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Archive for July, 2010

Election polls, school $$$ and Prop. 23 on ‘TWINC’

I was on KQED’s “This Week in Northern California” last night to discuss the latest developments in the senatorial and gubernatorial elections; the Chronicle’s Jill Tucker talked about California’s quest for Race to the Top education funding; and the Merc’s Paul Rogers discussed AB 32, Proposition 23 and electric cars.

Also, my Chauncey Bailey Project colleague Tom Peele talked about the latest developments in the Bey IV murder prosecution, and filmmaker Zachary Stauffer discussed his film on Chauncey’s slaying, “A Day Late in Oakland,” airing next Friday, August 6th at 8:30pm on KQED.

Posted on Saturday, July 31st, 2010
Under: 2010 election, 2010 governor's race | 1 Comment »

Save the date: Boxer v. Fiorina debate

KQED, KTVU, and the San Francisco Chronicle will host the first debate between incumbent U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Republican nominee Carly Fiorina at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 1.

The one-hour debate will air live on KQED Public Radio and KTVU Channel 2. KQED News is offering the debate as a special broadcast of The California Report, the station’s statewide news service; the California Report’s debate broadcast will be distributed live via satellite and available for broadcast by all California public radio stations.

KTVU’s political editor Randy Shandobil will moderate the debate, with questions posed by San Francisco Chronicle senior political writer Carla Marinucci; California Report host Scott Shafer; and La Opinion senior political reporter and blogger Pilar Marrero.

The debate’s location has yet to be announced.

UPDATE @ 1:58 P.M.: Hmmmm. Although this information came in a news release from KQED, I now have other sources telling me that this debate is in fact NOT a done deal, and is still under negotiation. More details as they emerge…

UPDATE @ 2:50 P.M.: “We have recently learned that the previously announced debate has not been confirmed,” KQED now says. “We apologize for any confusion that the miscommunication caused. More details will be announced as soon as they become available.”
I’ve reached out to the Boxer and Fiorina campaigns about this, but neither has responded yet.

Posted on Friday, July 30th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Barbara Boxer, Carly Fiorina, U.S. Senate | 8 Comments »

Lawmakers urge Iran to release hikers

California’s U.S. Senators were among six who today announced a resolution urging the Iranian government to immediately, unconditionally release three UC Berkeley graduates who have been detained in Iran since last July.

Saturday marks the one-year anniversary of Sarah Shourd’s, Josh Fattal’s and Shane Bauer’s capture hiking in a poorly marked border area in Iraq’s Kurdistan region. Senators Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.; Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.; Robert Casey Jr., D-Pa.; Al Franken, D-Minn.; Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; and Arlen Specter, D-Pa., introduced today’s resolution.

Boxer, Casey, Franken, Klobuchar and Specter in May publicly urged Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to immediately release the three hikers, or at least that their families be allowed to visit them; the hikers mothers subsequently were allowed to visit.

The full text of the Senators’ resolution:

Urging the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Immediately and Unconditionally Release Sarah Shourd, Joshua Fattal, and Shane Bauer on Humanitarian Grounds
Whereas on July 31, 2009, Sarah Shourd, Josh Fattal, and Shane Bauer were taken into custody by Iranian officials after they may have inadvertently crossed the poorly marked Iranian border while hiking in the Kurdistan region of Iraq;
Whereas Sarah, Josh, and Shane have been held since last year in Evin prison in Tehran;
Whereas the amount of time Sarah, Josh and Shane have spent in prison is unjustified in relation to their alleged offense of illegal entry into Iran;
Whereas during the period of their detention, Sarah, Josh, and Shane have only been afforded the opportunity to see their families during a brief visit in May;
Whereas according to their families, Sarah and Shane may be suffering from potentially serious health problems;
Whereas the families of Sarah, Josh and Shane have suffered greatly in the absence of their loved ones;
Whereas July 31, 2010 will mark the one-year anniversary of their detention;
Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the Senate, That Congress—
recognizes that Sarah Shourd, Joshua Fattal, and Shane Bauer have been held in custody in Iran for one year; and
urges the Government of Iran to immediately and unconditionally release Sarah Shourd, Joshua Fattal, and Shane Bauer, on humanitarian grounds and allow them to reunite with their families in the United States.

