Televised election forums coming to a TV to you

Forgive my absence these past few days. I have been in the CCTV studios taping 29, half-hour segments on three ballot measures and 26 Contra Costa County races headed for the Nov. 7 ballot.

Over the course of three days, I will have traveled, via the magic of television, from Discovery Bay to Pittsburg to Moraga to Danville to Richmond and all points inbetween. Please take the time to tune into your public access television station in the next five weeks and listen to the candidates seeking office in your town or hear the pros and cons about Contra Costa County’s urban llimit line, the state housing bond and public financing of campaigns.

The Times is publishing a full line-up in Sunday’s newspaper. It will also appear in our special election section on Oct. 8. And you may have already seen a few stories about the forums in the pages of the daily paper.

But here’s a full rundown:

Contra Costa County voters have the opportunity to see and hear many of their local candidates on public access television in a series of moderated round-tables set to air up until the Nov. 7 election.

The forums include all of the county’s contested city and town council and mayors’ races, Mount Diablo and West Contra Costa school boards, and the Discovery Bay Community Services District and Ambrose Park and Recreation District.

Voters may also hear debate between proponents and opponents of statewide Proposition 1c, the housing bond; Proposition 89, public financing of campaigns; and Measure L, the Contra Costa’s urban limit line.

Moderated by Times political editor and columnist Lisa Vorderbrueggen, the 29 half-hour segments have been funded and organized by the League of Women Voters of Diablo Valley, Contra Costa Newspapers, Contra Costa Council, Contra Costa TV, Contra Costa County Election Department, Comcast and the Dean and Margaret Lesher Foundation of Walnut Creek.

The shows air on CCTV and Comcast public access stations up until the election.
Contra Costa TV, or CCTV, can be viewed countywide on Comcast Channel 27 and Astound Channel 32.

Forums can also be seen on your Comcast public access Channel 26. Only races affecting the community will be shown within that community, however, they may be viewable to each of the communities served within the cable company’s systems line-up.

Comcast central Contra Costa airs in Martinez, Lamorinda, Danville, Blackhawk, Clyde, Pleasant Hill, and portions of Walnut Creek including Rossmoor. The balance of Walnut Creek airs on Channel 6.

Comcast’s East Contra Costa County line-up airs in Bay Point, Pittsburg, Antioch, Brentwood, Oakley and Discovery Bay.

Comcast’s West Contra Costa County line up airs on El Cerrito, Pinole and Richmond.
Comcast’s Tri-Valley line-up airs in San Ramon and Dublin.

Here are the forums and viewing times:
State and regional

Assembly 11th District (DeSaulnier, Simonsen, Nott) CCTV: 7 p.m., Oct. 8 and Oct. 22; and 8 p.m., Oct. 18 and Oct. 30.

Assembly 15th District (Houston/Coleman) CCTV: 7:30 p.m., Oct. 8 and Oct. 22; and 8:30 p.m., Oct.18 and Oct. 30. Comcast Tri-Valley: 9 p.m., Oct. 13, Oct. 20, Oct. 27 and Nov. 3.

BART, District 2 (Keller/Gomes) CCTV: 8 p.m., Oct. 11 and Oct. 23; and 7 p.m., Oct. 15 andOct. 29. Comcast West County: 5 p.m., Oct. 18 and Oct. 25; 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 20 and Oct. 27.

Measure L (Contra Costa, urban limit line) — CCTV: 8:30 p.m., Oct. 11 and Oct. 23; and 7:30 p.m., Oct. 15; and Oct. 29. Channel 26, Comcast West County: 5:30 p.m., Oct. 15 and Oct. 22; 6 p.m., Oct. 17 and Oct. 24.

Proposition 1C (Statewide, housing bond) — CCTV: 9:30 p.m., Oct. 11 and Oct. 23; 8:30 p.m., Oct. 15 and Oct. 29. Comcast West County: 3 p.m., Oct. 15 and Oct. 22; 5:30 p.m, Oct. 17 and Oct. 24.

Proposition 89 (Statewide, public financing of campaigns) — CCTV: 9 p.m., Oct. 11 and Oct. 23; 8 p.m., Oct. 15; and Oct. 29. Comcast West County: 10:30 a.m., Oct. 15 and Oct. 22; 5 p.m., Oct. 17 and Oct. 24.


