CD11: Retired Danville judge announces candidacy

11th Congressional District courtesy of Redistricting Partners

Retired Judge Tue Phan-Quang, a 71-year-old Republican from Danville, has announced his candidacy for the congressional seat that will open when Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, retires at the end of the year.

Phan-Quang made the announcement Tuesday at a meeting of the Walnut Creek Rotary Club, according to a statement his son, Thong Phan-Quang, sent to this newspaper. Phan-Quang was a guest speaker.

As a Republican candidate in the heavily Democratic 11th Congressional District, Phan-Quang’s chances of success are slim.

State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, has already entered the race. Walnut Creek Mayor Kristina Lawson and former Walnut Creek Councilman Kish Rajan are considering it. And Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, may run.

But the retired judge’s story is an interesting one, as his son tells it in the statement he sent:

Judge Tue is 71 years old, married with 4 sons and 8 grandchildren. He and  his wife have been residents of Danville, California since 1995.

Judge Tue immigrated to the United States after the fall of Saigon in April 1975. A trained attorney in Vietnam, he completed his law studies at Drake University Law School in Des Moines, Iowa. He was a Hearing Officer with the Iowa Department of Job Service for 4 years. He was appointed Assistant Attorney General with the Iowa Department of Justice in 1987. 

Judge Tue moved his family to California in 1988. He was a trial attorney with the Immigration & Naturalization Service, District Counsel Office in San Francisco from 1988-1993. From 1993-1995 he was an Administrative Law Judge with the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board in Sacramento. 

He was appointed Immigration Judge In March 1995 in San Francisco where he served until his retirement in December 2012.

My colleague Josh Richman found a video about the retired judge (see below) and text of the judge’s 2012 remarks at a naturalization ceremony in Oakland.


CD11: Bay Area Council worries about losing clout

State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier’s decision to run for Congress when Rep. George Miller, D-Concord, retires has the Bay Area Council worried the region will lose clout in Sacramento. With DeSaulnier no longer being considered for Senate President Pro Tem, will leadership posts in state Senate and Assembly both go to electeds from the south?

Here’s what Bay Area Council CEO Jim Wunderman had to say about it:

Northern California Threatened by Leadership Vote 

By Jim Wunderman 

If you are worried about the drought, growing traffic, the funding at your children’s schools, or a whole host of other issues and you live in Northern California, you should be very worried about upcoming elections in the state legislature for the next Assembly Speaker and Senate President Pro Tempore.  

For 40 years there has been an unspoken – and unbroken – rule that Southern California splits leadership of the legislature with the Bay Area and greater Northern California.  This year, Southern California leaders could seize complete control of the state legislature, winning leadership of both the Senate and the Assembly.  We respect the importance of Southern California and often work closely with leaders there on key issues, but, for the good of California, we must continue to share leadership.   As a region, therefore, we face an enormous and historic political test.

Northern California’s Senators and Assemblymembers should stand up for their districts, their voters, their region, and this historic balance of power, and ensure that either the next as the next leader of the Senate or the Continue Reading


DeSaulnier pushes for smoking ban



State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, has introduced legislation that would close loopholes in workplace smoking rules and effectively banning lighting up anywhere on the job.

Exemptions in the existing state law allow smoking in certain areas of a hotel/motel lobby and meeting and banquet rooms, retail or wholesale tobacco shops, warehouses, breakrooms, businesses with five or fewer employees and other specified locations.

California already has among the most stringent anti-smoking laws in the country.

Senate Bill 575 would end the exemptions and prohibit all smoking in the workplace.

Read on for DeSaulnier’s news release:

DeSaulnier Introduces Legislation to Eliminate Workplace Smoking

Senate Bill 575 Closes Loopholes in California Law that Expose Workers to Second Hand Smoke

While once the leader in protecting workers from the toxic effects of secondhand smoke, California has fallen far behind. This is due to the exemptions and loopholes in California’s Smoke-Free Workplace law. Because of these loopholes thousands of California workers and patrons of certain businesses continue to be exposed to secondhand smoke. To protect those workers and patrons, Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) today introduced SB 575 to eliminate loopholes in the state’s Smoke-Free Workplace law.

“California workers should not be exposed to secondhand smoke and the health risks associated with it,” said DeSaulnier. “They go to work to earn an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work, not to breathe in carcinogens. It is time to bring California’s once-groundbreaking Smoke-Free Workplace law into the 21st Century.”

“Californians are rightfully proud of the fact that we led the effort to make workplaces smoke-free so they are surprised to learn that the states that followed in our footsteps have now lapped us in providing stronger protections for workers,” said Alecia Sanchez, Director of State Legislative Advocacy, American Cancer Society, California Division. “Twenty-four states have received the 100% smoke-free designation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sadly, California is not among them. This bill will correct that.‪”

“The American Heart Association has long advocated for smoke-free workplace ordinances at the state and local levels,” said Dr. Charlie Shaeffer, American Heart Association advocate. “Secondhand smoke kills an estimated 38,000 Americans annually, 35,000 of which are from heart disease. By closing the loopholes in California’s current law, it can help decrease a nonsmoker’s risk of heart disease,” continued Dr. Shaeffer.

“It’s time for California to close the loopholes on dangerous secondhand smoke in the workplace ,” said Jane Warner, President and CEO for the American Lung Association in California. “There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke and people exposed increase their risk of developing lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent,” according to the U.S. Surgeon General’s 2006 report on secondhand smoke.

Exemptions in the Smoke-Free Workplace law allow smoking in certain areas of a hotel/motel lobby and meeting and banquet rooms, retail or wholesale tobacco shops, warehouses, breakrooms, businesses with five or fewer employees and other specified locations. SB 575 would remove those exemptions thereby prohibiting smoking in those workplaces. This bill is co-sponsored by the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association and the American Heart Association.


