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Archive for August, 2007

Schwarzenegger video of the week

This week, and purely for the fun of it, our governor’s guest appearance in AC/DC‘s video for “Big Gun,” from the soundtrack of the 1993 Schwarzenegger action film, “The Last Action Hero.” The real fun starts about two minutes in, as Arnold does his impression of famed guitarist Angus Young

Previous SVOTWs: August 21, August 7, July 31, July 24, 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, August 28th, 2007
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger | No Comments »

Anti-war vigils set for Tuesday night

Americans Against Escalation in Iraq and are organizing “Take a Stand Day” vigils across the country tomorrow evening to urge Congress to take a stand against the war in Iraq. In the Bay Area, vigils are scheduled for sites including:

  • 12 p.m. noon outside the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Office Building at 1301 Clay St. in Oakland;
  • 5:30 p.m. at the California Street cable-car turnaround at Market & Drumm streets in San Francisco, co-hosted by members of the Working Assets Politics team;
  • 6:30 p.m. near the San Leandro BART station, at Davis Street and San Leandro Blvd.;
  • 7 p.m. in Splash Pad Park, across from the Grand Lake Theater, at Grand and Lake Park avenues in Oakland;
  • 7 p.m. in the small park on Prince Street between Regent and Dana streets in Berkeley;
  • 7 p.m. on the northwest corner of Shattuck Avenue and Cedar Street in Berkeley;
  • 7 p.m. in All Saints Catholic Church, 22824 Second St. at D Street in Hayward;
  • 7 p.m. at the intersection of Smith Street, Dyer Street and Alvarado-Niles Road in Union City; and
  • 7 p.m. at Fourth Avenue and El Camino Real in San Mateo.
  • Posted on Monday, August 27th, 2007
    Under: Iraq, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

    Resident questions Bjerke’s loyalties

    Former Antioch Finance Director John Tasker sent out an email today criticizing the dual role of Guy Bjerke as Antioch’s paid economic development director and as a volunteer member of the Concord Planning Commission.

    The issue surfaced today primarily because Bjerke is also one of 19 people who have applied for an opening on the Concord City Council created by the death of Michael Chavez on Aug. 4.

    Tasker, in the email addressed to Antioch City Manager Jim Jakel and widely copied, questioned where Bjerke’s loyalties will lay if economic development plans conflict between the two cities.

    It’s unclear why Tasker, who retired recently, has sent this email or if he is supporting another applicant for the city’s opening.

    And Tasker also doesn’t say that it is common for elected officials to work in adjacent government agencies.

    Off the top of my head, I can think of a half dozen and there are undoubtedly more.

    Concord Councilwoman Laura Hoffmeister works as a planner for the city of Clayton. Martinez Councilwoman Lara DeLaney works for Contra Costa County. Antioch Mayor Don Freitas directs Contra Costa County’s clean water consortium. Antioch Councilman Brian Kalinowski works for the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Department. Martinez Councilwoman Janet Kennedy works for the city of Antioch.

    Here’s the letter:

    Jim Jakel
    City Manager
    City of Antioch

    As the former Finance Director for the City of Antioch, I am worried about Antioch’s sales tax revenue and current developments regarding the closure of the Concord Naval Weapons Station. Recent political events force us to draw focus on a situation that has greatly disturbed me for a long time and is now so acute that it can no longer be ignored.

    I have several concerns that I hope you will address.

    Current conflicts of interest regarding Antioch’s Economic Development Director also serving as Chairman of the Concord Planning Commission.

    This conflict of interest becomes even more acute if Guy Bjerke succeeds in his appointment application to fill the vacancy on the Concord City Council that resulted from the untimely death of Michael Chavez. All this is especially important because of the closure of the Concord Naval Weapons Station and planning for commercial, retail, and residential development and its affects on East County traffic and sales tax revenue.

