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Archive for October, 2012

Fact-checking new ads in CA9 McNerney-Gill race

Here’s the latest ad from the National Republican Congressional Committee attacking Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton:

The bill to which this ad refers is HR 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which passed the House approved June 26, 2009 on a 219-212 vote; the bill later died in the U.S. Senate. The bill proposed a cap-and-trade system in which the government would limit the total amount of greenhouse gases that could be emitted nationally.

The bill did not impose an “energy tax” directly on Americans. Some opponents claimed it would raise energy costs, but the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office concluded the cost would be negligible for most and some poorer households would actually gain:

(T)he net annual economy-wide cost of the cap-and-trade program in 2020 would be $22 billion—or about $175 per household. That figure includes the cost of restructuring the production and use of energy and of payments made to foreign entities under the program, but it does not include the economic benefits and other benefits of the reduction in GHG emissions and the associated slowing of climate change. CBO could not determine the incidence of certain pieces (including both costs and benefits) that represent, on net, about 8 percent of the total. For the remaining portion of the net cost, households in the lowest income quintile would see an average net benefit of about $40 in 2020, while households in the highest income quintile would see a net cost of $245. Added costs for households in the second lowest quintile would be about $40 that year; in the middle quintile, about $235; and in the fourth quintile, about $340. Overall net costs would average 0.2 percent of households’ after-tax income.

The American Petroleum Institute had estimated the bill would raise gas prices by 77 cents per gallon, but the Environmental Protection Agency estimated the increases in gas prices would amount to less than 2 cents per year over the next two decades.

Among many other provisions, the bill included a low-income energy tax credit program to offset any impact of higher energy prices; an energy rebate to reach families who don’t make enough to file tax returns; and a $4-billion, one-year program providing vouchers for the purchase or lease of a new car or truck to those who trade in an eligible vehicle for one that’s more fuel efficient.

The bill was widely supported by environmental organizations, but actually split the business community somewhat: Supporters included General Electric, Dow Chemical, Pacific Gas and Electric, Ford Motor Co. and DuPont, while opponents included the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers.

Here’s the latest ad that McNerney is running against his Republican challenger, Ricky Gill:

“Ricky Gill never held a full-time job.” – Gill has held various summer jobs and internships, but has had no full-time job other than being a partner in his parents’ farming and RV park businesses, where his duties have been unclear. Gill graduated from law school in May, but hasn’t taken the California State Bar exam and so can’t practice law yet.

“He has an allowance from his parents.” – Gill’s personal financial disclosure says he received $10,000 in salary in 2010 (while in law school) from CVR Management of Lodi, a company registered to two of his brothers, not his parents. I’m pretty sure it was the California Democratic Party which first called this “an allowance.”

“Gill Family: $40,000 in unpaid taxes and liens” – The McNerney campaign provided me a 27-page PDF of lien records (summary pages 1 and 2) culled from the Sacramento and San Joaquin county recorders’ offices, detailing various liens from 1985 through 2011 for state and county taxes, delinquent utility charges, and contractors’ services.

“Gill Family: $165,000 in taxpayer-funded subsidies” – McNerney’s campaign provided this breakdown:

  • Gill-Chabra Farms: $43,531, including $35,892 in disaster subsidies in 2004-2005 and $7,639 in commodity subsidies from 1996 through 2001
  • Jasbir Gill: $19,314 in disaster subsidies in 2004
  • Jasbir Gill Family LP: $36,997 in disaster subsidies in 2005
  • Gill Vineyards LLC: $65,465 in 2001 in disaster subsidies
  • Gill’s campaign spokesman told the Associated Press earlier this year that the disaster subsidies were to offset crop problems affecting the family’s wine grapes.

    “Jerry McNerney: Opposed $350 billion bailout”As I reported here a month ago, he opposed it after it had already happened, essentially a completely symbolic vote. But he had voted for the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) in the first place, as had 91 House Republicans including now-Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

    UPDATE @ 2:12 P.M.: Gill’s campaign notes that I didn’t fact-check McNerney’s description of himself as “a real small businessman;” his financial disclosures indicate he resigned as CEO of Hawt Power in 2006, and mentioned no income from any business in 2011.

    Posted on Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012
    Under: 2012 Congressional Election, Jerry McNerney, U.S. House | 4 Comments »

    Dianne Feinstein launches campaign ad

    U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s re-election campaign is airing a television ad – not that it really needs to.

    The campaign says the ad will be airing in all of California’s major media markets.

    That requires the kind of moolah that Feinstein’s Republican challenger, Elizabeth Emken of Danville, just doesn’t seem to have. That’s not to say Emken hasn’t been giving the campaign her best effort, but this just isn’t a race that any national or state political experts have ever believed would be competitive.

