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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California political news blog

Halfway To Concord, matches or delivers more unique monthly visitors than: Rough and Tumble, CA Political News, CA Majority Report, Calitics, as well as hyper-local blogs and regional lifestyle publications including Solano Magazine, Claycord, and Mayor of Concord.

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According to Compete, a leading web-industry metrics company trusted by media companies around the world, Halfway To Concord, matches or delivers more unique monthly visitors than: Rough and Tumble, CA Political News, CA Majority Report, Calitics, and regional lifestyle sites including Diablo and Solano Magazines, as well as great hyper-local blogs.

Halfway To Concord is an excellent advertising vehicle for your corporate, consumer, public affairs, and campaign advertising. Halfway To Concord delivers a documented audience (Quantcast) of mature, affluent, highly educated, and engaged readers. Better reach and affordable pricing makes Halfway To Concord an exceptional value for coporate, consumer, public affairss, and campaign advertising. Ask for details. And ask how we can increase your Internet visibility.

Halfway To Concord v. Diablo Magazine, Solano Magazine, Claycord, Mayor Of Concord


Halfway To Concord v. Flash Report, Calitics, California Majority Report, CA Political News


Halfway To Concord v. Rough and Tumble, Total Capitol, Political Vanguard. The last a bad joke – at 766; which begs the question of on what basis was the CCRP thinking to choose the least visible online site of all to promote its events? And we’d be happy to compare reach and cost to http://ibabuzz.com.politics if BANG ever offers documentation for that


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GOP Boot Camp, Aug 21-22

So far this looks like a trip down memory lane. Maybe we can find some veterans of the last Deukmejian campaign. This is the problem with Republicans…they are stuck in the past. While the Democrats are campaigning using 21st century organizing methods the GOP is still running Reagan’s Morning in America Ads.

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The Republican Party at every level—federal, state and local is dying. Obama and the Democrats have the GOP completely encircled with all escape routs cut off.

As the Republican Party is cut off and starving, they have been whittled down to their true believers (the bad hair conservatives) who are actively working to purge all moderates from the party. Meanwhile the Democrats, headed by President Obama, are taking every moderate Republican they can into their administration or welcoming them into their bigger tent, so to speak. 

I have never seen the Republicans so demoralized. Locally they are diminished to weird fundraisers like their recent Bread Line Ball or phony accounting reports. Now they have a new venture. They are bringing back that old time religion. Come one come all on 08/21-22/09 to the Contra Costa GOP Boot Camp. Yep throw your saddle over your horse and get  in the game boys and girls. The Contra Costa GOP is going to show you how to win 1980’s style. 

Lets go through the highlights:

Dealing with the Media: Lisa Vorderbrueggen, Political Editor Contra Costa Times,
Tom Del Beccaro, CRP Vice Chair, Founder FirstAmendmentNow

tom-del-beccaroWhy Lisa Vorderbruggen would want to address this crowd beats me because they cannot stand her. They must be the last subscribers to the newspaper. She can give them good advice like don’t call supreme court appointees or any one else a racist!

As far a self promotion, Machiavellian politics and dealing with the media  for self promotion—who better the Tom Del Beccaro? He can talk about how to try to become a local pundit and spin the media while his sycophants in the local party grovel at his feet while you continue to get crushed every year at the polls.

Public Speaking: Lynne Leach, Former Assemblywoman, 15th AD;

lynne-leach-not-paying-attentionWhat can I say; Leach is the last of her kind. They call her their Beloved Lynne Leach. She can pump up a right wing crowd like no other. I am sure she will have something very bright on because, as she has told me, that is how you get attention when you are speaking. That said I wonder what kind of message she will deliver to the folks in attendance? I mean, Republican speakers are like Hummer salesmen in a gas shortage. Nobody wants what they are buying. So I wonder if there is anything different she is going to sell them on.

Effects of Campaign on Family: Mary Piepho, Contra Costa County Supervisor:

mary-piephoPlease… Like any politician running for elected office gives two shits about their kids other than to use them as props. If they did care, they would spend time with them and not other politicians. Just look at how Sarah Palin has exploited her children. It is disgusting. Of course I think a better subject for Piepho would be how to beat your political opponent without a college education. She gives many drop outs hope. After all, President Andrew Johnson made it all the way to the presidency without any formal education.

