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Archive for January, 2011

Contra Costa supes may ban naming relatives

The language of a Contra Costa Board of Supervisors policy barring the appointment of the the supervisors’ relatives to  boards in which they select the members emerged from a sub-committee today.

Supervisors John Gioia, of Richmond, and Federal Glover, of Pittsburg, who comprise the Public Protection Committee, approved the wording, which will move to the full board next month.

Click here to read the proposed policy: http://ca-contracostacounty.civicplus.com/DocumentView.aspx?DID=5371

The policy came out of a controversy last fall when David Piepho, husband to Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho, sought an appointment to a small cemetery board. David said he was interested in cemetery governance but critics said his primary intent was to keep his seat on on the Local Agency Formation Commission. (He had opted not to seek re-election in November to the Discovery Bay Community Services District; a cemetery seat would have allowed him to serve out the remainder of his term as an appointee of the Contra Costa Special Districts Association.)

After much ado, the board allowed David Piepho to apply for the opening but after a tense public hearing, they eventually appointed Vicky Rinehart to the Byron-Brentwood-Knightsen Union Cemetery District.

Embarrassed by the perception of favoritism, Glover and Gioia pursued a policy that would remove even the hint of impropriety: An outright ban on appointments to county boards of anyone  related to a supervisor or a business partner of a supervisor.

Keep in mind, these appointments typically involve advisory posts with little or no financial benefits.

Nonetheless, the public remains fiercely opposed to even a whiff of nepotism.

The policy undeniably places the Piephos in a difficult position. David was an elected official long before his wife ran for supervisor, and if this policy passes, he cannot seek appointment to any county board while she holds the seat.

And David is free to volunteer for any number of other civic organizations or run again for public office.

Regardless of where you come down on this issue, when the policy comes up for debate the discussion will be most interesting.

Posted on Monday, January 24th, 2011
Under: Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | 5 Comments »

Longtime Perata aide to work for Gov. Brown

A longtime aide to former state Senate President Pro Tem and 2010 Oakland mayoral candidate Don Perata has been named to an important post in Gov. Jerry Brown’s office.

Gareth Elliott, 40, of Sacramento, will serve as Brown’s legislative affairs secretary, the governor’s office announced today. The legislative affairs secretary is a lynchpin of the governor’s policy development and legislative strategy – a key role in the coming weeks as Brown tries to rally support for his budget plan.

Elliott has served as policy director for state Sen. Alex Padilla since 2008, but before that was policy director and deputy chief of staff for Perata from 2004 to 2008; earlier, he was a legislative aide and then legislative director for Perata from 1996 to 2004. Elliott’s appointment doesn’t require Senate confirmation; the Democrat will be paid an annual salary of $147,900.

Follow me after the jump for other appointments announced today by Brown’s office…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, January 24th, 2011
Under: California State Senate, Don Perata, Jerry Brown | 2 Comments »

Ice cream & bipartisanship at State of the Union

A pair of business partners from Santa Cruz who started their ice cream shop with a Small Business Administration loan funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act economic stimulus are among those invited to sit with First Lady Michelle Obama at President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address tomorrow night.

From the White House’s advisory:

Business partners Kendra Baker and Zachary Davis had a dream of opening an organic, homemade ice cream shop in Santa Cruz, California, but had trouble finding a lender that would help finance their dream. With the help of a Recovery Act SBA loan of $250,000, Kendra and Zack were able open the doors to The Penny Ice Creamery in August 2010. The SBA Recovery Act funding allowed them to not only open the shop, but also to employ eleven people, purchase American-made equipment, and to hire nearly twenty local businesses to design and renovate the space. Kendra and Zack were so thankful for the financing help, that they posted a video on YouTube thanking the Administration and Members of Congress for their Recovery Act SBA loan. As a result of the video, the Vice President called them in November 2010 to thank them for the video and wish them good luck.

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., reports she’ll be sitting tomorrow night with Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., as part of the bipartisan seating initiative – that is, Democrats and Republicans sitting together, rather than “across the aisle,” to present a more united front.

Mica chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, while Boxer chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which has jurisdiction over transportation and infrastructure. With this shared jurisdiction, they’ll most likely be working together a lot this year.

