Part of the Bay Area News Group

Don’t like the poll results? Too bad.

By Josh Richman
Wednesday, April 9th, 2014 at 9:45 am in 2014 primary, Barack Obama, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown, Obama presidency, polls

Whenever we do a poll story, I’m a bit amazed at the vitriol and ignorance in some of the comments.

That holds true for my story in Tuesday’s editions about a Field Poll showing President Obama’s relative popularity in California, and Jessica Calefati’s story in Wednesday’s editions about how Gov. Jerry Brown is trouncing his challengers. Let me clear up a few misconceptions (or intentional misstatements):

1.) IT’S NOT OUR POLL

In the comments on Jessica’s story, RobThom wrote “The lib media loves polls, because you can get a poll to say anything you want.”

Except the “lib media” didn’t conduct the poll. Bay Area News Group doesn’t do its own polls on these issues, and we generally only write stories about California polls conducted by nonpartisan organizations of the highest reputation, such as Field Research, the Public Policy Institute of California and occasionally the University of Southern California/Los Angeles Times. We receive the same poll results as every other media outlet – even Fox News!

Lest you think the poll questions were biased, the Obama question was “Overall, do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling his job as President?” And here’s how the gubernatorial election question was phrased:

The upcoming June statewide election will be an open primary. This means that candidates from all parties – Democrats, Republicans and others – will be listed together on one ballot and voters can chose to vote for a candidate from any party or affiliation. I am going to read the names of some of the likely candidates for Governor in the June open primary election and please tell me who you would be your first choice if the election were being held today. Suppose the candidates were (CANDIDATES READ IN RANDOM ORDER) Who would be your first choice for Governor? (REPEAT IF NECESSARY)

2.) IT DOESN’T MATTER IF THE POLL DIDN’T CALL YOU

In the comments on my story, Tamara Lynn wrote, “They didn’t poll me…. In my generalized poll while speaking with friends, family and social media.. Obummer isn’t favored at all! Once again the merc printing only what it wants.. Stupid is as stupid does.”

Tamara apparently doesn’t know what a poll is – the only poll that surveys every registered voter is called an election. Field surveyed 1,000 Californians randomly selected from the state’s voter rolls. At last count, California had 17,660,257 registered voters, so Tamara had a 1-in-17,660 chance of getting called. Even with Field polling on Obama’s approval rating about four times a year, I’d advise her not to hold her breath. And of course her friends, family and social media say otherwise – that’s a self-selecting community of like-minded individuals, not a random poll.

3.) JUST BECAUSE YOU DISAGREE DOESN’T MAKE IT WRONG

In the comments on my story, Real American Ranger wrote, “Who ever wrote this article is obviously on crack. The experiment with putting a community organizer with zero real world experience in the white house has failed miserably.”

We’re all entitled to our own opinions, but not to our own facts. The fact is, Barack Obama and Jerry Brown are riding high in California, borne by a minority-heavy voting population that skews significantly toward Democrats. There certainly are people who dislike Obama and Brown, but they are outnumbered. The polls show it, the elections show it – it walks and talks like a duck, yet a few vocal critics insist it’s a goose.

Try to remember, folks: Neither these nonpartisan polls nor this news organization are here to confirm your personal worldview. If you want that, I’m sure there’s a cable news channel that will make you very happy.

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OK, Tim Draper is serious about ‘Six Californias’

By Josh Richman
Monday, April 7th, 2014 at 5:19 pm in ballot measures

Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper has put another $1.2 million into his “Six Californias” proposed ballot measure to split the Golden State half a dozen ways, an idea so far out there that some have wondered whether it’s a publicity stunt, a subtle satire on the initiative process, or a mid-life crisis.

The Secretary of State’s office received notice of the contribution on the same day that a “One California” committee was rolled out to oppose Draper’s plan. So, game on!

Draper had put an initial $750,000 into his effort early last month, so his running total so far is $1.95 million; no other donor has given the campaign significant money. Draper has until July 18 to submit signatures from at least 807,615 registered voters in order to qualify the measure for November’s ballot.

