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Archive for December, 2007

Oaklander joins MTV’s “Street Team ’08”

carl-brown.jpgAn Oakland-based video and film producer, cinematographer and editor has been chosen as a member of MTV’s “Street Team’08,” a group of 51 citizen journalists — one from each state and Washington, D.C. — who’ll cover the 2008 elections from a youth perspective and tailor their reports for mobile devices.

Carl Brown — executive director of Corduroy Media — will head to MTV’s New York City headquarters for an intensive training session Jan. 7-9th, and will then start reporting.

Part of MTV’s Emmy-winning “Choose or Lose” campaign, the Street Team will contribute weekly, multi-media reports — short-form videos, blogs, animation, photos, podcasts, and so on — to be distributed via a soon-to-launch site, MTV Mobile, and to the more than 1,800 sites in the Associated Press Online Video Network. Team members, chosen after an extensive nationwide search, will be armed with mobile media like laptops, video cameras and cell phones, and charged with uncovering the untold political stories that matter most to young people in their respective states.

Says MTV:

“Street Team ‘08” members represent every aspect of today’s youth audience – from seasoned student newspaper journalists to documentary filmmakers, the children of once-illegal immigrants to community organizers. They are conservative, liberal, from big cities and small towns. The tie that binds them all is a passion for politics and a yearning to amplify the youth voice during this pivotal election. All of the “Street Team ’08” correspondents will begin reporting early next month, after an intensive MTV News orientation in New York City.

“Recent MTV research shows young people believe their generation will be a major force in determining who is elected in the upcoming local and national elections,” said Ian Rowe, VP of Public Affairs and Strategic Partnership, MTV, “and Street Team ’08 will be a key way for our audience to connect with peers, as well as get informed and engaged on the local and political issues that matter to them most. We’re proud to join with the Knight Foundation on this innovative experiment – which will also explore how coverage of youth-centric election issues can be an effective pathway to increased youth voter turnout and greater political and civic engagement.”

The “Street Team ’08” program is made possible by a $700,000 Knight News Challenge grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The Knight News Challenge, at, is an annual worldwide competition awarding $5 million for innovative ideas that use digital media to inform and inspire communities. The Knight Foundation plans to invest at least $25 million over five years in the search for bold community news experiments.

Posted on Thursday, December 20th, 2007
Under: Elections, Oakland | No Comments »

Kucinich’s brother died

Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich‘s younger brother died yesterday morning in Cleveland. Here’s the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s story about it. And here’s the campaign’s statement:

Perry J. Kucinich, younger brother of Ohio Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich, died early this morning in his apartment in Cleveland, Ohio. He was 51. The cause of death will be determined by the coroner’s office.

Perry Kucinich was a talented artist who produced a prodigious volume of work. Some of his works have been on display recently at a local art gallery. He and his brother Dennis were planning another showing of his works in the spring.

“He was an admirer of the works of Klee and Picasso, and the style and structure of his artwork derived from their influences,” said Dennis Kucinich. “He was a genius. He had extraordinary insights. Although he struggled with mental illness, with the help of his family and friends, he was able to lead a productive life.”

“The Kucinich family is very close knit,” said family spokesman Andy Juniewicz. “This is a devastating loss to each and every member of the Kucinich family. Dennis was very close to his brother Perry. He watched after him, and he loved him dearly. The two spoke nearly every day. He was more like Dennis’s son than his brother.”

Perry Kucinich was born Dec. 11, 1956, the fifth child of Frank and Virginia Kucinich. The family’s travails were chronicled in a recently released book, “The Courage to Survive,” written by Congressman Kucinich.

Funeral services are pending. In addition to his brother Dennis, Perry is survived by brothers Frank, Gary, and Larry, and by sisters Theresa and Beth Ann. They all live in Northeast Ohio.

Posted on Thursday, December 20th, 2007
Under: Dennis Kucinich | No Comments »

Water buffaloes make good stocking stuffers

Water buffaloIf you just can’t bear another trip to that crowded mall and your family and friends already have more stuff than they need, consider the gift of a water buffalo.


A friend of mine received a stellar present today in her name from Heifer International, a Little Rock, Arkansas-based organization with a barnyard of holiday gift-giving options that don’t involve driving anywhere or require you to search the house for that last roll of tape.

Buy a water buffalo for $250 and Heifer will give it to a needy family. Best of all, your loved one will never have to clean up after it.

“A water buffalo can lead a hungry family out of poverty and give them a chance for a bright future filled with hope and free from hunger,” Heifer’s site says. “In poor Filipino villages, water buffalo from Heifer provide draft power for planting rice and potatoes, milk for protein and manure for fertilizer and fuel. A farmer can plant four times more rice with a buffalo than by hand.”

What a great idea!

Not crazy about buffaloes? A goat is $150 and a Heifer Hope Basket with goats and chickens is $50. They have ducks and geese and rabbits, too.

Note to self: Return that set of golf clubs I bought for my husband and buy him a water buffalo.