    Concord has been very aggressive and successful in planning for and recruiting important sales-tax generating automobiles dealerships and big-box stores. Municipal planning commissioners and economic development directors play a key roll in planning for their communities’ future and recruiting employers. Currently Concord is planning for major commercial and residential growth along Highway 4 between the Highway 4/242 junction and the Willow Pass grade. The strategic value of this area and how it is planned and developed is of critical interest to the communities to the east that Highway 4 serves namely Antioch, Pittsburg, Oakley, and Brentwood.

    I believe that Mr. Bjerke receives $110,000 a year in salary, plus a generous benefits package in compensation for his service to the City of Antioch. It was said at the time of Mr. Bjerke’s hiring that he acquired his greatest assets as a result of his experience as the Executive Director of the Building Industry Association of Northern California.

    As the Executive Director of the Building Industry Association, he was paid to lobby City policy and planning. As a member of the Concord Planning Commission, he recommends City policy. As a member of the City Council, he would implement policy. Where does his loyalty lay? If the Cities of Concord and Antioch were to compete for automobile dealerships or regional transportation money, which community’s interest is he obligated to defend?

    John Tasker

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted on Monday, August 27th, 2007
    Under: Contra Costa politics | No Comments »

    A couple of interesting appointments…

    … announced today by the governor’s office:

    Elmy Bermejo, 52, of San Francisco, was named deputy secretary of external affairs for the State and Consumer Services Agency. She has served as special assistant to state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, since 2004; ain’t it grand that Gov. Schwarzenegger and Perata are tight enough so that the former is willing to poach the latter’s staff? She also is a partner of Tommy’s Heavenly Margarita Mix; her family owns Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant on Geary in San Francisco, and at the risk of editorializing, those’re some seriously good eats. The Democrat earlier was a field representative for former state Senate President Pro Tem John Burton, D-San Francisco, from 1995 to 2004, and district director for Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, from 1993 to 1994. She is board president of the Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE) and a member of the Women’s Foundation of California; she has served on the Commission on the Status of Women since 2003. This post doesn’t require Senate confirmation and pays $101,952.

    And Paul Feist, 46, of Stockton, was named assistant secretary for communications for the Labor and Workforce Development Agency. He most recently worked for the San Francisco Chronicle from 1999 to June 2007, first as the Contra Costa bureau chief and most recently as the capitol bureau chief; he was among those non-union personnel whom the Chronicle laid off without so much as a how-do-you-do a few months ago. Earlier, Feist had worked for the Stockton Record from 1986 to 1999 as a reporter, enterprise editor and metro editor. This post doesn’t require Senate confirmation and pays $98,004, which is a whooooooooole lot more than I make, so three cheers for a former ink-stained wretch who can make some bank; Feist is registered decline-to-state.

    Posted on Monday, August 27th, 2007
    Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, California State Senate, Don Perata, Media, Sacramento | No Comments »

    Locals in Congress welcome AG’s resignation

    The Bay Area’s voices in Congress couldn’t be happier about the resignation of U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

    miller.jpgHouse Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Martinez, a few minutes ago told me he believes “it’s good for America that he resigned. The evidence is rather compelling that he lied to the American people and to the Congress about torture, about wiretapping, and about the firing of U.S. attorneys… It was a real disservice to public service to have this man leading the Department of Justice.”

    Miller said he’s not thrilled by rumors that Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff might be tapped to replace Gonzales; DHS has plenty of problems of its own, and would be ill-served by yet another change in leadership, he said.

    “They have to think about a career person, clearly somebody with a dedication to the principles of the Department of Justice and high ethical standards – that’s what they haven’t had here during Mr. Gonzales’ reign,” Miller said, adding the nominee will face the Senate’s careful scrutiny. “This person will come in after Alberto Gonzales’ horribly unethical reign, so there’s a tough burden on any nominee… If this is a person who’s there to serve the political purposes of the president, I think they are in for trouble.”

    Nobody’s mincing words today…

    lantos.jpgHouse Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo: “I have long called for the resignation of Attorney General Gonzales, and to say this resignation is long overdue is the understatement of the year. Former Attorney General Gonzales has consistently chipped away at the very Constitution he was charged with protecting. The most fundamental rights afforded to American citizens were to Mr. Gonzales mere roadblocks to be pushed aside in his quest to consolidate power in the executive branch.