“We both have responsibility for the transportation bill and water infrastructure legislation,” Boxer said. “We have already started working together and we thought it would be nice to sit together to show that there’s not just cooperation between Republicans and Democrats, but also between the House and Senate.”

Posted on Monday, January 24th, 2011
Under: Barbara Boxer, economy, Obama presidency, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | 1 Comment »

John Chiang to audit redevelopment agencies

As debate rages over Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to raid local redevelopment agencies’ coffers to help close the state budget deficit, state Controller John Chiang today announced his auditors will review 18 redevelopment agencies – including five in the Bay Area – to see how they spend their money.

“The heated debate over whether RDAs are the engines of local economic and job growth or are simply scams providing windfalls to political cronies at the expense of public services has largely been based on anecdotal evidence,” Chiang said in a news release. “As lawmakers deliberate the Governor’s proposal to close RDAs and divert those funds to local schools and public safety agencies, I believe it is important to provide factual, empirical information about how these agencies perform and what they bring to the communities they serve.”

Chiang’s office said the 18 RDAs selected for the reviews – to be done by early March – represent urban, suburban and rural communities, are spread around the state represent a mix of populations. Auditors will review, among other things, how the RDAs define a “blighted” area, whether they are appropriately paying for low- and moderate-income housing as required by law, whether they are accurately “passing through” payments to schools within their community, and how much RDA officials, board members and employees are being paid.

On the audit list are:
Redevelopment Agency of the City of Fremont (Alameda County)
Richmond Redevelopment Agency (Contra Costa County)
Hercules Redevelopment Agency (Contra Costa County)
Redevelopment Agency of the City of Pittsburg (Contra Costa County)
Redevelopment Agency of the City of San Jose (Santa Clara County)
Redevelopment Agency for the County of Riverside
Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles (Los Angeles County)
Redevelopment Agency of the County of Sacramento
Pasadena Community Development Commission (Los Angeles County)
Redevelopment Agency of the City of Fresno (Fresno County)
City of Palm Desert Redevelopment Agency (Riverside County)
Placentia Redevelopment Agency (Orange County)
Parlier Redevelopment Agency (Fresno County)
Anderson Redevelopment Agency (Shasta County)
Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Citrus Heights (Sacramento County)
Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Calexico (Imperial County)
Community Development Agency of the City of Coronado (San Diego County)
City of Desert Hot Springs Redevelopment Agency (Riverside County)

UPDATE @ 5 P.M.: As our West County Times’ Tom Lochner reports:

The Hercules, Pittsburg and Richmond redevelopment agencies are among seven in California that, as of December, had not paid their obligations to the Supplemental Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund, part of a statewide $1.7 billion shift of redevelopment agency property taxes to schools in the 2009-10 fiscal year. Hercules owed $4.9 million, Pittsburg owed $17.4 million and Richmond owed $10.1 million. Two of the other seven non-payers — Parlier in Fresno County and Placentia in Orange County — also are among the 18 agencies targeted by the statewide review.

Gee, I wonder if that had anything to do with their selection for the audit?

Posted on Monday, January 24th, 2011
Under: Jerry Brown, John Chiang, state budget | 8 Comments »

Former Michigan Gov. Granholm to teach at Cal

Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and her husband, Daniel Mulhern, will teach interdisciplinary courses on energy, leadership, state budgets and the economy at the University of California, Berkeley’s schools of law, business and public policy, the university announced this morning.

The academic appointments will be part time this semester and full time in the fall.

Jennifer GranholmThe Democrat served as Michigan’s first woman governor from 2003 through the start of this month. The automotive and manufacturing sectors plummeted during this time, forcing Granholm to work to diversify the state’s economy – including an emphasis on clean energy – while shoring up the vastly changed automotive industry.

“We are simply delighted that a governor of this caliber and expertise with such a strong legacy has agreed to teach here,” Berkeley Law Dean Christopher Edley said in a news release. “We teach our students how to apply their studies to solve the most intractable real world problems. Governor Granholm is a role model in this arena. She’s a distinguished policy expert who’s charted a new course for Michigan through hard work and innovation.”

