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Archive for July, 2009

CD10: The campaign-finance filing deadline

Today is a deadline for CD10 candidates to file campaign finance reports with the Federal Election Commission, and in a quick snapshot, Democrat John Garamendi looks like the leader in money raised and cash on hand.

As he’d promised in a news release yesterday, Garamendi filed a report saying his campaign raised $300,463.37 – $271,213.37 from individuals and $29,250 from PACs – from April 1 through June 30, and had $260,144.02 cash on hand at the end of that period (though it also had $54,762.29 in debts yet to pay).

I don’t see his report online yet, but Democrat Mark DeSaulnier issued a news release saying he has raised a total of $211,229 from more than 415 donors and has $136,509 cash on hand. He touted the fact that 70 percent of his contributions to his campaign came from donors within CD10 and Contra Costa County, while only about 5 percent of Garamendi’s contributions come from the district.

Republican David Harmer filed a report saying his campaign raised $175,131.23 in the year’s first half – $162,272.03 from individuals, $10,000 from PACs and $2,859.20 from his own pocket. He reported spending $30,566.68 and having $144,564.55 cash on hand as of June 30 with $16,993.29 in outstanding debts.

Democrat Anthony Woods filed a report saying his campaign raised $104,725.60 in the year’s first half — $101,976 from individuals, $349 from PACs and $2,400 out of his own pocket. He reported spending $39,447.46 and having $65,403.14 cash on hand as of June 30 with only $58.27 in outstanding debts.

I’ll update this post as other candidates’ information rolls in…

UPDATE @ 6:16 P.M.: Here’s DeSaulnier’s report, which matches his news release but also indicates that $156,939 of his contributions came from individuals while $54,290 came from PACs. Also, the report indicates his campaign has $77,130.85 in outstanding debts.

Democrat Joan Buchanan filed a report saying her campaign raised $63,865 from April 1 through June 30 – $50,365 from individuals and $13,500 from PACs – and loaned her own campaign $250,000. But she spent $134,418.75 in the same period, leaving her with $179,289.48 cash on hand as of June 30 with $307,659.38 in outstanding debts.

UPDATE @ 7:28 P.M.: Democrat Adriel Hampton filed a report saying his campaign raised $22,569 in the first half of this year, but only $4,928 came from individual donors and none from PACs; he has put in $17,641.02 from his own pocket. Meanwhile, the campaign spent $22,299.25, leaving $269.77 cash on hand as of June 30 with $346.82 in outstanding debts.

UPDATE @ 7:43 P.M.: A summary of the debt-free cash-on-hand (that is, cash on hand as of June 30 less outstanding debts and obligations):

    Garamendi: $205,381.73
    Harmer: $127,571.26
    Woods: $65,344.87
    DeSaulnier: $59,378.72
    Hampton: minus $77.05
    Buchanan: minus $128,369.90

Posted on Wednesday, July 15th, 2009
Under: 2009 CD10 special election, campaign finance | 16 Comments »

Dems ask FPPC to yank Arnold’s TV ad on budget

California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton has filed a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission asking for an injunction to block Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger from airing a television ad about the state budget crisis.

The ad is being paid for by the governor’s California Dream Team ballot measure committee, but a new FPPC regulation says candidate-controlled committee funds “shall be used only to make expenditures related to a state or local measure or potential measure anticipated by the committee, or to qualification or pre-qualification activities relating to such measures.” (I wrote about this back when Don Perata was moving money from his Leadership California ballot measure committee into his own legal defense fund.) The governor’s ad deals with state budget negotiations, Burton’s complaint says, but not with any ballot measures.

What’s particularly worrisome, Burton wrote in a letter accompanying the complaint, is that Schwarzenegger wrote to the FPPC earlier this year while it was considering the new regulation, asking for a loophole so ballot measure committee funds could still be used for lobbying. “Despite the Commission’s rejection of the Governor’s proposed changes… the Governor has chosen to run the television advertisements,” Burton wrote. “The Commission should take immediate steps to seek an injunction and any other relief it deems necessary and appropriate against the continued broadcast of the above-discussed ad under the Commission’s power as civil prosecutor.”

Balderdash, replies Dream Team spokeswoman Becky Warren.

“The Sacramento interests fighting to increase taxes and spend money we don’t have are fully aware that they have no public support,” she said in an e-mailed statement. “It’s no surprise that they would rather use political tactics in an attempt to get the ad pulled than debate the actual policy of living within our means.”

