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Archive for September, 2010

Meg: Jerry’s damned if he does or doesn’t

The Associated Press reports that state Attorney General Jerry Brown, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, is demanding that a federal judge allow executions to resume in California now that new lethal injection regulations have been put in place.

Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman quickly issued a statement saying that, “Even on matters of life and death, Jerry Brown is willing to play politics. Brown’s newfound support for the death penalty after three decades of opposing it is as preposterous as his newfound appreciation for fiscal conservatism. None of this squares with Jerry Brown’s record and must have his supporters scratching their heads.”

But although Brown does indeed have a long history of opposition to the death penalty, he did vow while running for Attorney General in 2006 that he would uphold California law regardless of his personal beliefs; his current argument to the federal judge seems to honor that vow.

In fact, Whitman herself blasted Brown and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today – while talking to the San Jose Mercury News’ editorial board – for not adequately upholding the law of the land regarding Proposition 8’s ban on same-sex marriage; they said they believe the ban to be unconstitutional and have declined to defend it in court. “I don’t think you can have elected officials deciding what’s constitutional and what’s not,” Whitman said this morning.

So, hours later, news breaks that Brown is putting the law of the land (the death penalty) above his own beliefs – and Whitman blasts him for that, too. Is she trying to have it both ways? That is, wouldn’t she also be criticizing him if he didn’t demand that executions resume?

Posted on Tuesday, September 21st, 2010
Under: 2010 governor's race, Jerry Brown, Meg Whitman | 10 Comments »

Boxer and Fiorina on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

The U.S. Senate couldn’t find the 60 votes it needed today to open debate on a defense authorization bill that includes an amendment to repeal the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on gay and lesbian servicemembers, the Washington Post reports.

The vote on the cloture motion was 56-43. No Republican senator voted for cloture; Arkansas Democrats Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor crossed the aisle to vote with the GOP against cloture, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., did so as well as a parliamentary tactic so he can bring a cloture motion back to the floor later. U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, didn’t vote.

Republicans faulted Reid for blocking other amendments to the defense authorization bill.

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said today on the Senate floor that the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy is hurting our military and costing our nation.

Barbara Boxer“Fourteen thousand servicemen and women have been discharged from the military under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It has cost taxpayers about $290 million at least, maybe up to half a billion dollars to replace soldiers who were discharged under this policy,” she said. “And I know many Americans have seen in their living rooms, coming on the TV, men and women who are our neighbors’ kids and our neighbors who have been kicked out of the military even though they were stellar – stellar – servicemen and women.”

Most of our military allies allow gays and lesbians to serve in their military without discrimination, Boxer said.

“And so for us to stand with Iran, for us to stand with Cuba, for us to stand with North Korea, Pakistan and Turkey over Australia, Britain, Denmark, France, Italy, Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Canada, Germany, etc., it just doesn’t make any sense,” she said. “And the point is, because we’re part of this coalition of 22 other nations (with troops in Afghanistan), our fighting men and women are already fighting side-by-side with those who may well be gays and lesbians.”

Republican senatorial nominee Carly Fiorina has said she supports repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell if military leaders say that’s the right thing to do; at a meeting with veterans in Oakland in February, she said it seems a shame that patriots can’t serve without lying about who they are, especially in time of war.

Fiorina 6-17-10 in Sacramento (AP Photo)“As Carly has stated on the campaign trail, she very much supports the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and looks forward to the pending review of the policy by the military’s top officials, but she thinks it is extremely disappointing that career politician Barbara Boxer and her fellow Democrats keep playing election year politics with such important military issues,” Fiorina spokeswoman Andrea Saul said this afternoon. “Instead of maneuvering to try and save the only job she cares about – her own – Barbara Boxer should actually work to represent the people of California in a forthright way, which is exactly why Carly Fiorina wants to go to Washington and stop the politics of old.”

Lots of outrage from gay-rights advocates, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, September 21st, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Barbara Boxer, Carly Fiorina, U.S. Senate | 3 Comments »

Dueling ads launched for, against Prop. 25

The campaign for Proposition 25 – the measure on November’s ballot that would reduce the legislative vote threshold for passing a state budget from two-thirds to a simple majority – released its first television ad today:

The proponents also launched a radio ad:

But Proposition 25’s opponents launched their first statewide radio ad today, too:

“We all want an on-time, balanced budget, but Prop 25 isn’t the answer. It’s just the latest attempt by Sacramento politicians and their special interest supporters to give themselves more power and perks,” No on 25 co-chair Allen Zaremberg, the California Chamber of Commerce’s president and CEO, said in a news release. “The politicians behind Prop 25 say it will take away their pay if the budget is late, but all Prop 25 requires is that politicians submit a budget – any budget – to the Governor, even one that is out of balance, and full of borrowing and gimmickry. Even worse, buried in the measure is language that makes it easier for Legislators to raise taxes.”

