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Archive for August, 2010

Boxer, Fiorina clash on education funding

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., was crowing last week that the $26 billion aid package for cash-strapped states includes $1.2 billion for California that would “keep 16,500 teachers on the job.”

This morning, the campaign of Republican senatorial nominee Carly Fiorina sent out a news release saying California Democrats had other plans for the money: “Another day, another broken promise from Barbara Boxer.”

The Fiorina release pointed to a Sacramento Bee blog item in which state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said this new federal money could help plug part of the state budget’s gaping deficit. It also says that the federal money won’t be available before districts must plan their budgets and school starts, and that the money won’t flow through to schools under the Legislature passes a budget, so jobs will be lost at least in the interim.

Both Steinberg’s and Boxer’s offices shot back later this morning.

“The education jobs law and the guidance from the Department of Education could not be more clear: This funding can only be used to save education jobs that serve our children in public schools – and nothing else,” Boxer said in her statement.

And Nathan Barankin, Steinberg’s communications director, said Fiorina “fails to grasp the basic fundamentals of budgeting.”

“News flash to Fiorina: keeping teachers on the job does help the state balance its budget,” he wrote. “Governor Schwarzenegger’s budget proposes to slash school funding by billions, which would result in thousands of teacher layoffs throughout the state. This is an outcome that Senator Boxer and Senator Steinberg want to avoid. The federal money will ensure our schools can afford to keep teachers on the job and our children receive a quality education.”

Then there’s the issue of timing: whether the federal money would arrive and the state budget would be enacted in time to save teachers’ jobs.

Districts already have budgeted for this coming school year; when there’s uncertainty about the budget, they peg their budgets to the Governor’s May budget revision. The state Education Code dictates timing of budget-related layoffs, with a June deadline, so districts already have issued their pink slips for this coming year.

California applied for the federal funding last Friday, Aug. 13, the first day it was possible to make the request, so the governor’s office clearly was wasting no time. Secretary Arne Duncan told governors that day that the U.S. Department of Education anticipates awarding the money within two weeks of receiving approvable applications – in our case, that would be by Aug. 27; he also urged states to give districts an estimate of how much they’ll receive as soon as possible so they can plan accordingly.

The state need not wait for a budget to be passed and signed into law before passing the federal dollars through to the districts; the state Department of Finance can send a letter to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, the caucuses can sign off on it and the money can go out. The hope is that districts would get it in time to choose whether to bring pink-slipped teachers back right away and staff up for this school year, or to save the money as a bulwark against further layoffs next year.

As California Watch’s Louis Freedberg noted last week, that won’t be possible everywhere. Some districts have started school already, and most others will do so around the end of this month. And local school boards would have to ratify whatever decisions are made on how the funds will be spent.

As Freedberg concluded, all levels of government – federal, state and local – are going to have to work very quickly and efficiently with clear communications if teachers will be re-hired and paid in time to greet most students returning to school this year. That said, I’d bet there’s not a school district in the state that won’t gratefully accept the money, whenever it arrives.

Posted on Tuesday, August 17th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Barbara Boxer, California State Senate, Carly Fiorina, Darrell Steinberg, education, state budget, U.S. Senate | 2 Comments »

Skinner: People are vulnerable, not ‘expendable’

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appears in the new action movie “The Expendables,” but he shouldn’t consider California’s most vulnerable residents among his co-stars, Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner said this morning.

Skinner, D-Berkeley, called a news conference to roll out a new 60-second Web video featuring interviews with local residents who stand to lose their jobs, their independence, their homes and more to budget cuts.

This is part of a talking-points campaign orchestrated through Assembly Speaker John Perez’ Office of Member Services, so you can expect to see similar videos, statements and news conferences from Democratic lawmakers around the state.

The Govs Expendables Poster“It seems like in the governor’s budget plan, some Californians have been deemed to be ‘expendables,’” Skinner said at her event in the Franklin Preschool on Eighth Street in Berkeley, arguing that the Legislature and governor are responsible for ensuring these vulnerable people are protected. “We’re going to do our best to communicate this.”

