Governor punishes press for negativity just like any primitive pol

Governor punishes press for negativity just like any primitive pol

June 20, 2013

By Chris Reed

jerry.brown.peopleJerry Brown’s speaking style — learned, florid, meandering — is so unusual that he’ll always be able to get away with his shtick that he’s not like other politicians. But his appalling push to gut open-government laws in California shows he’s just another primitive pol who reacts to negative coverage by seeking to punish the press.

The amount that his budget proposal would save by reducing state reimbursements for no-longer-mandatory local compliance with document requests is meager compared to the larger state budget. Meanwhile, the value of transparency in government is proven every day around the world. The cost of providing documents is small — and getting smaller — in comparison to the money saved by exposing government incompetence, malfeasance and corruption.

Governor has to know value of transparency

The governor has to know this. He’s no dummy. (Just ask him.)

So what could be motivating Brown’s attempt to gut transparency and stick his thumb in the eye of the media?

Let’s use Occam’s Razor and keep it simple. How about all the negative press the Brown administration has faced in the past two years?

Yes, the gov has gotten credit for trying to improve the state’s horrible budgeting practices and for pushing pension reform. But there have also been tons of stories, columns and editorials that he can’t care for.

The long list of stories Jerry wishes were ignored

train_wreck_num_2For starters, there’s the bullet-train boondoggle. The beat reporters covering the California High-Speed Rail Authority have done a fabulous job in the past year of showing what a farce it is, making up for the horrible coverage seen in 2008, when voters were lied into giving the project $9.95 billion in state bond funds.

Then there’s the state’s never-ending computer fiascos. The state that’s home to Silicon Valley can’t bring its computer payroll system into the 1990s, much less the 21st century. There’s also the computer debacle with the DMV.

Then there’s the scandal with the state parks agency hiding millions of dollars from the Legislature and the public while seeking to close parks.

Then there’s the scandal with dozens of state executives getting paid millions of dollars in extra money in part-time jobs — really de facto overtime — with the state.

Then there’s the Bay Bridge scandal in which a multibillion-dollar state project is riddled with shoddy work and shoddier oversight.

Even ‘triumphs’ have prompted press skepticism

Even on issues where the governor has gotten good marks, he faces intense skepticism.

On the budget, Dan Walters has often pointed out the excesses of Brown’s claims to have shaped California up.

And on pension reform, the San Francisco Chronicle’s editorial page depicted Brown’s efforts as woefully inadequate.

So looking at this big picture, why wouldn’t Jerry Brown enjoy kneeing the media in the groin?

Like Michael Jackson, he’d have us believe he’s not like other guys.

Yes he is. Oh, yes he is.


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