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Archive for October, 2013

Tix start at $1k for Obama’s DNC fundraiser in SF

President Barack Obama will be back in the Bay Area in late November to raise money for Democrats.

The luncheon on Monday, Nov. 25 at the San Francisco Jazz Center will be hosted by novelist Robert Mailer Anderson and his wife, Nicola Miner, who held a fundraiser for Obama in their Pacific Heights home in February 2012.

An invitation to the event says tickets cost $1,000 per person; $5,000 for lunch and a photo reception; $7,500 for lunch and the photo reception for two; $10,000 for lunch and the photo reception for a family of up to five people; or $15,000 for lunch and a special co-chair reception. All money goes to the Democratic National Committee.

The San Francisco luncheon is part of the latest national fundraising blitz the President is undertaking on behalf of the DNC, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Obama did fundraisers for the DSCC in Palo Alto and Portola Valley this past June, and for the DCCC in April in San Francisco.

Posted on Thursday, October 31st, 2013
Under: Barack Obama, campaign finance, Democratic Party | 20 Comments »

20,000 petition signatures favor transit-strike ban

An East Bay Assembly candidate who’s been crusading for a legislative ban on transit strikes says he’ll deliver 20,000 petition signatures to an influential lawmaker’s office Friday.

Steve Glazer“Back to back, the petitions are larger than a 10-car BART train,” said Steve Glazer, who is an Orinda councilman, political adviser to Gov. Jerry Brown, and Democratic candidate in the 16th Assembly District.

Glazer and supporters intend to walk Friday from the Pleasant Hill BART station to the district office of state Senate Transportation and Housing Committee Chairman Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, to deliver the petitions.

During the BART strike earlier this month, DeSaulnier had said that what Glazer is doing “is popular, but the reality is more complex than that.” The senator said he’s interested in an idea advanced by Stanford Law Professor Emeritus William Gould IV — who chaired the National Labor Relations Board in the Clinton administration — to enact a law providing for arbitration and prohibiting strikes in public-transit disputes. “But I’m not going to do it if it has no chance of success, if both sides are against it,” he said.

A few days later, when BART and its unions settled their negotiations and ended the strike, DeSaulnier issued a statement saying his committee “is investigating how other metropolitan areas around the nation avoid this kind of situation. After conducting the investigation, the committee will pursue every possible remedy to ensure this never happens again.”

Glazer said Thursday that “the complexity is kind of a smokescreen for those who don’t want to take action… Bans such as this are done in many places in the United States successfully, so there are plenty of templates to examine.”

Glazer said that besides the petition signatures, more than 1,300 people have used his website to send individualized emails of support for such legislation to DeSaulnier.

“By my count he has nine BART stations in his district, he probably has the most riders on BART of any legislator… so we’re certainly looking for his leadership and courage and backbone,” he said.

Among other 16th Assembly District candidates, Republican Catharine Baker, a Dublin attorney, voiced support this month for a Republican Senate bill that would force BART employees – not all transit employees – to honor the no-strike clause in their contract even after that contract expires. Senate Republicans since have said they intend to introduce a broader strike-ban bill covering all transit workers.

Danville Mayor Newell Arnerich, another Democrat in the 16th District race, said Glazer and Baker are engaging in “political gamesmanship” when neither was privy to the BART negotiations. The third Democrat in the race, Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti, has declined to comment on the matter.

Posted on Thursday, October 31st, 2013
Under: 2014 primary, Assembly, California State Senate, Mark DeSaulnier, Transportation | 6 Comments »

House Dems ask Boehner for ‘no shutdown’ vow

Rep. George Miller helped wrangle 178 House Democrats – including the rest of the Bay Area’s delegation – to sign two freshmen’s letter calling on Speaker John Boehner to publicly say he won’t use the threat of another government shutdown or debt default as a political tactic in the budget talks.

