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Officials offer condolences on BART cop’s shooting

State and local officials are offering condolences to the family and colleagues of BART Police Sgt. Tom Smith Jr., who was fatally shot by another officer during a search of a suspect’s apartment Tuesday in Dublin.

From Gov. Jerry Brown:

“Anne and I were saddened to learn of the death of veteran BART Sergeant Tom Smith, who bravely served his community for two decades. Sergeant Smith’s family, friends and colleagues are in our thoughts as we honor his service during this painful time.”

From California Attorney General Kamala Harris:

“On behalf of the California Department of Justice, I extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Detective Sgt. Tom Smith. His sacrifice and service to the people of California will never be forgotten. The tragic loss of Detective Sgt. Smith reminds us of the danger our officers face everyday to keep our communities safe. My thoughts and prayers are with his loved ones and with all the brave men and women of the BART Police Department.”

From San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón:

“Our deepest and most heartfelt condolences go out to the family of BART Sgt. Tom Smith. He was a veteran officer who lost his life yesterday in the line of duty. His family and friends are in our thoughts and prayers.”

Click here for our latest story on the tragedy.

Posted on Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014
Under: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Calif. firms to go on Pritzker’s 1st trade mission

Representatives from four California businesses will accompany U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker on her first trade mission: a trip to Mexico in early February.

Penny PritzkerThey’ll be among 17 companies nationwide sending people as part of the delegation accompanying Pritzker – who was sworn in as Commerce Secretary in June – to Mexico City and Monterrey. The trip is focused on promoting U.S exports and business opportunities in key industry sectors, including advanced manufacturing, information and communications technology, and health IT and medical devices.

Oracle, based in Redwood City; OSISoft LLC of San Leandro; Applied Science Inc. of Grass Valley; and Louroe Electronics of Van Nuys will send people on the trip.

“As the country’s chief commercial advocate, a key part of my job is to promote trade and investment and connect U.S. businesses with potential customers across the globe,” Pritkzer said in a news release. “Ninety-five percent of customers worldwide live outside U.S. borders, and that is why promoting exports is essential to economic growth and job creation. As part of our ‘Open for Business Agenda,’ we plan to carry out a robust schedule of trade missions all over the world.”

The Commerce Department notes Mexico is the United States’ second-largest export market and third-largest trading partner; 22 states depend on Mexico as the first or second destination for exports, and more than $1.25 billion in goods and services are traded between the United States and Mexico every day, supporting millions of jobs in both countries. Bilateral trade between the United States and Mexico was almost half a trillion dollars in 2012, and the United States exports more to Mexico than to all of Brazil, Russia, India and China combined.

Posted on Monday, January 13th, 2014
Under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

The Blotter is going on holiday hiatus

And so another year draws to a close, dear readers – I hope it’s been as happy for all of you as has been for me.

I’ll be on vacation until Monday, Jan. 6, and so the blog will go mostly dormant until then – although it’s possible something will come up between now and then that I just can’t resist posting.

I will leave you with my favorite holiday-season song, and my best wishes for a merry Christmas and very happy new year. See you in 2014.

Posted on Friday, December 20th, 2013
Under: Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Candidate likens ‘Duck Dynasty’ guy to Rosa Parks

I’ve tried to avoid this “Duck Dynasty” thing – I mean, who can be surprised by a redneck saying something inherently redneck? – but one politician has pushed it beyond the pale.

ian-bayneIan Bayne – a Republican candidate who’s challenging Rep. Bill Foster, D-Ill., for Illinois’ 11th House Districtissued a statement today calling Phil Robertson “the ‘Rosa Parks’ of our generation.”

“In December 1955, Rosa Parks took a stand against an unjust societal persecution of black people, and in December 2013, Robertson took a stand against persecution of Christians,” said Bayne. “What Parks did was courageous. What Mr. Robertson did was courageous too.”

Let us review.

In an interview with GQ, Robertson said:

“It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

And, asked what he considers sinful:

“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

He also had this to say about African Americans:

“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field…. They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!… Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”


Robertson probably was being honest about his religious views, and he has an absolute right to hold and voice those views – just as A&E has an absolute right to deny him a broadcast platform, and those who disagree with him have an absolute right to ostracize him for believing that all men are not created equal.

Our nation is not a theocracy; nobody’s religious belief gives them the right to hold themselves on a pedestal over others without being called on it. And pointing out someone’s intolerance isn’t itself intolerance, or persecution. If the camouflage hunting boot fits, wear it, Mr. Robertson.

But Bayne’s analogy reveals his own amazing ignorance.

Rosa Parks was a civil rights activist who believed in equality, and stood up for it (actually, remained sitting for it) with quiet dignity.

