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Archive for November, 2006

Check out Times Election Day photos

Click here for photo slideshow of Election Day events by Times’ photographers.

Posted on Tuesday, November 7th, 2006
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Did Abramoff send you an e-mail?

Proponents of Proposition 89, the public financing of campaigns initiative, shipped out a creative e-mail that appears to be from convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

I didn’t know Abramoff was doing much e-mailing these days. (Has he gone into the pokey yet?)

One highly suspects that Abramoff did not write this e-mail, but here it is:

Dear Reform-Minded Voter,

If Prop 89 becomes law, lobbyists like me will not have the power we once did. This would be a huge problem for my friends and clients.

I was the Capitol’s top lobbyist and I had Washington wired. And now some people call me the poster boy for reform. Boy, that ticks me off. Do people understand that Prop 89 would make people like me and my clients less powerful in Sacramento?

California’s nurses, who are leading the campaign for Prop 89, claim they want to protect voters like they protect patients every day.

HMOs, drug makers, insurers and oil companies don’t need the nurses’ help, which is why they’ve put up millions to defeat Prop 89. Trust me, the special interests have things totally under control in California and it is working just great. That’s why my old lobbying firm set up shop in Sacramento recently. What will happen to them if Californians enact the tough reforms in Prop 89? Is anyone thinking about the lobbyists?

Prop 89 even bans lobbyists from making donations. How would we ever get anything done? Prop 89 strictly limits campaign contributions to ballot measure committees and politicians. You know what that’ll do? Leave us with fewer political ads. Whose idea was that?

And do you really want tougher laws to put politicians and lobbyists in jail? Aren’t California’s jails overcrowded enough?

Please, as my last request before I enter my own prison cell next week, don’t believe the California Nurses Association and the League of Women Voters’ campaign for Yes on 89. California politics has been working just great (for my clients anyway).

Most sincerely,
Jack Abramoff
Please forward my message on to your friends and family.

Editor’s Note: Prop 89, a campaign reform measure sponsored by the California Nurses Association, dramatically reduces the power of special interests over California politicians and limits out-of-control spending on ballot measures. Prop 89 bars lobbyists and state contractors from making political contributions and limits the amount that corporations, unions and other interest groups can contribute to politicians. Prop 89 allows candidates with broad grassroots support to receive funding for their campaigns in exchange for agreeing not to fundraise from special interests (or anyone). Prop 89 also limits corporate contributions to initiative campaigns to $10,000. Learn more about Prop 89.

Posted on Tuesday, November 7th, 2006
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Rules vary on photos/video at polling sites

The Center for Citizens Media blog posts an interesting discussion about the rules about taking photos and videos at polling sites. I’ve posted the top of the entry below, but click here for the full link.

Banning Anonymity?
State Laws Vary on Polling Place Photography
November 6th, 2006 by Dan Gillmor

(This guest posting comes via Lauren Gelman, deputy director of the Center for Internet & Society at Stanford Law School.)


When we asked for your questions, we never expected that 80% would be about taking photographs or videos at the polls.

Research by student fellows at the Stanford University Law School’s Center for Internet & Society has, ironically, concluded that this is one question without a clear answer. So the students compiled a 50-state guide (we missed a couple in the first posting; are any missing now?– they’re still working on the last few — to point you to the laws and regulations, with a little commentary on how they think the laws might apply to the following questions:

* Can you photograph or video your vote inside the polling station– either a paper ballot or electronic screen?
* Can you photograph or video yourself voting inside the polling station?
* Can you photograph or video others voting or the working of the polling station from within it?
* Can you photograph or video the polling station from outside it?
* Can you photograph or video people leaving the voting station?
* Can you ask people questions leaving the polling station and can you video or blog their answers?

Posted on Tuesday, November 7th, 2006
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Robert Redford just called me

No, he didn’t want to whisk me away to a life of wealth and leisure. (Don’t let my husband see this.)

He just wanted me to vote yes on Prop. 87, the oil-tax initiative.

Hey, don’t get me wrong: I still think it’s silly to try and lure voters with celebrities. But it’s okay to make an exception for Robert Redford, don’t you think?

