Political muscle

Nov 7, 2011

San Francisco's mayoral race is coming down to the wire and the outcome is too close to call. But one trend has emerged: The Chinese American community appears to be engaged at an unprecedented level, according to a survey of early mail-in ballots.


From the Chronicle's Matier & Ross: "An early read of San Francisco's mail-in ballots suggests Tuesday could be a real muscle-flexing night for Chinese American voters."


"It also appears that the race for mayor has come down to the last couple of days, with traditionally liberal and progressive voters making up their minds at the last minute - or perhaps sitting it out."


"An analysis by Redistricting Partners, a Sacramento political consulting firm, found that as of last week, 79 percent of expected mail-in voters in Chinatown had turned in their ballots - 32 percentage points above the citywide average return at this time during two earlier election cycles."


"Visitacion Valley, which has turned heavily Asian in recent years, is showing an 18 percentage point surge, followed by new immigrant areas like the Excelsior (12 percentage points) and the Sunset and Bayview (both five percentage points)."


And that means a race barrier may topple in San Francisco this week, reports Erik Eckholm in the NY Times.


"This city with the country’s oldest Chinatown appears likely to elect a Chinese-American mayor for the first time on Tuesday, and for many residents it is a milestone long overdue."


"Chinese-Americans feel that they are making history,” said David E. Lee, executive director of the nonpartisan Chinese American Voters Education Committee here. “They feel they are on the cusp of achieving the holy grail of San Francisco politics, electing one of their own into the mayor’s office.”


"Edwin M. Lee, who was appointed to the office on an interim basis last fall after Mayor Gavin Newsom was elected lieutenant governor, is considered a strong favorite, although his support has dwindled in recent days as opponents in a scattered field of 16 seized on reports of campaign irregularities by some of his supporters."


It appears that Gov. Jerry Brown soon will have an opportunity to make an impact on the 12-member governing board of the State Teachers' Retirement System, as he has an opportunity to appoint five members. CalPensions' Ed Mendel tells the tale.


"A pension reform plan issued by Gov. Brown last month calls for more “independence and financial sophistication” on pension boards. Now he will soon have five openings to fill on the 12-member CalSTRS board."


"Last week Brown aides interviewed three board members appointed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger whose four-year terms expire at the end of the year: Kathy Brugger, Jerilyn Harris and Beth Rogers."


"Two seats have been vacant since February, when Brown yanked two last-minute Schwarzenegger appointments. One was a co-author of a Stanford graduate student study contending state pension funds have a $500 billion debt, not $55 billion as reported at the time."


"At what may be the last California State Teachers Retirement System board meeting until February, Harris thanked persons who attended an evening reception last week for “those of us who are — may be moving on.”


Speaking of retirement, the benefits of a former L.A. police offer who later joined the Fullerton police department and became involved in  the beating death of a citizen are getting a new look.


From the LA Times' Abby Sewell: "Jay Cicinelli, a former Los Angeles Police Department officer who lost an eye when he was shot on the job in 1996 during a routine traffic stop, receives 70% of his salary as a disability pension. City officials approved the large sum because it was unclear at the time whether he could again work in law enforcement."

"But Cicinelli soon got a job with the Fullerton Police Department, where he eventually earned $88,544 a year on top of his $39,625 in pension benefits from L.A."

"The issue came to the attention of the Los Angeles Fire and Police Pensions Department after Cicinelli's name surfaced as one of the six officers involved in the incident that led to the death of Kelly Thomas."

Whatever his other liabilities as the election gets under way, one thing President Obama has in abundance -- money. The LA Times' Peter Nicholas has the story.


"Flush with more cash than all the Republican candidates combined, Obama's reelection campaign envisions an electoral map every bit as expansive as that of 2008, when he picked up a string of states that had been safe GOP territory for decades."

"Indiana, North Carolina, Virginia. Obama's national momentum helped him pull off some improbable wins. Even Obama is doubtful he can duplicate his showing given the poor economy. He'll need to "grind it out" in 2012, he said recently."


"But along the way, campaign officials say, they are determined to use their financial clout to keep as many states as possible in play for as long as possible."

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