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



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.”


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.


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.


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:


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