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Archive for August, 2012

Alamo woman praises Mitt in convention speech

A Bay Area woman helped humanize Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney with a speech tonight from the podium of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.

Pam Finlayson, 54, of Alamo, recounted how Romney – then a Mormon lay pastor in Massachusetts – helped her and husband, Grant, through tough times when their daughter was born prematurely.

“When the world looks at Mitt Romney, they see him as the founder of a successful business, the leader of the Olympics, or a Governor. When I see Mitt, I know him to be a loving father, man of faith and caring and compassionate friend,” she said. “It is with great excitement and a renewed hope, to know that our country will be blessed as it is led by a man who is not only so accomplished and capable, but who has devoted his entire life quietly serving others.”

UPDATE @ 6:35 P.M.: Here’s a video posted in 2010 as a tribute to Kate Finlayson, the daughter of whom Pam Finlayson spoke tonight.

Finlayson and her husband are registered to vote without party affiliation. They contributed $5,000 to Romney’s campaign in April.

C-SPAN has video of Finlayson’s speech, or follow after the jump to read her complete remarks as prepared.
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Posted on Thursday, August 30th, 2012
Under: 2012 presidential election, Mitt Romney, Republican Party, Republican politics | 10 Comments »

Latest poll numbers on November ballot measures

Labor Day usually marks the start of the traditional campaign season, when voters start tuning in more earnestly about the issues and candidates on November’s ballot. With that in mind, here are the latest polling numbers from the California Business Roundtable’s weekly survey:

Prop. 30 (Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax increase) – 54.4 % yes, 40.5 % no

Prop. 31 (two-year budget cycle, etc.) – 40.9 % yes, 36.2 % no

Prop. 32 (bans political contributions by payroll deduction) – 57.3 % yes, 33 % no

Prop. 33 (auto insurance) – 56.5 % yes, 31.8 % no

Prop. 34 (death penalty repeal) – 40.1 % yes, 49.5 % no

Prop. 35 (human trafficking) – 82.2 % yes, 10.8 % no

Prop. 36 (three strikes sentencing reform) – 74.1 % yes, 17.8 % no

Prop. 37 (labeling of GMO foods) – 65.4 % yes, 23.4 % no

Prop. 38 (Molly Munger’s tax increase) – 39.6 % yes, 49.4 % no

Prop. 39 (corporate tax loophole) – 59.2 % yes, 28.9 % no

Prop. 40 (state Senate redistricting) – 47.8 % yes, 25 % no

A lot of money will be spent in the next two months to move these numbers, so don’t read too much into them now. That said, a few thoughts:

    Voter support for any measure often declines as Election Day nears, so anything already polling under 60 percent “yes” has a tough road ahead.
    Jerry Brown’s tax measure is looking a lot stronger than Molly Munger’s, but neither looks like a powerhouse.
    California voters appear ready to save some prison-budget money by putting fewer people away for life (by requiring that a “third strike” be a serious or violent felony), but not by abolishing the astonishingly costly capital punishment process.
    Watch for an extremely well-funded ad blitz from the food industry to knock down Prop. 37’s numbers as soon as possible.

    Nobody’s campaigning for Prop. 40, yet it still has more support than opposition; go figure. It won’t for long.
    In my GOP-convention-inspired-haze, I forgot that a “no” vote on Prop. 40 supports killing the newly drawn district lines, so a “yes” vote preserves the status quo. Never mind, then.

Posted on Thursday, August 30th, 2012
Under: ballot measures, polls | 3 Comments »

Bill to ban long gun ‘open carry’ goes to Brown

A bill to extend the state’s ban on “open carry” of handguns to include long guns as well has been sent to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.

AB 1527 by Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La Canada Flintridge, passed an Assembly concurrence vote 45-30 after about an hour of debate Wednesday, according to the lawmaker’s office. The state Senate had voted 23-15 Monday to pass the bill; the Assembly had approved an earlier version of it May 3 on a 44-29 vote.

shotgunPortantino issued a statement saying the law “will safeguard families confronted by rifle-toting gun enthusiasts and will shield law enforcement personnel from tense situations where they don’t know if the rifle is loaded or unloaded.”

Last year’s AB 144, which took effect Jan. 1, made it illegal to carry an unloaded handgun in any public place or street; law enforcement personnel are exempt as are hunters and others carrying unloaded weapons under specified licensed circumstances. Supporters had said open-carry practices should be banned for the sake of public safety, and to protect the safety and conserve the resources of police officers checking to ensure the guns aren’t loaded, in accordance with state law.

Gun-rights activists have seized upon open-carry laws in states across the nation as a means of expressing their political beliefs, acting individually, or gathering to carry their weapons both as an exercise of constitutional rights and for self-protection. They say they’re both protecting their rights under current law as well as advocating for changes so that more people can get permits to carry concealed weapons, something that’s sharply limited under current law.

Some activists reacted to AB 144’s implementation by organizing public events in which they carried unloaded shotguns or rifles rather than handguns. So Portantino introduced AB 1527 to prohibit this as well; the bill includes exemptions to allow safe transportation, lawful hunting and use by law enforcement officials.

AB 1527 is supported by groups including the California Police Chiefs Association, the Peace Officer Research Association of California and the California chapters of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence; it’s opposed by groups including the California Rifle & Pistol Association and the National Rifle Association.

Posted on Wednesday, August 29th, 2012
Under: Anthony Portantino, Assembly, California State Senate, gun control, Jerry Brown | 14 Comments »

Protesters target Condi Rice in Tampa

The Bay Area’s own former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, now a Stanford professor and Hoover Institution fellow, was targeted by protesters today in Tampa. Via the Associated Press:

TAMPA, Fla. — Police in Tampa stopped a dozen anti-war protesters from entering an event attended by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice after the group said it intended to arrest her for war crimes.

The protesters from Code Pink carried handcuffs Tuesday and tried to enter a performing arts center. Rice was attending an event in conjunction with the Republican National Convention. They said they wanted to make a citizen’s arrest of Rice. She was George W. Bush’s National Security Adviser when the Iraq War started in 2003.

Officers told protesters to leave because they were on private property. They went back to the sidewalk and several lay down under sheets made to look like they were blood-splattered.

The group says it will try to arrest other members of the George W. Bush administration.

Posted on Tuesday, August 28th, 2012
Under: Republican Party, Republican politics | 4 Comments »

Feinstein urges FTC probe of CA’s high gas prices

Something’s fishy about the California’s recent spike in gas prices, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein said today.

Feinstein, D-Calif., sent a letter to Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz urging that the FTC launch an investigation of the sudden rise in prices at the pump.

“The recent price spike began on August 6th, when a refinery fire at Chevron’s Richmond Refinery reduced refining capacity at the state’s third largest refinery,” she wrote. “However, this dangerous incident has not resulted in a reduction of gasoline supply that would explain the recent rapid price increase.”

Feinstein noted gas prices have risen 30 cents per gallon since then, reaching $4.21. “As a result, California has the highest gas prices in the continental United States. The increase is more than double the increase in the national average over the same period.”

“It is important that the Commission use its statutory authority aggressively to pursue and remedy any market schemes or other market distorting activities that have led to either the August spike in California gas prices or the longer term trend of higher gas prices in California,” Feinstein wrote.

Read the entire letter, after the jump…
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Posted on Tuesday, August 28th, 2012
Under: Dianne Feinstein, U.S. Senate | 18 Comments »

Ricky Gill’s speech to the GOP convention

Here’s what Ricky Gill, the Republican from Lodi who’s challenging Rep. Jerry McNerney in the newly drawn 9th Congressional District, had to say just now at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.:

My name is Ricky Gill, and I am humbled to stand before you as a Republican nominee for Congress – and a proud son of California’s San Joaquin Valley.

My parents immigrated to the Valley from India and Africa with only their love for each other, a strong work ethic, and the enduring desire to pursue their American Dream.
We all work hard in the Valley, and we’re proud to live there. But today we face crippling unemployment and foreclosures—even the bankruptcy of Stockton, our largest city. Young people leave — or drop out of school to help their families make ends meet. Our friends and neighbors are suffering.

But the Valley is a cautionary tale of failed policies, not false ambitions. No one in this country dreams of dependency; no one hopes for mediocrity. We are ready again to seize the measure of our ambitions – not because the government says we can, but because we believe we can.