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, also released a statement on the hikers today. Read that after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, July 30th, 2010
Under: Arlen Specter, Barbara Boxer, Barbara Lee, Dianne Feinstein, Iran, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | 1 Comment »

McNerney calls for boost in veterans benefit

Rep. Jerry McNerney

Rep. Jerry McNerney

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, introduced a bill today that will boost payments to the families of soldiers who have been killed in action.

H.R. 5921 would increase the death benefit by an amount equal to the service member’s total contributions to the Social Security system. These benefits would be made available to the families of military personnel killed on or after Sept. 11, 2001.

Read the full news release below:

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, July 29th, 2010
Under: congressional district 11, veterans | No Comments »

NY Giants coach backs Dunn

Damon Dunn

Damon Dunn

New York Giants head football coach Tom Coughlin is endorsing GOP Secretary of State candidate and former NFL player Damon Dunn.

The announcement comes on the heels of news that football icon Ronnie Lott has also thrown his name behind Dunn’s candidacy.

“Damon was a joy to coach — always had a great attitude, an abundance of enthusiasm, and incredible energy for everything,” Coughlin said in an email. “He is very smart and was always like a sponge in terms of learning. Damon was very involved with community service –- constantly volunteering and never had to be pushed –- he had a true sense of wanting to give back and once he started something, he always finished the task.”

No offense to Coughlin. I’m sure he is fine fellow. I confess, I am not a football fan. I had to Google his name, where I found glowing reviews about his character and leadership.

But do California voters care which candidate a New York football coach has endorsed? After all, Dunn had a brief and undistinguished NFL career.

Dunn says Caughlin’s support, along with that of Lott’s and others, is an indication of his leadership skills.

“These men and women are leading in the real world, not influenced by quid pro quo, and see leadership qualities in me,” Dunn wrote. “The gridlock in Sacramento will not be mitigated by public policy wonks or some new innovative idea.  It will be mitigated by applying leadership.  We need strong leaders in Sacramento in every elected position.”

Dunn is running against Democratic incumbent Secretary of State Debra Bowen.

Posted on Thursday, July 29th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Secretary of State | 7 Comments »

Furloughs trump filing deadline

The filing deadline for hundreds of city, school and other nonpartisan local offices is Aug. 6 at 5 p.m.

Unless it happens to be Furlough Friday, of course.

In Contra Costa County, the city halls in Pinole and Antioch are closed on Fridays due to budget cuts. If you want to make the filing deadline, show up before closing time on Aug. 5.

Would-be candidates everywhere should check with their jurisdictions and make sure they will be open.

Read on for Contra Costa County’s announcement:

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, July 29th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | No Comments »

PPIC: Gov, Senate races tight, drilling a no-go

The latest Public Policy Institute of California poll shows likely voters are closely divided between Democrat Jerry Brown (37 percent) and Republican Meg Whitman (34 percent) for governor, with 23 percent undecided. Independents voters are split – 30 percent for Brown, 28 percent for Whitman and 30 percent undecided.

The same poll shows a similarly tight U.S. Senate race, with 39 percent of likely voters supporting Democratic incumbent Barbara Boxer, 34 percent supporting Republican nominee Carly Fiorina and 22 percent undecided. Boxer’s lead is similar among independents, with 35 percent backing her, 29 percent backing Fiorina and 25 percent undecided.

