Bonilla’s AB-934 hopes to improve poor teaching performance

AB-934 aims to help poor performing California teachers improve while giving local districts the ability to fire bad teachers

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Since meeting Assemblywomen Susan Bonilla some 13 years ago at Concord High School’s Back to School Night where my daughter Whitney served as her teaching assistant,  I have always had a soft spot for this lady.

bonillaDespite the differences in political outlook with myself and Bonilla, I will forever be grateful for the difference Susan has made in Whitney’s life.  There is no doubt that Whitney at 28 would not be currently attending UC Berkeley right now as Junior majoring in English were  if it were not for the influence of her favorite high school teacher.

Having a passion for education is still much a part of Bonilla’s life. Since she was elected to the Assembly, this subject has always been a top priority of hers. Presently, after being termed out in the legislature, she is trying to make a difference in children’s lives as a parting gift to her constituents.

Bonilla has introduced an important bill that addresses tenure in a way that encourages good performance in the classroom while at the same time weeds out under performing instructors.

AB 934 is called Educator Leadership, Development and Support. According to Bonilla “The goal of this legislation is to support teachers who are not meeting the needs of our students. This bill provides all teachers the opportunity to become quality educators and remain highly effective throughout the duration of their careers.bonilla 1

Bonilla went on to say, “The bill also streamlines the process for school districts to release teachers if they have proven to be persistently ineffective in the classroom, regardless of their employment status.”

Bonilla concluded “This bill hopefully can lay to rest this persistent narrative has brought an awful lot of focus to a very small group of teachers but teachers that need to get support.”

Under AB 934, teachers who are doing poorly would be placed into a program that offers them extra professional support. If they receive another low performance review after a year in the program, they could be fired via an expedited process regardless of their experience level.

New teachers would potentially take longer to obtain permanent employment status, often referred to as tenure. The probationary period for new teachers now lasts 18 months. Bonilla’s bill would allow school officials to keep teachers on probation for a third or fourth year after placing them in the professional assistance program.

Seniority would no longer be the single overriding factor in handing out pink slips. While tenured teachers with positive reviews would still be the last to go,

Bonilla’s bill would allow districts to lay off permanent teachers with two or more poor reviews before they lay off newer teachers who have not received poor evaluations.

It is expected that the powerful California Teachers Association (CTA), who wield enormous political clout within the Democratic Party, will oppose Bonilla’s proposed legislation.  In the past despite making pronouncements that “we are here for the kids,” the group has worked constantly to protect tenure rights for their members which makes it difficult to get rid of poorly performing teachers.

The aggressive leadership of the CTA has tried to reduce teacher accountability both with evaluations using test scores and by their opposition to almost all charter schools.  As might be expected gaining more pay for their members has been the unions highest priorities even if it has meant reducing the rainy day fund for school districts to deal with years that revenues are down.

Despite facing such obstacles from opponents of education reform, Bonilla said she planned to begin reaching out to those groups  to pitch her bill which she characterized as a lifeline to educators in need of help.

“The point of the bill is not to focus on dismissal,” she said. “The point of the bill is to say ‘we have great teachers in the state of California, let’s start by supporting the ones who need it the most.’”

So good luck Susan in doing the right thing; even though you are dealing with powerful special interest groups who basically control the political process in Sacramento.

For what it’s worth you have the support of me and other parents who appreciate the positive contributions teachers in general have made in their children’s lives.  This fact as it relates to Susan Bonilla will always be remembered by me when my daughter Whitney  hopefully one day graduates from college.

It will have been a long journey for which Assemblywomen  Bonilla has played an important role.

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Satinder Malhi announced candidacy for Assembly District 14

Satinder Malhi, the son of Sikh immigrants from India who settled in Concord, Calif announced his candidacy to run in 2016 for the District 14 seat in the California state Assembly.

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According to India West (June 10), Satinder Malhi, the son of Sikh immigrants from India who settled in Concord, Calif., in 1979, when their son was just six months old, has announced his candidacy to run in 2016 for the District 14 seat in the California state Assembly.

