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Archive for October, 2012

Ricky Gill’s mom pushed patients for votes

Lodi Memorial Hospital’s CEO had to tell Republican congressional candidate Ricky Gill’s mother to lay off soliciting votes or campaign donations from patients.

Gill’s mother, Dr. Parampal Gill, is a prominent obstetrician in San Joaquin County; Gill is challenging Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, in the 9th Congressional District.

A former hospital employee, speaking on condition of anonymity, said she was one of those who complained to hospital administrators.

“She handed out her son’s cards at Lodi Memorial Hospital, and she even would go as far as to say things to them like, ‘I delivered you a beautiful baby and in return I want four votes,’” the former staffer said. “The hospital has a no-soliciting policy which I assume extends to physicians… I was offended for and on behalf of patients.”

“Our CEO did have a conversation with Dr. Gill about this and it came about because we had a staffer bring to our attention that she heard Dr. Gill saying something like this to a patient,” hospital spokeswoman Carol Farron confirmed this week. “We have had no complaints from patients themselves, however a staffer did bring it to our attention and it’s our policy and our practice if a staffer brings a concern like this to our attention that we would speak to any of the parties involved and just caution them that it’s not appropriate behavior. Because we didn’t have any direct patient complaints, that’s as far as we took it.”

The hospital’s vice president of nursing also spoke with Dr. Gill about the verbal solicitations, Farron said.

“Dr. Gill has a right to advocate for her son, just like any mother would,” Gill campaign spokesman Colin Hunter said today.

Jennifer Simoes, chief of legislation at the Medical Board of California, said things like handing out campaign literature or soliciting votes wouldn’t be actionable by the board, which deals with Medical Practice Act and quality-of-care violations.

“However, absent permission of the patient, using information from patient’s medical records for anything other than the care and treatment of the patient, is something that the Board would look into if we were to receive a complaint,” she said. “The Board would look at the facts of each individual case to determine if there was a violation.”

Molly Weedn, spokeswoman for the California Medical Association, said a physician who provided patient information to a campaign most likely would be violating privacy rules in the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996. But “if the physician was using the information to reach out to a patient on his/her own, then it wouldn’t be considered a violation,” she said.

Posted on Wednesday, October 31st, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, Jerry McNerney, U.S. House | 24 Comments »

Eric Swalwell courts GOP voters against Pete Stark

Eric Swalwell, the insurgent Democratic challenger to Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, is courting Republican votes in the final days of the campaign.

Voters have been receiving a recorded call former Republican Assemblyman Guy Houston. Here’s a transcript of the call:

There is no Republican on the ballot for Congress against Pete Stark, and I believe our best and only choice for Congress is Eric Swalwell on Nov. 6. I’ve known Eric for 12 years – he is an Alameda County prosecutor, a Dublin city councilman. Eric is a moderate and his top priority is to stabilize our economy, fight for great jobs here locally in the growing alternative energy sector, and reduce our national debt. Pete Stark has one of the worst voting attendance records in Congress. He lives in Maryland and is one of the most liberal members of Congress. Eric Swalwell will live in our community and has the energy and new ideas to work with people of any political party to solve our problems. Please vote for Eric Swalwell for Congress on Nov. 6.

This message is paid for by Swalwell for Congress, 925-924-0084.

Color me unsurprised – I’ve been saying for months that Swalwell would actively court the anybody-but-Pete-Stark vote, and the district’s GOP minority – 23.2 percent, as of early September – is a significant part of that. From a campaign standpoint, he’d be a fool not to seek those votes.

Sure, some diehard Dems might find this offensive, but if they’re completely toeing the party line, they probably weren’t voting for Swalwell anyway.

Posted on Wednesday, October 31st, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, Pete Stark, U.S. House | 10 Comments »

MC Hammer to get out vote for Jerry McNerney

Hammer pantsCapping our day of entertainment-themed weirdness (East Coast looks like “The Day After Tomorrow!” Disney buys Lucasfilm, will make “Star Wars Ep. VII!” ABC to make Oakland “City Hall” drama!) comes this tidbit: singer and artist MC Hammer (nee Stanley Burrell) will help lead a canvass on Monday in Stockton in support of Rep. Jerry McNerney and Stockton City Council candidate Michael Tubbs.

