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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.

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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.”

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Pinole councilwoman resigns

Mary Horton

Mary Horton

Pinole Councilwoman Mary Horton has resigned after 20 years on the council. Click here to see my colleague Tom Lochner’s story.

As Tom wrote, “Horton’s tenure on the council was “sometimes collegial, sometimes not. She and former Councilwoman Maria Alegria became bitter opponents when Horton backed Laura Canciamilla in the 2006 Democratic primary campaign for state Assembly while Alegria backed Mark DeSaulnier, the eventual winner.In the 2006 council race, Alegria backed newcomer Stephen Tilton over Horton, who barely held on to her seat, finishing third behind Tilton in a four-candidate race for three seats.

Horton supported the recall of Alegria and Tilton in 2008 over their friendship with a restaurateur who owed the city money, among other issues.”

The council can choose to appoint someone to fill the remaining year of her term or call a special election. I bet on an appointment given the high cost of special elections.

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CC Registrar Weir delivers ‘Karnak’ routine

Contra Costa County Registrar of Voters Steve Weir put on his famous (infamous?) Karnak hat this morning at a joint conference of the Contra Costa chambers of commerce at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Concord.

Carson used to bring down the house with his routine, where he first gave the audience the answer and then ripped open an envelope to produce the question. Does Weir match up? Watch and decide for yourself.

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CIA, other agencies sued for misconduct records

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based digital civil liberties group, today sued the Central Intelligence Agnecy and half a dozen other federal intelligence-gathering agencies, demanding the release of reports on potential misconduct since 2001 that might’ve been unlawful or contrary to presidential order.

“By executive order, federal intelligence agencies must submit concerns about potentially illegal activity to the Intelligence Oversight Board and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence,” EFF Open Government Legal Fellow Nate Cardozo said in a news release. “Intelligence agencies are given a wide berth for national security reasons, but at a minimum they’re required to act within the limits of the law. These records hold important details about how well the Executive Branch’s internal checks operate.”

Members of the Intelligence Oversight Board are appointed by the president to advise on intelligence matters. Until last year, all intelligence agencies had to report to the board “any intelligence activities of their organizations that they have reason to believe may be unlawful or contrary to Executive order or Presidential directive.” The board was tasked with reviewing and summarizing those reports, and forwarding to the president those that it believed described legal violations. Last year, however, President Bush reassigned many of these responsibilities, including reviewing agency reports, to the Director of National Intelligence.

Now, with media reporting that the CIA didn’t tell Congress about a plan to train anti-terrorist assassin teams, transparency is key, EFF claims. Lawmakers are accusing the CIA of deliberately misleading Congress and demanding an investigation; reports the agencies sent to the Intelligence Oversight Board could shed light on what really happened.

Besides the CIA, EFF’s lawsuit names as defendants the Department of Homeland Security, the National Security Agency, the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice (including the FBI), the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Department of Energy, and the Department of State – none of which responded to EFF’s requests for the information under the Freedom of Information Act.

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CD10: Lawsuit, smack talk and other stuff

Here are some tidbits that crossed my desk today in the special election in the 10th Congressional District to replace Ellen Tauscher.

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ALAMO RESIDENT Jeffrey Gerlach has filed suit in the California Supreme Court against Contra Costa County and the Secretary of State over the nearly impossible deadline to submit signatures in lieu of paying a filing fee in order to become a  nonpartisan candidate in the 10th Congressional District special election.

Gerlach has a point. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called the election on July 3. But due egally mandated election timeline under the truncated special election schedule, the deadline was July 6 — just three days later and during the July 4 holiday weekend — to file 3,000 signatures of registered voters instead of paying the $1,740 filing fee.  During a standard election cycle, individuals have several months to gather and submit signatures in lieu of a filing fee.

That’s not much time. Gerlach wants the Supreme Court to order the county and the state to accept his signatures in lieu of the filing fee and place his name on the Nov. 3 special general election ballot. The special primary will be held Sept. 1.

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Richmond Councilman Tom Butt talked smack today about CD10 candidate and Lt. Governor John Garamendi in the city leader’s widely disseminated email bulletin:

Lt. Gov. John Garamendi

Lt. Gov. John Garamendi

“Richmond residents should remember that Garamendi is one of three members of the California State Lands Commission who, despite pleas from hundreds of Richmond residents and the entire City Council, voted against requiring Chevron to pay for the Bay Trail gap as a condition for renewing the Chevron Long Wharf lease.

“The Lt Governor’s questions indicated that he thought the City of Richmond and East Bay Regional Park District should fund the entire $13 million cost themselves.  Chevron’s lobbyists had been very effective in teaching Commissioners the ABC’s, i.e. Anywhere But Chevron as a source of funds for closing the trail gap.  The Commission’s priority was getting Chevron’s money now for the state’s general fund.”

“Garamendi is no friend of Richmond. He sucks up to big business and is insensitive to the needs of cities. No one in Richmond, or anywhere else for that matter, should vote to send him to Congress.”

Uh, Tom, in case you didn’t know, Richmond is not in the 10th District and its residents cannot vote for Garamendi anyway.

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David Harmer

David Harmer

Republican candidate David Harmer will open his new campaign headquarters on Aug. 1 at 500 Ygnacio, Suite 360, in Walnut Creek. Join him at 9 a.m. for a rally followed by precinct walking. Call Chris Del Beccaro to RSVP at 206-963-3026 or email chris@harmerforcongress.com.

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Democrat and new media guru Adriel Hampton has launched a new website called http://adriel.nationbuilder.com/.

On the site, Hampton says, individuals set their own list of priorities, and they are all added up into one list and tracked like the Nielsen TV ratings or the Billboard music charts.

Adriel Hampton

Adriel Hampton

“On the new site, citizens have already added priorities such as civil marriage equality and local sourcing of aid to developing nations,” Hampton said. “Popular topics include ending the Drug War, fighting for single-payer health care, and providing federal funding for class-size reduction.”

NationBuilder is modeled after the technology behind WhiteHouse2.org, which allows people to send their ideas and views to President Barack Obama.  The open source NationBuilder platform is available in beta for any campaign, business or non-profit, Hampton says.

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Democrat Anthony Woods will host in Fairfield on Thursday the first of a series of town hall meetings to discuss his candidacy and hear from voters. It will be held at 2500 North Texas St. from 7-8:30 p.m. More forums will follow throughout the district. To RSVP, call 707-419-4553.

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Joan Buchanan

Joan Buchanan

DEMOCRAT AND ASSEMBLYWOMAN JOAN BUCHANAN will launch her blog this week on her website, where she says she will focus on the needs of the region’s small business owners and operators. She also announced that she will also continue her small business tour next with tops in Livermore, Dixon and Fairfield. Check her website for details.

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