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Archive for May, 2014

CA17: Candidates decry last-minute mailers

Some last-minute mailers are arriving in the 17th Congressional District, and they’re not pretty.

Here’s one of the mailers on which I first reported Thursday, sent by the union-funded Working for Us PAC as an independent expenditure opposing Democrat Ro Khanna in order to benefit Rep. Mike Honda:

Click to enlarge:
PAC mailer  1

PAC mailer 2

Khanna sees a racial dimension to this.

“I have dedicated my life with my work at Commerce, on NUMMI, and book on American manufacturing to figure out how to bring jobs back to our community and country,” Khanna said in an email Saturday morning. “To imply I want to ‘outsource’ jobs is subtly playing on stereotypes about Indian Americans. Not only is it not true, but it’s appealing to the worst kind of politics.”

Honda spokesman Vivek Kembaiyan said he would stick with the statement he issued Thursday, when I broke the story about the PAC’s spending: “We had nothing to do with this independent expenditure and aren’t going to be distracted by what other campaigns or groups are doing. Our campaign is focused on getting out the vote for Mike Honda on Tuesday and making sure that voters know about Mike’s record of delivering for the middle class families of Silicon Valley.”

[Ed.note: See update below.]

Also, here’s a mailer that Republican Vanila Singh has sent out attacking Republican Joel VanLandingham:

Singh mailer

Singh mailer2

The mailer echoes accusations that Singh and others have been making that VanLandingham is a straw-man candidate brought into the race by Khanna supporters to dilute the GOP vote and boost Khanna’s chances of finishing in this primary’s top two with Honda, D-San Jose.

VanLandingham in an email Saturday morning said it looks like Singh “is not only a candidate but a comedian” and that he and his wife “got a huge laugh” from the mailer.

“To claim I am a ‘fake Republican’ is completely ridiculous and A BOLD FACED LIE. I am amazed at the amount of money she is spending, it only shows that the Party is pulling her strings and will continue to if she gets elected,” he said. “Here is a case of the pot calling the kettle black. I have been a registered Republican for over 25 years. Versus Vanila Singh who registered as a Republican in Dec 2013. She has NO voting record and within the same week of registering to be a Republican, she pulls papers and files to run for office, a week later she magically raises $150,000. I think the people of District 17 are an intelligent and knowledgeable people, who could see through her smoke, mirrors and misdirection.”

“If both parties are campaigning against me, then I guess I am doing something right, it’s time 4 change,” VanLandingham added. “In a final note, I forgive, release and bless Vanila Singh for spreading lies and gossip about me and I pray that God forgives her as well.”

UPDATE @ 1:17 P.M. SUNDAY: Four Indo-American community leaders who support and have contributed to Ro Khanna’s campaign have written a letter to Honda asking him to repudiate the Working for Us PAC’s mailer:

Dear Congressman Honda,
I am appalled to see the campaign mailer that was sent out to voters in the 17th district by the Working for Us Political Action Committee. On the front page, it has a picture of Ro Khanna – an Indian American. In large red letters it reads: “DON’T LET RO KHANNA OUTSOURCE OUR JOBS” and “SENDING JOBS OVERSEAS. RO KHANNA”. This is the crudest form of racially coded language.

The intentional association of an Indian American and outsourcing to gin up fear and hatred is deplorable and unacceptable – especially in the heart of Silicon Valley. It is sad to see it coming in support of your campaign Congressman; you and your family suffered much from racial hatred during the Second World War.

I implore you to disassociate yourself from such dirty tricks. These tactics should have no place in the political discourse in this meritocratic district where Indian Americans have contributed so much.

Respectfully,
Kanwal Rekhi, co-founder, The Indus Entrepreneurs
Anil Godwhani, co-founder, India Community Center
Kamil Hasan, co-founder, India Community Center
Talat Hasan, co-founder, India Community Center

Posted on Saturday, May 31st, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 19 Comments »

Rand Paul to keynote California GOP convention

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., will keynote the California Republican Party’s fall convention this September in Los Angeles, the party announced Friday.

