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Archive for April, 2008

California voter registration numbers keep rising

Nearly 1 million more Californians are registered to vote than at the same time four years ago, according to new figures from Secretary of State Debra Bowen.

California now has 15.9 million voters on the rolls, a trend Bowen attributes to the nation’s intense interest in this year’s presidential election.

Democrats saw a slight increase in their share of the political marking, rising from 43.16 percent in 2004 to 43.54 percent this month.

Republicans lost nearly three percentage points, dropping from 35.67 percent in 2004 to 32.84 percent in April.

And the ranks of “decline to state” voters continues to rise with an increase from 16.28 percent of registered voters in 2004 to 19.31 percent in April.

Unfortunately, just about every political observer in the state concludes that many of those voters won’t show up to vote in the June 3 state primary election, which many predict will be among one of the state’s lowest turn-out elections in years.

The state Legislature and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger stripped the presidential primary from from the June 3 slot and moved it to Feb. 5, arguing that it would finally make California relevant in the primary battle.

That didn’t happen. Instead, a bunch of other states moved up their primaries up, too.

Just think: With the race between sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama this close, what would be happening in California today if it had kept its presidential primary in June?

Just perhaps, perhaps the candidates would be holding public appearances with the voters and the press rather than flying into exclusive affluent enclaves for cash infusions.

Click here to read Bowen’s full press release.



Posted on Friday, April 18th, 2008
Under: 2008 presidential election | No Comments »

Campaigns around the Bay this weekend

  • Bay Area supporters of Barack Obama will decsend upon Oakland’s Frank Ogawa Plaza at noon tomorrow, Saturday, April 19, as part of a Nation for Change Nationwide Rally in advance of next Tuesday’s crucial Pennsylvania primary election. Among those scheduled to speak in Oakland are Change Congress founder Lawrence Lessig; Oakland City Councilwoman Nancy Nadel; Richmond City Councilman Tony Thurmond; prominent Obama fundraiser and volunteer Tony West; and the Rev. Elouise Oliver of the East Bay Church of Religious Science in Oakland.
  • Local supporters of Hillary Clinton will gather from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at an Oakland home for a “last big weekend push into Pennsylvania” via phone-banking (BYO cell phone). E-mail for location and other details.
  • Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, is kicking off his re-election campaign in earnest Saturday with door-to-door canvassing in Dublin, Stockton, Tracy and Morgan Hill; volunteers are asked to RSVP though his campaign Web site. He’s unopposed in June’s primary, and faces Stockton Republican Dean Andal in November.
  • State Sen. Carole Migden, D-San Francisco, kicks off her re-election campaign (she’s being challenged by Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, in the June 3 primary) at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, joined by state Senate President Pro Tem Elect Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and former state Senate President Pro Tem John Burton, at her campaign headquarters, 121 9th St. (between Mission and Howard) in San Francisco. After bagels and coffee, they’ll hit the streets and the phones all morning…
  • 9th State Senate District candidate and former Assembly Majority Leader Wilma Chan is holding a fundraiser at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, April 20, at a Los Gatos home; see her campaign Web site for more details. Her rival in June’s Democratic primary is Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley.
  • Posted on Friday, April 18th, 2008
    Under: Barack Obama, Carole Migden, Darrell Steinberg, Dean Andal, Elections, General, Hillary Clinton, Jerry McNerney, Loni Hancock, Wilma Chan | No Comments »

    Robert Reich endorses Obama

    Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, now a professor at the University of California at Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy, has blogged today that he endorses Barack Obama for president. This comes about a month after Bill Richardson, a fellow Clinton Administration cabinet member and longtime friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton, also went against them. Will James Carville call him a Judas too?

    “Although Hillary Clinton has offered solid and sensible policy proposals, Obama’s strike me as even more so,” Reich writes, later adding Obama “offers the best hope of transcending the boundaries of class, race, and nationality that have divided us” and “offers the best possibility of restoring America’s moral authority in the world.”