“Republicans shut down the government and nearly defaulted on America’s debt because they couldn’t shut down the new health care law,” Miller, D-Martinez, said in a news release. “Americans paid a steep price for that partisan and irresponsible action, costing the economy $24 billion and causing economic confidence to plummet. We’re calling on the Republican leadership in Congress to vow ‘No More Shutdowns’ or threats of default as we work out our legitimate differences over the federal budget.”

The letter – led by Reps. Elizabeth Esty, D-Conn., and Annie Kuster, D-N.H. – said “the most powerful source of uncertainty to American families and businesses is the threat of a government shutdown and default on our debts. That is why we are writing to you to urge you and your leadership to publicly declare that you will not again use the threat of a government shutdown or default as leverage in the important discussions regarding long-term deficit reduction and economic growth.”

OK, everyone – hold your breath now while we wait for Boehner to comply with their request…

Posted on Thursday, October 31st, 2013
Under: George Miller, John Boehner, U.S. House | 6 Comments »

SoS candidate Alex Padilla barnstorms Bay Area

State Sen. Alex Padilla, in the Bay Area today both on legislative business and for his campaign for secretary of state, says California should show other states how voting is done.

I had a brief chat with Padilla, D-Van Nuys, between some meetings he had in Oakland and San Jose, and asked him what people around the state have been telling him they want from their next secretary of state. Answers have varied, he said, though a common theme is better voting access.

Alex Padilla“One of the things that resonated with me … is watching what is happening in Texas and in Florida and in Ohio… when they were changing rules at the last minute on voter registration or early voting or voting locations,” he said. “I don’t think those efforts would gain any traction here in California, but you never know, and if nothing else California has the opportunity to be the counterexample.”

Padilla also talked about some of his successful bills this year including SB 135, requiring the state to develop a comprehensive statewide earthquake early warning system. The Legislature passed the bill unanimously, and Gov. Jerry Brown signed it into law Oct. 10.

The system’s estimated $80 million cost is “a small but wise investment when we think about the billions of dollars we associate with every major earthquake, let alone the injuries and fatalities,” Padilla said today. Depending on one’s distance from a quake’s epicenter, the proposed system could give from 10 to 60 seconds of warning, he said, urging people not just to think of what that means in their own homes but what it could mean in more precarious situations like construction sites, mass transit and so on. “A little bit of warning can go a long way.”

He also talked about SB 360, which lets county election officials develop, own and operate public voting systems, subject to approval and certification by the California Secretary of State. Brown signed this bill into law Oct. 5.

Counties currently can draw up their own specifications, but ultimately must pick a vendor; this bill gives them the latitude to develop their own, custom systems. Only larger counties are likely to have the technical wherewithal to do this, he acknowledged, but “it tends to be the larger counties with larger populations that are politically complex” and so have special voting needs.

Incumbent Secretary of State Debra Bowen will be term-limited out at the end of 2014. Other Democrats with active 2014 campaigns for the office include state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco; good-government activist Derek Cressman of Sacramento; and former Assemblyman Charles Calderon of Montebello.

Two Republicans are in the race: Pete Peterson, executive director of Pepperdine University’s Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership, and Roy Allmond, an employee of the secretary of state’s office. Green candidate David Curtis, an architect and activist from San Rafael, is seeking the office too.

Padilla led the fundraising pack at mid-year, raising almost $291,000 in the first half of 2013 and having more than $355,000 cash on hand and about $10,000 in outstanding debts as of June 30. Yee came in second, raising $332,000 in the year’s first half and holding $299,000 cash on hand with about $23,000 in outstanding debts as of June 30. Cressman raised $57,000 and had almost $45,000 in the bank with no debt.

Calderon raised $8,000 and had just $868 cash on hand with $2,900 in debts at midyear. But the red ink was deeper for Peterson, who raised $59,000 but had just $13,000 banked and more than $52,000 in debts. Allmond and Curtis have not yet filed any campaign finance reports.

