Part of the Bay Area News Group

Archive for June, 2006

Democrat rolls Pombo but GOP prevails

Nah, this is not a prediction of the outcome of the November general election. This is about the annual congressional baseball game last night.

GOP Rep. Richard Pombo was playing the catcher’s position when Democrat Rep. Russ Carnahan of Missouri charged home plate after a foul ball and bowled him over. The Democrats in the crowd reportedly went nuts.

“No harm done,” says Pombo flack Lucas Frances, tongue firmly in cheek. “Pombo is accustomed to attacks from left field.”

The final score?

Republicans 12, Democrats 1.

Posted on Friday, June 30th, 2006
Under: congressional district 11 | 1 Comment »

CD11 candidate McNerney wins on-line contest

Congressional District 11 Democratic candidate Jerry McNerney has prevailed in an on-line voting contest to determine which candidate would win a national fundraising campaign from Democracy for America.

Democracy for America is a grassroots liberal organization inspired by the presidential candidacy of Howard Dean and now run by his brother, Jim.

According to DFA’s web site, “here’s what your contributions to McNerney will mean:
$25 brings Jerry’s message to 50 voters via mail.
$50 buys 25 lawn signs for grassroots supporters.
$100 gets Jerry valuable time on a local radio station.
$250 helps Jerry compete with (incumbent Rep. Richard) Pombo (R-Tracy) on a local TV station.”

McNerney won the June primary on the strength of his grassroots campaigning but many folks remain skeptical about whether or not the technique will work in a conservative district against the seven-term incumbent Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy.

As one observer astutely noted, “Let’s not forget that Howard Dean lost.”

Posted on Thursday, June 29th, 2006
Under: congressional district 11 | 1 Comment »

Oil found under White House?

Testimony by Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, on the floor of the House of Representatives, in opposition to a bill that would lift a 25-year moratorium and allow states to drill offshore for oil and natural gas:

“First ANWR, now the Outer Continental Shelf. Republicans would put an oil well on the White House
lawn if they could get away with it.”

Posted on Thursday, June 29th, 2006
Under: Congress, Quote of the Day | 2 Comments »

Highway system turns 50: Does it need a facelift?

Fifty years ago today, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 and launched the interstate highway system.

Today, most of us babyboomers take for granted, gas prices notwithstanding, the ease in which we can zip in our cars from city to city or state to state. My 85-year-old mother-in-law remembers when it took all day to travel in the family car from her childhood home in Oakland over narrow roads into the countryside in Walnut Creek.

In an analysis of a national report released today, a California transportation advocacy group warns that the Golden State is going back to the future.

According to a Transportation California staff review of a national report by the Washington-based TRIP, a national transportation research group, the benefits of the highway system “are now eroding because California has been unable to keep up with the extreme wear and tear and growing traffic congestion on its complex system of Interstate routes and other highways. Travel is increasing at a rate five times faster than Interstate capacity has been added. Today, 75 percent of California’s urban Interstates are considered congested.”

Heck, and these folks probably haven’t driven on Highway 24 lately, either.

Watch for details of these two studies to appear in campaign materials for Proposition 1B, a November ballot measure that asks voters to authorize the sale of $19.9 billion in bonds for freeway and port improvements.

It’s a fraction of what transportation leaders estimate the state needs to spend in order to catch up with demand. But bonds are the most politically palatable option given the public’s well-known dislike of gas taxes, the traditional source of funds for road maintenance and improvements.

Posted on Thursday, June 29th, 2006
Under: Transportation | 4 Comments »

What do you call an Assemblyman?

An inquisitive reader sent this email: ” ‘Will we finally get to call him ‘Ass. DeSaulnier?’ ‘The Honorable Ass. DeSaulnier?’ Hey, I like the guy, just wondering …”

He refers, of course, to Mark DeSaulnier, a Contra Costa County supervisor who won the Democratic primary in June for Assembly District 11 against three challengers, including Pittsburg School Board Trustee Laura Canciamilla. (Yes, she’s the wife of the termed-out incumbent, Assemblyman Joe Canciamilla of Pittsburg.)

