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Archive for May, 2014

CA17: Honda hits Khanna again on work record

Rep. Mike Honda’s campaign has sent out another mailing claiming Democratic challenger Ro Khanna “resigned from Commerce Department after missing performance marks,” but when pressed, acknowledges there was no relation between the two.

Khanna’s campaign also is reiterating that he left the Commerce Department with plaudits from his superiors, and Khanna is now airing a new online ad calling attention to Honda’s attacks.

Click to enlarge:
Honda mailer 1

Honda mailer 2

The Honda mailer says Khanna “worked as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce, where his department failed to meet four out of six performance targets. He resigned after just two years to switch careers again.”

As I wrote a few weeks ago of a previous Honda mailer, this claim is based on a Government Accountability Office report from September 2011 which gauged the success of the department’s U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service in supporting President Obama’s National Export Initiative, launched in 2010. “In fiscal year 2012, CS will implement revised performance measures that align more closely with the NEI,” a summary says. “Although CS did not meet four of its six performance targets in 2010, it achieved increases in most of its measures as it shifted to address NEI priorities.”

Khanna was a Deputy Assistant Commerce Secretary from August 2009 to August 2011; his name does not appear anywhere in the 71-page GAO report. And Khanna’s campaign provided an August 2011 letter from Francisco Sanchez, then the Commerce Department’s Under Secretary for International Trade, commending Khanna for “leading an important agency during challenging economic times” and rendering valuable service to the nation.

Asked whether Honda is implying the GAO report led to Khanna’s departure from Commerce, spokesman Vivek Kembaiyan said he stood by the quote he gave me last time. “We’re saying that Khanna has a record of trying to build his resume, rather than actual public service,” Kembaiyan had said. “This explains why he was so absent on the Parks & Rec commission, and why he left Commerce after just two years. He started raising money to run for Congress just one month after he left Commerce.”

In other words, whatever the mailer’s implication, they are NOT claiming Khanna left Commerce because of the GAO report.

Khanna spokesman Tyler Law said Honda “is continuing to mischaracterize Ro’s record.”

“But the facts are clear: Ro oversaw 108 domestic offices and implemented the President’s National Export Initiative, fought for labor to have a seat at the table, led clean technology trade missions abroad, and delivered a critical manufacturing grant to Fremont, amongst many other accomplishments. Frankly, the Honda campaign’s attempt to rewrite the truth is bizarre,” Law said. “Ro has run a positive campaign focusing on growing the economy to create good paying jobs, ensuring people have the skills needed in the 21st century, leading by example on government reform, and championing an internet bill of rights. These are the issues that are relevant to improving the lives of people in the 17th district — not Ro’s college election nearly two decades ago.”

Khanna launched this online ad Wednesday that features this very Honda mailer:

In other 17th Congressional District news, California Attorney General Kamala Harris attended a fundraiser for Honda on Tuesday night at the San Francisco home of venture capitalist Andy Rappaport and his wife, Deborah. “He has been an effective champion in Congress on behalf of California’s justice system and has been there for its residents on a range of issues: from fighting to end domestic violence, improving public safety, ensuring civil rights of all people are protected and putting a stop to drug trafficking,” Harris said of Honda in a news release issued Wednesday morning. “Silicon Valley needs Congressman Honda’s effective leadership and it is my sincere hope we can continue to gain from it for years to come.”

Posted on Wednesday, May 28th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 15 Comments »

‘Gun violence restraining order’ bill proposed

Lawmakers reacted to the Santa Barbara shooting by announcing plans Tuesday for a bill to create a “gun violence restraining order.”

The bill would establish a system in which concerned relatives, intimate partners or friends can notify police about someone showing a propensity toward violence, so police can investigate and seek a judge’s order to seize that person’s firearms and prevent any purchases.

Current law lets that process start only when therapists notify police that a client is at risk of committing a violent act. Family members can call police, but if no crime has been committed and the individual doesn’t meet criteria for an involuntary civil commitment to mental health treatment, there isn’t anything police can do about that person’s firearms.

“When someone is in crisis, the people closest to them are often the first to spot the warning signs,” Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, said in a news release. “Parents, like the mother who tried to intervene, deserve an effective tool they can act on to help prevent these tragedies.”

Skinner will co-author the bill with Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara, and state Sen. Hannah Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara. “The tragic incident in my hometown of Isla Vista is not a result of gun laws failing,” Williams said. “Rather, it is a horrific example of how our mental health laws and gun control laws are not working together.”