Posted on Wednesday, October 30th, 2013
Under: California State Senate, Secretary of State | 5 Comments »

Boxer helps float bill to curb debt-limit battles

The president could raise the nation’s debt ceiling unless Congress votes to nix it, under a bill introduced today by U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer and two other Senate Democrats.

Boxer, D-Calif.; Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.; and Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, say the “Pay Our Bills Act” would reduce the chances of the debt ceiling being used as a political weapon to leverage votes on unrelated issues, as just happened this month as House Republicans tried to tie raising the ceiling and ending the government shutdown they caused to defunding the nation’s health insurance law.

Barbara Boxer“We know from recent history that even the threat of not paying our bills does serious damage to our economy,” Boxer said in a news release. “It’s time for us to put in place a straightforward process to avoid a catastrophic default on our nation’s debt. The Pay Our Bills Act gives both houses of Congress and the President a say, but sends a strong message of certainty to the markets, to our families and to the world.”

Right now, Congress must vote to raise the nation’s debt ceiling – the limit beyond which the nation can no longer borrow to pay costs it already has incurred. Under this bill, the president could propose an increase and Congress would have 15 days in which to vote on a resolution of disapproval. The president could veto that resolution like any other legislation, but so too could Congress could override that veto with a two-thirds majority vote as with any other legislation.

As a practical matter in the current political landscape, such a resolution of disapproval would pass the Republican-led House easily but would be dead on arrival in the Democrat-led Senate – and without disapproval from both chambers, the president would be free to do as he sees fit. And that means this Pay Our Bills Act will be dead on arrival in the House.

The plan is based on a Republican idea – the “McConnell Rule” first proposed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in 2011.

But McConnell, speaking on the Senate floor today, said his 2011 proposal was never meant to be permanent, or unaccompanied by spending cuts like those accomplished through the ongoing budget sequestration. He called the Democrats’ bill an “outrageous… plan to permanently hand the President a credit card without spending limits, and without lifting a finger to address the national debt.”

Schumer “is not going to find any dance partners on this side of the aisle,” McConnell said. “Because handing the President a permanent blank check, increasing the size of government, and trying to overturn the most significant bipartisan accomplishment of the Obama years – well, that’s just a non-starter.”

Posted on Tuesday, October 29th, 2013
Under: Barbara Boxer, Mitch McConnell, U.S. Senate | 4 Comments »

Three Bay Area execs meet with President Obama

Three Bay Area business executives were among those who met with President Obama this morning at the White House to discuss the nation’s cybersecurity framework.

The meeting in the Situation Room was to “discuss the importance of cybersecurity, the joint efforts by the Administration and industry to develop the Cybersecurity Framework, and ongoing work to implement the Executive Order to enhance the cybersecurity of critical infrastructure,” the White House reported.

A White House official said the participants included Steve Bennett, president and CEO of Mountain View-based Symantec; Renee James, President of Santa Clara-based Intel; and Charlie Scharf, CEO of Foster City-based Visa.

Other attendees included Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga; Northrop Grumman CEO Wes Bush, Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan and Pepco Holdings CEO Joe Rigby.

Posted on Tuesday, October 29th, 2013
Under: Obama presidency | 9 Comments »

Nadia Lockyer interview to air later this week

Former Alameda County Supervisor Nadia Lockyer – wife of state Treasurer Bill Lockyer – apparently has given a Bay Area television station an interview on her recovery from methamphetamine addiction.

Lockyer, 42, of Hayward, posted a message on her Facebook page Monday indicating that KGO ABC7 News will “will be airing a 2-part story about my life,” with the first segment airing during the 11 p.m. newscast Thursday and the second at 11 p.m. Sunday.

Lockyer early in 2012 had claimed Stephen Chikhani attacked her in a Newark hotel room, but the state Justice Department investigated and eventually declined to charge him with any crime. As details emerged about Lockyer’s lengthy affair with Chikhani and their drug use, she resigned her supervisorial seat in April 2012.

