Wieckowski to launch 10th Senate Dist. campaign

Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, is rolling out his campaign for the 10th State Senate District with help from some of California’s Democratic heavyweights.

Bob WieckowskiAmong those whose names grace the invitation to Wieckowski’s June 20 reception are state Treasurer Bill Lockyer, state Controller John Chiang, Board of Equalization Member Betty Yee, Rep. Mike Honda, state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, state Sen. Jim Beall, state Sen. Jerry Hill, state Sen. Bill Monning, Assemblyman Rich Gordon, Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, and Union City Mayor Carol Dutra-Vernaci.

Tickets to the event, at Massimo’s restaurant in Fremont, range from $100 to $4,100.

The only other person so far who has filed a statement of intention to seek the 10th District seat in 2014 is former Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi of Hayward, whose Alameda County supervisorial bid last year might’ve been doomed by her recent shoplifting arrest and conviction of misdemeanor grand theft.

But don’t count Hayashi out just yet – her senate campaign committee had $750,983 in the bank as of the end of 2012.


Brown signs veterans’ bills, jabs at Senate GOP

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a slew of bills today – including two from Bay Area lawmakers – to improve services and opportunities for California’s veterans, and he used the occasion to take a swipe at U.S. Senate Republicans.

“Yesterday, a bill to invest in job training for veterans was blocked because of Washington political infighting,” Brown said in his news release. “Here in California, Republicans and Democrats joined together to support our veterans. These bills respect the honor and dignity of those who serve.”

Senate Republicans blocked a bill Wednesday that would have created a $1 billion jobs program putting veterans to work tending the country’s federal lands and bolstering local police and fire departments. Republicans said the spending authorized in the bill violated limits that Congress agreed to last year.

California Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Peter Gravett, in Brown’s release, said “veterans issues should never be partisan.” Maj. Gen. David Baldwin, the California National Guard’s adjutant general, said the new state laws “demonstrate that California is fulfilling its obligation to our veterans and their families who have sacrificed so much.”

Among the bills Brown signed into law was AB 2478 by Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, D-Hayward, which expands the current exemption given to veterans from paying non-resident tuition at California Community Colleges by one year.

More specifically, it lets veterans who were discharged from a military installation in California additional time (up to two years) to establish residency if they need to briefly return to their home state prior to attending community college. The California Community College Chancellor’s Office has said some veterans don’t start the residency process immediately after discharge for various reasons, including rehabilitation from injuries.

The Assembly in May approved AB 2478 on a 75-0 vote; in August, the state Senate approved it 37-0 and the Assembly gave it an 80-0 concurrence vote.

Brown also signed AB 1550 by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, which increases the fees required to issue, renew, and personalize specialized veterans’ license plates to fund veterans’ organizations.

Specifically, it raises the fee for initial plate issuance from $30 to $50; the annual renewal fee from $30 to $40; and the plate personalization fee from $40 to $78, with all of the money directed to County Veterans Service Officers – agencies that assist veterans and their families in obtaining benefits and services accrued through military service.

The Assembly in May approved AB 1550 on a 71-3 vote; in August, the state Senate approved it 37-0 and the Assembly gave it a 72-1 concurrence vote.

For a list of other veterans’s bills Brown signed into law today, follow us after the jump…
Continue Reading


Watch Mary Hayashi make her case to local Dems

Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, D-Hayward, was at this past Saturday’s Alameda County Democratic Central Committee meeting, seeking the committee’s endorsement of her campaign for the District 2 seat on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.

Hayashi was arrested last October for shoplifting $2,450 worth of clothes from San Francisco’s Neiman Marcus; she pleaded no contest in January to misdemeanor grand theft and was sentenced to three years of probation and a $180 fine. In an exclusive July interview, she insisted that her walking out of the store with black leather pants, a black leather skirt and a white blouse in a Nieman Marcus shopping bag that she had brought with her was entirely inadvertent; she said she believes voters would forgive her and vote for her on her legislative track record.

On Saturday, she was asked, “How do you exemplify the values of integrity and honesty we want for our elected officials?” Here’s her answer:

The committee announced its endorsements Sunday night: It picked Richard Valle – the incumbent appointed to fill the District 2 seat after former Supervisor Nadia Lockyer resigned – over Hayashi for November’s election. Union City Mayor Mark Green, a former longtime Democrat now registered without party affiliation, also is in the race.


Legislature to adjourn in honor of Oikos victims

California lawmakers return to work today after their spring recess, but when today’s Assembly floor session is over this afternoon, an East Bay lawmaker will adjourn it in memory of the seven victims of last week’s Oikos University massacre.

“This was a terrible tragedy for the families of the victims, and I want to offer my deepest sympathy and condolences for their loss,” Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, D-Castro Valley, said in a news release issued last week. “These events have deeply affected the Korean American and East Bay communities, where Oikos University stood as a safe haven for pursuing economic opportunity and a better life.”

