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Archive for August, 2010

More from Barbara Boxer’s SF appearance

There’s not enough room in the print editions to include all there was to U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer’s appearance today at the Commonwealth Club of California, so I figured I’d put some of the Q&A segment – moderated by former club board chairman Bob Saldich – up here.

Barbara Boxer @ Commonwealth Club 8-31-10 (AP Photo/Eric RisbergIt was largely a friendly crowd, as one might expect from San Francisco, and the first question was about how President Barack Obama could be convinced to listen more to the advice of Nobel laureate economist and columnist Paul Krugman. Boxer said she’s not sure how to get the President on board, but for herself, “I think the Krugman idea of more stimulus is a very good idea. The question is, how do you get it to move?”

That is, any such additional stimulus would face opposition not only from Republicans, but from Democrats feeling gun-shy in advance of November’s midterm elections. Boxer added she believes it’s possible to create more jobs in a fiscally responsible way; she said none of her current proposals would add to the deficit.

Asked if she would vote to eliminate the filibuster – a parliamentary procedure used by the minority party to stymie legislation – Boxer replied that’s a “complicated question.” The founding fathers intended that the House of Representatives would move quickly on legislation while the Senate would see more deliberation and compromise, but abuse of the filibuster “has gotten out of hand” and all of Democrats’ accomplishments of the past two years – health care reform, college loan reform and others – have been made more difficult by the tactic. She said she would support reforming the filibuster so that those staging one would have to physically remain on the Senate floor for the duration, and by lowering the threshold to invoke cloture and break a filibuster from 60 votes to 55.

Asked if she still supports California’s high-speed rail project given the hardships it could impose upon neighborhoods along the route – in the Bay Area, along the Peninsula – Boxer replied she respects local governments’ role in helping to plan such projects. “We can change the routes, it’s not impossible, it’s been done before so everyone can be made happy,” she said, but a majority of Californians believe high-speed rail would be an asset and so she still supports it.

One audience member sent up a question card asking if, given Boxer’s liberal spending record, there are any government programs she would consider eliminating in order to reduce the national debt. “The biggest one would be to end the wars,” she replied, adding she’d also like to see more enforcement to avoid rip-offs by government contractors; everyone paying their fair share in taxes; and no subsidies for companies that send jobs overseas.

Boxer noted that the biggest tax cut in U.S. history was enacted as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act economic stimulus, given to working people and families rather than millionaires and billionaires.

More after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, August 31st, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Barbara Boxer, Carly Fiorina, U.S. Senate | 2 Comments »

‘Open carry’ ban bill could pass later today

State Senate Democrats have been scrambling to get enough votes to pass a bill to criminalize the “open carry” of unloaded handguns in public places.

open carryAB 1934 by Assemblywoman Lori Saldana, D-San Diego, came up for a floor vote yesterday but fell short of the 21 votes it needed to pass, so it was put on call and brought back up several times through the day – falling one vote short at yesterday’s end, but winning a unanimous vote to reconsider it today.

Adnan Shahab of Fremont, the Republican nominee for the 20th Assembly District seat and an open-carry activist, was in Sacramento watching the votes all day yesterday. He tells me that after yesterday’s session ended, state Sen. Denise Ducheny, D-San Diego, acceded to pressure to change her vote from “nay” to “aye,” setting the bill up for potential passage later today – possibly much later today, as the state Senate might tackle competing state budget proposals first.

As Shahab and other activists organize calls and faxes to Ducheny’s office, other state Senators are feeling the heat well. Walter Stanley of Livermore, for example, yesterday was organizing “fax bombs” targeting the offices of state Senators Dean Florez, D-Shafter, and Gloria Negrete-McLeod, D-Chino, to try to convince them to vote against the bill.

The Assembly passed AB 1934 on a 46-30 vote June 1.

Gun-rights activists have seized upon open-carry laws in states across the nation as a means of expressing their political beliefs, acting individually or gathering to carry their weapons both as an exercise of constitutional rights and for self-protection. They say they’re both protecting their rights under current law as well as advocating for changes so that more people can get permits to carry concealed weapons, something that’s sharply limited under current law.

