Clarity Blog

Clarity Blog

Posts Tagged ‘sacramento’

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.

Water Weekly 3: Unacceptable, illogical and tragic

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:

Images of that little Dutch boy …

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers this week said levees in the Sacramento Delta towns of Stockton, Marysville and Lathrop are “unacceptable,” which means they’re vulnerable to failure, and if they fail, the towns can forget about receiving federal repair funds. Sacramento levees also flunked, but the city got a pass on the fund ban.  Levees were dinged for trees and other “structural intrusions,” erosion, cracking, and myriad other flaws evidenced throughout the Delta levee system.  The economic impact of a collapse of the Delta levees, BTW, is $40 billion.  It’s time for a fix!

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The Water Weekly 3: Goop, Poop and Puffery

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:

Cleaning up Sacramento

It’s an old trick – bury a story by releasing it late Friday before a holiday – but it didn’t work, as the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board’s much too delayed dealing with the Sacramento County Regional Sanitation District still got noticed.  Ammonia from Sacramento’s sewage pollutes the Delta, contributing to declining fish populations, yet the goop and poop get only primitive primary treatment.   The order sets change in motion, but expect Sacramento to fight it or ask the rest of the state to pay to clean up their … problem.

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Weekly 3 Land: Spited noses, golden gambles and more

What are the three biggest stories each week in the world of California land development?  You’ll find them right here, or follow LP&A all week long on Twitter at @LPALand for up-to-the-minute news and analysis.  You can also sign up to receive the Weekly 3 via email here. This week:

1. What’s That About Noses and Faces and Spite?

There’s AB32, SB375 and a whole host of other regulations designed to coerce developers onto the green bandwagon. Some moves in that direction are wholly embraced by the building community, primarily because they’re market-driven solutions that provide tangible benefits.  Like smart energy and water meters that help homeowners better manage their consumption and reduce utility bills.  So why is the evergreen County of Santa Cruz moving to ban the technology? It’s afraid the wireless signal the boxes transmit – similar to cell phones – poses health risks.  Builders beware.

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