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Archive for November, 2008

Schwarzenegger video of the week

This week, from ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” this past Sunday, it’s Gov. Arnold Schwarznegger saying, “Um… just kidding, Mr. President-elect.”

Careful, governor: Eating that much crow can be fattening.

On a related note, Schwarzenegger should ask Obama for a one-on-one basketball showdown. I’d think the scalping price of tickets to that matchup would be at least as high as what some might pay for the inauguration, no? Sell the television broadcast rights, too, and it could help close California’s budget gap! (Well, not really, but it doesn’t sound as if Sacramento has a better plan, and at least this wouldn’t require that blasted two-thirds vote in the Legislature.)

Previous SVOTWs: 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.

Posted on Tuesday, November 18th, 2008
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Barack Obama | No Comments »

Lee: No Iraq security deal without Congress’ OK

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, isn’t happy with the U.S.-Iraq security agreement approved yesterday by the Iraqi Cabinet and now awaiting the Iraqi Parliament’s approval.

“Although a final version of the agreement reached by the Administration and the Government of Iraq has yet to be publicly announced and made available, reports of the content along with leaked copies of the agreement lead to the conclusion that this agreement will be unacceptable to the American people in its current form and should be rejected,” she said in a statement issued moments ago.

“For starters, the Bush agreement commits the United States to a timetable that could leave U.S. troops in Iraq until Dec. 31, 2011,” she said. “Aside from the fact that the America people are plainly fed up with this unnecessary war and occupation in Iraq and want to see it ended, occupying Iraq for three more years under the Bush plan would cost American taxpayers $360 billion based on current spending levels. That money obviously could be better spent digging our economy out of the ditch the policies of the Bush Administration has put it in.”

The proposal also undermines President-elect Barack Obama’s constitutional powers because subjecting U.S. military operations to the Iraqi government’s approval by giving operational control to “joint mobile operations command centers” controlled by a joint American-Iraqi committee, Lee said. “Throughout history, American troops have been placed under foreign control in peacekeeping operations only where authorized under treaties ratified by the Senate. No American president has ever before claimed the unilateral power to cede command of American troops to a foreign power.”

Lee noted her own H.R. 6846, the Iraq Security Agreement Act of 2008, would prohibit unilateral deployment of U.S. troops or spending taxpayer dollars to guarantee Iraq’s security without Congress’ prior approval. Vice President-elect Joe Biden introduced a similar Senate bill; Lee said Congress should act on them when it convenes this week.

Posted on Monday, November 17th, 2008
Under: Barbara Lee, Iraq, U.S. House | No Comments »

Public memorial for Peter Camejo

A public memorial service for former gubernatorial, presidential and vice-presidential candidate Peter Miguel Camejo is scheduled for 2 p.m. this Sunday, Nov. 23, in the University of California, Berkeley’s International House, 2299 Piedmont Ave.

Camejo, who died in September after a long bout with lymphoma, was Ralph Nader’s running mate in 2004 and was a Green gubernatorial candidate in 2002, the 2003 recall election and 2006; earlier, he had run for president in 1976 on the Socialist Workers Party ticket, and earlier yet had been prominent in 1960s anti-war efforts at Cal. Born in New York City, he spent much of his early childhood in his parents’ native Venezuela; he later would compete as a yachtsman for Venezuela at the 1960 Rome Olympics.

Camejo was the co-founder and former CEO of the Oakland-based Progressive Asset Management, a financial investment firm that encourages socially responsible projects; he later founded another such firm, The Camejo Group, also in Oakland.

As I said in September, I had the pleasure of talking with Camejo many times and found him to be a passionate and compassionate advocate of social justice for the poor, the disenfranchised, the uninsured, the immigrants and anyone else he thought was getting a raw deal; a policy wonk who could provide reams of facts off the top of his head to support his arguments; and a genuinely good, nice guy. I hope a tremendous number of people will turn out Sunday to pay tribute, and to demonstrate to his family what a debt of gratitude California owes him.

Posted on Monday, November 17th, 2008
Under: General, Green Party, Ralph Nader | No Comments »

Boycotted for backing Prop. 8? Too bad.

I’ve had a slew of e-mails and phone calls in the past few days complaining that I, or my paper, or the mass media overall have failed to adequately report the “terror campaign” against supporters of Proposition 8.

I’ve seen plenty of media stories about protests both peaceful and illegal, and based on the information I’ve got, I can say that most have been peaceful. There are some thugs out there who are using the high emotion and constitutional battle over same-sex marriage to excuse criminal behavior, and that’s unequivocally wrong, but the vast majority of people who’ve taken to the streets and the Internet since Nov. 4’s vote have done so legally and peacefully.

