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Join me at Commonwealth Club’s ‘Week to Week’

Please join me tomorrow evening, Tuesday, Sept. 10, as I participate in the Commonwealth Club of California’s “Week to Week” political news discussion roundtable in Silicon Valley.

I’ll be joining Hoover Institution research fellow, California political expert and longtime GOP wordsmith Bill Whalen; club Vice President John Zipperer; and perhaps other panelists for the event. A wine-and-snacks social starts at 6 p.m., followed by the program at 7 p.m., in the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center, 3921 Fabian Way in Palo Alto.

Tickets cost $10 for club members, $20 for non-members or $7 for students with valid ID, and are available online. I hope to see you there.

Posted on Monday, September 9th, 2013
Under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Gun-control bills tailored for SF, Oakland advance

The Legislature on Friday sent two city-specific gun control measures – both for the Bay Area – to Gov. Jerry Brown.

The state Senate passed AB 180 by Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, which would give Oakland special permission to pass and enforce gun registration and licensing ordinances that are stricter than state law.

Bonta on Friday noted FBI statistics show Oakland last year had California’s highest violent-crime level, and the nation’s third highest. The city had more than 4,000 firearm-related crimes and 131 homicides in 2012; it has had 65 deaths by firearm so far in 2013.

“No one can deny that Oakland is suffering,” he said in a news release, adding his bill “is a smart and sensible bill that empowers Oakland and provides local control in addressing gun violence—where it is needed most.”

Bonta was appointed chair of the Select Committee on Gun Violence in the East Bay this year, and he and fellow committee member Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, will hold a news conference Monday morning in Oakland to urge Brown to sign this and other bills.

Meanwhile, the Assembly on Friday passed SB 475 by state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, which would require permission from the San Francisco and San Mateo County boards of supervisors in order for gun shows to be held at the Cow Palace – in effect, banning any future gun shows there.

“For years, residents, community organizations and elected leaders from the neighborhoods surrounding the Cow Palace have asked to have a voice in the decision to hold gun shows in their backyards, but they have been ignored,” Leno said in a news release Friday. “Meanwhile, firearms related crimes persist in these communities, tearing apart the lives of innocent families who reside in the surrounding area. This proposal gives local communities a say in determining whether they want gun shows in their neighborhoods, especially when they live in daily fear of gun violence.”

The Cow Palace straddles the county line, and is operated by the state Department of Agriculture’s Division of Fairs and Expositions. Leno twice before has authored bills to impose flat-out bans on gun and ammunition sales at the Cow Palace: AB 2948 of 2008 failed on the Senate floor, and SB 585 of 2009 was vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Posted on Friday, September 6th, 2013
Under: Assembly, California State Senate, gun control, Mark Leno, Oakland, Rob Bonta, Uncategorized | 53 Comments »

Senate OKs bill inspired by BART phone shutdown

A bill inspired by BART’s shutdown of cell-phone service during public protests in 2011 has been sent to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.

The state Senate on Friday concurred in amendments to SB 380 by state Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Van Nuys, which says agencies could only interrupt cell service when directed by a court order based on probable cause.

no signalBART turned off electricity to cellular towers in four San Francisco stations for three hours during an August 2011 protest about a BART Police officer’s fatal shooting of a knife-wielding homeless man.

The incident led the Federal Communications Commission to probe wireless service shutdowns, bringing public comments that indicated such shutdowns create more problems then they solve because they impede emergency communications. BART later in 2011 adopted a new standard for when it could interrupt phone service; Padilla’s bill, if it becomes law, would pre-empt that policy.

“The tragic events in Boston earlier this year remind us of the vital importance of wireless service to first responders, victims, and families during emergencies,” Padilla said in a news release Friday.

“For decades, California law has required a court order to interrupt or shutdown traditional telephone service,” he said. “SB 380 would extend these protections to the modern mobile communications network which is critical to public safety and a key element of a free and open society.”

Gov. Brown vetoed a similar bill last year, saying that giving law enforcement agencies only six hours to make findings about service shutdowns “could divert attention away from resolving the conflict without further threat to public safety.”

Padilla’s current bill differs from last year’s by making carve-outs for hostage and barricade situations, and by adding process for a shutdown in certain emergencies so long as it’s followed by court review to determine whether free speech and public safety standards were met.

The state Senate passed this bill 35-3 in May; the Assembly passed it 77-0 on Wednesday; and a roll call is not yet available for Friday’s Senate concurrence vote.

Posted on Friday, September 6th, 2013
Under: California State Senate, Jerry Brown, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Siskiyou County wants to secede from California

The Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 Tuesday to pursue secession from California, in order to join with other local counties to form a new state called Jefferson.

