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Actress in Tim Donnelly ad pushed out of SF play

A Latino actress who appeared in a conservative Republican gubernatorial candidate’s ad faced so much backlash that she had to quit her role in a play in San Francisco, CBS San Francisco reports.

Tim Donnelly – an Assemblyman from Twin Peaks – released a campaign video this week featuring Maria Conchita Alonso. Per CBS:

The actress was to perform next month at the Brava Theater Center in San Francisco’s Mission District in a Spanish-language version of “The Vagina Monologues,” scheduled for a run from February 14th through 17th. The show is being produced by none other than Eliana Lopez, wife of San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi.

“We really cannot have her in the show, unfortunately,” Lopez told KPIX 5. She said Alonso abruptly resigned from the cast on Friday, given the backlash on the immigration issue.

“Of course she has the right to say whatever she wants. But we’re in the middle of the Mission. Doing what she is doing is against what we believe,” Lopez said.

Donnelly’s campaign had described the online-only ad as featuring “Donnelly, a former Minuteman, and Hollywood actress Maria Conchita Alonso, whose family of Cuban immigrants fled an oppressive dictatorship and sought freedom in America. Together, the pair talks about how, despite our differences, we are ALL Californians and must unite to tackle the many problems facing California.”

Posted on Saturday, January 18th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Tim Donnelly | 4 Comments »

CA11: The who-will-and-who-won’t roundup

Two days after Rep. George Miller announced he’ll retire at the end of 2014 after 40 years in the House, here’s the shakeout so far on who will and won’t try to succeed him in the 11th Congressional District:

State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord: At almost the same instant Miller started his news conference in Richmond, DeSaulnier was telling a reporter in Sacramento that he would run; he issued his news release less than four hours later.

Walnut Creek Mayor Kristina Lawson: She’s “seriously considering” it.

Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo: “She’s still looking at what the options are,” spoklesman Michelle Henry said Wednesday.

Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord: She is “is focused on her upcoming re-election for state assembly and not considering a run for Congress,” spokesman Luis Quinonez said Wednesday.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson: Endorsed DeSaulnier on Tuesday.

Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia: Endorsed DeSaulnier on Wednesday.

Rep. John Garamendi, D-Fairfield: Won’t run for the seat next to his.

Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin: Won’t run.

Former airline pilot and “Hero on the Hudson” Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger of Danville: Won’t run.

Watch for Lisa Vorderbrueggen’s story this weekend reviewing the whole scrum in much more detail; stay tuned, as the landscape continues to shift.

Posted on Wednesday, January 15th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, George Miller, Joan Buchanan, Mark DeSaulnier, Susan Bonilla, U.S. House | 4 Comments »

Bill introduced to ban filtered cigarettes

A new Assembly bill would ban all filtered cigarettes in California.

Assemblyman Mark Stone says he’s approaching this not as a health issue, but as an environmental issue: Discarded butts are sullying the state and costing millions.

Mark Stone“Cigarette filters leach dangerous chemicals into the environment, kill animals that eat them, and cause communities to spend millions of taxpayer dollars for clean-up,” Stone, D-Santa Cruz, said in a news release issued Tuesday. “California has many laws in place to curtail cigarette litter, but people continue to illegally discard tons of cigarette butts each year. The current laws aren’t sufficient to address this major problem.”

Unfiltered cigarettes would remain legal under Stone’s bill. Stone spokeswoman Arianna Smith noted filters for decades have been reported to be ineffective, given that smokers who use them take deeper and more frequent puffs to get the same amount of nicotine into their bodies.

Spokespeople for tobacco giants Philip Morris USA and R.J. Reynolds didn’t immediately respond to inquiries about the bill.

Stone – who chairs the Assembly Select Committee on Coastal Protection – said a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health reported 845,000 tons of cigarette butts become litter around the globe each year. In California, they remain the single most collected item of trash collected by volunteer groups and organizations that conduct parks, rivers and beach cleanup events.

butts“Our volunteers have collected 466,000 cigarette butts in our clean-ups just around the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary alone since 2007,” Laura Kasa, executive director of Save Our Shores, said in Stone’s release. “This is by far the most pervasive type of litter in our environment. Our community has attempted to educate the public about the dangers of this toxic litter but it has not made a significant dent in the problem.”

