When Democratic Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi became the East
Bay’s newest congressman last month, the question immediately turned to
who would replace him. Not surprisingly, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
selected a moderate Republican who shares many of his own views —
state Senator Abel Maldonado of Santa Maria. Maldonado appears to be a
smart, independent politician who would be a formidable candidate in
next year’s election. But that’s a problem, both for Democrats and for
members of Maldonado’s own party.
Democratic state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg was the
first to voice reservations. Steinberg argued that, to save money, the
lieutenant governor’s seat should be left vacant until next year’s
election. He said that if the legislature were to confirm Maldonado,
then the state would have to spend millions on a special election to
replace him. But while that reasoning may have been true, it also was
disingenuous. The truth is that Democrats don’t want Maldonado to run
as an incumbent in 2010.
Some Republicans, it turns out, have the very same objection.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, at least three GOP
hopefuls, in addition to Maldonado, are eyeing the lieutenant
governor’s position in 2010. And they don’t want Maldonado to have the
advantage of incumbency. Plus, conservatives aren’t happy with his
record as a moderate, particularly his decision earlier this year to
join the Democrats in a budget compromise.
As a result, his confirmation is anything but certain. To become
lieutenant governor, he’ll need a majority of votes in both the Senate
and Assembly, but that now appears to be a tough sell for both
Schwarzenegger’s Other Problem
But the governor has more to worry about than Abel Maldonado. He
recently joined Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums on the long list of public
figures with tax problems. The IRS lodged a federal tax lien against
Schwarzenegger for failing to pay $79,000 in back taxes. The lien was
first reported last week by the entertainment site TMZ.com.
Schwarzenegger originally disputed the existence of the lien when
contacted by the media. Then he later acknowledged it, while claiming
the matter was a paperwork snafu “completely unrelated to the payment
As for IRS officials, they declined to comment. But according to the
tax lien, the “snafu” was Schwarzenegger’s failure to pay enough taxes
in 2004 and 2005. A tax attorney consulted by the San Jose Mercury
News hypothesized that the lien might be related to one of the
several businesses in which the governor is involved.
Oakland Pitches for the A’s, Again
Ever since the planned move of the Oakland A’s to Fremont
evaporated, the conventional wisdom has been that the team would end up
in San Jose. But not if team boosters have anything to say about it.
They plan to present a proposal to Major League Baseball detailing
possible Oakland sites for a new ballpark.
The boosters are being led by Oakland Planning Commissioner Doug
Boxer, son of Senator Barbara Boxer. Mayor Dellums also is said to be
on board. According to the Chronicle, the prospective sites
include the current Coliseum parking lot, Oak and Third streets in the
Jack London Square district, and the Howard Terminal at the Port of
The A’s have already analyzed the Coliseum parking lot and the
Howard Terminal sites and discarded them as unworkable. The Howard
Terminal, for example, would cost hundreds of millions of dollars just
to clean up and make ready for a ballpark, according to a study
commissioned earlier this decade by former City Manager Robert Bobb.
That study, however, did not fully analyze the Oak and Third streets
site, and it’s not clear whether the A’s have either.
School Board Member Stays
Oakland school board member David Kakishiba has decided not to step
down from his post after all. According to the Oakland Tribune,
he will serve out the rest of his term, which concludes next year,
despite an opinion by the district’s general counsel that he has a
conflict of interest. Kakishiba runs a non-profit that has scored
millions of dollars in district contracts over the years for
after-school programs. The opinion had prompted him to say he would
Although Kakishiba has scrupulously avoided voting on or discussing
district contracts with his nonprofit, general counsel Jackie Minor
concluded that district employees may be biased toward it in order to
curry favor with him. His conflict only recently became an issue
because the school board regained local control of the city’s public
schools, and now has authority over contracts.
Alameda County prosecutors decided not to file felony charges
against an unruly BART patron who broke a glass window when he was
shoved by an agency cop. BART is investigating the cop for police
brutality. … Oakland was named the third-most-dangerous city in
America by CQ Press. But the ranking was based on last year’s crime
stats and doesn’t include the city’s 13 percent drop in crime this
year. … PG&E has requested an extension on its Diablo Canyon
nuclear power plant through 2045, despite continuing concerns about
nuclear waste disposal. … And existing home sales jumped 10.1 percent
in October, the largest monthly increase in a decade. Some experts,
however, say the good news may be short-lived, and predict a new round
of foreclosures next year.