<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area - Bay Area Political News, Bay Area Politics]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/politics http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/nbc_bayarea_blue.png NBC Bay Area http://www.nbcbayarea.com en-us Thu, 30 Oct 2014 09:41:47 -0700 Thu, 30 Oct 2014 09:41:47 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[San Jose Police Cadet Controversy Escalates]]> Tue, 28 Oct 2014 22:14:55 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/SJPD-RECRUIT-LETTER-PKG---00000008.jpg

The bitter fight between San Jose City Hall and the police union escalated on Tuesday, just before the mayor plans to ask for an independent investigation into allegations the San Jose Police Officers' Association is sabotaging police recruiting efforts.

NBC Bay Area’s Robert Handa talked with a cadet who said, as an academy recruit, the union encouraged him to leave, an accusation the union emphatically denies.

This cadet's story follows a similar allegation made by a former recruit who published her version in the Mercury News. They say the union wants recruits to quit, but the union denies it and called the accusation “politics.”

The San Jose Police Academy is the focus of the department's recruiting effort, and where some people, including cadets, say that effort is being undermined.

A former recruit, Elyse Rivas, wrote an article saying union president Jim Unland told cadets to “quit” during orientation. She admitted Unland never said “quit,” but insists he encouraged recruits to leave to strengthen the union's pension fight with the city.

Tuesday, another man, referred to NBC Bay Area by a Sam Liccardo supporter, backed up Rivas's claim. He asked not to be identified because he is pursuing a job in law enforcement. NBC Bay Area has verified he was a cadet present at the orientation.

"He told the class to take advantage of the academy and then find jobs elsewhere,” the former cadet said.

Why come forward?

"I think it's important that the truth comes out."

What's the truth?

"That the union tries to get us to leave the department."

Jim Unland scoffed and emphasized several officers at the orientation signed sworn statements to the contrary. He also pointed out the union recently accused a political consultant of trying to coerce a former officer, Aaron Ettinger, into making a similar allegation..

"Ettinger obviously said 'no.’ I don't know what type of arrangement that's been made here,” Unland said. "This is desperation politics on the last week of a campaign, where Liccardo is trailing in every legitimate poll I've seen, and they're running out of time and they know it."

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed says he still plans to call for an independent investigation at a city committee meeting on Wednesday.

<![CDATA[Prop 47 Aims for a Softer Criminal Justice]]> Tue, 28 Oct 2014 19:01:15 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/1028-2014-jailshoe.jpg

In a past life, Richard Martin was a rock musician. His bands were among the more popular of the 1990s San Francisco -- a promo photo shows he and his band mates in matching white jump suits posing in the middle of Montgomery Street. But in the backstage of Martin’s own life, he’d turned down a dark corridor of drug addiction.

"A lot of drugs around then," reminisced Martin. "I think almost everybody in the band got strung out."

Martin’s battle with drugs landed him in jail over the years for shoplifting and drug possession - possession of a hypodermic needle.

"I stole a lot of things," Martin said. "But I mostly stole things you can immediately turn around for money, so cigarettes."

Eventually his life of addiction-fueled crimes turned him into a convicted felon. Even 15 years after getting clean, his past still lives with him.

"I always have to click that box that says ‘yes I’ve been convicted of a felony,’” Martin said. "I’ve never been able to get a job in the private sector."

In fact, Martin’s record as a convicted felon prevented he and his wife from adopting a child. And despite a master’s degree in English, his teaching credential was revoked once the authorities learned of his record.

"What they call the collateral consequences of being a felon have haunted me my adult life," said Martin, who now helps run a non-profit organization in Oakland that helps former convicted felons turn their lives around.

The kind of small-time crimes Martin committed in servitude to a drug addiction are the sort of crimes that would be redesigned as misdemeanors under Proposition 47, which will appear on the November ballot.

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon co-authored the proposition as an attempt to reduce jail and prison populations, and to give drug addicts a chance to avoid hard prison time in favor of treatment.

"We need to deal with addiction," Gascon said. "And addiction cannot be cured by incarceration."

Prop 47 would re-designate crimes like shoplifting, drug possession for personal use, check fraud and petty theft under $950 as misdemeanors rather than felonies. Offenders could still serve up to a year in jail for convictions. Gascon said the proposition would not help felons with serious crimes on their records.

"If you have prior convictions for murder, sexual assault, rape, child assault," Gascon said. "Prop 47 will not give you any relief."

Gascon estimates 10,000 inmates serving time would be eligible to file for a reduction of their charges under the new law. While he admitted that could put a temporary strain on the state’s justice system, he said Prop 47 could eventually save the state up to $250 million a year in prison costs.

"We’re going to take the savings from our prison system and we’re going to put it into treatment for mental health, substance abuse," Gascon said.

Morgan Hill Police Chief David Swing, who heads the legal arm of the California Police Chiefs Association, said the passage of Prop 47 would be dangerous for the state. He said career criminals could exploit the law’s leniency to get away with habitual crimes.

