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Archive for May, 2008

Houston strikes back with anti-Piepho mailer

Guy Houston, a soon-to-be-termed-out Assemblyman who is challenging incumbent Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho, struck back this week with a hard-hitting mailer of his own.

Several independent groups have already sent out anti-Houston fliers including one that targets his legal woes stemming from a civil case filed by elderly investors in his family’s business. Others originated with the California Association of Realtors (he is a Realtor and a member of this association), a move he says has its roots in a conflict over one of his bills. (Click here to see my story on the subject today.)

Houston’s new anti-Piepho mailer focuses on the Board of Supervisors’ Dec. 20, 2006, vote to hike their base pay 60 percent from $59,916 a year to $95,568.

The total dollar amount per year is a relative drop in the bucket– $178,260 a year combined for the five board members — compared to the county’s budget.

But the board came under heavy fire for the decision, particularly from county employees who had just settled a new contract with no raise in 2006 and 2 percent hikes in 2007 and 2008.

Board members argued that they were the lowest paid among their peers in the Bay Area and given their responsibilities and long work hours, they deserved more money. Don’t we all?

Warranted or not, folks warned the board that it was a decision that would bit the incumbents in the next election.

And so, here it is.

Posted on Friday, May 23rd, 2008
Under: 2008 June primary, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | No Comments »

Dean Andal’s anemic fundraising

andal-warms-up-the-rally-photo-by-gina-halferty.JPGDean Andal of Stockton — the Republican former Assemblyman and Board of Equalization member who’s running against Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton — got some good publicity last night as he introduced Republican presidential candidate John McCain at a Stockton rally, but he has little to celebrate when it comes to fundraising.

The latest Federal Election Commission reports show Andal raised a paltry $11,434 from April 1 through May 14; he spent $39,966.03 during that time, a net loss of more than $28,500. McNerney during the same period raised $148,783.42 and spent $78,910.93, a net gain of almost $69,900. As of May 14, McNerney had $1,228,907.06 cash on hand while Andal had $508,945.58.

andal-behind-mccain-photo-by-gina-halferty.JPGNow, Andal might’ve raked in some significant money last night — after introducing McCain at the Stockton rally, Andal was among guests at a McCain fundraiser hosted by billionaire developer Alex Spanos and attended by some of the Central Valley’s richest and most prominent Republicans.

He’s gonna need the money. Running in the 11th Congressional District means buying television ads in both the San Francisco and Sacramento markets, a very expensive proposition. And with the “every man for himself” tone that seems to sounding from GOP leaders inside the Beltway, Andal’s already starting with a branding handicap and might not get as much support as he’d hoped from national party apparatuses.

Posted on Friday, May 23rd, 2008
Under: General | No Comments »

Who knew Andal had it in him?

The Stockton Record posted video of Thursday’s campaign rally at an airport near Stockton with presumed GOP nominee John McCain.

It shows us a new side of 11th Congressional District Republican candidate Dean Andal of Stockton.

The loud side. The wild side.

Check it out.

Posted on Friday, May 23rd, 2008
Under: 2008 presidential election, congressional district 11 | No Comments »

Piepho mailer mimics Times’ front page

Okay, this is not the worst thing I’ve seen on a mailer but it definitely straddles the line.

Contra Costa Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho sent this two-sided invitation to a neighborhood reception. It was obviously designed to look like a front page of the Contra Costa Times.

Granted, the Times editorial board endorsed her over challenger, Assemblyman Guy Houston. The editorial did contain the words she used in the faux headline. And the mailer doesn’t exactly copy our masthead or headline typeface.

But if her campaign had asked us for permission to use our front page in a campaign mailer, we would have said no. It potentially misleads recipients to think this page actually existed. We don’t allow the outside use of our masthead. We don’t put endorsements on the front page. And our headline only said, “Re-elect Piepho.”

It’s pushing it. It’s really pushing it.

Posted on Friday, May 23rd, 2008
Under: 2008 June primary, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | No Comments »

Dennis Cardoza flips from Clinton to Obama

Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Atwater, today moved his support as a Democratic superdelegate from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama; Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno cast his lot with Obama today, too.

The Obama campaign says these endorsements mean Obama has been endorsed by 310.5 superdelegates, and is 59 delegates away from clinching the Democratic nomination.

Cardoza — whose 18th Congressional District touches five Central Valley counties including San Joaquin, where it encompasses more than half of Stockton and all of Lathrop — offered his rationale in a news release issued by the Obama campaign:

cardoza.jpg“This is the most important election of my lifetime. While I continue to greatly respect and admire Senator Clinton and feel she has made history with her campaign, I believe that Senator Obama will inevitably be our party’s nominee for President. He has proven himself to be a thoughtful, knowledgeable, and inspirational leader and will take America in a new direction, which we desperately need.

