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SD9: Robert Reich endorses Nancy Skinner

A state Senate battle between two like-minded progressives rolls on in the East Bay, with some new heat from a prominent liberal’s endorsement.

Nancy SkinnerFormer U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, now a UC-Berkeley professor, endorsed former Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner this week in next year’s 9th State Senate District race. Skinner, D-Berkeley, is vying with former Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, D-Alameda, in this race – two labor-backed liberals with no daylight between them on most notable issues.

“Nancy Skinner is a proud progressive leader who is not afraid to take on powerful corporate interests and fight for our families,” Reich said in Skinner’s news release. “We need a fighter like Nancy Skinner in the State Senate.”

Skinner, who was term- limited out of the Assembly late last year and now is an energy and transportation senior fellow at UC-Davis, said she’s honored to have Reich’s support. “Not only is he a personal hero, he is one of the most thoughtful, compelling and effective progressive leaders in America. Reich has dedicated his career to combating injustice and making a real difference in the world.”

Skinner less than two weeks ago announced her endorsement by 12 current state Senate Democrats. But Swanson began rolling out his own endorsements at the start of this past summer, which have included nods from both the assemblymen now representing the district; Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; Teamsters Joint Council 7; and 9th District incumbent Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, who’ll be term-limited out next year.

Skinner had about $922,000 ($925,176, less $2,878 in outstanding debt) banked for this race as of June 30, while Swanson had about $50,000 ($80,387, less $30,443 in outstanding debt).

Republican Richard Kinney, San Pablo’s vice mayor, also is running for the seat; he had about $750 banked as of June 30. But in a district that’s 63 percent Democrat to 8 percent Republican, it’s hard to imagine him making it into the June primary’s top two in order to advance to November.

A third prominent Democrat, former Assembly Majority Leader and current Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan, dropped out of this race late last month.

“Over the past six months, I am proud to say that we had successfully begun to build a campaign based on local support, community action and alliances with like-minded groups in Sacramento, Chan wrote in message to supporters. “Unfortunately, political races are increasingly dependent on money and less on grassroots support and action. It has become clear that the window of time I have to raise the necessary funds will be difficult given my responsibilities to my constituents. It has also become clear that the needs of my family must come first.”

Chan noted that although she can use some of the money she had raised for this race for her supervisorial campaign committee and the rest for like-minded candidates and causes, she will honor individual contributors’ requests for refunds.

The 9th District is a swath of Contra Costa and Alameda counties from Rodeo in the north to San Leandro in the south, including Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda, Piedmont, Emeryville, Richmond, El Cerrito, San Pablo, Hercules, Kensington and other communities.

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Sewer director’s racist talk draws election rival

(Ed.’s note: This post is by my colleague Thomas Peele, who has been on this story’s trail from the start. -J)

Besieged West County Wastewater District Director Leonard Battaglia isn’t up for re-election for another year, but he already has an opponent.

Leonard McNeilFormer San Pablo City Council member Leonard McNeil wrote in an email Thursday that he intends to run for a sewer board seat next year.

Battaglia set off a tempest last month when he said in an interview about his high compensation that African Americans “think slower” than other races “because God made them that way.” He also repeatedly used a common slur to describe Asians.

Other West County board members voted 4-0 to ask Battaglia to resign. He has refused to do so.

McNeil, who is African American, was among several speakers who ripped Battaglia at a Wastewater board meeting Tuesday, saying “I think I’m very quick when I see prejudice and someone who is a bigot a racist.”

McNeil wrote Thursday, “I have not yet developed a cogent platform. I am merely announcing my intention to run for a seat on the board of directors.” McNeil served 12 years on the San Pablo council, losing a re-election bid last year.

Also, San Pablo City Manager Matt Rodriguez announced that city council will vote next month on a resolution also asking Battaglia to resign. Council members voted 5-0 on Tuesday night to schedule the vote for Dec. 2, he said.

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Failed Contra Costa water fee flopped in 18 of 19 cities

The failed Contra Costa clean water fee sank in every city in the county except El Cerrito, according to a vote breakdown.

As you may recall, the county and its 19 cities attempted earlier this year to persuade property owners to pass an annual fee to pay for programs associated with tightening state and federal anti-pollution regulations on stormwater runoff.

The unusual property-owner election coupled with the bad economy and campaign missteps doomed the effort, which went down 59.4 percent to 40.6 percent.

