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Archive for October, 2010

‘This Week:’ Pre-election special

Lisa and I were on KQED’s “This Week in Northern California” last night to help run through the hottest races on the region’s ballots for the show’s pre-election special. We had so much to cover and had to talk so fast, I think we might’ve missed our true calling as auctioneers…

Posted on Saturday, October 23rd, 2010
Under: 2010 election, 2010 governor's race, Uncategorized | No Comments »

Help for a Gold Star wife

Jessica and Sean on their wedding day, 2005

Jessica and Sean on their wedding day, 2005

Let’s take a much deserved break from politics.

I have posted below a flyer for an Oct. 30 pancake breakfast fundraiser in Pittsburg to benefit a special young woman, Gold Star wife Jessica Langevin, whose husband, Sean, was killed in 2007 while serving in the Army in Afghanistan.

Click here to read my colleague Rick Radin’s story about why people are raising money for Jessica right now. The link also includes information about an account set up to accept donations.

In the interests of full disclosure, I confess utter and total bias. I call Jessica my “bonus” daughter. It’s a little complicated (blended families usually are) but Jessica is the step-sister of my three step-children, and my husband, Joe, and I, love her as though she were our own. (All total, between his, mine and our exes, Joe & I have claims of one variety or another on seven wonderful children and seven beautiful grandchildren.)

It has been a rough three years for Jessica. She was 7 months pregnant when Sean was killed. But she has been working hard. She used Sean’s death benefit money and bought a new house in Pittsburg where she began setting up an in-home daycare center. She wanted a job that would allow her to stay at home with their little girl, Zoe, and build a new life for them both.

The back yard was nothing but a dirt hillside and to obtain a childcare license, she needed a safe and secure place for the kids to play. She hired a contractor, who took her money and didn’t finish the job. The hill kept slumping and sliding.

I mentioned Jessica’ predicament to Spike Schau, the California State Coordinator of the Warriors’ Watch Riders, a motorcycle group that escorts fallen soldiers. Spike had helped escort Sean to his resting place in Queen of Heaven cemetery in Pleasant Hill. I met Spike again, while working as a reporter, a few times at veterans events.

I can’t say exactly what triggered my call to Spike, although Jessica believes it was God answering her prayers. But I’m glad I did. It was as though I had unleashed a tornado. Spike took a hold of Jessica’s dilemma and tapped into the vast and often unheralded support system for our military families. He called it a team effort and he is right.  Rick’s story details the names and details of just some of the wonderful people who have volunteered their time, money and skills just in the past week.

Sean’s death was and remains a source of terrible loss and sadness for Jessica, a void that those of us who love her cannot fill. But watching the community sweep this young woman into their arms and give her the help and support she needs sure goes a long way.

So, come on over to the pancake breakfast in Pittsburg on Saturday. It will fill your stomach and your heart. And if you are anything like me, you’ll shed a few tears, too.

UPDATE: Spike says what the project needs most is a donation of 38 cubic yards of concrete or the money to help pay for it. So, eat pancakes!

Posted on Saturday, October 23rd, 2010
Under: veterans | 8 Comments »

CD11: Debate set for Saturday night

The traditional Tracy Press 11th Congressional District candidate debate has been finalized for Saturday night in Tracy.

It’s the second face-to-face debate between incumbent Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney and GOP nominee David Harmer. The Contra Costa Times taped an election preview round-table with the two men earlier in the campaign season. (Watch the video below.)

American Independent Party candidate David Christensen has also been invited to participate Saturday.

The Saturday debate begins at 7 p.m. at Monte Vista Middle School, 751 W. Lowell Avenue, in Tracy.

Read the rest of the details at the Tracy Press web site.

