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Whitman: Reward state workers for losing weight?

Reporters covering Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman’s visit to Cisco Systems in San Jose this morning only wanted to know what she knew and when she knew it about her former housekeeper who turned out to be an illegal immigrant.

But there was something Whitman said during her chat with Cisco CEO John Chambers and several hundred employees that might’ve made a headline on any other day: State workers might want to start watching their weight if she’s elected.

A Cisco employee teleconferenced into the event from Pleasanton asked the candidate about how to increase access to and affordability of health care. Whitman replied by saying there are examples to follow in corporate America; as an example she cited Pleasanton-based Safeway, which provided financial incentives for workers to control their blood pressure, lose weight and not smoke. The company’s health care costs have remained flat as a result, she said.

“Maybe we can start with state employees,” she said, drawing a chuckle from the audience which seemed to make her realize just what she was proposing. “I’ve just made news, which is something you really don’t want to do.”

More of Whitman’s Cisco appearance, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, September 29th, 2010
Under: 2010 governor's race, Meg Whitman | No Comments »

Steve Cooley swipes at Jerry Brown, CARB chair

I spoke today with Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley, the Republican nominee for California attorney general, for an article on the AG’s race that we’ll run in the next few weeks. During that chat, he took a dual shot at current Attorney General Jerry Brown – also the Democratic gubernatorial nominee – and California Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary Nichols.

Steve CooleyCooley was speaking about the role he believes the attorney general should take in setting and enforcing policies that don’t hinder job creation and economic development; he said businesses too often get negativity from state agencies and end up delaying their development or settling in other states as a result.

I asked him if he was saying the attorney general shouldn’t enforce the law of the land, including environmental protections and business code laws, especially as he’d just asserted to me the importance of the attorney general enforcing existing law as it pertains to same-sex marriage. He acknowledged the AG must enforce the law, but said those laws must be examined to make sure they’re applied in a fair, unbiased manner without conflicting messages between state agencies.

I noted that the AG’s office doesn’t necessarily have dominion over how all state agencies enforce the regulations they promulgate; as an example I cited the various bodies enforcing air-quality regulations. He seized upon that, and called out Brown for failing to dig into what he says could’ve been malfeasance at CARB.

In a nutshell, CARB staffer Hien Tran – who authored a statistical study on diesel soot effects on which the board was basing stringent, controversial new regulations – lied about where he’d obtained his Ph.D. Per the San Francisco Chronicle last December:

State researchers must redo a report that concluded 3,500 people prematurely die each year due to diesel pollution – a finding that was used to justify imposing the nation’s strictest regulations on diesel engines.

The California Air Resources Board ordered a new report after the employee who wrote it was found to have lied about his academic credentials. That decision was made Wednesday after an air board hearing on the rules, which critics want to delay because of concerns over the cost of retrofitting and replacing the polluting engines.

The head of the air board, Mary Nichols, apologized for not telling all board members about the problem with the report’s author, Hien Tran, who claimed he had a doctorate in statistics from UC Davis, when he actually had obtained the degree from an unaccredited distance learning school. Nichols knew about the problem before the board voted on the regulation.

Tran has since been demoted. One air board member asked that the regulations be suspended, but that idea was turned down.

Cooley today said Brown should’ve jumped in.

“This is a person who falsified his credentials and Mary Nichols concealed that from the Air Resources Board … a major bureaucratic failing on her part, not to notify people who had to make policy decisions based on her report,” he said. “Jerry Brown just looked the other way, I’d have been knocking at her door asking questions.”

Brown’s office at first said he was unavailable until 5 p.m. today, so I told them I wait until 6 p.m. before posting this; they then said a few minutes ago that they still couldn’t reach him, so they’d decline to comment.

An e-mail sent to CARB earlier this afternoon wasn’t answered.

Posted on Monday, September 27th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, 2010 governor's race, Attorney General, Jerry Brown, Steve Cooley | 4 Comments »

Where to watch or hear the gubernatorial debate

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jerry Brown and Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman will meet for their first debate at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the University of California, Davis’ Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts. The debate is sponsored by Capital Public Radio, KCRA-TV (NBC) Sacramento, The Sacramento Bee and UC Davis; Southern California partners are Southern California Public Radio and La Opinión.

