California eagerly smack-talks Donald Trump

California is tripping over itself to open a can of whup-ass on Donald Trump.

Republicans and Democrats alike have been blasting the reality television star, billionaire businessman and (ersatz) GOP presidential candidate since the middle of last month, when he launched his campaign by saying that Mexicans who enter the nation illegally are responsible for a lot of drug-related or violent crime.

Isadore Hall IIIOn Thursday, state Sen. Isadore Hall III, D-Compton, introduced a resolution condemning Trump and fellow GOP contender Ted Cruz for their “recent racist remarks;” calling upon the state to divest from any ties with Trump’s businesses; and urging private businesses and individuals to do likewise.

“Immigrant families fundamentally enrich the extraordinary character of our state and nation,” Hall said in a news release. “California’s short and long-term economic, social, health, security, and prosperity require policies that allow individuals to become legal and enfranchised participants in our society and economy.

“I stand with my fellow State Senators, immigrant families and residents throughout California in denouncing Donald Trump’s reckless, arrogant and irresponsible actions,” Hall continued. “The racist statements made by Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have no place in our state or national political discourse and no place for anyone who aspires to one day serve in the White House.”

It’s unclear what, if any, business ties the state might have with Trump.

Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff, R-San Dimas, issued a statement agreeing that “convicting an entire nation and culture as Donald Trump has done with our neighbors to the south is offensive and should not be tolerated in California.

“At the same time, using state resources to protest the inappropriate statements from politicians on either side of the aisle or around the country, is a waste of taxpayer dollars and only draws attention to those politicians who are trying to grab headlines,” Huff said. “The Legislature should instead focus its time on improving our economy and ensuring that Californians have the opportunity to pursue the American dream.”

Shawn SteelMeanwhile, Shawn Steel – one of California’s Republican National Committee members – called on Democratic U.S. Senate candidate and state Attorney General Kamala Harris to give up $6,000 that Trump gave to her attorney general’s campaign committee – $5,000 in 2011 and $1,000 in 2013.

“When national embarrassment Donald Trump isn’t busy attacking immigrants, he’s writing big checks to Democrat Kamala Harris,” Steel said in a news release. “Attorney General Kamala Harris should denounce Trump’s offensive comments and give her ‘Donald Dollars’ to charity.”

“Conservative Republicans and progressive Democrats can agree: Donald Trump’s hateful rhetoric has no place in politics,” Steel added. “It’s time that Kamala Harris stood up to her campaign contributor.”

But Harris already had done so before Steel made his call, campaign spokesman Nathan Click said Thursday. “Earlier in the week, the AG directed the campaign to send the contributions to CARECEN, a California-based civil rights organization that provides resources and support for immigrant children and their families.”

Steel neglected to mention that Trump gave a total of $3,500 in 2004 and 2006 to Jerry Brown’s campaign for attorney general; $25,000 to the California Republican Party in 2005; a total of $12,000 to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s committees in 2007 and 2008; and $2,500 to Gavin Newsom’s gubernatorial campaign in 2009.

Finally, I’m told that San Jose’s Dulceria Mi Carnaval Party Supply has sold out of their newest, hottest product, but more are on order. This photo was taken elsewhere, but for illustrative purposes:


Like a papier-mache chorus line from hell, no?


UC Regents urged to finish gun industry divestment

Activists preparing to mark Saturday’s anniversary of last year’s murderous rampage in Isla Vista, in which six UC Santa Barbara students were killed and 13 were wounded, urged the UC Board of Regents on Thursday to finish divesting the system from any investments in the firearm industry.

Thousands of petition signatures were delivered to the board’s meeting at UCSF’s Mission Bay campus by Allie Clement, a 2012 UC Santa Barbara graduate who hails from Newtown, Conn. — the site of 2012’s schoolhouse massacre. “I couldn’t believe that both my hometown and my college town were affected by gun violence.”

Bob Weiss of Thousand Oaks described to the board how his 19-year-old daughter, Veronika, was among those gunned down by Elliot Rodger that awful day.

