Part of the Bay Area News Group

Fiorina leverages Trump’s insult into web video

By Josh Richman
Monday, September 14th, 2015 at 1:14 pm in 2016 presidential election, Carly Fiorina

Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina is turning rival Donald Trump‘s insult into a talking point.

According to a Rolling Stone profile published last week, Trump gestured to an image of Fiorina on television and said, “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president.”

“I mean, she’s a woman, and I’m not s’posedta say bad things, but really, folks, come on. Are we serious?” Trump said, according to the magazine.

Trump later claimed he was insulting Fiorina’s persona, not her looks. But the feud already had taken root, with some pundits opining that the former Hewlett-Packard CEO is likely to go for Trump’s jugular at this Wednesday’s Republican presidential debate at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley.

She’s not waiting for the debate, though. She launched a video Monday featuring footage of her at this past weekend’s National Federation of Republican Women convention in Scottsdale, Ariz. – at which she won the straw poll.

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Gavin Newsom trashes Trump’s immigration plan

By Josh Richman
Monday, September 14th, 2015 at 11:37 am in 2016 presidential election, Gavin Newsom, Immigration

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a candidate for governor in 2018, launched an animated web video Monday blasting Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump‘s immigration plan, as Trump prepares to visit California for Wednesday’s GOP debate. Check the hair (Donald’s, not Gavin’s):

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Schwarzenegger to host ‘Celebrity Apprentice’

By Josh Richman
Monday, September 14th, 2015 at 11:15 am in Arnold Schwarzenegger

“You’re fired” is about to be replaced with “you’re terminated.”

Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is taking over as host of NBC’s “The Celebrity Apprentice” for the 2016-17 season now that Donald Trump is preoccupied with another reality show his presidential campaign. (Correction: Trump was straight-up fired by NBC.) And with this, the revolving door between politics and reality television is in full-tilt whirl – congratulations, America!

Schwarzenegger in San Francisco July 2006“I have always been a huge fan of ‘The Celebrity Apprentice’ and the way it showcases the challenges and triumphs of business and teamwork,” Schwarzenegger said in the network’s news release. “I am thrilled to bring my experience to the boardroom and to continue to raise millions for charity. Let’s get started.”

Paul Telegdy, NBC’s president of alternative and late night programming, said the network is “thrilled to be opening a powerful new chapter in the story of the ‘Apprentice’ franchise.”

“Arnold Schwarzenegger is the epitome of a global brand in entertainment and business, and his accomplishments in the political arena speak for themselves,” Telegdy said. It was Arnold’s personal passion for the format that Mark Burnett and Donald Trump built over the last decade, as well as his fresh take on how to take it to new heights for today’s audiences, that made him the man to hire. ‘The Celebrity Apprentice’ … will be back!”


In case you’ve not seen it, “The Celebrity Apprentice” features business-savvy celebrity contestants working in teams to perform various tasks and win challenges, all the while employing a business model that promotes teamwork and, hopefully, ends with a financially successful outcome – all for a worthy charity. Contestants work long hours against grueling deadlines, trying to solve problems while weathering personality clashes and intense scrutiny.

Each task ends in the boardroom, where contestants must account for their actions or risk being “fired” by the host. Previous winners include Joan Rivers, Piers Morgan, Bret Michaels, Trace Adkins, Arsenio Hall, John Rich and Leeza Gibbons.

“After leaving the show to run for political office, Donald made it clear that he wanted ‘The Celebrity Apprentice’ to be able to continue to raise millions of dollars annually for worthy causes, and now NBC and I have found an amazing new leader to do just that,” executive producer Mark Burnett said in the news release. “Gov. Schwarzenegger will use his vast and highly successful business, political and media experience to drive this hit franchise to new heights.”

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FEMA approves grant for fighting Valley Fire

By Josh Richman
Monday, September 14th, 2015 at 9:49 am in Mike Thompson, U.S. House, Uncategorized

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved California’s request for a fire-management assistance declaration for the Valley Fire that’s ravaging parts of Lake, Napa and Sonoma counties, Rep. Mike Thompson announced Monday morning.

The FEMA grant program allows for the “mitigation, management, and control” of fires burning on publicly or privately owned forest or grasslands which threaten such destruction as would constitute a major disaster.

“The Valley Fire is spreading rapidly and has proven to be especially dangerous. It has already devastated nearly 100 square miles and is just five percent contained. Assistance from every level of government is needed as we respond to this major disaster,” Thompson, D-St. Helena, said in a news release.

“Many thanks to FEMA for quickly approving federal funds to help our first responders contain and eliminate the fire, and to help our district recover from the damage it has caused,” he said. “The brave men and women of CAL FIRE, and all emergency responders, are in my thoughts and prayers as they selflessly work to protect our communities.”

The Valley Fire has scorched more than 61,000 acres and is only 5 percent contained. More than 400 structures have been destroyed and more than 13,000 people have been forced to evacuate as 1,400 firefighters have been deployed.