UC Davis will stream the debate live on the web, or you can see it live on KCRA, or you can listen in on Capital Public Radio.

Or, if you’re wanting to watch it with a crowd, political junkies of all stripes can drop in at the University of California, Berkeley’s Institute of Government Studies, 109 Moses Hall, at 6 p.m. to see the debate on a big screen and enjoy some light refreshments.

The San Mateo County Democratic Party and the California Teachers Association will gather to watch the debate on a big screen in the CTA’s main conference center, 1705 Murchison Dr. in Burlingame; doors open at 5 p.m. for refreshments, socializing and a brief meeting. For more details, call the county party headquarters at 650-581-1350.

I looked on the Republican central committee websites for Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo and San Francisco counties, as well as the Bay Area GOP site, but I found no mention of any Republican watch parties.

Posted on Friday, September 24th, 2010
Under: 2010 governor's race, Jerry Brown, Meg Whitman | 8 Comments »

Meg: Jerry’s damned if he does or doesn’t

The Associated Press reports that state Attorney General Jerry Brown, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, is demanding that a federal judge allow executions to resume in California now that new lethal injection regulations have been put in place.

Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman quickly issued a statement saying that, “Even on matters of life and death, Jerry Brown is willing to play politics. Brown’s newfound support for the death penalty after three decades of opposing it is as preposterous as his newfound appreciation for fiscal conservatism. None of this squares with Jerry Brown’s record and must have his supporters scratching their heads.”

But although Brown does indeed have a long history of opposition to the death penalty, he did vow while running for Attorney General in 2006 that he would uphold California law regardless of his personal beliefs; his current argument to the federal judge seems to honor that vow.

In fact, Whitman herself blasted Brown and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today – while talking to the San Jose Mercury News’ editorial board – for not adequately upholding the law of the land regarding Proposition 8’s ban on same-sex marriage; they said they believe the ban to be unconstitutional and have declined to defend it in court. “I don’t think you can have elected officials deciding what’s constitutional and what’s not,” Whitman said this morning.

So, hours later, news breaks that Brown is putting the law of the land (the death penalty) above his own beliefs – and Whitman blasts him for that, too. Is she trying to have it both ways? That is, wouldn’t she also be criticizing him if he didn’t demand that executions resume?

Posted on Tuesday, September 21st, 2010
Under: 2010 governor's race, Jerry Brown, Meg Whitman | 10 Comments »

Liveblogging our meeting with Meg Whitman

Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman is meeting this morning in San Jose with the Bay Area News Group’s combined editorial board (that of the BANG-East Bay papers as well as that of the Mercury News actually, it was only the Merc, my mistake), and I’ll be trying to keep you abreast of what’s said, as it happens.

“Before I started to run, I had to answer the question in my own mind, ‘Is California governable?’” she said. “I’m 100 percent sure we can change the direction of this state.”

She went on the road to meet with current and former GOP governors including Rick Perry of Texas, Jeb Bush of Florida, Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, then with California GOP leaders, then with policy experts – and finally with as many Californians as she can reach. “I’ve been doing it now for 22 months.”

She said she knows of many GOP lawmakers with whom she believes she can work productively. “I haven’t spent much time with Democrats to tell you the truth,” she said, though as governor she would move to Sacramento and know every lawmaker by name.

Whitman said she wouldn’t consider, if elected governor, stepping down in a few years to run for vice president under Romney.

On AB 32, California’s landmark greenhouse gas emissions law, Whitman said she has been slow to take a position on Proposition 23 (which would roll that law back) because she has been busy campaigning; she said she’ll announce her stances on this and all other statewide ballot measures in the next week to 10 days.

Whitman noted the law already lets the governor put a one-year moratorium on measures to meet the law’s goals, to be invoked in times of economic distress. She said there are ways to help farmers, truckers and others who would be harmed by AB 32’s implementation without abandoning its goals.

“I have respect for Arnold Schwarzenegger, I believe the results are not what he or we would’ve hoped,” she said, but he did accomplish workers compensation insurance reform and other things. Still, the education system is in trouble and the state’s fiscal situation is a mess.

UPDATE #1: Everybody talks about applying technology to government and rooting out waste, fraud and abuse. Whitman says, “Well, the good news is, I’m going to go after it.”

Schwarzenegger was right when he talked about “blowing up the boxes” to radically revamp government to make it more accountable. “He should’ve done it.”

