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Archive for September, 2010

Miller to Boehner: We’re not that close



Stop with the pals talk, Democratic Rep. George Miller told Minority House Leader John Boehner of Ohio in so many words today.

Boehner referenced Miller, and a bill they worked on together, as part of his speech at the American Enterprise Institute, citing it as example of how the Republican would work across the aisle as speaker if the GOP wins control of the House in the mid-term election.  Nine years ago, both men worked to pass  “No Child Left Behind” legislation.

Boehner has made this reference to Miller on several occasions now, prompting  about five high profile national reporters in recent days to contact the Democrat’s office to inquire about the unlikely pals.

Miller is having none of it.

“Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth,” Miller said. “Our work together on No Child Left Behind was one moment in time that has itself been left behind. In fact, our work together on that bill illustrates an entirely opposite point than what the Minority Leader would have us believe.”

Read on for Miller’s full statement.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, September 30th, 2010
Under: Congress | 3 Comments »

Gubernatorial and Senate poll roundup

There has been a flurry of poll results released recently in the two big races on California’s ballot this November, and although we’ve been rolling ‘em out as they come, perhaps it would be useful to have them all together in one place, so everyone can get an idea of which way the wind is blowing (with the caveat, of course, that it’s still a loooong way to Election Day).

In the U.S. Senate race between Democratic incumbent Barbara Boxer and Republican nominee Carly Fiorina:

  • CNN/Time, Sept. 24-28, 786 likely voters: Boxer 52%, Fiorina 43%
  • PPIC, Sept. 19-26, 1,104 likely voters: Boxer 42%, Fiorina 35%
  • SurveyUSA, Sept. 19-21, 610 likely voters: Boxer 49%, Fiorina 43%
  • Rasmussen Reports, Sept. 20, 750 likely voters: Boxer 47%, Fiorina 43%
  • LA Times/USC, Sept. 15-22, 887 likely voters: Boxer 51%, Fiorina 43%
  • Field, Sept. 14-21, 599 likely voters: Boxer 47%, Fiorina 41%
  • Public Policy Polling, Sept. 14-16, 630 likely voters: Boxer 50%, Fiorina 42%
  • In the gubernatorial race between Democratic nominee Jerry Brown and Republican nominee Meg Whitman:

  • CNN/Time, Sept. 24-28, 786 likely voters: Brown 52%, Whitman 43%
  • PPIC, Sept. 19-26, 1,104 likely voters: Whitman 38%, Brown 37%
  • SurveyUSA, Sept. 19-21, 610 likely voters: Brown 46%, Whitman 43%
  • Rasmussen Reports, Sept. 20, 750 likely voters: Brown 47%, Whitman 46%
  • LA Times/USC, Sept. 15-22, 887 likely voters: Brown 49%, Whitman 44%
  • Field, Sept. 14-21, 599 likely voters: Brown 41%, Whitman 41%
  • Public Policy Polling, Sept. 14-16, 630 likely voters: Brown 47%, Whitman 42%
  • Posted on Thursday, September 30th, 2010
    Under: 2010 election, 2010 governor's race, Barbara Boxer, Carly Fiorina, Jerry Brown, Meg Whitman, polls, U.S. Senate | 1 Comment »

    ALIPAC: Whitman should be arrested

    The Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, among the most conservative groups calling for the strictest crackdowns on undocumented immigrants, says both Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman and her former housekeeper of nine years should be arrested and charged with immigration and employment violations.

    William Gheen“We need equal justice for both the illegal alien and the employer,” said ALIPAC President William Gheen said in a news release. “Nicky Diaz should be charged and deported and Meg Whitman should face the existing penalties under current US law as well. No Amnesty for Whitman or Diaz, the Rule of Law must be restored in America.”

    Diaz, accompanied by celebrity attorney Gloria Allred, claimed yesterday that Whitman – who employed her as a housekeeper and nanny from 2000 to 2009 – knew she most likely was an undocumented immigrant but kept her on until June 2009, when she was preparing to launch her run for governor. Whitman said she’d hired Diaz through an employment agency – an agency her campaign refused to name yesterday – upon which she relied to verify the Social Security number and other bogus information Diaz provided; she said she didn’t know Diaz was here illegally until Diaz confessed it to her, at which time she was fired.

