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Archive for May, 2012

Labor and abortion rights advocates play in CoCo District 2 supervisor race

Labor and abortion rights activists have poured nearly $50,000 into the intense county supervisor race between Contra Costa Community College Board President Tomi Van de Brooke and Danville Mayor Candace Andersen.

Funded by two independent expenditure committees, robocalls and mailers remind voters leading up to Tuesday’s election that Van de Brooke is the abortion-rights option while Andersen, a conservative Mormon, calls abortion a social issue irrelevant to the job of a county supervisor.

Whether or not a candidate’s positions on social issues do, or should, matter in a local nonpartisan race has been a combustible thread throughout the campaign.

Read full story here.   See mailers below.




Posted on Thursday, May 31st, 2012
Under: 2012 primary election, Contra Costa Board of Supervisors, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | 17 Comments »

See the Eliana Lopez/Ross Mirkarimi video

The San Francisco City Attorney’s office, pursuing Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi’s removal from office in an ongoing administrative misconduct hearing, today released a video in which Mirkarimi’s wife shows a neighbor a bruise that resulted from their New Year’s Eve argument.

Mirkarimi was quick to condemn the video’s public release. “The release of the video utterly violates my wife’s rights and serves no public good. It is the politics of destruction at its worst, and those who advocated its release should be ashamed.”

His wife, former Venezuelan telenovela star Eliana Lopez, said likewise:

“I am sad and hurt by the elected officials of the city of San Francisco: Mayor Lee, City Attorney Herrera, District Attorney Gascon and Judge Wong. They each have contributed to the release of the video against my wishes and allowed it to go viral. Because of their actions the images on that video will exist forever for anyone to see – including my son Theo, now and forever. My grandchildren will see the video, as well as my great grandchildren. I believe what Judge Wong, the District Attorney, the City Attorney and Mayor Lee have done to me is far worse than anything they accuse Ross of doing. I hope they realize after reflection that what they have done is irreparable and perpetually damaging to me and my family.”

Herrera told NBC Bay Area he had “no position” on the release of the video, but California law did not allow him to withhold it. The couple’s lawyers failed to convince the city’s Ethics Commission to keep it under wraps.

Posted on Thursday, May 31st, 2012
Under: San Francisco politics, Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Report from inside Romney’s Bay Area fundraiser

The Chronicle’s Carla Marinucci, whom the Romney campaign selected as its pool reporter for tonight’s fundraiser in Hillsborough, has just filed her report. Here it is, verbatim:

Your pool was briefly ushered into Chateau Carolands interior,which was amazing: dominated by black and white tiles, Roman columns, statues, huge hanging tapestries, and a 75 foot atrium said to be the largest of any private residence in the United States.

But the event itself was held in a tent outside in the expansive gardens, designed to resemble those of Versailles. Guests sat on white chairs or stood to listen to Romney and speakers on a stage before a bank of American flags.

Event drew 300 people, with guests including Ambassador Howard Leach, Secretaries Rice and Shultz, and Mrs. Romney.
Not present were Meg Whitman, the HP CEO – who was a host of Ann Romney’s earlier “ladies luncheon,’’ or Carly Fiorina, a Romney endorser.

Tickets ranged from $2,500 to $50,000 for “Founder” status.

Guests were told that it was “the most successful event that we’ve had in California,’’ but campaign officials would not divulge a number.

The whole program lasted 46 minutes, including intros by Shultz and Rice, who both formally endorsed Romney.

Mrs. Romney also spoke briefly.

Remarks at length below:
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, May 30th, 2012
Under: 2012 presidential election, Mitt Romney | 1 Comment »

Ex-CoCo sex crimes prosecutor Gressett sues

Former Contra Costa sex crimes prosecutor Michael Gressett filed a sweeping lawsuit in Superior Court in Martinez today alleging that nearly every agency and person involved in his 2008 aborted rape case engaged in defamation and politically motivated malicious prosecution. Read full story here.

The defendant list includes Contra Costa County and its district attorney’s office along with a handful of its current and former deputy district attorneys and investigators. He also named the state and several deputy attorney generals; Martinez and several officers; retired District Attorney Bob Kochly; and unsuccessful 2010 district attorney candidate Dan O’Malley, and O’Malley’s former law partner, Tom McKenna.