Paul, a tea party favorite and son of longtime libertarian icon and former Rep. Ron Paul, is considered a possible 2016 presidential contender. His focus on issues like privacy, avoiding foreign military entanglements and rethinking the war on drugs helps him draw a younger, more diverse crowd than many in his party, as demonstrated by his enthusiastic welcome at UC-Berkeley in March.

“Senator Paul understands that a balanced budget doesn’t have to come on the backs of taxpayers,” said state GOP chairman Jim Brulte. “He is a tireless advocate for freedom, an independent thinker, and a dedicated public servant.”

Party vice chairwoman Harmeet Dhillon said Paul “is working to preserve liberty for all Americans, as guaranteed by our Constitution.”

Paul said this is “a critical year for Republicans, especially in California,” and he’s excited “to join Republicans in California at the convention as we work together to strengthen our great nation.”

Posted on Friday, May 30th, 2014
Under: Rand Paul, Republican Party, Republican politics | 1 Comment »

CA17: Candidates hit the streets to GOTV

The 17th Congressional District‘s candidates are preparing for a busy weekend of getting out the vote.

Democrat Ro Khanna plans a Milpitas rally and canvass kick-off at 9 a.m. Saturday at 1297 E. Calaveras Blvd., featuring Milpitas Mayor Jose Esteves, Vice Mayor Althea Polanski, and Councilwoman Carmen Montano. Then he’ll do a “Students for Ro” canvass kick-off at noon at 3200 Coronado Dr. in Santa Clara; an “Indo-Americans for Ro” canvass kick-off at 3 p.m. at 43255 Mission Blvd., Suite 101 in Fremont; and a phone-bank with local volunteers at 4:30 p.m. at 20111 Stevens Creek Blvd., Suite 130 in Cupertino.

Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, will hold a rally, canvass kick-off and phone bank at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at his campaign’s Cupertino office, 10601 S. De Anza Blvd., unit 106.

And as previously reported here, Republican Vanila Singh will host a rally at 11 a.m. Saturday at her campaign’s headquarters, 1313 N. Milpitas Blvd., Suite 215 in Milpitas, along with other Republicans including gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari, lieutenant governor candidate Ron Nehring and 10th State Senate District candidate Peter Kuo.

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

SD10: Hayashi launches ‘FrackBob.com’ site

Democratic former assemblywoman Mary Hayashi of Hayward has launched another website against her main rival for the 10th State Senate District seat, Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont.

The new “FrackBob.com” site calls attention to Wieckowski’s opposition to a moratorium on fracking, or hydraulic fracturing – the use of pressurized water to break rock formations and free the oil or gas within.

It goes hand-in-hand with a mailer that landed in district voters’ mailboxes this week, and coincides with the failure of a state Senate bill that would’ve imposed just such a moratorium.

Hayashi fracking mailer_1

Hayashi fracking mailer_2

Hayashi’s website features an embedded, brief video clip of Wieckowski, at the Bay Area News Group’s editorial board meeting, saying he doesn’t support a moratorium. But here’s Wieckowski’s full answer to the question:

“I do not support the ban on fracking. As everyone knows, I introduced the first bill to bring transparency to the issue of what was going on with fracking. I spent three years of my life working on two bills that were defeated by a combination of the oil companies and the environmentalists.

“And what we have now as a result of that work, we have regulations that were promulgated that will provide for pre-notification to landowners, disclosure of how much water is being used, disclosure of where the water is going, monitoring of the wellheads after, a website that goes up, complete disclosure of the chemicals that are used in the frack, and also – if you claim ‘trade secret’ – we created a private right of action for any citizen that would be affected by that, if the executive director of DOGGR [Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources] did not challenge the trade secret claim.

“Those are the regulations. That brings transparency so we know what is going on. I’m proud of that.”

