All posts by sean mykael

#CA10 : Online Organization

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

That is the day that Ellen Tauscher announced that she would be accepting the job as Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security. For all intents & purposes, that is also the day the campaign for California’s 10th district got under way.

First there was Adriel Hampton, and then Mark DeSaulnier, soon after Joan Buchanan jumped into the fray, and then Anthony Woods, and most recently, after abandoning his flailing gubernatorial campaign, John Garmendi decided he would run in the 10th as well.

So how are their respective campaigns going so far?

Adriel Hampton has been out on nights and weekends shaking hands with the locals in Walnut Creek, Livermore & elsewhere. I’ve run into him at both the Netroots Nation New Media summit and the CDP State Convention, handing out pens & literature. He’s got up a few websites to spread his message, and has his facebook site, as well as a weekly radio show on blogtalk radio. When it comes to Twitter, Adriel is the reigning king, often posting dozens of messages in a day.

When it comes to campaign websites, Anthony Woods’ team clearly understands the importance of an online presence. Woods has one of the slickest sites I’ve seen for any campaign, let alone amongst those in the 10th CD. While he has set up his Twitter account and sent out a few tweets, the clear focus has been on Facebook & ActBlue. In less than a week’s time, Anthony has been able to accumulate over 1500 supporters and has already collected $15,000 dollars. He’s also been spreading his message through my.barackobama. Pretty impressive, especially when you consider the fact that he spent the last week on the road, driving cross-country from the East Coast.

I’m not sure where he stands in the money game as he transitions from his gubernatorial run, but even John Garamendi really seems to be getting it when it comes to online operations. While his current campaign website may still be a bit disjointed between his current position as Lt Gov, a run for Governor, and his campaign for Congress, he is clearly filling in the gaps elsewhere. Garamendi makes a habit of posting a couple tweets through the day and has taken to personally thanking individuals that join his facebook group or add him as a friend. It’s a classy touch. Garamendi has also been posting diaries on various issues at Calitics & DailyKos and has taken to posting his campaign videos to YouTube. He also just released a poll which has gotten some play, showing that his name recognition & favorability ratings make him a clear frontrunner.

Joan Buchanan was the first to put out polling that showed her with a marginal lead over DeSaulnier in the district. She hasn’t really taken the jump into the online game yet, although she has set up a place holder website for her congressional run, and started a facebook group. Her ActBlue page is nicely integrated into her website and she’s already managed to collect over $5000 dollars. I get the impression that her campaign is doing a lot of preparatory work behind the scenes before she makes her big push.

That leaves us with Mark DeSaulnier…

I’m not exactly sure what the hell these folks are up too. Before Garamendi entered the race, DeSaulnier had locked up the endorsements of the democratic establishment as well as grabbing the endorsements of local labor, making him the early favorite. That was weeks ago and since then they seem content to rest on those laurels. Endorsements are nice and all, but they don’t really mean squat if the candidate isn’t getting his message out, and as of yet, the DeSaulnier camp is clearly not getting it. They have a Twitter account, but the problem is that they aren’t using it, and they wouldn’t even be that far along had Adriel Hampton not taken it upon himself to register the thing. They may want to think about reclaiming their name and getting to it. There is a Facebook group, but there isn’t really a whole lot going on there, and whoever is in charge of setting up the Facebook events has the problem of setting up meetings that look like they’re ongoing through the month, rather than taking place on a specific evening, which has led to some confusion. The DeSaulnier camp does have a basic website, but once again, the focus seems to be on endorsements, less on outreach. Even the ActBlue page isn’t very well integrated, and has only managed to bring in about $1000 dollars. Why they didn’t just make some simple edits to DeSaulniers regular website, until they could roll out something better rounded is beyond me. Last week the DeSaulnier campaign held three major kick-off events, but you wouldn’t know it, unless you happened to be there. Nevermind the traditional media, there is absolutely no presence in the blogs. Like a tree falling in the woods, there hasn’t been a peep about them. After renting space & equipment and having food catered in, I’m guessing that was one expensive tree, which did nothing but to offer some warm fuzzies to folks who were already planning on supporting Mark in the first place. Between the three events, I understand they managed to come up with maybe a dozen people to do phonebanking, so they weren’t a total loss I guess. Certainly didn’t offer the splash they could have though. It’s been a month and a half since this campaign started and from my eyes they are no further along than the day they locked up their endorsements. DeSaulnier does realize he’s running for Congress here right? It’s kind of a big deal. Get it together man.

