Articles Posted by SmithL

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  • A few more thoughts on Pete Stark’s defeat

    11/07/2012 7:31:47 PM PST · by SmithL · 23 replies
    Inside Bay Area ^ | 11/7/12 | Josh Richman
    We’ve posted my story for tomorrow’s print editions on how Rep. Pete Stark’s defeat marks both the end of an era and, probably, the start of another Democrat-on-Democrat race for the 15th Congressional District in 2014. Here’s a few final thoughts for which there wasn’t room in that story, but which seem noteworthy nonetheless. This was a contest for which our editors wanted election-night photographs, but Stark’s campaign refused to tell us Monday and Tuesday where he would be Tuesday night; I still don’t know where he watched the returns. I take this as a sign that his campaign staff...
  • TENNESSEE: 'Super-majority' for GOP assured in Legislature

    11/06/2012 10:15:39 PM PST · by SmithL · 7 replies
    Knoxville News Sentinel ^ | 11/7/12 | Tom Humphrey
    NASHVILLE — Republicans gained at least five seats in the state Senate Tuesday and at least two in the state House, giving the party a "super majority" in both chambers, according to unofficial election returns. By controlling two-thirds of the seats in both chambers for the first time since the Reconstruction era, Republicans would have a quorum and could continue in session even if all Democrats walk out. The two-thirds "super majority" also allows united Republicans to suspend normal rules and instantly pass legislation. Going into the election, Republicans held a 64-34 majority in the state House with one independent...
  • Poll predicts fewer voters in California than four years ago

    11/06/2012 10:34:17 AM PST · by SmithL · 21 replies
    Sacramento Bee ^ | 11/6/12 | Laurel Rosenhall
    The number of Californians who vote in today's election is expected to drop by 1 million compared with four years ago, despite a record number of registered voters in the state. And for the first time in state history, more votes are expected to be cast by mail than at a precinct. Those are predictions of a Field Poll released today, which says 69.9 percent of registered California voters, or nearly 12.75 million people, are likely to turn out for this year's general election, compared with 79.4 percent in the 2008 contest between Sen. John McCain and then-Sen. Barack Obama....
  • {CA State} Senate GOP leader 'cautiously optimistic' about blocking two-thirds

    11/05/2012 7:04:42 PM PST · by SmithL · 3 replies
    SacBee: Capitol Alert ^ | 11/5/12 | Torey Van Oot
    It's not just Democrats making a final push in the state's four competitive Senate seats. Senate GOP leader Bob Huff hit the trail last week to boost candidates he needs to win to prevent Democrats from winning a veto-proof supermajority in the upper house. . . .
  • Arguments laid bare at nudity ban hearing

    11/05/2012 6:57:56 PM PST · by SmithL · 20 replies
    SFGate: City Insider ^ | 11/5/12 | John Reilly and John Cote
    Let’s face it, it would’ve been weird if everyone’s clothes stayed on for the entirety of Monday’s hearing on legislation that would ban public nudity in San Francisco. For two hours, speakers tussled over whether the Castro “naked guys” were a few harmless individuals just expressing themselves, or a growing public nuisance that San Franciscans should no longer have to tolerate. Supervisor Scott Wiener, who represents the Castro, is proposing legislation forbidding genital exposure on city sidewalks, plazas, parklets, streets and public transit while exempting street fairs, festivals and parades. “Over the past two years, the situation on our streets...
  • CALIFORNIA: True source of $11M contribution revealed

    11/05/2012 6:52:44 PM PST · by SmithL · 8 replies
    San Francisco Chronicle ^ | 11/5/12 | Marisa Lagos
    Americans for Job Security, a conservative, pro-business national group, is the true source of the $11 million last-minute infusion of campaign cash into a California political committee that supports an antiunion ballot measure and opposes Gov. Jerry Brown's tax proposition, state campaign finance regulators announced early Monday. But the hard-fought disclosure, which comes just one day before the election, creates more questions than it answers, because under federal law, Americans for Job Security does not have to reveal its donors.
  • Republicans play offense in Tenn. House races

