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Archive for July, 2009

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.

Posted on Monday, July 27th, 2009
Under: Republican politics | No Comments »

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.

Posted on Monday, July 27th, 2009
Under: Assembly, Sandre Swanson, state budget | 7 Comments »

PG&E antes up to oppose local energy choice

San Francisco-based PG&E got locked and loaded for its latest ballot measure Friday, putting $750,000 into the “Californians to Protect Our Right to Vote” committee.

The “Taxpayers Right to Vote Act” would require local governments to obtain the approval of two-thirds of their voters before providing electricity to new customers or expanding such service to new territories if any public funds or bonds are involved, or before providing electricity through a community choice program if any public funds or bonds are involved.

Critics say PG&E is playing on populist themes in order to block local governments from abandoning the utility giant in favor of power contracts with smaller, greener energy producers – a movement that’s been gaining steam in recent years.

The proponents have until Dec. 21 to gather the 694,354 signatures needed to place this on the ballot next year. $750,000 ain’t chump change by any stretch of the imagination, but watch for PG&E to spend a whole lot more that that on this measure as time goes by.

Posted on Monday, July 27th, 2009
Under: 2010 election, ballot measures, campaign finance, energy | 14 Comments »

CD10: DeSaulnier releases first TV ad of campaign

Democrat state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier has released the first television ad of the 10th Congressional District campaign. (Watch below.)

The warm and fuzzy ad focuses on health care. DeSaulnier promises to work with President Obama to make health insurance affordable and accessible to everyone and lower costs to small businesses.

DeSaulnier campaign manager Katie Merrill says the ad will start running on cable throughout District 10 starting tomorrow.

She described the cost of the buy as “robust.” We’ll have to wait until the next Federal Election Commission filing date to learn the precise dollar amount.

Read more for the DeSaulnier press release and a text of the ad.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, July 27th, 2009
Under: 2009 CD10 special election, Congressional District 10 | 14 Comments »

CD10: Williamson steps off stage but still in the wings

Marianne Williamson

Marianne Williamson

After numerous local appearances that spawned considerable speculation, New York Times best-selling author and Oprah spiritual adviser Marianne Williamson of Hollywood says she will not run in the Sept. 1 Congressional District 10 special election.

In a note to her supporters this afternoon, Williamson said she felt there was not enough time to wage a successful campaign. But don’t remove her from your candidate lists just yet; she also says she will retain her exploratory committee with the idea that she could run for the seat in the regularly scheduled 2010 election. (FYI, the individual who wins the special election this year will have to immediately turn around and run for re-election in the regularly scheduled June 2010 election.)

Williamson sent out this note to her supporters this afternoon:

Dear Friends,

Over the last few weeks, I explored the idea of running in District 10’s special Congressional election.

I can honestly say this was one of the most moving experiences of my life.

I’ve become convinced, as never before, that America is ready for a new kind of politics – a “whole person” politics that calls on more than a narrow swathe of left brain thinking…that inspires our wisdom, our love, and most particularly our vital participation. I have witnessed what I see as the awakening spirit of American democracy, as person after person has relayed to me their hope — after sometimes never having thought it possible — that politics could be something authentic and truly meaningful in their lives.

In the final analysis, I didn’t feel that in the time left before the election I could wage a campaign worthy of the energy people were willing to put into it. While I am therefore not a candidate in the special election, I am retaining my Exploratory Committee status with an eye toward the regularly scheduled mid-term elections in 2010.

I have truly enjoyed being with you, and look forward to a deep and lasting relationship to your community. The word “politics” comes from a Latin root that means “of the people.” The politics that matters most is the connection we have among ourselves, and I hope to experience that connection in various ways in the months to come. I will not forget the kindness and support that you extended to me over the last few weeks.
With gratitude and all best wishes,

Marianne Williamson

Posted on Friday, July 24th, 2009
Under: 2009 CD10 special election | No Comments »

Tom Campbell doesn’t always toe GOP party line

Though Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Campbell, while speaking at a business luncheon today in Berkeley, opened with the tried-and-true conservative tenet that “we ought not spend more than we have,” he described several of his policy stances that are blasphemous to much of the GOP base.

