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Archive for January, 2014

Looking ahead to SD9 in 2016

Looking beyond this year’s elections, Friday’s campaign finance deadline offered an early glance at what might be one of the East Bay’s hottest contests of 2016.

Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, who is term-limited out at the end of this year, intends to run for the 9th State Senate District seat from which Loni Hancock, D- Berkeley, will be term-limited out in 2016. So is former Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, another Democrat now serving as Oakland’s deputy mayor.

Reports filed Friday show Skinner raised $162,509 and spent $39,519 in the second half of 2013, leaving her at year’s end with $188,005 cash on hand and $6,382 in debts. Swanson in the same period raised $23,100 and spent $16,956, ending 2013 with $8,133 cash on hand but $9,220 in debts.

Swanson launched a campaign to challenge Hancock in 2012, but withdrew; Hancock responded by endorsing him to succeed her in 2016.

Posted on Friday, January 31st, 2014
Under: Assembly, California State Senate, campaign finance, Loni Hancock, Nancy Skinner, Sandre Swanson | 1 Comment »

Money matchups: AD15, AD16, AD25 & more

We’re hard at work crunching campaign finance reports today, and while we’ve featured a few in the story for tomorrow’s print editions, here are a few other notable Bay Area races to watch.

15TH ASSEMBLY DISTRICT

  • Democrat Elizabeth Echols of Oakland, former regional administrator for the Small Business Administration, raised $120,102 – including a $15,000 loan from her own pocket – and spent $70,192 in 2013’s latter half; her campaign had $120,136 cash on and $23,439 in debts at year’s end.
  • Democrat Sam Kang of Emeryville, general counsel for an economic justice advocacy group, raised $83,070 and spent $38,714, leaving him with $112,453 cash on hand with $2,936 in debts.
  • Democrat Andy Katz of Berkeley, president of the East Bay Municipal Utilities District’s board, raised $47,287 and spent $30,107, leaving $66,164 cash on hand with $7,250 in debts.
  • Democrat Tony Thurmond, a former Richmond councilman and former West Contra Costa County School Board member, raised $62,728 and spent $47,569, winding up with $55,767 cash on hand and $13,213 in debts.
  • Democrat Cecilia Valdez, a San Pablo councilwoman, hasn’t filed a report yet.
  • Republican Richard Kinney, a San Pablo councilman, hasn’t filed a report yet.
  • 16th ASSEMBLY DISTRICT:

  • Orinda Councilman Steve Glazer, a Democrat who was political adviser to Brown’s 2010 campaign, raised $111,718 and spent $20,987 in 2013’s second half, finishing the year with $329,074 cash on hand and $705 in debts.
  • Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti, a Democrat, raised $105,590 in 2013’s second half while spending $118,381; his campaign had $94,203 cash on hand as of Dec. 31, with $16,022 in debts.
  • Attorney Catharine Baker, a Republican from Dublin, raised $123,920 in 2013’s second half – including $4,100 from her own pocket – while spending $18,436; her campaign had $109,989 cash on hand as of Dec. 31 with $4,505 in debts.
  • Danville Vice Mayor Newell Arnerich, a Democrat, hasn’t filed his report yet.
  • 25th ASSEMBLY DISTRICT:

  • San Jose City Councilman Kansen Chu, a Democrat, raised $66,015 and spent $22,153 in the second half of 2013; he had $201,695 cash on hand as of Dec. 31 with $1,843 in debts.
  • Milpitas Councilman Armando Gomez, a Democrat, raisd $168,499 and spent $22,168 in 2013’s second half; his campaign had $155,431 cash on hand and no debt at the year’s end.
  • Former Fremont Police Chief Craig Steckler, a Democrat, raised $111,167 in the second half of 2013 while spending $7,999; his campaign had $104,289 cash on hand as of Dec. 31, with $9,717 in debts.
  • Ohlone College Board of Trustees member Teresa Cox, a Democrat, raised $90,772 and spent $32,389 in 2013’s second half; her campaign had $93,295 cash on hand but $80,668 in debts as of Dec. 31.
  • California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, seeking re-election to a second four-year term in the nonpartisan post, raised $592,775 in 2013’s second half while spending $210,999. The Pittsburg Democrat’s campaign had $556,561 cash on hand as of Dec. 31 with $53,814 in outstanding debts.

