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Archive for November, 2007

Palo Alto teen wins Obama essay contest

The California presidential campaign of U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., has announced that Molly Kawahata, a senior at Gunn High School in Palo Alto, beat out peers from across Northern California to win the campaign’s essay contest “What it would mean to me if Barack Obama were elected our next President.”

As the contest’s winner, Kawahata will be among the speakers at the candidate’s grassroots fundraiser this Wednesday evening at San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium — an event the campaign says will be his last visit to Northern California until after the Iowa caucuses.

The essay contest entries were judged by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon of Berkeley, who with his wife, author Ayelet Waldman, had cosponsored an Obama fundraiser in Oakland back in June. “All these essays show the powerful sense of connection young people feel to Barack Obama, because he is directly addressing their deepest concerns, their most powerful hopes, and the boundless idealism that is their greatest resource,” Chabon said in a news release.

Kawahata, formerly a student member of the Palo Alto Unified School District Board, has been involved with the Obama campaign’s grassroots organizing in Anna Eshoo‘s 14th Congressional District.

Posted on Tuesday, November 13th, 2007
Under: Barack Obama, Elections, General | No Comments »

GOP works overtime to slam McNerney

mcnerneyportrait.jpgThe National Republican Congressional Committee went full-throttle with anti-Jerry McNerney literature in recent days, issuing hit-piece press releases Thursday, Friday and Saturday against the freshman Democrat from Pleasanton.

On Thursday, the NRCC breathlessly reported how “McNerney and his Democrat colleagues” (and for the record, that would be 213 of his Democrat colleagues, including the entire Bay Area delegation, plus eight Republicans) had voted against a measure “to protect state marriage laws from being changed in a courtroom by trial lawyers.”

Ah, Republican red meat. Actually, the vote to which this news release referred was a motion to send H.R. 3685 — the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2007, to prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation — back to committee. This was a last-minute, parliamentary tactic to try to kill the bill by adding language that would prevent courts from using ENDA to “modify, limit, restrict or in any way overturn any state or federal definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, including the use of this act as a legal predicate in litigation on the issue of marriage” — thus trying to bootstrap the controversial issue of same-sex marriage into a bill which has nothing to do with it. It’s also worth noting that the actual vote to pass ENDA, after the motion to recommit had failed, was 235-184, this time with 35 Republicans on board.

More on the NRCC’s Friday and Saturday hit pieces, after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, November 12th, 2007
Under: Jerry McNerney, Republican Party, same-sex marriage, U.S. House | 2 Comments »

Concord city manager quits

Concord City Manager Lydia Du Borg has resigned from her $205,000 a year job, Times reporter Tanya Rose confirmed a few hours ago. (Click here to read Rose’s story.)

There’s been talk for weeks that some members of the City Council were dissatisfied with Du Borg, a 30-year employee of the city who took the top job about three years ago, over her management of city issues such as the Concord Naval Weapons Station and union contracts.

The council conducted her performance review recently in closed session and while no one is talking about what took took place, Du Borg is leaving rather than placing a renewal of her contract on the agenda for a vote.

City managers have precarious jobs, of course.

They are at-will employees who must cater to the often conflicting demands of politicians and residents while leading a diverse government operation under tight budget constraints. Du Borg’s predecessor, Ed James, was a master ringleader of this public circus and following in his footsteps would have been a tough job for anyone.

Posted on Friday, November 9th, 2007
Under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

House tax bill would help East Bay residents

George Miller
A bill passed by the House of Representatives today that provides temporary relief from the alternative minimum tax through new taxes on hedgefund managers would benefit an estimated 200,325 East Bay taxpayers, according to statistics provided by the office of Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez.

If approved by the Senate and signed by President Bush, an outcome far from certain given Republican opposition, the bill would stall for one year the imposition of the alternative minimum tax.

Estimates from Miller’s office show a dramatic increase in the estimated numbers of taxpayers in three East Bay congressional districts who would pay the AMT without a change in the tax law.

In Miller’s district, which includes portions of northern and western Contra Costa County, the number of people paying AMT would rise from 7,537 in 2005 to 58,558, a 677 percent increase. In Rep. Ellen Tauscher’s district next door, which includes most of Central Contra Costa County, the figure rises from 20,618 to 92,246, a 347 percent hike. And in Rep. Jerry McNerney’s district, which incompasses the San Ramon Valley and Eastern Contra Costa County, the number would jump from 24,208 taxpayers to 101,884, a four-hold increase.

With the economy struggling and a presidential campaign under way, a fight over the AMT has already fueled more partisan conflict in Congress.

