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Archive for May, 2009

No charges against Don Perata?

I’m hearing that Acting United States Attorney Lawrence G. Brown of Sacramento is preparing to issue a statement saying he’s declining to file any charges against former state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland — thus spelling an almost-certain end to a years-long corruption investigation in which nobody was ever charged.

You’ll recall that federal prosecutors for California’s Northern District in San Francisco decided to take a pass on the case several months ago, so the FBI took its evidence — reams of subpoenaed or seized documents, interviews with potential witnesses and so forth — to Brown in the Eastern District. The Don as well as his family, friends and former staffers were not amused, saying the FBI was venue shopping for its non-existent case.

Looks like the Perata for Mayor 2010 campaign is about to get a big boost. I’ll be following this as the day progresses…

UPDATE @ 12:55 P.M.: Yep, it’s all true — read all about it here, and stay tuned for updated versions throughout the day.

UPDATE @ 5:25 P.M.: David Dayen at Calitics wants to know if The Don will give back the $1.9 million he diverted from his Leadership California committee – ostensibly created to support Democratic campaigns and causes – into his legal defense fund late last year. (And hey, what about the $450,000 he got from the California Democratic Party?) Fat chance, David… looks as if it’s all gone into lawyers’ pockets by now. At least the Fair Political Practices Commission has now cracked down on these smelly transfers.

Posted on Wednesday, May 27th, 2009
Under: Don Perata | 5 Comments »

What they’re saying about the Prop. 8 ruling

Lots of quotable quotes from near and far on today’s California Supreme Court ruling upholding the validity of Proposition 8, the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, but allowing last year’s 18,000 same-sex marriages to stand.

Oakland City Attorney John Russo:

“The truth is, the anti-marriage crowd is fighting a cause that is already lost. The arc of history bends toward justice and we will see justice for same sex couples in California and in the nation. It may not be as soon as we want – progress in civil rights never is. But despite this ruling, we will continue to fight for equality under the law for all Californians, and we will achieve it.”

Alliance Defense Fund Senior Legal Counsel Austin Nimocks:

“In America, we respect the results of fair elections. The California Supreme Court arrived at the only correct conclusion available: the people of California have a fundamental right to amend their own constitution. This is the second time California has voted to protect marriage. Once again, when marriage goes before the voters, they affirm that marriage means one man and one woman. All 30 states that have voted on whether to affirm marriage as one man and one woman in their state constitutions have done so.

“By allowing the previously-issued same-sex ‘marriage’ licenses to remain valid, the court is perpetuating the problem that it itself created. And it’s doing this despite the clear vote of the people that marriage means one man and one woman and that anything outside of that is not marriage.”

Tons more, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, May 26th, 2009
Under: General, same-sex marriage | 8 Comments »

Newsom returns contribution from Savage’s son

Last week, you read it here first that Rockstar energy drink founder and CEO Russell Weiner – son of Michael Weiner, aka Bay Area-based, nationally broadcast conservative talk radio talk host Michael Savage – had made a $25,000 contribution to San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign. Weiner told me he and Newsom are longtime friends.

But Newsom’s campaign today said it’s returning Weiner’s money.

“The Newsom for California campaign is returning the contribution of Russell G. Weiner,” campaign director Eric Jaye said in an e-mailed statement. “We believe that the confusion caused by the conflicts between the views expressed by Mr. Weiner in his campaign for State Assembly and the views and values of Mayor Newsom are best adressed this way.”

Russ Weiner ran for the state Assembly in 1998 as a Republican, touting the fact that he with his dad had founded the conservative Paul Revere Society (later stripped of its nonprofit status, and now redirecting Web browsers directly to Savage’s site.)

And Savage just last October was saying Newsom is “in love again with the gay mafia” and “a whack-job as a mayor – ‘Any-twosome’ Newsom.”

Weiner told me a few minutes ago there are no hard feelings.

“I still wish Gavin the best – always have, always will,” he said. “I’m just going to give this money to charity instead, I’m going to give it to Project Open Hand in San Francisco. … Let’s turn a misunderstanding into a positive.”

Posted on Friday, May 22nd, 2009
Under: 2010 governor's race, campaign finance, Gavin Newsom | 5 Comments »

More Bay Area lawyers head for Justice Dept.

Tony West, the attorney from Oakland recently confirmed and sworn in as Assistant Attorney General for the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Division, today announced he’s bringing a bunch of other Bay Area attorneys to Washington to work for him.

Santa Clara County Counsel Ann Miller Ravel will be Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Torts Branch and the Office of Consumer Litigation. Ravel is a 1974 University of California Hastings Law School graduate with an undergraduate degree from UC-Berkeley; she started her career as a Santa Clara County Superior Court law clerk and briefly practiced law on her own before joining the County Counsel’s office in 1977, rising through the ranks to the top.

