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Ellen Tauscher endorses Van de Brooke in Contra Costa race

Tomi Van de Brooke

Ellen Tauscher

Free from the strictures imposed upon federal employees,  former Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security and former Democratic East Bay Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher has endorsed Tomi Van de Brooke for Contra Costa County supervisor.

Tauscher left her high-ranking post in February after serving three years with friend and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. A cancer survivor, Tauscher said she wanted to take time to do other things with her life. She remains a special envoy for the State Department and recently joined the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security.

One of those things Tauscher apparently wanted to do was help her friends back home with their elections. Tauscher will host a fund-raiser for Van de Brooke next week in Contra Costa County.

Van de Brooke, a Contra Costa Community College trustee and Orinda resident, is running in the June 5 election for the District 2 seat held by retiring Supervisor Gayle Uilkema of Lafayette. Also vying for the opening is Danville Mayor Candace Andersen and Lafayette solar expert Sean White.

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Chevron appeal decision set for Monday in Contra Costa

The Contra Costa County Assessment Appeals board will release its decision Monday on Chevron’s challenge of its Richmond refinery values.

The oil giant seeks refunds worth up to $73 million in property taxes it paid from 2007 through 2009, or slightly more than half of what the company was assessed.

The county and cities, along with fire, parks and other dozens of other special districts, will bear the burden of any repayment at a time when most public agencies have already experienced years of declining budgets.

The three-member appeals board heard dozens of hours of testimony over the winter on the complex challenge from the county’s largest property taxpayer.

Chevron argued that Contra Costa County Assessor Gus Kramer and his staff failed to document how they derived the values and intentionally miscalculated the final numbers. (Read an excerpt of Chevron’s brief filed with the Assessment Appeals Board here.)

In response, Kramer accuses the deep-pocketed oil company of systematically bullying the county with unsubstantiated and costly appeals and lawsuits in an effort to lower its taxes.

If the board sides with Chevron, it will be the refinery’s second victory in its nearly eight-year fight with Kramer over its taxable worth.

The panel in 2010 ordered a repayment of $17.8 million on the refinery’s 2004-2006 property assessment appeal, a figure far short of what the company sought. Chevron subsequently filed a lawsuit, which is still pending.

Chevron has also appealed its 2010 and 2011 property values.

Refinery spokesman Dean O’Hair said the company remains eager to negotiate with the county a settlement of all the appeals and the lawsuit.

If the appeals board orders a refund, O’Hair said Chevron will again work with the county to minimize the financial impact on the public agencies including a phased-in repayment schedule and a waiver of interest.

The public appeals board hearing begins at 9 a.m. in the Contra Costa County administration building, 651 Pine St., Martinez.

 

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Super PAC considering attacks on Stark, Eshoo?

A national, nonpartisan “super PAC” targeting incumbents on both sides of the aisle reportedly is taking a hard look at two Bay Area House members.

The Hill reported yesterday that the Campaign for Primary Accountability – which has already begun spending against Republicans and Democrats in other states, two of whom subsequently lost their primaries – is watching California representatives including Pete Stark, D-Fremont, and Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto.

The campaign is targeting safe districts in which entrenched incumbents have what it deems to be credible challengers, taking a “throw the bums out” mentality to ousting lawmakers it believes have been on Capitol Hill too long.

“The full measure of the success of our efforts will be seen in the next election cycle when more primary challengers step forward, giving voters a choice and an opportunity to participate in competitive elections,” spokesman Curtis Ellis told the Hill.

Spokespeople for the Stark and Eshoo campaigns didn’t immediately reply to emails seeking comment.

Under California’s new top-two primary system, all voters can choose from among all candidates of any party on June 5; the top-two vote getters – even if they’re of the same party – will advance to November’s general election.

Stark, 80, who has been in Congress since 1972, is being challenged by fellow Democrat Eric Swalwell, a Dublin councilman and Alameda County prosecutor, and by conservative nonpartisan candidate Chris Pareja, a businessman from Hayward. Eshoo, 69, who has been in Congress since 1992, is being challenged by Democrat William Parks, an attorney from Sunnyvale; Republican Dave Chapman, a software engineer from Mountain View; and Green Carol Brouillet, a political activist from Palo Alto.

The rules governing super PACs require that they not coordinate their campaign with any specific candidate in any way.

Also reportedly on the group’s watch list in California are Republican Reps. Dan Lungren, Gary Miller, John Campbell and Brian Bilbray, and Democratic Reps. Jim Costa, Adam Schiff, Grace Napolitano, Henry Waxman, Joe Baca, Karen Bass, Lucille Roybal-Allard and Maxine Waters.

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Controversial Richmond department fuels PR duel

Richmond Office of Neighborhood Safety Director DeVone Boggan uncharacteristically fired off a swift and strongly worded press release in response to the broad release of a critical report prepared in the office of vocal critic and Richmond Councilman Corky Boozé. (See links below.)

Boggan called the report an unsubstantiated, error-ridden and poorly written document prepared by an unqualified intern. And he chastised the city for allowing what he called a “student opinion paper” to be distributed through the council agenda process.

“In the absence of a graduate school supervisor providing appropriate direction and feedback (particularly around biased presentations) this report should be considered nothing more than a writing exercise draft,” Boggan wrote.

The Office of Neighborhood Safety has been under fire for months after a bloody fight broke out in city hall between rival clients and scared the bejeezus out of staffers. Created six years ago, the department attempts to reduce gun violence in the community through a variety of intervention programs.

Boggan recently agreed that an independent evaluation is appropriate and has requested $375,000 for the analysis.

In the meantime, Boozé has had the agency in his crosshairs for some time. He has questioned Boggan’s $148,000-a-year salary, requested audits of the $2.6 million-a-year department and has repeatedly asked for proof of its efficacy.

