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Archive for October, 2012

3rd quarter fundraising reports for House races

Yesterday was the deadline for House candidates to file campaign finance reports with the Federal Election Commission for the third quarter of 2012, July 1 through Sept. 30. Here’s what’s happening in some of Northern California’s more interesting races:

3rd Congressional District
Rep. John Garamendi, D-Fairfield, raised $448,758 and spent $518,327 during 2012’s third quarter, and had $162,452 cash on hand as of Sept. 30 with $93,947 in outstanding debts and obligations, leaving $68,505 unencumbered. Republican challenger Kim Vann of Arbuckle raised $410,369 and spent $491,005 in the third quarter, and had $156,862 cash on hand as of Sept. 30 with $52,514 in outstanding debts and obligations, leaving $104,347 unencumbered.

7th Congressional District
Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River, raised $507,383 and spent $436,323 during the third quarter, and had $1,229,226 cash on hand as of Sept. 30 with $23,743 in outstanding debts and obligations, leaving $1,205,483 unencumbered. Democratic challenger Ami Bera of Elk Grove raised $731,002 and spent $1,665,117 during the third quarter, and had $402,609 cash on hand as of Sept. 30 with $256,454 in outstanding debts and obligations, leaving $146,155 unencumbered. So while Bera outspent Lungren by almost four-to-one in July through September, Lungren had eight times as much money to spend heading into the campaign’s final weeks.

9th Congressional District
Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, raised $523,483 and spent $558,723 in the third quarter, and had $1,037,825 cash on hand as of Sept. 30 with $5,294 in outstanding debts and obligations. He was outmatched by Republican challenger Ricky Gill of Lodi: Gill raised $722,729 and spent $601,445 in the third quarter, and had $1,145,983 cash on hand as of Sept. 30. But counting Gill’s $153,222 in outstanding debts and obligations, McNerney had a slight edge in unencumbered money to spend going into the contest’s home stretch.

10th Congressional District
Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto, raised $314,288 and spent $813,223 in the third quarter, and had $752,864 cash on hand as of Sept. 30 with $16,358 in outstanding debts and obligations, leaving $736,506 unencumbered. Democratic challenger Jose Hernandez of Stockton raised $490,922 and spent $679,746 in the third quarter, and had $269,644 cash on hand as of Sept. 30 with $24,893 in outstanding debts and obligations, leaving $244,751 unencumbered. So, Denham had a half-million dollar edge going into the campaign’s final weeks.

15th Congressional District
Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, raised $266,871 and spent $202,712 in the third quarter, and had $537,749 cash on hand as of Sept. 30 with no outstanding debts and obligations. Democratic challenger Eric Swalwell of Dublin raised $233,537 and spent $151,894 in the third quarter, and had $161,117 cash on hand as of Sept. 30 with no outstanding debts and obligations. That’s a better than three-to-one cash advantage the incumbent had over his Democratic insurgent challenger heading into the campaign’s final weeks.

It’s important to note that these numbers don’t tell the whole story in the 3rd, 7th, 9th and 10th Districts, where partisan committees and various super PACs are spending a great deal of money to buy copious ad time on their candidates’ behalf.

Posted on Tuesday, October 16th, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, campaign finance, Dan Lungren, Jeff Denham, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, Pete Stark, U.S. House | 4 Comments »

Full report on the CA9 McNerney-Gill debate

Delta water issues, agriculture and the economy were at the fore as Rep. Jerry McNerney and Republican challenger Ricky Gill of Lodi met for their only general-election debate Monday night.

The forum, sponsored by the League of Women Voters of San Joaquin County, attracted a capacity crowd of 350 in the University of the Pacific’s Long Theater, with up to 150 more watching from an overflow room in a nearby building.

McNerney, D-Stockton, opened by noting his six years in Congress were preceded by 20 years in industry, including some time running his own business, but his public service was inspired by his son’s decision to join the Air Force soon after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. He said his priorities for the next term would be creating jobs and improving the local economy; protecing the Delta; and serving veterans.

“We face a crippling level of underrepresentation in this district,” Gill countered in his opening statement, which has led to a stagnant economy, a rampant foreclosure crisis, failing schools and other ills. He said he would spend his first term striving to put local residents back to work, fixing schools and cleaning up government.

Asked about veterans’ services, McNerney noted he helped bring a veterans’ hospital to the county, for which ground is to be broken next year; he said it’s part of what he feels is “a sacred responsibility” to care for those who took up arms to serve the nation. Gill said he agrees budgets can’t be balanced on veterans’ backs, and he would work to expedite funding for the veterans hospital as well as to speed up the processing of veterans’ benefit claims.

