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Archive for November, 2011

Why Occupy hopes to shut down West Coast ports

Organizers of the Occupy movement’s West Coast port shutdown, planned for Monday, Dec. 12, issued the following statement early this morning (to which I added links):

As of November 27, 2011, the Occupy movement in every major West Coast port city: Occupy LA, Occupy San Diego, Occupy Portland, Occupy Tacoma, Occupy Seattle have joined Occupy Oakland in calling for and organizing a coordinated West Coast Port Blockade and Shutdown on December 12, 2011. Other West Coast Occupies, including Occupy Anchorage and Vancouver, Canada are planning to join the economic blockade and disruption of the 1% on that date, according to organizers.

“We’re shutting down these ports because of the union busting and attacks on the working class by the 1%: the firing of Port truckers organizing at SSA terminals in LA; the attempt to rupture ILWU union jurisdiction in Longview, WA by EGT. EGT includes Bunge LTD, a company which reported 2.5 billion dollars in profit last year and has economically devasted poor people in Argentina and Brazil. SSA is responsible for inhumane working conditions and gross exploitation of port truckers and is owned by Goldman Sachs. EGT and Goldman Sachs is Wallstreet on the Waterfront,” stated Barucha Peller of the West Coast Port Blockade Assembly of Occupy Oakland.

“We are also striking back against the nationally’ coordinated attack on the Occupy movement. In response to the police violence and camp evictions against the Occupy movement- This is our coordinated response against the 1%. On December 12th we will show are collective power through pinpointed economic blockade of the 1%.”

Each Occupy is organizing plans for a mass mobilization and community pickets to shut down their local Port. The mobilization of over 60,000 people that shut down the Port of Oakland during the general strike on November 2, 2011 is the model for the West Coast efforts. Organizers state that a police attempt to disrupt the port blockade or police violence against any city participating will extend duration of the blockade on the entire coast.

“These Ports are public. People have a right to come to the Port and protest. The ILWU has historically honored picket lines at the Port.” stated Clarence Thomas, a member of ILWU Local 10.

ILWU longshore workers are involved as individuals in the planning of the Shutdown. “I am a longshoreman and I support the December 12th Blockade against EGT. EGT is a threat to the survival of the ILWU,” stated Anthony Leviege, a member of Local 10. Dan Coffman, the president of Local 21 in Longview, has publicly thanked the Occupy movement and Occupy Oakland for its actions on November 2nd.

Further interviews and details can be obtained through local Port Blockade committees and the Oakland West Coast Port Blockade Assembly.

UPDATE @ 8:11 P.M.: As one re-tweeter noted, and I agree: There’s no way 60,000 people attended the Nov. 2 general strike in Oakland – not even close.

Posted on Tuesday, November 29th, 2011
Under: Uncategorized | 6 Comments »

Bay Area lawmakers among the wealthiest in U.S.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi: $101 million. Rep. Jerry McNerney: $9,000. Priceless.

About 47 percent of Congress, or 250 current members of Congress, are millionaires, according to a new study by the Center for Responsive Politics of lawmakers’ personal financial disclosure forms from 2010.

The Bay Area beats the national figure, where eight of its 13 regionally based federal lawmakers top the $1 million mark in assets and liabilities.

No. 8 nationally out of 530 members and the wealthiest of the Bay Area legislators, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, reported an average net worth of $101 million.

The poorest member was Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, with an average net worth of $9,000 and a national ranking of No. 494.

Talk about a gap between the haves and have nots.

Keep in mind, the disclosure numbers do not include personal property such as residences, artwork or retirement accounts but do include the spouses’ income and investments. The forms contain vast value ranges, however, which makes it impossible to make precise estimates, says the Center for Responsive Politics.

