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Skinner to GOPers: Follow Specter to our tent

Well, you’ve gotta give Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, extra points for cheekiness: Today she sent to her Republican legislative colleagues an invitation to switch to the “Spectacular” Democratic Party, a la Arlen Specter.

“Democrats will soon have 60 votes in the US Senate and be able to make many decisions without filibusters—but it will take a bit of time for the final stages of legal challenges and to finally count the votes from last November’s election in Minnesota,” she wrote. “If you act quickly, California can lead the nation rather than following. We need 54 Democrats in the Assembly and 27 in the Senate to match this.”

As benefits of being Democrats, she cited:

  • “Big tent, not a pup tent”
  • “No pledges”
  • “No recalls”
  • “Large party with increasing registrants”
  • “Diverse Democratic jury for future advancement and primary electorates”
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    Contra Costa law enforcement agencies hold presser

    Representatives of the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office and the Sheriff’s Office held press conferences this afternoon to call on the county Board of Supervisors to adequately fund their departments.

    District Attorney Bob Kochly stirred up a firestorm when he issued a memo to area police agencies that his department would no longer prosecute some misdemeanors due to budget cuts.

    I’ll have more on this for my Sunday column but here are a few video clips from the presser:

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    Yesterday, arrested. Today, at the White House.

    Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairwoman Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, fresh from incurring arrest with civil disobedience outside the Sudanese Embassy yesterday, today led her caucus in meeting with President Obama at the White House on topics including healthcare reform and the upcoming supplemental appropriations request for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    “We had an open and frank meeting with President Obama this afternoon, and I think both the administration as well as those of us in Congress recognize how important our relationship will be going forward,” Woolsey said in a statement released afterward. “During last fall’s campaign, President Obama ran as strong progressive, and the American public overwhelmingly embraced his proposals to transform our failing healthcare system, rebuild our struggling economy, and restore our nation’s image abroad. We look forward to working with the President to address these issues, and to strengthen our country by enacting progressive change that will benefit all Americans.”

    The Washington Post has more detail, including a little more on the progressives’ concern with more money for the wars.

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    The biggest news in politics today…

    …is U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Penn., switching affiliation to the Democratic Party.

    Thoughts, anyone?

    UPDATE @ 1:06 P.M.: Here’s what U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., has to say about it:

    “Senator Specter did the right thing for his state and our country, and I welcome him to the Democratic Party.

    “He has given Democrats a huge lift. Senator Specter’s decision sends a tremendous signal to the country that people who want to bring about change are joining the Democratic Party. People who want to get things done, as Senator Specter does, are joining the Democratic Party.

    “The Democratic Party is a big umbrella. The Republicans have a tiny, little umbrella – if you lean just a bit outside it, you get soaked.

    “So, we are happy to have Senator Specter, and I look forward to working with him.”

    UPDATE @ 4:08 P.M.: Just in from Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland:

    “I welcome Senator Specter back to the Democratic Party. Senator Specter has long been an independent thinker and willing to work in a bipartisan way to do what is best for the American people. I look forward to working with him on issues such as medical research funding, criminal justice, education and other issues to help move this country forward.”

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    Contra Costa district attorney on the hot seat

    Contra Costa District Attorney Robert Kochly

    Contra Costa District Attorney Robert Kochly

    Boy oh boy, is the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors mad at Contra Costa District Attorney Robert Kochly.

    The board will hold a special meeting at 3 p.m. today to air their grievances over a memo (see the memo is at the bottom of this post) Kochly sent out to the county’s police chiefs and his staff, which advised them that due to budget cuts, his office will no longer prosecute certain misdemeanor crimes. (Click here to read Malaika Fraley’s CCT story.)

    Late yesterday, Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg announced that he will call for Attorney General Jerry Brown to investigate into how Kochly manages his office. (By way of background, the Board of Supervisors controls Kochly’s budget but the district attorney is a directly elected countywide official and the board has no jurisdiction over the management of his office.)

    And prior to the board meeting this afternoon, unions representing 656 Contra Costa deputy sheriffs and 73 prosecutors in the District Attorney’s Office will hold a press conference outside the board chambers at 651 Pine Street in Martinez and call the on the board to restore the funding cuts to both the district attorney and the sheriff’s office.

    This folks, to quote an old saying, is where the budget rubber starts to smell bad.

    Budget cuts are no longer impacting impacting selected segments of the population, such as the poor woman without health care who needs the county hospital or that elderly man who needs an aide to care for him in his home. The budget axe has now struck the very core of what most taxpayers view as a critical government service for everyone: Public safety.

    The debate over how government will pay for all the services the public demands at a time of serious financial restraints will continue, of course.

    From a political perspective, this assault on Kochly, a Republican, comes at a time when he is still on the fence about whether he will seek re-election to a third term. A handful of people are reportedly chomping to run for the seat including Republican Concord Councilman Mark Peterson and a son of former District Attorney William O’Malley, Democrat, retired judge and attorney Dan O’Malley.

    Alliance of Contra Costa Taxpayers chief Ken Hambrick, a vocal critic of the way the board has handled the county’s finances, has another theory.

    “The board, in the form of Glover, is trying to lynch Bob Kochly as a cover-up for their own incompetence in handling the financial woes of the county,” Hambrick said. “As Charlie Brown said in one of the comic strips, ‘Find a scapegoat.’  This is a blatant attempt to move blame and responsibility from themselves to another and to smear Kochly’s name in the process.”

    Continue Reading

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    Danville mayor will run for state Senate

    Danville Mayor Newell Arnerich

    Danville Mayor Newell Arnerich

    Danville Mayor Newell Arnerich says he will run for the state Senate if Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, is elected to the 10th Congressional District.

    The 14-year-veteran of the Danville Town Council and an owner of an architectural firm spent the weekend at the California Democratic Party convention in Sacramento talking with party leaders — Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, DeSaulnier and Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch — about his prospects and came away enthused.

    It was his wife who told him he ought to run for the Legislature, he said. Janis teaches school in Orinda and she urged him to try and help fix a dysfunctional state budgeting process mired in partisan muck.

    The Legislature’s failure to solve the state’s fiscal problems incrementally in prior years has led to massive and nearly unmanageable deficits that are pushing businesses out of California and hurting education, he said.

    “I believe the opportunity for change is over the next 24 months and the voters are looking for it,” Arnerich said. ”

    Arnerich is the first declared candidate for the District 7 Senate seat, should it become open.

    Former Assemblyman Joe Canciamilla of Pittsburg is also looking at the race and Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, may well have an interest in the Senate post if she is unsuccessful in her 10th Congressional District campaign.