“If this body is invested in the gun industry, that means you’re in the gun business, and if you’re in the gun business, I’m in the gun business. I don’t want to be in the gun business,” Weiss said, his voice breaking. “I don’t know how any of you can sleep at night with all of the students who have been killed.”

UC spokeswoman Dianne Klein said the system divested itself of any direct gun-industry investments in 2013, and is now combing through its vast portfolio to see if any of its mutual funds have such stakes; any that are found will be sold, she said.


Chiang urges CalSTRS to divest from gun maker

California Treasurer John Chiang is concerned that the state’s teachers’ pension system still has investments managed by a firm that hasn’t kept its promise to sell off its firearm-manufacturing holdings.

This all started with the December, 2012 schoolhouse massacre in Newtown, Conn., in which a Bushmaster AR-15-type semi-automatic rifle – which fit California’s definition of an assault weapon – was used to kill 20 children and six adults. Bushmaster – along with Remington, Marlin and several other firearm brands – belongs to the Freedom Group, which in turn is owned by Cerberus Capital Management.

Bushmaster XM15

Soon after the Newtown shooting, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) issued a statement expressing concern that Cerberus – which manages some private equity funds in which CalSTRS is invested – owned Freedom Group. But Cerberus had just announced that it intended to sell Freedom Group, so CalSTRS was satisfied.

Yet Cerberus still owns Freedom Group today.

“Two years ago, I was proud to support the effort of CalSTRS to divest from assault weapon manufacturers,” Chiang wrote this week CalSTRS investment committee chairwoman Sharon Hendricks. “I am frustrated that two years have passed and the Freedom Group remains in their portfolio, indirectly financed by the pension contributions of California teachers.”

Chiang acknowledged the pension fund is obliged to find sound investments, but “it must consider how those investments may be used to finance business interests that run counter to the beliefs of CalSTRS and its members.”

“We rightly determined that there is significant risk in investing in the Freedom Group, a business that manufactures weapons that are susceptible to sanctions, regulations, and actions that could be detrimental to the fund,” he wrote, urging the CalSTRS board to do whatever is necessary to fully divest from the Freedom Group.

Chiang also asked that Cerberus’ leadership attend the CalSTRS board meeting this Friday “to explain why the Freedom Group remains in its portfolio despite agreeing to remove it more than two years ago. It is vital that Cerberus understand the strong desire of CalSTRS, its Board, and teachers in California, that none of its funds be used to fund the manufacturing of weapons used to commit such terrible atrocities.”


Snoop Dogg & Ron Conway do an anti-gun duet

With their minds on their money and their money on their minds, Snoop Dogg and Ron Conway have teamed up to call for divestment from the gun industry.

It’s hard to picture the iconic Los Angeles rapper and the renowned San Francisco “angel investor” kicking back over some gin and juice, but they’ve gone in together on a public service announcement for a cause they both hold dear. Conway is calling on the c-suite of tech companies to offer socially responsible, “no guns allowed” investment options, and Snoop Dogg is enlisting the support of the entertainment industry and his fans to declare #ImUnloading in the name of those touched by the tragedy of gun violence.

Also in the video are Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner and Los Angeles Clippers small forward Matt Barnes; actress/singer Margot Bingham; singer/songwriter/producer Aloe Blacc; singer/songwriter Jhené Aiko; and League Of Young Voters’ Executive Director Rob Biko Baker.

“I’m unloading for my loved ones that I’ve lost,” Snoop Dogg said. “I’m going all in for gun-free investing.”

The PSA, from Campaign to Unload and States United to Prevent Gun Violence, is the second installment of support for their Unload Your 401k project, a resource that lets people find out whether their retirement funds are invested in gun makers and supporting groups like the National Rifle Assocaition.

“There is a straight line from gun industry investment, to gun industry profits, to funding of the NRA,” Jennifer Fiore, Campaign to Unload’s executive director, said in a news release. “Half the value of these companies comes from mutual funds and most of the ‘investors’ in these funds have no idea they are inadvertently part of the problem. Now they can be part of the solution.”