“Why in the world the government of the State of California owns a printing plant, I don’t know … and there are a million examples like that,” she said.

Whitman defends her plan for eliminating the factory tax – a key revenue source for many cities in Silicon Valley and other places – by saying it’ll make California more competitive with the business environments in other states. Timing is important, she concedes, but our ability to compete is the most important thing.

UPDATE #2: Challenged on the truthfulness of her advertising, Whitman said “the ad is absolutely accurate.” Jerry Brown did argue against Prop. 13 and then take credit for implementing it; did take the state from surplus to deficit; and did on average have higher taxes during his gubernatorial tenure than during Ronald Reagan’s, she said.

The board grilled her on whether more taxes were paid because more money was being made in California, rather than because of actual tax increases. Campaign advisor Tucker Bounds tried to interrupt but was asked to let Whitman answer the question; Whitman said Brown did raise gas taxes.

“I stand by that ad,” she said, asking the board to look at the ads that unions are running against her if it wants to see untruthful ads. “Jerry Brown is no more a tax cutter than half the people out there.”

Whether the deficit at the end of Brown’s tenure was a result of revenue lost to Prop. 13 isn’t the issue, she said; he should’ve cut spending accordingly.

Similarly, she said, Brown ran for mayor of Oakland promising to help save the city’s ailing schools, and now claims the mayor didn’t have the power to do so.

On judicial appointments, “I will probably be more conservative than Gov. Schwarzenegger” – no “legislating from the bench,” lots of care for victims’ rights. As for his appointment of Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, she thinks it was a good choice.

Whitman notes she voted for Proposition 8, favoring civil unions but opposing same-sex marriage. She believes the governor and attorney general should be defending the state constitution as amended by Prop. 8, rather than leaving the measure’s proponents to struggle for legal standing to appeal a federal judge’s ruling that it’s unconstitutional. “I don’t think you can have elected officials deciding what’s constitutional and what’s not,” she said.

UPDATE #3: Whitman said we must secure our borders, and then find federal, state and local cooperation to deal with illegal immigration through holding employers accountable, eliminating sanctuary cities and establishing an effective guest worker program, particularly for the agricultural sector.

On the DREAM Act, Whitman said “we have to prove to Americans that we can get our arms around the immigration problem … before we decide to create a path to citizenship or a path to legalization” for those already here. “I think we are putting the cart before the horse … It wouldn’t be the place I would start.”

We’re providing K-12 education to children of undocumented immigrants, but seats at the University of California and California State University campuses are full to bursting, she said; students who are documented should get first dibs. “I think you have to at some point draw a line in the sand … and say we can’t afford to do everything for everybody.”

“It’s a shame” that UC is seeking to give more seats to out-of-state or foreign students who’ll pay more tuition than Californians, she said, repeating her campaign pledge to put an extra billion dollars into the UC and CSU systems (bankrolled by welfare cuts).

California has a disproportionate number of the nation’s welfare recipients, lets them stay on welfare longer than most states and doesn’t have stringent work requirements, she said. “We now have a system that is more costly and frankly I think is not healthy for our communities,” she said. “I want to invest in the vital services that people need … but if we’re not going to run the government efficiently and effectively … that’s not smart either.”

Asked how she’ll get that through the Legislature, she said “everything has to be on the table in terms of what we will look at.” Schwarzenegger said the same, she acknowledged: “There’s no question it is challenging.”

But lawmakers want more than anything to be re-elected, she said, so she’ll veto anything that’s not on point to the crisis we face, and drive the Legislature to be able to take accountability and credit for the state’s future business successes. “I want to focus this Legislature on doing a small number of things really well.”

“Gov. Schwarzenegger and I are very different people with very different backgrounds,” Whitman said.

UPDATE #4: Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado a few days ago told the editorial board he didn’t think Ronald Reagan, who raised taxes as governor, would be welcome in today’s Republican Party. Whitman said “it’s hard to know,” although Reagan as President did see enormous economic expansion. The GOP is evolving, she said, and Reagan if alive today would recognize the party’s economic priorities.

“We live in very uncertain times,” she said. “Fresno looks like Detroit.”

In such times, leadership is vital and people express their concerns in many different ways, she said. If California is to be let out of this recession, it must be via small businesses, she said, with no jobs lost to neighboring states; this election should turn on who best can revive the economy.