The answer, however, will depend on the outcome of the Nov. 7 general election. It’s a heavily Democratic district but DeSaulnier does have a Republican opponent, Antioch Councilman Arne Simonsen. Libertarian Cory Nott is also on the ballot.

But even if DeSaulnier wins, you won’t find the above abbreviation in your newspaper: We have a list of approved truncations and this isn’t on it. While we write, “Sen. So and So” or “Rep. So and So,” we never write, “Ass. So and So,” for obvious reasons!

Posted on Tuesday, June 27th, 2006
Under: Email of the Day | 1 Comment »

Eminent domain initiative qualifes for California ballot

The “Protect Our Homes” initiative qualified today for the November general election ballot.

The measure is part of a nationwide property rights movement that gained momentum after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Kelo vs. City of New London that a city could legally seize private property for the purposes of economic development.

Unlike Connecticut, California law prohibits public agencies from using eminent domain unless the property has been declared blighted but critics say the process has been abused.

Government leaders and legislators, however, say eminent domain is the option of last resort and usually exercised in cases where private property owners are holding land hostage in the hopes of obtaining exorbitant prices at the taxpayers’ expense.

The initiative bars the taking of property for private use, as commonly occurs in redevelopment projects. It allows the use of eminent domain only in instances where the land is necessary for public projects, such as parks and roads. Click here to access the proponents’ web site.

It’s the 13th initiative to qualify for November, virtually guaranteeing a dense ballot and a massive infusion of campaign spending in the coming months. Contra Costa County election chief Steve Weir also says a big ballot adds cost and complexity to the election.

But an end is in sight. The deadline to make the November ballot is Thursday and while an additional 30 measures are in circulation, time is running short. For a full list on the Secretary of State web site, click here.

The deadline doesn’t apply to the Legislature, however, which is contemplating the addition of a redistricting reform measure. A constitutional amendment by Sen. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, would shift the drawing of political boundaries away from lawmakers and into the hands of an independent panel.

Posted on Tuesday, June 27th, 2006
Under: election 2006, eminent domain | 3 Comments »

McNerney scrambles for “All Star” status

It’s the political version of “American Idol.”

Congressional District 11 Democratic candidate Jerry McNerney is sweating it out over the weekend as Democracy for America counts the final votes in its on-line, “Grassroots All-Star” contest.

The winner receives a coveted Democracy for America endorsement, which could bring his campaign much-needed dollars in his fight against the well-funded, seven-term incumbent Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy.

McNerney toggled all day Friday between first and second place up until 2 p.m. when voting closed. His chief competitor for the DFA prize is Democrat Nancy Skinner of Michigan, who “has a big megaphone advantage because she is a talk-show host in Detroit,” said McNerney campaign manager A.J. Carrillo.

McNerney, a wind energy engineer from Pleasanton, has gotten help in his vote quest from an unusual source: A Daily Kos blogger known as ripzaw who wants a job on the candidate’s campaign team. He begged folks on his blog to vote for McNerney, apparently under the premise that if the guy wins, he’ll have salary money.

“I might give him a job. Who knows?” says Carrillo. “You have to give the guy points for creativity.”

McNerney is also competing in an on-line contest for a prize offered by potential presidential candidate and Virginia Gov. Mark Warner. Voting closes June 29. The top 10 finishers will receive a $5,000 contribution from Warner’s political action committee, Go Forward Together. And one candidate will win a fund-raiser by Warner himself.

On-line voting contests are a sign of the times as campaigns go high-tech in the wake of success stories such as the liberal Moveon.org, which collects millions of dollars in contributions for its causes through the Internet.

It’s also a way for national political organizations or candidates to collect new e-mail addresses for their databases, which serve as a path to solicit more contributions and build momentum for their causes. Several national environmental groups conducted similar on-line voting schemes in the primary when they asked readers to pick their favorite anti-Pombo ads.

If this method of raising money stars mooing like a cash cow, watch it take off like grass in spring. No one’s email box is safe.

