Mike Taugher appointed to Fish & Game Dept.

We often report items here about Gov. Jerry Brown appointing Bay Area people to posts within state government, but this is the first time I can remember reporting the good news about one of our own. From the governor’s office today:

Mike Taugher, 49, of Benicia, has been appointed assistant deputy director of communications, education and outreach at the California Department of Fish and Game. Taugher has been a reporter for the Bay Area News Group and Contra Costa Times since 2000. He was an environmental reporter for the Albuquerque Journal from 1995 to 2000, a reporter for Greeley Tribune from 1992 to 1995 and a reporter for the Tahoe Daily Tribune and North Lake Tahoe Bonanza from 1989 to 1992. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $90,000. Taugher is registered decline-to-state.

Mike TaugherBut there’s a lot more to it than that. As our East Bay Metro Editor Kat Rowlands reminded our staff today, Mike was the Times’ lead reporter on the state’s energy crisis, eventually helping the paper win an award from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers for coverage of PG&E’s bankruptcy. In 2004, he covered the Kinder Morgan pipeline explosion in Walnut Creek, followed by great work on safety flaws in the underground pipeline networks.

In 2005 he began reporting on findings that showed an unprecedented environmental collapse in the Delta, an important habitat for numerous fish species including the endangered Delta smelt, as well as a key hub in California’s water delivery system; his six-part series won him first-place awards from the California Newspaper Publishers Association for both environmental reporting and investigative reporting. In fact, his stories on the Delta ecosystem, climate change, water supplies, salmon hatcheries and many other topics have won him a slew of other local, state and regional awards over the years.

Our loss is the state’s gain; best of luck, Mike, and don’t be a stranger.


Watch Contra Costa debates on public television and online

A number of recorded forums and interviews with local candidates and a debate on an East Contra Costa Fire District parcel tax, all headed for the June 5 ballot, have been posted online and will air on public access television channels in the next month.

Here’s a rundown of when and where you can watch:

Measure S, parcel tax in East Contra Costa Fire District —Hour-long debate between proponent and opponent will air May 13 at 9 p.m.; May 20 at 9 p.m.; May 27 at 9 p.m., and May 30 at 8 p.m. Watch it online here: http://www.co.contra-costa.ca.us/mediacenter.aspx?VID=24

(It will also be posted online shortly. I will provide link as soon as it is available.)

Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors in District 2 —Debate at Contra Costa Council luncheon airs on May 28 at 9 p.m. and May 31 at 6 p.m. Watch it online at http://www.co.contra-costa.ca.us/mediacenter.aspx?VID=23. The Danville Express debate airs on May 15 at 9 p.m., May 16 at 10 a.m., and May 31 at 8 p.m., or watch it online at http://youtu.be/ERYihmbwpSc. Watch the Contra Costa Times editorial board interview at http://bcove.me/twuc0kwx. Watch the candidates at an environmental forum at http://youtu.be/6oIM26-Wruk.

Assembly District 11 — Watch the Contra Costa Times editorial board interviews with the six candidates (conducted in two segments) at http://bcove.me/n2dgucjt and http://bcove.me/vrjyanjh.

Public access television airs on Channel 27 for Comcast customers, Channel 32 for Astound and Channel 99 for AT&T U-verse.



Watch Van de Brooke vs. Andersen ed board interview

Van de Brooke


The Contra Costa Times’ editorial board interview with Contra Costa County supervisor candidates Tomi Van De Brooke and Candace Andersen on Tuesday afternoon starts with fireworks over social issues. Read full story here.

But the candidates also speak at length about a wide range of policy matters closer to the work of a county supervisor, such as budget priorities, whether or not general fund dollars should subsidize the county hospital and pension reforms.

Watch video here:  http://bcove.me/twuc0kwx





Newsmakers Lesher Speaker Series is a great ride!

When Steve Lesher introduced me a few weeks ago as moderator at the Newsmakers Lesher Speaker Series’ event with Donna Brazile and Patrick Buchanan, he told the audience I had occupied that role four, may more, times.

It’s actually been seven, Steve.

I couldn’t believe it either. But photos don’t lie. (And oh, how I wish they would, especially during certain times of, shall we say, expanded waistlines?)

