Catharine Baker walks fine line to keep her East Bay Assembly seat

The only Republican from the Bay Area in the California State Legislature walks a fine line to keep her East Bay Assembly Seat

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It does not seem fair. Catharine Baker’s neighboring office holders State Senator Steve Glazer D-Orinda) and Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) are running for re-election virtually unopposed. At the same time Baker is involved in a tight race fighting for her political life trying to retain her seat in the State Assembly.

Catharine Baker leads the charge at a campaign rally. She takes a middle of the road approach to defeat foes on the far left and right
Catharine Baker leads the charge at a campaign rally. She takes a middle of the road approach to defeat foes on the far left and right.

With the exception of heavy duty politicos or someone close to a Google application, few people even know the name of the individual who is running against her. Why then is Catharine Baker, who has been acknowledged by virtually every non partisan news outlet to be intelligent, thoughtful, hard working, and free of the influence of special interest groups, struggling so much to get re-elected?

The answer is simple. Catharine Baker has the word “Republican” written behind her name. In the entire Bay Area she is the only member of the legislature representing the GOP.  This apparently is a scarlet letter that will not be removed until she is defeated or decides not to seek office.

Virtually all progressives detest Baker even though they will admit in private of their admiration for her work ethic and independence. Despite this she is a Republican whose defeat would mean the Democratic Party would likely have a two thirds “Super Majority” in the Assembly once again. Were this to take place they would be free to raise taxes with impunity. At the same time they would not have to face scrutiny from conservatives an any issues of substance.

If the same criteria Democrats use to evaluate Baker were applied to renting or selling property to racial minorities, they would be branded racists and bigots. Unfortunately, such one sided thinking in the gridlocked-polarized world of American politics today is not only accepted; but revered as well.

In addition, Baker’s difficulty with entrenched advisories on the left does not end with liberal ideologues. As a moderate Republican, she has similar difficulties with conservatives in her own party.  Because of being pro-choice and at times stepping over the isle compromising with democrats, some ultra right wingers want to purge the first term Assemblywomen from their ranks as well.

This is the same Agenda 21-Black Helicopter crowd who favors alleged ideological purity over gaining any success at the ballot box. They would prefer to listen to themselves saying “ain’t it awful” at country club gatherings as opposed to having a major influence in the legislature.

Those on the extreme right worry about the effects Agenda 21. They believe moderates such as Catharine Baker are the problem rather than the solution with iinacting political reform
Those on the extreme right worry about the effects Agenda 21 might have on society. They believe moderates such as Catharine Baker are more the problem rather than the solution with enacting political reform

Recently they have justified their coolness towards Baker because of her reluctance to support GOP candidate Donald Trump. While this might be a legitimate concern on their part, one might ask where her critics have been the last two years as she has served in the Assembly and been a breath of fresh air in the stagnant Republican Party of California?

Indicative of this turmoil in the GOP, during the past couple of years there have been four changes of leadership on the Contra Costa Republican Central Committee.  At the same time this group was of limited assistance to electing Baker, it was virtually worthless in helping a strong candidate Debora Allen progress to the second round in the Assembly race to replace termed out Susan Bonilla in the Assembly.

Indicative of how dysfunctional things have been in the Contra Costa Republican Party, former Vice Chair Hal Bray tendered his resignation after receiving 27 emails one morning of which 26 pertained to different interpretations of Roberts Rules of Order.

While it is true Baker claims that the Republican Party both locally and on a state level has always supported her, it is also known that the level of funds and boots on the ground furnished by Democrats and their allies in labor unions to their candidates, far outstrips the assistance given to her campaign.

Dealing with the assaults of extremists on both ends of the political spectrum, Catharine Baker depends on a delicate coalition of Republicans, moderate Democrats, and a large constituency of “decline to state” independent voters to propel her to office once again. Even the slightest change in the electoral landscape can topple her at any time. With only a slim 55% to 45% advantage to work with from the primary, Baker must continue to do her balancing act and hope outside forces don’t take votes away from her.

Of concern this November,  because of the large anti Donald Trump sentiment among usually staunch Republicans, this group might boycott the election. It is also feared that distain for Trump from Democrats and independents may make them reluctant to split the ticket to choose Baker in a seemingly minor race.

This scenario for a close election in the 16th District has not escaped Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount). After the June 2nd primary he commented about the Baker race this is a “top pickup opportunity” for Assembly Democrats and promised to spend what it takes to win the seat. During his discourse on defeating Baker, Rendon never mentioned her opponents name.