Hammer, 50, lives in Tracy, which actually is just outside the 9th Congressional District in which McNerney, D-Stockton, is seeking re-election.

As when Hammer lent his skills to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee’s campaign, this raises some questions: Is McNerney actually too legit to quit? Can Ricky Gill not touch this? Which candidate needs to pray just to make it Tuesday?

We’ll know soon enough.

Posted on Tuesday, October 30th, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, Jerry McNerney, U.S. House | 4 Comments »

‘St. Elmo’s Fire’ + ‘The West Wing’ in Oakland

Just start cringing now.

From Deadline.com:

ABC has put in development City Hall, a political drama executive produced by Bob Sertner. Written by Gideon Yago (HBO’s Newsroom), the project is being described as St Elmo’s Fire meets The West Wing set in the East Bay of San Francisco. It follows the mayor of Oakland and her irreverent City Hall staff of twenty- and thirtysomethings who take on the political and social establishment of a city in crisis while trying to maintain their own personal and social lives. Sertner will executive produce with former MTV host Yago for for ABC Studios.

What they don’t realize about Oakland is that it is – ALWAYS – stranger than fiction.

UPDATE @ 2:30 P.M.: My favorite responses so far to my tweet of this blog item:

Sprinkle in some “Mad Max” and you’re probably closer to the real thing.

“Dumb and Dumber” meets “Lord of the Flies” would be more realistic

UPDATE @ 2:38 P.M.: I’m sure I’m not the only one who recalls that the commonality between “St. Elmo’s Fire” and “The West Wing” is Rob Lowe; clearly he needs to be cast in “City Hall.” He’s a little old for the part, but perhaps he could play Sean Maher.

Posted on Tuesday, October 30th, 2012
Under: Oakland | 6 Comments »

California sends aid to states ravaged by Sandy

Californians are hard at work helping the East Coast start to put itself back together after Hurricane Sandy’s fury.

Gov. Jerry Brown yesterday directed the California Emergency Management Agency and California National Guard to send specialized assistance to the east coast to help in responding to Hurricane Sandy. A total of 83 personnel – trained in medical aid, search and rescue and other emergency response skills – will soon be positioned close to the affected areas for quick deployment.

The California National Guard on Monday sent military transport aircraft carrying two helicopters and two highly trained Pararescue teams with their equipment to Charlotte, N.C. Also being deployed are a Boeing C17, two C130 aircraft and two HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters.

On Saturday, ten members of California’s Urban Search & Rescue Incident Support Teams had been sent to Virginia and other East Coast areas in support of Federal Emergency Management Agency requests. This team included first responders from Riverside, San Diego, Sacramento City, Sacramento Metro, Los Angeles City and County and Orange County fire departments.

The California Emergency Management Agency also is working with the California Utilities Emergency Association to deploy utility crews and equipment to the East Coast as power outages are expected to be widespread.

Posted on Tuesday, October 30th, 2012
Under: Jerry Brown | No Comments »

SF Giants owners give big for political causes

They might be united behind their World Champion San Francisco Giants, but the team’s principal partners don’t always see eye-to-eye on politics – some of them give big to Republican candidates and causes, and some to Democratic candidates and causes.

Here’s the rundown of state and federal contributions for 2011-2012, with spouses’ contributions in italics:

Laurence Baer, president & CEO
$2,000, MLB Commissioner’s Office PAC

Tori Burns
$10,000, MLB Commissioner’s Office PAC

Allan Byer
$16,000, Republican National Committee
$5,000, Mitt Romney for President

William Chang
$500, Jeff Merkley (D) for Senate
$500, Mark Warner (D) for Senate

Trina Dean
$5,000, MLB Commissioner’s Office PAC
$2,000, Barack Obama for President
husband, Rob Dean
$5,000, MLB Commissioner’s Office PAC
$2,500, Greg Conlon (R) for Senate

