Jerry Brown

Jerry Brown: (Tapping Microphone) "Is This Thing Working?"


Here's another thing you can say for Jerry Brown: He delivers a speech in under a quarter-hour. In keeping with my belief that the freedom of any society is proportional to the brevity of The Leader's big addresses, I'm heartened that California Gov. Brown's State of the State speech came in at fewer than 1,800 words written. In delivery, including extemporanea, asides and pauses, the speech lasted about 15 minutes. More kudos to the legislature for resisting the clap-creep that has turned State of the Union addresses into multi-hour tissues of applause lines. At a few points, Jerry even asked for the lawmakers to pipe up with a little more ovation.

As the limited applause suggests, the State of the State, which focused mainly on the governor's austerity budget, was not a great crowd-pleaser. Brown's main point – backed up with some shameless evocations of the bloody struggles for democracy in Tunisia and Egypt – was that Californians must, once again, trudge out to the polls for another goddamn special election. This time the governor's combination of tax increases and defrayed spending increases will be on the table for voter approval. We'll see what that looks like in practice, but I can already see titles like "Saves Our Neighborhoods from Destruction by Restoring Redevelopment Funds" or "Ensures Public Safety by Protecting Fair Pensions for Deserving Workers." Certainly the entire lengthy budget is not going to be put up for a popular vote – just the controversial pieces.

Mellow out or you will pay.

The Republicans are already saying nix-nix to that, noting that Californians have voted pretty consistently against new taxes in recent years.

Unfortunately, they have not been as allergic to increasing state spending. This (beyond the general sense that we send these schmucks to Sacramento so we don't have to keep voting on everything ourselves) is the source of my objection to another popular referendum. I don't trust the people of California with my wallet, certainly not when ballot initiatives allow so much room for pettifogging, spending increases nested into new bond issues, dummy initiatives designed to do the opposite of what their titles indicate, and so on.

Brown says anybody who doesn't want another referendum wants "to block a vote of the people." Is that true if the people actually don't feel like voting? KCRA TV asks whether the voters really want another ballot initiative:

Brown also took a detour through what seems to be the most controversial item in his proposed budget – the proposal to get rid of redevelopment agencies. I say "seems to be" because I believe giving RDAs the heave-ho will become completely uncontroversial as voters gain a better understanding of how lawless and destructive these agencies are. Here's Brown:

In recent days, a lot has been made of the proposed elimination of redevelopment agencies. Mayors from cities both large and small have come to the capitol and pressed their case that redevelopment is different from child care, university funding or grants to the aged, disabled and blind.

They base their case on the claim that redevelopment funds leverage other funds and create jobs. I certainly understand this because I saw redevelopment first hand as mayor of Oakland. But I also understand that redevelopment funds come directly from local property taxes that would otherwise pay for schools and core city and county services such as police and fire protection and care for the most vulnerable people in our society.

So it is a matter of hard choices and I come down on the side of those who believe that core functions of government must be funded first. But to be clear, my plan protects current redevelopment projects and supports all bonded indebtedness of the redevelopment agencies.

And if you think "extemporanea" is not a word, Ben Franklin has news for you:

NEXT: What's the Matter with Provincetown?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Funny, when fiscal conservative types suggest reorganizing their budgets (read: reductions in social spending and public services) they get denounced as “heartless and cruel” and “racist”.

    Brown ran on a platform of limitless goodies and, now that he is in office, has appeared to do somewhat of an about face, yet where is the vitriol and outcry? Ditto that for Cuomo, who is in exactly the same boat.

    Is he trying to set the stage for the Great Bi-Coastal Bailout(tm)?

    1. Brown ran on a platform of limitless goodies

      [citation needed]

      I don’t remember this. I remember him saying that the state was screwed and we would have to make hard choices.

      1. “I don’t remember this. I remember him saying that the state was screwed and we would have to make hard choices.”

        That’s what I recall, and I don’t trust the two-faced liar one bit.

      2. [citation needed]

        Enjoy this pork sandwich.

  2. Why do I get the impression no one at Reason made it to work today?

    1. Most of them are cruising around the Caribbean with STEVE SMITH. They left Tim behind to do all the work.

  3. I wonder which three or four Republicans will sell out California this time around? Of course, the sellouts have signed the no new tax pledge. They always do.

    I believe last time it was the promise of a spending cap. How is that working out? This time it may be pension reform, which is needed. I am sure the unions will fall in line on this.

    Time to cut another deal. What a coincidence that Groundhog Day is tomorrow.

  4. The phrase “obnoxious and disliked” used often in 1776 comes from Adams’ letters to his wife. It turns out that writings of the other delegates at the time doesnt verify this, he was generally well liked, at least more so than he thought.

  5. While Roger Sherman is depicted in 1776 as a “simple cobbler” who doesn’t “know a participle from a predicate,” he in fact was an accomplished legal mind and the author (during the later Constitutional Convention) of the Connecticut Compromise.

    Fun fact: He was also a foe of paper money and attempted to insert a provision banning it into the Constitution.

    1. So he is the one who put the thing about states only accepting gold and silver as legal tender?

    2. Also, the Rev Livingston was very Scottish, unlike his depiction in the play/movie, as he has only come to the US a few years earlier to head up Princeton.

      So it was unlikely he had an aunt in NJ who may or may not have been a whore.

