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Buchanan & DeSaulnier battle over license plates

Their East Bay Districts overlap, but Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan and state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier certainly weren’t seeing eye to eye at Monday’s Assembly Transportation Committee hearing.

DeSaulnier, D-Concord, was there to speak on behalf of his SB544, which would require the California Department of Education to apply to the Department of Motor Vehicles for creation of a specialized license plate program to generate funds for school violence prevention programs.

DeSaulnierThe problem is, DeSaulnier – who chairs the Senate Transportation Committee – earlier this year helped push through a resolution, SR28, that puts a moratorium on new license plate types until a task force made up of California Highway Patrol, DMV and local police can issue a report by July 2015 “on license plate designs appropriate for traffic safety and effective law enforcement in today’s environment.”

And that resolution essentially put the kibosh on Buchanan’s AB49, which would require the Department of Health Care Services to apply to DMV for a special license plate promoting breast cancer awareness – what supporters call the “pink plate” bill. AB49 now languishes in the Senate Rules Committee.

“Could you please explain to me why you should not have to follow the same rules as everyone else, and why this plate and any other should not be subject to the pending results of the study?” Buchanan, D-Alamo, asked DeSaulnier on Monday. “Because it seems to me that when we write a bill that kills one, it should apply to everybody, especially the author of that resolution.”

The difference, DeSaulnier replied, is that “the full-plate pink plate had a problem, in my conversations with the CHP” – police were concerned that the fully colored plate might be hard to distinguish from other states’ plates, especially under twilight conditions. His school-violence prevention plate, he said, merely has a logo on one side, not a fully different color.

But Buchanan insists SR28 applies to all specialty license plates. And “if we’re going to pass a resolution that clearly states it applies to all specialty plate types… we should be applying that equally to all license plates and not making special carve-outs,” she said.

Replied DeSaulnier: “If someone comes together with a plate that complies with our rules then it will get out of our committee.”

“Right now, my opinion is, your plate does not,” he told Buchanan. “In my discussions with CHP, they had some questions, so that’s why we’re doing the study. … My whole difficulty with your plate was whether public safety could see or not.”

Buchanan held her ground. “I believe for us to approve a bill that’s in conflict with an existing senate resolution that came out of the senate transportation department is not responsible,” she said. “I think that if they want to change it, it should be changed first.”

The Assembly Transportation committee voted 10-3 to advance DeSaulnier’s bill, which is now pending before the Assembly Education Committee.

The California Channel has video of the exchange here (starting at the 50-minute mark).

Posted on Wednesday, June 25th, 2014
Under: Assembly, California State Senate, Joan Buchanan, Mark DeSaulnier, Transportation | 9 Comments »

CA11: Parsing Mark DeSaulnier on high-speed rail

Lupe Schoenberger from Mark DeSaulnier’s congressional campaign called this morning to dispute my story’s assertion that DeSaulnier wants to cut off federal funding for high-speed rail.

She said he supports such funding but he believes the project needs to be radically reworked so that it starts in densely populated areas with rider safety upgrades and track improvements and then spreads into the Central Valley, rather than vice versa.

Here’s video and a transcript of what DeSaulnier said when asked at our editorial board meeting a few weeks ago whether he supports federal funding for California’s high-speed rail, starting at approximately 38:35:

“No, not as it’s currently construed. As you know I was one of four Democrats who voted against authorizing our bond moneys to match the federal funds. As chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, I’ve been very involved in this, I’m currently meeting with the plaintiffs in the state lawsuit, I’ve tried to engage the governor and the administration to see if we can fix what is very seriously broken.

“It’s a huge boondoggle, in my view; it’s going to suck the air out of the state budget. I’ve met, I’ve been in multiple meetings with Secretary LaHood leading up to this, and Secretary Lahood – the ranking person, the Secretary of Transportation during most of the Obama Administration – told me that they were going to come up with a third of the money for the overall program which is now $68 billion, but we’ve been told by experts it will probably be two to three times that. The federal government doesn’t have the funding for it. Representative Denham, a former colleague of mine in the senate, a Republican, has moved to take the money back – we’re in danger of having to pay money back for an isolated facility that will never give real function to the state of California.

“So I’m very engaged in it, I believe in a world-class passenger rail system over the next 30 to 50 years in California, but we’re doing it the exact opposite of every other industrialized country. Japan has the best model, I’ve talked with them…”

It seems clear that DeSaulnier does oppose federal funding for this high-speed rail project, the one California is actually implementing, though he might support such funding for some other version that he agrees with.