Concord City Council — Comcast Central Contra Costa: 6 p.m., Oct. 31; 2 p.m., Nov. 5

Clayton Town Council — Comcast Central Contra Costa: 5:30 p.m., Oct. 31; 1:30 p.m., Nov. 5

Martinez City Council — Comcast Central Contra Costa: 7 p.m., Oct. 31; 3 p.m., Nov. 5

Martinez Mayor — Comcast Cantral Contra Costa: 7:30 p.m., Oct. 31; 3:30 p.m., Nov. 5

Moraga Town Council — Comcast Central Contra Costa: 8 p.m., Oct. 31; 4 p.m., Nov. 5

Mt.Diablo Unified School District — CCTV: 8 p.m., Oct. 8 and Oct. 22; 9 p.m., Oct. 18 and Oct. 30. Comcast Central Contra Costa: 8:30 p.m., Oct. 31; 4:30 p.m., Nov. 5.

Orinda City Council — Comcast Central Contra Costa: 9 p.m., Oct. 31; 5 p.m., Nov. 5

Pleasant Hill City Council — Comcast Central Contra Costa 9:30 p.m., Oct. 31; 5:30 p.m., Nov. 5

Walnut Creek City Council — Comcast Central Contra Costa and Walnut Creek’s Channel 6: 10 p.m., Oct. 31; 6 p.m., Nov. 5


Ambrose Park and Recreation District — Comcast East County: 5 p.m., Oct. 9; 4:30 pm., Oct. 10; 10 p.m, Oct. 12 and Oct. 16; 6 p.m., Oct. 17; 9 p.m, Oct. 20; 6 p.m., Oct. 24; 10 p.m., Oct. 30; 8 p.m., Oct. 31; 9 p.m, Nov. 3; 6:30 p.m., Nov. 6

Antioch City Council — Comcast East County: 6 p.m., Oct. 10; 9 p.m, Oct. 12; 9:30 p.m, Oct. 13; 10:30 p.m, Oct. 16; 8 p.m., Oct. 17; 8 p.m., Oct. 20; 9:30 p.m., Oct. 27; 6:30 p.m., Oct. 28; 11 p.m., Oct. 30; 9 p.m., Oct. 31; 8 p.m., Nov. 3; 6:30 p.m., Nov. 4; 10 p.m,. Nov. 6.

Brentwood City Council — Comcast East County: 7:30 p.m., Oct. 9; 7:30 p.m., Oct. 11; 5:30 p.m, Oct. 12; 7:30 p.m., Oct. 16; 7:30 p.m, Oct. 18; 7:30 p.m., Oct. 23; 4:30 p.m, Oct. 24; 7:30 p.m., Oct. 25; 5 p.m., Oct. 26; 7:30 p.m, Oct. 30; 7:30 p.m., Nov. 1; and 7:30 p.m., Nov. 6.

Brentwood Mayor — Comcast East County: 8 p.m., Oct. 9; 8 p.m., Oct. 11; 6 p.m, Oct. 12; 8 p.m., Oct. 16; 8 p.m, Oct. 18; 8 p.m., Oct. 23; 5 p.m, Oct. 24; 8 p.m., Oct. 25; 5:30 p.m., Oct. 26; 8 p.m, Oct. 30; 8 p.m., Nov. 1; and 8 p.m., Nov. 6.

Discovery Bay Community Services District — Comcast East County: 8:30 p.m., Oct. 9; 8:30 p.m., Oct. 11; 6:30 p.m., Oct. 12; 8:30 p.m., Oct. 16; 8:30, Oct. 18; 8:30 p.m., Oct. 23; 5:30 p.m., Oct. 24; 8:30 p.m., Oct. 25; 6 p.m., Oct. 26; 8:30 p.m., Oct. 30; 8:30 p.m., Nov. 1; and 8:30 p.m., Nov. 6.

Pittsburg City Council — Comcast East County: 5:30 p.m, Oct. 9; 9:30 p.m, Oct. 12; 9 p.m., Oct. 13; 10:30 p.m., Oct. 16; 8:30 p.m., Oct. 17; 8:30 p.m., Oct. 20; 9 p.m., Oct. 27; 6 p.m., Oct. 28; 10:30 p.m., Oct. 30; 8:30 p.m,. Oct. 31; 8:30 p.m., Nov. 3; 5:30 p.m., Nov. 4; 10:30 p.m, Nov. 6.


Danville Town Council — Comcast Contra Costa: 6:30 p.m., Oct. 31; and 2:30 p.m., Nov. 5


El Cerrito City Council — Comcast West County: 11:30 a.m., Oct. 15 and Oct. 22; 6 p.m., Oct. 19 and Oct. 26.