UPDATE @ 10:37 A.M. WEDNESDAY: The “Yes on 25” committee has sent a letter to California radio stations demanding that the measure’s opponents’ ad be pulled because it “contains demonstrably false statements about the effects of the ballot measure – statements which have been refuted by a California Court of Appeals in a very recent court decision. We ask that you stop broadcasting this completely discredited ad.”

Posted on Tuesday, September 21st, 2010
Under: 2010 election, ballot measures, state budget | 5 Comments »

First Lady coming to help Boxer, Pelosi

First Lady Michelle Obama will make campaign fundraising visits across the nation next month, including a stops in California on behalf of U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco.

The White House announced today that the First Lady will be in San Francisco on Monday, Oct. 25 for a fundraising event for Pelosi; she’ll then head for Los Angeles to do a fundraising dinner for the Democratic National Committee’s Women’s Leadership Forum on Tuesday, Oct. 26, and then fundraising events with Boxer on Wednesday, Oct. 27.

“We’re thrilled that in the closing days of the campaign, the First Lady will be coming to California to campaign with us and urge Californians to go to the polls,” Boxer campaign manager Rose Kapolczynski said in a news release.

The First Lady’s other fundraising stops earlier in October will benefit U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisc.; U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo.; and U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. She’ll also be raising money for Alexi Giannoulias, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in Illinois, and will do an event for Rep. Debbie Halvorson, D-Ill.; Rep. Bill Foster, D-Ill.; and Illinois congressional candidate Dan Seals.

President Barack Obama came to California to raise funds for Boxer in April and May; Vice President Joe Biden helped her raise money in July.

Posted on Tuesday, September 21st, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Barbara Boxer, campaign finance, U.S. Senate | 2 Comments »

Liveblogging our meeting with Meg Whitman

Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman is meeting this morning in San Jose with the Bay Area News Group’s combined editorial board (that of the BANG-East Bay papers as well as that of the Mercury News actually, it was only the Merc, my mistake), and I’ll be trying to keep you abreast of what’s said, as it happens.

“Before I started to run, I had to answer the question in my own mind, ‘Is California governable?’” she said. “I’m 100 percent sure we can change the direction of this state.”

She went on the road to meet with current and former GOP governors including Rick Perry of Texas, Jeb Bush of Florida, Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, then with California GOP leaders, then with policy experts – and finally with as many Californians as she can reach. “I’ve been doing it now for 22 months.”

She said she knows of many GOP lawmakers with whom she believes she can work productively. “I haven’t spent much time with Democrats to tell you the truth,” she said, though as governor she would move to Sacramento and know every lawmaker by name.

Whitman said she wouldn’t consider, if elected governor, stepping down in a few years to run for vice president under Romney.

On AB 32, California’s landmark greenhouse gas emissions law, Whitman said she has been slow to take a position on Proposition 23 (which would roll that law back) because she has been busy campaigning; she said she’ll announce her stances on this and all other statewide ballot measures in the next week to 10 days.

Whitman noted the law already lets the governor put a one-year moratorium on measures to meet the law’s goals, to be invoked in times of economic distress. She said there are ways to help farmers, truckers and others who would be harmed by AB 32’s implementation without abandoning its goals.

“I have respect for Arnold Schwarzenegger, I believe the results are not what he or we would’ve hoped,” she said, but he did accomplish workers compensation insurance reform and other things. Still, the education system is in trouble and the state’s fiscal situation is a mess.

UPDATE #1: Everybody talks about applying technology to government and rooting out waste, fraud and abuse. Whitman says, “Well, the good news is, I’m going to go after it.”

Schwarzenegger was right when he talked about “blowing up the boxes” to radically revamp government to make it more accountable. “He should’ve done it.”

“Why in the world the government of the State of California owns a printing plant, I don’t know … and there are a million examples like that,” she said.

Whitman defends her plan for eliminating the factory tax – a key revenue source for many cities in Silicon Valley and other places – by saying it’ll make California more competitive with the business environments in other states. Timing is important, she concedes, but our ability to compete is the most important thing.