      Also, the line delivered by the old guy from RI, whose name I forget right now, about “not yet ripe? We are rotting for want of it” was said by Livingston in real life.

  6. There is very little difference between Brown’s budget proposals and previous budgets, because Brown’s budget is master-minded by the oil industry. There is no provision for closing corporate and commercial tax loopholes, no oil extraction tax and no oil corporation, windfall-profits tax. Californians pay the highest price for gasoline in the nation. Brown’s budget is the same, because again, it picks on the most vulnerable. Jerry appears to be working for Big Oil and not for the Californians who voted for him.

    1. Wrong. He’s really in the pocket of Big Aura.

    2. Earl, you’d make a nice draw-string lamp…cfc of course.

    3. “There is no provision for closing corporate and commercial tax loopholes, no oil extraction tax and no oil corporation, windfall-profits tax. Californians pay the highest price for gasoline in the nation…”

      Now, Earl, put down the sign about the grassy knoll and listen.
      The statement quoted above is in conflict with itself.
      If you want lower fuel costs, the way to do that is NOT to raise taxes on the producers of that fuel.
      You see, Earl, the only place to get money to pay those taxes comes from the customers in the form of higher prices.
      Got that Earl?

      1. The oil companies are similiar to a public utility because there is no business competition to keep the price of oil and gasoline down. Therefore, the oil companies have to be tightly regulated by the government in the public interest. To control and lower the price of fuel, Jerry has to form the California Oil Price Regulation Commission (COPRC), to receive and investigate compliants, in the consumer interest, and to regulate the California oil industry. The Commodities Futures Trading Commission is ineffective in controlling the oil corporations (bribed by Big Oil); therefore, the state of California has to form COPRC. The price of gasoline has to be decided by COPRC and not the fraudulent “round trip” trades of the “dark pool” trading on the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), in Atlanta. ICE operates outside of U.S. law and is owned by the international Big Oil/big banking cabal. The price of a barrel of oil is not decided by OPEC. Google the “Global Oil Scam.” The price differential between the ICE price and the lower California price has to be decided by COPRC, and not decided by the market manipulation and excessive demand speculation of non-California interests. ICE is a super Enron. Oil is to critical a resource to under the control of greedy energy traders, greedy stockholders, greedy directors, greedy executives and greedy and arrogant corporations.

  7. Californians pay the highest price for gasoline in the nation.

    That will help bring about the high-speed rail system that much sooner! Right?


  8. Brown’s budget is the same, because again, it picks on the most vulnerable. Jerry appears to be working for Big Oil and not for the Californians who voted for him.

    *tunes violin*

  9. “I don’t trust the people of California with my wallet …”

    So why don’t you move to Texas, where you can wear a gun to work and not pay income taxes? California! Love it or leave it!

    1. Maybe we could outsource our referendum voting to the people of Texas. I am sure they would do a better job of it than we do.

  10. I read this as a way to go around the legislature anyway.

    I think the Republicans are right about California voting against taxes.

    If the problem is that the legislature won’t vote for the necessary cuts until they run out of other options, this is Brown’s way of making the legislature run out of other options.

    IF the people of California vote against Brown’s taxes, which I think they’re likely to do, then the legislature won’t have any other option but to cut the budget even further.

    And Obama isn’t about to bail them out either–not with the campaign he’s running now. I’d say we might be getting closer to the end of the tunnel here except for one thing…

    It’s Jerry Brown. Never underestimate his subconscious zen desire to snag defeat out of the jaws of victory.

    1. Brown is just trying to pin everything on the voters no matter what happens. Taxes raised? You voted for it! Services cut? You didn’t want to pay more taxes! Which you can do during the next special election! (Repeat ad naseum.)

      1. I think the voters are more sensible than the people in Sacramento, who handed out and won’t rescind all those pension benefits!

        If the politicians won’t do the right thing, then sure! Why not let the voters decide! At least the voters aren’t completely beholden to government employees unions.

  11. “Is This Thing Working?”

    California, you mean? Not so much, no.

  12. But to be clear, my plan protects current redevelopment projects and supports all boneded indebtheadedness of the redevelopment agencies.

    I find myself misreading quotes from pols so frequently lately that it no longer even elicits a double take. It’s as if I’ve subconsciously cracked their encryption method. It seems to often be preceded by a “to be clear” statement.

  13. Eliminating redevelopment is a huge reform that will yield much greater benefits than its budgetary effect. There is a double whammy with the Controller auditing 18 agencies.

  14. I support the use of the word “extemporanea.” Our English word “extemporaneous” comes from the Latin word “extemporaneus,” the masculine, nominative, singular form of the adjective. The neuter plural form “extemporanea” (both nominative and accusative) would tranlate to “things done without preparation.” This accords well with the usage in the passage.

    1. Latin is actually kind of fun. I take pride in having used the Latin plural curricula in a recent letter to the editor of a local newsweekly.

  15. Brown wants the people to decide? But what if the people choose wrong? We know what Attorney General Brown did when that happened: he sued the voters (Prop 8 Gay Marriage referendum). My argument is strictly process (I voted for Prop 8, though didn’t support suing to overthrow the people’s vote): Jerry Brown by his own actions showed that he will ignore the people’s wishes if they conflict with his own. He’s got big cojones asking for the people to vote given his history.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.