While I feel that all of the candidates could be using online social media tools more effectively, its nice to see that the majority of the candidates running in California’s 10th seem to get the importance of an online dialogue with their constituents. It’s disappointing that the two candidates that don’t seem to be getting it happen to be my local legislators. I’m especially frustrated to see Mark DeSaulnier, who is considered by many to be the local favorite, making no attempts at getting further involved with the online progressive community.

X-Posted @ BearFlagBlue

CA-10: Joan Buchanan Enters Race

With John Garamendi’s announcement yesterday, and the State Democratic Convention kicking off tomorrow, I had a feeling this announcement might be coming today.

She’s has made it official…Joan Buchanan is entering the race for California’s 10th Congressional District.

Joan Buchanan For Congress

After consulting with hundreds of community leaders, voters, elected colleagues and activists across our region; after considering the extraordinary financial challenges facing the country; and after carefully evaluating where I can make the most significant contribution, I have decided that I will be a candidate for Congress in our district.

We now have 3 great Democratic candidates in the race for the 10th…not to mention the newcomers who have yet to had a chance to really prove themselves and tell their stories.

I had really hoped that the race for the 10th wouldn’t come down to this…at the same time, I can’t blame Joan Buchanan for running. This really is a possible once in a lifetime opportunity for her. I just fear things are going to get very ugly between people that I respect & admire, and am in no hurry to either watch or participate in the trainwreck.

But we’re here now and all we can do is move forward.

I’m still hoping John Garamendi will reconsider, and run against Lungren in the 3rd. I really do think it’s what’s best for everybody…Garamendi included.

As for Joan Buchanan & Mark DeSaulnier…a decision to support one or the other is not going to be easy an easy one to make.

On a personal level…I really like Joan Buchanan. I also have a lot of respect for what she was able to accomplish in taking back the 15th for Dems. She’s just so new in the legislature though, that there are a number of issues in which I have no idea where she stands…also, I do worry about who would replace her in the 15th.

Mark DeSaulnier on the other hand, I’m learning is a pretty great guy himself. Not only has he been involved at the local level on a number of issues for years, the impression that I get from everybody I meet with in the district, is that he is absolutely adored by his many supporters. The enthusiasm for DeSaulnier is infectious. He also has the support of the party & local labor groups behind him, which does count for something I suppose.

And then there is still Adriel Hampton to consider and the candidate that I am really interested to hear more from, Anthony Woods.

Joan Buchanan has it right…

This isn’t the Spring I expected!

I think we’re all in that club right now.

In 2010, Democrats need a strong candidate to run in California’s 3rd Congressional District, which is rapidly trending Democratic. In 2006, Bill Durston ran against Republican Dan Lungren and lost by 21.5 percent. In 2008, Durston ran again. This time, he came within 5.5 percent of winning and kept Lungren’s vote total under 50%.

But Durston has decided not to run again. And with the DCCC targeting the district, we desperately need a candidate who can step in and finish the job that Bill Durston started.

John Garamendi is the absolute best person to lead the battle for California’s 3rd Congressional District. He has deep roots in the district – he was born and raised in Mokelumne Hill, owns a ranch there, and was elected by the voters in the district to serve in the California state legislature from 1974 to 1990.


Tell John Garamendi that you want him to run for Congress in the 3rd Congressional district against Dan Lungren in 2010.  

Back in 2007, when John Garamendi addressed the Amador County Democrats, he discussed his longstanding relationship with the district:

Garamendi talked briefly about his time representing Amador, Calaveras and other rural counties in the State Assembly for two years and for fourteen years as a State Senator. He recalled that one of the first bills he introduced was about a water ditch in Amador Co. The local connection is “very important to those of us living in these rural areas” says Central Committee Vice Chair Randy Bayne. As evidence, he noted that every year hundreds of local residents take a trip out to the Touch the Earth Ranch in Mokelumne Hill for the Garamendi Basque Barbeque.

Garamendi will be holding his 32nd Annual Basque Barbeque in Calaveras County in a little over two weeks, reconnecting with the local folks who have supported him for decades. We’re asking him to step up once again to fight for Amador and Calaveras Counties by running for Congress in District 3.

CA-10: Labor Nods, DeSaulnier Makes Rounds

X-Posted @ BearFlagBlue

Last Wednesday, Senator Mark DeSaulnier, the only candidate for California’s 10th to receive any public endorsements so far, wrapped up yet another important early one…that of the Contra Costa County Central Labor Council. Today the CCCCLC made it official.