    But a Democratic challenger from Southern California hit the ground running with an impressive haul. Marshall Tuck, founding CEO of the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, raised $532,175 in 2013’s second half while spending $168,901; his campaign had $399,685 cash on hand as of Dec. 31, with $36,397 in outstanding debts.

    Lydia Gutierrez, an independent teacher from San Pedro who also sought this office in 2010, hasn’t filed a report yet.

    Posted on Friday, January 31st, 2014
    Under: Assembly, campaign finance, Tom Torlakson | 3 Comments »

    CA15: The year-end finance reports

    Freshman Rep. Eric Swalwell raised about three times much as Democratic challenger Ellen Corbett in the final quarter of 2013, leaving him with about four times as much money banked for the 15th Congressional District campaign.

    Swalwell, D-Pleasanton, raised $275,018 in 2013’s final quarter while spending $63,418; his campaign had $823,362 cash on hand as of Dec. 31, with $3,576 in outstanding debts. Corbett, the state Senate majority leader from San Leandro, raised $90,918 in the last quarter of 2013 – by far her best quarter to date – while spending $25,892; she had $208,658 as of Dec. 31 with no outstanding debts.

    Posted on Friday, January 31st, 2014
    Under: 2014 primary, campaign finance, Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, U.S. House | 8 Comments »

    House GOP schedules water bill for vote

    House Republican leaders have scheduled a vote next week for an emergency water bill offered by Central Valley Republicans.

    The controversial legislation – H.R. 3964, Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Emergency Water Delivery Act, introduced by Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford – is being rushed through on account of California’s severe drought. But the bill would be the biggest reform of California water policy in decades, and has met with harsh criticism from the state’s Democrats.

    House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, issued a statement Friday saying Central Valley farmers and families were dealt a blow earlier in the day when the California Department of Water Resources reduced State Water Project allocations from 5 percent to zero; the reduction followed a finding on Thursday that the state’s snowpack is at only 12 percent of normal for this time of year.

    “Today’s action is a stark reminder that California’s drought is real,” Gov. Jerry Brown of the allocation reduction. “We’re taking every possible step to prepare the state for the continuing dry conditions we face.”

    But McCarthy said “the pressure this decision puts on the already dangerously low reservoirs and groundwater banks is unsustainable,” and HR 3964 “is a responsible answer to the hardship the Central Valley is currently facing. I thank Speaker Boehner, Leader Cantor, and Chairman Hastings for appreciating the urgency of this matter and scheduling a vote on this bill next week.”

    He noted Brown and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., oppose the House bill.

    “Perhaps more disturbing is their failure of leadership in offering a solution of their own to bring Central Valley communities new or additional water,” McCarthy said. “As the House acts on Rep. Valadao’s legislation next week, I urge Governor Brown to use his authority to immediately direct state agencies to relax current state environmental regulations in the delta to ensure any water that does move down the Sacramento River ultimately flows to Kern County and Central California. Absent immediate action, California farmers and communities will continue to be gripped by the damaging effects of the worst drought in a century.”

    Rep. John Garamendi, D-Fairfield, on Thursday had blasted the Republcians’ bill as “a political ploy in an election year that does nothing to solve the devastating drought facing the state.

    “If enacted, the bill would overturn six decades of California state water and environmental law, tear up long standing contracts between the state, federal government, and water districts, and ignore the California Constitution’s public trust doctrine. This would create massive confusion and environmental damage to all California’s rivers, the Delta, and San Francisco Bay,” Garamendi charged. “This bill hurts Republicans, Democrats, and independents alike by threatening the livelihoods of farmers, fishermen, and small businesses throughout the state. We cannot throw away years of water management experience for the sake of scoring a few political points.”

    Posted on Friday, January 31st, 2014
    Under: David Valadao, Dianne Feinstein, John Garamendi, Kevin McCarthy, U.S. House, U.S. Senate, water | No Comments »

    Eshoo, senators urge FTC probe of outlet stores

    Rep. Anna Eshoo and three other members of Congress want a federal investigation of whether outlet stores are engaging in misleading marketing practices.

    In a letter sent Thursday to Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez, Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, and U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.; Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.; and Ed Markey, D-Mass., urged a probe into whether companies sell lower-quality items produced specifically for outlet stores without properly informing consumers about the difference between those items and the higher-quality products found in regular retail stores.

