AG candidates spar over abortion rights

San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, the Democratic nominee for state Attorney General, held a news conference this morning to call upon her Republican opponent – Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley – to clarify his position on abortion rights.

Cooley “has consistently refused” to state his position, Harris’ campaign said in a news release, citing his refusal to answer NARAL Pro-Choice California’s questionnaire.

“NARAL Pro-Choice California is proud to endorse Kamala Harris for Attorney General. She will continue her long record of leadership to protect the right of women and their families to make personal, private decisions,” NARAL director Amy Everitt said in Harris’ news release. “California needs an Attorney General who is not afraid to lead, and who can take the time to return a phone call or fill out a questionnaire about one of the most important and fundamental rights that the A.G. has jurisdiction over. And California needs an A.G. who understands that choice is not a partisan issue. Steve Cooley has been silent on where he stands on a woman’s right to chose despite numerous phone calls, emails and letters.”

Harris’ camp says the state attorney general has statutory duties dealing with abortion rights, including implementation of new regulations surrounding federal health-care reform, enforcement of the California Freedom of Access to Clinic and Church Entrances (FACE) Act, enforcement of California’s laws ensuring timely access to emergency contraception, and more.

Steve CooleyBut Cooley’s campaign says her accusations are a load of balderdash: “The only problem with the latest Harris attack is that Steve Cooley is pro-choice. He’s always been pro-choice. Even worse, Kamala Harris knows it.”

Cooley’s news release says he didn’t answer NARAL’s questionnaire because it’s not a neutral organization “whatever claims they’ll make,” and “could be counted on to attack Cooley regardless of what our campaign did or didn’t say. Today’s presser proves it.”

“The bottom line: the trailing Harris is desperately trying to change the topic from her poor record on public safety and lack of support from law enforcement to something else. Anything else. So she is trying to manufacture phony issues with remarkably lame attacks,” Cooley’s camp claimed.


Embattled child care groups take to the streets

Legislative leaders and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger say they’ve reached agreement on the framework for a budget deal that could be brought to a vote as early as next week.

And Bay Area child development centers say they’d damned well better see it through.

Agencies are taking to the streets next Wednesday, Sept. 29 for a march and rally to highlight how state-funded childcare agencies across California are scrambling to survive; the state hasn’t paid them since July 1, and their reserves and credit lines are quickly running out. And for many parents, no childcare means no work.

4C’s of Alameda County, BAHIA Inc., Bananas Inc., Child Care Links, Emergency Shelter Program, Estrella Family Services, Martinez Early Childhood Center, Parent Voices, San Jose Day Nursery and others will participate in the event, starting with an 8 a.m. march of an estimated 1,000 people along Mission Blvd. in Fremont, from the Fremont Sports Complex and to Fremont BART. These childcare providers, teachers, administrators, parents and children will then take BART to downtown Oakland for a noon rally at the Elihu M. Harris State Building on Clay Street.

Fremont-based Kidango is taking it a step further by actually closing its 41 child development centers in 10 Bay Area cities next Wednesday.

This “Closure for a Cause” is “a drastic action, as it interrupts the continuity of care of over 2,000 children and their families and incurs additional costs for the agency,” Kidango said in its news release. “Additionally, the private sector will be impacted, as parents will not be able to attend work, without their childcare. Kidango believes that drastic action is needed, as the voice of the childcare industry must be heard by the Sacramento politicians who are holding the most vulnerable people in California hostage.”

The situation is dire. BAHIA, one of the East Bay’s only Spanish bilingual child care programs, announced to parents this week that it would close on October 15 if a budget isn’t passed. And Oakland’s 24-Hour Child Development Center might be done sooner than that.

“And, by the way, the state child care licensing system has severely curtailed their activities and will no longer be accepting new applications from centers or family child care providers who want to get licensed to do child care,” said Arlyce Currie, program director at Bananas Inc., Northern Alameda County’s child care resource and referral service since 1973. “The infrastructure is crumbling.”


