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Archive for November, 2010

Turnout in Contra Costa hits 66 percent

Voters surpassed by 11 percentage points Contra Costa Registrar Steve Weir’s turnout projections for the Nov. 2 general election.

In the final vote tally certified today, Contra Costa turnout was 66 percent, for a total of 352,687 votes cast at the top of the ticket for governor. It’s the highest turnout since the 1982 gubernatorial election. (The race at the top of the ballot is usually the contest that receives the most votes. Click here for the SOS county-by-county turnout list.)

Why? The credit, or blame, depending on your perspective, most likely rests with the Democrats. The party made a successful and huge push in the final week through TV and radio ads, and on-the-the-ground use of labor unions. The larger-than-expected turnout on Election Day really helped Democrats in close contests, such as Rep. Jerry McNerney in the 11th Congressional District.

Some Contra Costa cities posted higher turnouts than others. Orinda and Lafayette top the list, while San Pablo clearly needs a push. Here’s a ranked list:

  1. Orinda: 78.8 percent
  2. Lafayette: 76.8 percent
  3. El Cerrito: 75.3 percent
  4. Moraga: 74.9 percent
  5. Danville: 74.1 percent
  6. Walnut Creek: 73.4 percent
  7. Clayton: 73.5 percent
  8. Pleasant Hill: 69.8 percent
  9. Martinez: 69.3 percent
  10. San Ramon: 67.8 percent
  11. Pinole: 66.8 percent
  12. Concord: 65.5 percent
  13. Brentwood: 62.9 percent
  14. Hercules: 59.7 percent
  15. Richmond: 59 percent
  16. Antioch: 56.6 percent
  17. Oakley: 54.2 percent
  18. Pittsburg: 53.7 percent
  19. San Pablo: 49.5 percent

Weir sent over some additional statistics, which you may find interesting.

Historical turnout during gubernatorial elections:

Year Turn Out Turn Out, VBM State Turn Out

  • 2010 66.1%
  • 2006 63.4%
  • 2002 56.6%
  • 1998 63.1%
  • 1994 62.0%
  • 1990 61.3%
  • 1986 62.5%
  • 1982 70.5%

Posted on Tuesday, November 30th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

CD11: McNerney officially wins re-election

McNerney

McNerney

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, has officially won re-election to a third term.

Contra Costa County, the fourth and final county in the 11th Congressional District, certified its election results late this morning, which widened McNerney’s final margin of victory over GOP nominee David Harmer to 2,658 votes.

The final vote tally: McNerney, 115,361 votes, or 47.97 percent; Harmer, 112,703, or 46.86 percent; and David Christensen, American Independent, 12,439, or 5.17 percent.

McNerney had been trailing Harmer in Contra Costa County, but overtook him as the final votes were tallied. He eventually beat Harmer by 92 votes in Contra Costa and prevailed in Alameda and Santa Clara counties.

Harmer won in the more conservative San Joaquin County by 4,493 votes, or 3.6 percentage points. This result could prove telling for McNerney’s 2012 re-election prospects, as redistricting next year will almost certainly shift his district’s boundaries eastward.

While the final vote count was tight — 1.1 percent of the 240,503 votes cast — it’s probably not close enough to warrant an expensive recount.

Any registered voter may request a recount but must pay for it. If the election results are overturned as a result of the recount, the county will refund the money.

The Republican Party had been watching this race closely, although both parties sent observers to watch vote counting in all four counties. The California Republican Party has said it will pursue a lawsuit in Contra Costa County in a dispute over the rights of observers to challenge vote-by-mail signatures but the outcome would unlikely impact the 11th District results.

The full county results are posted on its Web site, www.cocovote.us.

Posted on Tuesday, November 30th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, congressional district 11 | 11 Comments »

U.S. Supreme Court hears Calif. prison case

The U.S. Supreme Court appeared ready today to endorse a lower court’s order calling on California to move thousands of inmates out of its overcrowded prisons so that those who remain get adequate health care, the Associated Press reports (via the Washington Post).

