The Condor: California Recall
Thursday, July 31, 2003
  Here's a trail guide to recall stories

If you need help keeping track of the recall news, take a look at Rough & Tumble, a Sacramento-based website. It was where the Condor found a link to the Reuters item on the futures market on Gray Davis(see item below). Each day, the site puts together a very brief summary of the top political stories in the major newspapers in California along with links to each item. Jack Kavanaugh is the man behind the site. He has been a television political reporter for nearly 30 years and hosted and consulted on California Capitol Week. Kavanaugh also provides media training and works with local and national communications companies on strategic projects, according to his web site.

Shades of the Pentagon's best thinking.

Investing in political futures has been around for a long time. They mostly consist of simple wagers in bars and offices on election outcomes. But this week, the Pentagon ignited an uproar with its futures program for political terrorism. With this fresh backdrop comes the latest California political odds. The Ireland-based Internet betting site has calculated that the odds that Davis will still be in office by the end of September are at about 35 percent as of Thursday. Yes, the end of September is correct (might be a good bet there if somebody can act before Tradesports gets its stuff together). The next available date is the end of December. Adam Tanner of Reuters in San Francisco wrote Thursday's story about the betting. He quoted UC Berkeley business professor Hal Varian as saying such online markets provide better predictions than traditional polls because cash forces a more dispassionate analysis of issues. Condor's visit to Tradesports showed that it also offers betting on the fate of the Pentagon's own terrorism futures program, the likelihood of finding WMDs and the fate of Osama Bin Laden. Sounds like the private sector was already supplying a good chunk of the terrorist futures business that our free market Republicans in the Pentagon wanted to start up. Barry Goldwater would roll over in his grave to see the government competing with an established private business. 
  Sacbee's Weintraub feeds the maw

Dan Weintraub, a columnist for The Sacramento Bee, scored a beat Thursday when he was the first among the major California print outlets to report that Gov. Davis wasn't going to take the state's cash -- if he won the recall. Weintraub's weblog, California Insider, cleared The Bee's website at 11:53 a.m. on July 31. By midafternoon Thursday none of the Web sites of the other major California newspapers had carried the information that Davis was refusing to be reimbursed for his election expenses as provided for by state law. Nor about his challenge to his multimillionaire opponents to cough up some of their resources to help pay for the election they support.

Why is Weintraub's mini-scoop important? Because it is the type of hourly-to-hourly reporting that caters to the voracious information appetites of political insiders. Sometimes it is the candidates themselves who are the hungriest. But the consultants and their staffs are usually the chief consumers. Access to the best and earliest information is fundamental to running a successful campaign.

The item is an example of what makes Weintraub an important source, to be checked often and properly fed and groomed, just as he must tend his sources in the political community. The item also helps build the political importance of the sacbee website. Ironically, the headlines and other stories on sacbee's website about the possible reimbursement of Davis suffered from an editing breakdown. They remained unchanged despite Weintraub's new information. The only way to learn about the fresh development was to click on a link that only made reference to the title of Weintraub's column -- not its content.

Weintraub publishes a column three times a week in the "paper" Bee, which is usually considered a fulltime job for most ink-stained wretches. But he wasn't finished with his work Thursday when he filed the item in question. By the end of the day, his web column contained seven items of interest, all about Davis or the recall and all of which demonstrated assiduous attention to the fine details that make for successful politics. 
This is a foray into the wilds of California's first-ever gubernatorial recall election. It will leave the usual, mundane coverage of the campaign to the media's finest and, instead, pick over the carcass. Your comments or questions are invited and will be posted in edited form if they are sufficiently interesting, regardless of whether they agree with the Condor. Please send them to
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    The Condor is written by David Jensen, a former, longtime newsie in Sacramento. He was a political reporter for UPI and worked for 22 years for The Sacramento Bee in a variety of editing positions, including editing the 1992 Pulitzer Prize-winning series, "The Monkey Wars." Jensen served in the 1974 election campaign and administration of former Gov. Jerry Brown. (Total time served: Two years and one week.) He no longer lives in California. Instead he lolls about on a sailboat on the west coast of Mexico.

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