DeSaulnier in 2012 advocated an alternate high-speed rail plan that focused first on big commuter rail upgrades in greater Los Angeles and the Bay Area, but the Legislature rejected it as experts said adopting such a plan probably would lead to the federal government diverting its funding to other states. State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg had to use significant muscle to get enough votes to win final approval for the existing plan after DeSaulnier and a few other Democrats vowed to oppose it.

DeSaulnier said in February 2013 that he was “still looking for Plan B” on high-speed rail, and he and other senators also questioned whether the state could build the bullet train without neglecting other, badly needed transportation work, such as highway reconstruction.

Other candidates seeking to succeed Rep. George Miller in the 11th Congressional District are Democrats Tony Daysog, Ki Ingersol and Cheryl Sudduth; Republican Tue Phan; and independent Jason Ramey.

Posted on Tuesday, May 20th, 2014
Under: Mark DeSaulnier, Transportation, U.S. House | 1 Comment »

CA11: DeSaulnier’s endorsement blitz continues

My inbox cries out for mercy.

There have been only three business days in the past four weeks on which Mark DeSaulnier has not announced another endorsement in his bid to succeed Rep. George Miller in the 11th Congressional District.

DeSaulnierBetter safe than sorry? Sure, the Democratic state Senator from Concord thought he had punched his ticket to Washington in 2009 when Rep. Ellen Tauscher resigned to take a State Department post; despite having Tauscher’s and Miller’s endorsements, he lost that special election to fellow Democrat John Garamendi.

So ever since announcing his candidacy for this seat even as Miller was announcing his retirement, DeSaulnier has sought to flood the field. And those first few days of endorsements were important, as they included support from several people who were thought to be possible rivals for the seat, and from Miller himself.

Since then, other candidates have emerged: retired immigration judge Tue Phan of Danville; disability rights and employment advocate Cheryl Sudduth of El Sobrante; oil refinery employee Jason Ramey of Concord; Alameda Councilman Tony Daysog; and attorney Ki Ingersol of Benicia. The first is a Republican and the latter four are Democrats; Daysog and Ingersol live outside the district, though that’s no barrier to candidacy.

So DeSaulnier has kept cranking out the endorsements – other Democrats, labor unions, and many other non-surprises. Today’s might take the head-scratching record: “Former Massachusetts Governor and Democratic Presidential Nominee Mike Dukakis Endorses Mark DeSaulnier for Congress.”

“George Miller has been an extraordinary public servant and a leader in Congress who has stood up time and time again for middle class America. Mark will provide us with that same kind of inspired leadership,” Dukakis, the 1988 nominee, said in DeSaulnier’s news release.

DeSaulnier replied that “it’s an enormous honor to receive this endorsement from such a renowned an celebrated member of the Democratic Party. Governor Dukakis’ support means a great deal to me personally. I greatly admire his intelligence and determination, and few leaders have accomplished more over their career. I’m grateful for his support.”

Sure, some people remember Dukakis’ name, short as the American political memory might be, but how many votes will this sway in the 11th District, or how many rivals will it intimidate?

Whatever. I’ll stand by for Walter Mondale to weigh in.

Posted on Wednesday, March 12th, 2014
Under: George Miller, Mark DeSaulnier, U.S. House | 11 Comments »

CA15: DeSaulnier doesn’t recall endorsing Corbett

Corbett-DeSaulnierState Sen. Ellen Corbett announced on her Facebook page Monday that State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier had endorsed her in her campaign to unseat Rep. Eric Swalwell – and this came as news to DeSaulnier.

“I was actually surprised to see it, but having said that, I just talked to her and she says I signed a card eight months ago,” DeSaulnier, D-Concord, said Tuesday. “I don’t remember that.”

“This is a tough situation because they’re both friends, and (former Rep.) Ellen Tauscher is a very, very good friend and she’s supportive of Eric,” DeSaulnier added. “I need to talk to Ellen (Corbett) and see that card. … I think right now there definitely was a miscommunication, and it may be my fault.”

I had called DeSaulnier because it seemed odd that he would take a side in the 15th Congressional District’s intra-party battle between Corbett, D-San Leandro, and Swalwell, D-Pleasanton. DeSaulnier is now running to succeed George Miller in the 11th Congressional District, but still has one more year ahead of him working alongside Corbett, the state Senate Majority Leader.

The crystal ball says: Dual endorsement to come.

UPDATE @ 5:42 P.M.: DeSaulnier just called back to say he spoke with Corbett today, and he indeed is making a dual endorsement of both her and Swalwell.

