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Archive for May, 2008

Sheriff Rupf explains reasons for anti-Piepho mailer

Contra Costa County Sheriff Warren Rupf spoke with me at length via telephone late this afternoon about his decision to put $12,500 of his own money into a mailer targeting incumbent Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho. I also spoke with Piepho and asked for her response to the sheriff’s remarks. (Click here to see my earlier blog entry on the subject, which includes copies of the mailer.)

I’ve put some of this content in my column for Sunday but since there have been so many questions for Rupf about the mailer on among the comments and the election is so close, I decided to post a more lengthy version here than space will allow in the newspaper.

Rupf says he was inspired to write a big personal check on the cost of the mailer after he read the Contra Costa Deputy Sheriffs Association endorsement letter of Piepho, calling its representation of her record on public safety “180 degrees from reality.” He says the union is pandering to Piepho because it is currently in contract negotiations with the county and believes its support will translate into support at the bargaining table.

The sheriff is a vocal supporter of Piepho’s challenger, outgoing Assemblyman Guy Houston of San Ramon.

“I feel even more strongly than the money,” Rupf said. “We are in a hole that is driven by a lack of leadership and a lack of support for public safety services … At the same time, I believe there is a concerted and calculated effort by the Piephos (Mary and her husband, Discovery Bay Community Services District member David Piepho) to blame the sheriff for a lack of staffing and service.”

Rupf’s mailer says the budget shortfall forced him to “lay off deputies while Mary Piepho gave herself a whopping 60 percent raise at the expense of your safety.”

It’s true. Piepho voted in 2006 with her colleagues for a pay raise from $59,000 to $95,000 a year.

But Rupf has not laid off any deputies. He cut 16 civilian positions this year, although he says budget shortfalls have left him with 70 vacant deputy positions over the past four budget cycles.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, May 30th, 2008
Under: 2008 June primary, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | No Comments »

Election chief predicts record low turnout Tuesday

Voting turnout in Tuesday’s election will reach record lows based on the anemic level of mail-in ballots returned so far, predicts Contra Costa County Registar of Voters Steve Weir.

Here’s what Weir, who is also president of the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials, had to say in an e-mail a few minutes ago:


Turnout looks like it will be the lowest of any primary in the state’s history, and that’s against a very anemic decade of poor primary turnouts.

I’m still predicting a 37% for Contra Costa and a guestimate of 31% for the state.

We have received 87,666 against 231,893 issued or a return rate of 37.8%. So, I believe that we are still on track for a 50% return rate for vote-by-mail ballots. That would give us a 24% turn out.

If 25% of the remaining voters go to the polls, we’ll reach 37%. (That’s only 99 voters per poll site.)

Other registrars are indicating an even worse return rate.

So, I still expect Calif. to reach 31%, but I think my colleagues would question that fact.

Given that the June 7, 1994 Primary was 35.05%, June 2, 1998 was 42.49%, March 5, 2002 was 34.59%, and June 6, 2006 was 33.63%, one could easily argue that the turn out will be in the high 20’s.

I’m going to argue that because so many vote-by-mail ballots have been issued, and given that some members of the public vote out of a sense of patriotic duty, we’re plumbing the bottom of turnout at this election.


Posted on Friday, May 30th, 2008
Under: 2008 June primary | No Comments »

Deputy Sheriffs Association blasts sheriff for mailer

The Contra Costa Deputy Sheriffs Association blasted their boss today in a letter calling Sheriff Warren Rupf’s latest campaign mailer part of a “personal vendetta” against incumbent Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho. (Click here for the blog entry and a copy of the mailer.)

The association has endorsed Piepho, while Rupf is campaigning for her challenger, outgoing Assemblyman Guy Houston of San Ramon.

Read on for the text of the letter dated today:

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, May 30th, 2008
Under: 2008 June primary, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | No Comments »

Lawmakers, governor spar on health budget

perata.jpgState Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland; Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley; and others were at Alameda County Medical Center’s Highland Hospital in Oakland for a news conference this morning denouncing the governor’s proposed budget cuts.

