Friday, September 25, 2009

Los Angeles Council District 2: I get email

On Wednesday, I wrote this piece for Calitics about the Los Angeles City Council District 2 race (which has statewide implications due to the possibility that Krekorian will be leaving the Assembly should he prevail in the December 8 runoff). I would like to highlight in particular:

One last note: Eric Hacopian is probably the hottest mail consultant in the state right now. Fresh from engineering Emmanuel Pleitez' head-turning campaign in CA-32, Hacopian turns around and gives Krekorian a handy victory in the 2nd Council District primary. Nice going.

Now, apparently some people don't like that opinion. I got an email from an anonymous delivery service, so it's completely untraceable. I got it on Thursday morning, essentially a day removed from the election returns. I quote:

You must be a politics outsider.

You post stuff like, \"Hacopian is the best mail consultant\" [and
that is why Krekorian won.]

And, \"golly gee, the absentees really were a lot.\"

Do a google search for \"Hacopian and forged absentees.\" Research
what the law the city of Glendale had to pass in municipal elections
to prevent his fraud.

Turnout in the 2nd council district was 10%. Armenian turnout, if we
are to believe the numbers, was 99%. Even the dead ones voted. I\'ll
have you guess for whom.

Armenian absentee voters are typically 1% of the population. This
year, they were 22%, a 2200% increase.

Paul got 40% of the absentee vote when you figured these numbers,
then roughly 28% at the polls.

Hmmm.... Is he the real preference of real voters?

If you care one iota about politics and preserving our right to vote,
you\'ll post a story with some well researched facts. It is well
known that Hacopian forges absentee ballots. Only a matter of time
before he gets caught. The numbers in this race are highly
suspicious, and merit a little more analysis than your doe eyed post.

Let's see now. First of all, I did that Google search. Nothing came up. Not even a rumor. Secondly, for someone to have specific numbers like that, they must have to have access to the PDI data that can track that information along ethnic surnames, and the only way one would have access to that is if one were working on one of the campaigns that were well-financed enough to purchase it. Or one could have just made up the numbers out of whole cloth.

One argument the anonymous flamethrower makes is that the discrepancy between Krekorian's election-day results and his absentee results is indicative of fraud. Problem is, it's not. Judy Chu got about 40% of the absentee ballot vote, but ended up with a 32%-23% victory over Gil Cedillo--and that's a race where the ration of absentee ballots to poll ballots was significantly lower.

So, there are two things to conclude. One, some campaign insider likes throwing anonymous bombshells. And two, whichever insider that is hasn't studied the numbers--including from an election on which Hacopian was on the losing side.

Of course, if you had this sort of irrefutable evidence that dead people were casting absentee ballots, wouldn't you file some sort of police report? It's a crime, after all...

Monday, August 10, 2009

If you don't have control of your mailing list, don't run for office.

Just--read this conversation between a friend of mine and AD-36 candidate Maggie Campbell. Start from the bottom and read to the top. Probably not the best candidate to be taking on Steve Knight. And you've got to love the last part--if you contribute, that'll stop the emails! Yeah--actually, contributing starts the emails, not the other way around.

Hello xxxxx

It's not that deep, really. Just hit the spam button.

I get contributions from as far away as the State of Georgia and Tennessee. You are close to me in California... You do not have to be in my district.

It doesn't matter how I got your email address. I don't hae access to remove you from a list that I did not create and I will not ask others to spend hours search for your name. You did not have to reply. You could have just hit the spam buttom.

My campaign requested a contribution from you, you are in effect saying no based on your emails. I accept that. Why not leave alone?

By the way, once you make a contribution through ACTblue, the email nudges stop. Perhaps you may consider that option. If not, it's ok, really.

Democratically yours
Maggie Campbell

--- On Thu, 8/6/09, xxxxx wrote:

From: xxxxx
Subject: Re: Reminder: support Maggie Campbell for State Assembly - Navy Veteran today
To: "Maggie Campbell Campaign for State Assembly"
Date: Thursday, August 6, 2009, 10:02 PM


It's very bad form if you don't have the ability to take someone off a list when that person never asked to be on the list in the first place. I'm not sure how I got on the list, but I don't live in the district that you're running for and I would like to be unsubscribed from this list. It's a simple request.

The emails don't have an unsubscribe button, so I'm asking you to do it. If you don't have access, please let your technical staff know that they should find a way to make it so people can easily unsubscribe if they so wish.