Phil Robertson is a reality TV star who deems some people better, holier, worth more than others because of who they do or don’t love, because he believes God wants that – the antithesis of equality. He also seems to believe that his narrow personal window on the Jim Crow South has some resemblance to the reality lived by millions of Africans Americans, which it demonstrably does not.

And Ian Bayne is either a blithering idiot or a shameless panderer.

Posted on Friday, December 20th, 2013
Under: Uncategorized | 2 Comments »


Rep. Tony Cárdenas today introduced the 416d65726963612043616e20436f646520 Act of 2013.

facedown on keyboardNo, that’s not a typo (though if it were, it probably would have had to involve me passing out on my keyboard).

416d65726963612043616e20436f646520 is the hexadecimal code translation of “America Can Code” – Cárdenas’ bill would designate computer programming languages as “critical foreign languages,” providing incentives for state and local schools to teach more computer science beginning as early as kindergarten.

You know what I remember about kindergarten? Playing with wooden blocks. And snacks. But we live in a different world now, I guess.

“The very name of this law demonstrates that programming is simply another language,” said Cárdenas, D-Arleta. “Learning and communicating in a foreign language can have a tremendous impact on a student, both culturally and educationally. Computer programming creates a similar impact, while also providing a critical skill in today’s global economy.”

Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, joined Cárdenas in introducing the bill as an original co-sponsor.

Computer programming jobs are growing at nearly twice the national average job growth rate, Cárdenas notes, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median annual wage in 2010 for computer programmers was $71,380, while the median annual wage for all workers was $33,840.

The nation will have an estimated 1.4 million computer programming jobs by 2020 with only 400,000 American computer science students to fill those jobs, he added. Nine out of 10 U.S. schools don’t even offer computer programming classes and in 36 states, computer coding classes don’t count towards high school STEM graduation requirements.

Along with redefining computer programming as a critical foreign language, the 416d65726963612043616e20436f646520 Act would create a competitive matching grant program for schools, particularly in low-income areas, to create new ways to teach computer science and engineering in cooperation with universities and non-profits.

“American students should continue to receive the understanding of other cultures that foreign language learning creates, but we should also be preparing American kids to compete in the world marketplace,” Cárdenas said. “Millions of jobs are being created in America, and all over the globe, requiring some level of coding knowledge. Let’s get American kids ready to compete for American jobs.”

UPDATE @ 6:01 P.M.: Some frighteningly adept people on Twitter have advised me that there is indeed a typo in Cárdenas’ coding; it actually would read as the “America Can Code ” Act – with an unnecessary space after the word “code.” If you drop the last two digits from the hexadecimal version (“20”), the space disappears.

My feeling is, better an extra space than a missing letter. Drop the last three digits (“520”), and you’ve got the “America Can Cod” Act – a fisheries bill, no doubt.

Posted on Thursday, December 12th, 2013
Under: Uncategorized | 6 Comments »

Field Poll: Little love for counties’ secession plan

Ah, Jefferson – we hardly knew ye.

Only one in four California voters support Siskiyou and Modoc counties’ calls to secede from the state, and join with other California and Oregon counties to form a new, 51st state called Jefferson, the Field Poll finds; 59 percent disapprove.

The idea of designating these counties as a special territory technically still within the existing states also met with a chilly 27 percent approval and 58 percent disapproval.

Opposition to both proposals is bipartisan, with majorities of Democrats, Republicans and nonpartisans disapproving. The poll found slightly greater support for the proposals in inland counties and parts of Northern California outside the Bay Area and Central Valley, yet even in these areas, more disapprove than approve.

With secession requiring approval of both houses of the state Legislature as well as Congress, it surely seems the northern folk can kiss this dream goodbye.

Designating the counties as a special territory called “Jefferson Republic” wouldn’t require these legislative approvals, and could be granted if voters in the affected counties opt to do so. Petitions to that effect already are circulating up there.

The Field Poll surveyed 1,002 registered California voters from Nov. 14 through Dec. 5; the overall poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.

Posted on Wednesday, December 11th, 2013
Under: Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

Pols react to the death of Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela has died at age 95.

Here’s the speech he delivered at his inauguration as president of South Africa in 1994:

President Obama made a statement a short while ago:

From U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.:

“The world has lost a true hero for freedom and we should all carry out his vision of equality in our daily lives.”

From House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco:

“With the passing of Nelson Mandela, the world has lost a leader who advanced the cause of equality and human rights, who overcame a history of oppression in South Africa to expand the reach of freedom worldwide. He led the campaign to defeat apartheid through non-violence, peace, and dialogue. He never allowed resentment to drive him away from the path of reconciliation. He emerged from prison to set free an entire nation; he shed the bonds of slave labor to reshape the fate of his people.

“Nelson Mandela once said that ‘courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.’ His life is the affirmation of this statement: a story of courage, a triumph over fear, a whole-hearted faith in the power, promise, and possibility of the human spirit. He inspired the world with his strength and perseverance, with his message of hope and his embrace of freedom. He left us a legacy of love and partnership.