George Drysdale
$10,000, Republican National Committee
$5,000, Mitt Romney for President

Philip Halperin
$5,000, Democratic National Committee
$5,000, Barack Obama for President

David Jenkins
$15,000, Republican National Committee
$10,000, MLB Commissioner’s Office PAC
$5,000, Publix Super Markets PAC
$2,500, John Quinones (R) for Congress
$2,500, Jeff Flake (R) for Congress
$5,000, Adam Hasner (R) for Congress

Charles B. Johnson
$200,000, American Crossroads (conservative 527 group)
$200,000, No on 30 – Californians for Reforms & Jobs, Not Taxes
$100,000, Yes on 32 – Stop Special Interest Money Now
$50,000, Restore Our Future PAC (pro-Romney super PAC)
$15,800, Republican National Committee
$5,000, John Boehner (R) for Congress
$2,500, Sarah Steelman (R) for Senate
$2,500, Denny Rehberg (R) for Senate
$2,500, Richard Lugar (R) for Senate
$2,500, Linda Lingle (R) for Senate
$2,500, Rick Berg (R) for Congress
$2,500, Ben Quayle (R) for Congress
$2,500, Craig Huey (R) for Congress
Wife, Ann
$61,600, Republican National Committee
$5,000 Mitt Romney for President
$5,000, Ed Royce (R) for Congress
$2,500, George Allen (R) for Senate
$2,500, Sarah Steelman (R) for Senate
$2,500, Linda Lingle (R) for Senate
$2,500, Richard Lugar (R) for Senate
$2,500, Denny Rehberg (R) for Senate
$2,500, Scott Brown (R) for Senate
$2,500, Ben Quayle (R) for Congress
$2,500, Vernon Robinson (R) for Congress
$2,500, Rick Berg (R) for Congress

LOTS more, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, October 29th, 2012
Under: campaign finance | 8 Comments »

Pen company hopes to ink deal with Obama

Zebra F-301President Obama got more than one $5 million offer this week.

The Zebra Pen Company, based in New Jersey, sent a letter to the president Thursday offering to donate $5 million to the charity of his choice if the president will publicly disclose what kind of pen – ballpoint, gel, rollerball, etc. – and what color ink he used in filling out his college application, with “bonus points” offered for presenting the actual pen.

“Mr. President, America needs to know these very ‘important’ details,” the pen company asserted.

But to seal the deal, the company said, the president also would have to name Zebra as the official pen of the commander-in-chief, the White House and the Obama campaign, and do all future bill and treaty signings with the company’s pens.

Why do I report on this craven, self-serving tactic to manipulate politics for publicity’s sake? Because it makes just as much sense as reporting on this week’s other craven, self-serving tactic to manipulate politics for publicity’s sake.

The only difference is that Zebra pens are actually sort of useful.

Posted on Friday, October 26th, 2012
Under: 2012 presidential election, Barack Obama | 69 Comments »

CA, MI senators place wager on World Series

The U.S. Senators from California and Michigan – all Democrats – placed a friendly bet today on the outcome of the World Series showdown between the San Francisco Giants and the Detroit Tigers.

California senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer put up some of San Francisco’s famed Ghirardelli chocolates and a selection of award-winning California wines, while Michigan senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow put up Michigan’s Sanders chocolates and their own state’s wine assortment.

(Here I will allow myself to editorialize: Michigan wines? Really?)

Naturally, the bet – for which no dollar value was assigned – was placed with good-natured smack-talk on both sides.

Feinstein: “Giants fans are thrilled our team is headed to the World Series against Detroit. We will root, root, root for our great home team. GO Giants!!!”

Boxer: “The Giants have shown throughout the season that they never quit, and I am looking forward to a hard-fought series that ends with another victory parade down Market Street in San Francisco.”

Levin: “The Giants have shown plenty of determination in their tough road to the World Series. But they are going to more than meet their match in Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera and their fabulous teammates. I plan to celebrate a Tigers victory with some tasty California treats, courtesy of Senators Boxer and Feinstein.”

