Bonilla shifts gears; will run for state Assembly

Contra Costa County Supervisor Susan Bonilla has had a change of heart and says she will run for state Assembly in 2010 after all.

Bonilla had said she would not seek the office despite widespread expectation that she wanted the job. Her teen-aged daughter will be a senior in high school in 2010 and Bonilla worried that a campaign would take too much time away from her family.

“I have my family’s full support and I feel that as a former teacher, mayor and a county supervisor, I have experience to bring to Sacramento,” Bonilla said.

Bonilla must have figured out what most parents know: Teenagers don’t really want you around.  (That was a joke, people. I raised four children.)

Bonilla says she will not actively start the campaign until later in the year. She has plenty on her plate at the county these days, with massive budget short-falls and labor negotiations.

But she goes into the campaign with a huge advantage: The endorsements of state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, and Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch.

She has been viewed as the heir apparent for some time and when she took her name out of contention, numerous folks called up Torlakson and DeSaulnier. The met the two legislators for coffee and the big sell: Martinez Councilmen Mark Ross and Mike Menesini, Pittsburg Councilman Sal Evola and Antioch Councilman Brian Kalinowski. (Contra Costa superintendent of schools Joe Ovick had considered it but recently changed his mind.)

This is a significant election. The person who wins in 2010 has a strong chance to serve in public office for 12 years. If Bonilla were to win the the Assembly seat and remain for six years, she would term out at the same time that DeSaulnier will finish his two terms in the Senate. That puts her in a prime position to run for the open Senate seat.


Kamala Harris is busy banking $$$ for 2010

I was just taking a spin through recent campaign finance filings in the Secretary of State’s database, and my, hasn’t San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris been busy raising money for a 2010 bid for state Attorney General?

Among the larger ($5,000 and up) contributions she has banked in the past month or so are:

  • $12,500 from Piedmont political fundraising power couple Quinn Delaney and Wayne Jordan
  • $12,000 from San Francisco writer Robert Anderson
  • $12,000 from Laurene Powell Jobs, wife of Apple CEO Steve Jobs
  • $6,500 from Berkeley author Ayelet Waldman
  • $6,000 from attorney Elizabeth Cabraser of Santa Rosa
  • $6,000 from Warner Bros. television executive producer Chuck Lorre
  • $5,000 from Shaklee Corp. Chairman/CEO Roger Barnett of San Francisco
  • $5,000 from mediator and retired judge Daniel Weinstein of San Francisco
  • Most of these people were friends of Barack Obama’s campaign either as signficant donors (Anderson, Cabraser, Weinstein, Lorre) or as fundraisers (Delaney, Jordan, Waldman) — a campaign of which Harris was an active supporter, and her brother-in-law, Tony West, was a state finance co-chairman (and is now a high-ranking Justice Department appointee). This is quite a deep-pocketed network Harris is starting to tap…


    Times seeks New Deal workers and memories

    We’re looking for workers who built roads, schools and canals or created paintings and statues for a federal jobs program during the 1930s and 1940s to share their experiences with us for a story about economic recovery in the New Deal.

    If you worked or know living people who worked for the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), Public Works Administration (PWA), Works Progress Administration (WPA) or other New Deal programs in California, we want to hear what it was like and how it affected you.

    E-mail Denis Cuff at dcuff@bayareanewsgroup.com or call 925-943-8267.

    Many Bay Area public buildings, roads, artworks and parks were created by New Deal work projects, including the Caldecott Tunnel, the Berkeley Rose Garden, the approach to the Golden Gate Bridge, the Alameda County courthouse in Oakland and the Contra Costa Canal.


    Politicos cheer Obama’s EPA waiver memo

    California politicos’ joyful statements are piling up today, now that President Barack Obama has ordered a re-examination of whether California and other states should be allowed to have tougher auto tailpipe emission standards than those set by the federal government.

    From Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland:

    “For eight years the Bush Administration stood in the way of progress on energy independence. Today, President Obama made a bold move in our fight to end our dependence on foreign oil and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, ordering the review of the Bush Administration’s decision to unjustifiably block California’s efforts to combat global warming and promote the use of cleaner, more efficient vehicles on their roads.

    “As a longtime supporter of California’s bold agenda to reduce greenhouse gas emissions I am pleased by today’s announcement, which sends a clear signal from the Obama Administration regarding their commitment to work in concert with pioneering efforts at the municipal and state level in the fight against climate change.

    “We have long recognized the real danger that global warming poses to all of us. Today’s move by the Obama Administration demonstrated that we will no longer put corporate interests before the health and well-being of the people of this country. I am hopeful that an accurate review of this decision by the EPA will provide a growing number of states the much-needed authority to implement stricter emissions standards that are needed to set our country on the path to a greener and more energy secure future.”

    More, after the jump… Continue Reading


    Contra Costa assessor dresses in drag

    This is the funniest video I have seen in ages:  Contra Costa County Assessor Gus Kramer appears in drag at a 1999 Christmas party. (See link below.)

    I have to say, Gus has pretty good legs. Seriously, though, he must consult a fashion expert the next time he cross-dresses. The shoes are hideous. I hope that hairpiece has been burned. And I won’t even talk about the stockings!

    How did I get this video? It surfaced in the wake of stories my colleague Matthias Gafni wrote this week about the $1 million settlement of a civil lawsuit filed against Kramer by a junior assessor. (A jury found Kramer guilty of refusing to promote her because she had filed a sexual and racial harassment complaint against him. An internal investigation cleared him of any harassment.)

    The video did not make it into the trial because the judge rightfully viewed it as irrelevant to the allegations.

    But it’s still great video where everyone seems to be having a good time. Whatever Gus’ faults may be — and I’ve known him nearly 15 years — he is never afraid to poke fun at himself or anyone else for that matter.

    Now, what I want to know is this: Who are all the other men in the back row dressed in drag? Send me the names and I’ll add them to the annotations on the video.


    Gitmo to Alcatraz: Sarcastic or stupid?

    Inanity erupted in both chambers of Congress yesterday. (Big surprise.)

    In the House, it was Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Fla., the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee’s ranking Republican.

    “Alcatraz would be a good place to put these people,’’ he said yesterday of the detainees who will have to be moved out of their prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba within the next year under an executive order signed Thursday by President Barack Obama. “There’s a lot of discomfort about the idea of bringing the detainees in to the United States. That’s why I’ve suggested Alcatraz.”

    In the Senate, it was U.S. Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo.

    “I can’t think of any city or town across this country that will be thrilled to have Khalid Shaikh Mohammed or Abu Zubaydah living down the street,” said the Senate Intelligence Committee’ ranking Republican. “If you really want to bring them back to the United States, people in Missouri and Kansas believe Gitmo is just fine. Folks in San Francisco want it closed. I’d suggest you put them in Alcatraz.”

    So… stupid, or sarcastic? Follow me after the jump as we tackle both possibilities… Continue Reading