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Archive for September, 2007

A political break

For those of you kind enough to read this space, I’ll be snorkeling with the turtles rather than fishing for stories for the next two weeks.

Check back on Oct. 8 when I return.


Posted on Saturday, September 22nd, 2007
Under: Blogging | No Comments »

Andal had legal run-in with convicted lawyer Lerach

GOP Congressional candidate Dean Andal, who hopes to unseat McNerney, heard a name from his past in the news this week.

Major Democratic campaign contributor and trial attorney William Lerach pleaded guilty to federal charges that he paid kickbacks to recruit plaintiffs in class-action lawsuits. (A lot of Democrats, including Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, are returning the money or donating it to charity.)

By way of background, Lerach successfully sued the state in 2002 over auto smog fees. An arbitration process awarded his firm $88.5 million in legal costs and the state, as the losing party, would have to pay.

Andal, then a member of the state Board of Equalization, was rightfully outraged. He sued Lerach and won when the state appellate court cut the bill to a mere $18.2 million.

Okay, Andal saved the taxpayers $70 million. Look for the message on a campaign mailer coming to your house soon.

But lest we get overly smug, wouldn’t everyone object — except the folks involved in that wacky arbitration deal — to paying a lawyer $8,800 per hour?

Posted on Saturday, September 22nd, 2007
Under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Candidates a poppin’

A few presidential candidates are prying themselves free of Iowa and bringing their road shows to the Golden State in the next week, including a large-scale rally in Oakland.

Republican Mitt Romney will host “Ask Mitt Anything” town hall meetings Sunday at Chapman University in Orange and then at 2:30 p.m. Monday at David’s Restaurant Banquet Center, 5151 Stars & Stripes Drive in Santa Clara. He’ll swing through Bakersfield on Tuesday, Long Beach on Wednesday and Sacramento on Thursday for various town halls, meet-and-greets and — presumably — fundraisers.

Republican Rudy Giuliani is planning public events next Thursday in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and Lancaster, and Friday in Los Angeles and the Napa Valley, details not yet announced.

Democrat Dennis Kucinich is scheduled to hit San Luis Obispo, Templeton, Atascadero and Westlake Village for a series of public events and private fundraisers tomorrow; Santa Barbara, and Ojai on Sunday; and Santa Barbara again Monday before appearing on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno — no Bay Area appearances scheduled for this swing through, it seems.

And, last but most local, Democrat Hillary Clinton plans a big “Club44” rally in downtown Oakland next Sunday, Sept. 30, “an old-fashioned block party where thousands of residents from throughout the Bay Area will spend the afternoon with friends, co-workers, neighbors and family members in support of Hillary Clinton,” her campaign says. “Club44” is the campaign’s effort to engage women to make history by electing Clinton as the nation’s 44th President.

The Oakland event — 4:30–6:30 p.m. on Clay Street between 12th and 14th streets, between the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building and City Center — will feature live entertainment, food vendors and family fun, the campaign says. Tickets cost $20 each (kids under 18 enter free) and are available by clicking here.

Posted on Friday, September 21st, 2007
Under: Dennis Kucinich, Elections, Hillary Clinton, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani | No Comments »

‘Dwell time’ proposal dies, perhaps too easily

The “dwell time” amendment to the Defense Department appropriations bill introduced by U.S. Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., went down to defeat yesterday.

Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, had introduced the House companion bill to Webb’s amendment, H.R. 3159, which passed the House Aug. 2 on a 229-194 vote but has been stalled out since then in the Senate Armed Services Committee. It would require that any regular Armed Forces member or unit deployed to Iraq must then have an equal period of time at home before being redeployed, and that no unit or member of a Reserve component including the National Guard be redeployed to Iraq within three years of their previous deployment.

Here’s what Tauscher said today about yesterday’s vote:

tauscher2.jpg“It’s disappointing that Republican Senators are putting partisan obstructionism over the welfare and safety of our troops. When I authored this legislation in the House it was bi-partisan, passed by a solid majority and was built on enforcing the Pentagon’s own policy about troop rotations. These Senators had a choice to make, but instead of standing with our troops, they chose to stand with the President and his horribly flawed policies that have left our troops too little time to be rested and ready for their next rotation, and left our military too stretched to meet threats to our security elsewhere around the world.”

