George Skelton

George Skelton
Los Angeles Times
October 12, 2014

About the only thing Propositions 1 and 2 have in common is they’re being used as props of a different kind by Gov. Jerry Brown. They’re handy stage props for the governor’s reelection campaign.

You’ve got to tip your hat to a political magician who can meld a water bond with a rainy-day fund and create a shield that protects him from having to talk about his plans — if any — for a record fourth term.

The English language with its endless opportunities for mixed metaphors helps immensely: Banking water. Storing money.

“Save water. Save money,” Brown urges in a TV ad promoting Props. 1 and 2. “The pendulum always swings in California between wet years and drought, between booms and bust.”

Never mind that Prop. 1 is about spending — $7.5 billion in borrowed money, times two for interest—and Prop. 2 is about socking dollars away.

Of the Prop. 1 money, $2.7 billion would be spent on providing new water storage, presumably dams. Most of the rest would be used for such worthy local projects as wastewater management, storm water capture, recycling and groundwater cleanup.

Truth is, Brown for a long time resisted placing a water bond on the same ballot on which he was standing for reelection. He feared it might contradict his message of frugality and conflict with the pitch for a Prop. 2 piggy bank.

Ultimately, however, he concluded it wouldn’t look good for a governor to block water development during a severe drought.

As of last week, Brown had raised nearly $11 million for the TV spots featuring him plugging Props. 1 and 2. The ads say nothing about why he should be reelected, which he surely will be in a no-sweat jog Nov. 4.

From here, let’s focus on the complex, benumbing Prop. 2.

“It’s a wonky, wonky mess — so boring that once you start talking to people about it their eyes just glaze,” says Katherine Welch, director of a volunteer parents’ group called Educate Our State, one of the few organizations that opposes the measure. “But you really have to be in the weeds with this stuff to see how ugly it is.”

I’ll try to stay out of the weeds.

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