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CA15: Corbett accuses Swalwell of dishonesty

State Senator Ellen Corbett has accused Rep. Eric Swalwell, whom she’s challenging in this year’s election, of a “lack of integrity and honesty” over pay he accepted for the time in which the federal government was shut down last October.

Yet it seems Swalwell kept his word.

This dustup started when KTVU aired a report this week following up on whether Bay Area lawmakers had kept their word about rejecting or giving away their pay during the shutdown. The report said Swalwell, D-Pleasanton, “sent a letter to the House’s Chief Administrative Officer asking to have his pay withheld. But we found out he did get paid.”

Ellen CorbettCorbett, D-San Leandro, posted a statement on Facebook saying that’s a problem.

“This lack of integrity and honesty by Mr. Swalwell is very disappointing,” she wrote. “The public has a right to expect honesty from their elected officials. Thousands of unemployed Californians who are struggling to make ends meet after their benefits were terminated by Congress deserve better.”

However, in the Sept. 30 letter that KTVU cited, Swalwell had asked that “until federal employees who must work during a federal government shutdown are paid, I not be given my paycheck.” Swalwell announced this in a news release the same day: “I will refuse my paycheck until federal employees who must work during the shutdown are paid.”

And that seems to be what happened. Swalwell’s office noted Thursday that the House’s Chief Administrative Officer had notified Swalwell at the time that his salary would be placed in escrow for any pay periods that occurred while the government was shutdown. The government re-opened Oct. 16, Congress voted to give back pay to all federal workers, and the federal workers were paid that month; on Nov. 1, Swalwell was paid his monthly salary for work performed during October.

Posted on Friday, February 14th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, U.S. House | 8 Comments »

Mary Hayashi rolls out her state Senate campaign

Former Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi has rolled out her campaign for the 10th State Senate District, presenting a top-shelf team of advisors and poll numbers that claim she’s a serious contender.

Mary HayashiBut that team will have to find a way to convince voters it’s no big deal that Hayashi, 47, of Hayward, was convicted two years ago of shoplifting $2,450 worth of clothes from San Francisco’s Neiman Marcus. That certainly seemed to be an uphill battle when the three-term Democratic assemblywoman ran for an Alameda County supervisorial seat later in 2012, and finished third out of four.

Now Hayashi will be competing the senate seat – from which Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, is term-limited out – against Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont; Democrat Roman Reed, a spinal-injury research advocate and planning commissioner from Fremont; and Republican Peter Kuo, an insurance agent from Santa Clara.

“I am excited about working on improving the lives of people in the 10th Senate District,” Hayashi said in a news release. “Whether it is improving access to healthcare, raising the quality of education or creating better economic opportunities, I want to work hard for the families and individuals in Alameda and Santa Clara Counties.”

Josh Pulliam of JPM&M will serve as Hayashi’s general consultant; Daniel Weitzman will handle fundraising; Celinda Lake of Lake Research Partners will handle polling and research; David Gould is the campaign treasurer; and Roger Salazar of Alza Strategies will serve as media advisor.

One thing she has in spades is campaign cash. Campaign finance reports filed at the end of last month show Hayashi finished 2013 with $734,000 in her campaign account and no outstanding debts. Wieckowski had about $125,000 in the bank and owed $32,000; Reed had about $49,000 after lending his campaign $40,000; and Kuo had $24,000 including a $5,000 loan from his own pocket.

What she seems to lack is party support. At a regional caucus meeting last weekend, local Democrats gave Wieckowski 105 votes for pre-endorsement while Reed got eight and Hayashi got none. That means Wieckowski’s name will be placed on the consent calendar at state Democrats’ convention next month in Los Angeles, an almost sure-fire route to the party’s endorsement.

Hayashi’s release touted a poll by Lake which found she got a plurality of votes over her potential rivals, and that after all candidates’ bios were read, her lead expanded to 11 points over her nearest opponent. This poll was conducted Feb. 4-6 among 405 likely primary voters in the district, with a 4.9-percentage-point margin of error, the campaign said, but no copy of the poll script or detailed results were provided.

Posted on Friday, February 14th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Bob Wieckowski, California State Senate, Mary Hayashi | 11 Comments »

Bill would require warning labels on soda

Sodas and sugary drinks sold in California would have to bear a label warning consumers of health risks, under a bill introduced Thursday in the state Senate.

sodaSB 1000 by state Sen. Bill Monning, D-Carmel, would require all containers of beverages with added sweeteners of 75 or more calories per 12 ounces to bear this label: “STATE OF CALIFORNIA SAFETY WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay.”

