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Miller administers DeSaulnier’s ceremonial oath

Sometimes it’s not just the oath you take, but who administers it.

Mark DeSaulnierFreshman Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, officially was sworn into office Jan. 6 by Speaker John Boehner. But he was administered a ceremonial oath Tuesday night by his predecessor, former Rep. George Miller, in the Concord City Council chambers in front of constituents and local officials.

“It means the world to me to have a special ceremony in Concord where I raised my two sons, opened a small business, and served as a local elected official and as mayor,” DeSaulnier said in a statement issued afterward. “To be here surrounded by constituents and colleagues, and for my mentor George Miller to administer the oath of office, is something I will remember for the rest of my life.”

Miller, who retired after 40 years in Congress, said it was an honor to administer the oath, just as it was a privilege serving the district for so long.

“This is a great district marked with both beauty and diversity. I now have the honor of passing the torch to an accomplished public servant, a leader, and a longtime friend,” Miller said in DeSaulnier’s release.

Former Contra Costa County Clerk-Recorder and voter registrar Steve Weir served as master of ceremonies at Tuesday night’s event, and Concord Mayor Tim Grayson offered opening remarks. Concord Boy Scout Troop 465, led by Mike Roark, served as color guard and Jason Warrenburg, a Los Medanos Community College student, sang the National Anthem.

Posted on Wednesday, February 18th, 2015
Under: Mark DeSaulnier, U.S. House | 29 Comments »

SD7: This week’s money and endorsements

Some serious independent-expenditure money is starting to drop in the East Bay’s 7th State Senate District special election.

The California Dental Association’s Independent Expenditure PAC since Feb. 4 has spent at least $287,126 on behalf of Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla’s campaign for mailers, consulting and other purposes.

“The California Dental Association Political Action Committee puts a great deal of consideration into supporting candidates who are interested in solving the challenges experienced by the dental profession and becoming well-informed about the many complex issues involved in meeting the oral health care needs of their constituents and all Californians,” CDA spokeswoman Alicia Malaby explained in an email Friday.

Bonilla’s campaign said it couldn’t comment on independent spending.

Bill Bloomfield, a Republican-turned-independent millionaire Southern California businessman, since Feb. 5 has spent at least $104,311 to support Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer, who fits Bloomfield’s penchant for centrist Democrats willing to buck their own party and labor unions on many issues.

Glazer mailerBloomfield’s money has bought, among other things, a mailer that’s already hitting the 7th district’s households which touts Glazer as “a proven maverick who took on the government unions to stop the BART strike and to promote public school reform.” (No, Glazer didn’t stop the BART strike, but he did vociferously advocate a ban on transit-worker strikes.)

This dovetails neatly with Glazer picking up the endorsement last week of Michaela Hertle, the only Republican who filed to run in this race. Hertle said she’s dropping out and backing Glazer, though it’s too late to remove her name from ballots.

Bloomfield spent millions on various California races last year, including strong IE support for Marshall Tuck, who unsuccessfully took on incumbent Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. Given his largess in other races, it’s hard to believe this will be the only spending he does on Glazer’s behalf.

Glazer and Bonilla, D-Concord, face former Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo; and Democratic former Concord City Council candidate Terry Kremin in this election. The special primary is scheduled for March 17; if nobody gets more than 50 percent of the vote that day, the special general election will be held May 19.

Meanwhile, in this week’s endorsements:

BonillaMt. Diablo Education Association (2/9); former Contra Costa County Clerk-Recorder Steve Weir (2/10); Public Employees Union Local 1 (2/11); California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson (2/11); Teamsters Joint Council 7 plus five locals (2/13)

Buchanan San Ramon Valley Education Association (2/10); The Independent (2/12)

Glazer – former Contra Costa County Sheriff and state Sen. Dick Rainey, R-Walnut Creek (2/12); former state Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles (2/12); former Rep. Bill Baker, R-Walnut Creek (2/12); former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed (2/13)

Torlakson’s backing of Bonilla is the first endorsement any statewide official has made in this race. Glazer’s endorsements continue with his theme of romancing voters from the center to the right of the political spectrum.