Where to watch or hear the gubernatorial debate

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jerry Brown and Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman will meet for their first debate at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the University of California, Davis’ Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts. The debate is sponsored by Capital Public Radio, KCRA-TV (NBC) Sacramento, The Sacramento Bee and UC Davis; Southern California partners are Southern California Public Radio and La Opinión.

UC Davis will stream the debate live on the web, or you can see it live on KCRA, or you can listen in on Capital Public Radio.

Or, if you’re wanting to watch it with a crowd, political junkies of all stripes can drop in at the University of California, Berkeley’s Institute of Government Studies, 109 Moses Hall, at 6 p.m. to see the debate on a big screen and enjoy some light refreshments.

The San Mateo County Democratic Party and the California Teachers Association will gather to watch the debate on a big screen in the CTA’s main conference center, 1705 Murchison Dr. in Burlingame; doors open at 5 p.m. for refreshments, socializing and a brief meeting. For more details, call the county party headquarters at 650-581-1350.

I looked on the Republican central committee websites for Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo and San Francisco counties, as well as the Bay Area GOP site, but I found no mention of any Republican watch parties.


New poll numbers on Prop. 19

The campaign for Proposition 19 – the measure on California’s ballot next month that would legalize marijuana cultivation, possession and use – is citing new poll numbers it says show the measure is favored to pass.

From Public Policy Polling:

PPP continues to find Proposition 19, which would legalize marijuana in California, favored to pass. The margin in this week’s poll is 47/38 in favor, which does represent a tightening since July when we found it ahead 52/36. One thing that’s interesting about the marijuana polling is that it really doesn’t break down along party lines to the same extent most of the things we poll do. 56 percent of Democrats support it to 28 percent opposed and 30 percent of Republicans support it with 57 percent opposed. That’s a lot more division within the ranks of both parties than we’re seeing on a lot of stuff.

The PPP poll surveyed 630 likely California voters from September 14 through 16; the poll has a 3.9-percentage-point margin of error.

And from Survey USA:

Support for Proposition 19, which would legalize marijuana and allow for its regulation and taxation, also remains essentially unchanged over the past 3 weeks. Today, 47 percent (of likely voters) vote “Yes” on 19, 42 percent vote “No.” Opposition to 19 is above 50 percent among conservatives, Republicans, tea party supporters, pro-life voters, and the oldest voters. Support is above 50 percent among men, younger voters, liberals, Democrats, pro-choice voters, higher-income voters, and in the Bay Area.

SurveyUSA – commissioned by KABC-TV Los Angeles, KPIX-TV San Francisco, KGTV-TV San Diego, and KFSN-TV Fresno – surveyed 1,000 California adults Sept. 19 through 21; 850 of them were registered to vote, and 610 of those were deemed likely to vote in next month’s election. The likely voters subset has a 4-percentage-point margin of error.

Prop. 19’s proponents are spinning this as good news, as the yesses outnumber the noes, but I don’t think it’s that simple.

Neither of these polls show the measure with more than 50 percent; the conventional wisdom is that a California ballot measure needs to be showing at well over a simple majority in the polls leading up to Election Day, as the election results typically underperform the polls. Prop. 19’s backers believe there’s a vast, untapped young electorate out there which will come to the ballot boxes in droves in order to support this measure; they’re very proud, for example, that the “Yes on 19” Facebook page has 177,836 friends. But not all of those friends are Californians or voters, and I’ll believe the invisible tide theory when I see it happen.

Also, the PPP poll shows the percentage of likely voters supporting Prop. 19 has slipped five percentage points since July, while the percentage opposed has grown by two percentage points; the SurveyUSA poll shows support has remained flat in recent weeks. Neither shows the kind of trending that would be good news for the measure, especially given the fact that the “Yes on 19” campaign hasn’t racked up many big-ticket donations (though it did get $50,000 this week from Facebook and Asana cofounder Dustin Moskovitz of San Francisco) and so probably can’t afford much of an ad blitz in the final weeks before the election.


Political events roundup

Check out these upcoming political events in Contra Costa County:


Candidates for Martinez mayor and City Council will participate in an Oct. 5 breakfast forum sponsored by the Martinez Chamber of Commerce.