    “Best illegal alien actor award of 2010 should go to Nicki Diaz for her role as the tearful victimized invader,” Gheen said in his release. “Meg Whitman’s financial gain from the movie rights should be seized by the courts to compensate the American taxpayers who have paid the price for her illegal laborer over the years.”

    The ALIPAC release claims, without providing supporting data, that “the American public has indicated in numerous scientific polls that well over 80 percent of Americans want employers like Meg Whitman heavily fined. Over 50 percent want the employers of illegals, like Whitman, jailed. Americans have also shown overwhelming support for the arrest, detention, and deportation of illegal immigrants like Nicki Diaz. Both the US Constitution and the existing laws of Congress mandate that both Whitman and Diaz should be charged and treated equally under those laws.”

    “We stand with the majority of American citizens who want our existing border and immigration laws enforced!” Gheen said. “Therefore we call on all appropriate authorities to arrest and charge both Meg Whitman and Nicki Diaz.”

    Posted on Thursday, September 30th, 2010
    Under: 2010 governor's race, Immigration, Meg Whitman | 11 Comments »

    Whitman: Reward state workers for losing weight?

    Reporters covering Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman’s visit to Cisco Systems in San Jose this morning only wanted to know what she knew and when she knew it about her former housekeeper who turned out to be an illegal immigrant.

    But there was something Whitman said during her chat with Cisco CEO John Chambers and several hundred employees that might’ve made a headline on any other day: State workers might want to start watching their weight if she’s elected.

    A Cisco employee teleconferenced into the event from Pleasanton asked the candidate about how to increase access to and affordability of health care. Whitman replied by saying there are examples to follow in corporate America; as an example she cited Pleasanton-based Safeway, which provided financial incentives for workers to control their blood pressure, lose weight and not smoke. The company’s health care costs have remained flat as a result, she said.

    “Maybe we can start with state employees,” she said, drawing a chuckle from the audience which seemed to make her realize just what she was proposing. “I’ve just made news, which is something you really don’t want to do.”

    More of Whitman’s Cisco appearance, after the jump…
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted on Wednesday, September 29th, 2010
    Under: 2010 governor's race, Meg Whitman | No Comments »

    DA candidate to consult on Mel Gibson lawsuit



    Contra Costa District Attorney candidate Dan O’Malley will serve as a victim’s rights legal adviser to the chief attorney for Oksana Grigorieva, the woman who alleges that her former lover and superstar Mel Gibson struck her in a violent rage, chipped two teeth and left her with a black eye.

    “We have hired Dan to help us link with the victim rights community,” said renowned defense attorney Daniel Horowitz, whose wife, Pamela, was murdered in 2005 at their Lafayette property by a local teen-ager. “I know his sister, Nancy (O’Malley, Alameda County District Attorney) well but she is not, of course, available.”

    O’Malley, who is running for the countywide seat against Deputy District Attorney Mark Peterson, said he agreed to consult on the case based on his family’s longtime involvement and support of victims’ rights groups such as Stand Against Domestic Violence.

    O’Malley had not yet been fully briefed on Grigorieva’s allegations — Google the case on entertainment industry publications for more details — and could not comment on the specifics of the case.

    But Gibson has made counter-allegations that his one-time girlfriend, and mother of their infant daughter, tried to extort money. Los Angeles police are investigating both allegations, according to a Reuters news story.

    “When (Horowitz) called me, I said I would help out because many law enforcement officers and seasoned prosecutors don’t understand the subtleties of the larger issue,” O’Malley said. “As a society, we often blame the victims rather than focus on the crime. We say she shouldn’t have had a drink. We say she shouldn’t have been out at midnight. We say she should not have worn provocative clothing. But we should be teaching the batterers not to batter. We should not blame the victim.”