Schwarzenegger tried to solve many problems all at once, Whitman said, while she’ll focus in much more on jobs and the economy, limiting government spending and fixing education.

“I think you have to govern with an ideology,” she said, not always from the center like a Schwarzenegger or a Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “At my core I am a fiscal conservative and I will govern as a fiscal conservative … I will govern from right of center.”

Asked to backtrack to an earlier question, Whitman said she would not have vetoed AB 32 – and then, after taking a moment to think about it, decided to parse her answer. Back then she wouldn’t have, she said; today, with unemployment as it is, she would. “I probably would, I need to think about it.”

But she said she’s “leaning against” Proposition 23.

And we’re adjourned.

Posted on Tuesday, September 21st, 2010
Under: 2010 governor's race, Meg Whitman | 5 Comments »

Unions target Fiorina, Whitman fundraisers

Watch for snarled streets tonight in Piedmont and tomorrow in Burlingame as labor unions and others protest fundraising events for Republican U.S. Senate nominee Carly Fiorina and Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman, respectively.

The Fiorina event from 5 to 7 p.m. today on Bellevue Avenue in Piedmont, starting at $500 a head, will feature former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Rice also will headline Whitman’s 6 p.m. Tuesday, $1,000-and-up event at the Hyatt Regency on Burlingame’s Bayshore Boulevard, along with Grammy-winning songrwriter, producer and singer David Foster.

“Holding fundraisers with top officials of the Bush administration—whose unfair economic policies and short-sighted war in Iraq created a devastating crisis for American families–symbolizes exactly what is at stake in this election,” Malinda Markowitz, a co-president of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United, said in a news release. “Whitman and Fiorina are running on programs that would return us to the failed policies of the past. We need elected leaders who carry the values of nurses, caring, compassion, and community, not the corporate greed and failure so symbolized by the Bush administration and the CEO records of Whitman and Fiorina. Whitman and Fiorina are just too extreme for California voters, as they are demonstrating yet again.”

But the Republicans’ campaigns say it’s not the candidates who are too extreme.

“For 28 years in Washington, DC, Barbara Boxer has been first in line to promote the extreme and destructive agenda set by her special interest backers, so it comes as no surprise that these very same allies would work together to manufacture the illusion of support for her in an election year,” Fiorina spokeswoman Andrea Saul said. “The last thing they want in Washington is a Senator like Carly Fiorina who, as a political outsider with real work experience, is beholden to no one and will make decisions based on what will get California’s economy moving again and create jobs for the more than 2.2 million Californians out of work today.”

And Whitman spokesman Darrel Ng said Democratic gubernatorial nominee “Jerry Brown is bought and paid for by the unions. The events are ploys coordinated by a group of radical union bosses who have consistently misrepresented the views of hardworking nurses throughout the state. Californians deserve to know what Jerry Brown will give them in return for their generous financial support. Finally, how is this for union dues well spent? CNA President Rose DeMoro, who has never worked as a nurse a day in her life, is paid $300,000, five times more than the median salary of an American nurse.”

Posted on Monday, September 20th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, 2010 governor's race, Carly Fiorina, Meg Whitman | 1 Comment »

Hear Dan Walters in Lafayette this Wednesday

Dan WaltersPlease come join me as I moderate a Commonwealth Club of California discussion on “California Votes! The Results That Might Change the State” with longtime Sacramento Bee political columnist Dan Walters at 6:30 p.m. this Wednesday, Sept. 22 in the Lafayette Library and Learning Center Community Hall Building, 3491 Mt. Diablo Blvd. (at First Street).

Walters will take a look at November’s election and its possibility of drastic change to California’s political climate; he’ll delve most deeply into the gubernatorial and senatorial races. For more on Walters, listen to this recent public radio interview.

Tickets cost $12 for club members, $22 for nonmembers and $7 for students with valid ID, and are available online.

Posted on Monday, September 20th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, 2010 governor's race | No Comments »

Meg Whitman and abortion rights

A news release went out yesterday saying the abortion-rights group NARAL Pro-Choice California would be joining women voters in protesting Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman’s event this morning in Anaheim:

(S)he has repeatedly refused to clarify her position on the issues of choice, abortion and women’s reproductive health rights. We urge voters to join us in a call to clarify her position.