“When the science is this conclusive, the state of California has a responsibility to take steps to protect consumers,” Monning said in a news release. “As with tobacco and alcohol warnings, this legislation will give Californians essential information they need to make healthier choices.”

Dr. Harold Goldstein of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, one of the bill’s sponsors, said in Monning’s news release that there’s “clear and conclusive” scientific evidence that soda and sugary drinks are major contributors to these harms. “These diseases cost California billions of dollars in health care and lost productivity every year. When any product causes this much harm, it is time to take action.”

Lots more, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, February 13th, 2014
Under: Bill Monning, California State Senate | 2 Comments »

Gun-control recall effort seems to be in limbo

An effort to recall several California Democratic lawmakers from office because of their votes on gun-control bills last year seems to be on the back burner now.

“They’re not off the table, they’re still being considered, but there’s just a lot going on,” said Jennifer Kerns, who founded the nonprofit Free California last October. “No decisions have been made as to whether to move forward. … We’re still in sort of a wait-and-see mode.”

Tim Knight, Tim Donnelly, Jennifer KernsKerns, a political consultant now managing Republican Assemblyman Tim Donnelly’s gubernatorial campaign, was involved in last year’s successful recall of two Colorado lawmakers over that state’s gun-control legislation.

But California and Colorado are very different, noted Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California, whose group was supporting the Free California effort.

The Legislature’s Democratic supermajority could too easily consolidate any recall elections with this year’s regular elections, thus negating recall supporters’ advantage of lesser total voter turnout, Paredes said. Also, California requires that recall petition signature gatherers be registered to vote within that specific district, making use of paid circulators much harder.

“We’re looking at the realities of politics in California, the realities of the electoral process,” Paredes said. “So we’re in a contemplative status.”

Free California in October had named as potential targets state Sens. Norma Torres, D-Chino, and Ben Hueso, D-Chula Vista; Assemblywomen Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, and Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton; and Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles.

Kerns noted Wednesday that two of those districts – Hueso’s and Gonzalez – would’ve competed for attention with the San Diego mayoral election that just concluded this week; now that the mayoral contest is done, Free California might take a fresh look at unseating the lawmakers.

Free California’s Facebook page hasn’t been updated since October. As a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization, it’s not required to disclose its contributors.

Though both Kerns and Paredes said the recall idea isn’t completely off the table, it’s hard to see how they can maintain momentum as more time passes since last year’s gun-control votes; petitions began circulating for the Colorado recalls less than a week after that state’s new bills were signed into law. And as this year’s gubernatorial and legislative races demand more attention, time and money, there’ll be less and less left for an effort like this.

Posted on Wednesday, February 12th, 2014
Under: Assembly, California State Senate, gun control, John Perez | 6 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 »

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 »

CA15: The year-end finance reports

Freshman Rep. Eric Swalwell raised about three times much as Democratic challenger Ellen Corbett in the final quarter of 2013, leaving him with about four times as much money banked for the 15th Congressional District campaign.

Swalwell, D-Pleasanton, raised $275,018 in 2013’s final quarter while spending $63,418; his campaign had $823,362 cash on hand as of Dec. 31, with $3,576 in outstanding debts. Corbett, the state Senate majority leader from San Leandro, raised $90,918 in the last quarter of 2013 – by far her best quarter to date – while spending $25,892; she had $208,658 as of Dec. 31 with no outstanding debts.

Posted on Friday, January 31st, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, campaign finance, Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, U.S. House | 8 Comments »

Ellen Corbett named to Senate Budget Committee

State Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett will serve out her final year in the Legislature with a seat on one of its most vital committees.

Ellen CorbettCorbett, D-San Leandro, was named to the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee on Wednesday, and will chair its Health and Human Services subcommittee; the appointment made by the Senate Rules Committee takes effect immediately. The 16-member committee must analyze the state budget proposal that Gov. Jerry Brown offered this month.

“I look forward to working closely with all stakeholders to ensure that the state budget process continues to be transparent and constituent-oriented,” Corbett said in a news release.

She said she’s confident she and her colleagues can produce a final budget “that is both reasonable and ensures that the best interests of Californians are protected,” particularly in her subcommittee’s area. “After previous years of cuts to important health and human services programs, I look forward to approving a budget that minimizes the short- and long-term impacts to the most vulnerable segments of our population, including children, seniors and adults with developmental and other disabilities.”

Corbett also is campaigning this year to unseat fellow Democrat Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Pleasanton, in the East Bay’s 15th Congressional District.

Posted on Wednesday, January 29th, 2014
Under: California State Senate, Ellen Corbett, state budget | 9 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 »