5

Dublin Republican’s BART strike bill still alive

An East Bay lawmaker’s bill to limit BART labor strikes surprisingly wasn’t killed outright Wednesday by Assembly Democrats.

The Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security Committee heard Assemblywoman Catharine Baker’s AB 528 but didn’t vote on it, instead making it a two-year bill. Chairman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, agreed to work with Baker’s office to “facilitate discussions… on how to address the issue,” a staffer said.

Catharine Baker“I was pleased with the outcome today, I’m pleased with the progress this bill has made so far – it’s the first time the Legislature has even heard a bill regarding BART strikes,” Baker, R-Dublin, said later Wednesday. “The road continues to be a rocky one, but I’m going to be tireless in finding a solution to BART strikes.”

Bonta couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday. (See update at bottom.)

A bill to impose a statewide ban on transit strikes, authored by state Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, quickly died in committee early last year. Baker’s AB 528 instead would bar BART workers from striking as long as they continue to get wages and benefits – in other words, if an existing contract has a no-strike clause and management keeps honoring the pact’s financial terms after it expires, unions couldn’t strike.

Baker campaigned last year on pursuing a bill like this after two 2013 strikes brought BART to grinding halts, snarling Bay Area traffic and costing the local economy $73 million per day by one business group’s estimate.

Baker said Wednesday she believes Assembly Democrats had little choice but to give the bill a hearing, because “BART strikes are a significant issue affecting the state’s economy, not just the Bay area, and it would be irresponsible to ignore that.” Her bill might’ve had an easier time because it “is a little bit different from approaches in the past… and I think that gave it a better chance of being heard.”

UPDATE @ 5:30 P.M.: Bonta’s office just emailed me this statement, which indicates this bill’s supporters shouldn’t get their hopes up:

Rob Bonta“During the Committee hearing today, Assemblymember Baker agreed to make AB 528 a two-year bill. As a result, there was no need for any members to vote on it today. I, as Committee Chair, and my Committee staff offered to help convene a meeting between all the impacted parties.The right to strike is the cornerstone of workers’ rights. And I believe this bill, as written, would further shift the balance of power in labor negotiations even more in favor of employers. Instead of looking for ways to eliminate or reduce the rights of BART employees, we should be using this time to heal and repair the relationship between employees and management so that going forward the labor negotiation process is improved for all parties.”

3

SD7: Union IE group launches pro-Bonilla TV ad

The union-funded PAC that’s opposing Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer in the 7th State Senate District’s special election has launched a television ad on behalf of Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord.

Working Families Opposing Glazer for Senate 2015 rolled out a 30-second ad Wednesday highlighting Bonilla’s efforts to expand early childhood education and her support of a bipartisan bill making it easier to fire educators who abuse children. The ad ends with the voiceover: “No wonder classroom teachers, local law enforcement, and Governor Jerry Brown trust Susan Bonilla.”

https://youtu.be/ImIQlwAHcMc

Working Families spokesman Steve Maviglio said the ad began airing Wednesday and will run for at least a week on all three cable systems serving the district; he wouldn’t specify the cost, except to say it’s a “substantial” ad buy.

Records from the Secretary of State’s office show the group has spent at least $821,000 on the race so far. But Glazer has received a lot of independent-expenditure help, too – Southern California businessman Bill Bloomfield has anted up at least $763,000 on Glazer’s behalf, and the California Chamber of Commerce’s JobsPAC has spent at least about $494,000.

16

SD7: FPPC nixes Glazer’s complaint vs. union PAC

The state’s political watchdog agency has rejected state Senate candidate Steve Glazer’s complaint about the union-bankrolled PAC that’s opposing him.

Steve GlazerGlazer – Orinda’s mayor, and a Democrat – faces Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, in the May 19 special election for the 7th State Senate District seat. He complained last Wednesday to the California Fair Political Practices Commission that Working Families Opposing Glazer for Senate had issued a mailer that didn’t disclose the big money – $185,000 from the State Council of Service Employees and $75,000 from the California School Employees Association – behind the PAC.

But Galena West, acting chief of the FPPC’s enforcement division, sent a letter to Glazer on Tuesday saying the PAC “has provided evidence that the mailer was already in production prior to the committee’s acquiring contributors of more than $50,000.”

“The FPPC’s Enforcement Division will not pursue this matter further,” West wrote.

“Once again, Steve Glazer’s attacks on working families have backfired in another attempt to distract voters from the more than $745,000 he has received from a Bush and Schwarzenegger donor from Los Angeles and more than $450,000 he has received from a political action committee funded by tobacco companies and other corporate interests,” Steven Maviglio, the PAC’s spokesman, said in a news release Tuesday. “It’s unfortunate that he has wasted taxpayers resources for this publicity stunt.”

But Glazer campaign spokesman Jason Bezis retorted that “the essence of the complaint is now factually confirmed; the vast majority of the money for these mailers has come from government unions. They didn’t want the voters to know this and used a technicality to obscure this fact.”