Posted on Friday, June 23rd, 2006
Under: congressional district 11 | No Comments »

McNerney scrambles for “All Star” status

It’s the political version of “American Idol.”

Congressional District 11 Democratic candidate Jerry McNerney is sweating it out over the weekend as Democracy for America counts the final votes in its on-line, “Grassroots All-Star” contest.

The winner receives a coveted Democracy for America endorsement, which could bring his campaign much-needed dollars in his fight against the well-funded, seven-term incumbent Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy.

McNerney toggled all day Friday between first and second place up until 2 p.m. when voting closed. His chief competitor for the DFA prize is Democrat Nancy Skinner of Michigan, who “has a big megaphone advantage because she is a talk-show host in Detroit,” said McNerney campaign manager A.J. Carrillo.

McNerney, a wind energy engineer from Pleasanton, has gotten help in his vote quest from an unusual source: A Daily Kos blogger known as ripzaw who wants a job on the candidate’s campaign team. He begged folks on his blog to vote for McNerney, apparently under the premise that if the guy wins, he’ll have salary money.

“I might give him a job. Who knows?” says Carrillo. “You have to give the guy points for creativity.”

McNerney is also competing in an on-line contest for a prize offered by potential presidential candidate and Virginia Gov. Mark Warner. Voting closes June 29. The top 10 finishers will receive a $5,000 contribution from Warner’s political action committee, Go Forward Together. And one candidate will win a fund-raiser by Warner himself.

On-line voting contests are a sign of the times as campaigns go high-tech in the wake of success stories such as the liberal Moveon.org, which collects millions of dollars in contributions for its causes through the Internet.

It’s also a way for national political organizations or candidates to collect new e-mail addresses for their databases, which serve as a path to solicit more contributions and build momentum for their causes. Several national environmental groups conducted similar on-line voting schemes in the primary when they asked readers to pick their favorite anti-Pombo ads.

If this method of raising money stars mooing like a cash cow, watch it take off like grass in spring. No one’s email box is safe.

Posted on Friday, June 23rd, 2006
Under: congressional district 11 | 1 Comment »

If it’s in the New York Times, it must be true

After all these years in the newspaper business, I have finally broken into the big leagues: My name is in the New York Times.

It’s not a byline, unfortunately. It’s on the NYT’s filmography web site where it says I’m an actor.

Go figure. I never thought of myself an actor although a few folks consider me a character.

Here’s what happened: I appear in a documentary by filmmaker David Brown called “The Bridge So Far: A Suspense Story.” I’m listed as a star of the film along with former Alameda County Supervisor Mary King and Caltrans Director Will Kempton.

At the risk of blatant self-promotion, the film is a fabulous and fun look at the history of the state’s drawn-out and beleaguered efforts to build a new eastern span of the Bay Bridge. If you have a chance to see the film, do it. Or you can buy a DVD, too. (No, I wasn’t paid a dime to appear in the film and I have no royalty claims.)

Oddly enough, the NYT fails to list as stars in this film people who are actually famous such as former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown and Bay Area satirist Will Durst.

No offense to Mary King and Will Kempton, of course.

Posted on Thursday, June 22nd, 2006
Under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Blogs banned from state workers’ computers

Hey, political blogs are educational, right?

Not in Kentucky, apparently. State officials banned this week political blogs from their workers’ computers as part of a wider crackdown on unnecessary Internet surfing.

Okay. We don’t want public employees visiting sites unrelated to their jobs. We pay them to work, not shop or book their summer vacations. (Do sports scores count?)

But the timing is a tad suspicious.

According to the Lexington-Herald, Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher’s administration blocked “state employees’ access to many Web logs a day after a prominent political “blogger” was critical of the governor in a New York Times story.” The state contracts with an outside company, whose software prohbits access to sites deemed nonessential for the purposes of conducting state business.

Not that I’m on the public payroll, but let’s hope no one around here looks to see how many times I check out the shoe sale page at Zappos.com.

Posted on Thursday, June 22nd, 2006
Under: Uncategorized | No Comments »