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New web videos from Kashkari, Donnelly

Both Republican gubernatorial candidates released new web videos Monday.

From Neel Kashkari, on taxes:

From Tim Donnelly, on easing businesses’ regulatory burden:

Posted on Tuesday, February 11th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Neel Kashkari, Tim Donnelly | 3 Comments »

Dems ‘pre-endorse’ some Bay Area candidates

Local Democrats voted Saturday to recommend that their state party endorse Rep. Mike Honda in the 17th Congressional District, Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski in the 10th State Senate District, and Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti in the 16th Congressional District.

Some other candidates – including Rep. Eric Swalwell in the 15th Congressional District and Elizabeth Echols in the 15th Assembly District – didn’t have enough votes to win these “pre-endorsements,” but can make their cases at the California Democratic Party convention next month in Los Angeles. And some races were so split as to allow no endorsement at all.

Democrats gathered Saturday for their regional caucus meetings, choosing among their party’s offerings for offices. Per the party’s rules, a candidate who gets 70 percent or more of the vote is recommended for endorsement and placed on the consent calendar to be ratified at next month’s convention in Los Angeles.

If one candidate receives more than 50 percent but less than 70 percent of the vote for a district, the race will go to the caucuses held during the March Convention. And if no candidate gets a majority of the vote, no endorsement will be made in that race.

Assemblyman Bill Quirk, D-Hayward, was kind enough to tweet and Facebook the results from the Region 5 caucus meeting:

In the 17th Congressional District, incumbent Honda, D-San Jose, reportedly got 122 votes to challenger Ro Khanna’s 11 votes at Saturday’s caucus meeting, so Honda goes on the consent calendar for endorsement at the convention.

In the 15th Congressional District, incumbent Swalwell, D-Pleasanton, reportedly got 45 votes to state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett’s 26 votes while three people voted against making any endorsement; Swalwell, having a majority but not 70 percent, will make his case again at the convention.

In the 10th State Senate District, Wieckowski reportedly got 105 votes, patient advocate Roman Reed got eight votes and former Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi got no votes, so Wieckowski goes on the consent calendar for endorsement at the convention.

In the 15th Assembly District, Echols – a former Small Business Administration regional administrator – reportedly got 45 votes, former Richmond councilman and school board member Tony Thurmond got 17 votes, East Bay Municipal Utility District board president Andy Katz got 5 votes, attorney Sam Kang got no votes, and four people voted against making an endorsement; Echols, having a majority but not 70 percent, will make her case again at the convention.

In the 25th Assembly District, former Fremont Police Chief Craig Steckler reportedly got 18 votes, San Jose Councilman Kansen Chu got 16 votes and Ohlone College Board of Trustees member Teresa Cox got 10 votes, while Milpitas Councilman Armando Gomez won no votes. With no candidate achieving a majority, there will be no party endorsement in this race.

After the Region 2 caucus meeting, Sbranti issued a news release announcing he had received 97 percent of the vote for the 16th Assembly District race, and so will be placed on the convention’s consent calendar for endorsement; other Democrats vying for that seat include Danville Mayor Newell Arnerich and Orinda Vice Mayor Steve Glazer.

And state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, announced he received a unanimous endorsement recommendation to succeed Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, when the latter retires from his 11th Congressional District at the end of this year. No other Democrats of any renown are seeking the seat.

Posted on Monday, February 10th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Assembly, Bob Wieckowski, California State Senate, Democratic Party, Democratic politics, Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, Mark DeSaulnier, Mary Hayashi, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 7 Comments »

Bill: State must buy or take Khosla’s beach land

Billionaire venture capitalist Vinod Khosla either would have to voluntarily sell part of the beach property he bought in 2008 to the state or else see it seized under eminent domain powers, under a bill to be introduced Friday by a Bay Area lawmaker.

State Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, plans a news conference Friday near Half Moon Bay to roll out a bill he says would settle the years-long battle between Khosla, 59, of Portola Valley, and various local residents and groups. The battle is being watched across the nation as a key, possibly precedent-setting showdown between private property owners and public access rights.