The California Department of Transportation has estimated the costs to clean up cigarettes on roadways at $41 million annually, Stone said, while San Francisco estimates its costs for cleanup at $6 million annually.

“An estimated 3 billion toxic, plastic cigarette butts are littered in the Bay Area each year,” Allison Chan, pollution prevention campaign manager for Save The Bay, said in Stone’s release. “Millions of them make their way into our waterways and the Bay through storm water systems, where they pose an environmental threat that we can no longer ignore.”

Dr. Thomas Novotny – a San Diego State University professor and former Assistant U.S. Surgeon General who is CEO of the Cigarette Butt Pollution Project – said in Stone’s release that such a ban “will substantially reduce the burden of cigarette butt waste cleanup for our communities, help protect our treasured beaches and wildlife, and reduce blight in our urban living environments.”

UPDATE @ 3:43 P.M.: David Sutton, a spokesman for Philip Morris USA’s parent company, said in an email that the tobacco giant “knows that cigarettes are often improperly disposed of,” and uses its packaging and websites to discourage smokers from littering. The company also since 2002 has collaborated with Keep America Beautiful to launch a Cigarette Litter Prevention Program, which in 2012 rolled out 195 new grant-supported programs across the nation.

“During the past six years, CLPP consistently has cut cigarette butt litter by half based on local community measurements taken in the first four to six months after implementation, as measured by Keep America Beautiful,” Sutton wrote. “Survey results also showed that as communities continue to monitor the program, those reductions are sustained or even increased over time.”

Posted on Tuesday, January 14th, 2014
Under: Assembly, Environment, Mark Stone | 2 Comments »

Bill would ban sale of license-plate reader data

Those who collect data with automatic license-plate readers would be prohibited from selling or sharing it except among law enforcement agencies, under a bill introduced Friday by a Bay Area state Senator.

“Automatic license plate reader technology is a useful tool for law enforcement,” state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, said in a news release. “But use of this technology must be balanced with personal privacy.”

Used mainly by law enforcement agencies, automatic license plate reader technology uses high-speed cameras – often mounted on police cars, but sometimes mounted at fixed points as well – along with software and criminal databases to rapidly check and track the license plates of millions of Californians. It’s also often used by private, non-law enforcement entities, such as parking and repossession companies.

But as use of this technology has increased, so has the concern of civil libertarians; current law doesn’t require LPR operators to keep the data private.

Under SB 893, data that’s less than five years old could be sold or provided only to law enforcement; data that’s more than five years old would be available to law enforcement only with a court order. Violators would be subject to civil lawsuits, with anyone affected by a privacy breach entitled to recover damages including costs and attorney’s fees.

license plate readersHill notes license-plate readers are an important law-enforcement tool: The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, in its first 30 days of using the technology, identified and located 495 stolen vehicles, five carjacked vehicles, and 19 other vehicles that were involved in felonies. These identifications led to 45 arrests, including some people suspected of bank robbery and home invasion.

“Law enforcement will still be able to continue to use LPR technology to catch criminals,” Hill said. “But Californians will have peace of mind that their personal information is safeguarded.”

Posted on Friday, January 10th, 2014
Under: California State Senate, Civil liberties, Jerry Hill, Public safety | 5 Comments »

Lawmakers urge Jerry Brown to halt all fracking

Nine state lawmakers, including a few from the Bay Area, have signed a letter urging Gov. Jerry Brown to impose a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing to obtain oil and gas, the process commonly called “fracking.”

Marc Levine“The risks are simply too great to allow fracking to continue,” Assemblyman Marc Levine, who authored the letter, told reporters on a conference call this morning.

The technique demonstrably hurts air and water quality, might influence seismic activity, and furthers a dependence on fossil fuel that contributes to climate change, said Levine, D-San Rafael, and so it must be suspended “until we have all the data to address the immediate and long-term dangers.”

Signing Levine’s letter were Assemblymembers Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara; Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica; Adrin Nazarian, D-Van Nuys; Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach; and Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, as well as state Senators Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa; Lois Wolk, D-Vacaville; and Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley.

