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Archive for March, 2008

Win a seat on McCain’s bus

Here’s an interesting prize for a lucky contributor to the campaign of presumed GOP presidential nominee John McCain: A seat on the “Straight Talk Express.”

It’s a bus, folks. And the prize comes with commemorative ticket, too. (Photo on the right appeared on Blogs 4 Brownback blog.)

I just hope it’s a good seat and not one of those at the back behind the boxes full of campaign brochures.

Here’s what McCain’s campaign sent out:

My Friends,

Next week, I will embark on a “Service to America” tour visiting numerous locations that have played a significant role in shaping who I am today; places where I have had the honor of serving our nation. This tour will take me through Mississippi, Virginia, Florida and my home state of Arizona. I look forward to visiting sites that have left an imprint on my life aboard my campaign bus, the Straight Talk Express.

My campaign has come up with an opportunity for a supporter to join me on the Straight Talk Express for a day of conversation and campaigning. As a token of my appreciation for your financial support, you will be entered to win this seat aboard the Straight Talk Express if you make a contribution before midnight on March 31st. I hope you’ll consider joining me by making a donation today. If you can give $50 or more, not only will you be entered to win a ride on the Straight Talk Express, but you’ll receive a commemorative Straight Talk Express ticket.

March 31, 2008 marks an important deadline for our campaign. We will file a report with the FEC outlining the amount of money we have raised during the past three months. I’m reaching out to you to ask for your support by following this link to make a donation of $50, $100, $250, $500, $1,000 – anything you can contribute up to the legal limit of $2,300.

I have said many times before that this campaign will be the most expensive campaign in our history, and I have no doubt that both Senators Clinton and Obama will continue to report historic, record-breaking fundraising numbers. With your support today, my campaign will have the resources necessary to compete with either Senator Clinton or Obama in what will be a great contest come November.

I’m looking forward to traveling on the Straight Talk Express again next week, visiting directly with voters, hearing their concerns, offering my vision for the future and highlighting those among us who are serving our country and communities, dedicating themselves to causes greater than their own self interest. Your support makes this possible, and I am grateful for any assistance you are able to give.


Posted on Wednesday, March 26th, 2008
Under: 2008 presidential election, Republican politics | No Comments »

New ad blasts GOP for yacht-tax loophole

Here’s the Courage Campaign‘s new television ad “re-branding California Republicans as the ‘Yacht Party’ for refusing to close a ‘yacht tax’ loophole despite an initial $16 billion state budget deficit.”

United Healthcare Workers-West and Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles, are joining with more than 550 small donors to air the ads in Sacramento and San Francisco today and Thursday, and in Walnut Creek, Palm Springs, and other areas at times not yet determined.

The “Yacht Party” concept began on Calitics, a state politics blog. Netroots activists there came up with the term and then produced a one-minute YouTube video, created by blogger David Dayen; that video inspired this ad.

UPDATE @ 3:20 P.M. WEDNESDAY: Man, they make it TOO easy. This just in from the California Democratic Party:

Perhaps the fumes from the engines on their power yachts finally got to them. That’s the only logical explanation we can think of as to why the Assembly Republicans, breaking their own record for political tone-deafness, would have chosen the swanky new boutique hotel Le Rivage as the location for their caucus retreat.

Nestled into the banks of the Sacramento River, Le Rivage offers “elegant surroundings, select accommodations, impeccable service, and unique amenities combine to create the finest luxury hotel in California’s capital.” What unique amenities, you ask?

How about – you guessed it — “luxury yacht parking, long term and short term.”

According to the hotel’s website: Le Rivage Hotel proudly hosts Sacramento’s premier yacht parking. Conveniently located adjacent to the luxury hotel and on The Sacramento River. Le Rivage Marina includes

  • 25 permanent slips from 36-100ft vessels
  • Dual 50 amp service
  • Pump-out station
  • Boat catering
  • Short-term parking
  • Yacht sales
  • Use of hotel pool, whirlpool, and fitness center with berth rental

  • What better way for Assembly Republicans to celebrate their crowning legislative accomplishment of the new session thus far – their killing of the bill to close the “sloophole”?

    Posted on Wednesday, March 26th, 2008
    Under: Fabian Nunez | No Comments »

    Crackdown on signature-gathering proposed

    Here’s a good idea: A bill authored by Assemblyman Al Torrico, D-Newark, calls for holding ballot initiative sponsors responsible for the lies and misstatements of those paid pesky signature-gatherers lurking outside your local grocery stores.

