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.





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.


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:
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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: http://www.docstoc.com/docs/121728287/Michael-Gressett-lawsuit


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.


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.