Posted on Friday, October 22nd, 2010
Under: 2010 election, congressional district 11 | 4 Comments »

DA: Peterson hits back on O’Malley letter

District Attorney candidate Mark Peterson sent over this response a few minutes ago to opponent Dan O’Malley’s letter of yesterday:

Mr. O’Malley needs to get his facts straight. His claim – that I was somehow responsible for an alleged sexual assault that occurred between two coworkers – is shamefully false, and he knows it. The facts are as follows:

An alleged sexual assault took place between two deputy district attorneys in May of 2008, during the lunch hour, in one of their homes. My opponent Mr. O’Malley, and his supporters in the office, were informed of the alleged assault within just a few days of its alleged occurrence. At no time did Dan O’Malley or the administration inform me, as head of the Sexual Assault Unit, that one of my subordinates allegedly had raped another deputy district attorney.

Mr. O’Malley also claims that I’m responsible for the alleged sexual assault because of what he asserts was inappropriate sexual talk, in the District Attorney’s Office, which allegedly took place during the lunch hour. First, it’s patently obvious that I cannot control people’s lunch hour discussions. Second, during the entire two years that I led the Sexual Assault Unit, not one person complained about inappropriate sexual discussions. No member of the public complained, nor did any support staff, attorney, police officer, or investigator ever complain. Nobody. The Chief of Investigators worked in that same unit during the entire time I led it, and he never lodged any complaint about inappropriate speech. Nor did he ever receive one. Further, the suggestion that sexual banter, even if it did occur, is the cause of a violent rape, is patently absurd. It’s simply an example of how desperate my opponent’s claims have become.

Dan O’Malley, and the failed administration that seeks to turn the keys to the office over to him, hid this alleged crime from me, from the Martinez Police Department, from the public, and from all of the women working in the District Attorney’s Office, for over four months, until September, 2008. I first learned about this alleged rape when the rest of the public did, in late September, 2008, when the alleged assailant was arrested.

Mr. O’Malley is now trying to exploit this incident for political gain; he makes the outrageous claim that I’m somehow responsible for the alleged sexual assault, by virtue of the fact the alleged assailant worked in my unit. He fails to mention that the encounter between the two individuals occurred during the lunch hour, and in a private home. My supervisoral responsibilities hardly included following each and every one of my employees, into their homes, during their lunch hour.

Finally, Mr. O’Malley claims that I was demoted because of this alleged sexual assault. The facts, however, are different: The accused assailant was a political opponent of the District Attorney. After his arrest, an in-house investigation was begun. I suggested to my superiors that an outside agency should investigate the alleged crime, independently, rather than have District Attorney employees do it. This was necessary, as a matter of prosecutorial ethics, in order to avoid the appearance of bias. After I spoke up and challenged this unethical behavior, I was transferred out of the Sexual Assault Unit.

Mr. O’Malley’s disgraceful suggestion – that somehow I’m responsible for an alleged sexual assault – is shocking. The real irony is that he knew more about the sexual assault than I ever did. Nobody – not him, not his buddies within the office who knew about it, nobody in the District Attorney’s office – ever reported the alleged assault to me. But as I said, Mr. O’Malley and his cronies knew about the accusation. They knew about it for 4 long months. During that time, they never called the police. Dan O’Malley and his friends never told the women working in the office that they were possibly working alongside a violent rapist.

Since then, Mr. O’Malley has been seriously inconsistent about when he first became aware of the assault. He was asked to turn over his telephone records to substantiate his claims. He refused. Mr. O’Malley has resisted all efforts to turn over his telephone records, which would shed light upon his involvement. The man who wants to become our county’s chief law enforcement officer refuses to turn over his own telephone records in a rape investigation. Shocking.

When this campaign began, Mr. O’Malley informed me, and others, that he did not agree with the decision to transfer me out of the Sexual Assault Unit because of this incident. Now that he lags seriously behind in the polls, he’s managed to convince himself that the entire event is my fault. Mr. O’Malley also said to me, and to others, that he would never use the alleged sexual assault as a political weapon in this campaign. But, following his serious setback in the June primary, Mr. O’Malley actually commissioned a political poll, in order to see how he can exploit this incident for his own political advantage.

