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Archive for July, 2007

Schwarzenegger video of the week

This week, one of Schwarzenegger’s old Japanese commercials; it’s for that same energy drink featured in some of the earlier SVOTWs, but I just found this spot today:

So, those two guys he’s spinning in the air… Perata and Ackerman?

Previous SVOTWs: July 17, July 10, July 3, June 26, June 19, June 12, June 5, May 29, May 22, May 15, May 8, May 1, April 24, April 17, April 10, April 3, March 27, March 20, March 13, March 6, February 27, February 20, February 13, February 6, January 30.

Posted on Tuesday, July 24th, 2007
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, California State Senate, Dick Ackerman, Don Perata | No Comments »

Lloyd wins sheriff, DA endorsements

Contra Costa County Sheriff Warren Rupf and District Attorney Bob Kochly have endorsed GOP Assembly District 15 candidate Judy Biviano Lloyd.

This morning’s press release follows Lloyd’s announcement of the endorsements of former sheriff and state senator Dick Rainey and his wife, Walnut Creek Mayor Sue Rainey.

Candidates usually compete fiercely for endorsements, particularly those of high-profile elected officials. Big names can attract big contributions and ultimately, the candidates hope, the necessary votes to win on Election Day.

The quest for endorsements is particularly heightened in Assembly District 15, where some 11 people seek to replace incumbent Assemblyman Guy Houston of San Ramon when he terms out in 2008.

The field includes five Republicans and six Democrats. (Democrat Terry Coleman is listed on the Secretary of State’s web site as having a campaign committee but he has withdrawn from the race.)

The Democratic field includes Steve Filson, Stevan Thomas, Fred Klaske, Davies Ononiwu, Chris Van Schaack and San Ramon Valley School Board Trustee Joan Buchanan.

The Republican field, in addition to Judy Lloyd, includes San Ramon Mayor Abram Wilson, Robert Rao, Scott Kamena and Joe Rubay.

(Note: If a candidate has an official Assembly web site, I’ve included it as a link attached to his or her name above.)

Posted on Tuesday, July 24th, 2007
Under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Term limit measure gathers 1.1 million signatures

The business and labor coalition formed to promote a ballot measure that would alter California’s term limit law has submitted more than 1.1 million signatures to the Secretary of State, a substantially higher number than mandated under state law.

The Secretary of State requires 694,354 signatures of registered voters to qualify the initiative for the February ballot.

The measure would shorten the amount of time a legislator may serve from 14 years to 12 years but it would allow a lawmaker to hold office in either the Senate or the Assembly for the full time period. The current law limits lawmakers to six years in the Assembly and eight years in the Senate.

If passes, the initiative would also allow incumbents that would otherwise term out in 2008 to seek re-election to their seats, including the leaders of both houses, Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata of Oakland and Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez of Los Angeles.

It would also benefit state Sen. Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch and Assemblymembers Guy Houston of San Ramon and Loni Hancock of Berkeley.

Here’s a portion of the press release sent out a few minute ago from the initiative’s proponents:

“Putting term limits reform on the February ballot will set the stage for the Legislature to approve a companion ballot measure for a fair reapportionment of California’s political districts, and bring some needed stability to our legislative process,” said Allan Zaremberg, President and CEO of CalChamber. “Solutions to California’s numerous issues will be easier when legislators aren’t in a constant campaign cycle and are more accountable to the voters in competitive districts.”

“Reforming term limits is a key part of the comprehensive change we need to restore the confidence of citizens in their government,” Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata (D-Oakland) said. “Californians also want government to be more responsive to their needs and more accountable for results. It’s not just about how long we serve, but how well we serve.”

“Representing the people of California is honorable work. This initiative with its bipartisan coalition of supporters can bring more stability and greater expertise to our system,” Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez (D-Los Angeles) said.

“California is really an entire country. We all want the smartest, most experienced people leading us at the federal level; we must have it at the state level, too,” said Rick Jacobs, founder of the progressive Courage Campaign. “We need real reform so that our elected leaders can learn how the complex state runs and then lead. A revolving door benefits the lobbyists, not the people. That’s why I’m for this initiative.”