Advocates of Saldana’s bill say open-carry practices should be banned for the sake of public safety, and to protect the safety and conserve the resources of police officers who must check to ensure the guns aren’t loaded in accordance with state law.

UPDATE @ 6:18 P.M.: The bill was called just before 6 p.m. State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, acting as the bill’s Senate floor manager, called it “a number one priority for the California Police Chiefs (Association)” and called open carry “a burden on public safety.” The vote was 11 in favor, 10 opposed, with a lot of absentees; DeSaulnier put the bill back on call, so again we wait…

UPDATE @ 9:45 P.M.: Shahab posted this Facebook update a few minutes ago: “Senator DeSaulnier and Assemblymember DeLeon are now pressuring Ducheny to vote for AB 1934. Call Ducheny’s office.”

UPDATE @ 11:30 P.M.: The state Senate has passed AB 1934 on a 21-16 vote; Ducheny voted yes.

Posted on Tuesday, August 31st, 2010
Under: Assembly, California State Senate, Legislation, Public safety | 12 Comments »

HP pays $55 mil but gets up to $800 mil from feds

The U.S. Department of Justice today announced that Palo Alto-based Hewlett-Packard Co. has agreed to pay the United States $55 million to settle claims that the company defrauded the General Services Administration and other federal agencies. The settlement resolves allegations under the False Claims Act that HP knowingly paid kickbacks, or “influencer fees,” to systems integrator companies in return for recommendations that federal agencies purchase HP’s products. The settlement also resolves claims that HP’s 2002 contract with the GSA was defectively priced because HP provided incomplete information to GSA contracting officers during contract negotiations.

In other news, HP today announced it has been selected as a preferred technology provider by the U.S. Air Force (USAF) for a new five-year enterprise computing Blanket Purchase Agreement, cumulatively worth up to $800 million.

Under the agreement’s terms, HP products may be selected through the quantum enterprise buy procurement system; in support of Air Force QEB programs over the last five years, HP has delivered more than $450 million worth of computing products including more than 720,000 desktop PCs and 40,000 notebook PCs.

“The agency BPA represents the exceptional relationship with the U.S. Air Force and Department of Defense that HP has built over several decades,” Stephen DeWitt, senior vice president and general manager of HP’s Personal Systems Group, said in a news release. “We look forward to continuing to deliver the highest quality products and technology innovations for the Air Force’s worldwide enterprise computing needs.”

Posted on Monday, August 30th, 2010
Under: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

California lottery rolls out Raiders Scratchers

The California Lottery today announced it’s teaming up with the Oakland Raiders to present a new Scratchers ticket.

Players scratch off the 12 helmets on the ticket, which features the Raiders logo and a picture of Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, to see if they have won cash prizes of up to $20,000. Tickets that aren’t instant cash winners can be entered on the Lottery’s Replay Program website from Sept. 3 through Nov. 28 for a second opportunity to win prizes such as 2011 season tickets, a trip for two to the 2011 NFL Draft, VIP road trips, luxury suites at the Coliseum, tailgate parties, trips to the Raiders’ training camp, dinner with “a Raiders legend,” and jerseys and helmets signed by current players.

“This partnership brings together two organizations with a great track record of achieving a common goal: entertaining their fans,” Lottery Director Joan Borucki said at the annual Raider Nation Celebration today in Oakland. “It also gives fans of pro football and the Lottery another reason to get excited about the upcoming season.”

Said Oakland Raiders CEO Amy Trask: “We are delighted to work with the California Lottery and we are thrilled that Raider fans now have an exciting, enjoyable manner to participate in the Lottery, while showing passion for the Silver and Black.”

Lest those who wear the Silver and Black feel too special, similar rollouts were announced earlier this week for the San Diego Chargers and the San Francisco 49ers.