Levine, who announced the letter in November, teamed up with CREDO, an activist group which had thousands of members sign petitions and make phone calls urging their lawmakers to sign the letter. Levine and CREDO delivered the letter and held their news conference during this final week of a public comment period on Brown’s proposed fracking regulations, which they say would allow a massive expansion of fracking in California.

CREDO campaign manager Zack Malitz called fracking “one of the greatest environmental struggles to face Califonians in a generation,” and said Brown has proposed “dangerously weak regulations that would only encourage more fracking” despite “massive public opposition.”

“His legacy as an environmental leader is on the line,” Malitz said. “Californians will hold him responsible for putting oil-industry profits ahead of our health and the climate.”

Several bills proposing a moratorium on fracking failed to get enough votes to advance in the Legislature last year. The Legislature did pass SB 4 by state Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Calabassas, which Brown signed into law in September; that bill requires oil companies to go through a permit process, disclose chemical uses, do groundwater tests and send notices to neighboring landowners about their intent to drill.

Brown generally has pursued energy policy that supports increased oil production while expanding California’s goal of producing at least a third of its electricity from renewable sources (such as wind or solar energy) by 2020.

UPDATE @ 12:32 P.M.: This just in from Evan Westrup, Brown’s spokesman: “After extensive debate, the Legislature – including the authors of this letter – voted to enact SB 4, which became effective just days ago. Pursuant to this bill, the regulatory process has begun and we encourage these legislators and other interested citizens to actively participate.”

Posted on Tuesday, January 7th, 2014
Under: Assembly, California State Senate, energy, Environment, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown | 1 Comment »

Donnelly issues ‘Willie Horton ad’ vs. Jerry Brown

Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly on Monday released what he calls his “Willie Horton” ad against Gov. Jerry Brown, blaming the incumbent for prison realignment that set free a convict who then raped and murdered his own grandmother.

The “ad” is actually a two-and-a-half minute online video, not a paid broadcast ad. And, upon viewing, it almost seems like more of an ad for Jennifer Kerns – whom Donnelly has just promoted from communications director to campaign manager.

In the video and in his news release, Donnelly – an Assemblyman from Twin Peaks – makes hay of the fact that he’s hired one of the first Republican female campaign managers to run a gubernatorial race in a large state, and then says talk of a GOP “war on women” was “conjured up by ‘consultants’ inside the Beltway.”

“If there IS such a thing as a War on Women, Donnelly says it’s being waged by Governor Jerry Brown as he releases violent criminals onto the street to prey upon women in California, at the same time he has stripped women of their 2nd Amendment rights by signing the strictest gun control laws in the nation,” the news release says. “The video shows footage of the criminal that some say will be Governor Brown’s ‘Willie Horton’ in this race – a convicted criminal who was released from prison, only to rape and murder his own grandmother. The inmate was released after the passage of California Assembly Bill (AB) 109, Governor Brown’s so-called realignment program aimed to save money and reduce overcrowding in prisons.”

The convict at issue, Jerome DeAvila, is accused of slaying his grandmother in Stockton a few days after he was released early from San Joaquin County Jail, where he’d been serving 30 days for failing to register as a sex offender.

Willie Horton was serving a life sentence for murder in Massachusetts when he was allowed out of prison as part of a weekend furlough program, fled, and eventually committed assault, armed robbery and rape. He was featured in attack ads against 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis, who had been governor of Massachusetts when Horton got out; Dukakis hadn’t started the furlough program, but had supported it.

UPDATE @ 2:07 P.M.: I asked Gov. Brown’s office to comment on this, and staffers there passed me along to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation – which quickly disputed the ad’s core claim.

“There has never been one inmate released early from prison due to realignment – not one,” said CDCR Assistant Secretary Deborah Hoffman.

The 25,000-inmate reduction in the state’s prison population since realignment was put into effect is due to attrition, not early releases, CDCR contends. Parole violators now go to county jails instead of to prisons, and those jails institute their own policies to deal with their populations.

In DeAvila’s case, he was in and out of San Joaquin County’s custody about a dozen times in the year preceding his alleged murder of his grandmother, for parole violations including failing to meet with his parole officer, failure to register, use of marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine, and public drunkenness.