Fundraising: Heuter & Associates

Well here is a bright spot. This woman is a star fund raiser. She does all the big Republicans. So what is she doing here? Maybe it is a sign of the times, like waters that are over fished, there are not big  any Republicans left in the Bay Area to raise money for. I love her restaurant in Dublin!

Organizing Volunteers: Jean Meredith

Lets bring back the 70’s. Meredith was a Reagan delegate to the 1976 Republican National convention in Kansas City, MO. She has some nice stories about the convention. Like how the Reaganites crushed President Ford and set the stage for his 1980 election. She is a long time Republican veteran of conservative politics. She is a long time grass roots organizer for many Bill Baker and Lynne Leach campaigns. As the folks who worked for Dean Andal learned last year, the Bill Baker method of grass roots organizing can be a real turn off. You are either a true believer or you get off the team. 

So here we are. I can only hope that there will be other speakers willing to share modern campaign techniques. How about organizing on Facebook or using Twitter? How about blogging, Web pages etc.

So far this looks like a trip down memory lane. Maybe we can find some veterans of the last Deukmejian campaign. This is the problem with Republicans…they are stuck in the past. While the Democrats are campaigning using 21st century organizing methods the GOP is still running Reagan’s Morning in America Ads.

The wilderness years continue.

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Guys and Dolls for Hospice, Jul 30

Purchase your tickets now for a performance of Guys and Dolls, benefiting Hospice of the East Bay , on Thursday, July 30th, at 8:00 pm, at San Ramon Valley High School Performing Arts Center, 501 Danville Blvd. , Danville .

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Purchase your tickets now for a performance of Guys and Dolls, benefiting Hospice of the East Bay, on Thursday, July 30th, at 8:00 pm, at San Ramon Valley High School Performing Arts Center, 501 Danville Blvd. , Danville .

You will have the opportunity to meet the cast at a reception immediately following the performance.

This fast-paced, hilarious show features bright and brassy music, taking you from the heart of Times Square, to the cafes of Havana , and even the sewers of New York City. This funny and romantic story makes Guys and Dolls a celebration of the absolute best American musical theatre has to offer! The show features wonderful music, exhilarating dance numbers and a cast of exciting characters.

For further information and to purchase tickets call (925) 943-7469.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5A1HWEub0hg

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Can ordinary folks fix California?

A new study from the New America Movement says 400 ordinary citizens should be randomly selected to act as delegates to a Constitutional Convention to fix California

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A groundbreaking report released today by the New America Foundation and Repair California (www.RepairCalifornia.org) recommends that a constitutional convention in California be comprised of citizen delegates.

“As California grapples with a crisis of historic proportions, it is time to draw upon the genius of what has always been the Golden State’s greatest resource – Californians themselves,” concludes the report, “A Citizens Constitutional Convention for California: How to Avoid Partisanship and Special Interest Influence” written by Steven Hill, director of the Political Reform Program at the New America Foundation.

California has been called an ungovernable state, plagued not only by systemic gridlock but also by bitter partisanship, special interest influence, and incumbent self-interest. Californians are calling for reform, with one of the options on the table being a constitutional convention.

The Bay Area Council has called for a convention composed of 400 “citizen delegates,” randomly selected to form a scientifically representative sample of average Californians. But would non-experts have the ability to propose complex public policy? Or, as one skeptic put it, “How can a room of dummies do something smart?”

If you were about to ask, ‘If 400 people selected randomly can be put in a room and straighten out California, why on earth do we need legislators?”

That’s a great question that oild farts will bring up just to be grumpy and complain. But such a harrumph observation only has value if the same old farts seriously consider the role and value of representative democracy.

Leaving aside this new iteration of the romaticized myth concerning the rustic nobility of American natives can be set aside, perhaps for just a second, so that we might posit a more critical question,”should unelected representatives of any kind determine law and public policy for millions of Californians?

Does a random draw truly represent a polity? It’s been asked before. Since 500 B.C. political communities have struggled with this question as societies evolved from agricultural elites, to urban trades and finance plebes; from the roiling masses to the tyrant.