The numbers came as part of PPIC’s survey of “Californians and the Environment.” Of those likely voters saying that a candidate’s environmental positions are very important in determining their vote, 50 percent would vote for Brown and 16 percent would vote for Whitman; among those who say a candidate’s environmental positions are somewhat important, Whitman is favored 42 percent to 33 percent. Similarly, those who view candidates’ positions on the environment as very important are three times as likely to support Boxer (54 percent) as Fiorina (18 percent), while those who say candidates’ views on the environment are somewhat important are evenly divided, 37 percent to each candidate.

Among the poll’s findings on other environmental issues:

  • The Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster’s effects are clearly visible, as a solid majority of the state’s residents now oppose more offshore drilling (59 percent of California adults oppose, 36 percent favor), which is a 16-point increase in opposition from last year. It’s a partisan split; 72 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of independents oppose more drilling, while 64 percent of Republicans favor it.
  • Just 21 percent have either a great deal (8 percent) or good amount (13 percent) of confidence in the government to make the right decisions in dealing with the Gulf of Mexico spill; residents also lack confidence in the federal government’s ability to prevent future spills, with about three in 10 very (7 percent) or fairly (21 percent) confident, 32 percent not very confident, and 37 percent not confident at all.
  • Californians are divided (49 percent oppose, 44 percent favor) about building more nuclear power plants to address the nation’s energy needs and reduce dependence on foreign oil; 57 percent of Democrats are opposed, while 67 percent of Republicans and 51 percent of independents favor building more plants now. Overwhelming majorities favor increasing federal funding to develop wind, solar, and hydrogen technology (83 percent), and requiring automakers to significantly improve the fuel efficiency of cars sold in this country (83 percent).
  • Support for AB 32 – the state’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction law, now under fire by Proposition 23 – remains strong at 67 percent of California adults; it was at 66 percent last year. Asked whether the government should act to reduce emissions right away or wait until the state economy and job situation improve, a slim majority (53 percent) said California should act right away, while 42 percent said the state should wait.
  • And among other political findings:

  • President Barack Obama’s approval rating is at 56 percent among all adults, 54 percent among registered voters and 50 percent among likely voters.
  • Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s approval rating is at 25 percent among all adults, 24 percent among registered voters and 25 percent among likely voters.
  • The California Legislature’s approval rating is at 15 percent among all adults, 12 percent among registered voters and 10 percent among likely voters.
  • Only 15 percent of all adults believe California is generally headed in the right direction; that number drops to 11 percent among registered voters and 8 percent among likely voters.
  • Only 25 percent of all adults see good economic times ahead for California; that number drops to 22 percent among registered voters and 19 percent among likely voters.
  • Findings are based on a telephone survey of 2,502 California adult residents reached by landline and cell phones throughout the state from July 6 through 20, with interviews conducted in English, Spanish, Chinese (Mandarin or Cantonese), Vietnamese, and Korean. The margins of error are two percentage points for all adults; 2.2 percentage points for the 1,971 registered voters; and 2.7 percentage points for the 1,321 likely voters.

    Posted on Wednesday, July 28th, 2010
    Under: 2010 election, 2010 governor's race, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Assembly, California State Senate, Carly Fiorina, economy, energy, Environment, Jerry Brown, Meg Whitman, polls, Uncategorized | 12 Comments »

    McNerney voted for the war supplemental

    Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, was the only Bay Area House member to vote in favor of the $33 billion Afghanistan and Iraq war supplemental spending bill yesterday. The bill passed on a 308-114 vote.

    I asked McNerney’s office why he voted as he did, and how he felt about this week’s release of classified military documents on the WikiLeaks website.

    Jerry McNerney “The leaking of classified information is a very serious matter, especially if it has the potential to put American troops at risk. I have been following these developments carefully,” he replied in an e-mail this afternoon. “I voted in favor of the supplemental because I believe we must continue to develop an effective strategy to stop terrorists who are attempting to use Afghanistan as a safe haven from which to attack our country.

    “Late last year, I traveled to Afghanistan as part of a bipartisan fact-finding trip to see for myself the situation on ground,” he continued. “I spent time with our troops and met with U.S. military and Afghan government officials. I’m impressed by the efforts of our men and women in uniform and grateful for their sacrifice, and I believe our military commanders and our troops in the field should have the resources to defend themselves and execute the mission they have been given.”

