Sunday Night Reads

Marty Lederman and Emptwheel on Judge Bates’ executive privilege decision.

Serious muckraking from Half Moon Bay:

HALF MOON BAY — A developer who hopes to build 129 upscale homes in Half Moon Bay has been contributing $20,000 a month to the same lobbying firm the city employs to ensure passage of the bill that would help him get the homes built.

Palo Alto developer Charles “Chop” Keenan has written monthly checks to California Strategies, a Sacramento-based consulting and lobbying firm the city also hired in April in an effort to pass AB1991, it was noted at Tuesday’s City Council meeting in Half Moon Bay.

AB1991 would exempt Keenan’s development from environmental protections that would normally prevent the construction of a subdivision on sensitive wetlands, which occur on a property known as Beachwood. The bill emerged from a $41 million lawsuit Keenan won against the city. Under the terms of the settlement, reached in April, the city will owe Keenan more than $18 million if AB1991 does not pass the state Senate by the end of this month.

Both the city and Keenan began making separate payments of $20,000 a month to California Strategies in April, a fact that led both state Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) and Councilman Jim Grady to allege an ethical conflict of interest.

Yee called the new information a “bombshell.”

“I am certainly shocked and disturbed by the revelation that the firm was retained by both the developer and the city council. What happens is that when you have a lobbyist try to negotiate that bill, you wonder

whether they’re lobbying in the best interests of the city or in the best interests of the developer,” said Yee, who withdrew his support for AB1991 back in April when the settlement’s specifics were announced.

Two Half Moon Bay City Council members met with Yee on Wednesday to ask him to sponsor the bill for a vote in the Senate, where it is stalled in committee. He said he could not support any version of the bill, even if it were rewritten, if it sought to “suspend any environmental parameters whatsoever.”

To read the rest of the story click here. I wish I could dateline a story from Half Moon Bay– has to be one of the coolest datelines ever. Of course this blog goes and writes and datelines from everywhere! So who knows someday?

NYT: “Obama’s Southern Strategy Omits Arkansas, So Far” I know quite a bit about Arkansas politics, and Obama could probably be a lot more competitive than he believes. I’m going to post about this at some point. Meanwhile, I fondly remember some dog days of summer from Arkansas. From my archives: serious reporting I did on corruption in Little Rock, Arkansas’ traffic court can be found here and here. I also did some writing about Mike Huckabee when he was governor back in the day. Off course Huckabee is now a game show host on Fox, and I am totally in the tank for him anyway ever since he appointed me as an Arkansas Traveler– which is like being an honorary citizen of Arkansas. I should note that my cousin Joanne is also an Arkansas Traveler; she was appointed by then-governor Bill Clinton. And my jealousy of that led to my own drive to someday be an Arkansas Traveler in my own right– a pursuit of which has perhaps compromised the integrity of my journalism in that I went totally into the tank for Mike Huckabee after he appointed me as one. And one last comment about this all– it is through my cousin that I know someone in Half Moon Bay, which is why I posted the above article from there.

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