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Spotlighting suspended senators’ money & votes

By Josh Richman
Monday, April 7th, 2014 at 4:39 pm in California State Senate, Leland Yee

You might have a harder time finding their legislative histories now, but three state senators who are in trouble with the law are being spotlighted by a Berkeley-based nonprofit that tracks money in politics.

MapLight.org reminded the public Monday that their site makes it easy to find the industries and individuals who have given the most (at least, those who’ve given the most through legal channels) to embattled state senators Leland Yee, D-San Francisco; Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, and Rod Wright, D-Inglewood.

Yee was indicted Friday on six counts of bribery, one county of conspiring to take bribes and one count of conspiring to traffic guns. Calderon was indicted in February on bribery charges. Wright was convicted in January of voter fraud and perjury related to not living in the district he represents.

Here’s a taste of MapLight’s data – lists of the top 10 interests that have given the most to those three senators from 2009 through 2012:

Leland Yee
Public Sector Unions — $81,800
Health Professionals — $54,720
General Trade Unions — $45,103
Insurance — $42,000
Pharmaceuticals & Health Products — $23,528
Gambling & Casinos — $20,100
Telecom Services & Equipment — $18,300
Accountants — $18,100
Real Estate — $16,820
Poultry & Eggs — $15,600

Ron Calderon
Insurance — $92,200
General Trade Unions — $57,600
Pharmaceuticals & Health Products — $38,900
Public Sector Unions — $38,250
Telecom Services & Equipment — $28,747
Health Professionals — $26,600
Real Estate — $24,200
Oil & Gas — $21,950
Electric Utilities — $20,500
Tribal Governments — $17,100

Rod Wright
Insurance — $99,707
General Trade Unions — $81,050
Public Sector Unions — $76,400
Telecom Services & Equipment — $62,989
Tribal Governments — $61,500
Beer, Wine & Liquor — $56,440
Gambling & Casinos — $56,191
Oil & Gas — $54,050
Pharmaceuticals & Health Products — $46,650
Real Estate — $42,900

The state Senate voted 28-1 on March 28 to suspend the three senators, and their official websites were “wiped” over the weekend of their legislative histories, biographies, news releases and so on.

But you can still find a list of bills each has introduced by visiting the state’s legislative information page and typing in their names. And their campaign finance histories are still available through the Secretary of State’s database: Follow these links to Yee, Calderon and Wright.

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New statewide college GOP chair is from Berkeley

By Josh Richman
Monday, April 7th, 2014 at 11:26 am in Republican Party, Republican politics

The newly elected chairman of the California College Republicans is a former chairman of the Berkeley College Republicans.

Shawn LewisShawn Lewis, 22, was elected Sunday morning at the statewide group’s annual convention in Irvine. He succeeds Mathew Nithin, 25, of San Jose State University.

“I’m ready for the challenge,” Lewis said. “Our success this year is going to be driven by our efforts to elect Republicans across California by getting on the ground and making contact with voters.”

Lewis said his organization will target House and Legislative districts with the goal of ending the Democratic supermajority in Sacramento. He also said he’ll be in regular contact and coordination with California Republican Party Chairman Jim Brulte, State Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff, and Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway.

Lewis now serves as a Senate Fellow for Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, in Sacramento; he was the California College Republicans’ political for the past year.

Other officers elected Sunday are Co-Chair Alice Gilbert of UC-Santa Barbara, Executive Director Lx Fangonilo of San Diego State, Administrative Vice Chair Jere Ford of the University of San Diego, Treasurer Ivy Allen of Pepperdine University, and Secretary Erick Matos of CSU-Channel Islands.

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Neel Kashkari campaign video features his dogs

By Josh Richman
Friday, April 4th, 2014 at 4:22 pm in 2014 primary, Neel Kashkari

Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari posted this web video today about… his dogs.

Winslow and Newsome have their own Twitter accounts, too.

Sure, Kashkari yesterday posted a video of highlights from his tour following the rollout of his jobs plan. But… dogs!

No comment so far from California First Dog Sutter Brown.

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AD16: Warring complaints on Sbranti & Glazer

By Josh Richman
Friday, April 4th, 2014 at 3:18 pm in Assembly

Allegations of ethical and legal violations are flying hot and heavy between supporters of 16th Assembly District candidates Tim Sbranti and Steve Glazer.