Which begs the question: What do we know about Siskiyou County? First of all, it’s here:


At 6,347 square miles, Siskiyou County is larger than Rhode Island, Delaware or Connecticut.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, its population of 44,154 accounts for about 0.1 percent of California’s population; it’s about 78.6 percent white, 11.1 percent Latino, 4.5 percent American Indian/Alaskan native, 1.5 percent black and 1.3 percent Asian.

About 88.8 percent of the county’s adults are at least high school graduates (more than the state’s 80.8 percent) but only about 22.3 percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher (less than the state’s 30.2 percent).

Siskiyou County’s median income is $37,865, compared to California’s $61,632, and its percentage of people below the poverty level from 2007 through 2011 – 18.4 percent – is well higher than California’s 14.4 percent.

The state Employment Development Department reports Siskiyou County’s unemployment rate in July was 11.5 percent, well above California’s 9.3 percent rate. It doesn’t have a very diverse economic base; almost half of its major employers are public agencies and institutions.

The Secretary of State’s office reports that about 41 percent of Siskiyou County’s registered voters are Republicans, 32 percent are Democrats and 20 percent state no party preference. Although supervisors are elected on a nonpartisan basis, three board members are Republicans, one’s a Democrat and one has no party preference; it was the independent who voted against secession.

All of which is moot, considering that secession can only happen legally with consent from the state and federal governments (not gonna happen) and Siskiyou County doesn’t seem to have the standing army it would need to secede by other-than-legal means.

That said, since they’re blue-skying up there, let’s blue-sky too. It seems to me that Siskiyou and its fellow Jeffersonian counties in California and Oregon – though undeniably hurting economically under their current circumstances – would have a much harder time on their collective own than either existing state would have in their absence. Thoughts?

Posted on Wednesday, September 4th, 2013
Under: Uncategorized | 12 Comments »

Video: Antioch soldier receives Medal of Honor

President Barack Obama today presented U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ty Carter of Antioch with the Medal of Honor. As we reported last month, Carter is only the fifth living recipient of the Medal of Honor – the nation’s highest military honor – for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Here’s the quick Pentagon News spot:

And here’s the entire ceremony:

Read the full transcript of the president’s remarks, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, August 26th, 2013
Under: Uncategorized | 11 Comments »

Obama called Brown for fire update, pledged aid

President Barack Obama called California Gov. Jerry Brown yesterday for an update on fires including the Rim Fire, which is sweeping toward Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park.

AP Photo/Jae C. HongThe White House says the president expressed his gratitude for the brave men and women working tirelessly to combat this devastating fire, and reiterated his commitment to providing federal resources to support the ongoing state and local response. The administration will stay in contact with local officials and coordinate among federal agencies.

More than 3,400 men and women are working to combat the Rim Fire, and a National Wildland Fire Type 1 Incident Management Team has been deployed to assist with the response in California. The Federal Emergency Management Agency on Friday approved a Fire Management Assistance Grant for the Rim Fire, providing federal assistance on a cost-share basis.

Brown is in Tuolumne this morning to be briefed by emergency and fire officials, and to meet with first responders at their base camp.

Posted on Monday, August 26th, 2013
Under: Jerry Brown, Obama presidency, Uncategorized | No Comments »

Change of leadership at the Courage Campaign

One of California’s most prominent liberal activists – and that’s saying somethin’! – is taking a leave of absence from the group he founded in order to become Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s deputy chief of staff.

Rick Jacobs will step back from his post as founder and chairman of the Courage Campaign, and will be replaced there by Dr. Paul Song, who has been a member of that organization’s board.

Paul SongSong, 48, of Santa Monica, is a radiation oncologist on the faculty at the Samuel Oschin Cancer Center at Cedars Sinai Medical Center and is the Chief Medical Officer of American River Nutrition. An outspoken advocate for universal healthcare, he was named by Jones in January as the California Department of Insurance’s first visiting fellow. Song also serves as an executive board member of Physicians for a National Health Program California, as well as on the boards of Liberty in North Korea and People for the American Way. His wife is journalist and talk-show host Lisa Ling.

Song’s involvement in state and local politics has included working to help elect Democratic U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell of Washington, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii and Tim Kaine of Virginia; House members Tammy Duckworth, John Garamendi, Mark Takano and Henry Waxman; state officials including Controller John Chiang, Attorney General Kamala Harris and Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones; state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg; and Garcetti.

The Courage Campaign claims an online grassroots activism network of more than 750,000 members.

“Paul is made to order to lead Courage to the next level,” Jacobs, who’ll remain on the Courage Campaign’s board, said in a news release. “He shares the political and moral convictions that have made Courage a leader in state and national progressive work. I look forward to continuing to work with him over the years ahead.”

Song said after having watched the Courage Campaign fight for last year’s state income and sales tax increase, for same-sex marriage and for other liberal causes, he’s thrilled to take the group’s helm. “Courage Campaign, and our members, are fighting everyday for a more progressive California and country, and I could not be more excited to lead the team.”

