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McNerney will skip convention, Garamendi unsure

Add Rep. Jerry McNerney to the list of Democratic elected officials who won’t attend the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., this September even as they try to retain their seats.

But it seems he has a pretty solid reason.

“The Congressman won’t be attending the convention, as it conflicts with his son’s wedding,” spokeswoman Lauren Smith said today.

McNerney, D-Stockton, is being challenged in the newly drawn 9th Congressional District by Ricky Gill, a recent law school graduate from Lodi whom the National Republican Congressional Committee named one of its Young Guns – a well-funded, well-organized up-and-comer taking on a vulnerable incumbent.

But Gill spokesman Colin Hunter said Gill hasn’t yet decided whether he’ll attend the Republican National Convention in Tampa this August; he declined comment on McNerney skipping Charlotte.

Various national media outlets have been building a list of Democrats avoiding the Charlotte convention, often from districts where President Obama’s approval ratings are low. Likewise, some Republicans who might benefit from distancing themselves from the GOP are avoiding Tampa.

It’s unclear whether Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, will go to Charlotte. Garamendi is challenged in the newly drawn 3rd Congressional District by Colusa County Supervisor Kim Vann, another of the NRCC’s Young Guns.

“A decision has not been made yet,” Garamendi spokesman Donald Lathbury said today. “We’ll have a better sense of his schedule closer to the convention.”

A spokeswoman for Vann didn’t immediately return a call or an e-mail.

UPDATE @ 1:05 P.M.: Alee Lockman, Vann’s campaign manager, says “no plans have been made as of yet” on whether Vann will go to the GOP convention in Tampa.

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Candace Andersen takes oath of office in Contra Costa County

Candace Andersen

Elegantly attired in red in honor of the late Supervisor Gayle Uilkema, former Danville Mayor Candace Andersen was sworn into office Tuesday as the District 2 representative on the Contra Costa County board of supervisors. (Click here to read story at ContraCostaTimes.com.)

Click here to watch video of Andersen take the oath of office with Clerk-Recorder Steve Weir.

Click here to watch video of Andersen’s post-oath comments.

Andersen, 51, was overwhelmingly elected to the District 2 seat in the June primary election, beating out two competitors.

But her official term wasn’t slated to start until Jan. 1, which would have left the seat vacant for more than six months. In the wake of her decisive win, Andersen, other elected officials and labor leaders petitioned Gov. Jerry Brown for an early appointment, which he did late Monday.

Andersen took the oath of office before a crowd of supporters, her husband, Phil, and former Danville Town Council colleagues.

District 2 includes the San Ramon Valley, Alamo, Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga and Rossmoor.

“You will learn that Candace is truly a good person,” Danville Vice Mayor Newell Arnerich told the supervisors and the audience. “She is easy to get along with. She is bright. She has a smile even in the most difficult of times.”

Andersen expressed sadness at leaving the Danville council, where she has served since 2003. And she paid homage to Uilkema, who died in May after a battle with cancer but had endorsed the Danville mayor as her replacement on the board.

Uilkema offered invaluable advice on numerous fronts before her death, Andersen said, including a recommendation that she always keep a classic red suit in her closet for auspicious occasions.

“I have high heels to fill,” said the attorney and mother of six. “But I am looking forward to representing not just Danville but the entire county.”

Before her election to the Danville council, Andersen was elected to the Morgan Hill council.

She began her legal career as a clerk and deputy prosecuting attorney for the city and county of Honolulu in her home state of Hawaii, from 1983 to 1987. She earned her law degree at Brigham Young University.

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Danville Mayor Andersen appointed to CoCo supervisors

Contra Costa Supervisor Candace Andersen

Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Danville Mayor Candace Andersen to the Contra Costa County board of supervisors late Monday night and she will be sworn into office Tuesday at 9 a.m., in Martinez, just in time to join her four colleagues on the debate later in the day over whether to put a fire parcel tax on the November ballot.

Andersen was overwhelmingly elected to the District 2 seat in the June primary election, beating out competitors Tomi Van de Brooke of Orinda and Sean White of Lafayette.

The supervisor-elect’s official term wasn’t slated to start until Jan. 1, which would have left the seat vacant for more than six months.

The late incumbent supervisor Gayle Uilkema died in May after a battle with cancer, and she had been unable to perform many of her public duties since last December.

District 2 includes the San Ramon Valley, Alamo, Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga and Rossmoor.

Here’s what the governor’s office said about her in a release that went out a few minutes ago:

Candace Andersen, 51, of Danville, has been appointed to the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors. Andersen has served as mayor and councilmember for the Town of Danville since 2003. She was a councilmember for the City of Morgan Hill from 1993 to 1994 and an attorney at the Law Offices of Craig J. Bassett from 1988 to 1991. Andersen served as a clerk and deputy prosecuting attorney for the City and County of Honolulu, Hawaii from 1983 to 1987. She earned a Juris Doctorate degree from the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $97,483. Andersen is a Republican.