"One of the things that 47 does that has some negative impacts is it removes prosecutorial discretion in the charging of crimes," Swing said.

Swing also doubts the proposition’s ability to steer addicts into treatment, saying the milder threat of a misdemeanor charge wouldn’t serve as big an incentive for criminals to opt for treatment. Ultimately, he said sentencing guidelines shouldn’t be left to a public vote.

"Is there an opportunity to have a robust and meaningful discussion around the topic of sentencing reform? Absolutely," Swing said. "But that discussion is best held in Sacramento."

Gascon said the state needs the thoughtful application of Prop 47 because the War On Drugs has proven a failure - resulting in prisons full of addicts scaling a slope of prison-schooled criminality.

"There’s a lot of signs that tell us incarcerating people that have mental health problems, have substance abuse problems doesn’t work," Gascon said.

Martin grinned at another publicity photo showing he and his band mates baring the serious expressions of rock stars. His gaze wandered to another photo - his own mugshot in the San Francisco Jail. He searched his thoughts for the words to describe Prop 47.

"Every voter who put this across would have a stake in the recovery of the people that they were sending to treatment," Martin said.

Photo Credit: Joe Rosato Jr.]]>
<![CDATA[Differences Show in Gov. Debate]]> Tue, 28 Oct 2014 10:01:36 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/Baker+Coakley+Debate.jpg

On Monday, Republican Charlie Baker and Democrat Martha Coakley showcased their differences in the Massachusetts gubernatorial debate moderated by NECN's Latoyia Edwards at Worcester's Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts.

Coakley addressed reports that she is behind in some polls in a state that has favored Democrats historically; however, earlier Monday, the New York Times placed Coakley with 45 percent in favor of the Democrat and 41 percent in favor of the Republican.

"I believe this race is pretty close right now," Coakley said. "I'm confident we're going to win on Nov. 4."

It didn't take long for the candidates to begin disputing the hot topic of the Massachusetts economy. Baker said that the difference between him and Coakley is he will not raise taxes for the citizens of the Bay State.

"He has a typical Republican playbook of cut taxes for big businesses," Coakley said, adding that she will invest in the people, rather than give breaks to corporations.

Another topic that has the state divided is the question of Boston hosting the 2024 Olympics. Baker said he believes it's a great planning exercise, while Coakley supported the plan fully.

"I say go for the gold," Coakley said.

Health care and the problems that Harvard Pilgrim have faced was another point of disagreement. Coakley told Baker that the turnaround resulted in layoffs and lost care, as he made choices Coakley said she would not have made.

"You look at the bottom line and don't see people," Coakley explained.

"So, you don't have any suggestions about how you would have dealt with the problems at Harvard Pilgrim?" Baker asked Coakley, prompting an applause from his supporters.

"That's not the point," Coakley said. "You are always looking at the bottom line, and so that's one example of it."

The candidates soon segued into Baker's quest to seek 100 percent support of Massachusetts voters, specifically the support of women.

"I don't have a group called 'Men for Martha," Coakley shot back. "I look at the people who haven't had a seat at the table."

There were a few questions that Baker and Coakley agreed on in the lightning round, including support of the casino law and the freezing of coalition rates. In addition, both candidates said they will stop running for public office if they lose the 2014 gubernatorial race.

NECN, the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, Telegram & Gazette and Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts hosted Monday's debate.

Photo Credit: NECN
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<![CDATA[Jeb Bush Still Hasn't Made Decision on 2016]]> Mon, 27 Oct 2014 07:19:41 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/474646291.jpg

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush still "has not made a decision" about whether he'll run for president in 2016, a spokesperson said after the GOP politician's son seemed to suggest over the weekend that a bid is likely.

"Governor Bush has not yet made a decision on whether or not he will run in 2016. He will thoughtfully consider it following the mid-term elections, and make a decision late this year or in the early part of next year," Bush's spokesperson, Kristy Campbell, told NBC News.

But in an interview with ABC News' John Karl, son George P. Bush said his father is " still assessing it."

"I think it's -- it's more than likely that he's giving this a serious thought and moving -- and moving forward," George P. Bush said.

"More than likely that he'll run?" Karl asked.

"That he'll run. If you had asked me a few years back, I -- I would have said it was less likely," the younger Bush responded.

In an interview with Fox earlier this month, former President George W. Bush said he thinks his brother "wants to be president."

"Yes, I think he wants to be president," he said. "I think he'd be a great president. He understands what it's like to be president -- for not only the person running or serving, plus family," he said.

Jeb Bush, 61, was Florida's governor from 1999 to 2007. He has been popping up in recent ads supporting current Florida Gov. Rick Scott in his re-election bid.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Soda Tax Ads to Air During World Series, Thanks to Bloomberg]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 15:50:08 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*140/tlmd_10_michael_bloomberg_ap.jpg

Berkeley, meet Bloomberg, and the both of you, meet the World Series.