Granholm, 51, will teach several courses while working closely with several UC Berkeley’s think tanks. At the Goldman School of Public Policy this spring, she will teach about state budgets, clean energy jobs, diversifying the economy, and leadership; in the fall, she will add a course on state budgeting and governing in times of fiscal crisis.

She also is scheduled to speak in Cal’s Chevron Auditorium at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 2 on “Cracking the Code: Creating Jobs in America (in the wake of globalization).”

“In these times of tough budget choices and increasing demands on government to solve problems, no one is better equipped to teach about leadership and policy-making than Governor Granholm,” Goldman School Dean Henry Brady said in the releasel. “We are thrilled to have her at the Goldman School of Public Policy to continue our tradition of teaching students how to face tough problems directly, analytically and imaginatively.”

Granholm graduated from Cal in 1984 with B.A. in both political science and French, and from Harvard Law School in 1987. She said returning to her alma mater is “a terrific opportunity to offer students an insider’s look at the challenges of running state government during fiscal crisis. It also gives Dan and me a forum to debate public policy with the university’s stellar thinkers and scholars.”

Granholm, who also is scheduled to be a regular contributor to NBC’s “Meet the Press with David Gregory,” became a federal prosecutor in Detroit in 1990 and was elected Michigan’s first female attorney general in 1998. She was then elected governor in 2002 and re-elected in 2006.

While in office, she signed into law a college prep curriculum for every high school student in the state and some of the toughest turnaround requirements in the nation for low-performing schools. In 2007, she launched a “No Worker Left Behind” program for displaced adults, in which the state pays the community college or technical school tuition of any unemployed and underemployed citizen seeking training for a high-demand job. Michigan under her leadership won recognition by the Pew Center on the States as being one of the best managed states in the country and one of the top states for adding new business expansions.

Mulhern is a leadership coach; the host of “Everyday Leadership,” a radio show on the Michigan Talk Network; and the author of two books: “Everyday Leadership: Getting Results in Business, Politics and Life” (2007); and “Be Real: Inspiring Stories for Leading at Home and Work” (2010). He’ll teach two courses in this year’s fall semester: one on gender, work and leadership to be offered jointly by the Goldman School and Berkeley Law, and another at the Haas School of Business on leadership.

Mulhern also will join faculty affiliated with Berkeley Law’s Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute and its project on health, economic and family security. He graduated from Yale University in 1980 with a degree in religious studies and from Harvard Law School in 1986.

UPDATE @ 3:50 P.M.: University spokeswoman Susan Gluss, whom I’d contacted earlier to find out how much Granholm and Mulhern will be paid, just e-mailed me to say I should contact the campus public records office, presumably with a formal California Public Records Act information request. I’ve just left a voice mail for the public records coordinator, and e-mailed him a formal written request.

UPDATE @ 5:32 P.M.: My esteemed colleague, Matt Krupnick, just heard back from Gluss that Granholm and Mulhern each will receive a salary of $150,000, which she said is “somewhat below the average Berkeley salary for starting assistant professors in law or business.”

Posted on Monday, January 24th, 2011
Under: education | 8 Comments »

Boxer bill would crack down on concealed guns

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., is throwing herself back into the gun control debate, having announced today that she’ll introduce the “Common-Sense Concealed Firearms Act of 2011,” which would require all states that let residents carry concealed weapons in public to have minimum standards for granting permits.

Barbara Boxer“The tragic events in Tucson earlier this month are a reminder of why we need common-sense gun laws,” Boxer said in a news release this afternoon. “This measure will establish reasonable permitting standards for Americans who wish to carry concealed firearms. According to a recent poll, more than 60 percent of respondents believe there should be a reasonable permitting process for those who wish to carry concealed firearms.”

Boxer’s office says her bill would “require all states that allow residents to carry concealed weapons to establish permitting processes that would include meaningful consultation with local law enforcement authorities to determine whether the permit applicant is worthy of the public trust and has shown good cause to carry a concealed firearm.”

Two states – Illinois and Wisconsin – and the District of Columbia don’t let residents carry concealed firearms in public at all, while Arizona, Alaska and Vermont let residents do so without needing any permit. The other 45 states require permits, “but the majority of these states would not meet the standard set in this bill,” Boxer’s office said.

