Rob Bonta

Feb 072014

Democrat Donkey

Battle for AD 15 and CD 15 Democratic endorsement moves to the State Convention

Feb 8 Update

Congress: In CD 13, Barbara Leee was recommended for endorsement, with 100% of the vote.  I was wrong about CD 15, and Eric Swalwell got the majority of the vote, though not enough to get a recommendation.  The fight for the endorsement goes up to the Convention, where it will probably come to the floor, giving Ellen Corbett an advantage. Stay tuned.  As predicted, in CD 17 Mike Honda easily got the endorsement.  Indeed, Ro Khanna did not even bother to show up to the meeting, probably thinking that his time was better spent campaigning.

Senate: Mary Hayashi did show up and made some vague accusations against Bob Wieckowskibut couldn’t get even one vote.  Wieckowski easily got the recommendation for the endorsement for SD 10, with a handful of votes going to Roman Reed.

Assembly:  I was surprised to see that a clear majority of the votes in AD 15 went to Elizabeth Echols, though not enough to break the 70% and give her the recommendation.  The endorsement thus goes to the Convention.  As predicted, Andy Katz got a few votes, but none went to either Sam Kang nor Pamela Price-Crawley.  Both civil rights lawyers were pretty impressive, however, and I’m interested in hearing more from both of them.  Tony Thurmond‘s vote count may not have impressed, but he’s a dynamic and inspiring speaker and made an impression even with my very politically jaded 12-year-old.   While Echols is likely to win at the endorsement caucus at the convention, if Thurmond can pull her name out of consent – which he may very well be able to – and send this to the floor of the convention, he has a very good chance of winning. Echols may be solid, but she’s not an exciting candidate.

Also as predicted, Rob Bonta and Bill Quirk easily got the endorsements for AD 18 and AD 20 respectively.  No endorsement recommendation was made for AD 25, and nobody got enough votes for this to go up to the convention.  Craig Steckler got the most votes, but Kansen Chu wasn’t far behind, with Teresa Cox trailing both.  Armando Gomez didn’t get any votes.  While Steckler called himself a progressive Democrat, almost all his campaign loot comes from police chiefs and law enforcement, which suggests he isn’t going to Sacramento to fight for civil liberties and against the prison-industrial complex.  Mik


The California Democratic Party will be conducting pre-endorsement conferences throughout the state this weekend.  Members of the Democratic State Central Committee (DSCC) and other eligible Democrats will meet to listen to the different candidates that are competing for the Party’s endorsement in their respective districts and will vote on whom should get it.  In races where a Democrat is endorsed by the party, other Democrats are encouraged to drop out.

Most of Alameda County, including San Leandro, falls within the Party’s region 5, and the caucus for our region will take place on Saturday, Feb. 8, starting at 2 PM at the Laborers Local 34 hall, located at 29475 Mission Blvd in Hayward. Any Democrat is welcome to attend.

While the vote count happens after the candidates have an opportunity to speak, in reality most candidates have been going around picking up vote-by-mail ballots from their supporters.  Candidates who get 70% of the vote at the pre-endorsement conference are placed in the consent calendar for Party’s endorsement at the State Party Convention which will take place in early March – though their endorsement can be challenged with signatures of either 20% of DSCC members in their district or statewide.  If no candidate gets 70% of the vote, but at least one gets 50%, there will be an endorsement caucus at the Convention, where they will need to garner 50% or 60% of the vote (depending on incumbency status), to get on consent. The same will happen if an endorsement is challenged.

In order to qualify for the Democratic endorsement, a candidate must be a registered Democrat and pay a fee ranging from $250 to $500.

Here are the candidates who are vying for the Democratic endorsement in Region 5

Congressional District 13 

The only candidate running for the endorsement is incumbent Barbara Lee, who will easily get it.

Congressional District 15

Incumbent congressman Eric Swalwell battles State Senator Ellen Corbett for the endorsement.   My bet is that if any candidate gets the endorsement tomorrow, it’ll be Corbett.  I also bet that if one of them gets it, the other will have the endorsement challenged and it will go the Convention.

