Part of the Bay Area News Group

Jeb Bush to address car dealers Friday in SF

As he “actively explores” a 2016 presidential run, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will be in San Francisco on Friday to give a convention keynote speech.

Jeb BushBush will address the National Automobile Dealers Association’s convention and expo at the Moscone Center late Friday afternoon. Former “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno will address the convention Saturday.

“Jeb Bush is a visionary leader and successful governor,” said 2014 NADA Chairman Forrest McConnell. “We are delighted to have him keynote NADA’s convention this year, and we hope to learn a bit more about his future ambitions.”

Bush, the son of former President George H.W. Bush and younger brother of former President George W. Bush, was Florida’s governor from 1999 to 2007. He announced in December that he’s considering a presidential run, and has been hiring staff and meeting with contributors in recent weeks.

A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released Tuesday found Bush lags in popularity behind 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney, who announced this month that he’s considering a third run for the White House. Bush’s numbers have fallen since his own December announcement; 37 percent of Republicans now view him positively, down from 44 percent in November, the poll found.

Friday’s address is expected to be among his last paid speeches before he shifts more fully into potential-candidate mode; he’s scheduled to give a policy speech at the Detroit Economic Club early next month.

NADA represents nearly 16,000 new-car and new-truck dealerships with 32,500 franchises, both domestic and international. The group says its convention and expo, expected to draw more than 23,000 attendees, “is the automotive industry event of the year and the world’s largest international gathering place for franchised new-vehicle dealers.” Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who many believe will be a Democratic presidential candidate in 2016, spoke at NADA’s convention last year in New Orleans.

Posted on Wednesday, January 21st, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election | 8 Comments »

Citizens United anniversary brings protests

Activists are taking to the streets Wednesday in the Bay Area and across the nation to mark the fifth anniversary of the Citizens United U.S. Supreme Court ruling that has let an unprecedented flood of money wash across the face of American politics.

money in politicsIn Berkeley, the California Public Interest Research Group, local officials, students and residents gathered Wednesday morning on Cal’s Sproul Plaza. “Five years ago today, the Supreme Court went way off track, and gave mega-donors and corporate interests free rein to drown out the voices of the majority,” said Zach Weinstein of CALPIRG. “But we’re here today because the decision also sparked a movement of Americans working to take back our democracy, city-by-city and state-by-state.”

“We must stop the influx of big money in our democracy by passing an amendment to our constitution to stop corporations from being defined as people and money as speech; enacting disclosure laws, campaign finance contribution limits and publicly funded campaigns,” said Helen Grieco of Common Cause.

In San Francisco, activists are organizing a “Mourning in America” march starting at 3:30 p.m. from Market and Montgomery streets to the federal building at 450 Golden Gate Ave. for a 4:30 p.m. rally. The march, to “call for a reversal of corrupt campaign finance system that favors wealthy special interests over the public interest,” will be led by hip-hop artist Khafre Jay, effigies of the five Supreme Court Justices who were in the majority on Citizens United, a live band, and a coffin containing Uncle Sam; marchers are encouraged to wear black, and black armbands will be handed out.

Those scheduled to speak at the rally include former Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco; former Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin; good-government expert and former Secretary of State candidate Derek Cressman; and others. Endorsers and organizers include the Money Out! People In! Coalition, 99Rise, CA Nurses Association, Common Cause, Courage Campaign, California Clean Money Campaign, Free Speech for People, Money Out Voters In (MOVI), MoveOn Councils, Move to Amend, Mount Diablo Peace and Justice Center, Public Citizen, Represent.us, San Francisco Labor Council AFL-CIO, Solar Justice, and the Sunflower Alliance.

99RiseIn Washington, D.C., seven 99Riseactivists disrupted Wednesday morning’s U.S. Supreme Court session. Each stood up and demanded that the court overturn Citizens United, before raising his or her index finger in the air – a gesture meant to represent the “one person, one vote” principle that they say the ruling undermined.

“We have seen the consequences of the free flow of private money rushing into our public political system,” activist Curt Ries said. “Nearly $4 billion was spent in the 2014 midterm elections, and almost all of it came from a handful of wealthy individuals and organizations. The kind of influence that money buys fundamentally corrupts our electoral process by giving undue representation to wealthy donors and corporations. That’s not a democracy, it’s a plutocracy.”

Posted on Wednesday, January 21st, 2015
Under: campaign finance | 3 Comments »

Tom Steyer looks good in his own Senate 2016 poll

Hedge fund billionaire and environmental activist Tom Steyer said Tuesday he’s considering whether to run for California’s U.S. Senate seat in 2016, but apparently he’s been mulling this for a while: A polling memo shows he commissioned a survey on his chances in mid-December.