Early polls and overwhelming response to signature gathering shows strong support among voters for the initiative.

“With over 400,000 more signatures collected than needed, our campaign is coming out of the gate strong,” said Matt Dowd, campaign strategist for the initiative. “Polls show already strong numbers, with support gaining over time. The latest San Jose State Survey and Policy Research Institute poll clocks in with an overwhelming 56 percent of likely voters supporting the initiative.”

Click here to see the poll.

“While the Secretary of State still needs to certify our signatures, we’re looking forward to running a vigorous campaign through the fall and winter,” said Gale Kaufman, chief campaign strategist for the initiative. “We’ll reach out to voters and educate them about our current system and why we need these reforms.”

U.C. Berkeley political scientist Bruce Cain and U.C San Diego Professor Thad Kousser have written extensive reports on the impact of term limits, including one for the Public Policy Institute of California:, which was also published in a series of studies by the National Conference of State Legislators:

“The current budget impasse highlights several major flaws with the current system of term limits. Legislators need be able to develop better working relationships with their colleagues to lessen partisan rancor and intransigency on key budget issues. The current system stymies those vital relationships and impedes productive compromise,” Prof. Kousser said. “Also, Legislative leadership that turns over quickly because of term limits begs for reform. Allowing legislators to serve twelve years in either house will help create a more effective Legislature.”

In addition to enhancing the effectiveness of the Legislature with term limits reform, there currently are several redistricting proposals being examined in the State Senate and State Assembly.

“I look forward to working with the Governor and the Legislature to place meaningful and fair reapportionment on the ballot, as well,” continued Allan Zaremberg, President and CEO of CalChamber.

Posted on Monday, July 23rd, 2007
Under: State politics | No Comments »

State Bar: Gov’s pick for bench isn’t qualified

The State Bar of California‘s Board of Governors has just disclosed that former San Bernardino County Republican Party chairman Elia Pirozzi, a Rancho Cucamonga real-estate lawyer named by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in May to the San Bernardino County Superior Court, was appointed despite a “not qualified” evaluation rating by the bar’s Judicial Nominees Evaluation Commission (JNE).

Pirozzi was the county’s GOP chair from 2000-03; he and his wife founded an Inland Empire real estate company now known as Coldwell Banker Western Properties, where Diane Pirozzi is still president. He also ran for the 42nd Congressional District seat in 1998, 1999 and 2000, as well as in the 63rd Assembly District GOP primary in 2004; he lost that latter race by a 151-vote margin to Bill Emmerson, R-Redlands.

By law, JNE evaluates judicial candidates, rates their qualifications and reports to the governor; it’s not authorized to make public its findings except when the State Bar’s Board of Governors votes to do so following the appoinment of a “not qualified” candidate. The board voted to do so Friday. State Bar spokeswoman Diane Curtis told me today that the JNE has no authority to disclose any details of the evaluation, only the result.

The governor’s office hasn’t returned my calls yet…

UPDATE @ 4:45 P.M. MONDAY: I just got back to my desk and found this statement from Schwarzenegger press secretary Aaron McLear:

“Judge Pirozzi is qualified to serve in this position — he been serving as a judge pro tem over the past year, a position that he was selected for by his peers in the legal community. He has practiced law for nearly two decades in the Inland Empire, which has given him strong community ties and a vast knowledge of the pressing issues in San Bernardino.”

Posted on Monday, July 23rd, 2007
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger | No Comments »

Contra Costa GOP to strategize on 2008 election

The Contra Costa Republican Party will host a strategy meeting and forum on Aug. 18 with candidates for the state Assembly and congressional District 11.

All Republicans are invited.

The Assembly District 15 candidates on the agenda include Judy Lloyd, San Ramon Mayor Abram Wilson, Robert Rao, Joe Rubay and Scott Kamena.

Congressional District 11 hopeful and former Assemblyman Dean Andal is expected to attend.

Assemblyman Guy Houston, R-San Ramon, is on the invitation list, too. If voters alter term limits in February, Houston says he will seek re-election to his District 15 seat. If not, Houston is considering a run for Congress against Andal in the June 2008 primary election.