And I assume I need not remind anyone here that the chances of winning anything significant are pretty small, like any other lottery game. But at least some of your money goes to a good cause: the California State Lottery Act provides that at least 34 percent of Lottery revenues must go to public education, so since 2000, Lottery players have contributed $1 billion to public schools each year.

Posted on Friday, August 27th, 2010
Under: Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

Election Preview air dates set

Check out your public access television station for our 2010 Election Previews, recorded round-table interviews with nearly 100 candidates in 23 Contra Costa races.

The Times has helped produce, along with the League of Women Voters and Contra Costa TV, the election previews for 18 years, and I moderated during the three-day recording schedule this week. (Click here for my full story on the previews.)

We will also post the 23 segments on starting next week. The large files require considerable processing time and it will take a few days.

Here are the air dates:

Congressional District 7 — Contra Costa TV Channel 27, Astound Channel 32 and AT&T Channel 99: Sept. 2, 6 p.m.; Sept. 5, 9 p.m.; Sept. 9, 8 p.m., Sept. 13, 8 p.m.; Sept. 19, 9 p.m.; Sept. 27, 8 p.m. Concord Channel 28: Aug. 28, 4 p.m.; Aug. 30, 4 p.m.; Aug. 31, 4 p.m., and Sept. 1, 2 p.m.

Congressional District 10 — Contra Costa TV Channel 27, Astound Channel 32 and AT&T Channel 99: Sept. 2, 6:30 p.m.; Sept. 5, 9:30 p.m.; Sept. 9; 8:30 p.m.; Sept. 13, 8:30 p.m.; Sept. 19, 9:30 p.m.; and Sept. 27, 8:30 p.m. Walnut Creek Comcast Channel 28, Rossmoor Channel 26, Astound Channel 29 and AT&T Channel 99: Aug. 30, Sept 3, 6, 10, 13,17, 20, 24, 27, 1, 4, 8, 11, 15, 18, 22, 25 and, 29, and Nov. 1, 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.  Concord Channel 28: Aug. 28, 3 p.m.; Aug. 30, 3 p.m.; Aug. 31, 3 p.m; Sept. 1, 1 p.m.

Congressional District 11 — Contra Costa TV Channel 27, Astound Channel 32 and AT&T Channel 99: Sept. 2, 7 p.m.; Sept. 5, 10 p.m.; Sept. 9, 9 p.m.; Sept. 13, 9 p.m.; Sept. 19, 10 p.m.; and Sept. 27, 9 p.m. Concord Channel 28: Aug. 28, 2 p.m.; Aug. 30, 2 p.m.; Aug. 31, 2 p.m.; and Sept. 1, noon.

Assembly District 11 — Contra Costa TV Channel 27, Astound Channel 32 and AT&T Channel 99: Sept. 2, 8 p.m.; Sept. 6, 8 p.m.; Sept. 9, 6 p.m.; Sept. 12, 9 p.m.; Sept. 20, 8 p.m.; Sept. 26 at 9 p.m.

Assembly District 15 — Contra Costa TV Channel 27, Astound Channel 32 and AT&T Channel 99: Sept. 2, 8:30 p.m.; Sept. 6, 8:30 p.m.; Sept. 9, 6:30 p.m.; Sept. 12, 9:30 p.m.; Sept. 20, 8:30 p.m.; and Sept. 26, 9:30 p.m. Walnut Creek Comcast Channel 28, Rossmoor Channel 26, Astound Channel 29 and AT&T Channel 99: Aug. 30, Sept 3, 6, 10, 13,17, 20, 24 and 27, Oct. 1, 4, 8, 11, 15, 18, 22, 25 and 29, and Nov. 1, noon and 9 p.m.