The Torts Branch represents the government in lawsuits where monetary judgments are sought for damages resulting from alleged negligent or wrongful acts, as well as actions involving injury or damage to government property. The Office of Consumer Litigation is responsible for criminal and civil litigation and related matters arising under federal statutes administered by the Federal Drug Administration, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Federal Trade Commission and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Brian Martinez, an associate in West’s former firm of Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco, will serve as West’s Chief of Staff. Earlier, Martinez had been a law clerk for Senior U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson of San Francisco; he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Stanford University in 1997 and a law degree from Stanford Law School in 2002 – between which he worked for two years in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

Geoffrey Graber, another MoFo associate from San Francisco, will serve as Counsel to West. At MoFo, he handled consumer class actions, securities fraud, product defects, tort and contract law, as well as general civil litigation; he’s a 2000 graduate of the University of Southern California Law School, where he served as the Managing Articles Editor for the Southern California Law Review, and he earned a Bachelor’s degree in 1995 from Vassar College.

West also today named Juan Osuna — chairman of the Board of Immigration Appeals, the highest administrative body for interpreting and applying U.S. immigration laws – to serve as Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Immigration Litigation.

“We are fortunate to have these talented and committed individuals joining the Justice Department’s Civil Division,” West said in a news release. “I am confident that their service will meet the highest standards of the Division.”

Posted on Friday, May 22nd, 2009
Under: General | 1 Comment »

Garamendi visits CD10 again today

Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, a University of California Regent and California State University trustee, will be the keynote commencement speaker – emphasizing “the important role California’s community colleges play in educating our future workforce and retraining unemployed Californians” – at the Solano Community College graduation ceremony, 7:30 p.m. tonight in Fairfield.

Which, coincidentally, falls within the 10th Congressional District, where Garamendi has declared himself a candidate should Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, be confirmed to the State Department post to which she has been nominated.

And I’m sure the fact that this comes after Garamendi has made official visits to or near the 10th District over and over in the past two weeks is coincidence as well.

Meanwhile, two other 10th District candidates — state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, and Adriel Hampton of Dublin — are scheduled to speak at a Memorial Day vigil honoring the nearly 5,000 servicemen and women killed in Iraq and Afghanistan at 7 p.m. Monday at the Lafayette Crosses on Deerhill Road, facing the Lafayette BART station.

UPDATE @ 3:01 P.M.: The Solano Community College gig tonight may be in Garamendi’s official capacity, but it comes at the start of a weekend-long campaign blitz in and around the district. Tomorrow, starting around 10 a.m., he’ll join residents in Vacaville (just outside the CD10) along the route of the annual Fiesta Day Parade. At 10 a.m. Monday, he’ll join Walnut Creek’s mayor and city council for that city’s Memorial Day service at the Civic Park gazebo, at the corner of North Broadway and Civic Drive. And at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday he’ll address the El Cerrito Democratic Club in the El Cerrito United Methodist Church, 6830 Stockton St.

Posted on Friday, May 22nd, 2009
Under: Congressional District 10, Elections, Ellen Tauscher, General, John Garamendi, U.S. House | 6 Comments »

Lockyer, Figueroa in race for county supervisor

Alameda County Supervisor Gail Steele won’t run for re-election next year, and some heavy hitters are exploring bids to succeed her – including at least two names well-known in statewide political circles.

“I’m getting up there (in age) and you do begin to feel it after a while,” Steele, 72, said today. “In your head you don’t feel old but the rest of your body does. I’ve been there a long time and I’m just tired, you need a lot of energy and stick-to-it-iveness.”

Steele, who has held the District 2 seat representing Hayward, Newark, Union City, a chunk of Fremont and unincorporated Sunol on the board of supervisors since 1992, named four people who have talked to her about seeking her seat:

    Nadia Lockyer, executive director of the Alameda County Family Justice Center and wife of state Treasurer Bill Lockyer, of Hayward;
    California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board member and former state Sen. Liz Figueroa, D-Sunol;

“You don’t even file (candidacy papers) until February, so there can be a huge fallout or there can be even more,” Steele noted, adding that of the four people she named, “as far as I know, they’re all serious. … It’s going to be quite a race.”

Steele didn’t mention his name, but Union City Mayor Mark Green – who ran against Steele in 1998 – seems to be in the race too. Green, Lockyer and Figueroa have already formed campaign committees for the race — Lockyer, in fact, just filed her paperwork this week — while Dowling has converted his city council campaign committee into a “Friends of Kevin Dowling” committee. I don’t see anything under Plummer’s name.

Comments from some of the would-be candidates, after the jump…
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Posted on Thursday, May 21st, 2009
Under: 2010 election, Alameda County, General | 1 Comment »

Prop. 1A’s union foes: Voters OK with tax hikes

As I noted yesterday, we’ll now have a post-special-election period of argument over what the election results mean.