Also, state Senate Democrats will present a package of mental health policy and budget proposals Wednesday in Sacramento “to address mental healthcare within California’s criminal justice system, recidivism and public safety,” according to a release from Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg’s office. “The package includes a proposal to strengthen and apply statewide protocols to help frontline law enforcement identify signs of mental illness.”

Posted on Tuesday, May 27th, 2014
Under: Assembly, California State Senate, gun control, Nancy Skinner | 4 Comments »

Lee, Pelosi disagree on Obama’s Afghanistan plan

Bay Area House members differed Tuesday on President Obama’s announcement of plans to draw down U.S. forces in Afghanistan by the end of this year and completely end the U.S. military commitment by the end of 2016.

Obama said he will cut the current U.S. force of 32,000 troops to about 9,800 as the U.S. combat mission formally ends later this year; the remainder will stay there to focus on training Afghan security forces and on counterterrorism efforts. The 9,800 will be halved and consolidated in Kabul and at Bagram Air Field, the main U.S. base in Afghanistan, over 2015, and fewer than 1,000 will remain after 2016 to staff a security office in Kabul.

From House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco:

Nancy Pelosi“Today, President Obama announced a path forward to fulfill his core promise: to enhance the security of the American people, to end the war in Afghanistan responsibly, and to bring us closer to the day when all of our troops can come safely home.

“The course of action unveiled today moves our nation step-by-step to a conclusion of the long conflict in Afghanistan. This strategy will ensure our military maintains a strong enough presence to continue supporting counter-terrorism operations, train Afghan security forces, and build on the efforts to return responsibility for the safety of the Afghan people to Afghanistan’s leaders themselves.

“The longest war in American history is now coming to an end. We have reached this moment thanks to the bravery of our troops and the sacrifices they and their families have made over more than a decade of conflict. As these men and women prepare to return home, we express our unending gratitude for their service and rededicate ourselves to never lose focus on our common mission: to protect the security of all Americans, preserve freedom for all families, and promote peace worldwide.”

From Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland:

Barbara Lee (Dec-2010)“I respectfully disagree with plans announced today to leave nearly 10,000 troops and an unknown number of contractors in Afghanistan beyond 2014 and to extend U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan until 2016.

“After thirteen years at war, it’s obvious that there is no military solution in Afghanistan and it is far past time to end the war and bring all of our troops home now.

“At the very least, Congress should debate and vote on this agreement that will keep our troops in Afghanistan for years to come and will cost billions more in spending. Enough is enough.”

Posted on Tuesday, May 27th, 2014
Under: Afghanistan, Barack Obama, Barbara Lee, Nancy Pelosi, Obama presidency, U.S. House | 3 Comments »

CA15: No, Swalwell didn’t vote for Ryan’s budget

State Sen. Ellen Corbett tells a bit of tall tale in one of her latest mailers attacking fellow Democrat Rep. Eric Swalwell, whom she’s trying to unseat in the 15th Congressional District.

The mailer’s front offers check-boxes for “Paul Ryan’s Republican Budget” and the “House Progressive Caucus Budget,” and asks, “Which one did Eric Swalwell choose?” Inside, the mailer claims Swalwell chose “Paul Ryan’s Radical Republican Budget.”

Click to enlarge:
Corbett mailer - front

Corbett mailer - inside top

Corbett mailer - inside bottom

Corbett mailer - back

The mailer details the Spring 2013 budget battle in which House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., offered a conservative budget, while liberal Democrats offered their own alternatives.

“On March 20, 2013, the House of Representatives voted on a motion to replace the Ryan budget with the House Progressive ‘Back to Work Budget.’ How did our Representative vote? Eric Swalwell voted with Paul Ryan – and against the Progressive Budget!” Corbett’s mailer reads. “The same day, Swalwell voted against an alternative by the Congressional Black Caucus that would also have protected vital services.”

“Eric Swalwell says he represents Democratic values, but when forced to choose between Paul Ryan and House Progressives, he made the wrong choice,” the mailer concludes.

Except Swalwell did NOT vote for the Ryan budget.

It’s true that Swalwell voted against the House Progressive Caucus Budget, which failed on an 84-327 vote. In the Bay Area, only the most consistently liberal members voted for it: Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; Mike Honda, D-San Jose; Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael; and Sam Farr, D-Santa Cruz.

Joining Swalwell in voting against it were House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco; Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose; Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo; and Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto; George Miller, D-Martinez; and Mike Thompson, D-Napa, didn’t vote.