Barry Fadem, a Lafayette attorney backing Glazer, filed a complaint in December with the California Fair Political Practices Commission claiming improprieties in the transfer of $30,852 from Sbranti’s 2012 Dublin mayoral campaign account to his 2014 Assembly fund, including inconsistent names and dates for donations; a discrepancy between what the two funds show was transferred; and use of a private firm as an intermediary before Sbranti’s Assembly committee was officially qualified.

The FPPC sent Sbranti a warning letter in February that closed the case but warned it could be re-opened based on new information or future conduct.

Fadem filed another FPPC complaint in mid-January claiming Sbranti had omitted certain assets, income and gifts from the economic-interests disclosure he filed as mayor. Sbranti by that month’s end filed amended disclosure forms for several past years (including 2012 and 2010) showing previously unreported items. Fadem says the new additions include travel gifts from the California Teachers Association – for which Sbranti worked until recently – that far exceeded state limits, and income Sbranti earned from the Oakland A’s while voting on issues affecting the O.co Coliseum in which they play. The FPPC has taken no action so far. (Ed.Note – see update below for Fadem’s third complaint against Sbranti.)

On Friday, a married pair of Sbranti supporters from Dublin filed identical FPPC complaints claiming Glazer – an Orinda councilman and campaign strategist whose past clients include Gov. Jerry Brown – sent out a four-page campaign mailer this week that doesn’t carry the required “paid for by” disclaimer. The complaints filed by Eileen Barr and Heinz Gewing note Glazer’s past mailers carried the disclaimer, but this one does not.

Glazer Mailer 040314_8_8-page1
(click to enlarge)

“This race is highly contested and a number of independent expenditure committees have been formed to support or oppose candidates,” each of them wrote. “The failure to indicate who paid for the attached mailer leaves the voters without critical information that would help them evaluate the message contained in the mailer.”

It’s worth noting here that the biggest independent expenditure committee in this race is trying to help Sbranti beat Glazer, funded with at least $285,000 from teachers’ and public workers’ unions.

Those unions want Glazer’s head because he worked in 2012 as a strategist for the California Chamber of Commerce’s JobsPAC, which backed moderate Democrats over more liberal labor-friendly ones. That rift may explain why Glazer felt he had nothing to lose by capitalizing on public outrage over last year’s BART strikes by calling for a ban on transit worker strikes. Iin fact, this latest mailer’s cover photo shows Glazer standing with arms crossed next to a BART train, with the caption “Steve Glazer stood up against the BART strike. He’ll fight for us in the State Assembly.”

Glazer on Friday noted the FPPC’s Campaign Disclosure Manual for state candidates describes this requirement for a mass mailing by a single candidate:

The name of the candidate, his or her street address, city, state, and zip code must be placed on the outside of each piece of mail in no less than 6-point type and in a color or print which contrasts with the background so that it is easily read. If a single candidate’s controlled committee is sending the mailer, the name of the committee may be placed on the outside of the mailer if the committee’s name contains the name of the candidate. A post office box may be used as the address only if the committee’s street address is on its Statement of Organization (Form 410) on file with the Secretary of State.

But an FPPC regulation says the required identification “shall be preceded by the words ‘Paid for by’” in the same size and color as the candidate’s or committee’s name and “shall be immediately adjacent to and above or immediately adjacent to and in front of the required identification.” And a 2012 FPPC worksheet on mass mailings says “the disclaimer must include, unless otherwise noted: ‘Paid for by committee name.’”

Glazer and Sbranti both are Democrats; the other candidates are Danville Mayor Newell Arnerich, also a Democrat, and Republican Catharine Baker, a Dublin attorney. 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.

UPDATE @ 9:11 A.M. SATURDAY: Fadem actually filed a third FPPC complaint against Sbranti on March 20, accusing Sbranti of an undisclosed conflict of interests. He claimed Sbranti in October voted as a member of the Alameda County Transportation Commission to extend a contract, but did not disclose at that meeting that he had received a contribution from that contractor in June and that the contractor had hosted a fundraiser for him in May.