Ads promoting Berkeley's soda tax as a solid idea will air during the World Series, a big-time buy paid for by the former New York City mayor.

Michael Bloomberg is spending some of his billions – $200,000, to be precise – on campaign messages extolling Berkeley voters to support Measure D, which would slap a penny-per-ounce tax on drinks with sugar added, the San Francisco Chronicle noted.

Bloomberg's spending may help circumvent the ocean of campaign cash the soda industry has poured into the effort to defeat the tax. The American Beverage Association has spent $2.1 million to sway Berkeley's 80,000 voters, according to the newspaper.

Or enough cash to buy each registered voter several dozen Coca-Colas.

The ads, to be unveiled during Game 3, show AT&T Park with the message that there are enough obese Bay Area children to fill the Giants' ballpark "three times," the newspaper noted.

Berkeley's soda tax can pass with a simple majority. A similar tax on the San Francisco ballot requires two-thirds voter approval.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Race for Calif. Education's Top Spot]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 08:25:39 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/211*120/10-20-2014-torlakson-tuck-education-election.jpg

With the midterm elections less than two weeks away, an unlikely race is heating up — the one for the California Department of Education’s top spot.

Former president of Green Dot Public Charter School Marshall Tuck and incumbent Tom Torlakson are vying for the position of state superintendent of schools.

Both candidates are Democrats with strong backing behind them.

Torlakson has the support of mainstream Democratic Party officeholders and the California Teacher’s Association, which is spending heavily on TV and radio advertisements.

Tuck, meanwhile, is the renegade Democrat, who ran then-Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s partnership for L.A. schools to improve the most underperforming schools in the city’s poorest areas.

He’s drawn support from education reformers, high-tech executives and even Hollywood stars. Celebrities Joel McHale, Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell, for example, starred in a web ad with Tuck.

Tuck says he wants to evaluate teachers based on merit and rid the state of the seniority system.

"That’s a piece of policy that doesn’t make sense for kids," Tuck said.

Torlakson, on the other hand, supports the tenure system and touts accomplishment during his own tenure as state superintendent.

"Our graduation rate went up to 80 percent, the highest in the state’s history for our high schools," Torlakson said. "Our eighth grade reading scores in California are higher than reading scores in any other state in the nation."

And while the position doesn’t hold much power, the race for the state’s schools chief is being watched around the nation.

The most recent poll has Tuck leading 31 to 28.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[ Ex-SJPD Officer Says Mayor Reed Aide Told Him to "Lie"]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 17:25:08 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/aaron-ettinger.jpg

More serious fallout from the allegations by a former San Jose police recruit: Now a former San Jose police officer tells NBC Bay Area he received a phone call over the weekend from Victor Ajlouny, a political advisor to San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed.

Former officer Aaron Ettinger claims in sworn testimony, under penalty of perjury, that Ajlouny told him to “lie” regarding allegations made by former cadet Elyse Rivas.

Rivas claims the SJPOA president told cadets during training that they should all quit for the betterment of the union cause, an allegation president Jim Unland denies.

Ettinger said Ajlouny asked him to corroborate Rivas’s story and in return Ajlouny would help Ettinger get his job back.

Ettinger was a police reserve until he joined the force full-time this year. But Ettinger says two paychecks into his new job as a cop under the Tier-2 pension system he decided he couldn’t make ends meet and resigned. He asked for his volunteer job as a reserve back, but the department has not granted him that wish.

In sworn testimony, Ettinger also claims Ajlouny would meet with him, the mayor, and the city manager and sue the POA.

Reached by phone in Omaha, Nebraska, Ajlouny denied the allegations to NBC Bay Area.

Ajlouny, who is a long-time friend with Ettinger’s parents, said he would never ask anybody to lie and thought the allegations were “unbelievable”.

After reading Ettinger’s signed declaration, Ajlouny called back NBC Bay Area and said he had retained an attorney and will take Ettinger to court.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Cortese Calls for Change in SJPD Union Leadership]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 18:37:23 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/dave_Cortese.jpg

The San Jose mayoral race took a strange turn Tuesday when the police union-backed candidate, Dave Cortese, called for a change in leadership of that union.

The call came after a former police cadet wrote an opinion piece in the Mercury News accusing the union president of urging recruits to quit because of ongoing pension reform fights with the city.

Cortese caused a stir with his statements, but his opponent Sam Liccardo called the statements “murky.”

Political analysts say the two candidates have staked out positions that intertwine around the police staffing issue: Cortese, backed by unions, stresses public safety, and Liccardo focuses more on the fiscal issues.

So it was a surprise to many to hear Cortese call for a change in union leadership after the former cadet made her accusations that union president Jim Unland was encouraging recruits to quit. The former cadet later reportedly said in an interview Unland did not literally tell cadets to “quit.” Still, Cortese said a change is needed.

