Wanna send Obama a text message on his Blackberry?

If you do, the California First Amendment Coalition has a (tongue-in-cheek) deal for you. Read on.

Psst: Wanna buy Barack Obama’s new email address?

By Peter Scheer

What would you pay to have President Obama’s new private (and secure) email address?

Two weeks ago I wrote in this space about efforts by Barack Obama’s aides to get him to surrender his Blackberry, on which Obama had relied to escape the bubble that descends on leading presidential contenders, not to mention elected presidents. I argued that the aides’ concerns about legal and security constraints were overblown and urged Obama to keep the Blackberry—and to use it, while President, to stay in touch with ordinary citizens.

I am not at liberty to reveal how I know that President Obama read my article, which was reprinted in several publications.  Suffice it to say that I am now in possession of the Chief Executive’s new, private email address, the one reserved for family members and close personal friends. (Two additional email addresses have been created for use by, respectively, Cabinet level officials and campaign supporters who contributed $200,000 and above.)

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t betray a confidence, especially a presidential confidence. But these are, as we know, “challenging” times, not least for the California First Amendment Coalition (“CFAC”), a cash-strapped nonprofit working overtime to defend freedom of speech and the public’s right to know about its government.  Besides, President Obama is a big proponent of open government, as shown by his recent pronunciamento on the Freedom of Information Act.  He will, I’m sure, understand that extreme measures in the defense of government accountability are no vice (to paraphrase a rather less successful presidential candidate).

Accordingly, I have decided to divulge Obama’s private friends-and-family email address, the one that reaches him on his belt-mounted Blackberry, to …(click here to go to First Amendment site.)


Both sides still paying Prop 11 debts

Amid other campaign finance news emerging today (Jerry Brown has scads of cash with which to run for governor in 2010! Jack O’Connell doesn’t!), it seems both sides are still paying down their bills from the battle over Proposition 11, the redistricting reform ballot measure approved by 51 percent of voters in November.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s California Dream Team laid a cool quarter million dollars on the Yes on 11 campaign’s account and Stanford University physicist Charles Munger Jr. — son of Berkshire Hathaway billionaire Charles T. Munger — gave $117,000 yesterday; earlier this month, former laundry service magnate William Bloomfield Jr. of Manhattan Beach anted up $33,000 on Jan. 15, and Cypress Land Company president Brian Harvey of Los Angeles gave $50,000 on Jan. 12.

Meanwhile, the Voter Education and Research Fund – a independent committee backed by former state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland – put $38,000 into the No on 11 campaign’s coffers Tuesday, atop $12,500 it had chipped in back on Jan. 9. Nice to see Perata and his friends at VERF didn’t skip out on the bills entirely, given Perata moving $1.9 million in November and December from his Leadership California committee – which ostensibly had been raising money to help combat Proposition 11 – into his own legal defense fund for use in fending off a years-long federal corruption probe.


Assembly Dems: More public transit in stimulus

Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico, D-Newark, said today he got 19 other Assemblymembers to sign onto a letter he wrote this week to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, asking her to seek greater investment in public transit as part of the economic stimulus package.

The letter went out Thursday, a day after the House voted 244-188 to pass its $819 billion version of the package, which has $43 billion for transportation projects including $12 billion targeted for mass transit. The U.S. Senate will vote on a stimulus package next week, and then the House and Senate versions will have to be reconciled in a conference committee before it goes to President Barack Obama’s desk to be signed into law.

“This is the right moment for a meaningful investment in transit that will help America reduce its dependence on foreign oil and improve our environment at the same time,” Torrico said in a news release. “More people are relying on transit systems to meet their transportation needs.”

The letter says more and more people “depend on mass transit in their everyday lives to get to their places of employment, to take their children to school or childcare, and to shop for food and other necessities. Additionally, expanding public transit represents a crucial step for addressing global warming and improves mobility without sacrificing air quality.”

The letter also cites a U.S. Department of Transportation estimate that a $47.8 billion investment in public transportation could support more than 1.3 million green jobs in the next two years, and a California Transit Association estimate that every $1 billion invested in new transit capital projects creates 34,000 jobs and more than $3 billion in local economic activity.

Other Bay Area signatories to the letter included Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo; Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco; and Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco.


Contra Costa assessor interviewed on NPR

Contra Costa County Assessor Gus Kramer was featured on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” talking about the impacts of budget cuts on county health and human services. Click here to listen: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=99974984

Kramer is undoubtedly grateful to be in the news for something other than a lawsuit.


Watch Oil-drilling lease vote on-line

Catch live video streaming of the California Lands Commission hearing today at noon when it is scheduled to vote on the first new oil drilling lease in California waters in 40 years.

Click on the right for the video stream: http://www.ltg.ca.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=399:live-stream-of-the-california-state-lands-commission-meeting&catid=72:video&Itemid=210 or http://www.cal-span.org/State_Webcast/CSLC/stream_index.htm.

An archive of the video will also be available: http://www.cal-span.org/cgi-bin/archive.php?owner=CSLC&date=2009-01-29.

The meeting begins at noon.