    AB 1914 passed out of the Assembly Election and Redistricting Committee today on a 5-0-2 vote. It’s now headed to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

    “This bill will bring more accountability and integrity to the signature gathering process by also holding the petition’s proponents responsible for the actions of their circulators,” Torrico said.It’s a misdemeanor, according to Torrico’s office, for a petition circulator to use false statements or to misrepresent a petition’s contents in order to receive that voter’s signature on the petition. But there are no penalties against the initiative proponents who hire the signature-gatherers, most of whom are paid by the signature.

    Under Torrico’s bill, initiative proponents of the petition could be held civilly liable if they knew about the circulator’s actions but failed to act, according to his office.

    “Individuals who signed a petition handled by a circulator who is subsequently convicted of misleading voters, must be contacted by the proponent to determine if they still want their names on the petition,” the press release said.

    Unfortunately, the old days seem to be gone, the times where passionate citizens eager to put a measure on the ballot mustered volunteers up and down the state and gathered the requisite signatures.

    But the high numbers of signatures required in a state with 33 million people has led to the use of paid signature-gatherers who work essentially on commission: The more signatures, the bigger the paycheck. It’s a thankless job, requiring workers to stand for hours on end outside grocery stores and discount outlets and try to persuade residents to sign often complicated proposed legislation. Many signature-gatherers know little about the initiatives nor do most of them care whether they pass or not.

    Californians love their initiatives; 58 are in various stages of the process at the Secretary of State’s office.

    But beware of what you sign on your way into Target. That proposal on the clipboard may not reflect a grassroots movement but only the will of a handful people with money to hire signature-gatherers who have nothing to gain but a few bucks in their pockets.

    These days very few campaigns attempt to qualify initiative petitions with volunteer signature gatherers. The vast majority use professionals, who are paid anywhere from $1 to $3 per signature.

    Posted on Wednesday, March 26th, 2008
    Under: California Legislature, Election reform | 1 Comment »

    CNA and SEIU tussle over nurses in Ohio

    It seems the Oakland-based, politically active California Nurses Association and its national arm, the National Nurses Organizing Committee, have gotten into a nasty tussle with the Service Employees International Union out in Ohio.

    From a Huffington Post blog:

    There are 8,000 hospital workers in Ohio who should have joined the union last week but did not — because of the union-busting tactics of the California Nurses Association. I used to work for SEIU District 1199 in Ohio, working for years on this very campaign to unionize nurses, and I don’t even know how to start talking about this. Jane asked me a week ago for my thoughts, but it’s been painfully hard to put into words.

    Here’s the bare bones summary of what happened, from the New York Times. But of course it is much, much more complicated than this:

    The Service Employees International Union was brimming with confidence about unionizing 8,300 workers at nine Ohio hospitals through elections that were scheduled for this Wednesday and Friday. But then organizers from a rival union, the California Nurses Association, swept into town, buttonholing workers and maneuvering their way into hospital wards, to press the workers to vote not to join the S.E.I.U.

    The blog goes on to describe a nine-year organizing battle that led to a “neutrality agreement from CHP (Catholic Healthcare Partners) for free and fair union elections — a vote free of interference, harassment or intimidation from their supervisors.”

    Eight thousand workers, about to join the union–and then outsiders from a rival union, the California Nurses Association (CNA), started leafleting and harassing workers in the week before their vote, telling them to vote “no,” creating such mass confusion and hysteria that SEIU was finally forced to cancel the elections altogether.
    What is particularly unbelievable is the fact that the CNA tried to paint the neutrality agreement between the hospital and the workers — an agreement the workers spent years fighting for — as some sort of “sweetheart deal…”

    Now SEIU is gathering signatures on a petition to the CNA that “Silencing Nurses Voices Is Not a Victory.”

    I contacted CNA Communications Director Charles Idelson for a rebuttal, and here it is:

    SEIU International cut a back room deal with a big hospital chain, Catholic Healthcare Partners, setting up a rigged election.

    The first point they have failed to answer is this — It was SEIU and CHP that called off the election, not us. The first question to ask is if there was so much support among the RNs and other employees to join SEIU, why not just go ahead? The reason, once their undemocratic scam was exposed, it was evident there was not majority support for SEIU.

    Allowing a company to hand-pick a union for its employees without their consent while stifling dissent and even discussion is not democratic, and it certainly is not the way to build a labor movement that has the trust and confidence of working people.