    If O’Malley is elected on Nov. 2, he could no longer work for Horowitz, of course. But O’Malley says he does not anticipate a lengthy or time-consuming role.

    “I will use my resources through my relationship with Stand Against Domestic Violation and my sister and the things I have learned in the past 25 years to help (Horowitz) get out the message, one that is really a victim’s rights issue,” O’Malley said.

    Posted on Tuesday, September 28th, 2010
    Under: 2010 election | 17 Comments »

    AD15: Watch debate video

    Watch my Flipvideo of this morning’s debate in the Assembly District 15 race between Democratic incumbent Joan Buchanan and GOP nominee Abram Wilson.

    The candidates answered questions posed by the Walnut Creek Rotary Club at its weekly morning meeting at Scott’s Seafood Restaurant in Walnut Creek. The moderator was Rotarian Howard Herbert of Danville.

    For a written account of the debate, click here to read my story.

    Posted on Tuesday, September 28th, 2010
    Under: 2010 election | No Comments »

    Forest Baker’s 15 minutes of fame?

    I received the following missive today from Forest Baker, the Republican nominee to challenge Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, in the 13th Congressional District. Is he feeling bitter? Sanguine? Gloomy? Jocular? I’m not entirely sure:

    Forest BakerWe were told several months ago by one of the senior political journalists here in the Bay Area that “Forest Baker might be the best politician in America since Ronald Reagan… but he won’t get elected as a Republican in Congressional District 13, so it really doesn’t matter.”

    In the artist, writer and fashion designer communities there is always an urge to discover the next emerging star. It is part of the American myth that anyone might aspire to such greatness. Andy Warhol made great fun of such possibilities by declaring that eventually everyone would become world famous for exactly 15 minutes. Other deep thinkers are somewhat more cynical.

    During the 1960’s it became popular to imagine that anyone who could stretch a canvas and hold a paint-brush could declare himself to be an artist and he would indeed be creating art…no matter how untrained he was. His work was classified as naïve and if he was astoundingly charming then he might get a show in New York. Sometimes he was a one-trick pony with one thing that was pretty interesting. More often he was nice to look at and enjoyable to talk to. The art press would fawn over him for one season and then he would disappear. This went on for a number of years but we don’t do that so much with painters today.

    Similarly, professional writers who make their living (with a day job) as journalists have been hard put upon when their newspapers and magazines have suffered from competition with the new social media and the bloggers. Happily, blogging is in decline as readers have grown exhausted with the total rubbish these angry fringe dwellers insinuate into the national conversation. And we yearn for the intelligent prose of the professional writers once more.

    Emerging fashion designers are in the worst spot of all. They occupy a position in the industrial foodchain where they create margin (profit) opportunities for the factories managers who manufacture their goods and for the boutique owners who take their stuff on consignment. However, there is no place for them to actually make any money themselves. Therefore, they literally always fail in two years and are replaced by the next crop of aspiring young design school graduates bankrolled by Daddy.

    The fashion magazine editors understand how this business works, yet they are tasked with validating their glowing reviews of those established brands that purchase $75,000 full page ads… by talking excitedly about fresh designers every month. But it does not matter one little bit: who. So they “discover” someone attractive and charming, usually fresh out of one of the important design schools and sometimes the American myth engages so that a total amateur with no formal training but who is making handbags out of duct-tape and safety-pins will be featured on the pages of Lucky Magazine just as if she had some idea of what she was doing. Because it just doesn’t matter. A young designer could be the next Coco Chanel. But if she is living in a loft in Williamsburg and she is not working for Gucci then her stuff is never going to get into Barneys and it just doesn’t matter. She might just as well be working in duct-tape instead of leather as far as the people at Conde Nast are concerned.

    So here we are in Bay Area politics… dominated by the Democrats and with Republican politicians operating out in the radical fringe. Your business at the newspaper is to entertain readers. Charming candidates, validating the myth that anyone here in America can do anything at all, if he wants it bad enough and in spite of the fact that he only just recently thought about politics and otherwise never prepared himself to do any of the actual work. In the year of the Tea Party that story has traction and entertainment value. People want to believe that populist politicians… however painfully naïve… are competitive. It’s not true, of course, but it doesn’t really matter if Yves Saint Laurent is going to win on November 2nd anyway.