    And, by just about any measure, it’s not. Real Clear Politics’ average of four polls taken since early September shows Feinstein leading by almost 24 percentage points; over at the New York Times, Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog gives Feinstein a 100 percent chance of winning, and projects she’ll get about 60 percent of the vote.

    Posted on Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012
    Under: 2012 U.S. Senate election, Dianne Feinstein, U.S. Senate | 9 Comments »

    Open thread on Monday’s presidential debate

    Spin, all you spinners; just keep it clean and avoid personal attacks.

    Posted on Monday, October 22nd, 2012
    Under: 2012 presidential election | 33 Comments »

    Green, Libertarian VP candidates to visit Bay Area

    The veeps are coming, the veeps are coming!

    No, not Biden and Ryan – Honkala and Gray. Just as the Green and Libertarian presidential candidates barnstormed the Bay Area a few weeks ago, their running mates will be in town next week to meet the masses.

    Green vice presidential candidate Cheri Honkala, an advocate for the homeless from Philadelphia, from 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday will be at Silicon Valley De-Bug, 701 Lenzen Ave. in San Jose, joined by hip-hop artists and community educators DLabrie, Rahman Jamaal of RonDavoux Records, and Metafizix.

    On Monday, Honkala will be at a voter awareness month rally at De Anza College in Cupertino from noon to 2 p.m., and then from 4 to 5 p.m. she’ll attend a screening of “Brooklyn Castle” at Youth Uprising, 8711 MacArthur Blvd. in Oakland, co-hosted by the Hip Hop Chess Federation. After that she’ll take part in a radio panel discussion hosted by Davey D, and she’ll finish the day with a rally and fundraiser at the headquarters of Berkeley Green mayoral candidate Kahlil Jacobs Fantauzzi from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at 1551 University Ave. in Berkeley.

    Libertarian vice presidential candidate Jim Gray, a drug reform activist and former Orange County Superior Court judge, will speak at 6 p.m. next Thursday, Oct. 25 in the Oberndorf Event Center at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, 641 Knight Way on the Stanford campus.

    Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson and Green presidential candidate Jill Stein will take part, along with other third-party candidates, in a debate at 6 p.m. PDT Tuesday in Chicago. Most TV networks are ignoring the event, moderated by Larry King, but it will be streamed live on the Internet at Ora TV, Russia Today, and the Free and Equal Elections Foundation.

    Posted on Friday, October 19th, 2012
    Under: 2012 presidential election, Green Party | 7 Comments »

    3 things to remember about Romney’s binders

    All joking aside, there are three points about Mitt Romney’s “binders full of women” comment at Wednesday’s debate that shouldn’t get lost in all the fuss over the Internet meme.

    1.) He didn’t actually answer the question.
    Audience member Katherine Fenton asked, “In what new ways to you intend to rectify the inequalities in the workplace, specifically regarding females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn?” In response, Romney talked about going the extra mile to find women to serve in his Massachusetts gubernatorial cabinet; about providing flexible work schedules so women can meet their family obligations (as if men don’t have those too?); and about strengthening the economy to create more jobs. He said nothing about pay inequity.

    2.) The binders thing isn’t entirely true.
    The Boston Globe reports that the Massachusetts Government Appointments Project was compiling this information and reached out to the gubernatorial candidates before Romney was even elected – they went to him, not vice versa. The Globe also reports:

    Midway through his four-year term, 42 percent of his 33 new appointments were women, according to a study done by the UMass Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy using some of the data collected by MassGAP.

    But over the next two years, women made up only 25 percent of the 64 new appointments Romney made. By the end of his term, the number of women in high-ranking positions was slightly lower than it was before Romney took office.

    3.) Regardless of who went to whom, he made an amazing admission.
    Romney said:

    “An important topic, and one which I learned a great deal about, particularly as I was serving as governor of my state, because I had the chance to pull together a cabinet and all the applicants seemed to be men.”

    “And I — and I went to my staff, and I said, ‘How come all the people for these jobs are — are all men.’ They said, ‘Well, these are the people that have the qualifications.’ And I said, ‘Well, gosh, can’t we — can’t we find some — some women that are also qualified?’”

    It sounds as if Romney set a policy in which he took gender into consideration in order to benefit an underrepresented group in employment, as a means of countering the effects of a history of discrimination.

    There’s a name for that: affirmative action. But he was panned for his affirmative action record as Massachusetts’s governor, and it’s not a concept that’s popular with a lot of conservatives.

