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Archive for October, 2010

Report: Latinos unfairly targeted for pot, too

Hot on the heels of their report last week that African Americans are disproportionately arrested in simple marijuana possession cases, supporters of Proposition 19 – the marijuana legalization measure on next week’s ballot – rolled out a report today saying the same is true for Latinos.

The new report, prepared by the Drug Policy Alliance and the William C. Velasquez Institute, indicates that although U.S. government surveys consistently find that young Latinos use marijuana at lower rates than young whites, major California cities arrested and prosecuted Latinos for marijuana possession at double to nearly triple the rate of whites from 2006 to 2008.

In the City of Los Angeles, for example, police arrested Latinos for marijuana possession at twice the rate of whites, the report says In San Jose, Latinos are 31 percent of the population but 54 percent of those arrested for marijuana possession; police in San Jose arrested Latinos at 2.2 times the rate of whites. In Fremont – the only East Bay city included in the report – police arrested Latinos at 1.3 times the rate of whites; Latinos account for 14.6 percent of Fremont’s population but 26.7 percent of its marijuana arrests.

The report also says that in the twenty years from 1990 to 2009, the marijuana possession arrest rate of Latino teenagers in California more than tripled.

Prop. 19’s supporters will hold a news conference tomorrow morning at the Velasquez Institute’s Los Angeles headquarters to formally release the report and announce the measure’s endorsement by several police officers from the National Latino Officers Association.

Posted on Tuesday, October 26th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, ballot measures, marijuana | 4 Comments »

NRSC launches attack ad against Boxer

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has launched its first independent expenditure attack ad against U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.:

Note that the narrator and all the sad-faced people in the ad are women – a key swing vote that Republican nominee Carly Fiorina is trying to woo. A Public Policy Institute of California poll released last week showed that among likely voters, women favor Boxer over Fiorina 48 percent to 32 percent with 16 percent undecided; the poll had a 3.5 percentage point margin of error.

This is part of a $3 million ad blitz the NRSC is mounting in the final days of the campaign; in all, it has dedicated about $5 million to the race. NRSC Press Secretary Amber Marchand said:

“Millionaire Senator Barbara Boxer has spent her entire career looking out for the best interests of one person: herself. Boxer’s partisan, ineffective work in Washington fighting for higher taxes and job killing policies haven’t helped the families, seniors, and job creators in California who are facing more than 12 percent unemployment today.”

Rose Kapolczynski, Boxer’s campaign manager, responded:

“Out of state independent expenditure campaigns have poured more than $12 million into this race, trying to mislead Californians and distorting Barbara Boxer’s record. The fact is that Barbara Boxer’s top priority is creating more California jobs and she voted for the biggest middle class tax cut in history, while Carly Fiorina laid off California workers and shipped jobs overseas. Fiorina didn’t care about California jobs then and she doesn’t care about them now.”

Posted on Tuesday, October 26th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Barbara Boxer, Carly Fiorina, U.S. Senate | 1 Comment »

Soros gives $1 million to support Prop. 19

Billionaire financier George Soros gave $1 million today to support Proposition 19, the ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana use.

Soros – long a supporter of drug-reform efforts across the nation and here in California – reported his contribution this morning to the Secretary of State’s office, even as America woke up to his op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal in support of legalization. In part, he wrote:

George SorosRegulating and taxing marijuana would simultaneously save taxpayers billions of dollars in enforcement and incarceration costs, while providing many billions of dollars in revenue annually. It also would reduce the crime, violence and corruption associated with drug markets, and the violations of civil liberties and human rights that occur when large numbers of otherwise law-abiding citizens are subject to arrest. Police could focus on serious crime instead.

The racial inequities that are part and parcel of marijuana enforcement policies cannot be ignored. African-Americans are no more likely than other Americans to use marijuana but they are three, five or even 10 times more likely-depending on the city-to be arrested for possessing marijuana. I agree with Alice Huffman, president of the California NAACP, when she says that being caught up in the criminal justice system does more harm to young people than marijuana itself. Giving millions of young Americans a permanent drug arrest record that may follow them for life serves no one’s interests.