This is in addition to endorsements by Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher, Congressman George Miller, California Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, and State Assemblymember Tom Torlakson, as well as the Contra Costa Building Trades Council. Quite the impressive list.

After joining Assemblymember Joan Buchanan & Lt Gov. John Garamendi at last Thursday’s Contra Costa Central Committee meeting, Mark DeSaulnier took a few moments on Monday night to speak with the Tri-Valley Democratic Club.  

It was the first time I had met the Senator and found him to be personable and forthright and actually kind of funny. It was clear that he wasn’t happy about any of the May 19 props though, and when a School Board member from Dublin asked for his take, Senator DeSaulnier focused primarily on 1C which would borrow 5 billion from the lottery. DeSaulnier’s concern, which he shared with the Board Member and retired teachers in the room, was that No on 1C would take away 5 billion from education on top of the already 8 billion that we are projected short. DeSaulnier being in the legislature, I can see where he’s coming from…personally though I’m voting No on everything. Well, except for 1B…I’ll probably vote Yes and hedge my bet.

DeSaulnier also went on to speak a bit about his possible run for Congress should Tauscher be confirmed. He spoke about some of his recent endorsements and how an election schedule might look. I did sense some concern in the room about the possible domino effect with Assembly & Senate districts…although most of that concern seemed to be in regards to the 15th and who might replace Joan Buchanan after all of the hard work they had all done to get her into the seat.

Of course the latest rumors of Garamendi’s recent interest in serving California in DC came up too, but mostly just in regards to what district…most folks seemed under the impression that he lived in the 3rd. Understandable considering Garamendi’s background in the district. From the John Garamendi for Congress in CA-03 Facebook Group:

Lt. Gov. John Garamendi has deep roots in CA-03: he was born and raised in Mokelumne Hill, owns a ranch in Paloma, and served that community from 1974 to 1990, first as a member of the state assembly and then as its state senator. If there is a Democrat in California capable of knocking off Dan Lungren in 2010, it’s John Garamendi.

As far as I understand, Garamendi currently lives in Walnut Grove which sits right on the boundary line between the 3rd and the 10th. I don’t think it’d be fair to call him a carpetbagger in any district.

Remember when Garamendi was furiously campaigning for Bill Durston in CD3? Much of his urgency centered around how unacceptable it was that Dan Lungren continues to represent this district…at the time, Garamendi was on fire! With Durston recently signaling that he is not interested in another campaign, and the field all but clear, who better to take on Dan Lungren than John Garamendi? A full election cycle in front of us and with the DCCC already eyeing Lungren’s seat in the 3rd, progressives (local and otherwise) should see a real opportunity here.

As far as the 10th district goes though, it was nice to see the Mark DeSaulnier show up at a small little club meeting, and most of the folks in the room seemed pretty impressed with him. I had hoped that I would have had more time to speak with the Senator, but the featured speaker of the night happened to be going over the Israeli/Palestine conflict…things went a bit long.

We did get a moment though to speak about the local blogging scene and I was rather impressed at his scope of knowledge and his desire to combat right leaning frames online locally. Good ol’ Tip O’Neill came up when we both mentioned indeed that “All Politics was Local”

I hope to be hearing more from the Senator in the coming days and would really love to see him participate in one of Calitics Online Townhalls…as would I equally like to see all of the other candidates participate in the same…from any candidate or official in any district in California for that matter. These Online TownHalls are a great way to start a dialogue between local grassroots/netroots activists and their elected officials.

CA-10: Buchanan on the Issues

X-Posted @ BearFlagBlue

My local Thursday newspaper, The Livermore Independent, has published a profile of Assemblymember Joan Buchanan.

I was glad to see that they covered a range of issues in their interview with the possible Congressional Candidate.

