12

CA17: This is not the Ro Khanna you’re looking for.

As I and my colleagues sifted through a database of the East Bay Municipal Utilities District’s biggest water wasters Thursday, we found the name “Rohit Khanna” in there.

It took only a few moments, however, to determine that the Ro Khanna who owns property in San Ramon isn’t the Ro Khanna who’s challenging Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, for a second time in the 17th Congressional District. The candidate, 39, lives in Fremont and was born in Pennsylvania; voter-registration records show the Ro Khanna of San Ramon is 44 and was born in India.

“Only in the Bay Area can there be two Rohit Khannas!” candidate Khanna quipped Friday. “I guess we’ve come a long way from when I was growing up outside Philadelphia in the 1980s, one of a few Asian-American kids in a public high school class of over 800. In those days, when I went up to bat folks would say, ‘Ro can’t hit.’ So, my name has always been a source of amusement.”

“I am glad in this case I am working for a company focused on water conservation and efficiency,” he added, referring to the job he took earlier this year with Smart Utility Systems. “The tale of two Rohits!”

4

Senate candidate Rocky Chávez coming to East Bay

2016 U.S. Senate candidate Assemblyman Rocky Chávez, R-Oceanside, will be at a campaign event Monday in the East Bay – but not for his campaign.

Rocky ChávezChávez will be the “VIP guest” at a fundraiser this Monday, March 16 for Assemblywoman Catharine Baker, R-Dublin, the Bay Area’s only Republican in Sacramento. Tickets for the pre-St. Patrick’s Day reception – “heavy hors d’ouevres, no host bar, green beer complimentary for the first 30 lucky guests!” – at The Bridges Golf Club in San Ramon cost from $150 (“shamrock”) to $4,200 (“pot o’gold”).

Chávez declared candidacy March 5 for the senate seat from which Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., will retire next year. The only other prominent candidate in the race so far is California Attorney General Kamala Harris, a Democrat whom a recent Field Poll showed to be a frontrunner.

Catharine BakerTwo little-known Republicans, John Estrada of Fresno and Mark Hardie of Whittier, say they’re running too, though Hardie has yet to form a campaign committee. And former California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro of Lafayette has formed an exploratory committee for the race.

Baker is wise to be raising money as soon as possible. She won her 16th Assembly District seat by a 3.2-point margin in November, but she should expect a much tougher fight in 2016 when heavier turnout drawn by the presidential election will help Democrats flex their 7-point voter registration advantage.

5

Activists plan anti-fracking day of action

Opponents of using hydraulic fracturing – “fracking” – to access hard-to-reach oil and natural gas are planning actions Thursday at assemblymembers’ offices around California.

Activists organized by MoveOn.org will deliver petitions in 13 Assembly districts, marking the launch of Californians Against Fracking, a coalition of 70 organizations advocating for a ban.

“The gutting of Holly Mitchell’s fracking moratorium bill [AB 1323] and the blocking of Richard Bloom’s bill [AB 1301] by Assembly leadership ignores the will of the voters of California who have made their voices heard with thousands of phone calls and petition signatures. What we demand is a ban on fracking to protect our health,” said Aura Walker, a Culver City mother, whose petition on MoveOn.org’s petition platform has been signed by more than 35,000 people. “California is already earthquake prone. Additionally, poisonous gases will permanently pollute many precious aquifers, irreversibly poisoning our drinking water.”

In the South Bay, activist Ann Benson of Portola Valley will lead the delivery of a local petition at noon to the Los Altos office of Assemblyman Richard Gordon, urging him to support a fracking ban. At the same time, Dorothy Hann of San Ramon will lead the delivery of a similar petition to Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan in San Ramon.

And the nascent Californians Against Fracking group plans a noon rally outside the state office building at 455 Golden Gate Ave. in San Francisco, as well as one at the same time in Los Angeles. Both will be delivering petitions to Gov. Jerry Brown’s offices.

Environmentalists have taken Brown to task after the governor in March said California should examine fracking to capitalize on the Monterey shale deposit, which the U.S. Energy Department has estimated could hold up to 15 billion barrels of oil — about 64 percent of the nation’s shale oil resources. As some legislative Democrats sought bans, Brown had said the technology shouldn’t be rejected out of hand.