Soros made his contribution not to the main Yes on 19 committee established by proponent Richard Lee of Oakland, but to a supporting committee – the Drug Policy Action Committee to Tax and Regulate Marijuana – Yes on Prop. 19 – established by the Drug Policy Alliance; Soros has been a major funder of the alliance and sits on its board.

Prop. 19 had been having a lot of trouble attracting significant funding, and only just rolled out its first television ad yesterday; $1 million will allow a much more intense media blitz in the final week before Election Day, but with so many people having already cast ballots by mail, its not clear whether this will counter the measure’s recent slump in the polls in enough time to make a difference.

UPDATE @ 12:30 P.M.: We’ve got fuller coverage of Soros’ big ante here.

Posted on Tuesday, October 26th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, ballot measures, campaign finance, marijuana | 2 Comments »

Carly Fiorina is in the hospital

Deborah Bowker, chief of staff for the campaign of U.S. Senate Republican nominee Carly Fiorina, issued this statement this morning:

“Carly learned more than a year and a half ago that she, like millions of women, had breast cancer. After successfully battling cancer, she had reconstructive surgery this summer and remains cancer free today. However, this morning Carly came down with an infection associated with the reconstructive surgery and, as a result, she was admitted to the hospital to receive antibiotics to treat this infection. While this will impact her campaign schedule today, Carly is upbeat and her doctors expect her to make a quick and full recovery and be back out on the campaign trail soon. Carly is looking forward to getting back to her full campaign schedule and to defeating Barbara Boxer on November 2.”

Sidelined a week before Election Day, while still down in the latest polls – not good for Fiorina.

UPDATE @ 11:03 A.M.: “We wish Carly Fiorina a speedy recovery and hope she is able to return to her normal schedule soon,” Rose Kapolczynski, campaign manager for U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said in an e-mailed statement.

UPDATE @ 12:05 P.M.: This just in from National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Tex.:

“After learning that Carly was admitted to the hospital to treat an infection associated with her reconstructive surgery this summer, I reached out to her to wish her a full and speedy recovery.

“It was apparent during her triumphant battle against breast cancer that Carly is a fighter, and I have no doubt that she will be back on the campaign trail very soon; in the interim I hope Californians will join me and Sandy in keeping Carly in our thoughts and prayers.”

UPDATE @ 2:28 P.M.: Carole Uhlaner, a voter-behavior expert and associate professor of political science at the University of California, Irvine, said there’s not a lot of hard data on how voters react to a sick candidate, “but I think the answer is that it’s varied.”

Voters can begin to worry whether the candidate is well enough to serve a full term in the office he or she is seeking, she said; there’s anecdotal evidence of this throughout American history, notably in the lengths to which candidate President John F. Kennedy went to keep his Addison’s disease out of the public eye.

On the other hand, if the illness isn’t so serious, it can humanize the candidate and create sympathy among the electorate, Uhlaner said.

University of California, Berkeley Political Science Professor Jack Citrin agreed.

“I think what happens if a candidate’s health becomes an issue in the sense that it makes voters doubt they’ll be able to serve in office, then it will hurt them,” he said. “If it’s some kind of a minor ailment … I don’t think it has any effect one way or another.”

Posted on Tuesday, October 26th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Barbara Boxer, Carly Fiorina, U.S. Senate | 2 Comments »

Victims’ group warned to adopt truthful name

A victim advocacy group’s independent expenditure committee drew a written warning from the state’s campaign finance watchdog this month for failing to adopt a name that reflects its main funding source: the state prison guards’ union.

In an Oct. 5 letter to the treasurer of the Crime Victims United Independent Expenditure Committee, Gary Winuk – chief of the Fair Political Practices Commission’s enforcement division – said the FPPC found that the committee “has not been using the correct name.