“It’s obvious that the unions are not proud of their parenthood of these false mailers, as we saw in the primary election with their fake Asian American Small Business PAC,” Bezis added. “Powerful special interests, such as these government unions, detest thoughtful and independent candidates like Steve Glazer. The choice for voters is a special interest sycophant like Bonilla versus a people’s advocate like Glazer.”

41

SD7: Steve Glazer files FPPC complaint on unions

Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer, vying with Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla in the 7th State Senate District special election, filed a complaint Wednesday with the state’s political watchdog agency claiming labor unions are hiding their role in a group that’s attacking him.

Steve GlazerGlazer informed the Fair Political Practices Commission that the “Working Families Opposing Glazer for Senate” group received hundreds of thousands of dollars from union committees, but failed to list on its mailer the names of the top two union donors who had contributed $50,000 or more, as state law requires.

“The disclosure rules are in effect to give voters full knowledge of the special interests who are funding these communications,” Glazer said in a news release. “These groups are sophisticated political players who circumvented disclosure laws for the sole purpose of misleading voters.”

Glazer cited filings with the Secretary of State that show the State Council of Service Employees gave $185,000 and the California School Employees Association gave $75,000 to support this mailer.

Before the March 17 primary, unions had contributed money to the Asian American Small Business PAC, which put out mailers supporting Republican Michaela Hertle – who had dropped out of the race Feb. 2 and endorsed Glazer. The PAC previously had almost exclusively endorsed Asian American Democrats, and the mailers were seen as an effort to sap votes from Glazer.

“Special interest groups are fearful of my candidacy because I won’t do their bidding. They need to come out of the shadows and play by the rules. I have asked the Fair Political Practices Commission to hold them accountable,” Glazer said.

Glazer has also benefitted from extensive independent spending, with massive outlays from Southern California businessman Bill Bloomfield and the California Chamber of Commerce’s JobsPAC.

The special general election – to succeed Democrat Mark DeSaulnier, who was elected to Congress in November – will be held May 19.

UPDATE @ 3:06 P.M.: Steve Maviglio, spokesman for Working Families Opposing Glazer for Senate, called the complaint “nothing more than a meritless publicity stunt cooked up by Big Tobacco political consultant Steve Glazer to deflect from the fact that his campaign is being bankrolled big insurance and drug companies, out-of-state corporations, and other special interests. We look forward to the FPPC quickly dismissing this smear.”

4

SD7: Money & endorsements as endgame nears

Independent spending has continued to run amok in the all-Democrat 7th State Senate District special election since I last updated the tsunami Friday.

To recap, unions are spending big for Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, and against Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer – though Glazer has his own deep-pocketed, anti-union benefactors. Former Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan looks to be caught in the crossfire, and former Concord City Council candidate Terry Kremin remains beneath the radar.

Mailers are flooding the district’s mailboxes, often several a day, as the candidates plan get-out-the-vote efforts like precinct-walking and phone-banking for the campaign’s final days.

Here’s where the independent spending stands as of Wednesday:

    Bill Bloomfield, businessman: $552,984 (pro-Glazer)
    JobsPAC (California Chamber of Commerce): $297,494 (pro-Glazer or anti- the other two)
    California Charter Schools Association Advocates: $128,202 (pro-Glazer)
    EdVoice: $23,570 (pro-Glazer)
    Independent Voter PAC: $7,539 (pro-Glazer)
    California Dental Association: $336,631 (pro-Bonilla)
    California Professional Firefighters: $154,928 (pro-Bonilla)
    California Medical Association: $83,439 (pro-Bonilla)
    California Building Industry Association: $66,526 (pro-Buchanan)
    Working Families Opposing Glazer (labor unions): $240,829 (anti-Glazer)
    Asian American Small Business PAC: $122,478 (anti-Glazer or pro-Michaela Hertle, a Republican who dropped out and endorsed Glazer)

The grand total: $2,014,619. And that, of course, doesn’t include the $669,000 the three candidates had spent as of Feb. 28 – a figure that will surely rise in these final weeks before next Tuesday’s special primary.

Buchanan’s campaign bankroll includes $75,000 that she loaned out of her own pocket on Feb. 28 – about 26 percent of what her campaign has collected this year.

There’s been no movement yet on the federal trademark-infringement lawsuit that the California Republican Party filed last week against the Asian American Small Business PAC. As previously reported here, the PAC – which almost always supports Asian American Democrats – has been using union money to buy fliers on behalf of Michaela Hertle, the Pleasanton Republican who quit the race Feb. 2 and endorsed Glazer. Hertle and the state GOP contend unions are funneling money through the PAC to produce mailers urging Republicans to vote for Hertle, thereby sapping votes from Glazer.

The party complains the PAC used its elephant logo without permission; party vice chairwoman and attorney Harmeet Dhillon said Wednesday she has not yet been able to serve the committee with the complaint, but she’s sending its officers and vendors letters warning them to preserve evidence for the case.