Hercules City Council — Comcast West County: Noon, Oct. 15 and Oct. 22; 6 p.m., Oct. 20 and Oct. 27

Pinole City Council — Comcast West County: 7 p.m., Oct. 4; 12 p.m., Oct. 7; 5 p.m., Oct. 8.

Richmond City Council — Comcast West County: 1 p.m., Oct. 15 and Oct. 22; 5 p.m., Oct. 16 and Oct. 23

Richmond Mayor — Comcast West County: 1:30 p.m., Oct. 15 and Oct. 22; 5:30 p.m., Oct. 16 and Oct. 23.

West Contra Costa Unified School District — CCTV: 8:30 p.m., Oct. 8 and Oct. 22; 9:30 p.m., Oct. 18 and Oct. 30. Comcast West County: 12:30 p.m, Oct. 15 and Oct. 22; 7 p.m, Oct. 17 and Oct. 24.


Pombo-McNerney appearance set for Oct. 5

The Tracy Press’ longstanding election forum series on Oct. 5 offers the only opportunity for folks in Congressional District 11 to see GOP Rep. Richard Pombo and his Democrat challenger Jerry McNerney on the same stage.

Click here for the newspaper’s story on the event.

It’s more a forum than a debate but the newspaper’s primary forum between Pombo and his GOP challenger, former Congressman Pete McCloskey, produced plenty of fireworks and a packed house.

This race has been heating up in recent weeks, so watch for both sides to stuff the room with their supporters and their campaign signs. The crowd will include folks from a number of national environmental and liberal organizations that are spending money in this district in an effort to oust Pombo.


Rothenberg Reports adds Pombo, Doolittle to watch lists

The Rothenberg Political Report today added two California congressional races to its watch list.

The districts of GOP incumbents Richard Pombo of Tracy and John Doolittle of Granite Bay are now ranked as “Republican favored.” Other than outright safe, it’s the least competitive of the ranking system which ranges from pure toss-up to tilt to lean in one party’s favor or the other.

But the appearance of the races on the list at all reflects the fact that Republicans nationwide are fighting for their political lives. Voters are unhappy about the Iraq War, a polemical Congress tangled in corruption scandals and the economy.

The shift probably also shows that political experts who track congressional races have noted the tens of thousands of dollars the National Republican Congressional Committee has spent in Pombo’s district in recent weeks. A party spokesman says it’s because they want to win decisively but others speculate that internal polling has delivered bad news for the incumbent.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is also starting to pay attention, naming Jerry McNerney, who is challenging Pombo, and Charlie Brown, Doolittle’s adversary, to a suddenly created “emerging candidates” category of its “Red to Blue” national fundraising initiative.

This “emerging” title is little more than a public nod, though. The party isn’t giving these guys any money, although the publicity may attract donations. Neither Democrat has been able to persuade the party to invest in their campaigns, largely because party registration in these two districts heavily favors Republicans and the party has more competitive races to fight elsewhere.

But it does indicate that party leaders are a bit less pessimistic about their candidates’ chances than they have been.

Adding to the buzz, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has again named Pombo and Doolittle to its list of the most corrupt members of Congress. Republicans have called this group an arm of the Democratic Party, largely because its top staff has roots in the party, but the list includes four Democrats. Read the report with skepticism: The Pombo chapter includes a number of unproven allegations and the congressman vigorously disputes its conclusions.

Meanwhile, Pombo and McNerney continue to hammer each other in mailers and radio ads that grow nastier with each passing week. Again, voters should consider the contents with a big salt shaker. If you don’t believe everything you read in the newspaper, and you shouldn’t, then you definitely don’t want to take anything in a campaign mailer too seriously.

McNerney, who has far less money than his opponent, is also relying heavily on ground troops and the efforts of liberal and environmental groups that have spent thousands of dollars on anti-Pombo campaign messages in the past year.

Six of these groups are hosting a “Take Back Congress” fund-raiser and volunteer recruiting event with McNerney and Brown on Sept. 27 in Oakland, which doesn’t happen to be District 11 but then again, most of the activists don’t live in the district, either. Former GOP Congressman Pete McCloskey is on the guest list, along with comedian Will Durst and former Assemblyman and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown.

If you want to attend, visit the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund web site, PomboInTheirPocket.org, for time and location. The other sponsors are the Sierra Club, Progressive Democrats of America, Project Blue Bridge and Progressive Action.