“We take absconding from parole very seriously,” Hoffman said. “Realignment provides counties with the funding and tools needed to manage offenders at the local level. Parole violators can be held in county jail for up to 180 days and we know sheriffs take their responsibility seriously and are making difficult decisions every day.”

San Joaquin County got $7.6 million in 2012 and $15.2 million in 2013 to implement realignment, but has struggled with jail overcrowding since long before realignment ever came along.

UPDATE @ 2:40 P.M.: Dan Newman, a political spokesman for Brown, just responded that he’s “rarely at a loss for words, or willing to pass on an opportunity to criticize an opponent, but… um… wow. It rivals Demon Sheep and Herman Cain’s smoking mustache guy in the genre of classic weird political videos, but left me a bit confused about who the candidate is and what state she’s running in.”

Posted on Monday, January 6th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown, Tim Donnelly | 8 Comments »

Moore drops out of 15th Assembly District race

A prominent East Bay Democratic and LGBT activist has dropped out of the crowded race for the 15th Assembly District seat, leaving as many as six candidates still in the field.

peggy-moore-state-assembly-photo“Unfortunately the timing of this race has been difficult for my family,” Peggy Moore says in a statement posted on her website. “After a great deal of reflection, I have concluded that this is not the right time for me to campaign for elected office. This has been an incredibly tough decision, but it is the right decision for me and my family.

“One of the hardest things about this moment is the disappointment of my supporters, but I want you to know that your investment in me was not wasted. Thanks to your help, we have a network of thousands of supporters who are willing to stand up for progressive values and to work for a more representative government,” she wrote. “I have learned so much over these last few months, and I will continue to advocate for access to health care, for seniors, for LGBT people, for the working class. My passion for helping the people in my community has only grown stronger.”

Moore, 50, was the California political director of President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. Earlier, the Oklahoma native was a 2008 Obama campaign volunteer who became the Northern California field director for Organizing for America, the campaign’s community-organizing successor group. She also was an Oakland City Council candidate in 2005.

Moore – who got married in July – said Friday she decided not to run last month after concluding she could remain active and engaged in the community without holding elected office.

“We have some good candidates in the race,” she said, though she said she’s not ready to endorse any of her former rivals just yet. “Each candidate brings something different to the table, I like each of them for different reasons.”

Others who have stated an intention to run for the 15th District seat – from which Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, will be term-limited out – are Elizabeth Echols of Oakland, former regional administrator for the Small Business Administration; Sam Kang of Emeryville, the general counsel for an economic justice advocacy group; Andy Katz of Berkeley, president of the East Bay Municipal Utilities District’s board; Richard Kinney, a San Pablo councilman; Tony Thurmond, a former Richmond councilman and former West Contra Costa County School Board member; and Cecilia Valdez, a San Pablo councilwoman. Kinney is the lone Republican, all the rest are Democrats. As of June 30, Moore had trailed behind Echols, Kang, Katz and Thurmond in fundraising, while Kinney and Valdez had not yet reported any fundraising.

Posted on Friday, December 20th, 2013
Under: 2014 primary, Assembly, Nancy Skinner | 2 Comments »

Big Assembly hearing Thursday on digital privacy

Three Assembly committees are holding a hearing in Silicon Valley on Thursday to explore how to balance privacy and opportunity in the digital age.

The event from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Santa Clara University’s Mayer Theater is drawing in some of the region’s top business and academic experts on a topic of growing concern: How, by whom and for what the data you put online is used.

“The goal of the hearing is to learn how current policies are working and to help us balance the economic and social benefits of online communication technologies with our desire to protect personal privacy,” said Assembly Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont.

Paul Schwartz and Deidre Mulligan, co-directors of the UC-Berkeley Center for Law & Technology, will join Google privacy policy counsel Daivd Lieber and Internet Association President and CEO Michael Beckerman for a panel on the collection, aggregation and sale of personal information online.

Aleecia McDonald, director of privacy at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society; Jules Polonetsky, executive director and co-chair of the Future of Privacy Forum; and Chris Hoofnagle, director of information privacy programs at the UC Berkeley Center for Law & Technology, will discuss whether disclosure and transparency – those privacy policies you see on most websites – adequately protects consumers’ privacy.