Mayoral candidates include incumbent Mayor Rob Schroder and challengers Michael Alford, Ed McGee and John Fitzgerald.

Council candidates seeking two open seats include incumbents Lara DeLaney and Michael Menesini, along with challengers Gay Gerlack, Scott Alstad and Kathi McLaughlin.

Contra Costa Times political editor Lisa Vorderbrueggen will moderate the free and public event, which begins at 7 a.m. at the Martinez Adult Education auditorium, 600 F St., Martinez.

Vorderbrueggen will ask the candidates questions on major town issues, and residents are invited to submit questions in advance to the chamber via e-mail at reba@martinez.chamber.com or at the event.

Allied Waste and Marty O’s will supply a continental breakfast.

For more information, visit www.martinezchamber.com or call 925-228-2345.


The Mt. Diablo Peace and Justice Center seeks nominations for its annual peace and justice award.

Last year’s winners included Arne Westerback, Sheila Pedersen, Barbara and Ed Tonningsen, Louise Clark and Bob Hanson.

To be eligible, an individual or group must be based in Contra Costa County, address a local peace or social justice need, show evidence of long-term commitment and leads and motivate others to participate.

Download a nomination form at www.mtdpc.org. The deadline is Oct. 28.

Winners will be honored at the Give Peace a Dinner Dance on Nov. 13.

The gala features a full-course gourmet meal, raffle prizes and dancing to the Big Bang Beat.

Tickets are $60 for the public and $50 for m embers, and can be purchased at www.brownpapertickets.com or 925-933-7850.


Fred LaCosse, producer of dramatized talks with the nation’s Founding Fathers, is the featured speaker at the Oct. 20 dinner meeting of the Ygnacio Valley Republican Women Federated.

The event begins at 6 p.m. at the Oakhurst Country Club 1001 Peacock Creek Road in Clayton.

The cost is $35. For reservations, contact Barbara Allen at 925-672-5061 or e-mail jngcabot@pacbell.net.


State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, is the featured speaker at the Oct. 1 luncheon of the Contra Costa Council.

DeSaulnier will offer an update on the California budget and other state matters.

The event begins at 11:30 a.m. at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 45 John Glenn Drive in Concord.

The cost is $35 for council members and $45 for others. Download the reservation and payment form by Sept. 28 at www.contracostacouncil.com or e-mail info@contracostacouncil.com. For more information, call 925-674-1654.


Kevin McGary, author of “Instanity!”, a book on communicating conservative values, is the featured speaker of the Oct. 7 evening meeting of the Blackhawk Republican Women.

The event begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Blackhawk Country Club, 599 Blackhawk Club Drive in Danville.

The cost is $25 and includes hors d’oeuvres and no-host cocktails.

To reserve a seat, send a check payable to Blackhawk Republican Women, Federated by Oct. 5 to Mrs. Wright, 2000 Victorine Road, Livermore, CA 94551-9400. For information, contact Wright at jwright736@earthlink.net or 925-828-0771.


Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, will lead an Oct. 2 rally and precinct walk of the West County Democrats.

The “Walk the Talk” event will start at 10 a.m. at the Democratic Party’s offices at 11760 San Pablo Ave., Suite A, in El Cerrito.

Volunteers will walk neighborhoods and deliver door hangers followed by a barbecue at the offices.

For more information, call 510-395-4823.


O’Malley earns high-profile endorsements



In a high-profile but partisan-flavored move, Democratic Reps. George Miller and John Garamendi have endorsed Contra Costa District Attorney candidate Dan O’Malley.

The District Attorney seat is nonpartisan but O’Malley is a Democrat and his opponent, Mark Peterson, is a Republican. Both parties view even nonpartisan posts as key to building a bench for partisan candidates and typically promote the candidates of their respective branches.

On the other hand, O’Malley has plenty of Republican endorsements including those of outgoing District Attorney Bob Kochly, Sheriff Warren Rupf, Supervisor Mary Piepho and former GOP state Sen. Richard Rainey.

Read through for the full press release:

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