passed on the story, did she still get wet?

Despite the fact her ideologically aligned media gave her a Mulligan, was it smart public relations/politics for the honorable speaker to depart for “Spa Without Walls” Hawaii with the rival president managing les affaires d’état from the Oval Office?

The Time-and-Place Rule

Every president is roundly criticized for playing golf (e.g., Trump), shooting baskets (e.g., Obama) or bike riding (George W. Bush). The implication is that presidents should have zero hobbies or interest in staying fit, while also blowing off some steam.

As a former press secretary, your author would gladly confirm my chief executive is indeed playing golf, shooting baskets bike riding etc., and would question the political motivation of those who had a problem with these healthy recreational activities.

Having said that, Almost DailyBrett contends presidents and congressional leaders need to practice The Time-and-Place Rule. The rhetorical questions: Is this the time? Is this the place?

For example, first-time-around California Governor Jerry Brown, who opposed Proposition 13, immediately befriended Howard Jarvis and became a born-again tax cutter. He remained in toasty Sacramento that summer, and directed the state in subvening $4 billion to the state’s 58 counties.

His Republican opponent Attorney General Evelle Younger immediately left for Hawaii. The contrast could not have been greater. Brown working to implement Proposition 13. Younger basking in the islands. The predictable Jerry Brown negative campaign ads featured … you guessed it … Evelle Younger and hula music.

Younger never recovered from violating the Time-and-Place Rule, losing by more than 1 million votes in the fall 1978 general election.

“There Will Be No Hula Music”

Fast forwarding four years later, my boss then-Attorney General George Deukmejian had just won a hard-fought GOP primary for Governor of California.

When a reporter posed a seemingly benign question about his vacation plans, the Duke’s political instinct went into overdrive. “There will be no hula music.”

Translated, he was going to take a welcome vacation in California with his family. Hawaiian music would not played in his opponent’s radio and television ads.

George Deukmejian paid homage to the Time-and-Place rule and went on to win in November.

Did Nancy Pelosi violate the Time-and-Place rule? Yes.

Does it matter to her liberal media sycophants? No.

Does it undermine her faux concern for the 800,000 federal employees, who are not being paid? Yes.

Very few of them have the resources to listen to hula music real time, and enjoy the trappings of a $5,000 per night Hawaiian resort.

They would just like to have grocery money, let alone enough to indulge in a “Spa Without Walls.”

http://www.hawaiifreepress.com/ArticlesMain/tabid/56/ID/22833/Nancy-Pelosi-Vacations-at-Fairmont-Orchid-During-Government-Shutdown.aspx

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/nancy-pelosi-is-vacationing-at-hawaii-resort-during-shutdown

https://nypost.com/2018/12/30/kellyanne-conway-mocks-nancy-pelosi-over-hawaii-vacation-amid-shutdown/

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/im-not-allowed-to-talk-about-that-nancy-pelosi-office-wont-comment-on-her-shutdown-vacation-in-hawaii

 

 

 

Never thought the author of Almost DailyBrett would ever see the day.

Guess there is a first time for everything.

Yes I did it. I wrote-in my choice for President of the United States: Speaker Paul Ryan.

Today, I submitted my ballot. The deed is done.ballot

Some may contend that I threw my vote away.

Some may warn that my write-in vote will not be counted.

Some may scold that I helped put a Clinton back in the White House.

Personally, I have to live with myself.

Voting for big-legalized drugs/Snowden-pardon supporter Gary Johnson is a non-starter.

Jill Stein? Please.

Back in the 1990s, I never voted for a Clinton for president. There is zero chance I would do that now.

The prospect of putting the country’s nuclear arsenal in the hands of the most politically undisciplined party nominee in the history of the Republic (understatement), Donald Trump, is a bet I am not willing to make.

To little ole me, not voting is irresponsible and quite frankly, not an option.

By writing this blog post I am not seeking a medal or some kind of accolade, but sharing my personal journey as I contemplated for weeks and months literally the worst presidential choice ever … and the polls bear out this point.120811014459-romney-ryan-vp-2-horizontal-gallery

My reasoning: I voted for Paul Ryan to serve as Mitt Romney’s vice president four years ago. I am very comfortable with the prospect of the Speaker of the House of Representatives in the White House.