Satinder Malhi
Satinder Malhi, announced his candidacy to run for the 14th Assembly District.
The district includes the cities of Concord, Martinez, Pleasant Hill and most of Pittsburg and a small part of Walnut Creek in Contra Costa County, and Benicia and Vallejo in Solano County.

Malhi is currently district director for 14th District Democratic Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla. Before that the Indian American served on the staff of then-state Senator Mark DeSaulnier.

Bonilla — termed out of the Assembly next year — was defeated May 19 in a special election by a 54.6% to 45.4% margin by Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer for state Senate seat 7 in the East Bay.

The election was necessary after DeSaulnier won a seat in Congress last November. Bonilla, who was supported labor unions and some state Democratic Party leaders, is being urged to run again in 2016 against Glazier, a moderate Democrat and advisor to California Gov. Jerry Brown.

The district is considered a safe seat for the Democrats. Bonilla won easily against her Republican opponent in the last Assembly race, and President Barack Obama won the district with 69% of the votes cast in a previous election.

“My entire life I have been driven to find ways to serve my community, and this election presents a new way to give back to the people I have been working for over the past decade,” Malhi said in his campaign announcement.

He added that, as a legislative staff member, he “attended over 750 events in the district, learning from the community and leaders in the area about what they care about most, where the biggest needs are. We need to have someone that will be a leader in Sacramento that will fight every day to make sure everyone has a chance to succeed in our district.”

“As a Sikh American who has faced personal adversity, I also understand the importance of including all people, regardless of their background, in the decision making process and promoting diversity and understanding in the district.”

According to background material provided to India-West by the campaign, Malhi’s father “faced a lot of discrimination as a practicing Sikh, but eventually earned a job as a public school teacher in the Oakland public school system.”

Raised in Martinez, Satinder Malhi, the oldest of three children, attended local public schools and graduated from U.C.-Santa Cruz. A “turning point” came when his dream of moving to Washington, D.C., was “cut short in the blink of an eye,” after his father “was tragically murdered.”

“With a 16-year-old sister and a 13-year-old brother, Satinder decided to stay in California to take care of his family, and turned his attention to public service,” the campaign said.

After working as a finance assistant at the Democratic National Committee for John Kerry’s presidential campaign in 2004, Malhi landed a position as a Senate Fellow in Sacramento, Calif., where he worked on legislation.

He and his wife are also small business owners in Contra Costa County.

Mehran Khodabandeh, finance director for Malhi’s campaign, told India-West that it is expected that there will be other candidates running for the 14th District seat.

But Malhi, Khodabandeh pointed out, “understands the needs of [the district] as a long-time resident, attending local schools growing up, and has worked on policy issues that voters care about in the district.”

The candidate’s platform will focus on education, better infrastructure, housing, jobs, and water issues.
Malhi needs “to raise $100,000 before the election,” the campaign finance director said.

“The next critical fundraising deadline is June 30, and early contributions before that date will show how serious the campaign is, and go a long way to electing a Sikh to the California State Assembly,” Khodabandeh added.

Malhi is the current president of the Contra Costa County Young Democrats and serves on the Contra Costa County Democratic Party Central Committee. For more information on the campaign, visit MalhiforAssembly.com.

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Orinda Democrat Amy Worth flirts with GOP, conservatives

With recent Republican and conservative election victories in parts of Contra Costa County, Worth may be switching to more moderate or conservative — and less liberal — positions.

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Amy Worth was Orinda’s political queen bee, a strong liberal Democrat who, with allies, ran Orinda much as Mayor Richard J. Daley, an autocratic Democratic political boss, ran Chicago from 1955 to 1976. Worth is a member of the Orinda City Council since 1998 and the chairperson of the MTC (Metropolitan Transportation Commission) from 2013 to 2015.

Now, Worth seems more conciliatory, associating herself with Republicans and conservative Democrats.

On May 25, an article in the Contra Costa Times mentioned Worth as a possible 2016 candidate for the California State Assembly in the 16th Assembly District. This district includes Orinda, Lafayette, Moraga, Danville, Alamo, San Ramon, Pleasanton, and Livermore. Currently, Catharine Baker (R-Dublin) represents the district. She was elected in November 2014.