    Reich’s endorsement comes on the heels of his passionate defense of Obama in the hubbub following the candidate’s “bitter” remark at a fundraiser April 6 in San Francisco.

    It’s not as if Obama is sweeping the old Clinton cabinet, however — former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; former Secretary of Defense William Perry; and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Andrew Cuomo all have endorsed Hillary Clinton.

    Posted on Friday, April 18th, 2008
    Under: Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Bill Richardson, Elections, Hillary Clinton | No Comments »

    SEIU will challenge restraining order

    The Service Employees International Union will ask a judge to dismiss a temporary restraining order requested by the California Nurses Association, calling the nurses’ charges of harassment unfounded and politically motivated.

    A Superior Court judge in Alameda County issued the TRO late Tuesday, and ordered a hearing for all parties on May 1.

    The unions are locked in an ugly battle stemming from a fight over membership organizing in Ohio hospitals and a nasty, physical confrontation at a Michigan labor conference.

    CNA chief Rose Ann DeMoro of Walnut Creek says SEIU sent 200 people to California to intimidate and harass her members. Some visited the homes of some of her association’s leaders and frightened them, DeMoro said. (See my blog entry yesterday for CNA’s press release.)

    DeMoro said she has been forced to cancel two appearances under threat of SEIU protests and has had to take precautions to protect her personal safety.

    Read more for SEIU’s press release issued a few minutes ago:
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted on Thursday, April 17th, 2008
    Under: Labor politics | 4 Comments »

    County tax equity bill passes committee

    A bipartisan bill to equalize California county shares of property taxes passed unanimously today out of the Assembly Local Government Committee.

    A.B. 2872 is co-authored by Assemblymen Guy Houston, R-San Ramon, and Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord. It would phase in a reform of the 1979 formula used to return a portion of property taxes to county government operations.

    Contra Costa County government receives 11 percent of the property taxes its residents pay compared to the state average of 17 percent. If the bill passes, it would bring an estimated additional $80 million to Contra Costa County.

    It’s unclear if this bill will survive further legislative scrutiny. Counties that receive a higher than average share of the property taxes have little incentive to alter a system that favors them, especially at a time when the state revenues are plummeting.

    Read on for Houston’s press release on the bill:
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted on Thursday, April 17th, 2008
    Under: California Legislature | No Comments »

    Civil rights groups protest governor’s redistricting plan

    Civil rights groups today denounced Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s redistricting reform proposal as deleterious to California minorities.

    ‘Voters First’ puts minority voters last,” said Arturo Vargas, executive director of tge National Association Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund. “The (initiative) is a flawed strategy for achieving open and accountable redistricting in California. It fails to guarantee diversity, expertise or accountability within the commission it creates, and represents a step backwards for the political progress of California’s minorities.”

    The governor is backing a ballot measure called the California Voters First initiative that would strip the Legislature of its authority to draw legislative district boundaries and turn it over to an independent commission.

    Read on for the civil rights groups’ press release:
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted on Thursday, April 17th, 2008
    Under: Election reform, Propositions | No Comments »

    Did last night’s ABC debate prove Obama right?

    The blogosphere is abuzz with criticism of last night’s ABC Democratic debate, moderated by Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos. Many are calling it a superficial poke-fest which failed to address substantive issues facing the American electorate.

    And I suspect that’s not far from what Barack Obama was trying to communicate at that now-fateful April 6 fundraiser in San Francisco. There, he said working-class Americans are feeling “bitter” about the economic neglect they’ve experienced in the past few decades: “It’s not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

    Why? Because it’s those things on which politicians and campaign strategists harp in order to raise blood pressure, poll numbers and voter turnout, and on which the media — yes, I’ll say it: ESPECIALLY TELEVISION — harp in order to raise ratings.

    Look at what the candidates were being asked last night: Wearing a U.S. flag pin? Gun control? To Obama, “Do you think Reverend Wright loves America as much as you do?”

