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SD7: Would they extend Prop. 30 taxes?

Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer says Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla flip-flopped on extending Proposition 30’s tax hikes to fund California’s schools, but Bonilla’s campaign said she has been consistent all along: She doesn’t support extending those taxes, but would support imposing new ones in their place.

The two Democrats are facing off in the 7th State Senate District’s special election, scheduled for May 19.

A new Bonilla campaign mailer that attacks Glazer for distorting her positions says she opposes extending the Prop. 30 taxes: “Glazer and his billionaire mega donor Bill Bloomfield are lying about Bonilla because they want to hide the fact that Steve Glazer was the ‘mastermind’ behind Prop 30, the $13.1 billion tax increase.”

The mailer follows that with a direct quote from Bonilla: “Steve Glazer and I both oppose extending Prop. 30.”

Bonilla

Josh Pulliam, Bonilla’s campaign consultant, said late Thursday afternoon that Bonilla has never supported an extension – whether by legislative action or another ballot measure – of Proposition 30’s taxes, and on several occasions has publicly corrected those who said otherwise.

She does, however, support a new, different, voter-approved tax hike measure to fund education in place of Prop. 30, he said.

Many apparently have been confused by this – perhaps including me.

In January, I reported on a TriValley Democratic Club forum at which Bonilla and then-candidate Joan Buchanan (who was eliminated in March’s special primary election) made their pitches.

Unsurprisingly, both said they would work to extend the Prop. 30 sales taxes and income taxes on the rich – due to expire in 2016 and 2018, respectively – in order to keep bankrolling education.

“The governor has made it very clear that the word ‘temporary’ means temporary, but … we need to go out to the people, I believe we can make the case,” Bonilla said. “There’s no way that you can get education on the cheap, it just doesn’t work.”

Contra Costa Times columnist Tom Barnridge wrote this after asking questions at a televised candidates’ forum in February:

What to do when Proposition 30 expires, ending temporary increases in sales and income taxes? Buchanan, Bonilla and Kremin would put an extension before voters. Glazer would let it expire because a temporary tax, he said, is meant to be temporary.

And the Lamorinda Democratic Club’s March newsletter recounted a Feb. 4 candidates’ forum thusly:

Susan Bonilla and Joan Buchanan favored extending Proposition 30 taxes, and a oil severance tax to continue to improve California schools—especially for the less fortunate. Steve Glazer, meanwhile, was against any new taxes and instead believed the government would have to live with the revenues it already receives.

Glazer campaign spokesman Jason Bezis said “there are more flips and flops in the Bonilla tax position than an amusement park roller coaster.

“She blindly supported a Prop. 30 tax extension in the primary, even though the promise to voters in 2012 was that it would be temporary. Now, in the general election, she flops away from it because that broken promise hurts her,” he claimed. “After this duplicity is uncovered, she flips yet again and says she wants to raise billions in new taxes, but just not ‘Prop 30’ taxes. You can see why voters are dizzy with Sacramento politicians like Bonilla. They have had enough of the political doublespeak.”

Incidentally, the Lamorinda Democratic Club – Glazer’s home turf – was scheduled to take an endorsement vote last week, president Katie Ricklefs said Thursday. But the vote was scrapped when a Glazer campaign operative cited a club bylaw – not updated since before the top-two primary system took effect – that essentially precludes the club from picking one Democrat over another in a general election. “We did a straw poll that showed 100 percent support for Susan, though,” Ricklefs said.

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3 things for the GOP to consider in California

1.) Learn to choose better battles.

Every cycle, the National Republican Congressional Committee tells us that Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, is among the nation’s most vulnerable House Democrats; every cycle, he proves otherwise. In 2008, with a 1-point voter registration disadvantage, he won by 10 percentage points; in 2010, with a .32-point voter-registration disadvantage, he won by 1.1 percentage points; and this year, with a 12-point voter-registration edge, he won by 8 percentage points. Instead of pouring resources into the campaign of a 25-year-old with no job experience, perhaps the GOP should’ve looked for greener pastures.

2.) Your navel-gazing is near-sighted.

California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro’s statement last night indicates he believes Romney and Republicans failed to “make the case, at every level, for tax reform and to successfully articulate that a welfare state can’t succeed and the true engine of growth is a vigorous free enterprise system.” I’m sure some Democrats will disagree with the philosophical underpinnings of that argument, and that’s not a debate I’ll get into here. But what Del Beccaro failed to address was that the GOP clearly lost big among Latinos, Asian-Americans, African-Americans and young voters – that is, most of this nation’s future electorate. If his party can’t find platform that appeals to these blocs, and an effective way of explaining it to them, it’ll continue to wane even further. Already I see some GOPers sniffing that Obama won without a mandate, but the fact is, he won the popular vote by at least about 2.7 million and – if Florida were to stop counting votes now (and where have I heard THAT before?) – he’d win there too, meaning he carried every battleground state except North Carolina.

3.) Who has the mandate?

Gov. Jerry Brown has the mandate. He won it in 2010 when he beat out the candidate who spent a record $142 million of her money to no avail. He won it again last night with a resounding 8-point victory for Prop. 30, his tax hike for K-12 and higher education. And it seems voters are tired enough of gridlock in Sacramento that they may have handed Democrats two-thirds majorities in both houses of the Legislature – another mandate, of sorts, for Brown’s agenda. The moral of this story: Don’t mess with Jerry.

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AD20: Quirk hits Ong for opposing Prop. 30

In most places, candidates gets slammed for supporting a tax increase; in one Bay Area Assembly race, a candidate is being attacked for opposing one.