Congressional District 17

Here, congressman Mike Honda holds a significant advantage over challenger Ro Khanna.  Khanna ran a successful slate at last year’s delegate elections and he may have a few other votes, but they will likely not be enough to prevent Honda from getting the endorsement.  They may be enough for a challenge, but Honda is sure to get the endorsement at the Convention.  Linguist Philip Bralich is also running for the endorsement, but I don’t believe he’ll get even one vote.

Assembly District 15

There are no incumbents in this race, but there are five candidate vying for the endorsement.  Preliminary endorsements suggest that the two actual contenders are Alameda County Democratic Central Committee member Elizabeth Echols and former Richmond City Councilmember Tony Thurmond.  EBMUD Director  Andy Katz may get a few votes, but it seems unlikely that either civil rights attorneys Sam Kang or Pamela Price-Crawley will get any.  The latter doesn’t even have a campaign website.  My guess is that at least one of the candidates will get 50% of the vote, and the endorsement for this race will go to the Convention.

Assembly Districts 18 and 20

The only candidate running for AD 18 is incumbent Rob Bonta and for AD 20 is incumbent Bill Quirk, so both have it in the bag.

Assembly District 25

Four Democrats are vying for the open seat being left by Bob Wieckowski.  San Jose Councilmember Kansen Chu battles Ohlone Community College Board Trustee Teresa CoxMilpitas Councilmember Armando Gomez and former Fremont Police Chief Craig Steckler. I know nothing about the voters in that race, but given the crowded field it seems unlikely that anyone will get the endorsement tomorrow or even send this to the Convention.

Senate District 10

This is the race that actually makes me want to go to the conference (I already sent out my ballot).   Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski is running against former Assemblymember and convicted thief Mary HayashiAlso in the race is stem-cell-research-activist Roman Reed.  Hayashi hasn’t even bothered to set up a campaign site, and she hasn’t done any fundraising lately (though she does have a lot of money from previous races she can use), but she did apply for the Democratic endorsement, so she’s presumably running.  It’s unlikely she’ll get any endorsements votes, however.  Reed may get a few, but Wieckowski should easily get the endorsement and keep it on consent.

I’ll post results tomorrow.

Aug 152013

policestateOur state officials seem to be working as hard as they can to help the NSA track the movement of US citizens as much as possible.  Their latest stunt? Enhanced drivers’ licenses.

These are drivers licenses or ID cards that have a radio chip that transmit information about you. The purported reason for this is to make it easier to cross borders.  Getting a passport, however, is no more hassle than getting one of these and provides you with much more privacy: as you don’t usually carry them around.

Once you have these types of ID, anyone who has the right equipment (which is cheap and easy to find) can read it.  With the right antenna, you can read enhanced license plates from as far as a mile.  Readers can be automatically placed throughout towns and roads, and the information about the movement of citizens can be automatically stored to help track them.

While the IDs start by being “voluntary”, they soon won’t be.  You can’t get a passport without one any more, for example.  They definitely make the work of police easier.  You won’t need a drone to take pictures of a protest, if you can just scan the driver licenses people keep in their wallets.  Why bother sending a mole into a political meeting, when you can stay outside and scan them instead?

And what a great way to give people tickets! Just keep your scanners open and you’ll be able to find out who has unpaid parking tickets or who is late with their child support and pick them up.  Much easier than investigating actual crime.

It’s thus not surprising that my own Assembly member Rob Bonta, who took a ton of money form police unions for his campaign (and has taken a ton more since), already voted in favor of this bill in Committee.  Shamefully, so did Loni Hancock and Ellen Corbett on the Senate, despite opposition from the ACLU, the Consumer Federation of California and Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.

Consumer groups are concerned about these chips, because they provide an open invitation to criminals.  As I mentioned, the equipment to read these chips is cheap and easy to put together. While the chips are only supposed to have a number in them, not the owner’s name and address, it’s a number that is unique to its owner.  Criminals can easily match numbers with their owners by either breaking into government databases or by simply scanning the licenses of people they have already identified.

