Monthly Archives: October 2012

Map: Money Flowing to California Propositions by State

In a post-Citizens United world, keeping track of money in politics is more critical than ever. Now the great people at Peninsula Press have crunched data from the California Secretary of State — donations to any campaign for-or-against any of the 11 propositions on the November ballot.

Peninsula Press then joined that money data with U.S. zip codes so anyone can look, interactively, at how much money is flowing to proposition campaigns, from California and from across the country. Pick your prop and take a look. How much is the rest of the country donating heavily to props here at home?

Works best on the Chrome browser…

San Diego Mayoral Candidates Fighting to Appeal to Undecided Voters

City Councilman Carl DeMaio (R) and Congressman Bob Filner (D) are facing off in the San Diego mayor's race.  Credit: DeMaio and Filner Campaigns

Republican City Councilman Carl DeMaio (left) and Democratic Congressman Bob Filner (right) are facing off in the San Diego mayor's race. (Images: DeMaio and Filner campaigns)

On a sunny day this fall, Republican city councilman Carl DeMaio and San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders walked through a local, bayside park to a podium surrounded by a barrage of news cameras and reporters.

It was a good day for DeMaio. The mayor, a fellow Republican, was endorsing him — despite the two being long time political foes.

“Only one candidate has demonstrated the detailed knowledge of our city that will be required from his first day on the job.” Sanders intoned. “Only one candidate has the focus and the energy that will sustain him through difficult times. That candidate is Carl DeMaio.”

Sanders’ endorsement was followed a few days later by the announcement that Democratic philanthropist Irwin Jacobs was also supporting DeMaio.

But it hasn’t been a bad season for Democratic Congressman Bob Filner either. He’s consistently led in the mayoral polls. Still, as the election draws closer, the outcome is becoming harder to predict. Different polls yield different results. In mid-October one poll gave Filner a seven point lead, while another put DeMaio ten points ahead. Continue reading

Goodwill Disputes Minimum Wage Ballot Argument That It Will Cut Jobs

by Peter Jon Shuler

Goodwill of Silicon Valley is trying to disentangle itself from a political battle in San Jose.

The city’s Measure D would raise the minimum wage from $8 an hour to $10. In their ballot argument, opponents say Goodwill expects to cut 100 job-training positions if the measure passes.

Mike Fox, Jr. of Goodwill says his board voted to remain neutral on the measure.

“It’s disappointing that we’ve been caught up into this controversy through no wish of our own,” Fox said. “We didn’t ask to be. We didn’t give permission to use our name. It just got pulled in. There’s nothing I can do about that other than just correct the record.”

Fox says Goodwill has no intention of cutting 100 jobs, no matter the outcome of the election. He says he has no idea where the opposition campaign came up with the figure.

Video: Props 30 and 38 Both Promise to Help Schools — in Different Ways

There’s a lot riding on the November 6 election for California’s once prized public education system. With $6 billion in trigger cuts looming due to the state budget deficit, two competing tax measures on the ballot propose to temporarily help fill the gap. Gov. Jerry Brown’s Proposition 30 would raise the state sales tax a quarter cent and income tax on those earning more than $250,000 annually. Competing Proposition 38, sponsored by millionaire attorney Molly Munger, would increase income tax on a sliding scale for those earning at least $7,316 a year.

On Friday, KQED’s This Week in Northern California examined the competing propositions.

Now a Target, Lungren Wants Campaign Finance Reform

Photo from Office of Dan Lungren

The New York Times this week ran an article about some GOP incumbents who are not so big right now on the whole Citizens United Supreme Court decision, which has resulted in unprecedented amounts of money flowing into electoral campaigns. One of those disgruntled incumbents is the Sacramento-area’s Dan Lungren, locked in one of the most tightly contested races in the country against Democrat Ami Bera.

From the Times:

An expansive onslaught of negative political advertisements in congressional races has left many incumbents, including some Republicans long opposed to restrictions on campaign spending, concluding that legislative measures may be in order to curtail the power of the outside groups behind most of the attacks…

Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Calif., the chairman of the House Administration Committee, which has jurisdiction over campaign-finance issues, has been a target of negative advertisements. He has drafted legislation that he said would force more responsibility for the tone and messages of the campaign onto the candidates and political parties and away from the third-party groups. The staff of Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, is also working on proposals…

Lungren said the attacks on him began just months after the 2010 election, with radio advertisements and automated phone calls. They have accelerated into an onslaught of television commercials in what has become the most expensive House race in the country. Lungren’s opponent is Ami Bera, a doctor and Democrat.

“What I’m trying to do is transform the system so people participating as candidates can be held responsible for what is said,” Lungren said of the legislation he is drafting.

He said the 2012 experience could be transformative for other Republicans who have spent the past six months enduring the grim piano music and disconsolate faces of “voters” in negative ad after ad, sometimes against them, sometimes on their behalf but always without their signoff.

“We had to see how this worked out for a cycle,” he said. Full article

Continue reading

Berkeley Election: Mayor’s Race, Sit/Lie Ban, and Vandalized Signs

by Cy Musiker

Man asleep in downtown Berkeley. (SF Homeless Project: Flickr)

Man asleep in downtown Berkeley. Measure S, which would restrict lying down in public, is a contentious topic in town. (SF Homeless Project: Flickr)

With the election less than two weeks away, we’re diving into local races. On Tuesday we highlighted San Francisco, and now we’re focusing on Berkeley, where the politics are always passionate.

Incumbent Mayor Tom Bates is running against five challengers. There’s also a no-sitting measure on the ballot and a plan to allow more commercial development in West Berkeley.

