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Archive for March, 2008

McCain campaigns in California

Presumed GOP presidenial candidate John McCain, R-Ariz., will be campaigning and fund-raising in California this week.

McCain’s events web page lists eight fund-raisers in a state known as the ATM of presidential politics. He will also host a town hall meeting today in Chula Vista with military families. On Tuesday, he travels to Santa Ana for the Orange County Hispanic Small Business Roundtable.

His travels include one Bay Area stop: A fund-raiser in San Francisco at the Ritz Carlton on Stockton Street beginning at 6 p.m.

If you want to attend, get out your checkbook. It will cost you $2,300 per person, the maximum contribution allowed under federal campaign laws.

But it you pledge to raise $50,000, you and seven friends of your choice will attend the host committee reception and have four photo opportunities of two people per photo. Or if that sounds too dear, promise to raise $25,000 and you’ll get tickets for four to the reception and two photos. Click here for McCain’s reservation web site.

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

Contra Costa Grand Jury seeks volunteers

Contra Costa County Grand Jury Foreman Jerry Holcombe tells me the court is seeking volunteers to serve on the grand jury in the 2008-2009 term.

The court’s goal is to interview at least 60 applicants. The judges also like to have a good geographic and demographic representation. So far, there have been very few applicants from West Contra Costa County, especially Richmond.

“Many of your loyal readers (like the grand jurors I’ve served with for the past two years) are keenly interested in how well county and city government works on behalf of its citizens,” Holcombe wrote to me in a-mail. “Such people are often the very best candidates for grand jury service.”

The deadline to file is April 15. For details about grand jury service and the application, visit the grand jury’s website at www.cc-courts.org/grandjury

Posted on Monday, March 24th, 2008
Under: Contra Costa County | 4 Comments »

House candidate to raise $$$ for charity

gerber.jpgIt isn’t every day that a political candidate uses the campaign’s bully pulpit to raise money for something other than the campaign itself.

But that seems to be the case out in the 10th Congressional District, where Moraga businessman Nicholas Gerber — unopposed in the June 3 Republican primary, headed for a showdown with incumbent Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, in November — is organizing a “Twist On Politics” charity fundraising event.

Gerber says he was sickened to realize this year’s presidential contest will cost upward of $1 billion, and found himself musing what even a tiny fraction of that sum would do for a needy community organization that either is headquartered in, or does a significant amount of work in, the 10th Congressional District.

So through his campaign’s Web site he’s asking local residents to nominate local charities they believe are worthy, and the one with the most votes will get the proceeds of a Scrabble tournament fundraiser scheduled for Sunday, May 25 at the Lafayette Veterans Memorial Hall, 3780 Mt. Diablo Blvd.

Melinda Gerber, the candidate’s wife, tells me all the money raised will go to the charity, none to the campaign. “When it comes time to do the fundraising, checks will be made payable to the charity and donors will receive a receipt and the usual tax deduction,” she said. “None of the funds will flow through us.”

Posted on Monday, March 24th, 2008
Under: Elections, Ellen Tauscher, General, U.S. House | No Comments »

Brentwood web designer buys anti-McNerney site

Webpage designer Chuck Handwork of Brentwood says he’s is the proud owner of a web site dedicated to the ouster of Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney of Pleasanton: www.votemcnerneyout.com.

The National Republican Congressional Committee produced the webpage’s content as part of its campaign against targeted Democrats across the nation, including McNerney.

A freshman who beat incumbent Republican Richard Pombo in 2006, McNerney is seeking re-election to a second term. Dean Andal, a Stockton Republican and former Assemblyman and member of the Board of Equalization, is running against him.

This is a whole new campaign world, isn’t it?

Anyone, anywhere with a few bucks, access to a computer, a bit of technical acumen and something to say can jump on the Internet and seek to influence public opinion.

One of the most oft-cited web pages in the 2006 Congressional District 11 campaign was Say No To Pombo, a site dedicated to replacing Pombo.

But the power and mystery of the Internet goes even deeper.

In a campaign tactic that nicely lines Google’s pockets, God bless them, people with web sites can bid for the chance to appear at the top of a “sponsored links” frame when users enter a specific name or phrase, such as “Jerry McNerney.”

Handwork bid to have his site show up twice on Google when you type in “Jerry McNerney,” as “Vote McNerney Out” and “The Real McNerney.” He pays a dime a click.

They were No. 1 and No. 2.

Unfortunately for Handwork, pro-McNerney forces know the trick, too.

TheMiddleClass.org apparently outbid Handwork, and its site — as of 5:51 p.m. Friday — appears No. 1 on the list, under “McNerney Earns an A+” (TheMiddleClass.org is produced by a progressive think tank called the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy.)

