Index
Sunday
Oct212012

POLITICS (National): Obama-Romney polling, how race is a factor, Willie Brown column, "Obama makes late push for black voters"; New York Times, report, analysis, for Obama, a "complex calculus of race and politics".... 

* San Francisco Chronicle (Willie Brown):  "Obama makes late push for black voters" - From the Chronicle:

As we roll into the final presidential debate, the polls show a very tight race. One thing they don't show, however, is how race is a factor in the election. By my estimate, you have to build in a three- to five-point slip from the poll numbers for any black candidate on election day. To overcome the slip, you need to pump up the black vote by equal measure. And that's not easy, because brothers and sisters aren't among the top turnout groups.

In 2008, Barack Obama was able to compensate for the slip and then some. You would have thought it was Nelson Mandela coming out of jail. This time it's not going to be that easy. If Obama looks as if he's going black, he could turn off white people. So he's largely been lying low on the race issues - visibly pushing for the Latino vote, the gay vote, the women's vote, but not the black vote.

But last weekend, he held a conference call with a collection of black preachers that included his old pastor, Jeremiah Wright. He wanted to talk to them about getting out the vote.

***ALSO:

* New York Times:  "For President Obama, a Complex Calculus of Race and Politics"

Saturday
Oct202012

SACRAMENTO: California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, report, analysis, CIRM's "charmed relationship" with Bay Area biotech firm, StemCells Inc....

* Los Angeles Times (Michael Hiltzik):  "Research firm reaped stem cell funds despite panel's advice" - "StemCells Inc. has had a rather charmed relationship with California's publicly funded stem cell program, with some $40 million in awards approved this year." - From the LAT:

StemCells Inc. has a history not much different from those of dozens, even hundreds, of biotech companies all around California.

Co-founded by an eminent Stanford research scientist, the Newark, Calif., firm has struggled financially while trying to push its stem cell products through the research-and-development pipeline. It collects about $1 million a year from licensing patents and selling cell cultures but spends well more than $20 million annually on R&D, so it runs deeply in the red.

On the plus side, StemCells Inc. has had rather a charmed relationship with the California stem cell program, that $3-billion taxpayer-backed research fund known formally as the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. The firm ranks first among all corporate recipients of approved funding from CIRM, with some $40 million in awards approved this year. That's more than has gone to such established California nonprofit research centers as Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, and the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute.

The record of Stem Cells is particularly impressive given that one of the two proposals for which the firm received a $20-million funding award, covering a possible Alzheimer's treatment, was actually rejected by CIRM's scientific review panel — twice. Nevertheless, the stem cell agency's governing board went ahead and approved it last month.

What was the company's secret? StemCells says it's addressing "a serious unmet medical need" in Alzheimer's research. But it doesn't hurt that the company also had powerful friends going to bat for it, including two guys who were instrumental in getting CIRM off the ground in the first place.

There's nothing improper about the state stem cell agency funding private enterprise; that's part of its statutory duties, and potentially valuable in advancing the goals of research. . . . . . . .

But private enterprise is new territory for CIRM, which has steered almost all its grants thus far to nonprofit institutions. Those efforts haven't been trouble-free: With some 90% of the agency's grants having gone to institutions with representatives on its board, the agency has long been vulnerable to charges of conflicts of interest. The last thing it needed was to show a similar flaw in its dealings with private companies too.

That brings us back to StemCells Inc............

Saturday
Oct202012

POLITICS/TRANSPORTATION: Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Measure J, campaign for and against, organization, fundraising, etc...

* Los Angeles Times:  "Foes of transit tax extension face uphill battle" - "Measure J would extend the half-cent levy an extra 30 years, to 2069. Backers are an array of interests fueling their bid with money. The opposition is a relatively low-budget, grass-roots effort." - From the LAT:

A small group of opponents to a three-decade transportation sales tax extension on next month's ballot huddled this week for their first news conference, a thinly attended event in a Hyde Park parking lot. Only two television stations showed up — one from USC — signaling the kind of David versus Goliath battle they face.

The Coalition to Defeat Measure J included a smattering of groups with accumulated grievances against the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Among them were bus riders who feel shortchanged by the agency's heavy spending on rail projects and Beverly Hills school officials battling part of a subway route beneath their city.

That same day, the head of the Yes on Measure J effort was hurrying to pick up yet another financial donation and was gearing up for a television advertising blitz to promote the proposed tax extension. "This has been a very good week," said campaign leader Matt Szabo, a former top aide to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa who is also running for a seat on the City Council. "We've gotten a lot of money for J and a … nice set of [newspaper] editorials."

As the campaign to extend the half-cent tax for an extra 30 years heats up, the strategies and fundraising efforts between the two groups could not be more different...........

Friday
Oct192012

POLITICS/LAW ENFORCEMENT: Anaheim, arrest of police union manager, accusation, embezzlement of more than $360,000 from union accounts; City of San Jose, "contempt" for mayor within police department, officers, dispatchers....

***A couple law enforcement-related items....

* San Jose Mercury News:  "Police officers, dispatchers cheered San Jose mayor Chuck Reed's ticket"

* Los Angeles Times:  "Anaheim police union office manager accused of embezzlement" - "Cindy Ann Su'a is arrested and charged with stealing more than $360,000 from the Anaheim Police Assn.'s accounts over a five-year period."

Friday
Oct192012

L.A. CITY HALL: Port of Los Angeles, proposed BNSF railyard project, public hearing, rally by project opponents....

* Daily Breeze:  "Protesters rally against Wilmington port railyard project" - From the DB:

In the latest confrontation over a proposed railyard on Long Beach's western border, more than 100 people rallied to oppose the project Thursday night before a public hearing.

   ****

Burlington Northern Santa Fe wants to build the 153-acre Southern California International Gateway railyard in Wilmington near the Terminal Island (103) Freeway. . . . The proposed $500 million railyard would pass by five schools, a day-care center and homeless housing for veterans, opponents say. Some of the neighborhoods that would be most affected are in West Long Beach, an area that already experiences unusually high asthma and other health problems. "We don't want our kids' lungs to be filters," said John Cross, president of the West Long Beach Neighborhood Association.

During the rally, several community and environmental groups opposing the project wore white T-shirts with the words "Southern California International Gateway (SCIG)" crossed out by a red line. They also carried picket signs reading "Protect our health." Labor union members who support the project were also at the meeting, though not in the numbers of the opponents. Supporters wore orange T-shirts printed with the words "clean air" and "good jobs."

The meeting was part of a 45-day comment period on the project's updated draft environmental impact report. The previous report had used old data, so the study was updated.

   ****

Proposed in 2005, the facility is designed to help accommodate the rising demand in cargo by allowing trucks to load containers and put them on trains closer to the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, rather than having trucks drive 24 miles away to another BNSF facility in downtown Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners might vote on the project before the end of the year. If they approve it, opponents say they will appeal the decision to the Los Angeles City Council. If the council approves the project, opponents will consider a lawsuit, said Morgan Wyenn of the Natural Resources Defense Council.