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Archive for June, 2009

Thurmond ponders state senate bid

Tony Thurmond (Photo by DailyCal)

Freshman West Contra Costa school board member Tony Thurmond tells my colleague Kimberly Wetzel that he may run for state Senate. (Click here for her story today.)

“Although there are no elections coming up, Thurmond said he filed pre-emptively in the event that current 7th District state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, wins a special election to fill U.S. Rep. Ellen Tauscher’s seat,” Wetzel wrote.

Tauscher, D-Alamo, is expected to be named undersecretary for arms control and international security at the U.S. State Department. She has not yet resigned her current post and it is unknown when the U.S. Senate will take up her confirmation.

DeSaulnier is one of a handful of Democrats who have indicated they will run for Tauscher’s seat

Posted on Wednesday, June 24th, 2009
Under: 2010 election, Congressional District 10 | No Comments »

Tesla Motors loan will fund Bay Area jobs

The Obama Administration today announced $8 billion in conditional loan commitments for development of green cars, including some which is expected to create up to 650 Bay Area jobs.

The money includes $5.9 billion for Ford Motor Company to transform factories across Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, and Ohio to produce 13 more fuel efficient models; $1.6 billion to Nissan North America, Inc. to retool their Smyrna, Tenn., factory to build advanced electric automobiles and to build an advanced battery manufacturing facility; and $465 million to Tesla Motors to manufacture electric drive trains and electric vehicles in California.

The first Tesla loan will finance a Southern California factory – with an estimated 1,000 jobs – to produce the Tesla Model S sedan, which is expected to be about $50,000 cheaper than Tesla’s first vehicle, the Roadster. The all-electric car consumes no gasoline, running entirely on electricity from any conventional 120V or 220V outlet; it’ll get the equivalent of more than 250 miles per gallon, which is far better than the 32.7 mpg minimum efficiency required for large sedans. Model S production is to start in 2011 and ramp up to 20,000 vehicles per year by the 2013’s end. This integrated facility expects to create 1,000 jobs in Southern California.

The second part of the Tesla loan will support a Bay Area factory – employing an estimated 650 workers – making battery packs and electric drive trains to be used in Teslas and in other automakers’ cars including the Smart Fortwo city car by Daimler. Early pilot battery pack production is to start in 2011, reaching about 10,000 by 2012 and 30,000 packs in 2013.

These are the first conditional loan commitments reached as part of the Energy Department’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program; more loans are coming in the next few months to large and small auto manufacturers and parts suppliers up and down the production chain.

“We have an historic opportunity to help ensure that the next generation of fuel-efficient cars and trucks are made in America,” President Obama said in a news release. “These loans – and the additional support we will provide through the Section 136 program – will create good jobs and help the auto industry to meet and even exceed the tough fuel economy standards we’ve set, while helping us to regain our competitive edge in the world market.”

Although he’ll be here to talk about American Recovery and Reinvestment Act economic stimulus funding for clean energy projects, watch for Energy Secretary Steven Chu to mention the Tesla loan when he visits the Edison Electric Institute’s annual convention Thursday in San Francisco.

UPDATE @ 1:36 P.M.: This makes Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger happy, it seems.

“Today’s announcement is just the sort of sustainable energy policy I have been talking about. It is more important than ever that we secure our nation’s energy independence and lay the foundation for long-term competitiveness, and no time is better to do so than right now when our country is facing tough economic times. California is leading the country’s transition to a clean energy future, and with companies like Tesla based here and the assistance of the Department of Energy’s new program, we are spurring the development of green technologies and jobs – setting the stage for robust 21st century growth.”

UPDATE @ 3:51 P.M.: More love and kisses, this time from Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto.

“I’m extremely pleased that Tesla has been named a recipient of the Department of Energy’s AVTM Incentive Program loan. The new loan will allow Tesla to increase its manufacturing capacity and will create 650 green jobs in the Bay Area alone. I voted to create the AVTM Incentive Program because investing in innovative technologies that decrease our dependence on foreign oil is critical to our long-term energy needs.

“Tesla was chosen through a competitive application process and this loan is a testament to their creative work to advancing electric vehicle technology throughout the past decade. Tesla is building the cars of the future and reinventing the American automobile industry right here in Silicon Valley.”

Posted on Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009
Under: economy, energy, Environment, Obama presidency | 9 Comments »

Lawmakers endorse ‘Clean Money’ ballot measure

Its path to the June 2010 primary ballot cleared by a federal judge last week, the California Fair Elections Act – which will ask voters whether to test out public financing of political campaigns by applying it to the races for Secretary of State in 2014 and 2018 – has now been endorsed by 18 Bay Area lawmakers.

“One year from election day, our campaign is off to a running start,” said campaign spokesman Mike Roth. “These strong, early endorsements from Bay Area legislators send a clear message that the California Fair Elections Act is gaining the momentum we need to bring about the changes voters want to see in Sacramento.”