The Shining City on the Hill

“Whatever else history may say about me when I’m gone, I hope it will report that I appeal to your best hopes not your worst fears … “—Former President Ronald Reagan, 1992

Even though Almost DailyBrett for seven-plus years attempted to be as even-handed as it can be and avoid partisan screed, your author is mortal and has a definitive political view.

Politically, I cut my teeth covering as a 20-something reporter the 1978 Proposition 13 tax revolt in California. Because of crippling 15-18 percent annual inflation and related-skyrocketing property tax bills, people were being asked to choose between their homes and essential services. They chose their residences.

Four years later, I served as the press director for the (George) Deukmejian Campaign Committee. One year after surviving an assassination attempt, Reagan campaigned for us. Even at 71-years-young, he looked like a million bucks to a young, impressionable media aide. From that day forward, I am proud to describe myself as a Reaganite.reaganduke

My outlook is realistic, but always positive. My beliefs include controlling the debt, stimulating full-time private sector jobs with the complete array of benefits, fostering a robust export-driven economy, and protecting our exceptional country from all adversaries … foreign and domestic.

The dystopian, inward approach to the world preached by one Donald J. Trump is not Reaganesque, and it is not Republican.

Did I listen carefully to all of the candidates during the lengthy primary season? Absolutely. I was hoping a true-Reagan conservative would emerge from the pack. That result did not happen.

There was a time, and Almost DailyBrett cannot pinpoint a date, but it became evident that Hillary Clinton would be the nominee of the Democrat Party and Donald Trump would serve as the standard bearer of the Republican Party.

This choice was unpalatable then and it is totally unacceptable now.

As a result, I wrote in Speaker Ryan. Regardless of who prevails next Tuesday, I am confident Paul Ryan will be serving as a living example of the checks and balances our Founding Fathers envisioned.

I will sleep better knowing he is on the job.

http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/31/politics/john-kasich-donald-trump-john-mccain-endorsement/index.html

http://www.speaker.gov/

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/03/nancy-reagan-death-donald-trump-2016-213709

 

 

As a young cub reporter, I cut my teeth on Proposition 13.

The political class and Punditocracy were steadfastly aligned against California’s tax-revolt initiative in 1978.

The electorate would not vote in their self-interest (e.g., their homes) and “devastate” the state’s infrastructure (i.e., schools, libraries and fire stations). Surely, not.

Surely, yes.presspass

We were told the sun would not rise on Wednesday, June 7, if Proposition 13 was approved the day before.

El Sol did indeed rise over the east hills of the Golden State that very morning. The birds were chirping. The bees were buzzing. Love was in the air. And Sacramento subvened its $4 billion surplus to the state’s 58 counties.

Homes were saved. Libraries remained open. Fire houses were not closed. Life moved on … as it always does. Fiscal Armageddon did not occur.

The author of Almost DailyBrett learned a valuable lesson: The voters are not as unaware as the political elites believe.

They will vote in the interest of their homes, families, wallets and purses.

As Jean Baptist-Colbert, French Minister of Finances under Louis XIV, said:

“The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest amount of feathers with the least possible amount of hissing.”

There was plenty of hissing to go around in the late spring of 1978.

The Initiative, The Referendum, The Recall

long

The name Hiram Warren Johnson would probably stump everyone except the most avid player of political Trivial Pursuit.

The progressive Republican Governor of California from 1911-1917, who also served as the running mate for Teddy Roosevelt in 1912, will go down in history as the man who introduced to the Golden State and the world: the initiative, the referendum and the recall.

These three political equivalents of nuclear weapons would remain in virtual hibernation until the days of the Great Inflation in the 1970s, which plagued the subsequent administrations of Nixon, Ford and Carter. With annualized inflation running between 15-18 percent per year, county assessors (e.g., Alexander Pope in Los Angeles) were sending property tax bills that were around 30 percent higher every two years.

You don’t have to be a math wizard to realize that 15 percent compounded annualized inflation-driven property-tax increases were threatening the ability of literally millions to pay their property tax bills. And what did the virtual one-party state Legislature do about it?

Nothing.

It was only a matter of time for two former gadflies, Howard Jarvis and Paul Gann, to become heroes and villains at the same time with one vehicle, the initiative, namely Proposition 13.

