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Brownie Mary Democratic Club rises in East Bay

The East Bay has its first marijuana-oriented Democratic club.

As Brownie Mary Democratic Club, created to advocate for the rights of California marijuana. has been chartered by the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee with members including Assemblyman Bill Quirk, D-Hayward; county Democratic chairwoman Robin Torello; and county committeewoman Ginny DeMartini. It’ll be chaired by committeewoman Denise Martellaci and vice-chaired by committeeman Rick Trullinger.

“The Brownie Mary Club will help bridge the cannabis community throughout Alameda County and educate our elected and future elected with cannabis reform issues,” Martellacci said in a news release. “Our Brownie Mary members are representatives from a wide spectrum and will demonstrate to the Democratic community our seriousness and abilities to meet our 2016 goal of full marijuana legalization for adults in the state of California.”

Members of the club are already walking precincts for cannabis-friendly candidates, and plan to help with phone banking and fundraisers. But its first order of business was to make endorsements – no surprises in the state, congressional and legislative races – including Rebecca Kaplan for Oakland mayor and taking a “no” position on Proposition 46 and a “yes” on Proposition 47.

The new club also is working on a pending Alameda County ordinance that would limit use of e-cigarettes, by advocating for patients who vaporize their medical marijuana.

It’s named for “Brownie Mary” Rathbun, a renowned activist who baked brownies for AIDS patients in San Francisco in the run-up to California voters’ approval for legal medical marijuana in 1996.

The Alameda County club is the sixth such group chartered in the state, after Riverside, Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Bernardino and San Francisco. The previous clubs were a visible presence at the March 2014 state Democratic convention in Los Angeles, and succeeded in getting the party to add a platform plank supporting “the legalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana in a manner similar to that of tobacco or alcohol.

Also represented in the club are cannabis reform groups California NORML, the Drug Policy Alliance and the California Cannabis Industry Association, along with cannabis advocates Dan Grace of Dark Heart Nursery, Sean Luce of Berkeley Patients Group, attorney James Anthony, and Hank Levy, CPA. Union representative Debra Pearson, with SEIU Local 1021’s Alameda County Committee on Political Education, and campaign strategist Mark Goodwin are also on board.

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Commerce Secretary attends Oakland forum

U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker joined Rep. Barbara Lee and other officials Monday for a regional economic development forum at Oakland International Airport, focused on creating more jobs and growing businesses in the East Bay.

Penny Pritzker“The Department of Commerce has tremendous resources in place in this region and around the country that allow us to partner with your businesses and entrepreneurs so they can compete and succeed,” Pritzker said in a news release issued by Lee, D-Oakland, after the event.

“Here in the Bay Area, we are working with companies large and small to sell their goods and services to the 95 percent of global consumers who live outside the U.S., helping to create the conditions for innovators and entrepreneurs to thrive, and supporting minority-and women-owned businesses through our Minority Business Development Agency,” she said, adding her department “is committed to helping your companies grow and thrive so they can create jobs – that is our mission and a core objective for President Obama.”

Lee said small businesses “are fundamental to the East Bay’s economic growth, especially women and minority-owned businesses.

“These businesses create jobs, contribute to our community and create opportunities into the middle class,” she said. “In order to ensure continued economic growth, we need to investment in sharing the available resources with these businesses and businesses owners to help them succeed.”

Other attendees included regional Small Business Administration Administrator Donna Davis; Minority Business Development Agency Director Alejandra Castillo; Overseas Private Investment Corp. Director of Corporate Development Alison Germak; Port of Oakland Aviation Director Deborah Ale Flint; Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson; and Oakland Mayor Jean Quan.

Earlier Monday, Lee had hosted a roundtable discussion with Pritzker and East Bay business leaders to discuss economic development, supplier diversity and the importance of gender and ethnic diversity in corporate leadership.

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Drug charges against Nadia Lockyer dismissed

An Orange County judge dismissed drug charges Friday against former Alameda County Supervisor Nadia Lockyer, wife of state Treasurer Bill Lockyer, according to reports from the Associated Press and Los Angeles Times.

OC weekly coverA court spokeswoman told the AP the charges were dropped at prosecutors request; the Times reports she agreed to attend a drug diversion program.

Lockyer early in 2012 had claimed Stephen Chikhani attacked her in a Newark hotel room, but the state Justice Department investigated and eventually declined to charge him with any crime. As details emerged about Lockyer’s lengthy affair with Chikhani and their drug use, she resigned her supervisorial seat in April 2012.

Bill Lockyer filed for divorce a few months later, citing “irreconcilable differences” and seeking joint physical and legal custody of their son. Then Nadia Lockyer was arrested in August 2012 in Orange County and charged with felony methamphetamine possession and three misdemeanors: being under the influence of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, and child abuse and endangerment. She spent several months in a residential rehabilitation program and has been under court supervision ever since.

Nadia Lockyer also was the subject of a lengthy cover story in this week’s OC Weekly.

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Cool Rep. George Miller factoids

Lafayette political blogger Jason Bezis at CalPolitical has posted some very cool factoids about retiring Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, and East Bay representation in Congress for the past 150 years:

East San Francisco Bay Area Members of Congress: 1865 to 2014: George Miller is Just Third to Retire Normally in 150 Years

 Thirty-five individuals (33 men and two women) have represented the East San Francisco Bay Area (Alameda and Contra Costa counties) in the U.S. House of Representatives since California’s first single-member districts were created in 1864.  (Not including the two congressmen who represented California at-large from 1883 to 1885.  California gained two seats in 1882 as a result of the post-1880 census re-apportionment but the Legislature postponed re-districting until the 1884 congressional elections.) 
 