Also expected to attend is Contra Costa County Supervisor Mary Piepho, who has no declared opponents yet, and Erik Nunn, who is running against incumbent Supervisor Federal Glover. The supervisor seat is nonpartisan but parties do get involved in the promotion of Republicans.

The strategy meeting begins at 3:30 p.m. at the Lafayette home of Contra Costa GOP Chairman Tom Del Becarro, followed by dinner and drinks at 5 p.m. A candidates’ forum will start at 6 p.m.

Tickets cost $25 per person.

For tickets, send an email to or call 925-930-9551. Directions and the exact location will be provided.

Posted on Monday, July 23rd, 2007
Under: Contra Costa politics | No Comments »

Alamo protests elimination of planning commission

The Alamo Improvement Association, a membership organization comprised of a portion of the residents of unincorporated Alamo, is asking members to protest on Tuesday a proposal to eliminate the San Ramon Valley Planning Commission.

The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on the proposal at its Tuesday morning meeting in Martinez.

The vote comes at the recommendation of the countywide Planning Commission, whose members say there’s little or nothing for the regional planning commissioners to do. The San Ramon Valley is largely built out and the regional commission has cancelled numerous meetings due to lack of items on its agenda.

But some folks in Alamo say the county’s Planning Commission, which hears matters from throughout Contra Costa, lacks local representation when it comes to deliberating matters pertinent to Alamo neighborhoods.

In a letter to residents, AIA President Brad Waite said that none of the members of county Planning Commission live in Alamo and the meetings are held in Martinez. The San Ramon Valley Regional Planning Commission meets in Danville and four of its seven members are from Alamo.

Waite also noted that the author of the proposal is county Planning Commissioner Rick Clark, the developer of the Alamo Summit ridgeline project at the top of Ridgewood and Castle Crest Roads, a project that generated local controversy.

“It is very important that you immediately e-mail the supervisors individually or, better yet, attend the Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, to express your opposition to the elimination of the (San Ramon Valley Planning Commission) and ask that the Board’s discussion be deferred at least a week or two to allow a reasonable time for the affected communities to be notified,” Waite wrote. “If the SRVRPC is eliminated, it will be profoundly negative for Alamo.”

Posted on Monday, July 23rd, 2007
Under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Poll shows Canciamilla, DeSaulnier neck-in-neck

A poll in Senate District 7 shows the two current candidates, former Assemblyman Joe Canciamilla of Pittsburg and current Assemblyman Mark DeSaulnier of Concord, in a statistical dead heat. (Click here for a map of the district, which encompasses Contra Costa County.)

The survey of 400 likely voters in late May found that if the election were held on that day, DeSaulnier would receive 33 percent to Canciamilla’s 32 percent.

In other results, 30 percent of those who were polled said they were much more likely to vote for an environmental leader, twice as high as other categories such as educational or business leaders.

When it came to favorability ratings, though, Canciamilla slightly edged out DeSaulnier, 31 to 29 percent. The incumbent, Sen. Tom Torlakson of Antioch, received a 48 percent favorability rating, while 53 percent gave the Legislature a thumb’s up.

The biggest loser in this poll was President George Bush, who received an 89 percent unfavorable rating in Senate District 7. Ouch.

Canciamilla’s campaign commissioned the poll, which was conducted by J-MAIL Research and had an error rate of plus or minus 5 percent.

In the interest of full disclosure, I will say that I didn’t get to see the whole poll, which asked a wide range of questions, both positive and negative, about Canciamilla and DeSaulnier.

Polls such as these are part of the strategy as the campaigns gear up for how they will package their candidates and exploit their opponents’ weaknesses.

And leaking certain portions of those polls to reporters? Well, that’s strategy, too.

Posted on Friday, July 20th, 2007
Under: Contra Costa politics | No Comments »

Eshoo asks Gonzalez to probe Cheney

eshoo.jpgRep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, who chairs the House Intelligence Subcommittee on Intelligence Community Management, wrote Wednesday to U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales urging him to determine whether Vice President Dick Cheney’s office is required to comply with government-wide regulations on handling classified information.

Since 2004, the Office of the Vice President has refused to submit to routine compliance audits of its handling of classified information, and now asserts it’s not bound by regulations on classified information security because it is not an “entity within the executive branch.”