UPDATE @ 5:52 P.M.: Corbett was completely on the up-and-up here. Her campaign just tweeted out this photo of the endorsement card with DeSaulnier’s signature:
endorsement card

Posted on Tuesday, February 18th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, Mark DeSaulnier, U.S. House | 20 Comments »

CA11: Alameda’s Tony Daysog is considering a run

Alameda Councilman Tony Daysog says he’s considering a run for the 11th Congressional District seat from which Rep. George Miller will retire at this year’s end.

And here I thought state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier – already endorsed by Miller and about a half-dozen other Democrats who might’ve sought the seat – was being over-cautious by rolling out another endorsement almost every day. (Well, maybe that’s still true.)

Tony DaysogDaysog, 48, of Alameda, said in an email Friday afternoon that he had just taken out papers to file for candidacy, and is exploring the possibility of a run.

“In the days leading up to the March 7th filing deadline, I will talk with Contra Costa County residents of the 11th Congressional [District] to gauge responses to an out-of-district person such as myself running for this important office,” he wrote.

Daysog, an urban planner, was an Alameda councilman from 1996 through 2006; placed last in a field of four in the June 2006 Democratic primary for what was then the 16th Assembly District seat; ran unsuccessfully for the Alameda mayor’s office in 2010; and was re-elected to the city council in 2012.

Daysog’s website says his priorities are securing individual freedoms by safeguarding individual rights from high-tech snooping; protecting small investors, including owners of 401(k) retirement accounts; protecting abortion choice; making college affordable without massive debt; and supporting small business owners to create jobs while supporting workers to pursue life-long learning.

Posted on Friday, February 14th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, George Miller, Mark DeSaulnier, U.S. House | 10 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 »

CA11: Miller endorses DeSaulnier as successor

Rep. George Miller endorsed state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier on Wednesday to succeed him in Congress when he retires at the end of this year.

George Miller“I know Mark DeSaulnier exceedingly well,” Miller said in a news release issued Wednsday by DeSaulnier’s campaign. “Mark is the most qualified and capable candidate to carry on my work in Congress on behalf of the residents in the 11th District. He is progressive, results-driven, and has a deep connection to the communities and neighborhoods in this district. Most importantly, Mark embodies the issues and values that I have fought for throughout my career.”

DeSaunlier, D-Concord, has been rolling out endorsements on an almost daily basis since Miller, D-Martinez, announced Jan. 13 that he would step down after his 20th term expires at the end of 2014. Though some of those endorsements came from people who initially had considered running against him for the seat – including Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, and Walnut Creek Mayor Kristina Lawson – none are likely to have as much impact as the incumbent’s.

Miller said he and DeSaulnier “share a common passion and profound commitment to public service. Mark has had a major impact on key issues in our community — saving the county library system, building the county hospital, championing transportation improvements like the fourth bore in the Caldecott, fighting for the poor and vulnerable, and many other issues.”

Miller also said DeSaulnier “brings enormous skill and integrity to everything he does. … He will continue our fight in Congress for the world’s best education and healthcare systems, and he will strive to end poverty and inequality once and for all.”

Mark DeSaulnierDeSaulnier said Miller “represents all that is great about public service” and has been a role model and friend.

“I have a bookmark from Rep. Miller that says, ‘You are not in public service to sit on your ass and watch the parade go by,’ and indeed we have not,” he said. “Together, we’ve engaged and have empowered the residents of Contra Costa County, and we have given them a strong voice in their state and federal government.”

“I will do my very best, every single day, to live up to his work ethic, determination, and resolve for championing the many cornerstone issues he’s fought for in Washington on behalf of the residents in the 11th District,” DeSaulnier said.

Other potential candidates include retired immigration judge Tue Phan-Quang, a 71-year-old Republican from Danville; and refinery worker Jason Ramey, a 33-year-old Democrat from Concord. The 11th Congressional District’s voter registration is 50 percent Democrat, 24.6 percent Republican and 21.2 percent nonpartisan – a safe Democratic district, in which DeSaulnier seems to have a firm lead on name recognition, funding and endorsements.

Posted on Wednesday, January 29th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, George Miller, Mark DeSaulnier, U.S. House | 2 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 »

DeSaulnier founds an ‘EPIC’ anti-poverty caucus

California’s Legislature has a new caucus focused on poverty and income inequality, an East Bay lawmaker announced Thursday.

State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, will chair the Ending Poverty and Inequality in California (EPIC) Caucus.

Mark DeSaulnierBill Monning suggested that name, and as a fan of Upton Sinclair, I immediately liked it,” DeSauliner said Thursday afternoon.

Through the difficult budgets of recent years, “a lot of my frustration was that there’s not a lot of research that indicates what a good investment is” to abate poverty and reduce inequality, he said. Just as the Legislature’s Environmental Caucus has been instrumental in developing landmark legislation that has put California ahead of the nation and world on various issues, so too does DeSaulnier hope this new caucus will do likewise.