And the Congressional Black Caucus’ proposed budget failed on a 105-305 vote, with the Bay Area’s delegation all voting the same way as on the progressive caucus budget except for Pelosi, who didn’t vote.

But when it came time to vote on Ryan’s budget the next day, not a single Democrat voted for it; it passed on a 221-207 vote.

Clearly Corbett identifies with the Bay Area’s most liberal voices, the Lee/Honda/Huffman/Farr camp, while Swalwell sided with what passes for moderates in this region (though the rest of the nation would probably take issue with calling Pelosi, Speier, Lofgren and such “moderate”).

However, to say Swalwell chose “Paul Ryan’s radical Republican budget” is simply not true.

UPDATE @ 11:56 A.M.: I neglected to mention that Swalwell and every other Bay Area Democrat (except Miller, who didn’t vote) supported the mainstream Democratic alternative budget that was put forth during that March 2013 budget fight; it failed on a 165-253 vote.

Posted on Tuesday, May 27th, 2014
Under: Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, U.S. House | 54 Comments »

CA17: Singh to hold GOTV rally with Kashkari

Congressional candidate Vanila Singh will host a rally at her campaign’s headquarters in Milpitas this Saturday, May 31, with a slew of other Republicans including gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari.

“The Silicon Valley has never seen a Republican ‘Get-Out-The-Vote’ effort like this before,” Dr. Singh said in a statement issued Monday.

Also scheduled to attend are Ron Nehring, a former state GOP chairman who now is running for lieutenant governor; 10th State Senate District candidate Peter Kuo, 20th Assembly District candidate Jaime Patino; and 28th Assembly District candidate Chuck Page, as well as party leaders such as Alameda County Republican Party Chairwoman Sue Caro.

The rally is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at Singh’s campaign headquarters, 1313 N. Milpitas Blvd, Suite 215 in Milpitas. Singh is running to unseat Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, in the 17th Congressional District; also in the race are Democrat Ro Khanna and Republican Joel VanLandingham. A poll conducted last week found Singh running a distant third behind Honda and Khanna.

Singh launched her second television ad Saturday:

Posted on Monday, May 26th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Mike Honda, Neel Kashkari, U.S. House | 4 Comments »

CA17: Poll shows Honda with commanding lead

A new poll shows Rep. Mike Honda with a commanding lead over fellow Democrat Ro Khanna and two Republicans in the June 3 primary election.

Honda, D-San Jose, is at 40 percent, Khanna is at 21 percent, Vanila Singh is at 8 percent and Joel VanLandingham is at 6 percent with 24 percent still undecided, in the poll of 528 17th Congressional District voters who either already have cast vote-by-mail ballots or are likely to vote by or on June 3.

The poll – conducted Tuesday through Thursday by SurveyUSA on behalf of San Francisco’s KPIX-TV – has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

“This poll shows that voters overwhelmingly prefer Congressman Honda and want him to continue his record of delivering for the district,” Doug Greven, Honda’s campaign manager, said Friday. “Mike Honda has a strong 40 percent in a four-way primary race, while Ro Khanna has squandered what was once a $1.3 million advantage last year to barely get half the support that Congressman Honda has.”

The poll’s release comes on the heels of new Federal Election Commission reports showing Honda’s campaign now has a slight cash-on-hand edge over Khanna’s for the first time, pointing to a more level playing field this summer and fall should the two of them finish on top in the June 3 primary.

But those now supporting Singh or VanLandingham might be more inclined to vote in November for Khanna than for Honda, who is one of the House’s most liberal members. And this poll already shows Khanna leading Honda among independents, who account for almost 32 percent of the district’s registered voters.

“We’re pulling close and have the momentum because Ro is laying out a concrete and positive vision for how to prepare people for the jobs of the 21st Century and how to reform the dysfunctional Congress that is standing in the way of that progress,” Khanna spokesman Tyler Law said Friday. “People are tired of the status quo and are looking for fresh energy and a new direction. That’s what Ro’s offering and the voters are responding.”

Posted on Friday, May 23rd, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 39 Comments »

Longtime lawmaker John Vasconcellos is ailing

Longtime South Bay lawmaker John Vasconcellos is ailing, friends say.