This is consistent with other Democrats who place more emphasis  on defeating the Republican from Dublin than supporting her advisory Cheryl Cook-Kallio, former Vice Mayor of Pleasanton. Her web site is sparse in details dealing with important issues saying:

Althoughcheryl Cook-Kallia is not exactly a household word in the 16th Assembly district, Democrats hope having a "D" in front of her name will defeat Republican Catharine Baker
Although Cheryl Cook-Kallio is not exactly a household name in the 16th Assembly district, Democrats hope having a “D” in back of her listing in the voters guide will spell  defeat for Republican Catharine Baker on Nov 8th

“A celebrated public school teacher respected Pleasanton City Council member and tireless community activist Cheryl has fought to: enhance public education, increase affordable housing options, improve streets and roads, and make our community safer.”

Her web site advocates pouring more money into public schools with no accountability, It states Cook-Kallio will continue to be a champion for women and families, take on the fight for equal pay for equal work.  She is in favor of increased background checks for gun owners and wants to invest in infrastructure projects to assist in building the economy.  These stands are consistent with those of most Democrats holding office in the legislature

Despite lacking specifics on dealing with pension and budget deficits, educational reform, cap and trade, quality jobs leaving California, BART strikes, and a host of important issues, we can look for a flood of brochures to flood mail boxes in the 16th District  prior to election day extolling Cook-Kallio’s virtues.

It will then up to voters to determine what is most important to them. Will being a Democrat “trump”, (no pun intended) the quality of the opponent in the Assembly race. Baker, with her back to the wall as usual, hopes that her constituents will be able to discern facts as opposed to the absurd propaganda Political Action Committees (PAC) will be dispensing prior to November 8th.

Assuming that “the force is with her” and Baker triumphs, perhaps it will be appropriate that the GOP gives the Assemblywomen the long overdue recognition she so richly deserves. In this case this would be bestowing a leadership role to her in the Republican hierarchy of the State Assembly 

This would signify that Catharine Baker has more than fulfilled Al Davis’s motto,” Just win baby.”

 

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Critics blast Bay Area transportation agency

Residents object to mandatory high-rise, high-density housing. They say voters in local communities should decide on the kind of housing, if any, is appropriate for a given community.

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Bay Area residents expressed a high degree of unhappiness with a regional transportation agency, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC).

Commuter Traffic due to BART strikeMTC is responsible for transportation matters in the nine-county Bay Area.

At a forum on February 2, over one dozen critics lashed out at the way MTC was doing its job. The forum took place at MTC’s headquarters in Oakland. About 25 people attended the function.

The forum is a quadrennial event at which government transportation officials hold a “public listening session.”

One audience member said that MTC has been acting like a dictatorship. This individual complained about MTC’s approval of Plan Bay Area, a scheme to put high-rise, high-density housing in Bay Area cities. On the evening of July 18-19, 2013, MTC and another regional governmental agency, the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), voted to approve Plan Bay Area.

In several Bay Area communities, residents have objected to mandatory high-rise, high-density housing. These residents have complained that voters in local communities should decide on the kind of housing, if any, is appropriate for a given community.

At the February 2 meeting, another critic said that MTC was engaging in a “power grab” by trying to take over ABAG, which deals with housing matters.

One audience member said that Bay Area transportation facilities are not helpful to disabled persons.

Mimi Steel, a long-time critic of MTC, said that plan Bay Area is being supported by unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats who listen to no one. She said that there is a citizens’ uprising over MTC’s failure to respond to the wishes of local communities. “We are ignored,” she said.

Bay Area Citizens v ABAG-MTCOne audience member said that he disagreed with MTC’s Commuter Benefits Plan. The plan, which took effect on September 30, 2014, requires all Bay Area firms with 50 or more full-time employees, to pay for the expenses of those employees who use public transportation such as BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit). The audience member said that government should not be involved in how employees commute to work.

Some audience members were critical of MTC’s plan to move from Oakland to San Francisco. In 2011, MTC purchased a building on 375 Beale Street in San Francisco. Since 2011, the cost of the new facility has gone from $155 million to over $247 million.

One speaker complained about a vehicle mileage tax (VMT) to pay for new transportation infrastructure. The VMT, if implemented, would charge a fee for each mile a vehicle is driven.