Here are the final numbers ranked by the percentage of support, as provided by the Contra Costa Clean Water Program:

AREA YES (%) NO (%)
El Cerrito 54.9 45.1
Walnut Creek 47.3 52.7
Moraga 45.6 54.4
Orinda 45 55
Richmond 43.5 56.5
Hercules 42.8 57.2
San Ramon 42.6 57.4
Lafayette 42.4 57.6
Danville 42.3 57.7
Pleasant Hill 39.5 60.5
Pittsburg 39.1 60.9
Unincorporated 38.6 61.4
San Pablo 38.2 61.8
Martinez 37.9 62.1
Antioch 37.4 62.6
Concord 37 63
Brentwood 35.7 64.3
Clayton 35.7 64.3
Oakley 33.3 66.7
Pinole 33 67
COUNTYWIDE 40.6 59.4

 

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Barbara Lee, Pete Stark in districts this weekend

Some of the East Bay voices of Congress will be pounding their districts’ pavements in coming days.

Barbara Lee (Dec-2010)Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, will be joined by Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md., on a Friday afternoon tour of four Oakland health centers, part of a weekend of events focusing on healthcare disparities. They’re planning to visit the AIDS Project of the East Bay on Webster Street, Asian Health Services on Webster Street, La Clínica de la Raza on East 12th Street, and the Native American Health Center on International Blvd.

Friday’s tour is a prelude a summit meeting on “The Affordable Care Act and Beyond: Opportunities for Achieving Health Equity,” uniting providers and policy makers Saturday at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center. (Registration for the summit appears to be sold out already, but you can see the agenda here.)

Pete StarkRep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, is holding his customary round of town hall meetings this Saturday; his office said likely topics of discussion will include President Obama’s American Jobs Act bill and the Congressional “super committee” charged with cutting trillions from the deficit, but any topic is fair game. The meetings are from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. in the Ruggieri Senior Center, 33997 Alvarado Niles Road in Union City, and 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the council chambers at Hayward City Hall, 777 B St.

UPDATE @ 2:40 P.M. FRIDAY: Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, will hold a town-hall meeting from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. this Monday, Sept. 19, in the San Pablo Senior Center, 1943 Church Lane, “to discuss efforts in Congress to create jobs and strengthen our economy.”

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Miller says Dems will keep the House

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, sounded an optimistic and almost defiant note Thursday on Democrats’ chances of keeping control of the House of Representatives.

“I think we hold onto it with a rather smaller margin than we had,” he said, just after accompanying U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer on a campaign-stop tour of Contra Costa College’s automotive hybrid jobs training program. “It’s still ours to lose.”

Miller, who as co-chair of the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee works closely with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the caucus’ political and policy agenda, acknowledged it hasn’t been easy and these final days won’t be either. “Of course, I’m concerned – this is a very tough election cycle.”

But asked what Democrats would do if they lost control of the House, he quickly replied, “we don’t plan to have that happen;” he said he, Pelosi and other leaders have been planning for the next session on the assumption that Democrats will still be in control and she’ll still be Speaker.

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Singer Ronstadt to attend San Pablo candidate kick-off

Renowned singer-songwriter and music producer Linda Ronstadt has confirmed she will attend a kick-off reception and fundraiser Thursday for San Pablo City Council candidate Cecilia Valdez.

Assemblyman Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, Richmond Councilman Tony Thurmond and Contra Costa Supervisor John Gioia will be there, too, but with Ronstadt as the main attraction, who really cares? (Just kidding. But really, I have no idea if Tony, John and Mark can carry a tune but perhaps someone will persuade them to attempt a verse of “Love is a Rose.”)

The event is set for 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the La Strada Restaurant, 2215 Church Lane in San Pablo. Valdez is seeking contributions to her campaign, of course. To RSVP, call 510-417-0004 or send an email to Cecilia_Cecy_Valdez@comcast.net.

Valdez says Eugene Rodriguez, director of Los Cenzontles, introduced her to Ronstadt. The singer serves on his organization’s board of directors.

“(Ronstadt) and I met the end of May,” Valdez wrote to me in an e-mail. “I am a volunteer at Helms Middle School and invited her to attend an end of year party and meet the mothers and teachers and staff. She came and we all had a great time. I then invited her to my campaign kick-off event and she said she would like to come.”

Three seats are up on the five-member San Pablo City Council in the Nov. 4 general election including those of incumbents Sharon Brown, Joseph Gomes and Leonard McNeil. The filing period for local council seats is Monday through Aug. 8.