Hayashi’s website and mailer say Wieckowski “supports fracking in the Bay Area.” I don’t see that he ever has said anything about this specific region, so I assume Hayashi is concluding that if he doesn’t support a fracking moratorium, he by extension must support fracking anywhere.

“The reality is, there is no oil in the Bay Area, so fracking in the Bay Area would not be happening,” Wieckowski campaign consultant Lisa Tucker said Thursday, adding that California now has the “toughest disclosure law in the country” as a result of Wieckowski’s earlier legislation. “Like all of their communications against Bob, it’s disingenuous and it’s just part of the story.”

The website also features a sound file of a robocall from “Theresa, a longtime Sierra Club member and a lifetime environmentalist” who criticizes Wieckowski’s position. Michelle Myers, director of the club’s Bay Area chapter, said Thursday she has heard from some members who were confused by or concerned about the call.

“We did not make an endorsement in that race,” Myers said, describing the caller’s self-identification “a tactic used by the campaign to identify themselves with the Sierra Club brand, and that is not appropriate.”

At least this website and mailer deal with a real issue on which the candidates have a real difference of opinion. Most of the nasty mailers, ads and websites in this race have either been about Hayashi’s 2012 shoplifting conviction, for which she remains on probation, or Hayashi’s claim that Wieckowski “protected rapists” by voting against a certain bill in committee in 2012, even though he later voted for an amended version on the Assembly floor.

Posted on Thursday, May 29th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Bob Wieckowski, California State Senate, Mary Hayashi | 29 Comments »

Senate OKs bill to require warning labels on soda

The state Senate voted 21-13 Thursday to approve a bill that would require warning labels on the front of all bottles and cans of soda and other sugary drinks sold in California.

sodaSB 1000 by state Sen. Bill Monning, D-Carmel, now goes to the Assembly. If it eventually becomes law, all sugary drink containers would display a warning label – developed by a national panel of nutrition and public health experts – by July 1, 2015, reading: “STATE OF CALIFORNIA SAFETY WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay.”

“Today’s vote is a major step toward warning people about the profoundly harmful effects of consuming liquid sugar,” Dr. Harold Goldstein of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, a sponsor of the bill, said in a news release. “SB 1000 supports consumers’ right to know the facts about diabetes, undiluted by beverage industry spin.”

The bill’s supporters say overwhelming scientific research shows that liquid sugar is uniquely harmful because it gets absorbed so quickly – much faster than solid food – overloading the pancreas and causing the liver to store the sugar as fat, leading to fatty liver disease. This contributes directly to diabetes, which has tripled in the U.S. over the last 30 years.

The California-Nevada Beverage Association issued a statement Thursday saying that “putting government warning labels on more than 500 beverages will do nothing to change personal behaviors or teach people about healthy lifestyles. The last thing California needs is more warning labels. Senate Bill 1000 will only feed the confusion surrounding hundreds of beverages without changing personal habits.”

Foes of the bill say the state shouldn’t waste time and money as the federal Food and Drug Administration undertakes its first major nutrition-label update in 20 years. They also say the bill has confusing exemptions, and obesity and diabetes have many risk factors such as genetics, age, stress and even lack of sleep.

But a recent Field Poll found 74 percent of California voters, including a majority of Republicans and independents, support warning labels on sugary drinks.

Posted on Thursday, May 29th, 2014
Under: Bill Monning, California State Senate | 2 Comments »

California House Dems call for Shinseki to resign

Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle – including some from California – are calling for Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign amid scathing reports that the VA delayed critical care for patients and gamed its own scheduling system.

Reps. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton; Ami Bera, D-Rancho Cordova; and Scott Peters, D-San Diego, are among Democrats who’ve joined with a far larger number of Republicans to urge Shinseki’s ouster. The Military Times is keeping a tally.