The endorsement of state Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, was a gimme, as she authored the law that’s putting the measure on the ballot. Today’s other endorsers are state Senators Elaine Alquist, D-San Jose; Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro; Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord; Mark Leno, D-San Francisco; and Leland Yee, D-San Francisco; as well as Assemblymembers Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco; Jim Beall Jr., D-San Jose; Joe Coto, D-San Jose; Paul Fong, D-Cupertino; Mary Hayashi, D-Castro Valley; Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo; Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco; Ira Ruskin, D-Redwood City; Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley; Sandre Swanson, D-Oakland; Alberto Torrico, D-Newark; and Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch.

Posted on Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009
Under: 2010 election, Assembly, California State Senate, campaign finance, Loni Hancock | 2 Comments »

Contra Costa labor leader unleashes on county supervisor

The video is now available, folks.

Watch Local One Public Employees Union chief Rollie Katz gets really passionate it at the June 16 meeting of the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, a lot of it targeted at Republican Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho’s efforts to modulate outright board support of Democrats’ in the Legislature pushing for tax increases.

Click here and move the video time button to about 2 hours and 20 minutes to watch the fireworks.

Posted on Monday, June 22nd, 2009
Under: Contra Costa Board of Supervisors, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | No Comments »

GOP Lodi grapegrower to announce CD11 candidacy

Brad Goehring

Brad Goehring

Native San Joaquin County farmer Brad Goehring will announce his candidacy Tuesday as a Republican candidate in the 2010 race for the 11th Congressional District.

Click here to visit his website.

Goehring has never held public office but given voters’ low opinion of Congress these days, that might not be a bad thing.

According to his biography, the resident of Clements and father of three is a member at large of the San Joaquin Farm Bureau and is a national expert on the federal Clean Water Act. I’m also told he was a college water-skiing champion.

His family has been farming in the area for four generations, which ought to give him some name identification in his home county although he is unknown elsewhere. San Joaquin County comprises about 55 percent of the district’s voters, while the balance are split among Contra Costa, Alameda and Santa Clara counties. Party registration in the district is almost dead even between Republicans and Democrats.

He has hired Carl Fogliani, owner of Fogliani Strategies, as his campaign consultant. Fogliani was the campaign manager of the former Congressman Richard Pombo’s 2006 re-election campaign.

Goehring appears to be the first Republican — as of tomorrow — to officially declare his candidacy for the 2010 primary and set out on a path to potentially challenge Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, in the November 2010 general election. Goehring filed a his federal statement of organization with the Federal Election Commission on June 16.

Meanwhile, the web site of Republican David Bernal of San Ramon states that he has opened an exploratory committee for a possible 11th District run. Also, Republican leaders are courting Contra Costa County Sheriff Warren Rupf but he remains undecided.

Dean Andal, who ran unsuccessfully against McNerney in 2008, has said he will not run again.

UPDATE 3:48 PM: I just learned from Frank Aquila, president of South San Joaquin County Republicans, of another GOP declared candidate, Jon Del Arroz of Danville. Check out his web site at www.delarroz.com.
Click here to read his FEC statement of organization.

Read more for Goehring’s official press release:

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, June 22nd, 2009
Under: 2010 election, congressional district 11 | 3 Comments »

Tauscher featured in Politico.com story

This is a nice piece in Politico.com about the more personal side of serving as a member of Congress and some details about Rep. Ellen Tauscher’s upcoming wedding.

Posted on Monday, June 22nd, 2009
Under: Congressional District 10, Ellen Tauscher | No Comments »

McNerney snags GOP endorsements

Rep. Jerry McNerney

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton

Two leading Republicans in San Joaquin County endorsed this morning Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney’s re-election bid.

San Joaquin Supervisors Steve Bestolarides and Larry Ruhstaller, both Republicans although the hold nonpartisan offices, cast their lot with McNerney before a single Republican has even declared interest in challenging the Democrat. (Republicans are courting Contra Costa Sheriff Warren Rupf but he has not made a decision.)

In the last election, Ruhstaller supported McNerney’s challenger, Dean Andal, with a $250 donation in 2007.

But the San Joaquin officials, in a prepared release, say their support has nothing to do with politics. They cited McNerney’s successful advocacy efforts related to the Veteran Administration’s recent selection of San Joaquin rather than Stanislaus County as the site of a new treatment facility.

No word on how the San Joaquin Republican Party or the National Republican Campaign Committee will view this pair’s announcement.

But Ruhstaller and Bestolarides, who served on local city councils prior to being elected to county seats, are in their first terms on the Board of Supervisors. This ought to be interesting.