For the other Bay Area colleages and their national rankings:

  • No. 12 — Sen. Dianne Feinstein, $69 million
  • No. 49 — Rep. Jackie Speier, $12.5 million
  • No. 72 — Rep. John Garamendi, $6.9 million
  • No. 110 — Rep. Pete Stark, $3.9 million
  • No. 130 – Sen. Barbara Boxer, $3.5 million
  • No. 192 — Rep. Anna Eshoo, $1.8 million
  • No. 201 — Rep. Mike Thompson, $1.7 million
  • No. 211 — Rep. Zoe Lofgren, $1.5 million
  • No. 304 — Rep. George Miller, $668,000
  • No. 308 — Rep. Mike Honda, $639,505
  • No. 343 — Rep. Lynn Woolsey, $490,505
  • No. 370 – Rep. Barbara Lee, $392,503

Read the full 530-member list at the Center for Responsive Politics site.



Posted on Monday, November 28th, 2011
Under: campaign finance, Congress | 6 Comments »

Cain’s lawyer: 13-yr affair should be off-limits

Atlanta’s Fox 5 News today broke the story of a Georgia woman who claims she had a 13-year extramarital affair with Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain. The station reported that Cain’s attorney, Len Wood, sent the following statement:

“Mr. Cain has been informed today that your television station plans to broadcast a story this evening in which a female will make an accusation that she engaged in a 13-year long physical relationship with Mr. Cain. This is not an accusation of harassment in the workplace – this is not an accusation of an assault – which are subject matters of legitimate inquiry to a political candidate.

“Rather, this appears to be an accusation of private, alleged consensual conduct between adults – a subject matter which is not a proper subject of inquiry by the media or the public. No individual, whether a private citizen, a candidate for public office or a public official, should be questioned about his or her private sexual life. The public’s right to know and the media’s right to report has boundaries and most certainly those boundaries end outside of one’s bedroom door.”

“Mr. Cain has alerted his wife to this new accusation and discussed it with her. He has no obligation to discuss these types of accusations publicly with the media and he will not do so even if his principled position is viewed unfavorably by members of the media.”

Really? “Not a proper subject of inquiry by the media or the public? Nobody, including those in public life, “should be questioned about his or her private sexual life?” I guess Wood and Cain weren’t reading the news around the time that this alleged affair began 13 years ago.

And I’m sure the names Larry Craig, Anthony Weiner, Chris Lee, John Ensign and David Wu don’t mean anything to them, either.

Well, I guess at least ascendant GOP candidate Newt Gingrich welcomes news of Cain’s extramarital affair… oh, wait, never mind.

Posted on Monday, November 28th, 2011
Under: 2012 presidential election | 10 Comments »

Ex-Pinole councilman to be fined $111,500

The Fair Political Practices Commission will consider levying a fine of $111,500 on  former Pinole Councilman David Cole for repeatedly failing to disclose a financial relationship with a company while simultaneously casting votes that involved the business.

The FPPC will meet Dec. 8 in Sacramento.

Here’s what the staff report summary says:

In the Matter of David Cole, FPPC No. 06/1148 (Default Decision). Staff: Senior Commission Counsel Angela Brereton and Special Investigator Leon Nurse-Williams. Respondent David Cole was a member of the Pinole City Council and also a board member of the Pinole Redevelopment Agency in Pinole, CA, from 2000 to 2007. Respondent Cole owned and operated Pinole Valley Landscape (PVL). PVL provided services to and received substantial income from The Kivelstadt Group (TKG), a real estate developer and property management company active in the City of Pinole. Respondent Cole, through PVL, earned $253,353 from TKG from 2003 through 2006. On at least 16 occasions from 2003 – 2007, Respondent Cole made governmental decisions in which he had a material financial interest, by voting on matters before the Pinole Redevelopment Agency and the Pinole City Council involving TKG, which was a source of income to Respondent Cole, in violation of Government Code Section 87100 (16 counts); failed to disclose his income from and business position with PVL in his annual Statements of Economic Interests for 2003 – 2006, in violation of Government Code Sections 87207, subdivision (b) and 87209 (4 counts); and failed to disclose TKG as a source of income to him through PVL in his annual Statements of Economic Interests for 2003 – 2005, in violation of Government Code Section 87207, subdivision (b)(2) (3 counts). Total Proposed Penalty: $111,500.

Posted on Monday, November 28th, 2011
Under: campaign finance, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | 1 Comment »

Hearing planned on underground gas tank leaks

An East Bay lawmaker will chair a hearing Wednesday in San Jose on progress toward cleaning up thousands of leaking underground tanks that pose environmental threats.

The Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee’s hearing will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday in the Isaac Newton Senter Auditorium in the Santa Clara County Government Center, 70 W. Hedding St.

“Cleaning up leaking gas station tanks and restoring abandoned sites is critical to our local economies and environmental safety,” committee chairman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, said in a news release. “We passed some important measures last year to fund clean-up efforts and this hearing will help us better address the challenges and impediments to restoring these sites in a timely way.”

The committee will hear testimony from the State Water Resources Control Board; an official from Robinson Oil (Rotten Robbie); environmental clean-up firms; Santa Clara, Alameda, Calaveras and Merced county environmental health officials; and the California Independent Oil Marketers Association, among others.

Gov. Jerry Brown last month signed a pair of related bills authored by Wieckowski and Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, R-Santa Clarita. Wieckowski’s AB 291 extended for two more years a temporary petroleum storage fee that owners of underground storage tanks must pay; the fee currently generates about $270 million per year, used to reimburse underground tank owners who clean up leaks. Smyth’s AB 358 reformed the reporting and review process for such clean-ups.

Posted on Monday, November 28th, 2011
Under: Assembly, Bob Wieckowski, Environment | No Comments »

UC Berkeley police speak out on Occupy protest

Reporters this morning received an e-mailed statement from Concord political and media consultant Mary Jo Rossi on behalf of the UC Berkeley Police Officers Association regarding officers’ clash with students during the Occupy Cal protest on Nov. 9. Here’s the statement in its entirety; I’ve inserted the video to which I believe it refers.

It is our hope that this letter will help open the door to a better understanding between UC Berkeley police and the University community.

The UC Berkeley Police Officers’ Association, representing approximately 64 campus police officers, understands your frustration over massive tuition hikes and budget cuts, and we fully support your right to peacefully protest to bring about change.

It was not our decision to engage campus protesters on November 9th. We are now faced with “managing” the results of years of poor budget planning. Please know we are not your enemy.

A video clip gone viral does not depict the full story or the facts leading up to an actual incident. Multiple dispersal requests were given in the days and hours before the tent removal operation. Not caught on most videos were scenes of protesters hitting, pushing, grabbing officers’ batons, fighting back with backpacks and skateboards.

The UC Berkeley Police Officers’ Association supports a full investigation of the events that took place on November 9th, as well as a full review of University policing policies. That being said, we do not abrogate responsibility for the events on November 9th.

UC Berkeley police officers want to better serve students and faculty members and we welcome ideas for how we can have a better discourse to avoid future confrontations. We are open to all suggestions on ways we can improve our ability to better protect and serve the UC Berkeley community.

As your campus police, we also have safety concerns that we ask you to consider.

Society has changed significantly since 1964 when peaceful UC Berkeley student protesters organized a 10-hour sit-in in Sproul Hall and 10,000 students held a police car at bay – spawning change and the birth of our nation’s Free Speech Movement.

However proud we can all be of UC Berkeley’s contribution to free speech in America, no one can deny this: Our society in 2011 has become an extremely more violent place to live and to protect. No one understands the effects of this violence more than those of us in law enforcement.

Disgruntled citizens in this day and age express their frustrations in far more violent ways – with knives, with guns and sometimes by killing innocent bystanders. Peaceful protests can, in an instant, turn into violent rioting, ending in destruction of property or worse – the loss of lives. Police officers and innocent citizens everywhere are being injured, and in some instances, killed.

In the back of every police officer’s mind is this: How can I control this incident so it does not escalate into a seriously violent, potentially life-threatening event for all involved?

While students were calling the protest “non-violent,” the events on November 9th were anything but nonviolent. In previous student Occupy protests, protesters hit police officers with chairs, bricks, spitting, and using homemade plywood shields as weapons – with documented injuries to officers.

At a moment’s notice, the November 9th protest at UC Berkeley could have turned even more violent than it did, much like the Occupy protests in neighboring Oakland.

