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Archive for January, 2012

Sandre Swanson drops 2012 state Senate bid

Assemblyman Sandre Swanson has abandoned his challenge to fellow Democrat state Sen. Loni Hancock.

“I finally concluded that, setting all misunderstandings aside, that it’s the best interests of our community not to have a major Democrat-on-Democrat campaign when we’re trying to win a two-thirds majority in the Senate,” Swanson, D-Alameda, said a few minutes ago. “It’s much better for our meager resources to be used in trying to get a two-thirds majority.”

Swanson said this past weekend’s pre-endorsement conference, in which local Democrats overwhelmingly chose Hancock, D-Berkeley, over him, “really didn’t” affect his decision; incumbents who represent the party’s values almost always win such votes, he said. And he acknowledged, as he has in the past, that he and Hancock agree on most issues.

Swanson, who’ll be term-limited out of the Assembly at this year’s end, had jumped into the race after redistricting confirmed he would be eligible, even though he’d initially said he wouldn’t run against his longtime ally. Senate Democrats quickly rolled out their support for Hancock.

Now he’s endorsing her for 2012, and she – in a news release issued by Senate Democrats late this afternoon – is endorsing him to succeed her in 2016. Read that release in its entirety, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, January 24th, 2012
Under: Assembly, California State Senate, Loni Hancock, Sandre Swanson | 3 Comments »

Richmond anti-violence activist to attend SOTU

Young Richmond anti-violence activist D’vondre Woodards, 22, will be Democratic Rep. George Miller’s guest at President Barack Obama’s state of the union address at the Capitol tonight.

Members receive a single ticket apiece for a guest.

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, has invited an Iraq War veteran and Delaware native as his date. Sgt. Shaun Rieley now serves as Assistant Director of the Legislative Affairs Department at the American Legion.

Read on for the news releases from each office.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, January 24th, 2012
Under: Congress | No Comments »

Steve Jobs’ widow also a guest at SOTU

It turns out Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger of San Francisco won’t be the only Bay Area guest of First Lady Michelle Obama at tonight’s State of the Union address: Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’ widow will be there, too, the White House announced this morning.

Laurene Powell JobsLaurene Powell Jobs, 48, of Palo Alto, is founder and chair of Emerson Collective, a nonprofit that the White House describes as “focused on harnessing the potential of individuals from underserved communities to help them build a better life.” She’s also president of the board of College Track, an after-school program she founded in 1997 to prepare underserved high school students for success in college. Launched in East Palo Alto, College Track has expanded to serve students in Oakland, San Francisco, New Orleans and Aurora, Colo.

Jobs also serves on the boards of directors of NewSchools Venture Fund, New America Foundation and Conservation International, and as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Posted on Tuesday, January 24th, 2012
Under: Obama presidency | 1 Comment »

‘Open carry’ foes turn attention to long guns

Some California gun-rights advocates had reacted to the state’s new law banning “open carry” of unloaded handguns in public places by openly carrying unloaded long guns instead, but a new bill from the same author aims to nip that in the bud, too.

shotgunAssemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La Canada Flintridge – now a lame duck, soon to be term-limited out of the Assembly and not pursuing a state Senate seat – has introduced AB 1527, which would prohibit open carry of rifles and shotguns.

“Last year, the state made it clear that this type of behavior had no place on Main Street, California,” Portantino said in a news release. “Unfortunately, the Open Carry community has decided to once again force our hand by escalating their unnecessary activities and entering our communities with AR-15s and other long guns. I had hoped cooler heads would have prevailed and this law wouldn’t be necessary; obviously that hasn’t been the case and I must once again take action to ensure the safety of our communities.”

AB 1527 includes exemptions to allow safe transportation, lawful hunting and use by law enforcement officials, and like last year’s AB 144 to ban handgun open-carry, is supported by the California chapters of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. The bill is awaiting referral from the Assembly Rules Committee, and probably will be set for hearing by the Assembly Public Safety Committee in late March or early April.

Gun-rights activists have seized upon open-carry laws in states across the nation as a means of expressing their political beliefs, acting individually, or gathering to carry their weapons both as an exercise of constitutional rights and for self-protection. They say they’re both protecting their rights under current law as well as advocating for changes so that more people can get permits to carry concealed weapons, something that’s sharply limited under current law.

Opponents say open-carry practices should be banned for the sake of public safety, and to protect the safety and conserve the resources of police officers checking to ensure the guns aren’t loaded, in accordance with state law. The Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown agreed, banning open carry of handguns effective Jan. 1.

I e-mailed a few open-carry advocates this morning for their reactions to Portantino’s new bill, but I haven’t heard back from them yet; when I do, I’ll update this item.

Posted on Monday, January 23rd, 2012
Under: Anthony Portantino, Assembly, gun control | 7 Comments »

SF tech exec will be First Lady’s guest at SOTU

Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger of San Francisco will be among the First Lady’s guests at the State of the Union tomorrow night, a White House official said – a sign that President Obama probably will speak about the need for immigration policy reform that welcomes and retains high-tech talent from abroad.

Instagram is a free iPhone application that lets a user snap a photo; choose a filter to transform the image’s colors, mood, border, and tonality; and then share it via Facebook, Twitter or Flickr.

Mike Krieger, in an Instagrammed photo Krieger was born in São Paulo, Brazil, and moved to California in 2004 to study computer science and cognitive science at Stanford University. After graduation, he worked for a year on his F-1 student visa and then later received an H-1B visa as a high-skilled worker; he’s now seeking a green card.

He and Kevin Systrom co-founded Instagram in 2010. TechCrunch reported in October that Systrom said Instagram had passed the 12 million user mark and continued to grow white-hot, carried in part by intense interest in Asia.