    Really? This is our national discourse? How about the issues that really affect the day-to-day lives of working-class people? Health care. Education. The housing crisis. Gas prices/energy policy/global warming. Trade policy’s effect on U.S. jobs.

    jeremiah-wright.jpgInstead, we ask who loves America more — and by the way, did you know the Rev. Jeremiah Wright volunteered to serve six years first as a Marine and then as a Navy corpsman who provided medical care for President Lyndon Johnson, starting at a time when this nation still subjected him to the most pernicious racial discrimination?

    It’s a disgrace, and if you read or listen to the entirety of what Obama said that day in San Francisco, this is exactly what he seemed to be trying to get at: Substantive discussion and action on issues of vital importance to American families has been replaced by shouting about hot-button matters which simply aren’t as important, if at all.

    Political operatives, with the complacency and perhaps even conspiratorial cooperation of some media, bait the emotions of people frustrated by the constant struggle to get by, either to get them to the polls or to get them to keep watching. It’s a massive three-card monte, a giant con job.

    Should people be bitter? Damn straight. Are they? You betcha. People who love this country should be angry as hell, as were most of American history’s greatest patriots. Injustice should breed contempt, matched by passion for rectification. CNN’s Lou Dobbs — himself too often a perpetrator of hot, empty rhetoric, particularly on immigration — seems to have been caught out by his own viewers in a poll run Tuesday on his Web site:


    (H/T to Crooks and Liars for capturing the poll, no longer available on Dobbs’ site.)

    Am I, an employee of a corporate-owned, oft-consolidated media outlet, being holier-than-thou? Maybe so; all across America, short-staffed, underpaid and overworked newsrooms too often go for the low-hanging fruit, but many of us still strive to convey useful information that’ll inspire thought, debate and action. And I don’t mean to imply all television journalists are evil; many, including many here in the Bay Area, try hard to bring out the stories that matter.

    Yet on a national scale, too many of us fail too often, as do too many of the politicos on whom we report. That’s what I think Obama was talking about, and that’s what you saw last night on ABC.

    Posted on Thursday, April 17th, 2008
    Under: Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Elections, General, Hillary Clinton, Media | 7 Comments »

    CNA gets TRO against SEIU

    Remember when the Oakland-based California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee and the Service Employees International Union marched side-by-side against Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s special-election agenda in 2005, and against his re-election in 2006?

    If they do any marching now, it’ll have to be at least about 100 feet yards apart.

    The CNA/NNOC says it obtained a temporary restraining order today from Alameda County Superior Court Commissioner Jon Rantzman in Oakland prohibiting the SEIU and its president, Andy Stern, “from stalking, threatening or following CNA/NNOC leaders staff at work, in hospitals, clinics, and offices, at their homes. They are also barred from following their cars, or harassing them with mail or phone calls.” Stern and SEIU reportedly are supposed to appear in Rantzman’s court May 1 as he considers a three-year injunction.

    “While this court order provides a step forward for the safety and security of our leaders and staff, it’s a disgrace that a labor organization would engage in this level of deplorable behavior against an organization that is predominantly women and nurses,” CNA/NNOC Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro said in her news release.

    The unions are at war over accusations that the CNA/NNOC has been trying to poach SEIU’s current or potential nurse members. The CNA/NNOC says SEIU teams recently have targeted CNA/NNOC leaders in nursing stations, harassed them at home, and followed cars.

    The unions came to blows Saturday night in Michigan, where SEIU members tried to force their way into a Labor Notes conference to complain about CNA/NNOC activities. Each side blamed the other, but the conference’s organizers and John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO (from which the SEIU withdrew in 2005), lay blame at the SEIU’s feet. “No union should understand the corrosive effect of violence better than SEIU, which was founded by courageous janitors in the face of employer violence in the 1920s and 1930s,” Sweeney said in a statement issued Tuesday. “I call on the leaders of SEIU to condemn what happened in Detroit.”