But Handwork is no dummy. He also bought Number 2 on the list, with the heading of “McNerney True Democrat,” which offers a link to a Washington Post voting record site.

And no, Dean Andal doesn’t have any sponsored links yet … or he didn’t as of 5:51 p.m. Friday.

Posted on Friday, March 21st, 2008
Under: 2008 June primary, congressional district 11 | No Comments »

Can you say “running mate?”

ap-photo-alex-brandon.jpgNew Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson endorsed Barack Obama for president this morning at a joint appearance in Portland, Ore.

“Today I am endorsing Senator Barack Obama for President of the United States because I believe he is the kind of once-in-a-lifetime leader that can bring our nation together and restore America’s moral leadership in the world,” he said. “As a Presidential candidate, I know full well Senator Obama’s unique ability to inspire the American people to confront our urgent challenges at home and abroad in a spirit of bipartisanship and reconciliation.”

Richardson served seven terms in Congress before being appointed by President Clinton to serve as Ambassador to the United Nations and, later, Secretary of Energy; he was elected governor in 2002 and again in 2006. His track record includes negotiating with hostile regimes for the release of American prisoners, and he has been active both in seeking to secure loose nuclear materials and in seeking to end the genocide in Darfur.

Said Obama: “He knows that to secure American interests, we have to talk to our enemies, as well as our friends, which is why he stood up to North Korea and Saddam Hussein to secure the release of American hostages. And that’s the kind of tough, aggressive diplomacy we need to meet the new challenges of the 21st century.”

Richardson’s among the Democratic superdelegates who most likely will end up determining the nomination this year, and could help tip more superdelegates Obama’s way, but I think there could be something more significant going on here.

Ever since Richardson dropped his own White House campaign in January, I’ve been among those saying he’d make a potent running mate for either Obama or Hillary Clinton, but especially for Obama. The nation’s only Latino governor, he would help Obama make deeper inroads into that community, and his foreign-policy chops would help blunt criticisms of Obama’s relative inexperience; Clinton needs less help in both those areas. Richardson would help strengthen either Democratic ticket in John McCain’s southwestern regional home base. And Richardson left the race before he’d said anything too harsh about Obama or Clinton that the GOP could turn back against him later this year.

the-two-bills.jpgI’d been waiting to see whether Richardson’s longstanding ties and loyalty to the Clintons would win out — he and Bill Clinton watched the Super Bowl together last month — but now that he has cast his lot, I’d not be surprised if you see him taking a verrrrrrry active role in Obama’s campaign from here on out.

UPDATE @ 2:24 P.M. FRIDAY: Maybe Richardson waited until now because only now are people and pundits beginning to grapple with the true state of the race for the Democratic nomination: He didn’t want to betray the Clintons’ friendship while she still stood a realistic chance.

Posted on Friday, March 21st, 2008
Under: Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Bill Richardson, Elections, Hillary Clinton, John McCain | No Comments »

Bay Area House members meet with Dalai Lama

dalai-lama.gifHouse Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco; Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Martinez; and Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, are part of a bipartisan Congressional delegation which met today in Dharamsala, India with the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader.

Pelosi’s office said the delegation was welcomed by thousands of Tibetans in a ceremony led by Speaker Karma Choephel of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile, and then proceeded to an audience the Dalai Lama to discuss issues relating to Tibet and the plight of Tibetan refugees in India. Later, the delegation visited the Tibetan Children’s Village, supported in part with U.S. aid to educate and look after thousands of Tibetan children, most of whom are orphans and new refugees from Tibet; the delegation also met with Tibetan monks, nuns, and children who recently escaped Tibet.

miller.jpg“I am humbled and honored to meet with the Dalai Lama,” Miller said. “It is my hope that our visit today will help draw additional attention and support to the effort by the Tibetan people to live in peace and freedom in their own country. The Chinese government’s brutal crackdown against peaceful protest is abhorrent and must end. The United States, as a leader of free nations, is obligated to support the peaceful efforts of the Tibetans and to condemn China’s repressive measures.”

The Chinese crackdown in Tibet is having repercussions here in the Bay Area. Someone poured flammable liquid on a door at the Chinese consulate in San Francisco early Thursday morning and set it alight, prompting an arson investigation. And San Francisco is bracing for the Olympic torch’s arrival April 9 on its way to the Summer Olympics in Beijing, expecting pro-Tibetan protestors to come out in droves.

Other members of the delegation include House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming Chairman Edward Markey, D-Mass.; Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wisc.; Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash.; Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C.; Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash.; Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J.; and Rep. Hilda Solis, D-El Monte.