“The Bush Administration has been a huge disappointment. Mr. McCain, while certainly an American hero, represents more of the same failed Bush policies.

“I am deeply concerned about the contentious primary campaign and controversy surrounding the seating of delegates from Florida and Michigan – two states Democrats need to win in November. I will not support changing the rules in the fourth quarter of this contest through some convoluted DNC rules committee process. Yet, we must find a resolution to seat the Michigan and Florida delegates so these states’ voters are represented at the Convention. I believe we need to avoid this potentially divisive situation by uniting behind one nominee and bringing the party together immediately. Therefore, I have made the decision to support Senator Obama at the Democratic Convention in my role as a super delegate.”

Democratic voters in Cardoza’s district went 60.3 percent for Clinton, 33.2 percent for Obama in the Feb. 5 presidential primary; the district is registered 48.1 percent Democrat, 34.4 percent Republican and 13.7 percent decline-to-state.

UPDATE @ 1:15 P.M. FRIDAY: It appears this could be the start of something big: Al Giordano’s The Field reports that Cardoza may be the first of several dozen Democrats to switch from Clinton to Obama in an effort to convince her the race is over.

Posted on Friday, May 23rd, 2008
Under: Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Dennis Cardoza, Elections, General, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, U.S. House | No Comments »

Bill to protect medical marijuana advances

The Assembly Appropriations Committee yesterday voted 9-6 to move to the floor a bill that would make it the policy of state and local law enforcement agencies not to cooperate with the Drug Enforcement Administration or other federal agencies in raids on patients and caregivers which operate under California’s medical-marijuana law.

Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña, D-San Diego, authored AB 2743 in the wake of raids assisted by local law enforcement in cities all over California.

marijuana.jpgLast August’s raids in San Mateo led to the seizure of about 50 pounds of processed marijuana, hashish, cannabis-laced edibles and approximately $30,000 in cash, but brought no arrests. The role local police and prosecutors played in those raids brought a mixture of criticism and praise from local officials.

“This bill is about maintaining the integrity of California law,” Aaron Smith, California state organizer for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a news release. “Our medical marijuana law enjoys the support of three out of four Californians, yet in too many cases federal officials have intruded into our state affairs and raided patients and caregivers. Due to these federal prosecutions, sick, elderly and disabled Californians who almost certainly would have been found innocent in a state court are in federal prison right now. At a time when state and local governments are in fiscal crisis, California tax dollars shouldn’t be used to undermine our own laws.”

The California Narcotic Officers’ Association opposes the bill.

“The combination of locations having large amounts of dope and cas(h) has created a state of affairs where violent criminal activity-invasions, robberies, beatings-have become commonplace. These crimes have a corrosive effect on public safety and quality of life of the surrounding neighborhoods in which the medical marijuana dispensaries are located,” the CNOA told Assembly analysts. “Under Assembly Bill 2743, however, local law enforcement’s hands are tied as we would be precluded from assisting federal law enforcement in the eradication of this criminal activity from the communities we serve.”

Posted on Friday, May 23rd, 2008
Under: Assembly, General, marijuana | 3 Comments »

More immigration raids in San Rafael

Two days after Rep. Lynn Woolsey — as chairwoman of the House Education and Labor Workforce Protections Committee — held a hearing on how U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids affect children and families, including those affected by March 2007 raids in San Rafael’s Canal District, ICE conducted raids again today in that very same district.

Said Woolsey, D-Petaluma, in today’s news release:

woolsey.jpg“Today’s ICE raids conducted in the Canal District sent shock waves throughout our streets, schools, and neighborhoods, both because of how the raids were conducted and the chilling effect they had on our community. These raids have resulted in widespread anxiety and fear, particularly among children.

“Some children reportedly witnessed parents being taken away, and local schools reported extraordinarily high rates of absenteeism. Three of the Canal District schools canceled their Open Houses planned for tonight out of fear for the safety of parents and students in the community.

“Members of our community have a right to know what has happened in their homes and neighborhoods. On the federal level, I continue to be in close contact with senior ICE officials to find out how members of our community can get more information; how the agency worked with the school, child service agencies, and other members of the community before and during the raids; and whether detainees have received the medical care they need.

“It’s clear that ICE humanitarian voluntary guidelines for conducting workplace raids must apply to all ICE raids, because, without them, the raids will continue to have a devastating and traumatic impact on our communities and our children. Perhaps these guidelines need to be mandatory.”

Posted on Thursday, May 22nd, 2008
Under: Immigration, Lynn Woolsey, U.S. House | No Comments »

Dual-endorsed, un-endorsed, re-endorsed

Remember last week’s item about how state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata and two other people seemed to be “unendorsing” former Assemblywoman Wilma Chan, withdrawing their previous dual endorsements and throwing their support only to Assemblywoman Loni Hancock in the 9th State Senate District‘s Democratic primary race?

