KQED's News Director Wishes John Farewell

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Here at KQED in San Francisco we had a farewell lunch for John in the newsroom last week. In his remarks, John noted how much has changed in the news business from when he started with us nine years ago, including the fact that he was no longer just a public radio reporter but a news blogger with a twitter handle and a podcast show. As he is with his reporting, John was spot on.

John was a pioneering journalist who recognized early how these digital outlets were critically important in serving the public with the best news and information we can provide. John’s reporting through this blog and social media demonstrated how coverage could be expanded to offer you new options to stay informed, and the opportunity for you to add your voices to the conversation.

We’re proud of John’s many achievements during his tenure at KQED, including Capital Notes. We thank him for his dedication to the craft of journalism, his passion for reporting on California governance, his extraordinary work habits and his generosity as a colleague. All the best John.

Capital Notes will go on hiatus as KQED searches for a new Sacramento Bureau Chief for The California Report. KQED is committed to providing excellent coverage of the California state house, the Governor’s office, and political, economic, budget and other news and trends in the largest and most populace state in the nation. In the meantime, our general news site is at kqednews.org, and The California Report is at californiareport.org.  I can be reached at bkoon@kqed.org.

Bruce Koon
KQED Public Radio News Director


Signing Off From KQED Sacramento

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Photo: Craig Miller/KQED

If you're like me, there are those days you always remember in your life... days where fate kindly turned you the right way. For me the list includes February 10, 2003 -- the day I signed on as the guy in Sacramento for KQED Public Radio and The California Report.

Within weeks, I was on the hottest political story in a generation -- the recall of a sitting governor -- and by my first anniversary, I was forever hooked on public radio.

Today, after more than nine years, I'm signing off.
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Podcast: The Road Ahead

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As the great Yogi Berra once said, "When you come to a fork in the road, take it."

There are some forks in the road ahead for Governor Jerry Brown and his backers of a budget balanced, in part, with a new temporary tax increase.

And a fork in the road right here and now for your weekly aural dish on California politics.

On this week's Capital Notes Podcast, I'm joined by Anthony York of the Los Angeles Times and Marisa Lagos of the San Francisco Chronicle to talk about the road ahead for the tax measure and the governor.

This is, as I'll describe in detail later today here on the blog, the final podcast for the time being. Consider it a pause, perhaps, for a personnel reboot. In any event, we hope it'll tide our loyal listeners (and your emails really make it clear, you're loyal) until the next chapter begins here on the blog.

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Republicans Urge Spot (Budget Bill) Removal

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Budget bills passed Thursday await the actual budget. (Photo: John Myers/KQED)

They are 18 words, repeated over and over in 80 pieces of legislation, ones that provoked a testy debate this morning under the Capitol dome: "It is the intent of the Legislature to enact statutory changes relating to the Budget Act of 2012."

Such a bill is referred to as a "spot bill," in that it's an empty bill holding a spot on the legislative calendar... so that once a budget deal is struck, the actual details can quickly be inserted into existing bills and enacted.
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Podcast: The Deal

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Things look different on California's political landscape as the new week begins, and it's not just because spring is around the corner. Change your scorecards from three tax increase initiatives... to two.

On a special Monday edition of the Capital Notes Podcast, Anthony York of the Los Angeles Times and I offer a recap of the very busy last few days -- the big deal struck between Governor Jerry Brown and liberal activists and the road ahead.

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Analyst Sees $2 Billion Less In Brown Tax 2.0

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Governor Jerry Brown is no doubt happy that his modified tax increase initiative has already received its fiscal vetting, less than 48 hours after being formally introduced.

But that vetting doesn't settle on an estimate of how much tax revenue the new initiative will bring in, thus repeating an ongoing disagreement between forecasters that could create some tough politics over how this year's state budget should be crafted.
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Tax Initiative Deal Struck, Gathering Signatures Will Be Pricey

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2:00 p.m. UPDATE: Governor Brown confirmed to reporters in southern California this afternoon that a deal has, in fact, been reached on a November tax initiative. As such, this posting includes updated information and has a slightly tweaked headline from its original form.

Is there time for a compromise tax initiative? (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty)

By all indications, there's now a détente in the works that would head off the otherwise expected November ballot clash between Governor Jerry Brown and liberal activists over a tax increase.

Multiple sources confirm a compromise is being crafted that would adhere in some ways to Brown's existing initiative -- mainly, by still including a small sales tax increase -- but would boost the income tax increase on the wealthy above where the governor has proposed, while still making all of the taxes temporary.
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Podcast: From Poems to Polls

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Governor Jerry Brown sent out a favorite poem this week along with his official proclamation of Arbor Day in California. If only this complicated election season in which he will play a major role could be described as elegantly...

Instead, this week's Capital Notes Podcast focuses on a raft of public and private polling swirling around the upcoming election on the issue of new taxes.

I'm joined by Marisa Lagos of the San Francisco Chronicle and Anthony York of the Los Angeles Times in an examination of the data itself and the larger narrative both Brown and his rivals are trying to write about who's tax is the right one and why.

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Brown's Tax Is Ahead, But Why Not By More?

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52% in the new poll support Gov. Brown's tax plan. (Photo: Getty/Justin Sullivan)

A brand new statewide poll shows Governor Jerry Brown's temporary tax increase initiative slightly ahead with voters. And that's no doubt a good thing if you're the governor.

But a more interesting question, it seems, is why isn't it ahead by more?
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Some Initiatives Flush With Cash, Others Bare

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It's by no means a perfect way to measure the eventual outcome at the polls, but money often talks loudest in campaigns for or against ballot measures in California. And at this juncture, the money recorded in publicly filed fundraising reports has some interesting things to say.

In a nutshell: tobacco is king... and Governor Jerry Brown's dialing for dollars is paying off.
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