Read Pelosi’s remarks praising the Dalai Lama’s leadership and calling for an end to the crackdown by the Chinese government in Tibet, after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, March 21st, 2008
Under: Anna Eshoo, George Miller, Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House | No Comments »

Rep. Miller visits Dalai Lama in India

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, met with the Dalai Lama today in India in a trip with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The New York Times is running a story and photo online (see photo on right) from the event. Miller is in the back row, third from the left — he’s the tall guy with the white hair.

I’ve pasted below a press release from Miller’s office, as well.

And click here for video on the NYT web site.

Press release from Miller follows:

MILLER JOINS SPEAKER PELOSI AND OTHER LAWMAKERS

IN MEETING WITH DALAI LAMA TODAY IN INDIA

WASHINGTON – March 21, 2008 – Coinciding with one of the strongest protests in years by Tibetans against Chinese oppression, the Dalai Lama held a meeting today in India with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Congressman George Miller, and other lawmakers during a congressional visit to India led by the Speaker.

The visit with the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, had been planned well in advance of the trip but the meeting took on added significance because of the recent violent crackdown by the Chinese government against Tibetan protesters inside China.

“I am humbled and honored to meet with the Dalai Lama,” said Miller (D-Martinez). “It is my hope that our visit today will help draw additional attention and support to the effort by the Tibetan people to live in peace and freedom in their own country. The Chinese government’s brutal crackdown against peaceful protest is abhorrent and must end. The United States, as a leader of free nations, is obligated to support the peaceful efforts of the Tibetans and to condemn China’s repressive measures.”

(The New York Times is running a photo of the visit on its website now: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/21/world/asia/21cnd-pelosi.html?hp)

Miller has met the Dalai Lama on two other occasions, once at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro to discuss global warming, and again several years ago When the Dalai Lama came to visit with members of Congress in Washington.

The main focus of the Speaker’s visit to India is to discuss energy and environmental issues with the government of India. The delegation is exploring areas of cooperation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and avoid the catastrophic impacts of global warming in both countries and around the world. Innovation is a key driver of both countries’ economies. Miller and Pelosi have spent a great deal of time in Congress promoting U.S. innovation efforts. India has become a fierce economic competitor in scientific and industrial manufacturing research.

The delegation is also examining the effectiveness of U.S. assistance programs in India. Last year, the Congress appropriated approximately $117 million for India to help improve India’s ability to achieve sustainable growth and reduce poverty by decreasing child and maternal mortality, addressing the rise of infectious diseases including HIV/AIDS, and promoting clean technology and climate change improvements. This year, the President requested $78 million, and Congress will consider that request in the State-Foreign Operations Appropriations bill to be voted on in the coming months.

The delegation went to Dharamsala, India, the recognized home of Tibetan exiles, to met with the Dalai Lama and other Tibetans. The U.S. provides an annual appropriation of $2.5 million for Tibetan refugees in India and Nepal who have escaped repression in Tibet. Two of the sites the delegation is visiting are the Tibetan refugee reception center, which handles newly arrived refugees and former political prisoners, and the Tibetan Children’s Village, which educates and looks after thousands of Tibetan orphans, students and new refugees.

Posted on Friday, March 21st, 2008
Under: Congress, International politics | No Comments »

Lloyd was first to embrace ULL, so there

Assembly District 15 GOP primary candidate Judy Bivano Lloyd of Danville says that she, not opponent Scott Kamena of Livermore, was the first to publicly go on the record in support of Contra Costa County’s urban limit line.

In an earlier blog entry, I wrote that Kamena jumped first on the ULL bandwagon.

Let no one say that I fail to correct my mistakes:

Kamena signed his own “Urban Limit Protection Pledge” on March 6.

Lloyd sent a letter on the subject to Martin McNair, chairman of the Contra Costa Costa Local Agency Formation Commission, on March 5.

Lloyd sent her letter a whole day before Kamena signed his pledge, folks.

In my meager defense, however, note that Lloyd sent her letter to McNair and Kamena sent his pledge to me. Kamena was undoubtedly grandstanding but hey, it worked, didn’t it?

Here’s a portion of Lloyd’s letter to McNair:

Dear Martin,

I hope this note finds you well! I haven’t talked with you in a while and wanted to get in touch regarding the issue of the City of San Ramon’s “sphere of influence” application as it relates to the Tassajara Valley and the Urban Limit Line.