(1.) He repeated his call for a one-year, 10 percent hike in the state gas tax, a move he said would’ve obviated the need for deep education cuts and the state’s current plan to raid county and city coffers. Even with the tax hike, he said, Californians would still be paying far less for gas than they did last summer, and wouldn’t be mortgaging their kids’ education and their local services while doing so.

(2.) He said he favors stem-cell research, although he would’ve preferred that 2004’s Proposition 71 – which authorized California to sell $3 billion in bonds and pay out nearly $300 million a year for a decade to researchers for human embryonic stem-cell experiments – had a more solid fiscal plan for covering its own costs.

(3.) He talked about limiting the initiative process, so that all ballot measures requiring increased state spending gain the Legislative Analyst’s certification that there’s a proven way to pay for it built in.

(4.) If someone promises merely to root out “waste, fraud and abuse” as the centerpiece of his or her fiscal policy, “run from that candidate,” Campbell advised – that’s vague and rarely produces the touted savings, he said.

(5.) He questioned the wisdom of California’s legislative term limits, saying they prevent lawmakers from gaining the kind of experience and building the trusting relationships that allow for wise, balanced policy-making.

Add to that the facts that Campbell is pro-choice, pro-gay-rights and pro-gun-control (none of which came up in today’s fiscal lecture and discussion) and you’ve got a candidate who could conceivably fare well in a general election, but probably has a tough row to hoe in the GOP primary.

Posted on Thursday, July 23rd, 2009
Under: 2010 governor's race, Tom Campbell | 8 Comments »

Lawmakers’ plea for NUMMI goes unheeded

California’s U.S. Senators, joined by much of the Bay Area’s House delegation, wrote to Toyota today to forestall closure of the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI) plant in Fremont, but apparently it’s too little, too late.

NUMMI is a joint venture between General Motors and Toyota; GM announced last month it will withdraw, and Toyota has been considering doing the same. The plant’s closure would cost 4,500 California jobs directly, and an estimated 35,000 or more indirectly.

The lawmakers wrote to Toyota Corp. President Akio Toyoda to emphasize NUMMI’s importance to California’s economy and to offer to work with Toyota to keep the plant open. Also, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., reports she recently spoke on the phone with Toyota Motor America President Yoshimi Inaba about her willingness to help find solutions to keep the plant in operation’ other California lawmakers have talked to company officials as well.

But even as the lawmakers announced their effort, media began reporting Toyota’s decision to pull out of the venture and close the plant.

UPDATE @ 5:11 P.M.: Never say die, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office insists. The governor has talked with and written to the Toyota execs, too, and has formed a “Red Team” of stakeholders to work on keeping the plant open. “The Schwarzenegger Administration is actively engaged with NUMMI’s partners, Toyota, federal officials, local officials, labor, suppliers and other stakeholders to work together to ensure the future success of the facility,” David Crane, the Governor’s special advisor for jobs and economic growth, said in a release. “Our office will continue to respect Toyota’s wishes to keep discussions private as we work together to determine the best path for ensuring NUMMI’s continued operations in Fremont.”

See the letter, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, July 23rd, 2009
Under: Barbara Boxer, Barbara Lee, Dennis Cardoza, Dianne Feinstein, George Miller, Jackie Speier, Jerry McNerney, Mike Honda, Pete Stark, U.S. House, U.S. Senate, Zoe Lofgren | 19 Comments »

EMILY’s List endorses Buchanan

Joan Buchanan

Joan Buchanan

EMILY’s List, the largest national advocacy and fundraising organization for pro-choice women running for political office, has endorsed Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, in the 10th Congressional District race.

