A Chevron-backed political action committee dropped its first campaign piece in Richmond, telling voters that City Council candidate Marilyn Langlois refused to pay federal income taxes in 2006-07.
It's all true.
In an April 2006 letter to the IRS, the longtime peace activist declared herself a conscientious objector to the government's "illegal and reprehensible activities."
Among her examples were "torturing, traumatizing and killing" Iraqis, Haitians, Palestinians, detainees at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, Hurricane Katrina survivors, immigrants "dying of thirst at the border" and U.S. soldiers serving in war zones.
Langlois last week explained in a written statement that her act was a "symbolic gesture to protest the use of federal tax dollars for the illegal and destructive Iraq War. I informed my congressional representatives of what I was doing and why."
To most people, withholding income taxes is crazy talk.
But Langlois isn't running for office in Iowa or even Clayton.
Her supporters view her tax protest as one of courage and conviction. And the Richmond City Council rivals Berkeley these days when it comes to liberal causes.
The council voted to declare humans "guardians" rather than "owners" of their pets. They bitterly fought over a Palestinian-Israeli resolution. They put on the Nov. 6 ballot the nation's first anti-obesity "soda tax" and an advisory vote slamming a U.S. Supreme Court campaign finance decision.
The folks behind the Chevron-backed PAC say they want from the City Council less national ideology and more local governance. Based on their choice of Langlois -- one of 11 candidates -- as a target, they are hoping Richmond voters do, too.
But if it doesn't work out, Chevron could always declare itself a conscientious objector and refuse to pay its taxes.
loose lips: Concord City Council candidate Ed Birsan lost three key endorsements last week after word spread about what he characterized as "intentionally misinterpreted" statements he made during a Bay Area News Group editorial board meeting.
Rep. George Miller, Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla and the Contra Costa Central Labor Council have suspended or pulled their support.
What did Birsan say to get everyone's panties in a bunch?
Based on a review of an editorial board video, Birsan's comments were not as anti-labor as his critics portrayed but it's easy to see why he lost the endorsements. (Watch the video at www.contracostatimes.com/opinion.)
Birsan said the city should immediately negotiate reductions in pay and pension benefits and take steps to break the police union's political clout.
He also said the city should look at converting a segment of the city's workers to 401(k)-style retirement plans. (Birsan later explained that he meant only the highest-paid employees, who would otherwise hit the annual benefit cap in the new pension legislation adopted in September.)
Finally, Birsan said the city should base how much employees pay toward their retirement costs based on where their salaries fall in comparison with the average wage of all Concord residents.
Ironically, Birsan landed this organization's editorial board endorsement.
Come Election Day, we'll see whose endorsements really mattered.
FAMILIAR FACE: Looking ahead to 2014, former county supervisor and state Assemblyman Joe Canciamilla, of Pittsburg, has emerged as a possible successor to retiring Contra Costa Clerk Recorder Steve Weir.
Canciamilla has filed his candidates' declaration statement and is transferring roughly $200,000 from his aborted 2008 state Senate campaign into his new account.
The nonpartisan post may be the perfect job for Canciamilla.
He's a whip-smart, detail-oriented attorney who loves governance but loathes the very thing a good clerk-recorder and registrar of voters must avoid: partisan politics.
AND FINALLY: A reader says staffers at several San Ramon Valley U.S. Post Offices told her they could no longer provide voter registration forms in their lobbies.
I didn't believe it.
Just weeks away from the presidential election, the feds yank voter registration forms out of the one place where just about everybody knows to find them?
Yep, that's exactly what they did under a so-called "policy of retail standardization."
The agency rescinded this absurd order a few weeks ago although our reader -- who was trying to pick up some forms for a few elderly people -- said the word hadn't reached local offices.
Strangely, Contra Costa Registrar of Voters Steve Weir received word of the policy rescission on the same day the state launched its online voter registration service. (Pixels won't replace pen and paper anytime soon, though. Of the registrations filed Sept. 19-Oct. 5, 7,555 arrived on paper while 9,536 were via the Internet.)
When asked how voter registration forms got tangled up in a retail display policy, a U.S. Postal Service spokesman called it a "miscommunication."
Oh, so that's what the federal government calls screw-ups these days?