    How did they do it?

  • 1- The employer filed for the election, not the union, without a single signed union card, an unpleasant reminder of the bad old days of company unions when companies imposed hand-picked unions without the consent of their employees.
  • 2- SEIU and CHP manipulated labor law to prevent any other union from being able to participate on the ballot. Similar underhanded behavior did not create a democratic election in Michigan, and it didn’t at CHP either.
  • 3- RNs and other employees were specifically forbidden from talking about the union or the election — not only a violation of their free speech rights, but a cynical repudiation of what it takes to build genuine collective, union power in the workplace.
  • 4- SEIU and CHP also conspired to gag dissent outside the hospitals as well. When NNOC/CNA RNs arrived to hand out flyers to RNs, they were stalked and harassed by SEIU staff, slapped with a court order by CHP, and two people were arrested.
  • This is the Andy Stern model of organizing, pressure employers or sweet talk employers to hand him workers. In this case, we’ve heard a lot of talk about how SEIU waged a corporate campaign, how SEIU filed a lawsuit, ad nauseam. The workers are not chattel, SEIU is not entitled to them no matter how much money they spent.

    And while SEIU is on their high horse, perhaps they would care to explain their behavior in Puerto Rico where Dennis Rivera, head of SEIU Healthcare, is collaborating with the anti-union governor of the island to destroy a militant teachers union. The governor wants to get rid of the teachers have had the temerity of challenging bad working conditions and an undemocratic no strike law. So the governor held secret meetings with Rivera, who has banded together with an association of school principals and managers to create a “new” teachers union affiliated with SEIU to replace the militant one.

    UPDATE @ 7:50 A.M. THURSDAY: Here are a few other media accounts of what went down, from the Chicago Tribune, the Springfield (Ohio) News-Sun, the Cincinnati Enquirer, and the Associated Press via the Akron Beacon Journal.

    Posted on Wednesday, March 26th, 2008
    Under: General | 2 Comments »

    Tauscher says: No more ‘proportional’ delegate math

    The Democratic Party should switch to a “winner take all” delegate system in time for the 2012 presidential primary elections, Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, told the Contra Costa Times’ editorial board this morning. (Tauscher also delivered her annual speech to the Contra Costa Council today. Pick up a Thursday copy of the Times to read my full story on her speech.)

    The party’s current proportional method, where delegates in each state are awarded to the candidates based on election results, has produced a stalemate between Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. With close results in many of the states where primaries have been held, neither candidate has collected the requisite 2,024 delegates to secure the nomination at the party’s convention in Denver in August.

    CNN’s latest figures show Obama with 1,622 delegates to Clinton’s 1,485.

    A few primaries remain on the schedule but neither candidate can mathematically win enough delegates.

    That leaves the selection of the nominee in the hands of the so-called “super delegates,” the 796 people designated by the party to cast votes in the convention including Democratic members of Congress.

    “Believe me, there’s nothing ‘super’ about being a super-delegate,” said Tauscher, who is one of California 71 super-delegates. “I think we need to move to a winner-take-all system before the next election. This decision should not be in my hands or the hands of the super-delegates.”

    Tauscher hopes the selection will be settled before the convention but admits it could become a political cliff-hanger. The party also needs to figure out how how to seat delegates in Florida and Michigan, states that flouted party primary schedule rules and were told their results were void.

    Super-delegates are free to vote for the candidate of his or her choice regardless of the election results back home. Tauscher supports Clinton, who won in California on Feb. 5. Under a winner-take-all process, she would have taken all of the state’s 441 delegates.

    Instead, Clinton will seat 134 California delegates and Obama will receive 107 from among the 241 delegates who will be elected in April 13 caucuses.

    Also, per the California Democratic Party web site: Clinton won the statewide vote with 54.4 percent of the vote and therefore she gets 44 At-Large Delegates and 26 Party Leader/Elected Official Delegates. Barack Obama won 45.6 percent of the vote and gets 37 At-Large Delegates and 22 Party Leader/Elected Official Delegates.

    Tauscher is one of 71 California super-delegates, per the Democratic Party: 33 Democratic National Committee (DNC) Members, 31 Congressional Members, plus the vacant Tom Lantos seat which should be filled prior to the convention, and 1 former DNC Chair, Charles Manatt. Actually, there are 35 Democrats in Congress (33 House & the vacant Lantos seat, plus Senator Boxer and Senator Feinstein) but four of our Congressional Members are also on the DNC and therefore are counted as DNC Members.

