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Archive for July, 2008

National analysts inch toward favoring McNerney

Political analysts Bob Novak and Tim Carney of the Evans-Novak Political Report gave the edge to Rep. Jerry McNerney in the freshman’s re-election campaign over Republican Dean Andal, largely due to the Democrat’s substantial fund-raising lead.

Here’s what Novak/Carney wrote in their report published on the conservative web site called www.HumanEvents.com:

California-11: One of the biggest Democratic coups of 2006 was unseating conservative property-rights champion Rep. Richard PomboJack Abramoff corruption scandals. The scourge of liberal, pro-government environmentalists, Pombo fell under the weight of massive independent expenditures. This makes Rep. Jerry McNerney (D) a top target for the GOP this year. (R) by tying him to the

This valley district east of the Bay tilts Republican, but not overwhelmingly—Bush garnered 53% and 54% in 2000 and 2004. To compensate for the tilt of his district, McNerney has roped some local GOP politicians into his campaign. He also has a heavy fundraising advantage, thanks to his being one of very few vulnerable Democratic incumbents this year. McNerney now sits on a two-to-one cash-on-hand edge over former state bureaucrat and former state Assemblyman Dean Andal (R).

McNerney realizes he needs to work hard to win this seat, but he has the edge early on. Leaning Democratic Retention.

Stu Rothenberg, author of the Rothenberg Political Report, slightly shifted his prediction of the outcome of the McNerney race from Pure Toss-Up to Toss-Up/Tilt Democratic, a slight move in the Democrat’s direction. Rothenberg cites Andal’s lackluster fundraising thus far and says “McNerney is starting to look like a survivor this time.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, July 31st, 2008
Under: 2008 November election, Congress, congressional district 11, Uncategorized | No Comments »

Concord’s Helen Allen dishes on KSFO

Concord Vice Mayor Helen Allen was fired up over conservative KSFO talk show host Barbara Simpson’s Sunday commentary about gangs in Concord.

So, Allen called up the show and prepared to defend her town.

At the time, Simpson was talking on-air about gangs after reading a Contra Costa Times’ front page story on Sunday about the city’s anti-gang task force. (Contrary to Simpson and Allen’s characterization of the story, however, it does not portray Concord as overrun with gangs.)

The two women had a lovely, meandering 17-minute chat where they applauded each other and agreed on nearly everything. At the conclusion, Simpson called Allen a “terrific lady” and said “I wish she would run for mayor in my town!”

This is the stuff of fire-breathing talk radio? Where’s the yelling? Where’s the name-calling? Where’s the angst? Oh well. There’s always tomorrow.

If you want to listen, click here and choose the archived hour between 6-7 p.m. Allen comes on the air about 13 minutes into the program. (It looks like KSFO only posts the last seven days of shows, so it will be gone by Sunday.)

Posted on Thursday, July 31st, 2008
Under: Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | No Comments »

Lee praises Bush for signing new global AIDS law

President Bush was flanked by Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, and Annette Lantos — widow of the late House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo — yesterday as he signed the H.R. 5501, the Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008.

“As one of the original co-authors of not only this bill but the original legislation in 2003, it has been a tremendous bipartisan effort to get to this day,” Lee, a co-author of the bill, said in a statement issued shortly afterward. “This bill is the latest in a long string of bipartisan initiatives on global HIV/AIDS that have been born out of a willingness to work together and put the United States on the right side of history when it comes to this global pandemic. Despite his failings on so many critical issues, the President deserves recognition for working with Congress to enact this important legislation.”

The new law authorizes a $48 billion increase to the program, which Lee said will make it possible to prevent 12 million new HIV infections globally; provide treatment for at least 3 million individuals with HIV/AIDS; treat 450,000 children; and ensure care for 12 million individuals, including 5 million orphans and vulnerable children in communities affected by HIV/AIDS. Lee said she’ll use her seat on the House Appropriations Committee and its Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs to “ensure we meet the funding commitments and targets we set out in this important new law.”