But he doesn’t underestimate the magnitude of the task the caucus must tackle, he said. “I’m excited, knowing that we have a lot to prove and that this is something that has vexed the industrial west and the American scene even since the Industrial Revolution.”

Nearly one in four Californians lives in poverty, a third of impoverished Californians are children, and the state is home to nearly a third of the nation’s chronically homeless people, DeSaulnier said. “Endemic, crippling poverty should no longer exist amidst the world’s greatest wealth. As more Californians struggle to remain in the middle class, our entire economy is hindered. This caucus is our commitment to tackle the causes of poverty and inequality in California in a bi-cameral, data-driven manner.”

DeSaulnier said the caucus will take a bipartisan approach, embracing neither liberal orthodoxy about spending nor libertarian orthodoxy about people pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. “My hope is we’ll be guided by the research,” he said. “We need to incentivize people to get to work, but we also recognize that different people have different obstacles.”

The caucus has the support of State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John Perez, and if it proves to be a fruitful starting point, could eventually evolve into a joint committee, DeSaulnier said.

He envisions the caucus as a conduit through which lawmakers can hear from some of the foremost thinkers on these issues. He said Columbia University economist Joseph Stiglitz – “I’m a fan, I’ve read all his books,” DeSaulnier said – has agreed to come speak, and the caucus will pursue input from and perhaps partnerships with experts at Stanford, UC-Davis and other institutions.

The EPIC Caucus’ initial partners include the Western Center on Law and Poverty, Service Employees International Union California, the California Business Roundtable, and the County Welfare Directors Association of California.

“We see the faces and know the children and families behind those stark numbers of the millions living in poverty. While we diligently work to help them meet their basic needs, we recognize more can and must be done to see lasting improvements in their lives,” said CWDA President Susan von Zabern, director of the Riverside County Department of Public Social Services. “My colleagues and I appreciate Senator DeSaulnier’s leadership in this initiative, and look forward to working with he and Caucus members toward policy changes that best serve children and families.”

Posted on Thursday, December 12th, 2013
Under: California State Senate, Mark DeSaulnier | 5 Comments »

20,000 petition signatures favor transit-strike ban

An East Bay Assembly candidate who’s been crusading for a legislative ban on transit strikes says he’ll deliver 20,000 petition signatures to an influential lawmaker’s office Friday.

Steve Glazer“Back to back, the petitions are larger than a 10-car BART train,” said Steve Glazer, who is an Orinda councilman, political adviser to Gov. Jerry Brown, and Democratic candidate in the 16th Assembly District.

Glazer and supporters intend to walk Friday from the Pleasant Hill BART station to the district office of state Senate Transportation and Housing Committee Chairman Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, to deliver the petitions.

During the BART strike earlier this month, DeSaulnier had said that what Glazer is doing “is popular, but the reality is more complex than that.” The senator said he’s interested in an idea advanced by Stanford Law Professor Emeritus William Gould IV — who chaired the National Labor Relations Board in the Clinton administration — to enact a law providing for arbitration and prohibiting strikes in public-transit disputes. “But I’m not going to do it if it has no chance of success, if both sides are against it,” he said.

A few days later, when BART and its unions settled their negotiations and ended the strike, DeSaulnier issued a statement saying his committee “is investigating how other metropolitan areas around the nation avoid this kind of situation. After conducting the investigation, the committee will pursue every possible remedy to ensure this never happens again.”

Glazer said Thursday that “the complexity is kind of a smokescreen for those who don’t want to take action… Bans such as this are done in many places in the United States successfully, so there are plenty of templates to examine.”

Glazer said that besides the petition signatures, more than 1,300 people have used his website to send individualized emails of support for such legislation to DeSaulnier.

“By my count he has nine BART stations in his district, he probably has the most riders on BART of any legislator… so we’re certainly looking for his leadership and courage and backbone,” he said.

Among other 16th Assembly District candidates, Republican Catharine Baker, a Dublin attorney, voiced support this month for a Republican Senate bill that would force BART employees – not all transit employees – to honor the no-strike clause in their contract even after that contract expires. Senate Republicans since have said they intend to introduce a broader strike-ban bill covering all transit workers.

Danville Mayor Newell Arnerich, another Democrat in the 16th District race, said Glazer and Baker are engaging in “political gamesmanship” when neither was privy to the BART negotiations. The third Democrat in the race, Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti, has declined to comment on the matter.

Posted on Thursday, October 31st, 2013
Under: 2014 primary, Assembly, California State Senate, Mark DeSaulnier, Transportation | 6 Comments »