Michelle Rousey, 39, of Oakland, is wheelchair-bound and requires oxygen; she has been an In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) consumer since the early ‘90s. IHSS cuts are “a deadly proposal to eliminate vital services that we use,” she said at today’s news conference.

Daniel McGrath, 34, of Berkeley, has been an IHSS care provider for six and a half years, with three elderly or disabled clients in the Berkeley area. “Life or death should never be on the table,” he said today.

Michelle Alvarez, 34, of Berkeley, said if her two children can’t go to state-funded preschool and afterschool programs, her husband will have to quit the part-time job he got two months ago in order to stay home and care for them; that would leave the family of four living on her salary as an administrative assistant at UC-Berkeley. “Why is he (Schwarzenegger) treating our kids worse than prisoners?”

Michael Pope, 53, executive director of Berkeley-based Alzheimer’s Services of the East Bay, said “seniors who gave to this state” all their lives stand to lose crucial day care and family support services. “They need our support, this is not a time in their life when we should be throwing them under the bus.”

Franklin Preschool teacher Sandra Farmer, 67, of Pittsburg, said that in her 37 years in early child development, “I’ve never seen anything like I’m seeing right now” – a situation where loss of preschool will put low-income parents out of work, back on unemployment or welfare.

And Janien Harrison, 40, of San Leandro, an IHSS consumer who has used an electric wheelchair to get around since suffering a traumatic brain injury in a 1999 car accident, said “the cuts would make it so I would not have the opportunity to stay in my home” – she’d have to go to a hospital or institution instead, a far costlier proposition than IHSS. “These cuts disenfranchise my life.”

It’s not a “pity party,” Skinner said, but rather a demonstration that people’s ability to live productively and independently is at risk “if we’re not smart with the budget.” She said Democrats put forth a proposal that included billions in cuts – though not cuts that would have put people like this at risk – while also recognizing that “to do justice and to avoid putting people in harms’ way and to avoid job loss, there is a need for revenue.”

“The Republicans are not talking and the governor basically doesn’t seem to care,” she said.

Skinner before the news conference had said “it’s difficult to make a forecast” about how this year’s budget drama will play out. With state Senate Republican Leader Dennis Hollingsworth, R-Murrieta, set to turn over his leadership role to state Sen. Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga, on Sept. 1, the “reset” button is about to be hit.

“There just doesn’t seem to be willingness on the Republican side to really negotiate,” said Skinner, who serves on the budget conference committee. “You just wonder, is there a political motive going on? Did someone decide it’s to their advantage to delay the budget?”

Replied Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear: “We understand Assemblywoman Skinner supports a massive tax increase to protect public employee pensions and the status quo for unions. We simply disagree.”

I’ve received no response from Hollingsworth’s office.

Posted on Tuesday, August 17th, 2010
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Assembly, California State Senate, Dennis Hollingsworth, Nancy Skinner, state budget, taxes | 3 Comments »

CCT posts candidate/measure database

Let’s say you want to know the names of the candidates for the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District or the Knightsen School Board.

What about all those would-be Oakland mayors or the cast of thousands (or so it seems) running for seats in Richmond or Concord.

And there are dozens of state and local ballot measures headed for the Nov. 2 election. Is your city proposing a sales tax or does your school district have a bond measure?

The Contra Costa Times is your answer. We have posted a searchable candidate and ballot measure database for Alameda and Contra Costa counties and portions of San Joaquin and Solano counties.

Check it out.

Posted on Tuesday, August 17th, 2010
Under: 2010 election | 1 Comment »

Appeals court issues stay of Prop. 8 ruling

There will be no same-sex marriages in California this week. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has granted Proposition 8 proponents’ request that the same-sex marriage ban remain in place pending appeal of a federal judge’s opinion finding it unconstitutional.

But the appellate court also has ordered that the case be expedited: A previous briefing schedule that would’ve had papers being filed through December has now been vacated. Instead, the opening brief is now due Sept. 17; the answering brief is due Oct. 18; and the reply brief is due Nov. 1, with oral arguments set for the week of Dec. 6.

