Saturday, April 7, 2012

SEIU California State Council Endorses Sid Voorakkara for State Assembly District 79

From the Voorakkara campaign:

SEIU California State Council Endorses Sid Voorakkara for State Assembly District 79

Voorakkara’s campaign continues to build major momentum with yet another endorsement from a major statewide labor organization

San Diego, CA – Days after campaign finance reports showed Sid Voorakkara with a sizable cash-on-hand and fundraising advantage over his opponents, his campaign today announced winning an endorsement from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) California State Council.

The SEIU California State Council represents over 700,000 social workers, nurses, classroom aides, state workers, security officers, home care workers, janitors, and other workers throughout California

The endorsement from SEIU California State Council adds to the growing momentum behind Voorakkara’s campaign.  In recent weeks he secured an exclusive endorsement from the California Nurses Association.  In addition, campaign finance reports filed with the Secretary of State last week showed Voorakkara with a strong cash-on-hand lead, a key indicator of the strength and viability of his campaign going into the final two months before the June primary election.

 “I am honored to have the support of such a distinguished organization,” said Sid Voorakkara. “SEIU has been a strong voice for workers in the face of serious political opposition. Protecting our workers health and retirements is vital to getting California back on the path to economic strength. I look forward to working closely with the SEIU to put worker’s needs back on the table in the State Legislature.”

SEIU California State Council now joins the California Nurses Association, the California API Legislative Caucus, State Board of Equalization Member Betty Yee, Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski, Assemblymember Mike Eng, Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, Senator Jim Beall, Jr., and dozens of local elected leaders in backing Voorakkara’s campaign.

Sid Voorakkara is running for the California State Assembly District 79.  


Sid Voorakkara is a nonprofit director and workforce program manager with extensive experience in improving the quality of life for underserved individuals and communities by bringing people and organizations together to improve healthcare access, job training and employment opportunities. For almost seven years, Sid has worked for The California Endowment, a private, statewide health foundation that makes grants to organizations and institutions that directly benefit the health and well being of the people of California.  Working closely with high schools within the 79th Assembly District, San Diego’s hospital and community clinic systems, and numerous immigrant and refugee organizations, Sid has improved healthcare access for San Diego’s most vulnerable citizens and provided opportunities for students to pursue high-growth, high-wage jobs. Sid created the San Diego Workforce Funders Collaborative, which leverages philanthropic resources with government and the private sector to get San Diegans the training they need for today’s job market.

Friday, April 6, 2012

A desperate Scott Peters, trying to divert attention from his refusal to release his taxes, attacks Saldaña

From the Saldaña campaign:

Behind in the polls and struggling to jumpstart his floundering Congressional campaign, Scott Peters tried to divert attention from his refusal to release his taxes with an attack on former Speaker Pro Tem Lori Saldana.

The attack, based upon old newspaper articles, criticized Saldana's support for labor and consumer-backed legislation, claiming she supported "special interests."
“Everything cited in the Peters’ press release has been public for years. Yet Mr. Peters doesn’t believe in applying transparency to himself,” Joe Kocurek, a Saldaña spokesperson, said.

"This is a smear by a candidate who is losing the campaign and who is facing a growing chorus of public criticism for refusing to subject his tax returns to public scrutiny," he said. “Just this week, President Obama signed a bill to ban insider trading by members of Congress.

“The public has the right to know what Mr. Peters’ sources of income are; what tax breaks and loopholes he has utilized; and how much tax he pays,” he said.
Several weeks ago, Ms. Saldana made her tax returns public and asked the other candidates in the race to do the same.

“Congressman Bilbray has responded to former Speaker Pro Tem Saldana’s challenge to release his taxes," Kocurek stated. "Even Mr. Peters’ La Jolla neighbor, Mitt Romney, released his taxes.”