Again, here’s the ad…

Posted on Wednesday, July 15th, 2009
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, General, state budget | 4 Comments »

Arnold’s privatization plan full of holes, foes say

County social services officials and consumer advocates say Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s eleventh-hour plan to privatize the health and human services eligibility process could be disastrous.

County Welfare Directors Association of California Executive Director Frank Mecca told reporters on a conference call this morning that his group’s members are “really disappointed in the governor and have very serious concerns about his proposal … which we believe will cost the taxpayers a fortune and more importantly is going to harm the most vulnerable, needy people in our state.”

Mecca said the plan seems to have “absolutely no accountability or oversight,” giving the governor’s administration a free pass on competitive bidding, conflict-of-interest and other controls. And while the governor says the plan could save California hundreds of millions of dollars over time, “the governor has never provided an analyis to anyone including the legislature showing a cost-benefit for his proposal,” he said.

The governor’s likening of programs such as MediCal to the already-privatized Health Families Program is “completely flawed, beyond simplistic – to call it apples to oranges is proably to paint it in more favorable light than it deserves,” Mecca said, as MediCal is immensely more complicated.

Celia Hagert, senior policy analyst at the Center for Public Policy Priorities in Austin, Tex., said from what she’s seen of Schwarzenegger’s plan, there are “striking similarities between it and what was attempted in Texas… which would make me very nervous if I were a California policy maker.”

Texas in 2007 dissolved an $899 million contract with Accenture Ltd. that called for the company to run an integrated eligibility determination system for the state’s health and welfare programs. That system’s January 2006 rollout in two Texas counties had been “an immediate disaster” with thousands of children kicked off their health care, a huge food-stamp application backlogged and long wait times and many abandoned calls for those seeking aid, Hagert said. Texas is still recovering from the debacle, she said: “It’s a high price to pay, and very difficult to make up for mistakes once they’re made.”

A similar story is still unfolding in Indiana, where the initial rollout “has been riddled with so many problems that the state hasn’t been able to justify rolling it out in other areas,” said Stacy Dean of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, D.C. Yet Schwarzenegger seems eager to relive the Texas and Indiana experiences, she said: “Unfortunately, I fear that it’s ‘Groundhog Day’ in California.”

Elizabeth Landsberg, a legislative advocate for the Western Center on Poverty & Law, said it’s “terrifying” to think that could happen here. “We’re not scared of modernization and we’re not scared of automation, but we need to do it right” rather than in last-minute, closed-door Big Five budget negotiations, she said, especially when 7 million Californians’ due process and privacy rights, not to mention their health and food, are at stake.

San Luis Obispo County Social Services Department Director Lee Collins said his county has one of the state’s highest work participation rates for people in the CalWorks welfare program because his staff starts helping people find work as soon as they begin the application process – something that will be lost if that process is privatized and automated. “These online eligibility programs really kind of hook them into public assistance and keep them there and don’t allow us to work with them as easily to achieve self-sufficiency,” Collins said, citing a case in which a $400 car repair helped keep one family from entering the CalWorks system for a lengthy stay.

“California has a bad enough track record in automation … We don’t need another Oracle,” he said, referring to the state’s 2002 cancellation of a $95 million contact with software maker Oracle after a state audit found it would cost the state an extra $41 million over time rather than save it $100 million as some had claimed.

Replied Schwarzenegger press secretary Aaron McLear: “This is another example of defenders of the status quo fighting against reform and against Sacramento living within its means. It is clear these individuals have no understanding of our proposal or the reforms that are necessary to end the fraud and abuse in these programs.”

Posted on Wednesday, July 15th, 2009
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, state budget | 4 Comments »

What they said about the health care reform bill

So, yesterday in our nation’s capital, chairmen of the three House Committees with jurisdiction over health policy introduced comprehensive health care reform legislation that they say will reduce out-of-control costs, encourage competition among insurance plans to improve choices for patients, and expand access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans. Here’s what some of our voices in Congress had to say about it:

House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Martinez:

“American families cannot afford for Washington to say ‘no’ once again to comprehensive health care reform. We are proud to introduce legislation that meets the goals articulated by President Obama – to lower costs, preserve choice, and expand access to quality, affordable health care – while strengthening our economic and fiscal health. We will continue to work with our colleagues in the weeks ahead to deliver the fundamental reforms that the American people want, need and deserve.”

House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Pete Stark, D-Fremont:

“I am proud to join with my colleagues to introduce America’s Affordable Health Choices Act. This bill meets President Obama’s call for health reform that provides coverage for all, promotes delivery system reforms, and controls costs. Our committee will begin markup this week and have a bill for members to approve before the August recess.”

Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Barbara Lee, D-Oakland:

“The introduction of the bill is a positive step towards comprehensive health reform. I am extremely encouraged by the inclusion of a robust public health option, the expansion of prevention and wellness services and programming to better identify and address health disparities.
“Healthcare reform has never been more urgently needed than right now. I applaud President Obama, and our House and Senate leadership for their diligent work on this issue and I look forward to working together with them to pass this much needed legislation.”

House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio:

“During a deep economic recession, it is criminal malpractice for Democrats to push a government takeover of health care and a new small business tax that will destroy more American jobs. After the Democrats’ trillion-dollar ‘stimulus’ did not fulfill the Administration’s promises to create jobs immediately, a small business tax will make matters worse for middle-class Americans looking for real solutions to help put them back to work and give them better access to quality health care. Washington cannot afford to make the same mistake now that Democrats made earlier this year on the ‘stimulus.’
“House Republicans have offered a better health care alternative that will reduce costs, expand access, and let Americans who like their plans keep them – all without a job-killing small business tax. The House Democrats’ proposal will force more than 100 million Americans off their current health care plans and move millions of seniors, particularly in rural areas, out of their current coverage and onto the government rolls as a result of deep Medicare cuts. Middle-class families, small businesses, and senior citizens deserve better than what House Democrats have offered. If Democrats are serious about real job creation and true health care reform, they’ll scrap this government takeover and work with Republicans on a plan that helps small businesses create jobs and gives Americans better access to quality care.”

Posted on Wednesday, July 15th, 2009
Under: Barbara Lee, General, George Miller, healthcare reform, John Boehner, Pete Stark, U.S. House | 8 Comments »

CD10: Money+endorsements+infighting = politics

Your daily roundup, full of sound and fury, signfying… well, you’ll decide for yourself:

Democrat John Garamendi says his campaign finance report due tomorrow will show he raised $300,000 for the CD10 race from more than 350 donors in just a month and a half of campaigning, leaving him with $250,000 cash on hand ready to spend. “Our strong financial position reflects what my supporters have always known: I will never waver from the goals of creating quality sustainable jobs, demanding broad health care access, defending seniors, standing up for students, and fighting for working families,” Garamendi said in his news release.

Republican David Harmer announced today he has picked up the support of San Ramon Mayor Abram Wilson, who’s plotting his own rematch with Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan in 2010. “Ending irresponsible congressional spending will be at the top of David’s agenda,” Wilson said in Harmer’s news release. “David’s business experience and grasp of the issues will be invaluable in Congress.”

Democrat Mark DeSaulnier today rolled out endorsements from all members of the Pleasant Hill City Council: Mayor Dr. Michael Harris, Vice Mayor Karen Mitchoff, and councilmembers David Durant, John Hanecak and Terri Williamson. Said Mitchoff, in DeSaulnier’s news release: “Mark will bring his real world experience working and representing the people of Pleasant Hill and the district to Congress. He is a problem-solver and a coalition-builder, and will work to bring about universal healthcare and economic reform.”

And, regarding what I wrote yesterday about internecine battles within the Contra Costa Republican Party over who to support and how, county GOP chairman Greg Poulos took time out from a family event (congratulations!) to call and tell me “the CCRP is not and has not endorsed anyone for CD10. We have certain individual members who have their individual preferences and have expressed them, which is not contrary to our bylaws.”

“Many of those who are claiming that we have (endorsed) know for a fact that we haven’t,” he added, then chalked it up to “ignorance on the part of some and sheer mischief-making on the part of others.”

Posted on Tuesday, July 14th, 2009
Under: 2009 CD10 special election, campaign finance, General, John Garamendi, Mark DeSaulnier, Republican Party, U.S. House | 3 Comments »

No contempt-of-court ruling in IHSS cuts lawsuit

A federal judge in Oakland isn’t holding Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and other state officials in contempt of court, but she is telling them exactly how to deal with her ruling that In-Home Supportive Services workers’ wages can’t be cut as the state had planned.

The governor and Legislature had agreed that the state’s share of IHSS providers’ wages – funded through a mix of federal, state and county funds – effective July 1 should be based on a $9.50 per hour maximum; providers in Alameda and Contra Costa County currently get $11.50 per hour. State officials said the IHSS reduction will save the state $98.1 million in the coming fiscal year.