As she won’t introduce the bill until the Senate reconvenes next week, we don’t know yet what that standard will be.

Whatever it is, expect immediate opposition from gun-rights groups such as the National Rifle Association. Here in California, there’ll be an outcry from members of the open carry movement, which advocates carrying unloaded handguns in public partly as a safety measure and partly as a political statement spotlighting many Californians’ difficulty in obtaining concealed-carry permits from their counties. I anticipate talking to them next week, when we’ll have a clearer idea of what Boxer’s bill actually would require.

Though it’s too early to say for sure, I’d say such a bill stands little chance; it most likely would see a Republican filibuster in the Senate, and would be DOA in the GOP-controlled House.

Posted on Friday, January 21st, 2011
Under: Barbara Boxer, gun control, Public safety, U.S. Senate | 49 Comments »

Former AG candidate blasts Harris for backing law

State Sen. Tom Harman, who while seeking the GOP nomination for attorney general less than a year ago said California should join with states suing to overturn the health care reforms passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama, today blasted Attorney General Kamala Harris for helping to file a brief in the law’s defense.

Harman, R-Huntington Beach, issued a news release a few hours after Harris announced that she and eight other Democratic attorneys general were filing a friend of the court brief with the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals:

Tom Harman“The time for California to involve itself in the legal proceedings surrounding Obamacare has long passed and it is now a matter for the U.S. Supreme Court. Certainly filing a brief in support of a program universally disliked by voters and estimated to cost Californians billions of additional tax dollars at a time when we are facing multi-billion dollar deficits and record unemployment sends a mixed message.

“The Attorney General’s time and resources would be better spent focusing on the most pressing issues facing Californians – promoting private sector jobs and stimulating the economy. Spearheading efforts to put a lid on frivolous lawsuits and regulations that threaten our small businesses would be of more benefit to the average Californian than supporting a program that is certain to add hundreds of billions of dollars to our tax burden.

“California is currently facing a $28 billion dollar deficit. Our taxes are among the highest in the nation. The federal health plan stands to only exacerbate these problems. As details have emerged about the federal law, national opposition to it has grown to such a point that the new Congress is actively trying to repeal and replace it.

“I would urge the Attorney General to use her department’s resources to tackle California’s immediate concerns.”

Harman finished a distant third in last June’s GOP primary to relatively more moderate Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley, who had not ruled out joining a lawsuit challenging the law; he said he would do so if directed by the new governor and Legislature. Cooley then lost November’s general election to Harris by less than one percentage point.

Posted on Friday, January 21st, 2011
Under: Attorney General, California State Senate, healthcare reform, Kamala Harris, Tom Harman | 4 Comments »

McNerney returns to science committee

McNerney

McNerney

In yet another fall-out after the Democrats’ loss of majority status in the House of Representatives, Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, will lose his seat on the Energy and Commerce Committee.

He will return to the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, his first assignment after he was initially elected in 2006. McNerney will remain on the Veterans Affairs Committee, his signature policy area. He had served on Energy and Commerce just one term.

“The congressman enjoyed his time on the Energy and Commerce Committee, but he is very excited about going back to the Science, Space and Technology Committee,” said spokeswoman Sarah Hersh.

A PHd mathematician who designed wind turbines, McNerney has a keen interest in green technology and science.

McNerney’s shift is the result of the GOP takeover of the House of Representatives. Not only does the majority party hold more seats on committees but the GOP leaders also cut the overall size of the committees.

Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, lost his seat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, leaving the Bay Area with no direct representation on the committee.  And Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, will leave the House Natural Resources Committee after more than 35 years on the panel.

Posted on Thursday, January 20th, 2011
Under: Congress, Congressional District 10, congressional district 11 | 4 Comments »

A few upcoming political events

Pete StarkRep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, is holding two town meetings this Saturday, Jan. 22, so constituents can “ask questions about important national issues. Likely topics include the agenda for the new Congress, Republican attempts to repeal the health reform law, and job creation efforts.” The meetings will be from 9 to 10:30 a.m. in the Fremont Senior Center, 40086 Paseo Padre Parkway, and 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the city council chambers at San Leandro City Hall, 835 E. 14th St.