“Specifically, the (Fair Political Practices) Act provides that a committee’s failing to use a name that fully discloses the committee’s sponsors is a violation,” Winuk wrote. “In your response to our letter requiring an explanation of why California Correctional Peace Officers Association (‘CCPOA’), which provides 87.5% of the contributions to CVUIE, was not included in CVUIE’s name, you stated in a letter that, while CCPOA provides funding to CVUIE, a nonprofit, Crime Victims United, solely makes the decisions regarding the committee’s expenditures.”

Winuk went on to write that if a committee’s two sponsors can’t be considered part of “an industry or other identifiable group,” then the committee must use both sponsors’ names in its own name.

“Because crime victims and correctional peace officers cannot be accurately characterized by calling both groups ‘crime victims,’ the two sponsors are not part of the same group,” he wrote, and so “the committee must include the full name of both sponsors in the committee’s name.”

This sort of thing would come into play if the committee airs an advertisement attacking or supporting a candidate; the ad would have to carry the committee’s name, but that name is supposed to reflect the bankroll behind it. The CCPOA has an IE committee of its own, and so if it’s paying another committee’s bills, the public is supposed to know that.

Because CVUIE responded quickly to the FPPC’s inquiry with an explanation of why it had chosen the name, the FPPC issued only a warning letter; future failure to comply with the law could bring fines of up to $5,000 per violation, Winuk wrote.

The committee made substantial donations to support Proposition 83 of 2006 – “Jessica’s Law,” which enacted harsher penalties, restrictions and tracking requirements for sex offenders – as well as to other causes in the 2005-06 and 2007-08 campaign cycles, but hasn’t been very active in this 2009-10 cycle.

Posted on Monday, October 25th, 2010
Under: campaign finance | No Comments »

AD15: Dems pump $1.4 million into race

The California Democratic Party and affiliated party central committees from throughout the state have dumped $1.42 million into the re-election bid of Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo.

That compares with $648,372 from the California Republican Party on behalf of its nominee, San Ramon Mayor Abram Wilson.

The figures include contributions through the last reporting period of Oct. 16 plus late contributions reported to the California Secretary of State as of yesterday.

Where are the parties spending this cash? Some of it is going into mailers and postage:

  • Anti-Buchanan mailers: 9
  • Pro-Buchanan mailers: 8
  • Anti-Wilson mailers: 7
  • Pro-Wilson mailers: 6
    TOTAL: 30

The anti-Wilson mailers focus on the biggest noose around his neck — the fact that San Ramon pays its city manager more than any other city manger in California, according to California League of Cities survey, while he runs as a fiscal conservative. Wilson doesn’t like it but you can bet he would use it if his opponent were in the same boat.

On the Buchanan front, the California Republican Party sent out a host of absurd distortions based on the ridiculous premise that she bears responsibility for every bad outcome contained  in the state’s last two budgets.

Granted, as a Democrat, Buchanan doesn’t agree with a lot of the GOP’s ideas about taxes and government spending. But I think it’s fair to say that every member of the California Legislature was unhappy with the last two budgets and their votes in favor of them reflected the necessity to pass a budget rather than support for its contents.

I’ve posted one of the anti-Buchanan mailers below and her campaign’s response to the some of the assertions:

WHAT IT SAYS: “Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan voted to release 16,000 dangerous criminals early from prison.” And “Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan’s vote released criminals with a history of attacks on children as well as a convict arrested for rape 18 hours after his release.”

BUCHANAN’S RESPONSE:   That’s ridiculous.  Assemblymember’s are not responsible for local parole decisions.  The bill specifically required each county’s community corrections programs to be developed and implemented by the probation department, as advised by a local Community Corrections Partnership.