Sadly, it doesn’t end there. In the wake of this incident, and in the ensuing investigation, Mr. O’Malley and his colleagues at his criminal defense firm offered false, fabricated testimony, from a prostitute, against the accused political opponent. In exchange for that false testimony, and while Mr. O’Malley served as attorney of record, they engineered the release of a six-time felon / convicted child molester. After his release, this child molester took part in the attempted home invasion robbery of an innocent family. More than 30 shots were fired. All of these facts are fully documented, at

Thank you for the opportunity to set the record straight.


Mark Peterson

Candidate for District Attorney

Posted on Friday, October 22nd, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | 24 Comments »

Pool reports from the President’s Bay Area stops

Here’s the press pool report, unedited, as filed moments ago by the San Francisco Chronicle’s Carla Marinucci from President Barack Obama’s motorcade; I’ll update with subsequent ones as they come in.

Event: DNC fundraiser

Location: Atherton, CA home of former State Controller Steve Westly and his wife, Anita Yu

Details: President Obama met with Apple CEO Steve Jobs at the Westin Hotel for 45 minutes to talk about technology, education and innovation issues.

The Obama motorcade hit 380 and then 280 South to head to Atherton, where it was greeted by about 50 protesters carrying signs, “Hello FDR recovery,” “Good bye, Wall Street traitors,” “Obamanator,” and “Kills jobs, kills hope.” Also saw “Repeal Don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Press vans are left outside the sprawling ranch home surrounded by olive trees and lush vegetation.

Obama [is] doing a $6500 a head photo op event for Kamala Harris, San Francisco District Attorney and Democratic candidate for AG, and about 50 people are present for the $30,400 a head DNC fundraiser inside Westly’s house.

We’re told this will be a 20 minute stop.

UPDATE @ 8:49 P.M.: Here’s Carla’s second report:

Pool report No. 2
Location: Palo Alto DNC fundraiser, home of Marissa Mayer, Google executive.

Setting: Large brown shingled home in “Professorville” area of Palo Alto was decorated with huge blow up Halloween decorations, inside about 50 diners inside wood beamed dining room… with Giants-Phillies game updates at the ready throughout the President’s fundraiser, where donors paid $30,400 to dine in an intimate setting as the president roamed around to talk to them.

Obama entered through the kitchen to be greeted with warm applause and standing ovation from the crowd, which included Democratic fundraiser and Silicon Valley insider Wade Randlett.

Before he spoke, Mayer’s husband Zachary Bogue delivered the news: “First, an important announcement, Giants game is 3-2 Phillies.’’

“Despite the game, we want to thank you all for being here,’’ said Bogue, standing next to Mayer.

Mayer reminded the crowd that the garage where Silicon Valley giant Hewlett Packard was founded “is just a few blocks away.’’

“As an engineer in Silicon Valley, I’m very optimistic,’’ that the foundation for “a strong and healthy economy” has been laid, she said.

“Tonight is really about camaraderie, as well as about optimism..these are two traits that have really drawn a lot of us to the president,’’ she said.

She noted that “I met him for the first time in 2003 when he came to Google as a state Senator…it is my great honor to introduce him as the 44th President of the United States.”

Obama told the diners to sit down and said “I’m not going to bore you with a long speech.”

“My main message is to say thank you to Zachary and Marissa for opening up this wonderful home….I was especially thrilled to see the pumpkins and the Halloween stuff out there.”

That’s because “I will be home on Sunday night when the girls get dressed up and do some trick or treating,’’ he said.

He noted that he sees “a lot of old friends” here and “some new ones as well.”

Obama said he remembered his first visit to Google years ago, where he first met Mayer, and said “it spoke to the….American idea, that if we’re innovating, if people have the tools to let their imaginations run, then there’s nothing we can’t do in this country.”

He said that America is now coming out of “a decade in which, frankly, that can do spirit had been lost.’’

He noted that the country is going through a tough economic times. But he said his task “hasn’t just been to stop the bleeding,” but to find out how the country can deal with the issues “that have prevented more Googles from being created.”

