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Things We Knew: CA Politics Edition

Jun
20
2005

Here’s a run-down of stuff that’s in the news that you, dear readers, have already seen and which, in the interest of, er, blatent self-promotion and subscriber loyalty, are worth pointing out.
Steve Westly is running for California governor and no less an authority than celebrity Republican Dan Schnur notes that Westly’s attempt to capture the political middle ground is great for the general election but probably not that great for the Democratic primary. Dan’s a regular reader – or he says he is, anyway – and it shows, huh?
Sen. Deb Ortiz has lost her show-down with the stem cell folks at the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine but the stem cell folks have decided to um, give careful and full consideration to her comments – almost a ballot initiative – on their conflict-of-interest rules and their open meetings. Looks like someone, someplace has decided to start playing their politics a little more smartly. Finally. The last thing state Democrats needed was a show-down over stem cells which, along with the parental notification initiative expected to be on the November ballot, could have brought out a rash of conservative voters to defeat the anti-union measures designed to weaken Democrat’s strong-hold over state government.
Maybe the reason the FBI is so focused on harassing teen-agers is because the folks in charge don’t know anything about terrorism. Looks that way, no?
Salon is getting wackier and even more isolated than ever. Marc Cooper joins me in wondering what they’re drinking down on 4th Street. I’ve been wondering about the editing for a while now, ever since the site ran a breathless piece by former San Francisco Weekly writer Peter Byrne. In that story, Byrne (whom I have criticized before) repeatedly – and I think inaccurately – said that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had “invested in” Goldman Sachs, the investment bank, and that Gov. Terminator’s investment presented a conflict-of-interest with the bank’s state bond business.
I’m not so sure. It’s more likely that the governor, like a lot of wealthy men (including Steve Westly) has invested in funds, trusts, REITs and other money-making vehicles managed, run and yes, backed by the bank. That’s not the same – and it’s not the same conflict of interest — that Byrne tried to draw in his story. To my business-reporters’ eye, Byrne didn’t seem to know the difference between buying stock in the bank (from which Schwarzenegger would, in fact directly benefit if he gave Goldman the state’s bond business), investing with the bank in various vehicles it has established (a less direct involvement) and investing alongside the bank’s funds in third-party entities (even less direct). These may seem like differences without distinction to the average checking-acount Joe. But that’s exactly the point and it’s more evidence of the weak editing that Cooper is decrying on his site.
Rich folks invest their money – that’s how they stay rich and while Byrne and Salon are right to keep an eye on Schwarzenegger, that story, like the recent piece on the coming Democratic Party revival (as if) lacked any sort of substance in the laundry list of allegations. Will Byrne or Salon ask the same questions about Westly, also a Goldman Sachs client because of his status as an eBay employee – or his equally wealthy rival for the governor’s seat, Phil Angelides?
Bet they don’t.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 2:15 PM | Permalink

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