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Archive for August, 2007

Is AG Jerry Brown running for governor?

Contra Costa County Supervisor Gayle Uilkema thinks so.

Uilkema, who also sits on the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, recently met with Attorney General Jerry Brown to hash out the state leader’s concerns about two refinery expansion proposals in Contra Costa County. (Brown is appealing the county’s approval of a Rodeo expansion and registering criticial comments about a Richmond project as part of his statewide push to require consideration of global warming impacts in business, housing and transportation projects.)

“He commented that if he’s going to be governor in a couple years, this (effort to contain refinery emissions) is important,” Uilkema recalled. “That caught my attention, to say the the least, although it was the only mention of it at the time.”

Some folks mistakenly believe that term limits would keep Brown out of the governor’s seat. But voters adopted term limits in 1990; Brown served two terms as governor from 1974-1982.

Posted on Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007
Under: State politics | No Comments »

A GOP presidential debate… in BERKELEY?

The Berkeley College Republicans’ Web home page includes the following blurb:

December 17th –
Presidential Debate
Join BCR and Fox News for the much anticipated GOP Presidential Debate on campus.

Really? Could be. Although the site says no more about this, and no references to such an event were found elsewhere online, BCR Executive Director Alex Marlow said today that “progress is being made. We will have an official press release when it is appropriate.”

Added BCR External Vice President Kyle Tibbitts: “The event is still in the works and we are moving forward as planned. We will be able to get you more detailed information in a couple weeks.”

The Democratic presidential candidates already are scheduled to debate that same day in Boston, hosted by CNN, The Politico, and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

For the record, BCR refers to itself as “the new free speech movement,” but Berkeley remains a notoriously, overwhelmingly liberal city, and a visit by the GOP presidential candidates could be akin to zebras debating in a lion cage. Voter registration figures show Berkeley has 3,637 registered Republican voters — about 5.3 percent of the city’s total registration, almost exactly the same as the city’s Green registration and far less than its 62.9 percent Democratic registration and 23.8 percent decline-to-state.

Posted on Tuesday, August 21st, 2007
Under: Elections, General, Republican Party | No Comments »

ACLU praises Oakland for rejecting surveillance

under-the-watchful-eye.jpgOakland got a shout-out from the American Civil Liberties Union’s California affiliates this week with the issuance of their report, “Under the Watchful Eye: The Proliferation of Video Surveillance Systems in California.”

The report finds that “(p)ublic video surveillance systems threaten privacy and, especially in combination with other technologies, have a real potential to radically change the relationship between the public and the government. Despite that risk, cities and agencies throughout California are increasingly deploying surveillance camera systems with little public debate or consideration of potential consequences. This is a serious mistake.”

As for Oakland, it says:

There is a Better Way: Oakland Rejects Video Surveilance Twice
While many California cities rush to roll out video surveillance programs, one city considered and rejected them—twice. The Oakland city council, in both 1997 and 1999, rejected proposals to spend between $500,000 and $1 million on a video surveillance system.
Council members fully evaluated both privacy concerns and evidence of the systems’ effectiveness. Council member Henry Chang, an immigrant from China, reflected on his decision to come to the United States, saying, “We came because we don’t want to be watched by Big Brother all the time.” Council member Nancy Nadel rejected the monetary tradeoffs, arguing
that “it made me feel physical pain — the idea that we would spend public dollars on cameras before spending money to fight illiteracy.”
Council member Ignacio De La Fuente cast the deciding vote, citing a lack of evidence that cameras are effective in reducing crime and concluding that the program was not “worth the risk of violating people’s privacy rights.”
Then-Mayor Jerry Brown concurred, saying that “reducing crime is something the community and police must work on together. Installing a few or a few dozen surveillance cameras will not make us safe. It should also not be forgotten that the intrusive powers of the state are growing with each passing decade.”
While the city has rejected a broad city-run camera system, it has allowed some public money to be used to fund cameras for businesses in public-private partnerships.

Posted on Tuesday, August 21st, 2007
Under: Civil liberties, Henry Chang, Ignacio De La Fuente, Jerry Brown, Nancy Nadel, Oakland | No Comments »

Schwarzenegger video of the week

The SVOTW returns after a vacation week off with the governor waxing poetic to CNN Larry King about late, great television impresario and San Mateo native Merv Griffin, who died Aug. 12 at age 82:

The governor spoke Friday at Griffin’s funeral in Beverly Hills, averring, “I can say today I wouldn’t have gone as far in my career if it wouldn’t have been for Merv Griffin.”

