4

Fiona Ma: Warriors boost economy, tax revenue

Even amid the transcendent joy of the Golden State Warriors’ NBA championship win, California’s tax officials are keeping their eye on the bottom line.

Fiona MaBoard of Equalization member Fiona Ma, whose district includes the Bay Area, issued a news release Wednesday morning noting that the championship ring comes with a monetary bonus for the players, meaning a modest increase in tax revenues for the state. But on a larger scale, as the series and victory reverberate through the economy – merchandise sold, extra hours for arena employees, restaurants and bars packed with fans – there’s even more money coming in.

Ma’s statement noted that $10 million might seem like a drop in the bucket of the state’s world-class economy, but that sum could hire 320 full-time employees at $15 per hour; open 100 small businesses; or buy for school supplies for 103,000 kids.

“The Warriors gave as good as they got throughout the entire season, and they’re bringing home a championship trophy,” Ma said in the news release. “Even better, they’ve made winners of us all, and I congratulate them on a stunning season! … Here’s to another win in 2016!”

7

Catharine Baker returns tobacco industry money

The Bay Area’s only Republican lawmaker won praise Friday for returning a campaign contribution from the tobacco industry.

Catharine BakerAssemblywoman Catharine Baker, R-Dublin, gave back a $4,200 contribution from Altria, parent company of Philip Morris USA and other tobacco companies. In doing so, Baker “serves as a model for other elected officials by returning dirty money and refusing to let Big Tobacco exert undue influence in the political process,” said Jim Knox, vice president of California government relations for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

“Her prompt actions should be recognized because we do not often see politicians willingly giving back tobacco money let alone make a statement publicly to set an example for other elected officials who don’t want to be beholden to cancer-causing cigarette makers,” Knox said in a news release.

Baker said Friday that “everyone has to make his or her own choices about tobacco products. For me, I choose not to accept contributions because tobacco is just something I prefer my own kids not ever use.”

Knox’s organization recently wrote to politicians and political action committees that accepted tobacco-industry money in this year’s first quarter, asking them to give it back. Altria and its affiliates reported making more than a dozen contributions totaling $175,700 in 2015’s first three months.

Other recipients included Assembly Republicans Rocky Chavez, Don Wagner and Travis Allen, as well as state senators Isadore Hall, D-Compton; Mike Morrell, R-Rancho Cucamonga; and Sharon Runner, R-Lancaster. Political action committees taking tobacco money in the first quarter included the California Chamber of Commerce’s JobsPAC; in fact, tobacco was the biggest industry sector contributing to JobsPAC in the 2014 election cycle.

Baker will host a community coffee from 9 to 10:30 a.m. this Saturday, May 30 in the Robert Livermore Community Center, 4444 East Ave. in Livermore, at which constituents can share their thoughts and Baker will present a legislative update. To RSVP for this free event, please contact Baker’s district office at 925-328-1515.

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AD16: Sbranti won’t run, joins Swalwell’s staff

Former Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti, a Democrat who lost November’s 16th Assembly District race to Republican Catharine Baker, won’t challenge Baker in 2016, he said Wednesday.

Instead, he’s ending his 17-year teaching career and starting work June 15 as deputy chief of staff to Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin – his former student at Dublin High.

Tim Sbranti“Everything comes full circle in life,” Sbranti said Wednesday. “He talks about how he learned from me, and now I learn from him. It’s actually kind of an honor to have a student who has done so well that I can now go work for him.”

Sbranti, 40, who has a 1-year-old daughter, said he’ll spend a lot of time in Washington, D.C., this summer getting oriented to the job; after that he’ll be based in Swalwell’s district office with trips to D.C. about once a month. He’ll be the main liaison between the D.C. and district staffs, with an eye toward ensuring the legislative team’s work is in line with the district’s priorities and “expanding our office’s relationship with the community,” he said.

Sbranti’s decision not to run against Baker in 2016 could start a mad scramble among ambitious local Democrats as the state party makes a priority of ousting Baker, the Bay Area’s only Republican lawmaker. Baker, R-Dublin, is expected to be vulnerable as the presidential election’s high turnout gives Democrats, who have a 7.3-percentage-point registration edge in the district, more of an advantage.

I hear that Sbranti made his intentions known a few weeks ago, but East Bay Democrats were so pre-occupied with the 7th State Senate District special election – in which party pariah and Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer defeated Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, on Tuesday – that they’re only now pivoting to consider AD16.

Names mentioned in the past include former Walnut Creek Mayor Kristina Lawson, but the word on the street is that she’s not interested right now. Likelier candidates might include Danville Mayor Newell Arnerich, who finished fourth in last year’s AD16 primary behind Baker, Sbranti and Glazer; five-term Orinda Councilwoman Amy Worth; and Danville attorney Jerome Pandell, a Democratic activist who ran for the San Ramon Valley School Board last year. Or, some in the party might be hoping for a businesswoman from outside the usual political circles – like Baker – to get into the race.