Contra Costa County District Attorney — Contra Costa TV Channel 27, Astound Channel 32 and AT&T Channel 99: Sept. 2, 7:30 p.m.; Sept. 5, 10:30 p.m.; Sept. 9, 9:30 p.m.; Sept. 13, 9:30 p.m.; Sept. 19, 10:30 p.m., and Sept. 27, 9:30 p.m. Walnut Creek Comcast Channel 28, Rossmoor Channel 26, Astound Channel 29 and AT&T Channel 99: Aug. 30, Sept. 3, 6, 10, 13,17, 20, 24 and 27, Oct. 1, 4, 8, 11, 15, 18, 22, 25 and 29, and Nov. 1, 12:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Concord TV Channel 28: Aug. 28, 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.; Aug. 31, 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.; Sept. 1, 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Antioch City Council — Comcast East Contra Costa Channel 24: Sept. 20, Sept. 27 and Oct. 4, 8 p.m.

Brentwood City Council — Comcast East Contra Costa Channel 24: Sept. 21, Sept. 28 and Oct. 5, 5 p.m.

Concord City Council — Concord TV Channel 28: Aug. 28, 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.; Aug. 30, 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.; Aug. 31, 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.; Sept. 1, 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Comcast Central Costa County Channel 26: Sept. 25, Oct. 2 and Oct. 9, 8 p.m.

Clayton City Council — Concord TV Channel 28: Aug. 28, 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.; Aug. 30, 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.; Aug. 31, 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.; Sept. 1, 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. Comcast Central Contra Costa Channel 26: Sept. 25, Oct. 2 and Oct. 9, 7:30 p.m.

Hercules City Council — Contra Costa TV Channel 27, Astound Channel 32 and AT&T Channel 99: Sept. 8, 8:30 p.m.; Sept. 15, 9:30 p.m.; Sept. 21, 10:30 p.m.; and Sept. 28, 4:30 p.m. Hercules Community Television and Comcast Channel 28, AT&T Channel 99: Sept. 20, 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.; Sept. 26 and 27, 9 a.m., 6 p.m.; Oct. 3 and 4, 9 a.m. and 6; Oct. 10 and 11, 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.; Oct. 17 and 18, 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.; Oct. 24 and 25, 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. (Added 9/1/2010)

Lafayette City Council — Comcast Central Contra Costa Channel 26: Sept. 25, Oct. 2 and Oct. 9 at 4 p.m.

Martinez Mayor — Comcast Central Contra Costa Channel 26: Sept. 25, Oct. 2 and Oct. 9, 5 p.m.

Martinez City Council — Comcast Central Contra Costa Channel 26: Sept. 25, Oct. 2 and Oct. 9, 5:30 p.m.

Moraga Town Council — Comcast Central Costa Costa Channel 26: Sept. 25, Oct. 2, Oct. 9, 6:30 p.m.

Oakley City Council — Comcast East Contra Costa County Channel 24: Sept. 20, Sept. 27 and Oct. 4, 7:30 p.m.

Orinda City Council — Comcast Central County Channel 26: Sept. 25, Oct. 2 and Oct. 9, 6 p.m.

Pleasant Hill City Council — Comcast Central Contra Costa Channel 26: Sept. 25, Oct. 2, Oct. 9, 4:30 p.m.

Richmond Mayor — KCRT Channel 28: Oct. 1, noon; Oct. 2, 8 p.m.; Oct. 5 p.m.; Oct. 8, noon; Oct. 9, 5 p.m.; Oct. 11, 3 p.m.; Oct. 14, 9 a.m.; Oct. 15, 9 p.m.; Oct. 20, 11 a.m.; Oct. 22, noon; Oct. 28, noon and 10 p.m.; Oct. 30, 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.; Oct. 31, 5 a.m.; Nov. 1, 2 a.m., 6 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.; Nov. 2, noon and 3 p.m. (Note: The CCT is not involved in the production of the Richmond forums but has included the air dates here for our readers.)

Richmond City Council — KCRT Channel 28: Oct. 1, 1 p.m.; Oct. 2, 9 p.m.; Oct. 5, noon; Oct. 9, 6 p.m.; Oct. 11, 4 p.m.; Oct. 14, 10 a.m.; Oct. 15, noon and 10 p.m.; Oct. 18, noon; Oct. 20, 9 a.m.; Oct. 22, 9 p.m.; Oct. 28, 8 p.m.; Oct. 29, noon; Oct. 30, 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.; Oct. 31, 3 a.m.; Nov. 1, 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Nov. 2, 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. ((Note: The CCT is not involved in the production of the Richmond forums but has included the air dates here for our readers.)

