Is Brown Worried About Clinton?

The state attorney general has started to raise big bucks after the former president endorsed Gavin Newsom. Plus, Di Fi angers enviros.

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.

Three-Dot Roundup

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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