The East Bay today has six U.S. representatives: George Miller, Barbara Lee, Eric Swalwell, Jerry McNerney, Mike Honda and Mike Thompson.
 
Here is how the 29 other East Bay U.S. representatives left their East Bay districts:
 
  • Defeated in primary or general elections: 14 (Higby, Page, Hilborn, English, MacLafferty, Eltse, Carter, Condon, Allen, Cohelan, George P. Miller, Baker, Pombo, Stark)
  • Died in office: 3 (Elston, Curry Sr., Baldwin)
  • Resigned mid-term: 4 (McKenna, Metcalf, Dellums, Tauscher)
  • Re-districting caused loss of all East Bay territory: 3 (Curry, Jr., Edwards, Garamendi)
  • Ran for another office at end of term: 3 (Sargent, Knowland, Waldie)
  • Retired at end of term: 2 (Budd, Tolan)
 

Retirements are very rare.  Just two East Bay representatives in the past 150 years have retired from the House and not sought another political office immediately thereafter: James Budd in 1884 and John Tolan in 1946.  George Miller III will become the third in 2014.

Link to the rest of CalPolitical’s post here.

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TRUST Act activists target sheriffs in Sac, Oakland

Four protesters supporting the TRUST Act anti-deportation legislation now on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk reportedly were arrested Wednesday after a protest and sit-in at the office of the California State Sheriffs’ Association, which opposes the bill.

The sheriffs’ association said the four refused repeated demands that they leave the private property, and were taken to Sacramento County Jail. Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern, the association’s president, later contacted protesters to explain his group’s position.

But apparently they’re all too aware of that position, as they’re planning to hold a “pray-in” at Ahern’s Oakland office Thursday morning.

Among the leaders of Thursday’s protest will be Pancho Ramos-Stierle, who was arrested as he meditated while police cleared the Occupy Oakland encampment in 2011 and was held by Ahern’s office on behalf of immigration authorities; his immigration case is still pending.

Currently, when someone is booked into a county jail, the suspect’s fingerprints are sent to the FBI for comparison with criminal databases. Under the Secure Communities program launched in 2008, the FBI shares that information with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency. If ICE thinks the inmate might be deportable, it asks jail officials to hold that person until an immigration agent can review the case and perhaps take the inmate away for deportation.

AB 4 by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco – the TRUST (Transparency and Responsibility Using State Tools) Act – would forbid jail officials from honoring those immigration holds in many cases.

The sheriffs’ association issued a statement Wednesday afternoon explaining that the law “would require offenders that have been subject to prior removal orders, previously deported from the country, or have been charged with serious and violent felonies to be released into the community. It also would require sheriffs to release persons that, while not having been previously convicted of a serious or violent offense, have been deemed threats to national security or public safety by the Department of Homeland Security.”

Finally, the association noted, AB 4 would require a sheriff to let someone go if required by “local law” or “any local policy.”

“These terms are not defined and could defeat even the narrow exceptions provided by AB 4 that would allow a sheriff to hold a person that has been convicted of serious and violent felonies,” the association’s statement said.

But the groups behind tomorrow’s protest in Oakland – Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, Faith Alliance for a Moral Economy, and the East Bay Interfaith Immigration Coalition – contend AB 4 gives law enforcement much broader discretion to honor immigration “hold” requests than the similar bill Brown vetoed last year, while ensuring that those with most low-level, non-violent offenses are not wastefully held for deportation.

“We pray for renewed trust between law-enforcement and immigrant communities in Alameda County and throughout our state. And we pray that Sheriff Ahern will open his heart to hear the pleas of the people, for safety and protection from indiscriminate detention and deportations,” Rev. Deborah Lee said in a news release. “And we pray that the Governor will sign this bill, so as to advance immigration reform.”

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It’s National Voter Registration Day. Do it. Do it.

Today has been National Voter Registration Day, and Bay Area officials and activists joined their peers across the nation in urging people to “register in September and make it count in November.”

photo courtesy of Keith CarsonRep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, and Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson were among those who rallied at mid-day outside the Alameda County Administration Building in Oakland to urge all eligible voters to register and cast ballots this fall.

The Oakland event was one of several held today across the nation by members of the Congressional Black Caucus as a part of the “For the People” Voter Protection Initiative. H. Res. 542 condemns “the passage of legislation that would unduly burden an American citizen’s ability to vote and opposing any State election law or proposed legislation that would have a disproportionate impact on vulnerable communities across the country.”

“We are engaged in a battle to protect the fundamental, Constitutional right to vote,” Lee said later Tuesday. “Voter suppression tactics do nothing at all to prevent voter fraud, while disproportionately excluding and disenfranchising people of color, elderly and young adults from their Constitutionally given right to vote. By preparing all Alameda County residents to vote this fall, we are standing in solidarity with communities fighting intense battles against voter suppression efforts throughout the country.”

Lee notes that at least 34 states have introduced laws that would require voters to show photo identification in order to vote, and at least 12 states have introduced laws that would require proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate, to register to vote or to vote. The states that have already cut back on voting rights provide 171 electoral votes in 2012, 63 percent of the 270 needed to win the presidency, she said.

on Sproul Plaza (photo by Josh Richman)Meanwhile, groups at the University of California, Berkeley – including the Associated Students, Voto Latino and others – had tables on Sproul Plaza today in an attempt to register as many people as possible.

Election Day is six weeks away. Still not registered to vote? You’ve got until Monday, Oct. 22, and you need not even get up from where you’re sitting right now reading this post: You can register online. Or, if you prefer, printed voter registration forms are available at many government offices, DMV offices, post offices, public libraries and other locations.