From McNerney:

Jerry McNerney“I reviewed today’s preliminary report from the VA Inspector General, and I was deeply troubled by what I read. The unacceptable delays in Phoenix were not an isolated incident, but rather appear to be part of a larger pattern of neglectful actions in certain VA medical facilities. It appears there was even knowledge inside some parts of the VA that standard scheduling practices were not being followed and that veterans were waiting far too long for care. These delays may have even resulted in preventable deaths.

“I believe the best way to restore the confidence of our veterans is for Secretary Shinseki to step down and allow new leadership to initiate an investigation that will first, get to the bottom of these allegations, second, punish anyone who put our veterans at risk, and most importantly ensure that our veterans are getting the timely health care they deserve. An independent investigation of these accusations is the only appropriate way to ensure transparency and fairness throughout the process.

“General Shinseki has my respect and I commend him for his distinguished career as a public servant and as a decorated member of the military. That being said, it’s clear that our veterans deserve a new leader at the VA who can restore confidence and make sure that this never happens again.

“Our veterans and our nation are counting on us to make this right. I intend to do everything in my power to make sure that happens, and I call on the Administration and the VA to devote every necessary resource to fixing this. Those who fought for our nation deserve no less.”

From Bera:

Ami_Bera_official_photo“Our veterans, and their families have sacrificed so much for our country, and they deserve our unwavering support. That’s why I have been working to address problems at the VA and to get our heroes the benefits they are owed since my very first month in office.

The latest report that at least 1,700 veterans in Phoenix were never even placed on a wait list to get the medical care they needed is deeply troubling. This cannot continue. It’s obvious there are very serious systemic and management problems at the VA that we must address. While General Shinseki’s dedication and service to his country are indisputable, these failures that happened under his leadership are unacceptable and it is clear that he must step down.

These problems are much bigger than one person, though, and we must continue to investigate how this occurred, find out if it’s happening elsewhere, and continue to respond. That will likely require more changes at the VA, including holding others who allowed this to happen accountable.”

And on the other side of the aisle, from Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto:

Jeff Denham“In the days following disturbing reports of secret waiting lists created at the Phoenix Park Veterans Affairs Medical Center, we have now learned that this gross mistreatment of our nation’s finest men and women is happening across the country. The way our veterans have been treated in Phoenix and multiple other VA hospitals nationwide is nothing short of criminal.

“One of my most serious responsibilities is to the Central Valley’s veterans. They deserve transparency and quality care. I’ve requested a full review of the Palo Alto VA Medical Center’s scheduling practices to ensure that we are providing the very best care possible and I will not rest until I have answers from our local VA.

“We now know that these problems are widespread and systemic. The Department of Veterans Affairs must have new leadership. Sec. Shinseki has served his country honorably, but we can’t expect accountability within the VA if it doesn’t start at the top. Sec. Shinseki must step down, and drastic changes must take place in order to ensure our veterans receive the care they deserve.”

Posted on Thursday, May 29th, 2014
Under: Ami Bera, Jeff Denham, Jerry McNerney, U.S. House, veterans | 3 Comments »

CA17: Labor PAC boosts Singh to benefit Honda

A national, union-funded political action committee is paying for two mailers, one attacking Democratic congressional candidate Ro Khanna and the other supporting Republican Vanila Singh, both in order to help Rep. Mike Honda.

The Working for Us PAC certainly doesn’t want to see Singh win, but rather hopes that giving Singh a boost among the 17th Congressional District’s Republicans could cost Khanna votes. The goal is at least to give Honda a more comfortable victory margin in next week’s primary election, and at most to propel Singh past Khanna to give Honda an easier contest in November.

The PAC on Thursday filed an electronic notice with the Federal Election Commission announcing it was spending $45,113.69 on direct mail opposing Khanna and $21,425.75 on direct mail supporting Singh.

Click to enlarge:
Labor mailer for Singh_1

Labor mailer for Singh_2

Note the careful wording – “Vanila Singh: The Right Choice for Republicans.”

