John Chaing, the California State Treasurer and former Controller who’s running for Governor of Californa, seemed to get under the skin of The Los Angeles Times Mariel Garza. She claims he doesn’t give clear answers to questions, but that’s not something I experienced in my interview with him on September 10th 2017. But about the LA Times take, first.
In a op-ed she wrote on June 1st called “Why John Chiang doesn’t deserve your protest vote”, Garza tried to apply the media equivalent of a WWE smackdown when she wrote the following:
“The Times editorial board had high hopes for Chiang. He’s smart and likable, and having spent more than 20 years deeply involved in the state’s finances, it seemed likely he’d have some insight into and solutions to offer for the state’s biggest problems. Sure, he’s been pretty cautious about taking positions in the past, but maybe he felt that as the state’s money man he shouldn’t step into non-financial debates. Fine. The race for governor was his opportunity to let loose with all the wisdom gleaned from four terms and become the candidate that really blew us away…Boy, did that not happen. In fact, during our meeting with Chiang in early April, he was harder to pin down than a greased pig on roller skates.”
She said that Chiang didn’t give specifics on Senate Bill 827, the one pushed by San Francisco’s Scott Winer, and would have allowed developers to build large, out of scale housing structures next to transit stations. The bill failed in the California Legislature and because it not only would have pushed local governments to the role of spectator in watching development happen they could not control via zoning laws, but would not have actually not caused the development of affordable housing because it offered no financial incentive.
Mariel Garza wrote that it took a long time to get a straight answer, but “after half a dozen queries, we finally got something of an answer: “I haven’t made a final judgement in which cases. I haven’t totally precluded state from overruling, right, but I haven’t set conditions under which options that I would have the state overrule.”
That doesn’t sound like the John Chiang I know. In our talk at Oakland Pride, I asked John what was message he was sending by being there at Oakland Pride, considering that California Lieutinant Governor Gavin Newsom has a base in the LGBTQ Community. Rather than give platitudes, John focused on helping people “I’m trying to help students with student loan debt, we’re working on that. And my work on on economic opportunity. The Speaker and I are working aggressively, putting together a package to build more affordable housing. That’s what Californians want. They want someone who’s going to work and fight for them on a daily basis.”
And that’s in the video at the start of this post. I don’t know how to explain the difference between Ms. Garza’s take and mine, but I have to wonder why they didn’t video interview John? Videoblogging politics and politicians gives the viewer a look at who people, candidates, like John Chiang really are and through their own eyes in seeking the video; not my words written without proper context. As a result, Chiang was, in my view, mischaracterized by the LA Times. That’s too bad, both for Chiang, the LA Times, and the California voter.