Anxiety, Apprehension, Anger

“Despite a torrent of horror stories from teachers’ unions, politicians, newspapers and corporate lobbyists in Sacramento about the potentially devastating effects of Proposition 13, more than 60 percent of the voters took a gamble and approved the ballot measure.” – Stephen Moore, Cato Institutenewsweekprop13

The author of Almost DailyBrett vividly remembers that Californians were disgusted with politicians and everything Sacramento in 1978. They voted for Proposition 13 to send an unmistakable message to the political class: We are not as unaware and ignorant as you think we are.

Exactly 25 years later, another generation of Californians brought to the forefront another of Hiram Johnson’s reforms, the recall. The target in 2003 was Governor Gray Davis, who magically transformed a $14 billion “surplus” into a $38 billion deficit.

The net result was the election of charming media-celebrity, body-builder-turned-movie-star-turned Gubernator, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Fast forwarding to today, Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer used three “A”s to describe the political mood of the electorate. He could have easily added another “A” with a Teutonic twist: Angst.

Just as the California electorate was volatile and unpredictable in 1978 and 2003 and willing to take matters into their own collective hands, the same seems to hold true this year on a national scale.timejarvis

To date, Almost DailyBrett has been totally wrong on which parties delegate race would conclude first, and how a celebrity candidacy would end once the electoral calendar moved from the Silly Season to the Serious Season.

There are plenty of polls and Electoral College projections, but in the end analysis the two respective parties are nominating candidates with unprecedented nearly 60 percent unfavorable ratings at a time when the nation’s right track/wrong track barometer is two-to-one in the wrong direction.

Not only are we politically gridlocked at home, we are seen as nation in decline overseas. And heaven forbid – how will an exogenous event striking the homeland upset the scant political equilibrium that does exist?

If you were serving as the head of communications or press secretary for either of the two candidates with nearly 100 percent name identification (not necessarily a good thing), sleep is going to be a precious commodity between now and November.

Strap on your seat belts for a rough ride. And don’t forget the electorate. The voters are not as dumb as everyone in Washington D.C., and Midtown Manhattan thinks they are.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/donald-hillary-and-the-bernie-factor/2016/05/19/cc594044-1de6-11e6-9c81-4be1c14fb8c8_story.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/taxing-the-fab-four-exiling-the-stones/

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

http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=j000140

http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h1984.html

http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/proposition-13-then-now-forever

http://quoteinvestigator.com/2014/04/04/tax-tree/

 

 

 

 

 

The author of Almost DailyBrett served as a chief spokesman for California Governor George Deukmejian for seven years (eight years when one counts the 1982 gubernatorial campaign).

He also cut his teeth as a reporter covering the Proposition 13 tax revolt way back in 1978.

And yet there is the realization that he may never return on a permanent basis to California.Calcoast

And likewise, there are literally hundreds of thousands who may never leave their present California residence/rental for another in the state or even across town because they simply can’t.

The problem:

Where can they move?

What will they pay?

How much is the new mortgage?

How much is the new rent?

How much are the increased property taxes?

How much are the income, sales and gas taxes?

How much are the bridge tolls?

Will it still take 45 minutes to drive five miles?

Yes, there are Golden State Handcuffs. Even though they glisten in the light, they are still handcuffs.

Stockton, Modesto, Visalia, Bakersfield

Lovely Central Valley destinations, such as Stockton, Modesto, Visalia and Bakersfield, are all doable for those who want to move to the Golden State. The Mercury rarely exceeds 115-degrees in the summer and the mind-numbing Tule fog usually lifts after about six weeks in the winter.bakersfield

The fortunate ones are those who have found their pads in livable places in the Golden State, but can they actually leave if they wanted to and go someplace else? For far too many, the answer is “no.”

One of the reasons is taxes. When it comes to levies California has every one of them: income, sales, property, gas, bridge tolls etc., etc., etc.

The top federal rate is 39.6 percent and 30 percent for capital gains, figures that need to be factored into this discussion. California’s “progressive” income tax rate tops out at 13.3 percent, the nation’s highest. Translated: high-salary earners spend more than half the year to pay both the feds and the state.

My present home in Ellensburg, Washington has nada state income tax, but we do pay an 8 percent sales tax.