“We’ve made a start on all these fronts,’’ he said. “Our education agenda has been as innovative and aggressive as anything we’ve seen.”

“We have tackled things like health care that have been weights around the necks of… individuals and families,’ he said.

“We’re taking on clean energy in ways that we haven’t seen before,’’ made the largest investment in clean energy in history, and “we’re seeing solar panels and wind turbines” all across the country, he said.

“I’m optimistic about the future, but in the short term, we’ve got a long way to go. There are a lot of people out there that are hurting,’’ he said. “A lot of kids who still aren’t sure that they can finance their college education.”

“In an environment where people are frustrated and hurting,’’ he said, the mission is now about “going forwards,’’ not going backwards.

“In a place like California, frankly, as many people as I meet, I can’t meet everybody… you help us do that,’’ he said to the donors.

“I’m grateful to you. We are excited about the last 10 days,’’ he said, noting he has traveled to Oregon, Ohio.

“As we travel around the country… although everybody recognizes the last two years have been tough,’’ what has been “remarkable” is the “degree of resilience.”

Obama said he wanted to “have a chance to talk to all of you, and hear from all of you.”

But he added with a laugh that “if at any time people want to come in here and get an update on the Giants game, I’m perfectly happy.”

The press was retired to Mayer’s basement, where there’s a full screening room playing the Giants-Phillies game on big screen, and a real snack bar, completely with popcorn machine and big box candy.

Posted on Thursday, October 21st, 2010
Under: campaign finance, Kamala Harris, Obama presidency | 1 Comment »

The pre-election campaign finance reports are in

Today was the state’s deadline for the final campaign finance filings before the Nov. 2 election, a final look at how much has been spent and how much is left for the final weeks of campaigning.

Not all of the reports are showing up on the Secretary of State’s website just yet, so I’m going to post what I’ve got so far and then try to update later from home. I’ve added a few observations in italics.

So here’s the cash on hand as of Saturday, Oct. 16. Keep in mind the fact that that independent expenditure committees are spending big on a lot of these campaigns, so the candidates’ own cash on hand isn’t the end-all, be-all. Also, for the ballot initiatives, I picked the prime committees for and against each, but there are other, secondary committees for and against these measures, too.

Jerry Brown (D): $11,636,117.34
Meg Whitman (R): $12,404,804.11
After having spent $163,134,879.63 so far on her campaign – of which about $141.5 million was from her own pocket – Whitman had only slightly more in the bank by Saturday than Brown. Wanna bet she’ll make one last investment in these final few days?

Gavin Newsom (D): $1,153,662.44
Abel Maldonado (R): $297,435.98
That looks like a biiiiig money advantage in a very tight race.

Kamala Harris (D): $844,706.42
Steve Cooley (R): $1,501,604.42
I think it’s starting to look pretty grim for Harris.

Bill Lockyer (D)(i): $5,064,132.91
Mimi Walters (R): $85,098.10
Mimi vs. Goliath; don’t hold your breath for an underdog victory here.

John Chiang (D)(i): $213,440.75
Tony Strickland (R): $227,098.17

Debra Bowen (D)(i): $218,129.53
Damon Dunn (R): $309,171.43

Dave Jones (D): $374,158.01
Mike Villines (R): $118,956.47

Larry Aceves: $56,120.70
Tom Torlakson: $327,277.86


Yes on 19: $225,690.17
No on 19: $47,242.12
After months of scant contributions, the campaign to legalize marijuana saw a few big-ticket donations in the past few weeks, but not enough for the kind of television advertising that’s probably needed to rescue the measure from its slump in the polls.

Yes on 23: $2,697,351.15
No on 23: $7,755,976.80
I think the oil companies see the writing on the wall, and the enviros have more than enough money to pound this measure – already sagging in the polls -into oblivion.