Meg Whitman has engaged in cynical double talk on public funding for abortions. In 2009, she told the Flash Report that she supported public funding for abortions. In 2010, Whitman attacked Steve Poizner for supporting public funding for abortions. Whitman attacked Poizner for a position she herself had espoused less than a year before.

California women need to know where she stands as she has NOT been a consistent supporter of a woman’s right to choose. NARAL-endorsed Jerry Brown is the only choice for women who are Pro-Choice.

Today, even as the Anaheim event would’ve been wrapping up, the Republican Majority for Choice PAC and its WISH List Project formally endorsed Whitman.

RMC national co-chair Candace Straight said the former eBay CEO “embraces the Republican values of personal freedom, fiscal responsibility and limited government. She supports reproductive rights and believes choices should not be taken away from women and their doctors.”

Added RMC national co-chair Susan Bevan: “Republican Majority for Choice PAC is confident Meg Whitman will maintain California’s long tradition of supporting reproductive rights.”

The PAC supports pro-choice GOP candidates who support the full range of reproductive options, including education, pregnancy prevention, motherhood, abstinence, adoption, and safe, legal abortion. It also supports federal funding for all kinds of stem cell research, including embryonic stem cell research. It has given $70,000 to GOP House and Senate candidates so far in this election cycle, including $5,000 to Tom Campbell in California’s GOP U.S. Senate primary.

Posted on Thursday, September 16th, 2010
Under: 2010 governor's race, Meg Whitman | 2 Comments »

CNN poll: Boxer holds tiniest edge

Hot on the heels of yesterday’s poll showing Republican senatorial nominee Carly Fiorina with the slight edge in her statistical dead heat with incumbent U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., comes another poll today showing Boxer with the slight edge.

A CNN/Time/Opinion Research Corporation survey released today shows Boxer leading Fiorina 48 percent to 44 percent among registered voters; Boxer’s lead just barely exceeds the poll’s 3.5-percentage-point sampling error. Much like the Rasmussen Reports poll released yesterday, a mere 3 percent are undecided, an impressively low figure this long before Election Day. The poll surveyed 866 voters from Sept. 2 – the day after Boxer’s and Fiorina’s first, and perhaps only, televised debate – through yesterday.

Per CNN’s report:

“In a battle between two women, female voters will be a key constituency. Right now, 48 percent of women would pick Boxer compared to 43 percent for Fiorina. Six years ago, Boxer won 65 percent of the women’s vote,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

“The suburban vote has always been important in California, and it looks like that’s the home of the California swing voter this year as well,” adds Holland.”Boxer piles up a 19-point lead in urban areas and Fiorina has a 27-point advantage in rural California. Among suburban voters, the two are running fairly evenly, with 48 percent of the suburbs currently saying they would choose Fiorina and 44 percent picking Boxer.”

The same survey shows Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman leading Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jerry Brown by two points, 48 percent to 46 percent, which falls within the sampling error.

Posted on Wednesday, September 8th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, 2010 governor's race, Barbara Boxer, Carly Fiorina, Jerry Brown, Meg Whitman, polls, U.S. Senate | 3 Comments »

Wanna be in a Jerry Brown commercial?

The Service Employees International Union California today launched a competition giving a few lucky (?) Californians the chance to star in a web commercial supporting Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown.

Be-a-star2Participants should visit and upload a picture of a young person or people they care about along with a short statement (up to 150 words) about the kind of California they’d like to leave for the next generation; the entry deadline is midnight Monday, Sept. 20.

Three winners will be selected by an online vote open to the general public; voting will begin at midnight Friday, Sept. 24 and winners will be announced Wednesday, Sept. 29. Winners will be featured in a commercial, to be released during the week of Oct. 19, supporting Jerry Brown for Governor which will air online via, YouTube, Facebook, and other participating websites.

“Everything we do, we do for the next generation. They are the reason for all of our hard work, our votes, and all of the sacrifices we make,” Lilia Garcia, School Supervision Aide at Norwood Elementary School, said in the SEIU’s news release. “Our children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and kids in the neighborhood deserve good opportunities and a state that works.”

Posted on Tuesday, September 7th, 2010
Under: 2010 governor's race, Jerry Brown | 1 Comment »