Saturday, July 7, 2012

A reporter eats crow

-MercuryNews
I've lately begun investigating recipes for eating crow -- savory, tasty crow. The moment has arrived, as it does for many of us pundits, to confess my bone-headed predictions. Put simply, let me tell you where I was wrong.I may as well begin with San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed. Early this year, when the mayor was preparing his Measure B pension reform measure for the ballot, I raised the possibility that a compromise with labor might still be possible.My theory rested on the lure of baseball. If a pact with the A's materialized, I theorized, the mayor might be tempted to make a deal on the fractious pension issue.
Why create needless enemies to a ballpark? Wouldn't a success at bringing baseball to the city matter more to his legacy than shaving the pensions of city employees?
Though the deal with the A's didn't happen, I was flat wrong. I know why: Like a basketball player head-faking for the basket, Reed had feinted toward the ballot before, only to settle for delay and more talk. That led me to question his tactics.The mayor nonetheless has made pension reform the bedrock of his tenure. I underestimated his resolve. He's not even a baseball fan.Then there's the matter of LaDoris Cordell, San Jose's independent police auditor. When she was named to her post in April 2010, I wrote a piece that praised her many talents -- artist, athlete, judge -- but suggested she wasn't a long-timer in the San Jose job.I saw it, there was just too much job-hopping on her résumé. She was a big fish in our little pond. I put the over-under on her tenure in San Jose at 24 months.


A lost bet
Had I put money down on that bet, I would have lost. Cordell has handily passed the two-year mark. And she's left an imprint, most recently in influencing the city's approach to cleaning up homeless camps.Finally, I may as well tell you I offered bum advice to President Barack Obama himself -- though it's fair to say that his people were not hanging on my every word. Like several well-placed people in his administration -- Joe Biden was one -- I urged him after his election in 2008 not to make reforming health care one of his top priorities. I thought it was easily subverted, and there were more crucial economic needs.


Thankfully, Obama ignored me. His Affordable Care Act -- Obamacare sounds better on the tongue, doesn't it? -- marked a signal achievement, the completion of a long-held Democratic dream. And now the Supreme Court has upheld it.Yes, the act is flawed. And yes, I wonder if it will adequately address costs. But it is a compelling statement of the common-sense notion that everyone deserves adequate health care. I've never been so happy to be wrong.


Forecasting perils
Alas, it's a pathetic defense to say that mistakes are part of the forecasting business. As a business columnist, I once literally ate my words after I wrongly predicted that then-CEO Carly Fiorina would not be able to push through HP's merger with Compaq. I ground up a column and spooned it down with buttermilk next to the Mercury News moat. My recipe for crow? First, I'm writing this column. Then I'll clean the bird, baste it for several days, and mask the taste with loads of garlic. It has to be more flavorful than newsprint.

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