Bonilla and Buchanan will meet with the East Bay Women’s Political Caucus members and other district residents from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, March 2 in the Oak View Room at the Walnut Creek Library, 1644 N. Broadway; the event is open to the public.

Buchanan is holding volunteer “Wine and Sign parties” postcard-signing parties at 6 p.m. every Wednesday night from now through the primary in her campaign headquarters at 2678 Bishop Dr., Ste. 110 in San Ramon; RSVP to alexvuskovic@joanbuchanan.com.

Posted on Friday, February 13th, 2015
Under: California State Senate, Joan Buchanan, Susan Bonilla | 12 Comments »

State oversight avalanche bears down on ABAG

State officials are rushing to put new oversights in place following the embezzlement of almost $1.3 million by an Association of Bay Area Governments official from a bond-funded San Francisco development account.

State Treasurer John Chiang on Thursday announced a partnership with Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, to conduct legislative oversight hearings to make sure money raised through government bond sales is safe from fraud, abuse, and mismanagement. Chiang also said he has created a special task force to develop best-practices guidelines on the care of bond proceeds that will be issued to all state and local governments.

California and its local governments over the past decade have issued more than $700 billion in public debt, Chiang noted in a news release.

“We rely on these borrowed moneys to build and maintain the critical infrastructure upon which our communities and economy depend – from schools and roads to levees and libraries,” Chiang said. “The ease in which one of ABAG’s leaders allegedly fleeced more than a million dollars in bond funds raises concerns regarding whether there are sufficient safeguards at the thousands of State and local agencies which are responsible for nearly three-quarters of a trillion bond dollars.”

And state Controller Betty Yee announced Thursday her staff will audit ABAG’s internal administrative and accounting controls.

“As California’s chief fiscal officer, I am charged with protecting state resources,” Yee said. “When public money goes missing, I need to determine how it happened and whether effective controls are in place.”

Yee’s audit will initially focus on FY 2012-13 and 2013-2014, but that might expand if investigators discover accounting weaknesses that may have affected earlier years. The Controller’s Office sent a letter today to ABAG asking that the association make available documents that will be used in the audit including ledgers, contracts, invoices, personnel records, meeting minutes, policies and procedures. The audit work will begin Feb. 20 and is expected to take a few weeks.

More, after the jump…
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Posted on Thursday, February 12th, 2015
Under: California State Senate, John Chiang, Kevin de Leon | 4 Comments »

SD7: Tom Torlakson endorses Susan Bonilla

California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson endorsed Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla on Wednesday in the East Bay’s 7th State Senate District special election.

Torlakson is the state’s top education official, and used to hold the very same senate seat that Bonilla, D-Concord, now seeks. He’s the first statewide elected official to weigh in on this race, in which the special primary is scheduled for March 17 and the special general for May 19.

“As a classroom teacher and state assemblywoman, Susan Bonilla has dedicated her life to California’s children and our public schools,” Torlakson said. “She has been an important and irreplaceable voice for improving academic standards, putting more students on the path to college, and ensuring every child has the opportunity to succeed.”

Bonilla called Torlakson “a consistent and dedicated champion for public education. Our students and our state have benefited tremendously from his leadership and I’m honored to have his support.”

Vying with Bonilla in this election are former Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo; Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer; and former Concord City Council candidate Terry Kremin, all Democrats. Republican Michaela Hertle dropped out and endorsed Glazer, but her name remains on the ballot.

Asked if he had any comment on Torlakson’s endorsement, Glazer replied, “This is a Buchanan problem, not mine.”

Glazer has burned bridges to much of his own party and the labor unions that support it, first in 2012 by working as a political strategist for the California Chamber of Commerce’s JobsPAC – which backed moderate Democrats over more liberal, labor-friendly ones – and again in 2013 by urging a ban on transit-worker strikes.

