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Posts Tagged ‘jerry brown’

2014 Budget: Water Funding

Even with a drought declaration looming, water didn’t make the three-paragraph cover letter to the 2014-2015 California budget (education, health care and prisons did). Still, it garnered a mention in the second paragraph of the budget’s executive summary – a sign the governor is giving high priority to the state’s water issues.

Water expenditures of $618.7 million are spread around throughout the budget’s Environmental Protection and Natural Resources sections. Fortunately, a chart on page 120 summarizes the expenditures. The chart and the narrative that follows provide  more detail than we are, but here are the basics:

  • Sustainable groundwater management: $1.9 million
  • Groundwater ambient monitoring and assessment: $3.0 million
  • Groundwater data collection and evaluation: $2.9 million
  • Interim replacement drinking water in disadvantaged communities: $4.0 million
  • Wastewater projects in small disadvantaged communities: $7.0 million
  • Water and energy efficiency (projects that reduce energy use related to the delivery and treatment of water): $20.0 million
  • Restore coastal and mountain wetlands: $30.0 million
  • Protect and restore the Salton Sea: $0.4 million
  • Increase flood protection (Flood SAFE program): $77.0 million
  • Integrated regional water management programs (increasing regional self-reliance): $472.5 million

That last one is the biggie that will garner the most interest from the state’s water providers. The funds will be used for “incentives for both regional integration and to leverage local financial investment for water conservation efforts, habitat protection for local species, water recycling, stormwater capture, and desalination projects.” At least $47.25 million (10 percent) must be spent in disadvantaged communities.

Also of note to our friends in the Northern California water community, there’s another $1.5 million tucked away in the Department of Fish & Wildlife budget to address illegal streambed alterations by marijuana growers. Stopping that will help stop the associated water pollution problems the pot-growers cause.

Remember, this is a budget proposal. We won’t know what the water community will receive – and the related attached incentives and restrictions – until the legislature is through with it.

Brown Takes on Greens over (Some) Anti-Growth Litigation

Governor Brown almost sounded like a frustrated land developer earlier today when he talked about the impact litigation by environmental activists has on projects that are essential to meeting California’s demographic growth and protecting its frail economy.  Unfortunately, he wasn’t talking about the ecos’ endless legal challenges to new housing developments.

From the Sacramento Bee:

“In Oakland, I learned that some kind of opposition you have to crush,” Brown, the city’s former mayor, said at a renewable energy conference in Los Angeles.  “Talk a little bit, but at the end of the day you have to move forward, and California needs to move forward with our renewable energy.”

Brown said his office will “act to overcome the opposition,” helping projects overcome permitting and environmental challenges. The Democratic governor announced Friday that he had filed a legal brief urging a federal judge to deny litigation seeking to block a solar energy project in the Mojave Desert.

Yes, the governor is willing to “crush” the very environmentalists who were his strong supporters in the 2010 election – but only as long as it’s over government-subsidized alternative energy schemes. Providing housing for Californians? Rebooting the failed economy? Putting thousands back to work? That’s apparently not worth fighting for.

We’re not sure what we feel about government “crushing” environmental litigators. Having seen them slow so many very well-planned new home communities, driving up costs for consumers and driving down profits for businesses in the process, we confess we’re a bit tickled by the idea.

But two things bother us:  First, we can’t deny we’re sticklers for due process and are more than a little concerned when government gets heavy-handed and agenda-driven.  And second, we’d like to see an acknowledgment that useless litigation is just as bad when it’s used as a tool against home builders and, ultimately, home buyers.

Jerry’s Jack Benny Moment

Jerry Brown after his solo flight

They should drop Bob Hope’s name from Burbank’s airport terminal and put up Jack Benny’s.  Benny, as younger readers may not recall, made a career out of humor based on his obsessive frugality – well, cheapness, to be more exact.  I was reminded of him this week when Gov. Jerry Brown emerged from the terminal solo on Thursday morning, after flying without entourage or security on Southwest flight 896, even refusing to pay the $18 seat upgrade.