Walnut Creek City Council — Walnut Creek Comcast Channel 28, Rossmoor Channel 26, Astound Channel 29 and AT&T Channel 99: Aug. 30, Sept 3, 6, 10, 13,17, 20, 24 and 27, Oct. 1, 4, 8, 11, 15, 18, 22, 25 and 29, and Nov. 1, 11:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m.

Antioch Unified School District — Comcast East Contra Costa Channel 24: Sept. 20, Sept. 27 and Oct. 4, 9 p.m.

Liberty Union High School District — Comcast East Contra Costa County Channel 24: Sept. 20, Sept. 27 and Oct. 4, 7 p.m.

Mt. Diablo Unified School District — Contra Costa TV Channel 27, Astound Channel 32 and AT&T Channel 99: Sept. 2, 9 p.m.; Sept. 6, 9 p.m.; Sept. 9, 7 p.m.; Sept. 12, 10 p.m.; Sept. 20, 9 p.m.; and Sept. 26, 10 p.m. Walnut Creek Comcast Channel 28, Rossmoor Channel 26, Astound Channel 29 and AT&T Channel 99: Aug. 30, Sept 3, 6, 10, 13,17, 20, 24 and 27, Oct. 1, 4, 8, 11, 15, 18, 22, 25 and 29, and Nov. 1, 10:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Concord Channel 28: Aug. 28, 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.; Aug. 30, 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.; Aug. 31, 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.; and Sept. 1, 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.

San Ramon Valley Unified School District — Contra Costa TV Channel 27, Astound Channel 32 and AT&T Channel 99: Sept. 2, 10 p.m.; Sept. 6, 10 p.m.; Sept. 8, 10 p.m.; Sept. 12, 11 p.m.; Sept. 20, 10 p.m.; and Sept. 26, 11 p.m. (Times changed.)

Walnut Creek School District — Walnut Creek Comcast Channel 28, Rossmoor Channel 26, Astound Channel 29 and AT&T Channel 99: Aug. 30, Sept 3, 6, 10, 13,17, 20, 24, 27, Oct. 1, 4, 8, 11, 15, 18, 22, 25, 29, and Nov. 1 at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. Comcast Central Contra Costa Channel 26: Sept. 25, Oct. 2, Oct. 9, 7 p.m.

Posted on Friday, August 27th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | 5 Comments »

Whitman and Brown in iPhone app flap

Meg-a-appCalifornia Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman’s campaign today launched its official iPhone application, offering “a menu of options for supporters and voters to learn more about Meg and her plan for California.”

The campaign says the app lets iPhone users “stay in touch with Meg on the campaign trail,” “learn the latest campaign news, view exclusive photos and video and keep in touch with Meg on social media platforms, like Facebook and Twitter.” Users also can share campaign details with their friends, sign up to volunteer with the campaign and encourage others to get involved.

The app was created by Purple Forge, which had developed a similar app for GOP U.S. Senate primary candidate Chuck DeVore. The company has offices in upstate New York; Ontario, Canada; and Georgia – and that proved to be fodder for the campaign of Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jerry Brown.

From Brown campaign spokesman Sterling Clifford:

California is the home of Apple (founded when Jerry Brown was governor), and countless app developers, but it appears only a company based 3,000 miles away could meet Whitman’s campaign needs. Two million Californians out of work, thousands of California companies looking for business and trying to stay afloat, but Meg Whitman chose to take her business to Canada.

Whether it’s jobs for Californians, experience cutting spending or building on California’s environmental leadership, there is a vast gulf between what Meg Whitman says and what Meg Whitman does.

Californians deserve a governor they can trust – one with a record of helping the state create 1.9 million jobs. Jerry Brown is the only candidate in this race with real experience to get California working again.