“We want to get the greenhouse gas emissions down, but we also want to keep our economy going. That’s the balance that’s required,” he said at the time. “The fossil fuel deposits in California are incredible; the potential is extraordinary. But between now and development lies a lot of questions that need to be answered.”

UPDATE @ 5:07 P.M.: The California State Senate voted 27-11 this afternoon to pass SB 4 by state Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Calabasas, which would require public noticing before fracking can take place, permits, disclosure of chemicals and an independent scientific study of fracking and its risks to California, among other provisions. “I am pleased my colleagues want to hold oil well operators accountable and answer critical questions about groundwater quality, water supply, earthquakes and air quality,” Pavley said in a news release. “We must protect California from risks to our economy, public health and safety and environment.”

0

East Bay political calendar: Fire tax, congress and state measures

Check out these upcoming political events in the East Bay.

Concord

CONFIRE CHIEF TO TALK ABOUT TAX: Contra Costa Fire Chief Daryl Louder will address the county’s mayors Thursday about his agency’s fiscal woes and the fire safety parcel tax on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Measure Q asks voters to approve a $75 annual parcel tax on a single-family home and create a tiered commercial rate, The funds would help the county’s largest fire district keep up to a third of its 28 fire stations open. The tax would expire in seven years.

The fire chief’s presentation is free and open to the public. The dinner following the business meeting is $50 a person and tickets may or may not be available at the door for the meal.

The event begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Concord Hilton, 1970 Diamond Blvd., in Concord.

The Mayors Conference is an association of the county’s 19 mayors. It meets monthly and has a variety of statutory responsibilities including the appointment of city representatives.

San Ramon

SCHOOL BOARD FORUM SET: Candidates vying for two seats on the San Ramon Valley Unified School District board have been invited to participate in a forum on Oct. 8.

The San Ramon Valley Council of PTAs and the Danville-Alamo-Walnut Creek chapter of the American Association of University Women will sponsor the event. Contra Costa Times political reporter and columnist Lisa Vorderbrueggen will moderate.

The candidates are incumbent Greg Marvel and challengers Mark Jewett and Dwight Winn.

Candidates will answer questions posed by the moderator and submitted from the audience.

The public event will be held from 7-8:45 p.m. at Iron Horse Middle School multipurpose room, 12601 Alcosta Blvd., San Ramon.

Pinole

FORUM SET: Candidates for two seats on the Pinole City Council have been invited to participate in a forum on Oct. 9.

Co-sponsored by Common Cause and Concerned Citizens of Pinole, the event will be moderated by Contra Costa Times political reporter and columnist Lisa Vorderbrueggen.

Three candidates are incumbents Roy Swearingen and Peter Murray, and challenger Ivette Ricco.

The open public event will be from 7-9 p.m. in the Pinole City Council chambers, 2131 Pear St., Pinole.

Pinole Community TV will air the forum on Comcast Channel 26 and AT&T Channel 99.

Stockton

UOP TO HOST CONGRESSIONAL DEBATE: Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney and his GOP challenger Ricky Gill will debate on Oct. 15 at the University of the Pacific’s Stockton campus.

McNerney is seeking re-election in the newly drawn 9th Congressional District, which encompasses the bulk of San Joaquin County and slice of far eastern Contra Costa County.

The event is co-hosted by the League of Women Voters and the college’s political science department.

A team of panelists from the community will ask questions of the candidates, who will also make opening and closing statements.

The public event will be held at 6 p.m. at university’s Long Theatre, 3601 Pacific Avenue in Stockton,

Pleasant Hill

COMMISSION HOSTS FORUM: Candidates vying for the Mt. Diablo School District board will participate in a candidates’ forum Oct. 18 in Pleasant Hill.

The forum is sponsored by the Pleasant Hill Education/Schools Advisory Commission and moderated by Contra Costa Times political reporter and columnist Lisa Vorderbrueggen.

It will be held from 7-9 p.m. at Pleasant Hill City Hall, 100 Gregory Lane, in Pleasant Hill.