WHAT IT SAYS: “Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan voted to cut the education budget by $8.4 billion. Due to Buchanan’s cuts, teachers received layoff notices, schools were unable to buy updated textbooks, testing budgets were slashed and school maintenance was reduced.” (Chronicle, Feb. 20, 2009, SB3x4)

BUCHANAN’S RESPONSE:  Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan voted to pass a budget that closed a $40 billion deficit at a point when the state was days away from issuing IOUs and closing major construction projects.  The budget included cuts to all major programs, including education, but also included a provision to pay back education when the economy turns around.  Only 3 Republicans voted for the budget.  The remaining 24 refused to vote to support any of the budget bills.

WHAT IT SAYS: “Joan Buchanan allowed access to sex and drug websites on school computers.” (San Ramon Valley Unified School Board minutes, 11/7/2000, 1/22/1991)

BUCHANAN’S RESPONSE:  Students in the San Ramon Valley Unified School District have never had access to sex or drug websites on school computers.  All computers are filtered.

Here is the mailer:

Posted on Monday, October 25th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Assembly District 15 | 1 Comment »

CD11: Debate in Tracy generates heat

While the rest of you were stuck watching the San Francisco Giants game on Saturday night, I was sitting in a Tracy elementary school gymnasium watching the 11th Congressional District candidate debate.

No, seriously, I was happy. I’m not a sports fan.

Click here to read my story on the debate.

It was a rowdy evening full of good, old-fashioned political heat.

But it was also wildly crowded. The media table was stuffed against a side wall and people stood three and four deep in front of me. Since I couldn’t get a clear video shot of the candidates, I relied on the daughters of one of the campaign consultant with seats in the front row to hold up my FlipVideo. (Yes, it was a GOP consultant’s daughter but there was almost no one in this audience who didn’t have a preference, so I went with the first willing volunteer. And since I was there and I retrieved the video immediately afterward, I’m confident there was no funny business.)

I took the the first short video, which is a sweep of the crowd.

The second video, thanks to my video-camera-holding volunteer, is the majority of the debate. (My FlipVideo only holds an hour. As a result, I’ve persuaded my editor to let me buy a new micro-camcorder that will hold up to four hours.)

Posted on Monday, October 25th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, congressional district 11 | No Comments »

Campaign for Prop. 19 launches first TV ad

The campaign supporting Proposition 19, the ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana use, launched its first television ad today, featuring Hoover Institution research fellow and former San Jose police chief Joseph McNamara making a case for ending the current prohibition laws:

“The buy is several hundred thousand dollars and we’re starting off in the L.A. market for now,” Yes on 19 spokesman Tom Angell said today; the campaign’s website is soliciting donations to keep the ad on the air through Election Day.

Meanwhile, neither the campaign for the measure nor the one against it has been rolling in dough: Reports filed Thursday showed Yes on 19 had $225,690.17 in the bank as of Oct. 16, while No on 19 had $47,242.12.

It looks as if Yes on 19 has raised about $160,000 since Oct. 16, most notably including $70,000 from Clarium Capital President Peter Thiel of San Francisco; $50,000 from George Zimmer, CEO of Fremont-based Men’s Wearhouse; and $10,000 from the United Food and Commercial Workers Issue Education Fund.

And No on 19 has raised about $93,000 since the Oct. 16 report, of which $50,000 came Saturday from Julie F. Schauer of Vienna, Va., who identifies herself as a teacher at Northern Virginia Community College. Schauer has been a relatively prolific donor on both sides of the political aisle; I’ve tried to get in touch with her to see what motivated her to make so generous a donation to No on 19 from all the way back there in Virginia, but I haven’t heard back from her yet.

Posted on Monday, October 25th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, ballot measures, campaign finance, marijuana | 1 Comment »

CoCo clerk reports ballot errors

Contra Costa County election clerk Steve Weir discovered coding errors on ballots that impact the Dublin-San Ramon and the Central Sanitary service districts.

If you live in the affected districts, you will receive a new ballot pamphlet and if you vote by mail, you will be receiving new ballots. If you vote at the polls, corrected ballots have been prepared.