Posted on Thursday, October 21st, 2010
Under: 2010 election, 2010 governor's race, campaign finance | No Comments »

DA: O’Malley responds to Concord police statement

Contra Costa District Attorney candidate Dan O’Malley sent out this press release a few minutes ago in response to an Oct. 12 statement from the Concord Police Association about his candidacy:



Response from DA Candidate and former Judge Dan O’Malley

I am saddened that a Concord Police Officers’ Association board member recently chose to criticize me for representing a victim of domestic violence. I would like to clarify several inaccuracies in his letter to you. I know and trained many, many Concord Police Officers during my twelve years as an instructor at the local Police Academy and a deputy district attorney at the District Attorney’s Office, and I have nothing but the utmost respect for the working cop on the street.

I admit that I represent a VICTIM of Domestic Violence, however, I never reached out to any news agency on this topic for political gain. In fact, it was Lisa Vorderbrueggen of the Contra Costa Times who contacted me, and asked the following question: ‘Why does a victim of Domestic Violence need a lawyer to advocate for her?’ In a thirty minute discussion, I expressed my views regarding society’s treatment of women and who are victimized by batterers and sex offenders.

We must continually educate ourselves about domestic violence. My comment was not a criticism of the outstanding law enforcement officers in Contra Costa County. Rather, it stemmed more from my personal experience that the more I know, the more I realize there is to learn. My goal is to provide forums and multi-disciplinary trainings to promote ongoing awareness and education for all professionals responding to violence against women. Many of the Concord Police Officers appreciate these efforts of on-going training to understand the subtleties of violence against women and girls.

In fact, while the officer was writing his political hit piece of me, his colleagues who specialize in domestic violence reached out to the Alameda District Attorneys’ Office, requesting specialized training on the intricacies of domestic violence and human trafficking.

Training is a good thing. Collaborating with our Advocate partners, such as STAND For Families Free of Violence, allows all law enforcement professionals to do our jobs in the best way we can. In fact, I was honored just two months ago by the Family Stress Center (STAND’s partner) for my work towards the prevention of family violence. Just last week, two of the most prominent victims’ rights groups in California, Citizens for Law and Order, and the Crime Victims Action Alliance, honored me with their endorsements for District Attorney.

POST provides ongoing law enforcement training in domestic violence and CDAA provides DV training for Prosecutors. I support both statewide organizations wholeheartedly.

While I have the utmost respect for the working police officers of the Concord Police Department, it is unfortunate that the Union leadership of that department is elevating politics over the needs of victims of violent crimes. All of us in the law enforcement community should be able to agree that every day we need to strive to become better advocates for victims. It is when we think we have nothing to learn that we need to learn the most.

Regarding their endorsement of Mark Peterson, I will invite them to investigate the following facts:

• Under Mark Peterson’s watch, the Contra Costa District Attorneys’ Office was brought to shame when a young female Deputy DA was allegedly brutally raped.

• Peterson turned a blind eye because his good friend and direct subordinate was the alleged rapist.

• The investigation yielded a sex scandal involving the now infamous “Anal Sex Club” that had been occurring in Peterson’s division.

• That’s why he was demoted and that’s why Mark Peterson is in no position to call himself an advocate when it comes to protecting women from sexual or domestic abuse.

I will always side with the victim. Period. Maybe that’s why 95% of police officers support me.

Dan O’Malley

Posted on Thursday, October 21st, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | 28 Comments »

Report: Marijuana enforcement unfair to blacks

With Proposition 19 – California’s ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana – struggling in the polls and low on cash for the final weeks of the campaign, the Drug Policy Alliance and the California Conference of the NAACP are rolling out a study tomorrow on how marijuana arrests are racially disproportionate.

The report says that over the past two decades, California made 850,000 arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana, including half a million arrests in the last 10 years. Those arrested were disproportionately African Ameri¬cans and Latinos, overwhelmingly young people, especially young men, the report says: From 2006 through 2008, police in 25 major California cities arrested blacks for low-level marijuana possession at four, five, six, seven and even twelve times the rate of whites, even as U.S. government surveys consistently find that young whites use marijuana at higher rates than young blacks.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger might’ve taken some wind from the sails of this argument for legalization on Sept. 30 by signing into law a bill that reduces possession of up to an ounce of marijuana from a misdemeanor to an infraction, sort of like a traffic ticket but leaving no mark on one’s criminal record.