Bill Quirk, a Hayward councilman running for the 20th Assembly District seat, is taking his opponent, fellow Democrat Jennifer Ong, to task for opposing Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax measure on next month’s ballot.

Prop. 30 would raise income taxes for the next seven years for those earning more than $250,000 per year, and would raise the state sales tax by a quarter-cent for four years. The proceeds – estimated at from $6.8 billion to $9 billion, would be used to shore up K-12 schools’ and community colleges budget; if the measure doesn’t pass, schools will suffer an automatic $6 billion in cuts.

The local Democratic machine is campaigning for a slate that includes Rep. Pete Stark, Quirk for Assembly, Richard Valle for the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, yes on Prop. 30, and no on Proposition 32, which would cripple unions’ ability to spend on political causes.

Jennifer OngOng – a Hayward resident with an Alameda optometry practice – implied her opposition to Prop. 30 at an Oct. 3 League of Women Voters forum, and then expressed it more specifically in an interview afterward with the East Bay Citizen.

Ong told The Citizen she was troubled by the regressive nature of the sales tax increase. “I won’t be able to personally support that,” said Ong. “It’s trying to stick it to the poor.”

That’s actually a 180-degree turn from what she told the Bay Area News Group’s editorial board in May. Back then, she said she preferred the governor’s measure to the competing tax measure being put forth by Molly Munger (now on the ballot as Proposition 38), and she specifically agreed with the governor’s proposal to boost the sales tax – the only part of his measure that could be considered regressive.

Ong hasn’t yet responded to a phone call and an e-mail seeking comment on this.

UPDATE @ 6 P.M. SUNDAY 10/14: Ong sent this statement at about noon on Saturday, roughly two days after I’d tried to reach her:

“As I said before, I don’t think raising the sales tax on the necessities of life is a good idea. I wish the Governor had not included this in Proposition 30. It is difficult for me to fully support Proposition 30 as it currently stands with great concern over its impact on families and family owned small businesses along with the incremental increase in the price of gas and impending drought.”

This statement, however, ignores the difference in her stance from the May editorial board meeting to now, about which I specifically asked in the email and voice mail messages I left for her Thursday.

Quirk’s campaign on Wednesday issued a statement saying Ong’s opposition to Prop. 30 is surprising for a Democrat in a heavily Democratic district. AD20 is 54 percent Democrat, 17 percent Republican and 22 percent no-party-preference.

“Proposition 30 is critical to the future of our state” Quirk said in the statement. “If it doesn’t pass, our students may lose up to three weeks of instruction each year. I’m actively campaigning in support of the measure – fighting for public education as I have my entire career.”

Campaign finance reports filed last week show Quirk raised $197,742 and spent $121,121 in the third quarter of 2012, and had $110,396 cash on hand as of Sept. 30. Ong raised $96,888.06 and spent $30,474.48 in the third quarter, and had $81,846 cash on hand as of Sept. 30.

But neither of the Ong mailers that arrived at my home in the past week were paid for by her campaign.

One Ong mailer came from the Californians Allied for Patient Protection Independent Expenditure Account. According to the Secretary of State’s campaign finance database, that committee spent $112,205 to support Ong in the year’s first three quarters – including $12,000 in August for “opposition research” – and has spent $86,589 since the start of this month for mailers on her behalf. That committee’s biggest contributors in this election cycle have been the Cooperative of American Physicians State PAC ($100,000); NorCal Mutual Insurance Co. ($100,000); The Doctors Company PAC ($100,000); the California Medical Association PAC ($75,000); Physicians for the Group Practice of Medicine ($45,000); and the Medical Insurance Exchange of California PAC ($40,000).

Another came from Doctors of Optometry for Better Healthcare, sponsored by the California Optometric Association PAC. Unlike the other committee, which has spent on behalf of other candidates besides Ong, this one exists only to make independent expenditures on Ong’s behalf – $173,092 worth since the start of the year, including $73,866 since June’s primary.

The newly drawn district includes Hayward, Union City and part of Fremont as well as the unincorporated areas of Castro Valley, San Lorenzo, Sunol, Ashland, Cherryland and Fairview.

See video of the League of Women Voters’ AD20 forum, after the jump…
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Cal researchers map political info via social media

Cal Berkeley researchers have launched a new website to explore how political knowledge can be spread rapidly across big populations using social media – and their test subject is one of this election season’s hottest issues.

The project, from UC’s CITRIS Data and Democracy Initiative, aims to develop a general-purpose system that can be used for a wide variety of issues, but for now it’s being tested on just one: Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax-hike ballot measure.

Ken Goldberg, an engineering professor, said that “although the outcome of this vote has an enormous potential impact on students, alumni, teachers, parents and employers, many are not aware of Proposition 30. The California Proposition 30 Awareness Project aims to change that.”

Visitors to the website can learn about the ballot measure – a four-year, quarter-cent sales tax hike and a seven-year income tax hike for those making more than $250,000 per year – and receive a custom web link to share with whomever they please using email, Facebook or Twitter. They can return to the site later to see a unique graphic representation of their influence, and track their “influence score;” after the election, the website will list the 50 most influential people.

Influence is computed using a variant of the Kleinberg and Raghavan algorithm, where each visitor’s influence increases by one point for each person he or she recruits, by half a point for every person those people recruit, and so on. This model has been applied in many contexts with financial incentives, but researchers believe this is the first time it’s being tested with intangible rewards.

The researchers say the project and website emphasize awareness and are unbiased; the site includes links to the California Voters Guide and to campaigns on both sides of the issue. Visitors can also indicate their position for or against the proposition, and join an online discussion afterward.