And the court has asked the proponents – who were actually interveners in the original suit filed against the state – to include in their opening brief why their appeal shouldn’t be dismissed for lack of standing.

UPDATE @ 5:30 P.M.: The three 9th Circuit appellate judges who ordered the stay are Edward Leavy, Michael Hawkins and Sidney Thomas – for those who keep count, that’s one Reagan nominee and two Clinton nominees. (Though if you want to judge books by their covers, don’t forget that Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, who has declared Proposition 8 unconstitutional, was first nominated by Reagan and then re-nominated by George H.W. Bush.)

From General Counsel Andy Pugno:

“California voters spoke clearly on Prop 8, and we’re glad to see their votes will remain valid while the legal challenges work their way up through the courts. Invalidating the people’s vote based on just one judge’s opinion would not have been appropriate, and would have shaken the people’s confidence in our elections and the right to vote itself.”

From Freedom to Marry Executive Director Evan Wolfson:

“Today’s 9th Circuit order expediting appeal of Chief Judge Walker’s persuasive decision striking down Prop 8 and maintaining a stay during the appellate review, is a disappointing delay for many Californians who hoped to celebrate the freedom to marry and full inclusion in society as soon as possible. But there are many twists in the road to justice, and we are encouraged by the court’s setting a fast pace for the appeal, revealing that the judges understand how important a quick end to the exclusion from marriage is to gay couples, their loved ones, and all Americans who believe in equality under the law. While the lawyers make the case for the freedom to marry in the courts of law, we have more months in which to make our case in the court of public opinion. The evidence at trial overwhelmingly confirmed that there is no good reason for withholding the freedom to marry from committed couples, and the Governor, the Attorney General, a majority of Californians, and a majority of Americans agree with Judge Walker that the freedom to marry helps families, while hurting no one. Prop 8 should never have been on the ballot and we look forward to seeing its stain removed from the law books, as we push forward on other fronts across the country.”

From Alliance Defense Fund Litigation Staff Counsel Jim Campbell:

“It made no sense to impose a radical change in marriage on the people of California before all appeals on their behalf are heard, so the 9th Circuit’s decision is clearly the right call. Refusing to stay the decision would only have created more legal confusion surrounding any same-sex unions entered while the appeal is pending. This case has just begun. ADF and the rest of the legal team are confident that the right of Americans to protect marriage in their state constitutions will ultimately be upheld.”

Posted on Monday, August 16th, 2010
Under: same-sex marriage | 6 Comments »

CD11: Harmer seeks town halls with McNerney





GOP Congressional District 11 nominee David Harmer’s campaign has delivered a written invitation to Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney to appear in six town hall meetings in the next two months.

I can predict the answer already: No.

Challengers everywhere challenge incumbents to town halls or debates or whatever, all in the name of educating voters. McNerney did the same when he ran against then-incumbent Richard Pombo followed by 2008 GOP nominee Dean Andal’s unfulfilled request of McNerney.

Voters might be educated during such events.

But most incumbents figure they can educate voters without the presence of a challenger, who benefits from the free media he or she might not otherwise receive. And there is always a debate over an acceptable moderator and an independent source of questions, etc.

So, my prediction is this: Total silence from the McNerney camp followed by a press release chock full of indignation about how the incumbent refuses to talk to the people.

That’s not to say that Harmer and McNerney will never appear together. Nonpartisan groups will probably try to put together candidate forums between now and Nov. 2.

The CD11 candidates have been invited to participate in a taped, televised round-table sponsored by the Contra Times and the League of Women Voters, which will air throughout Contra Costa County in September and October. I am the moderator and I am writing the questions.

Here’s the letter from Harmer:

David Harmer Challenges Jerry McNerney to

Take Campaign to the People

Harmer invites McNerney to series of town halls throughout

11th Congressional District


August 16, 2010

(San Ramon, CA) – As the election arm of Nancy Pelosi and the congressional Democratic leadership ramps up its attack campaign for the fall, David Harmer has challenged Jerry McNerney to a much different tack: taking both campaigns directly to the voters through a series of town hall discussions.