The justices heard an extended argument in a case over long-standing violations of constitutional rights in a state prison system that last year averaged nearly a death a week that might have been prevented or delayed with better medical care.

A decision in Plata v. Schwarzenegger (SCOTUS docket here, historical documents here)will come by next summer, but stakeholders are weighing in today.

From David Fathi, Director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prison Project:

“Gov. Schwarzenegger has acknowledged that prison overcrowding increases recidivism while creating ‘conditions of extreme peril’ that threaten the health and safety of staff and prisoners alike. Our public safety is jeopardized by overcrowded prisons, in which high-risk prisoners don’t rehabilitate and low-risk prisoners learn new criminal behavior. It is far past time to abandon failed ‘get-tough’ ideologies and invest in policies that are rooted in evidence, fiscal prudence and common sense.”

From Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, deputy state director for the Drug Policy Alliance in Southern California:

“One of the primary reasons that the state’s prisons are dangerously overcrowded is that California continues to lock up thousands of people each year for low-level drug possession. There is no basis in evidence or principle to expose people to this dangerous environment simply for the possession of a small amount of illicit substances. California must follow the lead of other states like Texas and New York and stop sending people to state prison for drug possession, which can be handled as a health issue safely, effectively and affordably in the community.

“The state currently spends $500 million a year to incarcerate 10,000 people for nothing more than personal drug possession. That does not include the unknown number of parolees who have been returned to prison for a few months based on the results of a drug test. This is a terrible waste of scarce resources. Treatment in the community is effective and affordable. Unfortunately, California this year eliminated funding for community-based treatment for drug possession arrestees.

“People who use drugs do not belong in the state’s cruel and costly prisons simply for that personal use. We urge California to take the logical step of ending incarceration as a response to drug possession, while expanding opportunities for drug treatment in the community.”

Posted on Tuesday, November 30th, 2010
Under: State Prisons | 1 Comment »

Oakland firm owes $15.8 mil in state taxes

An Oakland shipping-container company now ranks second on the California Board of Equalization’s list of biggest sales and use tax delinquents.

The board updated its list today, adding 22 entities that owe a total of almost $72 million.

Almost $15.8 million of that amount is owed by C & JD USA Inc. of Oakland; a lien in that amount was issued Aug. 17.

State law since 2007 has required the Board of Equalization to post online a list of the biggest tax scofflaws; those on the list are notified 30 days before it’s published and given a chance to settle their debts. Since the program’s start, 31 qualifying taxpayers whose account balances totaled $31.4 million in sales and use taxes have come forward to take care of their debts; $4.1 million of that money has been collected so far.

The only other Bay Area taxpayer added to the list today was Nabil Khalil Msalam of Redwood City, who owes just over $2 million. Records show Msalam owns Cortella Gas Inc., Easy Stop Gas Inc. and American Canyon Gas Inc. The Secretary of State’s database shows all three companies have been suspended; suspensions can be ordered by the Franchise Tax Board for failure to pay taxes.

See a complete list of the newly added sales and use tax delinquencies, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, November 30th, 2010
Under: taxes | 2 Comments »

‘Oakland, where all bets are off for sanity’

Conservative radio host Laura Ingraham, speaking this morning on Fox & Friends, blasted Oakland for its plan to issue ID/debit cards:

Media Matters for America, a liberal watchdog group, immediately called her bluff on that whole “most of us can’t get a thousand dollars on our debit cards” thing, noting Newsweek recently estimated her annual income at about $7 million. It also noted the program’s goal is to help city residents, including but not limited to illegal immigrants and homeless people, who might have trouble getting state-issued ID or scraping together enough money to open a traditional bank account.

Posted on Tuesday, November 30th, 2010
Under: Immigration, Oakland | 3 Comments »

Barbara Lee led co-del to observe Haiti’s election

Congressional Black Caucus chairwoman Barbara Lee, who led a caucus delegation to Haiti yesterday to observe that calamity-stricken nation’s tumultuous election, said today that “the jury is still out” on whether that vote was free and fair.