Previous SVOTWs: 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 21st, 2007
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger | No Comments »

Top Clinton advisor visits San Francisco

Ann Lewis, a senior advisor on the presidential campaign team of New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, and Ace Smith, the candidate’s California director, met with reporters in Clinton’s San Francisco headquarters this morning to talk about how the campaign is courting women, especially single women who have not historically flocked to the polls.

“Twenty million single women didn’t vote in 2004 and 15 million of those women were not registered to vote,” said Lewis, a dynamic speaker in her own right who served as the White House director of communications for President Bill Clinton. “We need to find a way to speak to those women.”

Single women care about, among other things, Lewis said, children’s health and, equal pay in the workforce.

“We need to convince these women that making a political decision (to vote) is in their best interests,” Lewis said.

The best way to reach women, Lewis said, is through face-to-face, social networking such as bookclubs, church groups and other places where women congregate and talk with each other.

With all the technology available to campaigns these days, social networking may seem old-fashioned but people would rather hear from people they know and like than an impersonal ad on a bus or a TV spot, explained Ace Smith, Clinton’s California campaign director.

“Campaigns are won with real conversations,” Smith said.

To provide more voters with a chance to see and hear Clinton in person, the campaign has launched what it calls its Club 44 events, so-named because the next president will be the 44th U.S. president. Tickets are $20 and participants, a far more affordable price tag than the conventional fund-raiser reception where attendees pay the maximum allowed under federal law ($2,300).

The campaign is also unveiling tomorrow, the anniversary of the date that U.S. voters gave women the right to vote, a new web site devoted to women’s equality.

“This anniversary should be at least as well-known as Ground Hog’s Day,” Lewis said.

Lewis’ resume also includes jobs as communications director for Hillary Clinton’s political action committee called HILLPAC. She was also director of communications and deputy campaign manager for the Clinton-Gore Re-Election Campaign in 1995- 1996, and senior advisor to Hillary Clinton’s U.S. Senate campaign in 2000. As the national chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee Women’s Vote Center, she led an or initiative to mobilize women voters from 2002- 2004.

In 2001, Lewis was the Richman Visiting Professor at Brandeis University, teaching a course on the Presidency entitled “The West Wing and The Real World.” and a Public Policy Fellow at the Annenberg School of Communications of the University of Pennsylvania.

She also served as during the Clinton presidency as co-chairwoman of the president’s Commission on the Celebration of Women in American History and she was appointed to serve on the Women’s Progress Commission, established by Congress to report on women’s historical sites.

Posted on Tuesday, August 21st, 2007
Under: 2008 presidential primary | No Comments »

Dellums flaunts his ‘plumage’

So there I was last week, taking an air-conditioned break from the sun-baked, teeming gulag that is Disneyland, leafing through the September 2007 issue of Esquire, and who do I find staring up from the page but Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums.

Dellums was featured among several dozen mayors photographed in June at the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ annual meeting in Los Angeles and featured in an article entitled “Hizzoner.” Here’s the blurb:

henry-leutwyler-esquire.jpgRonald V. Dellums, 71
First term
Pop. 397,067

Why he ran: I was gonna say no. But on the podium, in the moment, I said, “Well, if me running gives you hope, then let’s get on with it.”
Fashion advice: It’s in the geometry. Lines, curves, circles. A tie and handkerchief: That’s your plumage.

Elsewhere in the article, Dellums is quoted as saying, “I’m 71 years of age. I didn’t come home from Congress to tap-dance. I didn’t come home to tinker at the margins. If we’re gonna do this, let’s get serious.”

Dellums wasn’t the only Bay Area mayor so featured, however: Newark Mayor Dave Smith got his mug in the mag, too. The 61-year-old, 14-term mayor told Esquire he ran because he has “been involved in extracurriculars going back to high school,” and the best perk is “(p)laying trombone in our city-employees band. Yowza! It’s my trademark expression. You’ll see it on my business card. There’s eleven of us. We play everything from the Beatles to Incubus.”

Posted on Monday, August 20th, 2007
Under: Oakland, Ron Dellums | No Comments »

Pinole appears headed for recall election

Jeff Rubin, the spokesman for the Pinole group leading a recall drive of the city’s mayor and two councilmembers, says they will hold a Tuesday press conference on the steps of City Hall to announce the successful completion of their signature-gathering drive.

On the chopping block are Pinole Mayor Maria Alegria and councilmembers David Cole and Stephen Tilton.

Recall advocates say the three city leaders unfairly targeted the town’s former manager and had a too-cozy relationship with the owner of the Pear Street Bistro, a man who had failed to repay redevelopment loans to the city.

Election clerks must verify that the signatures are valid in order for the recall election to move ahead.

But politics have been ugly in Pinole for months now and if the signatures are deemed valid and in sufficient numbers to meet the requirement, this means the atmosphere is not going to get better anytime soon.