The endorsement is not entirely a surprise as Buchanan is the only woman in the field of five Democrats seeking to replace Ellen Tauscher, who was appointed earlier this year as Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security.

But Buchanan’s EMILY’s List endorsement was not a slam dunk. Some local EMILY’s List activists support other Democrats on the tickets.

Tauscher, who was both a recipient of EMILY’s List largesse and a huge supporter of its successful program, has endorsed state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier. So have a number of other local elected women including Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto,  state Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley and Orinda Councilwoman Amy Worth. These women DeSaulnier has a strong record on women’s issues.

Unlike a typical endorsement which may bring with it a few votes or a headline, EMILY’s List support translates into cash. “EMILY” stands for Early Money Is Like Yeast, meaning that cash helps women candidates grow the financial wherewithal to run successful campaigns.

Read more for the full statement from EMILY’s List:

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, July 23rd, 2009
Under: 2009 CD10 special election, Congressional District 10 | 18 Comments »

Lawmakers should read bills, not smoke crack

For a glimpse of how many Californians seem to feel about our state’s elected officials these days, take a look at some of the proposed ballot measures now being circulated for petition signatures.

Bradley Philip Morisoli, president of a Livermore construction company, is circulating a proposed constitutional amendment providing that the Governor and Legislature would be automatically removed from office if the Legislature fails to approve a budget by June 15 or if the governor fails to sign a budget by June 30; it also requires that a quarter of their salaries be withheld until a budget is completed for the following fiscal year. Anyone removed from office under this measure would be barred from being elected or appointed to state office for the following two years. Morisoli has until next Monday, July 27 to submit 694,354 petition signatures, but he told me today the prognosis “is pretty much terminal.” He had put up a Web site in hope that some like-minded, deep-pocketed patron would step forward to pay for signature collectors, but nobody ever did. “I’m sure it caught the interest of the Legislature and the Governor there for a while,” he said. “There needs to be some accountability for these guys.”

Gabriella Holt, who unsuccessfully sought the 54th Assembly District seat last year, is the proponent of a proposed constitutional amendment to reduce the Legislature – full-time since 1966 – to a part-time basis. The Legislature would be in session no more than 95 days per year, convening in early January for up to 30 days and again in early May for up to 60 days; it could reconvene for up to five additional days to reconsider bills vetoed by the governor. Holt has until Dec. 7 to gather 694,354 petition signatures; learn more about it here.

Internet entrepreneur Jerrol LeBaron of Tujunga (Los Angeles County) is circulating a proposed constitutional amendment that would prohibit state lawmakers from voting on a bill until they’ve certified under penalty of perjury that they’ve read and understood it; they’d also have to swear they haven’t received a bribe or engaged in illegal vote swapping. He has until Dec. 14 to file his 694,354 signatures. Learn more about it here.

And, my personal favorite: Dorothy Cummings and Gary Ellis of Lake Arrowhead (San Bernardino County) are circulating a proposed statute requiring that all state lawmakers on the first day of each regular legislative session be tested for drug and alcohol use, and be forced into rehab if they’re using (medical marijuana excepted); a second positive test after rehab would lead to forfeiture of the lawmaker’s office. We’ll see if they can get 433,971 signatures by Dec. 10 from people who believe this year’s budget process was unduly affected by lawmakers being whacked out of their gourds.

Posted on Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009
Under: Assembly, ballot measures, California State Senate | 2 Comments »

Pittsburg slams “Big Five” as thieves

Check out this sign at City Hall in Pittsburg. It’s a reaction to the proposal by top state lawmakers to divert gas tax money from cities and counties to help close the $26 billion budget deficit.

Pittsburg and other cities will lose millions of dollars for their road maintenance programs if the Legislature adopts the cuts. Something tells me that City Manager Marc Grisham had a hand in making this sign. I’m told that around City Hall, they refer to the “Big Five” as the “Gang of Five.”

Posted on Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009
Under: Contra Costa politics | No Comments »