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MCP broadens services

The Monument Community Partnership (MCP), located in Keller House off Concord Ave., is the focal point for a number of service organizations including its own that serve what is called the Monument Corridor.

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In its 10th year, the Monument Community Partnership (MCP), located in Keller House off of Concord Ave., is the focal point for a number of service organizations including its own that serve what is called the Monument Corridor.

Its current staff of 12 assisted by 50-75 volunteers spread out and return from the sprawling district that reaches from the Concord Police HQ on Galindo to HWY 680 and out Oak Grove Road to the BART tracks at Minert/David.

With the exit of City staff from Keller House due to downgrading of capacity at the municipal level, the MCP solicited interest from other non-profit groups providing services in the community for the opening of office space. Based on replies, MCP anticipates sharing space and increasing its collaboration with Catholic Charities and Brighter Beginings. Additional service providers expressing interest include Stand Against Domestic Violence and Community Violence Solutions.

According to Bryan Balch, the new Executive Director, the contraction of government services it has caused an increase in the demands on MCP as residents’ needs are increased due to the economy. Concurrently, and most fortunately for the area, there has been a greater penetration of the neighborhood by the growing cadre of leadership and community outreach people typified by their ‘Community Listeners’ program and their Neighborhood Action Teams (called NATs).

There is a wide service network that meets once or twice a month in a conclave at Keller House hosted by MCP for the benefit of the neighborhood. Amongst the things that they have been doing are

– The First Five program for youngsters and their parents.
– Helping Senior Residents with yard clean up.
– Creating an urban gardening/farming group to get vegetables in small plots throughout the area.
– Mentoring youth on leadership development.
– Bringing service providers and residents together by acting as a channeling vortex
– Setting up a transportation advisory group that gave ideas to the City staff on improvements,
– Acting as a conduit for such government programs as Lead Removal Program from residential homes, funded by H.U.D., via the City of Concord.
– Helping people deal with the web of services out there when there are personal crisis that would otherwise overwhelm families.
– Providing direction and volunteers for a Nursing research study.

Balch stated additional service expansion in the near future will include helping seniors with yard clean up, collaborating with agencies such as SeniorHelpLine. Volunteers can call on isolated seniors on a regular basis, and longer term goals of providing local transportation to seniors and individuals with disabilities. ANother goal is the creation of a community center close to the center of the Monument Community.

Balch concluded that an immediate focus is being placed on getting the residents to support the local businesses and, in turn, the businesses help support the organization. It takes everyone to make the community whole. With MCP fostering partnerships between residents, businesses, and the service providers, the end result will be a greater cohesive community.

There are no restrictions on the people that they help. Even when people leave the Monument area, they come back as they make transitions to their new locales because of the excellent staff and support provided here.

The experienced staff is familiar with the great diversity of the area including its high concentration of residents of different status combined with the whole range of issues that come with any economic area that is hurting.

Kathy Renfrow, the Business Manager who has had to confront many of the issues, commented that many people think that these things are very simple.

“However the complexities of legal residence let alone lapses can be very stressful and frustrating to those who are trying to help, let alone to the individuals who get caught up in a bureaucratic paper tornado while trying to feed their family at the same time as caring for a sick kid or an elderly relative.”

In addition to the 300 plus families assisted through First Five, the MCP directly has worked with 500 or so cases of families in need. The raising of awareness of the community to local issues is hard to judge but the recent Concord City Council meeting on the Monument Street Redesign Plan saw a surprisingly large cross section of the neighborhood organizations and ad hoc groups turn out. Much of this could be attributed to the communication network by the Listener group to get the word out to businesses as well as groups like the Soccer League and the Cambridge School group concerning potential opportunities to improve the Community.

What is astounding is that this network is maintained with a budget of $480,000 most of which is from corporate and major donors such as Kaiser Permanente and John Muir Hospital, in addition many smaller donors that help keep the lights on.

With a little luck and the continued hard work of all concerned the Monument Community will weather the current storm of darkness in the economy and emerge even more united with the greater city of Concord as a vibrant force for community directed action.

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