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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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Democrat establishment backing Stark

Uploaded: Oct 1, 2012
The Congressional race here in the Livermore Valley and southern Alameda County has drawn national attention as it pits the 20-term incumbent Pete Stark against Dublin City Councilman Eric Swalwell.
The Wall Street Journal weighed in on Saturday with an article centered on the race. The New York Times and Washington Post also have written about the race.
It's interesting to the reporters and editors because this race stems directly from voter-approved initiatives—one allowed open primaries with the two candidates receiving the most votes in the primary advancing to the November general election. For the past 10 years, thanks to the bipartisan gerrymandering to protect incumbents and their parties, almost 99 percent of the races were decided in the primary.
The second intiative removed post-census redistricting to adjust for population shifts from the Legislature and the governor and assigned it to a citizens' commission. That process substantially shifted Stark's district, including the Livermore Valley, for the first time since the 70s and the 80s, and put him in the same district as fellow incumbent Jerry McNerney of Pleasanton.
McNerney is notable because he rode the perfect storm of 2006 into office and retained it in favorable conditions in 2008 and then again in 2010 in tougher going. He's moved to Stockton to run in a Democratic-leaning district here—San Joaquin County included about half of his former district.
Swalwell's spirited challenge against a fellow Democrat runs directly counter to the Democratic establishment which is backing Stark who hasn't lived in the district for years. He lives in Maryland and, prior to the challenge, has made infrequent visits to the district. Despite his absentee representation and tongue that shoots first and then wonders where to aim, the octogenarian is supported by the Democrat party across the board.
It's notable that the Dems in Congress would not trust him to chair the Ways and Means Committee in the House after longtime chairman Charley Rangel had to resign for violating ethics and financial disclosure laws.
Nonetheless, the mailer that arrived last week touted the support of President Obama and Sen. Dianne Feinstein along with Sen. Barbara Boxer and the entire Bay Area Congressional delegation. The county party in both Alameda and Contra Costa counties also back him as do state Attorney General Kamala Harris and state schools chief Tom Torlakson.
What's no surprise is that Stark wants no part of debating Swalwell, a deputy district attorney for Alameda County. His handlers are limiting public exposure because a face-to-face could well be disastrous if it drew significant media attention.
Incidentally, Feinstein is taking the same road against Danville challenger Elizabeth Emken. Feinstein has nothing to gain by debating and thus simply is riding her record and her popularity to yet-another term.
In Stark's case, the record of achievements is sadly lacking—the mailer touts his efforts to fight for the president's unpopular government grab of the health care system. Notably, it does not call out specific or important legislation that he's offered. That speaks to 40 years in Congress with the last 20 well detached from issues of importance to Alameda County. That was easy because of the overwhelming Democrat registration in the district and no Democrat willing to buck the party bosses and take him on.
We'll know in a little over a month whether that worked for Swalwell. Notably, he's a doctrinaire Democrat and shares many of Stark's views. However, the conservative disgust with Stark likely will gather Swalwell votes under the "Anyone but Pete" mantra.

What is it worth to you?


Posted by Daveg, a resident of Birdland,
on Oct 2, 2012 at 8:20 am

Daveg is a registered user.

Hopefully, voters in the 15th District will not fall prey to voter apathy and blindly vote for Pete Stark.

He has shown himself to be both morally dishonest and questionably legally dishonest.

If one examines his record over the last decade, all one sees is a person that has scammed the system and short changed his constituents.

Dishonest? Examine his record and here?s what you will find. So far this election year he accused Eric Swalwell of taking bribes without evidence; he later apologized. He accused a local opinion columnist of donating to his opponent without evidence; he later apologized. He berated former state Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico for endorsing his opponent?including threatening his family and livelihood, according to Torrico. In recent weeks, prominent local Democrats, led by former Rep. Ellen Tauscher and former state Senate leader Don Perata, have publicly endorsed Swalwell. Newspapers such as the San Francisco Chronicle, Contra Costa Times and the Hayward Daily Review have also endorsed Eric Swalwell. As a result he has been cloistered from the press and his constituents and has refused to debate Eric Swalwell again (their first debate resulted in the false bribery charge) and has said the reason is because he will be asked "stupid" questions. (SF Chronicle and ABC 7 News, 7.3.12).

Serving his constituents? He was passed over by his own party to become chair of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. In a House in which seniority means everything, he was next in line to become chairman of Ways and Means. The Democratic members of the committee said no ? unanimously

He continues to make Esquire?s ?10 Worst Members of Congress? list.

However let?s examine his track record further.

Dishonest? You be the judge. The office of Congressional Ethics United States House of Representatives investigated Pete Stark in November 2009 for alleged violation regarding listing his house that he owns in Harwood, Maryland as his principal residence on Maryland tax forms. By doing so, Representative Stark received state and county homestead tax credits and any annual increases in his home assessments were capped at no more than 10 percent. In order to qualify for the Maryland Homestead Tax Credit, Maryland law requires the home to be used as the owner?s ??principal residence???where the homeowner regularly resides and is designated for voting, obtaining a driver?s license, and filing income tax returns. When questioned on this he continually didn?t remember or didn?t recall.

The San Francisco Chronicle editorialized as far back as 2003 on Stark, "Only a politician who assumes he has a job for life could behave so badly on a semi-regular basis by spewing personalized invective that might get him punched in certain East Bay taverns. Surely there must be someone along the shoreline between Alameda and Fremont who could represent the good citizens of the district with class and dignity. It's not the case now?

His financial disclosure form shows he has assets worth as much as about $30 million. At the yearly pay of $174,000, how many of us could generate that kind of net worth? In addition, with a net worth of as high as $30 million, Stark?s three minor children are collecting benefits from Social Security. Here?s a quote from Debra J. Saunders a San Francisco Chronicle columnist.

?If Stark wanted to protect Social Security, his family wouldn't cash in on a benefit, designed to protect income-starved nuclear families, which thanks to Washington's lethargy turned into a financial bonus for old guys with new families?.

I call his action over the last decade morally dishonest and questionably legally dishonest and definitely is not the kind of person that should be representing people in the 15th district.

Each of us please take the time to review Pete Stark?s recent history and get him out of office and back to his permanent residence in his $1.7 million Maryland home.

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