CC city, mayor, school board and fire tax videos online

Election Preview 2012 is online! Watch televised round-tables with Contra Costa mayoral, city council and school board candidates plus an hour-long debate on the fire safety parcel tax for Contra Costa Fire Protection District here.

Races include:

Measure Q, fire parcel safety tax, Contra Costa Fire District: http://bcove.me/yw5ksh1l

Antioch mayor: http://bcove.me/qwanlnl0

Antioch City Council: TK. (We’re having some technical difficulties with this one!)

Antioch Unified School District: http://bcove.me/syoeerun

Brentwood City Council: http://bcove.me/lfiwnofn

Brentwood mayor: http://bcove.me/d8zhg8lt

Brentwood Union School District: http://bcove.me/zzlf28hv

Clayton City Council: http://bcove.me/lsrdrh5b

Concord City Council: http://bcove.me/bpyxrwvy

Danville Town Council: http://bcove.me/uq8vfiiz

Lafayette City Council: http://bcove.me/clrqqp0s

Lafayette School District: http://bcove.me/6j7fqfu8

Martinez City Council: http://bcove.me/it81cf48

Martinez Unified School District: http://bcove.me/jbncw58l

Moraga Town Council: http://bcove.me/2l8sc11w

Mt. Diablo Unified School District: http://bcove.me/a8oydwmq

Oakley City Council: http://bcove.me/56tn3kie

Orinda City Council: http://bcove.me/zisd0lo5

Orinda School District: http://bcove.me/sx7vsfey

Pittsburg City Council: http://bcove.me/j73gfj23

Pittsburg School District: http://bcove.me/wj5yxqan

Pleasant Hill City Council: http://bcove.me/fxmg09tk

Richmond City Council: http://bcove.me/njjftkd7

San Ramon Valley Unified School District: http://bcove.me/4nirq0sf

Walnut Creek City Council: http://bcove.me/trrmfbq2

West Contra Costa Unified School District:  http://bcove.me/eykpqn8k





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.


Brown pelican off the endangered list

This subject is not exactly politics but I found it interesting.

President Obama and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced today that the brown pelican population has sufficiently recovered and has been removed from the endangered species list.

On Sunday, I had the opportunity to photograph brown pelicans as they sat on the breakwater of the South Beach marina in San Francisco. We were motoring through the marina on a 34-foot sailboat, and these spectacular birds lined the wall with the San Francisco Bay Bridge in the background. I am a big fan of pelicans of all kinds.

Brown pelican in South Beach marina, San Francisco. Photo by Lisa Vorderbrueggen

Brown pelican in South Beach marina, San Francisco. November 2009. Photo by Lisa Vorderbrueggen

Read on for the full press release. Continue Reading


Saint Mary’s College to host post-election panel

Come see me and my colleagues Carla Marinucci from the San Francisco Chronicle and Mark Sandalow from KCBS radio on Monday at 7 p.m. at Saint Mary’s College.

We’ll be talking about the 2008 presidential campaign and all things to do with elections. It’s a free event open to the public at the college, so come on by.

Click here for the details at Saint Mary’s College events calendar or read more. Continue Reading


Cup check! Watch those 7-Eleven election coffee cups

Halfway through the day yesterday, I looked down at my coffee cup and noticed it said “McCain.”


I bought it at 7-Eleven that morning and in my Monday morning stupor, I never even looked at the cup.

This will not do. I’m an unbiased reporter. I cannot wander around town carrying a “McCain” cup.

I returned this morning to the quick mart to check it out and learned that my neighborhood 7-Eleven in Martinez is participating in “7-Election,” a marketing ploy that carries an interesting twist: The company records your choice of cup as a vote for the candidate and reports the results on its website, www.7-election.com.

The company says its customers have correctly predicted the outcome of the last two presidential elections, including President George W. Bush over Al Gore by one percentage point in 2000 and the president again in 2008, this time in his campaign against John Kerry, by two percentage points.

As I wrote this, Barack Obama was beating McCain among coffee-cup buyers 59 to 41 percent. (Sorry, no Ralph Nader cups.)

In case anyone should ask, I bought an Obama cup this morning to cancel out my vote for McCain yesterday. Check out my videoblog below.