U.S. District Claudia Wilken last month granted a preliminary injunction to the Service Employees International Union – which along with IHSS clients from around the state had sued to stop the July 1 salary cut for many of the state’s 400,000 IHSS workers — ruling the state can’t make the cut without first analyzing its impact on the efficiency, economy, quality and accessibility of care.

The SEIU filed papers last week saying the state is “refusing to permit counties that want to maintain their pre-July 1, 2009 wage rates to do so, and are telling such counties that the lower wage rate, based on the implementation of the statute this Court enjoined, will remain in effect for at least 60 days, over the counties’ objections.” The union wanted Wilken to hold the state in contempt of court and fine it $500,000 a day; the state basically said it was an accounting problem caused by Wilken’s injunction coming too late to immediately reprogram the state’s payment system.

“While the Court does not find State Defendants in contempt of the Court’s preliminary injunction order, their manner of compliance has not carried out the intent of the order. Apparently, the Court’s order was not sufficiently specific,” Wilken wrote in her order Monday.

The new order and an amended preliminary injunction command the state – by the close of business today – to rescind its approval of all county rate reduction requests submitted after Feb. 20, and to reinstate the pre-July 1 rates. The state must notify all affected counties today, and tell those counties it will pay 65 percent of the non-federal share of the pre-July 1 rate up to $12.10 for hours worked on or after that date. A copy of the court’s order must be sent to the counties as well.

Posted on Tuesday, July 14th, 2009
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, General, state budget | Comments Off

CD10: Vets for Woods, GOP infighting

Lisa is off enjoying a well-deserved vacation week, so I’ll be serving up your CD-10 news. Here are today’s tasty nuggets:

The VoteVets.org PAC, which describes itself as “the largest progressive group of veterans in America,” threw its endorsement and a promise of campaign money today to Democrat Anthony Woods, himself an Iraq veteran discharged from the Army after challenging the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. “Anthony is fresh, eager, and has an incredible track record of service,” VoteVets.org chairman Jon Soltz said in the news release. “His military record is incredibly impressive. And, he’ll bring vigorous leadership to Congress that will benefit his district. We urge voters in his district to send him to Congress.”

Democrat Mark DeSaulnier opened his campaign headquarters yesterday in Walnut Creek, and then had dozens of volunteers precinct-walking and phone-banking afterward. Amond those present at the grand opening: Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, Concord Mayor Laura Hoffmeister, Walnut Creek City Councilmember Kish Rajan and Contra Costa County Democratic Chair Chuck Carpenter.

Former Lafayette Mayor Scott Talan, a former television journalist who now is the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration’s communications director, says he’s getting “close to the final decision” on whether to move back from Washington, D.C. and run as a nonpartisan candidate.

And last but messiest, lest anyone think love and harmony really are breaking out at the Contra Costa Republican Party, the Halfway to Concord blog has e-mail correspondence from county committeeman Ted Hudacko of Richmond complaining that county GOP general counsel Steve Sonaty violated the state’s Election Code and the state GOP’s bylaws by urging the county GOP to rally behind one particular Republican in this special election, David Harmer. I’ve put out e-mails seeking comment from all the GOP candidates who’ve filed or declared candidacy: Harmer; David Peterson, John Toth, Chris Bunch and Gary Clift. Clift said he doesn’t know all the facts, but “it would be unfortunate if the Republican Central Committee was intentionaly breaking the law. This would only serve to further alienate our constituents and disenfranchise more voters from this important election.” For my own part, this smells like a county GOP internecine feud that has far less to do with Harmer himself — as Halfway to Concord’s headline implies — than with an effort to badmouth Harmer endorser and (Del Beccaro says he hasn’t endorsed Harmer; that’s my mistake, and I apologize) county and state GOP bigwig Tom Del Beccaro and those aligned with him. In fact, I’m in possession of another part of that same e-mail string in which Sonaty says his comments weren’t made in his capacity as legal counsel, but rather “as an elected member of the central committee in response to an e-mail sent to all members. I have one vote, and a right to state my personal opinion on issues presented to the committee, just as we all do.”

UPDATE @ 9:50 A.M. TUESDAY: Fairfield construction business owner Chris Bunch said the Alameda, Solano and Sacramento county GOP committees gave his CD10 candidacy a warm welcome, but things got icy at the Contra Costa County line. “My experience has been that the Contra Costa GOP has literally blocked my ability to come present myself as a candidate and by doing so has disabled me from getting Contra Costa support,” he told me this morning.