    11/04/2012 7:12:50 PM PST · by SmithL · 2 replies
    AP via KnoxNews ^ | 11/4/12 | ERIK SCHELZIG - Associated Press
    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Buoyed by overflowing campaign accounts, redrawn legislative districts and an unpopular Democratic president at the top of the ticket, Tennessee Republicans are expecting to add to their already considerable advantage in the state House on Tuesday. While seven Republican incumbents were defeated in the August primaries, there is little reason to expect any spillover into the general election. Gov. Bill Haslam on Friday predicted "a good night for Republicans," with the GOP picking up supermajorities in both chambers. The two-thirds majority would give Republicans the ability to overcome any procedural challenges by Democrats, and prevent the...
  • VIDEO: Jerry Brown campaigns for tax measure at LA churches

    11/04/2012 6:54:35 PM PST · by SmithL · 10 replies
    SacBee: Capitol Alert ^ | 11/4/12 | David Siders
    LOS ANGELES - The choir sang, morning announcements were made and Mildred Rodgers watched as Gov. Jerry Brown took the pulpit at West Angeles Church of God in Christ. She has grown accustomed to politicians visiting in elections years. "Every voting season," Rodgers said. "It's really funny when we get two running for the same (office)." This morning there was only Brown, campaigning in four traditionally black churches here for his ballot initiative to raise the state sales tax and income taxes on California's highest earners. The churches Brown visited in Los Angeles' poorer neighborhoods have hosted Brown before, and...
  • Arizona group ordered to release records {by California Supreme Court}

    11/04/2012 6:36:24 PM PST · by SmithL · 18 replies
    San Francisco Chronicle ^ | 11/4/12 | Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer
    The state Supreme Court issued an order Sunday to allow California's political watchdog to identify contributors to an Arizona group's last-minute infusion of $11 million to the campaigns opposing Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative and supporting an antiunion measure on Tuesday's ballot. But the Arizona group declined to turn over its records by the court's 4 p.m. deadline and told a state lawyer it was planning to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, said Ann Ravel, chairwoman of the state Fair Political Practices Commission. The refusal reduced the likelihood that the donors will be publicly identified before Tuesday, when the...
  • Is there a Plan B for the state budget if California's Proposition 30 fails?

    11/04/2012 9:31:27 AM PST · by SmithL · 20 replies
    Sacramento Bee ^ | 11/4/12 | Kevin Yamamura
    Gov. Jerry Brown has framed it as a simple choice for voters: Pass Proposition 30 or schools will suffer early shutdowns and college students will pay higher tuition. But education leaders privately have discussed fallback efforts to spare schools from some of the worst consequences, especially after the initiative fell below 50 percent in recent polls. School groups are expected to lobby hard to reverse or ease budget reductions headed their way if voters reject Proposition 30. They have two main paths: the Capitol or the courts. "The education community will use every tool at its disposal to fight the...
  • Survey shows voters' thoughts on character traits of Obama, Romney

    11/02/2012 8:45:18 PM PDT · by SmithL · 10 replies
    Knoxville News Sentinel ^ | 11/2/12 | BARTHOLOMEW SULLIVAN, Scripps Howard News Service
    Results from an online survey posted on Scripps websites (including suggests people seek leadership, honesty, judgment and fairness in their next president but don't see either Mitt Romney or Barack Obama strongly possessing all of those traits. Voters think character is an important determinant in selecting political candidates, according to polls cited by Neal H. Mayerson, whose non-profit Cincinnati-based VIA Institute on Character designed the online survey that was placed on several Scripps websites in recent weeks. The nonscientific survey asked respondents to identify the top character traits they sought in the next president from a list of 24....
  • DOJ sending voting observers to 23 states

    11/02/2012 6:29:19 PM PDT · by SmithL · 26 replies
    SFGate: Politics Blog ^ | 11/2/12 | Dan Freedman
    With Election Day only four days off, the Justice Department is planning to send 780 observers to polls in 23 states including Texas, California and New York. DOJ lawyers and other employees will monitor voting in Harris, Fort Bend, Dallas and Jefferson Counties in Texas; Alameda and Riverside Counties in California; and Orange County in New York. The Justice Department observers will join a growing throng of lawyers and poll watchers sent by the presidential candidates as well as state and local candidates. In addition, Houston-based True the Vote, self-proclaimed poll integrity organization, has pledged to deploy a virtual army...
  • GOP registration dips below 30 percent in Calif.

    11/02/2012 6:19:28 PM PDT · by SmithL · 59 replies
    AP via SFGate ^ | 11/2/12 | HANNAH DREIER, Associated Press
    ACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California has reached an all-time high of 18.2 million registered voters, while the number of registered Republicans has fallen below 30 percent, signaling a worrisome decline for the state's minority party, officials said Friday. In its final update before Tuesday's general election, the secretary of state's office said the number of registered voters has increased by 950,000 since the 2008 presidential contest. Officials attribute that surge in part to the state's new online registration system, which helped many young, Democratic-leaning Californians sign up to vote this fall. That system was seen as a threat to the...
  • Verdict: Richard Baumgartner guilty of 5 of 6 federal counts

    11/02/2012 1:03:53 PM PDT · by SmithL · 13 replies
    KNOXVILLE — A federal jury this afternoon convicted disgraced judge Richard Baumgartner on five of six counts of misprision of a felony. On their fourth day of deliberations, the 10-woman, two-man panel found the former Knox County Criminal Court judge guilty of lying to an Anderson County judge, a Knox County judge, a state prosecutor, a child support referee and the director of transitional housing at the YWCA.
  • Oakland teachers failed kids over grant

    11/02/2012 11:38:22 AM PDT · by SmithL · 11 replies
    San Francisco Chronicle ^ | 11/2/12 | Chip Johnson
    The Oakland Education Association might want to consider changing its name. The teachers union was one of six unions in California that refused last week to support their school district application for millions of dollars worth of federal funding offered by the Race to the Top program. Without union support, the districts could not qualify for the grants, which - if won - would have paid for high-quality math programs for fourth-through-eighth-grade students. Clearly the union placed the welfare of its membership above that of the students, so it's somewhat misleading that it calls itself an "education association." The big...
  • Same-sex marriage leading in Washington

    11/02/2012 11:35:19 AM PDT · by SmithL · 13 replies
    San Francisco Chronicle ^ | 11/2/12 | Joe Garofoli, Chronicle Political Writer
    Tacoma, Wash. -- If you believe the polls, and many people here are wary even when they're favorable, then Washington voters are poised to legalize two things Californians haven't: same-sex marriage and marijuana. With ballot measures on both issues before Washington voters Tuesday, the lessons learned from California's Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in 2008, and Proposition 19, which would have made marijuana legal but was shot down in 2010, have been echoing across Washington for months. Some voters are noticing a different tone to the campaigns, with the issues being framed differently in a state where, in the...
  • Tennessee Supreme Court allows library card ID for voters, for now

    11/01/2012 7:29:05 PM PDT · by SmithL · 16 replies
    Memphis Commercial Appeal ^ | 11/1/12 | Richard Locker, Amos Maki, Zack McMillin
    NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Supreme Court Thursday ordered state and local election officials to accept Memphis' library photo identification cards for voting purposes in Tuesday's general election provided the voter is properly registered. The Shelby County Election Commission instructed its staff to comply immediately on the last day of early voting Thursday, said commission chairman Robert Meyers. "The instructions are to accept as valid the Memphis photo library cards, which means those voters that present with a Memphis library photo ID would then be allowed to vote on the machines. And any voter who has cast a provisional paper ballot...
  • Is Eric Swalwell a Tea Partier? Um, no.

    11/01/2012 7:09:55 PM PDT · by SmithL · 9 replies
    Inside Bay Area ^ | 11/1/12 | Josh Richman
    Supporters of Eric Swalwell, the Democratic insurgent who’s challenging Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, are up in arms about a recent Stark mailer which depicts Swalwell in a cup of tea – a la the Tea Party. Here are some excerpts: “Who is really behind Eric Swalwell? On the doorstep, at meetings, driving this rookie city councilman’s campaign? Tea Party supporters. They’ve given money, given energy and given life to the Swalwell campaign – and they’ll succeed unless we stop them.” “Campaign finance reports show that over $86,000 of Eric Swalwell’s contributions come from Republicans. Swalwell claims he’s no conservative, but...
  • Gavin Newsom criticizes Jerry Brown in KGO Radio interview

    10/31/2012 6:16:11 PM PDT · by SmithL · 5 replies
    SacBee: Capitol Alert ^ | 10/31/12 | Kevin Yamamura
    Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom two weeks ago criticized Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative approach, suggesting to KGO Radio in San Francisco that the governor was slow to hit the campaign trail and that he was telling college students "something that's not true." Newsom spoke to KGO on Oct. 17, a day after Brown appeared at UCLA in the first of several appearances at state colleges and universities. But the interview got little statewide notice until Bee columnist Dan Morain referenced Newsom's caustic words for Brown in today's Bee. Though both Democrats who support Proposition 30, Newsom and Brown have endured...
  • What to do if Proposition 30 fails?

    10/31/2012 9:52:31 AM PDT · by SmithL · 26 replies
    Sacramento Bee ^ | 10/31/12 | Dan Walters
    As the political odds turn against Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown's tax measure, political insiders are turning their attention, however reluctantly, to the fallout should, indeed, voters reject the sales and income tax hike on Tuesday. The measure would deliver $6 billion a year in new revenues and should it fail, Brown and the Legislature have already passed $6 billion in so-called "trigger cuts" that would be imposed, overwhelmingly on K-12 schools. So that would seem to be that. But it's not. As Brown campaigns – with increasing desperation – for the measure, he insists that were it to fail,...
  • The Morning After: First storm-related anti-Obama attack ad appears

    10/30/2012 12:20:56 PM PDT · by SmithL · 15 replies
    SFGate: Politics Blog ^ | 10/30/12 | Richard Dunham
    A friend of ours in northern Virginia received this flier delivered to her apartment’s front door this morning: The ad, attacking President Obama, declared, “WE’VE SEEN STORMS IN VIRGINIA, BUT NONE LIKE THIS…”Below an image of ominous storm clouds is the stern visage of President Obama staring out into space. Next to it is this text: Barack Obama’s policies have added $4 billion in debt each day he’s been in office.America CAN’T AFFORD this debt.
  • How Romney, Obama do in California may tip scales in close House, state races

    10/30/2012 8:46:40 AM PDT · by SmithL · 16 replies
    Sacramento Bee ^ | 10/30/12 | Torey Van Oot
    Tony Krvaric knew he wasn't going to get much help from the national presidential campaign in his effort to get people to the polls to boost local GOP candidates to victory. So the San Diego County Republican Party chairman spent more than $15,000 on Mitt Romney bumper stickers, lawn signs and other campaign swag to motivate voters and volunteers. "There's a lot of enthusiasm for Romney and Ryan, and I want to tap into that," Krvaric said. "That will help all my local candidates." No matter what happens nationally, the presidential race is all but decided in California, with President...
  • Shoeshine stand torched in celebration

    10/30/2012 8:40:42 AM PDT · by SmithL · 10 replies
    San Francisco Chronicle ^ | 10/30/12 | C.W. Nevius
    The I-am-so-thrilled-the-Giants-won-the-World-Series-that-I-want-to-set-something-on-fire compulsion is well recognized, if not well understood. Surely these firebugs realize they had no more to do with the victory than a local housecat. Still, it happens every time there's a big win, so we should probably be pleased that it is mostly just trash bins and random bits of paper and wood. But there are also moments that make you wonder exactly what is wrong with people. Among the objects set ablaze Sunday night was the shoeshine stand of Larry Moore, the dapper, homeless shoe shiner of Market Street. Moore's friend and benefactor, Loren Lopin, says...
  • Women 'Obama defectors' could swing race

    10/30/2012 8:36:24 AM PDT · by SmithL · 15 replies
    San Francisco Chronicle ^ | 10/30/12 | Carla Marinucci, Chronicle Political Writer
    With polls showing that Republican Mitt Romney has significantly eroded President Obama's once-robust lead among women, both parties have turned their attention in the final days of the 2012 campaign to a key slice of the women's vote that could be crucial to victory - millions of potential "Obama defectors." Women who voted for the Democrat in 2008, and are considering jumping ship this year, are a target of impassioned campaigning as Republicans and Democrats aim for the margins in battleground states. Nancy Keenan, who heads NARAL Pro-Choice America, the nation's largest reproductive-rights advocacy group, said Monday that her organization...
  • S.F., Oakland drop bid for U.S. school funds

    10/30/2012 8:29:48 AM PDT · by SmithL · 8 replies
    San Francisco Chronicle ^ | 10/30/12 | Jill Tucker
    Stuck in a standoff with teachers unions, the San Francisco and Oakland school districts have abandoned efforts to bring in up to $15 million each to develop high-quality math classes for upper-elementary and middle school students. The two districts spent months preparing a joint application for the next round of federal Race to the Top funding - which required districts to incorporate student test scores, among other criteria, in teacher evaluations. And because of that critical clause, union leaders refused to sign, as required by the federal application.
  • Advantage Obama in hunt for 270 electoral votes

    10/28/2012 7:01:43 PM PDT · by SmithL · 64 replies
    AP via SFGate ^ | 10/28/12 | THOMAS BEAUMONT, Associated Press
    AMES, Iowa (AP) — President Barack Obama is poised to eke out a victory in the race for the 270 electoral votes needed to win re-election, having beaten back Republican Mitt Romney's attempts to convert momentum from the debates into support in all-important Ohio, according to an Associated Press analysis a week before Election Day. While the Democratic incumbent has the upper hand in the electoral vote hunt, Romney has pulled even, or is slightly ahead, in polling in a few pivotal states, including Florida and Virginia. The Republican challenger also appears to have the advantage in North Carolina, the...
  • 2nd Scott DesJarlais girlfriend talks

    10/28/2012 10:12:40 AM PDT · by SmithL · 15 replies
    Chattanooga Times Free Press ^ | 10/28/12 | Chris Carroll
    On the heels of a sex scandal involving a female patient, another woman has acknowledged having a sexual relationship with physician and U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais while she was under his medical care. The second woman described DesJarlais as "the nicest guy" and said he cooked dinner for her at their first get-together in 2000. But she also said they smoked marijuana during their relationship and remembered DesJarlais prescribing her pain medication on dates at his home. "His biggest thing that's completely unethical is him just picking up women while he's a doctor," the woman said in an interview last...
  • Proposition 30 analysis: Does California need more tax money?

    10/28/2012 9:49:17 AM PDT · by SmithL · 12 replies
    San Jose Mercury News ^ | Updated: 10/28/2012 | Mike Rosenberg
    In TV commercials and campaign stops, Gov. Jerry Brown has told Californians that voting against his tax-hike measure, Proposition 30, will mean devastating cuts for public schools. Yet the governor's finance team concedes that state spending will go up next year regardless of your vote.So what's a voter to think? Does the state of California really need more of your money?This newspaper's review of state budget figures found: The estimated $6 billion in extra revenue annually from Proposition 30 quickly would put the state on track to return to peak spending levels before the Great Recession. The inflation-adjusted tax burden...
  • Romney can get the job done

    10/28/2012 5:33:36 AM PDT · by SmithL · 10 replies
    San Francisco Chronicle ^ | 10/27/12 | Debra J. Saunders
    Barack Obama is charismatic and inspiring, but he won office too early in his career and he is a victim of his own success. Sweeping into office with majorities in the Senate and House, Obama quickly passed a Democrats-only stimulus package that didn't deliver as promised. Then he signed a health care package that increased the burden of health care on private employers and failed to attract a single GOP vote. Obama's Affordable Care Act helped unseat moderate and other Democrats who had voted for the package, handing the House to Republicans. Suddenly Obama had to work across the aisle....
  • Jerry Brown's tax boost is in trouble

    10/26/2012 12:25:29 PM PDT · by SmithL · 2 replies
    Sacramento Bee ^ | 10/26/12 | Dan Walters
    The governor of California may not be toast – yet – but, one might say, he's turning browner by the moment in the heat of a political campaign he hoped would be his legacy achievement. Two new statewide polls confirm what political instincts – and Jerry Brown's body language – were already telling us: His tax increase measure, Proposition 30, is fading fast with scarcely a week remaining until Election Day. Proposition 30, a $6 billion per year boost in sales and income taxes that Brown said would resolve the state's chronic fiscal problems, never was particularly popular with voters,...
  • Appellate court: Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood off the torture-slaying retrials

    10/25/2012 5:04:10 PM PDT · by SmithL · 6 replies
    Knoxville News Sentinel ^ | 10/25/12 | News Sentinel staff
    Handing down a victory for Knox County prosecutors, the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals today ruled Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood must recuse himself from presiding over retrials for three defendants convicted in the 2007 torture-slayings of a young Knox County couple. A stay previously entered in the retrial of these cases will remain in effect until the chief justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court appoints a replacement judge or pending further orders of this court of the Supreme Court, Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer wrote in the ruling for the three-member panel. "Upon that appointment, the new trial judge shall review...
  • AM Alert: PPIC poll isn't good news for Propositions 30 and 38

    10/25/2012 9:20:46 AM PDT · by SmithL · 12 replies
    SacBee: Capitol Alert ^ | 10/25/12 | Micaela Massimino
    Gov. Jerry Brown continues stumping today for his tax initiative, Proposition 30, as a new Public Policy Institute of California poll finds that support for it among likely voters has dropped below 50 percent. The outlook for Molly Munger's rival measure, Proposition 38, is even less bright, as David Siders reported last night.
  • CalPERS objects to bankruptcy filing by San Bernardino, which owes pension fund millions

    10/25/2012 9:16:19 AM PDT · by SmithL · 13 replies
    Sacramento Bee ^ | 10/25/12 | Dale Kasler
    After getting stiffed by the city of San Bernardino for millions in payments, CalPERS is objecting to the city's right to file for bankruptcy protection. In a lengthy court filing late Wednesday, the California Public Employees' Retirement System suggested San Bernardino is using bankruptcy protection to avoid paying its debts. The city owes CalPERS about $5.2 million. The city's action "raises a serious question of whether its underlying purpose has been merely to 'buy time' and 'evade creditors,'" CalPERS wrote in a filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Riverside.
  • Ishtar 2? Clint Eastwood stars in new ad for Mitt Romney (VIDEO)

    10/24/2012 4:26:16 PM PDT · by SmithL · 11 replies
    SFGate: Politics Blog ^ | 10/24/12 | Joe Garofoli, Chronicle Political Writer
    Nobody in Hollywood has been clamoring to make “Ishtar 2.” Or re-imagine “Howard the Duck.” Why? Because they were BOMBS, that’s why. So why in the name of “Gigli” would Mitt Romney’s campaign — er, Karl Rove’s American Crossroads superPAC – dust off Clint Eastwood to make a campaign commercial touting Mitt? All it does is remind people of the great Eastwood’s royal bomb at the RNC just two months ago. Yes, his ad-libbed “conversation” with a chair. But in politics, attention spans are Tweet-short these days. So here’s Clint coughing up his full-throat-of-gravel Clintyness backing Mitt. . . .
  • Driver backs up, rolls over sleeping man

    10/24/2012 4:11:34 PM PDT · by SmithL · 20 replies
    San Francisco Chronicle ^ | 10/24/12 | Ellen Huet
    SAN FRANCISCO -- A woman backing out of her garage in San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood drove over and killed a man sleeping outside her home, police said Wednesday. The man was sleeping on the ground outside the 28-year-old woman's garage on Third Street near Bryant Street at 7 a.m. Tuesday when she backed out in her sedan and rolled over him, . . .
  • California lawmakers altered 5,000 votes

    10/24/2012 9:20:26 AM PDT · by SmithL · 4 replies
    AP via CoCo Times ^ | 10/24/12 | HANNAH DREIER and JULIET WILLIAMS, Associated Press
    SACRAMENTO -- In a closely contested state Senate campaign, Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani has been urging voters to judge her on her legislative achievements, saying on her website that she is "proud to have a record of standing up for the people of my district." Voters who try to examine the record of the Central Valley Democrat may come away with the wrong impression. They would not be able to tell that Galgiani remained silent during 136 votes, adding her vote to those pieces of legislation only after the bills had already passed or failed. Nor would they see that she...
  • Valero tightlipped about rumored sale of Benicia oil refinery

    10/24/2012 9:10:53 AM PDT · by SmithL · 6 replies
    Vallejo Times-Herald ^ | 10/24/12 | Tony Burchyns
    BENICIA -- Rumors are swirling that Valero is putting its two California oil refineries on the market, including one in Benicia that is the city's largest employer. The speculation follows a Wall Street Journal report last week that said the San Antonio-based company has enlisted Citigroup Inc. to help find a buyer for the facilities. The article cited unnamed sources familiar with the matter. Valero operates a 78,000-barrel-a-day refinery in Wilmington outside Los Angeles and a 132,000-barrel-a-day refinery in Benicia. Together, the plants represent about 10 percent of the company's U.S. refining capacity. Valero, which has been critical of California's...
  • Bankruptcy filings by California cities may spread

    10/22/2012 2:41:40 PM PDT · by SmithL · 10 replies
    Sacramento Bee ^ | 10/22/12 | Dan Walters
    So far this year, three California cities have filed for bankruptcy protection, and it's likely they will be joined by at least a few others in the not-too-distant future. That's not merely journalistic speculation. Moody's Investment Service, which closely monitors state and local governments for the huge municipal bond industry, issued an unusual public warning the other day that other California cities may be headed down the same path. "To summarize," Moody's said, "we expect … more bankruptcy filings and bond defaults among California cities, reflecting the increased risk to bondholders as investors are asked to contribute to plans for...
  • Tennessee GOP predicting historic gains; 'super duper majority' within grasp, Republicans say

    10/21/2012 2:25:19 PM PDT · by SmithL · 22 replies
    Knoxville News Sentinel ^ | 10/21/12 | Tom Humphrey
    NASHVILLE — Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey says there's a good chance Democrats will be left with just seven seats in the Tennessee state Senate after the Nov. 6 election. House Speaker Beth Harwell's most optimistic Republican scenario has the minority party with just 24 representatives remaining. They and other Republican leaders say there's virtually no doubt that the GOP will hit a new high-water mark in the 2012 elections by gaining a two-thirds "super majority" in both chambers of the Legislature. There is considerable confidence in Republican ranks that they will go beyond that to what some are calling "a...
  • Landmark California school law wins key court ruling

    10/19/2012 10:28:17 PM PDT · by SmithL · 2 replies
    Sacramento Bee ^ | 10/19/12 | Dan Walters
    Gloria Romero grew up in Barstow, the daughter of a railroad worker, and like many of the desert community's young, left for the big city – in her case Los Angeles, where she earned advanced degrees, and became a college professor and later a Democratic state legislator. By happenstance, however, Romero's most important legislation – empowering parents to take control of failing public schools – is making its first impact in Adelanto, just a few miles from Barstow. This week, a San Bernardino County judge ordered Adelanto's school board to stop stalling and grant the charter school petition of parents...
  • Star power: Celebs and their picks for president

    10/19/2012 10:23:22 PM PDT · by SmithL · 8 replies
    SFGate ^ | 10/19/12
    The race has tightened between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. And the celebrities are picking sides. In this year's race, endorsements have come from actors, rappers, a former quarterback, a porn queen and a seven-year-old reality TV star. Here's a look at some of those celebrities and who they've endorsed in this year's race -- including some that probably made the campaigns cringe.
  • Stark raving again? East Bay Rep. slamming developers in campaign mailer—while soliciting their $$$

    10/18/2012 1:14:32 PM PDT · by SmithL · 5 replies
    SFGate: Politics Blog ^ | 10/18/12 | Carla Marinucci, Chronicle Political Writer
    East Bay Rep. Pete Stark has launched a nasty mail piece accusing his challenger, Eric Swalwell, of allegedly accepting “pay to play” donations from area developers. But the attack comes just weeks after Stark called a major development association, begging for the maximum donation for his 2012 re-election campaign — while bragging he used to be a developer himself. And we have the voice mail tape. Now locked in the toughest race of his career, Stark, 81, a 20-term Democrat, won’t debate Swalwell, 31 — a fellow Democrat, Alameda County prosecutor and Dublin City Councilman who seeks to represent the...
  • Mystery Arizona group sends $11 million to fight unions, Gov. Jerry Brown

    10/16/2012 10:53:17 PM PDT · by SmithL · 6 replies
    SacBee: Capitol Alert ^ | 10/16/12 | Kevin Yamamura
    A shadowy Phoenix-based group contributed $11 million Monday to a campaign committee funding attacks on Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative and supporting a measure curbing union dues collection, a new campaign finance report shows. Americans for Responsible Leadership gave the donation to Small Business Action Committee PAC, which is backing Proposition 32 and opposing Proposition 30. Before the latest contribution, the PAC had been heavily reliant on more than $20 million from Charles Munger Jr.
  • North Sacramento activist accused of threatening former city manager

    10/16/2012 10:05:02 AM PDT · by SmithL
    Sacramento Bee ^ | 10/16/12 | Kim Minugh
    <p>Police arrested a prominent North Sacramento resident Monday night after he allegedly threatened to burn down the home of former Sacramento City Manager Bob Thomas, according to authorities.</p> <p>Bob Slobe, whose family once owned much of what has become North Sacramento, was taken into custody about 7 p.m. during a community forum about the proposed relocation of a card room to a local hotel, said police spokeswoman Officer Michele Gigante.</p>
  • Would Obama be better if he had lost an election?

    10/16/2012 9:51:18 AM PDT · by SmithL · 35 replies
    SFGate: Token Conservative ^ | 10/16/12 | Debra J. Saunders
    I find myself wondering what kind of a president Barack Obama might have been if he had waited to run for office and not decided to run for the White House almost immediately after winning his U.S. Senate seat in 2004. If he had waited, say eight years, would Obama have a better understanding of how things get done in Washington? Or would he be oversmitten with his ability to win over others and win in the arena?
  • Marijuana backers courting conservatives

    10/16/2012 9:45:44 AM PDT · by SmithL · 92 replies
    AP via SFGate ^ | 10/16/12 | KRISTEN WYATT, Associated Press
    DENVER (AP) — It's not all hippies backing November's marijuana legalization votes in Colorado, Oregon and Washington. Appealing to Western individualism and a mistrust of federal government, activists have lined up some prominent conservatives, from one-time presidential hopefuls Tom Tancredo and Ron Paul to Republican-turned-Libertarian presidential candidate and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson. "This is truly a nonpartisan issue," said Mark Slaugh, a volunteer for the Colorado initiative who is based in Colorado Springs, which has more Republicans than anywhere else in the state. "States' rights! States' rights!" Slaugh cried as he handed out flyers about the state's pot...
  • Oakland blames police, not Occupy mobs

    10/15/2012 10:55:43 PM PDT · by SmithL · 4 replies
    San Francisco Chronicle ^ | 10/15/12 | Chip Johnson
    Everyone who contributed to the violence and mayhem at Occupy Oakland protest marches should be held accountable - in one way or another - for their actions. Unfortunately, that's not how it works here in Oakland. On Friday, Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan meted out punishment to 44 police officers for misconduct connected to Occupy demonstrations over the past year. The discipline ranges from recommendations to terminate two officers to 30-day suspensions, written reprimands and counseling. In comparison, 106 protesters have been charged with felonies and misdemeanors during all Occupy actions in Oakland, according to the Alameda County district attorney's...
  • Jerry Brown's tax hike in jeopardy

    10/14/2012 11:08:12 PM PDT · by SmithL · 10 replies
    Sacramento Bee ^ | 10/14/12 | Dan Walters
    As he began his second governorship last year, Jerry Brown warned that California faced a potential "war of all against all" if the state budget was not fairly balanced, or as the former Catholic seminarian put it in Latin, "bellum omnium contra omnes." Brown now has the war he didn't want as Proposition 30, the tax increase ballot measure upon which he has staked his governorship, and perhaps his place in political history, is hammered from the left and the right by two very wealthy siblings, Charles and Molly Munger. Republican Charles, a Stanford University physicist, is giving millions to...
  • SAN FRANCISCO: Porn company sued over penis injections

    10/13/2012 8:08:31 PM PDT · by SmithL · 51 replies
    San Francisco Chronicle ^ | 10/13/12 | Meredith May
    A stagehand working for a gay pornography company has sued his employers in San Francisco Superior Court, alleging he was forced to inject performers with a controlled drug to prolong their erections. According to the lawsuit, which was filed Friday, Ronald Baker of San Francisco claims he suffered emotional distress and anxiety-induced health problems when he accidentally pierced his finger in January after injecting a performer in the penis with TriMix, a prescription medication . . .
  • Gov. Jerry Brown's budget plans threatened by a determined Molly Munger

    10/12/2012 10:24:59 AM PDT · by SmithL · 23 replies
    Sacramento Bee ^ | 10/12/12 | Kevin Yamamura
    Gov. Jerry Brown hoped a mix of politicking and good fortune would deter negative ads against his tax initiative in the campaign's final weeks. His luck expired in the last few days. Not one, but two, campaigns took aim at the governor's Proposition 30 on airwaves across the state, funded separately by two children of billionaire investor Charles Munger. The Democratic governor now faces a serious threat to the linchpin of his longer-term budget plan. Brown has been particularly frustrated by attorney Molly Munger's ad, which calls his campaign "misleading" and uses an animated sequence to depict politicians taking money...