Brown names Burton’s daughter to state board

Gov. Jerry Brown today nominated Kimiko Burton – daughter of California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton – to the State Personnel Board.

Kimiko Burton, 47, of San Francisco, has been a San Francisco deputy city attorney since 2003. Before that, she was San Francisco’s public defender – a job to which then-San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown had appointed her to fill a vacancy – since 2001; she lost the 2002 election for that office to Jeff Adachi. Willie Brown is a longtime, close political ally of her father, who at that time was the state Senate’s President Pro Tem.

Kimiko Burton had been director of the Mayor’s Criminal Justice Council in San Francisco under Willie Brown from 1996 to 2000, and staff attorney for the State Board of Equalization from 1995 to 1996. She holds a law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.

The State Personnel Board, according to its website, “was constitutionally created in 1934 to administer the civil service system and ensure that state employment is based on merit and free of political patronage.”

The nomination requires state Senate confirmation; the job pays $40,668. Burton is – need I say it? – a Democrat.


Brown names Oakland’s Tagami to lottery panel

Oakland political and business deal-broker Phil Tagami was one of three Democrats nominated to the California Lottery Commission today by his longtime political ally Gov. Jerry Brown.

Tagami, 46, has worked at the California Capital and Investment Group since 1992, serving as president and chief executive officer since 2009. He’s been responsible for leading the redevelopments of the Rotunda Building in Frank Ogawa Plaza, the Fox Theater on San PabloTelegraph Avenue in the Uptown district, and the West Oakland train station.

Phil Tagami in the Rotunda Building Nov. 2011 (Photo by Susan Tripp Pollard)Tagami has been a significant Democratic campaign benefactor, co-hosting fundraisers for the likes of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in 2007 and Brown in 2009.

As mayor, Brown had named Tagami to Port of Oakland’s Board of Commissioners, on which he served from 2000 to 2003. Tagami also has had a close relationship with former state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, formerly of Oakland; Perata named Tagami in 2008 to the California Transportation Commission, on which he served for a year.

Tagami has hinted in the past that he might be interested in running for elected office in Oakland, and a gubernatorial appointment certainly won’t hurt his public resume.

This nomination requires confirmation by the state Senate and the compensation is $100 per diem. The five-member lottery commission meets at least quarterly and “is charged with the authority and responsibility to oversee the Lottery and to ensure its integrity, security and fairness.”

Also nominated to the California Lottery Commission today were Nathaniel Kirtman III, 40, of Sherman Oaks, the senior vice president of publicity for NBC Universal since 2006; and John Smolin, 43, of Long Beach, a Los Angeles County firefighter and union official.


Brown names East Bay women to labor posts

Gov. Jerry Brown today announced he’s nominating a Berkeley woman as the Department of Industrial Relations’ permanent director.

Christine BakerChristine Baker, 62, of Berkeley, has been the department’s acting director and chief deputy director since April. Baker earlier was the executive officer of the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation since 1994; before that, she was acting deputy director at the Division of Workers’ Compensation from 1990 to 1994, the chief of the Division of Labor Statistics and Research from 1984 to 1989, and a research assistant at the University of California, Berkeley from 1980 to 1982.

This position requires Senate confirmation; the annual salary is $142,965. Baker is registered decline-to-state.

Alegria De La CruzBrown also today appointed Alegria De La Cruz, 35, of El Cerrito, as supervising staff counsel at the Agricultural Labor Relations Board. De La Cruz has been the legal director at the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment since 2010 and served as a staff attorney there from 2009 to 2010. She was the directing attorney at the California Rural Legal Assistance from 2006 to 2009, and was a staff attorney there from 2003 to 2006. De La Cruz received her undergraduate degree from Yale University and her law degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the annual salary is $93,600. De La Cruz is a Democrat.


Senate confirms Piedmont judge to federal bench

The U.S. Senate voted 89-6 this morning to confirm Alameda County Superior Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers as Northern California’s first Latina U.S. District Judge.

Yvonne Gonzalez RogersPresident Barack Obama had nominated Rogers, 46, of Piedmont in May and the Senate Judiciary Committee held a confirmation hearing in July, at which U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., had praised her as an “intelligent, balanced, reasonable” attorney; lauded her “extraordinary record” of community service; and described her as “an outstanding Superior Court judge, handling substantial criminal and civil caseloads” who would “be a fine addition to the federal bench.”

Rogers has served as a state judge since her July 2008 appointment by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. She also served as a pro tem judge from 2007 to 2008 and a member of the civil grand jury from 2005 to 2007, serving as forewoman from 2006 to 2007.

Earlier, she was in private practice at the law firm of Cooley Godward LLP in San Francisco from 1991 to 2003, where she was an equity partner from 1999 to 2001. She earned her bachelor’s degree with honors in 1987 from Princeton University and her law degree in 1991 from the University of Texas School of Law. The San Antonio, Texas native is registered to vote as a Democrat.

Her husband, Matt Rogers, served on Obama’s transition team when he was elected and later was a senior adviser to U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu where he helped manage more than $36 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act economic stimulus funds, including the loan guarantee to now-bankrupt solar manufacturer Solyndra of Fremont; he left the Obama administration in September 2010. The couple has three children.