Posted on Wednesday, February 11th, 2015
Under: California State Senate, Joan Buchanan, Susan Bonilla, Tom Torlakson | 5 Comments »

Police-community relations hearing set for Tuesday

The state Senate and Assembly Public Safety Committees will hold a four-and-a-half-hour joint hearing Tuesday on police-community relations issues that have roiled California and the nation in recent months.

It’s been a hot topic since police shootings including those of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., last August and Tamir Rice in Cleveland last November, and the tremendous protests that followed in cities across the nation. Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco have grappled with tremendous street demonstrations in which most participants were peaceful while a few resorted to property damage and violence.

“Recent tragic events have led to an increased focus on law enforcement practices. The President has put together a task-force to tackle the issue of police practices across the nation, but I am interested in what we can do in California,” said Senate Public Safety Committee Chairwoman Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley. “I look forward to hearing about what data is being collected and how our data collection efforts can be improved. I additionally look forward to learning about innovative programs that have improved relations between the community and law enforcement.”

Hancock’s husband, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, has taken some heat from the community for his police department’s handling of protests late last year.

The hearing’s agenda includes segments on statewide and local law enforcement data collection; “promoting trust and confidence through data;” investigating and prosecuting officer-misconduct allegations; and building trust and confidence between police and the communities they serve. The witness list includes law enforcement officials, community leaders, educators and criminologists from around the state.

Bill Quirk“I believe that this hearing will give us an opportunity to ask hard questions, gain new perspective, and guide us in proposing effective solutions to rebuilding trust,” said Assembly Public Safety Committee Chairman Bill Quirk, D-Hayward.

The hearing starts at 9:30 a.m. in Room 4203 of the State Capitol; it’s expected to be broadcast live on the California Channel and audio of the proceedings will be streamed on the State Senate’s website.

Posted on Monday, February 9th, 2015
Under: Assembly, Bill Quirk, California State Senate, Civil liberties, Loni Hancock, Public safety | 2 Comments »

SD7: The money and endorsements update

Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla has more money banked for the 7th State Senate District special election than any of her competitors, according to campaign finance reports filed this week.

Susan BonillaBonilla, D-Concord, reported $239,317.45 cash on hand with $1,323.41 in debts yet to be paid
as of Jan. 31; most of her money was transferred over either from her 2014 Assembly campaign committee, or from the committee she’d launched to seek this seat in 2016 (before this special election was called). Among the bigger new contributors to this latest campaign are the Peace Officers Research Association of California PAC ($8,500); New Jersey-based NRG Energy Inc. ($4,200); Florida-based Southern Wine and Spirits of America Inc. ($4,200); and Assemblymen Jim Frazier, D-Oakley, Jim Wood, D-Healdsburg, and Bill Dodd, D-Napa ($4,200 each).

Since filing that report, Bonilla on Tuesday collected $4,200 from the California Society of Anesthesiologists’ PAC and $4,200 from the California Ambulatory Surgery Association PAC.

Former Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, had $147,548.35 cash on hand but $45,110.45 in debts yet to be paid as of Jan. 31; most of her money was transferred over from her 2012 Assembly campaign committee. But since filing that report, Buchanan received $8,200 on Monday from the California Teachers Association’s Association for Better Citizenship political fund.

Michelle Henry, Buchanan’s campaign manager, said Buchanan’s campaign kickoff on Thursday night was well-attended, the money is flowing in, and the polling looks good.

“We are confident that we will have the resources to successfully communicate with voters about our positive campaign through Election Day,” Henry said. “We will not be responding to other campaigns’ self-serving comparisons, and Joan has said repeatedly that she is running a positive-only campaign”

Steve GlazerOrinda Mayor Steve Glazer, also a Democrat, reported $20,863.96 cash on hand with no debts as of Jan. 31. That includes $10,000 over from his 2014 Assembly campaign committee. The single biggest new contribution he received was $4,200 from Californians for Jobs and a Strong Economy, a political action supporting centrist Democrats; the PAC’s biggest donors in 2014 were Chevron, PG&E, the California Credit Union League, and AT&T.

UPDATE @ 1:13 P.M. MONDAY: Apparently Californians for Jobs and a Strong Economy is hedging its bets – it also gave $4,200 to Bonilla and $4,200 to Buchanan.