Peters attack on Saldana cited two trips she took. "No taxpayer dollars were ever used by Ms. Saldana on her trade missions," Kocurek said."Their purpose was to help expand and grow California’s economy. This is in stark contrast to the $660,000 in taxpayer money Mr. Peters spent on legal fees when he was found grossly negligent by the SEC for mismanaging the city of San Diego’s budget.”

On one mission, Ms. Saldana, a co-author of California's landmark Greehouse Gas Reduction Act, visited a rural swine farm in Brazil in order to examine the latest technology for creating methane gas as an alternative fuel.

The spokesman said that Ms. Saldana is proud of her 100% Sierra Club record and her support for consumer-backed bills, including the two cited by Mr. Peters.
One bill to expand public access to broadband internet to low-income familes, was supported by the California Labor Federation and the American Heart Association and passed the Assembly unanimously, 77-0.

 The second bill, to target green energy efforts on low income rental units, was supported by the Western Center for Law and Poverty, the consumer group TURN, and passed the Assembly.

"Mr. Peters’ press release is filled with factual inaccuracies and mischaracterizations." Kocurek stated.

“The candidate who is behind in the polls is always the first to attack,” he said.


Peters Campaign Calls on Saldaña to Explain $39,000 in Gifts/Trips from Special Interests

From the Peters campaign:

San Diego, CA – Today the Scott Peters for Congress campaign called on candidate Lori Saldaña to release her expense reports, receipts, itineraries, agendas, correspondence and all other information pertaining to the more than $39,000 in gifts and trips she received from well-funded special interests from 2005-2009 while serving as a member of the California State Legislature.

Saldaña accepted the majority of the $39,000 in the form of lavish trips to exotic destinations. She traveled to places such as Vietnam, China, Venezuela and Chile where she stayed at posh hotels, enjoyed expensive meals and even had her own personal wait service during a stay in Argentina.  These luxurious junkets were funded by oil, gas and utility companies such as Chevron, Pacific Gas and Electric, AT&T and Sempra Energy.  All of these corporations wanted her support for legislation that affected their bottom lines. And, she voted in their favor, both before and after the opulent travel.

“Lori Saldaña accepted luxurious junkets funded by big corporations who had legislation before her that affected their bottom line. She accepted the trips and the corporations received the support from her they were seeking,” said Peters’ Campaign Manager Robert Dempsey.

 “If Lori Saldaña is for transparency, as she claims, she should release all documentation related to these expenses and explain to the voters how this isn’t a blatant conflict of interest,” he added. “The taxpayers deserve to know where she went, who went with her, who paid her way and what they got in return for their generosity.”

From 2005 through 2009, Saldaña reported receiving $22,058 in travel as gifts, including a 2006 trip to South America. During the trip she stayed at exclusive hotels such as the Copacabana Palace in Rio de Janeiro, and the five-star Ritz-Carlton in Santiago Chile. While staying at the spectacular Alvear Palace Hotel in Buenos Aires, she even had her own personal butler to attend to her.

 The 2006 South America trip was paid for by an organization funded by Chevron, AT&T, Sempra Energy, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), Comcast and Northern Star Natural Gas. She was joined on the trip by representatives from oil, gas and electricity companies and others.

“Why would any legitimate fact-finding trip require such luxurious accommodations and a private butler?” questioned Dempsey. “Compare Saldaña’s record on this to Scott Peters who was recently highlighted in a U-T San Diego article because he pays all his own travel and meal expenses at the Port. The voters want a representative who isn’t beholden to special interests bearing gifts.”

Saldaña’s fondness for expensive gifts from special interests caught the attention of the Fair Political Practices Commission in 2010 when it fined her for failing to report meals, as required by law. They included meals paid for by the California Manufacturers and Technology Association, the Pechanga Band of Indians, and a $110.00 lunch from Bank of America. There was no record that these expenses ever were reimbursed.