The FEMA grant will cover 75 percent of the costs for various fire suppression, safety and recovery needs, including equipment and supplies; evacuations, shelters, traffic control and arson investigation; field camps, meals, comfort and safety items for firefighters; and more.

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Lifting our lamp beside the golden door

By Josh Richman
Monday, September 14th, 2015 at 9:33 am in International politics

Here’s why America must welcome Syrian refugees with open arms: Because it’s who we are and how we win.

As I strolled, ate, drank and danced my way through New Orleans while on vacation last week, I thought often of people far less fortunate – both in that beautiful but still-troubled city scarred by storm and neglect, and on the other side of the world fleeing a war of great cruelty and horror.

I thought of Hungary, where refugees have been herded into pens at gunpoint – a particularly European deja vu that should make the world shudder.

I thought of Germany, where residents flocked to Munich’s train station to donate food and water and to applaud weary travelers as they disembarked – a scene allowing some small hope that we’re not doomed as a species.

I thought of our nation, where the Obama administration recently announced we’ll take 10,000 refugees next year – a promise that set the professional critic class and the anti-Muslim bigots howling, even though it’s the tiniest fraction of those who’ve been displaced.

The refugees now swamping Europe had no choice but to run away with little more than their babes in arms and the clothes on their backs, leaving homes pocked with bullet holes if not reduced to rubble. They come not with some devious intention of undermining us, or some haughty intention of converting us, but with the simple intention of continuing to draw breath. They come because they have nowhere else to go.

They’re Muslims, but they’re not our enemies. The “godly” agents of chaos they’re fleeing from are our enemies. And we can kill our enemies with kindness.

The refugees are desperate, and we are rich. For a relative pittance, we can welcome them with open arms and restore to them some degree of stability and hope. Even if it costs more than a pittance, it’s both a sacred gift and a sound investment. In giving this gift, we demonstrate that we are not the devils that the wild-eyed gun-toting mullahs say we are. We show that our way – compassion, mercy, friendship, tolerance – is the right way.

They will remember this kindness all their lives, they will teach it to their children. In that way, no matter what tongue they speak in praising God, they will become us.

If you’re Christian, this is the moment to be Christ-like by doing unto others. If you’re Jewish, this is what the Eternal did for you when you went forth from Egypt, and the very essence of tikkun ha-olam. If you’re an atheist, this is how you prove morality can exist without religion. If you’re human, this is what it means to be human.

Some say recent decades have been a clash of cultures, a war of ideas, as fundamentalist Islam wrote its complaint in blood around the world. Surely we’ve learned by now that you can’t shoot your way out of a war of ideas – you must have the better idea, and you must live it. Fortunately, we lucky Americans had that idea a long time ago.

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

It’s time to live it.

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The Blotter is going on vacation.

By Josh Richman
Friday, September 4th, 2015 at 5:01 pm in Uncategorized

I’ll be back on Monday, Sept. 14.


(Yes, “her” name was Linda Richman. No relation.)

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Bay Area lawmakers offer tix for Pope’s visit

By Josh Richman
Thursday, September 3rd, 2015 at 5:20 pm in Anna Eshoo, Jackie Speier, Jerry McNerney, U.S. House

A few Bay Area House members are holding lotteries in which their constituents can win tickets to see Pope Francis during his U.S. visit later this month.

Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, is offering tickets for the pontiff’s address to a joint session of Congress on the morning of Thursday, Sept. 24, to residents of her 18th Congressional District; Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, is doing the same for her 14th District constituents; and Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, is doing it in his 9th District. Ticket holders will be able to view the address from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol via televised broadcast.

“I’m excited to be able to extend an opportunity to my constituents to take part in this historic event,” Eshoo said in a news release. “While not all who wish to attend will be awarded a ticket, my office is working to ensure the lottery is conducted fairly and make the process a good one.”

Speier said Pope Francis “has become a focal point across the world for prioritizing peace over war, care of the planet over consumption, forgiveness over accusation, and neighbor over self. I’m excited that 50 of my constituents have the opportunity to be on the West Lawn of the Capitol to watch the broadcast of the Pope’s address to members of Congress. My only regret is that I can’t make these tickets available to everyone.”

McNerney said it’s “sure to be a momentous occasion. This is the first time that the Pope will deliver an address to Congress, and I look forward to hearing his message for the American people.”

The deadline to enter McNerney’s lottery is tomorrow, Friday, Sept. 4; the deadline to enter Eshoo’s lottery is noon Pacific Time next Tuesday, Sept. 8; and the deadline to enter Speier’s lottery is midnight next Thursday, Sept. 10. Only constituents of those districts may enter, only one entry is allowed per person, and each winner will receive two tickets.