Posted on Friday, August 27th, 2010
Under: 2010 governor's race, Jerry Brown, Meg Whitman | 9 Comments »

Video game law SCOTUS arguments set for Nov. 2

The U.S. Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments in the challenge to California’s law against sale of excessively violent video games to children for Nov. 2.

The 2005 law — authored by then-Assemblyman and now state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, and signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger — never took effect because it was immediately challenged by video game industry trade groups and struck down by a federal judge in 2005 and by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2009.

The nation’s highest court agreed in April to review the case; State Attorney General Jerry Brown last month submitted the state’s written argument, while Yee joined the California Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, California, in submitting a “friend of the court” brief. Eleven other states – Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Texas, and Virginia – also submitted an amicus brief in support of California’s law.

The video game industry trade groups challenging the statute have argued it violates First Amendment rights to free expression and 14th Amendment rights to equal protection under the law. They said it’s unnecessary because of the voluntary ratings education and enforcement programs already in place, and would provide no meaningful standards to know to which games it applies.

But the state’s brief argues the law promotes parental authority to restrict unsupervised minors’ access to a narrow category of material in order to protect their physical and psychological well-being — a vital state interest — and it’s well-recognized that minors don’t always have the same First Amendment freedoms as adults to see sexual or violent material.

Yee issued a news release today saying he intends to attend the arguments in Washington, D.C.

“I am hopeful that the Supreme Court will help us give parents a valuable tool to protect children from the harmful effects of excessively violent, interactive video games,” he said. “We need to help empower parents with the ultimate decision over whether or not their children play in a world of violence and murder. The video game industry should not be allowed to put their profit margins over the rights of parents and the well-being of children.”

Posted on Friday, August 27th, 2010
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, California State Senate, Jerry Brown, Leland Yee | 2 Comments »

Last-minute pot taxation scheme raises hackles

An eleventh-hour legislative effort to establish a state licensing and taxation scheme for legalized marijuana has activists atwitter.

When state Sen. Ron Calderon introduced SB 1131 in February, it dealt with prohibiting the state from spending any money to film or produce commercials outside of California. But Calderon, D-Montebello, gutted and amended the bill Aug. 20 – the deadline to do so for this session – to instead create “the Cannabis Licensing Act.”

The bill now would provide for the licensure by the State Board of Equalization of growers, importers, wholesalers, retailers, and transporters of cannabis and cannabis products doing business in California. Each wholesaler would be required to prepay the retail sales tax on its gross receipts derived from the sale of cannabis and cannabis products.

It would require such licensees to keep records of every sale, transfer or delivery of cannabis or cannabis products; would authorize any peace officer and certain BOE employees to conduct inspections; and would prohibit anyone from selling or purchasing cannabis or cannabis products without a license. Cannabis or cannabis products bought or sold in violation of this law could be seized, and violators could face license revocation or suspension, civil penalties or criminal prosecution.

An Aug. 20 Assembly staff analysis of the bill says:

According to the author’s office, this bill “creates a licensing structure similar to the Tobacco Licensing Act of 2003 (Act) which imposed licensing requirements on all retailers, wholesalers, and distributors of cigarettes and tobacco products and all manufacturers and importers of cigarettes. The Act, intended to decrease tax evasion on the sales of cigarettes and tobacco products in California, also included provisions for new recordkeeping requirements, inspection and seizure of any untaxed cigarettes or tobacco products, and imposed civil and criminal penalties for violations.”

Calderon tells Capitol Weekly that his bill would help the board collect taxes on medical marijuana sales, letting the state reap up to $160 million per year it otherwise would miss. He also said it’s aimed at the existing medical marijuana industry in California, and isn’t a response to Proposition 19, the marijuana legalization measure on November’s ballot; however, much of the bill’s language applies to marijuana sales in general and likely could encompass non-medical sales if voters decide to allow them.