In August 2006, Saldaña voted for AB 2987 which allowed telephone companies to compete and offer cable television services without signing cable franchise agreements for the cities or counties in which they operated.  News accounts reported that AT&T was in support of the bill. The City of San Diego registered its opposition to this bill. In a June 19, 2006 vote the San Diego City Council unanimously passed a resolution urging the state to amend the bill.

In June 2009, Saldaña voted for AB 413, which would have eliminated rate freezes for residential customers of electric utilities, a bill supported by PG&E, Sempra Energy and Southern California Edison.  The bill would have lifted some measures enacted in 2001 during the state’s energy crisis that capped and restricted the energy rates paid by customers.  The bill later died in the Senate Rules Committee.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Lightner supports Proposition B or the DeMaio/Dumanis/Fletcher “Comprehensive Pension Reform” (CPR) Measure

All quotes from the SDUT

A little more than a month ago, Lightner’s prime opponent in the race, Republican Ray Ellis, sent out a campaign mailer saying he was the only District 1 candidate in support of the measure, an assumption Lightner said was wrong.

Though the pension reform measure has been in the local political spotlight for six months, Lightner had yet to publicly state her position on it until talking to a reporter on Tuesday.

This sounds like a decision made on the fly. Lightner has had more than enough time to consider the issue and concluding that supporting the measure now would be a good thing for the campaign only serves to baffle the activist base and her supporters.

“I am in support of it, but the devil is in the details,” she said. “It means continuing to work with our employees closely.”

So she supports the idea but is not offering any solutions. The timing of her statement appears opportunistic. It looks like she’s grasping at the caboose of the Prop B train hoping to ride the rails through to the run off.

Unfortunately, joining the chorus of  “me too” this late in the game does not gain you supporters but it does attract derision.

Great editorial by Alex Kreit & Howard Wayne in today's Union-Tribune

Justice delayed is justice denied:

SDUT Editorial: Crisis in the Courts

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Stonewalling on Taxes by Scott Peters and Brian Bilbray Feeds Public Suspicions, Saldaña says

From the Saldaña campaign:

Stonewalling on Taxes by Scott Peters and Brian Bilbray Feeds Public Suspicions, Saldaña says

“What are they hiding?”

SAN DIEGO – A month after she released her taxes to the public, Democratic frontrunner Lori Saldaña said that the stonewalling by the other candidates for the 52nd Congressional District is fueling public suspicions about what they are hiding.

“This year, people are angry and demand to know whether candidates have enjoyed tax breaks that are not available to the average middle-class voter,” Saldaña said. “The public rightfully believe that, if elected, they will perpetuate these tax policies at the expense of the middle class.”

“Do Mr. Bilbray and Mr. Peters pay a lower tax rate than a teacher, a machinist or a barista? Are they hiding funds tax free in the Cayman islands?”

“Voters need to know that the Buffet Rule applies to the people they elect to Congress,” Saldaña said.

Saldaña released her taxes to the San Diego Union Tribune on March 3rd and challenged the other candidates to do the same.

The leading Republican contender, Brian Bilbray, originally agreed to release his returns, but so far has not done so.

Scott Peters, - whose vast personal wealth is estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars - has refused repeated calls to make his tax returns public.

Saldaña noted parallels between Peters’ intransigence and multimillionaire Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney who, when he finally released his taxes, was found to only pay l3.9 percent of his income in taxes, a lower tax rate than most middle-income Americans.

"It's simple: I believe in transparency," Saldaña stated. "When I talk with San Diegans and hear their stories, it's clear many are still struggling even as the economy improves. By releasing my tax returns I want them to know: I get it. I hear you loud and clear. My family's a lot like your family."

"If they have nothing to hide, Mr. Bilbray and Mr. Peters should release their taxes and put the public's suspicions to rest," she said.

Saldaña is leading the other challengers to unseat the long-term Republican Congressman Brian Bilbray in the new-drawn 52nd District, which includes La Jolla, Poway, Mira Mesa, Clairemont, Pacific Beach, Point Loma, Downtown San Diego and Coronado.