Thank you,

On Aug 6, 2009, at 9:55 PM, Maggie Campbell Campaign for State Assembly wrote:

> Why? Your name is among thousands. Why would I put them through this unnecessary task. xxxxx, just click the delete or spam button. Issue solved.
> Democratically yours
> Maggie Campbell
> --- On Thu, 8/6/09, xxxxx wrote:
> From: xxxxx
> Subject: Re: Reminder: support Maggie Campbell for State Assembly - Navy Veteran today
> To: "Maggie Campbell Campaign for State Assembly"
> Date: Thursday, August 6, 2009, 9:51 PM
> then please speak to your campaign folks and have them take me off the list. the email goes back to you. so someone should have access to remove my email address.
> On Aug 6, 2009, at 2:09 PM, Maggie Campbell Campaign for State Assembly wrote:
>> I don't have access
>> --- On Wed, 8/5/09, xxxxx wrote:
>> From: xxxxx
>> Subject: Re: Reminder: support Maggie Campbell for State Assembly - Navy Veteran today
>> To: "Maggie Campbell, Navy Veteran - for State Assembly"
>> Date: Wednesday, August 5, 2009, 11:00 PM
>> Please take me off your list.
>> On Aug 5, 2009, at 10:58 PM, Maggie Campbell, Navy Veteran - for State Assembly wrote:
>> >
>> > I noticed that you haven't contributed yet, and wanted to send a quick reminder:
>> > Please join me in supporting Maggie Campbell for State Assembly - Navy Veteran
>> > by contributing now at
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> > Thanks!
>> >
>> > - Maggie Campbell, Navy Veteran - for State Assembly

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Los Angeles County Young Democrats endorse Curren Price for SD-26 special

The Los Angeles County Young Democrats have endorsed Assemblymember Curren Price for the special election to replace Mark Ridley-Thomas in California's 26th State Senate District.

Curren has been very progressive on young voter issues, especially with regard to AB30 and AB106. AB30 would allow 16-year-olds to register to vote, with their registrations becoming automatic the day they turn 18. AB106 would make voter registration an opt-out, rather than an opt-in, process. Both are very important bills that would increase voter participation in the State of California--and other states should look to these bills as a model.

In addition, Curren has been endorsed by most, if not all, of the prominent LGBT organizations and related Democratic Clubs because of his strong stance in support of marriage equality, another important issue for younger Democrats.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Abel Maldonado admits Republicans are racist!

[updated with eugene's original treatment from Calitics.]

If you've been following California politics and our budget crisis at all, you'll recognize the name Abel Maldonado.

Abel Maldonado is a "moderate" Republican who represents the 15th State Senate district, located in Central California. Surprisingly, SD-15 is a majority Democratic district, and word has it that our former Senate Pro Tem, Don Perata, discouraged any challenges to Abel Maldonado as repayment for any favorable votes that Maldonado could give to the majority.

So why has the name of Abel Maldonado been so prominent recently, and what does the budget crisis have to do with Republican racism?

See, things are reasonably perverse in California. We don't require a simple majority vote like 47 other states do to pass a budget and impose new taxes. We require a 2/3rds vote. Now, the California State Assembly and State Senate are indeed overwhelmingly Democratic, but not 2/3rds Democratic--we're a few votes short.

The end result is that when it comes time to pass a budget in California, the Republicans can hold the majority hostage for as long as they want until their list of demands is met. And every single budget is a teeth-pulling process of trying to pick off a handful of Republican legislators through enough enticements that they're willing to face the wrath of their wingnut constituents to get what they want.

Well, during the last budget crisis, Senate President Pro Tem Darryl Steinberg was looking for one last vote. Enter...Abel Maldonado.

Abel Maldonado could usually be counted on to be one of the first to compromise, but his position this cycle as one of the few who actually would gave him an unholy position of power, and Senator Maldonado exploited it. He had a particular list of demands, including, most prominently, an open primary system similar to what the State of Washington has: the top two vote-getters proceed to the general election, regardless of party.

Maldonado has been making the case that an open primary system would be a necessary reform that would prevent extremists from achieving power and has been saying that there's nothing in it for him personally. Nate Silver disagrees, but that's neither here nor there.

The real question is: why does Abel Maldonado want an open primary? The actual answer has to do with something very simple: his last name.

See, Maldonado is Hispanic. He used to be a strawberry grower in Central California. And if Maldonado were a Democrat, he could use that story to gain votes. But unfortunately for him, he's not a Democrat. He's...well...a member of that other party. And, you see, Maldonado has ambition for statewide office. Given the fact that he has been very aggressive against State Controller John Chiang, it's widely assumed that he will seek to challenge Chiang for Controller in 2010, especially since he lost the primary in 2006.

So what's the problem? I'll let Willie Brown of the San Francisco Chronicle take it from here:

State Sen. Abel Maldonado, the deciding vote in the big state budget morass, came to see me last week with a very interesting story about his fellow Republicans.

I was telling him what a good name he has, because no one can figure out if it is Spanish, Italian or Portuguese.

He proceeded to tell me that when he was running for state controller in 2006, he commissioned a poll to gauge the feelings of Republican voters in Orange County.

