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Gun-rights backers decry Leland Yee’s hypocrisy

Gun-rights advocates are up in arms about state Sen. Leland Yee’s alleged double life – an ardent gun-control advocate in public, while secretly negotiating with purported mobsters to set up international gun deals.

“It appears that Leland Yee is not only an epic gun-control hypocrite, but also exactly the type of truly dangerous gun trafficking criminal who my clients have always urged authorities to throw the book at,” Chuck Michel, West Coast counsel for the National Rifle Association, said Thursday.

Leland YeeYee, D-San Francisco, famously has carried “bullet button” legislation, which would ban a common modification to semi-automatic rifles that lets users quickly swap out their ammunition magazines without running afoul of the state’s assault weapons law. His SB 47 was pulled from consideration last August, a few weeks before the end of the legislative session, but remains pending in the Assembly.

That bill was among eight that made up state Senate Democrats “LIFE Act” gun-control package last year.

“The prevalence of deadly, military-style weapons in our society has resulted in countless tragedies,” Yee said last April. “It is past time to put some common sense laws into place in order to prevent such tragedies in the future. The LIFE Act is a bold step forward in this effort.”

Yee is charged with conspiracy to traffic in firearms without a license and to illegally import firearms, and six counts of scheming to defraud citizens of “honest services.” Each corruption count is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000, while the gun-trafficking count is punishable by up to five years and $250,000. Free on $500,000 bond, Yee is scheduled to return to court Monday.

An FBI affidavit says Yee told an undercover FBI agent he could facilitate big shipments of guns into the country in exchange for campaign contributions. No guns actually changed hands, but Yee accepted a $5,000 contribution from a bogus company set up by the agent as their negotiations continued in a series of face-to-face meetings from January through March 14. At one such meeting, Yee allegedly discussed specific locations in the Philippines and Florida that might be ideal for moving the guns, which he said would include M-16-type automatic rifles.

Consider what Yee said last October when Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill that would’ve classified all semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines as banned assault weapons.

“California’s Assault Weapons Ban has protected the public for decades,” Yee said at the time. “But we must work to make sure that it is capable of dealing with new threats that face California. In the Governor’s veto message, he spoke of the importance of our gun laws and the need to make sure they are carefully tailored. SB 47 will protect the public while keeping an appropriately narrow scope.”

Lots more, after the jump…
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Posted on Friday, March 28th, 2014
Under: California State Senate, gun control, Leland Yee | 49 Comments »

Money update: SD10, AD15, AD16, AD25 & AD28

Here’s how the money is piling up (or not) in races for some of the Bay Area’s open state legislative seats; all figures are as of March 17.

10th STATE SENATE DISTRICT
Mary Hayashi (D) – $690,733 cash on hand; no debt
Roman Reed (D) – $72,336 cash on hand; $58,034 debt (incl. $40k loan from candidate)
Bob Wieckowski (D) – $152,440 cash on hand; no debt
Peter Kuo (R) – $109,594 cash on hand; $7,541 debt (incl. $5k loan from candidate)
Audie Bock (NPP) – no report

15TH ASSEMBLY DISTRICT
Elizabeth Echols (D) – $140,341 cash on hand; $28,159 debt (incl. $15k loan from candidate)
Clarence Hunt (D) – $30,950 cash on hand; $43,611 debt (loan from candidate)
Sam Kang (D) – $68,800 cash on hand; $13,918 debt
Pamela Price (D) – $20,020 cash on hand; no debt
Tony Thurmond (D) – $98,953 cash on hand; $35,331 debt
Richard Kinney (R) – no report
Eugene Ruyle (P&F) – no report
Bernt Rainer Wahl (NPP) – no report

16th ASSEMBLY DISTRICT
Newell Arnerich (D) – $66,823 cash on hand; $30,000 debt (loan from candidate)
Steve Glazer (D) – $429,608 cash on hand; no debt
Tim Sbranti (D) – $126,443 cash on hand; $27,817 debt
Catharine Baker (R) – $139,965 cash on hand; $1,886 debt

25th ASSEMBLY DISTRICT
Kansen Chu (D) – $201,723 cash on hand; $6,458 debt
Teresa Cox (D) – $65,186 cash on hand; $60,136 debt (incl. $58k loan from candidate)
Armando Gomez (D) – $230,622 cash on hand; no debt
Craig Steckler (D) – $123,480 cash on hand; $8,600 debt (incl. $5,100 loan from candidate)
Bob Brunton (R) – no report

28th ASSEMBLY DISTRICT
Evan Low (D) – $332,916 cash on hand; $2,036 debt
Barry Chang (D) – no report
Michael Hunsweck (R) – no report
Chuck Page (R) – $1,760 cash on hand; $2,000 debt (loan from candidate)

Posted on Tuesday, March 25th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Assembly, California State Senate, campaign finance | 5 Comments »

Bill advances to allow abbot’s burial at monastery

The abbot who founded the Bay Area’s only Orthodox Christian monastery can be buried on that monastery’s grounds, under a bill approved Thursday by the Assembly.