Bill Lockyer, 72, filed for divorce a few months later, citing “irreconcilable differences” and seeking joint physical and legal custody of their son. Then Nadia Lockyer was arrested in August 2012 in Orange County and charged with felony methamphetamine possession and three misdemeanors: being under the influence of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, and child abuse and endangerment. She spent several months in a residential rehabilitation program and now remains under court supervision; her next progress report is scheduled for Nov. 14.

But her husband announced in March that he had withdrawn the divorce papers in hope of reconciling for their son’s sake. When he announced in June that he’ll not seek the state controller’s office next year and instead retire from public office, he said he was “looking forward to family reunification.”

Nadia Lockyer in April 2012 gave the Bay Area News Group an exclusive, videotaped interview in which she apologized to her constituents and promised to focus on her family and recovery from addiction, but many of her troubles were still ahead of her at that time. It’ll be interesting to hear what she says now that she (hopefully) has finished this awful roller-coaster ride and started moving on with her life.

Posted on Monday, October 28th, 2013
Under: Bill Lockyer | 4 Comments »

Man who threatened senator pleads to 10 crimes

The Santa Clara man who threatened a state senator’s life early this year over that lawmaker’s gun-control efforts pleaded guilty Monday to 10 crimes that could put him behind bars for up to a decade.

Everett BashamEverett Basham was arrested in February, about four weeks after he emailed a detailed threat to state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco. California Highway Patrol officers who searched his home found guns, explosives and chemicals to make explosives.

Yee issued a statement Monday thanking “everyone who had a hand in bringing this case to a swift conclusion.”

“I appreciate that justice was served in this matter and I hope that this man receives all the help he needs,” Yee said. “As I said back in February, threats like these will not deter me from pushing for common sense gun safety legislation to protect our children and our communities.”

The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office said Basham pleaded guilty Monday to seven felonies: three counts of possession of an assault weapon and one count each of attempted terrorist threats, reckless possession of a destructive device, possession of materials with intent to make a destructive device, and forgery of government ID. He also pleaded guilty to three misdemeanors: possession of a destructive device, carrying a concealed weapon in a vehicle, and carrying a loaded weapon in a vehicle.

Two other felony counts were dismissed as part of his plea deal. He’ll be back in court on Dec. 17 for receipt of his probation report, which the judge will use in determining a sentence.

Leland YeeYee is the author of SB 47, which would prohibit so-called bullet buttons and other devices used to circumvent the state’s assault-weapons ban and allow fast reloading. But Yee back-burned the bill this fall as state Senate President Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, tried to consolidate support for his SB 374, which would’ve added all semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines to the state’s list of banned assault weapons.

When Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed SB 374 earlier this month, Yee issued a statement saying he’ll revive SB 47 next year. “In the governor’s veto message, he spoke of the importance of our gun laws and the need to make sure they are carefully tailored,” Yee said at the time. “SB 47 will protect the public while keeping an appropriately narrow scope.”

SB 47 is now before the Assembly Appropriations Committee, where it could be heard as early as January.

Posted on Monday, October 28th, 2013
Under: California State Senate, gun control, Leland Yee | 1 Comment »

Denham is 1st GOPer to back immigration bill

A Central Valley congressman is the nation’s first Republican House member to say he’ll support House Democrats’ comprehensive immigration reform bill, earning him praise from advocacy groups and depriving his Democratic challenger of a key talking point.

Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto, announced he’ll cosponsor H.R. 15 on Sunday on Univision’s political talk show “Al Punto,” and later issued a statement.

Jeff Denham“We can’t afford any more delays,” he said. “We are a nation of immigrants, but today, our broken system has failed to secure the border, enforce our current laws and help us to attract the best and brightest who want to come and contribute to the greatness of America.