Posted on Tuesday, November 7th, 2006
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Election Day

I’ll be arriving in the office mid-afternoon, where I plan to blog throughout the day and into the night as returns come in.

Our biggest race, aside from the many local contests, is the congressional District 11 contest between Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, and Democratic challenger Jerry McNerney. We’ll have two reporters at the candidates’ campaign event plus photographers will document the event and post pictures later tonight.

In addition to the home page, you can click here to go directly to the Times’ politics page.

Unfortunately, I’ll be in the office compiling the information from my colleagues in the field and won’t be able to visit the many victory parties! Besides, I couldn’t figure out to be in two places at once, i.e., the Pombo and McNerney events, so I have opted for a neutral location.

So, don’t forget to vote and then tune in later for all the fun.

Posted on Tuesday, November 7th, 2006
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Rep. Duncan Hunter stumps for Pombo today

This just in from the campaign office of Rep. Richard Pombo, who is running against Democratic challenger Jerry McNerney:

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-El Cajon, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and presidential hopeful for 2008, will join Pombo today in get out the vote tour of District 11.

The tour culminates in a “Veterans and Volunteers for Pombo” rally tonight at 7 p.m., where Hunter will speak on behalf of troops and vets in support of Pombo. The rally will be held at
the Amblers Club, 2000 Amblers Lane in Stockton.

The pair will hold a press conference at 11 a.m. at the Danville All Wars Memorial, 3005 Stone Valley Road.

At noon, they will stop at Camp Parks in Dublin, followed by a visit to San Joaquin County General Hospital Veterans Health Clinic in French Camp. CORRECTION: The tour of Camp Parks has been cancelled in order to avoid confusion between campaign and non-campaign stops.

Posted on Monday, November 6th, 2006
Under: congressional district 11 | 2 Comments »

Anonymous mailer hits Brentwood, again

A second anonymous hit piece on Brentwood mayoral candidate Annette Beckstrand arrived in mailboxes over the weekend.

What’s going on in Brentwood? It seems like such a nice little town.

Unlike the first mailer, however, this one is not illegal. Slimy, yes. Unlawful, no.

That’s because the Fair Political Practices Commission typically defines campaign literature as that which expressly advocates for or against a particular candidate.

The first mailer said “Vote No on Beckstrand” but it failed to included the required disclosure of the person or group that paid for it.

The second Brentwood mailer never expressly calls for anyone to vote against her or mentions that she is even a candidate. The authors feel quite confident in its legality, no doubt, as evidenced by the fact that they used a bulk mailing service rather than the untraceable first-class stamps found on the original flyer.

It is remarkably reminiscent of an anonymous mailer that hit Antioch mailboxes two years ago. It was full of allegations about Mayor Don Freitas, but the author never mentioned a vote or the election in order to avoid disclosure.

It didn’t work. Freitas beat opponent Jim Davis by nearly 5,000 votes.

It’s unclear whether the nastygrams will have an impact on the Brentwood mayoral race, which includes councilmembers Beckstrand, Bob Taylor and Ana Gutierrez.

The issues identified in the mailer are almost identical.

The first implies that Beckstrand received developers’ contributions in return for favorable votes on development projects. But of the 38 votes listed on the mailer, the vast majority were unanimous votes of the board.

The second revisits the fact that Beckstrand voted twice in favor of $20,000 worth of city grants to a youth choir of which her children were members and she was an officer. (The money helped send the 85-member choir to perform in New York and Washington, D.C.)

In retrospect, Beckstrand agrees that she shoudn’t have voted. It was a conflict of interest.

But she clearly didn’t try to do anything underhanded or sneaky: Her children openly sang with the choir when the group requested the money; her involvement in the group was known to the council and staff; and no one on the council or staff suggested that she abstain.

That’s more than you can say for her cowardly critics, who lob charges from behind masks.

Bob Nunn, whose family and Brentwood company has contributed to Beckstrand and other candidates, called the mailer disgusting.

He also called it ironic that mayoral candidate Bob Taylor, also a councilman, had cashed a $1,000 check from his firm a month ago but returned the money last week.

“Our money was good a month ago,” Nunn said. “What happened? I’m not saying Bob put out that mailer but it sure seems like strange timing.”