Khosla – a Sun Microsystems cofounder and prominent donor to President Obama – in 2008 paid $37.5 million for 89 acres near Martin’s Beach, a popular surfing and picnicking spot south of Half Moon Bay. The property’s previous owners had charged visitors $5 for access and parking at the beach, but Khosla built a gate and declared the beach closed to the public.

Hill’s bill would require the State Lands Commission to start negotiations with Khosla to buy all or part of the property for a public access road; if no deal is struck within a year, the bill would require the commission to acquire all or part of it by eminent domain to create that road.

Vinod KhoslaA group of surfers who were arrested in October 2012 for walking around the gate and down the road to the beach dubbed themselves “Martin’s 5;” county prosecutors later dropped the charges.

A group of three surfers calling themselves Friends of Martin’s Beach sued to restore public access, citing a section of the state constitution that says property owners can’t completely block access to public bodies of water. But San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Gerald Buchwald ruled in October that this provision doesn’t apply because the constitution was predated the original land grant, which dates back to 1848.

The Surfrider Foundation has sued Khosla too, based mostly on the California Coastal Act and claiming Khosla didn’t get a coastal development permit for the gate and “keep out” signs. That case is scheduled to be tried later this year.

Posted on Thursday, February 6th, 2014
Under: California State Senate, Jerry Hill | 1 Comment »

Neel Kashkari says he raised $976k in two weeks

Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari announced Wednesday he has raised $976,000 in the first two weeks of his campaign, and said there will be a lot more coming soon.

Practically none of that sum had been reported to the Secretary of State’s office by Wednesday afternoon, so it was not yet possible to assess from whom or how many the contributions came. (See updates below.)

NEEL KASHKARIBut if the figure is accurate – and it’s hard to imagine a candidate who would lie about such a thing, knowing it’ll all have to be reported in detail – it confirms suspicions that Kaskhari, 40, of Laguna Beach, is the man for whom the GOP’s deep pockets have been waiting.

Neither fellow Republican candidate Tim Donnelly nor Abel Maldonado, who dropped out of the race last month, have come anywhere close to this kind of number. After campaigning hard for months, Donnelly had only about $18,000 in unencumbered cash banked by the year’s end.

Pat Melton, Kashkari’s campaign manager, said in a news release that the former assistant U.S. Treasury secretary and asset manager “is extremely grateful to all the supporters who have helped get his campaign off to such a strong start. Clearly, there is broad support for Neel’s platform of creating good jobs and giving every kid a quality education and for his commitment to restoring the Republican Party as the party of economic opportunity.”

Gov. Jerry Brown’s campaign had about $17 million banked at the start of this year.

“There’s no doubt that Neel faces a significant financial disadvantage against Governor Brown, who has already raised millions from special interests that benefit from the status quo,” Melton added. “But with 24 percent of Californians living in poverty and 18 percent of our state struggling for work, the truth remains: The status quo is unacceptable. Our campaign’s robust fundraising in these first two weeks underscores Neel’s strength as a candidate, and it will help ensure that we have the resources necessary to share with voters his vision for turning California around.”

UPDATE @ 4:33 P.M.: A copy of Kashkari’s filing I’ve just obtained shows he received $27,200 each – the maximum contribution allowed by law – from his former boss, former U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, and Paulson’s wife, Wendy, of Chicago; from each of his parents, Dr. Sheila Kashkari and professor Chaman Kashkari, of Stow, Ohio; from Red Mountain Group CEO Michael Mugel and his wife, Coleen, of Santa Ana; from Anthos Capital co-founder Eff Martin and his wife, Patricia, of Woodside; and from Goldman Sachs executive George Lee II of Tiburon. Kashkari worked at Goldman Sachs before following Paulson to the Treasury Department; several other Goldman Sachs employyes and executives also have contributed to his campaign.

UPDATE @ 5:10 P.M.: Kashkari’s report is now available on the Secretary of State’s website.

Posted on Wednesday, February 5th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown, Neel Kashkari, Tim Donnelly | 5 Comments »

Looking ahead to SD9 in 2016

Looking beyond this year’s elections, Friday’s campaign finance deadline offered an early glance at what might be one of the East Bay’s hottest contests of 2016.

Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, who is term-limited out at the end of this year, intends to run for the 9th State Senate District seat from which Loni Hancock, D- Berkeley, will be term-limited out in 2016. So is former Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, another Democrat now serving as Oakland’s deputy mayor.

Reports filed Friday show Skinner raised $162,509 and spent $39,519 in the second half of 2013, leaving her at year’s end with $188,005 cash on hand and $6,382 in debts. Swanson in the same period raised $23,100 and spent $16,956, ending 2013 with $8,133 cash on hand but $9,220 in debts.

Swanson launched a campaign to challenge Hancock in 2012, but withdrew; Hancock responded by endorsing him to succeed her in 2016.

Posted on Friday, January 31st, 2014
Under: Assembly, California State Senate, campaign finance, Loni Hancock, Nancy Skinner, Sandre Swanson | 1 Comment »

Money matchups: AD15, AD16, AD25 & more

We’re hard at work crunching campaign finance reports today, and while we’ve featured a few in the story for tomorrow’s print editions, here are a few other notable Bay Area races to watch.

15TH ASSEMBLY DISTRICT

  • Democrat Elizabeth Echols of Oakland, former regional administrator for the Small Business Administration, raised $120,102 – including a $15,000 loan from her own pocket – and spent $70,192 in 2013’s latter half; her campaign had $120,136 cash on and $23,439 in debts at year’s end.
  • Democrat Sam Kang of Emeryville, general counsel for an economic justice advocacy group, raised $83,070 and spent $38,714, leaving him with $112,453 cash on hand with $2,936 in debts.
  • Democrat Andy Katz of Berkeley, president of the East Bay Municipal Utilities District’s board, raised $47,287 and spent $30,107, leaving $66,164 cash on hand with $7,250 in debts.
  • Democrat Tony Thurmond, a former Richmond councilman and former West Contra Costa County School Board member, raised $62,728 and spent $47,569, winding up with $55,767 cash on hand and $13,213 in debts.
  • Democrat Cecilia Valdez, a San Pablo councilwoman, hasn’t filed a report yet.
  • Republican Richard Kinney, a San Pablo councilman, hasn’t filed a report yet.
  • 16th ASSEMBLY DISTRICT:

  • Orinda Councilman Steve Glazer, a Democrat who was political adviser to Brown’s 2010 campaign, raised $111,718 and spent $20,987 in 2013’s second half, finishing the year with $329,074 cash on hand and $705 in debts.
  • Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti, a Democrat, raised $105,590 in 2013’s second half while spending $118,381; his campaign had $94,203 cash on hand as of Dec. 31, with $16,022 in debts.
  • Attorney Catharine Baker, a Republican from Dublin, raised $123,920 in 2013’s second half – including $4,100 from her own pocket – while spending $18,436; her campaign had $109,989 cash on hand as of Dec. 31 with $4,505 in debts.
  • Danville Vice Mayor Newell Arnerich, a Democrat, hasn’t filed his report yet.
  • 25th ASSEMBLY DISTRICT:

  • San Jose City Councilman Kansen Chu, a Democrat, raised $66,015 and spent $22,153 in the second half of 2013; he had $201,695 cash on hand as of Dec. 31 with $1,843 in debts.
  • Milpitas Councilman Armando Gomez, a Democrat, raisd $168,499 and spent $22,168 in 2013’s second half; his campaign had $155,431 cash on hand and no debt at the year’s end.
  • Former Fremont Police Chief Craig Steckler, a Democrat, raised $111,167 in the second half of 2013 while spending $7,999; his campaign had $104,289 cash on hand as of Dec. 31, with $9,717 in debts.
  • Ohlone College Board of Trustees member Teresa Cox, a Democrat, raised $90,772 and spent $32,389 in 2013’s second half; her campaign had $93,295 cash on hand but $80,668 in debts as of Dec. 31.
  • California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, seeking re-election to a second four-year term in the nonpartisan post, raised $592,775 in 2013’s second half while spending $210,999. The Pittsburg Democrat’s campaign had $556,561 cash on hand as of Dec. 31 with $53,814 in outstanding debts.