But Democrats could’ve done more to hold the GOP’s feet to the fire on this one, as Kagro X notes over at Daily Kos.

Yesterday’s vote saw 56 Senators (including all the chamber’s Democrats) voting for it with 44 opposed. Yes, it got more “yeas” than “nays,” but it needed 60 votes — not for a cloture vote to end a Republican filibuster, but because Senators had agreed by unanimous consent that the amendment should have to get 60 votes to pass, even without a filibuster.

In other words, no Democrat felt the need to actually force Republicans to engage in extended debate to filibuster this amendment – they all just agreed to set the bar for passage at 60 votes instead of 50, a quicker and quieter way of seeing it to its doom.

Posted on Thursday, September 20th, 2007
Under: Ellen Tauscher, Iraq, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

Jim Losi backs out of independent CD11 run

After considerable deliberation, Danville philanthropist, teacher and wealthy former investment banker Jim Losi has backed out of a run for Congress as an independent.

Losi is a registered Republican but as a fiscal conservative and social moderate, he didn’t like what the GOP or the Democratic Party had to offer. Earlier this year, he said he would research his prospects as an independent challenger in District 11, currently held by Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton.

He’s out for now but don’t paint Losi out of the future electoral picture.

“I have a theory as to what will happen in our country over the next four years and over that time frame, I will reconsider running,” Losi write in an email. “My thoughts and feelings have not changed concerning the state of our country. I know I couldn’t win this upcoming election and I didn’t want to invest hard earned money if I knew it was for naught. My grandmother taught me that patience is almost always rewarded. I am as patient as an oyster.”

Posted on Thursday, September 20th, 2007
Under: congressional district 11 | No Comments »

McNerney heads to Brentwood

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, will hold his next “Congress at Your Corner” event in Brentwood on Saturday from 1-2 p.m. at Raley’s, 2400 San Creek Road.

Constituents are invited to meet and McNerney, who will answer questions and discuss issues. He has held 22 of these events since he took office in January.

Posted on Thursday, September 20th, 2007
Under: congressional district 11 | No Comments »

Andal hosts kick-off in San Ramon

More than 200 people showed up for a free breakfast this morning in San Ramon and a chance to meet congressional GOP candidate Dean Andal of Stockton.

Andal is the only declared Republican in the race so far although the official filing period will not open until Feb. 11, 2008. Andal hopes to challenge Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, in the general.

The host list is a whose who of local Republican dignitaries including Charles Ball, who ran unsuccessfully against Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo; Walnut Creek businessman Ed Del Beccaro; Tri-Valley transportation guru Chris Kinzel; Republican activist Becky Kolberg; Shell Oil public affairs chief Steve Lesher and Danville Councilmembers Mike Shimansky and Karen Stepper; and longtime area rancher and landowner Sandee Wiedemann.

Posted on Thursday, September 20th, 2007
Under: congressional district 11 | No Comments »

Bubba and the Terminator team up in war on fat

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and former President Bill Clinton today announced their partnership with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation — itself a partnership between the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation — to inspire America’s youth to develop lifelong healthy habits and avoid obesity.


“Initiatives like the Alliance for a Healthier Generation are providing the framework for a healthier America. I am thrilled to join with President Clinton and the American Heart Association because in California we are already doing everything the Alliance supports,” said Gov. Schwarzenegger. “The foundation for a healthy lifetime is built in the habits we learn as youth. They give us the strength and the confidence to achieve more, to feel better and to succeed. These healthy habits can help give our children the future they deserve.”

The dynamic duo today toured Columbia Middle School in El Monte, an award-winning participant in the Alliance Healthy Schools Program which provides both on-site and online support and resources to help schools have healthier food, increase physical activity during and after school, teach nutrition and start school employee wellness programs.

Said Clinton: “Thanks to the leadership at this school, and so many others across the country, students are being given the opportunity to take a critical step forward in learning how to live healthier lives. We know that reducing or eliminating childhood obesity comes down to a very simple formula: helping children reduce the number of calories they consume and increase the number of calories they burn. Here in California, under the Governor’s leadership, you have been committed to making this happen in your schools. When schools like this give students the tools they need to lead a healthier lifestyle, they are helping them make an invaluable investment in their future.”