The Working for Us PAC has been funded in recent years by labor unions including the United Auto Workers; Service Employees International Union; American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and United Food and Commercial Workers. The PAC’s president is veteran strategist Steve Rosenthal, the founder and former CEO of America Coming Together – a labor-funded, national voter mobilization group – and former political director of the AFL-CIO.

“Our primary goal here is to try to ensure the re-election of Mike Honda … who has fought every day of his career to improve the lives of working people,” Rosenthal said Thursday.

“We wanted to make sure Republicans know who the real Republican is,” he said of the pro-Singh mailer, claiming Singh’s and Khanna’s platforms aren’t so far apart.

In reality, this might be more of a headache for Honda than anyone else. Given last week’s poll numbers, it seems unlikely this mailer or anything else will get Singh into the top two – and if it doesn’t change the primary’s outcome, all it’s likely to do is provide Khanna a new talking point against Honda.

“Congressman Honda’s close supporters and Vanila Singh have formed an alliance,” Khanna campaign manager Leah Cowan said Thursday. “This is a desperate move by people who claim to be progressive champions, but spend money propping up a Republican candidate. This is the worst type of old style politics and Congressman Honda should immediately denounce his close supporters who are engaging in this behavior.”

PACs making independent expenditures like this are forbidden by law from coordinating with any candidate’s campaign.

“We had nothing to do with this independent expenditure and aren’t going to be distracted by what other campaigns or groups are doing,” Honda spokesman Vivek Kembaiyan said Thursday. “Our campaign is focused on getting out the vote for Mike Honda on Tuesday and making sure that voters know about Mike’s record of delivering for the middle class families of Silicon Valley.”

But Singh campaign manager Matt Shupe said “if a PAC would like to tell Republican voters that Vanila Singh is the real Republican in the race, then we agree with that message and have been working for months by contacting tens of thousands of voters to inform them of the same thing.”

Khanna asked Honda in January to join him in signing a “People’s Pledge” to shun any independent expenditure committee or super PAC support in this race; Honda, who as an incumbent stood to lose more potential support by signing such a pledge, refused. The Working for Us PAC’s spending is the first independent expenditure in this race.

Joel VanLandingham, the other Republican in the race, called the PAC’s action “extremely disturbing.”

“The fact that they’re doing that with her (Singh) proves she’s an extremely soft target,” said VanLandingham, who has refused to accept contributions for his campaign. “This is the very, very reason I’ve been pushing the no-money campaign.”

Posted on Thursday, May 29th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 23 Comments »

Politicos remember Maya Angelou

When we come to it
We, this people, on this minuscule and kithless globe
Who reach daily for the bomb, the blade and the dagger
Yet who petition in the dark for tokens of peace
We, this people on this mote of matter
In whose mouths abide cankerous words
Which challenge our very existence
Yet out of those same mouths
Come songs of such exquisite sweetness
That the heart falters in its labor
And the body is quieted into awe

We, this people, on this small and drifting planet
Whose hands can strike with such abandon
That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living
Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness
That the haughty neck is happy to bow
And the proud back is glad to bend
Out of such chaos, of such contradiction
We learn that we are neither devils nor divines

When we come to it
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and every woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety
Without crippling fear

When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world
That is when, and only when
We come to it.

– From “A Brave and Startling Truth” by Maya Angelou, written for and first read at the 50th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations in 1995

Politicos near and far commemorated the death of poet and author Maya Angelou on Wednesday.

From President Barack Obama:

“When her friend Nelson Mandela passed away last year, Maya Angelou wrote that ‘No sun outlasts its sunset, but will rise again, and bring the dawn.’

