Some upcoming political events

At 7 p.m. tonight, Thursday Oct. 1, Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, will host a community discussion on California’s criminal justice system; she notes that California’s prison population has grown by 73 percent and corrections spending has grown at nearly four times the rate of general spending since 1990, so it’s time for an overhaul. Panelists will include Jeanne Woodford, former director of the California Department of Corrections and former warden of San Quentin State Prison; Ron Ahnen, a St. Mary’s College politics professor and President of California Prison Focus; and Capt. Mike Newman, from the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office Custody Services Bureau. The event will be in the Soda Center at St. Mary’s College of California, 1928 St. Mary’s Road in Moraga.

Noam Chomsky – libertarian socialist linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, political activist, author, and Institute Professor and professor emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – will be speaking on “Obama, the Middle East, and the Prospects for Peace” in a fundraising benefit for the Middle East Children’s Alliance at 7:30 p.m. this Saturday, Oct. 3 at the Paramount Theater, 2025 Broadway in Oakland. Tickets range from $22 to $250, or $10 for students with valid ID, and are available via Ticketmaster. All the seats have sold out for his lecture at 6 p.m. Tuesday, October 6 at the Commonwealth Club of California, on the second floor of 595 Market St. in San Francisco, but the club is offering standing-room-only tickets at $12 for members, $18 for non-members and $7 for students, available online.

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III will speak on “The FBI’s Fight Against Cyber Crime, Espionage and Terrorism” at noon next Wednesday, Oct. 7 at the offices of the Commonwealth Club of California, on the second floor of 595 Market St. in San Francisco. Tickets cost $8 for club members or $15 for nonmembers, and are available online. (I’ll probably be covering this, so feel free to say hello.)

White House press corps doyenne Helen Thomas will make two local appearances on Monday, Oct. 12. First she’ll be in conversation with San Francisco Chronicle Executive Vice President Phil Bronstein at noon that day in the Commonwealth Club of California, on the second floor of 595 Market St. in San Francisco; admission is free for club members, $15 for nonmembers and $7 for students, with tickets available online. But – with apologies to the Commonwealth Club – why pay when you can go for free? Thomas will be in discussion with Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, at 7 p.m. that evening in a free, open-to-the-public event in the Littlefield Concert Hall at Mills College, 5000 MacArthur Blvd. in Oakland.

Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, will hold his monthly town-hall meetings Saturday, Oct. 17 – first from 9 to 10:30 a.m. in the dining room of the Ruggieri Senior Center, 33997 Alvarado Niles Road in Union City, and then from 11 to 12:30 p.m. in the multipurpose room at Earhart School, 400 Packet Landing Road in Alameda’s Bay Farm Island section. Will these be as, um, lively as last month’s meetings? You’ll just have to go to find out.

UPDATE @ 2:00 P.M.: Oops… two more…

State Senator Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley; the League of Women Voters of Oakland; the California Nurses Association; and Health Care for All will hold a public roundtable at 12:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 2, to call for passage of the California Fair Elections Act – a measure on next June’s ballot that would to make voluntary public financing available to Secretary of State candidates in 2014 and 2018 – in order “to get insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and other anti-reform interests out of the business of funding political campaigns.” It’s in the BART board room on the third floor of the Kaiser Center’s 20th Street mall.

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, will hold his 56th Congress at Your Corner constituent meet-and-greet from noon to 2 p.m. Monday, Oct. 5, at the Dougherty Station Library, at 17017 Bollinger Canyon Road in San Ramon.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • John W.

    There aren’t any good movies lately, so I might go to Pete Stark’s Town Howler just for the low cost entertainment value. But I’ll stay a safe distance just in case he changes his mind about releasing his bodily fluids on an angry constituent.

  • RR, Uninvited Columnist

    Re Noam: What is a libertarian socialist?

  • Josh Richman

    Don’t feel bad, RR; I had to look it up, too.

    Chomsky calls it “the proper and natural extension … of classical liberalism into the era of advanced industrial society.” Looking elsewhere, I see some call it “socialist anarchism” – the desire for an anti-capitalist society without political, economic or social hierarchies, basically meaning everyone’s free to do what they want even as workers share control of the resources. I’m probably not intellectual enough to explain this clearly and concisely; Google it and you’ll find a ton of stuff.

  • Ralph Hoffmann, Guest Columnist

    I went to the Nancy Skinner event. Thanks for the heads-up, Josh. I also passed along the info about Jerry’s event to Betsy, as he’s her Congressman.