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 parties.
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 of taxes."
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 Oakland.
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 resign.
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.