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Archive for May, 2012

2nd POTUS pool report: Atherton fundraiser

Among the guests at the Atherton fundraiser: Jan Brandt, vice chair emeritus of AOL; Dennis Troper, Google product management director; Tim Westergren, Pandora Media founder; and Susan Wojcicki, Google senior vice president.

Press was escorted into large outdoor tent at 7:55 p.m. POTUS and Doug Goldman entered at 7:58 p.m. Goldman said the property has been in his family since 1906, and he and his wife tried to welcome POTUS with Hawaiian decoration theme: floral arrangements, tablecloths, potted palms, hurricane lanterns, leis.

Goldman said the Recovery Act was a “brilliant” move, “saving more than 1 million jobs.” “It worked so well, some of your opponents are trying to take credit for it,” he said. Goldman also credited POTUS for ending Iraq war, killing OBL and voicing support for same-sex marriage, the latter of which drew the loudest cheers and applause from the audience.

POTUS began talking at 8:03 p.m., thanking the Goldmans for their hospitality: “They have had my back from the get-go, at a time when not many people knew who I was.”

He thanked David Crosby and Graham Nash (Stephen Stills is NOT in attendance): “It’s not every day you get Rock and Roll Hall of Famers strumming the guitar for you.” And he thanked actor Don Cheadle for his presence and support, but promised not to talk about their recent basketball game. Cheadle responded: “Thank you.”

“We’ve gone through three and a half of the toughest years in our lifetime,” the president said, with so many millions of jobs lost. “And we’ve still got a long way to go. In California and across the country there are still a lot of people who are hurting” from joblessness, risk of losing their homes, unaffordable education. “Our work is not done. The good news is, we’re beginning to steer that ship in the right direction.”

President Obama said he’s proud of his administration’s educational reforms, and said the nation must continue to make scientific advancements in order to remain globally competitive. “America continues to have the best workers and the best businesses in the world – we just have to get organized, and we’re starting to do that.”

The Affordable Care act has begun making health care more affordable and accessible; fuel economy standards for cars have been doubled; clean energy production has been doubled; and foreign oil imports are at a 15-year low, he said. The Iraq war is over and Afghanistan is ending, while the U.S. is regaining international respect.

“We continue to be the agenda setters,” he said, shaping international rules and norms on issues from terrorism to climate change to poverty. “People are paying attention, people are listening, and people are hungry for our leadership.”

But he needs another term to seal the deal, he said.

“This is a country full of decent people who believe in America and are generous and kind and tolerant,” the president said.

He talked about being at a high school graduation earlier this week in Joplin, Mo., which was ravaged by a tornado last year, and meeting a senior who lost both his parents, spent five weeks in physical rehab and had to care for his sister yet still is graduating and going on to college. “That captures who we are and what we’re about” as a nation, he said, leaving him “more determined than I was in 2008” to carry on.

Press was ushered out at 8:14 p.m., as he started a question and answer session with the audience. Press is now (8:35 p.m.) in vans, waiting for departure to Redwood City.

Posted on Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012
Under: 2012 presidential election, Barack Obama, Obama presidency, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

First POTUS pool report: Moffett to Atherton

AF1 landed at Moffett Federal Airfield near Mountain View, Calif., a few minutes after its scheduled 6:10 p.m. arrival time, delayed a bit by some weather.

Greeting POTUS at the bottom of the stairs were:
– Col. Steven Butow, Commander 129th Rescue Wing, California Air National Gaurd
– Rep. Anna Eschoo (D-CA)
– Mike Kasperzak – Mayor, Mountain View, CA
– Tony Spitaleri – Mayor, Sunnyvale, CA
– Simon Pete Worden – Center Director, NASA Ames Research Center

POTUS then went to work a rope line of invited guests, Moffett/NASA/AMES staffers and such, before getting into the limo. Motorcade went south on Highway 101 then back up I-280 to Woodside Road exit into Atherton , arrived about 7:10 p.m. at Atherton home of Doug Goldman – software company founder, retired emergency physician, philanthropist and heir to the
Levi Strauss fortune – and his wife Lisa, who are hosting a $35,800-a-head dinner.

Press is holding in an outbuilding. Crosby, Stills & Nash will be performing for guests; we saw David Crosby walk by here a few minutes ago.