Let’s hope that none of the other mayoral or council candidates had anything to do with the anonymous mailers, or the governance of this town appears headed for continued angst.

Posted on Monday, November 6th, 2006
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Michael J. Fox endorses McNerney

This just in: Actor and stem cell research activist Michael J. Fox has endorsed Democratic nominee Jerry McNerney of Pleasanton for congressional District 11.

McNerney is in a tight race with GOP incumbent Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy.

Fox has been actively campaigning this year with the Democratic Party for embryonic stem cell research. Pombo, along with many conservative Republicans and President George W. Bush, oppose the practice because it involves the destruction of human embryos.

Here’s the text of the Democrat’s press release:

Cites Support for Stem Cell Research

Today Michael J. Fox strongly endorsed Democratic Congressional candidate Jerry McNerney. As a vocal proponent of medical research, Fox is supporting candidates who support all forms of stem cell research in races where their opponents simply do not.

“America is about hope, about promise, about always moving forward, and we deserve leaders who are willing to deliver that hope to their constituents,” Fox stated.

“The idea of restricting one of the most promising areas of research is shortsighted. We have no way of knowing where the next break will emerge,” Fox continued.

Stem cell research has the potential to improve the lives of millions of people living with diseases and disorders including cancer, diabetes, spinal cord injuries, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and even Parkinson’s disease.

Fox is committed to electing to Congress individuals like Jerry McNerney who will support expanding the current policy on stem cell research. McNerney’s opponent, Rep. Richard Pombo, voted to uphold President George W. Bush’s veto of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act in July 2006 and had previously voted against the legislation.

“I enthusiastically support and endorse Jerry McNerney for Congress. By supporting stem cell research, Jerry McNerney puts America on a path that speaks to who we are as a nation,” Fox concluded.”

Posted on Sunday, November 5th, 2006
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Pro-Garner/Affleck or anti-Pombo?

Defenders of Wildlife says more than 350 volunteer canvassers rallied with Hollywood actress Jennifer Garner and Defenders’ president Rodger Schlickeisen this morning in Pleasanton to help defeat Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy.

Yes, actor Ben Affleck — Garner’s husband — was supposed to show, too, but he had migraine.

Call me skeptical but one has to wonder how many of these volunteers showed to catch a glimpse of Bennifer and wouldn’t know Pombo from an extra on a movie set?

Posted on Saturday, November 4th, 2006
Under: congressional district 11 | No Comments »

Watch KQED tonight for CD11 segment

I am appearing tonight on KQED Channel 9 “This Week in Northern California” to talk about the sizzlingly congressional District 11 race between incumbent Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, and Democratic challenger Jerry McNerney of Pleasanton.

The show also runs other times on the weekend. Check the web site for details.

It’s been a wild, star-studded week. Sleep deprivation is beginning to set in and I’m not even a candidate.

I spent two long, long days with each candidate last weekend in preparation for a story that appeared today. (Click here for the link.)

Then it was off to the Stockton airport to listen to former President Bill Clinton in a late-night whistle stop for McNerney. Folks may agree or not with Clinton’s politics but no one can dispute his prowess as an orator. He held the audience captive for 40 minutes and that was after they stood for hours in the rain. For Democrats, it was an inspiring and unforgettable evening that will undoubtably fire them up as they stump for McNerney in the final stretch before the election.

Early Friday morning, I negotiated rthe White House security gauntlet and listened to First Lady Laura Bush campaign for Pombo. She lived up to her reputation and delivered a positive and gracious speech. Laura Bush appeals to women and her appearance on Pombo’s behalf will persuade or reinforce so-inclinded members of the fairer sex that the incumbent is worthy of their votes.

And finally, actors Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner are set to appear in downtown Pleasanton at 10 a.m. at the invitation of the Defenders of Wildlife, one of Pombo’s most aggressive detractors.

A colleague of mine will cover it as I have another assignment but he has promised to give my regards to the happy couple. Whether or not the appearance of movie stars on voters’ front steps will convert voters, who knows?

Posted on Friday, November 3rd, 2006
Under: congressional district 11 | No Comments »