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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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.

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.


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.


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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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.