For years, no Republican has won a Bay Area race for the State Assembly, State Senate, or Congress.

In an Orinda City Council race in 2010, Worth received 5,436 votes (25.51 percent of the total). She came in first, beating second-place finisher, Sue Severson, who received 4,304 votes (20.20 percent of the total).

Then, the political fortunes of Amy Worth began to sag. In 2014, running for a fifth consecutive city-council term, Worth did not finish first. The top voter-getter was city-council newcomer, Eve Phillips. Worth obtained 3697 votes but was re-elected.

Worth’s decline in popularity and Phillips’ 2014 first-place finish may reflect voter fatigue with Worth.

However, Worth also alienated many Orindans with her strong support of the Eden Housing/Monteverde project, a plan for a 67-unit senior-citizen apartment complex in the heart of downtown Orinda. The project, now complete, was built on city-owned land.

The project, which blocks views of nearby hills, exceeds Orinda’s 35-foot height limit, and has added to Orinda’s already hideous parking and traffic problems has proved to be unpopular with many Orindans.

In the April 28, 2010, issue of the Lamorinda Weekly, a biweekly newspaper which serves Orinda, Lafayette, and Moraga, Amy Worth commented on the project. She said: “This project will provide a safe, comfortable, convenient environment for senior residents. I think it will be a tremendous asset to Orinda.”

Amy_WorthWorth has never been shy about her support of Democratic candidates. On October 9, 2014, Worth and her husband Tom held a reception for State Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord), who in November 2014 was seeking a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

DeSaulnier, running in California’s 11th Congressional District, which includes much of Contra Costa County, won his campaign. The 11th District includes such cities as Concord, Walnut Creek, Richmond, Danville, Orinda, Lafayette, and Moraga.

At the Worth’s reception was Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland), who is the House Democratic whip, the number-two position among House Democrats. The person holding the number-one position is Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco).

Pelosi was Speaker of the House from 2007 to 2011. In November 2010, Republicans took control of the House, forcing Pelosi and Hoyer into leadership positions as members of the minority party.

After Phillips’ smashing election victory last November, Worth appears to have changed and become more accommodating to politicians, especially Republicans and conservatives — people not really aligned with Worth’s strong Democratic Party views.

On April 25, Amy Worth hosted a town-hall meeting at which Assemblywoman Baker gave a speech and took questions from audience members. The meeting took place at the Orinda Public Library.

On April 25, Worth’s name appeared on a list of individuals hosting a fund-raiser for Candace Andersen, a member of the Board of Supervisors of Contra Costa County. Andersen, a Republican, represents Supervisorial District 2, which includes San Ramon, Danville, Alamo, Lafayette, Moraga, Orinda, and part of Walnut Creek.

In the June 2010 primary, Andersen won an overwhelming victory in her first race for County Supervisor. She received 61 percent of the vote. By garnering more than 50 percent of the primary vote, Andersen did not have to face a challenger in a November 2010 runoff election.

In the March 17, 2015, primary for the State Senate in Senate District 7, Worth backed former Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo). Three major candidates ran: Buchanan, Steve Glazer (D-Orinda), and incumbent Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla (D-Concord).

Glazer and Bonilla were the top two vote-getters, eliminating Buchanan from the field of candidates. Because neither Glazer nor Bonilla received more than 50 percent of the vote, these two candidates faced each other in a runoff election on May 19.

Under California law, the top two vote-getters in a primary, regardless of party, face each other in a runoff if neither candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote.

For the runoff, Worth endorsed Glazer, a member of the Orinda City Council.

On May 19, Glazer won his race against Bonilla.

Glazer ran a conservative campaign. He is for banning BART strikes and against tax increases. He wants to put a cap on pensions for public employees. Bonilla is a liberal Democrat who has strong support among public employees, especially public-school teachers.

Glazer’s campaign literature showed pictures of Republicans, including Assemblywoman Baker, former local Congressman Bill Baker, and former local State Senator Dick Rainey.

What can explain Worth’s rightward tilt? Perhaps losing her vaunted number-one status as the darling of Orinda’s electorate is the reason.

