Labor leader wins post on state fire board

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger just can’t seem to hold a grudge, can he?

Today, he appointed California Professional Firefighters President, Democrat and Walnut Creek resident Lou Paulson to the State Board of Fire Services.

Paulson was a serious thorn in the governor’s side during the 2005 special election, where unions statewide fought Schwarzenegger’s ballot measures with unprecedented ferocity and huge success. And the California Professional Firefighters spent big bucks helping Schwarzenegger’s opponent, Phil Angelides, in the 2006 governor’s race, although with far less success.

What’s next? California Nurses Association chief Rose Ann DeMoro appointed to the state nursing board?

For those who need a reminder, DeMoro’s organization sent uniformed nurses to protest outside the governor’s numerous appearances, a move that significantly diminished Schwarzenegger’s public shine and helped lead to the defeat of his 2005 ballot measures.

The Fire Services board position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no salary.


Judge affirms ruling in Houston civil suit

An Alameda County Superior Court judge on Thursday morning affirmed her earlier decision to allow a civil lawsuit to proceed against Assemblyman Guy Houston, R-San Ramon.

In the nearly three-year-old lawsuit, elderly investors Gerald Stefanski, Samuel and Joann Story, and Carol Tomasa argue that Houston should be held liable for the $340,000 they lost when their investments with Fred Houston, the assemblyman’s father, went sour.

Houston has adamantly denied involvement in his father’s business dealings and has called the case politically motivated. It was filed shortly before his 2004 re-election campaign.

Houston’s attorney, Michael Rupprecht, had asked the judge to dismiss the case, arguing in court documents that the lawsuit lacked merit.

Judge Winifred Smith denied Rupprecht’s motion but she made her ruling based on procedural matters, not on the details of the lawsuit.

That leaves the door open for Rupprecht to seek a continuation of the Sept. 14 trial date, which, if granted, would allow him to file further motions asking the court to toss out the case.

Click here for Tuesday’s full story on the details of the lawsuit.


Oakland’s “green collar” job inspires federal bill

The House Education and Labor Committee in the past hour passed legislation inspired, in part, by Oakland’s recently approved “Green Jobs Corps,” a program that trains workers in alternative fuels fields such as wind energy.

“The Oakland program brought to our attention that we need to provide incentives that focus on training people in these cutting-edge fields,” said committee chairman and Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, reached after the vote by telephone. “If you look at the money that venture capitalists are putting into these green companies, it’s very clear there will be a wave of opportunity for workers. The question is whether we’ll have the skills to do the jobs.”

The Green Jobs Act of 2007 (HR 2847) provides up to $125 million as a down payment on the formation of a national and state “green collar” job training program administered by the U.S. Department of Labor. Potential fields include the construction of energy efficient building, renewable electric power, energy efficient vehicles and biofuels development.

“California will absolutely be a hot spot for these training programs,” Miller said. “We’ve always been on the cutting edge of technology.”

The Green Jobs Act will become part of a larger energy package comprised of actions from other committees that Democrats will consider on the floor of the House after the July 4 break, Miller said.


McCain: “I see dead donors”

GOP presidential hopeful John McCain, a U.S. senator from Arizona, admits he’s been having trouble raising cash but reaching beyond the grave for contributions seems excessive.

A fundraising letter arrived today in the newsroom of the Contra Costa Times addressed to Margaret Lesher, inviting her to join the Patriot’s Circle, a high-level group of campaign insiders. Members who contribute $100 or more will receive a copy of a limited edition commemorative series of three photographs of McCain that depict his service the Navy and the Senate and his family.

Lesher has little use for commemorative pictures or, for that matter, a United States president.

As locals will remember, Lesher died of a tragic drowning in May 1997 in an Arizona lake. She was connected to the Times because she was the wife of the newspaper’s late owner, Dean Lesher.

A McCain campaign spokeman said, “We apologize for the mistake. It was a flawed list and we’re working to remedy the situation immediately.”

This is far from the first time that a campaign has mailed solicitations to deceased folks.

All campaigns from presidential to congressional to state and local races typically rent address lists compiled by outside companies. Mailing lists are notoriously flawed because people move, change their party registrations or die every day. It’s impossible for the campaigns to check every name, especially for national or statewide races.

But this seems like a pretty bad list.

Not only has Lesher been dead 10 years but died in McCain’s own state of Arizona. And she hasn’t used the newspaper as a mailing address since 1995, when the Leshers sold the newspaper to Knight-Ridder.


Oakland groups get job-training $$$

The U.S. Department of Labor will provide $150,000 in grants to three Oakland groups as part of a $3.8 million commitment to faith-based and community organizations helping hard-to-serve populations prepare for and succeed in finding work, Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, announced today.

“These programs are helping people who are most in need of employment to get the skills and assistance that they need to find and keep a job,” Lee said in her news release. “We all have a stake in making sure that everyone, and especially people in vulnerable communities, has access to employment opportunities. These grants for these programs are helping us to do that and should be seen as an important investment in the health of our community.”

Two new grantees, the Centro Legal de la Raza and Computer Applications Training Schools, will get $60,000 apiece, while Pivotal Point Youth Services, Inc., a previous grantee, will get $30,000.

The Labor Department says projects receiving these awards serve welfare recipients, high-school dropouts, ex-offenders, and others who facing challenges in finding work. Grantees will provide career counseling, life-coaching, mentoring, links to their local One-Stop Career Center, and other services designed to prepare people to enter the workforce. Out of 348 applicants, 59 new awardees were chosen to receive funding of up to $60,000 each, and 14 previous recipients successfully competed to expand their work with grants of $30,000 each. Grassroots faith-based and community organizations with annual social services budgets under $500,000 were eligible to apply.


Hillary adds Northern California campaign staff

Ace Smith, the Bay Area-based director of Hillary Clinton‘s Democratic presidential campaign in California, this week announced Maisha Everhart as his Northern California director and Mather Martin as deputy field director, both working out of San Francisco.

Everhart has worked with local and state government officials including Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums; Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, D-Oakland; former San Francisco District Attorney Terrence Hallinan; and Georgia State Senator Horacena Tate. A Web search also reveals that she was a legal intern in the Drug Policy Alliance‘s Office of Legal Affairs in Berkeley, and is a 2004 graduate of Rutgers School of Law in New Jersey. She’ll be working with local and state government officials to build support for Clinton.

Martin has served in the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, and as an associate at the Breast Cancer Fund, a national organization founded by her mother, the late Andrea Ravinett Martin. She’ll be working to recruit supporters and mobilize voters on primary election day, Feb. 5.