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Archive for October, 2008

CAMPAIGN TRAIL 2008: McNerney vs. Andal

Dean Andal

Dean Andal

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton

As part of our coverage of the high-profile contest between Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, and his Republican challenger Dean Andal of Stockton, I spent a day on the campaign trail with each candidate.

The full story runs Sunday, Nov. 1, 2008, in the Contra Costa Times.

But I also took some video clips while out on the trail, which you will find below.

The first four were take on Oct. 25 with McNerney, followed by five clips from my day with Andal on Oct. 28. (You can also go to YouTube and enter “cctwebteam” to see all the videos from the Contra Costa Times.)

OCT. 25, 2008: Jerry McNerney

OCT. 28, 2008: Dean Andal

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

Letters from the ether: Not the “worst” offender

Here’s an email I received today. I guess I’ll have to take comfort in knowing that I am not the worst offender although it sounds as though I may be in the running for it.

Dear Lisa,
I have followed your reporting for many years, and although you are not the worst offender, you certainly have not been as “balanced” as I would have hoped.  In reading the below article, (click here for link to article) I feel such sadness in its truth.
I hope once Obama is in office, as it looks like he will be, you and the staff of the Contra Costa Times will feel free to research both sides of important issues facing Californians, like education, health care, and our budget, not from the typical democratic side, but by asking hard questions about unions and trial lawyers and illegal immigrants to name just a few.
Papers like yours have enormous impact on public opinion, and so far our democratic legislators have gotten a hall pass from you.  Maybe now, you will work towards uncovering stories that are considered taboo by the left, shake things up a little, and give Californians a fighting chance to make the changes that will improve our state education system, health care system, budgeting process and our ability to attract and keep good businesses.
No, Lisa, we CA republicans aren’t a bunch of gay-bashing, war-mongering, rich white bigots like the papers portray us.  We are diverse in many ways, but united in THIS:  We believe our CA government is too large, too controlled by unions, overburdened by illegal immigration, unable to educate, unable to budget, reliant on too few for tax revenue, and unfriendly to business.
There are stories in that statement if you would only be brave enough to print them.
And what’s with the Obama pumpkins and Obama Barks on your Inside Politics today?  Are you a political editor or contestant for Miss Congeniality?
Nancy Taylor
Orinda, CA

Posted on Friday, October 31st, 2008
Under: Letters | No Comments »

This week in big-time campaign cash

$25,000-and-up contributions to California campaigns and committees, which skyrocketed last week, continued in a mighty flood this week with just days to go before the election. This is my roundup as of about 5 p.m.; I’m sure they’ll continue to roll in…

The highlights in brief:

Tons of money moved for and against Proposition 8 this week, including a tide of cash from Mormons and out-of-state donors supporting the constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

Chesapeake Energy anted another $1 million — bringing its total so far to $3 million — for Proposition 10, the alternative fuels intiative from which it stands to make a bundle (though its ante is still chump change next to the $18.75 million put up by Prop. 10 proponent T. Boone Pickens‘ Clean Energy Fuels Corp.)

A whole lot more incumbent or otherwise safe Democratic candidates continued tithing money back to the state party.

And children’s hospitals across California made a last-ditch effort to prop up Proposition 3, the Children’s Hospital Bond Act.

Details after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, October 31st, 2008
Under: campaign finance, Elections, General | 1 Comment »

Machado: No ‘mommy solution’ to mortgage mess

Incoming state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, had been scheduled to speak at today’s symposium at Cal on “The Mortgage Meltdown, The Economy and Public Policy,” but the state budget’s rapid decomposition and an impending special Legislative session kept him in Sacramento; in his place came state Sen. Mike Machado, D-Linden, who chairs the Senate Committee on Banking, Finance and Insurance.

Machado said he was fascinated by the depth and breadth of discussion he was seeing at the symposium, which he found very different than what usually happens when complex issues are discussed on the Senate floor. “We often have to sift it through and dumb it down… to ‘two, two and two’ — two for, two against, two minutes each.”

But the five hearings on mortgage lending and foreclosure avoidance that his committee has held in the past two years have convinced him that won’t work on this issue.

Machado argued today for strong enforcement of laws recently re-jiggered to weed out predatory lending, and against what he called “the mommy solution: kiss the ow-ee, put a lot of ointment on it and the problem will go away.”

He said California shouldn’t be rushing to impose stricter limits on state-regulated mortgage lenders, as that’ll create an uneven playing field because most larger lenders are regulated by the federal government and not the state — almost exactly what the governor said in vetoing such a bill in September. State-specific legislation will only harm the prospects for California’s housing market’s recovery, he insisted.

Government should work to educate consumers about the loans they’re buying and enforce new underwriting and disclosure requirements, not ban certain kinds of loans, he said. Machado said he’s fascinated by consumer advocates who come before his committee simultaneously asking for more restrictions on loan products and better access to loans — “a very interesting dichotomy.”