Please understand that by no means are we interested in making excuses. We are only hoping that you will understand and consider the frustrations we experience daily as public safety officers sworn to uphold the law. It is our job to keep protests from escalating into violent events where lives could be endangered.

We sincerely ask for your help in doing this.

Like you, we have been victims to budget cuts that affect our children and our families in real ways. We, too, hold on to the dream of being able to afford to send our children and grandchildren to a four-year university. Like you, we understand and fully support the need for change and a redirection of priorities.

To students and faculty: As 10,000 students surrounded a police car on campus in 1964, protesters passed the hat to help pay for repairs to the police car as a show of respect. Please peacefully respect the rules we are required to enforce – for all our safety and protection. Please respect the requests of our officers as we try to do our jobs.

To the University Administration and Regents: Please don’t ask us to enforce your policies then refuse to stand by us when we do. Your students, your faculty and your police – we need you to provide real leadership.

We openly and honestly ask the UC Berkeley community for the opportunity to move forward together, peacefully and without further incident – in better understanding of one another. Thank you for listening.

Posted on Monday, November 28th, 2011
Under: Berkeley | 13 Comments »

Shopping for votes on Black Friday

At least one East Bay candidate turned Black Friday into a campaign opportunity.

Eric Swalwell, the Dublin city councilman and Alameda County deputy district attorney who’s challenging Rep. Pete Stark for the newly drawn 15th Congressional District, was pounding the pavement overnight, serving hot coffee to shivering shoppers who’d gone out hunting bargains in the wee hours. The Democrat tweeted his stops at a Toys R Us and a Best Buy in Dublin, at the Macy’s at the Stoneridge Mall in Pleasanton, and at Hayward’s Southland Mall.

“Shoppers were surprised to see me but were eager to share their frustration of a broken, dysfunctional Washington, D.C.,” Swalwell said this afternoon. “It’s disappointing that Congressman Stark is not in his own district for Thanksgiving. I’m sure the Baltimore Sun has a story of him greeting shoppers at an Annapolis mall.”

That jab, of course, references past criticisms of Stark living most of the year at his Maryland home rather than here in the district. Stark couldn’t be reached Friday afternoon for comment.

“At the top of voters’ shopping list for 2012 is an upgrade in Congress,” Swalwell continued. “Even after the discounts are over, I pledge to be a candidate who will stand with the people of this district, listen to their concerns in person, and make their economic priorities my priorities.”

Swalwell, 31, has been waging an aggressive campaign including a listening tour of the district’s downtown areas – including Fremont, Dublin, Livermore, Pleasanton, Castro Valley and San Ramon – on weekends over the past two months.

Stark, 80, first was elected to Congress in 1972; he’s the fifth most senior House member and dean of the California delegation, and announced his candidacy for a 21st term in August.

Swalwell is counting on several factors to help him topple this mega-incumbent.

Polls show Californians have record-low opinions of Congress, Swalwell sees Stark as vulnerable as he shifts from his old 13th District to this new one, losing much of Fremont and all of Alameda while adding Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin, San Ramon and Castro Valley. Also, June’s primary will be the first regular election using the “top two” system, with all candidates competing on the same ballot and the top two vote-getters, regardless of party affiliation, advancing to the general election. Given the district’s Democratic registration edge, and the absence of any declared Republican candidates so far, it’s not beyond the pale to imagine a Stark-vs.-Swalwell faceoff come next November.

But Stark has almost 40 years of name recognition, the bully pulpit of incumbency and a well-honed fundraising network; his campaign had $544,460 cash on hand as of Sept. 30, while Swalwell’s had $69,526.

Posted on Friday, November 25th, 2011
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, Pete Stark, U.S. House, Uncategorized | 7 Comments »

Who’s thankful for what this Thanksgiving?

What are our politicos and public officials thankful for this Thanksgiving?

I didn’t ask. If I had, they’d have given some sort of boilerplate answer about being thankful for an opportunity to serve the great state or nation they love, to give back to the land that’s given them so much, etc., etc., blah, blah, blah.

But I have some guesses.

Gov. Jerry Brown and President Barack Obama are thankful that no matter what their job-approval ratings are, the ratings for the Legislature and Congress are waaaay lower.