A sputnik moment it wasn’t – but a Plymouth moment it most certainly was.

Brown is a master of political symbolism and nothing could have rekindled the image of the beat-up Plymouth he drove the last time he was governor than his choice of transportation last Thursday.  Never mind that members of the State Senate and Assembly fly solo to and from Sacramento just about every week – after Schwarzenegger’s over-sized Hollywood presence, the gesture was a perfect one for communicating the governor’s stated commitment to a new era of frugality in Sacramento.

Brown’s symbolism isn’t remotely like President Obama’s. There are no cool logos or spiffed up soundbites.  Heck, he even calls what he’s seeking “a path to fiscal rectitude.” No pollsters or political messaging consultants got their hands on that phrase.  Still, there’s a lot of finesse behind Brown’s symbolism. Check out the photo.  How did all those reporters and photographers know to be outside the airport terminal if they weren’t given a heads-up by Brown’s hard-working communications staff?

Certainly, there are security risks if he keeps up this form of transportation, but t here are also political ones. What happens the first time he travels with staff and security? Will the press call it the end of his path to fiscal rectitude?  What if his seat-mate is hostile, instead of a complacent state employee, as happened this time? And more importantly, how will he cope with the inevitable realization that California’s problems are too big to be solved by mere symbolism, no matter how spot on it may be?

Thirty years in public affairs has taught me there are no magic words and no magic symbols.  Fixing things takes hard work and is most often done incrementally, with several “Plan B’s” employed along the way. But given the choice between flying solo or talking austerity from a limo, Brown gets an “A” for symbolism, even if it ultimately accomplishes little.

Inside the Brown Horseshoe

In case you missed it last week, Gov. Brown has released his “insider” appointments – the policy, press and legal folks that work “inside the horseshoe,” making the decisions and statements that will define the Brown Administration.

Our water and development clients should read Nancy McFadden’s bio very carefully, as the former PG&E policy Senior VP will probably be their primary senior interface with the governor’s office.  Public affairs and policy wonks are required to memorize the entire list.  Quiz Friday.  Here’s the full list, arranged alphabetically:

Elizabeth Ashford, 35, of Sacramento, has been appointed Deputy Press Secretary in the Office of the Governor. She worked at the Brunswick Group in London, England from 2009 to 2010. Prior to that, Ashford worked in the Office of the Chairman of the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom. From 2006 to 2008, she served as Chief Deputy Communications Director and then Chief Deputy Cabinet Secretary in Governor Schwarzenegger’s Administration. This position does not require Senate confirmation, and the compensation is $130,000. Ashford is a Democrat.

Anne Gust Brown, 52, of Oakland (Brown’s wife), has been appointed Special Counsel in the Office of the Governor. This position does not require Senate confirmation and Gust Brown will serve with no compensation. Gust Brown is a Democrat.

Gil Duran, 34, of Tulare, has been appointed Press Secretary in the Office of the Governor. Duran served as Communications Director for U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein from 2008 to 2010. Previously, he served as Press Secretary to Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa from 2007 to 2008. Duran also served as an aide and Press Secretary to Governor Brown as Mayor of Oakland from 2004 to 2007. This position does not require Senate confirmation, and the compensation is $147,900. Duran is a Democrat.

Joshua Groban, 37, of Los Angeles, has been appointed Senior Advisor for Policy and Appointments in the Office of the Governor. Groban served as Legal Counsel for Governor Brown’s 2010 campaign and previously practiced law at Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP in Los Angeles. This position does not require Senate confirmation, and the compensation is $147,900. Groban is a Democrat.

Julie Henderson, 48, of San Francisco, has been appointed Senior Advisor for Policy in the Office of the Governor. Henderson was a Special Assistant Attorney General while Brown was Attorney General and previously was a Vice President and Associate General Counsel at Gap Inc. This position does not require Senate confirmation, and the compensation is $147,900. Henderson is a Democrat.