My adopted state of Oregon has zero sales tax.

Folks in San Diego are paying 8 percent sales tax, Sacramento, 8.50 percent; San Francisco, 8.75 percent; Los Angeles, 9 percent. Can piercing the psychologically important double-digit rate to buy virtually anything be far behind? Don’t be surprised by a 10 percent+ sales tax coming soon in California’s blue counties.

For those living in the Bay Area, it costs $5 to drive across the Bay Bridge, ditto for the San Mateo and Dumbarton. The Golden Gate charges $6 for the privilege. Hey, weren’t the tolls for these bridges supposed to be rescinded once the bonds were paid off? Silly me.

California’s gas taxes (both federal/state combined) are 71.29 cents per gallon, leaving other high taxing states, such as New York, in the rear-view mirror.

The Proposition 13 Blessing/Curse

Looking back at the “Wonder Years” house that was my home for 15 years in suburban Pleasanton with its desultory hour-plus commute one way over the Sunol Grade, my mortgage was around $1,850 and my annual property tax was $5,225. The latter figure is high when one weighs it against my comparable size Eugene, Oregon house with a property tax levy of approximately $3,400.

Today, the very same house in Pleasanton would require a $3,400 mortgage or a $3,500 per month rent or about 2x what I shelled out in mortgage payments just four years ago. The property tax is now $8,600 or more than $700 per month. These figures come from Zillow, which is historically regarded to be low in its estimates.

An über-successful friend of mine pays an annual property tax rate of $75,000 for the privilege of living in his relatively new West Los Angeles house for just one year. He gets to repeat this pocket-digging exercise next year and presumably every year. His next neighbor pays a fraction of that amount because he has not sold his pad, thus triggering reappraisal.

The memories of the Proposition 13 property tax revolt (e.g., Jarvis-Gann) still linger. People were upset with inflation approaching 18 percent and resulting property tax bills of 30 percent higher than two years earlier. Proposition 13 simply kept many in their homes because California’s one-party Legislature failed to act.jarvisgann

And yet the sale-triggers-reappraisal-and-a-new-tax rate, coupled with the escalation of property values, has not only made California unaffordable for new home buyers (e.g., good luck Millennials), it is trapping Baby Boomers and X-Gens in their own homes, residences and in some cases apartments.

A rent controlled studio apartment in San Francisco will stay at a similar monthly stipend unless and until the renter moves. The real question: Can that renter actually afford to move? Is that renter essentially trapped in downtown San Francisco?

Granted there are worse fates in life than being “trapped” in a rent controlled studio apartment in the City by the Bay, but Golden State Handcuffs are just that, Golden State Handcuffs.

California has always enjoyed great weather, the best in the lower 48. The state never looks better than it does from the tailgate parties at Brookside Golf Course on New Year’s Day. Alas, there is a reality of skyrocketing housing and rental prices, every tax imaginable and conceivably more hikes to come, and traffic that saps your soul and Joie de Vivre.

It’s sad, but California is not the state it was when I grew up.

For some, you literally can’t go back home.

For others, you can’t leave home.

http://www.boe.ca.gov/cgi-bin/rates_2013.cgi

http://www.batolls.info/

http://taxfoundation.org/blog/top-state-income-tax-rates-2014

http://www.bankrate.com/finance/taxes/states-with-highest-gasoline-excise-taxes-2.aspx

 

 

 

Declaring Victory

Compromise is so easy, when you leave all the heavy lifting to the other side.

In reality, it doesn’t work that way … and it never will.

Unilateral good nature, masochism and altruistic virtues will not do the trick.

The answer always comes down to how can both sides can “declare victory” and pass the giggle test at the same time. Each must be able to make the sale to the majority of their followers on their side of the aisle.

nixon1

Keep in mind: Your enemies will never change; your friends can run for the exits if you sell your soul.

Consider the oncoming 5 percent of national GDP “fiscal cliff.”

All the Republicans in the House of Representatives have to do is go against their ingrained philosophy, accept a tax hike for those making $400,000 or more annually (or possibly less) in exchange for no spending restraint by the federal government in the face of a record $16.4 trillion national debt. On top of that, they are expected to raise the debt limit, reportedly reached next Monday, to accommodate even more borrowing from China and more red ink (double entendre not intended).