Since filing the report, Glazer this week collected $8,400 from David and Carla Crane of San Francisco; David Crane – formerly an economic adviser to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and a UC regent – is cofounder of Govern for California, a group that supports “courageous state legislators who put the interests of their fellow citizens ahead of personal, party or special interests.” Other big contributions to Glazer this week included $4,200 from Silicon Valley entrepreneur Thomas Layton of Palo Alto and $4,200 from Maryett Thompson of Orinda.

Glazer noted Friday that he entered the race later, and so had less time to raise funds, than Bonilla or Buchanan.

“I am surprised that Bonilla thinks that all of this fundraising from Sacramento special interests is worth touting,” he added. “I urge her to release her answers to the secret questionnaires that many of these groups require before they will contribute. I would also encourage her to back my plan to ban all fundraising during the final 60 days of each legislative session.”

Democrat Terry Kremin, a two-time Concord City Council candidate, reported no fundraising.

The special primary will be held March 17; if nobody gets more than 50 percent of the primary vote, the special general election will be held May 19.

Follow after the jump for a rundown of the endorsements made in this race in the past week…
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Posted on Friday, February 6th, 2015
Under: California State Senate, Joan Buchanan, Susan Bonilla | 5 Comments »

SD7: No, Alameda Co. GOP didn’t endorse Glazer

I just received a call from Alameda County Republican Party Chairwoman Lori Drake of Dublin and county GOP treasurer Jeff Wald of Fremont asking that I clarify that the county party has not endorsed centrist Democrat Steve Glazer in the 7th State Senate District special election.

They wanted to make sure nobody was left with the wrong impression from a story I wrote earlier this week about how Michaela Hertle – an alternate county GOP committeewoman from Pleasanton and the only Republican to file as a candidate in the SD7 race – had dropped out and endorsed Glazer.

In that story, I quoted Patrick McGarrity – spokesman for Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, who also is seeking the senate seat – as saying Bonilla is the Democratic Party’s choice while “Steve Glazer is the choice of delegates from the Alameda County Republican Party.”

I then tweeted out a link to the story Monday evening that said, “#SD7 As @MichaelaHertle drops out/endorses @Steve_Glazer, @ASMSusanBonilla’s camp says Glazer is @AlamedaGOP’s pick.”

So, consider this clarified: Steve Glazer is the pick of the only Republican who had been in the race, but not of the Alameda County Republican Central Committee.

Drake declined to comment just now when I asked her what she thought of Hertle’s leaving the race and endorsing Glazer.

Posted on Wednesday, February 4th, 2015
Under: California State Senate, Republican Party | 7 Comments »

SD7: California Democratic Party endorses Bonilla

The California Democratic Party has endorsed Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla in the East Bay’s 7th State Senate District special election.

Susan BonillaBonilla, D-Concord, issued a news release Saturday announcing the decision had been made at a local endorsing caucus, made up of Democrats living in the senate district and convened by the state party. Bonilla said she got 87 out of 119 votes cast – that’s 73 percent, well above the 60 percent needed for an endorsement.

“I’m proud to have the support of local Democrats and the California Democratic Party,” Bonilla said in her release. “As a lifelong Democrat, this endorsement is deeply meaningful to me. I’m proud to be our party’s standard-bearer in the March 17th Primary.”

It’s not such great news for former Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, the other prominent Democrat in the race. Michelle Henry, Buchanan’s campaign manager, said via email Saturday that Buchanan is “very proud to have received the support and endorsements of so many of the local Democratic Clubs in SD 7 – the TriValley Democratic Club, Democrats of Rossmoor and the Diablo Valley Democratic Club – as well as nearly 80 locally elected individuals.”

Bonilla picked up the Concord Democratic Club’s endorsement this past week, and generally has picked up more prominent endorsements than Buchanan, including that of the person they hope to succeed, now-Rep. Mark DeSaulnier.

Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer, also a Democrat, is in the race but has burned enough bridges with his party – and with the unions that play so prominent a role in it – that he stood no chance of getting the state party’s endorsement. The fourth Democrat in the race is Terry Kremin of Concord, a relative unknown who ran for city council in 2010. The race’s lone Republican is Michaela Hertle, a cloud-computing businesswoman from Pleasanton.

UPDATE @ 4:50 P.M.: Concord City Councilman Edi Birsan posted this on his Facebook page Saturday:

Edi BirsanPolitics- Just came from the Democratic Party pre-endorsement vote. The local County Central Committee voted as best as I can tell 13-6 or 8 for Joan Buchanan over Susan Bonilla. BUT there is a rule in the Democratic Party state by laws that allows for any state legislator can have 2 votes in any such endorsement election if their ‘proxy’ lives in the district. So as a result all the outside Democrat legislators from San Diego to the Oregon border can be pressured to have their ‘proxy’ provided by the candidate(s) cast votes. The final count was Bonilla (a current legislator) 87 vs 29 for Buchannan (past legislator) and 3 for No Endorsement. Thus with 73.2% of the vote Bonilla got the party endorsement.

NOW, what makes this interesting even more, is that this procedure (having outside legislators cast votes using designated proxy’s) has been greatly discredited and has already been removed from the Party By-Laws, but it does not take place till May June, so this may be the last endorsement done under these rules. The primary election is March 17.

Politics, the most expensive form of entertainment our tax dollars are forced to buy.

Posted on Saturday, January 31st, 2015
Under: California State Senate, Joan Buchanan, Susan Bonilla | 6 Comments »

Taking sides: This week’s endorsement roundup

We’ve got a few hot races to watch even though it’s January of an off year (as if we have any off years anymore), and the endorsements have been coming hot and heavy this week.

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U.S. Senate 2016

Kamala Harris (D) – Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson (1/26); Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael (1/27); Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey (1/27); San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee (1/28); Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf (1/29); Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia (1/30)

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7th State Senate District special election

Susan Bonilla (D) – AFSCME Council 57 and Local 2700 (1/26); International Brotherhood of Boilermakers (1/27); California Professional Firefighters (1/28); Concord Democratic Club (1/29)

Joan Buchanan (D) – California Teachers Association (1/27)

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Follow after the jump for a few thoughts on these…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, January 30th, 2015
Under: California State Senate, Joan Buchanan, Kamala Harris, Susan Bonilla, U.S. Senate | 2 Comments »

Bill would raise California’s smoking age to 21

California’s legal minimum age for smoking would rise from 18 to 21 under a newly introduced state Senate Bill.

“Tobacco companies know that people are more likely to become addicted to smoking if they start at a young age,” state Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina, said in a news release issued Thursday. “We can no longer afford to sit on the sidelines while big tobacco markets to our kids and gets another generation of young people hooked on a product that will ultimately kill them. That is why I believe we need legislation like SB 151.”

“We need to wake up and stop making it so easy for tobacco companies to poison generation after generation of Californians,” said Hernandez, who chairs the Senate Health Committee.

Though smoking generally is on the decline, tobacco remains the leading cause of preventable death in the United States with 480,000 people dying each year, including 40,000 from effects of secondhand smoke, Hernandez noted. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports tobacco use kills more people per year than alcohol, murders, illegal drugs, AIDS, and motor vehicle accidents combined.

California would be the first state to raise the minimum age so high. The legal minimum age to buy tobacco products is 18 in 46 states; Alabama, Alaska, New Jersey and Utah have raised it to 19, as have New York’s Onondaga and Nassau counties and some Massachusetts towns. The minimum age is 21 in New York City; New York’s Suffolk County; Evanston, Ill.; Columbia, Mo.; Englewood, N.J., Hawaii County, Hawaii; and several Massachusetts towns.

Tim Gibbs, senior director of government relations for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, said raising the legal age to 21 “will help get tobacco out of the hands of teenagers when they are young and most vulnerable to the tobacco industry’s predatory model of recruiting lifetime addicts.”

Posted on Thursday, January 29th, 2015
Under: California State Senate | 2 Comments »