Today marks one week since a gunman opened fire at the small, Christian school in East Oakland, killing seven and wounding three more. Slain were Lydia H. Sim, 21, of Hayward; Sonam Choedon, 33, of El Cerrito; Grace Kim, 23, of Union City; Tshering Rinzing Bhutia, 38, of San Francisco; Judith O. Seymour, 53, of San Jose, Doris Chibuko, 40, of San Leandro, and Katleen Ping, 21, of Oakland.

Hayashi’s district includes San Leandro, Hayward, Dublin, most of Castro Valley and Pleasanton and part of Oakland, as well as the unincorporated areas of Ashland, Cherryland, San Lorenzo and Sunol.


Democratic endorsements, or the lack thereof

There were some interesting Bay Area results from the California Democratic Party’s “pre-endorsing conferences” this past weekend, at which members of the party’s state central committee, county committees and local Democratic clubs got together to vote on who should get the nod for the June 6 primaries.

A candidate would’ve needed 70 percent of the vote at one of these meetings in order to secure a place on the consent calendar at the state Democratic convention, which will be held Feb. 10-12 in San Diego.

In some places, redistricting has pitted former friends and allies against each other; such is the challenge Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, D-Alameda, is mounting against state Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley. State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento had signaled his support of Hancock months ago, and – unsurprisingly – I hear she got 136 votes (86 percent) at the local conference while Swanson got only 21. However, I hear Swanson had enough local labor heavy-hitters behind him to guarantee he’ll have some boots on the ground in the run-up to the vote.

Swanson is term-limited out of what has become the new 18th Assembly District, where Democrats including Rob Bonta, Joel Young, Abel Guillen and Kathy Neal are vying to replace him. Bonta got the most votes but Young trailed just behind, with nobody anywhere close to the 70 percent threshold.

Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, D-Castro Valley, is term-limited out of the new 20th Assembly District, where Hayward City Councilman Bill Quirk got the pre-endorsement nod over fellow Democrats Jennifer Ong, an optometrist from Hayward, and New Haven Unified School District Sarabjit Cheema. (Union City Mark Green ditched his former Democratic affiliation and is running as an independent.)

The only vacant Bay Area House seat is the one created by the impending retirement of Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma. Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, fired off a news release noting he got 69 votes – more than all the other candidates combined – highlighting “the strong grassroots support of my campaign from throughout this entire district.” But his closest competitor, progressive activist Norm Solomon of Inverness, got 41 votes – enough to block any endorsement in this race.

And in the newly drawn 15th Congressional District, Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, was solidly endorsed over an upstart challenge by Dublin City Councilman Eric Swalwell. I hear that a staffer for state Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, cast her vote for Stark rather than for “no endorsement” – a sign that Corbett, who’d at first said she was raising funds to seek this seat in 2014 but later said she was re-assessing the option of jumping in now, perhaps has decided not to go for it this year. Corbett herself couldn’t cast a ballot, because she doesn’t live within the new district’s lines.


Union City mayor ditched Dems for Assembly bid

Longtime Democrat Mark Green is hoping to stand out from the crowd seeking the newly drawn 20th Assembly District seat by running as an independent.

Actually, his party affiliation died a while ago without so much as a whimper. Green, Union City’s mayor since 1993, ditched the Dems in November 2010 – five months after placing third in the nonpartisan Alameda County District 2 supervisor race later won by Nadia Lockyer – according to the county Registrar of Voters.

Mark GreenRunning as an independent “gives me an opportunity to help end the plague of polarizing party politics in Sacramento, and for the first time, this is an open primary election for Assembly, which means that voters are able to vote for ANY candidate, regardless of party affiliation,” Green, 58, wrote in a Dec. 30 fundraising letter.

After rattling off some of his achievements and service on various boards and authorities, Green wrote, “I will be a strong voice for non-partisan decision-making, which I believe is the way to bring about positive change to the toxic environment in our State government.”

The district, as recently redrawn by the Citizens Redistricting Commission, will include Hayward, San Lorenzo, Castro Valley, Fairview, Ashland, Union City, the upper half of Fremont, and Sunol. It’s northern half, formerly part of 18th District, is currently represented by Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, D-Castro Valley, who’ll be term-limited out of office this year. The southern half, now part of the 20th District, is represented by Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont; Wieckowski’s home falls in the newly drawn 25th District, which includes Fremont’s southern half as well as Milpitas, Santa Clara and part of San Jose.

You’ve gotta wonder whether Green felt the ballot was getting too crowded with all those “Ds” for him to stand out. Democrats Bill Quirk, 66, a Hayward councilman; Dr. Jennifer Ong, 42, a Hayward resident who practices optometry in Alameda; and Sarabjit Cheema, 52, a New Haven Unified School District board member, are all running. So is Republican Adnan Shahab, 33, of Fremont, whom Wieckowski defeated in 2010.