Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Judge Takes Election Fire over Marriage Ruling

November 6, 2006

Brian Leubitz knows he doesn’t have much hope, but nevertheless is making a last-minute push to get William McGuiness voted off San Francisco’s First District Court of Appeal.

On his “No on McGuiness” Web site, Leubitz, a non-practicing lawyer and a blogger on, urges voters in the 12 counties served by the First District to reject McGuiness for authoring the Oct. 5 ruling against same-sex marriage.

McGuiness is up for retention.



Jerry Brown Outpolls His Party

November 3, 2006

Forget Dianne Feinstein. The real top of California’s Democratic ticket, at least according to the Field Poll released today, is attorney general candidate Jerry Brown.

The Oakland mayor holds a whopping 25 percentage-point lead over Republican challenger Chuck Poochigian. That’s a wider margin than Feinstein enjoys over her U.S. Senate race opponent, GOP state Sen. Richard Mountjoy. It’s also bigger than Democratic treasurer candidate Bill Lockyer’s lead over Claude Parrish, the Republican who’s run a notably stealthy campaign.

Brown’s support has jumped 11 points since July, thanks in part to TV ads portraying him as an experienced crime fighter. Poochigian hasn’t run a bad campaign. He’s raised a decent amount of money and hit Brown relentlessly for Oakland’s rising murder rate and a sexual harassment scandal involving the mayor’s former aide.

But Poochigian, like other state GOP candidates, has received no campaign help from fellow Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Poochigian’s poll numbers have barely moved in three months and despite some advertising, he’s still hardly known around the state. It’s always a bad sign when 51 percent of your own party’s members hold no opinion of you a week before the election. That’s the case with Poochigian.

Feinstein, Lockyer and Brown will spend election night together at a San Francisco party, no doubt eager to see who wins bragging rights as top vote-getter.

Cheryl Miller

Is Dunn’s New Gig MICRA Management?

October 27, 2006

Is it an olive branch to attorneys or an astute political move? The California Medical Association this afternoon named high-profile trial attorney and legislator Joe Dunn its new CEO.

The capitol has been abuzz with the rumor of Dunn’s appointment for a few days. It has also raised a few eyebrows among those familiar with the trial lawyers’ historical battles with doctors’ groups over passing the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act, and other issues.

In a cheery statement, Frank Pitre, president of the Consumer Attorneys of California, said Dunn will be “an asset” to the CMA and that his organization looked forward to “a stronger working relationship and renewed productive dialogue.” Could that be code for “he’s going to help us convince the doctors that we need practical MICRA reform”?

CMA spokesman Peter Warren said MICRA reform isn’t even on his group’s radar screen. But with Dunn as its leader, the CMA has hired a respected, soon-to-be-termed-out lawmaker who has inroads in the Legislature and a reputation as a rabble-rouser. It could be a mutually beneficial hire for both groups.

Cheryl Miller

The Donald Goes to Voice Mail

October 26, 2006

Sometimes in this business even the city dogcatcher won’t return your phone calls. So imagine my surprise — heck, call it glee — this afternoon when I checked a new phone message and heard the familiar New England accent of Donald Trump.

That’s right. The Donald himself (or an amazing impersonator) had called. He was responding to an e-mail I sent his assistant on Tuesday asking why the business tycoon/TV star/fellow blogger gave $1,000 to Democratic attorney general candidate Jerry Brown this month. His response:


The Donald Gives Jerry Brown Trump Change

October 25, 2006

Donald Trump wants Jerry Brown hired — as California’s next attorney general.

Filings with the Secretary of State’s office show that the New York tycoon turned TV star contributed $1,000 to the Brown campaign this week, further padding the Democratic candidate’s $5 million war chest.

So what’s up between The Donald and former Gov. Moonbeam? We’re not sure. Inquiries were referred to Trump executive assistant Rhona Graff — we’re told she’s the one who calls the wannabe Trump lackeys before the great and powerful one on “The Apprentice — but we haven’t heard back from her yet.

We do know that the two high-profile personalities chatted during a national Conference of Mayors gathering in Atlantic City several years ago. And Brown was once quoted as saying he wanted a Trump Tower in downtown Oakland.