She is expected to receive her commission shortly and will fill a judgeship
vacant since Feb. 28, when Chief District Judge Vaughn R. Walker retired. Federal trial court judges earn an annual salary of $174,000 — a pay cut from her superior court judge’s salary of $178,789.


More on Goodwin Liu’s Supreme Court nomination

I’ve filed a full story on Gov. Jerry Brown’s nomination of Cal law professor Goodwin Liu to the California Supreme Court, but space in the print editions is tight so there may not be room for all of the comments I’ve heard today.

Luis AlejoAssemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Salinas, was on KQED Radio’s “Forum” this morning, representing the California Latino Legislative Caucus in a segment about Gov. Jerry Brown’s relationship with Latinos. The discussion included the question of when the governor might get around to replacing retired state Supreme Court Associate Justice Carlos Moreno, who’d been the court’s only Latino until his retirement in February. Even as they mused about it, the governor was appointing Liu, and now some people are voicing disappointment that the court will lack a Latino perspective.

“Gov. Brown has been very engaged in this process of choosing this replacement for Carlos Moreno, and it’s a thoughtful appointment,” Alejo told me this afternoon. “But I think the disappointment comes that threre certainly was a lost opportunity, there’s this larger question of will Gov. Brown make a concerted effort to appoint a record number of Latinos to the bench.”

honda.jpgRep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, chairman emeritus of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, had staunchly supported President Obama’s 2010 nomination of Liu to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He issued a statement today saying this new nomination “positions California as a front runner in judicial diversity.”

“Goodwin is a personal friend and leader in my home state of California, and I have worked with him for many years, particularly in ensuring access and equity in our education system,” Honda said. “Not only has he been a leader in the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, he has proven himself in the legal profession as well, with support from renowned legal minds from a diversity of ideological backgrounds. Goodwin is an excellent pick for California and as an acclaimed education and constitutional law scholar, he will undoubtedly add immense value to the Court under the leadership of Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye.”

Maribel MedinaMaribel Medina – who chairs the judicial committee of La Raza Lawyers of California, the state’s Chicano/Latino bar association – said she has worked with Liu and knows he’s “an incredible scholar” with “a great commitment to civil rights.”

“But we are also very disappointed that our highest court will not reflect the diversity of this state. If you couple this action with the massive budget cuts the courts are suffering, it really jeopardizes the integrity of our judicial system,” she said. “This I think sends a very negative message to the people of California.”

Dan Schnur Dan Schnur, a longtime Republican political strategist who now directs the University of Southern California’s Unruh Institute of Politics, said nominating Liu is “a great way for Brown to play to his base without upsetting the center.”

“By 2014, most voters are going to judge Liu less by what he has said and done in the past than by what he says and does on the court,” Schnur said. “Reasonable people can disagree over whether he will be an effective justice or not, but unless he starts overturning death penalties, it’s a pretty safe pick from a political standpoint.”

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who had staunchly supported Liu’s federal nomination, kept it short and sweet today. “Goodwin Liu is one of our country’s most brilliant constitutional scholars and he will make a superb justice on the California Supreme Court,” she said.


House members sound off on Obama’s nominee

As I reported yesterday, President Obama today nominated former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created under last year’s financial industry reform law.

Obama reportedly had wanted Elizabeth Warren – who essentially conceived of and designed the bureau – to direct it, but Republicans threatened to filibuster her confirmation. A lot of liberals, including most of the Bay Area’s House delegation, had urged him to put her in the job as a recess appointment. Some of them spoke out today, even as Warren blogged forcefully in support of Cordray and activists launch a petition drive to draft Warren into next year’s U.S. Senate race in Massachusetts.

“East Bay consumers, families and retirees deserved the best protection from irresponsible Wall Street actions, and Elizabeth Warren is the best, hands down. But that was not to be,” Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, said in response to my query today. “And in the end, this fight is not just about her, it is about the fact that Republicans in Congress are determined to repeal the consumer protection policies we enacted in our Wall Street Reform law last year. Just look, now Senate Republicans are opposing President Obama’s nominee, Richard Cordray, proving that they want to let Wall Street run wild, again, despite the economic disaster that caused for middle class families and our country.”

honda.jpg“It’s deeply disappointing that Republicans blocked consideration of the inimitable Elizabeth Warren to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but I have no doubt that Richard Cordray, who currently serves as CFPB’s director of enforcement, will fight equally effectively for consumer protections, protecting Main Street from the tentacles of Wall Street,” Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, said in response to my query. “On the heels of this country’s recent and devastating recession, I find it shocking that Republicans do not want a strong Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to advocate for working families and consumers’ interests and find it appalling that they’re doing everything in their power to weaken or block it.”

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, issued a news release calling Cordray “a sound choice.”

“But make no mistake—American consumers are losing perhaps their greatest champion in Elizabeth Warren. She will always be the mother of the CFPB and its biggest advocate. The treatment she has received from Congressional Republicans has been disgraceful,” Speier said. “The 2008 financial crisis showed that American families need a cop on the beat when it comes to consumer protection around mortgages, credit cards, and other financial products. Instead of considering a bill to weaken the CFPB as Republicans will this week, they should support Mr. Cordray’s swift confirmation so he can begin this important work. Consumers have waited long enough.”

More after the jump…
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