Education, as she sees it, is part of the investment that society needs to make for future health of all kinds, including economic health. She points to Ireland as a country that, despite recent downturns, has committed to education as a path to future strength. She feels this is an essential commitment in California as well, and worries that California’s per capita education support will drop to the lowest in the nation as the economy continues its decline and legislators remain seriously divided in Sacramento…

She objects to the wide gap between low-paid workers and those at the top
, claiming, “We have the greatest income disparity in 20 years.”  Without blaming the Bush Administration by name, she clearly hints that its policy of giving particular tax breaks to the wealthy was part of the problem: “Government works best when it works for all the people, not just those at the top.”…

In California , the rule requiring two-thirds of the legislature to approve taxes and budgets is not only a procedural obstacle but anti-democratic, she believes. It has the effect of enabling a minority to block what the majority wants. She would support efforts to change the rule “Everyone’s vote should count equally,” she says…

she thinks legislators can do a better job of making the budget process transparent and reaching early agreement on the values of various programs before undertaking to pin down numbers…

On another topic, she would like to see universal health care and more emphasis on disease prevention.   Recognizing the potential conflict between the reducing costs and maintaining quality, she says, “We need reimbursement levels high enough for doctors to want to practice medicine.”  However, she resists the idea of setting up a government-financed program to pay for health care for fear that “we would borrow from it as we do from Social Security.”…

Education… Wage Disparity… Repeal 2/3rds… Transparency… Universal Healthcare…

I have to say, I like what I’m hearing from Buchanan so far.

On a personal level, everybody I talk to in the district, speaks very highly of both potential congressional favorites.

As the guy that has been getting all of the endorsements lately, I’d sure like to be hearing more about Mark DeSaulnier’s plans & priorities.

For the rest of the article, and more Livermore news check out the The Livermore Independent

An Afternoon with Joan Buchanan

X-Posted @ BearFlagBlue

Last Thursday, Assemblymember Joan Buchanan held an open house for her new office in San Ramon and I have to say, I was pretty impressed. For one thing, my wife was introduced to these really amazing little brownie bites they sell at Costco. So thanks to which ever staffer was in charge of those. They’re great. Personally, I love the schwag, and ended coming home with a great book all about the workings of the California State Legislature…not to mention my cool new Joan Buchanan pencil.

On a serious note though, it was pretty amazing to see the amount of people that showed up for an open house for a simple little office in the middle of a San Ramon business park on a Thursday afternoon. The place was packed; literally standing room only with many more people hanging out on the balcony outside. I had heard that there had been over 350 RSVPs for the event and while I was unable to stay for the full 3 hours, while I was there, I must have seen well over 150 of them. The level of excitement that I saw for Assm. Joan Buchanan was through the roof.

As my wife and I toured the office, one of the things that I found kind of interesting was that while some of her major aides had some very nice offices to themselves, as we looked around we couldn’t seem to find an office with Buchanan’s name on the door. When I finally got curious enough to ask somebody, I was led to a small conference room at the back of the building. There in the corner of the conference room, off to the side of the big table in the center, was a small and modest desk sitting in the corner. That was Joan’s area I was told. The staffer said that Assemblymember Buchanan would much rather spend her time away from Sacramento, out and about, talking with her constituents, so she didn’t really need a big office. From my experience, I know this to be true. Since the election, I have seen Joan Buchanan at more events, big and small, then pretty much any other local office holder. I’ve even had the opportunity to share a beer & burger when she visited with the Iron Horse Dems a few months ago. It’s nice to see a politician getting out and about and having real conversations with the people she serves. The small desk in the conference room said more to me personally though. This is not a person with huge ego.

As would be expected, the Assemblywoman was pretty much the center of attention throughout the evening. With all of the people surrounding her for questions or comments or conversation, I don’t think I saw the poor woman move more than 5 ft while I was there. Most of the comments that I was able to eavesdrop on were of a congratulatory nature, but there were plenty of legislative questions as well. I particularly appreciated Joan’s forthrightness when answering. One of the moments that really stuck out for me though, was when a shy & quiet woman finally got her chance to speak to Buchanan. The woman began to choke up and you could see the tears welling in her eyes as she thanked Joan Buchanan for being the one and only legislator in the Assembly or the Senate, to take a voluntary 10% pay cut after the budget was passed. When I had thanked Joan myself for the same thing earlier, commenting that I appreciated the sacrificial move that she made when she didn’t have to, she stopped me cold. “I did have too” she said. For me, one of the marks of a good captain is somebody who wouldn’t ask others to do what they aren’t willing to do themselves. In that regard, Joan Buchanan is an excellent leader.

Of course, the question I was most interested in though…as I’m sure are the rest of you…is will she be running for Congress?

It was certainly an interesting day to be having an open house. Thursday just happened to be the day that that a poll was released showing Joan Buchanan as the potential favorite in California’s 10th. Then, just hours after that poll was released, Rep. Ellen Tauscher & Rep. George Miller endorsed State Senator Mark DeSaulnier for the seat. I think it was made pretty clear last week that Joan is indeed interested in the position, while the Democratic establishment is lining up to push her out.