    But a Democratic challenger from Southern California hit the ground running with an impressive haul. Marshall Tuck, founding CEO of the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, raised $532,175 in 2013’s second half while spending $168,901; his campaign had $399,685 cash on hand as of Dec. 31, with $36,397 in outstanding debts.

    Lydia Gutierrez, an independent teacher from San Pedro who also sought this office in 2010, hasn’t filed a report yet.

    Posted on Friday, January 31st, 2014
    Under: Assembly, campaign finance, Tom Torlakson | 3 Comments »

    Assembly Dems to take aim at CalSTRS liability

    Assembly Democrats say they’re ramping up an effort to solve the long-term, crushing unfunded pension liability in the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS).

    “The Assembly will pursue a solution to the STRS shortfall this legislative session,” Speaker John Pérez, D-Los Angeles, said at a news conference today in Sacramento. “Further delay only means further cost and further exposure for the state’s general fund. We believe there must be shared responsibility for a funding solution between school districts, the state and teachers. Our end goal is a State Teachers Retirement system that is 100 percent fully funded.”

    Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, said the Assembly Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security Committee he chairs will start holding hearings next month.

    “I am eager to begin this process and confident that an equitable and permanent solution can and will be found to the CalSTRS funding problem,” he said. “Ensuring the long term financial security of California’s hardworking and dedicated teachers is a goal we are hopeful we can achieve this year.”

    As Jessica Calefati reported Sunday, CalSTRS’ unfunded liability is around $80.4 billion and constitutes a huge chunk of the looming costs threatening the state’s long-term fiscal health.

    State Treasurer Bill Lockyer and Controller John Chiang, both of whom serve on CalSTRS’ governing board, immediately welcomed the lawmakers’ call to action.

    Perez and Bonta “are spot-on in calling for immediate action and shared sacrifice in addressing CalSTRS’ unfunded liability gap during the coming year,” Chiang said in a news release. “If lawmakers can meet the challenge with courage and fiscal prudence today, Californians can avoid a risis tomorrow that imperils not only teachers, but taxpayers and the education system in which they have entrusted our children’s future.”

    It’ll be interesting to see how the state’s teachers’ unions buy into this (or don’t) especially regarding Perez’s call for “shared responsibility” including teachers.

    The CalSTRS shortfall “does not have to be paid overnight,” the California Teachers Association states in its retirement position paper. “Like a mortgage, this is an amount that will need to be closed over a 30-year period. The shortfall has to be addressed, and teachers are committed to partnering with CalSTRS in finding a long-term funding solution.”

    Posted on Wednesday, January 29th, 2014
    Under: Assembly, education, John Perez, Rob Bonta | 8 Comments »

    AD15: Skinner endorses Echols as successor

    Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, who’ll be term-limited out of the 15th Assembly District at the end of this year, has endorsed Elizabeth Echols of Oakland over several other Democrats vying to succeed her.

    EcholsEchols, 53, “is the candidate with the stature necessary to be a strong and effective representative for AD15, will hit the ground running when she enters the Assembly, and stands for the progressive values that constituents throughout the District express to me on a daily basis,” Skinner said.

    Skinner said Echols “has distinguished herself with substantive public and private sector experience,” including stints as President Obama’s appointee as Regional Administrator of the Small Business Administration, e-commerce advisor to Vice President Al Gore, policy director at Google and an executive at the U.S. Green Building Council. “This work as well as her community work in countless political campaigns, non profits and community organizations give her a preeminence AD15 deserves,” Skinner said.

    Echols said she’s honored to have the incumbent’s support. “She has been a leader on many issues I intend to champion in the State Assembly, including investing in job creation, providing a world-class public education and protecting our environment. I’m grateful for her trust, and excited for the opportunity to carry on a tradition of progressive leadership.”

    Others who have stated an intention to run for the 15th District seat include
    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. Echols led the pack in fundraising as of June 30; campaign finance reports for the second half of 2013 are due Friday.