Amy Worth may be following the political dictum of the late U.S. Senator Everett Dirksen (R-Illinois). Dirksen once said: “When I feel the heat, I see the light.”

In the 1960’s, Dirksen was the Republican leader in the U.S. Senate.

With recent Republican and conservative election victories in parts of Contra Costa County, Worth may be switching to more moderate or conservative — and less liberal — positions.

Is Worth feeling the heat and seeing the light?

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New political reality in California

The new political reality in California finds a moderate Democrat and a Republican elected to the State Legislature from a heretofore reliably bluest of blue Democratic district. Progressive hacks take note.

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When accounting for the new political reality in California, perhaps Eugene Burdick, author of the Ninth Wave, said it best, Ignorance Plus Fear Equals Power.

According to the political science professor from UC Berkeley, who was better known for his other novels, including Fail Safe, The Ugly American, and The 480, California elections could be won by a candidate’s ability to manipulate approximately 10% of the electorate. In Burdick’s mind most voters almost always support Republican or Democratic candidates. If the swing vote could be effectively manipulated, an election could be won. This is where instilling ignorance and fear comes in.

In the past 20 years, the California Democratic Party has been successful in pushing this narrative of scaring and intimidating to win elections. This has been done in a variety of ways.

  • Evil outside agitators such as Wall Street and the Koch Brothers want to take over the State.
  • Anyone who dares question the Progressive Agenda is a member of the Tea Party or some other sinister cult that wants to usurp the rights of the people
  • The State government needs more power and responsibility to protect the people
  • Without this power the State would fall to ruin and Darth Vader and the gang would take over

Whatever tea leaves being read or flavor of Kool Aid being digested; this narrative has propelled Progressives to a Super Majority in the legislature. Assisting them in building such immense power was the unpopular administration of Bush Jr. in Washington D.C. Republicans in the Golden State have been reduced to rubble and are still on semi-life support.

The new political reality in California

With no viable opposition in California at the State level coming from the GOP, (Arnold Schwarzenegger was the last Republican to hold Statewide office) a de facto one Party government has been created under Democratic control. This is where there has been a crack in the armor of late.

Because of Proposition 14 passed in 2010, the top two candidates in a primary compete in a run-off even if they are from the same party. This how Congressman Pete Stark was defeated in 2012 by newcomer Eric Sewell. Two years later Proposition 14 reared its ugly head again in the recent Steve Glazer-Susan Bonilla Special Election contest.

In this case the so called moderate Steve Glazer won over fellow Democrat Susan Bonilla who enjoyed the support as a Union and Democratic Party endorsed candidate.  When the dust settled Bonilla and her supporters felt they were jobbed because

  1. Glazer used the same tactics they have successfully used in marginalizing their opponents.
  2. Orinda’s Mayor at times sounded at more like a card carrying Republican than a liberal Democrat
  3. Glazer was unfaithful to the principle of following the edicts of organized labor in opposing BART strikes and proposing pension reform.
  4. By defining a Democrat as being synonymous with holding Progressive values, the State Democratic Central Committee has in effect changed the criteria for belonging to their organization. Apparently they do not feel Glazer, even though he is a lifelong Democrat, belongs in their club.

With their recent dominance in the legislature and electing statewide office holders, the Party has adapted if it ain’t broken why fix it philosophy.  Failure to adjust their so called “big tent” so less progressive party members can fit in, has left many mainstream Democrats being left out in the cold.

Ironically, this same criticism has been leveled on the Republican side of the ledger where moderates have complained that the ultra conservatives have not accepted them as being an intricate part of their organization. Currently, the GOP under the leadership of Chairman Jim Brulte, are trying to deal with these issues in an effort to make Republican’s a more viable force in the California political scene.

Those Democrats, Republicans, and decline to stater’s, who reside where Catharine Baker won last fall, were an intricate part of the 10% plus shift that crossed party lines propelled her to victory. These same groups of voters along with others from Susan Bonilla’s own Assembly district contributed to Glazer winning an astounding 55% of the popular vote.