Daniel BorensteinBay Area News Group-East Bay’s very own columnist and editorial writer Daniel Borenstein will join Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association President Jon Coupal, former Assemblyman and Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research lecturer Joe Nation and SEIU Local 1021 President Roxanne Sanchez for a Commonwealth Club of California discussion on “The True Cost of Public Pensions: Reform or Bust?” at 6:30 p.m. next Tuesday, Jan. 25, in the Lafayette Library and Learning Center, 3491 Mt. Diablo Blvd. “California’s financial situation is in shambles, and some pundits have identified the states public-employee pension obligation as a central part of the problem,” the club says. “But what is the true cost of pensions to the states structural deficit? Nineteen states reformed their public pension benefits in 2010.California has the largest pension system in the nation; is it now time for our state to reform our program too?” Tickets cost $12 for club members, $22 for nonmembers or $7 for students with valid ID, and are available online.

Barbara Lee (Dec-2010)Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, will headline a Commonwealth Club of California panel discussion on “The Obama Effect: Where Does the African American Community Stand Now?” at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 7 in the Lafayette Veterans Memorial Hall, 3780 Mt. Diablo Blvd. Also participating will be Green For All CEO Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins and ColorOfChange.org cofounder and Executive Director James Rucker. “The panel will discuss the effects the election and new president have had on the black community,” the club says. “Has Obama landed the final blow needed to break the glass ceiling? Or has electing the first African-American president during one of the worst times in our country’s history created an unfortunate association that will become more of a hindrance than a help to the African American community?” Tickets cost $12 for club members, $22 for nonmembers or $7 for students with valid ID, and are available online.

John GaramendiRep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, will host his annual crab feed – a fundraiser for his Garamendi for Congress committee – with guest speaker Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 18 in the Antioch Community Center, 4703 Lone Tree Way. Tickets are $45 per person, with more expensive sponsorships available, and are available online.

Jerry McNerneyAnd Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, is accepting applications for college and post-graduate internships in his Stockton and Pleasanton offices: “I encourage students who are interested in public service and learning about a congressional office to apply for an internship in one of my offices. It is an excellent way to gain professional experience and to serve our community.” High school students will be considered on a case-by-case basis. To apply, mail or fax a cover letter and resume either to the Stockton office, attn: Internship Coordinator, 2222 Grand Canal Blvd. #7, Stockton, CA 95207 (fax: 209-476-8587) or to the Pleasanton office, attn: Internship Coordinator, 5776 Stoneridge Mall Rd. #175, Pleasanton, CA 94588 (fax: 925-737-0734).

Posted on Thursday, January 20th, 2011
Under: Assembly, Barbara Lee, Calendar, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, Obama presidency, Pete Stark, Political events, Susan Bonilla, U.S. House | 5 Comments »

Garamendi to sit on resources, armed services

Garamendi

Garamendi

Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, has lost his seat on the House Transportation Committee and will serve instead on the Natural Resources and Armed Services panels.

The shift is in response to the reduction in the number of seats Democrats hold on committees under Republican leadership in addition to the GOP’s overall cuts in committee sizes.

Garamendi is a good fit for resources. He served in President Bill Clinton’s Interior Department and his congressional district includes vast portions of the Delta. It also means the East Bay will regain representation on the key committee after neighboring Congressman George Miller, D-Martinez, also lost his seat on Natural Resources. Miller is ranking member of the Educaiton and Workforce Committee and could not hold both positions.

Garamendi’s predecessor, Ellen Tauscher, served on Armed Services and the district includes Travis Air Force Base and two national laboratories.

Nonetheless, Garamendi expressed disappointment over losing the transportation seat, a policy area he views as critical to his commuter-heavy home district. Congress must reauthorize the federal transportation spending blueprint soon, and Garamendi had hoped to play a more fundamental role in its development.

But with fewer seats to hand out, the Democratic leadership in the House faced tough choices and much of it is based on seniority. Despite his 35-plus years in public office in California, Garamendi was just re-elected to a second term in Congress. He is a relative newbie in the House of Representatives.

Read on for Garamendi’s official statement.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, January 20th, 2011
Under: John Garamendi, Uncategorized | 9 Comments »