Posted on Tuesday, August 6th, 2013
Under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Bonta helps raise money for slain child’s funeral

Here’s a role no lawmaker should ever have to play: helping to raise funds to cover the funeral expenses of a murdered child from his district.

Alaysha Carradine   (Family photo)Assemblyman Rob Bonta’s campaign sent out an e-mail this morning soliciting donations to help cover the funeral and burial costs for Alaysha Carradine, 8, who was killed last week during a sleepover at a friend’s home when someone sprayed the friend’s Oakland apartment with gunfire. Two other children were wounded.

“Now, a family which should have been buying clothes and supplies for third-grade is faced with funeral and burial expenses they cannot afford,” said the e-mail from Bonta, D-Oakland.

Bonta chairs the Assembly’s Select Committee on Gun Violence in the East Bay, which held its first hearing May 17 in Oakland.

Bonta’s e-mail says he and other East Bay figures including Oakland City Council members Rebecca Kaplan, Libby Schaaf and Lynette McElhaney as well as Port of Oakland Commissioner (and mayoral candidate) Bryan Parker have joined with the Khadafy Foundation for Non-Violence to raise the funds online.

All contributions are tax-deductible and any funds raised over the target amount will be donated to the foundation and used to help defray burial expenses for other children who might become victims of gun violence.

Posted on Friday, July 26th, 2013
Under: Assembly, Rob Bonta, Uncategorized | 38 Comments »

Menlo Park girl to lunch with Michelle Obama

A Menlo Park girl is among 54 children from across the nation who’ll lunch with Michelle Obama at the White House on Tuesday, having won a recipe contest that’s part of the First Lady’s “Let’s Move!” anti-obesity initiative for kids.

The contest, in cooperation with Epicurious and the departments of Education and Agriculture, invited parents to work with their children ages 8 to 12 to create lunchtime recipes that are healthy, affordable, original and delicious. One winner from each state plus three territories and the District of Columbia, culled from more than 1,300 entries, will join the First Lady for a healthy lunch featuring a selection of the winning recipes and a performance by singer Rachel Crow, followed by a visit to the White House kitchen garden.

Rose ScottRose Scott, 12, was California’s winner with her recipe for pork-and-tofu lettuce cups. She explained that her recipe was inspired by her family’s need.

“When my little brother Galen was a baby, he was allergic to a lot of foods. He couldn’t eat wheat, dairy, or eggs. That meant no pizza or macaroni and cheese. My mom spent a lot of time trying to find nutritious foods that he could eat,” she said. “She used to serve a pork and tofu dish over rice. I was inspired by that dish when I made this recipe. It can be served with brown rice, but I like to eat it with lots of veggies and sliced oranges on the side. You can also make this with ground beef or turkey.”

Read the recipe, after the jump…
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Posted on Monday, July 8th, 2013
Under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

FPPC names new executive director

California’s political ethics watchdog agency has hired a new executive director – straight out of Gov. Jerry Brown’s office.

The Fair Political Practices Commission on Friday named Erin Peth, 36, of Sacramento, as its new executive director, following a nationwide search.

“Her years of experience with the Political Reform Act and with state government will serve the FPPC well,” said FPPC Chairwoman Ann Ravel, who may be departing soon – President Obama recently nominated her to the Federal Election Commission. “Erin’s commitment to the Commission’s goals and ability to build coalitions among interested parties will be extremely beneficial as the Commission continues to increase transparency in the political process and clarify our ethics laws.”

Peth has served since 2011 as deputy legal affairs secretary in the governor’s office, where she counseled public officials on governmental ethics, conflicts of interest, and transparency.

From 2007 to 2011, she was a deputy attorney general in the California Department of Justice, where she advised constitutional officers and high-level state officials on compliance with the Political Reform Act’s provisions and other laws. She was an editor of the 2010 Attorney General’s Conflicts of Interest Guide and was on the team that prosecuted the first enforcement action involving electronic voting machines, which resulted in a multi-million dollar settlement for the state.

Earlier, Peth was an attorney with the Sacramento firm of Olson, Hagel & Fishburn from 2003 to 2007, counseling clients and litigating cases on election, political, campaign finance, and governmental matters – including at least one lawsuit against the very agency she’s now going to lead.

A Sacramento native and a Democrat, Peth earned a Bachelor’s degree in English and public relations from Marquette University and a law degree from King Hall at the University of California, Davis.

Peth’s annual salary in the governor’s office was $108,481 as of last year. I’ve not yet received a response to my inquiry about what her FPPC salary will be.

UPDATE AT 2:28 p.m.: Ravel says Peth’s salary “has not been determined yet. I believe the range is between $140,000 and $155,000 (approximately).”

Posted on Friday, July 5th, 2013
Under: Uncategorized | 4 Comments »