Asked about the foreclosure crisis, Gill noted he has vowed not to accept any money from Wall Street banks, while McNerney has accepted such funds. McNerney said he has been aggressive in holding local workshops for those stricken by the crisis and in holding banks accountable on Capitol Hill.

Asked about the negative campaign mailers both candidates have sent out, McNerney decline to apologize for anything that’s been said but noted the corrosive influence of money from special interests outside the district is “taking away the people’s voice.” He said he has supported the Disclose Act to shine a light on that money, and supports President Obama’s re-election so Obama can appoint Supreme Court justices who will overturn the Citizens United ruling that opened the money floodgates; he said he also supports amending the Constitution to void that ruling. Gill said people are worried not only about money in politics but where that money comes from, noting much of McNerney’s campaign funding comes from outside the district; he also noted a few falsehoods contained in McNerney’s mailers, such as a claim that he still lives with his parents – in reality, he moved out last year, into a home across the road from his parents’ home on the family’s property.

A whole heck of a lot more, after the jump…
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Posted on Monday, October 15th, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, Jerry McNerney, U.S. House | 10 Comments »

Delving into race issues for Election 2012

A Berkeley-based public policy advocacy group working for communities of color is urging the presidential candidates to “play the race card” and answer tough questions at tomorrow’s debate, even as a major documentary on race in U.S. politics is set to air at tomorrow as well.

“People of color are well on the way to becoming America’s new majority, but neither the major-party candidates nor the media have done much to address the real needs of our communities,” Greenlining Institute Executive Director Orson Aguilar said in a news release. “We hope debate moderator Candy Crowley and town hall participants will borrow some of our questions and press both candidates for real answers about poverty, the racial wealth gap and growing divisions in our country.”

A column by Aguilar titled “Obama, Romney: Please play the race card” appeared in select newspapers across the nation this past weekend. Now he and the institute want the candidates to answer questions like these:

    Racial Divisions: During this campaign, we have seen what many believe to be racially coded appeals and campaign advertising. Meanwhile, surveys have found that whites, blacks and Latinos have starkly different beliefs about the level of racial discrimination and racial inequality in our nation. As president, what will you do to heal these divisions?
    Unemployment: Over the past forty years, black and Latino unemployment rates have consistently been higher than that of whites. What long-term strategies do you propose to reduce the racial disparity in unemployment rates?
    Homeownership: While foreclosures are down since 2010, 1,887,777 foreclosure filings, auctions and bank repossessions occurred in 2011. The foreclosure crisis has hit communities of color hard. While blacks and Latinos represented 7.8 percent and 11.2 percent of people who received a home loan from 2007-2009, they represented 11.6 percent and 16.2 percent, respectively, of all foreclosures. What will you do to reduce foreclosures, both overall and specifically within communities of color?

Meanwhile, the Public Broadcasting System is teasing its “Race 2012” documentary, set to air at 8 p.m. Tuesday – right after the second presidential debate – and again at 9 p.m. this Friday, Oct. 19. Directed and produced by Phillip Rodriguez, it aims to document the changing face of America and how that face may affect the nation’s political future, according to a news release.

PBS today offered “a sneak peek of five surprising facts” from the documentary, presented here verbatim:

    1.) As recently as 1980, 80 percent of the United States was white. The 2010 census showed that the country’s overall population is now slightly less than 64 percent white.
    2.) In contrast to the 19th and 20th century move to change the names and cultural identities of U.S. immigrants to appear more “Americanized” or “white,” white Americans and African Americans increasingly are adopting Latino names and cultural touchstones to fit the diversifying communities in which they live. A growing number of African Americans in San Francisco’s Bay Area hold quinceañeras for their children, and have piñatas at their parties. And El Paso politician Robert O’Rourke, who is white and speaks fluent Spanish, goes by the traditional Latino nickname “Beto” and unseated a Latino incumbent in the Congressional primary.
    3.) Conservatives tend to assume Asian-Americans vote conservatively because as a group they’re considered hard-working, industrious and entrepreneurial – characteristics stereotypically associated with white Americans. Yet the Asian-American community consistently votes 2 to 1 for liberal candidates.
    4.) For the first time in 70 years, the majority of white parents believe their children will not be financially better off than themselves, while African Americans and Hispanics are now considerably more optimistic about the next generation.
    5.) Although conservative policies are perceived as harder on immigration, in the past few years the U.S. has had a record deportation level. In each year of the Obama administration, deportations outnumbered any year of the Bush administration.

