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A Two Way Street

In my last blog I talked about the difficulty of condensing meaningful ideas into a one minute radio spot. As I've said many times, thirty second commercials have impoverished our political dialogue. I'm trying to change that and it's working. People are really using the forums on this website, which is very exciting. People are discussing my plan for the budget and my proposal to improve the schools by giving a laptop to every 7th thru 12th grader. Some agree with me, some disagree but almost all offer the opportunity for dialogue. This is the way a campaign should be run. It's a two way street.

Posted by Garrett Gruener on August 30, 2003 at 08:49 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

Into the Closet

I have a confession to make: I spent part of this evening in my daughter's closet talking to myself. Don't worry, it isn't as crazy as it sounds. I was in the closet recording a one-minute radio spot that we needed to produce by first thing the next morning. Rather than spend the evening at a studio, I enlisted the help of a great friend and multi-media journalist and we made the recording at home using my digital video camera. Turns out, according to my friend -- and she's an expert-- that closets make good recording studios.

What was actually more difficult than recording the words was trying to boil down into a one minute talk my ideas for fixing the state. And if it's difficult to get to the substance in 60 seconds, how much less is said in 30, or 15?

Written Wednesday, August 27th

Posted by Garrett Gruener on August 29, 2003 at 02:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

Northern California Launch

Today's the day to launch the campaign in northern California. I've lived in the Bay Area since the mid-70's when I moved here to go to graduate school so I'm on my home turf. The launch event is a get together with friends, acquaintances and interested bystanders at a technology company in Emeryville. I am very energized by the support shown by those who attended. Many thanks to all of you.

The technology start-up that hosted the event is working on the cutting edge of nanotechnology. Its founders are professors at UC Berkeley. The wealth of knowledge, innovation and entrepreneurship created by the University of California never ceases to amaze me; it's one of the things that makes this state great, it puts us ahead of the pack. We need to make sure this resource is protected as part of investing for California's future.

Written Tuesday, August 26

Posted by Garrett Gruener on August 27, 2003 at 10:54 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)

San Diego

I went back to San Diego -- my home town -- yesterday to formally kick-off the campaign. It was a beautiful, warm Southern California afternoon and I was invited to meet with a group of scientists, academics and business people at a biotechnology company near UCSD. We drove north from downtown, through areas that had been wild canyons and scrub mesas when I was growing up. Now the area is chock-a-block with office parks, technology companies, and all the infrastructure that goes with a significant business location.

I talked about the three E's: the economy, education and the environment. About my ideas for bringing California out of a stall and back to flying high (I'm a pilot so I think in those terms.) The audience was receptive and asked difficult questions: What's your plan to balance the state's budget? Don't environmentalists already have too much power in this state? How would an outsider like you get anything done in Sacramento? Lots to think about, lots to discuss.

The website is now fully enabled to host forums on these topics and many more. I'd like to hear from you.

Posted by Garrett Gruener on August 26, 2003 at 06:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)

Reagan's Taxes

When Ronald Reagan, the hero of California Republicans, ran for governor he was full of antigovernment campaign rhetoric. But what did he actually do once he became governor? He signed on to a substantial income tax increase, significantly increased spending for higher education and had the state embark on large public works programs. Why? Because the state's economy was suffering and he had inherited a considerable deficit from Pat Brown. Sound familiar?

And how about Pete Wilson, another favorite Republican governor? Mr. Wilson signed into law the largest tax increase in the state's history. The increase was designed to raise almost $8 billion in revenues (there's that magic $ 8 billion, again.) Just like the Gipper, Wilson was facing an economy in recession and a deficit in the state's budget.

So guess what? The state's suffering through another recession and we have another deficit. Maybe the Republicans in this race should take a lesson from Ronald Reagan and Pete Wilson, not to mention Warren Buffett.

Posted by Garrett Gruener on August 26, 2003 at 06:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (14)

The Triple Flip Budget

At least I have something in common with Arnold and his advisors: I think the California budget is a mess. In fact, after several hours of puzzling over accounting slights of hands and shaking my head at the huge "unspecified" numbers, all I could think of was the movie "Dave." Do you remember "Dave"? It's the 1993 movie in which Kevin Kline plays a lookalike (named Dave) hired to impersonate the US president who has suffered a stroke. In one scene, Dave calls in his friend the bookkeeper to take a look at the US budget. If this were a business, the bookkeeper declares, it would be bankrupt. The same is true with the California budget. To use accounting lingo, it doesn't foot.