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Activists seek ‘Robin Hood tax’ upon Wall Street

By Josh Richman
Friday, April 4th, 2014 at 12:08 pm in Ami Bera, Barbara Lee, George Miller, Jared Huffman, Jeff Denham, John Garamendi, Mike Honda, Pete Stark, Sam Farr, taxes, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren

Activists organized in part by the California Nurses Association rallied Friday at congressional offices in 22 cities – including four in Northern California – to call for a tax on Wall Street speculation to relieve economic inequality and address basic needs.

The Oakland-based union scheduled the events for Friday because it’s the 46th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who at the time of his death was amid a campaign for economic justice that included anti-poverty and worker-rights issues.

Supporters of HR 1579 – authored by Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., and cosponsored by local lawmakers including Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose; Sam Farr, D-Santa Cruz; Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael; and John Garamendi, D-Fairfield – sometimes call it the “Robin Hood tax.”

The bill would levy a tax of 50 cents on every $100 of stock trades and smaller amounts on transactions of bonds and derivatives. Its goal to reduce harmful financial market speculation; discourage high-volume, high-speed trading; and slow down proliferation of complex derivatives while raising hundreds of billions of dollars per year for jobs, health care, education, the fights against HIV/AIDS and climate change, and more.

Several dozen countries have similar taxes, and the United States had one until 1966. Business leaders including Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Paul Krugman, Joseph Stiglitz, Jeffrey Sachs, Robert Pollin, and Larry Summers have recommended adopting a financial transaction tax, and after Wall Street’s crash 1987, such a tax was endorsed by President George H.W. Bush and U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan. And former Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, carried a similar bill in 2010.

There’s no chance the Republican-led House will ever advance this bill.

Still, Northern California activists rallied Friday at the offices of congressmen George Miller in Concord, Mike Honda in San Jose, Ami Bera in Rancho Cordova and Jeff Denham in Modesto – three Democrats and a Republican, respectively.

“My patients are trying to heal from an illness or surgery and when they go home they are forced to make a decision between buying medication or food,” California Nurses Association co-president Malinda Markowitz, an RN at San Jose’s Good Samaritan Hospital, said in a news release. “That’s why I want Rep. Mike Honda to support the people of this community by supporting the Robin Hood Tax.”

The nurses’ union notes King once said, “This is America’s opportunity to help bridge the gulf between the haves and the have nots. The question is whether America will do it.”

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CA17: More on the GOP candidate controversy

By Josh Richman
Thursday, April 3rd, 2014 at 1:34 pm in Mike Honda, U.S. House

My article in today’s editions about whether Democratic House candidate Ro Khanna and/or his supporters had anything to do with getting Republican Joel Vanlandingham into the 17th Congressional District race had far more complexity than room in the paper allowed.

For one thing, there’s a personal element of bad blood between Vanila Singh – the first Republican to enter the race – and Romesh Japra, the Fremont Hindu Temple chairman who is a staunch Khanna supporter.

Vanila SinghWhen Singh entered the race to unseat Rep. Mike Honda in January, analysts said it could help Honda by stripping Khanna of GOP votes in June’s top-two primary election; in fact, a poll in February found Singh, largely by dint of her party, had leapfrogged slightly ahead of Khanna. But then two more Republicans – Vanlandingham, and another who was kicked off the ballot last week for petition signature irregularities – jumped into the race, potentially splitting the district’s small GOP base and helping Khanna surpass all Republicans in June and go one-on-one with Honda in November.

I hear Japra is a somewhat polarizing figure in the Indo-American community, wielding a lot of influence as chairman of the temple and of the Federation of Indian Associations. It’s the kind of influence some might resent in an old-country, political power-broker sort of way, but still significant enough that it would be hard for a candidate to snub him.

Singh said Wednesday that she and her parents were longtime friends with Japra, who even attended her children’s birthday parties as recently as last summer. But that ended abruptly when he learned she was considering entering this race, she said; since then, he has both spoken ill of her in the community and demoted her mother from a temple leadership position.

Romesh Japra“We’ve lost a friend, or someone we thought was a friend, because of dirty politics,” she said. “The revelation that his closest associates, have actively recruited and signed for a fake Republican candidate to enter the race is shocking.”