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Global panel touts drug reforms to stem HIV/AIDS

It’s hard to paint former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz of San Francisco as a drug-loving, latter-day hippie with no regard for the law.

George Shultz (AP photo)Shultz and former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, along with 18 other international luminaries, are part of a commission that’s calling for radical changes to the war on drugs in order to stem the tide of new HIV infections.

The report from the Global Commission on Drug Policy comes in advance of the International AIDS Conference, the world’s largest gathering of HIV/AIDS experts, which is being held next month in the U.S. for the first time in 22 years.

The global drug war drives the HIV pandemic among people who use drugs and their sexual partners, the report notes: An estimated 33 million people worldwide are living with HIV, and injection drug use accounts for one-third of new HIV infections outside of sub-Saharan Africa.

The report describes the failure of drug law enforcement policies in reducing global drug supply; for example, the worldwide supply of illicit opiates such as heroin has increased by more than 380 percent in recent decades.

Instead, the commission concludes, nations should be scaling up proven ways of reducing HIV infection such as sterile syringe distribution, safer injecting facilities, and prescription heroin programs. “Failure to take these steps is criminal,” the report states.

Nations that treat addiction as a health issue are winning the fight against HIV, the report notes: In Australia and European countries such as Portugal and Switzerland, newly diagnosed HIV infections have been nearly eliminated among people who use drugs, just as vertical transmission of HIV has been eliminated in countries where broad access to prevention of mother-to-child transmission of the virus is available.

But nations including the U.S., China, Russia and Thailand have ignored scientific evidence and resisted the implementation of evidence-based HIV prevention programs, with devastating consequences, the report says. For example, about one in 100 Russian adults is now infected with HIV; here in the United States, Congress recently reinstated a longstanding ban on the use of federal funds for syringe exchange programs, meaning more users are likely to share needles and spread disease.

The report says the costly and wasteful drug war as it’s being fought today drives drug users underground, away from HIV testing and HIV prevention services and into high-risk environments.

The commission is urging national governments to halt the practice of arresting and imprisoning people who use drugs but do no harm to others, and to measure their drug policy success by indicators such as reduced transmission rates for HIV and other infectious diseases, fewer overdose deaths, reduced drug market violence, fewer individuals incarcerated and lowered rates of problematic substance use.

In addition to Shultz and Volcker, the commission also includes the former presidents of Mexico, Poland, Colombia, Brazil, Chile and Switzerland; the former prime minister of Greece; Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson; various former United Nations officials; and others.

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Obama nominates judge with Bay Area roots

A Sacramento County Superior Court judge who was raised and worked in the Bay Area was nominated to the federal bench today by President Barack Obama.

Troy NunleyTroy Nunley, 48, has served on the Sacramento bench since his 2002 appointment by Gov. Gray Davis; before that he had been a state deputy attorney general since 1999. Earlier, Nunley was an Alameda County deputy district attorney from 1991 to 1994; a sole practitioner from 1994 to 1996; and a Sacramento County deputy district attorney from 1996 to 1999.

He earned a law degree in 1990 from the University of California Hastings College of the Law and a bachelor’s degree in 1986 from St. Mary’s College of California in Moraga. He’s a 1982 graduate of San Francisco’s Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory School; a 2002 article in Sacramento Lawyer says he and his three siblings were raised by their mother in public housing projects in San Francisco.

The president nominated Nunley to the U.S. District Court for California’s Eastern District, which includes 34 counties in eastern and central California from Los Angeles County’s northern edge to the Oregon border.

The nomination is subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate. Federal judges are appointed for life, and currently earn a $174,000 annual salary.

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Bay Area gets $7.4 mil to hire veterans as cops

The U.S. Justice Department today announced more than $111 million in Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant funding awards to more than 220 cities and counties to create or save about 800 law enforcement positions. All of the 600-plus new positions must be filled by veterans who served at least 180 days since Sept. 11, 2001.

In the greater Bay Area, Alameda County got $1,875,000 for 15 positions; Antioch got $1,502,680 for five positions; Hayward got $3,602,644 for nine positions; and Santa Cruz got $375,000 for three positions.

Vice President Joe Biden, on a conference call with reporters today, said the administration believes veterans who had to “fight like hell” overseas shouldn’t have to fight quite so hard to find jobs here at home.

The COPS Hiring Program makes grants to state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to hire or rehire community policing officers, providing the salary and benefits for officer and deputy hires for three years. President Obama announced in February that preference for this year’s COPS and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants would be given to communities that recruit and hire post-9/11 veterans to serve as police officers and firefighters.

Along with the pledge to hire military veterans, grantees for the COPS 2012 Hiring Program were selected based on fiscal need and local crime rates. Also factored in was each agency’s strategy to address specific problems such as increased homicide rates and gun violence.