"We need the public to know that these kind of toxic relationships are going to go away,” Cortese said, “and we're going to get back to the business of helping people and theirs neighborhoods and not be distracted."

Liccardo wants an investigation into whether the union is sabotaging police recruiting.

"The union bosses are inviting other recruiters from other cities to come to the union hall and recruit officers away,” Liccardo said.

Two Polls were released Tuesday. A labor-backed poll showed Cortese opening up a 12 percent lead, but a Liccardo campaign poll indicates their candidate has a slight 3 percent lead. San Jose State University political Analyst Melinda Jackson said that's not surprising with so many undecided voters. Jackson said, in her view, Cortese might have a slight edge because public safety may be a higher priority than pension reform at this point.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Rivals Debate in NH Senate Race]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 10:06:59 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/vlcsnap-2014-10-21-21h11m54s10.jpg

Scott Brown continued to hammer away at Democrat Jeanne Shaheen's record in Washington as the incumbent repeatedly accused her Republican opponent of fear mongering during a debate in New Hampshire's U.S. Senate race Tuesday.

Brown accused Shaheen of "outsourcing independence" by voting for policies backed by President Barack Obama. Shaheen, meanwhile, sought to distance herself from the president, who has low approval ratings in New Hampshire.

"In some ways I approve, in some ways I don't approve," of the president's decisions, Shaheen said when asked to answer "yes or no" if she approves of Obama's job in office.

The latest efforts to contain and prevent the spread of the deadly Ebola virus in the United States also became a hot topic, as Brown pushed for a travel ban from West Africa. Shaheen reiterated a comment from a day earlier that she would consider one if it would make a difference. That position was a reversal from last week, when she said she didn't think the idea "makes sense." 

The Democratic incumbent accused her rival of fear mongering on the Ebola virus, border security and the threat of terrorism posed by ISIS.

The two rivals remain locked in a close race as they headed into Tuesday's televised debate, which was hosted by New England Cable News, the Concord Monitor and the University of New Hampshire. A recent WMUR Granite State poll showed Shaheen leading her GOP challenger 44 percent to 38 percent among likely voters at the start of the month. Seventeen percent remained undecided.

The competitive race has attracted campaign cash and headlines from across the country, as one of several competitive seats Republicans are targeting in their bid to win control of the U.S. Senate in the Nov. 4 midterm elections.

Chuck Todd, NBC's "Meet the Press" host, moderated the debate from the Capitol Center for the arts in Concord.

Shaheen said she was proud of her vote for the Obama's landmark heath care overhaul, the Affordable Care Act, while Brown insisted Granite Staters wanted to repeal Obamacare.

Sparks also flew on the topics of immigration and border security.

"The border is secure when people don't come across it," Brown said to the applause of supporters after Todd asked him to define a secure border.

Shaheen attacked Brown's record on abortion rights, which he says he supports; Brown, while senator for Massachusetts, supported the Blunt Amendment, which would have allowed any employer with moral objections to opt out of requiring to cover birth control in 2012.

When Brown said Shaheen was anti-nuclear as the subject of rising energy costs came up, she countered, "No, I'm not!"

Brown suggested repeatedly that Shaheen backs a new national energy tax, an assertion PolitiFact has deemed "mostly false."

In a final lightning round, Shaheen said her priority after being re-elected would be to refinance student loans; Brown said he would push the U.S. Senate to come up with a budget. Both declined to say they'd back their respective party heads in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, for another term in leadership. 

Barbs were also thrown after Brown defended his decision to run in New Hampshire this year instead of seeking to win back the Massachusetts seat he lost to Democrat Elizabeth Warren in 2012 by saying he didn't run "because I live here." 

"I don't think New Hampshire is a consolation prize," Shaheen said.


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<![CDATA[Outcome of San Jose's Mayoral Race Remains in the Air]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 18:50:28 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/sam-dave-split.jpg NBC Bay Area Political Analyst examines the latest on the San Jose mayoral race and shows why it's such a mystery.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[First Televised Interview With Lockyers]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 11:57:18 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/215*120/2014-10-20_17-02-14.jpg

At one point, not too many years ago, Nadia Lockyer seemed to have it all. She sat on the Santa Ana School Board, married Democratic powerhouse Bill Lockyer, ran for and won a seat on the Alameda Board of Supervisors, and she started a family.

Her name was bandied about for all sorts of statewide positions. Then came a meth addiction, infidelity, a divorce petition, rehab and a relapse. Her rise and fall was meteoric and it was very public.

Two years sober, Nadia has a perspective that only time and therapy can provide. In their first televised interview together, Nadia and Bill look forward to their future as a family, ever mindful of how fast it almost came apart.

"One hit can take you down. One hit. And it was that quick for me. I thank God that it was short-lived, but that it was one hit and it was fast, and it was hard. The sad reality is, is that the circumstances under which I did use an illegal substance were with a gentleman – or not a gentleman, that’s the last word I’d use to describe him – an individual that took our circumstances for granted and threatened me every single day after that first hit. It became a very difficult situation to get out of,” she said. "The shame and the guilt almost made me feel like I deserved to fall."

