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Archive for September, 2012

Brown vetoes fines for failing to report gun thefts

Besides extending the state’s “open carry” ban to long guns, Gov. Jerry Brown signed or vetoed several other firearms bills today as well.

Brown vetoed SB 1366 by state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, which would’ve made it an infraction – or, on the third offense, a misdemeanor – to fail to report to police the theft of a firearm within 48 hours of the time the owner knew or reasonably should have known the weapon was lost or stolen.

“The proponents urge that the bill will improve identification of gun traffickers and help law enforcement disarm people prohibited from possessing firearms. I am not convinced,” the governor wrote in his veto message. “For the most part, responsible people report the loss or theft of a firearm and irresponsible people do not. I am skeptical that this bill would change those behaviors.”

Brown also vetoed AB 2460 by Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, which would’ve restricted law enforcement and military personnel from selling lawfully purchases handguns that haven’t been certified by the Attorney General’s Office.

“This bill takes from law enforcement officers the right to an activity that remains legally available to every private citizen,” he wrote in the veto message. “I don’t believe this is justified.”

Brown signed AB 1559 by Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-Pasadena, which will let California filmmakers use certain weapons in their productions and reduce fees for multiple gun purchases by eliminating double or even triple fees for gun purchases made at the same date and time.

He also signed SB 1367 by state Sen. Jean Fuller, R-Bakersfield, which revises archery provisions so an active or retired peace officer can carry a concealed firearm while engaged in taking deer with bow and arrow, but prohibits taking or attempting to take deer with that firearm.

Posted on Friday, September 28th, 2012
Under: Anthony Portantino, Assembly, California State Senate, gun control, Jerry Brown, Mark DeSaulnier | 3 Comments »

Brown signs bill banning ‘open carry’ of long guns

Gov. Jerry Brown today signed a bill into law extending the state’s ban on “open carry” of unloaded handguns in public places to include rifles and shotguns as well.

AB 1527’s author, Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-Pasadena, issued a news release thanking the governor “for recognizing the importance of this public safety measure that will help reduce the threat of gun violence for the public and for law enforcement.

“Open Carry wastes law enforcement time and resources by taking attention away from criminal activity and solving crimes,” Portantino said. “It’s a bad situation for everyone – the police, the gun owner and innocent families who could be injured by this risky and unnecessary brandishing of weapons on Main Street, California.”

The ban on “open carry” of rifles and shotguns will go into effect Jan. 1.

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 was 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.

UPDATE @ 2:52 P.M.: Brown vetoed or signed several other firearms bills today.

Posted on Friday, September 28th, 2012
Under: Anthony Portantino, Assembly, gun control, Jerry Brown | 3 Comments »

Oakland attorney named to CSU Board of Trustees

Gov. Jerry Brown today announced his appointment of Rebecca Eisen, 62, of Oakland, to the California State University Board of Trustees.

Eisen, a Democrat, is a partner in Morgan Lewis‘s labor and employment practice, and leader of the practice in the law firm’s San Francisco office; she’s been a partner at the firm since 2003. Earlier, she was an attorney at Brobeck Phleger and Harrison from 1980 to 2003, serving as a partner there from 1989 to 2003.

She is president of the board of directors of the Oakland School for the Arts – a charter school Brown helped found while serving as Oakland’s mayor – and has been a board member since 2007.

Eisen holds a Master’s degree in English from San Francisco State University and a law degree from the University of San Francisco School of Law. This position requires state Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100 per diem.

The 25-member Board of Trustees meets six times per year to adopt rules, regulations, and policies governing the CSU system; it has authority over curricular development, use of property, development of facilities, and fiscal and human resources management.

Posted on Friday, September 28th, 2012
Under: education, Jerry Brown | 5 Comments »

Honda claims victory on LGBT immigration issue

Rep. Mike Honda is declaring victory after a decision that LGBT relationships will be considered just like any other family relationships in exercising prosecutorial discretion in immigration and deportation matters.