Let’s say that House Speaker John Boehner can convince his reluctant caucus to go along with this “deal” to preclude the January 1 expiring George W. Bush tax cuts for middle-class taxpayers 1. You can count on the Washington Press Corps. and the Punditocracy on prime-time cable to declare the president and Democrats as the winners and the Republicans as the losers.

In historical terms, the Third Reich was deemed the winner at Munich in 1938 as it was given the permission to gobble up Czechoslovakia, while loser Neville Chamberlain came home with a worthless signature on a worthless piece of paper. After Mitt Romney’s defeat last November, do the Republicans want to be the Neville Chamberlain’s of December?

neville

Even though Howard Schulz and Starbucks are getting into the act with DC baristas scribbling “Come Together” on the cups of upscale coffee, you can hardly expect the Republicans to be moved…or to move…without some real progress from the self-proclaimed progressives.

Can Social Security be indexed to inflation in the form of the Consumer Price Index? Can the age limit for Medicare eligibility be raised from 65-years-old to 67-years-old? More than 60 percent of federal spending is directed toward to the “entitlements” even before the full-impact of Obamacare is felt.

MoveOn.org is threatening primary challengers from the left for any Democrat that votes to reform the entitlements. The Republicans are demanding entitlement spending concessions in order to declare victory. To the Democrats, these demands are seen as leverage…and they are.

The recipe for both sides and their respective media spokespersons to declare victory require raising tax rates on high-income folks, including small businesses (Democrats claim victory), while at the same Social Security is indexed and the eligibility age for Medicare is increased (Republicans claim victory). It sounds simple, but it’s not.

One thing is certain: There will be no deal until the 11th hour on the 365th day of the calendar year. Legislators are akin to bats: They only come out at night.

And if there is no deal?

The sun came up in the Golden State on June 7, 1978, the day after Proposition 13 passed with 65 percent of the vote. Reportedly, the bees were still buzzing and the birds were still chirping.

There was a next-day after the Y2K “crisis” came and was quickly forgotten after January 1, 2000. Talk about much ado about nothing.

And if the leader of the Free World and Congress cannot make amends and allow both sides to declare victory, the ball will still drop in Times Square next Tuesday and the bowl games will still be played on Tuesday.

The nation’s credit rating may plunge yet again. The country may default. The next recession will be on the horizon. These (un)pleasantries may be upon us.

Or we can get down to figuring out how both sides can claim victory.  I saw this practice work in Sacramento in the 1980s. It can work in Washington DC in the teens of the 21st Century. Let “Victory” ring.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnmcquaid/2012/12/26/starbucks-come-together-fiscal-cliff-misfire/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/us-will-hit-debt-limit-on-dec-31-treasury-department-says/2012/12/26/0e8e3738-4fa2-11e2-839d-d54cc6e49b63_story.html?wpisrc=al_comboPNE_b

http://www.starbucks.com/blog/lets-come-together-america

 

I didn’t give a particle about Hopalong Cassidy in 1976…

…and I really don’t care much about the fictional Old West shoot-em-up character now.

hopalong

My Journalism 101 assignment was laid out in a poorly mimeographed piece of parchment paper: Write a dreaded obit about the late-William Lawrence Boyd (1895-1972) and entice people to care about the star of more than 60 “Hoppy” films, who died with his boots on.

There was no passion, no emotion, just a piece of paper about someone who did not touch my life, and never would. I was also a college sophomore at the University of Southern California. The results of my “effort” were predictable as in predictably lousy.

As a result of this assignment and others, I earned a big fat and well-deserved “C” in the class. What was worse was the professor (who will go nameless to protect the guilty) pulled me aside and strongly suggested that I consider another career.

That was 35 years ago.

Fortunately, the next semester saved my major in Broadcasting Journalism and launched my career. I enrolled in Reporting Public Affairs with Joel Kotkin, who at the time had put his degree at UC Berkeley five years into his rear-view mirror and was the West Coast correspondent for the Washington Post.

kotkin

The year was now 1977, and there was a mayoral election in Los Angeles. Each student was assigned a candidate and a campaign. The candidates were the incumbent Tom Bradley, former California State Senator Alan Robbins and Howard Jarvis, who authored the landmark property tax-reduction initiative, Proposition 13, the following year. My assignment was to follow Robbins, who eventually lost the election and later spent a long time in a very bad place.