Gressett, who learned in February that the state would not refile rape charges after a judge threw the case out on procedural grounds, seeks unspecified awards for lost wages and benefits, emotional distress, punitive damages and attorneys’ fees.

A contract deputy district attorney accused Gressett of raping her in May 2008 at his Martinez apartment. She said he used ice cubes, an ice pick and a gun.

Gressett said the sex was rough but consensual.

An independent arbitrator later ruled the allegations unsubstantiated and a Superior Court judge threw the case out after state prosecutors failed to disclose a $450,000 settlement to the alleged victim, among other procedural problems.

Read the full complaint here:

Posted on Wednesday, May 30th, 2012
Under: Contra Costa County, Contra Costa District Attorney's Office, Contra Costa politics | 21 Comments »

Poll: Support slipping for Brown’s tax measure

Grim news for Gov. Jerry Brown: Support for his proposed November ballot measure to hike California’s sales tax and income taxes on the wealthiest residents is slipping, even after news of a larger-than-expected budget deficit.

The latest University of Southern California Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll, conducted May 17 through 21, shows 59 percent of voters support his ballot measure while 36 percent oppose it. That’s a five-point drop in support from March, when 64 percent supported it and 33 percent opposed it.

The margin narrows further when voters are given arguments for and against Brown’s proposal, along with information – first announced by Brown on May 14 – that California faces a budget deficit of $16 billion, much higher than the initial projection of $9 billion.

In the face of these new numbers, 51 percent of likely voters agreed it’s “more important than ever to support Governor Brown’s proposal to temporarily increase the income tax on high earners. No one wants higher taxes, but we need to make these tough choices to protect public schools, higher education and public safety.”

But in contrast, 41 percent of likely voters agreed “the increased budget deficit shows clearly that state government does not know how to balance a budget or spend taxpayer dollars. It’s more important than ever to oppose Governor Brown’s proposal to temporarily increase the state sales tax because the money will just be wasted again.”

“Governor Brown and his advisors have argued that the prospect of difficult spending cuts would lead to increased support for additional revenues, but the ongoing news coverage of the state’s budget problems may be creating an obstacle for his ballot initiative as well,” said Dan Schnur, who directs the poll as well as USC’s Unruh Institute of Politics. “Voters have indicated a willingness to pay more for public schools and public safety. But they are also getting skeptical about whether their elected representatives can be trusted to spend their money wisely.”

Here’s a video of Schnur and Times reporter Anthony York discussing the poll results:

Brown’s proposed measure for November’s ballot would raise the state’s sales tax by a quarter cent – from 7.25 percent to 7.5 percent – for the next four years. It also would, for the next seven years, create three new high-income tax brackets for those making more than $250,000 per year, the top 3 percent of California taxpayers. Of these new revenues, which Brown estimates at $9 billion but the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s office pegs at $6.8 million, 89 percent would go to K-12 education and the rest to community colleges.

Brown’s job approval rating stands at 49 percent, virtually unchanged from the March poll, but his disapproval rating rose from 35 percent to 39 percent.

Brown’s May budget revision includes spending cuts such as reducing state employees’ workweek by 5 percent, from 40 hours a week to 38. The new poll shows voters support this by a two-to-one margin – 60 percent to 30 percent – so long as public safety workers aren’t affected, in order to save an estimated $400 million. Latino voters were much less likely than voters overall to support the state workweek cut: Only 44 percent favored this, with 45 percent opposed.

But when told this cut would mean state offices are open four days a week, overall support for reduced work hours for public employees declined to only 54 percent, with 39 percent opposed.

The poll’s full sample of 1,002 registered voters had a 3.5-percentage-point margin of error.

Posted on Tuesday, May 29th, 2012
Under: ballot measures, Jerry Brown, state budget, taxes | 9 Comments »

Counties deal with military/overseas voting snafu

Eleven California counties including Contra Costa, San Mateo and San Francisco didn’t meet a federal law’s deadline for sending out vote-by-mail ballots to military families and other Americans living abroad, federal and state officials announced Tuesday.

The U.S. Department of Justice simultaneously announced a lawsuit and a settlement agreement Tuesday to remedy the situation under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) for this June 5 primary vote.

“We know that we made a mistake, and we have scrambled to correct it before being told to do so,” Contra Costa County Registrar Steve Weir said Tuesday, acknowledging that his office sent ballots out late to 1,496 military and overseas voters – well over half of his county’s 2,450 total such voters, and about 18 percent of the 8,249 ballots that went out late statewide. “We are working to make this right.”