In a letter sent in late July, Honda – along with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, and 82 other House members – had asked Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to explicitly recognize in writing that the ties of a same-sex partner or spouse can be a positive factor for discretionary relief in immigration enforcement deportation cases. A June 2011 memo from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton, dealing with prioritizing ICE’s resources and reducing excessive deportations, had said a key positive factor in exercising prosecutorial discretion is a “person’s ties and contributions to the community, including family relationships.”

Napolitano responded yesterday.

honda.jpg“After many conversations with President Obama’s administration, a strong push by the LGBT community, and with the help of my colleagues, Secretary Napolitano has announced that she will disseminate written guidance to immigration authorities that confirms the interpretation of the phrase ‘family relationships’ to include LGBT relationships — specifically the relationships of immigrants in same-sex marriages and partnerships with U.S. citizens,” Honda said today.

Honda said this small win underscores the need for more comprehensive immigration reform. “Current immigration laws are tearing families apart and separating American citizens from their loves ones. No one should have to choose between their spouse and their country, and no family should be left out of the immigration system.”

Honda, D-Campbell, is the author of the Reuniting Families Act, H.R. 1796, which would recapture family and work visas that have gone unused and unclaimed due to bureaucratic delay; reduce the long backlog for families trying to reunite with their loved ones by classifying lawful permanent resident spouses and children as “immediate relatives” and exempting them from numerical caps on family immigration; provide equal treatment for all stepchildren and biological children under immigration laws; and more.

Honda said that bill “reunites same-sex couples and protects the civil rights of LGBT individuals and ensures that they are treated equitably through an immigration reform that is both comprehensive and inclusive.”

“The United States is a nation built upon the toil of immigrants hoping to build better lives for themselves and their families,” he said. “Our country deserves an immigration system that honors that legacy and keeps all families intact.”

Posted on Friday, September 28th, 2012
Under: Immigration, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 1 Comment »

Pete Stark ‘answers the tough questions.’ Sort of.

Rep. Pete Stark, facing one of the toughest electoral challenges of his 40-year House career, is launching a video series called “Answering the Tough Questions.” The first one, “Why do you have a reputation for having a sharp tongue?”, rolls out today:

This seems to raise more questions than it answers.

It’s not Stark’s “sharp tongue” that 15th Congressional District voters, and national pundits, have been buzzing about this year – it was his series of outlandish, unfounded allegations that later had to be retracted. To recap:

    April 10: At a candidates’ forum in Hayward, Stark says that Swalwell accepted “hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes” from Dublin-area developers, and that Swalwell has a spotty voting record.
    April 18: Stark issues a statement apologizing for having “misspoke” in making the April 10 allegations, but voicing “concerns about my opponent’s behavior” including Swalwell’s votes for projects “by developers who have been raided by the FBI” and “have plead guilty to destroying natural habitats.”
    May 1: At a San Francisco Chronicle editorial board meeting, Stark accuses a columnist of having contributed to Swalwell’s campaign; pressed for evidence, he flips through a folder of information he said was compiled by his 16-year-old son, finds nothing to back his claim, and apologizes. In the same meeting, he confuses defunct Fremont solar manufacturer Solyndra with electric-car manufacturer Tesla.
    May 3: At a Bay Area News Group editorial board meeting, Stark acknowledges he lacked evidence to back his April 18 claims: “I’ll concede to that, apologize for it, and let’s get back to issues.”

I asked Sharon Cornu, Stark’s campaign manager, about this today.

“The video is Pete answering the tough questions, the fair questions that have been raised, and communicating with voters the way he has through his town hall meetings over the years,” she replied. “We’re past the distraction part of the campaign, and it’s time to look at the issues that really matter.”

I also asked her whether “answering the tough questions” begs the question of why Stark won’t hold any public debates this general-election season with challenger Eric Swalwell, a Dublin councilman, Alameda County prosecutor and fellow Democrat.

“Put a fork in it, it’s done – we’ve had debates. Now’s the time to be talking with voters, not with the small number of people who attend debates,” Cornu said today. “This campaign is really about the direction of the country, this campaign is about President Obama and Mitt Romney, this campaign is about Social Security, Medicare and implementing the Affordable Care Act, and Pete Stark has the experience to represent the district.”