The poll came back showing him losing to the Democrat by almost 2-1.

"This is impossible," Maldonado said. "Orange County is loaded with Republicans."

They did the poll again and the results were the same - the Democrat won.

So Maldonado ran a little test. He had the pollster go back and give voters the same information as before - his age, that he's a rancher and the like - but this time, he said, tell them the candidate's name is Smith.

The result: Smith came out ahead.

So he ran another poll, a Republican named Garcia vs. a Democrat named Smith.

Smith won again, even among Republicans.

At that point, Maldonado said, "We're not spending another nickel - there ain't no way that anyone with a Spanish name is going to win anything in a Republican primary in this state."

He was right, in his case at least - he lost the primary to Tony Strickland.

And that is why Maldonado insisted on an open primary in return for voting for the budget.

Yeah, that's right. Republicans are so racist and hate Latinos so much that they will vote for an Anglo Democrat over a Latino Republican. And that is why Abel Maldonado had to push for an open primary--because his heritage would never allow him to win a Republican primary, which would mean the end of his career.

Of course, this is Orange County, the traditional conservative bastion of lies and corruption. As a prominent Democratic activist in Orange County wrote to me just recently:

America's Sheriff from OC now a convicted felon. America's Pastor Rick Warren hails from Orange County. We watched what happened when OC's Chris Cox was America's Regulator.

We've got the watermelon man in Los Al, John Yoo fleeing to Chapman Law like a Nazi to Argentina, and now we get blamed for the frigging budget.

We're like the Rodney Dangerfield of California's counties.

But it doesn't change the fact that even Republicans realize that their own party is really just that racist. No wonder they want Obama to fail. His success would challenge deeply held assumptions. And I'm not talking about conservatism.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The "Chile Option" has nothing to do with farming

[From Calitics]

I interrupt your budget negotiation updates to bring you some...more math.

There was some discussion in a previous open thread about the so-called "Chile Option"--a move by certain conservative forces to split the state in two not based on North or South, but rather based on Coastal vs. Inland. Now, the argument behind this is supposedly that California's bleeding-heart urban populations don't understand farming, which means that farmers need to protect themselves by casting off the coastal population--and the group is thus named "Citizens for Saving California Farming Industries."

The argument made by this campaign (as seen in Teddy Partridge's post linked above) attempts to use Proposition 2--the animal rights initiative--as an example of why the Coast has got to go:

But the measure passed by a nearly 2-1 margin because voters in the high-population counties (from San Francisco along the coast through Los Angeles) cast their emotional, warm and fuzzy votes in favor of it. They never gave agriculture a thought.

It is definitely true that Proposition 2 passed with 63.5% of the vote. But what happens if we "protect the farms" and strip out the votes of the 13 counties that the "Chile option" seeks to remove?

Well, the answer is...not much changes. Removing the votes of the bleeding-heart coastal counties who know nothing about agriculture, the new vote totals are 59.2% yes, 40.8% no--still an absolute landslide. Not surprising, after all, since Proposition 2 was only defeated in 11 of the 45 remaining counties--including by only a 1% margin in Fresno County, the only county that voted no that has any significant population. And it stands to reason when one looks at the vote totals of the populous counties that are more conservative and thus not thrown into the "Coastal California" bleeding-heart subgroup:

Orange: 60% yes
San Diego: 65.5% yes
Riverside: 62.2% yes
San Bernardino: 61.6% yes
Sacramento: 59.3% yes
Solano: 65.2% yes

By contrast, Los Angeles County voted for the measure with 67.1% of the vote--a percentage not significantly far removed from some of these counties in the rural-aware California proposed under the Chile plan.

The bottom line is that if Prop 2 really is going to serve as an reason for pushing the Chile Option, one of two things must hold true:

a) it will be completely ineffective; or
b) it's really about the fact that they've given up on returning California to Republican rule and want to carve their own state out of it to have a better shot at it.

And really, given the fact that Orange and San Diego Counties--which voted heavily for Prop 2--tend to be politically conservative, I think it's pretty obvious that Prop 2 isn't the main motivation here.

Monday, February 16, 2009

I just had to post this

The visual implications that America should be a theocracy are no doubt frightening. But I find it funny that this video, like so many others that critiqued the "Home Invasion" ad that I helped produce, talks about how appalling it is that my ad implied that members of the Mormon Church were "violating the rights of a same-sex couple".

Guess what?

That's exactly what this is: Ken Starr, as legal counsel for Yes on 8, filed to divorce 18,000 legally married same-sex couples and take away their rights. Now, I'm still waiting for the first person to tell me how what the Yes on 8 campaign has done is substantially different from what my ad portrayed. I don't care if you take away someone's right in a court or if you come to their house and shred their license. Being divorced against someone's will hurts just the same.

Labels: ,

Friday, February 13, 2009

Something I really don't freakin' understand: Jerry Lewis edition

(From Calitics)

The Los Angeles Times is reporting (I know, that phrase sounds inherently contradictory these days) that California stands to receive $26 billion from the jobs bill being shepherded through the Congress.

In other news, Rep. Jerry Lewis is insane. And by that, I mean certifiably guano-crazy. Delusional. Unstable, even.

But first, the money. Yes, our state should be getting $26 billion very soon:

Reporting from Sacramento and Washington -- The $789-billion economic stimulus bill headed toward congressional approval is expected to pour $26 billion into California -- building roads, upgrading schools and launching other projects intended to create or save jobs.

The expectation is that the federal government will funnel at least $9.2 billion directly to the state treasury, mostly for education and healthcare, in the next 18 months. Millions of Californians will get a tax cut aimed at promoting consumer spending.

That all sounds really good. But keep in mind that the budget "compromise" that's being worked out in Sacramento already takes these funds into account. And if, for some reason, California doesn't see the federal help that the budget is taking for granted, god help us all:

The austere budget package in the works in Sacramento already assumes that the federal assistance will wipe out nearly a quarter of California's deficit. If it falls short of that, Californians are in for even more financial carnage; about $1 billion in extra program cuts and tax hikes would be triggered under the budget plan.

The extra cuts would apply to welfare grants, aid to the elderly and disabled, and Medi-Cal. State colleges and universities would also lose money, as would the court system.

It'll come out of you one way or another, don't worry. For all the Republicans like to chirp on about not raising taxes, it just means that if you try to send your kids to a good state school or community college, it'll be even more expensive for you. But don't worry, you got to keep your marginal rate low. Or something.

I would have you keep in mind, though, just how far $26 billion really goes in the State of California. I was just on a conference call with Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti a couple of days ago wherein he mentioned that the City of Los Angeles alone has $13 billion worth of shovel-ready public works projects--especially school construction and renovation, as well as transportation projects--and that the city only expects to see $500 million in federal stimulus--or, less than 4% of what they could use. Bottom line: this is a mere down payment. Maybe not even that.

But back to the deranged affliction of Jerry Lewis. See, this is what Jerry Lewis had to say about the possibility of California being dropped a federal lifeline:

The measure has its critics. Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Redlands), who is expected to be joined by most if not all of his fellow California Republicans in Congress in opposing the measure, said it would "spur permanent growth in government programs and spending that will hamstring future budgets and plunge our nation further into debt every year."

Apparently, the hamstringing of future budgets and the sewer-pipe-deep plunge our nation has already taken into debt aren't enough to want Representative Lewis to want to just possibly try out something different. No, his main concern, ladies and gentlemen? Limiting the growth of government programs! It doesn't matter that people are jobless. It doesn't matter that private employers don't have the wherewithal to pick up the slack, nor does it matter that we're in desperate need of infrastructure improvement. No, what matters, simply put, is that government not grow any bigger.

And this is the key element here: Jerry Lewis and his fellow Republicans in both Washington and Sacramento are like little children walking on the sidewalk trying to make sure that they don't step on any cracks. They're paying such good attention to making sure they don't step on any of the "government growth" cracks that they've forgotten where they're going or why. All they know is that they don't want to step on a crack, because if they do, they'll lose the imaginary game they came up with in their own heads within the last 5 minutes.

Welcome to today's Republican Party: where actual results come a distant second to commitment to principle.

Friday the 13th edition: Burton Watch!

It is with amusement that I have been witnessing the brouhaha surrounding Burton Watch, one of the latest additions to the political blogosphere of California.

I take it that those in the know are eagerly awaiting the next entry in the ongoing multi-part series that...shall we say...challenges Burton's credentials to be the next CDP chair. What I can say is that when I read articles such as this one by my fellow Calitics blogger Dave Dayen, or when I read the listservs of the progressive wing of the California Democratic Party, there are quite a few people who have severe reservations about John Burton's impending chairmanship of the CDP, and I'm beginning to wonder what might happen if this "Burton Watch" site catches any traction in traditional media. Will it galvanize anything more than the token opposition what seems to be Burton's inevitable victory?

Hard to say. But I'm not alone in having misgivings about Burton's chairmanship, especially when I hear some of the stories about his style of politics and his ideas about fundraising accountability. My chief misgiving, simply put, is that the role of CDP chair should not be filled by a legislator; it should be filled by an organizer. I am worried that what many have dubbed John Burton's backroom style won't be conducive to building the type of organizational infrastructure that we need to enact serious reform in this state.

That being said, I think John Burton will make for a competent chair. But it'll be interesting to see if that new blog proves otherwise.

Labels: ,