And those chances aren’t bad, the poll found (which, no doubt, is why I was able to obtain the memo).

“Our December survey shows that Tom Steyer is clearly a strong contender to win the seat now open due to the announced retirement of Senator Barbara Boxer,” according to the memo from the firm of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates. “Steyer’s profile, background and the storyline of his political and charitable involvement combine to form an attractive foundation for a candidacy.”

CincinnatusLest anyone worry how healthy an opinion Steyer, 57, of San Francisco has of himself, the memo was addressed to “Team Cincinnatus” – presumably referring to the Roman statesman hailed as an icon of virtue, selflessness and humility after twice being chosen for, and then twice resigning, the mantle of dictator in order to protect the republic. Big sandals to fill, there.

The poll conducted from Dec. 18-22 asked 600 California registered Democrats and nonpartisan voters about their priorities; they named the environment – including climate change, the need for clean-energy jobs, and anti-pollution efforts – among the three top issues facing California’s next senator, along with education and income inequality. The poll also found:

    75 percent would be likely to support a candidate who led the fight to pass Proposition 39, the successful 2012 ballot measure that closed a corporate tax loopholes for out-of-state companies and set some of the revenue aside for schools and clean-energy construction jobs;
    79 percent would be likely to support a national leader in promoting new clean energy technologies;
    66 percent would be likely to support a candidate who “believes climate change is the biggest challenge of our times”;
    66 percent would be likely to support a successful businessman who understands how the global 21st Century economy works; and
    65 percent say they would be likely to support a candidate who has committed to giving away the majority of his personal wealth to help the next generation get a fair shake.

All of these questions were asked without any mention of Steyer’s name. Afterward, when respondents were read an actual description of Steyer, 75 percent said they would be likely to support him, including 41 percent who said “very likely.”

Tom Steyer“Much of the elements of this campaign are, of course, yet to be determined so soon after Senator Boxer’s announcement — particularly the precise make-up of the field, including Republicans since all candidates must attempt to qualify for the November general election by finishing in the top two,” the memo said. “What is clearly evident, however, is that unlike other wealthy and mainly self-funded candidates in the past, Tom Steyer possesses a very sound foundation among the voters in terms of the issues, and political and charitable activities that provide his motivation for running. That is a huge asset for him going forward.”

Read as: Voters won’t be quick to peg Steyer as a rich dilettante who’s trying to buy one of the state’s top political posts, like a certain someone whose name starts with “M” and ends with “eg Whitman.”

The memo also notes that depending on whether Republicans can field “a credible and financially resourced candidate” in June 2016’s top-two primary, California could wind up with two Democrats going head to head in that November’s general election. “In such a scenario, Tom Steyer’s profile can make him the best positioned candidate to have cross-over appeal, especially with non-partisan voters,” the memo concluded.

What does it all mean? Some context, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, January 15th, 2015
Under: U.S. Senate | 23 Comments »

Some Muslim-American thoughts on Charlie Hebdo

As Bay Area residents prepare to stage a solidarity and support vigil outside the French Consulate in San Francisco tonight, here’s a sampling of some Muslim-American thoughts on the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris.

From Haris Tarin, director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council’s Washington, D.C. office:

“The tragic irony that these criminals displayed is that if they actually gave a cursory look over the Prophet Muhammad’s life, they’d see how he reacted to insults and degrading treatment. The Prophet always responded with mercy and forgiveness. No matter what grievances individuals or communities might have, violence is never the answer.”

From Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Executive Director Nihad Awad:

“We strongly condemn this brutal and cowardly attack and reiterate our repudiation of any such assault on freedom of speech, even speech that mocks faiths and religious figures. The proper response to such attacks on the freedoms we hold dear is not to vilify any faith, but instead to marginalize extremists of all backgrounds who seek to stifle freedom and to create or widen societal divisions.

“We offer sincere condolences to the families and loved ones of those killed or injured in this attack. We also call for the swift apprehension of the perpetrators, who should be punished to the full extent of the law.”

Zahra Billoo, who directs CAIR’s San Francisco Bay Area chapter, posted to her Facebook page and Tweeted that she “supports free speech. ‪#‎CharlieHebdo‬ ‪#‎ParisShooting‬.”

From the Facebook page of Hanif Mohebi, who directs CAIR’s San Diego chapter:

“To my French Muslim brothers and sisters, its absolutely important to condemn the recent violent act, and be very vocal about it. I also recommend that security for Mosques, Islamic Schools and to be very cautious in general. May Allah(swt) save us all.”