    Politically, it seemed like a no-brainer. Regardless of how McNerney personally feels about the wars, a “no” vote would’ve been risky for the only truly embattled House incumbent serving the most moderate district in the Bay Area, and it’s not as if he’d have put the Democratic doves’ votes over the top.

    Read other Bay Area members’ comments, after the jump…
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted on Wednesday, July 28th, 2010
    Under: Afghanistan, Anna Eshoo, Barbara Lee, Iraq, Iraq War, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, Mike Honda, Pete Stark, U.S. House | 2 Comments »

    State GOP has mad cow disease

    Following an incident Tuesday in which police had to gun down an agitated cow that was running amok at the California State Fair, CRP Communications Director Mark Standriff today issued this statement:

    “Obviously, the stress of state budget uncertainty is taking its toll on these dedicated state employees, from fair management, to state fair police, to the U.C. Davis veterinary director who had to make the fatal decision to tragically down this pregnant cow and her unborn calf. We’re not second guessing the call. Considering the circumstances, it may have been the best decision. But it’s not fair to force people to make life-and death decisions when they’re also coping with the prospect of fewer vacation days or reduced office supplies.

    “With the state budget nearly a month overdue, the Democrat legislative leaders are happy to hang out in their own corral, unable to agree even among themselves how to close the state budget gap. This is inexcusable. This is bull. This is a new low for Democrats.

    “Is nothing sacred to them anymore, not even cows?”

    mad cowYes! The top thing on the cops’ and veterinarians’ minds when faced with this situation MUST have been the state budget! It’s the Democrats’ fault, clearly! THEY PROBABLY EVEN GAVE THE COW SOME ANGEL DUST!!!

    This release struck me as so odd, I actually checked my calendar to make sure it’s not April Fools Day. I guess the opportunity to combine a bunch of cow puns with the CRP’s mission of pinning all the blame for the budget deadlock on the Democrats was too much to resist.

    It seems to me that the CRP is grasping at straws – or hay, I guess. (Darn it, now they’ve got me doing it, too.)

    For a different perspective on the budget deadlock – arguing that Republicans actually have no desire to strike any sort of budget deal right now – see Robert Cruickshank’s post at Calitics.

    Posted on Wednesday, July 28th, 2010
    Under: Republican Party, Republican politics, state budget | 2 Comments »

    Schwarzenegger delares fiscal emergency

    If it’s July, it must be another California budget crisis, which brings those beloved IOUs and another round of furlough Fridays.

    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a financial emergency and reinstituted state worker furloughs today, the latest in the ongoing feud between the governor and legislators over yet another unadopted budget.

    Read the full news release below:

    Gov. Schwarzenegger Declares State of Emergency, Issues Executive Order to Impose Furloughs Due to Cash Crisis Caused By Budget Impasse

    Governor Schwarzenegger issued an order today directing state agencies to reinstitute furlough Fridays until a new budget is in place. The order for state workers to take three furlough days per month will take effect starting August 1 and continue until a new budget is enacted and the Department of Finance certifies that the state has enough cash to meet its obligations through the end of the Fiscal Year.

    “Without a budget in place that addresses our $19 billion budget deficit, every day of delay brings California closer to a fiscal meltdown,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “The State Controller has indicated he could be forced to issue IOUs starting in August in order to avert a cash crisis. Our cash situation leaves me no choice but to once again furlough state workers until the legislature produces a budget I can sign.”

    The Governor’s furlough order continues to exempt CAL FIRE and California Highway Patrol from furloughs. In addition, the Governor’s new order is more narrowly drafted to exempt revenue generating agencies and quasi-public entities with non-general fund resources.

    Read the full proclamation below.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted on Wednesday, July 28th, 2010
    Under: California budget | 1 Comment »