    “From warrantless wiretapping to politically-motivated firings in the Justice Department, Mr. Gonzales has run the gamut of serious violations of Americans’ most basic and precious rights. I am especially concerned about the legacy his leniency on torture will leave as we continue to fight against terrorism and extremism worldwide. His resignation presents this Administration with an opportunity to reverse some of its disastrous policies on human rights and civil liberties. I urge the President to quickly appoint a fair-minded Attorney General who will take seriously his oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

    More after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted on Monday, August 27th, 2007
    Under: Anna Eshoo, Barbara Lee, Dianne Feinstein, Ellen Tauscher, General, George Miller, Nancy Pelosi, Pete Stark, Tom Lantos, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

    GOP vice chair questions Electoral College initiative

    Don’t assume that every Republican in California favors a proposed ballot initiative that would alter the way the state allocates its Electoral College votes in the 2008 presidential election.

    California GOP Vice Chairman Tom Del Beccaro, also the chairman of the Contra Costa GOP, has posted an article on his web site, Political Vanguard, that urges Republicans to resist the lure of instant gratification.

    By way of background, the proposed ballot measure calls for California to scrap its winner-take-all method and award its 55 Electoral College votes based on the winner of each congressional district.

    Backed by several former aides to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, it has attracted nationwide attention among critics who say it could hand the presidency in 2008 to a Republican. If this system had been in place in 2004, President George Bush would have received 22 of California’s Electoral College votes.

    But Del Beccaro warns that a short-term political gain could severely undermine one of the nation’s key protections against the tyranny of the majority.

    “As a practical matter today, the Electoral College prevents the Democrats from winning the presidency by the popular vote of New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle, etc. – all to the exclusion of the red, fly-over states,” Del Beccaro wrote. “…. We may well be better off practicing philosophic toleration lest we lose not only the Electoral College but the stability of our traditions, a prospect which cannot be what our Founders had in mind when they crafted such a measured Constitution.”

    Posted on Monday, August 27th, 2007
    Under: ballot measures | No Comments »

    Hotel mogul gets post despite Emeryville dustup

    hardage.jpgGov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today appointed Samuel A. Hardage, 68, of Rancho Santa Fe, to the state Commission on Judicial Performance.

    If that name sounds at all familiar, it’s because Hardage is not only a major GOP donor, but also the cofounder, president and CEO of Woodfin Suite Hotels, which has been locked in combat with the City of Emeryville and local workers over wages and working conditions.

    Lotsa gory details, after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted on Friday, August 24th, 2007
    Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sacramento | No Comments »

    Ted Nugent is subtle

    CAUTION: Inappropriate language ahead. Of course. ‘Cause it’s Ted Nugent.

    Apparently the “Motor City Madman” popped a gasket during a California concert this week (and hey, let’s take a minute to consider that Ted Nugent still tours, and people pay to see him), hefting machine guns while on stage and extending some – ahem – untoward invitations to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein.

    “…I was in Chicago last week I said—Hey Obama, you might want to suck on one of these you punk? Obama, he’s a piece of shit and I told him to suck on one of my machine guns, let’s hear it for them. And then I was in NY and I said hey Hillary—you might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless bitch. Since I’m in California, how about Barbara Boxer, she might wanna suck on my machine gun. Hey, Dianne Feinstein, ride one of these you worthless whore. Any questions? FREEDOM!

    Nugent’s Web site shows he performed Monday in West Hollywood, Tuesday in Anaheim, Wednesday in Oroville and Thursday in Jackson. It’s unclear at which of these concerts this clip was filmed; personally, I’m hoping it was at the House of Blues in Anaheim, as that’s located in the Downtown Disney district – and where better to invite four U.S. Senators to suck on your machine guns than right next door to “the happiest place on Earth?”

