Villaraigosa and the Newscaster, Again

John Wildermuth
Journalist and Political Commentator

On Wednesday, just couple of days after it was revealed that Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was dating yet another local TV newscaster – this one a former Miss USA – the mayor told reporters that Californians don’t have any real interest in his personal life and that it won’t have any influence on whether or not he runs for governor next year.

The reporter, Lu Parker of KTLA-TV in Los Angeles, isn’t talking and a spokesman for the mayor’s office says there won’t be any comment on what the mayor does in his private time.

You know, just like the cops at a traffic accident: “Move along, move along, nothing to see here.’’

And yet people still stop and stare.

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Are Schwarzenegger’s Cuts for Real?

John Wildermuth
Journalist and Political Commentator

Does anyone really believe that when the final budget deals are signed, California is going to eliminate all welfare payments? What about red-penciling Cal Grant college scholarships? Or eliminating health insurance for low-income children?

Well, to listen to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s plans to close the state’s yawning $24 billion budget gap, he’s looking for the Legislature to make all those trims and more and get it done by the end of the month, please.

But does the governor really expect these particular cuts to be made, or is he trying to raise to raise a clamor from outraged Californians to show legislators just how grim the state’s budget situation really is?

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Court Closure Fight Really is About Money

John Wildermuth
Journalist and Political Commentator

In politics, as in most everything else, it’s a pretty good rule of thumb that when someone stands up and says, “This isn’t about the money,’’ it’s about the money.

Take, for example, the demonstration Thursday outside the State Building in San Francisco when a crowd of court employees and lawyers showed up to complain about a proposal to shut down state courts one day a month to save money.

The state Judicial Council, which runs the administrative end of the court system, want to shutter the courts on the third Wednesday of each month and send the 5,000 or so court clerks, reporters, and other workers home without pay.

While it will save the court system millions at a time when the governor is threatening to slash state court funding, much of that cash will be coming out of the paychecks of the state workers, who face the equivalent of a 5 percent pay cut.

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State boards are a starting point for the budget ax

John Wildermuth
Journalist and Political Commentator

As the philosopher Lao-Tzu put it, “The journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” Or, if you prefer folk wisdom, “Great oaks from little acorns grow.”

Either way, the message is the same: You gotta start somewhere.

Which brings us to the state Legislature and the efforts to close a gaping hole in next year’s budget that’s currently estimated at $24 billion and counting.

To get an idea of what a chunk of change that is, the general fund budget for this year is a TOTAL of $103 billion, so the state is looking at slashing about 25 percent of its spending for the budget year that starts July 1 (that’s just five weeks away, folks).

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What’s Next for Same-Sex Marriage?

John Wildermuth
Journalist and Political Commentator

To the surprise of absolutely no one, the state Supreme Court Tuesday upheld November’s Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California. So now what?

Sure, there were thousands of gay rights demonstrators outside the court’s San Francisco home waving signs, blocking streets and shouting “Shame on you.” But the leaders of the Prop. 8 opposition and most of the people in the streets knew what the decision was going to be when they showed.

The decision was virtually guaranteed last November when Justice Joyce Kennard voted against even hearing the case against Prop. 8. Since Kennard was part of the 4-to-3 majority that ruled last May that same-sex marriage was guaranteed under the state Constitution, and the three dissenting justices likely hadn’t changed their minds, the math was daunting for the measure’s opponents.

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