    Posted on Thursday, October 18th, 2012
    Under: 2012 presidential election, Mitt Romney | 11 Comments »

    Lawmaker to show support for gay former Scout

    A former Boy Scout who was denied his Eagle Scout award because he’s gay will be accompanied by an East Bay lawmaker as he delivers more than 400,000 petition signatures to the Mt. Diablo-Silverado Boy Scout Council tomorrow in Pleasant Hill.

    The issue might be near and dear to Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, who is the mother of a lesbian daughter.

    “Ryan worked hard to earn a merit status that is being denied to him solely because he is gay – that’s unacceptable,” Skinner said today. “In speaking out, Ryan and his family have displayed incredible courage and we all need to support people who are willing to stand up and demand fairness, tolerance and equality.”

    The Boy Scouts of America this summer re-affirmed its national policy of barring openly gay boys from membership and gay or lesbian adults from leadership. Ryan Andresen of Moraga came out as gay, and though he had participated in Scouting for 12 years and satisfied all of the many requirements to attain its highest rank, Troop 212′s leaders denied him his Eagle award. The local council subsequently kicked him out of Scouting entirely.

    Andresen appeared last week on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”

    Posted on Wednesday, October 17th, 2012
    Under: Assembly, Nancy Skinner | No Comments »

    ‘Mood meter’ says Obama won debate on Twitter

    President Barack Obama kept Twitter users happier than Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney through most of last night’s debate, according to a Silicon Valley company’s analysis.

    NetBase, a Mountain View-based firm that “delivers the enterprise social intelligence platform that global enterprises use to monitor, understand, and engage with customers in real time,” has created a Mood Meter: a dial updated every 10 minutes that captures and measures sentiment expressed by Twitter users about the presidential and vice presidential candidates. Here’s a screen-grab from a short while ago:

    NetBase Mood Meter screen grab

    NetBase’s natural language processing engine analyzes each tweet about the candidates using its technology that understands how humans speak, including profanity and slang, according to the company’s news release. So the dials represent a moment in time, a cumulative group of tweet sentiment over the past 10 minutes – a real-time look into Tweeters’ opinions.

    Here’s how it stacked up during last night’s debate:

    NetBase mood meter

    Keep in mind that this only surveys those who are actively Tweeting – a younger-skewed demographic – and not the entire debate audience.

    Posted on Wednesday, October 17th, 2012
    Under: 2012 presidential election, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney | 38 Comments »

    Online voter registration continues to surge

    More than 544,000 Californians submitted voter registration applications online in the new system’s first month, Secretary of State Debra Bowen said today.

    “Given all of the important issues on the November ballot, I am delighted so many Californians want to make their voices heard,” Bowen said in a news release. “Since registering to vote is easier than ever with the quick online option, there is no excuse for not being ready to vote on Election Day!”

    Californians must register to vote by October 22 if they want to participate in the November 6 election. Postmarks count for paper applications, but online applications must be submitted – not started – by midnight that day.

    Many more Californians have submitted paper applications in recent weeks, but county elections officials still must verify eligibility and check for duplicate records before adding someone to the official voter roll. And many of the online applications are registration updates and not first-time registrants, so this doesn’t mean there’ll be 544,000 new voters. Final, official statistics for all registrations will be available Nov. 2.

    Online voter registration is available at RegisterToVote.ca.gov; paper applications are available at post offices, public libraries, many government offices, and other locations.

    Posted on Wednesday, October 17th, 2012
    Under: voter registration | 4 Comments »

    Open thread on the 2nd Obama-Romney debate

    Go ahead, vent. As always, keep it clean and free of personal attacks on each other.

    Posted on Tuesday, October 16th, 2012
    Under: 2012 presidential election | 13 Comments »

    Feinstein’s foe is in the red, FEC report shows

    No surprise, but U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein once again has far outstripped her opponent in campaign fundraising, according to reports filed yesterday with the Federal Election Commission for July 1 through Sept. 30.

    Feinstein, D-Calif., raised $924,768 and spent $494,884 in the third quarter of 2012, and had $3,328,842 cash on hand as of Sept. 30 with $331,924 in outstanding debts and obligations, leaving $2,996,919 unencumbered.

    Republican challenger Elizabeth Emken of Danville raised $324,259 and spent $250,546 during the third quarter, and had $99,423 cash on hand as of Sept. 30 – but she also had $309,579 in outstanding debts and obligations, potentially leaving her in the red if she can’t raise a lot in these final weeks. Unless I’m reading it wrong, that outstanding debt does not include the $200,000 she personally loaned her own campaign earlier this year, because the campaign already has repaid her.

    Posted on Tuesday, October 16th, 2012
    Under: 2012 U.S. Senate election, campaign finance, Dianne Feinstein, U.S. Senate | 3 Comments »