The long and short of it: In San Mateo, San Francisco and two other counties, officials must email all affected UOCAVA voters for whom the county offices have email addresses to notify them that if they have not yet received their ballots, they may choose to receive their ballots for the June 5 election by fax or email, instead of by postal mail; advise them of the option for returning a voted ballot by fax; and offer the option to return the ballot by express delivery at the county government’s expense. If the county has no email address for a voter, the county elections official must contact the voter by fax or telephone if that contact information is on file.

Weir in Contra Costa County and his peers in six other counties had already set about e-mailing affected voters and/or sending them out a second ballot by express delivery. For any they didn’t already reach, they’ll have to abide by the same conditions described above.

The UOCAVA requires that the state send absentee ballots to thousands of California’s eligible military and overseas voters at least 45 days before the election date. But that’s a task that ultimately falls to each of the 58 counties’ voter registrars, and despite Secretary of State Debra Bowen issuing four memos and holding a conference call with the registrars since November, 11 counties didn’t meet the deadline.

Weir said Contra Costa County had been part of a 13-county pilot program to use e-mail as the main method of sending ballots to military and overseas voters. But when that project fell through, the county used e-mail to send those voters their ballots anyway even though most of them had asked to get them by fax or mail, he said: “This was clearly a management mistake on our part.”

“Once we knew of our mistake, we moved very quickly to send a second ballot, in the manner that the voter had requested,” he said. “I think the stats on returns indicate that we have gotten to those voters.”

Weir said his county’s UOCAVA voters are 44.5 percent Democrat, compared to 49 percent countywide; 16.9 percent Republican, compared to 25 percent countywide; and 36.5 percent no-party-preference, compared to 21 percent countywide.

Bowen’s office reported today that of the 8,249 ballots transmitted after the 45-day deadline, most went out within two days after the deadline; only 41 military and overseas ballots were transmitted after April 27.

“Members of our armed forces, their families and overseas citizens are entitled to a complete and meaningful opportunity to vote, and the Justice Department is committed to seeking full access to the ballot box for all voters – regardless of where they are on Election Day,” Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said in a news release today. “The California Secretary of State worked cooperatively with the department and agreed to implement measures that will ensure California’s military and overseas voters will have the opportunity to fully participate in June’s primary election and future federal elections.”

Today’s deal, which needs an OK from a federal judge in Sacramento, also commits Bowen’s office to closely monitor and certify California counties’ transmission of UOCAVA ballots, conduct training of county election officials before the 2012 general election, give aid to its counties when necessary, and report back to the United States about its UOCAVA compliance for the 2012 federal general election and the 2014 federal election cycle. It also requires the California Secretary of State to investigate why these ballots went out late and then take whatever action is necessary to prevent future violations; Bowen will provide status reports to the Justice Department on those efforts.

Posted on Tuesday, May 29th, 2012
Under: 2012 primary election | No Comments »

Oakley Dem Frazier takes big money lead in AD11 race

Assembly District 11 Democratic candidate and Oakley Councilman Jim Frazier has outraised and outspent his five opponents by a large margin.

In the latest campaign finance report, Frazier reported contributions of $160,429 since January and expenses of $296,383.

Republican and Suisun City Councilman Mike Hudson is in a distant second. He received $64,177 and spent $62,226.

Arguably, Frazier needed to raise and spend the most money. He is the only Contra Costa candidate running against five Solano County opponents in new district dominated by Solano County. It’s a large field and only the top two finishers will advance to the general election,

The numbers for the other candidates are: Democratic labor negotiator Patricia Hernandez of Rio Vista received $34,894 and spent $64,807; independent and ex-Vacaville councilman Len Augustine received $31,759 and spent $26,473; Democratic retired Benicia fire chief Gene Gantt received $22,364 and spent $49,930.

Democratic programmer and artist Charles Kingeter of Suisun City did not file a report, which presumably means he didn’t raise enough money to trigger the filing requirement.

Assembly District 11 is a newly drawn district that includes Antioch, Oakley, Brentwood, Knightsen, Byon, Discovery Bay and Bethel Island plus the bulk of Solano County.