The law also removes the statutory ban on travel and immigration for people living with HIV/AIDS. “It’s far past time we got rid of this shameful policy,” Lee said. “I’m glad we were able to remove the statutory ban and pass this bill less than three before the International AIDS Conference in Mexico City.”

Posted on Thursday, July 31st, 2008
Under: Barbara Lee, President Bush, Tom Lantos | No Comments »

Responses to Schwarzenegger’s pay cuts, layoffs

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger did as he’d promised today and signed an executive order freezing state hiring, suspending all overtime pay, lowering the pay of more than 200,000 state employees to the federal minimum wage of $6.55 per hour, and laying off as many as 22,000 temporary state workers. Here’s how he explained it (roll your cursor over the viewer to find the “play” button):

State Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, had this to say:

“This regrettable action undermines the state’s shaky economy, inflicts hardship on 200,000 hard-working Californians who have nothing to do with the state’s budget stalemate and reduces services to everyone who visits a DMV office, expects safe highways or needs other state assistance.

“Cutting state services reduces the quality of life for all Californians; that’s why the Democrats have a plan that avoids gutting education, health care, higher education and transportation by balancing the budget with a mix of cuts and new revenue.

“The Governor’s suggestion that the Legislature did nothing on the budget prior to May 14 shows how little attention he has paid to this process. The Senate held 67 subcommittee and full budget committee hearings going through the Governor’s proposal line by line. In mid-February, we took $7 billion in bipartisan budget actions – enough to solve half of the state’s deficit.

“On May 14, the Governor proposed a revised budget with a $7 billion hole in it. The Budget Conference Committee fixed this by balancing the budget in six weeks.

“If the Governor disagrees with the conference committee’s plan for filling the hole in his budget, we’re open to his suggestions on possible alternatives.

“On Monday, the Senate will hold a hearing examining the far-reaching impact of the Governor’s executive order.

More responses, after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, July 31st, 2008
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Assembly, California State Senate, Don Perata, General, John Chiang, Karen Bass | 1 Comment »

McNerney introduces military pay hike bill

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, introduced today legislation that would increase pay rates for the military’s most dangerous jobs.

The Combat Operations and Medical Benefit Authorization for Our Troops Act would also raise wages for servicemembers undergoing rehabilitation after evacuation from combat zones and hike salaries of the psychologists and other medical personnel who care for them.

In addition, military personnel involuntarily separated from their spouses and children would receive an increase.

Co-authored by reps. Tim Bishop, D-N.Y., John Hall, D-N.Y., and Bob Brady, D-Pa., the bill comes as Congress prepares to head home for its summer break where many face arduous re-election campaigns.

McNerney, a Democrat in a district with a small Republican Party registration lead, has actively sought to advocate for veterans.

“Raising pay for soldiers who encounter injuries, hazardous duty and separation from their families is the right thing to do,” said McNerney, a freshman running against Republican challenger Dean Andal of Stockton.

The bill focuses on eight types specialty pay given to service personnel. Categories include working under hostile fire, imminent danger or other hazardous conditions.

Read more for McNerney’s full press release. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, July 31st, 2008
Under: 2008 November election, Congress, congressional district 11 | No Comments »

Tauscher shares a little vino with Hillary

A New York Post Page 6 gossip column item today spills details of a cozy dinner between Hillary Clinton and her best girlfriends, including Rep. Ellen Tauscher of Alamo.

What? A woman can’t have dinner with a few friends without ending up on a New York tabloid gossip page? Not if you’re Hillary Clinton.

Here are the first few paragraphs:

IT sure looked like Hillary Rodham Clinton was plotting her political future at a secret ladies-only dinner in Washington the other night.

The New York senator was guest of honor at Tuesday’s hush-hush powwow that raised speculation about a possible White House run in 2012. The gathering was hosted by California Sen. Dianne Feinstein and attended by Ellen Malcolm, founder of Emily’s List, which supports pro-choice, female Dems; Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), chair of the New Democrat Coalition; and Hilary Rosen, former Recording Industry Association of America CEO, who’s now political director of the Huffington Post.

A source tells Page Six they all met for dinner at Charlie Palmer Steak, a chophouse noted for its cellar of 10,000 bottles of wine and spectacular views of the Capitol.

Posted on Thursday, July 31st, 2008
Under: Contra Costa politics, women in politics | No Comments »

Vorderblog: Iron and wine?

I am busy getting ready for the two presidential conventions but it’s more than just interviews with delegates: I need to get in shape.

Posted on Thursday, July 31st, 2008
Under: 2008 presidential election, Vorderblog | No Comments »

Contra Costa launches “Stop the Cuts” tour

Contra Costa area health and human services advocates plan a two-day “Stop the Cuts” tour on Thursday and Friday intended to illuminate the impacts of proposed cuts in the as-yet-approved state budget.

It’s yet another sign of frustration in California as state lawmakers remain deadlocked in Sacramento over how to jump the financial equivalent of the Grand Canyon with a bicycle.

The van starts at the Food Bank in Concord at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, and over the course of two days, advocates with Health Access will visit a rape crisis center in San Pablo, an adult daycare center in Pleasant Hill and a childcare center in Antioch.

The group has invited a number of elected officials to join them including county supervisors and local mayors.

But the advocates specifically target Assemblyman Guy Houston, R-San Ramon, in their tour announcement, calling on the sole Bay Area Republican lawmaker to see for himself the impacts of the governor’s proposed cuts. For example, Health Access estimates that 900 Contra Costa seniors and people with disabilities will lose the financial support they need to stay in their homes.

Democrats and Republicans are stymied in Sacramento over how to close a $15 billion deficit in the next fiscal year budget, which actually started July 1.

Democrats favor tax increases combined with cuts, while Republicans vow to fight tax hikes. Adding to the political pressure cooker, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has vowed to cut to minimum wage the salaries of 200,000 state workers beginning Thursday as the state runs out money to pay its bills.

Lawmakers will eventually cut a deal — we hope — but most of their options are bad and the outcome is likely to please no one.

Click here to read the full press release and view the tour schedule.

Posted on Wednesday, July 30th, 2008
Under: California budget, California Legislature | No Comments »

Report: Paid sick days a public-health bonanza

A new study makes a compelling case for a pending bill that would require all California employers to provide their workers with paid sick days, researchers say.

The report – produced by Human Impact Partners (an Oakland-based nonprofit project of the Tides Center) and the San Francisco Department of Public Health – says the proposed law “would help reduce the spread of flu; protect the public from diseases carried by sick workers in restaurants and in long-term care facilities; prevent hunger and homelessness among sick low-income workers; and enable workers to stay home when they are sick or when they need to care for a sick dependent,” according to its findings summary .

The summary also notes that about 70 percent of California’s accommodation and food service workers don’t have paid sick days right now, so they’re apt to come to work sick rather than lose that pay. I know I’ll think about that the next time a server coughs while taking my order.

This is “not only a labor policy but also a sensible and effective public health policy” which could save the state significant healthcare costs, said Dr. Rajiv Bhatia, the San Francisco Public Health Department’s director of Occupational and Environmental Health, told reporters on a conference call today.

His office provided much of the research from this report – data it had gathered when San Francisco was considering such a law. The city’s law has now been in effect since early 2007.

AB 2716, the California Healthy Families, Healthy Workplaces Act of 2008 — authored by Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco, and co-authored by assemblymen John Laird, D-Santa Cruz; Sandre Swanson, D-Oakland; and Alberto Torrico, D-Newark — would guarantee that all workers in the state accrue at least one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours. A small business (having 10 or fewer employees) would be able to limit an employee’s use of this accrued sick time to 40 hours or five days in each calendar year; larger employers would be able to limit it at 72 hours or nine days in each calendar year.

Dr. Jody Heymann, founding director of both the Institute for Health and Social Policy at McGill University and the Project on Global Working Families at Harvard University, said the idea that such a law would make California less competitive is a fallacy. “If we just look at the 10 countries that have been ranked by businesses as the most competitive countries, nine out of 10 have guaranteed paid sick leave – the United States is the only one that doesn’t.”

