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Archive for March, 2009

Contra Costa manager urges ‘patience’

Contra Costa County Administrator David Twa

Contra Costa County Administrator David Twa

Contra Costa County chief administrator David Twa sent out an email to county elected leaders and top staffers yesterday urging patience and cool heads as the county struggles with its difficult finances.

His message suggests that correspondence in recent days has become heated as the county mucks its way through deep budget cuts and tough decisions.

Here’s what Twa wrote:

Subject: Take a deep breath

These are difficult times for all of us.  Unfortunately, they will get worse before they get better. The budget problems we are currently facing are just the first of many.  The national economy will not recover anytime soon, and neither will Contra Costa.  We are ill prepared to face the Retiree Health Insurance (OPEB) or the Coming crisis in Pension funding.  By 2013 we will need to invest over $200 Million just to meet these obligation, with revenues that continue to decline.  There will be no money for raises for our employees, and cuts in service and lay offs will be the norm for the next few years.

As I have reviewed e-mails and correspondence over the past few days, it is clear that as our resources continue to shrink, everyone is becoming more stressed and emotions are rising to the surface.  I would only suggest that we try to be a little more patience with each other and deal with the
issues as quickly as we can.

Thanks for all you do for Contra Costa.

Posted on Thursday, March 26th, 2009
Under: Contra Costa Board of Supervisors, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | No Comments »

Drats! Sullenberger not interested in congressional run

Capt. Sully Sullenberger

Capt. Sully Sullenberger

Capt. Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger, the heroic pilot who saved the lives of every single one of his 155 passengers through a deft landing of a jetliner on the Hudson River in January, says he is honored that folks want him to run for Congress.

But he respectfully says he will continue to decline requests that he “throw his pilot’s hat into the ring,” says family spokesman Alex Clemens.

“He is focusing his time and energy fully on his family, his work for US Airways, and the other obligations that he has taken on since the dramatic events of January 15,” Clemens added.

I wasn’t surprised. When I called his house, Sully’s wife laughed out loud when I explained why the Times’ political writer wanted to talk with him.

This is far from the first time that Sullenberger has fielded this question. Political sources tell me that minutes after the news of Sullenberger’s hometown surfaced, political operatives scoured the voter registration rolls to find out which party he was affiliated and look at his voting record.

Oh, but what a race that would have been!

Sullenberger is a registered Republican and with his starpower, the GOP might have had a chance for a victory in the upcoming special election to replace Democratic Rep. Ellen Tauscher in District 10. (Tauscher has accepted an undersecretary job to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, pending Senate confirmation.)

Democrats hold an 18-point party registration lead in this district, a nearly insurmountable hurdle under ordinary circumstances. Sullenberger has already proven he can beat impossible odds.

Granted, Sullenberger lives in Danville, which is in Rep. Jerry McNerney’s neighboring District 11. But there is no legal requirement that a congressional candidate live in the district and he could always move a mile or two.

On the other hand, Congress might feel like a demotion for Sullenberger.

For one, he would have to give up those six-figure motivational speaker’s fees. (And good for him. He deserves it.)

But more important, Sully is a true hero. If someone polled his numbers, he probably has a 6000 percent approval rating.

As a member of Congress, his popularity would plummet so fast that even a skilled pilot such as Sullenberger might not recover in time for a safe landing.

Posted on Thursday, March 26th, 2009
Under: Congress, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics, Ellen Tauscher | No Comments »

It ain’t just a river in Egypt.

The “Budget Reform Now” campaign for the six state-budget-related measures on the May 19 special election ballot issued a news release last night quoting Placer County Sheriff Ed Bonner, the California State Sheriffs’ Assocaition’s president, on the Public Policy Institute of California’s latest poll:

“It is clear from this poll that Californians are less than satisfied with the status quo when it comes to our economy and our government – Props 1A through 1F are aimed at putting an end to the dysfunctional business as usual in Sacramento. As a county sheriff charged with protecting my community I know first hand the harm our budget rollercoaster does to the resources law enforcement needs to do our jobs. We are confident that as voters learn more about how Props 1A through 1F work together to address California’s budget problems both in the short and long term they will join us and the hundreds of thousands of teachers, seniors, workers, taxpayer advocates and many other Californians in voting yes on Props 1A-1F on May 19.”

It’s nice to be confident. The poll, however, showed not only that a majority of voters aren’t in favor of five of the six measures, but also that the Legislature’s and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s popularity are near or at record lows. And with the election looming seven weeks from this coming Tuesday, there’s not much time left in which to find somebody high-profile and popular who can effectively make a case for these measures.

Posted on Thursday, March 26th, 2009
Under: Elections, General, May 2009 special election, state budget | No Comments »

Pleasant Hill vice mayor to run for county supervisor

Pleasant Hill Vice Mayor Karen Mitchoff

Pleasant Hill Vice Mayor Karen Mitchoff

Pleasant Hill Vice Mayor Karen Mitchoff says she will run next year for Contra Costa County supervisor in District 4.

Mitchoff hopes to succeed Contra Costa County Supervisor Susan Bonilla, who has said she will run in 2010 for the seat held by soon-to-be-termed-out Assemblyman Tom Torlakson.

Mitchoff was elected to the Pleasant Hill City Council last November.

But she has been a fixture in local politics for years both as a member of Pleasant Hill advisory boards and as the former chief of staff for three elected officials  including former Contra Costa County Sheriff Richard Rainey, former Contra Costa County Supervisor Sunne Wright McPeak and then-supervisor Mark DeSaulnier. (He is now a state senator.)

She currently works for Contra Costa  as an administrative analyst where her duties include monitoring legislation affecting human services, special projects and fiscal issues.