Keep in mind this is an office in which two people have earned felony convictions in cases related to the mishandling of classified information: Chief of Staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby and aide Leandro Aragoncillo.

The National Archives’ Information Security Oversight Office, which ensures compliance with the regulations, asked the Attorney General in January to rule on whether the regulations apply to the Vice President’s office. So far, Gonzalez has not responded.

“Because the Office of the Vice President is deeply involved with classified programs, it is critical for the Attorney General to uphold the integrity of the system that safeguards classified information,” Eshoo said in a news release.

OK, let’s all wait for Gonzalez’ response: one-Mississippi, two-Mississippi, three-Mississippi…

Posted on Thursday, July 19th, 2007
Under: Anna Eshoo, U.S. House, Vice President Dick Cheney | No Comments »

Antioch group forms RV alliance

Antioch residents Michele and Chuck Kuslits, leaders of a local group working to defeat efforts to restrict the parking of RVs and boats in city neighborhoods, have formed a new organization called the Recreational Vehicle and Property Rights Alliance.

According to the group’s press release, the purpose of the new group is dedicated to “protecting and defending the rights of all Americans as it relates to recreational vehicles and personal property.”

The group’s first big task will undoubtedly be the opposition to a ballot measure that Antioch city leaders have said they will place before voters that would ban parked RVs and boats in the driveways and front yards of the city’s neighborhoods and force owners to store them behind fences or in paid storage lots.

Many communities have similar ordinances but it has been a hugely controversial move in Antioch, where residents say they bought in this community because they knew they could keep their boats and RVs close their homes.

You can find the group’s mission statement on its web site at

The group is seeking members. There is no cost to join and anyone interested may sign up on the website or by contacting a current member for more information.

Here’s what the balance of the press release says:

At a recent meeting of the former Antioch RV and Boat Owners, financial and property rights related support from other community members and the recreational vehicle industry, was a driving force in the creation of the new organization. T

he group is currently interviewing legal counsel as well as meeting with other grass roots groups in the state facing similar issues.

A current trend has been identified in communities around the state to modify local ordinances based on “Quality of Life” issues, which is much different than the previous basis of “Public Health and Safety.”

The group and its members are concerned that in many cases, Antioch not excluded, government officials are throwing together changes that are potentially unconstitutional and unfair to all of the citizens in the community.

“We need a voice and the community needs an advocate for their interests as it relates to Recreational Vehicles and Property Rights”, said Michele Kuslits. “Ordinances are necessary for health and safety; however, they must be equitable for all involved, they cannot be discriminatory, opinion based, aesthetically driven, nor can they favor one lifestyle or socioeconomic group over another.”

Posted on Wednesday, July 18th, 2007
Under: Contra Costa politics | No Comments »

Tauscher endorses Clinton

tauscher2.jpgI’m on a conference call right now in which Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, has just announced her support of U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., in next year’s presidential race “because I believe that Hillary has the strength and experience to lead this country” and “can bring the war in Iraq to an end and begin to bring the troops home safely.”

Clinton responded that she’s well aware of Tauscher’s work — “Congresswoman Tauscher is viewed as a real leader on defense and security,” as well as transportation, energy and other issues — and is both “delighted to have her advising my campaign on national security issues” as well as looking forward to campaigning with her. “I know I’m going to need people like Ellen by my side to help face the challenges we confront.”

This isn’t surprising. Tauscher told me in March she was “very disposed toward Sen. Clinton, and part of that is that I have been a friend and a fan of hers for many years, and we have very similar kinds of points of view and we share very similar values, so that’s part of it. And, y’know, I’m talking to her about how things go, but I just want to see things emerge a little bit more.”

Today, Tauscher called Clinton “one of the warmest and funniest people I’ve ever met” as well as a brilliant litigator, speaker and policymaker. Clinton said she and Tauscher “have a lot in common,” having been professionals in male-dominated fields — law and investment banking, respectively — before entering public policy with like-minded concerns.

Posted on Wednesday, July 18th, 2007
Under: Elections, Ellen Tauscher, Hillary Clinton, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | 1 Comment »