“Today, Michelle and I join millions around the world in remembering one of the brightest lights of our time – a brilliant writer, a fierce friend, and a truly phenomenal woman. Over the course of her remarkable life, Maya was many things – an author, poet, civil rights activist, playwright, actress, director, composer, singer and dancer. But above all, she was a storyteller – and her greatest stories were true. A childhood of suffering and abuse actually drove her to stop speaking – but the voice she found helped generations of Americans find their rainbow amidst the clouds, and inspired the rest of us to be our best selves. In fact, she inspired my own mother to name my sister Maya.

“Like so many others, Michelle and I will always cherish the time we were privileged to spend with Maya. With a kind word and a strong embrace, she had the ability to remind us that we are all God’s children; that we all have something to offer. And while Maya’s day may be done, we take comfort in knowing that her song will continue, ‘flung up to heaven’ – and we celebrate the dawn that Maya Angelou helped bring.

More, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, May 28th, 2014
Under: Attorney General, Barbara Lee, Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House | 2 Comments »

Senate OKs bills inspired by care-home fiasco

The state Senate on Wednesday approved two bills that aim to prevent future snafus like that which led to more than a dozen senior citizens being abandoned at a Castro Valley residential care home in October after the state ordered it shut down.

SB 894 aims to strengthen and clarify the obligations of the California Department of Social Services and a licensee when that license is suspended or revoked, to ensure safe relocation of residents when a facility closure happens. The senate approved this bill on a 27-8 vote.

And SB 895 aims to bolster the assisted-living facility inspection process by requiring that unannounced, comprehensive inspections of all residential care facilities for the elderly occur at least once per year, and more often if necessary to ensure the proper quality of care. The senate approved this bill on a 36-0 vote.

In the 1970s and 1980s, DSS’ Community Care Licensing Division inspected residential care facilities twice a year. But budget cuts reduced that number to once a year in the 1990s, and inspections were reduced further in 2004 to once every five years.

State Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, D-Hayward, authored both bills, which are part of a legislative package sponsored by the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform.

“Following the tragedy at Valley Springs Manor in Castro Valley last year, it is clear that assisted living facility residents deserve improved protections and safeguards that ensure they will remain safe both while living at those facilities, as well as if and when those group residences are closed,” Corbett said in a news release Wednesday.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, May 28th, 2014
Under: California State Senate, Ellen Corbett | No Comments »

CA15: Corbett says Swalwell mail is ‘based on lies’

State Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett is seeing red over a new campaign mailer from Rep. Eric Swalwell that takes liberties with her legislative attendance record.

The mailer Swalwell, D-Dublin, sent to 15th Congressional District voters doubles down on claims, previously made in a mailer and television ad two weeks ago, that Corbett, D-Hayward, missed 949 votes in the Legislature; pocketed $32,000 in per diem expenses for days she didn’t show up; and accepted her $95,000 annual salary in the Senate.

Click to enlarge:
Corbett attendance back

Corbett attendance front

Swalwell’s campaign provided an opposition research memo it says backs up the claims – but that memo notes Corbett has a 97 percent attendance record in the Senate and a 98 percent attendance rate in the Assembly. Remember, she has served in the Legislature for 14 years.

Also, most of the absences for which she allegedly claimed per diem pay was for “legislative business” on days in which there were no votes taken.

And above all that, “there are serious discrepancies in this opposition research, there are days I did not take per diem and they say that I did,” Corbett said Wednesday. “This is all very tightly controlled – you must be present to receive per diem or you must be on legislative business, and records are kept.”

Even were all those absences accurate, a 97- to 98-percent attendance rate is nothing to sneeze at, she said. “Their own research tells you that I have an excellent attendance record, that I do work hard. … They are making false allegations, there are blatant lies.”

Corbett said Swalwell “will say anything to get elected, and that’s the worst kind of politician; his own research proves that this campaign mailing is based on lies.” She accused him of adhering to the age-old campaign strategy that “if you don’t have your own strong record to talk about, then you say false things about your opponent. I’ve seen it time and time again, it’s very disappointing.”

Posted on Wednesday, May 28th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, California State Senate, Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, U.S. House | 12 Comments »