    “Historically, outlets offered excess inventory and slightly damaged goods that retailers were unable to sell at regular retail stores,” the lawmakers wrote. “Today, however, some analysts estimate that upwards of 85 percent of the merchandise sold in outlet stores was manufactured exclusively for these stores. Outlet-specific merchandise is often of lower quality than goods sold at non-outlet retail locations. While some retailers use different brand names and labels to distinguish merchandise produced exclusively for outlets, others do not. This leaves consumers at a loss to determine the quality of outlet-store merchandise carrying brand-name labels.”

    The lawmakers cite news reports estimating the nation’s more than 300 outlet malls were expected to generate $25 billion in sales last year.

    Posted on Thursday, January 30th, 2014
    Under: Anna Eshoo, U.S. House | 1 Comment »

    Video: The drought (and Jerry Brown) of 1976-77

    It’s stunning how well this California Department of Water Resources video detailing the drought of 1976-77 applies to the state’s current predicament. And check out that guy who appears at the nine-minute mark!

    Posted on Thursday, January 30th, 2014
    Under: Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown, water | No Comments »

    CA17: Video of Khanna praising Honda in 2012

    Rep. Mike Honda’s campaign is touting video of Democratic challenger Ro Khanna singing Honda’s praises at a party event in 2012:

    “I do want to acknowledge our great congressional team that represents this area. We of course have Congressman Mike Honda, and I think everyone says good things about Congressman Honda. And the one thing that I can add, having been in Washington, is Congressman Honda of course is an outstanding representative for our area but he is also the one person in the entire United States Congress who, if there’s an issue concerning the Asian-American community anywhere, or if there’s an issue the administration wants to know about Asia, they go to Congressman Honda. So it’s a privilege to have him from this area.”

    The video was shot in March 2012. Khanna – who amassed a huge campaign bankroll in late 2011 when people assumed he would be running to succeed Rep. Pete Stark in the 15th District – formally announced his candidacy challenging Honda in April 2013, although by then it had been the Bay Area’s worst-kept political secret for several months.

    “His campaign touts that ‘Mike hasn’t changed.’ That’s exactly the problem, and it’s clear with this kind of silly attack,” Khanna spokesman Tyler Law said Thursday. “What the people of the 17th District don’t need is more stale, tired political games. They need, and deserve, a real debate about ideas for the future. That’s a debate Ro is ready to have. We hope Congressman Honda can ‘change’ enough to allow for that.”

    Posted on Thursday, January 30th, 2014
    Under: 2014 primary, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 7 Comments »

    Ellen Corbett named to Senate Budget Committee

    State Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett will serve out her final year in the Legislature with a seat on one of its most vital committees.

    Ellen CorbettCorbett, D-San Leandro, was named to the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee on Wednesday, and will chair its Health and Human Services subcommittee; the appointment made by the Senate Rules Committee takes effect immediately. The 16-member committee must analyze the state budget proposal that Gov. Jerry Brown offered this month.

    “I look forward to working closely with all stakeholders to ensure that the state budget process continues to be transparent and constituent-oriented,” Corbett said in a news release.

    She said she’s confident she and her colleagues can produce a final budget “that is both reasonable and ensures that the best interests of Californians are protected,” particularly in her subcommittee’s area. “After previous years of cuts to important health and human services programs, I look forward to approving a budget that minimizes the short- and long-term impacts to the most vulnerable segments of our population, including children, seniors and adults with developmental and other disabilities.”

    Corbett also is campaigning this year to unseat fellow Democrat Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Pleasanton, in the East Bay’s 15th Congressional District.

    Posted on Wednesday, January 29th, 2014
    Under: California State Senate, Ellen Corbett, state budget | 9 Comments »

    Bay Area House members offer Postal Service bills

    Two Bay Area House members went postal Wednesday, introducing legislation to protect and update the U.S. Postal Service’s assets.

    Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, introduced H.Res. 466, which would urge the Postal Service to halt all sales of historic postal buildings across the nation and permanently preserve them.

    Berkeley Post Office“These historic post offices are an irreplaceable part of our nation’s history. They belong to the American people, and shouldn’t be sold without community input,” Lee said in a news release. “Historic post office buildings are an integral part of our cultural heritage and should not be used as a bargaining chip in resolving the Postal Service’s financial woes.”