Here is Weir’s notice:

On October 12th a voter contacted the Elections Office to complain that he was in the Dublin-San Ramon Services District but that contest was not on his ballot. In addition, this voter’s ballot contained the Central Contra Costa Sanitary District, a district in which he could not vote. This ballot mistake impacted 412 voters. We issued new (correct) sample ballots and vote-by-mail (VBM) ballots to those voters. Because of this mistake, we checked the boundaries between the Central Sanitary District and the Dublin-San Ramon Services District.

On Friday, October 22nd, we received a complaint from a voter that he was in the Central Sanitary District but that contest was not on his ballot. That day, and over the weekend, we conducted a complete review of the Central Sanitary District to determine if other mistakes had been made. We found that nine precincts were mis-coded involving the Central Sanitary District.

New sample ballots (and the candidate guide) are being prepared for mailing today. For those voters who vote by mail, new VBM ballots are being prepared and will be mailed most likely on Tuesday, October 26th. Instructions will be included in both mailings.

Correct ballots will be at the polls for voters who vote at the polls on Election Day. Vote-by-mail voters will be instructed to vote the new VBM ballot. Vote-by-mail voters will also be told that we will hold all unopened ballots for the impacted precincts. If VBM voters vote the second ballot, we ask that they vote the entire ballot (all contests). If/when we receive the replacement ballot, we will spoil (not open) the first ballot. If a VBM voter chooses not to return the replacement ballot, we will open and count the first ballot.

Three impacted voting precincts (Alamo, Danville and Pleasant Hill) have 2,720 voters (1,333 vote-by-mail voters and 1,387 precinct voters). Three all-mail-ballot precincts (Alamo, Danville and Martinez) have 143 voters.

In addition, we have three all-mail-ballot precincts in Martinez with 61 voters who received ballots with this contest but are not in the district. When tallying any of those votes, we will not count that contest if the voter cast a ballot in that contest. All other contests on the ballot will be counted.

This is clearly an Elections Office mistake, and I apologize to our voters. We will review our coding and double-checking procedures for future elections. This is especially important as we face reapportionment in 2011 when many Federal, State and local boundaries will be changed.

Stephen L. Weir

Contra Costa County Clerk-Recorder

Posted on Monday, October 25th, 2010
Under: Contra Costa County | 3 Comments »

Money flood brings disclosure complaints

We’ve eight days to go until Election Day, and so it’s time for the last big money push – and all the righteous indignation that comes with it.

Kamala Harris, the Democratic nominee for state attorney general, is miffed that the Virginia-based Republican State Leadership Committee has sunk $1.3 million into an attack ad that started airing Sunday in Los Angeles:

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., issued a statement today reiterating her support for Harris and urging Californians to vote for her: “Together, we can prove that our elected offices can’t be bought by out-of-state shadow groups like the Republican State Leadership Association, which is funded by big oil and tobacco corporations.”

Harris campaign attorney James Sutton told reporters on a conference call this morning that he’ll write to the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission today asking that the campaign-finance watchdog look into the ad. Although the ad carries the “not authorized by any candidate or candidate committee” disclaimer required of independent expenditure ads, it doesn’t identify the RSLA’s two biggest donors: Altria Group, the parent company of tobacco giant Philip Morris, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Sutton said the RSLA has claimed it’s just an “issue ad” that doesn’t require such disclosure, but the fact that it’s targeting Harris’ San Francisco record and airing only in Los Angeles belies any claim that it’s not related to her statewide candidacy.

(UPDATE @ 11:05 A.M. WEDNESDAY 10/27: The FPPC has dismissed the complaint, finding it didn’t contain enough evidence to allege a violation of the Political Reform Act.)

Sutton also said he has contacted television stations to ask that they pull the ad, and Harris campaign strategist Ace Smith said he’s asking Republican nominee Steve Cooley‘s campaign to denounce the ad and call for its withdrawal.

More campaign finance clashes, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, October 25th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Attorney General, ballot measures, campaign finance, Dave Jones, Kamala Harris, Mike Villines | 2 Comments »