The Yes on 8 camp put out a release Friday complaining of “outrageous activities” such as:

  • In Sacramento, a musical theater director was forced to resign after he was blacklisted for contributing $1000 to the initiative;
  • A Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles has been boycotted after a relative of the owner donated to the coalition;
  • Numerous churches have had their property defaced;
  • And an unknown white powder was mailed to several LDS temples and the National Headquarters of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic organization that supported the campaign.
  • As to the latter two: Anyone committing acts of vandalism, violence or terrorism should be hunted down and prosecuted to the full extent of the law, no question.

    As to the former two: Tough cookies.

    The Mormon Church and all those who supported Prop. 8 expressed their convictions and participated part in the political process, true enough, but that doesn’t mean others can’t hold them accountable. They chose to involve themselves in a question of other people’s civil rights. Standing by their convictions means accepting the consequences; in this case, the consequence is that those who disagree may choose not to associate with them, and to encourage others to do the same. They can’t jump into the public discourse and then claim some special protection from criticism.

    It takes a lot of nerve for opponents of same-sex marriage to whine about boycotts and blacklisting, after all the boycotts and blacklists endured over the years by gays and lesbians and those who’ve stood up for their rights. Given how gays and lesbians long have been ostracized simply for who they are, it’s amazing to see those same ostracizers complain now about being ostracized themselves for their beliefs.

    Posted on Monday, November 17th, 2008
    Under: Elections, General, same-sex marriage | 2 Comments »

    CoCo labor leader eyed for Antioch council vacancy

    Greg Feere

    Greg Feere

    The list of folks eying an Antioch City Council vacancy now includes labor leader and Contra Costa Building Trades Council chief Greg Feere.

    “I’ve gotten a lot of calls and they’ve made it clear I would get three votes,” Feere said. “But I need to think about it. It’s a lot of work.”

    Feere refers to the presumed support of pro-labor incumbent councilmen Reggie Moore and Brian Kalinowski plus the newly elected pro-labor Mary Rocha.

    A labor bloc could stymie incumbent Arne Simonsen’s quest to remain in office. He failed to win reelection but argues that as the next highest vote-getter, he deserves the post.

    Simonsen is not out of the running yet, though.

    Kalinowski says he has promised no one his vote and will wait until the council deliberates on the issue next month.

    The council could appoint a replacement for the seat held by Councilman Jim Davis, who was elected mayor, as early as Dec. 9. Or it could opt to open the process to applicants such as Feere and make a decision early next year.

    The other name in the mix is Gary Agopian, the county supervisor candidate who ran unsuccessfully against incumbent Supervisor Federal Glover. Agopian, like Simonsen, is a conservative Republican who may not mesh with the Democrats who have a three-vote majority on this council.

    The councilman with the most at stake in this choice, however, is Reggie Moore. He is up for re-election in two years along with the person selected to fill that vacancy.

    This could be a very interesting few weeks in Antioch.

    Posted on Friday, November 14th, 2008
    Under: Contra Costa politics | 5 Comments »

    Questions emerge about Richmond councilman’s campaign expenses

    Richmond Councilman Jim Rogers may have run afoul of campaign finance laws when he spent big bucks promoting council candidate Jovanka Beckles. (I  would post a picture of Rogers but I couldn’t find a recent photo; the one on his Wikipedia site is seriously dated.)

    Rogers, who was not up for re-election, formed a committee called “Beckles for Council,” loaned it $28,000 and used the funds for pro-Beckles mailers.

    Beckles has mostly likely lost the 10-way race for three open seats; she was 331 votes behind third-place finisher Councilman Nat Bates as of the nearly complete vote tally today.

    State law prohibits independent expenditures by candidate-controlled committees even if the candidate is not on the current ballot. (See Fair Political Practices Act, section 85501.)

    Richmond also caps city council candidate contributions at $2,500 per person per election and violators can be sued up to three times the amount of the illegal payment.

    Rogers says he was unaware of the state restriction and sent a letter today to regulators at the Fair Political Practice Commission seeking an opinion on whether he violated the rule and if he did, how to make reparations.

    He is an attorney who has been in public office for years; ignorance is no excuse.

    But he makes an interesting point: Why is Chevron permitted to spend tens of thousands of dollars on independent expenditures while a councilmember is limited to $2,500?

    Posted on Friday, November 14th, 2008
    Under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

    CGS recommends initiative reforms

    The Center for Governmental Studies, led by the highly capable Bob Stern, has written a very interesting editorial published in the Los Angeles Times about recommended reforms of California’s initiative process.

    I recommend reading this editorial. Here are the first few paragraphs:

    By Robert M. Stern and Tracy Westen
    November 10, 2008

    Here are some things you should know about ballot initiatives in California.

    In all of the 1960s, there were only nine statewide initiatives placed on the ballot. In the 1970s, that number rose to 22. In the 1980s, Californians were asked to vote on 46; then, in the 1990s, it climbed to 61. So far in this decade, there already have been 63 — and there’s still a year to go, with a possible special election in June.

    That’s a record every decade — and a sevenfold increase over 50 years.