    Posted on Wednesday, January 29th, 2014
    Under: 2014 primary, Assembly, Nancy Skinner | 3 Comments »

    Court: Chiang shouldn’t have held lawmakers’ pay

    State Controller John Chiang overstepped his legal authority in 2011 by deciding to dock lawmakers’ paychecks because he deemed the budget they had passed to be unbalanced, a state appellate court ruled Friday.

    “(W)here the Legislature is the entity acting indisputably within its fundamental constitutional jurisdiction to enact what it designates as a balanced budget, the Controller does not have audit authority to determine whether the budget bill is in fact balanced,” Court of Appeal Associate Justice M. Kathleen Butz wrote; associate justices Cole Blease and William Murray Jr. concurred in this affirmation of a lower court’s 2012 decision.

    Proposition 25 of 2010, approved by 55 percent of voters, lets the Legislature approve budges on a simple-majority vote, but it also says lawmakers must forfeit their pay and per diems for each day the state is past its constitutional deadline without a budget.

    Chiang announced in June 2011 that his office’s review of the budget, which had been passed on the day it was due, “found components that were miscalculated, miscounted or unfinished. The numbers simply did not add up, and the Legislature will forfeit their pay until a balanced budget is sent to the governor.” He ended up withholding about $583,000 from the lawmakers.

    Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, and state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, sued on principle, without seeking recovery of that back pay.

    Posted on Friday, January 24th, 2014
    Under: Assembly, California State Senate, Darrell Steinberg, John Chiang, John Perez, state budget | 2 Comments »

    Ammiano: No marijuana legalization bill in 2014

    With two marijuana legalization ballot measures already seeking petition signatures and two more under review by the state attorney general, a lawmaker who’s been a longtime legalization supporter says this isn’t the right year for California to take the plunge. (See update below.)

    Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, believes the Golden State’s lawmakers should watch, wait and learn from the experiences of Washington and Colorado, which already have legalized marijuana. Meanwhile, he said, he’ll carry a bill again to create a regulatory structure for medical marijuana so patients have a safe supply.

    Here’s his full statement:

    Tom Ammiano“It’s clear to me – as we work to pass smart marijuana laws – that momentum is growing. If the critical mass has not been reached, it looks very close when the President of the United States recognizes the negative effects of our excessive laws against cannabis, as he did in his recent New Yorker interview. We can’t afford to spend these resources when the only result is the loss of so much human potential. As President Obama suggested, we can’t afford a system that disproportionately falls on the poor.

    “Another sign of momentum: the recent California legislative analyst’s evaluation of two marijuana legalization initiatives showing that they would save tens of millions of dollars and generate significant revenues. Although my focus has been on medical cannabis for those who need it, I have always been a supporter of legalization. Some have suggested we have to see what happens with legalization in Washington and Colorado before we act.

    “No. We already know that what we’re doing here in California is not working. We can’t perpetuate problems while we wait. Let’s watch Washington and Colorado, but we have to keep California moving ahead.

    “This year, I will again have legislation to create a regulatory structure for medical marijuana. Nearly two decades after voters legalized cannabis for those who have a medical need, we still see a chaotic environment of prosecutions, threats and confusing court decisions. Having lived through the worst years of the AIDS epidemic, I have seen what a lifesaver cannabis can be for those who are sick.

    “We need to have a regulatory structure to make sure that patients have a safe supply, free of criminal influence. We also need this to ensure that growers are environmentally responsible, and to make sure that medical recommendations are based on real needs, not some doctor’s profit motive.

    “I will continue to work with all responsible parties to make sure this is the best bill we can offer and one that we will pass this year. This is the time to strike.”

    UPDATE @ 12:26 P.M. WEDNESDAY: I misunderstood Ammiano’s intent. Spokesman Carlos Alcala says Ammiano “supports legalization, and thinks it is time, but does not see that as an option in the Legislature. He is focused on medical marijuana regulation in the Legislature.”

    Posted on Tuesday, January 21st, 2014
    Under: Assembly, marijuana, Tom Ammiano | 3 Comments »