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SD7: California Democratic Party endorses Bonilla

The California Democratic Party has endorsed Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla in the East Bay’s 7th State Senate District special election.

Susan BonillaBonilla, D-Concord, issued a news release Saturday announcing the decision had been made at a local endorsing caucus, made up of Democrats living in the senate district and convened by the state party. Bonilla said she got 87 out of 119 votes cast – that’s 73 percent, well above the 60 percent needed for an endorsement.

“I’m proud to have the support of local Democrats and the California Democratic Party,” Bonilla said in her release. “As a lifelong Democrat, this endorsement is deeply meaningful to me. I’m proud to be our party’s standard-bearer in the March 17th Primary.”

It’s not such great news for former Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, the other prominent Democrat in the race. Michelle Henry, Buchanan’s campaign manager, said via email Saturday that Buchanan is “very proud to have received the support and endorsements of so many of the local Democratic Clubs in SD 7 – the TriValley Democratic Club, Democrats of Rossmoor and the Diablo Valley Democratic Club – as well as nearly 80 locally elected individuals.”

Bonilla picked up the Concord Democratic Club’s endorsement this past week, and generally has picked up more prominent endorsements than Buchanan, including that of the person they hope to succeed, now-Rep. Mark DeSaulnier.

Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer, also a Democrat, is in the race but has burned enough bridges with his party – and with the unions that play so prominent a role in it – that he stood no chance of getting the state party’s endorsement. The fourth Democrat in the race is Terry Kremin of Concord, a relative unknown who ran for city council in 2010. The race’s lone Republican is Michaela Hertle, a cloud-computing businesswoman from Pleasanton.

UPDATE @ 4:50 P.M.: Concord City Councilman Edi Birsan posted this on his Facebook page Saturday:

Edi BirsanPolitics- Just came from the Democratic Party pre-endorsement vote. The local County Central Committee voted as best as I can tell 13-6 or 8 for Joan Buchanan over Susan Bonilla. BUT there is a rule in the Democratic Party state by laws that allows for any state legislator can have 2 votes in any such endorsement election if their ‘proxy’ lives in the district. So as a result all the outside Democrat legislators from San Diego to the Oregon border can be pressured to have their ‘proxy’ provided by the candidate(s) cast votes. The final count was Bonilla (a current legislator) 87 vs 29 for Buchannan (past legislator) and 3 for No Endorsement. Thus with 73.2% of the vote Bonilla got the party endorsement.

NOW, what makes this interesting even more, is that this procedure (having outside legislators cast votes using designated proxy’s) has been greatly discredited and has already been removed from the Party By-Laws, but it does not take place till May June, so this may be the last endorsement done under these rules. The primary election is March 17.

Politics, the most expensive form of entertainment our tax dollars are forced to buy.

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Taking sides: This week’s endorsement roundup

We’ve got a few hot races to watch even though it’s January of an off year (as if we have any off years anymore), and the endorsements have been coming hot and heavy this week.

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U.S. Senate 2016

Kamala Harris (D) – Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson (1/26); Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael (1/27); Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey (1/27); San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee (1/28); Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf (1/29); Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia (1/30)

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7th State Senate District special election

Susan Bonilla (D) – AFSCME Council 57 and Local 2700 (1/26); International Brotherhood of Boilermakers (1/27); California Professional Firefighters (1/28); Concord Democratic Club (1/29)

Joan Buchanan (D) – California Teachers Association (1/27)

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Follow after the jump for a few thoughts on these…
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Jerry Brown proclaims today ‘Fred Korematsu Day’

Gov. Jerry Brown has issued a proclamation deeming Friday a day for celebration of an East Bay hero:

When Fred T. Korematsu received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998, President Clinton said that “in the long history of our country’s constant search for justice, some names of ordinary citizens stand for millions of souls — Plessy, Brown, Parks. To that distinguished list today we add the name of Fred Korematsu.”

Fred Korematsu was, in the best sense of both words, an ordinary hero. A native Californian, born and raised in Oakland and a welder by trade, he simply refused to accept his government’s order to relocate under the brutal and misguided policy of Japanese-American internment during World War II. Korematsu’s staunch determination to be treated like the loyal American citizen he was came to define his life story, in both his decades-long legal battle against internment and his later recognition as a leader in the cause of civil rights. On this 96th anniversary of his birth, we remember him as one who resisted injustice during a dark chapter in our nation’s history, and later worked tirelessly to prevent its repetition.

NOW THEREFORE I, EDMUND G. BROWN JR., Governor of the State of California, do hereby proclaim January 30th 2015, as “Fred Korematsu Day.”

IN WITNESS WHEREOF I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of California to be affixed this 30th day of January 2015.

Actor, activist and social-media phenomenon George Takei – who as a child was interned with his family in a relocation camp – will keynote the 5th Annual Fred Korematsu Day Celebration at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the City Arts and Lectures-Nourse Theatre in San Francisco.

Some Bay Area folks were tweeting on Korematsu today:

Also, California isn’t the only state to mark this day, and some would like to see this made a national holiday.