House Republican Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, in a statement released today, called the bill the first step toward a $3.1 trillion tax increase and a “back-door way of permanently taxing entrepreneurs who create family-wage jobs. The Senate won’t support it, and the President won’t sign it. The Majority insisted on today’s exercise in futility instead of acting with urgency on a bipartisan solution to protect middle-class taxpayers.”

Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, also sent out a statement on the tax today.

“This is a perfect example of the new Congress working in real-time for American families,” Tauscher said. “We were able to provide the right kind of tax relief that keeps money in the pockets of middle class Americans without further adding to the deficit.”

According to Tauscher’s office, without a change in the AMT law, taxpayers lose the ability to claim tax deductions for dependent children and for state and local taxes, and would pay on average $3,600 more in federal income taxes. Without the bill, she said, the AMT income threshold for 2007 would be joint filers earning $45,000 and single filers earning $35,750.

To read Boehner’s press release, click here.

To read Miller’s press release, click here.

To read Tauscher’s press release, click here.

Photo from Miller’s congressional web site at

Posted on Friday, November 9th, 2007
Under: Congress | No Comments »

More Barack by the Bay

Before Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., holds a mass grassroots fundraiser in San Francisco next Wednesday, he’ll spend some time earlier that day holding a town-hall meeting with Google employees (an event not open to the public) and touring the company’s Mountain View headquarters.

Google’s wallets certainly seem to like Obama. A database maintained by the Center for Responsive Politics shows workers listing Google as their employer have anted up $175,450 to presidential campaigns this cycle. Of that, $93,750 has gone to Obama; $40,050 to Hillary Clinton; $22,650 to Ron Paul; $5,600 to Rudy Giuliani; $4,500 to John Edwards; $3,800 to Bill Richardson; $2,300 to John McCain; $2,300 to Sam Brownback; and $500 to Fred Thompson.

Posted on Thursday, November 8th, 2007
Under: Barack Obama, Bill Richardson, Elections, Fred Thompson, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, John McCain, Ron Paul, Rudy Giuliani | No Comments »

From the “where are they now?” file…

Consumer rights group Public Citizen announced Wednesday that former Califorina State Senator Liz Figueroa, D-Fremont, has been named to the Public Citizen Foundation’s board of directors.

From the news release:

figueroa.jpgFigueroa’s powerful defense of consumer rights has kept telemarketers off the line and insurance companies out of hospital rooms. A California state senator from 1999 to 2006, Figueroa helped create the Healthy Families Program, which has provided health care to more than 500,000 California children. She fought for reform in the insurance industry and wrote the landmark law that gave California patients the right to sue negligent HMOs. But the legislation that won her the most ringing endorsements from just about anyone with a phone is the legislation that created California’s “Do Not Call List,” which prompted the Bush administration to follow her lead with a national “Do Not Call” program.

“When it comes to answering the call to activism, especially for the rights of consumers, Public Citizen is definitely the organization I want on my ‘do call’ list ” Figueroa said. “Joining the board is a natural evolution in my commitment to standing up – and not shutting up – when the voices of citizens must be heard.”

Figueroa, who had chaired the Senate’s Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee, was termed out last year; she ran in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor, but finished behind winner John Garamendi and state Senator Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough. In January, state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, named her to the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board, where she’s earning $114,191 per year through the start of 2011.

Also named to the Public Citizen Foundation’s board was television producer Steve Skrovan, a longtime stand-up comic who wrote for “Seinfeld” and produced “Everybody Loves Raymond;” working with a fellow comic who had found plenty of material in her first job as Public Citizen’s founder Ralph Nader’s office manager, Skrovan co-wrote, produced and directed “An Unreasonable Man,” a documentary about Nader released in 2006.

And named to Public Citizen’s board was David Halperin, a former speechwriter for former President Bill Clinton and presidential candidate Howard Dean who now is senior vice president at the Center for American Progress and the director of Campus Progress, the Center’s effort to help young people make their voices heard.

Posted on Thursday, November 8th, 2007
Under: Bill Clinton, California State Senate, Don Perata, John Garamendi | No Comments »

Please caption this photo.


From the governor’s office: “Reminding tourists that Southern California remains a beautiful, exciting and safe place to visit, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today toured popular tourist destinations still open for business after the recent wildfires… The following photos were taken at Sea World San Diego in San Diego, CA.”

Posted on Wednesday, November 7th, 2007
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger | No Comments »

Former Oaklander gets Socialist presidential nod

A Florida antiwar activist who spent part of his childhood in Oakland (go figure) has won the Socialist Party USA‘s presidential nomination.