President Obama also is thankful for the whole field of GOP presidential contenders, but maybe not for Mitt Romney.

Mitt Romney is thankful for the rest of the field of GOP presidential contenders, too, as they’ve been doing his work for him.

Newt Gingrich is thankful for second, third, fourth and fifth chances.

Rick Perry is thankful for his career, his family and… um, oh, what was that third one? Career, family… the EPA? (Oops!)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is thankful to be in a better mood than she was in last Thanksgiving.

The “Super Committee” can’t agree on anything it’s thankful for, other than that it worked really, really hard and had good staff and support – just nifty, really.

Former Gov. Arnold Scwharzenegger is thankful that anyone in his family still talks to him, and that most people outside his family no longer talk about him.

Former Gov. Gray Davis is thankful that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker might be coming to keep him company in the history books.

Chancellor Charles Reed isn’t thankful to be presiding over California State University’s sixth tuition hike since 2009, but at least is thankful to be presiding over Cal State and not Penn State.

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan is thankful to be out of the headlines for a few days.

Every other elected official in Oakland is thankful not to be Jean Quan.

Rebecca Kaplan, Libby Schaaf and maybe even Doug Boxer are thankful that Jean Quan is Jean Quan.

And Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, D-Castro Valley, isn’t thankful for much at all right now.

Posted on Thursday, November 24th, 2011
Under: Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Contra Costa supervisor districts see partisan shifts

The Contra Costa Elections Department is feverishly working on new digitized voting district maps that reflect the numerous boundary changes at the state and local level.

But at my request, the elections staff kindly provided me with a rough estimate of  party registration breakdowns for the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors’ five newly drawn districts.

Yes, supervisor seats are nonpartisan but party politics still play a role.

Parties view local nonpartisan seats as the “farm team,” the place where political novices of their respective philosophies cut their teeth, build a base and run for higher partisan political office. Partisan leaders from labor, business and traditional party organizations often provide campaign foot soldiers and money for the candidates of their choice.

In Contra Costa County, Democrats continue to outnumber Republicans in all five supervisor districts. Those who register as “no preferred party,” previously called “decline to state,” consistently comprise about a fifth of all voters in each district.

Among the shifts, districts 1, 4 and 5 largely retained their party registration breakdowns.

Democrats’ lead in District 2 declined as GOP registration grew from 27 percent to 36 percent of total registered voters. Likewise, Democrats’ presence declined nine points from 49 percent to 40 percent. The shift is due to the district’s move south into the San Ramon Valley and out of Martinez.

Republicans lost ground in District 3, dropping from 37.5 percent to 30 percent. Democrats boosted their numbers from 38.4 percent under the old boundaries to 48 percent in the new districts. The  new district lost most of the more conservative San Ramon Valley to neighboring District 2.

As an aside, you’ll see a significant spread between some of the districts when it comes to total registered voters. The law requires that new districts are redrawn to roughly equal populations but not everyone votes. In Contra Costa, District 2 has the highest number of registered voters by nearly twofold over District 1.

Here’s a more detailed breakout by district: (I didn’t include the third-party numbers, which make up about 4 percent of the voters.)

DISTRICT 1: Supervisor John Gioia of Richmond, Democrat


  • Total registered voters: 84,805
  • Democrats: 55,789 or 65.8 percent
  • Republicans: 9,317 or 11 percent
  • No preferred party or decline to state: 16,898 or 20 percent


  • Total registered voters: 77,025
  • Democrats: 51,408 or 66.7 percent
  • Republicans: 7,851 or 10.2 percent
  • No preferred party or decline to state: 14,468 or 18.8 percent

DISTRICT 2: Supervisor Gayle Uilkema of Lafayette, Republican, will not seek re-election in 2012. One candidate has filed for the seat, Contra Costa Community College District Trustee Tomi Van de Brooke of Orinda, a Democrat.