Assembly District 11, map by Redistricting Partners


Posted on Friday, May 25th, 2012
Under: 2012 Assembly election, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | 1 Comment »

Congressman flies GOP flag on energy in Bay Area

One day after President Obama was touting his energy record at Silicon Valley campaign stops – stronger fuel economy standards, increased clean energy production, foreign-oil imports at a 15-year low – a Central Valley congressman was in the Bay Area to say there’s a better approach.

Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, is a regional captain of the House Energy Action Team (HEAT), a Republican policy effort that mounted a “2012 American Energy and Jobs Tour” today. The theme is the GOP’s work “to reverse Administration policies that are causing unnecessary pain at the pump, on Valley farms and in grocery stores as well as costing our nation jobs,” his office said.

He toured the Valero refinery in Benicia and had an energy roundtable discussion with refining business representatives and community business leaders; later, he made a brief stop at an Oakland truck stop.

On his web page, Denham says that even as the nation explores “newer, cleaner energy sources, we must continue to utilize the rich resources within our own borders and on the Outer Continental Shelf, such as oil, coal, liquid, natural gas, and oil shale. One of the most promising outlets for new energy sources is nuclear energy, one of the cleanest forms of energy on the planet.”

For his full remarks as prepared for the Benicia event, read after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, May 24th, 2012
Under: energy, Environment, Jeff Denham, U.S. House | 2 Comments »

Medical marijuana advocates claim legal victory

Medical marijuana advocates are trumpeting what they call a major legal victory providing some protection for dispensaries that provide the drug to patients.

The California Supreme Court has denied review of a February state Court of Appeal ruling from Los Angeles which had held that dispensaries need not have patients participating in their operation.

The appeals court in People v. Colvin had held that Attorney General Kamala Harris’ argument – that member-patients must engage in unspecified “united action or participation” to qualify for protection under the state’s medical marijuana law – would likely “limit drastically the size of medical marijuana establishments,” and provide “little direction or guidance to, among others, qualified patients, primary caregivers, law enforcement, and trial courts.” It would, in fact, “contravene the intent of [state law] by limiting patients’ access to medical marijuana,” the lower court had held.

The Court of Appeal also held that “collectives and cooperatives may cultivate and transport marijuana in aggregate amounts tied to its membership numbers,” and it affirmed that possession of extracted or concentrated forms of medical marijuana was legal under state law.

“This has not been a problem in the Bay Area, but now we’re sure it’s not going to be,” said Joe Elford, chief counsel with Oakland-based Americans for Safe Access. “The decision not to review People v. Colvin should now put to rest this unfounded notion that patients must ‘till the soil’ or somehow participate in the production of the medicine they purchase at a dispensary.”

Elford said the court letting Colvin stand means the state Justice Department might have to change its arguments in other, similar cases.

Posted on Thursday, May 24th, 2012
Under: marijuana | 16 Comments »

3rd POTUS pool report: Redwood City

Motorcade left Goldman residence in Atherton at 8:58 p.m. and rolled up El Camino Real to Redwood City, where POTUS arrived around 9:08 p.m. and entered Fox Theater to do some photos. Tickets for this event cost $250 for general admission; $1,000 for premium seating; or $7,500 for a seat plus a photo reception, with up to two additional guests in the photo at $2,500 each.

A campaign official said those in attendance at the Fox Theater included theater owners Eric Lochtefeld and Lori Lochtefeld; Redwood City Mayor Alicia Aguirre; and OFA CA Political Director Peggy Moore.

Press was held outside for about 15-20 minutes before entering through side door; sadly, we missed Ben Harper’s performance, but were treated to a significant chunk of the Tom Hanks-narrated video detailing the president’s first-term accomplishments. The audience cheered and applauded certain moments during the video, including Bill Clinton’s first appearance; passage of the Affordable Care Act, swearing in of Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and so on.

The film ended, the stage lights came up and… nothing for a few minutes. The crowd began chanting the president’s name; and then a call and response of “Fired up!” and “Ready to Go!”; and then “Four more years!” Still, nobody.

Finally, after several minutes, POTUS took the stage at 9:46 p.m. to a standing ovation.

“It is good to be back in California,” he said, recognizing and thanking Mayor Aguirre and Ben Harper.

“I’m here because your country needs your help. Four years ago we came together, we came together because we want to reclaim the basic bargain that built the most solid middle class and the most prosperous nation on earth,” he said.