This latest of Perata’s budget roadshow appearances brought doctors and nurses to the fore, talking about how the cuts will jeopardize the availability and quality of emergency medical care for all Californians.

“Hospitals and emergency rooms across California are feeling the squeeze,” Perata said. “The bottom line is these budget cuts would weaken the emergency medical care system and put all the lives it protects at greater risk.”

hancock.jpgSaid Hancock: “Balancing the state’s budget on the backs of poor people isn’t the solution. The Governor’s proposed budget cuts will cause irreversible damage to our state. Slashing billions of dollars out of our healthcare system endangers the fiscal health of hospitals and the well-being of seniors and children.”

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s revised budget proposal recommends reducing hospital funding by $100 million and taking health insurance away from 470,000 children and 429,000 adults, the lawmakers say; as it is, the state already has a shortage of hospital beds, increasing emergency-room waiting times and fewer emergency rooms.

Aaron McLear, Schwarzenegger’s press secretary, said Perata should tone down the rhetoric and start working on a compromise solution.

“The governor has said he would love to provide more money to health and human servicess and education and parks and everything else, but we can’t spent money we don’t have,” McLear said to me this afternoon, adding the governor must provide a balanced budget proposal and “he doesn’t believe we ought to be raising taxes… The governor believes his May revision is the best we can do given that we’re $17 billion short.”

“We’re anxious to get started on hearing more than rhetoric, on hearing solutions from the Legislature,” McLear continued, noting he considers lawmakers his partners in this crisis and wants to work with them. “But the process doesn’t move forward if all you have is the leaders of the legislature out there doing press conferences.”

Of course, the Democrats’ news conferences are a tactic not only to build public pressure on the governor and Republican lawmakers to back off their no-tax-hikes pledge and fully fund hospitals, schools and the like, but also to build support for the bigger political goal of doing away with the requirement that budget and tax bills pass both Legislative houses with two-thirds majorities rather than just simple 50-percent-plus-one majorities.

Posted on Friday, May 30th, 2008
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Assembly, California State Senate, Don Perata, General, Loni Hancock | No Comments »

Glover demands retraction and apology

Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg, through an attorney, is asking challenger Erik Nunn of Oakley to “cease and desist” in the distribution of campaign mailer that contained false and misleading information about the incumbent. (Click here to see my blog entry and a copy of the mailer.)

Glover is also asking Nunn for a public apology and and retraction.

Glover, Nunn and three additional challengers (Gary Agopian, Mary Rocha and Don Parscal) are running for county supervisor in District 5 in Tuesday’s election.

Read more for the content of the letter to Nunn dated today from the Sacramento office of Mennemeier, Glassman & Stroud:

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, May 30th, 2008
Under: 2008 June primary, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | No Comments »

“That’s HEDLEY!”

We mourn the loss of comic actor Harvey Korman, whom most might remember from “The Carol Burnett Show” but whom for me will always be Hedley Lamarr, the conniving Attorney General of Mel Brooks’ Western spoof classic “Blazing Saddles.”

Never has a poltician been more dastardly. Well, never on film.

(And no, that’s not Oakland’s Rockridge district he’s talking about. I think.)

Posted on Friday, May 30th, 2008
Under: General | No Comments »

Contra Costa sheriff pens anti-Piepho mailer

Contra Costa County Sheriff Warren Rupf roared into the political arena this week with a self-funded mailer targeting incumbent county Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho of Discovery Bay.

The sheriff has been a very vocal and public supporter of Piepho’s challenger, Guy Houston, a soon-to-be-termed out Assemblyman from San Ramon. Rupf and Piepho have repeatedly clashed over law enforcement issues in far eastern Contra Costa County and the two speak only by letter.

Hitting Piepho on her vote to raise her pay is a fair issue. While the dollar amount is small — a boost from $59,000 to $95,000 a year — it is symbolic at a time when the county faces financial woes.

But the sheriff’s statements on the mailer are inconsistent on several levels. And some question whether it was legal.