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Past Bay Area ethics probes pale beside Honda’s

By Josh Richman
Thursday, September 3rd, 2015 at 4:26 pm in Mike Honda, U.S. House

The allegations leveled against Rep. Mike Honda in an Office of Congressional Ethics report and made public by the House Ethics Committee on Thursday are arguably the most significant allegations any Bay Area House member has faced in decades.

The OCE in 2009 began investigating then-Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, and four other lawmakers to see whether they had violated Maryland criminal tax law and House ethics rules by intentionally filing false applications for a Maryland homeowner’s tax credit. But the Ethics Committee in 2010 cleared Stark of any wrongdoing, and blasted the OCE for conducting “an inadequate review, the result of which was to subject Representative Stark to unfounded criminal allegations.”

In 2011, the OCE investigated whether support for the wine industry by Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, had benefited his campaign donors or a vineyard he owns, as described in a New York Times article. But the OCE eventually decided unanimously against further review, Thompson’s spokesman later said; because the matter was never referred to the Ethics Committee, the OCE made no announcement.

Way back in 1983, the Ethics Committee probed whether then-Rep. Ron Dellums, D-Oakland, and one of his aides had used cocaine and marijuana. A special counsel investigated and found no basis for charges, so the committee took no further action.

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Ballot measure fee to rise from $200 to $2000

By Josh Richman
Tuesday, September 1st, 2015 at 5:44 pm in Assembly, ballot measures, Evan Low

It’s about to get a lot more expensive to submit a proposed ballot measure in California.

Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed a bill by Assemblymen Evan Low, D-Campbell, and Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, that raises the fee for submitting a ballot measure from $200 to $2,000, effective Jan. 1, 2016. AB 1100 is freshman Low’s first bill to be signed into law.

“It has been over 72 years since this aspect of the initiative process has been updated. This reform is overdue,” Low said in a news release. “We live in California, the cradle of direct democracy, but we also need a threshold for reasonableness. And this bill will do just that.”

The $200 fee was established in 1943 to deter frivolous proposals and to cover some of the costs of analyzing and processing initiatives, but that’s not a lot of money today. Low’s office said $200 today is the equivalent of $14.80 in 1943 dollars.

The bill was inspired in part by the submission in March of a “Sodomite Suppression Act” that if enacted would’ve required the state to execute lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. A Sacramento Superior Court judge ruled the proposal unconstitutional and it has been removed from consideration for next year’s ballot, but critics called for reform of the ballot initiative process nonetheless.

“If a proposal makes it to the ballot, the $2,000 fee would be refunded to the proponent,” Low noted. “If a proponent feels strongly about a measure, a true grassroots campaign will find the means to pay the filing fee and get their proposal on the ballot.”

Critics insist the bill raises a barrier for ordinary Californians to engage in the process.

“Direct democracy is a citizen’s right – a cornerstone of the checks and balances of democracy that have been protected passionately in California,” state Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, said in a news release. “Raising the fee by 900 percent is cost prohibitive.”

Only the state’s elite political class will be able to put their ideas on the ballot, he said: “Elected officials should increase voter participation, not discourage it.”

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George Miller to serve as lecturer at Cal

By Josh Richman
Tuesday, September 1st, 2015 at 5:13 pm in George Miller, U.S. House

Well, he did say he wanted to stay involved in education and education policy.

George MillerFormer Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, who retired this year after 40 years in the House, will join the University of California, Berkeley as the Fall 2015 Matsui Lecturer at the Robert T. Matsui Center for Politics and Public Service.

That means Miller will spend a week in residency at the Matsui Center during October, speaking to classes, meeting with students, delivering a public lecture and taking part in campus culture. His public lecture – focusing on Congress, labor, and income inequality – is scheduled for 4 p.m. Monday, Oct. 19th in Cal’s Banatao Auditorium; registration for this free event is available online.

Matsui Center Director Ethan Rarick said Miller “was an extraordinary national leader with a long and distinguished record of service in Congress, but he is also deeply rooted in the politics and policy challenges of California.”

Miller, 70, called this “a wonderful honor,” especially given that the center’s namesake – the late Rep. Bob Matsui, D-Sacramento – “was not only a great friend but a passionate thinker and fighter for economic and social justice.”

“He fully understood the obligation, power, and the duty that the United States Congress has to assure that those less fortunate and in need of assistance are able to fully participate in the American society and economy,” Miller said. “Bob Matsui never stopped fighting for justice. He was a great role model for me and many other members of Congress who served with him. I am grateful for the opportunity afforded me by the Matsui Center to engage Berkeley Campus students in the discussion of the critical issues of our time.”

Miller also currently serves as senior education advisor for the Boston-based education tech services company Cengage Learning, helping executives on issues ranging from public policy to business strategy. And he’s a member of a “Right Start Commission” launched in May by Common Sense Kids Action to explore ways to modernize California’s early-childhood services.

The Matsui Center, founded in 2008, is part of Cal’s Institute of Governmental Studies, California’s oldest public policy research center.

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