Posted on Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012
Under: Barack Obama, Obama presidency | 1 Comment »

Failed Contra Costa water fee flopped in 18 of 19 cities

The failed Contra Costa clean water fee sank in every city in the county except El Cerrito, according to a vote breakdown.

As you may recall, the county and its 19 cities attempted earlier this year to persuade property owners to pass an annual fee to pay for programs associated with tightening state and federal anti-pollution regulations on stormwater runoff.

The unusual property-owner election coupled with the bad economy and campaign missteps doomed the effort, which went down 59.4 percent to 40.6 percent.

Here are the final numbers ranked by the percentage of support, as provided by the Contra Costa Clean Water Program:

AREA YES (%) NO (%)
El Cerrito 54.9 45.1
Walnut Creek 47.3 52.7
Moraga 45.6 54.4
Orinda 45 55
Richmond 43.5 56.5
Hercules 42.8 57.2
San Ramon 42.6 57.4
Lafayette 42.4 57.6
Danville 42.3 57.7
Pleasant Hill 39.5 60.5
Pittsburg 39.1 60.9
Unincorporated 38.6 61.4
San Pablo 38.2 61.8
Martinez 37.9 62.1
Antioch 37.4 62.6
Concord 37 63
Brentwood 35.7 64.3
Clayton 35.7 64.3
Oakley 33.3 66.7
Pinole 33 67
COUNTYWIDE 40.6 59.4


Posted on Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012
Under: Contra Costa County, water | 7 Comments »

Alan Simpson unloads on Oakland protesters

Politico has the scoop today on an angry letter that former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson sent to the California Alliance for Retired Americans after that group protested outside his appearance at Oakland’s Paramount Theater in March.

Simpson and Erskine Bowles – who served former President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff – were speaking together in Oakland because they had co-chaired President Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. The alliance, along with some unions and other groups, rallied to protest the commission’s final recommendations, which included raising Social Security’s early retirement age to 64 and the standard retirement age to 69; reducing benefits for the more affluent half of retirees; and raising the payroll tax that funds the program.

Simpson apparently was miffed about a flyer the protesters handed out, and sent them a letter.

Alan SimpsonYou use the faces of young people, who are the ones who are going to get gutted while you continue to push out your blather and drivel. My suggestion to you — an honest one — read the damn report. The Moment of Truth — 67 pages, and then tell me if we’re not doing the right thing with Social Security. What a wretched group of seniors you must be to use the faces of the very people that we are trying to save, while the “greedy geezers” like you use them as a tool and a front for your nefarious bunch of crap. You must feel some sense of shame for shoveling out this bulls**t.

California Labor Federation spokesman Steve Smith said today that Simpson “made no meaningful attempt to address the concerns of current and future retirees that his commission’s proposal would weaken Social Security and place benefits at risk.”

“Instead, Simpson chose to lower the level of discourse to insults that border on abusive language. This sort of response doesn’t move the debate on Social Security forward,” Smith said. “If anything, it’s a slap in the face to millions of workers who have legitimate concerns about how out of touch longtime DC insiders like Simpson are when it comes to protecting a program that’s essential to nearly every American.”

Posted on Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012
Under: Uncategorized | 9 Comments »

Foes target Boehner/Lungren event in Woodside

Liberal activists organized by CREDO SuperPAC are planning to protest outside a fundraiser that House Speaker John Boehner is holding Wednesday on Portola Road in Woodside with Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River.

The event with Boehner, R-Ohio, costs up to $35,000 a plate or $5,000 for a photo opportunity, and is occurring just six miles from the Atherton home in which President Obama is scheduled to hold a $35,800-a-plate fundraiser at about the same time.

CREDO SuperPAC says it has launched a campaign against Lungren with four full-time organizers and a Carmichael field office to mobilize local voters to defeat a congressman it calls “’California’s Rick Santorum,’ because of his stone-age views on women, and his extremist Tea Party values.” Lungren is challenged by Democrat Ami Bera of Elk Grove, Libertarian Art Tuma of Antelope, and independent Curt Taras of Folsom.

CREDO SuperPAC is running similar campaigns against nine other conservative Republican House members across the nation.