A critic of MTC said that if Plan Bay Area is imposed, all directors, officers, and employees of MTC should get rid of their cars, surrender their drivers’ licenses, and move into high-rise, high-density housing. The critic’s remarks brought a round of applause.

MTC is governed by an unelected board of directors. These directors are selected from a pool of locally elected officials.

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PG&E readies for major storms in Bay Area

PG&E readies for major storms heading for Bay Area, advises residents in Northern California to be prepared for outages and local flooding

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With major storms now heading toward Northern and Central California, PG&E is reminding customers that power outages may occur this week due to significant rainfall, potential flooding and high winds. PG&E is implementing its emergency preparedness plans and utilizing advanced technology to be ready to restore service to impacted customers safely and as quickly as possible.

PG&E readies for major storms in Bay Area“With major storms bearing down on our region, we want our customers to know that PG&E has a plan, is mobilizing resources and will work around the clock to restore service to customers,” said Geisha Williams, Executive Vice President of Electric Operations. “Likewise, we encourage our customers to have a personal or family preparedness plan in place and – above all else – stay safe as winter weather arrives in our area.”

PG&E prepares for major storms

PG&E crews are prepared and ready to respond to power outages as soon as weather conditions permit the safe restoration of power. The utility is also pre-positioning contract power restoration and vegetation management crews.

PG&E routinely practices its preparedness and response to major storms and other emergencies through company exercises and through drills with local first responders. The company also utilizes the latest technology to restore power more quickly and efficiently after a storm. This includes the use of storm outage prediction models, the installation of automated equipment that “self-heals” the electric grid as well as timely and accurate outage data from its network of more than 4.5 million electric SmartMeters™.

20-ft waves
Forecasts for 20-ft waves at some Bay Area beaches

PG&E urges customers to stay safe during major storms and remember the following safety tips:

· Always treat low hanging and downed power lines as if they are energized and extremely dangerous. Keep yourself and others away from them. Be aware that trees, pools of water and other objects that may be in contact with power lines. If you see damaged power lines or electrical equipment, call 911 immediately and then notify PG&E at 1-800-743-5002.

· During a power outage, use battery-operated flashlights, and not candles, due to the risk of fire. If you must use candles, please keep them away from drapes, lampshades, holiday trees and small children. Do not leave candles unattended.

· Customers with generators should make sure they are properly installed by a licensed electrician in a well-ventilated area. Improperly installed generators pose a significant danger to crews working on power lines.

· If you experience an outage, unplug or turn off all electrical appliances to avoid overloading circuits and to prevent fire hazards when power is restored. Simply leave a single lamp on to alert you when power returns. Turn your appliances back on one at a time when conditions return to normal.

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Supervisor Gioia, co-chair of Rise Together, targets Bay Area poverty

Rise Together” to Cut Bay Area Poverty

Did you know that the Bay Area Poverty affects 440,000 families who live in poverty? This is hard to believe, isn’t it? Growing income inequality in our nation and state undermine the health of our democracy.

I’m proud to be one of four co-chairs of Rise Together, a new Bay Area movement to cut poverty in half by 2020;  initially launched by United Way of the Bay Area. Rise Together includes diverse organizations, agencies, and individuals who understand that it takes all of us to tackle a problem of this magnitude. None of us can solve this alone.

Take a look at Rise Together’s most recent newsletter describing our efforts and the momentum that’s building in the Bay Area and across the state to reach our goal of cutting poverty in half.

Sincerely,

John  
John Gioia
Supervisor, District One
Contra Costa County
11780 San Pablo Avenue, Suite D
El Cerrito, CA  94530
510-231-8686 Phone
510-374-3429 Fax
John_Gioia@bos.cccounty.us
www.cocobos.org/gioia

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Privatize BART

Privatize BART Privatize BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit). With proabably the best wage and benefits package in the country, BART workers want more and went on strike on Friday, October 18. From July 1 to July 5, BART also went on strike. Over 400K daily commuters and businesses have had to scramble. Continue reading “Privatize BART”

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Stack and Pack housing plan condemned at ABAG-MTC Hearing

“Stack and Pack” was the overwhelming theme of the public hearing held Monday April 22nd by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC). Under review was the controversial Draft Bay Area Plan 2013 that mandates urban planning priorities in the Bay Area. Continue reading “Stack and Pack housing plan condemned at ABAG-MTC Hearing”

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