Archimandrite Theodor MickaState Sen. Ellen Corbett this month gutted and amended her SB 124 – which formerly required state agencies to give preference to clean-energy bidders who certify all their equipment was made in California – to address the plight of Archimandrite Theodor Micka, abbot of the Holy Cross Monastery in Castro Valley.

Micka, 76, is terminally ill and wishes to be buried on the monastery’s bucolic grounds. But state law prohibits burying un-cremated human remains outside of cemeteries, so the county registrar would be unable to issue a permit for disposition of the body. Corbett’s newly amended bill makes a special exception in this particular case; the bill still must be approved by the state Senate and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Holy Cross Monastery serves Orthodox Christians of all ethnic backgrounds; along with the monks’ daily prayers, they also provide weekly services, baptisms, weddings and memorial services for the region’s Orthodox Christians. Corbett, D-San Leandro, issued a news release saying she’s pleased to help honor the abbot’s final wishes.

“As a resident of the 10th State Senate District, Abbot Theodor has provided religious and personal guidance to persons of all ethnic and cultural backgrounds for many decades,” she said. “It certainly seems appropriate that the California State Legislature compassionately grant Abbot Theodor this last wish so that fellow monks and future visitors may pay him their respects at the Castro Valley monastery where he prayed, worked and lived during his latter adult monastic life.”

Students at the Stanford Law School Religious Liberty Clinic worked with the monastery to present the issue to Corbett.

UPDATE @ 1:35 P.M. TUESDAY 3/25: Gov. Brown signed this bill into law today.

Posted on Thursday, March 20th, 2014
Under: California State Senate, Ellen Corbett | 1 Comment »

CAGOP14: Dublin’s Catharine Baker a ‘trailblazer’

An East Bay Assembly candidate was among those shown off as the cream of the “California Trailblazers” crop Friday at the California Republican Party convention in Burlingame.

Modeled on the congressional “Young Guns” program cofounded by in the 2008 election cycle by House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, California Trailblazers is a recruitment, training and advisory program for state legislative candidates. And gaining ground in the legislature is a key GOP goal this year, party chairman Jim Brulte and vice chair Harmeet Dhillon noted Friday.

Catharine Baker (photo by Karl Mondon)Catharine Baker, a Dublin attorney seeking the 16th Assembly District seat, said the trailblazers program has taught her how to “run a great ground game, and get our messaging out to the community in the most effective way.”

“It’s going well, really terrific,” she said of her campaign, adding she’s feeling energized by support from across the political spectrum despite the three Democrats also in the race. “I’m a sharp contrast from all three of them … and a Republican very different from what you see going to Sacramento.”

The Democrats in the race are Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti, Danville Mayor Newell Arnerich and Orinda Councilman Steve Glazer. Incumbent Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, is term-limited out. The district’s voter registration is 39.7 percent Democrat, 32.4 percent Republican and 21.5 percent nonpartisan.

Baker stood at a news conference with other California Trailblazers candidates from around California, as well as with Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff and Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway.

“Could we ask for a better candidate? I don’t think so,” Conway said of Baker after the news conference. “She has worked tirelessly and I’m so impressed with her.”

Posted on Friday, March 14th, 2014
Under: Assembly, Republican Party, Republican politics | No Comments »

Crush something in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s tank

Ladies and gentlemen, the former governor of the great state of California:

You’re welcome.

Posted on Friday, March 14th, 2014
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger | 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 »

Jerry Brown rakes in some Silicon Valley cash

Gov. Jerry Brown’s re-election campaign reported almost a third of a million dollars in Silicon Valley and Bay Area campaign contributions Tuesday.

Among those listed on the filing as having made contributions Monday:

Venture capitalist Reid Hoffman, Mountain View – $54,400
Michelle Yee (Hoffman’s wife) – $54,400
Angel investor Ron Conway, Danville – $54,400
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, Santa Cruz – $27,200
Patty Quillin (Hastings’ wife) – $27,200
California Teachers Association, Burlingame – $27,200
TechNet California PAC, Los Gatos – $17,000
Qualcomm Inc., San Diego – $10,000
Attorney Jon Streeter, Berkeley – $10,000
Attorney John Keker, San Francisco – $10,000
Venture capitalist Nicholas Pritzker, San Francisco – $10,000
Venture capitalist Joseph Pritzker, San Francisco – $10,000
Qatalyst CEO Frank Quattrone, Los Altos Hills – $10,000
Denise Foderaro (Quattrone’s wife) – $10,000
Former U.S. Sen. Ernest Hollings, D-S.C. – $1,000

Perhaps not coincidentally, Democratic rainmaker and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff on Monday reported a $20,657.82 “in-kind contribution of fundraising event expenses” for Brown’s campaign.

Posted on Tuesday, March 11th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, campaign finance, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown | No Comments »

AD20: GOP’s Jaime Patino builds campaign

Jaime Patino doesn’t dislike Assemblyman Bill Quirk; he just thinks he’s wrong.

Jaime PatinoPatino is a Republican challenging Quirk, D-Hayward, for the East Bay’s 20th Assembly District seat. He said he ran into Quirk at a recent Rotary breakfast.