Brian P. Moore, 64, of Spring Hill, Fla., got the party’s nod at its national convention Saturday in St. Louis, beating out longtime party activist and author Eric Chester of Massachusetts on the third ballot. Stewart A. Alexander, an activist from Murietta who was the Peace & Freedom Party’s 2006 nominee for California lieutenant governor, got the vice-presidential nomination.

moore-at-right-alexander.jpg< In accepting the Socialist Party USA's nomination, Moore said he'll make the immediate and total withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as opposition to a potential attack on Iran, his campaign's central themes. "Stopping the war is our highest priority," he said. "More than a million Iraqis, including tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children, have died in this tragic and misguided debacle, not to mention more than 3,800 of our own men and women — and for no legitimate reason." He also says he's for public financing of elections, and for starting to narrow the widening gap between the rich and the poor in the United States, a disparity greater than at any time since the 1920s. "The wealthy have benefited tremendously from the recent boom in the financial markets, while the working poor in this country are struggling more than ever just to make ends meet," said Moore, whose party's economic program includes guaranteed jobs, housing, and health care for every American. Moore will be seeking the Oakland-based Peace & Freedom Party’s nomination as well, competing against longtime consumer advocate Ralph Nader — who endorsed Moore’s U.S. Senate campaign last year — and others in that party’s Feb. 5 Califorina presidential primary; Peace & Freedom will hold its nominating convention next August.

Lotsa biographical information on Moore after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, November 7th, 2007
Under: Elections, General, Oakland, Sacramento | 2 Comments »

Van de Brooke to work for Piepho

Tomi Van de BrookeTomi Van de Brooke has left the California Alliance for Jobs to take a position as chief of staff for Contra Costa County Supervisor Mary Piepho.

It’s a good move for Piepho, who has struggled with staff turnover and could use an experienced leader in her office. Van de Brooke has vast experience in public policy and communications and is highly regarded as smart and politically savvy. She will supervise District 3’s five employees and work out of its Danville office.

“It was the right time and the right job for me,” Van de Brooke said. “I have known Mary for many years and I think the world of her and her abilities.”

Unlike many politicians’ chiefs of staff, Van de Brooke has a political identity of her own. The Orinda resident is an elected trustee on the board of the Contra Costa Community College District who recently created a buzz when she changed her party affiliation from Republican to Democrat. (Piepho is a Republican but the supervisor seat is technically nonpartisan.)

Piepho also announced that Tim Hunt, former associate publisher of the Tri-Valley Herald, will work as consultant to her office to improve constituent communication.

Van de Brooke joins Piepho’s staff at a time when the one-term incumbent is facing a stiff re-election challenge from Assemblyman Guy Houston, R-San Ramon. Before she took this new job, Van de Brooke publicly castigated Houston for his decision to run against Piepho, his former aide. (Click here to see my blog entry.)

District 3 includes the Alamo, Brentwood, Danville, Discovery Bay, Knightsen, Oakley, San Ramon, and Walnut Creek.

Photo of Van de Brooke taken from Contra Costa Community College web site.

Posted on Wednesday, November 7th, 2007
Under: Contra Costa politics | No Comments »

Oakland hearing to probe judicial diversity

corbett.jpgState Senate Judiciary Committee chairwoman Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, will convene a hearing Thursday in Oakland on diversity and transparency in California’s judicial appointments — a topic on which Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has taken some heat.

Corbett issued a news release saying she called the hearing in the wake of a State Bar of California report showing a lack of ethnic and gender diversity in California’s superior courts.

“The governor is going to have a historic opportunity in the next two years to shape the superior courts of California,” she said. “That is why we must act now to ensure that the process is open and provides an equal opportunity to increase ethnic and gender diversity in our state courts.”

Among those scheduled to testify at the hearing — open to the public, at 10 a.m. Thursday in the Alameda County Board of Supervisors’ hearing room at 1221 Oak St. in Oakland — are California Chief Justice Ronald George; Alameda County Superior Court Judge Brenda Harbin-Forte; Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation chairman William Kopeny and director Bilganna Sivanov; former State Bar president Anthony Capozzi; and others. Sharon Majors-Lewis, the governor’s judicial appointments secretary, was invited but has not yet confirmed whether she’ll attend.

2006 Democratic gubernatorial nominee Phil Angelides had criticized Schwarzenegger’s alleged lack of diversity in judicial appointments last year, and legislative Democrats made it the subject of a budget battle this summer. But the governor has always insisted his administration is making progress on diversifying the state’s bench.

Posted on Wednesday, November 7th, 2007
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, California State Senate, Ellen Corbett, Oakland | No Comments »