Contra Costa Taxpayers say “no” to urban limit line measure

The Contra Costa Taxpayers Association overwhelming said “no” this morning to Measure L, the county’s urban limit line measure on the Nov. 7 ballot.

The measures asks votes to extend to 2026 the county’s existing growth boundary line, which designates areas appropriate for housing, shops and businesses.

The members oppose the concept, largely on the grounds that it violates property owners’ rights to pursue development.

Proponents argue that the line saves taxpayers money because it directs growth into existing communities where roads, schools and services already exist. They also believe curbing suburban sprawl will lighten the load on the region’s highways and save open space because more folks will have the opportunity to live near jobs and shops.

Click here for access to documents prepared by Contra Costa County related to the measure.


Governor signs children’s bill by Sen. Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch

Children Now reports that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Senate Bill 638, authored by Sen. Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch, which “expands the availability of after school programs in California, ensures their quality and provides priority access to new funding for low-income schools,” according to a Children Now e-mail.

Commenting on the bill, Children Now President Ted Lempert said, “California’s children will now have much more access to safe and enriching after school programs. We urge all schools to begin preparing their applications today so that the children they serve can benefit from this opportunity.”


Update on the death of John A. Nejedly

The Times will have a full-length front-page story Wednesday on the life of the former state senator and political giant John A. Nejedly.

But in any full day’s reporting, there are often many worthy quotes that don’t make it into the story due to space. I would like to share some of those quotes below:

“In my estimation, John was the most wonderful asset this country has ever had. His long program in Sacramento was absolutely bipartisan. He supported legislation based on his personal judgement of its quality and accuracy.”

Hulet Hornbeck, retired land acquisition manager for East Bay Regional Park District

“John modernized the county’s District Attorney operation. When he was elected, it had part-time prosecutors. He persuaded the Board of Supervisors to make it fulltime and create a professional office. It was extremely important … But he was tough. Some of the prosecutors hated to talk with him about their cases because John had a photographic memory and he would often know their case better than they did!”

Former Contra Costa County District Attorney Gary Yancy, who says he used Nejedly’s old office furniture for years

“John Nejedly was monumental in California conservation, Contra Costa’s most powerful environmentalist since John Muir, and a Republican in the true sense of Teddy Roosevelt — someone who conserved natural resources for the public’s benefit.”

Seth Adams, Save Mount Diablo

“John Nejedly was without question one of the most decent and kind public servants of the last 50 years. He personified a period in time when politicians worked in a collegial manner even when they disagreed. Our community will certainly miss him.”

Tom Del Beccaro, president of the Contra Costa County Republican Party

“John will be best remembered for his dedication to the work that he undertook. And he’s done so many things. I think what he would want to be remembered for is his dedication to good government and to what governent can do for the good of the people.”

Bob Schroder, former Contra Costa County Supervisor

“John was a wonderful man with young people and he always tried to push young people to get involved in the environment, outdoors and nature, and to get involved with government and community service. He was a big influence in my life and a lot of others … I wish we had a lot more politicians today who had the sense of community and giving back, and not just advocating for a convenient political agenda. John really believed in what he was advocating.”

Bob Doyle, deputy general manager of the East Bay Regional Park District. (He was 19 years old when he met Nejedly the first time.)

“There was no one who knew more about water than John Nejedly. He had a very balanced viewpoint. He was both pro-growth and pro-environment because he believed we could have a prosperous economy and protect our environment.”

Former congressional Rep. Bill Baker, R-Danville.

“John was a wonderful man and I have fond memories of our talks about the old days. But he used to call me up and tell me what I ought to do, too!”

Contra Costa District Attorney Bob Kochly

“John had a vision for the future of Contra Costa County … he was brilliant at being able to see what the entire community needed.”

Bev Lane, East Bay Regonal Park District Board of Directors

I never thought of John as a Republican or a Democrat, or a liberal or conservative, like we label people today. He was a statesman.”

Joe Campbell, Contra Costa Water District president

“Senator Nejedly was a tireless advocate to improve water quality and the preservation of open space for future generations. As a veteran of World War II, a State Senator, and in many other ways he proved his commitment to our country and our community. He will be sorely missed.”

Assemblyman Guy Houston, R-San Ramon

“He would tell jokes. But they were bad jokes. I don’t think he ever told a good joke, although he had books of jokes!”

Longtime friend and open space advocate Jo Ann Hannah