Obama to raise funds next month in SF, LA

President Barack Obama will make another fundraising swing through California next month.

Obama for America sent out a fundraising email today offering contributors a chance to win entry to an event with the president in May at actor George Clooney’s Los Angeles home. Clooney is “saving seats for two grassroots supporters like you and their guests,” the email says. “It’s just not a chance most people get — well, ever.”

Various news outlets have reported the event is set for Thursday, May 10 and will be co-hosted by DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg.

SFist reported last month that Obama will be joined by actresses Angela Bassett and Gwyneth Paltrow at a $35,800-a-plate fundraising dinner Wednesday, May 9 at an as-yet-undisclosed home in San Francisco.

The president raised funds in San Francisco in mid-February with an exclusive dinner at the home of novelist Robert Mailer Anderson and a larger rally-style event at the Nob Hill Masonic Auditorium. First Lady Michelle Obama headlined a fundraiser at San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts just a few weeks ago, and also attended a Coast Guard vessel’s commissioning in Alameda.


Romney names senior adviser for California

Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney’s campaign announced this afternoon that Jeff Randle of Sacramento will be its senior adviser in California.

“Jeff Randle is one of California’s most respected and accomplished political leaders, and his expertise is critical as we work to highlight Mitt Romney’s vision for the Golden State,” Romney for President Political Director Rich Beeson said in the news release. “Jeff has more than 25 years of experience running and winning statewide elections. His insight and savvy will be invaluable as we work to defeat President Obama, elect Mitt Romney and fundamentally change the direction of our country.”

Jeff RandleIn the same release, Randle said he’s “honored to be part of what is an incredibly organized, focused and determined campaign team.

“The team reflects Mitt Romney’s leadership and mirrors his focus on building a winning organization that is primed to win the general election,” he said. “Mitt Romney is the right leader at a critical time in American history. I look forward to working together with Mitt and the team to win in November and bring real change to our great nation.”

Randle, 49, president and CEO of Randle Communications, most recently was a senior adviser to Meg Whitman’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign. Whitman early in her business career worked for Romney at Bain & Co., was a finance co-chair of Romney’s 2008 presidential primary bid, and co-hosted a Bay Area fundraiser for Romney last month.

Randle was Gov. Pete Wilson’s deputy chief of staff from 1991 to 1998 and was a member of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s political team from before the 2003 gubernatorial recall election through Schwarzenegger’s 2006 re-election.


McNerney grills VA on Oakland office’s backlog

Rep. Jerry McNerney asked the Department of Veterans Affairs yesterday why Northern California veterans are getting the short end of the stick.

At a House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing, McNerney, D-Pleasanton, sought answers about a backlog of veterans’ benefits claims at the VA’s Oakland regional office, which serves all of Northern California. He and other California House members also have written today to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki about the VA’s recent decision to deny added support for that office.

“I’ve heard from too many veterans in our region about the enormous and frustrating delays in processing their benefits claims,” McNerney said in a news release this morning. “The VA has a responsibility to help our veterans in a timely and efficient manner. As it stands, the delays are unacceptable.”

At the hearing, McNerney demanded to know why the Oakland office’s performance is so poor and what the VA intends to do about it; the VA couldn’t provide a concrete plan beyond retraining all of the Oakland claims representatives this June.

McNerney notes that although California is home to the most veterans in the nation and the Oakland regional office is among the worst in the VA system at processing claims, the VA excluded the Oakland office from plans for a system that would help reduce the number of claims. The VA is implementing this plan in 12 other offices across the country.

“We have a responsibility to the men and women who have sacrificed so much to protect our country and way of life to provide benefits to them when they return home,” McNerney said. “The delays at the Oakland VA office must be addressed, and I call on the Obama administration to take steps to rectify the problem,” said Rep. McNerney.

McNerney is the only Bay Area member on the Veterans Affairs Committee, but other than House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the entire Bay Area delegation joined him in signing today’s letter to Shinseki. Follow after the jump for that letter’s full text…
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Barbara Lee goes veggie; plans civil-rights events

Rep. Barbara Lee said today she’s going vegetarian for two weeks.

“This week, I’m excited to be participating Oakland Veg Week, a vegetarian pledge happening here in my district. I’m also pleased to join the national effort, Veg Week 2012, and continue with this pledge from April 23 to 29,” Lee, D-Oakland, said in a news release. “I am glad that my constituents in Oakland are taking the lead in promoting healthy and sustainable lifestyle choices, and hope others across the country will join me in this pledge.”

So we presume she’ll have a salad or some such thing if she takes Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., to lunch after joining him to address Emery High School students at 11:30 a.m. Friday at the Emery Theater on San Pablo Avenue in Emeryville. Lewis, a civil-rights icon, will be reminding the youths of the need for them to play an active role in shaping society and the importance of building a community focused on justice.

Lewis also will be the featured speaker at the final installment of the Barbara Lee and Elihu Harris Lecture Series at 7 p.m. this Saturday, April 21, in Beebe Memorial Cathedral, 3900 Telegraph Ave. in Oakland. Seating for this event is limited, and tickets are available by calling the Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center at 510-434-3988 or D. R. Roberts Event Management at 510-654-5335.


Contra Costa supervisor candidate debate set for April 23

Contra Costa District 2 supervisor candidates Candace Andersen and Tomi Van de Brooke will face off at the April 23 lunch meeting of the Contra Costa Council.

Van de Brooke, an Orinda resident and elected member of the Contra Costa Community College District, and Andersen, mayor of Danville, will answer questions and discuss their platforms.

The third supervisor candidate, Sean White of Lafayette, is out of town and cannot attend.

The Contra Costa Council is a nonprofit membership and nonpartisan organization that advocates for economic development throughout the East Bay.

I am the moderator and the event is open to the public.

Registration begins at 11:30 a.m. followed by the program at noon. It will be held at the Lafayette Veterans Memorial Building, 3780 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette.

Tickets are $45 for non-members and $35 for members. For reservations, contact the Contra Costa Council at www.contracostacouncil.com or 925-246-1880.



Gavin Newsom to host a Current TV talk show

California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom starting next month will host a new weekly series on Current TV, the liberal news-and-policy channel cofounded and chaired by former Vice President Al Gore.

Gavin NewsomThe Gavin Newsom Show,” with hour-long episodes, “will have a decidedly California touch as Newsom interviews notables from Silicon Valley, Hollywood and beyond,” according to Current’s news release, and will be executive produced by Mia Haugen, a former executive at The Street, Forbes and CNN.

“Gavin Newsom is a courageous leader who has boldly seized every opportunity to create positive social change,” Gore said in the news release. “First as a successful entrepreneur, then in his role as mayor of San Francisco, and now as lieutenant governor, Newsom touches many worlds – business, politics, entertainment and activism. We are honored that Current TV will be bringing his curiosity, intelligence, insights and enthusiasm to television.”

Asked whether doing the show will in any way detract from the time and energy Newsom gives his official duties as lieutenant governor, spokesman Francisco Castillo replied, “Absolutely not.”

“The show will be taped once a week,” Castillo said. “The time and energy he gives to this show is no different than what he did for his weekly radio show as mayor — except now with a broader audience. It’s about showcasing California, which would only benefit the state.”

Other Current TV show hosts include former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer.