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Heavy hitters helping Garamendi raise funds

Rep. John Garamendi, challenged in his bid for re-election by Republican Colusa County Supervisor Kim Vann, apparently feels it’s enough of a race to warrant asking some well-known names to help him raise money.

John GaramendiGaramendi, D-Fairfield, on Monday had a fundraiser at the San Francisco office of the Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe law firm, with former Mayor and Assembly Speaker Willie Brown as the guest speaker and the current and former chairmen of the California Democratic Party – John Burton and Art Torres, respectively – among the co-hosts. Individual tickets ranged from $250 to $2,500, while “PAC Friends” were asked to give $1,000 to $5,000.

Now Garamendi is touting an evening with House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., on Tuesday, August 21 at Prima, a lovely Italian restaurant in Walnut Creek; the theme will be “rebuilding the American manufacturing base.” Individual tickets for this one range from $500 to $2,500, while PAC sponsors will pay $2,500 and PAC co-hosts will pay $5,000.

“This is a critical event for me,” he said in an e-mail that went out today. “The Republican SuperPACs have made me a prime target in the newly drawn 3rd Congressional District, pouring over $130,000 of PAC money into my opponent’s campaign in just the last two weeks of June and now buying up millions of dollars of air time to smear and distort my image. Please consider supporting my campaign and help me fight back by attending this event.”

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Brown names Burton’s daughter to state board

Gov. Jerry Brown today nominated Kimiko Burton – daughter of California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton – to the State Personnel Board.

Kimiko Burton, 47, of San Francisco, has been a San Francisco deputy city attorney since 2003. Before that, she was San Francisco’s public defender – a job to which then-San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown had appointed her to fill a vacancy – since 2001; she lost the 2002 election for that office to Jeff Adachi. Willie Brown is a longtime, close political ally of her father, who at that time was the state Senate’s President Pro Tem.

Kimiko Burton had been director of the Mayor’s Criminal Justice Council in San Francisco under Willie Brown from 1996 to 2000, and staff attorney for the State Board of Equalization from 1995 to 1996. She holds a law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.

The State Personnel Board, according to its website, “was constitutionally created in 1934 to administer the civil service system and ensure that state employment is based on merit and free of political patronage.”

The nomination requires state Senate confirmation; the job pays $40,668. Burton is – need I say it? – a Democrat.

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East Bay political round-up

Here’s a look at upcoming political events and happenings around the East Bay:

Walnut Creek

Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, will host a town hall Monday in Walnut Creek to talk about proposed Republican changes to Medicare.

The GOP, which holds majority control of the House of Representatives, seeks to convert Medicare to a voucher system. Garamendi opposes it.

The free public event will be held from 5:30-7 p.m. at the Care Center of Rossmoor, 1224 Rossmoor Parkway in Walnut Creek.

Blackhawk

Attorney Catharine Baker, who oversaw GOP congressional candidate David Harmer’s ballot-counting examination in the November 2010 election, is the featured speaker at the May 12 evening meeting of the Blackhawk Republican Women.

Harmer lost the election to Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, but the race was tight up until Election Day. Both candidates and major parties sent representatives to watch the ballot-counting process.

The event begins at 5:30 p.m. with a social gathering followed by the program at 6:15 p.m. It will be held at the Blackhawk Country Club, 599 Blackhawk Club Drive, in Danville.

Tickets cost $25. For reservations, send a check made out to the Blackhawk Republican Women, c/o Marianne Lyons, 856 Turrini Drive, Danville, CA 94526. Contact Lyons at rlyons1009@sbcglobal.net or call 925-820-6452.

San Francisco

Former California Assembly Speaker and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown will deliver during on May 26 at the Commonwealth Club his annual critique of political trends.

The witty and sometimes acerbic Brown, a sought-after lecturer and a columnist, was the state’s first African-American speaker and held the position longer than any other politician. Term limits — of which he was paraded as the poster child in favor of its passage — later forced him out of office.

The event begins with a reception at 5:15 followed by the program at 6 p.m., at 595 Market Street, Second Floor, in San Francisco.

Tickets are $15 for members. For more information, contact the Commonwealth Club www.commonwealthclub.org or 415-597-6734.

Pittsburg

Contra Costa Supervisor Federal Glover has expanded by two the number of community members who will serve on a panel charged with handing out the proceeds of a Keller Canyon landfill tipping fee.

The fund, which has distributed between $800,000 and $1.8 million annually over the past decade, is intended to offset the landfill’s effects on traffic, open space, recreational facilities and agriculture in the Pittsburg-Bay Point area, where the dump is located.

In a scathing analysis published last year, retired Auditor-Controller Steve Ybarra recommended greater oversight of which community groups receive the grants. The panel was handing out more money than it was taking in, and there were allegations of favoritism.

Glover denied any wrongdoing had occurred but agreed to study improvements in the grant award process.

One seat will go to a member of the Bay Point Chamber of Commerce and the second to a faculty member or administrator in the Mt. Diablo Unified Schools who works in Bay Point schools.

Interested residents should contact Glover’s office at 925-427-8138 and request an application, which must be submitted by 5 p.m. on May 20.

Martinez

Author and journalist Marc Sandalow will headline the second event of the new Martinez Speaker Series set for June 6.

Sandalow, who began his career as a reporter for the Martinez News Gazette, is the editor of the California News Service, associate academic director of the UC Berkeley Washington Center and a political analysis for KCBS radio in San Francisco.

He previously spent 21 years on the staff of the San Francisco Chronicle, including a decade as the paper’s bureau chief in Washington, D.C.

Sandalow wrote “Madam Speaker: Nancy Pelosi’s Life, Times and Rise to Power” and co-authored “Ballparks: A Panoramic History.”

The event begins at 7 p.m. at the Shell Clubhouse, 1635 Pacheco Blvd., in Martinez.

Tickets are $15 and include a post-event dessert reception with Sandalow. Purchase tickets online at www.MainStreetMartinez.org or call 925-228-3577.

Contra Costa County

The Contra Costa Election Department seeks pollworkers in Alamo and Richmond for the June 7 special election.

No prior experience is required. Training for election clerks is available online and a class will be offered in Richmond.

Clerks receive an $80 stipend for the day’s work, while more experienced inspectors receive $100. Workers may also receive other stipends of $5 to $20 for attending classes, picking up supplies, delivering ballots and providing Spanish bilingual assistance.

For information, call 925-335-7873 or email EO.Recruitment@vote.cccounty.us.

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A few upcoming political events

Saturday, April 25 – The Northern California chapter of American Political Items Collectors will host a political memorabilia show from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Finnish Brotherhood Hall, 1970 Chestnut St. in Berkeley. Aside from lots of dealers, there’ll be free appraisals, a special display of Obama campaign collectibles and a live mini-auction at noon. Admission is $4, but free for kids or students with valid ID.

Sunday, April 26 – Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, a Palestinian physician whose three daughters and niece were killed January 16 by Israeli shelling in Gaza, will speak about the reasons for his unwavering hope for peace between Israelis and Palestinians at 7 p.m. in Kehilla Community Synagogue, at 1300 Grand Ave. in Piedmont. The longtime peace advocate’s loss gained an international spotlight when he called into an Israeli television show during the attack. The event is co-sponsored by Kehilla, Americans for Peace Now, and the Bay Area chapter of Brit Tzedek v’Shalom. The suggested donation is $10 to $20, but nobody will be turned away for lack of funds.

Thursday, April 30 — American Civil Liberties Union executive director Anthony Romero will speak on “The Urgency of Action in the Age of Obama” at 6 p.m., preceded by a 5:30 p.m. reception, at the Commonwealth Club of California’s office on the second floor of 595 Market St. (at Second) in San Francisco. Romero says that while the first months of Obama’s presidency have been marked by considerable change, if the threats to civil liberties are not addressed, America’s future may be more imperiled than previously believed. Tickets cost $12 for club members, $18 for nonmembers and $7 for students with valid identification, and are available online.

Thursday, May 7 – Former Assembly Speaker and former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown will give his annual critique of state and national political trends at 6 p.m., preceded by a 5:30 p.m. reception, in the Commonwealth Club of California’s office on the second floor of 595 Market St. (at Second) in San Francisco. This event is open only to club members at $12 per ticket, each of whom can bring one guest at $18 per ticket; tickets are available online.

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What does California need? Reform, reform, reform

Sunne Wright McPeak

Sunne Wright McPeak

California’s increasingly precarious financial predicament will require major reforms of a wide variety, agreed  state leaders and former elected officials who spoke to the Contra Costa Council this morning during its annual CCUSA conference in Concord.

They blamed — not in equal parts — term limits, the two-thirds voting threshhold for budgets and taxes, campaign finance reform, partisan primaries, polemic politics in Sacramento and the Legislature’s inability to focus on solutions that work.

Ex=Business, Transportatoin and Housing Secretary Sunne Wright McPeak even went so far as to diss her former boss, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, calling his decision to roll back the vehicle license fee a terrible one that has helped contribute to at least $6 billion of the state’s structural deficit. McPeak has in the past been very circumspect in her comments about the governor and the three years she worked for him.

Asked how she woudl fix the $41 billion state budget gap, McPeak told the audience she would take three years in order to avoid irreparable damage to schools and social services. But she would hike the sales tax for two or three years and reinstate the vehicle license fee and permanently dedicate it to city and county governments.

McPeak called it a distraction to focus on the two-thirds requirement in the legislature to pass a budget or a tax hike.

“I don’t want ot get to a bad budget faster,” she said.

Instead, McPeak said she would shift the state’s full attention to growing the economy as a means to restore public funds in conjunction with a full analysis of existing state programs’ effectiveness.

Willie Brown

Willie Brown

Former Assembly Speaker and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown’s reform ideas included an end to term limits and called it absurd that the two-thirds voting requirements have been imposed by a majority vote given the fact that these rules would never receive a two-thirds vote.

As for campaign finance, he called for a repeal of much of what he referred to as “so-called” reforms.

“In my time in public office, there were no such things as independent expenditures, he said. ” I was the independent expenditure. The public is entitled ot know who gave money and how much and how it was spent. These modern campaign reforms are bullshit. It conceals what is really happening and never really know the source of the money.”

Click through to next page for recommendations offered by anothe speaker, former Assemblyman Joe Canciamilla of Pittsburg.

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Willie Brown opines on Obama v. Clinton, 49ers

Former San Francisco Mayor and Assembly Speaker Willie Brown talked to the Bay Area Council‘s 2008 Outlook Conference today, aboard the U.S.S. Hornet in Alameda, about the presidential race.

On Barack Obama‘s controversial comments at an April 6 fundraiser in San Francisco, suggesting working-class people are bitter about their economic lot and “cling to guns and religion” as a result, Brown said this “frankly was probably an accurate comment.” But he said Obama should’ve realized a poor choice of words to express his sentiment, even if spoken before a small, no-press crowd in a private home in California, could be broadcast worldwide.
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Brown said the race for the Democratic nomination is “still open season… At the moment, I don’t think you can pick a winner.” But “if you were a betting person, at this stage of the game, you’d have to be on Obama,” who is in the lead after coming from behind a presumptive frontrunner, and who offers a vibrant, future-oriented message.

Brown said he thought when the race began that if Hillary Clinton remained respectful of Obama and her other rivals for the nomination, she would win. “I did not beleive it made any sense to assume that instead of primary campaigns there would be coronations.” Obama, he said, has proved to be “a fabulous, qualified human being who also has lots of flavor about him;” his campaign proved to be savvy by not immediately gravitating to traditionally black forums and communities, but rather appealing from the start to as broad a demographic base as possible.

A ticket with both Clinton and Obama is “not possible at all,” Brown opined; their policies and approaches to politics are too different. “Obama is really part of a whole new thing that’s going on out there in the world of politics.”

More from Willie Brown, though not about the presidential race, after the jump… Continue Reading