When I asked her about this and where she stood on the race, Joan gave me a slight grin and responded “We’re still living in a Democracy aren’t we?”

I loved it.

If I had to put my money down, I’d say Joan Buchanan is running for Congress.

Undo the 2/3 Rule

X-Posted @ BearFlagBlue

For the last couple of months, Ellis Goldberg, President of the Tri-Valley Dems and Sally Sweetser, of the Diablo Valley Dems, have been working their butts off to draft a ballot measure that would repeal the 2/3rds vote requirement in passing a budget. While, there have been many arguments back and forth about just how we approach this repeal, the solution that I and most of the progressive community have come to support, and which Ellis has been promoting from the outset, is one in which the law would be changed to require a 50%+1 simple majority vote to both pass a budget and raise additional revenues.

Well, Ellis and his crew can only do so much, and now they are asking for our help in pushing this proposition forward.

To qualify a ballot measure that will undo the 2/3 requirement to pass the budget and deal with revenue legislation, a petition campaign is being launched to put the 2/3 rule issue on the ballot in mid-2010.  Almost 700,000 signatures on petitions will be required before the initiative can be put on the ballot.  Democratic clubs, PTAs, labor unions and those affected by the budget crisis are asked to help get those signatures. Your help is needed

In support of the TriValley Democratic Club, the Diablo Valley Democratic Club, and the San Ramon Valley Democratic Club…the Contra Costa County Central Committee has passed the following resolution


WHEREAS, the state of California requires a 2/3’s vote of the legislature to pass all budget and revenue related legislation which results in unequal representation with NO votes counting twice as much as YES votes;  

WHEREAS, this has resulted in rule by a minority of the legislature that has consistently blocked the will of the majority of the citizens of the state of California, delayed annual enactment of budget and revenue related legislation beyond the June 15th deadline, reduced the credit rating of the state, and forced the state to rely on borrowing which burdens future generations of California citizens;

the 2/3’s rule has resulted in a fiscal catastrophe for the state of California and has caused undue harm to the health and welfare of its citizens;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the __________________________  supports amending the constitution of the state of California to allow a simple majority of the Legislature to pass both budget and revenue related legislation; and

that the ____________________________  will distribute copies of this resolution to the California Senate and Assembly, California County Democratic Central Committees, as well as other Democratic clubs, and work to support legislation that will overturn the 2/3’s vote requirement.

Here are some things that you can do to help

  • Ask your club or organization to pass the resolution above.
  • Delegates PLEASE attend the Resolutions Committee meeting Friday April 24 at 3 PM in the Sacramento Convention Center to make sure the resolution gets voted on and passed by the full convention.
  • Propose the resolution to your county central committee.
  • Encourage delegates to vote for it.  Petition for delegates signatures will be presented to the Resolutions Committee.
  • Ask PTAs, labor unions and other sympathetic organization to pass the resolution.
  • Get ready for a major petition drive by organizing tabling, precinct walking and promotional activities

Mark Desaulnier vs ???

X-Posted @ BearFlagBlue

With Tauscher announcing she’ll be leaving Congress for the State Dept, the last few days have been filled with speculation over who will replace her in California’s 10th. The three major names that have been floated so far have been Tom Torlakson, Mark Desaulnier, and Joan Buchanan. Now while I’ve been around the blogging scene for years now, I’m actually fairly new to the local political scene, but I do live in the 10th CD and thought I would offer my perspective.

I’ve met Joan Buchanan on a few occasions, even shared a beer & a burger with her once, and while some claim that she may be the least progressive of the bunch, I actually really like her. I don’t know that it’s really fair to judge her progressive cred at this point, considering that she is still so new and hasn’t had the chance to offer up much legislation or cast many votes. I do know that from the few conversations that I have had with her that she seems to support overturning of the 2/3rds rule and I’ve also got the distinct impression from speaking with her that she is not down for the spending cap at all. As a former school board member, you can also be assured that education is at the top of her priorities. Like I said, I don’t know about her progressive cred, but I don’t think she’d be an awful choice.

As far as congress is concerned though, with Tom Torlakson announcing that he will be endorsing Mark DeSaulnier for Congress, I think that makes it pretty clear that Joan Buchanan will not be running and the Democratic establishment will be lining up behind DeSaulnier to take Tauscher vacant seat.