According to Instagram’s website, the company raised a $500,000 seed round from Andreessen-Horowitz and Baseline Ventures, and a $7 million Series A from Benchmark Capital and a small group of angel investors. Although they intend to keep the core product free, they’ll sell extra add-ons like special filters and they “plan to experiment with different models as we grow and learn what special value we can provide to the community to make their collective experience more engaging, exciting and useful.”

Posted on Monday, January 23rd, 2012
Under: Immigration, Obama presidency | 1 Comment »

Democratic endorsements, or the lack thereof

There were some interesting Bay Area results from the California Democratic Party’s “pre-endorsing conferences” this past weekend, at which members of the party’s state central committee, county committees and local Democratic clubs got together to vote on who should get the nod for the June 6 primaries.

A candidate would’ve needed 70 percent of the vote at one of these meetings in order to secure a place on the consent calendar at the state Democratic convention, which will be held Feb. 10-12 in San Diego.

In some places, redistricting has pitted former friends and allies against each other; such is the challenge Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, D-Alameda, is mounting against state Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley. State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento had signaled his support of Hancock months ago, and – unsurprisingly – I hear she got 136 votes (86 percent) at the local conference while Swanson got only 21. However, I hear Swanson had enough local labor heavy-hitters behind him to guarantee he’ll have some boots on the ground in the run-up to the vote.

Swanson is term-limited out of what has become the new 18th Assembly District, where Democrats including Rob Bonta, Joel Young, Abel Guillen and Kathy Neal are vying to replace him. Bonta got the most votes but Young trailed just behind, with nobody anywhere close to the 70 percent threshold.

Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, D-Castro Valley, is term-limited out of the new 20th Assembly District, where Hayward City Councilman Bill Quirk got the pre-endorsement nod over fellow Democrats Jennifer Ong, an optometrist from Hayward, and New Haven Unified School District Sarabjit Cheema. (Union City Mark Green ditched his former Democratic affiliation and is running as an independent.)

The only vacant Bay Area House seat is the one created by the impending retirement of Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma. Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, fired off a news release noting he got 69 votes – more than all the other candidates combined – highlighting “the strong grassroots support of my campaign from throughout this entire district.” But his closest competitor, progressive activist Norm Solomon of Inverness, got 41 votes – enough to block any endorsement in this race.

And in the newly drawn 15th Congressional District, Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, was solidly endorsed over an upstart challenge by Dublin City Councilman Eric Swalwell. I hear that a staffer for state Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, cast her vote for Stark rather than for “no endorsement” – a sign that Corbett, who’d at first said she was raising funds to seek this seat in 2014 but later said she was re-assessing the option of jumping in now, perhaps has decided not to go for it this year. Corbett herself couldn’t cast a ballot, because she doesn’t live within the new district’s lines.

Posted on Monday, January 23rd, 2012
Under: 2012 Assembly election, 2012 Congressional Election, Assembly, California State Senate, Loni Hancock, Lynn Woolsey, Mary Hayashi, Pete Stark, Sandre Swanson, U.S. House | 9 Comments »

Share your pre-State of the Union thoughts

I’m writing an article for tomorrow’s editions in which Californians describe what they want to hear from President Obama in tomorrow night’s State of the Union address. I’ve interviewed a bunch of interesting people, but now I want to throw it open to all of you.

If you’d like to take part, e-mail me as soon as possible at with a sentence or two about what you’d like to hear tomorrow night; include your name, age, occupation, the city in which you reside and a phone number at which I can do a quick confirmation call.

Posted on Monday, January 23rd, 2012
Under: Obama presidency | 10 Comments »

Some thoughts on the South Carolina primary

1.) The Palmetto State’s evangelical Christian conservatives overwhelmingly supported Newt Gingrich, a thrice-married, self-admitted adulterer accused of having wanted an open marriage; who spent exorbitantly at Tiffany’s; and is the only House Speaker in U.S. history disciplined for ethics violations – yet the story is that Mitt Romney wasn’t conservative enough for them? I think we need to admit that they just won’t vote for a Mormon under any circumstances so long as there’s another Republican in the race. When it’s down to Romney v. Obama – as I still believe it will be – will Romney have trouble getting such voters to the polls in the swing states?

2.) Rick who? Time to pack it in, Santorum – your 15 minutes started and ended in Iowa, even if nobody realized you actually won there.

3.) So now all eyes in this presidential election are on Florida… whoa. That’s some freaky déjà vu right there.

4.) Herman Cain got more votes than Rick Perry, Jon Huntsman and Michele Bachmann combined. COLBERT 2012!

Posted on Sunday, January 22nd, 2012
Under: 2012 presidential election, Uncategorized | 17 Comments »

Pleasanton homebuilder reappointed to CTC

Pleasanton-based Signature Properties President Jim Ghielmetti, a Democrat, has been reappointed by the state Senate Rules Committee to the California Transportation Commission.

The commission oversees state spending on roads, transit, bridges and a host of projects.

Ghielmetti is a good choice. I’ve known him for many years and he is, above all things, a man who possesses an extraordinarily high level of common sense.

Posted on Thursday, January 19th, 2012
Under: Transportation | No Comments »

Obama’s advice to Dublin High: ‘Play defense.’

Dublin mayor Tim Sbranti posted this to Facebook a few minutes ago:

Just attended a U.S Mayors’ Conference reception at the White House. It was very crowded and I only had about 5-10 seconds of President Obama’s attention. Knowing that he’s a basketball player in his spare time, I asked him to give one bit of advice to the Dublin High basketball team that I help coach. The President said to tell our guys to “Play defense. As long as they play good defense everything else on the court will take care of itself.” Excellent advice for the Gaels directly from the leader of the free world.

Posted on Wednesday, January 18th, 2012
Under: Barack Obama, Obama presidency | 2 Comments »