“May the life of Nelson Mandela long stand as the ultimate tribute to the triumph of hope. May his story long remind us to always look forward with optimism to the future. May it be a comfort to his family, to his friends and loved ones, to the people of South Africa that so many mourn the loss of this extraordinary man and incredible leader at this sad time.”

From Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland:

“I am deeply saddened by the passing of Nelson Mandela, and my thoughts and prayers go out to his friends, family, and the people of South Africa. His legacy will live on forever in how we live our lives and fight for freedom and justice in a multi-racial society. We must pause and remember Madiba in his greatness; he used his life not for himself, but for the good of his country and the good of the world, and his spirit will live on.

“Even throughout his 27 years of incarceration and brutal treatment, his spirit was never broken and this stands as a testament to the power of reconciliation. Not only is Nelson Mandela the father of the liberation movement in South Africa, but he also laid the framework for modern liberation movements throughout the world. With a dignified defiance, Nelson Mandela never compromised his political principles or the mission of the anti-apartheid movement, fighting the global AIDS pandemic, ending poverty and preserving human rights.

“During Mr. Mandela’s trip to the United States in 1990, it was a great honor to be a member of the host committee that welcomed him to my district of Oakland, California. One of my proudest moments as a member of Congress was when I led the effort to remove Mr. Mandela and the ANC from the U.S. Terrorist Watch list in time for his 90th birthday. I served as an official election observer for the 1994 South African elections when President Mandela was first elected, and it was a magnificent reminder that perhaps one day my own country would elect an African American president.

“Mr. Mandela exuded a larger-than-life presence and a humble spirit that was remarkable; he is my hero and an inspiration to us all. While this earth will miss the physical presence of Nelson Mandela, his indomitable nature, his gentle spirit, and overwhelming smile will remain with us all. My heart is heavy as we mourn the loss and celebrate the life of this great warrior.”

From Gov. Jerry Brown:

“Nelson Mandela fought heroically for freedom and a truly democratic society. His courageous life shows what’s possible when one acts on his convictions.”

From former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger:

“I will never forget the time I spent with President Mandela.

“Even before I met him, he was one of my heroes. But during the opening ceremony of the Special Olympics in South Africa, I had the opportunity to stand with him in his former jail cell at Robben Island to light the torch, and his legend grew before my eyes.

“He told me about his struggles, his time in captivity, his persecution and oppression. Most people would have had nothing in their heart but revenge, but all President Mandela had was forgiveness. He is the definition of serving a cause greater than self. He single-handedly reunited his nation, because he had a vision of the future that should inspire all of us.

“President Mandela’s life is the closest thing we have to proof of God. I will never be able to thank him enough for his inspiration. Today, each of us should commit to do at least one small thing to improve the planet in his honor. Give back. Help someone. Change the world.

“My thoughts and prayers are with his family and the people of South Africa.

From Assembly Speaker John Pérez, D-Los Angeles:

“The world has lost one of the greatest crusaders for justice it has ever known. As we mourn his passing we must also remember the meaning of Nelson Mandela’s struggle and triumph. The fight for equality and justice must go on, here at home and around the world.”

From state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco:

“Nelson Mandela was a brave and noble man who fought seemingly impossible odds in the fight for equality and justice, and his loss will be felt the whole world over. He inspired countless people around the world by insisting that all people were entitled to a voice in how their government works. His life stands as a reminder that our rights must be fought for, but also that they are attainable. By continuing to fight to include more people in our democracy, we honor his legacy. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and the people of South Africa.”

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

Posted on Thursday, December 5th, 2013
Under: Uncategorized | 11 Comments »

East Bay reservist is Army’s NCO of the Year

An East Bay Army reservist is the Army’s Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year after winning the annual Best Warrior Competition.

Manella (U.S. Army photo)Sgt. 1st Class Jason Manella, 27, who recently moved from Fremont to Hayward, competed with 23 other soldiers – representing more than 900,000 troops in 12 Army commands around the globe – in a three-day test of soldiers’ physical and mental toughness in order to win the title. He’s the first reservist ever to win the competition.

Manella is a civil affairs specialist with the Mountain View-based 445th Civil Affairs Battalion, which belongs to the U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command.

An Army article says Manella began studying for the Best Warrior Competition in Afghanistan as a way of recovering his brain from multiple improvised explosive device blasts. Suffered from memory loss, confusion, headaches, dizziness and disequilibrium, he picked up the Army Study Guide to see if he could heal his mind from the trauma.

“Right now I just want to use this opportunity to represent the Reserve Command and show that Reservists are just as good as active duty, National Guard, and perhaps it’s also an opportunity to represent other (traumatic brain injury Soldiers) and wounded warriors and lead them in their recovery,” said Manella.