UPDATE #2: Challenged on the truthfulness of her advertising, Whitman said “the ad is absolutely accurate.” Jerry Brown did argue against Prop. 13 and then take credit for implementing it; did take the state from surplus to deficit; and did on average have higher taxes during his gubernatorial tenure than during Ronald Reagan’s, she said.

The board grilled her on whether more taxes were paid because more money was being made in California, rather than because of actual tax increases. Campaign advisor Tucker Bounds tried to interrupt but was asked to let Whitman answer the question; Whitman said Brown did raise gas taxes.

“I stand by that ad,” she said, asking the board to look at the ads that unions are running against her if it wants to see untruthful ads. “Jerry Brown is no more a tax cutter than half the people out there.”

Whether the deficit at the end of Brown’s tenure was a result of revenue lost to Prop. 13 isn’t the issue, she said; he should’ve cut spending accordingly.

Similarly, she said, Brown ran for mayor of Oakland promising to help save the city’s ailing schools, and now claims the mayor didn’t have the power to do so.

On judicial appointments, “I will probably be more conservative than Gov. Schwarzenegger” – no “legislating from the bench,” lots of care for victims’ rights. As for his appointment of Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, she thinks it was a good choice.

Whitman notes she voted for Proposition 8, favoring civil unions but opposing same-sex marriage. She believes the governor and attorney general should be defending the state constitution as amended by Prop. 8, rather than leaving the measure’s proponents to struggle for legal standing to appeal a federal judge’s ruling that it’s unconstitutional. “I don’t think you can have elected officials deciding what’s constitutional and what’s not,” she said.

UPDATE #3: Whitman said we must secure our borders, and then find federal, state and local cooperation to deal with illegal immigration through holding employers accountable, eliminating sanctuary cities and establishing an effective guest worker program, particularly for the agricultural sector.

On the DREAM Act, Whitman said “we have to prove to Americans that we can get our arms around the immigration problem … before we decide to create a path to citizenship or a path to legalization” for those already here. “I think we are putting the cart before the horse … It wouldn’t be the place I would start.”

We’re providing K-12 education to children of undocumented immigrants, but seats at the University of California and California State University campuses are full to bursting, she said; students who are documented should get first dibs. “I think you have to at some point draw a line in the sand … and say we can’t afford to do everything for everybody.”

“It’s a shame” that UC is seeking to give more seats to out-of-state or foreign students who’ll pay more tuition than Californians, she said, repeating her campaign pledge to put an extra billion dollars into the UC and CSU systems (bankrolled by welfare cuts).

California has a disproportionate number of the nation’s welfare recipients, lets them stay on welfare longer than most states and doesn’t have stringent work requirements, she said. “We now have a system that is more costly and frankly I think is not healthy for our communities,” she said. “I want to invest in the vital services that people need … but if we’re not going to run the government efficiently and effectively … that’s not smart either.”

Asked how she’ll get that through the Legislature, she said “everything has to be on the table in terms of what we will look at.” Schwarzenegger said the same, she acknowledged: “There’s no question it is challenging.”

But lawmakers want more than anything to be re-elected, she said, so she’ll veto anything that’s not on point to the crisis we face, and drive the Legislature to be able to take accountability and credit for the state’s future business successes. “I want to focus this Legislature on doing a small number of things really well.”

“Gov. Schwarzenegger and I are very different people with very different backgrounds,” Whitman said.

UPDATE #4: Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado a few days ago told the editorial board he didn’t think Ronald Reagan, who raised taxes as governor, would be welcome in today’s Republican Party. Whitman said “it’s hard to know,” although Reagan as President did see enormous economic expansion. The GOP is evolving, she said, and Reagan if alive today would recognize the party’s economic priorities.

“We live in very uncertain times,” she said. “Fresno looks like Detroit.”

In such times, leadership is vital and people express their concerns in many different ways, she said. If California is to be let out of this recession, it must be via small businesses, she said, with no jobs lost to neighboring states; this election should turn on who best can revive the economy.

Schwarzenegger tried to solve many problems all at once, Whitman said, while she’ll focus in much more on jobs and the economy, limiting government spending and fixing education.

“I think you have to govern with an ideology,” she said, not always from the center like a Schwarzenegger or a Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “At my core I am a fiscal conservative and I will govern as a fiscal conservative … I will govern from right of center.”

Asked to backtrack to an earlier question, Whitman said she would not have vetoed AB 32 – and then, after taking a moment to think about it, decided to parse her answer. Back then she wouldn’t have, she said; today, with unemployment as it is, she would. “I probably would, I need to think about it.”