Jim Humes, 51, of San Francisco, has been appointed Executive Secretary for Administration, Legal Affairs, and Policy in the Office of the Governor. Humes was Brown’s Chief Deputy while Brown was Attorney General, and before that Humes was the Chief of the Civil Division under then-Attorney General Bill Lockyer. This position does not require Senate confirmation, and the compensation is $175,000. Humes is a Democrat.

Nancy McFadden, 51, of Sacramento, has been appointed Executive Secretary for Legislation, Appointments, and Policy in the Office of the Governor. She was senior vice president at PG&E from 2005 to 2010. Previously, McFadden served as senior advisor to Governor Gray Davis from 2001 to 2003, deputy chief of staff for the Office of the Vice President from 2000 to 2001, and general counsel for the U.S. Department of Transportation from 1996 to 2000. This position does not require Senate confirmation, and the compensation is $175,000. McFadden is a Democrat.

Jonathan Renner, 40, of Sacramento, has been appointed Legal Affairs Secretary in the Office of the Governor. Renner was Senior Assistant Attorney General for Government Law while Brown was Attorney General. Prior to that, Renner practiced law at Kronick, Moskovitz, Tiedemann & Girard, in Sacramento. This position does not require Senate confirmation, and the compensation is $147,900. Renner is a Democrat.

Nick Velasquez, 30, of Los Angeles, has been appointed Director of External Affairs in the Office of the Governor. Velasquez served as Deputy Campaign Manager for Governor Brown’s 2010 campaign. Previously, he headed the California Accountability Project at the Democratic Governor’s Association. From 2006 to 2009 he served as a senior communications and policy aide to Los Angeles City Attorneys Rockard Delgadillo and Carmen Trutanich. This position does not require Senate confirmation, and the compensation is $80,000. Velasquez is a Democrat.

Evan Westrup, 28, of Sacramento, has been appointed Deputy Press Secretary in the Office of the Governor. He was Deputy Press Secretary on Governor Brown’s 2010 campaign after serving as Deputy Press Secretary in the Office of Attorney General Brown between 2009 and 2010. Prior to that, Westrup was Deputy Youth Vote Director on President Obama’s Campaign in New Mexico in 2008. He was Associate Communications Director in Governor Schwarzenegger’s Administration from 2007 to 2008. This position does not require Senate confirmation, and the compensation is $71,000. Westrup is a Democrat.

Laer’s Op/Ed on CalWatchdog

Laer is becoming quite the prolific op/ed writer.  His latest appeared today on the Pacific Research Institute’s CalWatchdog blog.  Here’s an enticing bit of it:

If Gov. Jerry Brown has any chance of draining California’s budget swamp of red ink, he’s going to need more than aggressive spending cuts and votes for more taxes, as he proposes. He’s also going to need a resurgence in California’s business environment, but at one of the state’s few commerce success stories, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, there are more signs of classic California non-competitiveness than there are of a return to health for the state’s business sector.

Yes, activity is up by single digits over last year at the ports, which are America’s busiest, as companies slowly bring in more goods from Asia to rebuild inventories they had let drop through the Great Recession. But even as more than 12 million containers will be unloaded at Southern California docks this year, there are grave threats to the future of Southern California’s logistics behemoths, and they’re posed by exactly the same elements that threaten the rest of the state’s economy – powerful unions and California’s incessant compulsion to be a world leader in the environmental movement without thought to the cost.

Please read the rest of the op/ed by clicking through to CalWatchdog.

A Crystal Clear Message

In the world of political tea leaf reading, no brew is stronger than the appointments a recently inaugurated politician makes, so California’s political pundits – myself included – have been watching Jerry Brown very carefully.  And today there’s an extremely clear message in the bottom of my teacup.