That’s not proved, of course, though the evidence presented in my story isn’t easily explained away. It’s also possible as well that if Japra and temple officials were involved in Vanlandingham’s candidacy, they acted without Khanna’s knowledge; American politics is littered with tales of candidates and elected officials being tarred with their supporters’ independent actions. Singh, however, doesn’t buy that.

“What I’ve seen with my own eyes is Khanna following Japra and them working in concert together,” she said. “I would have a hard time to believe this was a rogue element that happened once by chance.”

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

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CA17: Honda outraises Khanna for the first time

By Josh Richman
Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014 at 5:17 pm in campaign finance, Mike Honda, U.S. House

Rep. Mike Honda outraised Democratic challenger Ro Khanna in 2014’s first three months – the first quarter in which he has done so since Khanna entered the race a year ago.

Honda, D-San Jose, raised more than $650,000 from Jan. 1 through March 31, and had more than $1,050,000 cash on hand at the end of that period, his campaign said Wednesday. Khanna’s campaign said it raised more than $460,000 in the same time, and has almost $2 million cash on hand.

Republican candidate Vanila Singh’s campaign consultant, Travis Smith, said her numbers won’t be available for a few days. Republican Joel Vanlandingham has said he doesn’t plan to accept contributions.

Honda’s campaign noted the seven-term congressman received contributions from more than 1,750 individuals, with more than half of the contributions at $100 or less. “I’m humbled by the incredible support from our grassroots supporters nation-wide, which makes this campaign possible, and I anticipate will continue to grow,” Honda said in a news release.

Khanna’s campaign also said a majority of his donors gave less than $100 each, and noted Khanna has refused to take money from any political action committees and is relying on a 150-person volunteer fundraising committee instead of paid finance consultants.

“I knew that taking a bold pledge to refuse special interest donations and only receiving support from individuals wouldn’t be the easiest road, but leading by example is what’s expected of Silicon Valley’s congressman,” Khanna said in a news release. “I’m proud of the grassroots campaign that we’re building and I’m humbled by the enthusiastic response to my positive message of changing business as usual in Washington.”

Khanna outstripped Honda in fundraising in each of the previous quarters in this 2013-14 cycle; at 2013’s end, Khanna had $1.97 million cash on hand while Honda had $622,000 in the bank. If they spend all they’ve raised, the 17th Congressional District race could rank among the nation’s most expensive House contests.

Honda campaign manager Doug Greven said in Wednesday’s release that his team “always said that we would have the resources we need to win in November, and our strong numbers this quarter show that we are on track. We know that Mike will make it past the June 3 primary, and we will continue to marshal our resources for the November general election.”

Khanna campaign manager Leah Cowan said her team is “especially proud to have increased our fundraising from last quarter and to tell the people of the 17th District we have done so without taking a single dollar from PACs or lobbyists.” She challenged Honda to disclose how much money he has taken from such sources.

Neither campaign provided its detailed Federal Election Commission reports, which must be filed by April 15.

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Speier: Yee case proves need for gun control

By Josh Richman
Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014 at 12:04 pm in gun control, Jackie Speier, U.S. House

Amid the cries of rank hypocrisy accompanying state Sen. Leland Yee – a staunch gun-control advocate – being charged by federal authorities with conspiracy to traffic guns, a Bay Area congresswoman says Yee’s case proves the need for stricter gun control.

Jackie Speier“This FBI investigation of Leland Yee reveals how easy it is to import lethal assault weapons that were previously banned,” Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, said in a statement released Wednesday. “This case should be a warning to us all that even the most trusted appearing among us are ready to do real harm. Since Congress can pass no meaningful gun control laws, even after the mass killing in Newtown, President Obama should use his pen to slow the import of these weapons, which have no place in our homes.”

Speier says a ban on imported assault weapons was first imposed by President George H.W. Bush in 1989 and strengthened by President Bill Clinton, but lapsed under President George W. Bush and is no longer enforced.

That didn’t seem to be a factor in Yee’s alleged crimes, so far as one can tell from the affidavit filed by the FBI.

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