  • Total registered voters: 131,671
  • Democrats: 52,612 or 40 percent
  • Republicans: 48,872 or 35.6 percent
  • No preferred party or decline to state: 28,031 or 21 percent


  • Total registered voters: 112,973
  • Democrats: 56,066 or 49.6 percent
  • Republicans: 30,171 or 26.7 percent
  • No preferred party or decline to state: 21,928 or 19.4 percent

DISTRICT 3: Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho of Discovery Bay, a Republican, is seeking re-election. No opponents have filed yet.


  • Total registered voters: 95,689
  • Democrats: 45,871 or 48 percent
  • Republicans: 28,912 or 30 percent
  • No preferred party or decline to state: 18,479 or 19 percent


  • Total registered voters: 139,386
  • Democrats: 53,471 or 38.4 percent
  • Republicans: 52,307 or 37.5 percent
  • No preferred party or decline to state: 28,307 or 20.3 percent

DISTRICT 4: Supervisor Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill, Democrat


  • Total registered voters: 113,179
  • Democrats: 53,045 or 47 percent
  • Republicans: 33,463 or 30 percent
  • No preferred party or decline to state: 24,770 or 22 percent


  • Total registered voters: 92,765
  • Democrats: 43,779 or 47.2 percent
  • Republicans: 25,594 or 27.6 percent
  • No preferred party or decline to state: 18,854 or 20.3 percent

DISTRICT 5: Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg, a Democrat, is seeking re-election. No challengers have filed yet.


  • Total registered voters: 89,582
  • Democrats: 50,317 or 56.2 percent
  • Republicans: 18,511 or 20.7 percent
  • No preferred party or decline to state: 19,689 or 22 percent


  • Total registered voters: 88,588
  • Democrats: 50,125 or 56.6 percent
  • Republicans: 18,565 or 21 percent
  • No preferred party or decline to state: 16,207 or 18.3 percent



Posted on Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011
Under: Contra Costa Board of Supervisors, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | 16 Comments »

RNC talks tough on turkey (No, not really)

This is how I imagine the Republican National Committee would do a research briefing on President Obama’s ceremonial pardoning of a turkey for Thanksgiving:


Obama for years has positioned himself as “tough on crime:”

    Candidate Barack Obama: “The fact is I’ve passed 150 pieces of legislation that toughened penalties for violent criminals, everything from sex offenders to domestic abusers to gang bangers. So there’s only one candidate who’s ever dealt with hardened criminals on this stage and that’s me. The other guy only talks about it and I think that’s something voters will be focused on in this election.” (Illinois U.S. Senate Debate, 10/21/04)

But today he went back on his word, issuing a pardon to the notorious Liberty M. Gallopavo of Willmar, Minn.

This miscreant has been pumped up on artificial hormones for much of his life, making him a muscle-bound menace (just look at those pecs!). His primitive brain forced him to live mainly on instinct and he soon proved himself a glutton, eating whatever he could swallow.

As he got older, he became more aggressive, often fighting with his neighbors for status and dominance; afterward he would strut away, stamping his feet, his chest thrown out, his beady little black eyes looking straight ahead. Liberty also proved to be very promiscuous, fathering and then abandoning many little ones who then went on the public dole.

Worst of all, Liberty is an unrepentant drug dealer, with a history of doping up unsuspecting families – and their innocent children! – with massive doses of L-Tryptophan. This insidious drug leaves people logy, nodding and dozing on their couches like old-time opium addicts, their eyes vacantly staring at a football game but not really seeing it.

    President Barack Obama: “So Liberty is ready for his turn in the spotlight. And after he finishes a round of cable hits and a few Sunday shows, he’s going to retire to a life of leisure at Mount Vernon — the same place where George Washington spent his golden years.” (Remarks, White House North Portico, 11/23/11)

Is Liberty the kind of hardened criminal our president should be pardoning? Does Liberty to deserve this cushy life of pastoral pleasure, sullying the hallowed ground of one of our nation’s most beloved Founding Fathers? Is this the hope and change all of Liberty’s immoral brethren can expect?

If you believe Liberty shouldn’t have had his death sentence commuted, please click here to donate to the RNC and help ensure that his kind will fry for their crimes. Or roast, at least.

Posted on Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011
Under: Obama presidency, Republican Party | No Comments »