Happy Birthday, Sandre Swanson

Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, D-Alameda, will turn 60 this Friday, and how better to celebrate this momentous birthday than with… a fundraiser.

Yes, Swanson’s holding a black-tie cash bash Saturday night at Scott’s Seafood Restaurant in Oakland’s Jack London Square; it’s $100 a head, or from $1,000 to $3,900 for various levels of table sponsorship. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, for whom Swanson used to be chief of staff; Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles; and Assemblywoman and state Senator-elect Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, will be there.

The invitation bills the event — “Bring your dancing shoes!” — as a birthday and re-election victory celebration. Now, there’s certainly nothing wrong with celebrating re-election, but keep in mind that Swanson won this month with almost 88 percent of the vote to Republican Jim Faison‘s 12 percent — little wonder, considering his 16th Assembly District is registered about 65 percent Democrat to about 8 percent Republican. Neither did much strenuous campaigning, yet Swanson appears to have raised at least about $421,000 and spent at least about $395,000 in the 2007-08 election cycle.

The biggest single chunk of that spending went to… raising more money! His campaign spent $145,280.80 on fundraising events. Another $62,075 went to campaign consultants (the biggest chunk of which, $37,000, went to Carol Jones, who is both his district director and his campaign events director/staff contact.)

His campaign finance records also indicate where he likes to eat: 21 “meetings and appearances” tabs totalling $931.55 at the Angel Fish sushi restaurant near Swanson’s home on Alameda’s Bay Farm Island; 20 totalling $1,319.13 at P.F. Chang’s; 17 totalling $783.12 at Nellie’s Soul Food; 8 totalling $729.20 at Scott’s; eight totalling $525.45 at the Fat Lady near Oakland’s Jack London Square; six totalling $367.13 at McCormick and Schmick; 14 totalling $258.98 at the Buckhorn Restaurant; six totalling $852.17 at Kincaid’s in Jack London Square; one for $352.66 at Joe’s Seafood and Stone Crabs; five totalling $301.38 at Zocalo in Sacramento; six totalling $286.45 at Aioli Restaurant (not sure where this is); two totalling $275.61 at Oakland’s Le Cheval; eight totalling $273 at the Harbor View Restaurant, also on Bay Farm Island; three totalling $273 at Yoshi’s near Jack London Square; one at Sushi Roku for $130.60; one at Morton’s steakhouse for $180.26; and one at San Francisco’s Waterfront Restaurant for $116.57. If you’re counting, that’s 128 tabs totalling $7,956.26. Yum!

But he also gave $30,415 to the California Democratic Party, and $26,150 to other local Democratic campaigns and committees. And as we all know, throwing money to the party is an important way in which lawmakers build their clout.

So if you’re going to Swanson’s birthday/re-election bash Saturday, feel certain your money is helping not only Swanson but lots of other Democrats. And campaign fundraisers and consultants. And restaurants.


Schwarzenegger video of the week

This week, best wishes for a happy Thanksgiving from the guys at JibJab… unless you happen to be a turkey…

Looks like we’ve discovered something else Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sarah Palin have in common.

Previous SVOTWs: November 18, November 11, November 4, October 28, October 21, October 14, October 7, September 30, September 23, September 16, September 9, September 2, August 26, August 19, August 12, August 5, July 29, July 22, July 8, July 1, June 24, June 17, June 10, June 3, May 27, May 20, May 13, May 6, April 29, April 22, April 15, April 8, April 1, March 25, March 18, March 11, March 4, February 26, February 19, February 12, February 5, January 29, January 22, January 15, January 8, January 1, December 25, December 18, December 11, December 4, November 27, November 20, November 13, November 6, October 30, October 23, October 16, October 9, October 2, September 25, September 18, September 11, September 4, August 28, August 21, August 7, July 31, July 24, July 17, July 10, July 3, June 26, June 19, June 12, June 5, May 29, May 22, May 15,
May 8, May 1, April 24, April 17, April 10, April 3, March 27, March 20, March 13, March 6, February 27, February 20, February 13, February 6, January 30.


Will local House members oppose Bush pardons?

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., late last week introduced H.Res. 1531, urging President Bush not to pardon senior administration officials for whatever crimes the President might have authorized. The legislation resolves that:

(1) it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the granting of preemptive pardons by the President to senior officials of his administration for acts they may have taken in the course of their official duties is a dangerous abuse of the pardon power;

(2) it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the President should not grant preemptive pardons to senior officials in his administration for acts they may have taken in the course of their official duties;

(3) it is the sense of the House of Representatives that James Madison was correct in his observation that `[i]f the President be connected, in any suspicious manner, with any person, and there be grounds [to] believe he will shelter him, the House of Representatives can impeach him; they can remove him if found guilty’;

(4) it is the sense of the House of Representatives that a special investigative commission, or a Select Committee be tasked with investigating possible illegal activities by senior officials of the administration of President George W. Bush, including, if necessary, any abuse of the President’s pardon power; and

(5) the next Attorney General of the United States appoint an independent counsel to investigate, and, where appropriate, prosecute illegal acts by senior officials of the administration of President George W. Bush.