Posted on Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, Dan Lungren, John Boehner, U.S. House | 5 Comments »

Obama urged to woo Asian-Americans, not just $

The San Bruno-based National Asian American Coalition is criticizing President Barack Obama for “raising funds from super-wealthy Asian Americans rather than campaigning and educating Asian American voters,” according to its news release today.

President Obama will be in Silicon Valley on Wednesday for three campaign fundraising events. First on the schedule is a campaign roundtable to support the Asian American/Pacific Islander community, at 4:30 p.m. in Palo Alto’s Garden Court Hotel; tickets for that cost $35,800 per person. (Ed. note – I see now that since first I reported on these events a few weeks ago, the time and date of this AAPI roundtable has been changed: It’s now at 8 a.m. Thursday, same place and ticket cost.)

The coalition – formerly known as the Mabuhay Alliance – sent a letter to the president today complaining about this. Based on its recent poll of Asian-American voters in Southern California, the coalition wants the president to make a play for those voters’ votes, not just a few rich people’s money.

“Asian Americans throughout the nation are probably close to equally divided as to who would make a better president between Romney and Obama,” coalition president and CEO Faith Bautista said in the news release. “In key swing states such as Nevada and Virginia, the absence of effective campaigning directed as Asian Americans could be fatal to the campaigns of the presidential candidates.”

“Nationally, there are eighteen million Asian Americans and almost six million in California. We therefore urge the President to not only effectively raise money in California and other states from affluent Asian Americans, but to actively and vigorously campaign at the grassroots level for the Asian American vote in California and the nation.”

The coalition wants the same from GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

According to its website, the coalition “is a HUD-approved nonprofit organization, with a focus on sustainable homeownership, Asian American diversity, consumer and small business development. NAAC advocates in the halls of Congress, in the California legislature and key federal legislators such as the Federal Reserve, FDIC, FTC, FCC and SEC and among today’s Fortune 500 corporations.” Its top-level sponsors include Wells Fargo, AT&T, JPMorganChase and Comerica Bank.

Posted on Monday, May 21st, 2012
Under: 2012 presidential election, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Obama presidency | 31 Comments »

Yee introduces bill to ban ‘bullet buttons’

A Bay Area lawmaker introduced a bill today to close a loophole in the state’s assault-weapons law allowing “bullet-button” semiautomatic rifles that reload in an instant.

State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, gutted and amended SB 249 to carry the legislation, and expects it will be considered by the Legislature next month.

“There is absolutely no reason why these military style weapons need to have such easily changeable magazines,” Yee said in a news release. “While most gun owners are law abiding, I am deeply concerned with these assault weapons getting into the wrong hands, resulting in mass casualties of civilians or law enforcement officers.”

Magazines that can be removed by a normal push button, in combination with features such as a pistol grip and telescoping stock, are banned by California law; the law essentially requires that magazines be fixed, or removed or replaced with the use of a tool, in order to slow down the reloading process.

In an apparent effort to get around the law, gun makers have created a new mechanism that lets the magazine be easily removed by the tip of a bullet or in some cases by just putting a small magnet over the “bullet button,” basically recreating a normal push-button and letting magazines be changed within seconds.

“These conversions are circumventing the spirit of California’s assault weapon statute,” said Yee. “Absent this bill, California’s assault weapon ban is practically toothless. For the safety of the general public, we must close this loophole.”

The “bullet button” controversy was brought to the fore by a recent report by CBS5. As you can see here, it’s cheap and easy to install:

Posted on Monday, May 21st, 2012
Under: California State Senate, gun control, Leland Yee | 13 Comments »

Contra Costa Supervisor Gayle Uilkema has died

Contra Costa Supervisor Gayle Uilkema on March 13, 2012.

Contra Costa County Supervisor Gayle Uilkema died early this morning with her family by her side.  She had been battling ovarian cancer since mid-2010.

In her fourth term, the 73-year-old former Lafayette mayor has been absent from her seat behind the board dais in Martinez since December, when she suffered a bout of pneumonia she described as a complication of chemotherapy.

She had hoped to return to her customary full-time schedule this spring although she was planning to retire at the end of the year after serving 16 years.

What I will remember most about Gayle is how much she deep-down loved her job as a county supervisor. She will be missed.