It has been a misdemeanor punishable only by a $100 fine since 1976, but reducing it to an infraction with the same penalty means those cited are no longer entitled to jury trials and court-appointed attorneys, potentially saving taxpayers millions – one of the criminal-justice costs Prop. 19 had sought to eliminate. The measure’s supporters say this decriminalization doesn’t go far enough, as minority communities still will be disproportionately hit with the $100 tickets.

On hand to release the report tomorrow afternoon – amid the California NAACP’s annual convention at the Oakland Marriott and Convention Center – will be California NAACP State Conference President Alice Huffman, whose early and ardent support of Prop. 19 on the basis of racial discrimination in marijuana enforcement has made waves in the state’s black communities; Drug Policy Alliance California Director Stephen Gutwillig; Law Enforcement Against Prohibition Executive Director Neill Franklin; actor Danny Glover; Prop. 19 proponent and Oaksterdam University President Richard Lee; National NAACP Criminal Justice Program Director Robert Rooks; and former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders. Their press conference will precede a panel discussion on “Lost Communities/Failed Cannabis Prohibition: A Time for Change.”

Posted on Thursday, October 21st, 2010
Under: 2010 election, ballot measures, marijuana | 2 Comments »

Showdown over Prop. 19 next week in SF

Please join me as I moderate an all-star panel discussion next Wednesday, Oct. 27 at the Commonwealth Club of California on Proposition 19, the ballot initiative to legalize recreational use and personal cultivation of marijuana.

20101027-Marijuana-Politics-mThe panelists will be Prop. 19 co-author and Oaksterdam University founder Richard Lee; RAND Drug Policy Research Center Co-director Beau Kilmer; and No on Prop. 19 campaign manager Tim Rosales.

This discussion will happen with less than a week to go before Election Day, and Prop. 19 is struggling: A Public Policy Institute of California poll released yesterday only 44 percent of likely voters polled Oct. 10 through 17 intend to vote for Prop. 19 – an eight-percentage-point drop since September – with 49 percent planning to oppose it and 7 percent undecided.

Supporters such as the California branch of the NAACP, the American Civil Liberties Union, the California Young Democrats, the Republican Liberty Caucus, the California Council of Churches and several big labor unions say legalization would end the hypocritical and racially disproportionate ban on a drug less harmful than alcohol, while saving law enforcement costs, creating new tax revenue for cities and counties, and making it harder for kids to get marijuana.

Opponents such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving; most major law enforcement groups; all major-party candidates for governor, state attorney general and U.S. Senate; the California League of Cities; the California State Association of Counties; and business groups say the measure threatens public safety, violates federal law and drug-free workplace rules, allows a patchwork of different rules and won’t raise much tax revenue.

The event is at the club’s offices on the second floor of 595 Market St. (at Second) in San Francisco; check-in starts at 6 p.m., the program starts at 6:30 p.m. and there’ll be a networking reception at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $12 for club members, $20 for nonmembers or $7 for students with valid ID, and are available online.

Posted on Thursday, October 21st, 2010
Under: 2010 election, ballot measures, marijuana | 1 Comment »

Anti-abortion group enters CD11 fray

A national anti-abortion organization will target the re-election of Rep. Jerry McNerney as part of a 42-Congressional district mail campaign.

The Susan B. Anthony List announced it will spend $3 million on key U.S. Senate and House races and another $3 million on public education in a bid to influence the outcome of mid-term elections and put more pro-life candidates in office. The other House districts on its mid-term target list include those held by reps. Dennis Cardoza and Loretta Sanchez.

McNerney’s challenger, GOP nominee David Harmer, opposes abortion.

Read on for the full news release:

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, October 20th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, congressional district 11 | No Comments »