Robbins campaigned heavily on the Jewish West Side of Los Angeles and a young college kid followed him, and learned everything he could about his campaign. This particular USC student was a political animal and loved writing and reporting. Some were questioning Robbins’ Jewishness, prompting a heckler to yell out in a temple that “Alan Robbins is a goy.” Robbins snapped back, “Alan Robbins is not a goy.” This was full-contact politics on vivid display and I eagerly engulfed myself in this story.

I received an “A” in “Reporting Public Affairs” and my career was upwards to the right. There will always be a soft spot in my heart for Professor Kotkin, who is now a fellow at Chapman College, a columnist for the Wall Street Journal and others, and the author of “The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050.”

The reason why I am tapping back into history now is that I have taken up the Kotkin role, not his encyclopedic command of American political, geographical and demographic trends (I am not worthy), but his dedication to teaching students…and in at least one particular case giving a student a much-needed second chance.

Today I am a graduate teaching fellow at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. Hopefully in a year, I will be teaching strategic communications, social media, financial communications and media/analyst/employee relations to upper division students.

I need to keep in mind that a professor can cripple through her or his words the dreams of students. Suggesting out loud to someone who has the talent and skill sets to succeed in a given profession that they should look elsewhere is not helpful and may be even unethical. That’s exactly what happened to me.

Please don’t get me wrong. Tenured professors, associate professors, assistant professors, adjunct instructors and even lowly graduate teaching fellows are not there to be a buddy or a pal to college students. We are not there to be the university version of dandelion dads and marshmallow moms. The work world is hopefully over the horizon for these students and a boss or heaven forbid, a bosshole, can be worse, much worse than any professor.

Colleges and universities are the ultimate start-up. Students have dreams and aspirations. Not all classes are a perfect fit…certainly Journalism 101 with its lame Hopalong Cassidy obit exercise was not a good fit for me. Having said that, my lack of performance in that particular introductory class did not justify being told to choose another profession, such as selling insurance.

Words can be like daggers, particularly coming from a professor with an advanced degree or more. Sticks and stones may break my bones and words will never hurt me, which is true in most cases. At the same time, these ultra-critical words have major impact on impressionable young students trying to embark on a career path. Let’s offer constructive criticism where it is warranted, but more importantly let’s propel these students into the stratosphere so they can pursue their dreams and be everything they want to be.

http://www.hopalong.com/home.asp

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Boyd_(actor)

http://www.joelkotkin.com/

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

http://www.joelkotkin.com/content/004-biography

http://www.joincalifornia.com/candidate/5796

Fed up with outrageous California prices, congestion, smog, fog, taxes, deficits and hassle? Thinking of throwing in the towel and moving the clan to Oregon? Before you do, make sure you are knowledgeable about the BTCI.

The BTCI?

Yes, the Back-to-California-Index. It is a barometer (notice the weather connection?) that indicates whether the conditions in Oregon are low or high in terms of the probability of a move back to California.

First, I need to present my credentials when it comes to writing about this sensitive and tricky subject: the very real Mother of All Lifestyle Tradeoffs when it comes to living in the Beaver (gag) State as opposed to the Golden State. I grew up in the “Bedroom of Los Angeles,” Glendale, sandwiched in between “Beautiful Downturn Burbank” and Pasadena, which has this big parade and football game under gorgeous blue skies and 70-degree weather on New Year’s Day. Oregonians can only fantasize about 70 degrees on January 1 or 2.

rosebowl1

I graduated from USC. Worked in the Governor’s Office in Sacramento and later in Silicon Valley. All-in-all, I have lived, worked and played in the Golden State for more than four decades (dating myself).

My adopted state and present home state is Oregon. I studied Journalism at the University of Oregon, resided in Portland for five years and steadfastly maintained Oregon football season tickets (rooting for the Ducks before it was cool) at Autzen Stadium for 22 years. Presently, I am serving as a Graduate Teaching Fellow at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, pursuing my master’s degree in “Communication and Society.” I am writing this post on a warm, sunny afternoon under blue skies and soaring canopies of Douglas fir trees. The BTCI is very low.