The public relations spat is further clouded by the fact that Boozé is at war with the progressive majority on the council, whose members regard the Office of Neighborhood Safety as a centerpiece in their efforts to reduce community violence through non-police channels.

Readers should definitely view with caution the contents of the 12-page intern’s report issued under the guidance of one of the Office of Neighborhood Safety’s most vocal opponent. But just because Boozé has an agenda doesn’t mean all the findings in this report are inaccurate. It raises serious questions about how this agency spends taxpayer dollars that must be answered if the public is to have confidence in Boggan’s leadership in light of what happened here last year.

Read Boggan’s press release here.

Read intern Anna Johnson’s report and Powerpoint presentations out of Booze’s office here and here.

Watch video of the City Council’s March 27 discussion here. (It is item No. I-1.)

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Endorsement tiff causes county-state GOP rift

The members of the Tehama County Republican Central Committee are miffed enough at state GOP chairman Tom Del Beccaro over an endorsement spat that they’ve rescinded their invitation for him to keynote one of their upcoming events.

Oh no they di’int!

Ah, but they did, and now they’re telling the world. County GOP chairman Ken Say reached out to reporters today to announce that Del Beccaro, of Lafayette, is no longer welcome to speak at the fundraising banquet they’re holding in May in Red Bluff. From his letter to Del Beccaro:

After serious discussion of the endorsement actions taken by the California Republican Party Board of Directors during their March 11th meeting, the Tehama County Republican Party has unanimously voted to rescind the invitation extended to you to be our guest speaker at the TCRP dinner of May 19, 2012. The TCRP, by unanimous vote, has affirmed that our speaker must be someone that upholds our adherence to Republican values and principles. Unfortunately, we no longer believe that you meet that criteria and have voted to invite speakers that the TCRP believe to meet that standard.

We realize that you are only one vote on the Board, but your personal leadership in the CRP Board endorsement process has convinced us that you were unable to guide the Board in adhering to the Board’s own bylaws. The specific bylaw violation was the invalidation of Tehama County’s February 9th endorsement of Assembly candidate, Tehama County Supervisor Bob Williams, which then allowed the CRP Board to disregard the clear requirement of a non-endorsement by the Board in Section 3.02 of the bylaws. The TCRP believes that their endorsements were invalidated by the CRP Board because it did not fit conveniently with the candidates that you wanted to support and we resent that CRP funds will be used to only support your candidates.

We are making our displeasure of the Board’s and your action public to let the other Republican County Central Committees know that the CRP’s leadership has placed their own interests above the individual interests of the local Republican voters as expressed by their duly-elected central committee members. We clearly understand the reason for the alienation that many California Republicans feel toward the State Party.

We, the Tehama County Republican Party, at the local level, will continue to support the Republican candidates that represent our best interests and not some unknown person picked by a “star chamber” in an illegal procedure.

The state GOP endorsed incumbent Assemblyman Dan Logue, R-Linda, in the 3rd Assembly District, rather than Williams. Logue, 61, now seeking his third and final two-year Assembly term, is the Assembly Republican Caucus’ chief whip and is the top Republican on the Health and Elections and Redistricting committees; earlier, he was a Yuba County supervisor.

Del Beccaro, responding by e-mail this afternoon, said the party “engaged in an unprecedented process in response to the challenge of Prop. 14” – that is, the new top-two primary system, in which all voters can choose from among all candidates regardless of party and the top-two vote getters advance to November’s general election, even if they’re from the same party.

“In the end, the overwhelming majority of decisions the Party made were well received,” Del Beccaro said. “There were exceptions – proving the adage that you cannot please everyone, especially in politics. Going forward the Party will move toward a more broad based process that will engage Republicans voters directly.”

Another source close to the GOP endorsement process called this little more than a case of sour grapes. “The CRP didn’t go their way on the endorsement process, and quite honestly, it is just silliness. We have 58 counties in California, and made some 154 … endorsements without this sort of letter. I chalk it up to that.”

More than half of the newly drawn 3rd Assembly District’s registered voters are in Butte County; it also includes parts of Sutter, Tehama, Yuba, Glenn and Colusa counties. About 40.7 percent of the district’s registered voters are Republicans, about 32.9 percent are Democrats and about 20.2 percent declined to state a party preference.

UPDATE @ 5:07 P.M.: Former California Republican Party Chairman Ron Nehring just replied to my tweet of this item with a tweet of his own: “A chairman often takes grief for events beyond his control. @tomdelbeccaro acted properly.”

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Leland Yee introduces social media privacy act

State Sen. Leland Yee today introduced a bill to stop employers from formally requesting or demanding that workers or job applicants provide their social media usernames and passwords.

Yee, D-San Francisco, had said last week he would carry such a bill; he has expanded it to bar the practice at public and private colleges and universities as well.

The Associated Press reported last week that a growing number of businesses, public agencies and colleges around the country are asking job seekers, workers and students for their Facebook and Twitter account information. Two U.S. Senators on Sunday announced they’ll ask the Justice Department to probe whether this runs afoul of federal law.

“It is completely unacceptable for an employer or university to invade someone’s personal social media accounts,” Yee said in his news release today. “Not only is it entirely unnecessary, it is an invasion of privacy and unrelated to one’s performance or abilities.”

“These outlets are often for the purpose of individuals to share private information with their closest friends and family,” he said. “Family photos and non-work social calendars have no bearing on a person’s ability to do their job or be successful in the classroom, and therefore employers and colleges have no right to demand to review it.”

Yee’s bill also will prohibit managers from insisting that applicants or employees sit down with them to review their social media contact or demand printed copies. He’s gutting and amending SB 1349 to carry this content; that bill previously proposed technical tweaks to the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act.