    In the bipartisan omnibus Appropriations bill passed this month, lawmakers called upon the USPS to halt sales of historic post offices until the Office of the Inspector General publishes its investigation on the processes and plans used for the sale and preservation of historic properties. Lee’s resolution expands upon that effort to ensure that these national landmarks are permanently preserved for their communities.

    “The East Bay values and cherishes the Berkeley Post Office,” she said. “This bill would ensure that historic post offices across the country, including the Berkeley Post office, remain as a cornerstone of our community.”

    Meanwhile, Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, joined with Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., to introduce a bill requiring modernization of the Postal Service’s outdated vehicle fleet.

    Grumman LLVThe Postal Service owns and operates the world’s largest civilian vehicle fleet: 192,000 mail delivery vehicles that are driven 4.3 million miles per day. More than 141,000 are aging Grumman LLVs, which average only 10 miles per gallon; this vehicle first went into service in 1987, and most have reached the end of their 24-year operational lifespan.

    HR 3963, the Federal Leadership in Energy Efficient Transportation (FLEET) Act of 2014, would require the USPS to reduce its petroleum consumption by 2 percent each year for the next 10 years. The aim is to reduce fuel spending while increasing efficiency; the Union of Concerned Scientists estimates the bill would save the Postal Service an estimated 150 million gallons of fuel over the next ten years, worth about $400 million, Huffman’s office said.

    “The Postal Service is crippled by an inefficient, outdated fleet, and the vast majority of these vehicles are reaching the end of their operational lives,” Huffman said in a news release. “The FLEET Act will help us invest in a modern, efficient Postal Service fleet. Our nation’s largest civilian fleet should serve as a global leader in efficiency and innovation.”

    Shirley ChisholmIn other postal news, Lee is scheduled to be joined by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco; Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo; and former Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, on Saturday at Mills College in Oakland for the rollout of the Shirley Chisholm Forever® stamp.

    This 37th stamp in the Black Heritage Series honors Chisholm, who was the first African American woman elected to Congress and who ran for president in 1972. She was the first African American and the second woman ever to seek a major party’s presidential nomination.

    Lee first met Chisholm at Mills College in 1972, and organized Chisholm’s Northern California primary campaign that year. She first introduced legislation in 2005 expressing Congress’s sense that a commemorative stamp should be issued in Chisholm’s honor. The stamp image – designed by art director Ethel Kessler and featuring a color portrait of Chisholm by artist Robert Shetterly – will be unveiled Saturday.

    The unveiling ceremony will be followed by panel discussion on House Democrats’ “When Women Succeed, America Succeeds” economic agenda, just like one that Pelosi, Speier and Lee did last week in San Francisco.

    Posted on Wednesday, January 29th, 2014
    Under: Barbara Lee, Jared Huffman, U.S. House | 2 Comments »

    Obama calls Jerry Brown for drought update

    This just in from the White House:

    Today, the President called Governor Jerry Brown to receive an update on the situation in California and express his concern for the citizens impacted by the historic drought conditions facing the state – conditions that are likely to have significant impacts on the state’s communities, economy and environment in the coming months.

    The President reinforced his commitment to providing the necessary federal support to the state and local efforts. The agencies are working together to target resources to help California and other impacted states prepare for and lessen the impacts of the drought. USDA is also working with farmers and ranchers to increase their irrigation water efficiency, protect vulnerable soils from erosion, and improve the health of pasture and range lands. And the Bureau of Reclamation is working closely with federal and California state authorities to facilitate water transfers and provide operational flexibility to convey and store available water, and facilitate additional actions that can conserve and move water to critical areas.

    The National Drought Resilience Partnership (NDRP) will help coordinate the federal response, working closely with state, local government, agriculture and other partners. The NDRP is already helping to enhance existing efforts that federal agencies are working on with communities, businesses, farmers and ranchers to build resilience where drought is currently an issue across the country.

    The President made clear that we will continue to work with our federal partners, including FEMA, to support the state and local response, and expressed his support during this challenging time.

    Posted on Wednesday, January 29th, 2014
    Under: Barack Obama, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown, Obama presidency, water | 1 Comment »