One of the biggest questions asked of Brown is whether he’ll have the stomach for a fight with the public employee labor unions that paid for his campaign.  (Brown is independently quite wealthy, but unlike Meg Whitman, he didn’t spend a dime of his own money on his gubernatorial run.)  His appointment to the top job at the Department of Personnel Administration would be clear signal of whether there will be continued kowtowing to the powerful unions, or whether Brown would bite the hand that fed him and take the steps necessary to rein in out-of-control spending on public employee salaries, benefits and retirement programs.

Today, Brown as much as told us he sees continued groveling in his future as he appointed a big-time pro-labor lawyer, Ronald Yank, to the position.  Yank practiced law at the Carroll, Burdick & McDonough  law firm that has represented California’s prison and Highway Patrol officers and several powerful public employee unions.

Messages can be words or they can be actions – and we all know actions speak louder than words.  While Brown has talked about tough times and tough decisions ahead, his appointment of Yank tells us that he’s not planning on being too tough on the unions.  And that’s too bad for California.

Water Weekly 3: A veteran pol and a veteran plant

What were the three biggest California water stories of the past seven days?  Well, the news-heads and policy wonks here at Laer Pearce & Associates have compiled them for you here.  You’ll find the Big Three here every Thursday, or you can follow LPAWater on Twitter for up-to-the-minute news and analysis. You can also sign up to receive the Weekly 3 via email here.  This week:

A Veteran Returns to Big Problems

Jerry Brown isn’t that kind of veteran – and a big Veterans Day THANK YOU to those of you who are! – but he is a veteran of the governor’s office … which makes us wonder why he’d ever want to go back.  Brown is committed to rebuilding California’s water infrastructure and fixing the Sacramento Delta’s environmental problems, but that stuff is pretty far down his list of priorities.  And now, with the budget deficit pegged at $25.4 billion we’re also wondering:  Will water ever get its due?

Read Capitol Weekly’s story listing Brown’s priorities and problems

Why wasn’t the deficit news published before the election?

(more…)

Land Weekly 3: Friendlier or Snippier Times Ahead?

What were the three biggest California water stories of the past seven days?  Well, the news-heads and policy wonks here at Laer Pearce & Associates have compiled them for you here.  You’ll find the Big Three here every Thursday, or you can follow LPALand on Twitter for up-to-the-minute news and analysis. You can also sign up to receive the Weekly 3 via email here.  This week:

Friendlier Feds, Snippier State Regulators?

According to political insiders – and pretty much anybody who’s ever dealt with an appointed regulatory body – having more Republicans in office generally is good news for permit-seekers in the housing industry.  So the outcome of last week’s election should bring some hopey, changey prospects in the short-term nationwide, as the GOP takes over key committee posts in the House and a slew of new Republican governors take office.  Here in California, it’s a whole different story.  Tuesday meant at least four more years of Jerry Brown, whose agenda will be topped, said CalWatchdog’s Steven Greenhut at a recent luncheon, by environmental issues and slowing (or stopping!) new development.  That’s not exactly change we can believe in.

Read the Real Estate Channel‘s take on the GOP win

Read MSNBC’s take

(more…)

LP&A Water Weekly 3: Politicians, problems, punch-outs and vampires

What were the three biggest California water stories of the past seven days?  Well, the news-heads and policy wonks here at Laer Pearce & Associates have compiled them for you here.  You’ll find the Big Three here, or you can follow LPAWater on Twitter for up-to-the-minute news and analysis.  You can also sign up to receive the Weekly 3 via email here.  This week:

33 Years and Still in the News

Thirty-three years ago, when California’s governor was Jerry Brown (yes it was that long ago!), a fed climatologist warned Californians, “If the drought continues for merely another 30 days, we’ve got a good chance of another Dust Bowl!” That didn’t happen but this week we read an editorial in Water Efficiency Magazine that asks, “Are we looking down the barrel of an entirely new (and unprecedented) future in terms of water resource management?”  Nope.  Same old barrel, same troubling future.  Are we going to let another 33 years go by without fixing the state’s water problems? (more…)