Frances Dinkelspiel is a co-founder of the website Berkeleyside, one of our KQED News associates. Here’s an edited transcript of our interview Thursday:

CY MUSIKER: Tom Bates is one of the most familiar faces in Bay Area politics. He’s been mayor since 2002, and before that he was in the state legislature. Tell us about his opposition.

BERKELEYSIDE’S FRANCES DINKELSPIEL: Bates is facing five challengers, only one of whom has any significant political experience.

His strongest challenger, probably, is Kriss Worthington, who’s sat on the city council for 16 years and is in many ways Bates’ nemesis. He’s much more progressive than Bates and often leads the pack that is in opposition to Bates’ slate on the council.

The second strongest contender is a woman named Jacquelyn McCormick. She doesn’t have a lot of experience, but she’s pounding Mayor Bates over the city’s fiscal situation.

Continue reading

Voters Supportive of Local Measures for Schools; More Skeptical of Statewide Solutions

Voters in Redwood City approved a local tax for district schools earlier this year. (Ana Tintocalis: KQED)

Voters in Redwood City approved a local tax for district schools earlier this year. (Ana Tintocalis: KQED)

Redwood City is a suburb just south of San Francisco. In recent years, the city has restored its historic downtown area and cleaned up its neighborhoods. But one thing remains the same: the Redwood City school district still gets the lowest amount of state education funding compared to neighboring communities — a result of the state’s complex school funding formula. That rubs 78-year-old Redwood City education advocate Margaret Marshall the wrong way. “It’s not fair and it’s wrong,” she says.

Marshall served on the district’s school board back in the 1980s. But when the state cut millions from education funding over the last two years, she took action. Marshall and an army of volunteers spent hours drafting a local parcel tax for Redwood City schools this past spring. Parcel taxes have become extremely popular among public school districts because the money raised goes directly into local campuses and teachers.

“If [voters] see the money being spent on their block, on their street, in their child’s school, they’re at least willing to consider that tax increase.”
But passing this kind of measure is tough. It requires a “supermajority” vote — two-thirds voter approval.

Redwood City tried three times before to pass a parcel tax, but this time Marshall says voters were finally ready to listen. “I had more coffee and cups of tea in the little coffeehouses locally,” she tells me. “But when you take the time to explain it to someone, one-on-one, you feel better about it. I think lots of times people distrust because they don’t understand what is happening.” Continue reading

Election Road Trip: Voters in the ‘Real’ Northern California

By Lisa Morehouse

Doug Jenner is a 4th generation alfalfa farmer and cattle rancher in Siskiyou County's Scott Valley. His biggest political concern is increased land and water regulation. (Lisa Morehouse: KQED)

Doug Jenner is a fourth generation alfalfa farmer and cattle rancher in Siskiyou County’s Scott Valley. His biggest political concern is increased land and water regulation. (Lisa Morehouse: KQED)

Up in Siskiyou County on the Oregon border, people say that anyone who calls San Francisco “Northern California” has it all wrong. This is the real Northern California. It’s a sprawling county which is home to the Klamath and McCloud rivers, and the majestic Mt Shasta, but it has barely 45,000 residents. So, here, the answer to the question “What’s government for?” all comes back to people’s relationships with the land.

There’s a phrase some people use to describe what used to dominate Siskiyou County’s economy: red meat and board feet. The first stands for cattle ranching, the second for the timber industry. There are only two lumber mills left in Siskiyou County, but in the north there are still plenty of cattle, tended by people like fourth generation rancher Doug Jenner. His biggest political concern is regulation. As government agencies like Fish and Game seek to protect species like the Coho salmon, Jenner says ranchers and alfalfa farmers who depend on irrigation face more regulations around water and land. Continue reading

Oakland: De La Fuente Trying to Unseat Kaplan For Councilmember At-Large

by Caitlin Esch

After 20 years representing Oakland’s District 5, City Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente is giving up his position to run for Councilmember At-Large. De La Fuente is hoping to unseat popular incumbent Rebecca Kaplan.

De La Fuente is known for his tough-on-crime attitude. But in Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood, bookkeeper Jose Dorado says support for De La Fuente among many merchants is eroding as crime in the neighborhood continues to soar.

“The kinds of efforts that Mr. De La Fuente has put forth to deal with that has not been anywhere near even adequate in our opinion,” said Dorado.

“I absolutely understand their frustration,” De La Fuente said. “The reality—it is true: crime going up, our inability to deal with that, absolutely has increased. That’s the reason why I have tried so hard to give the police the tools to do their job.”

De La Fuente strongly supports gang injunctions and youth curfews. But At-Large Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan criticizes him for voting to cut police staffing to balance the budget.

“If he keeps cutting the police force, it’s not gonna work to just say, well this smaller number of cops should do more other things.”

Kaplan voted against the layoffs and says OPD doesn’t have the resources to enforce curfews.

Suit Filed Against Arizona Campaign Donor Group

Wednesday was the deadline, and now the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) has filed suit in Sacramento Superior Court. The watchdog group wants the Arizona-based Americans for Responsible Leadership to release all documents related to a mysterious $11 million contribution, including emails and texts.

At issue is whether Americans for Responsible Leadership violated state law by accepting donations earmarked for specific campaign purposes in California. The group instead sent a letter to the FPPC saying they had no contributors who had specified that their funds be used in state campaigns.

But Ann Ravel, FPCC Chair, says that is not the issue. “The standard of trust is not whether or not (money) was earmarked, but if those contributors knew or should have known the money would have come to a campaign in California.” 

The FPPC expects a quick decision by the court. It says the November 6th election is drawing near.

The FPPC is the state agency charged with upholding California’s Political Reform Act which includes reporting requirements about the disclosure of donors supporting or opposing state ballot measures.