The No on Prop. 1A campaign today released the results of a poll – a David Binder Research survey of 1,008 voters, 603 of whom voted in the special election and 405 of whom did not, conducted May 16-20 – that they say belies the “it’s all spending cuts from here” meme in Sacramento.

“The lesson to take from this… is that voters are willing to look at tax increases, this mantra were hearing that ‘no new taxes’ is absolutely the way California needs to go forward is not supported by our data,” Binder said on a conference call with reporters a short while ago.

That is, when asked, “Which of the following best describes your opinion about the special election?,” 69 percent chose “It was an example of the Governor and the legislature balancing the budget on the backs of average Californians instead of asking their special interest contributors to do their share to help out” while 19 percent chose “The Governor and legislature are asking all Californians to share the pain equally as the state deals with this budget crisis” and 12 percent didn’t know.

And when asked “Which one of the following approaches would you like the leaders of state government to take in dealing with the state budget’s shortfall?,” 29 percent chose “State government should rely entirely on spending cuts with no tax increases” while 65 percent chose “Shared responsibility, with some tax increases” and 6 percent didn’t know.

Lots more poll results, and some opposing viewpoints, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, May 21st, 2009
Under: General, May 19 special election, May 2009 special election, state budget | No Comments »

California Poison Control System about to fold

Budget cuts are about to make California the only state without emergency poison control services for its residents and medical professionals.

The San Francisco-based California Poison Control System has managed more than 2 million cases since its creation in 1997. Operating out of four sites around the state, clinical pharmacists, registered nurses, physicians and poison information providers answer the toll-free phones around the clock, handling around 900 cases a day; a board-certified physician toxicologist is always available to consult with doctors seeking expert, current, specialized advice in managing poison cases.

“We’re able to quickly assess when people call us that many callers are calling about things that are minor or negligible,” executive director Stuart Heard said, thus saving California an estimated $70 million in unnecessary emergency response and ER costs last year – but no more.

CPCS’s state budget line has been zeroed out for the coming budget year, meaning that hotline will go silent in September — and meaning all those cases will get shifted to 911 lines and hospital emergency rooms. Heard estimates there’ll be an additional 164,000 ER visits per year, and those overworked doctors and nurses no longer will be able to dial up the poison-control experts as they have in the past. “We’re just shifting this over to other systems that are less prepared than we are.”

Heard said the CPCS budget for the current fiscal year is between $11 million and $12 million, with California paying $5.9 million and the rest coming from the federal government or other service contracts.

“More than 50 percent of poisonings happen to children 5 years old and under and more than 90 percent happen at home,” he said. “Without the services that we provide, California’s children will be at risk. This is why we are urging residents to pick up the phone and call the Governor’s office and their legislators to ask that the funding for the California Poison Control System be returned to the budget.”

Posted on Wednesday, May 20th, 2009
Under: state budget | 15 Comments »

Children’s Hospital gets economic-stimulus money

Children’s Hospital and Research Center of Oakland will receive funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for a biomedical research project, Rep. Barbara Lee announced today.

Lee, D-Oakland, said the institution will get $240,000 in economic-stimulus money from HHS to fund a proposal to test a new genetically-influenced mechanism that can contribute to differences in how patients respond to certain drugs. This research’s results could help doctors better identify who’ll benefit most from using statins — a class of drugs that lower cholesterol levels in people with or at risk of cardiovascular disease — and develop new strategies for boosting those drugs’ effectiveness.

“The work that is being done in this area is of extreme importance,” Lee said in her news release. “I am pleased that Children’s Hospital will receive funding for this project. It is my hope that the test will yield the type of results that will enhance the treatment of cardiovascular-related conditions.”

Posted on Wednesday, May 20th, 2009
Under: Barbara Lee, Oakland, U.S. House | No Comments »

California’s $21.3 billion hangover

It’s the morning after, and despite abyssmally low special-election voter turnout — the Secretary of State’s office has it pegged right now at 22.9 percent, although there are mail-in ballots yet to be counted — the post-special-election rhetoric is flying hot and heavy.

Conservatives are convinced the ballot measures’ drubbing means Californians are fed up with tax hikes and want deep spending cuts.

Liberals are convinced the low turnout means voters want the Legislature and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to raise more revenue for the state, even if that means pushing another ballot measure to do away with the requirement that tax and budget bills receive two-thirds approval from both legislative houses.

And, heck, marijuana advocates believe the election results mean it’s time to legalize and tax the drug.

I think it means California is going to spend a lot of time arguing about what it means. What do you think it means?

Ten pounds of rhetorical excrement in a five-pound bag, in no particular order, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, May 20th, 2009
Under: General, May 19 special election, May 2009 special election | No Comments »