Theoretically, the state is not allowed to run a deficit; every year's budget must balance. Actually, the budget deal finally produced by the Legislature and signed by Governor Davis calls for $10.7 billion in "deficit reduction bonds." Sounds an awful lot like long term debt to me. Worse, the budget includes a complex "triple flip" (their name - I'm not making this up), involving a swap of sales tax revenues for property tax revenues, to be paid back out of a future budget. There are huge unspecified "savings", and expectations of Federal dollars which appear to have little basis in reality.

The truth of the matter is that, going forward California appears to have a built-in $8 billion dollar structural deficit for next year. Basically California spent a one-time windfall - the fruits of the bubble - on an expansion of continuing operations. Rather than savings these dollars for a rainy day, or buying capital items that would benefit us long into the future, the state expanded services.

In the next few days I'll be posting my budget, which calls for a combination of real spending cuts and tax increases (some temporary). There are no easy answers to California's woes, but at least my numbers add up. My proposal is tough, but it gets us back on the right track.

Posted by Garrett Gruener on August 24, 2003 at 11:39 AM | Permalink | Comments (7)

Good for the Environment, Good for Business

I'm a member of Environmental Entrepreneurs ( E2 has accomplished some great things; it was instrumental in getting greenhouse gas emissions limits -- the first in the country -- enacted by the California legislature last year. It has lobbied successfully for more efficient air conditioning standards and worked to reduce the number of unhealthy, diesel burning school buses transporting our children to school.

E2's fundamental precept is that protecting the environment and growing the economy go hand in hand. I couldn't agree more. Good environmental policy is good for business.

Another organization with good ideas is the Renewable Energy Action Project ( It supports developing green technology, which as REAP points out, is one of the fastest growing sectors in the American economy, and an area in which California has always been a world leader. As REAP states it: "Green technology is no longer just about protecting the environment or social responsibility, it is an emerging tool to reduce business costs, conserve resources, improve reliability and reduce pollution costs."

What is needed now, in addition to the outstanding work of organizations like E2 and REAP, is the political drive to reinforce the basic principle: what's good for the environment is good for business.

Posted by Garrett Gruener on August 24, 2003 at 11:26 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

Campaign Launch

We've decided this campaign needs to be launched; a real, official launch. We'll begin on Monday in San Diego, the town where I grew up, with a round table get together at a La Jolla biotechnology company. I want to talk about the innovation economy, the importance of keeping California ahead of the pack in technology and innovation.

On Tuesday, we'll do our Northern California launch in Emeryville, at another technology company. It'll be an opportunity for me to get out in front of friends, supporters and the press to explain my bold ideas for California. I'll also inaugurate my bigger and better website.

In the meantime, the campaign is gathering steam. We have an office, a staff, telephones and, as of this afternoon, high speed Internet access. I've been interviewed by the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. Amazing what can be accomplished in a long week.

Written on August 21, 2003

Posted by Garrett Gruener on August 22, 2003 at 03:19 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)

Gun Control

Evidently I'm not going to get the endorsement of the Gun Owners of America. No sooner had I filed my candidacy papers than I received a questionnaire from this organization, whose motto is "27 Years of No Compromise." So, in answer to the questionnaire and for the record: I support gun control.

One of the GOA questions is whether I oppose or support legislation that would limit gun purchases to one gun a month. My answer: I absolutely support such limits. Why would anyone need to buy even one gun a month?

Another GOA question is (to paraphrase): do I support a ban on carrying concealed weapons in public places such as restaurants? I see no reason to permit concealed weapons in public places and support such a ban.

I could go on and on, but briefly, I support the ban on assault weapons and believe it should be strengthed. I support requiring trigger locks and I believe gun owners should be subject to background checks and licensing requirements. And if you're still wondering where I stand, I think "Bowling for Columbine" is one of the best movies I've seen in the last year.

Sorry Gun Owners of America, I'm not your guy.

Posted by Garrett Gruener on August 20, 2003 at 04:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (17)

Meet the Press

Monday morning, time to meet the press. I've been keeping a low profile, getting my team, my message and my thoughts together. Now it's time to start getting the message out.

The first appointment of the day is an interview at KNTV, San Francisco's NBC affiliate. A few fairly easy questions: "Why are you doing this? What do you stand for?" I'm doing this to bring some big ideas to the California political scene. I stand for improving the economy, education, and the environment; the three E's. Next, a radio interview on KGO and some time with Dan Weintraub of the Sacramento Bee. Dan's my favorite blogger of all, I read California Insider every day.

It's fun to be talking to the press but I'm reminded how difficult it is to get a message across, to be heard above the din. I'm hoping my Internet campaign will be really different. Instead of competing with sports, the weather and everything Arnold, I can inform and interact with the visitors to my website. It's a different approach for a different kind of campaign.

Written on August 18, 2003

Posted by Garrett Gruener on August 20, 2003 at 04:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)