Thursday, November 10, 2011

Chinese cars, Moonbeam, and California's budget plan collapse

Today The Sacramento Bee sent out two of it's "Capitol Alert" stories. The first is headlined Controller John Chiang says California has $1.5 billion cash gap.

Actually, the headline is misleading. The story says:
California has fallen $1.5 billion behind in revenues through the first four months of the fiscal year, according to state Controller John Chiang....

The state also faced spending pressures through the first four months of the year. Chiang reported that California spent $1.7 billion more than budget writers expected.

So the cash gap actually totals $3.2 billion a third of the way through the budget year.

This is no big surprise because as I noted in a June post, I expect revenues alone will be $10-$12 billion short of the adopted budget estimate at the end of the fiscal year in June 2012.

One would expect that Governor Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown would be hunkered down at his desk with his finance people trying to understand the budget situation. But no.

From the other Capitol Alert we are informed:
Gov. Jerry Brown, meanwhile, is talking green at noon as electric vehicle firm CODA officially opens its global headquarters in Los Angeles.

CODA makes all-electric cars named, appropriately enough, CODA, which you can view online at the company's website or its Westfield Century City store in Los Angeles. The base price, including destination charge, runs $45,795, according to the online calculator. Range is estimated at 150 miles.

Oh wow, Moonbeam is down there promoting a California startup electric car manufacturer, right? Well, actually, wrong, but writers at The Bee publish news releases. They apparently aren't familiar with new fangled stuff like Google and Wikipedia. Because....

From Google they would have been taken to a story that explains:
CODA Automotive is teaming up with Great Wall Motor Company to develop EVs, a collaboration that will involve integrating the Californian firm's EV propulsion system with the vehicle platforms of Great Wall.

And if they had gone to Wikipedia they would have told us:
Great Wall Motor Company Limited is a Chinese automobile manufacturer formed in 1976. The company is named after the Great Wall of China. As of 2010 it is China's largest SUV producer.

2010 production capacity is estimated at 500,000 units/year...

So if the Bee reporter, Micaela Massimino, had spent an extra 15 minutes sitting on her butt in front of her computer doing some research rather than pasting in a news release, what she could have told us is that CODA is kinda like Apple, only much smaller. They design stuff, they don't hire workers and build it. Moonbeam is down there promoting a Chinese car manufacturing operation - yeah, electric, but Chinese.

But hey, Moonbeam is being really cool and green and getting great news coverage as a promoter of China's green economy, while the fake state budget put together during the brief period he tried doing his job isn't working.

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