You can watch the full interview in the video player at the top of this page.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[Roundtable: California Midterm Elections]]> Tue, 28 Oct 2014 11:51:27 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/215*120/20141020_170231.jpg

Less than three weeks away from midterm elections in California, several key issues and races are at stake.

Carla Marinucci, chief political reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle and Josh Richman, national and local reporter for the Bay Area Media News Group, join Janet Reilly for this roundtable discussion.

You can watch the full interview in the video player at the top of this page.

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<![CDATA[17th Congressional District Race Intensifies]]> Tue, 28 Oct 2014 14:38:43 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/1004-2014-Debate.jpg The 17th Congressional District race between democrats Mike Honda and Ro Khanna intensified this past week when both candidates released positive poll results. Can both be right? Can both be wrong? NBC Bay Area’s political analyst Larry Gerston is here to sort out the details. Let’s begin with the results — what are they saying?

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Rival Gets Hands on Campaign Book]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 10:40:34 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/carl+demaio+scott+peters.JPG

A new bombshell dropped Friday in the race for California’s 52nd Congressional District when both candidates confirmed a Carl DeMaio campaign strategy book, allegedly stolen during an office break-in, found its way into the hands of incumbent Scott Peters’ staff.

It is the latest revelation in an already ugly race peppered with attack ads and sexual harassment allegations.

The two had a chilly meeting Friday morning at a taping of NBC 7’s Politically Speaking, as DeMaio walked right by Peters’ hand outstretched for a handshake.

During the session, DeMaio discussed the burglary and vandalism at his campaign headquarters on May 28. Cords and cables were cut, water was poured over laptops and printers, computer screens were smashed in and one important item was taken: DeMaio’s campaign playbook.

The candidate confronted Peters about the book on “Politically Speaking.”

“And Mr. Peters, I just want to ask a very simple question. Did your campaign come into possession of our strategy book, all of our direct mail pieces in the last five months?” asked DeMaio.

Peters responded with: “In early June, information was forwarded to our campaign which we immediately turned over to the police.”

DeMaio pressed the issue, asking Peters why he did not let his opponent’s campaign know that he had seen DeMaio’s playbook all along.

“I’ve obviously never seen it,” said Peters. “We turned it directly over to the police within 24 hours of getting it because what was contained in it was potentially part of a criminal investigation.”

He added his campaign manager “looked at it enough to know what it was.”

On Friday evening, Peters' Communication Director Alex Roth sent out the following statement about the revelation:

"To clarify, we do not know what a campaign playbook is; nor has our campaign ever received anything that could be characterized as 'a campaign playbook' as Mr. DeMaio called it. To reiterate, our campaign staff received information in early June that we immediately transmitted in its entirety to the police.This is nothing more than an attempt by Mr. DeMaio to divert attention away from the Filner-esque sexual harassment allegations that have been made against him.”

During the show's taping, Peters said he felt as if he had been cast as the perpetrator of the break-in, which was portrayed with Watergate-like overtones when it first happened.

DeMaio told his opponent he does not believe Peters had anything to do with the burglary.

Instead, he blames former aide Todd Bosnich.

Bosnich has publicly accused DeMaio of sexually harassing him while he worked for the former San Diego City Councilman, releasing the results of a polygraph test that he says support his claims.

Called the allegations “outrageous lies,” DeMaio said Bosnich is trying to get revenge for being fired as a suspect in the break-in.

However, the candidate said he will not take a polygraph exam to rebut Bosnich’s allegations.

CNN reports Bosnich's lawyers sent the news outlet the results to a second polygraph test Friday in which Bosnich was asked if he broke into the campaign headquarters last May. The test shows Bosnich's "no" answers were "truthful and found "no deception."

Bosnich confirmed the story to NBC 7 via text message.

DeMaio's spokesman David McCulloch defended the candidate, saying in a statement, "Both Carl DeMaio and Tommy Knepper — named in a series of vile smear attacks — have taken lie detector tests that have shown these smears are baseless. Meanwhile, Mr. Peters admitted on NBC7/39 this morning that his campaign received stolen property from our campaign — begging the question: who provided this sensitive campaign material?"  

McCulloch later clarified that statement that the lie detector test taken by DeMaio was one in August 2013 after a former colleague accused DeMaio of lewd acts in San Diego's City Hall.

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<![CDATA[Campaign Ad Featuring James Foley Pulled]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 09:58:35 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/tlmd_james_foley_ejecucion_isis_syria.jpg

A conservative ad campaign that featured James Foley, the New Hampshire journalist slain by ISIS, moments before his execution, will be pulled, the group responsible for the ad said.