Vasconcellos, 82, has been hospitalized at O’Connor Hospital in San Jose, but will probably be moved to his Santa Clara condo Friday or Saturday at his request for end-of-life hospice care. Relatives reportedly are planning a farewell celebration in which he can participate.

vasconcellos tweet

Vasconcellos, a Democrat, served in the Assembly from 1967 to 1996 and in the state Senate from 1996 to 2004, making him the longest-serving legislator in California’s history. His long chairmanship of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee – later renamed the Appropriations Committee – made him one of Sacramento’s foremost budget wonks, but he also championed causes such as voting rights for teenagers, medical marijuana and self-esteem.

In 2002 he founded the Vasconcellos Legacy Project “to counter the cynicism that was poisoning our political discourse. The VLP was dedicated to the proposition that positive political change is possible, especially because we human beings are innately inclined toward the good.” The project’s “Politics of Trust” initiative seeks to replace society’s partisan, gridlocked, dysfunctional politics with a new model “based on our highest aspirations and a new, healing vision.”

Posted on Friday, May 23rd, 2014
Under: Assembly, California State Senate | 1 Comment »

AD16: Glazer blasted for appeal to GOP voters

A Democratic Assembly candidate’s appeal to Republican voters has drawn a stern rebuke from state GOP Chairman Jim Brulte.

Steve Glazer, an Orinda councilman and former political advisor to Gov. Jerry Brown who now is seeking the 16th Assembly District seat, sent out a mailer recently urging Republicans to “put an effective fiscal conservative in the state Assembly” by voting for him.

The mailer included statements of praise for Glazer from three Republicans who hold local elected offices: Orinda Mayor Sue Severson, Lafayette Mayor Don Tatzin and Moraga Councilman Dave Trotter.

Click to enlarge:
Glazer Republican mailer

“The California Republican Party believes that a Republican can’t win in our Assembly District,” Severson said in her statement on the mailer. “Don’t throw away your vote. Vote Steve Glazer for Assembly.”

But the California Republican Party has included 16th Assembly District candidate Catharine Baker, a Dublin attorney, in its “Trailblazers” program – a recruitment, training and advisory program for state legislative candidates.

“A pro-tax liberal Democrat like Steve Glazer can try all he wants to deceive Republican voters to vote for him, however, as Chairman of the Republican Party, I speak on behalf of California Republicans,” Brulte said in a statement issued Friday morning. “I can assure you that the CRP, the Alameda Republican Party and the Contra Costa Republican Party are doing everything possible to win the 16th Assembly District. We are confident Republican Catharine Baker will be the top vote-getter in the primary. A Republican will win the 16th Assembly District and Catharine Baker is that Republican.”

The 16th District’s voters are about 40 percent Democrats, 32 percent Republicans and 22 percent nonpartisan. Two other Democrats – Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti and Danville Mayor Newell Arnerich – are also in the race, and experts believe either Glazer or Sbranti will finish with Baker in the top two in June 3’s primary.

Posted on Friday, May 23rd, 2014
Under: Uncategorized | 15 Comments »

CA17: Honda has more cash on hand than Khanna

Rep. Mike Honda’s re-election campaign now has a slight cash-on-hand edge over Democratic challenger Ro Khanna’s, pointing to a more level playing field this summer and fall should the two of them finish on top in the June 3 primary.

honda.jpgNew reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission for the 17th Congressional District race show Honda’s campaign had $1,038,360 cash on hand with $64,984 in debts as of May 14, while Khanna’s campaign had $1,009,673 cash on hand with $185,123 in debts.

Also, Honda’s campaign has reported raising $36,100 in contributions of $1,000 or more each since May 14, and while Khanna’s has reported $16,000 in such contributions.

Khanna over the course of this election cycle has raised about $3.8 million and spent about $2.7 million, while Honda has raised about $2.1 million and spent about $1.2 million.

“The fact that Khanna’s campaign feels the need to spend $3 million just to make it into the general election means that Ro Khanna is still not getting any traction with voters, while he is quickly running out of resources,” said Doug Greven, Honda’s campaign manager. “Voters overwhelmingly prefer Congressman Honda and want him to continue his record of delivering for the district, and our campaign will continue to save our resources to communicate that message to voters in the general election.”

Honda’s campaign believes that his incumbency and name recognition will tilt things in his favor between the primary and general elections if he and Khanna have roughly the same money to spend on advertising; Honda also is counting on greater turnout in November to bring him more votes.

Ro KhannaBut Khanna campaign spokesman Tyler Law said he’s sure “no one is surprised that we made smart investments with our resources ahead of the primary.”