Stabenow: “I know I speak for the entire state when I say I’m so proud of the Tigers for their success this year and wish them luck in the World Series. Sorry Giants fans, but with Miguel Cabrera winning baseball’s first Triple Crown in over 40 years, Prince Fielder blasting home runs and Justin Verlander dominating opposing hitters, the Tigers are going to bring the title back to Michigan!”

Posted on Wednesday, October 24th, 2012
Under: Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, U.S. Senate | 2 Comments »

Swalwell denies claim of ‘pay-to-play’ in Dublin

Steven Tavares has an interesting story on the 15th Congressional District race in today’s East Bay Express:

On June 5, just hours after casting a vote for himself in the East Bay’s 15th Congressional District primary against incumbent Congressman Pete Stark, Dublin City Councilman Eric Swalwell voted to approve a no-bid, monopoly contract to a local garbage company while members of that firm’s upper management sat in attendance. Swalwell, however, never publicly disclosed that those four top-level employees of Amador Valley Industries were large contributors to his congressional campaign in the months before the deal. Also in attendance was a consultant for the garbage company who not only had recently donated to Swalwell, but also has a history of violating campaign finance laws.

[snip]

In some cities, including Oakland, what AVI and Swalwell did would have been illegal. It’s unlawful in those cities for a prospective government contractor, such as AVI, to make donations to councilmembers’ political campaigns in the months before those councilmembers vote on the actual contract. Good government advocates throughout California have pushed hard over the years to eliminate this type of pay-to-play politics.

Dublin, however, has no such prohibition. The city allows councilmembers to take donations from government contractors and then vote to award public contracts to those companies, said Jim Bakker, Dublin’s city attorney.

“A respected regional newspaper is raising new and troubling questions about Eric Swalwell’s role in pay-to-play for municipal contracts,” Michael Terris, Stark’s campaign consultant, said today. “Swalwell has thrown a lot of mud in this campaign, but he owes voters real answers to these serious allegations. An unregistered lobbyist for garbage contractors, whose owners and employees have donated $15,000 to Swalwell’s campaign, even raises questions about Swalwell’s integrity for failing to disclose major contributions while voting on no-bid contracts.”

Eric Swalwell Swalwell campaign manager Lisa Tucker, when asked today if there was any connection between the contributions and Swalwell’s vote, replied, “Absolutely not.” She noted that the agenda item on which he voted was initiated by the city’s staff, not by any member of the council, and that the vote was 4-1, so Swalwell’s wasn’t the deciding vote.

“Every contribution Eric received was disclosed properly to the public prior to the meeting,” she said, referring to Swalwell’s mandatory campaign finance filings to the Federal Election Commission.

Asked whether Swalwell had any ethical obligation to verbally disclose the contributions before casting that vote, Tucker noted that Swalwell is an Alameda County prosecutor and insisted he “has followed every ethics and disclosure law before taking the vote. Eric is proud that his support comes from individuals, compared to 65 percent of Congressman Stark’s contributions come from PACs, including almost $200,000 from health professionals with issues before his subcommittee.”

“Every claim Rep. Stark has made against Eric has resulted in him apologizing or has been debunked by a third-party media source,” she said. “This claim, by a blogger with a demonstrated bias on his blog for Rep. Stark, is an extension of Rep. Stark’s efforts to deceive voters.”

Tucker was referring to Tavares’ East Bay Citizen, where he has covered this race extensively both through news articles and pro-Stark opinion pieces.

Tavares’ story today in the Express notes that Stark in April – two months before Swalwell cast this vote – had gotten into hot water for claiming at a debate that Swalwell had accepted “hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes,” a claim he later acknowledged was unsubstantiated and for which he apologized.