In a letter delivered to McNerney’s campaign headquarters Friday, Harmer proposed that the two candidates participate in town hall meetings in Lodi, Manteca, Tracy, Danville, Pleasanton, and Morgan Hill. The proposed timeline includes three town halls in September, and three in October.

“This is not a debate,” said David Harmer. “The point here is to foster discussion about our respective plans for the district. Jerry McNerney has been adamant in his support for Nancy Pelosi and Barak Obama’s big-government agenda. On the other hand, I believe in Ronald Reagan’s vision for a smaller, more efficient government that fosters a healthy free-market economy. These forums will give voters the opportunity to hear and understand the differences between McNerney’s record and Reagan’s vision, and I strongly urge Jerry McNerney to join me in this venture.”

“McNerney has been criticized since his government healthcare vote of avoiding town hall meetings,” added Campaign Manager Cameron Wilkinson. “This gives McNerney an opportunity to get back outside of the Beltway and join David Harmer for informative discussions with the voters. The point is not to debate, but instead to connect with the constituents and let them know that their elected officials are interested in being transparent about their policies.”

The Harmer team is awaiting a decision by the McNerney campaign on this invitation.

Posted on Monday, August 16th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, congressional district 11 | 9 Comments »

Bay Area mayors discuss stimulus, green jobs

More than a dozen California mayors, including several from the Bay Area, are meeting in San Francisco today to talk about how California cities are using federal economic stimulus money to make local communities more energy efficient and to create more green jobs.

Most interesting among them seems to be San Ramon Mayor Abram Wilson, a Republican who’s again running against Democrat Joan Buchanan (now the incumbent) in the 15th Assembly District. Wilson – though he spoke at TEA Party rallies last year and this year – has been trying to stake out ground as a moderate, and his attendance at an event such as this seems significant in that context.

Today’s event, hosted by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, was chaired by Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster (a Democrat), joined by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom (also the Democratic nominee for state Attorney General). Cathy Zoi, U.S. Department of Energy’s Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy was there as well.

First funded under last year’s stimulus package and administered by the Energy Department, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) program is meant to help mayors in reducing city energy use and climate emissions. It allocates $2.8 billion directly to cities and counties to improve energy efficiency and spur economic growth in the green sector, providing direct formula funding to 215 cities and 13 counties in California.

“The EECBG program is allowing us to improve energy efficiency in almost 150 buildings serving San Francisco’s diverse neighborhoods,” Newsom said at a press availability today. “More importantly, these energy efficiency projects create and sustain green jobs, save people money on their utility bills, and cut the City’s carbon emissions by more than 3,000 tons a year.”

The U.S. Conference of Mayors will be lobbying Congress this fall with a push to continue the program as means of green job creation in cities and metro areas where jobs are needed most.

Other Bay Area officials listed as being at today’s meeting included Alameda Mayor Beverly Johnson, Cupertino Mayor Kris Wang, Pacifica Mayor Sue Digre, San Leandro Mayor Tony Santos and South San Francisco Councilman Pedro Gonzalez. The former four are Democrats, while Gonzalez is a Republican.

Posted on Monday, August 16th, 2010
Under: economy, energy, Environment | No Comments »

Wiley strikes again

Wile(y) CoyoteReader “Wiley,” who as I’ve noted before has made a hobby of forwarding e-mail chain-letter disinformation to any news media address he can find, really stepped it up while I’ve been on vacation over the past 10 days – no fewer than 14 missives since last Sunday.

Again, he’s apparently miffed that I didn’t respond; here’s the message atop the latest, from yesterday afternoon:


Er, thanks for the shout-out, Wiley. This was the attachment:

Why was there no news coverage of this raid on the Arizona border???

Definitely NOT Jose wishing to come pick lettuce!!
This is exactly why we MUST support ARIZONA.

This seizure was just five days ago. Right on the Arizona border!

This is but one seizure that has taken place along the border over the past year. There have been many more like this. (but you won’t hear about it on media news.)

Not a mention on ABC – CBS – NBC – MSNBC – or CNN news!

These photos and reports come from a Spanish language news source.

Thank God for the border patrol and that they did not allow this to get in.