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Pleasanton, praised Manella today on the House floor:

“I am very thankful for the service of people like Sergeant Manella and those I met with while I was in Afghanistan. And I know that Operation Enduring Freedom has led to thousands of Americans being wounded who served over in Afghanistan and are healing today back home on their own path to recovery. Sergeant Manella’s story is truly one that is uplifting for every soldier, man and woman, who is recovering,” Swalwell said. “Congratulations again to Sergeant Manella. Your strength, your determination, and your character is an inspiration to thousands of other wounded men and women of our armed services.”

Click here for a video of Manella being interviewed during the competition.

Posted on Wednesday, December 4th, 2013
Under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Lawmakers urge DOJ to back off pot dispensaries

Four Bay Area House members are urging the area’s top federal prosecutor to halt what they say is ongoing “hostility toward dispensaries” that provide marijuana under the state’s medical marijuana law.

Reps. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; George Miller, D-Martinez; Eric Swalwell, D-Pleasanton; and Sam Farr, D-Santa Cruz, sent a letter to Melinda Haag, U.S. Attorney for California’s Northern District. In says, in part:

“It is counterproductive and economically prohibitive to continue a path of hostility toward dispensaries. Moreover, it appears to directly counter the spirit of Deputy Attorney General Cole’s memo, and is in direct opposition to the evolving view toward medical marijuana, the will of the people and, by now, common sense. Additionally, the State of California has also received legislative direction and guidelines from California Attorney General Kamala Harris on responsibly delivering medical marijuana.

“It is our view that the intent of the Justice Department is to not enforce its anti-marijuana laws in conflict with the laws of states that have chosen to decriminalize marijuana for medical and recreational uses. California understands the urgency toward putting together a statewide regulatory system, and we can all be helpful in that regard, but some municipalities, including Oakland, have already done an extraordinary job regulating medical marijuana. California is moving in the correct direction in a measured manner, and should be given the opportunity to do so.”

Several Bay Area dispensaries have been targeted by federal prosecutors, and Alameda County supervisors this month adopted a resolution urging the federal government to back off.

In a news release announcing the lawmakers’ letter, Lee said it’s “far past time for commonsense and economic sense to prevail in policies and actions related to medical cannabis dispensaries that serve the patients in our communities. This harassment and constant threat of prosecution should end.”

Posted on Thursday, November 21st, 2013
Under: Barbara Lee, Eric Swalwell, George Miller, marijuana, Sam Farr, U.S. House, Uncategorized | No Comments »

Pelosi: ‘Finish the job’ on background checks

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Mike Thompson – House Democrats’ point man on gun violence issues – attended a Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence news conference Wednesday marking the 20th anniversary of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act and calling on Congress to immediately pass bipartisan legislation on background checks.

Thompson, D-Napa, and Rep. Pete King, D-N.Y., introduced H.R. 1565 in the House in April; it mirrors the bipartisan Manchin-Toomney bill that the Senate rejected that same month. House Republican leaders have not allowed any hearings on the bill.

From Pelosi, D-San Francisco:

Nancy Pelosi“At the beginning of every Congress we take an oath of office to protect and defend – that’s our first responsibility. It’s an honor to take that oath, but I’m ashamed to be here to face all of you not having finished the job yet.

“We must be relentless in how we pursue this, how we protect and defend the American people. In the two decades since the Brady Bill was signed into law, over two million gun requests did not get approved. Imagine: it stopped two million illegal gun purchases and helped protect millions of Americans from the incomprehensible tragedy felt by all of you here today.


“Nobody’s political career is more important than protecting the American people. Who among us is of such value that we would not say, ‘I’ll take a risk, so that our kids don’t have to take a risk and be in danger?’ So, I think there’s reason to be hopeful, because of Mr. Thompson’s work in the House getting all those co-sponsors. All we need is 20, 30 more, and there are at least 30 more who would vote for it.

“So, what we want is to get people to sign on, or at least say they will support the bill, and to urge the leadership of the House to take up the bill. I believe if the bill were taken up in the House that it would pass, and when it passes the House, some Senators – well-intentioned – would no longer have the excuse: ‘It’s no use my risking my political career because it’s not going any place in the House.’ Let’s prove it. Let’s turn that around. Pass it in the House. Just put the pressure on to take up the bill. Why not? Why not? When 90 percent of the American people want us to finish the job?”

Thompson issued a statement after the news conference. “If this bill is passed, criminals, terrorists, domestic abusers and other prohibited purchasers wouldn’t be able to bypass a background check by simply buying a gun online, through a classified ad or at a gun show,” he said. “This bill will save lives and respects the Second Amendment. It deserves a vote. And, it deserves to be signed into law.”

Posted on Wednesday, November 13th, 2013
Under: gun control, Mike Thompson, Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House, Uncategorized | 5 Comments »