Buchanan v. Wilson: The final AD15 numbers

Some of the numbers came in too late for inclusion in my roundup for tomorrow’s paper, but campaign finance reports filed today show the East Bay’s only hotly contested general election for a state legislative seat was quite costly.

Incumbent Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, raised $3.275 million and spent $3.266 million in 2009-10 to fend off a challenge from Republican nominee Abram Wilson, San Ramon’s mayor; Wilson raised $1.27 million and spent $1.258 million.

Buchanan defeated Wilson by a little more than 13,000 votes, a margin of 6.8 percentage points. It was a hard-fought race, but I think Buchanan probably scored the most crushing blow with an advertisement calling attention to the seemingly exorbitant salary paid to San Ramon’s city manager – something sure to irk many California votes in a year in which public salary and benefit scandals like the one in Bell attracted so much outrage. It cast a shadow over Wilson’s claim to fiscal conservative bona fides, and that was all she wrote.


E.Bay lawmakers react to Jerry Brown’s SOTS

Some East Bay lawmakers are sounding off on the State of the State address that Gov. Jerry Brown delivered earlier this evening. Guess what: They liked it.

From state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro:

“This governor is being honest with the Legislature and the voters. We can no longer pretend the state can right its ship without serious action. As Senate Majority Leader, I am committed to working across the aisle and with voters up and down the state to make sure we, once and for all, put California’s budget crisis behind us. Every single person in Sacramento and the state wants California to again be a leader in jobs and prosperity.”

From Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo:

“Less than a week after assuming office, Governor Brown presented us with a budget that does not rely on accounting gimmicks or inflated revenue projections. He continued the dialogue tonight by talking honestly about the difficult choices all of us must make – Democrats and Republicans. It also is clear that the Governor understands the tremendous potential of California and the contributions that critical programs like education have made to our economy and our lifestyles. I share his vision and his optimism.

“I was born in California at a time when we were the leader in education, aerospace, research and many other industries. Anything was possible in our state then because we made critical investments in our infrastructure, and we were disciplined in how we spent our money and repaid our debt.

“I believe the Governor has been very forthright about the tough road that lies ahead and we must come together as Californians and be willing to make the sacrifices required to right our financial ship and rebuild our infrastructure, our schools, our colleges, our roads. It is both a fiscal and a moral imperative if our children are going to have the same opportunities as our generation.

“The Governor has repeatedly shared his commitment to education and to creating good jobs. These are two of my top priorities. As a budget subcommittee chair, I am holding hearings to review the Governor’s budget to allow for a thorough review and public comment as well as timely action. I am looking forward to continuing my work to help our great state regain its place as a leader in our nation.”

From Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont:

“I think Governor Brown is being straight-forward and very candid about the challenges facing California and people find that refreshing. He’s not using any smoke and mirrors or Hollywood flash, nor is he searching for scapegoats.

“The reality is there aren’t any quick fixes or silver bullets to get us out of this mess. We need to cushion the blow for those families who have already suffered the most from the recession, and we need to stimulate job growth. We can do that by becoming more competitive in manufacturing, putting people to work to modernize our facilities and make them more energy efficient, and by investing in our universities to advance our biotech industries.

“Our challenges are daunting, but they can be overcome by the creativity and imagination that has made our state the eighth-largest economy in the world.”

As the Bay Area has elected no Republicans to this Legislature, I picked a few GOP voices from elsewhere in the state. Follow me after the jump to read ‘em…
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Boxer & DiFi introduce new pipeline safety bill

California’s U.S. Senators introduced a bill today to strengthen pipeline oversight and increase penalties when federal pipeline regulations are violated, inspired by last September’s deadly San Bruno gas pipeline blast that killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes.

It’s similar to a bill the Senators introduced last September; S.3824 was referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation but was never heard before the 111th Congress drew to a close.

The new Strengthening Pipeline Safety and Enforcement Act of 2011, however, also would enforce recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released in early January.

