Police-community relations hearing set for Tuesday

The state Senate and Assembly Public Safety Committees will hold a four-and-a-half-hour joint hearing Tuesday on police-community relations issues that have roiled California and the nation in recent months.

It’s been a hot topic since police shootings including those of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., last August and Tamir Rice in Cleveland last November, and the tremendous protests that followed in cities across the nation. Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco have grappled with tremendous street demonstrations in which most participants were peaceful while a few resorted to property damage and violence.

“Recent tragic events have led to an increased focus on law enforcement practices. The President has put together a task-force to tackle the issue of police practices across the nation, but I am interested in what we can do in California,” said Senate Public Safety Committee Chairwoman Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley. “I look forward to hearing about what data is being collected and how our data collection efforts can be improved. I additionally look forward to learning about innovative programs that have improved relations between the community and law enforcement.”

Hancock’s husband, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, has taken some heat from the community for his police department’s handling of protests late last year.

The hearing’s agenda includes segments on statewide and local law enforcement data collection; “promoting trust and confidence through data;” investigating and prosecuting officer-misconduct allegations; and building trust and confidence between police and the communities they serve. The witness list includes law enforcement officials, community leaders, educators and criminologists from around the state.

Bill Quirk“I believe that this hearing will give us an opportunity to ask hard questions, gain new perspective, and guide us in proposing effective solutions to rebuilding trust,” said Assembly Public Safety Committee Chairman Bill Quirk, D-Hayward.

The hearing starts at 9:30 a.m. in Room 4203 of the State Capitol; it’s expected to be broadcast live on the California Channel and audio of the proceedings will be streamed on the State Senate’s website.


Steinberg, Corbett to lead trip to Central America

State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Majority Leader Ellen Corbett will lead a delegation of state lawmakers to Central America next week, in part to explore the political, economic and social situation driving a flood of unaccompanied children to the U.S. border.

centralamerica-political-mapThe lawmakers will meet with an array of officials in El Salvador and Guatemala to probe the situation and find out what states like California can do to meet the humanitarian challenge presented by the undocumented immigrant tsunami. Dangerous conditions in those nations and Honduras have driven parents to send more than 52,000 children north to the U.S. border in recent months.

Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and Corbett, D-Hayward, will be joined on the trip by Legislative Latino Caucus members Assemblyman Jose Medina, D-Riverside; Assemblyman Henry Perea, D-Fresno; Assemblyman V. Manuel Peréz, D-Coachella; and caucus vice-chair Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville.

The trip, from July 14 through 23, will include a stop in Panama to learn about the Canal Zone’s expansion. Some transportation, security and interpreting service costs are being borne by the host countries, and the remaining expenses – including airfare and hotels – will be paid by the lawmakers.

In El Salvador, the lawmakers are scheduled to meet with Salvadoran President Salvador Sanchez Ceren, Vice President Oscar Ortiz, Foreign Affairs Minister Hugo Martinez, Economy Minsiter Tharsis Salomon Lopez Guzman; Legislative Assembly President Sigfrido Reyes; and U.S. Ambassador Mari Carmen Aponte. In Guatemala, they’re scheduled to meet with Vice-minister of Foreign Relations Oscar Padilla Lam; Paul Briere, President of the Congressional Committee for Migrants of Guatemala; and U.S. Charge d’Affaires Charisse Phillips. And in Panama, they’re scheduled to meet with the Panama Canal Authority and U.S. Ambassador Jonathan Farrar.


CA15: More time for a recount… if Corbett asks

Contrary to what was reported here last week, state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett has not yet run out of time to request a recount of her apparent defeat in this month’s primary election for the 15th Congressional District.

After Contra Costa County’s results update on Tuesday afternoon, Corbett, D-Hayward, trails Republican candidate Hugh Bussell of Livermore by 430 votes in their battle to finish second after Rep. Eric Swalwell. The second-place finisher, of course, will go on to face Swalwell, D-Dublin, in November’s general election.

A spokesman for Alameda County Registrar Tim Dupuis had said Friday that candidates have five calendar days after the election results are certified – which Dupuis did Friday – in which to request a recount. But Dupuis said Wednesday that because this district spans two counties, candidates actually have five days starting on the 29th day following the election; the 29th day will be July 2, so a recount can be requested up until July 7.

Dupuis said Corbett has not yet requested a recount. Corbett hasn’t returned several calls over the past two weeks seeking comment on her intentions.


CA15: Corbett silent as recount clock starts

Alameda County Registrar Tim Dupuis certified his county’s primary election results Thursday, starting a five-calendar-day clock in which candidates can request recounts.

That’s particularly germane for state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, D-Hayward, who is still 413 votes – half a percentage point – behind Republican Hugh Bussell of Livermore in their battle to finish second after Rep. Eric Swalwell in the 15th Congressional District. The second-place finisher, of course, will go on to face Swalwell, D-Dublin, in November’s general election.

Most of the district is in Alameda County, where Corbett beat Bussell by 1,048 votes. But it also includes a small piece of Contra Costa County as well, where Bussell outperformed Corbett by 1,461 votes.

Corbett hasn’t returned six phone calls over the past 10 days, including one this afternoon, inquiring about her intentions (though her Senate staff has issued 10 news releases about her activity in Sacramento during that time). Depuis has not yet received any request from her for a recount, spokesman Guy Ashley said.


