Kucinich cancels SF, Oakland events

Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich today cancelled campaign events scheduled for Friday in San Francisco and Saturday in Oakland and other California cities; he’ll be spending time with family and friends through Christmas, in the wake of his younger brother’s death yesterday.

“Dennis was extremely close to his brother, and this is a very sad time for him, his other brothers and sisters, and the entire family,” said a campaign spokesman. “The outpouring of support, expressions of sympathy, and prayers from people all across the country has been inspiring. We know that our friends in California, New Hampshire, Iowa, and everywhere across the country will understand why Dennis and Elizabeth can’t be with them at this time.”

Funeral services for Perry Kucinich will be held Saturday in Cleveland’s Slavic Village neighborhood; Dennis Kucinich said he plans to assemble his late brother’s artistic works for a memorial showing and tribute sometime in the spring.

UPDATE @ 9 P.M. THURSDAY: Apparently the show must go on; the whistle-stop tour — starting at about 7:30 a.m. Saturday morning at Oakland’s Jack London Square Amtrak station (the train leaves at 8:50 a.m.) and ending Sunday evening in Oceanside — will continue without the Kuciniches, with key campaign aide Amy Vossbrinck standing in to rally the troops. And the Friday-night event in San Francisco remains in effect too, also Kucinichless; the campaign tells me it’ll confirm other speakers sometime tomorrow.


Perata: No rift with Nunez over health care

perata.jpgState Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, had nothing nice to say about today’s San Francisco Chronicle editorial on health-care reform legislation (“It’s too bad that Nunez and Perata can’t get along, but it’s also time for them to put their personal issues aside.”) when asked about it before a news conference this morning in Oakland.

There is no rift between him and Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, he insisted, and he has no problem with the legislation — he’s a cosponsor, he noted. But with Gov. Arnold Schwarznegger predicting a $14 billion budget shortfall, now’s not the time to hurry forward with a new potential encumbrance; if taxes don’t cover the new plan’s cost, the already-in-the-red general fund could end up taking the brunt of it. Better to wait a few weeks until the budget picture is clearer, he said.

“I want to see how badly damaged we are,” Perata said, adding he’s confident the plan can still be put on the November 2008 ballot. “A good idea is not going to be stopped by two weeks (delay).”


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, Think.MTV.com 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 www.newschallenge.org, 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.


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.


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 http://www.heifer.org/site/c.edJRKQNiFiG/b.204586/k.9430/Gift_Catalog.htm?msource=kw1844


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 socalhrc@hillaryclinton.com.

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: www.utexas.edu/cee/dec/spotlight/