“We must make sure the system of pipelines crisscrossing our country is safe. Americans shouldn’t have to worry that the pipes beneath their feet will suddenly explode, and no neighborhood should have to endure the tragedy that befell San Bruno,” U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein said in a news release. “That is why we are introducing legislation that will improve the safety of pipelines and increase penalties for those who violate federal regulations.”

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer said while San Bruno residents recover and rebuild, “we must do everything we can to protect our communities by increasing inspections of our nation’s pipelines while setting tougher penalties for safety violations.”

The legislation would:

  • double the number of federal pipeline safety inspectors.
  • require deployment of electronic or remote-control valves capable of automatically shutting off the gas in a fire or other emergency.
  • mandate the use of inspection devices called “smart pigs” or an inspection method certified by the Secretary of Transportation as equally effective at finding corrosion.
  • require pipeline operators to establish a complete record of pipeline components in order to verify the “maximum allowable operating pressure,” based on the weakest section of the pipeline. Pipelines with incomplete records must be pressure tested or replaced, and must operate at reduced pressure until testing is completed. This provision was recommended by the NTSB after it discovered serious problems with Pacific Gas and Electric’s record keeping during the investigation of the San Bruno explosion.
  • prohibit natural gas pipelines from operating at high pressure if they cannot be inspected using the most effective inspection technology.
  • prioritize old pipelines in seismic areas for the highest level of safety oversight.
  • direct the Transportation Department to set standards for natural gas leak detection equipment and methods; there are no uniform national standards for how to detect leaks now.
  • The bill also includes provisions that would increase civil penalties for safety violations; expand data collection to be included in the national pipeline mapping system; close jurisdictional loopholes to assure greater oversight of unregulated pipelines; and require consideration of a firm’s safety record when considering its request for regulatory waivers.


    The Challenger disaster, 25 years later

    In memory of the seven American heroes of science and learning who lost their lives 73 seconds after takeoff, 25 years ago today…

    sts-51-L mission patch

    Commander Francis R. (Dick) Scobee
    Pilot Michael J. Smith
    Mission Specialist Judith A. Resnik
    Mission Specialist Ronald E. McNair
    Mission Specialist Ellison S. Onizuka
    Payload Specialist Gregory B. Jarvis
    Educator Sharon Christa McAuliffe

    Read all about them here, and take a moment today to remember their sacrifice.


    11 new White House interns are from Bay Area

    The Spring 2011 roster of White House interns includes almost a dozen either hailing from, or who have studied in, the Bay Area:

  • Sadie Brinton, San Francisco (Arizona State University)
  • Kimberly Castle, Oakland (Northwestern University)
  • Kelly Fitzpatrick, Los Angeles (University of California, Berkeley)
  • Chelsea Forbes-Terry, Hayward (Arizona State University)
  • Tiffany Gonzalez, San Francisco (Georgetown University Law Center)
  • Christa Hall, Citrus Heights (University of California, Berkeley)
  • Darshini Patel, Palo Alto (Wellesley College)
  • Sarah Reinheimer, Sacramento (University of San Francisco)
  • Dana Spindler, San Francisco (University of Washington)
  • Taryn Toyama, Fremont (San Jose State University)
  • Amira Valliani, Fremont (Yale University)
  • The program’s mission is to “make the White House accessible to future leaders all around the nation and cultivate and prepare those devoted to public service for future leadership opportunities.” Interns work in one of several White House departments, including the Office of Cabinet Affairs, the Office of the Chief of Staff, the Office of Scheduling and Advance, the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, the Office of Health Reform, the Office of Legislative Affairs, the Office of Management and Administration, the Office of White House Counsel, the Office of Energy and Climate Change, the National Economic Council, the Office of Presidential Correspondence, the Presidential Personnel Office, the Communications Department, the Domestic Policy Council, the Office of the First Lady, and the Office of the Vice President.