He talked about the American Dream of having equal opportunity for education and prosperity, “no matter who you look like… no matter who you love.”

When he came to office, more and more people were seeing falling incomes, stagnant job growth, unaffordable education. “We built a house of cards, and it ended up collapsing in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.”

“Together, we fought our way back,” he said. When some said we should let Detroit go bankrtupt, we bet on American workers and innovators “and today the American auto industry is back on top of the world.”

“We’re not satisfied, we still have so much more to do” as so many remain jobless, their home mortgages underwater, first responders and teachers being laid off, he said. And that’s why this election is so important – because we can’t go back to the policies that didn’t work. “We have to move forward, not backwards.”

Productivity and hard work are at an all-time high, he said, but the problem is that it doesn’t lead most people to higher income, better jobs, better lives. What Mitt Romney doesn’t understand is that higher profits aren’t desirable “at the cost of massive layoffs” or “shipping jobs overseas” or “gutting all those investments that create a platform for everybody’s success.”

Republicans want deeper tax cuts while services for working people, infrastructure investments and regulations to keep Wall Street are gutted, he said. “That’s not new – the last guy did this,” he said, referring to President George W. Bush. Romney, he said, “is hoping you don’t remember what happened the last time we tried all that.”

“We don’t want government to solve all our problems – it shouldn’t try,” he said. Not every tax dollar can be spent wisely, he said, and not all people can be helped who doesn’t want to help themselves.

“But that’s different from telling the vast majority of hard-working Americans, ‘You’re on your own” when it comes to affording college, health care, a home, he said. “That’s not who we are, that’s not how America was built.”

It was collective investment that created the platform for enterprises like Google and Facebook to be born and thrive, the president said. “It made us all richer, it gave us all opportunity.”

“That’s why I’m running again for President of the United States of America.”

He said he wants to ensure that by this decades end, the nation once again is turning out more engineers and scientists than anywhere else on earth, with everyone able to afford a chance at education and prosperity.

“I’m going to make sure the next generation of technological innovation takes place right here in Silicon Valley” as well as in Cleveland, Pittsburgh and other cities, he said.

He said the nation’s dependence on foreign oil is at a 15-year low while fuel economy standards are better and clean energy production has doubled.

“For the first time in nine years, we have no Americans fighting in Iraq.” OBL is dead, Al Qaeda is on the run and the war in Afghanistan will be over by 2014. “America is safer and stronger and more respected around the world” thanks to service and sacrifice of service members, and the nation must repay them with appropriate veterans’ services.

Romney, he said, opposed ending Iraq war and doesn’t want to set a date for getting out of Afghanistan. “The nation we need to build is our own. We will end this war responsibly.”

“We’re going to pay down our debt in a way that is fair and responsible” after he inherited a trillion-dollar debt, he said.

“It takes a Democrat to fix these problems after they had run up the tab… so we’re going to finish the job.” That means streamlining government but also reforming tax code so “folks like me, only the wealthiest Americans, pay a little bit more.”

Romney, on the other hand, proposes tax cuts paid for by ordinary Americans, and further diminishment of institutions such as Social Security and Medicare, he said.

“On issue after issue, these guys want to go backwards,” the president said, but there’s no time to re-fight the need for health care reform, or abortion rights, or myriad other issues. It’s time to move forward to a country where everyone is treated with dignity and respect, in which you can’t drown out ordinary people by writing a $10 million check to support or oppose a campaign.

America is about unity, using everyone’s talents to move the nation forward, he said. This election is tough – more negative ads and undisclosed spending through the rise of SuperPACs, but “ultimately the outcome of this election is going to be up to you,” he said.

“Gays love you!” an audience member shouted out; the president didn’t break his rhetorical stride.

“When you decide its time for change to happen, guess what – change happens,” he said. “If people ask you what this campaign is about, tell them its still about hope, its still about change.”

“I still believe in you; I hope you still believe in me,” he said.

POTUS finished at 10:19 p.m. First song on the PA system as he left stage: Bruce Springsteen’s “We Take Care of Our Own.”

POTUS is headed to San Jose’s Fairmont Hotel, where he’ll spend the night and hold a campaign fundraiser with Asian American/Pacific Islander contributors tomorrow morning before leaving from Moffett Field around 10 a.m.

Posted on Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012
Under: 2012 presidential election, Barack Obama, Obama presidency | 23 Comments »