Sbranti said he’ll miss being in the classroom, though he’ll stay involved in education as a member of the governing board of the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence, which advises and assists school districts, charter schools and county education offices on meeting the goals set forth in their Local Control and Accountability Plans. And he also might keep helping out as a basketball coach at Dublin High as time allows, he said.

“I want to stay connected,” he said, “but at the same time I’m excited about what lies ahead.”

He won’t rule out some future run for elected office. “Not any time soon, certainly not in my immediate future, but I think it would be foolish to rule out at any point down the line that I would run for something. It’s just not on my horizon right now.”

Swalwell said he’s excited to welcome Sbranti aboard after nearly 20 years as a teacher, state legislative staffer, councilman and mayor.

“His work has produced results that have helped create jobs, protect our environment, and provide affordable housing. But his work is not done, and I’m lucky he wants to continue serving our community as my deputy chief of staff,” the second-term congressman said. “Tim inspired me when I was his student to go into public service. I couldn’t be more thrilled to now have his counsel as I work to serve the East Bay.”

5

SD7: What they’re saying about Glazer’s win

My esteemed colleague Matt Artz has full coverage of the 7th State Senate District special election’s denouement, in which Oridna Mayor Steve Glazer defeated Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla by a whopping 9.2 percentage points.

From California Democratic Party Executive Director Shawnda Westly:

“Assemblymember Susan Bonilla ran as a progressive candidate who fought tuition increases for UC and CSU students and delivered balanced budgets.

“Her opponent claimed to be Democrat but ran a cynical campaign to appeal to Republican voters in a low-turnout election. We know that low-turnout elections favor Republicans. When Democratic voters show up and vote, Democrats win.

“We will not back down from races like this in the future, and Democrats will go to bat for our endorsed candidates who put the needs of working and middle class families first.”

From Independent Women’s Voice President & CEO Heather Higgins, whose group spent $8,600 to support Glazer:

“On behalf of Independent Women’s Voice, I want to congratulate Steve Glazer on his resounding victory in Senate District 7. This is a great victory for east San Francisco Bay Area families, who have made it clear that they want to move their state in a new direction.

“Steve Glazer realizes it’s time for change in Sacramento. Voters are ready for political leaders who are willing to hold government accountable, restore fiscal responsibility and stand up to powerful and moneyed interests, including the unreasonable demands of unions. It is crucial that we restore government to promoting accountability and economic freedom. The people of Senate District 7 have paved the way for that positive path forward in California.”

From Jon Youngdahl of the union-funded Working Families Opposing Glazer 2015 Committee, which spent $2.23 million to support Bonilla:

“This low-turnout special election was a special circumstance where a Democratic candidate was able to pander to Republican voters to gain an edge. Our opponent received less than 30 percent of the Democratic vote, which will not be sustainable in future elections in a Democratic-leaning district. His campaign was bankrolled by a record-shattering $5.1 million in spending; $2 million from a Los Angeles developer more and than $1.3 from a PAC funded in part from the tobacco industry plus millions more from corporate education interests that we were unable to match.”

“This election was not about the soul of the Democratic Party. It was a craven political strategy designed by corporate special interests and Republicans to clear the field of credible Republican candidates and then spend records amount of money to keep Democrats away from the polls.”

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SD7: IE group denies Koch ties, ethics claims

7th State Senate District candidate Susan Bonilla’s campaign has filed a complaint with the state’s political watchdog agency claiming a Koch-brothers-related group has broken state laws in part by violating its nonprofit status by spending money against her.

But the group – Washington, D.C.-based Independent Women’s Voice – says it didn’t do anything wrong, and hasn’t received any money from Charles and David Koch’s network of conservative organizations.

Tuesday’s actually is the second complaint Bonilla’s campaign has made to the Fair Political Practices Commission about IWV. Bonilla, a Democratic assemblywoman from Concord, faces fellow Democrat and Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer in next Tuesday’s election.

The initial complaint, filed last week, claimed IWV had failed to timely disclose its spending on a video ad it had produced attacking Bonilla. IWV since has reported spending $8,600 to produce the ad, promote it online, and do some phone surveys.

The new complaint reiterates the timeliness charge, but also claims IWV incorrectly reported the anti-Bonilla ad as being pro-Glazer and – because it’s not spending on other races – didn’t properly identify itself under California law as a single-purpose committee. The complaint also claims IWV is abusing its nonprofit status by getting involved in this race.

“IRS tax filings show that Washington, DC-based Independent Women’s Voice is prohibited from making political expenditures, but that isn’t stopping this right-wing group from dumping thousands of dollars so far into the 7th Senate District,” Bonilla campaign spokesman Josh Pulliam said in a news release. “It is imperative that the FPPC step in to require out-of-state billionaires like the Koch Brothers and Los Angeles mega developers like Bill Bloomfield to play by the same rules as everyone else.”

Pulliam noted IWV received $250,000 in 2009 from the Center to Protect Patient Rights. That center and Americans for Responsible Leadership, both based in Arizona, agreed in 2013 to pay California a $1 million settlement for failing to disclose independent spending they’d done to oppose one 2012 ballot measure and support another.