    The 13th Congressional District – which includes Alameda, Fremont, Hayward, Newark, San Leandro and Union City as well as the unincorporated San Lorenzo area, much of Sunol and part of Cherryland – is registered about 54.07 percent Democrat, 16.83 percent Republican and 24.58 percent decline-to-state. Stark’s closest electoral race was his first, in 1972, when he won 52.9 percent of the vote; he has received more than 70 percent of the general election vote in each of his last six re-elections.

    Posted on Tuesday, September 28th, 2010
    Under: 2010 election, Pete Stark, U.S. House | 6 Comments »

    U.S. Chamber launches new ad against Boxer

    On the eve of the second debate between U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Republican senatorial nominee Carly Fiorina, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce today launched a “28 Years of Barbara Boxer” television ad in Los Angeles and elsewhere in California to highlight the incumbent’s “tax-and-spend voting record, which has helped drive away California jobs,” according to the chamber’s news release.

    “America is going broke because Barbara Boxer has voted to raise taxes and add trillions to the national debt during her nearly three decades in Washington,” said Bill Miller, the chamber’s national political director. “Her burdensome policies are making California businesses less competitive, costing the state jobs.”

    “If you want to know why California can’t create or keep new jobs, the answer lies at the doorstep of career politicians like Barbara Boxer,” he said. “Our ad reminds Californians of Boxer’s anti-jobs record and urges the Senator to stop supporting ballooning budget deficits.”

    The union-backed U.S. Chamber Watch issued a statement today saying that, “As usual, it turns out the ad is just an empty political attack reel at the behest of anonymous corporate interests and the shadow Republican Party. The Chamber’s attacks on Boxer simply reflect its own agenda.”

    U.S. Chamber Watch’s release said the chamber supported policies that led to the financial crisis, such as softening derivatives regulation; supports extension of all of the Bush tax cuts, which would add to the federal deficit; fought health care reform; and opposed both a bill to crack down on off-shoring of U.S. jobs as well as the “Buy American” provisions of the 2010 jobs bill.

    The chamber had launched other ads attacking Boxer earlier this month, airing in Sacramento, Fresno, Bakersfield and San Diego.

    Meanwhile, the “Vota Tus Valores” (“Vote Your Values”) 10-day statewide bus tour of Latino community leaders supporting Fiorina will be in the East Bay even as the debate occurs tomorrow:

  • Noon – Concord Community Park
  • 1:30 PM – Main St & Navy Way in Alameda
  • 3:15 PM – Hillview Park in San Jose
  • 4:45 PM – Central Park in San Mateo
  • A Field Poll released Friday found Boxer leads Fiorina among Latino likely voters, 48 percent to 29 percent, with 23 percent undecided; that’s a wider margin than Boxer’s lead among all likely voters, which was 47 percent to 41 percent with 12 percent undecided.

    Posted on Tuesday, September 28th, 2010
    Under: 2010 election, Barbara Boxer, Carly Fiorina, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

    AD15: GOP drops cash on Wilson





    The California Republican Party dropped a total of $142,000 today and Friday into the candidacy of GOP Assembly candidate Abram Wilson, according to state campaign filings of contributions in excess of $5,000.

    I’ve been wondering when someone was going to spend some money on this race, viewed as one of the most competitive of Assembly contests in the state.

    In 2008, Wilson and the successful Democratic nominee, Joan Buchanan, and their respective supporters, spent a staggering $3.4 million.

    And now, here it almost October and voting by mail starts Monday, and the money adds up to just under $1 million combined between the two candidates.

    It’s expected to be a tough year for Democratic incumbents. The state still doesn’t have an approved budget. The economy is in the dumps. People are angry and frustrated with political gridlock in Sacramento and Washington, D.C.

    But Buchanan has a couple of things going for her in the 15th District.