The attachment continued with a string of photos – too many to duplicate here, so I’ll just pick a few:

stash of assault rifles

Military caps and equipment were among the cache of weapons

It was a major asenal of weapons including grenade launchers.

You get the idea. Scary, huh?

But once again, Wiley leaped before he looked.
1.) The bust was made in Higueras, near Monterey – that’s about 70 miles from Texas, but almost 700 miles from Arizona.
2.) The bust was made by the Mexican Army, not the U.S. Border Patrol.
3.) It happened in May, not a few days ago.
4.) Newsweek reported the guns had actually come from the U.S., bought by a Mexican drug cartel. In fact, as U.S. newspapers have been reporting for years, the flow of guns from the U.S. to Mexico – not vice versa – has become a huge problem.

So again, Wiley has no clue. He’s eager to believe that illegal immigrants are ready to pour over the border, armed to the teeth, ready to take his job, his tax money, his home, whatever, but won’t lift a finger to find out that it’s just plain untrue.

James Poniewozik has a great piece on this syndrome in this week’s Time magazine. That seems to be behind a paywall, but he’d blogged on the topic earlier this month:

So what exactly is the media approach that would have dispelled the conspiracy theories? Ignoring them? Covering them wall-to-wall? I’m not sure either would have made a dent. When it comes to some politically charged controversies, many people simply live in a post-fact zone, in which the theoretical possibility of a wild conspiracy (that confirms their worst beliefs about their adversaries) trumps the extreme likelihood of its being false (which is no fun at all). And they have plenty of talkers willing to encourage them.

They’ve also constructed self-reinforcing belief fortresses, in which media debunking of their beliefs only serves to confirm them. Take this post, for instance. If you believe Obama was born in Kenya, you probably also think that here I am, a liberal member of the liberal mainstream media, trying to impress on you information to the benefit of our liberal President! Doesn’t the obvious untrustworthiness of the entire institution I serve delegitimize any “proof” I might offer you? Why would I be working so hard to convince you that you’re wrong if you weren’t right? Consider the source! What am I so afraid of? Etc.

I’m not sure whether I should continue blogging about Wiley’s wild rants, as I’m starting to think he’s non compos mentis, and it’s getting to be like beating a dead horse, anyway. I hate to see crap like this spread around unanswered, but I wonder if I’m just giving it a bigger forum by putting it out here and wasting my time besides. Thoughts, anyone?

Posted on Monday, August 16th, 2010
Under: Uncategorized | 10 Comments »

New ad by ‘Jerry, Inc’ mocks Whitman’s settlements

After several weeks of dark time, “Jerry Brown, Inc.” (otherwise known as California Working Families for Jerry Brown for Governor 2010) will soon be back on air.

Titled “Shoved,” it will begin airing a new TV spot (albeit cable rather than network) starting Monday, part of some last, parting shots against GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman. No decision has been made on how long it will run, though the labor-backed group is working on another that should take “Jerry Brown, Inc.,” (the Whitman camp’s endearment) into Labor Day, when Brown will finally take the reins of his TV advertising campaign.

This 30-second ad makes light of a few of Whitman’s indiscretions, which she made go away with convenient settlements.

Posted on Friday, August 13th, 2010
Under: Uncategorized | 15 Comments »

Pittsburg elected says Seeno drove him out

Pittsburg Councilman Michael Kee says the Seeno developers threatened to wage nasty campaign against him if he ran for re-election. See Rick Radin’s story today.

Per Radin, Kee, who was first elected in 2002, said county Supervisor Federal Glover told him that the Seeno construction family was determined that he lose his seat.

“Glover told me that the Seeno family was willing to spend every last dime they had to get me out,” Kee said. “With some of the hit pieces and other things going on, I didn’t want to put my family through (a race).”

Posted on Friday, August 13th, 2010
Under: Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | 9 Comments »

Alco Dems hire executive director

The Alameda County Democratic Party has hired Michael Colbruno as its new executive director.

Read on for the full news release.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, August 12th, 2010
Under: Alameda County, Democratic Party, Democratic politics | No Comments »