It’s a safe bet at least a few Bay Area House members will sign onto this as co-sponsors, though while most probably have no problem opposing pardons, some might balk at calling for an independent counsel to review the past eight years lest doing so conflict with the wishes of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, President-elect Barack Obama or both.

“We need to look at it (he just dropped it) but we are very interested,” Julie Nickson, Rep. Barbara Lee‘s chief of staff, told me today, noting lawmakers won’t be able to sign on until Congress meets again in December.

Similarly, a staffer for Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, tells me the Nadler resolution has been submitted for Stark’s review but he hasn’t signed off on it yet.

No word this afternoon from the offices of George Miller, Ellen Tauscher, Jerry McNerney, Jackie Speier and Lynn Woolsey.

There is some precedent for such pardons (not that this makes it right). You’ll recall that President George H.W. Bush — in his final, lame-duck days in the Oval Office after Bill Clinton’s 1992 victory — issued pardons to six Reagan Administration officials involved in the Iran-Contra affair, a scandal which had cast a pall over both Reagans’ and Bush’s presidencies. Of course, George W. Bush won’t have a friendly administration following his as Reagan did; if he wants pardons done, he’ll have to do them himself.

As an aside, one of those pardoned in the Iran-Contra affair was Elliott Abrams, whom President George W. Bush has named to several National Security Council posts including Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy. So, perhaps Abrams could be the first person in U.S. history to receive pardons from father-and-son presidents! (Note: I’m not aware of any crimes Abrams has committed while serving the Bush Administration that would necessitate a pardon, unless you’re one of those who consider any participation in this Administration to be a crime.)

Anyway, if this president does issue last-minute pardons for members of his own Administration, does anyone care to guess who the recipients might be?


Field & Stream hates Arnold Schwarzenegger

Field & Stream, “The World’s Leading Outdoor Magazine,” suggests Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger get a stocking full of coal for Christmas this year, listing him in the December-January issue as the biggest outdoor “villian” of the year:

Playing the rake is not new for Gov. Schwarzenegger, whose first turn as the Terminator saw him working to destroy the world instead of saving it. And the governor’s win will not come as any surprise to fishermen in the Golden State, where funding for salmon and steelhead restoration has been dramatically cut despite sharply declining populations for years. During the governor’s tenure, the chinook salmon fishery in California collapsed, and on May 1, 2008, commercial and recreational salmon fishing were both banned along the West Coast in California and much of Oregon.

But the governor has not limited his influence to fish and fishermen. He’s also signed a ban on .50 caliber rifles, and on his watch the percentage of licensed hunters in California has dropped below 1%.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, R&B singer Bobby Brown and CBS News Sunday Morning contributor Nancy Giles were also on the Villain list, considered lesser offenders.

Among the magazine’s heroes this year are U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., who backed a Farm Bill measure that created grants for farmers and opened land to hunters; and 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, lauded “for being the first true hunter to run for executive office since Teddy Roosevelt.”

UPDATE @ 3:48 P.M.:Now, wait just a darned minute, says Lisa Page of the governor’s press office, who says “the Governor has a strong record on sportsmen issues.”

In fact, we have $120 million in federal money that will go to salmon fisherman which the Governor fought hard for. The feds initially gave us $100 million (for all three states) and the Governor pushed hard to get the remaining $70 million (see the attached letter).

He also signed SB 562 by Senator Pat Wiggins (D-Santa Rosa), which appropriates approximately $5.3 million of the $45 million in Proposition 84 funds to begin coastal salmon and steelhead fishery restoration projects.

He also just signed the Klamath Agreement two weeks ago, which is the first step in what would be the largest dam removal project ever in history, that California, Oregon and our federal and private partners are undertaking to improve water quality, water supply and fish populations in the Klamath region.

Also, despite a very difficult budget year, the state’s parks have stayed open and he exempted the state’s fisheries from the state worker EO.

Take that, Field & Stream!


Nader to attend Camejo memorial on Sunday

The late Peter Camejo at UC Berkeley giving a lecture during the 2003 gubernatorial recall election in California. Photo by Tim Bergeron.

The late Peter Camejo at UC Berkeley giving a lecture during the 2003 gubernatorial recall election in California. Photo by Tim Bergeron.

Former presidential candidate Ralph Nader and Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin will attend a Sunday memorial service in Berkeley for the late Peter Camejo, a renowned environmentalist and former gubernatorial candidate who ran on the Green Party ticket as Nader’s vice president in 2004.

The public memorial will be Sunday, 2 p.m., at the International House on the University of California-Berkeley campus, 2299 Piedmont Ave.

Camejo died Sept. 13 at his home in Folsom.

Here is the press release on the service:

A long list of political activists and international dignitaries will be among those speaking at a public memorial celebrating the life of former gubernatorial, presidential and vice-presidential candidate Peter Camejo SUNDAY, Nov. 23, at 2 p.m. at the International House on the University of California at Berkeley campus (2299 Piedmont Ave), according to an announcement by family and friends.

Mr. Camejo died Sept. 13 at home in Folsom, CA after a lengthy fight with cancer.

Speakers at the Public Memorial at UCB – which, ironically, expelled Mr.
Camejo for his activities as a student opposing the war in Vietnam in the 60’s – will include those who worked with him as a student leader during that era.
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