Bunch said he tried to make inroads as early as April, speaking with Contra Costa GOP executive director Michael Caporusso – who now works on Harmer’s campaign. The response, Bunch said, essentially was “don’t call us, we’ll call you” – and they didn’t.

“It’s disturbing, it is a violation of the Republican party bylaws, it is a violation of California election law,” Bunch alleged, but the state generally doesn’t enforce such things so it’s up to private citizens to file civil lawsuits – something he’d rather not get bogged down in while trying to run a campaign.

“It’s very unfortunate. There is obviously an implication of some if not illegal then unethical actions, and I don’t believe that’s what Republican voters are looking for,” he said, adding voters want “something to give them faith again that the Republican Party is going to stand up for the principles it originally professed … This kind of thing only serves to disincentive them.”

“Whoever wins this primary, I’ll be out there trying to help him win the district, and hopefully when I win they’ll be doing the same thing,” Bunch said.

UPDATE @ 12:06 P.M. TUESDAY: All of the CD10 Republican candidates are invited to the Contra Costa GOP’s forum at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 30 at 1706 Countrywood Court in Walnut Creek; guests inclined to attend should RSVP by July 24th 925-930-9551 or gpoulos@sbcglobal.net. Each candidate will be allowed a five-minute statement, and then there’ll be a 15-minute open Q-and-A period.

Posted on Monday, July 13th, 2009
Under: 2009 CD10 special election | 6 Comments »

Arnold’s new television ad on the budget

A new ad, paid for by Gov. Schwarzenegger’s California Dream Team ballot measure committee, hits the airwaves across California tomorrow, featuring the governor calling for a balanced budget that cuts wasteful government spending and doesn’t raise taxes:

To go with it, the governor today launched a new campaign-style Web site, www.StandForCA.com, to get his message out.

Don’t worry, he can afford it. Campaign finance records show the Dream Team committee has taken in almost $12.9 million in late-reported or $5,000+ contributions since the start of 2009, while the related Budget Reform Now committee raked in about $15.7 million. Sure most of that went to the May special election’s failed measures, but there’ve been some notable contributions since then too.

Meanwhile, SEIU Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker sent the governor a scathing letter Friday, accusing him of breaking his word by protecting corporations and the rich while scapegoating state workers for California’s financial woes. The union says the governor hasn’t responded yet. I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Read a transcript of the governor’s ad, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, July 13th, 2009
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, state budget | 3 Comments »

DiFi’s remarks at the Sotomayor hearing

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., praised U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor’s “deep and broad experience in the law” during opening remarks delivered at today’s Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing.

Read her remarks in their entirety, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, July 13th, 2009
Under: Dianne Feinstein, General, U.S. Senate | 1 Comment »

Bringing cojones to Capitol Hill

The Western Business Roundtable – a trade group working “for a common sense, balanced approach to economic development and environmental conservation,” according to its Web site, backed mostly by energy companies – says it plans to bring some cojones to Capitol Hill this week.

And it’s not a figure of speech. The group is holding its annual “Taste of the West” event this Thursday in the Rayburn House Office Building for members of Congress, their staff and Washington media this week, and the signature snack is Rocky Mountain oysters. “The Western delicacy, alternatively known as ‘cowboy caviar,’ ‘Montana tendergroins’ or ‘calf fries,’ are bull testicles that are most often butterflied, breaded and deep fried and served with a variety of dipping sauces,” the group’s news release describes.

(“Montana tendergroins.” Just had to write that once more.)

“We’ve been doing a Taste of the West event in D.C. for years now, and I can tell you that the Rocky Mountain oysters are the first dish that runs out each year,” said Roundtable President and CEO Jim Sims. “Hill staff love them, although I’m not certain that everyone knows the dish’s derivation. A number of Members of Congress from the West come by early just to make sure they can grab some before they are gone.”

“I can’t say that I have seen many news media folks try them, but hope springs eternal in the quest to better educate folks in the Beltway media crowd about life outside the Beltway.”

For the record, I’ve never worked inside the Beltway, and I’ll stick to the fried calamari, thanks.

Anyway, the “Taste of the West” reception will happen after the Roundtable’s day-long “Capitol Hill CleanTech Expo 09,” sponsored by the Roundtable and the NextGen Energy Council (of which Sims is also founder and senior advisor, and which shares an office with the Roundtable).

So apparently it takes a lot of cojones to shill for coal in Washington right now.

Posted on Monday, July 13th, 2009
Under: energy, Environment, General, U.S. House | 3 Comments »