Machado noted Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signalled that he wants mortgage-crisis bills to be included in the upcoming special session, and surely some of the bills vetoed within the past two months will be brought forward again. But lawmakers shouldn’t rush into this, he said, during “a period of realignment of the very fundamentals of our economy” lest they set about rebuilding the status quo on still-shifting foundations.

So perhaps “a little more attention to the state budget might be time better spent,” he said, not a “two, two and two” debate over mortgage finance.

Posted on Friday, October 31st, 2008
Under: California State Senate, Mike Machado | No Comments »

Record number of Californians register to vote

This just came out from the Secretary of State: A record number of Californians — 17.3 million — have registered to vote.

Decline to state voters continue to expand their share of the electorate while Democrats posted a 1.4 percentage point gain since 2004. Republicans lost ground as the party’s share declined 3.3 percentage points in the same time period.

Here is Secretary of State Debra Bowen’s press release:

SACRAMENTO – More than one million Californians have registered to vote since September 5, catapulting the state’s total number of registered voters to an all-time high of more than 17.3 million.  That’s according to Secretary of State Debra Bowen’s final report of registration for the November 4 General Election, which was released today.

“It’s great to see so many Californians taking an active role in their democracy,” said Secretary Bowen, California’s chief elections officer.  “Voter interest in this historic election is enormous and I expect to see a record number of Californians cast ballots on Tuesday. Thanks to everyone – including community groups, elections workers, campaigns, schools, and businesses – who helped register so many new California voters.”

The final report includes data gathered through the October 20 close of registration for the general election.  It reflects updates to voter rolls, including the removal of registrants who have passed away, moved out of the state, or have been determined to be ineligible to vote, as well as the addition of new registrants.

The state now has 17,304,091 million registered voters – almost 747,000 more than it had at this time before the general election four years ago.  The percentage of people who are eligible to vote and are registered is 74.6% now; it was 75% just before the 2004 general election.

The previous voter registration record in California was 16.6 million in February 2005.

Registration has been climbing all year, with more than 1.7 million new voters registering since January.

Following are the registration totals for the six qualified political parties and voters who have declined to state their political affiliation. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, October 31st, 2008
Under: 2008 November election | No Comments »

Bad, bad frog featured in East Bay Parks campaign brochure

An astute reader points out that you would not want to find in East Bay streams the frog pictured in the lovely colored fold-out brochure promoting Measure WW, the East Bay Regional Park District’s $250 million bond measure.

Times animal columnist Gary Bogue confirms the photo is indeed of an African clawed frog, a non-native species that threatens indigenous frogs and small fish.

It’s a definite pest in California creeks, streams and ponds, Bogue says. He called it the “Frog from Hell.”

“You used to be able to buy them in pet stores back in the 1960s, then lots got released in local streams and away they went,” Bogue said. (Click here to read about the frog on Wikipedia.)

You can no longer buy these frogs in California but a batch of them still live in a lake in Golden Gate Park despite pleas to eradicate them.

East Bay Regional Parks, of course, has strict policies against the introduction of non-native species into its parks.

The Measure WW brochure picture was very likely an innocent mistake by a graphic designer who used  stock frog photo, said East Bay Regional Park District Trustee Doug Siden of Alameda.

What? Not everyone knows the difference between an African clawed frog and a California red-legged frog?


Measure WW campaign consultant John Whitehurst takes responsibility for the “Frog from Hell” picture and promises he will take an amphibian identification class right after the election.

“I’m guilty, I confess,” he said. “Hey, I wanted to send a message to voters that if Measure WW doesn’t pass, the parks will croak!”

Posted on Friday, October 31st, 2008
Under: 2008 November election, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | No Comments »

Presidential candidates reach out to Latino voters

Contra Costa Times reporter Matt O’Brien wrote a fascinating story today about how the presidential campaigns and candidates are reaching out to Latinos. But the candidates don’t necessarily do the best job speaking Spanish.

Click here for the story.

And below, you’ll find some extra notes that Matt could not fit into the published story as well as some links to the candidates as well as President Bush and Jackie Kennedy speaking in Spanish.


But impressions among fluent speakers was that whether or not he can actually speak the language in a non-scripted setting, Obama’s accent is better than that of President Bush, who has been known to sprinkle Spanish words into his speeches since his time as governor of Texas.

“It’s nice and short and correct,” said college Spanish instructor and Hayward City Councilman Francisco Zermeno. “It’s got a good use of the subjunctive. Good diction, he’s almost natively speaking, almost fluently, a couple little problems here and there. Not as fluid as it could be, but of course, he’s monolingual.” Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, October 31st, 2008
Under: 2008 presidential election | No Comments »

Ron Dellums to stump for Obama in Florida

We all knew Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is headed to the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, today for a campaign rally with Republican presidential nominee John McCain.

But, look out — Oakland’s getting into the swing-state blitz, too. Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums departs Saturday morning for Tampa, Fla., where he’s to do some early-voting and get-out-the-vote appearances Sunday on behalf of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.