We need a new generation of leadership to chart the path – to fight for policies that create jobs, rather than red tape — and to help small businesses succeed, rather than helping green energy companies fail.

Like you, we Valley folks are tough, independent, and faithful – and we are ready to rebuild our American Dream.

Thank you, and God Bless America.

Looking over the convention’s schedule, it may be that Gill and former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice are the only speakers from the greater Bay Area who’ll be addressing the convention this week.

Posted on Tuesday, August 28th, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, Jerry McNerney, Republican Party, Republican politics, U.S. House | 8 Comments »

Cindy Chavez, Ro Khanna named to jobs board

A former San Jose councilwoman, a future East Bay congressional candidate and a leading California economist are among the 11 Bay Area residents whom Gov. Jerry Brown named today to the state’s Workforce Investment Board.

Brown named 30 people in all to the “long-neglected” board in order to rebuild and reinvigorate this private-sector body tasked with advising him on job creation and workforce development, according to his news release. They’ll work with his Office of Business and Economic Development “to identify the needs of industry and to create career pathways that provide businesses the skilled workforce they need and while putting unemployed and underemployed Californians back to work.”

Brown also today named his senior jobs advisor, Mike Rossi, to chair the board, which also includes Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley, Employment Development Department Director Pam Harris, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott, Department of Apprenticeship Standards Director Diane Ravnik and Labor & Workforce Development Agency Secretary Marty Morgenstern.

“To meet this skills challenge and ensure a prosperous future, we must do a much better job aligning California’s existing public education and workforce training resources with the needs of key industry sectors,” Rossi said. “This requires a robust analysis of California’s labor markets and regional economies and better coordination among all our education and training programs.”

Brown’s release notes that since he took office, California has added more jobs than any other state in the nation. The Golden State also, however, still had the nation’s third-highest unemployment rate as of July, 10.7 percent (behind Rhode Island at 10.8 percent and Nevada at 12 percent).

Cindy ChavezAmong those named to the board today was Cindy Chavez, 48, a San Jose City Council member from 1999 to 2006 and the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council’s executive officer since 2009. The Democrat also has been executive director at Working Partnerships USA since 2009 and executive director at the 1000 Leaders Project since 2009. Earlier, Chavez was a principal at California Leadership Services from 2007 to 2009 and held multiple positions at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority from 1999 to 2006, including chair, vice chair and board member. Earlier yet, she was the South Bay Labor Council’s education and outreach director from 1994 to 1998; the founding staff director at Working Partnerships USA from 1994 to 1998; lead trainer at AFL-CIO Organizing Institute from 1993 to 1994 and a policy analyst for the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors from 1990 to 1993.

Ro KhannaAlso named to the board was Ro Khanna, 35, of Fremont, an attorney of counsel to the Silicon Valley powerhouse Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati since 2011 who broke records by raising $1.2 million in 2011’s last quarter to run for the 15th Congressional District seat in 2014; the Democrat has refused to challenge incumbent Pete Stark. Khanna, who was a deputy assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Commerce from 2009 to 2011, has just published his first book, “Entrepreneurial Nation: Why Manufacturing Is Still Key to America’s Future.” Also a visiting lecturer at Stanford’s Department of Economics, he was at attorney at O’Melveny and Myers from 2004 to 2009.

Stephen LevyAnd Brown also named Stephen Levy, 70, of Palo Alto to the board. Levy has been director and senior economist at the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy since 1969 and was an economist at the Stanford Research Institute from 1967 to 1969. A Demcorat, Levy has been a member of the NOVA Workforce Board since 2000 and has been a member of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute Board of Trustees since 2010.

These board appointments don’t require state Senate confirmation, and the compensation is $100 per diem. See the other Bay Area appointees, after the jump…
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Posted on Monday, August 27th, 2012
Under: economy, Jerry Brown | 1 Comment »

Prop. 37’s supporters launch first TV ad

The Yes on Proposition 37 California Right to Know Campaign launched its first television ad today in support of the ballot measure that would establish the nation’s first state law requiring labeling of genetically engineered foods.

The committee says it made a $150,000 ad buy to put the 30-second ad “in select online news venues and on broadcast and cable television stations in major California media markets for 10 days.”