Whatever the connection, Brown is no stranger to star power. He’s already pocketed campaign cash this year from Barbra Streisand, Eagles drummer Don Henley and L.A. legal eagle Robert Shapiro.

Cheryl Miller

Kevin Ryan: Cheap or Mean?

October 20, 2006

Got a big event on an important issue? Want the media there to get your message out? Well, here’s a statement you probably shouldn’t include in your press release: “Please arrive at 8:30 a.m. for set-up. Please bring valid press credentials. Lunch will be not be available for members of the press.”

Those are the closing words of an e-mail sent to journalists by a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan, announcing a Northern California Gang Summit on Monday. And while the event sounds exciting — who wouldn’t want to wake up early to hear Sen. Dianne Feinstein bloviate on how to stop gang violence? — the absence of food for the hacks at an eight-hour event is a bit of a slight. Or, given Ryan’s prickly relationship with the press, a less-than-subtle way to discourage the Fourth Estate.

If there were food, you’d be able to read about the collected wisdom of would-be gang stoppers such as Feinstein, Ryan and Father Gregory Boyle of Homeboy Industries. We’re sorry not to provide full coverage — we just couldn’t stomach it.

Justin Scheck

Semi-Celebrity Drones for Poochigian

October 13, 2006

Bueller? Bueller? Poochigian?

Ben Stein may best be remembered as the deathly boring high school teacher calling out in vain to a hookie-playing student in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” Now the lawyer/actor/author/game show host has voiced a new radio ad for attorney general candidate Chuck Poochigian.

Noting the candidate’s unusual Armenian surname, Stein gives listeners a quick lesson in its pronunciation and then touts the Fresno state senator’s tough-on-crime credentials. And of course Stein zings Democratic candidate Jerry Brown with the last line “Chuck Poochigian: he’s the one who’s not a flake.”

Poochigian needs all the big-name help he can get. He trails Brown in published polls and in fund-raising.

Cheryl Miller

Song Lays Out Ballot Measures in Verse

October 13, 2006

This year’s official state voter guide details 13 statewide ballot measures in 191 pages of juicy legalese. Luckily for the confused lay person and the just-too-busy lawyer, there is an alternative to studying all those subsections and wherefores. It’s called “The Proposition Song.”

The ditty takes a banjo and about three minutes to explain in song what the 13 initiatives are all about. The songwriter — and one of five vocalists on the track — is Kim Alexander, founder and president of the nonprofit California Voter Foundation.

“California voters are facing a long and complicated ballot this election,” Alexander says in a press release. “The song introduces voters to the propositions in a fun and interactive way.”

You can sing along to “The Proposition Song” here because, as the chorus says, “the ballot is too darn long.”

Cheryl Miller

Gay Marriage Judge Faces November Ballot

October 6, 2006

An overlooked tidbit regarding the First District’s ruling against gay marriage: William McGuiness, author of the majority opinion, is on the ballot for retention this November.

Appellate justices must run for retention every 12 years, meaning they must secure a majority of “yes” votes to stay on the bench. Few issues fuel as much passionate disagreement as gay marriage, and so with yesterday’s ruling, McGuiness just inserted himself in the middle.


Jerry Brown’s Buddies Include Hef, Shapiro

October 5, 2006

Arnold Schwarzenegger, eat your heart out.

When it comes to mingling with the Hollywood set, the Terminator-turned-governor would have a hard time competing with the star power generated by attorney general-candidate Jerry Brown. Campaign documents filed today by Brown show contributions from a host of marquee names.

There’s $1,000 from crooner Barbra Streisand. Former boxer Sugar Ray Leonard also pitched in $1,000 as did Eagles drummer Don Henley. Famed L.A. lawyer Robert Shapiro gave $5,600 and writer-director Cameron Crowe (“Jerry Maguire,” “Say Anything”) chipped in $250.

The filings also reveal a $1,200 donation from Playboy Enterprises, as well as payments to the company for fundraising events. A fundraiser at Hefner’s House? And the press wasn’t invited?