State Attorney General Jerry Brown is the clear frontrunner in the 2010 California governor's race. But the former Oakland mayor isn't taking anything for granted. Last week, he launched an official exploratory committee, which allows him to begin raising large amounts of cash. His aides say he's concerned about deep-pocketed Republican candidates Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner, but according to the Contra Costa Times, some observers say Brown may be more worried about Bill Clinton's decision to campaign for San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.
Brown and Clinton have harbored bad blood since the 1992 presidential campaign, when Brown stayed in the race until the final primaries, refusing to concede despite Clinton's huge lead. Now, Clinton and his formidable fund-raising prowess will be assisting Brown's primary Democratic competitor. But the ex-president will have his work cut out for him, helping Newsom overcome some high negatives among voters turned off by his pro-gay-marriage stance. According to a Rasmussen poll released last week, Newsom is the only major gubernatorial candidate whom more voters view unfavorably — 44 percent — than favorably — 41 percent.
Newsom evidently trails all three of the GOP candidates — Whitman, Poizner, and Tom Campbell — by at least four percentage points. By contrast, the poll shows Brown with a comfortable lead over the Republicans. He's ahead of Whitman by nine, Campbell by ten, and Poizner by thirteen. Nonetheless, Brown has decided to begin his big bucks fund-raising in earnest. The exploratory committee for the governor's job allows him to start accepting contributions of up to $25,900.
Feinstein Angers Environmentalists
Dianne Feinstein, one of the few California Democrats who could probably defeat Brown, angered environmentalists last week when she told the San Francisco Chronicle that she wants to "waive" one of the nation's most important environmental laws. Feinstein wants to temporarily suspend the Endangered Species Act in order to take more fresh water from the fragile Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and give it to Central Valley farmers who are suffering because of the three-year drought. "Just get it done as fast as we can," the US senator said.
But such a move would likely devastate the already collapsing salmon and smelt fisheries in the delta, while making the large estuary more salty and less hospitable for a host of other species. Feinstein apparently is reacting to the recent pressure applied by Governor Schwarzenegger and Fox News, who have taken up the cause of farmers in the dry southern Central Valley.
Bobb Is Out as Oakland Mayor
Former Oakland City Manager Robert Bobb apparently has given up on plans to run for mayor of Oakland in 2010. Bobb, the financial czar of the troubled Detroit public school system, told the Detroit Free Press last week that he soon plans to ask Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm for an extension on his contract, which expires in March. And the governor appears receptive to the idea.
Bobb had indicated earlier this year that he was going to return to Oakland and run for the city's top job. But he told the Detroit paper that his position there has been more consuming than anticipated. Bobb has not only had to fix a huge financial problem in what is arguably the nation's worst public school system, but he also has been busy rooting out corruption.
Cal Spends Millions To Save Money
UC Berkeley has decided to pay a high-priced consultant $3 million to help the campus find ways to cut millions of dollars from its budget. But the hiring of Bain and Company has sparked outrage among some state politicians and faculty. State Senator Gloria Romero, chair of the Senate education panel, told the Contra Costa Times that the campus has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars on administrators who should be able to do the same work. And some faculty members have suggested that the campus turn to experts at its own Haas School of Business for help, according to the Chronicle.
But in a message to faculty, UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau scoffed at such ideas. Not only do campus employees have no time for such an endeavor, "we recognize that 'self-diagnosis' is not always impartial [and] that fresh ideas from outside our campus may have a role in helping us improve," he said. In addition, Boalt law professor Chris Kutz, who chairs the faculty senate, told the Chron that he views the spending of $3 million on a consultant a good investment.
The US unemployment rate rose to 9.8 percent in September, as about 263,000 people lost their jobs — far more than analysts predicted. According to the Chron, the true jobless rate is about 17 percent including people whose hours have been cut or have stopped looking for work. ... US Senator Barbara Boxer introduced climate-change legislation that is tougher than a similar bill in the House and features a cap-and-trade market designed to lower greenhouse gas emissions. ... The state Supreme Court said California illegally took $3.6 billion in local transportation funds to balance its budget in recent years. ... A new report severely criticized the BART police for lacking effective officer discipline. ... Berkeley became the first city in the nation to agree to abide by United Nations' human rights standards. ... Berkeley also is trying to clean up Aquatic Park, which is swamped by men who have sex in public. ... Berkeley's Hotel Shattuck reopened after an extensive remodel. ... And Emeryville's Vice Mayor Ken Bukowski is facing a $15,000 fine from the state for using his campaign funds to pay his mortgage.
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