But IWV issued a statement Tuesday afternoon saying that although “CPPR eventually seems to have become a vehicle for Koch funding,” that didn’t happen until 2010 “when its director started working for the Kochs, well after IWV’s work was done and complete.”

Thus, IWV “has never received any funding from the Koch’s or from any Koch-related entities,” the group said in its statement. “We wouldn’t mind receiving same, but we don’t seem to be their cup of tea.”

As for the FPPC complaint, IWV said it’s a 501(c)(4) advocacy group and as such is allowed to spend on politics.

“We are not a single-purpose committee, much as the Bonilla campaign might wish we were,” the group said in its statement. “We care about ethics and about fiscal sanity, and so are working, independent of any campaign, to educate people both for Steve Glazer and against Susan Bonilla and the special interests she represents – all while accurately and scrupulously following the laws as established by the Fair Political Practices Commission.”

“It is sad that the Bonilla campaign is so desperate for sympathy and attention, and so short of an appealing track record, that they would manufacture wholesale charges to throw at Independent Women’s Voice,” the group said. “Really, isn’t it time politics got out of that gutter?

As reported, IWV’s role in this race is an infinitesimal drop in the vast, $7-million-plus ocean of independent spending that has drowned local voters in mailers, broadcast ads and other annoyances. A union-backed group has spent tremendously to benefit Bonilla, while Glazer’s big spenders include Southern California businessman Bill Bloomfield and JobsPAC, the California Chamber of Commerce’s political action committee. IWV’s spending inspired hedge fund billionaire turned environmentalist Tom Steyer of San Francisco to give $150,000 last week to the union PAC backing Bonilla.

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SD7: Glazer blasts campaigning on BART property

Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer, one of two Democrats competing in the 7th State Senate District special election, wants the BART board of directors to probe what he says is inappropriate union campaign work on BART property to benefit his opponent, Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla.

Glazer news conference 5-11-15 (photo by Josh Richman)In a news conference Monday morning outside BART’s Oakland headquarters, Glazer displayed photos of BART workers at the Richmond, Concord and Hayward yards, accompanied by a Service Employees International Union Local 1021 organizer, displaying Bonilla campaign signs or fliers. Another photo showed workers, apparently in a training classroom at the Hayward facility, watching the Bonilla-Glazer debate.

Glazer said that despite serious maintenance problems that have snarled commutes in recent weeks, workers apparently had the time to organize for his opponent on BART property. He acknowledged he didn’t know whether the photos were taken during work hours, but called it “an outrageous use of public property.”

He said he would deliver a letter Monday to BART Board of Directors President Thomas Blalock demanding an independent third-party investigation of the union workers who took part in the activities, and whatever managers allowed it to happen on BART property. Management must be notified of work-site union activities, he said, and so is “at some level involved in this illegal campaign activity and they should be held to account as well.”

Glazer’s call to ban BART strikes is among the centerpieces of his campaign.

Steve Maviglio, organizer of the union-backed Working Families Opposing Glazer committee that has spent millions to support Bonilla, dismissively called Glazer’s news conference “nothing more than a Hail Mary publicity stunt for Steve Glazer to deflect the criticism away from the Koch Brothers and a Tea Party developer from LA funneling millions of dollars into his campaign.”

The Working Families committee launched a new ad along these lines Monday:

Independent Women’s Voice, a Washington, D.C.-based group with ties to the Koch brothers, has spent $8,600 to produce an anti-Bonilla ad, promote it online, and conduct some phone surveys; Bill Bloomfield, a laundry and real-estate millionaire from Manhattan Beach, has spent almost $1.79 million so far to support Glazer. Maviglio said Bloomfield has supported Tea Party candidates, but Bloomfield has said he quit the GOP and became an independent because he believes the party has grown too extreme; last year, he supported moderate Republican Neel Kashkari over Tea Party favorite Tim Donnelly in the gubernatorial primary.

The election is next Tuesday, May 19. Glazer said Monday morning that about 71,000 vote-by-mail ballots already have been received by the Contra Costa and Alameda county registrars, of which about 15 percent are from voters who didn’t cast ballots in the March primary. He also said about 33 percent of the ballots returned so far are from registered Republicans, whom he has been actively courting – which means GOP voters are outperforming their 29 percent voter registration in what’s expected to be a very low-turnout election.

UPDATE @ 12:52 p.m.: Bonilla agrees union workers shouldn’t be campaigning on BART property – and neither should Glazer and his supporters.

“I am appalled that BART platforms and BART property have been used for electioneering by Steve Glazer, Los Angeles billionaire Bill Bloomfield (who has spent $2 million on Steve Glazer campaign advertising), and by BART employees who were holding my campaign signs,” she said in a statement emailed to reporters early Monday afternoon. “These parties should immediately stop using BART property for electioneering, including candidate Steve Glazer who has repeatedly used internal BART property for self-advertising.”