The five candidates are incumbent Sherry Whitmarsh, and challengers Ernie DeTrinidad, Brian Lawrence, Debra Mason and Barbara Oaks. Incumbent Gary Eberhart is not seeking re-election.

Questions will be a mixed of those prepared in advance and those submitted that evening from the audience. Residents may also submit a question via email to Martin Nelis at mnelis@ci.pleasant-hill.ca.us.

The forum will be broadcast on public access television Comcast Channel 28, ATT U-Verse Channel 99 and Astound Channel 29.

Lafayette

COLUMNISTS TACKLE 2012: Contra Costa Times’ editorial columnist Daniel Borenstein and Sacramento Bee political columnist Dan Walters will team up on Oct. 24 at the Commonwealth Club.

In “Ballot Box 2012: A Key to the CA Election,” the journalists will take a look at the issues facing Californians in the upcoming election.

In November, Californians will consider solutions to the state’s budgetary woes, campaign finance reform and a proposed repeal of the three-strikes law, among many other initiatives.

Check-in begins at 6 p.m. followed by the program at 6:30 p.m. at the Lafayette Library and Learning Center, 3491 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette.

Tickets are $22 for the general public, $12 for Commonwealth Club members and $7 for students with valid identification.

For more information, visit www.commonwealthclub.org.

 

 

 

7

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

 

1

LAFCO to interview 5 for coveted seat; Allen not on list

The powerful Contra Costa Local Agency Formation Commission, of LAFCO, which oversees orderly growth and public agency boundaries, narrowed to five the candidates it will interview April 11 for its public member seat.

It took LAFCO nearly two years last time to fill this opening after dueling factions couldn’t settle on a mutually acceptable choice. Confirmation requires at least one aye vote from each of the groups represented on its board — Contra Costa supervisor, special districts and cities.

Whether or not the vote proves difficult this time around remains to be seen.

But the central question of the prospective commissioners remains the same: How would you balance the ever-present tension between the demands of a growing population for housing, water and other services and the agency’s responsibility to control sprawl?

The short list is an impressive one: Retired Contra Costa Mayors Conference executive director and former Walnut Creek city manager Don Blubaugh of Brentwood; attorney and former Lafayette Councilman Ivor Samson; retired San Ramon city manager Herb Moniz; retired wastewater plant general manager Kathy Hopkins of Lafayette; and the commission’s current alternate public member, Sharon Burke of Alamo.

Blubaugh and Burke are the likely front-runners, but Hopkins and Samson reportedly did well in the first round of interviews.

Moniz will almost certainly draw the most attention from the environmental community, whose leaders closely monitor LAFCO’s policies on the county’s urban limit line. Moniz helped write San Ramon’s controversial failed Measure W, which would have expanded the city’s urban growth boundary into the Tassajara Valley.

Interestingly, former commissioner and one-time Concord Mayor Helen Allen didn’t make the cut.

She says county power-brokers conspired behind the scenes to keep her out and promote their own choices. But others say the outspoken woman’s dominating personality grated on her colleagues, staff and the public.

Former Concord Mayor Helen Allen

For years, the conservative Allen and appointee of the Contra Costa Mayors Conference was considered a reliable vote for new development. She pooh-poohed global climate change and said that as long as people keep having babies, local governments should help build places for them to live.

Allen has been a lightening rod for years on a whole host of issues. But she lost significant support from her elected colleagues in 2010 after she signed a letter as a LAFCO commissioner which was later used in a campaign mailer promoting a Brentwood urban growth boundary ballot measure. She narrowly escaped a move to have her removed from LAFCO.

Allen declined to seek re-election to her city council seat later that year and as a result, she was no longer eligible to serve on LAFCO as the mayors conference representative and avoided what would have almost certainly been an uphill fight to win reappointment.

She put out the word months ago that she would apply to LAFCO when the public member seat opened, citing her experience with the agency’s often arcane and complex issues.

Her chances were slim, though. She still faced concerns about her dominant personality and her past transgressions.

Allen admits she sealed her fate during the screening interviews with three LAFCO members, when she says she told them she knew she wasn’t going to be appointed and lectured them for more than 20 minutes.

Well, if you have to go out, you might as well make a lasting impression, right?