Meg comes on strong and so does Jerry — giving the edge to Meg on this one…

Meg Whitman I thought put in a strong performance in her Tuesday night debate with Jerry Brown — Whitman of course the Republican candidate for governor of California and Brown, a former governor, the Democratic Party candidate for governor.

Brown was strident as well.

I missed some of it because of two things, one, I was preparing my own dinner, and two, I was trying to catch live video on my computer, which I did for a time and then it disappeared and I spent too much time trying to get it back and finally ended up catching the rest on audio.

Right now I’d have to give Whitman a possible edge in the race because she certainly stood up to the fast-thinking and talking Brown and she is a newby to politics and Brown is not and the electorate is fed up with the same old same old.

But right off the bat she drew my ire when she railed against the bloated pensions of state workers. Now while I believe she is probably right, I also know that in her world she has sucked everything she can from the corporations she has worked for and that money comes from consumers and share holders. It seems strange for one with golden parachutes and lavish stock options to bemoan working people getting a good deal on a pension. From my point of view both the public employee unions and the high-flying corporate set draw too much — but then again, that is the way the game is played.

Brown had the big gaffe or slip of the tongue when he almost said he had the police chiefs in his back pocket when he meant he had their backing. It helped Whitman, only in it is always better when your opponent stumbles.

And here’s probably an obscure point: Brown admits he is against the death penalty but also points out he let it be carried out many times when he was governor.

Whitman is for the death penalty. She pointed out that Brown appointed Chief Justice Rose Bird who threw out many death penalty cases and was eventually removed from the high court in a voter recall.

Personally, I am uncomfortable with the death penalty. I guess you would say then I am against it. Okay, I am. But once upon a time when I was taking some law classes at Chico State, I read a case in which the Bird court threw out a death sentence in a case in which the defendant shot a fast food worker or workers in a robbery — I do not recall all the details — execution style. The Bird court held that the evidence failed to show pre-meditated murder and therefore the defendant was not eligible for execution. I think when you execute someone you meant to do it — it is not a spur of the moment or heat of passion thing.

So she scored a point with me by bringing up the Bird court. But that would not be enough to make me vote for her, although it would be for many (and by the way, she did not bring up that case — I don’t mean to confuse things here).

I appreciated Brown’s point on Prop. 13 (property tax limit), which Whitman says is sacrosanct. Brown said that although he opposed it back in 1978, he did his best to implement it and even got the backing from one of its authors, Howard Jarvis, in a gubernatorial election afterwards. But he said that because of Prop. 13 local governments have been starved for tax funds, therefore they have to depend upon the state government. The state government then turns around and takes away local control of things because it is supplying much of the funding. He said he would prefer to return the decision making back to local government.

I don’t recall exactly how he put it or what he said, but what I would say, and I think it is close to his thinking, is that local governments ought to be able to decide what their priorities are and tax accordingly. It would be better for the state if people at the local level made more decisions on funding that directly affects them. If that were so the budgeting process on the state level would be a lot easier.

I think Prop. 13 became a necessity because people were literally being taxed out of their homes. There were already unfunded state mandates at the time that forced local governments to raise taxes.

If I recall correctly, Brown said he would try to create a system in which any time a spending program was implemented a funding source would have to be identified. I’ve heard that one before from others. Often the proposed funding sources are identified as being from some magic of offsetting cost savings in other areas — which is probably always bogus.

For her part, Whitman seemed to suggest the answer to everything is cutting taxes. She even suggested the state could increase its revenue by cutting taxes, the idea being that the low tax environment causes business and the economy to flourish. If it were only that simple. And it almost seems counter intuitive to increase revenue by cutting taxes. It’s almost like selling products for under their cost but thinking you’re making money by moving a volume.

Some conservatives are right, though — the only way to cut the deficits is to reduce the spending — then you don’t need so much taxation. But where to cut, that is the question.

I was super tired when I listened to the debate and had those interruptions I mentioned.

So I will see what the pundits have to say on this one.


Meg cried (well not literally) crocodile tears when she said although it broke her heart she had to fire her nanny after she admitted she was an illegal alien (evidence shows Whitman had reason to know this already). Brown threw Whitman a jab by suggesting the heart-broken multi-billionaire could have at least hired the poor woman an attorney.


CLARIFICATION (a euphemism for correction):

In my original post I slipped and said Rose Bird was “impeached” when I meant to say “recalled”.


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