A rosary will be held 7 p.m. Wednesday St. Perpetua Church at 3454 Hamlin Road in Lafayette. The funeral mass will be held at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, also at St. Perpetua.

Flowers should be sent to Hull’s, 1139 Saranap Ave., Walnut Creek, CA 94595.

Memorial donations may to sent to the American Cancer Society, 101 Ygnacio Valley Rd., Walnut Creek, CA 94596



Posted on Saturday, May 19th, 2012
Under: Contra Costa Board of Supervisors, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | 6 Comments »

Bay Area congressmembers call Safeway lawyer’s joke ‘sexist’

What’s good for Jay Leno, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert is apparently not good for corporate lawyers.

A group of Bay Area congressmembers sent a stern letter to Pleasanton-based Safeway CEO Steve Burd admonishing the grocery giant for a joke its top lawyer reportedly made at the expense of Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi during a May 15 stockholder meeting.

General Counsel Robert Gordon reportedly told a joke involving the Secretary of State and the House Minority Speaker from San Francisco, pigs and the Secret Service. Gosh, it already sounds funny. (Read the full narrative below.)

Lighten up, people.

If members of Congress start writing to every business organization where a national politician was the butt of a joke, they’ll be busier than a genuine Arkansas razorback hog farmer at feeding time.

Here’s the letter:

Mr. Steve Burd

President and CEO

Safeway Inc.

5918 Stoneridge Mall Road

Pleasanton, CA 94588

 By Fax (925) 467-3230

 Dear Mr. President,

 We are writing to express our strong disapproval of inappropriate comments reportedly made by Safeway General Counsel Robert Gordon at Safeway’s May 15 shareholder meeting. We are deeply disappointed by these comments and believe Safeway must take corrective steps immediately.

According to an audio recording reportedly taken from the shareholder meeting, General Counsel Gordon inappropriately used House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the butt of his joke, as follows:

You know, this is the season when companies and other institutions are interested in enhancing their reputation and their image for the general public, and one of the institutions that’s doing this is the Secret Service, particularly after the calamity in Colombia. And among the instructions given to the Secret Service agents was to try to agree with the president more and support his decisions. And that led to this exchange that took place last week, when the president flew into the White House lawn and an agent greeted him at the helicopter. The president was carrying two pigs under his arms and the Secret Service agents said, “Nice pigs, sir.”And the president said, “These are not ordinary pigs, these are genuine Arkansas razorback hogs. I got one for former Speaker Nancy Pelosi and one for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.” And the Secret Service agent said, “Excellent trade, sir.”

Poking fun at politicians is part of our culture, and TV comedians carry this out nightly. But sexist jokes told by a top executive of a Fortune 500 company to an international audience are completely inappropriate and demonstrate a shocking lack of respect, not only for two of the most important and respected people in our country but for all women.

Safeway owes an apology to Secretary Clinton, Leader Pelosi, and the country. It is up to the Safeway board to decide what action to take against its general counsel for his comments but let there be no doubt as to our strong disapproval and deep disappointment in your company for what he said.


Reps. George Miller, Anna Eshoo, Zoe Lofgren, Mike Thompson, Lynn Woolsey, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, Doris Matsui, Barbara Lee, and Mike Honda


Posted on Friday, May 18th, 2012
Under: Congress | 22 Comments »

Was that a rat on Contra Costa Boulevard?

Yes, that was a giant, 15-foot-high inflatable rat you saw Friday morning on the sidewalk along Contra Costa Boulevard in Pleasant Hill.

The trademark rodent’s appearance along with more than a dozen sign-carrying protesters is the latest salvo in the long-standing animosity between the Contra Costa Building and Construction Trades Council and the nonunion Associated Builders and Contractors.

Watch video of the rat here.

Watch interview with trades council chief Greg Feere here.

The trades were protesting Erik Bruvold’s appearance at the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association breakfast. Watch video of Bruvold’s presentation here.

The National University System Institute for Policy Research president co-authored a 2011 study that found the use of union-supported project labor agreements had increased California public school construction costs by 13-17 percent.

UCLA Labor Center and Michigan State University researchers subsequently challenged the findings on several fronts but Bruvold defended the analysis on Friday.


Posted on Friday, May 18th, 2012
Under: Contra Costa politics | 3 Comments »