California Republicans
Steve Glazer and Catharine Baker both from a heretofore reliably blue county, now occupy seats in the California legislature.”
It wasn’t enough for Bonilla’s campaign to fill mail boxes with the same old bogeyman threats, gender equality, and women’s right to choose, and influence from outside agitators threatening to ruin it for everyone. Voters did not fall for the time honored approach of GOP bashing in labeling Glazer one of the enemy.

With this being the case, the negative campaign tactics used by Steve Maviglio that have historically worked so well in the past, need to be retooled in subsequent elections. The problem is that it is difficult to blame moderate Democrats and Republicans for the failures in State Government because neither of these entities has had any power during the last decade.

Last Saturday at my political junkie’s Curmudgeons Coffee Club, the Progressives blamed the opposition for misrepresenting them. In doing this they failed to mention their own demagogic slander that also stuffed mail boxes every day during the campaign. And then there was the excuse that this was a special election which meant the Democratic Base did not show up with no presidential ticket to support turnout.

The fact remains, base or no base showing up at the polls; Steve Glazer and Catharine Baker both from a here-to-for reliably blue county, now occupy seats in the California legislature. Tim Sbranti and Joan Buchanan are not there, while Susan Bonilla will be termed out in 19 months. The days of Party hacks playing kingmaker for determining who should occupy legislative seats have been changed at least for the immediate future.

Is this a negative development? I think not as one group of individuals (Progressive Democrats) having almost total power is not a good thing. If this were the other way and right wing Republicans were running things, I would feel the same way. Having a two party system is essential in a democracy even if it has to be factions of one branch of the party in charge competing against another.

While the 7th District race was a welcome relief from recent elections which have been mostly uncontested or with weak GOP opposition, this development does not make the Republican Party relevant again. As a matter of fact had Susan Bonilla beaten Glazer and her Assembly  seat was open in yet another special election , they did not even have more than a token candidate to oppose Concord Mayor Tim Grayson and possibly Superintendant of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson’s wife Mae.

Until prominent Republicans are willing to come out of closet (we are not talking gay marriage) and declare themselves to be proud members of the GOP, we will not have a true two party system in California. Even so Progressives have been put on notice that they are going to have to do more than pledge allegiance to the Central Committee, give their undying support on all labor causes, and continue to oppose all meaningful pension reform. If this narrative is not changed, Democrats can look forward to more insurrections from within and more effective conservative opposition.

Making such subtle changes does not invalidate Eugene Burdick’s Ignorance Plus Hate Equals Power formula or that it is incumbent in surfer’s lingo to ride The Ninth Wave. In the future new tactics and approaches will need to be formulated by the Democratic Party to gain support from what is still an apathetic electorate.

A good test for this new political reality in California may come in the 2016 Senate race. Progressives trying to coronate Kamala Harris to fill Barbara Boxer’s seat may be a little premature in doing so right now. Instead of raising Labors’ red flag and riding on Hilary Clinton’s skirt, they may even have to discuss issues relevant with voters for a change.

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10 lessons learned from Steve Glazer Senate victory

As the Steve Glazer Senate victory May 19th proved, it is not business as usual anymore in California. Realignment is upon us.

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At the Steve Glazer Senate victory celebration in Orinda on the evening of May 19th, it did not take long to realize the ramifications of this landslide victory over Susan Bonilla to serve the remaining 19 months of Mark DeSaulnier’s State Senate term.

Long before his opponent text messaged her official concession, Glazer received a phone call from the Speaker Pro Tem of the State Senate Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles), offering his congratulations. Even though the Democratic Party and virtually everyone of importance holding elective office other than Jerry Brown backed Bonilla, a new reality had already set in that Steve Glazer is a force to be reckoned with.

Even though the 7th District is but a small sample in California’s political milieu, this same region in less than one year has resulted in three highly regarded Progressive pro labor political leaders being rejected by voters.

First it was Tim Sbranti who fell  in the 14th District Assembly race to Republican moderate Catharine Baker. Then in the first round of the special election on March 17th, termed out liberal Joan Buchanan came in third behind Bonilla and Glazer in what amounted to a Democratic primary.