    Here’s something else: Supporters and opponents of these initiatives are spending more and more money to ensure that their side wins: $9 million in 1976, $127 million in 1978 (the year of Proposition 13), $140 million in 1996, $280 million in 2004 and $330 million in 2006 — a 37-fold increase in 30 years.

    This money comes from individuals, corporations and unions, but increasingly it comes in large chunks — very large chunks. In the 1990 elections, for example, one-third of all contributions for initiatives were given in amounts of $1 million or more. In 2006, it jumped from one-third to two-thirds. One person — real estate heir and Hollywood producer Stephen Bing — gave more than $46 million of his own money to support the (unsuccessful) 2006 initiative to impose oil depletion taxes.

    Posted on Friday, November 14th, 2008
    Under: ballot measures, Election reform | No Comments »

    FPPC rules in favor of Antioch mayor

    Antioch Mayor-elect Jim Davis

    Antioch Mayor-elect Jim Davis

    Contra Costa Times reporter Hilary Costa is reporting that the anonymous mailers sent out to Antioch residents supporting Jim Davis — elected Nov. 4 as the city’s new mayor — did not violate any campaign finance laws, per the Fair Political Practices Commission.

    You may recall that a generous but unnamed benefactor sent out lovely glossy mailers that touted Davis’ record as a member of the City Council.

    Davis was running against incumbent Mayor Don Freitas but the mailer did not mention one peep about the election or that Davis was a candidate for anything. It was an informational brochure and as such, it did not trigger campaign finance disclosure requirements.

    Click here to read Hilary’s story but here is the balance of her short item:

    Davis was elected Antioch’s mayor Nov. 4. The week before, incumbent Mayor Donald Freitas filed a complaint with the FPPC alleging the mailers violated campaign laws because the money spent on them was not declared in any expenditure forms, and the pieces did not identify their funding source.

    But because the mailers did not expressly advocate for Davis’ election, they fall under a loophole in California campaign finance reporting laws that require declaration of election expenses over $1,000.

    Posted on Friday, November 14th, 2008
    Under: Contra Costa politics | 1 Comment »

    Scrooges dog Salvation Army bell-ringer program

    Many Contra Costa retail stores will continue to bar Salvation Army bill-ringers from their front doors this holiday season.

    It’s disgraceful, especially when so many folks have lost their jobs or their homes and must rely this year on charitable groups for a Christmas turkey or a toy for their children.

    Retail operations such as Target and Trader Joes, which advertises itself as “your neighborhood” store, have banned the famous red kettle from their premises, says Concord Salvation Army Major Clay Gardner.

    Even the stores that allow the distinctive red kettles have placed significant time restrictions on the organization.

    One major grocery chain – which will go unnamed because it did the right thing – abandoned its Scrooge-inspired plan to charge the Salvation Army $50 a day for every bell-ringer.

    Gardener estimates the trend will cost the charity $50,000 or more in contributions this year A single kettle in front of a busy store can produce $3,000 to $4,000 a day.

    The loss comes at the same time demand is outstripping the Concord Salvation Army’s services – a food pantry, holiday food baskets and toys, and an after-school childcare program.

    Granted, no wants to think about the “less fortunate” as they happily scour the town for that perfect gift for a loved one.

    But that ringing bell serves to remind all of us of our good fortune to be shopping rather than filling out an application at the Salvation Army for a holiday food basket.

    To donate money or volunteer your services to the Salvation Army, visit or call 925-676-6180.

    Or if the Salvation Army is not to you liking, another good source of information about how to give to others during the season, check out the East Bay Volunteer Center at

    Posted on Friday, November 14th, 2008
    Under: Contra Costa County | 6 Comments »

    Bay Area Prop. 8 protest sites

    Protestors will gather simultaneously in cities from coast to coast tomorrow — Saturday, Nov. 15 — to decry the passage of Proposition 8, the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. In California, it’s at 10:30 a.m. PST. Here are the greater Bay Area happenings:

  • Alameda City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Ave.
  • Berkeley City Hall, 2180 Milvia St.
  • Fairfield City Hall, 1000 Webster St.
  • Mountain View City Hall, 500 Castro St. (This event is at 1 p.m.)
  • Napa City Hall, 955 School St.
  • Oakland City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza
  • San Francisco City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Pl.
  • San Jose City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St.
  • San Rafael City Hall, 1400 Fifth Ave.
  • Santa Rosa Courthouse Square, Fourth Street and Mendocino Avenue
  • Sonoma City Hall, Broadway and E. Napa Street
  • Stockton City Hall, 425 N. El Dorado St.
  • Tracy City Hall, 333 Civic Center Dr.
  • Vacaville City Hall, 650 Merchant St.
  • Walnut Creek City Hall, 1666 N. Main St.
  • Posted on Friday, November 14th, 2008
    Under: same-sex marriage | No Comments »