Although I hope to soon, I’ve never met Mark DeSaulnier personally, but I have met many progressives in the area who seem to think pretty highly of him . I’ve been getting involved with the Iron Horse Dems lately, which is a causal gathering of young dems from around Contra Costa, who meet at the Pyramid Brewery in Walnut Creek and BS about local politics. At the meeting before the first meeting I attended, Mark DeSaulnier had spoken to the group and I guess he left quite an impression. I think folks around here would be interested to know that he seemed to have a keen interest in blogging and their political and organizing potential. We have some local right wingers who have started up some Contra Costa focused news and political blogs lately, and DeSaulnier was impressing upon the group the importance of combating the right with frames with micro-targeted blogging from a more progressive perspective. He also went on to speak of the groups need to organize into a more action oriented body. Granted, this is all secondhand, but the guy seems fired up and he really stoked that fire under these young progressives.

I don’t personally have any problems with Mark DeSaulnier replacing Ellen Tauscher in Congress, but there has been some talk of a more progressive candidate waiting in the wings…a Dark Horse, if you will.

There has also been some chatter about the moderate leaning demographics of the area and some concern that a more progressive candidate couldn’t win the 10th. I’m not buying it.

Here are the latest numbers from the CA Sec of State:

Registered Voters:  524,106

Registered DEM: 263,987 (50.37%)

Registered GOP: 137,953 (26.32%)

California’s 10th is going to a Dem no matter who runs. If folks think they can find a better or more progressive candidate, then now is the time. Otherwise, Mark DeSaulnier will be the next congressman from California.

Oakland Town Hall w/ Gavin Newsom

X-Posted @ BearFlagBlue & DailyKos

Newsom noted that the divide between urban and rural areas in this state is often greatly exaggerated and used that as a jumping point to cover the major priorities he sees the next Governor of California needing to focus on…not that he’s running or anything. Healthcare, Education, Environment, Jobs…these are issues that all Californians are concerned with, he assured the crowd, regardless of geography. After speaking with people all across the state, from big cities to small towns, he believes that we are all basically on the same page as it regards issues such as prison reform, crime reduction, foster care, and homelessness. I’m not so sure.

A fair amount of time was spent discussing the need for universal healthcare and Gavin reminded the crowd that SF was the first county in the US to pass universal healthcare. He also cracked a line about the child drinking problem…that being the 64 oz Big Gulp. Ha! Then Newsom took a moment to discuss the clean-up of old shipyards/. that leak toxins into the bay. He noted that this was not only an environmental issue, but a health issue as well. He must have known what was coming for him later in the meeting.

At that, the floor was opened for questions, in boy- girl-boy-girl order, after having received complaints at previous town halls, that the guys had been feeling short changed.

Newsom was asked about the need for healthcare & green jobs…

and spoke about the need for green jobs & universal healthcare…basically repeating the question.

He was asked about funding for AC transit…

and then talked about the need for a high speed rail system that connects SF to Grand Central Station. He also mentioned the fact that the next Governor will have to look over protecting California’s voter approved High Speed Rail system, which I was happy to hear, but he never did quite get to answering the question on funding for AC Transit, which I believed was actually asked by one of the Board Members of AC Transit. Ouch.

He was asked about ICE deportations of undocumented youth that have been arrested on felony charges…

And Newsom spoke about his pride in SF’s sanctuary city status, but then said that he didn’t feel that sanctuary needed to apply to criminals. He kind of dodged whether or not he would continue the program as Governor, saying only that he had explained his position. I was left wondering if Gavin Newsom believes in the concept of innocent until proven guilty. Families are being broken up and kids are deported for merely having been arrested…not actually having been convicted of a crime. I know from my own personal experiences in my youth, that anybody can be arrested for any number of trumped up charges…and I’m a white guy. I can only imagine what it’s like if you happen to have brown skin. His answer or lack thereof on this question really kind of pissed me off. I raised my hand to get some clarification, but the mic never made it my way.

He was asked about the legalization of Hemp (as in rope…not dope)…

But instead decided to talk about how proud he was to support medical marijuana in SF. I think he may have kind of sort of mentioned his support for the newly introduced AB 390 which would legalize and tax marijuana, but spent most of his time on the question talking about how legalization would be against Federal law which complicates issues and legalization likely wouldn’t happen any time soon. It was quite the endorsement. I don’t think he ever did answer the question regarding Hemp though.