Note: The water buffalo picture came from Heifer International’s web site at

Posted on Wednesday, December 19th, 2007
Under: Web Site of the Day | No Comments »

Civil rights leader to visit Richmond

Dolores HuertaUnited Farm Worker co-founder Dolores Huerta will visit Richmond on Saturday night as a part of a seven-city, two-day campaign appeal to win Latino voters for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.

While Latinos have gained in population in California, their voting rates have not kept pace with their numbers. Local, state and national candidates are increasingly seeking ways to attract the Latino vote. (California Federal of Teachers political director Kenneth Burt, also a historian, has written a very good book on Latino politics called “The Search for a Civic Voice: California Latino Politics.” Click here for a link to Burt’s web site.)

This weekend’s “Holiday Party for Hillary” calls for guests to bring an unwrapped toy for donation to local charity and go to work calling prospective voters or going door-to-door. On Saturday, Huerta will visit Fresno, Sacramento, Richmond and San Francisco. Her Sunday schedule includes San Diego, Santa Ana and Los Angeles.

In Richmond, a handful of local officials will join Huerta including Contra Costa Supervisor John Gioia, Pinole Councilman Stephen Tilton, Berkeley Councilman Kriss Worthington, Oakland Councilmember Jean Quan and San Leandro Mayor Anthony Santos.

Residents who wish to attend the Richmond party between 5-7 p.m. Saturday should send an e-mail reservation request to

Huerta’s appearance on behalf of Clinton is not an unusual campaign move. Presidential candidates commonly use proxies as a means to extend their presence or influence. The list of acceptable stand-ins can include their spouses or children, movie stars and even talk-show hosts, such as Democratic president candidate Barack Obama’s alliance with Oprah Winfrey.

And with most of the presidential hopefuls furiously campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire, where voters will select their choices on Jan. 3 and Jan. 8 respectively, there’s little chance that Californians will see the actual candidates for several weeks. (For a complete presidential primary calendar, my favorite site is the New York Time’s election guide.)

NOTE: The photo features United Farm Worker co-founder Dolores Huerta speaking at the University of Texas at Austin in 2007. Photo originally appeared at the following link:

Posted on Wednesday, December 19th, 2007
Under: 2008 presidential primary, Contra Costa politics | 2 Comments »

State releases population data

The California Department of Finance released its annual county population report today, revealing a modest statewide growth of 1.17 percent, or 438,000 people, from July 1, 2006 to July 1, 2007. The rate has remained relatively consistent during the past several years.

The figure represents the natural increase, or births minus deaths, as well as those who have moved into California from other countries or elsewhere in the nation.

Two-thirds of the state’s growth, or 327,000 people, was from natural increase. Net migration accounted for the remaining 25 percent or 111,000 people. This includes foreign immigrants and migrants from other states.

In Contra Costa and Alameda counties, the growth rates of 1.11 and 1.28 percent respectively rose slightly over the prior year.

Contra Costa gained 13,189 new residents with about half the result of natural increase. The county had a net immigration of 4,168 people and a net domestic migration increase of 2,273 new residents.

Alameda County saw 16,761 new residents with 68 percent, or 11,522 people, the result of natural increase. Unlike Contra Costa County, Alameda actually lost 4,794 residents to the rest of the nation but posted an increase of 10,033 new immigrants for a net migration of 5,239 people.

Number junkies who experience unadulterated joy in spreadsheets will find these details and much, much more at the California Department of Finance’s demographic reports web site, which features downloadable Excel files of annual population data for every county in the state.

Posted on Wednesday, December 19th, 2007
Under: Demographics | No Comments »

Schwarzenegger video of the week

Oh, it’s a happy holiday season indeed when I stumble across… ANOTHER JAPANESE COMMERCIAL!!!

Dig that superhero-to-nerdy-workingman transformation. Awesome!

Previous SVOTWs: December 11, December 4, November 27, November 20, November 13, November 6, October 30, October 23, October 16, October 9, October 2, September 25, September 18, September 11, September 4, August 28, 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, December 18th, 2007
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger | No Comments »

Tauscher introduces test-ban treaty bill

Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, introduced a bill today calling on the Senate to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. While 140 nations have signed and ratified the treaty since 1996, the United States is one of only 10 remaining nations, including Syria and North Korea, which have not yet done so — and it can’t take effect without us.

“There is no bigger threat than a nuclear weapon in the wrong hands,” Tauscher, who chairs the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee, said in a news release. “This legislation is an opportunity to for the United States to stand up for the basic principles of non-proliferation. In a dangerous world where new and emerging threats make themselves known every day, the U.S. needs to be the moral and diplomatic leader on this critical international security issue.”

The treaty bans “any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion,” and so is meant to help block development of new types of nuclear warheads by existing nuclear-weapons states — such as the U.S., China, Russia, India, and Pakistan — while also impeding development of smaller, more easily deliverable warheads by nuclear wanna-bes such as North Korea and Iran.