    Also, remember that two of those Senators are presidential candidates now under U.S. Secret Service protection. Does insulting someone and inviting that person to suck on your machine gun constitute a threat? From the Secret Service’s Web site:

    “The Secret Service is interested in legitimate information relating to threats, plans or attempts by individuals, groups or organizations to harm Secret Service protectees. However, the agency does not desire or solicit information pertaining to individuals or groups expressing legitimate criticism of, or political opposition to, the policies and decisions of the government or government officials.”

    Posted on Friday, August 24th, 2007
    Under: Barack Obama, Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, Hillary Clinton, U.S. Senate | 1 Comment »

    Fox/CBC Institute Dems debate on hold

    The controversial Democratic presidential debate sponsored by Fox News and the Congressional Black Caucus Political Education & Leadership Institute and scheduled for Sept. 23 in Detroit has been indefinitely postponed.

    Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, first vice chairwoman of the caucus, does not serve on the CBC Institute’s board, and this morning commented: “I am not surprised, given Fox News’ long track record of being anything but ‘fair and balanced.’ ”

    The leading Democratic candidates – Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama — had refused to take part in the event as many Democrats, especially in the blogosphere, objected to Fox News’ apparent Republican bias.

    Announcing the postponement, CBC Institute Board Chairman U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said, “The overwhelming number of party presidential debates has created a scheduling challenge. Revising the CBC Institute’s debate schedule will allow the time necessary to complete all debate logistics in an effective manner.” And FOX News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes added, “We look forward to working with the CBC Institute and continuing a successful relationship that affords presidential candidates the ability to reach the largest possible audience in cable news.”

    But bloggers are claiming victory.

    Steve Benen @ Crooks and Liars: “The netroots worked very hard on this, and deserve a lot of credit for the outcome.”

    Justin Krebs @ the Working Assets blog: “This is a great victory for progressives and anyone who has a stake in preserving fair news coverage in our country. Since the debate was announced, liberal bloggers have attacked it, saying that it legitimized a media organization that is so obviously a right-wing propaganda machine.”

    Chris Bowers @ Open Left: “Fox News thinks they are just canceling this debate, but will still try to host a Democratic debate at some point later in the cycle. Of course, given that Obama has already sworn off accepting any new debate invitations, and since neither Edwards nor Clinton will debate on Fox if Obama won’t for fear of progressive activist backlash, it can safely be said that Fox News will not be hosting a Democratic debate this primary season. It is a small victory, but still–Huzzah!”

    In 2003, major Democratic candidates took part in a Detroit debate sponsored by Fox News and the CBC Institute. The CBC Institute still has three other presidential debates planned: two with CNN and one for Republican candidates with Fox News.

    Posted on Friday, August 24th, 2007
    Under: Barack Obama, Barbara Lee, Democratic Party, Elections, General, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Media, U.S. House | No Comments »

    Tauscher off to Iraq, again

    Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, left today for another trip to Iraq as the leader of a bipartisan congressional delegation and the chairwoman of the House Strategic Forces sub-committee of the Armed Services Committee.

    She is joined by reps. Jim Moran, D-Virginia and Jon Porter, R-Nevada.

    The delegation will meet with U.S troops and commanders, U.S. and Iraqi officials and members of the Iraqi Parliament.

    Prior to her departure, Tauscher issued the following statement in a press release:

    “In less than a month General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker will report to Congress on what if any progress has been made by the Bush administration’s troop surge policy. I am traveling to Iraq ahead of this report so that my colleagues and I can get a first-hand view of our troop status as well as the political environment in Iraq.

    “Anyone familiar with the bravery and efficiency of the United States military could predict that a surge of twenty thousand troops would increase security for a period of time; a military strategy alone isn’t a wise or sustainable policy.

    “I’m going to Iraq to look for any signs of a political surge – signs that the Iraqi Parliament and military are ready to take control of their own future. Only when we see these signs can we be fully confident that any real and lasting progress has been made toward stabilizing Iraq.”

    Posted on Thursday, August 23rd, 2007
    Under: Uncategorized | No Comments »