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Bill would raise California’s smoking age to 21

California’s legal minimum age for smoking would rise from 18 to 21 under a newly introduced state Senate Bill.

“Tobacco companies know that people are more likely to become addicted to smoking if they start at a young age,” state Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina, said in a news release issued Thursday. “We can no longer afford to sit on the sidelines while big tobacco markets to our kids and gets another generation of young people hooked on a product that will ultimately kill them. That is why I believe we need legislation like SB 151.”

“We need to wake up and stop making it so easy for tobacco companies to poison generation after generation of Californians,” said Hernandez, who chairs the Senate Health Committee.

Though smoking generally is on the decline, tobacco remains the leading cause of preventable death in the United States with 480,000 people dying each year, including 40,000 from effects of secondhand smoke, Hernandez noted. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports tobacco use kills more people per year than alcohol, murders, illegal drugs, AIDS, and motor vehicle accidents combined.

California would be the first state to raise the minimum age so high. The legal minimum age to buy tobacco products is 18 in 46 states; Alabama, Alaska, New Jersey and Utah have raised it to 19, as have New York’s Onondaga and Nassau counties and some Massachusetts towns. The minimum age is 21 in New York City; New York’s Suffolk County; Evanston, Ill.; Columbia, Mo.; Englewood, N.J., Hawaii County, Hawaii; and several Massachusetts towns.

Tim Gibbs, senior director of government relations for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, said raising the legal age to 21 “will help get tobacco out of the hands of teenagers when they are young and most vulnerable to the tobacco industry’s predatory model of recruiting lifetime addicts.”

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San Jose’s Ash Kalra to launch Assembly bid

It’s never too early to start that 2016 campaign, folks.

Perhaps taking a page from California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who already is pumping out endorsements of her 2016 campaign to succeed U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, San Jose City Councilman Ash Kalra this Saturday will launch his Democratic campaign to succeed Assemblywoman Nora Campos as she’s term-limited out of her 27th District seat in 2016.

Ash KalraIf elected, Kalra, 43, would be the first Indian-American ever to serve in the California Legislature.

Kalra says he’ll be joined for the rollout – set for 2 p.m. Saturday at the Friendship Hall on East Santa Clara Street in San Jose – by California State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, California Board of Equalization Member Fiona Ma, state Sen. Jim Beall, Assemblyman Kansen Chu, Santa Clara County Supervisors Dave Cortese and Cindy Chavez, San Jose Councilmembers Raul Peralez and Donald Rocha, and more than 200 community members.

The 27th Assembly District encompasses much of San Jose, from downtown to the East Side, Evergreen, Silver Creek, Little Saigon, Alum Rock, Edenvale, Seven Trees, Communication Hill, Japantown, and the Monterey Corridor.

Kalra, first elected to the city council in 2002, represents District 2, the city’s southern region. He’s a professor at Lincoln Law School of San José, and earlier was an instructor at San José State University. Before his election, he worked for 11 years as an attorney for the Santa Clara County Public Defender’s Office representing indigent clients in Drug Treatment Court.

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Obama’s AG nominee opposes pot legalization

Loretta Lynch, President Obama’s nominee to become U.S. Attorney General, told senators at her confirmation hearing Wednesday that she opposes legalization of marijuana.

Questioned by U.S. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., Lynch – currently the top federal prosecutor for part of New York City and all of Long Island – said she doesn’t agree with President Obama’s comments comparing marijuana to alcohol.

“I certainly think that the president was speaking from his personal experience and personal opinion, neither of which I’m able to share,” she said. “But I can tell you that not only do I not support legalization of marijuana, it is not the position of the Department of Justice currently to support the legalization, nor would it be the position should I become confirmed as attorney general.”

The federal Controlled Substances Act deems marijuana to have no valid medical use and a high risk of addiction, and so bans its cultivation, sale, possession and use. Obama in early 2014 told the New Yorker that he believes marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol, a comment that brought criticism from anti-drug activists.

Current U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in August 2013 told the governors of Washington and Colorado – states which had voted in 2012 to legalize recreational marijuana, in conflict with federal law – that the Justice Department will let them implement their laws. At the same time, Deputy Attorney General James Cole issued a memo to U.S. attorneys across the country outlining priorities for federal prosecutors enforcing marijuana laws – including those in the 20 states including California that have legalized marijuana for medical use. California activists hope to put a recreational legalization measure on the November 2016 ballot.

Legalization opponents hailed Lynch’s testimony Wednesday.

“Loretta Lynch could have skirted the issue of legalization by simply repeating DOJ’s policy of select intervention, but she tackled it head on. We are breathing a sigh of relief,” said Kevin Sabet, who used to work in the White House drug czar’s office and now is president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana. “Ms. Lynch is a knowledgeable, experienced, justice-minded individual, and for her to come out so adamantly against legalization is extremely encouraging. It will give our efforts a shot in the arm. We look forward to working with her on these important matters if she is confirmed by the Senate.”