With the impressive Steve Glazer Senate victory, three—count ’em THREE—progressive political figures Sbranti, Buchanan, and Bonilla, all of whom had led charmed political lives, were rejected by voters.  This stunning turn of events has resonated throughout the entire legislature that is largely populated by progressive.

As politicians they don’t need to be told Bob Dylan’s famous words, “You don’t need a weather man to know which way the wind is blowing.”

The realigning elections of 2014-2015 have taken place and there is no turning back.

It would appear the Progressive apple cart that has lead to a Super Majority by Progressive Democrats has been upset or at least made to be a bit more unstable of late. Below are a list of winners and losers impacted by Steve Glazer’s 55% majority of the popular vote.

1. Jerry Brown: While he did not endorse anyone in the Special Election, it is clear Brown was behind his former campaign manager and adviser. With Glazer’s win, the Governor will be in a lot stronger position negotiating with the legislature on pension reform and budget matters where he has historically held more conservative views than then those residing in the State Assembly and Senate. The threat Progressives once had to overturn his veto’s are a thing of the past  

2. Marty Wilson: As Executive VP of Public Affairs for the California Chamber of Commerce he also was behind the JOBS PAC which was a major financial supporter of the Glazer Campaign. As such the pro business positions his organization takes, will have a lot more clout than they have had in the past. No longer can those politicians who have condemned so called “Big Business” risk further alienating them in the future.

3. Steve Maviglio: This Sacramento Democratic political consultant was point man for the organized labor PAC Working Families Against Steve Glazer. In the special election, exit polls showed voters were disgusted by the lies, deceit, and untruths about the winning candidate in mailers that tied him to supporting the cigarette companies, being a tool of big business, and wanting to take away assistance to poor families and the indigent. (to name a few)

Maviglio’s negative campaign strategy, for which he made a fortune producing and mailing hit pieces sent to voters, will undoubtedly be reassessed by donors who did not receive much bang for their buck this time around.

4. Susan Bonilla: After her stinging defeat, she will have to reconsider her approach to voters if she intends to successfuly run against Steve Glazer for his full term in 2016 when her stint in the Assembly ends. (And more potential supporters of hers vote in the Presidential election)

To do so she may have to modify some of her unpopular stands about the right of public employees to strike, leaving it up to the bargaining table to do pension reform, and to following almost all the policies (including their opposition to Charter Schools) of the California Teachers Association. In addition Bonilla might want to stray from having a 100% approval rating of her voting record from organized labor.

5. The Republican Party: Even though they did not have a horse in this race, by the unexpected earlier withdrawal of their candidate Michaela Hertle, they ended up winners. The same basic coalition composed of moderate Democrats, decline to state, and Republicans that helped propel Catharine Baker to office last fall, were largely responsible for electing Steve Glazer as well. How the GOP will use this newly found clout in future elections is open to conjecture.

6. Campaign Reform: The waste, corruption, and conflict of interests, made by Political Action Committees (4 million dollars plus spent on the special elections by each side) is a poster child for the need to fix what is obviously a broken system  Democrats, who have benefited more than anyone with the existing campaign laws, need to step to the plate and do what’s right.

Blaming the Koch Brothers, Tea Party, and demonizing non-leftists, is no longer cutting it with voters. In this election there was considerable anger on the part of recipients of hit pieces sent by both candidates. The people want campaign reform laws passed now!

7. Labor Unions: This group comprised primarily of teachers, law enforcement, crafts unions and civil service workers were widely rebuked in the Special Election. Steve Glazer’s opposition to BART Strikes was arguably the most important wedge issue responsible for his landslide victory.

In addition, these special interest groups who have been riding the gravy train for the last quarter century, have to realize the electorate now knows the difference between “working families” and “working union families” At the same time they have to understand that their “team member” progressive legislators will need to be given a longer leach if they are to be re-elected in the future.

8. Chuck Reed: The former Democratic San Jose Mayor, who has proposed an initiative on pension reform, was depicted by Steve Maviglio in hit pieces to be a political outcast who is against the working man. Trying to stigmatize the well respected Reed as being rightist tea party type backfired in the special election as most Glazer supporters have shown an open mind to his proposals.