The bill still has to pass the Assembly and be signed by the governor. Bonta and Bob Wieckowski, who also voted for it in Committee, still have a chance to redeem themselves and vote against it. I hope that Bill Quirk and Nancy Skinner will as well.

Here is some more info on these tags:

Mar 012013

The San Leandro Police Department has reported a rise in burglaries recently, and burglars seem to be particularly going after guns.

Could this be a result of all the gun control legislation that is being introduced? Is it raising the prices of guns/ammunition in the streets and thus encouraging more people to go into the burglary “business”?  Or is it that the “no-questions-asked” gun buy-back programs make it easy so easy to dispose of stolen guns at a profit?

Alameda Assemblymember Rob Bonta, Berkeley Assemblymember Nancy Skinner and State Senator Loni Hancock have introduced some of this legislation. I wonder what they have to say about this.

One of the problems with opportunistic or reactionary legislation is that those proposing it don’t take the time to sit down and analyze what the actual (rather than intended) effects of the legislation will be.  And this may be a prime sample of how poorly thought out legislation can quickly backfire (pun intended).


Nov 032012

Dear Rob,

I just got *yet another* campaign mailer maligning your opponent, Abel Guillen.  This is the /twelfth/ mailer I get that supports you.  It’s the second that’s negative towards Abel.  The first one was put out by an independent committee, but this one comes straight out of your campaign.

Really, Rob?  Did you need to do that? Sure, Abel sent a negative mailer against you (and a pretty good one), but it was one of just two mailers we got supporting him.  We got twelve supporting you!  All pretty much repeating the same platitudes (would it be so hard to actually share your platform or any concrete proposal in /one/ of your mailers? I know your parents worked with César Chávez and that you are in favor of education, what else do you have to offer?), this one also attacks Abel.

Look, Rob, you are going to win.  All the money you spent, coupled with the hundreds of thousands of dollars PACs have spent on your behalf, will make sure you do.  And I think you will do a good job, even though all that money indebts you to so many special interest groups.  You are smart, you understand the issues and how to approach them, you are a careful thinker and I think you have solid Democratic values.  That’s why I endorsed you a year ago, and kept my endorsement even though now I support Abel.  I also think you are ethical – though beware that politics threatens everyone’s moral core.  I think you will become one of the stars of the Democratic Party.  I look forward to seeing you in that role

Your bright political future is even more of a reason to refrain from attacking Abel.  At this point in the race, with 12 mailers for you versus 2 for him, why the need to be petty?  Why create enemies and leave a sour taste in the mouths of voters?  Don’t we have enough acrimony in the Presidential race?  And did you forget the campaign maxim that you attack when you think you’ll lose, and you are graceful when you think you’ll win? Don’t you think you’ll win?

And Rob, one last thing.  Twelve mailers is way too much.  How many hundreds of thousands of dollars have you and your supporters spent on them?  You talk about being all for education, but why not just send 6 (still 3 times more than Guillen), and give the rest of the money to the schools?  Here, in San Leandro, we could afford to keep our music and arts program for at least a year with that money.

Thanks for reading,

Margarita Lacabe

This letter has also been posted on Rob Bonta’s Facebook page

May 062012

Abel Guillen

Abel Guillen has charisma, energy and optimism – but is he mature enough for Sacramento?

When you meet Abel Guillen, and get past his physical presence (Abel is a big guy), you cannot but feel at ease with him.  He is friendly, smart, empathetic – and real.  The latter is something you don’t find often in politics:  people who don’t hide themselves behind facades or carefully sculpted images.  To use the Bush-age phrase, Abel is someone you’d definitely like to have a beer (and some nachos) with.  I can’t really say the same thing about either of his opponents.

Abel’s genuineness extends to his ideals and his agenda.  He’d be your typical grass root progressive, if such thing existed any more.  His belief in a more equitable society, in education as the “ticket out” of poverty, but also the cornerstone of a democracy, harkens to a time before the Democratic party lost its idealism and commitment to justice in all its forms.   Abel wants to create a better California from the ground up.  Education, healthcare and social services are essential; children who are malnourished, sick and uneducated will not only fail to accomplish their own potential as human beings, but might become a burden on society.   The nurses and teachers support him because they see him as the most likely candidate to fight for these services – and I’d even say, the most likely candidate to fight for anything, period.  Abel is a fighter, he is in his mid-thirties and has won quite a few battles, he still has hope.