But she said she’s “leaning against” Proposition 23.

And we’re adjourned.

Posted on Tuesday, September 21st, 2010
Under: 2010 governor's race, Meg Whitman | 5 Comments »

CD11: Joust begins over NRCC ad

Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney’s campaign has asked Comcast to pull the National Republican Congressional Committee’s new anti-McNerney television ad on the grounds that it is “false, misleading and knowingly misstates (McNerney’s) position on the issue of executive compensation.”

In response, the NRCC filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging that McNerney is violating campaign finance law through his campaign’s use of “volunteer legal counsel,” as indicated in the campaign’s protest letter to Comcast.  The GOP argues that the legal work qualifies as an in-kind contribution from the Walnut Creek-based firm of Jerome Pandell but has not been disclosed as such.

Most of the ad’s content is a matter of opinion. The ad targets McNerney on high unemployment rates and his support of the $787 billion stimulus package, which most economists agree slowed but did not substantially reverse the downturn.

The NRCC is running ads in roughly 20 congressional districts, including a relatively small $44,000 media buy to air the McNerney spot. He is  running against GOP nominee David Harmer of Dougherty Valley.

The McNerney campaign’s central objection, as outlined in Pandell’s Sept. 13 protest letter to Comcast, is correct.  The comment that “McNerney gave away millions in bonuses for Wall Street’s failure” is wildly misleading. The ad refers to McNerney’s vote in favor of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or economic stimulus package.

Contrary to the implication of the political spot, the legislation actually placed new limits on executive compensation. Here is the twist: Congress could not legally retroactively apply the new restrictions to executives working under existing contracts, and as a result, some Wall Street honchos collected obscene bonuses. It was disgusting but the stimulus package did not create nor enable the previously agreed upon bonus payouts. (Update: NRCC spokeswoman Joanna Burgos disagrees with me. See her response below.)

Here is the NRCC ad.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, September 20th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, congressional district 11 | 2 Comments »

Unions target Fiorina, Whitman fundraisers

Watch for snarled streets tonight in Piedmont and tomorrow in Burlingame as labor unions and others protest fundraising events for Republican U.S. Senate nominee Carly Fiorina and Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman, respectively.

The Fiorina event from 5 to 7 p.m. today on Bellevue Avenue in Piedmont, starting at $500 a head, will feature former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Rice also will headline Whitman’s 6 p.m. Tuesday, $1,000-and-up event at the Hyatt Regency on Burlingame’s Bayshore Boulevard, along with Grammy-winning songrwriter, producer and singer David Foster.

“Holding fundraisers with top officials of the Bush administration—whose unfair economic policies and short-sighted war in Iraq created a devastating crisis for American families–symbolizes exactly what is at stake in this election,” Malinda Markowitz, a co-president of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United, said in a news release. “Whitman and Fiorina are running on programs that would return us to the failed policies of the past. We need elected leaders who carry the values of nurses, caring, compassion, and community, not the corporate greed and failure so symbolized by the Bush administration and the CEO records of Whitman and Fiorina. Whitman and Fiorina are just too extreme for California voters, as they are demonstrating yet again.”

But the Republicans’ campaigns say it’s not the candidates who are too extreme.

“For 28 years in Washington, DC, Barbara Boxer has been first in line to promote the extreme and destructive agenda set by her special interest backers, so it comes as no surprise that these very same allies would work together to manufacture the illusion of support for her in an election year,” Fiorina spokeswoman Andrea Saul said. “The last thing they want in Washington is a Senator like Carly Fiorina who, as a political outsider with real work experience, is beholden to no one and will make decisions based on what will get California’s economy moving again and create jobs for the more than 2.2 million Californians out of work today.”

And Whitman spokesman Darrel Ng said Democratic gubernatorial nominee “Jerry Brown is bought and paid for by the unions. The events are ploys coordinated by a group of radical union bosses who have consistently misrepresented the views of hardworking nurses throughout the state. Californians deserve to know what Jerry Brown will give them in return for their generous financial support. Finally, how is this for union dues well spent? CNA President Rose DeMoro, who has never worked as a nurse a day in her life, is paid $300,000, five times more than the median salary of an American nurse.”