The bill, which the Assembly passed May 28 on a party-line vote of 45-33, is pending before the state Senate Appropriations Committee.

Posted on Wednesday, July 30th, 2008
Under: Alberto Torrico, Assembly, California State Senate, Fiona Ma, General, John Laird, Sandre Swanson | No Comments »

Budget impasse spills onto Oakland streets

Californians’ tempers are flaring as the budget deadlock threatens their livelihoods.

About 40 working parents, child-care providers and kids rallied this morning outside the Elihu Harris State Office Building on Oakland’s Clay Street, demanding that the Legislature and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger get a budget in place immediately. Starting Aug. 1, they noted, thousands of child-care providers won’t receive state payments for child-care services provided to working poor families, leaving these providers and families struggling to stay afloat.

The protest was organized by Parent Voices, LIFETIME, the California Partnership, and the California Child Care Resource and Referral Network. Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, D-Oakland, joined the protest, hoisting a picket sign that said, “Child Care Keeps California Working!”

“Our children deserve our best efforts,” he told the crowd, noting that if we’re to remain one of only three states requiring a two-thirds Legislative majority to pass budgets, “we need to anticipate that the budget will be delayed until that changes.”

Anticipating, he said, means making sure there’s bridge money in place so working families don’t suffer every year. “We forget about the most important part of economic growth — the ability of a family to work depends on child care.”

Agreed Jennifer Greppi of Parent Voices: “Child care is the engine that keeps this economy running.”

An aide read a statement from state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, who said protests such as this “show the Republicans and all Californians how this budget-stalling is hurting real people.” He said Democrats will stick to their philosophy that “those who have benefitted the most from California should pay the most to keep California on track.”

“And that is why we don’t want John McCain!” a man shouted from among the onlookers.

Greppi urged people to call Assemblyman Guy Houston, R-Livermore, and state Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria, and demand that they “be leaders, stand up and reach across the aisle… and do what’s right for children living in your district.”

After that, I drove up to the state Department of Motor Vehicles facility on Claremont Avenue in Oakland’s Temescal District, where 10 employees — mostly clad in purple Service Employees International Union t-shirts — were outside with picket signs; about 40 had turned out for a 7:30 a.m. rally, they said. They’re among the state employees who stand to lose pay under Schwarzenegger’s proposed executive order lowering state workers’ salaries to the federal minimum wage of $6.55 per hour.

“With this minimum wage, I’ll go into bankruptcy and lose everything I have… I’m on the edge now already,” said Michelle Freeman, 42, of Antioch, a married mother of two whose husband is a law enforcement officer. She has worked at the DMV for four years, but said “with these gas prices, it wouldn’t be worth me coming to work on minimum wage.”

Sonia Johnson, 40, of Oakland, has been with the DMV for 10 years, and said the pay cut “would really, detrimentally hurt my household because I’m the only working income right now — my husband is recuperating from heart failure, and we have two children.”

Kathy Shipp, 47, of Oakland, said she’s “very upset — we just bought a home last year and we’re just barely scraping by,” she said, adding her husband “just had to switch jobs because of the economy, so he’s still on probationary status” without full pay or benefits yet. A stay-at-home mom of three boys for 15 years before coming to the DMV three years ago, she had to rejoin the workforce to help support her family, and now that support is about to be weakened.

Laura Vincent, 55, of El Cerrito, has worked for the DMV for four years; the former West Contra Costa Unified School District worker said she’s paying off her son’s college loan debts. “I really love my job, I like to help people” as a DMV call center employee, she said, but it’s a “staggering” work load in which one operator can assist up to 200 callers in a single, long day. “I just don’t know any other telephone operator in the private sector who works for minimum wage and has that pressure to perform — our productivity is watched carefully — so I would hope the governor will reconsider.”

I hear as many as 100 SEIU-represented Caltrans workers will be rallying outside the agency’s building at 111 Grand Ave. in Oakland at 11 a.m. tomorrow, Thursday, July 31.

Posted on Wednesday, July 30th, 2008
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Assembly, California State Senate, Don Perata, General, Guy Houston, Sandre Swanson | 4 Comments »