“It’s what helped us reach out to over 240,000 voters, hold 173 meet-and-greets, and introduce Ro on both TV and mail,” Law said. “Ro has built an unparalleled grassroots organization, received every major newspaper endorsement, and stuck to talking about the issues that really matter. Frankly, the Honda campaign wouldn’t have avoided all debates and wouldn’t be paying to spread false attacks about Ro if they were confident in their standing with the voters.”

Republican Vanila Singh’s pre-primary report could not be found on the FEC’s website Thursday afternoon. Republican Joel VanLandingham has not raised any money for his campaign.

Meanwhile, in the 15th Congressional District, Rep. Eric Swalwell maintains his solid fundraising lead over fellow Democrat Ellen Corbett and Republican Hugh Bussell.

Swalwell’s campaign had $696,587 cash on hand with no debts as of May 14; Corbett’s campaign had $116,033 cash on hand and $18,000 in debts; and Bussell’s campaign had $3,236 cash on hand and $1,740 in debt – a loan he made to his own campaign.

Swalwell over the course of this election cycle has raised about $1.5 million and spent about $830,000; Corbett has raised about $386,000 and spent about $270,000; and Bussell has rasied $4,300 and spent about $2,800.

Posted on Thursday, May 22nd, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 11 Comments »

Steyer urges Brown to convene energy summit

San Francisco billionaire Tom Steyer has written a letter urging Gov. Jerry Brown to convene a “California Energy Summit” with the oil industry, clean energy companies, environmentalists and citizens to discuss things like a halt to fracking and levying an oil extraction tax.

The governor won’t commit.

“We haven’t received the letter yet, but the governor regularly speaks with Tom on climate change issues, as he does with a diverse group of academic, industry and environmental leaders,” Brown spokesman Evan Westrup said Thursday. “We look forward to continuing those discussions.”

Steyer – a former hedge-fund manager who has created NextGen Climate as a vehicle to influence the climate-change debate – wrote to Brown on Wednesday citing the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s 96-percent downgrade in its estimate of how much oil current technology can recover from the Monterey Shale.

“In a single but far-reaching action, the federal government has completely dispelled the economic illusion hanging over the ongoing debate over new oil exploration and extraction in the State of California,” Steyer wrote. “With this new report, the Monterey Shale mirage is gone. Now, it is time to hit the reset button, call Big Oil’s bluff and force them to the table in an effort to finally give Californians a Fair Shake.”

Steyer wrote that he knows Brown has “long acknowledged that climate change is a real threat to California and our world. As recently as this week, you rightfully stated that California is ‘the epicenter of climate change.’”

“California deserves a Fair Shake for our climate, for our economy and for our families,” he wrote. “Our state currently gives Big Oil a unique $2 billion tax subsidy that no other state in the country offers. This must stop.”

Steyer is championing a movement to enact an oil extraction tax; California is the nation’s only oil-producing state that doesn’t charge such a tax.

“And local California communities deserve a guarantee that Big Oil cannot rush to extract oil through fracking or other experimental drilling methods until oil companies have proved, beyond a reasonable doubt, that they have the toughest, safest and most rigorous safeguards in place to ensure that California’s local communities don’t suffer for the sake of Big Oil’s bottom line,” Steyer wrote.

Brown in May 2013 said “the fossil fuel deposits in California are incredible, the potential is extraordinary.” Environmental groups urged Brown to support a fracking moratorium, but the governor resisted. In September, he signed a law creating new fracking regulations, including a permitting process, notification of neighbors, public disclosure of chemicals used and groundwater- and air-quality monitoring.

State Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, is carrying a moratorium bill now, but the Senate Appropriations Committee voted unanimously Monday to put SB 1132 into the suspense file – essentially putting it on indefinite hold. Mitchell issued a statement Thursday morning saying the new EIA report means “there’s no ocean of black gold that fracking is going to release tomorrow, leaving California awash in profits and jobs. We have the time, the need and, in SB 1132, the mandate to halt fracking while we determine if and how it can be done safely in California. Let’s pass the bill and halt fracking until due diligence can assure us it won’t put workers and residents in danger.”

Steyer concluded his letter to Brown by arguing the new facts “present an opportunity to hold an honest conversation about climate change and oil extraction in California.”

“Now is the time to act, and I urge you to convene stakeholders—from the oil industry and the clean energy, environmental and scientific communities, as well as local citizens — for an historic California Energy Summit to make sure that California gets a Fair Shake,” he wrote.

Posted on Thursday, May 22nd, 2014
Under: Environment, Global warming, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown | 2 Comments »