From the Facebook page of Shireen Qudosi, who runs a Southern California content, marketing and design agency:

“Home sick today to find more distressing news that should be another wake up call for the fundie-coddling West. Amidst catching up on the news, I see a once-again mushrooming of ‘Where are the Muslims voices speaking out against this?!’ To the nay-sayers, I say this: Please explain to me how you expect reform-minded Muslims, to practically overnight, go toe-to-toe with well-funded radical and sympathetic organizations, who on top of all their funding receive ample Western media support. On the other hand, I’ve had reporters and journalists straight up walk out of the room or not use a single line of interview time because it didn’t subscribe to a victim agenda. We’re speaking out, and we’re doing the best we can on a grassroots level. I can only speak for me personally when I say that I do my best to research and write pro-reform work and network with like-minded individuals, while also working almost two full time jobs and raising a toddler with special needs. I wield my war against radical Islam with a pen, and not with useless hippie protests on a street when I need to be at work fulfilling my commitment to my family. People are so quick to say ‘where are the Muslims’ and very slow to actually understand the juggernaut obstacles we’re working to overcome along with very awkwardly balancing a personal life… and we are overcoming our reform obstacles. When I started my reform work nearly ten years ago, reform wasn’t even an idea and there were only maybe 3 or 4 people speaking out. Now we have a legion. It’s in fact one of the projects I’m working on and you’re welcome to walk the talk even if all you’re doing is sharing this link and message with your network: http://www.gofundme.com/Islamic-Reform
I don’t have time to deal with naysayers, internet trolls, doubters and arm-chair generals. We have real wars to fight and, in this, we don’t have the luxury of entertain people who like to think they’re experts and philosophers. You don’t like Muslims? That’s fine. You don’t need to and I’m not asking you to. But I also don’t need to answer to your petulant demand for answers.”

Posted on Wednesday, January 7th, 2015
Under: Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

State lawmakers react to Brown’s inaugural speech

From state Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose:

Jim Beall“This may have been Gov. Brown’s best State of the State address. He laid out a long-term vision for California’s future. As chairman of the Senate transportation committee, I agree with his mission to maintain our roads, highways, and bridges. By investing in infrastructure maintenance and effective mass transit projects we can cut pollution and create new jobs. The BART extension to San Jose is projected to generate 19,000 jobs (one job for one year). We have to keep the state moving and I’ve introduced SB 9 to allow multi-year funding under the Cap and Trade program for large, innovative mass transit projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“I also agree with the Governor that we can no longer make students the ‘default financiers’ of our colleges. SB 15 would freeze tuition rates and that’s why I co-authored it. I believe there has to be a more public investment in education rather than have the students pick up higher and higher percentages of the cost. The Governor was right to point out that California cannot afford to pour more money into the prison system. This costs higher education dearly because it is money that could be spent on our universities.’’

From Assemblywoman Catharine Baker, R-Dublin:

Catharine Baker“As we prioritize our budget, we must focus on what is needed for a strong and prosperous state. Education, transportation, and an environment that promotes job growth must be our focus in the coming years.

“I was pleased to hear the Governor’s commitment to some shared priorities we have. Ensuring our schools receive the necessary funding to provide all of California’s children the education they deserve should remain a top priority. We need to ensure that funding for education is going directly to the classroom to benefit our students and teachers, and not to a bloated administrative bureaucracy. And we cannot continue to defend the status quo and the policies addressed in the Vergara decision. Those policies are denying students the opportunity to get a good education. Finally, in the true spirit of local control, we must eliminate the cap on savings reserves that was implemented last year. It endangers the financial health of every school district in our community.

“Republicans and Democrats worked together last year and supported the rainy day fund, and the state needed that reform. Our school districts need a rainy day fund, too, and state law now prohibits them from having the savings they need to protect against cuts. Ensuring we have reserves to continue necessary programs in the midst of a fiscal crisis is the right thing to do. I am committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure that the cap on reserves is eliminated.

“As Vice-Chair of the Higher Education Committee, I will work to fight tuition increases that hinder our students’ ability to attend college, and I hope the Governor will join me in this pledge. Under the UC proposed tuition hike, students and their families will pay 25 percent more for their degrees in 2020 than they are paying today. Lawmakers and the UC must work together on long-term planning to keep higher education affordable, and I will fight for that.

“The Governor and I agree that it is time Republicans and Democrats come together to address California’s transportation needs. We have a crumbling infrastructure that was built for a population a fraction of the size it is now. But directing public funds to High Speed Rail as it starts breaking ground this week is a poor use of taxpayer dollars. We should be breaking ground on BART to Livermore, expanding parking at BART, and improving our road capacity instead of funding the bullet train project. This is money that should be spent easing congestion and increasing mass transit in the most high traffic regions of the state.