The traditional Democratic strategy of demonizing moderates such as Reed and Glazer must be reconsidered if the party wants to continue its dominance in the future. The lunatic public employee unions in Contra Costa County, who are contemplating the recall of Supervisor Karen Mitchoff for even mentioning Chuck Reed, should also take note of what transpired on May 19th.

9. Local control vs. Big Brother: One of the important issues that have come up in this and other recent campaigns has been the usurpation of power of cities and counties by the State Government especially in the areas of urban planning and road maintenance. Of some concern is the power of planning decisions being given to regional agencies such as the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Agency (MTA)  In the Special Election  most of Glazer’s supporters were behind restoring power back to local communities, especially in the area of the “housing element”.

10. The need for Non-Partisan decision making: This was one of the major talking points of both the Steve Glazer and Catharine Baker campaigns. It is no coincidence that after his defeat in the primary race last June, Glazer stepped over party lines and supported Baker against Tim Sbranti.

He spoke openly to both Democratic and Republican audiences about the need for the two parties to work together. This resonated well with voters many of whom are tired of the bickering and petty politics practiced between the two major parties in Sacramento. They have sent a less than subtle message to Sacramento in the form of Baker and Glazer.

Coming out of this political minefield relatively unscathed is Democratic Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord), who in replacing retired George Miller, faced only token opposition last fall. Holding views similar to his friend Susan Bonilla, DeSaulnier may want to consider moving towards the center of the political spectrum if he hopes to hold on to his seat in subsequent elections.

As the Steve Glazer Senate victory May 19th proved, it is not business as usual anymore in California. Realignment is upon us.

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Game Show helps pick winner in 7th District Special Election

As the polls closed May 19, the Judges asked TV audiences along with registered voters to determine who would be the next 7th Senatorial District Democratic Party Idol. Would it be the warbling mezzo Susan Bonilla, or the tenor, Steve Glazer.

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Welcome to the May 19th Special election broadcast of the Democratic Party Idol Show. Tonight we will determine which one of our two finalists will replace Mark DeSaulnier, in the 7th Senatorial District. Viewers of this show will not require the services of Dan Ashley of Channel 7, purchase a newspaper, or have to gaze at any of the blond anchors on Fox.

The last two contestants left are Assemblywomen Susan Bonilla D-Concord and Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer.  They defeated a couple of other challengers Terry Kremin and Joan Buchanan in the earlier round on March 17th.  Apparently, Kremin had no voice to express his opinions as he lacked funding to even appear in the Voter’s Handbook.  Buchanan gave the race all she had but somehow her song “Positively for us” hit a flat note with voters.

Senate candidate Steve Glazer sings his winning song to the judges of the 7th State Senate District. Photo Courtesy Brian Churchwell
Senate candidate Steve Glazer sings his winning song to the judges of the 7th State Senate District. Photo Courtesy Brian Churchwell

Your back stage pass begins with the entire cast singing the hit song Things go better with Koch. There was so much free spending going on in the campaign that neither side had to resort to accusing the other of having connections to the notorious duo until the last week of the campaign.

This differed with virtually every other recent election, especially if a Democrat falls behind.  Just mention the Koch Brothers and not only does public opinion run against your opponent but needed cash comes in from the outraged electorate.

From the get go, it appears that the judges much prefer Susan Bonilla to her opponent Steve Glazer, even though both are Democrats. Simon Cowell said, “Susan has a much stronger voice. With George Miller, Ellen Tauscher, Tom Torkalson, Kamala Harris, The Democratic Party and virtually every dignitary in the State singing in her chorus, her victory should be assured. Even 9 out of 10 prisoners doing hard time (with the exception of Charles Manson and Richard Allen Davis), are behind Bonilla.”

Trying to even the playing field host Ryan Seacrest pointed out that “Even if most of the judges prefer Bonilla’s Progressive rap to Glazer singing the Blues about the budget deficit, BART strikes, to problems in public education, his voice, no matter how off key needs to be heard.

Bonilla began her final appeal for support with her spirited rendition of “You’re so GOP”

You walked into the Democratic Party like you walking on to Bebe Rebozo’s yacht

Your views they were strategically leaning right

your scarf was red without having a bluish part.