Secure America Now President Allen Roth said in a statement that his group didn't intend to upset Foley's family with the ad attacking Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and that they "apologize for any pain we inadvertently caused.“

“It has been brought to our attention that a news report image of American hostage James Foley that appeared in a Secure America Now video has upset his parents, so we have decided to take the video down," the statement continued. “The purpose of the video was to draw attention to Washington’s failure to secure our borders from real threats by terrorists. That remains our objective and we will continue to engage in this public debate.”

Foley, a Rochester native, was beheaded by Islamic State militants in August, nearly two years after he was kidnapped in Syria. His parents say the ad was "deplorable" and told NECN in an emotional interview that they were demanding that the ad be pulled from New Hampshire.

Secure America Now used the image in a 15-second Internet ad attacking Shaheen, who is locked in a tight race against Republican Scott Brown, and other Democratic incumbents in critical Senate races nationwide.

"It makes me very sad that people would use the brutality of our son's death for their own political purposes," Mrs. Foley said.

Shaheen issued a statement on Wednesday afternoon condemning the ad.

"This is a disgraceful ad that dishonors the memory of a respected journalist and New Hampshire native," she said. "It hurts all who loved and knew Jim, and the people behind this ad owe the Foley family and apology."

According to Elizabeth Guyton, communications director for Scott Brown, Brown said, "This is completely inappropriate and disrespectful to the Foley family.”

Roth says the group did not contact the Foley family before making the ad public.

Secure America Now emphasized that the Foley execution video and the image have been used in other campaigns across the country several different times.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[NH Lawmaker Calls Congresswoman "Ugly as Sin"]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 16:22:59 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/Steve+Vaillancourt.jpg

Candidates for New Hampshire's 2nd Congressional District are speaking out after a state lawmaker described one of them as "ugly as sin."

The story has gained national attention and has both candidates denouncing the remarks. Republican state Representative Steven Vaillancourt wrote a blog post on Friday after he says he saw a poll that claimed more attractive candidates have the upper hand with voters.

In the blog, he wrote, "Does anyone not believe that Congressman Annie Kuster is as ugly as sin?"

Vaillancourt then compared her to a drag queen.

"Look, it's rude and offensive," Congresswoman Kuster said. "But I have a thick skin."

Kuster's Republican challenger, Marilinda Garcia, said the post was just plain mean.

"She doesn't deserve to be treated that way," Garcia said.

Congresswoman Kuster said Vaillancourt's comments reflect a broader issue with the Republican Party.

"I am more frustrated with the positions they stand for, and frankly, that leads to an environment where people say disrespectful things," Kuster said.

Garcia said she is frustrated that exactly three weeks before the election, the conversation has turned to this.

"Looks and appearance seem to supersede commentary and observation and the other things that are more important," Garcia said.

In Vaillancourt's blog, he called Garcia, "One of the most attractive women on the political scene anywhere."

Garcia, who has worked with Vaillancourt during her four terms as a state representative, said the comments are not surprising and she is not at all flattered.

"He certainly is an equal opportunity offender," Garcia said.

NECN tried to reach Vaillancourt for comment, but no one answered when crews knocked at his Manchester home. He later sent an email referring NECN to his latest blog entry, which was posted Monday evening. Vaillancourt answers reporters' questions about whether or not he stands by his statements, writing, "Stand by the fact that Ms. Garcia is better looking than Ms. Kuster? If the reporters themselves don't see that, then they should question their own abilities to function."

In that same blog, Vaillancourt makes it clear, none of this is about supporting his party affiliation. In fact, he went on to criticize Republican gubernatorial candidate Walt Havenstein and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

"Anyone who has followed what I've written (more than 500 posts this past year) knows that neither looks nor race nor sexual orientation nor sex matters a whit to me," Vaillancourt wrote.

As for the 2nd Congressional District Race, the most recent poll shows Kuster with a two point lead over Garcia.

Photo Credit: NECN]]>
<![CDATA[Examining Soda Tax Proposals in Bay Area]]> Tue, 28 Oct 2014 14:37:55 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/tlmd_fabricantes_sodas_reduciran_calorias.jpg NBC Bay Area Political Analyst Larry Gerston breaks down the two ballot proposals in the Bay Area that would tax sugary carbonated soft drinks.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Race May Play Unusual Role in November Election]]> Sun, 12 Oct 2014 18:47:57 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/gerston_voting.jpg Race may play an unusual role in next month’s November election. NBC Bay Area Political Analyst Larry Gerston explains.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Coke, Pepsi Flood Bay Area in Cash To Defeat Soda Taxes]]> Wed, 08 Oct 2014 12:18:03 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/204*120/71194600.jpg

The soda industry is soaking the Bay Area in campaign cash this fall, with the makers of Coke, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper and Red Bull spending almost $10 million in Berkeley and San Francisco with a month of intense soda spending to go.

What's causing this rash of cash? The soda industry is spending lots of money to make sure you don't have to fork over some extra change the next time you go to buy a Mountain Dew.