So how do you measure the Back to California Index or BTCI? Using a Likert-style scale, a low BTCI such as a 1-2-3 indicates that there is no chance of a return to California any time soon. A medium-range BTCI (4-5-6) equates to the transplant effectively tolerating the tradeoff between California and Oregon. A higher score (7-8) equates to the ex-Golden Stater questioning the sanity of her-or-his decision. A 9-10 score on the BTCI signals that capitulation is imminent and a return to smog, fog, traffic, congestion, unreasonable prices and foreclosures is in the offing.

Let’s look at some examples of low and high BTCIs:

haceta

● Extremely low BTCI (1 or 2): The California plates are off the car. Warm summer/early fall conditions. Trip to the Coast (Oregonians go to the “Coast;” Californians to the “Beach.”) Checking out Crater Lake, Bend, Sisters and the high desert. Walking through the Pearl or ABC Districts in Portland. Sipping pinot noirs, pinot gris and sparkling wines in the Willamette Valley. Joining the madness that is Autzen Stadium, particularly when Washington or Oregon State comes-a-calling. The leaves may already be changing. Daytime weather is warm, nighttimes are cool. No sales tax. Low housing costs. Reasonable prospects for a fifteen-minute commute. Life is good.

● Low BTCI (3 or 4): You put your key in the ignition. What? You can’t pump you own gas. If you want to pump your own gas, go back to California or up to Washington. Not here. How come the big-rigs are carrying triple loads? The answer is because they can…so when they are spraying rain water from their tires it is three-as-opposed-to-two sets of big rig tires hydrating your car. The fast lane means absolutely nothing to most Oregonians. In California, you expect that slow cars in the fast lane to move over. That does not calibrate for seemingly oblivious speed-limit drivers in Oregon’s fast lanes.

● Moderate BTCI (5-6): The property tax bill just showed up and it is due soon. Hint: there was no Proposition 13, just wimpy Measure 5, in Oregon. (Wait until early spring to learn about the state income tax and the Multnomah County income tax, if you live in that particular über-blue Portland county). It’s never 45 degrees in San Diego on an October morning. Huh? I have to wear a sweater, sweat shirt or parka in October? The weather dude or dudette promised “sun breaks” today. “Where are my friggin’ sun breaks?” When will it be 70-degrees or more again? April? May? June? Hint: If you expect 70 degrees in any of these three months, you may very well be disappointed.

● High Moderate BTCI (7-8): It’s wet, cloudy and damp. In fact, it is always wet, cloudy and damp. Did I mention “overcast?” The sky is a perpetual white over the front-lawn poetry dispensers, the sustainable gardens, the parade of NPR-powered Prius,’ the organic, fair-trade, shade-grown caffeination stations. And when spring comes the sky is still white, but all the surrounding fields of grasses and trees start doing their thing big time…that’s when the sneezing and wheezing begins.

oregonrain2

● Extremely high BTCI (9-10): It’s been raining for six weeks straight. The satellite reveals a series of inbound storms stretching across the Pacific from Japan to Oregon. Black ice is forming in the perpetual shady spots in the morning. Can I safely drive my Miata down the hill? The mercury dips. The ice forms. It may snow. It may not snow. The roads start to crack. It might get up to 38-degrees today…or maybe not. The short commutes, the reasonable housing prices, the lack of a sales tax don’t seem to be so important today. The 405 in LA or the 880 in the Bay Area don’t look so intimidating, mind numbing and frustrating. You may even be missing your favorite morning shock jock. Only $800,000-plus for a shack by a LaLaLand or Silicon Valley freeway? Hmmm… Can I get an adjustable rate mortgage and soon be underwater like all the rest? At least, it will be sunny and not raining.

The annual grudge football game in Oregon is played in late November/early December and is called the Civil War. It features a counterculture vs. agriculture matchup of two highly aquatic creatures, the Ducks and the Beavers…What was your first clue?

Editor’s Note: Full credit for the invention of the BTCI needs to be directed to my incredibly talented PR friend, the late Ken Kohli of the Intermountain Forest Industry Association. He referenced the BTCI for Californians moving to Couer d’ Alene, Idaho. I still miss him.

http://www.spokesman.com/stories/1996/jul/28/timber-spokesman-dies-in-crash-ken-kohli-industry/

 

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