Dellums, you’ll recall, had endorsed Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary; she named him chairman of her campaign’s urban policy committee. It’s not surprising he’s giving his all to make sure any Democrat wins the White House, though some might find it surprising that he’s jetting out of Oakland for the weekend before city residents vote on Measure NN — a parcel tax to pay for hiring more police officers — which he helped put on the ballot…

Posted on Friday, October 31st, 2008
Under: Barack Obama, Elections, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Oakland, Ron Dellums | No Comments »

Isn’t this the Legislature’s job?

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an executive order today creating a bipartisan “Commission on the 21st Century Economy” to “re-examine and modernize California’s out-of-date revenue laws that contribute to our feast-or-famine state budget cycles.”

The 12-member panel — six appointed by the governor, three each by the Assembly Speaker and State Senate President Pro Tem — is supposed to report by April 15 on “changes that will result in a revenue stream that is more stable and reflective of our economy,” according to the news release from the governor’s office.

“Unlike our diverse economy, our state’s revenue system is the epitome of boom or bust and right now we are paying the price,” Schwarzenegger said in this release. “That is why I have worked with the legislative leaders to find a long-term solution to our revenue problem. And today, I am signing an executive order creating a bipartisan Commission on the 21st Century Economy to study our revenue system and help California achieve the long-term fiscal stability our state needs and our people deserve.”

Said soon-to-be-gone Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland: “California’s tax system is antiquated and long overdue for an overhaul. Our state is one of the most advanced economies of the 21st century, but it relies upon an outdated and volatile tax model that no longer makes sense. This commission will examine how to best capture revenue in California’s dynamic economy and put the state’s finances on the stable and sound footing needed to remain a global leader.”

And Senate Republican Leader Dave Cogdill, R-Modesto, said, “Keeping California competitive in a global economy is the key to a strong and healthy state budget. I applaud the Governor for working with legislative leaders to address California’s broken budget system and I look forward to reviewing revenue-neutral recommendations from the commission, not just on fixing our revenue system, but also on how the state can adjust its spending levels to come into alignment with revenues.”

But isn’t it the Legislature’s job to be the stewards of California’s long-term fiscal well-being? We wouldn’t need a blue-ribbon commission if our lawmakers weren’t so intransigent, so apt to put ideology over reality. It’s abundantly clear that California doesn’t take in enough money to meet its needs for schools, prisons, health care and the like; we can’t keep cutting our way out of the problem, and claiming that we can is ludicrously irresponsible.

Yet even after the absurd standoff this summer and the resultant massive crap-heap that’s now masquerading as a state budget, it seems lawmakers still aren’t willing or able to do what must be done on their own.

Maybe this commission is meant to give some political cover to lawmakers who still feel their careers are endangered by doing the right thing for California. If so, whatever; just get it done.

But if this turns out to be (to borrow from the words of REM) “a way to talk around the problem,” and we’re still having the same tired ideological debate after this commission’s report has come and gone, it oughta be clobberin’ time for this Legislature. It’ll be a pretty compelling argument for doing away with the constitutional requirement that budget and tax bills need a two-thirds majority in each legislative chamber, a requirement so awesomely effective at bollixing up the works that it exists only in California, Arkansas and Rhode Island.

Posted on Thursday, October 30th, 2008
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Assembly, California State Senate, Dave Cogdill, Don Perata, General | No Comments »

Dogs and their humans unite for Obama in Richmond

Metro Dog co-owner Diane Livoti with Bark for Barack poster (Photo by Kristopher Skinner/Contra Costa Times)

Metro Dog co-owner Diane Livoti with "Bark for Barack" poster (Photo by Kristopher Skinner/Contra Costa Times)

Your pooch cannot vote for president. Not legally, anyway.

But the humans at Metro Dog, a Richmond doggie daycare and boarding center also known as “Disneyland for Dogs,” found a way to get out the bark for Barack Obama.

Get it? “Get out the bark!” instead of “Get out the vote!”

Okay, it’s a stinky joke.

But this is a really cool poster.

Emily Jan of Timbuktu Designs styled the vivid artwork titled “Bark for Barack” after an early 1900s Alexander Rodchenko Russian literacy poster.

The poster features a regal greyhound, which probably wasn’t Metro Dog regular and Burmese Mountain Dog Tomas’ first choice. (His human, after all, coined the phrase “Bark for Barack” for the poster.)

Pet lovers are displaying it all over the East Bay, including the Oakland Zoo.

Bark for Barack poster

"Bark for Barack" poster

Hundreds of copies of the image have been downloaded from all over the nation at their web site,

Metro Dog co-owners Diane Livoti and Alison Smith have raised more than $2,000 for Obama’s campaign through sales of the poster although they long ago exhausted their one and only order of 500 prints.

The only place to obtain it now is a download from their web site, where they ask for a $5 campaign donation in return for use of the image.

In the interest of fairness, I asked Livoti to arrange a paw-wow with the Republican pups in her fine establishment.

Surely, there must be some toothy growling over this flagrant bias against their candidate John McCain?


There are no Republican dogs here.

Posted on Thursday, October 30th, 2008
Under: 2008 November election, 2008 presidential election, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | No Comments »