I have a deep, dark confession to make: I like Grover

My good feeling is personal and
professional. As a reporter, I’ve talked to him several times over the years
about California politics. He always returned my phone calls promptly and
answered my questions in interesting, quotable ways. Last year, he agreed to
speak at an event on initiative and referendum that I helped organize in San
Francisco, holding up the right flank of a gathering that included people across
the political spectrum, from a host of libertarians to Tom Hayden, Mike Gravel
and some real, live European socialists. In that role, he was the perfect guest
– he showed up on time, spoke for his allotted time, said interesting and
provocative things, and made no demands of the overtaxed organizers.

Now that
said, let me be clear: I don’t agree with Grover politically. I’m quite sure he
votes for different people than I do most of the time. And I’m not a fan of how
he practices politics. I’m also not sure he’s doing anyone any favors,
including himself, by inserting himself into California’s ongoing fiscal and
governance nightmare.

But he’s
waded in nonetheless, holding GOP legislators to their no-tax pledges (which
they foolishly made). He indicated that some of the attacks by Democrats on him
hurt his feelings. And he’s reportedly on his way out here to get involved.

All of
which is fine. It’s a free country. And given California’s economic problems,
my earnest hope is that he spends as much of his and his backers’ money in our
state as humanly possible.

But given
the depths of California’s problems, and the fact that Grover is a
carpetbagger, I think one strong demand should be made of him.

Grover, show us your budget.

That’s right: Grover should put out
his own budget plan. How, exactly, would he save $26 billion? How would he cut?
GOP legislators have been unwilling to do this. Perhaps because they’re too
green to know how. Grover, however, is a smart guy who has seen a lot of state
budgets. He’s been talking about the California budget for years.  If he wants to participate in the public
debate, he should give Californians the benefit of every bit of that knowledge
and experience.

It’s not enough to say "no, no, no"
to new taxes. It’s borderline un-democratic to say no to the plan of a newly
elected governor and a majority of our state legislature.

As Californians, we should welcome
participation and engagement from anyone in the world, whoever they are. But if
you’re telling us what no to do, you should be specific and tell us what
exactly you think we should do.