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.


County Dems urge racist elected official to quit

(Ed.’s note: This post is by my colleague Thomas Peele, who has been on this story’s trail from the start. -J)

The Contra Costa County Democratic Party has joined the chorus of those demanding the resignation of West County Wastewater District Director Leonard Battaglia.

Leonard BattagliaBattaglia, you will remember, made racist remarks about African-Americans and Asians during an interview with this newspaper about his salary and benefits, saying that during his time as a Koren War fighter pilot he trained with black and found them as a race to be genetically inferior.

“Battaglia’s comments are an insult to all Americans who have and are honorably serving our country, including the President of the United States, who is of African American descent,” Ellis Goldberg, the party’s communications officer, said in a statement issued Wednesday that demanded Battaglia’s immediate resignation.

Battaglia, 85, of El Sobrante, is a registered Democrat.

Earlier this month, his water board colleagues asked, by way of a 4-0 vote, for Battaglia to resign. He did not. Several Richmond council members have also called for his resignation. The San Pablo City Council has scheduled a vote for Monday night to condemn Battaglia, whose term expires next year.

Goldberg is calling on other Democratic leaders to pursue similar measures.


Contra Costa gets federal domestic violence grant

Contra Costa County is among 12 U.S. counties and cities chosen to receive a new federal grant aimed at reducing domestic violence homicides by focusing on victims most at risk and abusers most likely to be lethal.

The money – $2.3 million in total, ranging from $101,658 to $200,000 per site – is part of the Justice Department’s new Domestic Violence Homicide Prevention Demonstration Initiative, administered by the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women. After a one-year assessment phase, up to six of these 12 sites will be chosen to continue a three-year implementation phase.

Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced the grants Wednesday in Rockville, Md.

“Every single day in America, three women die at the hands of their boyfriend, or their husband, or their ex-husband,” Biden said in a news release. “Many of these women have been threatened or severely abused in the past. We know what risk factors put someone in greater danger of being killed by the person they love – and that also means we have the opportunity to step in and try to prevent these murders. That’s why these grants are so important. They’ll help stop violence before it turns deadly.”

The grant program, which aims to help state and local jurisdictions reduce domestic violence homicides by identifying potential victims and monitoring high-risk offenders, is modeled after programs in Massachusetts and Maryland where coordinated teams of law enforcement, prosecutors, health professionals and victims’ services significantly reduced the domestic violence homicide rate.

The new program is based on an assessment tool that researchers have identified that can be used to reliably recognize women who may be in fatally abusive relationships. Attempted strangulation, threats with weapons, sexual assault and obsessively jealous and controlling behavior are among the markers of particularly lethal abusers. Once at-risk victims are identified, law enforcement, prosecutors, courts and service providers can take action to protect them and their families.

The other 11 demonstration sites are Miami-Dade County, Fla.; Palm Beach County, Fla.; Rockdale County, Ga.; Winnebago County, Ill.; Boston; Brooklyn, N.Y.; Westchester County, N.Y.; Pitt County, N.C.; Cuyahoga County, Ohio; North Charleston, S.C.; and Rutland, Vt.


Retired CoCo Sheriff Warren Rupf passes away

Retired Contra Costa Sheriff Warren Rupf

Retired Contra Costa Sheriff Warren Rupf, the county’s own larger-than-life lawman, died earlier today after a two-month battle with a swift and deadly form of cancer.

Rupf told folks about his diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia in early July and predicted then his time could be short. Few might have imagined just how quickly the cancer would strike.

Warren’s wife, Carole, was at his side when he passed away at a Walnut Creek hospital.

Friends and family are working on the details of his memorial service and I’ll post information as soon as it is available.

Rest in peace, sheriff. We’ll miss you.

Read the Sheriff Department’s press release here.


Contra Costa reacts swiftly to revised Delta peripheral canal plan

Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho

Contra Costa County, whose leaders have been fending off a peripheral canal for more than three decades, reacted swiftly and negatively to a joint federal-state announcement today of a new Delta water diversion proposal.

“We need science before size,” said Contra Costa County Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho, who also sits on the Delta Protection Commission, Delta Conservancy and helped found the Delta County Coalition. “Science should drive the capacity of any project, not the other way around. It is completely unacceptable.”

See my colleague Steve Harmon’s full story here.

(ADDED 5:29 P.M. East Bay congressional representatives also blast plan. See full statements below.)

Smaller options must be evaluated, and science and the economic impacts of any pipeline must be more than “considered, as the announcement today said,” Piepho added.

“It’s easy to ‘consider’ something for 3 seconds, then shove it off the table and go back to your primary objective, which is to pipe massive amounts of Delta water into Southern California,” she said.

Supervisor Karen Mitchoff echoed her colleague’s dismay via  a text message from Sacramento, where she watched the announcement.

“If people believe what (Gov. Jerry Brown) and (Interior Secretary Ken) Salazar said today, I think there’s still a bridge available for sale,” Mitchoff said. “The plan will sacrifice the interest of one part of the state for the interests of others.”