Senate OKs bills inspired by care-home fiasco

The state Senate on Wednesday approved two bills that aim to prevent future snafus like that which led to more than a dozen senior citizens being abandoned at a Castro Valley residential care home in October after the state ordered it shut down.

SB 894 aims to strengthen and clarify the obligations of the California Department of Social Services and a licensee when that license is suspended or revoked, to ensure safe relocation of residents when a facility closure happens. The senate approved this bill on a 27-8 vote.

And SB 895 aims to bolster the assisted-living facility inspection process by requiring that unannounced, comprehensive inspections of all residential care facilities for the elderly occur at least once per year, and more often if necessary to ensure the proper quality of care. The senate approved this bill on a 36-0 vote.

In the 1970s and 1980s, DSS’ Community Care Licensing Division inspected residential care facilities twice a year. But budget cuts reduced that number to once a year in the 1990s, and inspections were reduced further in 2004 to once every five years.

State Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, D-Hayward, authored both bills, which are part of a legislative package sponsored by the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform.

“Following the tragedy at Valley Springs Manor in Castro Valley last year, it is clear that assisted living facility residents deserve improved protections and safeguards that ensure they will remain safe both while living at those facilities, as well as if and when those group residences are closed,” Corbett said in a news release Wednesday.

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SD10: Of polls, endorsements and mailers

The war in the 10th State Senate District continues, with a poll by Mary Hayashi’s campaign that claims she’s in the lead; an endorsement for Bob Wieckowski that takes a swipe at Hayashi; and labor unions’ second attack mailer focusing on Hayashi’s shoplifting conviction.

Mary HayashiHayashi’s campaign on Friday issued a poll memo saying that a survey of 400 likely voters in the district found 21 percent support Hayashi, 18 percent support Wieckowski, 7 percent support Republican Peter Kuo, 5 percent support Democrat Roman Reed, 2 percent support independent Audie Bock and a whopping 47 percent are undecided. Hayashi’s lead is within the poll’s 4.9-percentage-point margin of error.

“Hayashi has the clearest path to victory of any candidate,” pollsters Celinda Lake and Liesl Newton wrote in the memo. “Furthermore, despite attacks against her, Mary Hayashi’s favorability ratings remain net positive.”

Lisa Tucker, Wieckowski’s campaign consultant, noted the poll was conducted after Hayashi sent out a series of mailers about herself, but while the first negative mailers went out against her (although Wieckowski did launch an attack website against Hayashi more than a week earlier).

“It seems that her investment in trying to rehabilitate herself after her shoplifting conviction, while still serving probation, is not paying off,” Tucker said. “We feel confident that character does matter to voters and that they will reject Mary Hayashi when they learn she was convicted of shoplifting and is seeking public office while still serving probation.”

Hayashi has insisted she was distracted and inadvertently left San Francisco’s Neiman Marcus store with $2,450 worth of clothes in a store-branded shopping bag she had brought with her that day in October 2011. In a deal with prosecutors, the felony grand theft charge against her was reduced to a misdemeanor, to which she pleaded no contest in early 2012.

Meanwhile, Democracy for America, the progressive group founded a decade ago by former Vermont governor and 2004 presidential candidate Howard Dean, announced its endorsement of Wieckowski on Monday.

Bob Wieckowski“Primaries can sometimes present tough decisions, especially since California adopted the top two primary. When looking at a choice between a convicted shoplifter and a strong progressive, however, the choice is clear,” DFA digital programs manager Andy Kelley wrote in a fundraising plea for Wieckowski. “Bob Wieckowski is up against a Republican who wants to return the state legislature to the bad old days of gridlock and cuts to the social safety net, and a former Democratic lawmaker who demonstrated her unfitness for office by stealing thousands of dollars of goods from a San Francisco store.”

“Bob Wieckowski will help push California’s politics in a more ethical direction and will stand on principle,” Kelley wrote. “The State Senate has had enough scandal. Bob Wieckowski will bring ethical, progressive leadership and a strong backbone — two things Sacramento needs right now.”

Also Monday, a group of labor unions supporting Wieckowski issued their second attack mailer against Hayashi within a week’s time.

Click to enlarge:
Second IE Hayashi mailer-page1

Second IE Hayashi mailer-page2

“If Mary Hayashi can’t go within 50 feet of a Neiman Marcus store … shouldn’t it be the same for the State Senate” the mailer asks, over a photo illustration of Hayashi separated from the State Capitol by what looks like police tape reading “MARY HAYASHI DO NOT ENTER.” On the other side, the mailer repeats the same alleged ethical transgressions as last week’s mailer.

The mailer comes from “Californians for Integrity in Government Opposed to Hayashi for Senate 2014, Sponsored by Peace Officers, Nurses and Labor Organizations.” The committee’s mailing address is that of the California Nurses Association, and the mailer discloses the committee receives “major funding by California State Council of Service Employees Political Committee.”

“Clearly this is in response to the polling that shows Mary is in the lead,” Josh Pulliam, Hayashi’s campaign manager, said Monday. “Apparently Bob and his backers think the only way to beat her is to bully her, to beat up on her” about the shoplifting in order to make voters forget about her lengthy, strong legislative record.

“They don’t want the voters to get a full view of all of the candidates because they know if voters do, they’re going to lose,” Pulliam said. “Bob still hasn’t given anybody a reason to vote for him.”

UPDATE @ 2:17 P.M.: Also, here’s the ad that Kuo’s campaign says it has been airing for several days: