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Melissa Griffin: Gov. Brown's Tax Campaign Takes Strange Turn

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) - Faced with mounting opposition and additional reports of fiscal mismanagement, California Gov. Jerry Brown's defense of Proposition 30 tax increase is raising eyebrows.

In the commercials for Prop 30, there is emphasis on recent cuts to state funding. Brown understands, quite reasonably, that voters need to feel that our current tax dollars are being spent wisely. Here's one such commercial, and notice the mention of cuts to funding for cars.

Take A Stand - Yes On Prop 30 by YesOnProp30 on YouTube

While it is true that this year's budget did contain cuts to the budget for state-owned cars, a recent expose by CBS Los Angeles showed that Caltrans is simply renting cars for their employees and it has cost a whopping $750,000 so far this year. The investigation also showed Caltrans employees using those - rather fancy - rental cars to do personal errands including shopping at department stores and buying booze.

So, the report comes out and last Friday at the statewide meeting of the National Associate for the Advancement of Colored People, Brown was asked about it and he said, "there are 300,000 employees in the state of California, and I'd like to watch over all of them, but I think only God can accomplish that."

Of course, that statement neglects the fact that the 300,000 number no doubt includes supervisors, managers and department heads whose job is, in fact, to watch over state employees. But as they say, there are no atheists in foxholes, which may also explain why Brown - an avowed Buddhist - even quoted the Bible at the NAACP event, "To whom much is given is much required." [Luke 12:48]

It's no surprise that Brown is feeling like he's in a foxhole fighting a war. Last week for the first time, support for the tax fell below 50 percent in the polls.

To some degree, Brown blames the downward trend on an unknown group of donors in Arizona that has given $11 million dollars to the Small Business Action Committee, which is opposed to Prop 30.

At that same NAACP event last Friday, Brown said, "I don't know where these people are from, because they're hiding, they're wearing masks."

And "Remember the people who liked to run around in hoods because they didn't want people to see who the hell they are?"

There was no reported immediate outrage but that could change as the story gets out. You might recall that Vice Presidential candidate Joe Biden told a NAACP meeting earlier this year that Romney's economic plan would "put y'all back in chains." The controversy that followed was a real embarrassment for the Obama administration.

Brown denies that he was referring to the Ku Klux Klan which no one believes. In fact, on Twitter, several people have offered sarcastic suggestions about what "hooded people" he might have been referring to: Gregorian monks, Dementors from Harry Potter and even Jawas from Star Wars.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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