Mitchoff tells me she has been thinking about running for supervisor ever since Bonilla expressed a desire to run for the Legislature. But Mitchoff held off based on the decision of another potential candidate, Concord Councilman Guy Bjerke.

“Guy called and told me he is not running,” Mitchoff said today.

Posted on Thursday, March 26th, 2009
Under: Contra Costa Board of Supervisors, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | No Comments »

Camp Parks to receive stimulus money

Camp Parks Reserve Forces Training Area in Dublin will receive more than $8 million in federal stimulus funds, according to the office of Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton.

The funds will be used for two projects at the station.

Approximately $4.7 million will be used to renovate barracks for soldiers who are on short-term training assignments at Camp Parks.  Another $3.2 million will be dedicated to renovating housing for personnel assigned to Camp Parks on a more permanent basis.

“At a time when increasing demands are being placed on our troops, we need to make sure their housing needs are met,” McNerney said in a prepared release.  “The soldiers at Camp Parks are often far away from their families and homes.  These funds will help make sure they are provided for while serving our country.”

The funds made available to Camp Parks Reserve Forces Training Area were allocated from the stimulus package signed into law on February 17, 2009 and are administered by the Department of Defense.

Posted on Wednesday, March 25th, 2009
Under: Jerry McNerney | No Comments »

State Senators honor slain Oakland Police

These floor speeches were made Monday, but the videos just became available today.

From state Sen. Mike DeSaulnier, D-Concord (reading from our article in Monday’s editions):

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

Posted on Wednesday, March 25th, 2009
Under: California State Senate, Ellen Corbett, Lois Wolk, Loni Hancock, Mark DeSaulnier, Oakland | No Comments »

Rep. Miller schedules second town hall meeting

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, will give constituents another chance to query him directly about the nation’s troubles.

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez

Miller will host a second town hall meeting in so many weeks on Saturday (March 28) from 9:30-10:30 a.m. at the DeJean Middle School’s multipurpose room, 3400 MacDonald Avenue in Richmond.

The veteran congressman will talk and take questions about the hot issues of the day including economic recovery, unemployment, the mortgage and banking crisis and healthcare.

For more information, call Miller’s office at 925-602-1880.

Posted on Wednesday, March 25th, 2009
Under: Congress, George Miller | No Comments »

Uhuru Movement praises cop killer

From the Web site of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement, a notice of a gathering from 6 to 8 p.m. tonight (Wednesday, March 25) at the Uhuru House at 7911 MacArthur Blvd. in Oakland:

“Uphold the Resistance of the African Community as Represented by Brother Lovelle Mixon

“Gather at 6pm at the Uhuru House
7911 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland
6:30 March to Eastmont Town Center
Rally & Return to the Uhuru House

“Just like the resistance of Nat Turner and Gabriel Prosser, enslaved Africans once vilified and today considered heroes, African people in Oakland have a right to struggle against this government-imposed terror. Like the missiles launched from Gaza and the Iraqi resistance forces, African people will rightfully fight to free themselves against oppression in every form.

“We call on the citizens of Oakland to unite with the demands raised by the Uhuru Movement for genuine economic development to the African working class community, for reparations for the families of victims of police violence, for a community controlled police review board with subpoena powers and for an immediate end to these failed public policies of police containment which have brought so much suffering to the African community for so long.

“We call on Oakland citizens to join us in rejecting the knee-jerk criminalization of the oppressed African community by the city and state governments, and in recognizing that in order to go forward as a city we must unite in the quest for economic and social justice for the African community.”

I don’t think many Oaklanders have a problem with calls for economic development and tight citizen oversight of police, but I’d think most Oaklanders do have a big problem with trying to justify and show solidarity with the murder of police officers.

UPDATE @ 4:50 P.M.: Right after posting this item at about 9:30 a.m. today, I e-mailed spokespeople for Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; state Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley; Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, D-Alameda; and Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums to see if they would comment on this. As of now, only Lee’s office has responded: “The focus of the office is on the four officers and their grieving families and members of the OPD. We know nothing about this group at all.”

Posted on Wednesday, March 25th, 2009
Under: Oakland | 14 Comments »

Don Perata’s former staffers rise to support him

More than a dozen of Don Perata‘s former staffers have joined the former state Senate President Pro Tem from Oakland in urging U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to put the kibosh on a years-long federal corruption probe.

Lawyers for the former lawmaker and his son, Nick Perata, wrote in the past month to Holder, to the Justice Department’s Inspector General and to members of the House Judiciary Committee asking them to review the decision of Lawrence Brown — the Sacramento-based acting U.S. Attorney for California’s Eastern District — to examine evidence FBI agents have gathered on Perata and his associates over the past four years even though Northern District federal prosecutors in San Francisco decided not to indict.

“This ordeal has affected our lives, our families and our reputations. It has resulted in reporter calls at home at night, inquiries by neighbors, questions by our children,” the staffers’ March 18 letter says. “In an effort to cooperate with the San Francisco office, Senator Perata repeatedly waived his rights, thereby extending the investigation well beyond the statute of limitations. He — and everyone associated with him — are now being punished for cooperating.

“We all understand what it means to do a job that relies on public confidence. We understand that the FBI’s office and the U.S. Attorney’s office have jobs to do and we respect that. But it would seem those jobs came to conclusion when the office in charge of the investigation declined to prosecute.”

Posted on Tuesday, March 24th, 2009
Under: Don Perata | No Comments »

Lee speaks on House floor about Oakland cops

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, spoke yesterday on the House floor about Saturday’s slaying of four Oakland Police Department officers:

Posted on Tuesday, March 24th, 2009
Under: Barbara Lee, Oakland, U.S. House | No Comments »