    Southern California CNA/NNOC Board member Carolle Koelle, in her union’s release, described her response to SEIU going to her house and following family members in their car: “This is unprofessional, thug-like behavior that has no place in a professional women’s union. I feel violated that they actually came to my home, my sanctuary which (is) way out in the desert and involved my family. They degraded me in front of my son as they were pointing a video camera at us. They are trying to intimidate me, but I am not afraid.”

    The SEIU’s response, from its “Shame on CNA” Web site:

    Not only has the CNA failed to admit photos it claimed as evidence of “violence by protesters” at the Labor Notes Conference in Dearborn, MI were actually images of SEIU staff and members injured by conference security — the union’s claims of “stalking of, use of violence against, and harassment of officers, directors, and staff of the California Nurses Association” also stray far from reality.

    As SEIU has yet to receive a court order of any kind, we cannot comment on the details of the temporary restraining order filed by the CNA today.

    What SEIU can confirm is we have not been notified of a hearing and under no circumstances have SEIU members or staff harassed CNA members or leadership. Nurses and hospital workers from Catholic Healthcare Partners (CHP) have bravely led a national effort to engage CNA leadership in a dialogue about their vicious “vote no” campaign in Ohio and are committed to continue these efforts.

    It’s shameful that the CNA is continuing to spread misinformation and distorting reality to divert focus from the real issues–the anti-union tactics that sabotaged the opportunity for more than 8,000 nurses and other hospital workers in Ohio to freely choose whether to form a union with SEIU and are continuing to stand in the way of workers around the country uniting to improve patient care, workplace standards, and the lives of hardworking families.

    UPDATE @ 4:13 P.M. THURSDAY: The SEIU has issued a release saying it’ll file a motion to dismiss the TRO.

    “This is an entirely frivolous injunction being used for political purposes,” San Francisco attorney Stephen Berzon said in the release. “The CNA designed their suit to interfere with SEIU’s legitimate, constitutionally-protected free speech activity. The CNA ran into court and procured the order without giving SEIU notice or an opportunity to be heard. Once SEIU gets its day in court, this illegal injunction will be overturned very quickly.”

    Posted on Wednesday, April 16th, 2008
    Under: General | No Comments »

    CNA wins restraining order

    The California Nurses Association, led by Rose Ann DeMoro of Walnut Creek, has obtained a temporary restraining order against the Service Employees International Union in what has become a highly contentious battle between the two unions.

    The nurses group contends that SEIU is harassing, stalking and intimidating nurses in roughly a dozen California hospitals targeted for an SEIU take-over.

    According to the CNA, SEIU Director Andy Stern will be required to appear in Superior Court in Oakland on May 1, where a judge will consider a request for a three-year injunction.

    SEIU, on its website, accuses CNA of engaging in union-busting activities starting with a conflict in Ohio. De Moro later cancelled an appearance at a Michigan labor conference out of fear for her personal safety.

    Click here for CNA’s press release or read on for the text. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted on Wednesday, April 16th, 2008
    Under: Labor politics | No Comments »

    CD 11 campaign contributions rolling in

    Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, (pictured on top right) outpaced his presumptive GOP challenger Dean Andal of Stockton (pictured on bottom right) in first-quarter fundraising figures, according to Federal Election Commission campaign finance documents filed Tuesday.

    (Check out’s story about lagging GOP fundraising elsehwhere.)

    McNerney raised $325,880 from Jan. 1 through March 31 compared to $90,313 for Andal in the same period.

    McNerney reported $1.15 million cash on hand while Andal had $531,817.

    Keep in mind, it’s still very early. Neither candidate has a primary challenger in June, which likely means they will spend the next few months raising money in preparation for the major Nov. 4 general election battle.

    But both candidates need to make a strong showing in the finance department in order to attract those dollars in the fall from their respective parties and groups that seek to influence the outcome. In 2006, environmental organizations poured tens of thousands of dollars into the race and helped McNerney beat seven-term incumbent Richard Pombo.

    Click here to reach the FEC search page, where you can enter the candidates’ names and view the reports.

    Posted on Wednesday, April 16th, 2008
    Under: 2008 November election, Congress, congressional district 11 | No Comments »