At a July event in Union City, Stark had grown angry as reporters asked whether his age is an issue in this race; asked why he won’t debate Swalwell, Stark replied it’s because “we’d only get stupid questions like you’re asking that have nothing to do with issues.”

There’s that sharp tongue again.

Posted on Friday, September 28th, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, Pete Stark, U.S. House | 28 Comments »

Yes on Prop. 39 pulls ads as opposition fades

The Yes on Prop. 39 campaign sort of declared victory today, announcing it would pull its television and radio ads after hearing that the companies once opposing the measure will do so no longer.

Proposition 39 would close a loophole for multi-state companies, requiring them to pay taxes based on sales in California rather than allowing them to choose how they are taxed. The state would realize about $1 billion more per year in revenue if the measure passes. Thomas Steyer, founder and co-senior managing partner of Farallon Capital Management, has put up $21.9 million to bankroll the measure.

And it looks as if it worked. The committee backing Prop. 39 today said it has been informed by General Motors, International Paper and Kimberly-Clark that they won’t oppose the measure any further. Chrysler and Procter & Gamble, the two other companies that once were part of a coalition opposed to closing the loophole, also recently stated that they would not oppose Proposition 39.

The California Business Roundtable tracking poll‘s latest numbers show Prop. 39 now has 63.1 percent support, its highest level in two months.

Posted on Thursday, September 27th, 2012
Under: ballot measures, taxes | 1 Comment »

Cowboy Libertarian talks ‘nut cuttin’ time’ in new book

 

'It's Nut Cuttin' Time America!' by Patrick Dorinson, Cowboy Libertarian and former California GOP communications director

Cowboy Libertarian and ex-California Republican Party communications director Patrick Dorinson has a new book out just in time for the 2012 general election called “It’s Nut Cuttin’ Time America!”

For the uninitiated, “nut cutting” refers to that pivotal moment in a male calf’s life when a bull becomes a steer. Or castration, if you prefer the more clinical term.

I haven’t read the book yet but I’ve known Dorinson for years. And the book is almost certainly humorous in a Will Rogers fashion, that wry western common sense tone one finds in places where cowboys and cowgirls must rely on their wits if they hope to bring home the cattle in one piece.

Yeah, Dorinson dresses up real nice. I’ve seen him on numerous occasions dressed up in a spiffy suit and tie, schmoozing politicos and the press corps with his cowboy charm.

But since Dorinson left the California GOP — and the GOP entirely, to become an independent a few years ago — he has been tapping into his lengthy cowboy roots. He bought a ranch in Nevada City, writes columns, blogs and hosts a weekly radio talkshow on Saturdays near his home at Newstalk 1530 KFBK.

Liberal Bay Areaites may not agree with Dorinson’s libertarian politics but you cannot help but laugh at his turn of phrase as he describes his journey from devout Republican to avowed independent.

“I have chased more false prophets than the ancient Hebrews in the Old Testament!” he wrote in the book description materials.

Hmmm. Could Dorinson be talking about Arnold Schwarzenegger?

 

Posted on Thursday, September 27th, 2012
Under: 2012 presidential election, political humor | 1 Comment »

110,000 register to vote online in first week

About 110,000 Californians registered to vote online during the first week they could.

The state’s online voter registration system went live last Wednesday as a result of SB 397 by state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, which was signed into law last October by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Secretary of State Debra Bowen said today she’s “thrilled to see the high volume,” but it’s part of the usual presidential-year deluge. “At this time four years ago, we received as many as 191,000 paper registration applications in a single week just at the Secretary of State’s office – that’s not counting the 58 county offices,” she said.

Still, Yee said in a news release today that he’s “ecstatic with the popularity of this new voter registration system.”

“It is a game-changer for our democracy,” he said. “While some states are suppressing the rights of voters, here in California we are significantly increasing participation.”

A slew of Republican-dominated states have enacted voter ID laws in recent years. Supporters say they’re meant to reduce the chance of in-person voting fraud, although there are extremely few documented cases of such fraud; critics say they’re meant to disenfranchise poor, disabled, minority and other voters who are likely to vote Democratic.

Yee said California’s new law already is saving county election offices thousands of dollars: “Election clerks do not have to spend as much time and money entering data from paper registrations, which also results in fewer administrative errors.”