Snoop Dogg partnered with the League of Young Voters in 2013 to launch “No Guns Allowed,” a non-partisan anti-gun violence campaign to raise awareness about our nation’s ongoing battle with gun violence. The campaign was inspired by Snoop Dogg’s peaceful song of the same name from his Reincarnated album.


Oakland divests from firearms & ammo makers

Oakland City Council unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday night to prohibit the city from holding investments in firearms or ammunition manufacturers.

Council President Rebecca Kaplan, City Attorney Barbara Parker and Vice Mayor Larry Reid had co-authored the measure, which they say is part of the city’s ongoing effort to reduce gun violence. Councilman Dan Kalb requested that the resolution, which originally covered only firearms manufacturers, be expanded to include ammunition companies as well.

“There is a well-funded corporate effort pushing against our work to stop gun violence,” Kaplan said in a news release. “And Oakland is now formally part of a national movement that includes cities like Chicago and Los Angeles – communities committed to stopping so many tragedies that take place at the hands of a gun.”

The resolution declares a city policy prohibiting the Oakland from holding any investment or ownership stake in any manufacturer of firearms or ammunition; directs the city administrator to examine the city’s holdings and future investments to assure that the city complies with this policy; urges the Police And Fire Retirement System Board and the Oakland Municipal Employees Retirement System Board to adopt similar policies; and urges other state and local jurisdictions to prohibit investment of their public funds in manufacturers of firearms or ammunition.

The city also recently has moved to enlarge its police force, and has endorsed the reenactment of a federal assault-weapons ban as well as a state bill to regulate ammunition sales.

“By taking action here to send a message to weapons manufacturers, Oakland is showing its commitment to big-picture efforts to reduce gun violence here and in communities across America,” Kaplan said.


Israel divestiture measure cleared to circulate

Secretary of State Debra Bowen today cleared a Sacramento man to take a second crack at putting before California voters an initiative that would bar the state’s gigantic public employee pension funds from investing in companies engaged in certain business activities in Israel.

The Attorney General’s official title and summary for the measure is as follows:

PROHIBITS STATE RETIREMENT FUNDS FROM INVESTING IN COMPANIES ENGAGED IN CERTAIN BUSINESS ACTIVITIES IN ISRAEL. INITIATIVE STATUTE. Requires the Public Employees’ Retirement System and State Teachers’ Retirement System to identify investments in companies that do business related to the construction or maintenance of Israeli settlements, including those in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, or that provide military supplies and services to Israel. Requires retirement funds to urge these companies to stop these business activities, and, subject to fund fiduciary responsibilities, to divest from companies still engaged in these activities. Prohibits retirement funds from making new investments in these companies. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local governments: Potential increase in state and local government pension contributions, the amount of which would vary from negligible to more significant based on how this measure’s divestiture requirements are interpreted and implemented. (10-0020.)

Proponent Chris Yatooma has until Jan. 31 to collect 433,971 valid petition signatures from registered voters in order to place the divestiture measure on the 2012 presidential primary ballot.

According to this Examiner article from earlier this year, Yatooma had tried earlier this year to gather enough signatures to put the measure on this November’s ballot, apparently to no avail.

“We believe the ballot measure is needed so Californians may express their displeasure with Israel’s illegal settlements and Israel’s occupation of Palestine,” says Yatooma’s Israel Divestiture Campaign website. “We hope California will be the first state to apply a comprehensive divestment strategy that other states will follow. This divestment approach looks to mirror the divestment strategy embodied by the worldwide anti-apartheid movement that toppled white rule in South Africa.”

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) manages retirement benefits for more than 1.6 million California public employees, retirees, and their families; its investment portfolio’s market value was $200 billion as of June 30. The California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) had 847,833 total members and beneficiaries and investments with a market value of about $118.9 billion as of mid-2009.