Cops’ endorsements, money flow Torrico’s way

Assembly Majority Leader and Democratic candidate for state Attorney General Alberto Torrico of Newark announced today that the Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC) voted Saturday to endorse him.

PORAC, a federation of local, state and federal law enforcement associations, claims about 62,000 members statewide. In Torrico’s news release, PORAC President Ron Cottingham said Torrico “has made protecting the public his top priority. He is the best choice for California’s top law enforcement official.” Said Torrico: “I can think of no more important backing than the support of front-line law enforcement personnel.”

I don’t usually spend much time noting endorsements here — and I hear Torrico has hit PORAC chapter meetings around the state in the run-up to this endorsement, so it’s not so surprising — but this one might indicate a trend in the race between Torrico and another Bay Area Democrat who wants to be state Attorney General, San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris. In money and endorsements, law enforcement seems to be gravitating more toward Torrico – a labor lawyer turned elected politico – than toward Harris, a career prosecutor.

Torrico reported raising almost $992,000 in the year’s first half – including $610,000 transferred from his other campaign committees – and having more than $910,000 on hand as of June 30; it doesn’t look as if he’s done much big-ticket ($5,000 and up) fundraising since then. Torrico’s money seems to come from a wide array of business, labor and gaming – both Indian and non-Indian – gaming interests, as well as at least $28,000 from at least 10 California law enforcement PACs. Besides PORAC, a few law enforcement organizations are listed on his Web site as endorsements, too.

Harris – tapping into some of the same donors she’d helped wrangle last year for Barack Obama (note the Obama-esque logo at the top of her home page) – reported raising $1.2 million in the year’s first half and having almost $752,000 on hand as of June 30; it looks as if she has banked $142,500 in big-ticket donations since then, including some from Hollywood notables such as Steven Spielberg and Rob Reiner. Harris’ contributions seem heavy on well-heeled individuals, as opposed to businesses or unions, but I see no contributions from law enforcement organizations (though I notice her former boss, now-former Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff, anted up $500). I also see no law enforcement organizations among the endorsements listed on her Web site.

Harris has taken heat from law enforcement in her own back yard for her refusal to seek the death penalty in cases including a cop killer in 2004 to – earlier this month – an illegal immigrant gang member accused of killing three.

But Harris campaign manager Brian Brokaw didn’t seem worried this afternoon, noting his candidate “is proud to have earned the support of law enforcement leaders across the state, from San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne in the south to the San Francisco Sheriff Michael Hennsessey, East Palo Alto Chief Ron Davis, and the San Francisco Officers for Justice POA here in her own backyard. When California voters go to the polls to elect our next Attorney General, they’ll favor a career prosecutor who has spent her entire professional life in a courtroom.”

Do law enforcement endorsements and contributions have much impact on how people vote, even in the race to be California’s “top cop?” Time will tell.

More on how law enforcement is or isn’t backing four other Democrats in the AG’s race, after the jump…
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Ex state ed official to run U.S. border security

Alan Bersin – the former federal prosecutor turned education administrator who did a stint as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Secretary of Education – will be nominated to serve as U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said today.

Bersin, 63, already has been serving in the Obama Administration as Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for International Affairs and Special Representative for Border Affairs — what some have called the “Border Czar.”

“Under Alan’s leadership over the past several months, we have forged new international and domestic partnerships along our borders to strengthen security,” Napolitano said in a news release. “I look forward to continuing to work with Alan in his new position, where he will lead the Department’s efforts to implement practical, innovative solutions to protect our country from threats to our national and economic security and facilitate legitimate travel and trade.”

As CBP Commissioner, Bersin will lead the Department of Homeland Security’s efforts to secure America’s borders while overseeing enforcement of immigration, customs and drug laws. CBP has more than 57,000 employees working to secure U.S. land and maritime borders.

Before joining the Obama Administration in April, Bersin — a Democrat and a Brooklyn native — was chairman of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, appointed in December 2006. Earlier, he was Schwarzenegger’s Secretary of Education in 2005-06; superintendent of the nation’s eighth largest urban school district, in San Diego, from 1998 through 2005; and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California from 1993 to 1998. While U.S. Attorney, he was appointed as Special Representative for the Southwest Border in 1995 by former Attorney General Janet Reno, overseeing coordination of border law enforcement along the U.S.-Mexico border for three years.

Schwarzenegger back in April said President Obama “could not have selected a more qualified, more experienced person to join his administration – especially when it comes to issues along our southwest border. Alan was a tremendous asset to my Administration, I’m grateful for his service to California, and I look forward to working with him on border issues that, as he knows well, significantly affect California.”


CoCo Sheriff Warren Rupf will retire

Sheriff Warren Rupf

Sheriff Warren Rupf

Veteran Contra Costa County Sheriff Warren Rupf informed his top management team a few minutes ago that he will not seek re-election next year.