DeSaulnier talks on budgets and dead governors



State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, delivered his annual keynote speech at the luncheon meeting today of the Contra Costa Council. Watch the full video below.

The senator spoke on a broad range of subjects. For the first time in his career, he even used Power Point presentation in an effort to focus his often rambling style.

Among his comments:

  • Predicted the budget impasse may soon end, citing an afternoon scheduled caucus conference call and an order to appear in Sacramento on Monday. The other driving factor may be that without a budget, Caltrans will soon have to start shutting down construction projects.
  • The budget stumbling blocks include the governor’s demand for a hard spending cap, a restriction Democrats fear will hurt education and social programs. The governor also wants a bigger rainy day fund and a deal with SEIU that would require the the state’s clerks, janitors and other service workers to contribute more to their public employee pensions.
  • Described his disappointment at the Legislature’s failure to seriously consider the budget reforms developed by California Forward and passed out of committees in both the Senate and the Assembly. In response, he has created a campaign committee that will work to place the reforms on the ballot in 2012. They include performance-based budgeting, a requirement that all legislation for new programs identify a source of funds and a multi-year budget.
  • Announced his work on what he called “red teams,” collaborations between the state and the county to help businesses keep their doors open. “We know the best way to create jobs is to keep the ones you have,” he said.
  • On the subject of dead governors, DeSaulnier admits to a certain amount of hostility when he looks at the portrait in the Capitol of the father of California’s nearly 100 year initiative process, Hiram Johnson.


Garamendi shares the love



Here’s a tidbit from the campaign finance files of the now-defunct John Garamendi for Governor 2010 account: He donated in December $1,000 each to the re-election campaigns of Democratic Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan and state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier.

These two were now-Rep. Garamendi’s fierce foes in last September’s special primary election fight to replace the outgoing Ellen Tauscher in the 10th Congressional District.

Ahhh, isn’t that nice?

It doesn’t quite compensate Buchanan for the $850,000 of her own money she put into the congressional campaign but heck, it’s the thought that counts.


Political events round-up

Here are some upcoming East Bay political events:


The Delta Area League of Women Voters of Diablo Valley and San Joaquin County will host on Jan. 23 an educational Delta water forum.

The free public event will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Antioch Historical Society Hall, 1500 W. 4th St., Antioch.

A moderated panel of experts will discuss the agribusiness, environmental, legislative, commercial, and financial impact of any plans to affect the Delta.

Speakers include Gregory Gartrell, assistant manager of the Contra Costa Water District; Kari Fisher, counsel for the Farm Bureau; Lawrence Kolb, former assistant director for the Water Quality Board; Karla Nemeth, liaison, California Natural Resources Agency and Bay-Delta Conservation Plan; David Nesmeth, Environmental Water Caucus; Mary Piepho, Contra Costa County Supervisor, District III; and Susanna Schlendorf, 15th Assembly district director for Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo.

San Ramon

Republican candidates for the 11th Congressional District will participate in a Jan. 26 forum hosted by the San Ramon Valley Republican Women Federated and the Lincoln Club of Northern California.

Invited candidates include Tony Amador of Lodi, Robert Beadles of Lodi, Elizabeth Emken of Danville, Brad Goehring of Danville and David Harmer of Dougherty Valley.

The candidates have declared they will run in the June 8 primary election, where the victor will most likely face incumbent Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, in the November general election.

Lincoln Club of Northern California Vice President Judy Lloyd will moderate.

The social hour begins at 11 a.m., followed by the meeting at noon. It will be held at the Crow Canyon Country Club, 711 Silver Lake Drive, Danville, and tickets cost $23 each.

For tickets, contact Leta Rockwell at 925-838-2908 or rockwellsnuggery@comcast.net.

Walnut Creek

State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, will speak at the Jan. 27 meeting of the Diablo Valley Democratic Club on ways to improve California governance.

DeSaulnier is chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Improving State Government, which will soon release a list of recommendations.

A business meeting begins at 7 p.m., followed by the speaker at 7:30 p.m.

The free public event will be held at the Ygnacio Public Library, 2661 Oak Grove in Walnut Creek.

For more information, call 925-945-7272 or visit www.dvdems.org.


Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, a member of the prominent political family and the former lieutenant governor of Maryland, will visit Saint Mary’s College Feb. 14-19 as the Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow.

Townsend will speak with student groups and visit classes to address topics such as volunteerism and service, women in power and the intersection of faith and politics, according to the college.

She will also present a lecture titled “The Dream Shall Never Die: Hope and Action for Today,” on Feb. 16 at 7 p.m. in the Soda Activity Center at the College. The lecture is free and open to the public.

The Woodrow Wilson Fellows program, administered by the Council of Independent Colleges in Washington, D.C., brings prominent nonacademic professionals to campuses across the United States for seminars, workshops and lectures.

Townsend, an author, is the eldest daughter of Senator Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel Kennedy and niece of President John F. Kennedy and the late Sen. Edward M. (Ted) Kennedy.

She is the founder of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award. Bestowed through the RFK Center for Human Rights, the award honors individuals striving for social justice throughout the world. Townsend has also served as a deputy assistant attorney general in the U.S. Department of Justice.


Republican California gubernatorial candidate and eBay founder Meg Whitman will speak at the Feb. 16 meeting of the Commonwealth Club in Lafayette.

The event begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Lafayette Veteran’s Hall, 3780 Mt. Diablo Blvd. in Lafayette.

Tickets are $12 for members and $18 for nonmembers. Purchase tickets online at www.commonwealthclub.org.