Posted on Friday, August 17th, 2007
Under: Contra Costa politics | No Comments »

Concord to appoint a replacement

The Concord City Council voted unanimously tonight to appoint a replacement for the late Michael Chavez rather than hold an expensive special election.

Chavez, as you may recall, died suddenly on Aug. 4 after suffering a heart attack during a public meeting to talk about the planning of the Concord Naval Weapons Station.

The prospect of an open seat will most likely draw a plethora of candidates who hope to secure a spot on the council without going through a grueling campaign; it also helps to run as a incumbent when re-election time comes around.

Only one name surfaced as a recommendation during the testimony — one woman called for the appointment of Chuck Carpenter, a local labor leader who ran for the council in 2006 and came in fifth out of eight candidates. (The top three won the seats.)

Carpenter says he has been lobbied to apply for the seat and he was in the audience tonight although he didn’t speak during public comment.

But tonight’s meeting was chock full of conspiracy theories about which potential applicant might have the inside track with the four remaining city council members. Names were flying around like flies in a barnyard, some of them undoubtedly without the knowledge of the namesake.

Folks won’t have to wait long to find out, though. The City Council will start taking applications right away and the council will interview prospective colleagues later this month. The board must appoint someone by Sept. 4 in order to meet the 30-day deadline.

The eventual appointee can’t skate on that success for too long, though. He or she will have to turn around and run in the November 2008 election to keep the seat through the balance of what would have been Chavez’ four-year term.

On a side note, some have asked why the council has rushed to replace Chavez, whose memorial was held Tuesday. They didn’t have much choice: Under state law, the city has 30 days to either appoint a replacement or set a special election.

Posted on Thursday, August 16th, 2007
Under: Contra Costa politics | No Comments »

Houston settles lawsuit

Assemblyman Guy Houston, R- San Ramon,has settled a three-year-old lawsuit alleging that he helped his father defraud elderly investors out of $340,000 in investments that went bad.

Terms of the private settlement were not disclosed and Houston has maintained that he did nothing improper.

The conclusion of the case will undoubtedly come as a huge relief to Houston, who has had the lawsuit hanging over his political head for several years.

He recently announced that he would run for Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors against his former aide and incumbent Mary Piepho. He has also said that he will not seek re-election to the state Assembly even if voters in February alter term limits, which would permit him to serve up to another six years.

Posted on Thursday, August 16th, 2007
Under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Top 10 political buzzwords include “cleavage”

The Danville-based Global Language Monitor released today the top 10 political buzzwords for the first seven months of 2007 in its first rankings leading up to next year’s presidential campaign: surge, Obama, YouTube, cleavage, pardon, Live Earth, subpoena, Congress, all-time low and “I don’t recall”.

“This disparate collection of buzzwords speaks volumes about today’s electorate,” said Paul JJ Payack, president of the Global Language Monitor. “We have an Iraq War strategy, a name, a corporate entity, and a commentary on a female candidate’s ‘neckline’ at the top of the list … and then it really gets interesting.”

Back in 2006, the top political buzzwords were: throes, quagmire, credibility, global warming, and insurgency.

Political buzzwords, Payack said, are terms or phrases loaded with emotional freight far beyond the typical use of the word.

The word “surge” has been around for a long time, for example, but in its context as an “Iraq War strategy, it inspires a set of emotions in many people far beyond the norm,” he said.

According to the Global Language Monitor, it deploys its PQI Index, a proprietary algorithm that scours the global print and electronic media, the Internet, and blogosphere for olitical buzzwords and then ranks them.

Using this methodology, “we were the only media analytics organization that foresaw the 2004 electorate voting with their moral compasses rather than their pocketbooks,” Payack said.

Here are some further details on the rankings:

No 1.
Surge: Surges to the No.1 Political Buzzword

No. 2
Obama: His name now qualifies as a buzzword. This is quite unusual, though the name Hillary comes close.

No. 3
YouTube: Changing the nature of American Campaigning?

No. 4
Cleavage: Despite critics’ contentions, Hillary found to be a woman after all

No. 5
Pardon: Furor over Libby pardon riles the news media.

No. 6
Live Earth: Rock the Earth lived up to its billing in ‘buzz’

No. 7
Subpoena: Congressional subpoenas abound as predicted if a Democratically control congress were elected.

No. 8
Congress: With polling numbers lower than those for the president, is Congress is a dirty word?

No. 9
All-time low: A constant description of the president’s ever falling poll numbers

No. 10
“I don’t recall”: AG Alberto Gonzales used this phrase three score and thrice in one day of testimony.

Posted on Thursday, August 16th, 2007
Under: 2008 presidential primary | No Comments »