Dale Gieringer, executive director of the California chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, wrote online that “SB 1131 would require all commercial growers, retailers, wholesalers, and transporters to register with the state, but would DO NOTHING to legally protect them by changing the law to explicitly legalize wholesale or retail sales. The bill would also create an extraordinary, new, complicated system to require wholesalers to pay part of the retailers’ sales tax in advance.”

Gieringer urged people to contact Assembly Rules Committee Chairwoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, through whose committee the newly amended bill must go first. “Please tell the Committee to reject Calderon’s underhanded effort to pass this ill-considered bill into law without proper hearings.”

Posted on Friday, August 27th, 2010
Under: California State Senate, marijuana, taxes | 3 Comments »

Harris campaign blasts Cooley for campaign cash

The race for state Attorney General got hotter yet today with a report that the Republican nominee, Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley, never noticed that one of his donors was using straw men to bypass campaign contribution limits, even as he prosecuted others for doing the same thing.

Steve CooleyThe LA Weekly reported that Gladwin Gill, a twice-convicted felon who is about to enter federal prison for campaign-finance fraud, had employees and associates donate to Cooley’s re-election campaign in 2003 and 2004 and then reimbursed them – exactly the kind of scheme for which Cooley prosecuted a billionaire real estate developer’s associates in 2003.

“The bottom line is that all the things that Steve Cooley has been shouting from the mountaintops at and persecuting and prosecuting and hounding people on for years, it seems that when the same thing happens under his own roof, nobody notices,” Ace Smith, campaign manager for Democratic Attorney General nominee and San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, said on a conference call with reporters this afternoon. “This (Gill) is a man who had gotten in trouble with the very same DA’s office, this is a man who was involved in a well-publicized case, and it didn’t dawn on anyone? My goodness, this is unbelievable.”

Smith said Cooley should bring in criminal investigators from outside his office to do an independent probe of what Cooley and his staff knew and when they knew it. Cooley also should return all contributions and gifts to Gill and his associates, and release all records of any contacts between Gill, his associates and his business entities and Cooley’s office, Smith said – all to be accomplished “quickly, rapidly and transparently.”

Told Cooley’s office has said the statute of limitations for any possible offenses expired in 2008, Smith fumed that’s “one of the most disgraceful answers I’ve ever heard from a law enforcement person.” For someone who claims to have built a career on corruption-busting to reject an investigation on such grounds is “pathetic,” he said.

“The only thing pathetic is Ace Smith’s hollow outrage and the story they’ve contrived,” responded Cooley campaign spokesman Kevin Spillane, who accused Smith of having planted the story with the LA Weekly in the first place.

Unlike Cooley, Harris has no real record of prosecuting public corruption cases, and so this is a “pathetic, lame attempt by the Harris campaign to distract from her vulnerabilities,” Spillane added, saying law enforcement groups are overwhelmingly endorsing Cooley.

As for repaying the contributions, Smith said, “If he needs to, he should write a personal check. Maybe he should cash in some of those gifts he took.”

“We’re talking about something that was three campaigns ago,” Spillane replied, noting Los Angeles County requires that campaign accounts be closed after the races are run. “The bottom line is that the money has long since been spent.”

Cooley – who as a popular Republican already holding public office in a Democratic stronghold seems to be one of the strongest members of the GOP statewide slate this November – leads Harris slightly in the polls. Harris’ campaign has made much of the San Francisco Chronicle’s report earlier this month that Cooley accepted gifts from prominent Southern Californians; all of the gifts were reported and none exceeded any legal limits.

Posted on Thursday, August 26th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Attorney General, campaign finance, Kamala Harris, Steve Cooley | 2 Comments »

Obama to give a second back-to-school speech

Remember how President Barack Obama’s back-to-school speech to students across the nation last year – encouraging them to study hard, stay in school and take responsibility for their education – ignited all kinds of indignation from his political critics?

Well, here we go again. The White House today announced the President will deliver his second annual address to the schoolkids on Tuesday, Sept. 14; more details will be announced soon.

Posted on Wednesday, August 25th, 2010
Under: Obama presidency | 9 Comments »