In regards to what he would do differently to pass a budget were he elected Governor…

He said we need to repeal the two-thirds rule to pass a budget and we need a constitutional convention. Newsom didn’t explain whether or not he thought we should repeal the 2/3rds rule for both passing a budget and raising taxes, and he didn’t mention whether he thought the threshold should be a simple majority or some arbitrary percentage. He also didn’t elaborate on why he thought we needed a constitutional convention…just that we need to have one.

But when a woman in the back of the room spoke of her son’s constant nose bleeds and the toxic waste in the Bayview/Hunters Pt district that she felt was destroying her community and poisoning her children, particularly citing the redevelopment work of the Lennar Corp. Well, the best way of putting it is that the room got rather contentious.

Newsom sort of dismissed the woman, stating that there was no way of knowing where those health problems came from and that Lennar had only been around for a few years, while the toxic Navy ship yards had been there for over 50. Wrong answer. In the end, it doesn’t really matter where the toxic waste is coming from. Half the problem the residents have is that they want their kids tested for lead and asbestos and other harmful chemicals so that they can know if and who is poisoning their children. Apparently this testing has been prevented up to this point out of concerns over liability.

Throughout the course of the questions that followed it seemed as if Newsom repeatedly tried to shift blame away from the Lennar Corp and onto the feet of the Navy and the Fed Govt, but these very well informed residents were having none of it and at the end of the day the concern wasn’t over whether it was Lennar Corp or the Feds who were poisoning their children and killing off minority populations. The residents just want something done about it. When reminded that minority populations in San Francisco have been dying off in record numbers. The residents seemed especially pissed that Newsom implied that he didn’t believe that anybody was being intentionally targeted. He was reminded once again that were he to look at the location of super fund sites around the state, he would find that each one is located near a minority community, a minority school, or a minority children’s park.

Rather than directly addressing their concerns though, he spent much of this period of the town hall trying to explain vague details of the situation to the rest of the room with his own little spin on the story. I have a feeling this only worked to anger the residents even more. It’s like somebody not acknowledging you, yet talking about you to somebody else, when you’re standing right there listening. At many points during this questioning things got rather heated, angry and chaotic. Newsom seemed to be losing control of the room at this point, with folks from all corners airing their grievances in no particular order.

The room did eventually calm down…right about at 8 when it was time to wrap up. I’m guessing he had better luck with the folks that surrounded him for photos and autographs afterwards than with the actual meeting itself.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m too hard on the guy, but I was wholly unimpressed with Newsom’s performance. It just seemed to me like he was giving generic answers to questions that weren’t even asked.

Although he did have what I thought was one original proposal…

Apparently, Gavin Newsom is very concerned that something must be done about teenagers who use google maps to find foreclosed homes with pools, so that they can then drain the pools and skateboard in them…ruining the pools and lowering the property value.

He was serious.

I’d have to say it was one of the stupidest things I’ve heard from a politician all day. I’m not sure I even know where to start.

For one, if Newsom hadn’t noticed…home prices are plummeting anyways…I really doubt rogue skaters are contributing to the problem to any significant degree.

Besides being expensive to maintain, we’re in a drought, and people that are having their homes foreclosed on shouldn’t be keeping their pools up in the first place. Those pools should have been drained already. Especially if the home has already been emptied, at which point there is no maintenance going on with these pools anyways.

So now you’ve got a house with a green pool in the backyard, growing who knows what in it, and destroying the pool anyways. But wait, it gets better, because now summer is here and we have thousands of mosquito breeding grounds, spread out in communities all across the state.

A few chipped tiles and some scuff marks aren’t the end of the world.

Skate or Die! From my perspective we should be thanking the skaters for saving us all from West Nile Virus.


I’m still not backing any candidate for this race and went into tonight’s town hall meeting really wanting to be swayed Newsom’s way…but, I’d have to say that after tonight’s testy exchanges in Oakland…in Newsom’s own backyard… the would be Governor still has a whole lot of convincing to do.

I brought my camera along, but in the end, I didn’t even bother trying to get a picture with the Mayor. I didn’t so much care anymore and really just wanted to get out of the place and home.  

Will They Even Read the Budget?