There are soda taxes on the ballot in both Berkeley and San Francisco that would raise the price of a 12-ounce can or 20-ounce bottle to help pay for education and health programs designed to cut down on childhood obesity and other problems that, advocates say, are made worse by excessive consumption of "sugar-sweetened beverages" like soda, according to reports.

So far, "Big Soda" -- the American Beverage Industry as well as the Coca-Cola Company, Pepsico Incorporated, and the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group -- have uncorked $7.7 million in San Francisco and another $1.4 million in Berkeley, according to reports.

And that's only the beginning: the groups together have forked over more than $15 million to beat back the soda tax, the Washington Post reported.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Khanna, Honda Meet for 17th Congressional District Debate]]> Tue, 28 Oct 2014 11:56:19 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/2014-10-07_11-58-27.jpg

Silicon Valley Congressman Mike Honda took on challenger Ro Khanna in their only debate in the race for California’s 17th Congressional District on Monday. The debate was hosted by NBC Bay Area, in partnership with KQED, The Huffington Post and San Jose State University.

Khanna has a lot of support in the Silicon Valley from the big companies, while incumbent Honda has labor support and has spent seven terms in Washington.

NBC Bay Area political analyst Larry Gerston said the race is getting national attention because it is about the "old and the new," and shows a generation gap.

"It's a test of California's top two primary system -- does it bring moderation to the state known for a state of divisiveness and a state of extremes?" Gerston said.

Monday's debate featured topics on immigration, privacy laws and education, among others.

The debate between the two Democrats was moderated by NBC Bay Area anchor Raj Mathai and included four panelists: lead panelist Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief for The Huffington Post, Thuy Vu, host of KQED NEWSROOM, Melinda Jackson, associate professor of political science at SJSU and LooLoo Amante, SJSU student and director of external affairs for Associated Students.

Watch the complete debate in the videos below:

For closed captioning of part one, click here

For closed captioning of part two, click here

For closed captioning of part three, click here

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[In Ad, GOP Congressional Candidate Proclaims He's Gay]]> Tue, 07 Oct 2014 15:15:03 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Carl-DeMaio-0603.jpg

Yes, there is such a thing as a gay Republican. There's even such a thing as a gay Republican congressional hopeful.

Carl DeMaio is hoping to unseat Democratic U.S. Rep. Scott Peters to represent San Diego in Washington, and has had to deal with oppositon from within his own party, according to the Huffington Post.

DeMaio will receive campaign support from House Speaker John Boehner despite calls from "social conservative groups" for Boehner to not support DeMaio, the news Web site reported.

Democrats, meanwhile, are trying to label DeMaio as a lunatic fringe conservative with Tea Party ties. DeMaio deftly parried that jab with the 30-second television spot.

"As a proud gay American, I've been called a lot of things in my life," he said. "But a Tea Party extremist? Nothing could be further from the truth."

So far, LGBT groups have stayed away from DeMaio. None of the major political action funds that advocate for gay rights issues have backed him, the Post noted.

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Early Voting Underway in California]]> Mon, 06 Oct 2014 17:40:09 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Early_Voting_JS_102113_722x406_55190083870.jpg

For many Californians, the 2014 general election began on Monday.

Early voting is now available at a number of locations in Santa Clara County, including the registrar of voters office in San Jose.

Vote-by-mail ballots are on their way to the mailboxes of those who plan to send in their vote.

The first few weeks of the election are critical to a number of local campaigns, so, get ready for a lot of radio, TV, and direct mail advertisements coming your way.

MORE: When and Where to Vote Early in Santa Clara County

<![CDATA[WATCH LIVE: 17th Congressional District Debate]]> Mon, 06 Oct 2014 23:23:51 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Honda-Khanna-debate-livestream.jpg

[THIS LIVE EVENT HAS ENDED: Watch archive video of the debate here]

Silicon Valley Congressman Mike Honda is taking on challenger Ro Khanna in their only debate in the race for California’s 17th Congressional District on Monday, Oct. 6. The debate is being hosted by NBC Bay Area, in partnership with KQED, The Huffington Post and San Jose State University.

The debate between the two Democrats is being moderated by NBC Bay Area anchor Raj Mathai and includes four panelists: lead panelist Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief for The Huffington Post, Thuy Vu, host of KQED NEWSROOM, Melinda Jackson, associate professor of political science at SJSU and LooLoo Amante, SJSU student and director of external affairs for Associated Students.

The 75-minute debate is being broadcast live Monday, starting at 6:30 p.m., on NBC Bay Area (Comcast Ch.3 / 703 HD, over-the-air on ch.11). The debate will rebroadcast on KQED World (Comcast Ch.10 / 710 HD, over-the-air on ch.9-2) at 9 p.m. and KQED Plus (Comcast ch.190, over-the-air on Ch.9-3) at 11 p.m. KQED Public Radio will also broadcast the debate live on its stations in San Francisco (88.5 FM) and Sacramento (89.3 FM).