    The Democratic Party’s registration lead over Republicans has expanded to 6 percentage points, up from 1.7 points in 2008. If Democrats show up to the polls, and that’s not a sure thing, she will have an advantage.

    Buchanan, of Alamo, could also benefit from the fact that her opponent is the mayor of San Ramon, a city that pays its manager, Herb Moniz, more than any other city executive in California, according to a recent League of Cities compensation survey. (Three other cities reported higher total payments in 2009 than San Ramon but the figures included retirement payouts.)

    Wilson has steadfastly defended Moniz’ pay, citing San Ramon’s solid fiscal standing as just one example of the executive’s valuable skills. The mayor also accurately notes that the compensation figures were self-reported to the league and many did not include health insurance and other benefits, making direct comparisons difficult.

    Nonetheless, in the wake of the Bell scandal, where the city manager earned $800,000 a year and he, along with a half-dozen individuals, were indicted on criminal charges related to misuse of public funds, the voters are undeniably sensitive to the issue.

    Posted on Monday, September 27th, 2010
    Under: 2010 election, Assembly District 15 | 3 Comments »

    Steve Cooley swipes at Jerry Brown, CARB chair

    I spoke today with Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley, the Republican nominee for California attorney general, for an article on the AG’s race that we’ll run in the next few weeks. During that chat, he took a dual shot at current Attorney General Jerry Brown – also the Democratic gubernatorial nominee – and California Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary Nichols.

    Steve CooleyCooley was speaking about the role he believes the attorney general should take in setting and enforcing policies that don’t hinder job creation and economic development; he said businesses too often get negativity from state agencies and end up delaying their development or settling in other states as a result.

    I asked him if he was saying the attorney general shouldn’t enforce the law of the land, including environmental protections and business code laws, especially as he’d just asserted to me the importance of the attorney general enforcing existing law as it pertains to same-sex marriage. He acknowledged the AG must enforce the law, but said those laws must be examined to make sure they’re applied in a fair, unbiased manner without conflicting messages between state agencies.

    I noted that the AG’s office doesn’t necessarily have dominion over how all state agencies enforce the regulations they promulgate; as an example I cited the various bodies enforcing air-quality regulations. He seized upon that, and called out Brown for failing to dig into what he says could’ve been malfeasance at CARB.

    In a nutshell, CARB staffer Hien Tran – who authored a statistical study on diesel soot effects on which the board was basing stringent, controversial new regulations – lied about where he’d obtained his Ph.D. Per the San Francisco Chronicle last December:

    State researchers must redo a report that concluded 3,500 people prematurely die each year due to diesel pollution – a finding that was used to justify imposing the nation’s strictest regulations on diesel engines.

    The California Air Resources Board ordered a new report after the employee who wrote it was found to have lied about his academic credentials. That decision was made Wednesday after an air board hearing on the rules, which critics want to delay because of concerns over the cost of retrofitting and replacing the polluting engines.

    The head of the air board, Mary Nichols, apologized for not telling all board members about the problem with the report’s author, Hien Tran, who claimed he had a doctorate in statistics from UC Davis, when he actually had obtained the degree from an unaccredited distance learning school. Nichols knew about the problem before the board voted on the regulation.

    Tran has since been demoted. One air board member asked that the regulations be suspended, but that idea was turned down.

    Cooley today said Brown should’ve jumped in.

    “This is a person who falsified his credentials and Mary Nichols concealed that from the Air Resources Board … a major bureaucratic failing on her part, not to notify people who had to make policy decisions based on her report,” he said. “Jerry Brown just looked the other way, I’d have been knocking at her door asking questions.”

    Brown’s office at first said he was unavailable until 5 p.m. today, so I told them I wait until 6 p.m. before posting this; they then said a few minutes ago that they still couldn’t reach him, so they’d decline to comment.

    An e-mail sent to CARB earlier this afternoon wasn’t answered.

    Posted on Monday, September 27th, 2010
    Under: 2010 election, 2010 governor's race, Attorney General, Jerry Brown, Steve Cooley | 4 Comments »