Last Friday, after hearing that Sen. Steinberg intended to call for a vote on the budget, I decided that I would spend my afternoon making some phone calls to Sacramento. My concern was that the Big Five would unveil their budget on a Monday evening, and then the Legislature would be called to vote on Tuesday morning. Under these conditions it is simply impossible for any one senator or assembly person to know exactly what is in the budget they are being asked to vote on. Considering that last year’s budget was passed in exactly this fashion…seems a reasonable thing to be worried about. Many of us here at Calitics, as well as the editorial board of the Sacramento Bee, are none too pleased with the way the process has played out.

“Last year’s Big Five sessions produced a budget that was months late and out of balance before the ink dried. It was slammed through the Legislature in less than 24 hours. Like automatons, legislators voted for bills and budget provisions they hadn’t read, unwilling to buck their caucus leaders.”

The scenario I described above looks like it’s actually going to pass according to the Matier and Ross column in Sunday’s Chronicle:

Buckle your seat belts – the ride is about to get wild in Sacramento, with state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg planning to put a $42 billion budget deal up for a vote.

The deal – a combination of cuts and tax hikes – is expected to be unveiled Monday, then put up for a vote Tuesday.

So, with none of us really having a clue what is in that budget the Big Five have been working on behind closed doors…

and as legislators are being asked to vote on a budget that none of them have possibly had enough time to thoroughly review…

and with the options for having any influence over budget negotiations quickly fading…

I thought that there was one thing that we could still possibly do, to have some chance that we weren’t getting totally screwed before legislators vote on Tuesday – ask them myself.

I set about to call each of our legislators, starting with the Senate, to ask for their commitment to actually read the budget before voting.

I explained that my name was Sean Mykael, and I was with the website (I would think it unethical to not), and then explained that I was concerned, with Darrell Steinberg announcing a vote was likely early in the following week, that legislators would receive the budget in the evening and then be asked to vote the next morning without having anytime to review the actual budget proposal. I then asked for the Senators commitment to read the budget before voting.

Now I knew that I was calling to ask an uncomfortable question, and made sure that I was polite and clear as possible when when speaking to the Senator’s aides…but the tone I received in return was not something that I had really expected.

I can tell you this…

They are not going to read this budget proposal before voting.

They may skim the budget until each of them gets to their own little section they’ve added, to support their own little pet issues, but as for the budget as a whole, none of them will have a clue. In the following days we’ll start hearing about all of the dirty little cuts that have been snuck into our budget, but by then it will be too late.

The phone calls went something like this:

On the first call I was transferred to voicemail.

On the second call, if I had less a thick skin, I would have quit calling right then. After telling me my question didn’t make sense, he hung up on me. When I called back and a woman answered this time…I could hear her mocking and laughing with the first gentleman who had answered…before shouting “Just tell him to put us down as a yes.” It was obvious they just wanted to get rid of me and had no intention of even listening to what I was trying to say.

On the next few calls, even after asking how it’s even possible to have read the hundreds of pages, if given the budget on Tuesday and then asked to vote on Wednesday, just about every single of one of them told me the same thing: “of course the Senator would be reading the budget” or “they’ve all been kept in the loop in whats in the budget.”

At one point I was asked “You expect us to read the whole budget?”

And on and on it went: transfer to voicemail, can I take a message, “of course the senator reads all bills before voting on them.” Like angry little robots they repeated the same story.

These aides were incredulous that I would even call to question the budget process and their Senators participation or lack thereof. When I actually asked for a Yes or No answer to whether the Senator would commit to reading the bill, the filibusters began and the excuses started to fly. Not a single one would commit, but neither would they admit that they wouldn’t read the budget before voting on it. So most of them either told me they weren’t authorized to answer and took my info (I’ve since heard from one out of a dozen.) or just angrily told me that they wouldn’t commit to committing or not committing.

One told me my question didn’t make sense and hung up on me. The options were yes or no. Apparently that was too difficult.

All told, I called just about half of the Senators in Sacramento – 18 to be exact – and I must have actually gotten to speak with at least a dozen legislative aides. That was all it took before the message was loud and clear and I finally became discouraged and quit for the day.

They are not going to read the budget and on Tuesday will have only a vague idea of what they are each voting for.

What a ridiculous way to pass a budget.

I suppose it’s not too late though. We have one more day.


I’m only one man. I have no idea what effect it might have were hundreds to call and ask their legislators to commit to reading the budget before voting.

I don’t know what else to do.

So, if somebody has some better idea, please feel free to share. Otherwise, here’s the Legislative Directory

CA Senate & CA Assembly