As a resident of Danville at Alamo Creek, I am concerned about this action and its perception as a “power grab” for the Tassajara Valley. I have taken the opportunity to meet with and talk to stakeholders regarding this matter over the last few weeks when I first learned of this issue. It concerns me not only as a Danville resident but as someone who cares about smart and efficient growth, preservation of open space and natural resources, and upholding the urban limit line which the voters have consistently approved.

I am aware that Assemblyman Houston and others have gotten in touch with LAFCO to also express concern.

I hope you will keep me apprised as LAFCO begins the process of considering the City of San Ramon’s application. I will be monitoring the issue closely not only as a resident of Danville but also as your future Assembly Member in District 15.

Who knew the urban limit line, the bane of conservative property rights activists, would see Republicans trampling all over each other to be the first in line to embrace it?

Posted on Thursday, March 20th, 2008
Under: 2008 June primary, California Legislature, Republican politics | 20 Comments »

Liberal group slaps California GOP on ‘sloophole’

Liberal activists at the Courage Campaign have produced a YouTube video slap that features California Assembly Republicans who refused to close a tax loophole.

That would be the infamous “sloophole,” which allows boat, jet and RV buyers to take delivery of their new toys offshore or out of state and as long as they don’t bring them into California or 90 days, they don’t pay sales taxes.

Republicans called the vote a partisan political gimmick that would produce very little new tax revenue while hurting small businesses at marinas and RV sales lots.

The Courage Campaign sent out an email blast a few minutes ago asking for donations. They want to air the ad on CNN, MSNBC (not Fox News) and other places where voters get their political news, i.e., the Daily Show and the Colbert Report. (CORRECTION POSTED 3/21/08: ActBlue is processing the contributions but the Courage Campaign is putting out the ad.)

Here’s the video:

It’s shocking and unbelievable.

California is in crisis, facing a $16 billion budget deficit. Social services are being slashed to the bone. Teachers and education professionals are being laid off by the thousands (up to 20,000, according to California Department of Education). Tuition and fees at state universities and colleges are being raised through the roof.

And California Republican Assembly members are unanimously supporting an appalling loophole in our state’s tax code that allows the super-rich to avoid paying sales taxes on…

Yachts.

Still blinking in disbelief? You read that right: Tax loopholes for yacht owners.

While you are wondering if your child’s school is going to be shut down because of the brutal cuts proposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, his California Republican “Yacht Party” colleagues in the state legislature are protecting the lavish lifestyles of the super-wealthy.

Posted on Thursday, March 20th, 2008
Under: California budget, California Legislature, Democratic politics, Republican politics | 6 Comments »

Haggerty endorses Kamena in AD15 race

Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty of Dublin is endorsing Livermore optometrist Scott Kamana in the four-way Assembly District GOP primary contest. (Click here for map of the district, which encompasses four counties including the San Ramon Valley and portions of far eastern Contra Costa County.)

Kamena, who also serves on the Livermore Area Park and Recreation District, is running against businesswoman Judy Lloyd of Danville, San Ramon Mayor Abram Wilson and retired auto dealership owner Robert Rao of Livermore.

All four are battling for high-profile endorsements that will bolster their campaigns and attract both voters and campaign contributions. Click on their names above to view their websites and all their endorsements. (Note: Wilson’s web site isn’t up yet.)

Here’s what Kamena’s campaign sent out:

Today, third-term Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty
endorsed Scott Kamena in the race to replace termed-out Assemblyman Guy
Houston.

Haggerty was first elected in 1996 to represent portions of East Alameda
County including the 15th District cities of Livermore and Pleasanton. He is
seen as a leader in transportation issues, fighting to eliminate congestion on
Bay Area freeways and expand BART services throughout the region.

“Scott is a proven Republican leader with hometown roots who will bring
leadership to the region and help solve our transportation and gridlock
crisis,” said Haggerty. “I urge Republicans throughout the district to join me
in supporting Scott’s campaign. He will be a voice for our region in
Sacramento.”

Haggerty’s endorsement adds to a long list of local supporters including
Alameda County Sheriff Charlie Plummer, the entire Livermore City Council,
Walnut Creek Treasurer Ron Cassano and Elk Grove City Councilwoman
Sophia Scherman. With over 200 15th District Republicans listed on his
website, Kamena has the longest list of local endorsements in the race for
Assembly.

Dr. Scott Kamena is a Parks Director and small business owner in Livermore,
the same town where he was born and raised. His optometry practice,
Murrieta Optometry, has treated over 20,000 patients in the region. Scott
and his wife Jennifer currently reside in Livermore where they are focused on
raising their young daughter Audrey.

Posted on Thursday, March 20th, 2008
Under: 2008 June primary, California Legislature, Republican politics | No Comments »