You had one eye on an opinion poll

As you watched your public approval ratings rise

And all the special interests dreamed that they’d be your partner

They’d be your partner and

You’re so GOP, you probably think this song is about you, don’t you?

You had me several years ago when you were still quite left wing

And as Jerry Brown’s Campaign Manager receiving union support

I thought you would never leave

But when you left the progressive cause behind, one of them was me

I had some dreams they were clouds in my coffee, hit pieces in my mail box,

You’re so GOP.  You probably think this song is about you?

This rendition of Carly Simon’s classic tune brought down the house with the Democratic Party Idol crowd. The only problem is the majority of those casting ballots in the May 19th special elections were not partisan Progressives who followed whatever the Central Committee thought was best for them. Not having tickets to this program were Independents and Republicans who also have an equal voice as registered voters to participate in the election.

While the Idol audience liked Bonilla’s strong backing from teachers, civil service workers, law enforcement, Dentists, those receiving government entitlements, and all of her close friends in Sacramento, some folks, especially in the San Ramon Valley preferred to hear different music when trying to determine who would represent them in Sacramento.

In trying to appeal to this group Steve Glazer walked upon the stage and with no accompaniment sang his rendition of the Rolling Stones classic Satisfaction.

I can’t get no satisfaction

‘Cause I try and I try and I try and I try

When I’m drivin’ in my car

Because BART’s workers are on strike

And traffic is so congested

That my patience is getting tested

And Special interests don’t give me a chance

Cause I’m not doing their slime-ball dance

With my opponent being in their pocket

But I still have Bill Bloomfield’s wallet

I can’t get no satisfaction, no satisfaction

Before May 19th, there is no relaxin

But I try, but I try, but it try

If only Jerry Brown will hear my cry

I can’t get no satisfaction

As might be expected the judges weren’t very impressed with Glazer’s song and dance but he didn’t especially care. His target audience was disgusted tax payers who were fed up by government regulations, cap and trade, along with the deepened pension obligations owed to State workers.

He was O.K. with his opponent doing what he thought was a tired act discussing gender inequality, a Women’s right to choose, the abuses of corporations, and how more governmental spending is the key to improving society. “The show must go on and labor unions must be reigned in” Glazer told the jeering audience of Democratic loyalists.

Contributor Richard Eber lives and works in Concord California. When he isn't performing the Texas Two-Step at the Concord Hilton, he can be reached at richer[at]amerasa[dot]net
Contributor Richard Eber lives and works in Concord California. When he isn’t performing the Texas Two-Step at the Concord Hilton, he can be reached at richeber[at]amerasa[dot]net
When it came time for the commercials. Glazer’s JOBS PAC and Susan Bonilla’s buddies from Working Families Against Steve Glazer bought all the air time to perform a film version of hit pieces that had cluttered every mail box in the district. Curiously enough, Nielson questionnaires would later reveal that virtually no one was paying any attention to these messages as by this time in the campaign almost all the voters were totally turned off.

At last as the polls were scheduled to close at 8: pm on May 19th, the Judges asked that their T.V. audiences along with registered voters determine who would be the next 7th Senatorial District Democratic Party Idol. Would the electorate choice Susan Bonilla, Progressive darling of Labor Unions, elected officials, and Sacramento insiders or her opponent Steve Glazier who reminded them of the character Mr. Burns from The Simpsons.

Before Ryan Seacrest could say the magic words, “The Envelop Please” there was the matter of counting some 90,000 vote by mail ballots that had already been turned in. Before this could be done the host of Demo Idol sadly told the audience, the evil Fox Empire had canceled his American Idol TV show that had graced the airwaves for the past fifteen years.

A few minutes later Seacrest said the other shoe had dropped as Progressive Susan Bonilla had lost the Special Election to moderate Democrat Steve Glazer. After passing on this sad news he concluded “I guess the recent Labor Union dominated uncontested elections of the past several years have been cancelled as well.

With the recent victories of Catharine Baker and Glazer, liberals will have to say more than blame it on the Bossa Nova and the Koch Brothers.” As they say in the trade The Democratic Party Idol show is no longer with us, at least around here.

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