The debate is also being streamed live here at NBCBayArea.com (in video player above) and on The Huffington Post’s online streaming video network, HuffPost Live.

Following the debate, Raj Mathai (@RajMathai) and NBC Bay Area’s Political Analyst Larry Gerston (@lgerston) will conclude the broadcast with a post-debate analysis. KQED will also provide coverage and in-depth analysis of the debate on its local newscasts and the statewide news service The California Report on radio, and on its weekly news and public affairs program KQED NEWSROOM on KQED Public Television 9.

Follow live coverage of the event on Twitter at @NBCBayArea and @KQEDNews, and join the conversation with hashtag #CA17Debate.

Have a question for the candidates? Submit your questions on the NBC Bay Area page for possible inclusion in tonight's debate.  

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Larry Gerston on California's 17th District Race]]> Mon, 06 Oct 2014 14:08:49 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/2014-10-06_14-07-14.jpg It could be the most important House of Representatives race in California—and maybe even the nation. It is the 17th Congressional District, where incumbent Mike Honda hopes to fend off challenger Ro Khanna. NBC Bay Area Political Analyst Larry Gerston explains how this race may be closer than expected in part because of a new swath of voters thanks to redistricting.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Obama Fundraiser to Take Place at W Hotel in SF]]> Thu, 02 Oct 2014 20:37:51 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP217954444784.jpg

President Obama’s return to the Bay Area for a fundraiser will now take place at The "W" Hotel in San Francisco, NBC Bay Area has confirmed.

The Oct. 10 event was originally scheduled to take place at San Francisco City Hall.

The fundraiser will be the 19th time Obama has visited the Bay Area since taking office in 2009.

So far, Democrats have raised about $32 million in the Bay Area for the 2014 elections.

Republicans have raised a third of that, around $11 million.


Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Clinton Recommends Grandmotherhood]]> Thu, 02 Oct 2014 17:39:16 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/tlmd_hillaryclinton7.jpg

Thousands waited hours in the sun to see Former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Thursday in South Florida.

Clinton was signing copies of her new book "Hard Choices" at Books & Books at 265 Aragon Ave. in Coral Gables.

There, she spoke about her book and about becoming a grandmother just a few days ago, saying, "I highly recommend it!"

Earlier on Thursday, Clinton spoke at the Crew Network Convention & Marketplace at the Loews Hotel in Miami Beach.

Her message for the 1,200 professional women at the event was one of empowerment.

"You can't get tied into knots by what others say and think, because we all know women sometimes get judged by different criteria -- even powerful women in powerful positions," she said.

Karyl Argamasilla, with the Miami Crew chapter, said she took Clinton's message to heart.

"At the end of the day, she's someone who has broken all the glass ceilings," Argamasilla said.

At one point, a woman in the audience shouted out, "2016!" -- the only mention of a possible presidential run during Clinton's Miami stops. But those in attendance said they don't doubt she'll be joining the race.

"She's already been to Iowa," said Steve Sails. "She's running."

<![CDATA[Single Incident Puts Big Strain on SJPD]]> Wed, 01 Oct 2014 23:57:44 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/SJPD-BARRICADE-STAFFING-PKG---00000801.jpg

Some San Jose Police Department officers are making a worried plea after one small emergency put a strain on an overworked department.

It was a 911 call that sent SJPD officers scrambling: a man barricaded inside a home. As this was happening Tuesday, other 911 calls got a delayed response.

The department has fewer than 900 active officers, so when a suspect barricaded himself inside an apartment complex, officers called it the “perfect storm” because it came at the same time as a shift change and required units from all over the city to help. Some police officers told NBC Bay Area numerous other emergency calls, including six downtown, got a delayed response.

“A major incident like this, that essentially wipes out our entire police force, will back up calls for hours and hours and sometimes all day,” said Officer James Gonzales, board member of the San Jose Police Officers' Association.

SJPD officials dispute that assertion and say it did not "wipe out" the force and point out about 33 calls came in during a two-hour period, but no high-priority calls were put off. Officials also said no calls were ignored, but acknowledge the incident put a strain on the force.

“There were 20 officers that were dedicated to this one incident,” SJPD spokesman Albert Morales said. “That’s a significant amount of officers for one situation. It leaves certain parts of the city without police services or limited police services."

The two candidates for mayor of San Jose, speaking to NBC Bay Area ahead of a debate scheduled for Wednesday night, said they know situations like Tuesday’s put staffing right at the top of the debate.

“When you have a major incident in this city, the real question is whether or not there’s enough police officers to cover the neighborhoods and the immediate crisis incident,” candidate Dave Cortese said. “And we think not.”

"I think we all recognize there’s a lot of fear in this city,” candidate Sam Liccardo said. “Residents want solutions, and that’s why I’ve been focused on solutions that can really keep us safer. But it’s important that we focus on the solutions and not the fear-mongering.”

The number of San Jose police officers has dropped by several hundred over the past five years, mainly after a bitter pension fight with the city.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>