“I applaud the Governor and my predecessors that have worked to turn our economy around over the past few years. There is a still a great deal of work to be done, and our economy is fragile. Unemployment is dropping, but there are still too many Californians out of work and too many businesses leaving our state. We have to make it easier for employers to do business here. I would like to have heard the Governor address this, but I look forward to working with him on improving California’s business economy.”

More from the Bay Area’s lawmakers, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, January 5th, 2015
Under: Assembly, California State Senate, Catharine Baker, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown, Jim Beall, Phil Ting | 1 Comment »

Banker named to run California-China trade office

A prominent Bay-Area based international banker has been tapped to run the California-China Office of Trade and Investment, established last year by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Kenneth Petrilla“The hiring of Ken Petrilla, one of the most experienced international banking executives in California, shows how serious California is about its trade relationship with China,” Mike Rossi, Brown’s senior jobs advisor, said in a news release.

Petrilla, 68, of Ross, has served for several years in San Francisco as head of the China desk at Wells Fargo, facilitating opportunities involving Chinese companies doing business in the United States.

Brown created the California-China Office of Trade and Investment to serve as a hub for California companies interested in entering or expanding in China – the world’s second largest economy – and for Chinese companies seeking investment opportunities in California – the world’s eighth largest economy by GDP. California exported $24.2 billion to mainland China and Hong Kong in 2013, as the combined China region became the Golden State’s number one export market.

“There is a Chinese expression that opportunities multiply as they are seized, and Ken Petrilla is just the person California needs to seize these opportunities,” said Jim Wunderman, president and CEO of the Bay Area Council, which manages the Trade Office for the state.

Petrilla said it’s hard to imagine a more exciting job “than straddling two of the world’s most dynamic economies and lending my expertise to helping them both grow more intertwined.

“The people of California and China have so much to gain as trade shifts into what many people have called the Century of the Pacific,” he added. “I hope in this role I can give back to California as much as this state has given to me.”

Petrilla earlier held other posts within Wells Fargo, including responsibilities for all Wells Fargo business and activities within Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

Posted on Thursday, December 18th, 2014
Under: economy, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown | 1 Comment »

Bay Area’s big cities have gun buybacks Saturday

The Bay Area’s three biggest cities are holding gun buyback events Saturday, a day short of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting massacre’s second anniversary.

2013 San Jose buybackSan Jose’s event runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (or sooner, if the money runs out) at P.A.L. Stadium, 680 S. 34th St., hosted by the San Jose Police Department, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office, Councilman Xavier Campos, County Supervisor Cindy Chavez and Assemblywoman Nora Campos.

“I am proud to have started this event last year, that saw 463 weapons get turned in, and even more proud that it will be continuing this year and tentatively for any years to come,” Xavier Campos said. “The community has spoken loud and clear that public safety is number one. This event will look to help take dangerous, unused, and illegal weapons off the street in an effort to help our Police Department make our neighborhoods and our city safe for all.”

Oakland’s and San Francisco’s events are partially funded by Gun by Gun, a tech nonprofit that crowdfunds gun buybacks. As of Thursday, the group had raised more than $70,000 from more than 600 individual donors for buybacks in four cities.

“The crowdfunding campaign is designed to put power back in the hands of the community” said Gun by Gun cofounder Ian Johnston, who was 10 when he lost his father to gun violence. “People are frustrated by the rate of gun violence we experience and they want to see results.”

Oakland’s buyback will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Youth Uprising, 8711 MacArthur Blvd., co-hosted by the Oakland Police Department. Open only to Oakland residents, organizers will offer up to $100 for handguns, shotguns and rifles, and up to $200 for firearms that meet the state’s definition of assault weapons.

San Francisco’s buyback will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at United Playaz, 1038 Howard Street. Tech investor Ron Conway is matching the first $10,000 in donations to the crowdfunding campaign. The San Francisco Unified School District this week sent home letters to every student’s parent encouraging them to take part in the buyback.

“Gun homicides are the leading cause of death for our young people in San Francisco,” said school board member Matt Haney. “We have a responsibility to do everything we can to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our students.”

But critics say this isn’t the way to curb violence.

“Gun buybacks are not only largely meaningless, they are actually dangerous, because they do absolutely nothing to address the underlying issues of violence in our society. They do however offer a great photo opportunity,” Eric Wooten, president of the Liberal Gun Owners Association, wrote in an opinion piece published Thursday by the San Francisco Chronicle. “But after the last photo is snapped and the last tweet tweeted, the entrenched inequities and other societal problems that actually cause violence will still be left unaddressed.”

