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.”


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.”


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.


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.


Dems tout health insurance premium rebates

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a final regulation today that it estimates will save insured Americans up to $4.9 billion in cash rebates, lower premiums or increase benefits over the next three years, and Democrats are crowing.

The new regulation is part of the so-called ‘medical-loss ratio’ provisions contained in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – the healthcare reform bill – that President Barack Obama signed into law in March. Those provisions demand that most insurers spend at least 80 to 85 percent of consumers’ premiums on health care, instead of on advertising, CEO bonuses, and other administrative costs not related to health care’s quality.

To Democrats, this looks like ammunition for the coming Congress, in which a Republican House majority hopes to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“Repeal this?” House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Martinez, asked in his news release. “Republicans in Washington have pledged to repeal the health care law. If they succeed, they will be taking money right out of the pocket of millions of average Americans. They might think that’s a good idea but I certainly don’t. So let’s just be very clear about what’s at stake when Republicans call for the repeal of the new health care law.

Miller said the new regulation is good news for Americans who are paying too much in health insurance premiums – some of which have been raised by double digits even while insurers report billions in profits.

“But make no mistake about it — repealing the health reform law will take money directly out of consumers’ pockets,” he said.

House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Pete Stark, D-Fremont, issued a news release that said more than 20 percent of consumers are now in plans that spend more than 30 cents of every premium dollar on administrative costs, while 25 percent more are in plans that spent 25 to 30 cents on such costs.

Pete StarkOnce this new regulation takes effect, he said, up to 74.8 million insured Americans will be protected from excessive insurer spending, and up to 9 million may be eligible for rebates starting in 2012, worth up to $1.4 billion and possibly averaging as much as $164 per person in the individual market.

“By pledging to repeal health reform, House Republicans would eliminate this important protection and allow insurance companies to continue unlimited spending on CEO bonuses, profits and lobbying – and less on patients’ health care,” Stark said. “The Republican response to today’s announcement will be telling. Will they stand with working families or the health insurance industry?”


State buildings, UC costs, Jean Quan on ‘TWINC’

I was on KQED’s “This Week in Northern California” last night to discuss the plan to sell and then lease back state buildings in order to raise quick cash to help close our budget gap. Other topics included UC tuition hikes and San Francisco’s governmental tumult, and Belva Davis interviewed Oakland Mayor-Elect Jean Quan.