The film already is making waves. John Ziegler, a documentary filmmaker who was interviewed for “Race 2012,” issued a statement today saying it’s “fundamentally biased against both whites and conservatives, and also makes unsubstantiated charges of racism against the Romney campaign.”

Ziegler, a conservative former radio talk show host who created www.HowObamaGotElected.com and the documentary “Media Malpractice… How Obama Got Elected,” has written a scathing critique of “Race 2012” for the Media Research Center, a conservative organization dedicated to “exposing and combating liberal media bias.” In that piece, he calls it “nothing more than a PBS-sponsored liberal hatchet job on conservatives which doesn’t even pretend to be fair.”

Posted on Monday, October 15th, 2012
Under: 2012 presidential election | 9 Comments »

Boxer urges FDA to crack down on fish fraud

Something might be fishy at your supermarket’s seafood counter – and not in a good way – so U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer wants the Food and Drug Administration to step up enforcement efforts.

Boxer, D-Calif., sent a letter today to FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg urging the agency to crack down on an alarmingly high rate of seafood fraud, where fish and other seafood is deliberately mislabeled and sold to consumers.

“It is unacceptable that proven fraud is occurring on such a widespread basis,” Boxer wrote. “Seafood fraud is not only deceptive marketing, but it can also pose serious health concerns, particularly for pregnant women seeking to limit exposure to heavy metals or individuals with serious allergies to certain types of fish.”

International ocean conservation organization Oceana since last year has collected fish samples from supermarkets, restaurants, and sushi venues in cities across the nation and had them genetically tested. In Miami and Fort Lauderdale, 31 percent of the seafood tested by the group was found to be mislabeled; in Los Angeles and Orange counties, 55 percent of the seafood tested was mislabeled.

So many people aren’t getting what they paid for, and worse yet, pregnant women and people with certain allergies are being misled into eating things they shouldn’t. “Consumers should not have to question the safety of their seafood,” Boxer wrote to Hamburg.

About 86 percent of seafood consumed in the United States comes from other nations, yet a 2009 Government Accountability Office report found that only 2 percent of all seafood imports are inspected by FDA, and just 0.01 percent are specifically inspected for mislabeling. Boxer’s letter asks for more information about the FDA’s inspection process, including what steps it will take to improve enforcement to protect the consumers’ safety. “To effectively address this problem, we need better traceability and enforcement throughout the entire chain of sale, from bait to plate,” she wrote.

Read Boxer’s letter, after the jump…
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Posted on Monday, October 15th, 2012
Under: Barbara Boxer, U.S. Senate | 1 Comment »

Fact-checking the new McNerney & Gill ads in CA9

The advertising war rolls on in the 9th Congressional District, where Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, is challenged by Republican Ricky Gill of Lodi.

Here’s McNerney’s newest ad:

It takes some pretty tortured logic to conclude that Gill’s adherence to the Americans for Tax Reform pledge amounts to support for companies that outsource jobs – so tortured, in fact, that nonpartisan fact-checkers such as FactCheck.org and PolitiFact.com long ago deemed the claim false.

Here’s Gill’s newest ad:

McNerney voted for the economic stimulus of 2009, but had nothing to do with the Obama Administration’s selection of Solyndra for the loan guarantee – under a program begun by the Bush Administration – on which it later defaulted. Also, if Gill blames McNerney and Democrats for the Wall Street bailout, he also should blame the 91 House Republicans – including now-Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio – who voted for it too. And pinning national problems like a stagnant economy, soaring gas and health care prices and the national debt on one congressman’s “experience” seems like a stretch; there’s plenty of blame to go around, on both sides of the aisle.

Posted on Friday, October 12th, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, Jerry McNerney, U.S. House | 3 Comments »

Appeals court to hear landmark marijuana case

A federal appeals court is about to hear oral arguments on marijuana’s medical value, the first time in almost 20 years that advocates have had the chance to offer a court scientific evidence for a change in the government’s classification of the drug.

“Medical marijuana patients are finally getting their day in court,” Joe Elford, chief counsel for Oakland-based Americans for Safe Access, said in a news release. “What’s at stake in this case is nothing less than our country’s scientific integrity and the imminent needs of millions of patients.”

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit will hear arguments Tuesday on whether the government has arbitrarily and capriciously kept marijuana classified in Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act, as advocates claim. Schedule 1 drugs are those deemed to have a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use, and a lack of accepted safety even under medical supervision; other drugs on that list include heroin and LSD, while methamphetamine is on the less-restrictive Schedule 2.