Joanne McNabb, the state Justice Department’s director of privacy education and policy; Jim Halpert, co-chair of the global privacy practice at DLA Piper Lewis; and Chris Conley, technology and civil liberties fellow with the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, will discuss whether California’s “Shine the Light” law has been effective in protecting online privacy, and what more should be done to inform consumers and control use of their data.

And finally, Mulligan and Eric Goldman, director of the Santa Clara University High Tech Law Institute, will discuss the major privacy challenges Californians could face in the next five to 10 years, and how government and industry might partner to address them.

There’ll be a public comment period and post-hearing reception – plenty of chance for you to share your thoughts on these issues with the experts and lawmakers.

This joint hearing of Wieckowski’s Judiciary Committee; the Business, Professions & Consumer Protection Committee; and the Select Committee on Privacy also will be webcast live.

Posted on Wednesday, December 11th, 2013
Under: Assembly, Bob Wieckowski | 2 Comments »

Skinner to offer bill protecting unpaid interns

An East Bay lawmaker says she’ll introduce a bill next month to protect unpaid interns from sexual harassment and other workplace discrimination.

“Interns should not have to give up their basic civil rights just because they are willing to forgo pay,” Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, said in a news release. “Interns deserve the same legal protection against discrimination and harassment in the workplace.”

Skinner notes neither state nor federal law explicitly protects unpaid interns from sexual harassment.

The issue has come to the fore in part because a federal judge in New York ruled in October that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act – which protects employees from workplace discrimination, including sexual harassment – does not apply to unpaid interns because they’re not “employees.” That case involved a Syracuse University student who claimed she was sexually harassed, kissed and groped by a supervisor at her media company internship who later retaliated against her for rebuffing his sexual advances.

Here in California, the Fair Employment and Housing Act protects employees from sexual harassment, but does not specifically include unpaid interns; a recent state court decision held that FEHA does not apply to “volunteers.”

A 2008 survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found 50 percent of graduating students held internships, up from 17 percent shown in a 1992 study by Northwestern University. And women are much more likely than men (77 percent to 23 percent) to hold unpaid internships, according to a 2012 survey of college students by Intern Bridge, a consulting firm that specializes in college recruiting.

“The recession has forced young people to rely on these unpaid positions to build resumes and contacts in an incredibly competitive job market,” Skinner said. “Employers owe them a safe and fair workplace.”

Posted on Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013
Under: Assembly, Nancy Skinner | 2 Comments »

Students to push Legislature for oil-extraction tax

Its proposed measure having failed to get enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, a student-led group calling for California to implement an oil-extraction tax will try its fortunes with the Legislature again.

Californians for Responsible Economic Development will change its name to Students’ Voice Now, and will soon announce a partnership with two state senators to get a bill or legislatively referred initiative passed in the Legislature next year, spokesman Kevin Singer said.

“The framework of the bill is expected to include an endowment for education, but also may include subsidies for families and businesses to switch to cleaner forms of energy, a rollback of the gas tax, and/or immediate revenue for the specific purpose of decreasing college tuition across California,” Singer wrote in an email.

Singer said that starting in January, as part of pushing for the bill, they’ll keep networking across California’s college campuses and “continue to build relationships with other interest groups, PACs, and legislators who believe that whether oil is drilled or fracked from our soil, Big Oil needs to pay its fair share.”

California is the only oil-producing state that doesn’t have a specific oil-extraction tax, and the proponents estimated the tax contemplated by their now-dead proposed ballot measure would’ve raised $1.5 billion to $2 billion per year.

But any such legislation probably faces a tough road ahead in the Legislature. State Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, this year carried SB 241 to establish an oil-extraction tax, but the bill never made it out of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Gov. Jerry Brown has pledged not to raise or create any taxes without voter approval, and so might push hard against any efforts to create this tax by legislation alone. And he probably won’t want a legislatively directed tax hike on the same ballot in which he’s (presumably) running for re-election in 2014.

Posted on Wednesday, November 27th, 2013
Under: Assembly, California Legislature, California State Senate, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown, taxes | 2 Comments »