The announcement is not unexpected although it would not have been out of character for him to change his mind.

A 45-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, where he started as a deputy and was appointed to the top job in 1992, Rupf has been talking about retiring for months. He has even recruited and publicly supported his potential replacement, Concord Police Chief Dave Livingston. (Livingston even has a campaign web site:

The 66-year-old lawman had intended to announce his retirement several weeks ago but held off until after the fervor had died down over one of the biggest crime stories to hit Contra Costa County, the appearance of kidnapped victim Jaycee Dugard in a house near Antioch and the arrests of her alleged kidnappers, Phillip and Nancy Garrido.

Rupf tells me that he would have retired as soon as six years ago but felt he was in the best political position to hammer the Board of Supervisors on questions of funding and resources for the Sheriff’s Office.

The prospect of an open seat will likely attract other candidates although Livingston has some obvious advantages: Rupf has been singing Livingston’s praises for several years and as a result, he has had ample advance notice in order to put together a campaign.

Rupf was appointed sheriff in 1992 after then-Sheriff Dick Rainey was elected to the California Assembly. The sheriff was elected in his own right in 1994 and has never had a serious opponent.

The sheriff’s term ends when his replacement takes the oath of office in January 2011. The sheriff’s candidates will run in the June 2010 primary. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote in the primary, the top two vote-getters will compete in a runoff in the November 2010 general election.


$9.4 mil in stimulus funds for local green energy

U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Energy Secretary Steven Chu, hosting a group of clean energy developers and manufacturers at the White House this morning, announced $550 million in new awards through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s 1603 program, bringing to more than $1 billion the total awarded so far to companies investing in domestic renewable energy production.

Among today’s big winners was Massachusetts-based Ameresco, producing green electricity from landfill gases at sites Half Moon Bay and Pittsburg.

The Ox Mountain landfill site in Half Moon Bay, in operation since July, was awarded $6,641,747 in stimulus funds, while the Keller Canyon landfill site in Pittsburg – for which a ribbon-cutting will be held next Thursday – was was awarded $2,796,377. Both sites sell electricity to Alameda Power & Telecom, the City of Alameda’s municipal utility company, and to the City of Palo Alto.

“This Recovery Act program is an example of a true federal partnership with the private sector,” Geithner said in a news release. “Not only are our Recovery dollars meeting an immediate funding need among innovative companies, they are also jumpstarting private sector investment in communities across the country – with benefits for the renewable energy industry and our economy alike.”

Chu, formerly the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s director, called the investments “crucial to ensuring America can compete and win in the race for the clean energy jobs of the future. With American workers and American innovation, we can and must lead the world when it comes to the new Industrial Revolution in clean energy.”

Section 1603 of the Recovery Act provides cash to energy producers to improve project viability so companies can create and retain jobs while expanding and speeding up renewable energy projects. The government provides a cash payment in lieu of a tax credit totaling 30 percent of the qualifying cost of the project; for each federal dollar spent in payments, more than two dollars are spent in private sector investments. This second round of awards will be made in half the 60-day turnaround time required by law, the news release said; an earlier round was announced Sept. 1.

In other Recovery Act news today, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced $42.7 million in stimulus funds awarded through the federal Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program to 31 California agencies and local governments to fight homelessness. The recipients include:

  • Samaritan House, San Mateo: $1.6 million
  • Sacred Heart Community Service, San Jose: $1.6 million
  • Cornerstone Community Development Corp., San Leandro: $1.5 million
  • Shelter Inc. of Contra Costa County, Martinez: $1.5 million
  • City of Livermore: $900,000
  • City of Union City, $500,000
  • The funding is meant to provide short and medium-term rental assistance to people and families now in housing but at risk of becoming homeless, as well as to people and families already homeless.


    Lee to chair UN forum on minority participation

    Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, has been named chairperson of the second session of the United Nations Forum on Minority Issues, to be held November 12-13 in Geneva, Switzerland, focusing on “Minorities and Effective Political Participation.”

    “I am extremely honored to be appointed to this prestigious position and to participate in a formal capacity at the UN Forum on Minority Issues,” Lee said in a news release. “I look forward to working in this capacity to promote dialogue and cooperation on issues pertaining to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities around the globe.”

    “This Forum represents a unique opportunity engage in discussion on opportunities to increase and strengthen the participation of minorities in the decision-making processes of their governments–a subject of deep personal interest throughout my life and career.”

    As the forum’s chair, Lee will lead a global discussion of ways to build greater involvement of minorities in countries around the world in political activities. The forum will bring together over 400 participants, including government delegations, UN officials, political parties and minorities from around the world to produce a set of recommendations that will be made publicly available.