Rupf states in the mailer that he was forced to lay off deputies as a result of the county’s $2.5 billion budget deficit.

But in today’s Contra Costa Times, the sheriff is quoted saying that he had eliminated 16 civilian jobs but no sworn officers. Rupf did say, however, that he has left more than 70 deputy positions vacant as part of cutbacks in the past four budget cycles.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, May 30th, 2008
Under: 2008 June primary, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | No Comments »

Barbara Lee to host China earthquake gathering

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, will host a community gathering in recognition of victims of the May 12th earthquake that devastated China’s Sichuan Province from 4:30 to 6 p.m. this Monday, June 2, in the Oakland Asian Cultural Center at 388 9th St., Suite 290 in Oakland.

The latest on the quake, per CNN:

The official death toll from the quake rose to 68,109 on Wednesday, an increase of about 900, with about 19,850 missing. The total number of dead has been increasing daily.

The government estimates that 45 million people, mostly in Sichuan province, were affected by the earthquake and that 5 million were left homeless.

Lee intends to provide concerned Chinatown residents with an update on the earthquake’s impact and federal humanitarian efforts to provide relief to the disaster’s victims. Attendees also will get information on how they can support relief efforts as well as know-how from the American Red Cross on preparing for an earthquake or other natural disaster, including what essential supplies they should have on hand. The event is free and open to the public; for more information or to RSVP, call April Chan at (510) 763-0370.

Posted on Friday, May 30th, 2008
Under: Barbara Lee, U.S. House | No Comments »

Quips and outtakes from Harry Reid

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was at the Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco today, and said he, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean intend to ensure that the race for the Democratic presidential nomination will be over by the end of next week.

Here are some odds and ends for which I didn’t have room in the story:

Asked whether his own “The Good Fight” or former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan’s “What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception” should be the single must-buy, must-read political memoir of the year, Reid replied he’s donating all proceeds from his book to charity, but “Scott probably needs the money more.”

Asked who’s most to blame for the subprime mortgage loan crisis, Reid said it’s former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, whom he called “the J. Edgar Hoover of the financial world: He did everything he could to get in good with the next president.” Greenspan must’ve known the subprime loans were a disaster in the making, Reid said, and “if he didn’t know, he should’ve known,” as the U.S. Treasury secretaries under the George W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations should’ve as well.

On gas prices, Reid said the United States doesn’t have the oil reserves to produce its way out of the crisis, nor can it remain so dependent on oil imported from hostile or potentially hostile “tyrannical” regimes. Reid said he favors granting an eight-year tax credit to spur venture capital investment in solar, wind and geothermal energy production; he said he’d like to see the vast tracts of Nevada desert once used to test nuclear weapons be carpeted with solar panels to generate electricity for the nation.

On healthcare, Reid said if we had Hillary Clinton’s healthcare plan — the one she pitched in 1993, while her husband was president — in place today, “there would be very few complaints.” Parts of that plan must be adopted into the next administration’s policy, he said, especially the ability of small business owners to pool their employees together so that they collectively can subscribe to better health-insurance plans.

“Congress should have pretty low (approval) ratings, because we have not produced things,” he said — but he quickly said he’s not willing to take much blame for that. Republicans have filibustered 77 times in this Congress so far, he noted. “They broke a two-year record in 10 months. They’re like Mark McGuire, they’re on steroids. I guess I shouldn’t say Barry Bonds while I’m in San Francisco.”

Posted on Thursday, May 29th, 2008
Under: Democratic Party, Elections, Harry Reid, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

Wanna a limo ride to the polls?

Here’s an interesting campaign strategy: Contra Costa Supervisor Federal Glover is offering free limo rides to the polls on Tuesday.

Two voters per ride minimum, presumably to cut down on the carbon footprint of the limousine.

Gee, turnout is supposed to be really low but do have to bribe people with fancy rides to get people to vote?

Posted on Thursday, May 29th, 2008
Under: 2008 June primary, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics, Election 2008 | No Comments »