Schwarzenegger, who in May replaced Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee as co-leader of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, today challenged other Governors to enroll the highest percentage of schools in their states in the Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program.

The governor’s office says that, second only to tobacco, obesity is a leading cause of preventable death among Californians and costs the state $28.5 billion in health care costs, lost productivity and workers’ compensation.

UPDATE @ 5 P.M. WEDNESDAY: Listen to audio of the event:

Posted on Wednesday, September 19th, 2007
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Clinton | 1 Comment »

Lee co-hosts caucus hearing on Iraq

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, co-chaired a Congressional Progressive Caucus hearing on Iraq today featuring testimony from William Polk, a Middle East scholar and the author of “Violent Politics: A History of Insurgency, Terrorism, & Guerilla War from the American Revolution to Iraq,” published just this week. Here’s what Lee said:

lee3.jpg“I’d like to welcome Dr. Polk to this Town Hall on Iraq this morning.

“We truly appreciate your time and effort to join us here today to talk about the issues discussed in your new book, Violent Politics: A History of Insurgency, terrorism, guerrilla war, from the American Revolution to Iraq.

“Your presentation is very timely as the occupation of Iraq approaches its fifth year and this administration continues to deny the reality that the situation on the ground will not improve until the occupation ends and US troops come home.

“But the fact is, all the talk about military progress in Iraq—especially in the wake of the president’s address last week–only serves as a distraction—a smokescreen—from the basic, fundamental fact that there is no military solution to the situation in Iraq.

“Our troops are trapped in a civil war and occupation, a situation where there can be no victory. Our continued presence there is not only breaking our military, it is undermining our national security and efforts to fight international terrorism.

“Despite the Bush administration’s efforts to frame it as a issue of ‘victory’ and ‘defeat,’ the fact remains that the redeployment of US troops form Iraq a precondition to restoring our national security, our efforts to fight international terrorism, and putting us on a path toward a foreign policy that provides real solution for global peace and security.

“Redeployment is a precondition for engaging Iraq’s neighbors and the international community in a regional stability plan. We have a moral obligation to help rebuild Iraq, but neither Iraq’s neighbors nor the international community will truly engage in a regional stability plan as long as they believe that the US intends to maintain an indefinite occupation.

“Redeployment is a precondition for any successful effort to combat global terrorism. The U.S. occupation of Iraq has become a rallying point for the insurgents in Iraq and greatly aids in their recruiting and fundraising.

“That’s why I believe that your testimony today comes at a critical juncture in the debate before us in Congress on how to end our occupation of Iraq and bring peace and stability to Iraq.

“It’s in understanding the nature of such insurgencies as the one our brave men and women are facing daily that will allow Congress to see that the only solution to the situation in Iraq is what my colleagues Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey and Congresswoman Maxine Waters call fully funded redeployment.

“Specifically, we believe that Congress should only provide the money necessary to fully fund the safe, timely and responsible redeployment of troops and contractors from Iraq.

“I look forward to hearing from you your well considered opinion on the nature of the insurgency in Iraq, how our presence there fuels the very insurgency our courageous troops are seeking to defeat, and how the perception that we are going remain in Iraq indefinitely provides a powerful recruiting tool and fundraising opportunity.

“Thank you again for being with us here today.”

Posted on Wednesday, September 19th, 2007
Under: Barbara Lee, Iraq, U.S. House | No Comments »

DeSaulnier appointed to healthcare task force

Assemblyman Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, and Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, D-Hayward, have been assigned to an Assembly task force charged with hashing out a health care reform bill.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called the Legislature into a special session this month to tackle unresolved healthcare and water bills.

Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez named DeSaulnier and Hayashi to the Assembly Healthcare Reform Working Group, which started meeting this week.

The working group will attempt to draft a healthcare proposal acceptable to Republicans, Democrats and the governor who have split on how to pay for coverage and reduce insurance costs.

Posted on Tuesday, September 18th, 2007
Under: California Legislature | No Comments »