    A winner-take-all election process would more closely mirror that of the general election, where the candidate with the most votes in state win that’s state’s Electoral College votes, Tauscher said.

    “Ultimately, that’s how we beat the Republican nominee is by winning the most Electoral College votes,” she said.

    The party also needs to simplify a delegate math system that has produced a cottage industry for political math gurus equipped with high-tech computerized “white boards” who befuddle viewers with endless numerical scenarios on national television.

    “Could we have possibly made this process any more difficult?” she laughed.

    Posted on Tuesday, March 25th, 2008
    Under: 2008 presidential election, Congress, Election reform | No Comments »

    Clinton’s Ace Smith is on the move again

    First the Bay Area’s Ace Smith ran Hillary Clinton’s operation in California.

    Then he took it on the road to Texas.

    And now he’s headed to… Pennsylvania? No. North Carolina.

    Posted on Tuesday, March 25th, 2008
    Under: Elections, Hillary Clinton | No Comments »

    Tauscher to talk economy today in Walnut Creek

    In what is being described as a major economic policy address, Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, will speak today in Walnut Creek at a luncheon sponsored by the Contra Costa Council.

    Tauscher’s office says she will address the health and stability of the nation’s economy including rising gas prices, rising cost of consumer goods, the meltdown in the mortgage industry, the Bear Stearns buyout, the health of credit and lending markets and what these indicators mean for the overall stability of our economy nationally and in the Bay Area.

    “Tauscher will address these issues from the unique viewpoint of former Wall Street Investment Banker who understands the ins and outs of the market place blended with her 11 years of experience representing the Bay Area in the U.S. House of Representatives,” according to a press release.

    Posted on Tuesday, March 25th, 2008
    Under: Congress | No Comments »

    ‘Sloophole’ ad to run in Sacramento and Walnut Creek

    The Courage Campaign, a progressive grassroots California political action committee, says it has raised enough cash to air its 30-second “Yacht Party” advertisement in Sacramento.

    UPDATE 3/26/08: Ad will now run also San Francisco, Walnut Creek, Palm Springs.

    The ad has gotten quite a bit of attention. It’s a clever poke at Assembly Republicans who refused to close a tax that allows purchasers of boats, RVs and other recreational toys to keep them out-of-state for 90 days and and avoid paying sales taxes.

    Republicans say the tax would raise very little money and hurt local marinas and other local businesses. That’s all true. It would raise only an estimated $20 million, a fraction of the state’s $8 billion deficit next year.

    But at a time when the state may have to lay off thousands of teachers and cut services to the poor, the symbolism of allowing a yacht buyer to sit in Mexico for three months to avoid paying taxes is hitting a nerve.

    The Courage Campaign says the ad will run Wednesday on CNN, MSNBC, the Daily Show and Colbert Report.

    Here’s the ad:

    Posted on Tuesday, March 25th, 2008
    Under: California Legislature | No Comments »

    Schwarzenegger video of the week

    This week, the first of two parts: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s May 1990 appearance on NBC’s “Late Night with David Letterman,” wherein we discuss “Total Recall,” child-birthing classes, physical fitness and more:

    Previous SVOTWs: March 18, March 11, March 4, February 26, February 19, February 12, February 5, January 29, January 22, January 15, January 8, January 1, December 25, December 18, 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, March 25th, 2008
    Under: General | No Comments »

    Oakland woman named to national GOP board

    Roseann Slonsky-Breault of Oakland has been appointed to the Board of Directors of the National Federation of Republican Women by National President Shirley Sadler, according to a press release. (In the photo on the right, Slonsky-Breault is on the right.)

    She will serve as a member of the NFRW Americanism Committee for the 2008-2009 term.

    Slonsky-Breault, an NFRW Regent, also joined more than 275 regents in Washington, D. C. for afternoon tea with First Lady Laura Bush during the group’s spring meeting March 12-16 in Washington, D.C.

    The First Lady invited the NFRW Regents to the White House to thank the organization for it’s participation in education and literacy programs and to encourage members to continue their educational advocacy efforts.
    Slonsky-Breault is the third vice president of the California Federation of Republican Women Northern Division, is immediate past President of Piedmont Area Republican Women Federated and is a member of the Alameda County Republican Central Committee.

    Posted on Monday, March 24th, 2008
    Under: Republican politics | No Comments »