The county, the Contra Costa Water District and others say the diversion will degrade both the environment and drinking water quality for tens of thousands of East Bay residents. The county board of supervisors formally opposed the plan in early July.

In contrast, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein wholeheartedly endorsed the pact, calling it a “major step toward a real solution in the Sacramento-Delta.” Feinstein led the federal legislation mandating completion of a Bay-Delta Conservation Plan by February 2013. See her press release issued today below.


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Richmond Mayor McLaughlin vows to crack down on Corky Booze

Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin has run out of patience with colleague and Councilman Corky Booze, the man she says is responsible for inciting routine dysfunction and chaos at Richmond City Council meetings.

The mayor sent out an email letter this week (see below) castigating Booze — she doesn’t mention him by name but everybody knows who she is talking about — for what described as an unacceptable “battering situation.”

Her missive comes after Tuesday night’s huge blow-up some six hours into another marathon session, where the mayor sat as a referee between Councilwoman Jovanka Beckles who was calling Booze a “bald-faced liar” and “evil” while he repeatedly demanded the mayor shut her up when he has the floor. (Read my colleague Robert Rogers’ story on the meeting here.)

For his part, Booze calls the mayor’s email a blatant “political hit piece” intended to promote the Richmond Progressive Alliance’s slate of candidates running for the city council in November. He says the mayor, Beckles, councilmembers Tom Butt and Jeff Ritterman repeatedly interrupt him.

“This email is over the top,” Booze said. “I’ve never heard of a mayor doing something like this. But I’ve been hitting the Richmond Progressive Alliance every Tuesday.”

Councilman Nat Bates, who is also on the outs with the mayor, blames McLaughlin for the council meeting chaos.

“In most organizations, be it church, community group, business or governmental, the success or failure of the meetings almost always rest in the leadership quality of the chairperson,” he said. “A chairperson must be fair, impartial and lead by example while displaying respect for their colleagues and the public. Unfortunately, this mayor does neither and thus is the result of a dysfunctional Richmond city council.”

Here’s the mayor’s email:

Dear friends,

I am compelled to make a statement about the current state of affairs at Richmond City Council meetings.

Those of you who follow City Council meetings know how much chaos and discord exists. I want to share my feelings about this.

 There is dysfunction on this Council, but the dysfunction does not come from the Council as a whole. This dysfunction comes from one councilmember. It is truly a shame that this councilmember disrupts time and time again the needed business under discussion at the Council meeting. He forces us to deal with chaos, disruptions, and vitriolic speech that bring harm to the entire city of Richmond.

 It is the people of Richmond who suffer from all of this. It is the people of Richmond who are being held hostage because this councilmember refuses to adhere to the rules of the City Council. As chair, my job is to keep the meeting moving forward. When discussion becomes unproductive, I necessarily need to move us on. Discussion not only becomes unproductive, but as I said, it becomes chaotic, disruptive and vitriolic in its content….and it is this one councilmember who will not adhere to my role as chair. He feels that once “he has the floor” he has it until he has fully finished attacking and insulting me, other councilmembers, members of the City staff, and/or certain members of the audience. Then when the frustration level of other councilmembers has reached a limit and they intervene (after I have intervened unsuccessfully with him talking over me and talking over the gavel – as I call him out of order), we have even more chaos on the Council. I have called and will continue to call recesses of the Council meeting when such situations occur.

One of our others councilmembers, who has suffered his insults incessantly, conveys the situation in an explanatory way like this: “You have one councilmember beating up on another. The first councilmember attacks and attacks with the other councilmember not fighting back, recognizing that the public can see the despicable behavior exhibited and judge for themselves. Yet the beating continues until the councilmember under attack, now on the floor suffering more jabs, decides she has had enough and stands up and pushes back. The first councilmember and his supporters in the audience call out: How dare you push back? You are being “unprofessional.”

 This, my friends, is where the current state of affairs on the Richmond City Council is at. One councilmember is managing to hold a city hostage.

This MUST not continue. Many of us have looked toward changing the composition of the City Council in order to shift toward a better Richmond, and we will continue to do that. We have made so many gains with good councilmembers being elected in recent years. We will make more gains in November, and in subsequent elections. But we are currently dealing with something that is immediate in nature.

We are dealing with a battering situation, the result of which, if allowed to go on, will be highly destructive for our city. As a result, I will be more strictly enforcing the rules of the City Council, as per my role as chairperson, provided to me by the Charter of the City of Richmond in accordance with the Constitution of the State of California. Disagreement on issues is expected and can be productive, but where we are at right now is something altogether different.

I call on all members of the City Council and members of the audience to adhere to my call for order during meetings when I put out such a call. The disruptive nature of our Council meetings MUST be reversed.

I will not relinquish my parliamentary procedure duties. I will not let one councilmember hold the city hostage.

Thank you for your support at this critical time. We shall prevail, even among setbacks, to bring forward a political culture whereby the people’s business can be addressed in a healthy and productive way.


 Gayle McLaughlin

 Mayor, City of Richmond