UN-soldier-watches-Haitian-election-workers-Getty-Images“The polling places we went to, the turnout didn’t appear to be very high,” Lee, D-Oakland, said, noting that although some people had suggested to her that turnout was low in the morning because many people were in church, turnout seemed low in the afternoon as well.

“I talked to Sean Penn, we had a quick meeting – he’s doing phenomenal work there, but of 5,500 people in his camp, only 750 were eligble to vote,” she said – a common problem throughout the camps in which Haitians displaced by January’s massive earthquake are still huddled.

Without permanent addresses, many had to re-register to vote, Lee said; about 380,000 people applied for new voter registration cares, but only about 250,000 had been distributed before yesterday’s vote. Haiti doesn’t have a system of provisional ballots as we have here; if you’re not on the voter rolls at the polling place, you don’t vote.

“It appears as if there were a lot of people disenfranchised,” she said.
What with the earthquake, last month’s lashing by Hurricane Tomas and a cholera outbreak still in progress, “it’s overwhelming in terms of all the challenges,” Lee said.

But she said the delegation also was told that out of 1,500 polling places, only a few dozen had some problems, very few of which actually turned violent. It’s too early to tell whether reports of disenfranchisement, fraud and tumult were isolated anecdotes or a widespread pattern, she said.

In general, Haiti has made some good progress in recovering from its awful year, Lee said; for example, rubble-removal efforts have progressed noticeably since her last visit a few months ago. But Haiti simultaneously must recover from centuries of economic exploitation and political oppression, she said, and that’s going to take a lot longer. “The next president will have to take the country to the next step, and it’s going to be very challenging, but I believe it can be done.”

Accompanying Lee on the trip were House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C.; Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich.; Del. Donna Christian-Christiansen, D-Virgin Islands; caucus chairman-elect Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo.; Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Tex.; Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio; Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Tex.; Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla.;, Rep. Laura Richardson, D-Calif.; Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga.; and Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb.

The delegation arrived in Port-au-Prince yesterday morning and was briefed on the election by Kenneth Merten, the U.S. Ambassador to Haiti, before meeting with senior Haitian government officials and visiting a voting center. In the afternoon, the lawmakers took part in a working lunch with several non-governmental organizations involved in overseeing the elections; visited another voting center; got a situation report from the Organization of American States-Caribbean Community Electoral Observation Mission; and then received a final election briefing from a special representative to the United Nations Secretary General before flying back to Andrews Air Force Base.

Posted on Monday, November 29th, 2010
Under: Barbara Lee, U.S. House | 2 Comments »

Speaker John Perez says ‘It Gets Better’

California Assembly Speaker John Pérez, D-Los Angeles, released a pair of YouTube videos today as part of the “It Gets Better” series created to counter a spate of LGBT teenage suicides due to bullying and harassment by their peers.

Here’s the short version:

And here’s the long version, where in he discusses his experience coming out over the Thanksgiving holiday when he was in college:

“The rash of suicides we’ve seen in the past year have been nothing short of heartbreaking in every sense of the word. The particulars are the same in every case, where the kid felt so lonely and isolated and had no hope for the future to the point where they felt the only answer was taking their own life,” Pérez said in a news release. “The It Gets Better series is a way for each of us who struggled with the same issues to reach out to the kids and let them know how wonderful and special and not alone they are. I chose to do this video now because with the holiday season approaching it’s more critical than any other time of the year to send the kids a message of hope.”

Posted on Wednesday, November 24th, 2010
Under: Assembly, John Perez | 4 Comments »

Steve Cooley concedes AG race to Kamala Harris

Republican nominee and Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley has conceded the race for state attorney general to Democratic nominee and San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris.

Steve Cooley“While the margin is extremely narrow and ballots are still being counted, my campaign believes that we cannot make up the current gap in the vote count for Attorney General. Therefore, I am formally conceding the race and congratulate Ms. Harris on becoming California’s next Attorney General.

“We started this campaign late but we won an exceptionally tough Republican primary by a decisive margin. In the general election, we emerged as California’s top Republican vote getter and carried 39 out of the state’s 58 counties. We also cut by more than half the margin of loss by the GOP ticket in heavily Democratic Los Angeles County. It was gratifying to have received the votes of over 4 million Californians.

“It is unfortunate that someone who is a non-partisan non-politician could not overcome the increasingly partisan tendencies of the state, even for an office that by its nature necessitates a non-partisan approach.

“I take great pride in the fact that I received the endorsement of every law enforcement organization in this race as well as that of every major daily newspaper in California but one. I was particularly gratified to receive the support of so many fellow district attorneys. While my campaign team tells me that endorsements do not necessarily win elections – and the results confirm that – it still means a great deal to me on a personal level.

“I thank my supporters and my campaign team for all they did and the sacrifices they made during this past year. We had many old friends – and made many new ones across the state – who stepped up to help our campaign. My campaign team did an exceptional job guiding someone who had never previously thought of running for statewide office through two very difficult elections.

“I will complete my third term and finish my career as a professional prosecutor in the office where it began over 37 years ago. I take great satisfaction in being able to still work with the tremendous professionals who do such an outstanding job in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office. I look forward to continuing to serve the people of Los Angeles County as District Attorney with the same commitment and enthusiasm I have always demonstrated.

“The campaign was a fascinating and very positive experience. I advocated for the issues in which I believed in and proposed reforms California needs during these difficult times. I will continue to do the same as District Attorney for the County of Los Angeles.”

“District Attorney Harris thanks District Attorney Cooley for a spirited campaign and looks forward to working together on the critical public safety challenges facing California,” Harris campaign manager Brian Brokaw said in an e-mailed statement. “The counties continue to tabulate votes, and District Attorney Harris believes it is only appropriate to wait until all the votes are counted before making a public declaration. She will be holding a press conference on Tuesday, November 30, the deadline for counties to report final counts to the Secretary of State.”

Posted on Wednesday, November 24th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Attorney General, Kamala Harris, Steve Cooley | 3 Comments »

McNerney’s lead continues to widen

The latest ballot-tallying updates from the most populous part of the 11th Congressional District shows incumbent Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, again has widened his lead over Republican challenger David Harmer.

Tuesday’s updates from the registrars of voters in San Joaquin County – which has the lion’s share of the four-county district’s registered voters – and Santa Clara County showed Harmer lost ground in the former and made none in the latter, leaving him 2,475 votes behind McNerney – just over 1 percent of the 237,808 ballots counted so far.

McNerney declared victory Nov. 10, when he was up by 1,681 votes or about seven-tenths of a percent; Harmer has yet to concede, and recently attended the GOP’s freshman orientation on Capitol Hill.

McNerney — now seeking a third term in the House of Representatives — leads Harmer — an attorney from San Ramon’s Dougherty Valley area — in Alameda County by about 15.5 percentage points and in Santa Clara County by 8.2 points.

Harmer leads McNerney by 0.15 of a point in Contra Costa County and by 3.6 points in San Joaquin County; that latter number decreased from a 4.3 percentage-point lead as of Nov. 10.

San Joaquin County is also where American Independent nominee David Christensen fared best, with almost 7.1 percent of the votes cast; districtwide, he took about 5.2 percent.

UPDATE @ 2:35 P.M.: The Associated Press has called the race for McNerney. I’ve still not heard back from Harmer’s people.

Posted on Wednesday, November 24th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Jerry McNerney, U.S. House, Uncategorized | 17 Comments »

KTVU’s Randy Shandobil retires

Randy ShandobilKTVU Channel 2 Political Editor Randy Shandobil is retiring today, and Northern California is poorer for it.

Carla Marinucci, my esteemed colleague at the Chronicle, has already assembled a fitting tribute, so I’ll not reinvent the wheel. I’d simply add that Randy brought a depth of knowledge, a pitbull-like determination and a rapier wit to his job, each of which are valuable enough in television journalism but are so very rarely found in combination. He’s damned good at his job, and will be sorely missed by his fellow journalists and perhaps even moreso by his legions of viewers.

Posted on Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010
Under: Media | 1 Comment »