In other news, Bonilla has continued to rack up significant endorsements in the past few weeks, including those of the California Labor Federation and former Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez. Miller called her “a proven leader who has delivered balanced budgets, improved our schools, fought to protect the Delta, and created new opportunities for middle-class families.”

Clean Water Action endorsed Buchanan last week.

10

SD7: IE money for Republican who dropped out

The independent spending that’s flooding the 7th State Senate District’s special election has taken an odd turn, as a committee known for backing Asian American Democrats spends on behalf of a white Republican who dropped out of the contest weeks ago.

The Asian American Small Business PAC has reported spending $46,380 on research, polling and mailing on behalf of Michaela Hertle. And that’s bad news for the candidate whom Hertle endorsed: Democrat Steve Glazer.

Steve Glazer“It’s gutter politics,” Glazer charged Monday. “There’s no Asian-American in the race, and the Republican has withdrawn and endorsed me. It’s clearly an attempt to confuse the voters and smear me.”

Glazer, Orinda’s mayor and a former campaign advisor to Gov. Jerry Brown, has set about courting Republican votes, as he’s more centrist than the contest’s other two prominent Democrats – Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, and former Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo.

But when Hertle dropped out of the race and endorsed Glazer Feb. 2, it already was too late to remove her name from the ballots. By spending money to tout her now, the PAC effectively is sapping votes from Glazer.

The mailer already is hitting registered Republicans’ mailboxes across the district. On the front, beside a photo of Hertle apparently cribbed from her Twitter profile, it asks, “Why settle for less? Let’s elect a real Republican to stand up for us in the State Senate.” On the back, it says the community “needs a real reformer in the State Senate who can break the partisan gridlock and produce results for us.”

Click to enlarge:
Hertle flier front

Hertle flier back

“Unlike the other candidates, Michaela Hertle is an independent leader who owes no favors to the special interests paralyzing our state government. We can trust Michaela to fight for reform and for us,” the flier says, praising her as fiscally conservative and a government reformer.

Bill Wong, the PAC’s political director, insisted this truly is a pro-Hertle effort and not an attempt to sap votes from Glazer to benefit Bonilla or Buchanan.

“Michaela is still on the ballot and there’s an option for people to vote for her,” Wong said, noting about 41 percent of the district’s voters are Republicans or independents. “She thought she couldn’t raise enough money to run a legitimate campaign, so we figured we’d throw in this money and see how it goes.”

The PAC mostly gives money to Asian American Democrats – it gave only to Democrats in the 2013-2014 cycle, and all but one of the 17 were Asian American. But Wong said it has given to a few Republicans in the past, including Michelle Steele and Alan Nakanishi for the Board of Equalization in 2010, so supporting Hertle isn’t unprecedented.

She’s the candidate most aligned with the PAC’s ideals, he insisted: “Everyone else is kind of a career politician.”

Who’s putting up the money remains an open question.

Despite the PAC’s name, it gets most of its money from big companies and unions. Its biggest contributors in 2013-14 were Comcast Corp. ($46,800); International Union of Operating Engineers, Stationary Engineers Local 39 ($40,000); California State Council of Service Employees ($30,000); AT&T ($27,286); Professional Engineers in California Government ($20,000); Eli Lilly & Co. ($15,000); and the State Building and Construction Trades Council ($15,000).

The PAC had $55,064 cash on hand as of Dec. 31, so either it has mostly cleaned out its coffers with this spending, or it has received more contributions since the start of the year. Any such new contributions won’t have to be reported until well after this March 17 special primary election.

Either way, because it already had more money banked than it spent on this election, its mailer need only identify the PAC and not any new major donors.

Among those listed as officers on the PAC’s filings are California political and public affairs consultants James Santa Maria and Lucy McCoy; also listed is Jadine Nielsen, a longtime Democratic political operative, former Democratic National Committeewoman and former Los Angeles deputy mayor now living in Hawaii. None of them returned phone calls Monday.

Glazer says he’s pretty sure he knows who’s funding this “pro-Hertle” effort.

“It’s all being orchestrated by the BART unions and friends,” he said. “This is a front group for nefarious interests that don’t want to be known.”

It’s no secret the unions hate him. Glazer burned his bridges with labor first by consulting with JOBSPAC, the California Chamber of Commerce’s political action committee, to support centrist Democrats like himself beat labor-backed Democrats in 2012’s elections. More recently, he crusaded for legislation to ban transit-worker strikes like the ones that stilled BART in 2013.

Labor unions at the start of this month created Working Families Opposing Glazer for Senate 2015. In the past week, that committee has received $35,000 from the California Teachers Association, $25,000 from the California Federation of Teachers, $25,000 from the Professional Engineers in California Government, and $25,000 from the California Labor Federation AFL-CIO – a total of $110,000. And it has spent almost $64,400 so far on anti-Glazer research, polling, mailing and a website, KnowGlazer.com.