Steinberg offers weak apology over hearing blackout

Aug. 14, 2012

By Katy Grimes

Sen. Pres pro Tem Darrell Steinberg offered a weak apology Monday for cutting off access to the Capitol cable television program last week, which was recording an important Senate hearing about four of the November ballot initiatives.

The California Channel, the Capitol’s cable access television, recently cut off access to their video archive prior to 2009. In most cases, this is the only video archive of very important legislative hearings.

CalWatchdog has made several inquiries to the California Channel asking for access to older videos, but has not received a response.

State mandated hearing

A legislative hearing is a state legal requirement for all ballot initiatives. Some are saying that an apology from Steinberg is not acceptable, and more drastic legal measures need to be pursued.

“I want to apologize to the press and public,” Steinberg said during an impromptu press conference outside the Senate chambers Monday. “This was a mistake and it won’t happen again.”

The ‘mistake’

The Senate Finance and Governance Committee hearing was about four of the November ballot initiatives: Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown’s sales and income tax increase; Proposition 31, government accountability act; Proposition 38 , the Molly Munger initiative to raise taxes for state education; and Proposition 39another tax on out-of-state businesses doing business in California.

These are all budget and taxing initiatives that apparently Democrats want to make sure have every advantage of passage–even if manipulated by party leadership.

The California Channel, the cable television channel that broadcasts all Senate and Assembly floor sessions, and most legislative committee hearings, was apparently interrupted on orders from Steinberg. Last Wednesday, just before the hearing was scheduled to start, a Senate staffer ordered the hearing access to be cut off.

Immediately after the hearing access was cutoff, Steinberg’s media spokesman said they were attempting to prevent the hearing footage from being used in campaign commercials.

Steinberg strongly backs Prop 30, the tax initiative to increase sales tax, and raise income taxes.

However, Jon Coupal of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, who was invited to speak at the hearing specifically on Proposition 30, said, “The motive for blocking coverage of hearings on ballot measures that would increase taxes can be more clearly understood in light of the fact that Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg is one of those leading the charge for the passage of Proposition 30, a measure that could boost taxes by as much as $65 billion. Steinberg strongly supports.”

Coupal called Steinberg’s interference and cutoff order, “a consequence of one-party rule and another serious offense against the public’s right to know about the conduct of their representatives; one that puts state government on the slippery slope toward censorship.”

Coupal noted, “Steinberg spokesman, Rhys Williams justified the disruption of CalChannel service this way: ‘It was inappropriate to provide legislative resources to promote the ballot measure campaigns of either side, and in particular to make those public-funded resources easily available for exploitation in political TV commercials.’”

The Sacramento Bee reported on Friday following the hearing that the committee chairwoman, Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, criticized the hearing blackout in a public press statement and several news stories. “The action had embarrassed her because she had begun the hearing with a statement expressing hope that it would help voters reach a reasoned decision on the four measures,” the Bee reported.

But when Steinberg said today, “I pride myself on transparency,”  speaking of his weekly press briefings with local media, it appeared to be nothing more than a weak justification of his decision to cut off the legislative hearing access. Steinberg’s press meetings always come with a set of rules for reporters, and are hardly unfettered access.

“It wasn’t a good reason,” he said about ordering the hearing access to be ended. “When you mess up, you mess up. I’m sorry and it won’t happen again.”

Steinberg’s apology that this was a mistake or a “mess up,” should be challenged.

“In my earlier column regarding the dangers of one party rule, I compared what is happening in California now to the fascist regime in Italy in the 1930s,” Coupal wrote. “The minority party –- and the millions of Californians they represent –- were shut out of the political process entirely.”

9 comments

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  1. us citizen
    us citizen 14 August, 2012, 09:10

    Hey Steinberg……NO to any new taxes! NO NO NO First get rid of the damned illegals in this state before you have the nerve to ask for more money.

    Reply this comment
  2. Queeg
    Queeg 14 August, 2012, 09:24

    Get over it…..you lose every election by landslides….the rest of the time you whine an moan. Pathetic.

    Something is wrong with YOU!

    Reply this comment
  3. Janae
    Janae 14 August, 2012, 11:24

    I am beginning to wonder what else is being hidden from us! First the state parks advocate saving the parks. Department of Parks and Rec says they are broke and must close state parks, cut back on services. Investigation by the Sacramento Bee finds a hidden account with $54 million in money that has been unaccounted for. Now, it is reported that there are $37 billion in special funds that are not accounted for and the government has no mechanism for tracking those special funds to make sure they are being spent appropriately. That’s 37 billion in “lost” money. Our deficit is $16 billion.

    Reply this comment
  4. Hondo
    Hondo 14 August, 2012, 13:54

    I didn’t think it was possible to evolve into the Soviet Union so quickly here in America. Even Putin warned of it in 09 when Obama took over Gm and bailed out all those rich bankers. He said Communism doesn’t work, they already tried it.
    After Watergate I said I would always be a Democrat. How wrong could I have been. Clinton was a rapist. Obama’s own biography and his wife says he was born in Kenya. Now my beloved California of the Beach Boys is being turned into something out of the book ‘Animal Farm’. The Dems just turn off your tv like they do in North Korea.
    Hondo……

    Reply this comment
  5. Queeg
    Queeg 14 August, 2012, 15:29

    Reading carpetbagger musings while living in cold or dust bowl states to get a cheap house and a waiter’s job is boring….

    Reply this comment
  6. Hondo
    Hondo 14 August, 2012, 20:13

    But Queeg, what about the issue. Do you support this censorship?
    That’s a yes or no question.
    Calling me names my be fun to you but it doesn’t affect me in the least.
    I REALLY WANT TO KNOW IF YOU SUPPORT THIS CENSORSHIP.
    In any case, have a nice day.
    Hondo…….

    Reply this comment
  7. Queeg
    Queeg 15 August, 2012, 10:03

    You guys beat on Teddy, Queeg and Uhaul regularily….Queeg can handle being the right wing extremists’ duty pinata!

    Most everything is censored…..by culture, ignorance, greed, politics…etc.

    This RAGWUS continuing diatribe by jack booted righties is propaganda and bile….if uncensored…would we truly know what these kooks really think? Alarming-

    Reply this comment
  8. Bullgumbo
    Bullgumbo 15 August, 2012, 11:44

    It is amazing how people on the Left can justify anything their party does. We’re already paying the price, having slipped from the 5th largets economy in the world to the 9th. Taxes are the opiate of left wing politicians and a dagger in the hearts of business and individuals. They will do anything to protect their hegemony.

    Reply this comment
  9. Bullgumbo
    Bullgumbo 15 August, 2012, 11:46

    Hondo, regagarding trying to pin the Lefties down, count on the fact that they will always retreat to the moral equivalency argument, i.e., everyone does it. You’ll never get an admission of being wrong.

    Reply this comment

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