A Coalition for Rescheduling Marijuana filed a rescheduling petition in 2002; that petition was unanswered until 2011, when the Drug Enforcement Administration denied it after advocates sued for unreasonable delay. This hearing is on the appeal of that denial.

Advocates claim the ban on marijuana is rooted in politics, not science, and that the National Institute on Drug Abuse has created a unique and unreasonable research approval process for the drug.

ASA’s appellate brief argues the DEA has no “license to apply different criteria to marijuana than to other drugs, ignore critical scientific data, misrepresent social science research, or rely upon unsubstantiated assumptions, as the DEA has done in this case.”

An open letter from more than 60 medical professionals is being sent to the Obama Administration in advance of Tuesday’s arguments. It cites favorable positions on rescheduling by the American Medical Association, the American College of Physicians, and the American Nurses Association – an effort to refute the government’s position that marijuana lacks any accepted medical use.

California is among 17 states, plus the District of Columbia, which have enacted medical marijuana laws.

Posted on Friday, October 12th, 2012
Under: marijuana | 4 Comments »

Open thread on the Biden-Ryan debate

Who won? What were your favorite lines? Leave your comments, but keep ‘em clean and be sure to pick on the candidates, not each other.

Posted on Thursday, October 11th, 2012
Under: 2012 presidential election | 12 Comments »

Courage Campaign’s Koch/cokehead ad draws fire

The Courage Campaign’s new ad taking on the billionaire Koch brothers, who’ve sank money into the campaign for Proposition 32, is being panned by fellow progressives who are offended by the ad’s mocking and stereotyping of drug addicts.

Many of the comments on this ad’s YouTube page and on the Courage Campaign’s Facebook page are scathing – not in defense of the Koch brothers, but against the Courage Campaign’s characterization of “cokeheads.” Some examples:

“Please admit you’re in the wrong and take this video down. Not only is this extremely offensive to those of us who have experienced drug-addiction personally or know people who have, it’s effective in alienating a usually supportive demographic. This isn’t behavior I’d expect from a progressive org, do the right thing and take it down.”

…and…

Having had a brother who passed away from a drug addiction and living his stigmatization I am saddened by the destructive nature of this ad. I can joke with the best of folks, but as I taught my child it’s only funny when you are laughing with people, not at them.

The Courage Campaign responded last night:

Hey folks, thanks for your interest in our ad and your concern. Our goal in creating the Koch Brothers ad was (and is) to educate the public about who is behind Prop 32. To do that, we chose satire, and we stand by our ad as a piece of political satire. We pride ourselves on creating messages that cut through the noise and reach people who might not be aware of the critical issues at stake. We did know that some might have concerns about the use of the word “cokehead,” which is why we specifically included the text “Problems with drug or alcohol abuse? Visit AA.org.” in the ad.

We appreciate your feedback, and actually see it as an opportunity to educate the public about two important issues, Prop 32 and media portrayals of those struggling with drug abuse. We are not going to take down the ad, but we think this is a great opportunity to publicize studies, articles or other revealing investigations into the stigmatizing of addiction and recovery. Can you please share anything like that with us? You can post it here or email it to us at info@couragecampaign.org. Also, is there an organization that makes sense for us to collaborate with on this effort? Many of those who commented are connected to Students for A Sensible Drug Policy. The Courage community would appreciate learning more about your organization, and we’d love to partner with you in posting information in the coming weeks. Thanks again for your feedback. We’re always learning.

But the critics aren’t placated, and topday started a change.org petition urging the Courage Campaign to take down the video.

What do you think?

Posted on Thursday, October 11th, 2012
Under: ballot measures | 16 Comments »

AD20: Quirk hits Ong for opposing Prop. 30

In most places, candidates gets slammed for supporting a tax increase; in one Bay Area Assembly race, a candidate is being attacked for opposing one.

Bill Quirk, a Hayward councilman running for the 20th Assembly District seat, is taking his opponent, fellow Democrat Jennifer Ong, to task for opposing Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax measure on next month’s ballot.

Prop. 30 would raise income taxes for the next seven years for those earning more than $250,000 per year, and would raise the state sales tax by a quarter-cent for four years. The proceeds – estimated at from $6.8 billion to $9 billion, would be used to shore up K-12 schools’ and community colleges budget; if the measure doesn’t pass, schools will suffer an automatic $6 billion in cuts.