“The same corporations that brought us DDT and Agent Orange are now bringing us the No on 37 campaign,” spokeswoman Malkan said in the news release. “In addition to their history of false health claims about DDT, Agent Orange and tobacco, the same corporations and political operatives are making false claims about the safety of genetically engineered food — even though numerous studies link these foods to allergies and other health risks, as well as to significant environmental problems. Californians have a right to know whether or not their baby formula, corn chips or soy milk contains genetically engineered ingredients that have not been proven safe.”

NO ON 37: Coalition Against the Deceptive Food Labeling Scheme issued a statement blasting the ad.

“Unable to win on the merits or to defend their seriously flawed measure, the Yes on 37 campaign continues to ignore scientific evidence and! b ase their campaign on fear-mongering and scare tactics,” No on 37 spokeswoman Kathy Fairbanks said. “Voters are smart and we’re confident they’ll see through and will evaluate Prop. 37 based on the facts, not hysteria.”

The measure’s backers “can’t justify why their measure was written to allow trial lawyers to file meritless claims. They can’t justify why they gave special-interest exemptions to two-thirds the foods we eat every day, foods that can have GE ingredients. They can’t justify why they are increasing state bureaucracy and why their measure will raise grocery bills for California families. And they can’t justify why their serious drafting flaws would prohibit California farmers from labeling processed foods as natural, even foods without GE ingredients,” Fairbanks said. “The overwhelming scientific evidence has proven that foods with genetically engineered ingredients are safe, and that requiring special labels are both unnecessary and misleading.”

Posted on Monday, August 27th, 2012
Under: ballot measures | 2 Comments »

New laws signed on prostitution, child car seats

Gov. Jerry Brown signed several bills by Bay Area lawmakers today, including one that lets juveniles convicted of prostitution seal their records without proving they’ve been rehabilitated, and another that aims to boost infant car-seat safety.

AB 2040, by Assemblyman Sandré Swanson, D-Oakland, “provides that an adult who was previously adjudicated to be a ward of the juvenile court because he or she committed a prostitution offense may petition the court to seal the records of the offense, regardless of the person’s criminal record or proof of rehabilitation,” according to the most recent legislative analysis. This relief isn’t available to those minor “johns” who paid or offered to pay a prostitute. The Assembly had passed this bill 49-21, and the state Senate approved it unanimously, 36-0.

AB 1452, by Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo “requires hospitals, clinics, and birthing centers, when discharging a child, to give the parent or the person to whom the child is released specific contact information for organizations that provide assistance with the use, law, and installation of child passenger restraint systems,” the analysis said. The Assembly passed this bill on a 61-14 vote, and the state Senate on a 31-6 vote.

See what other Bay Area bills the governor signed into law today, after the jump…
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Posted on Monday, August 27th, 2012
Under: Assembly, Bob Wieckowski, Jerry Brown, Jerry Hill, Joan Buchanan, Sandre Swanson | 15 Comments »

Chris Christie calls Jerry Brown ‘an old retread’

Media including the Los Angeles Times are reporting on New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s tirade against California Gov. Jerry Brown this morning as he addressed California’s delegation to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.:

“California made the bad choice by going with an old retread,” Christie told California’s delegation to the Republican National Convention here, a crowd that lapped up his message. “Let me tell you this – I cannot believe you people elected Jerry Brown over Meg Whitman. … Jerry Brown. Jerry Brown? I mean, he won the New Jersey presidential primary over Jimmy Carter when I was 14 years old.”

Christie said the 74-year-old, three-term governor told him that he’s not trying to raise taxes, that he is allowing voters to decide by putting a tax proposal on the ballot.

“Man, that’s leadership, isn’t it?” Christie said.

Seems like my story in today’s editions about California being a popular GOP punching bag was timely, no?

A few observations: Christie governs a state that doesn’t require two-thirds majorities of both houses of the Legislature in order to raise taxes. California’s GDP grew by 2 percent last year, while New Jersey’s shrank by -0.5 percent. And Meg Whitman now presides over Hewlett-Packard, which last week reported its largest-ever quarterly loss – $8.9 billion – and is stumbling dangerously, according to the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg Businessweek.

Posted on Monday, August 27th, 2012
Under: Jerry Brown, Meg Whitman, Political conventions, Republican Party, Republican politics | 9 Comments »