“I don’t question his integrity at all, I think he’s a good man,” said Patino, 42, of Union City. “I just think that we come from two very different philosophies of the role government plays in people’s lives.”

They probably agree on most social issues, he acknowledged – Patino says he’s a mind the public’s pocketbook, not private bedrooms type of Republican. But Patino said Quirk and other Democrats are putting too much emphasis on higher taxes and spending in order to solve California’s economic issues, while he believes private-sector job creation and education that focuses on modern job skills is a better way to go.

Patino said last year’s BART strike reinforced his desire to run.

“Our whole Bay Area delegation was just silent,” said Patino, who uses BART to commute to his UC-Berkeley job as a research financial administrator. “Who’s looking out for the regular guy? They’re more afraid of the unions than of their constituents, the people who elected them.”

Patino – a lifelong Union City resident who now chairs its Human Relations Commission -said he also was deeply shaken by the killings of two young men last August about three blocks from his home; he said his has nephews just a few years younger than those victims. “Those kids need more role models, more input from people who look like them and come from where they come from.”

“And I want to show people there are Latino Republicans, and we’re not the boogeyman,” he added, noting he’ll be campaigning heavily in the Latino community. “They can’t call me a country-club Republican.”

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

Posted on Thursday, March 6th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Assembly, Bill Quirk | 1 Comment »

CA15: Swalwell feeling heat on women’s issues?

Perhaps Rep. Eric Swalwell is feeling some heat from his Democratic challenger after all.

State Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, is both running on her state legislative record and trying to make a play more specifically for women’s votes this year. Among the three priorities on her campaign website:

TO SECURE AND BOLSTER WOMEN’S RIGHTS
I will push back against the seemingly endless efforts to roll back the progress that generations of women before us have made. During my time in the State Legislature I passed legislation expanding the rights of victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault as well as voted in favor of expanding access to maternity leave and services. In 2011 I was awarded the Women of Achievement Award by the National Women’s Political Caucus of California. This year, I secured continued funding from the Violence Against Women Act to ensure that California women can get no costs forensic exams.

So it’s probably not coincidence that Swalwell, D-Pleasanton, sent a mailer to his 15th Congressional District constituents in the past few days touting how he’s “standing strong for women” by fighting to raise wages for women and their families through the Paycheck Fairness Act; protecting the work-family balance by supporting the Healthy Families Act to ensure paid sick leave for workers; supporting an increase in the minimum wage, as two-thirds of minimum-wage workers are women; and supporting the Strong Start for America’s Children Act to increase access to affordable, quality child care.

Swalwell1

Swalwell2

Posted on Wednesday, March 5th, 2014
Under: Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, U.S. House | 17 Comments »

SD10: Another endorsement for Mary Hayashi

It seems I was premature in assuming former Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi would have trouble securing endorsements in her run for the 10th State Senate District seat.

Mary HayashiThe Hayward Democrat’s campaign announced Tuesday evening that she has been endorsed by the California School Employees Association; this comes one week after the United Farm Workers announced its support.

According to Hayashi’s news release, CSEA Executive Director Dave Low wrote that his group’s support is based on Hayashi’s “support for public education and labor issues of importance to classified employees. Once elected, we will continue to work with you to find practical, equitable solutions to issues of mutual concern.”

CSEA represents more than 216,000 classified employees in California’s public school and community college systems: instructional aides, peace officers, secretaries, groundskeepers, food service, transportation and maintenance personnel and more.

Hayashi, who represented what was then the 18th Assembly District from 2006 to 2012, was convicted two years ago of shoplifting $2,450 worth of clothes from San Francisco’s Neiman Marcus; she was sentenced to three years of probation.

Also seeking the 10th State Senate District seat are Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont; Democrat Roman Reed, a spinal-injury research advocate and planning commissioner from Fremont; Republican Peter Kuo, an insurance agent from Santa Clara; and former Assemblywoman Audie Bock, also a Republican. Alameda County Superior Court Judge Roy Hashimoto also has taken out papers for this race; this Friday, March 7 is the filing deadline.

Wieckowski has the lion’s share of endorsements so far and – based on the results at a local caucus meeting last month – is likely to win the California Democratic Party’s endorsement at its convention this weekend in Los Angeles.

UPDATE @ 3:27 P.M.: It turns out the CSEA also has endorsed Wieckowski, who also Wednesday announced his backing by Teamsters Joint Council 7.

“Supporting working women and men and ensuring they have a voice in the workplace has been a priority for me in the Assembly and will continue to be a priority for me in the Senate,” Wieckowski said.

As I think I’ve noted before, dual endorsements – like tied sports scores – are like kissing your sister, boring enough to mean practically nothing at all.

UPDATE @ 3:16 P.M. THURSDAY: Teamsters Joint Council 7 endorsed Hayashi, too; this is fast becoming the “duel of the duals,” though Wieckowski’s overall endorsement list dwarfs Hayashi’s.

Posted on Wednesday, March 5th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, California State Senate, Mary Hayashi | 5 Comments »