Here are the AVI-related donations I’ve been able to find at a glance, some that occurred before the June 5 vote and some that occurred afterward:

  • Robert J. Molinaro, Pleasanton, president, Pleasanton Garbage Service, 9/27/11, $2,500
  • Anthony Macchiano, Pleasanton, VP, Pleasanton Garbage Service, 9/27/11, $2,500
  • Gina Cardera, Livermore, manager, Amador Valley Industries, 9/27/11, $250
  • John R. Repetto, Pleasanton, route manager, Amador Valley Industries, 9/27/11, $250
  • Gordon Galvan, Castro Valley, consultant to Amador Valley Industries, 11/30/11, $1,000
  • Gina Cardera, Livermore, manager, Amador Valley Industries, 12/30/11, $1,000
  • Carol Molinaro, Pleasanton, homemaker, 1/31/12, $250
  • Carol Molinaro, Pleasanton, homemaker, 3/21/12, $250
  • Gordon Galvan, Castro Valley, consultant to Amador Valley Industries, 3/28/12, $1,000
  • Gordon Galvan, Castro Valley, consultant to Amador Valley Industries, 5/9/12, $500
  • Carol Molinaro, Pleasanton, homemaker, 5/10/12, $250
  • Anthony Macchiano, Pleasanton, owner, M&M Land, 5/22/12, $250
  • Robert J. Molinaro, Pleasanton, president, Pleasanton Garbage Service, 6/27/12 $2,500
  • Anthony Macchiano, Pleasanton, owner, M&M Land, 6/30/12, $2,500
  • (Anthony Macchiano, Pleasanton, owner, M&M Land, 7/2012, refund $250)
  • Anthony Macchiano, Pleasanton, owner, M&M Land, 9/29/12, $250
  • The Express story also included this:

    Even a paid consultant for AVI, Gordon Galvan, who also donated to Swalwell, distanced himself from Swalwell’s failure to disclose his ties to AVI. “If he didn’t disclose it, I think that is wrong. It’s all on him,” said Galvan, who gave Swalwell the legal federal limit of $2,500 in successive years totaling $5,000. “The ethical thing to do is — I would have said, ‘These are people who have contributed to my congressional campaign and it has nothing to do with the City of Dublin or my vote.’”

    Nonetheless, Galvan, who is also a lobbyist and a former San Leandro councilman, characterized what Swalwell and AVI did as being no big deal. “It’s a dynamic that happens all the time,” said Galvan, adding that he believes Swalwell has been at a financial disadvantage during the campaign because of Stark’s political connections. “[Swalwell] can’t get PAC money because it’s a good ol’ boys’ network. If you’re a forty-year incumbent you have access to all that money. To me, that’s a lot dirtier.”

    Galvan today said he had told Tavares that if Swalwell was legally obliged to report the contributions and hadn’t, then that would be on him – but that’s not the case here.

    “I’m supporting Swalwell, so why would I say something that calls into question his ethics?” Galvan said. “It makes it sounds like I’m questioning Swalwell’s ethics or I think he did something illegal, and that’s not true at all … I didn’t say anything like that.”

    Posted on Wednesday, October 24th, 2012
    Under: 2012 Congressional Election, Pete Stark, U.S. House | 11 Comments »

    California poised to set voter registration record

    California is on track for a record-high number of registered voters, Secretary of State Debra Bowen said today.

    Yesterday was the deadline to register to vote in next month’s presidential election. Bowen said more than 679,000 Californians were added to the state’s voter rolls in the final 45 days leading up to that deadline, and that number will go up as county elections officials keep verifying the eligibility of tens of thousands more last-minute registrants.

    The last certified statewide data, as of Sept. 7, showed 17,259,680 Californians registered to vote. The record high for California – set in February 2009 – was 17,334,275 registrants, so all those from the last few weeks are sure to put the state well past that mark.

    “I must emphasize these are preliminary numbers and not the final confirmed roster of eligible voters in California because county elections officials are now hard at work verifying each and every application,” Bowen said in a news release. “After all 58 county elections officials send their registration data to my office, we will compile the certified statewide numbers and publish a final report of registered voters on November 2.”

    Of the more than 679,000 verified new voters so far, about 381,000 submitted their applications using the Secretary of State’s new online system and about 298,000 submitted paper applications.

    Posted on Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012
    Under: Debra Bowen, voter registration | 3 Comments »