Posted on Monday, September 20th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, 2010 governor's race, Carly Fiorina, Meg Whitman | 1 Comment »

Hear Dan Walters in Lafayette this Wednesday

Dan WaltersPlease come join me as I moderate a Commonwealth Club of California discussion on “California Votes! The Results That Might Change the State” with longtime Sacramento Bee political columnist Dan Walters at 6:30 p.m. this Wednesday, Sept. 22 in the Lafayette Library and Learning Center Community Hall Building, 3491 Mt. Diablo Blvd. (at First Street).

Walters will take a look at November’s election and its possibility of drastic change to California’s political climate; he’ll delve most deeply into the gubernatorial and senatorial races. For more on Walters, listen to this recent public radio interview.

Tickets cost $12 for club members, $22 for nonmembers and $7 for students with valid ID, and are available online.

Posted on Monday, September 20th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, 2010 governor's race | No Comments »

Perata launches first TV ad of mayoral campaign

Former state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata over the weekend launched the first television ad of the Oakland mayoral campaign:

Perata campaign spokesman Rhys Williams wouldn’t discuss the ad buy’s size: “We don’t disclose strategy to other campaigns – directly or via press – but it will be on air enough for all Oaklanders to have an opportunity to see it.”

Meanwhile, mayoral candidate and Oakland Councilwoman Jean Quan – whom a poll last week showed running a close second to Perata – is busy pounding the pavement (and getting her purse snatched) as well as putting a lot of direct mail in the field.

One recent mailer, a “Meet Jean Quan” piece, is a positive piece touting her record and promising to cut the mayor’s salary by 25 percent, make no back-room deals, be accessible to the public, support local schools with a volunteerism drive and get more police officers out from behind desks and onto the streets.

The other recent mailer, “Which way, Oakland?”, goes negative on Perata, noting that he was the subject of a years-long FBI investigation, helped engineer the Raiders deal that cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, paid his son with campaign funds and has collected a tidy sum as a consultant to the state prison guards union.

That piece latter directs readers to www.notdon.org, a “Anybody But Perata for Mayor of Oakland” site that says it’s “an independent website not affiliated with any political officeholder or candidate or political campaign.” The site is run by Jesse Douglas Allen-Taylor, an Oakland-based columnist perhaps best known for his work in the now-defunct UrbanView newspaper and then in the Berkeley Daily Planet; he also runs the “How Very Jerry” website collecting about 75 pieces he wrote about Jerry Brown’s Oakland mayoral administration.

Posted on Monday, September 20th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Don Perata, Jean Quan, Oakland | 1 Comment »

Joe Dunn will be State Bar’s executive director

Former state Sen. Joe Dunn, D-Santa Ana, will be the new executive director of the State Bar of California, State Bar President Howard Miller announced today.

Joe DunnDunn, 52, served in the state Senate from 1998 to 2006, including a stint as the Senate Judiciary Committee’s chair; he led the Legislature’s investigation into Enron’s involvement in the 2000-2001 energy crisis. Scared out of the 2006 Democratic primary for state attorney general by Jerry Brown, Dunn instead ran in the 2006 Democratic primary for state Controller, but lost to John Chiang. The Secretary of State’s campaign finance database shows Dunn still has one political committee open, with $105,333.97 at the end of last year.

From 2006 to 2009, he was CEO/executive director of the California Medical Association, a position from which he resigned because he said the demands of traveling between Orange County and Sacramento were too heavy on his family life. Earlier this year, he formed a law/lobbying practice with former state Sen. Martha Escutia, D-Whittier, and veteran Democratic strategist Richie Ross; The Senators (Ret.) Firm LLP‘s lobbying clients have included the California Coalition of Option Schools and McGraw-Hill Education.

“I am honored to have been offered this position. My life commitment has been to the legal profession, and there is no better way I can think of to show that commitment than to assist the Board of Governors with its work at the State Bar,” Dunn said in a State Bar news release.

Judy Johnson, the State Bar’s executive director for more than a decade, resigned in January but has stayed on as a consultant through February 2011; Dunn will take over sometime after the State Bar’s annual convention later this week in Monterey.

State Bar President-elect Bill Hebert said he was “extremely pleased that after a thorough search that Senator Dunn, with his extensive background and experience, has been named to the position. He will be a major aid to the Board of Governors as we advance the mission of the Bar and seek to meet the challenges facing the legal profession.”

The State Bar, created by the state legislature in 1927, is a public corporation within the judicial branch of government, serving as an arm of the California Supreme Court. Membership is mandatory for all attorneys licensed to practice law in the state; with more than 226,000 members, it’s by far the nation’s largest state bar.

Posted on Monday, September 20th, 2010
Under: California State Senate | No Comments »