Concord blog targets local GOP with petition

HalfwayToConcord.com, a local blog site where the authors are well known for their willingness to publicly smack around folks at the Contra Costa Republican Party, has posted a downloadable petition calling for a state and county investigation into party activities.

It’s yet another visible sign of reoccurring dysfunction in a local elected committee of Republicans fraught with internal conflicts and leadership struggles.

Critics say the elected committee has, among other things, illegally used its resources to favor one of the 10th Congressional District candidates, mismanaged its money and failed to to remove member Tom Del Becarro, also vice chairman of the California Republican Party, for missing meetings.

Some committee members have sent complaint letters to the state party but no one has paid them much attention. Now, it appears, they hope the Secretary of State and the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office will take note.

Here’s the petition:


Marijuana legalization ballot measure proposed

Oakland-based activists filed a proposed ballot measure with the state Attorney General’s office today which would legalize and tax marijuana for recreational use.

Proponents Jeff Jones, executive director of the Patient ID Center (formerly known as the Oakland Cannabis Buyers Cooperative), and Richard Lee, founder and president of Oaksterdam University, submitted their “Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010” for the Attorney General to prepare the title and summary that will appear on the initiative petitions; that process takes about 60 days. After that, it’ll be forwarded to the Secretary of State’s office so they can start gathering petition signatures to put it on the ballot in November 2010.

It’s the latest omen of impending changes in California’s marijuana policy. Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, introduced a bill earlier this year that also would legalize, regulate and tax marijuana for recreational use, initially estimating his bill would raise more $1 billion per year for the state’s beleaguered General Fund; the state Board of Equalization pegged it at about $1.4 billion per year.

And Oakland voters, facing a hefty municipal deficit of their own, last week approved a 15-fold tax increase on the city’s medical marijuana dispensaries, a move that garnered national media attention and could spark similar efforts in other California cities.

(Incidentally, I’ll be moderating a panel discussion – in which Richard Lee will be among the participants – on “Marijuana Economics: The Pros and Cons of California’s Cash Crop” at 6:30 p.m. this Thursday, July 30 at the Commonwealth Club of California, on the second floor of 595 Market St. in San Francisco; tickets cost $12 for club members, $20 for non-members or $7 for students with valid ID, and are available online.)

“The momentum to end decades of failed marijuana prohibition just keeps building,” Stephen Gutwillig, California director for the Drug Policy Alliance, said in a news release today. Although his organization would prefer that such a measure wait until 2012 when support likely will be even greater, “we’d of course like to see it win. There’s simply no denying the intense groundswell for change.”

Lots more on differences between the proposed measure and Ammiano’s bill, and on the political implications of a 2010 vote on this measure, after the jump…
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CD10: Candidate forum set for Aug. 7

The Contra Costa Council and the Bay Area Council, an association of primarily businesses, will host a forum on Aug. 7 for the Democratic and Republican candidates in the Sept. 1 special election to replace former Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher.

The five Democrats and six Republicans who have filed for the seat have been invited to participate.

Under special election rules, the top vote-getter in each party will advance to the Nov. 3 special general election unless one candidate receives 50 percent plus one vote. In the event that a single candidate receives a plurality of the vote, he or she will win the seat outright. But given the large number of candidates in the field, it is unlikely that a winner will emerge in the special primary election.

The forum begins at 7:30 a.m. at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 45 John Glenn Dr. in Concord. Contra Costa Times political writer and columnist Lisa Vorderbrueggen will moderate.

The breakfast forum is open to the public. For reservations, call 925-246-1880 or download the registration form at www.contracostacouncil.com.  The cost is $35 for members and $45 for nonmembers.

Participating candidates will be encouraged to remain after the event to provide additional opportunity to speak with attendees.

Sponsors of the event include Chevron, AAA of No. California, Nevada and Utah, Safeway and The Mechanics Bank.

For a complete list of candidates on the Sept. 1 ballot, read on.

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HalfwaytoConcord says GOP ‘can’t stand’ CCT reporter



I’m shocked, just shocked. A poster over at HalfwaytoConcord.com says the Republicans in Contra Costa County don’t like me and cannot fathom why the party invited me to speak at a GOP bootcamp for candidates on how to manage the media.

Hey, get in line. Lots of people don’t like me.

But I’m okay with that. My husband likes me. My children like me. My grandchildren like me. And my cat likes me … most of the time.


Former GOP spokesman launches ‘cowboy’ blog

Patrick Dorinson

Patrick Dorinson

Former California Republican Party spokesman Patrick Dorinson has started a new blog, the Cowboy Libertarian.

Check it out.

Patrick is a reliable source of common sense — and a sense of humor — at a time when both are in perilously short supply on so many fronts.

Here’s a snippet of what he wrote on Saturday, the National Day of the American Cowboy:

Given where this country finds itself today, we could sure use a few more cowboys.

And there is a little of the cowboy in us all no matter where we hail from.

It is my hope that this blog will reach the cowboy in all of us and during these hard times we can remember that the important things in life are not how many things we acquire, but that we live a good life, take care of our families and remember that fixing this country is our responsibility not the government’s.


Swanson explains his budget votes

I went through the state Legislature’s database today to see how all of our Bay Area lawmakers voted on each of the more than two dozen budget bills passed late last week. It turns out that Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, D-Alameda, voted against at least 14 of the bills, more than anyone else in the region.

It’s not the first time he has bucked his party’s leadership: Swanson was stripped of his Assembly Labor and Employment Committee chairmanship in March after defying Assembly Speaker Karen Bass by voting against parts of the budget-and-special-election package the Big Five had pounded out in February.

Apparently, for Swanson, freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.

“A number of us cast votes that reflected our consciences and our constituencies,” he told me today. “The reason why it (the budget agreement) didn’t sit well with me is that if we’re being honest with the people of California, this was as close to an all-cuts budget in the series of budgets we’ve produced.”

That all-cuts approach is what the Republican caucus wanted, he said, and if they wanted it, they had to be made to vote for it.

“If I cast a vote for something based on the caucus asking me to cast a vote versus my constituency, it allowed a Republican member to hide their real feelings about it. I felt they should own this budget… I’m not giving them any cover on it,” he said. “If they want to raid local counties and cities, they have to vote for it.”

Any Republican proudly proclaiming that he or she didn’t vote to raise taxes as part of this deal is making “a disingenuous statement,” Swanson charged. “What they have done is avoided responsibility for raising fees and taxes and pushed that onto the counties and the cities.”

“There are no free lunches, and there is no way around our taking care of the safety net,” he said – squeeze spending down in one area, and the demand for services will cause a budget bulge somewhere else.

And anyway, he said, “the serious work is still yet to be done” – he’s heard projections that California will have another budget shortfall of as much as $6 billion by January as the economy continues to struggle. “At some point as a Legislature and a governor, we’re going to have to do things to actually fix the structural budget deficit in California.”

Swanson said he believes California, as a “donor state” which sends to the federal government about $50 billion more per year than it gets back, can and will do more to work with the Obama Administration to secure the Golden State’s fair share. But that won’t be a substitute for true reform, he said, and that involves changing the state constitution so a simple legislative majority can approve the budget rather than the two-thirds vote required now.