Unemployment, a biased War on Drugs, and educational disparities are the roots of violence, he wrote.

“What you won’t hear from those supporting this gun buyback is that the number of guns netted is probably less than the number of guns legally bought in the greater Bay Area in just the few hours it took to hold the buyback,” Wooten wrote. “If we want to actually reduce violence, the effort spent on today’s gun buyback would be far better focused on education or other social programs aimed at improving equality of opportunity.”

Posted on Friday, December 12th, 2014
Under: gun control | 38 Comments »

Nancy Pelosi lays bet on Giants in World Series

House Minority Leader Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver have laid their bet on the upcoming World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals – and it sounds delicious.

Gates BBQ ribsIf the Royals win, Pelosi, D-San Francisco, will provide the Kansas City congressman with a basket of her city’s finest chocolates. (Ghirardelli? Recchiuti? Poco Dolce?) If the Giants win, Cleaver will send Pelosi a President’s BBQ Platter from Kansas City’s Gates BBQ.

(Ed. Note: I LOVE Gates BBQ.)

“There are many savory delights that Kansas City has to offer and I can’t wait to savor them, but nothing would be sweeter than a Giants victory,” Pelosi said. “The Royals are a fine team, but they are no match for the talent, toughness, and heart of our Giants. I look forward to enjoying the Giants’ latest championship with some fine Kansas City BBQ.”

Cleaver replied the Giants “are a worthy team, but they underestimate the Kansas City Royals at their peril.”

“With their spirit, their skill, and their sweeping victory in the ALCS, the Royals will surely succeed in the World Series,” he said. “I don’t usually gamble, but I will make an exception and wager some of the finest barbecue Kansas City, Missouri has to offer. Victory shall be sweet indeed.”

Posted on Friday, October 17th, 2014
Under: Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House | No Comments »

Inside President Obama’s San Francisco fundraiser

Here’s the complete pool report I’ve just filed via the White House for tonight’s Democratic National Convention fundraiser at the W Hotel in San Francisco, for which tickets went for from $500 to $32,400 each:

Press pool was ushered into event room at 7:07 p.m., where well-heeled Democrats mixed and mingled with drinks and hors d’oeuvres. Spotted in the crowd: Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland.

President Obama entered the room at 7:15 p.m. to wild cheers, with a hearty “Hello, San Francisco!”

Obama recognized the presence of Congresswoman Lee and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. “No relation,” he quipped. He also thanked Maxwell for having performed, said the First Lady is a fan.

“Obviously the news lately has been dominated by what’s taking place overseas, and a lot of the news has been scary to people, and rightfully so,” he said – ISIL, Ebola, Russian aggression in Ukraine. On each of these issues, amid efforts at international response, “at the center of it, leading it, is the United States” – not just because of our capacity, but because of our values.

“That kind of leadership depends on us also showing leadership here at home,” he said, and over past six years we’ve made “real, genuine, documentable progress” at recovering from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

Much more, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, October 10th, 2014
Under: 2014 general, Barack Obama, Obama presidency | 2 Comments »

A few upcoming political events

Political junkies have some great opportunities coming up.

On Monday, Oct. 6, Assembly Speaker Emeritus John Perez, D-Los Angeles, will speak on “changes in the California electorate and the road to a Democratic supermajority in the Legislature” in the Institute of Governmental Studies Library, 109 Moses Hall on the UC-Berkeley campus. The event starts at 4 p.m.

On Tuesday, Oct. 7, activist, blogger and author Pamela Geller will address the Conservative Forum of Silicon Valley in the IFES Portuguese Hall, at 432 Stierlin Road in Mountain View. Geller is founder, editor and publisher of AtlasShrugs.com/PamGeller.com; president of the American Freedom Defense Initiative and Stop Islamization of America; and author, with Robert Spencer, of “The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration’s War on America.” Tickets for the 7 p.m. event cost $10 in advance or $15 at the door for forum members, and $20 in advance or $25 at the door for non-members, and are available online.

On Wednesday, Oct. 8, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., will be in conversation with Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg for a 3 p.m. program and 4 p.m. book-signing at the Commonwealth Club of California, on the second floor of 595 Market St. in San Francisco. Gillibrand will discuss “why it’s critical for women’s voices to be heard to make issues like affordable daycare, paid family leave and equal pay political priorities.” Tickets cost $10 for club members, $15 for non-members or $7 for students with valid ID, and are available online or by calling 415-597-6705.

Posted on Friday, October 3rd, 2014
Under: Calendar | 3 Comments »