The local Democratic machine is campaigning for a slate that includes Rep. Pete Stark, Quirk for Assembly, Richard Valle for the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, yes on Prop. 30, and no on Proposition 32, which would cripple unions’ ability to spend on political causes.

Jennifer OngOng – a Hayward resident with an Alameda optometry practice – implied her opposition to Prop. 30 at an Oct. 3 League of Women Voters forum, and then expressed it more specifically in an interview afterward with the East Bay Citizen.

Ong told The Citizen she was troubled by the regressive nature of the sales tax increase. “I won’t be able to personally support that,” said Ong. “It’s trying to stick it to the poor.”

That’s actually a 180-degree turn from what she told the Bay Area News Group’s editorial board in May. Back then, she said she preferred the governor’s measure to the competing tax measure being put forth by Molly Munger (now on the ballot as Proposition 38), and she specifically agreed with the governor’s proposal to boost the sales tax – the only part of his measure that could be considered regressive.

Ong hasn’t yet responded to a phone call and an e-mail seeking comment on this.

UPDATE @ 6 P.M. SUNDAY 10/14: Ong sent this statement at about noon on Saturday, roughly two days after I’d tried to reach her:

“As I said before, I don’t think raising the sales tax on the necessities of life is a good idea. I wish the Governor had not included this in Proposition 30. It is difficult for me to fully support Proposition 30 as it currently stands with great concern over its impact on families and family owned small businesses along with the incremental increase in the price of gas and impending drought.”

This statement, however, ignores the difference in her stance from the May editorial board meeting to now, about which I specifically asked in the email and voice mail messages I left for her Thursday.

Quirk’s campaign on Wednesday issued a statement saying Ong’s opposition to Prop. 30 is surprising for a Democrat in a heavily Democratic district. AD20 is 54 percent Democrat, 17 percent Republican and 22 percent no-party-preference.

“Proposition 30 is critical to the future of our state” Quirk said in the statement. “If it doesn’t pass, our students may lose up to three weeks of instruction each year. I’m actively campaigning in support of the measure – fighting for public education as I have my entire career.”

Campaign finance reports filed last week show Quirk raised $197,742 and spent $121,121 in the third quarter of 2012, and had $110,396 cash on hand as of Sept. 30. Ong raised $96,888.06 and spent $30,474.48 in the third quarter, and had $81,846 cash on hand as of Sept. 30.

But neither of the Ong mailers that arrived at my home in the past week were paid for by her campaign.

One Ong mailer came from the Californians Allied for Patient Protection Independent Expenditure Account. According to the Secretary of State’s campaign finance database, that committee spent $112,205 to support Ong in the year’s first three quarters – including $12,000 in August for “opposition research” – and has spent $86,589 since the start of this month for mailers on her behalf. That committee’s biggest contributors in this election cycle have been the Cooperative of American Physicians State PAC ($100,000); NorCal Mutual Insurance Co. ($100,000); The Doctors Company PAC ($100,000); the California Medical Association PAC ($75,000); Physicians for the Group Practice of Medicine ($45,000); and the Medical Insurance Exchange of California PAC ($40,000).

Another came from Doctors of Optometry for Better Healthcare, sponsored by the California Optometric Association PAC. Unlike the other committee, which has spent on behalf of other candidates besides Ong, this one exists only to make independent expenditures on Ong’s behalf – $173,092 worth since the start of the year, including $73,866 since June’s primary.

The newly drawn district includes Hayward, Union City and part of Fremont as well as the unincorporated areas of Castro Valley, San Lorenzo, Sunol, Ashland, Cherryland and Fairview.

See video of the League of Women Voters’ AD20 forum, after the jump…
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Posted on Thursday, October 11th, 2012
Under: 2012 Assembly election, Assembly | No Comments »

Roseanne Barr’s campaign airs television ad

Peace and Freedom Party presidential candidate Roseanne Barr announced today her campaign is running a television ad in the Bay Area urging people to “vote your conscience,” and reminding them that “choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil.”

Barr’s running mate is antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan; they’re on the ballot in California and several other states, but not enough states to garner the Electoral College votes they would need to win the presidency.

The 30-second spot is running prime and near-prime time on several cable networks, including CNN, TBS, MNBC, Comedy Central, WE and TV Land; the latter two networks carry “Roseanne” re-runs.

Barr spoke at Oakland’s Oaksterdam University recently to emphasize her support for marijuana legalization and to discuss other aspects of her campaign.

Posted on Wednesday, October 10th, 2012
Under: 2012 presidential election | 2 Comments »