My vanity aside, moderating at Newsmakers has been a fabulous ride and one of my favorite perks of this job. I’ve had the opportunity to spend up-close-and-personal time with presidential candidates, authors, iconic journalists, famous television personalities and even an astronaut.

Former presidential candidates George McGovern, Newt Gingrich and Patrick Buchanan may have wildly disparate views but they were all exceptionally charming, smart and interesting.

Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, two of the most famous people in journalism, made me horribly nervous. I babbled and my jokes fell terribly flat. I wish I had a do-over on that one.

Mary Matalin and James Carville, the Republican-Democrat political pundit married couple, are the kind of people you would love to sit with on the back porch on a warm summer night, sip whiskey out of a water glass and just listen to them talk.

CNN commentator and author Donna Brazile is simply fabulous. In my next life, I want to be her sister.

And my time with Sally Ride was a pleasant surprise. The scheduled moderator became ill at the last moment and Steve asked me if I could do it. I know next to nothing about outer space other than what I had learned in Star Trek, so I called Bob McBarton, an East Bay man who knows a lot on the subject and he caught me up on the latest NASA and related news. Ride explained something that night that I have never forgotten called the “normalization of deviation.” She was talking about what led up to the horrific explosion of the spacecraft Challenger in which long-suspected questions about the o-ring — later determined to be the cause of the accident — went unanswered. I now use the concept when I see unacceptable actions or behaviors so commonplace that most people no longer view them as negative … until the issue explodes.

Newsmakers hires a photographer for each of its events, so I’m lucky to have the following record of my time with some of the nation’s most interesting people:


Newsmakers Lesher Speaker Series with Donna Brazile and Patrick Buchanan, with moderator Lisa Vorderbrueggen of the Contra Costa Times on March 18, 2012.

Newsmakers Lesher Speaker Series with Bob Schieffer, moderator Lisa Vorderbrueggen of the Contra Costa Times and her husband, Joe, on Jan. 12, 2010.

Newsmakers Lesher Speaker Series with Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, moderator Lisa Vorderbrueggen of the Contra Costa Times and Contra Costa Times Metro Editor Katherine Rowlands on Nov. 17, 2008.


Newsmakers Lesher Speaker Series with Mary Matalin, James Carville, Walnut Creek student Jessica Goodman and moderator Lisa Vorderbrueggen of the Contra Costa Times on March 17, 2008.


Newsmakers Lesher Speaker Series with Sally Ride, moderator Lisa Vorderbrueggen of the Contra Costa Times and her husband, Joe, on Nov. 6, 2007.


Newsmakers Lesher Speaker Series with Tom Daschle, Newt Gingrich and moderator Lisa Vorderbrueggen of the Contra Costa Times on Oct. 9, 2006.


Newsmakers Lesher Speaker Series with former presidential candidate George McGovern and moderator Lisa Vorderbrueggen of the Contra Costa Times on May 3, 2006.


Newsmakers Lesher Speaker Series with JC Watts and moderator Lisa Vorderbrueggen of the Contra Costa Times on May 3, 2006.


Senate passes DeSaulnier good corp. bill

Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord

Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord

Corporations with an eye on doing good may find hope in a bill by State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, that passed the Senate on a 37-1 vote today.

SB 201 creates a new form of  for-profit corporation that may pursue societal and environmental goals in addition to making money.

The lone “no” vote came from state Sen. Tom Harman, R-Huntington Beach.

DeSaulnier says the idea originated during a lengthy discussion with former Knight Ridder and Contra Costa Times publisher George Riggs about how companies must put the financial interests of their shareholders above all other interests. Knight Ridder, a well-respected international news organization, was split up and sold after a few shareholders demanded a higher return on investment.

“Being profitable and socially responsible are California traditions,” DeSaulnier said.

Friday is the deadline for legislators to pass bills out of their respective houses. The legislation must pass in the Assembly and receive the governor’s signature before it could go into effect.

Read on for DeSaulner’s release.

Continue Reading


Follow Times’ salary quest on Twitter

Watch progress of the next installment of the Bay Area News Group and Contra Costa Times’ groundbreaking publication of public employee salaries on Twitter. Sign up and follow @publicsalaries.

The latest Tweet: “It’s been 19 days since we’ve last heard from the Mt. Diablo Unified School District and 39 days since the initial request.”

Search here to see whether your favorite public agency has responded to our Public Records Act request for salary and total compensation data.