Apparently one of those three has now re-dual-endorsed Chan. Chan’s campaign today forwarded me an email sent to Chan last Wednesday, May 14 (two days after my blog item) by Oakland Unified School District Board of Education member Alice Spearman of Oakland:

spearman.jpgToday was the first time I had a chance this week to review the letter I gave to Loni. The letter scanned and sent to me was a revised copy, which I did not entirely read after bring told there was a typo. Therefore I am giving a dual endorsement in this race. I did not remember giving you a verbal endorsement this past summer, but there was a good chance so early in the race that I did and I am a woman of my word. I would/will not enter into any legal action because of this mix up. Please accept my apology.

Spearman’s earlier, May 8 letter to Chan had said:

I am writing you to make it very clear that I have not, and will not, endorse you in the State Senate District 9 race. I have given my sole endorsement to Loni Hancock. I am asking you to immediately stop using my name as an endorser and remove my name from all of your campaign materials. Any failure to abide by my request will force me to take immediate legal action. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.

See? Clear as a bell.

Posted on Thursday, May 22nd, 2008
Under: California State Senate, Don Perata, Elections, Loni Hancock, Wilma Chan | No Comments »

Pete Stark to John McCain: Come, stay a while

pete-stark.jpgRepublican presidential candidate John McCain‘s roundtable on global competitiveness and innovation with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Silicon Valey business leaders today in Union City put him smack dab in the middle of a district represented by one of America’s most liberal Congressman, Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont.

“I was happy to see the Senator in Union City, I would invite him to stay for the rest of the campaign — I’d even give him a room at my hosue in Fremont — and then I’m sure we would win the election in November,” Stark told me this afternoon. “I’m glad he could see what a beautiful place Union City is, run by Democrats and populated by Democrats by a more than two-to-one margin. I hope he enjoyed his stay.”

Stark had little use for the roundtable’s rhetoric.

“If in fact the Silicon Valley types had paid enough taxes to help education instead of engineering their pay scale through stock options, which allows them to zero out on their income tax, they wouldn’t need so many H1B visas,” he said, noting global competitiveness starts with curbing America’s high-school dropout rate and fully-funding the federal No Child Left Behind education law.

As for the capital-gains and corporate tax cuts touted at today’s roundtable, Stark said, “I just don’t know who they think is going to pay for this war, which was probably instigated to protect our source of foreign oil” — a dependency from which McCain repeatedly said today that we must be weaned. Global competetiveness and innovation is based on entrepreneurship and American drive, Stark said, adding he doubts high-tech pioneers such as Apple cofounders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak concerned themselves with the capital-gains tax while revolutionizing their industry.

Posted on Thursday, May 22nd, 2008
Under: Elections, John McCain, Pete Stark, U.S. House | No Comments »

Deputy sheriffs blast Houston in mailer

A business and labor coalition that includes the Contra Costa Deputy Sheriffs Association dropped a five-page campaign mailer and unveiled a web site today that outlines details of a civil lawsuit filed by elderly investors against county supervisor candidate and Assemblyman Guy Houston, R-San Ramon.

The Sheriffs Association, which supports incumbent Supervisor Mary Piepho of Discovery Bay, contributed to a PAC that paid for the mailer and its web site,, called the East Bay Business Coalition. The other top four contributers to the PAC listed on the mailer include Cetrus Software, Danville Associates, Service Employees International Union United Healthcare Workers West PAC and the Black American PAC of Contra Costa County. (The PAC formed in 2006 to promote two sets of city council candidates in Concord and Brentwood.)

The anti-Houston mailer, titled “The Houston File: What Guy Houston Doesn’t Want You Know Before Election Day,” went to 30,000 high propensity voters in sprawling supervisor District 3, which includes portions of Walnut Creek, the San Ramon Valley and far eastern Contra Costa County.

Four elderly investors alleged that Houston defrauded them of more than $300,000 in a complex series of deals gone sour. Houston has denied any wrong-doing but he reached an out-of-court settlement agreement in 2007 with the investors. The legislator has declined to reveal its terms.

“There are too many unanswered questions about Guy Houston’s lawsuit,” said Deputy Sheriffs Association President Jim Bickert. “I think it says a lot of about Houston’s character that he wouldn’t reveal the terms of the settlement.”

It’s unclear whether this last-minute mailer will have an impact on Houston’s political career. He terms out of the Assembly this year but decided to run for county supervisor after rejecting a bid to run for Congress against Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton.

Here’s the rest of the mailer:

Posted on Wednesday, May 21st, 2008
Under: 2008 June primary, California Legislature, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | No Comments »