The omnibus budget deal just struck by Congress contains a slight increase, to $24 million, for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization: the international organization established by the treaty’s signers in 1996, charged with carrying out necessary preparations for the treaty’s implementation; working to create the 337-facility International Monitoring System plus the International Data Center; and developing operational manuals including those to be used for on-site inspections.

“This is a very good step,” Tauscher said. “My legislation coupled with this increase in funding sets us in the right direction toward a national re-commitment to non-proliferation standards.”

Posted on Monday, December 17th, 2007
Under: Ellen Tauscher, U.S. House | No Comments »

California ProLife Council picks Fred Thompson

fred-thompson.jpgThe California ProLife Council today endorsed Republican Fred Thompson for president.

“There are so many pro-life candidates in the race,” said Lawrence Lehr, the CPLC’s political action committee chairman. “But Fred Thompson is clearly the one, consistently pro-life candidate with the ability to win in November. It is important that pro-life voters rally around a candidate that can make a difference.”

CPLC is the National Right to Life Committee‘s state affiliate; NRLC endorsed Thompson last month, but CPLC executive director Brian Johnston — also the NRLC’s Western Regional director — told me today that “CPLC made its endorsement on its own. All affiliates are free to make their own PAC decisions.”

I asked Johnston whether CPLC had been concerned that the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association had hired Thompson in 1991 to lobby President George H.W. Bush’s administration on behalf of abortion rights. Replied Johnston: “As an employee, and a lawyer, Thompson represented his client. He has made it clear in his actions what his public policy predilections are.”

According to the Thompson campaign’s news release announcing this endorsement:

Fred Thompson is pro-life. He believes in the sanctity of human life and that every life is worthy of respect. He had a 100% pro-life voting record in the Senate and believes Roe v. Wade was a bad decision that ought to be overturned. He consistently opposed federal funding to promote or pay for abortion and supported the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act, the Child Custody Protection Act, and President Reagan’s Mexico City policy. While Fred Thompson supports adult stem cell research, he opposes embryonic stem cell research. He also opposes human cloning.

Posted on Monday, December 17th, 2007
Under: Elections, Fred Thompson | No Comments »

Concord blogger blasts CC GOP

GOP Chairman Tom Del BeccaroCheck out this very interesting exchange today between blogger Bill Gram-Reefer and Antioch Councilman Arne Simonsen.

Gram-Reefer, under the screen name of “Patches, A Neutered Brittany Male,” delivered a blistering review of Contra Costa GOP chief Tom Del Beccaro’s performance and cited a laundry list of the county party’s problems. In response, Simonsen says Del Beccaro reinvigorated the county GOP and told the blogger, in so many words, to get lost.

Whoa. It’s not even 2008 yet.

Posted on Monday, December 17th, 2007
Under: Contra Costa politics, Republican politics | No Comments »

Contra Costa MAC reforms on table

Contra Costa County’s push to reform and standardize the operations of its municipal advisory committees, or MACS, may meet with vocal resistance Tuesday.

The county Board of Supervisors called the all-MAC meeting to present its draft policy recommendations but opposition is already pouring in. Some members of these hyper-local community boards were already peeved after the county stripped them last year of their elected status and converted them to political appointees.

The county has 10 MACs in unincorporated communities such as Byron, Knightsen, Rodeo and Kensington. The county assigns MAC duties to two elected community service district boards, one in Discovery Bay and the other in Diablo. These boards have no authority and receive little funding but serve as a sounding board on local issues and make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors on issues that may impact their residents.

These boards have operated for years under inconsistent rules, funding and oversight, and the county wants to create a single playbook. For example, the supervisors are considering the imposition of minimum standards for reporting and storage of minutes, term limits on membership and uniform funding.

On the surface, it sounds like a housekeeping matter.

But in Supervisor Mary Piepho’s district, some local folks view the move as a hostile take-over designed to silence and intimidate her critics. Piepho has had repeated run-ins with MAC members in Knightsen and Byron over the community board’s authority to send letters stating their positions to any entity other than the Board of Supervisors. Former Knightsen MAC member John Gonzalez, and a Piepho critic, says the county has plenty of laws in place to govern its MACs and questioned the use of public resources for a minor matter at a time when the county faces far more serious issues. “I’m hoping there is not an ulterior motive,” he wrote. “The talk of the community lately is why would the supervisors make it so difficult to work with them?”

Piepho has said repeatedly that her intent is to open the MACs to the entire community and lend more transparency and accountability to their activities.

The bigger question may be whether or not Piepho and fellow Supervisor Federal Glover, who lead a sub-committee charged with developing the MAC guidelines, really want right now to start a battle over citizen advisory committees. Both face the potential of strong opponents in their 2008 re-election campaigns. Assemblyman Guy Houston, R-San Ramon, has said he will challenge Piepho and most expect Antioch Mayor Don Freitas will declare his candidacy in Glover’s supervisorial district in January.

If you’re interested, the all-MAC meeting will be held from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Dec. 18 at the Board of Supervisors’ chambers, 651 Pine St., Martinez, CA.

Posted on Monday, December 17th, 2007
Under: Contra Costa politics | 5 Comments »