“I support an earned path to citizenship to allow those who want to become citizens to demonstrate a commitment to our country, learn English, pay fines and back taxes and pass background checks,” Denham continued. “This is a common-sense solution to our broken system. I also support a faster pathway for the children who were brought here by their parents through no fault of their own, who have been raised in America and educated in our schools and have no other country to call home.”

Denham also noted the bill “includes language that makes securing the border a requirement, not a goal, and puts measurable benchmarks in place to be verified by independent sources to ensure that our border is secure.” And he said his ENLIST Act, H.R. 2377, which allows a path to citizenship through military service, will be incorporated into H.R. 15.

The move has earned Denham plaudits from groups including the National Council of La Raza (“a bold message that immigration reform is not a partisan issue”); the National Immigration Law Center (“doing what’s best for his district, California, and our country”); and America’s Voice (“a major crack in the dam that has been blocking reform”).

Activists from immigration advocacy groups in his district rallied outside Denham’s Modesto district office this morning to show their appreciation, and Denham and the bill’s author, Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., joined immigration advocates on a conference call with reporters this afternoon.

The 10th Congressional District’s voter registration as of February – the most recent figures available – was 39.7 percent Democrat, 38.5 percent Republican and 17 percent nonpartisan. The Cook Political Report lists the seat as “likely” Republican, a designation for races that “are not considered competitive at this point, but have the potential to become engaged.”

And the district is 41.2 percent Latino, according to the U.S. Census’ 2011 American Community Survey.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee last month had worked up a web video blasting Denham for a “history of immigration extremism, support for hard-line stances that divide families and hurt businesses and workers, and his refusal to push for the bipartisan Senate solution.”

And Denham’s presumptive Democratic challenger, Michael Eggman – an almond farmer, beekeeper and younger brother of Assemblywoman Susan Eggman, D-Stockton – had expressed support for H.R. 15 earlier this month and challenged Denham to do the same.

But Eggman still has at least one potentially potent arrow in his quiver. Read more about that, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, October 28th, 2013
Under: 2014 primary, Immigration, Jeff Denham, U.S. House | 6 Comments »

California has a new Solicitor General

An attorney who couldn’t win U.S. Senate confirmation after President Barack Obama nominated him to a federal appeals court seat will be California’s new solicitor general, state Attorney General Kamala Harris announced Monday.

Edward DuMontEdward DuMont, 51, in January will become the state Justice Department’s chief appellate lawyer, overseeing all civil and criminal appeals and litigating the state’s most sensitive, complex cases in state and federal courts. Harris said Californians “will be well served by Ed’s legal acumen and extensive appellate litigation experience.”

DuMont, in Harris’ news release, said he’s honored. “While it will be hard to leave my current clients and colleagues, I look forward to returning to California, joining a new team and working together to build an expanded Solicitor General’s office that we will all be proud of.”

President Obama nominated DuMont in April 2010 and re-nominated him in January 2011 to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. He would have been the first openly gay federal appeals court judge, but his nomination languished for more than 18 months without the Senate Judiciary Committee ever scheduling a confirmation hearing. DuMont asked Obama to withdraw his nomination in November 2011.

An Oakland native, DuMont grew up in the Bay Area; he holds a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and a law degree from Stanford Law School.

DuMont has been with the firm of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP in Washington, D.C., since 2002 and has been a partner there since 2004; he’s now a vice chair of the firms’a appellate and Supreme Court litigation practice group. Earlier, he served seven years as an assistant to the U.S. Solicitor General and as an associate deputy attorney general at the U.S. Justice Department, focusing on computer crime and privacy issues.

He has argued 18 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court on issues including employment law, the First Amendment, criminal law and administrative procedure. He also has been the lead author of dozens of briefs to the high court, and has filed briefs or argued matters in 10 different federal appeals courts.

Posted on Monday, October 28th, 2013
Under: Attorney General, Kamala Harris | 3 Comments »