I had already endorsed Rob Bonta when Abel called last January and asked to meet with me.   Abel had not answered my request for a meeting back in the Fall, when I was interviewing all the candidates. I’d figured, if a candidate doesn’t want to make an effort to meet with me, he doesn’t really want or deserve my endorsement.  Plus I was a bit suspicious of Abel to begin with.  The pictures of him on his website made him look arrogant; he is not married or has children, which for me is a big minus.  Still, my friend Jim Prola kept telling me that Abel was the candidate for me, that he was the closest to my political beliefs and that I should meet him.  So I did.  His hope and optimism won me over.

If you’ve been following my blog, you probably know that I have become disenchanted with politics, and the possibilities of real change.  I the last six years, I worked on the campaigns of several School Board members, the Mayor and a council member, hoping that if we just had the right people in office they’d bring change.  None of them did, it’s all more politics as usual with different suits.  Nationally, things are even worse.  I will admit that I never drank Obama’s kool-aid, but for a few moments I dared, perhaps, to hope.  Then Obama made such a mockery of that word that I thought my hope would be buried forever.  And now comes Abel and maybe, just maybe, he’s rekindling it.

I think Abel has hope, I think he believes things can be better.  He, himself, is the son of poor immigrants.  His parents came from Mexico, his dad worked his way from a dishwasher to a pastry chef in a hotel, his mom became a cook.  He grew up in the Mission and saw friends and acquaintances fall victim to violence, but he persevered, was lucky enough to get the right teachers and mentors, and went on to graduate from Berkeley.  His goal, he told me, was to “do good, but also do well,” anything else would be a betrayal of his family and their dreams.  I think that is exactly the philosophy we should instill on our children.  Abel got a job with a financial company helping school districts pass bonds, it’s a good job, he does well, but by helping schools he’s also doing good.  His work as a trustee at the Peralta Community Colleges board is yet another instance, he’s probably the most engaged trustee I’ve ever seen.

I have high hopes for Abel if he gets elected to the Assembly.  He has some very innovative ideas that he’ll be able to push directly.  One that has my full heart support is that of creating a state bank.  A bank that is not driven by profit could do much good and definitely much less bad than one that is.  It would assure that any revenue was re-invested in the state, it would make it easier for small businesses to have access to credit and could help all consumers to not be taken in by ridiculous bank fees.  I do hope that if Abel is not elected, whoever is will take this idea on.  But it’s exactly this type of bold ideas that make me excited about Abel.

I do, however, also have a couple of concerns.  My main one has to do about how he’s ran his campaign.  Not following up and meeting with me back in the fall was a basic mistake – whether I have any influence with voters through my blog is debatable, but as a member of the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee (ACDCC) I do get to vote on which candidates the party should endorse.  But there have been many other mistakes – from not getting a good photographer to do his pictures (he still has that picture with his arrogant smirk on his website), to having badly designed mailers, to not following up with people who were willing to host events or do volunteer work for him, etc. etc.

Just as problematic is the fact that his campaign manager, Winnie Anderson, decided to run for the ACDCC this June.  Anderson was recruited to run by Ignacio De La Fuente, an Oakland City Council member who is trying to take over the party.   I think any casual political observer would see how having your campaign manager take the side of someone who is trying to subvert the party, and have her run against some of your supporters (I, for example, am also running for re-election to the ACDCC) is not a good move.  Indeed, it’s almost a guaranteed move to lose support within the party.  I’m not personally bothered that Anderson is running against me, 19 people are running for 10 positions, but this shows such a lack of judgment by Abel that it makes me question whether he’s politically mature enough to go to the Assembly.

All that said, the choice for me is really between Bonta and Guillen.  I’ll be honest and tell you that I have yet not decided who I shall vote for.  I think, however, that either is an excellent choice.