Read on for the press release out of McNerney’s office and the two men’s comments: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, June 22nd, 2009
Under: congressional district 11, San Joaquin County politics | No Comments »

CD10 videos now available online

Thanks to the Lamorinda Democratic Club, videos of the full two-hour 10th Congressional District candidate forum are now available at the following links:

Posted on Monday, June 22nd, 2009
Under: Congressional District 10 | No Comments »

CD10 forum for Democratic candidates packed

UPDATE MONDAY MORNING: The Lamorinda Democratic Club has posted videos in two parts of the Friday night candidate forum. See the links beneath the short clips of the candidates’ two-minute closing statements. LAV/9:39 AM Monday

Friday night’s forum for six of the Democratic candidates in the 10th Congressional District felt more like a political convention than meeting of local Democratic Party chapters. (Click here for my news story on the event.)

Some of the candidates’ more well=heeled campaigns lined the walkways leading into the Jewish Community Center in Walnut Creek with handsome young people wearing matching T-shirts who handed out brochures.

The event drew a large crowd of several hundred people. It was the first widely publicized candidate forum for the 10th Congressional District in central Contra Costa County where voters could see the field up close and make their own comparisons. The candidates included San Francisco attorney Tony Bothwell; Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo; state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord; Lt. Governor John Garamendi of Walnut Grove (corrected); Adriel Hampton of Dublin; and Anthony Woods of Fairfield.

Click here for the audio recording of the two-hour forum:

Scroll below for links to videos of each candidate’s two minute closing statements.

Posted on Saturday, June 20th, 2009
Under: Congressional District 10 | 9 Comments »

State workers take to SF streets, Capitol steps

After covering a federal court hearing this morning in San Francisco, I was walking through Civic Center and saw several dozen state workers — most of them wearing the distinctive purple t-shirts of the Service Employees International Union — picketing outside the state building.

“We’re taking care of California, don’t hurt our families,” “Don’t balance the budget on our backs,” their signs read. “5 percent don’t pay the rent” and “The party of ‘no’ has got to go,” they chanted.

They were delivering to Gov. Arnold Schwarzengger’s San Francisco office copies of petitions signed by 35,000 state workers, urging the governor to drop his plans to cut another 5 percent from all state workers’ salaries; they’ve already lost more than a month’s worth of wages through the governor’s mandatory furloughs.

Instead, they want the governor to make a 10 percent cut in California’s $34 billion in private vendor contracts. Just since January 2008, the state has entered into more than 15,000 new private vendor contracts worth almost $6 billion; SEIU Local 1000 boasts it has sued to stop about 120 such contracts in the past two years, winning four out of five cases by proving the contracts were more expensive and less efficient than using state employees to do the same work.

“It’s time for the governor and his corporate supporters to begin giving back to help balance the budget by cutting private contracts and closing corporate tax loopholes,” SEIU Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker said in an e-mailed statement.

SEIU workers were outside Schwarzenegger’s State Capitol office in Sacramento today, too. Senate Republican Leader Dennis Hollingsworth, R-Murrieta, seemed to misunderstand the union’s intent, issuing a statement saying the union wants all of the state’s private vendor contracts eliminated.

“SEIU and AFSCME’s proposals are out of touch with reality, and they do more harm than good. Big labor’s agenda is clear, protect the bloated bureaucracy that got us into this mess,” Hollingsworth said, noting private vendor contracts represent thousands of private-sector jobs and billions of dollars in future tax revenue that would be lost.

In the last decade, he said, public-sector employment has outpaced private sector employment by 9 percent.

“Something is wrong with our system when the market no longer drives job creation. California’s bureaucracy should never out pace private sector jobs. SEIU is protecting a broken system and putting more hard-working Californians on the street. Budget priorities should be performance based, not based on which bully can shove the hardest,” Hollingsworth said, claiming that increasing the gas tax, instituting an alcohol tax and accelerating tax collection on small businesses would protect labor’s membership while shifting the cost to the general public. “Increasing taxes and proposing new ones is insane. It’s exactly what the voters said no to. We must cut programs that don’t work, end automatic spending formulas, and pursue long-term reforms that will keep us out of this mess for good.”

And California Republican Party chairman Ron Nehring had this to say about it:

“Today we see the union campaign of threats and intimidation move from the hearing room to the capitol steps. The venue is different, but the tactics remain the same: bully government officials into making decisions that make sense for their narrow interest instead of the public good.

“Today, SEIU will continue to reject a 5 percent cut in pay for state government bureaucrats while continuing to demand billions in new taxes to be paid by California families who are already struggling to make ends meet. The Governor and lawmakers should continue to stand strong in the face of this continued bullying and intimidation by union officials.”

UPDATE @ 3:13 P.M.: Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear notes the governor issued an executive order earlier this month to eliminate funding “for contracts entered into by state agencies and departments after March 1, 2009 for all goods and services excluding those necessary for public safety and to prohibit entering into any new contracts.” The order also directed all state departments to develop and submit to the Finance Department plans to reduce their future spending on contracts and purchases by at least 15 percent no later than 30 days after the adoption of the revised 2009-10 budget.

Posted on Friday, June 19th, 2009
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, California State Senate, Dennis Hollingsworth, General, Labor politics, state budget, taxes | 1 Comment »