McClintock Is Right to Fight Yosemite Plan

John Wildermuth
Journalist and Political Commentator

You won’t often hear anyone with the slightest tinge of environmental green say this about Rep. Tom McClintock: He’s right. At least when it comes to his take on Yosemite’s future. Yeah, that’s the same Tom McClintock who has as a state legislator and now congressman, never met a dam he didn’t like or an […]

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Trust the Voters, Not the Reformers

John Wildermuth
Journalist and Political Commentator

Anyone want John Burton picking your assemblyman? What about having Jim Brulte decide who will represent you in the state Senate? Yet in a misguided bit of nostalgia for smoke-filled rooms, that’s exactly what’s being suggested by some reform-minded folks as a solution for low-turnout special elections. Timm Herdt, a veteran Sacramento reporter for the […]

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It’s a New Day for California Labor

John Wildermuth
Journalist and Political Commentator

When workers for the Bay Area Rapid Transit system went back to work Friday after a four-day strike, Gov. Jerry Brown earned a piece of both the credit and the blame. First the good news. Brown, working with Marty Morgenstern, his labor secretary, managed to convince both workers and BART management that it would be […]

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Brown Uses Veto for a Do-Over on UC Spending Plan

John Wildermuth
Journalist and Political Commentator

It’s good to be the king – or the governor – especially when it gives you a chance to get something right the second time. Gov. Jerry Brown decided that consistency matters Thursday and used his line item veto to make his actions match his rhetoric. Call it a “never mind” moment for the governor.

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Money, Not Principles, Sparks Public Records Brawl

John Wildermuth
Journalist and Political Commentator

The very public brawl over potential changes to the state’s Public Records Act has been billed as a battle over principles. It’s not. It’s all about the money. When the media, First Amendment activists, local government officials and, sadly, most legislators realized that the budget bill the Legislature passed last week made it optional for […]

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Legislators Take What They Can Get From Brown

John Wildermuth
Journalist and Political Commentator

You won’t see Gov. Jerry Brown pumping his fist and slapping high-fives with his staff today if the Legislature, as expected, approves his $96.3 billion 2013-14 budget. After all, as the governor said earlier this week, “I think prudence, rather than exuberance, should be the order of the day.” And besides, it just wouldn’t be […]

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In San Francisco, Lee Makes the Best of Luck

John Wildermuth
Journalist and Political Commentator

In politics, it’s generally better to be lucky then good. Especially since if you’re lucky enough, you’ll always look good. And when things are going well, don’t screw up. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee was lucky to be appointed to San Francisco’s top job in January 2011, when the Great Recession that had hammered California […]

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Brown’s Water Plan Faces New Geographic Fight

John Wildermuth
Journalist and Political Commentator

Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan for a massive, $24 billion water project rests on the innocuously named Bay Delta Conservation Plan, which weighs in at a door-stopping 30,000 pages and took seven years to complete. An early version of the draft environmental impact report, released recently, killed another 20,000 pages worth of trees. In the interests […]

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Experts Know How Fragile Budget Figures Are

John Wildermuth
Journalist and Political Commentator

Here’s the question that haunts everyone putting together a budget: What’s the difference between an estimate and a guess? The answer, all too often, is “not much.” The experts know that, which is why their prognostications often overflow with weasel words, such as “likely,” “barring,” “assumes,” “generally,” “based on limited data” and the like.

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Democratic Legislators Must Learn from the Past

John Wildermuth
Journalist and Political Commentator

If the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results,” Democratic legislators upset with Gov. Jerry Brown’s relatively parsimonious revised state budget seem bound to test that rule. No sooner had Brown released his May budget revise Tuesday morning than Democrats were complaining that the governor’s plan […]

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