The new system lets citizens whose signature is already on file with the Department of Motor Vehicles submit their voter registration form to their county elections office electronically.

Only 44 percent 59 percent of eligible California citizens voted in the 2008 presidential election. Even now, more than 6.5 million Californians are eligible to vote but remain unregistered.

The deadline to register to vote in this November’s election is Monday, Oct. 22.

Posted on Wednesday, September 26th, 2012
Under: California State Senate, Debra Bowen, Jerry Brown, Leland Yee, voter registration | 18 Comments »

Let someone else make the debate jokes for you

“Sitting on a sofa on a Sunday afternoon
Going to the candidates’ debate
Laugh about it, shout about it when you’ve got to choose
Every way you look at it you lose.” –Paul Simon

Might as well laugh about it, right?

But rather than having to provide your own snarky comments during the upcoming presidential and vice presidential debates, now you can have a professional do it for you.

Stand-up comedians Dhaya Lakshminarayanan and Samson Koletkar are producing a series of events coinciding with the four debates at The Washington Inn, at 495 10th St. in Oakland, at which audiences watch the debates with comics who afterward dish up their best political material.

Four different headliners will be accompanied by “a cast of comics including a lesbian Latina, a black lesbian single mother, a single father of three daughters, a transsexual, a Mormon, a non-U.S. citizen and, just to balance things out, a fistful of straight white men,” the producers say:

  • Wednesday, Oct. 3 – Maureen Langan. Also appearing: Marga Gomez, Sean Keane, Trevor Hill
  • Thursday, Oct. 11 – Aundre the Wonderwoman. Also appearing: Kellen Erskine, Matt Gubser
  • Tuesday, Oct. 16 – Dan St. Paul. Also appearing: Michael O’Brien, Karinda Dobbins
  • Monday, Oct 22 – Will Durst. Also appearing, Johnny Steele, Natasha Muse.
  • All shows are from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tickets for each show cost $10 and are available online.

    Posted on Wednesday, September 26th, 2012
    Under: 2012 presidential election | 1 Comment »

    It’s National Voter Registration Day. Do it. Do it.

    Today has been National Voter Registration Day, and Bay Area officials and activists joined their peers across the nation in urging people to “register in September and make it count in November.”

    photo courtesy of Keith CarsonRep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, and Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson were among those who rallied at mid-day outside the Alameda County Administration Building in Oakland to urge all eligible voters to register and cast ballots this fall.

    The Oakland event was one of several held today across the nation by members of the Congressional Black Caucus as a part of the “For the People” Voter Protection Initiative. H. Res. 542 condemns “the passage of legislation that would unduly burden an American citizen’s ability to vote and opposing any State election law or proposed legislation that would have a disproportionate impact on vulnerable communities across the country.”

    “We are engaged in a battle to protect the fundamental, Constitutional right to vote,” Lee said later Tuesday. “Voter suppression tactics do nothing at all to prevent voter fraud, while disproportionately excluding and disenfranchising people of color, elderly and young adults from their Constitutionally given right to vote. By preparing all Alameda County residents to vote this fall, we are standing in solidarity with communities fighting intense battles against voter suppression efforts throughout the country.”

    Lee notes that at least 34 states have introduced laws that would require voters to show photo identification in order to vote, and at least 12 states have introduced laws that would require proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate, to register to vote or to vote. The states that have already cut back on voting rights provide 171 electoral votes in 2012, 63 percent of the 270 needed to win the presidency, she said.

    on Sproul Plaza (photo by Josh Richman)Meanwhile, groups at the University of California, Berkeley – including the Associated Students, Voto Latino and others – had tables on Sproul Plaza today in an attempt to register as many people as possible.

    Election Day is six weeks away. Still not registered to vote? You’ve got until Monday, Oct. 22, and you need not even get up from where you’re sitting right now reading this post: You can register online. Or, if you prefer, printed voter registration forms are available at many government offices, DMV offices, post offices, public libraries and other locations.

    Posted on Tuesday, September 25th, 2012
    Under: Alameda County, Barbara Lee, U.S. House, voter registration | 4 Comments »