Council Members Call For More Openness in San Jose's Permit Process

Two San Jose council members say their city makes it too tough on small business owners who want to open shop or expand.

CPUC to File Revised PG&E Penalty

The California Public Utilities Commission is set to file a revised penalty proposal Monday for PG&E’s part in the fatal San Bruno gas line explosion.

Midterm Preview: Will the GOP Take Control of the Senate?

With just a few weeks to go before the midterm elections, most polls are showing the GOP gaining a narrow majority in the U.S. Senate. Can the Democrats hold on? Meanwhile, the Ebola crisis is emerging as a major campaign issue. Forum discusses the national races to watch, the latest polls and the key issues in this campaign season.

Final Day for Brown to Sign or Veto Bills

Tonight is the deadline for Gov. Jerry Brown to sign or veto bills passed by the Legislature. One of the more notable measures in the governor's to-do pile would enact a statewide ban on single-use plastic grocery bags. At a gubernatorial debate earlier this month, the governor hinted at his decision, saying he will "probably sign it."

PBS NewsHour

Gwen’s Take: Remembering Ben Bradlee

The Wshington Post's Ben Bradlee in the composing room looking at A1 of the first edition, headlined "Nixon
         Resigns." Bradlee died Tuesday at the age of 93. Photo by David R. Legge/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Wshington Post’s Ben Bradlee in the composing room looking at A1 of the first edition, headlined “Nixon Resigns.” Bradlee died Tuesday at the age of 93. Photo by David R. Legge/The Washington Post via Getty Images

I am one of the hundreds, if not thousands, of journalists able to say with satisfaction and no small amount of pride: “I worked for Ben Bradlee.”

Like the vast majority of us alums, I was not one of Ben’s stars. I spent my seven years at the Washington Post basking in the journalistic stardom all around me, learning the value of nuts and bolts journalism from reporters like Ann Devroy, Dan Balz and George Lardner.

Farther up the ladder in the firmament were the truly famous — people like Bob Woodward, who treated the weekend staff to ice cream sundaes whenever he was in charge; or Dave Broder, who never hesitated to share intelligence and inquire after you.

At the top of the pile in those days (I left the Post in 1991) were the yin and yang of American journalism — modest, sweater-wearing Don Graham, who succeeded his mother as publisher and famously knew the name of every single employee in the 15th Street building; and Ben Bradlee, whose barrel-chested bravado preceded him into every room.

Ben Bradlee and Publisher Katharine Graham in 1971 after winning a Supreme Court ruling allowing continued publication
         of the Pentagon Papers. Photo courtesy of The Washington Post

Ben Bradlee and Publisher Katharine Graham in 1971 after winning a Supreme Court ruling allowing continued publication of the Pentagon Papers. Photo courtesy of The Washington Post

I was intimidated by Ben, and mostly kept my head down when he periodically breezed through the newsroom. He was more of a guy’s guy. Plus, I also spent most of my Post career on the metro staff, covering county councils and local elections — stuff Ben really didn’t care about.

To get a job at the Post — which when I arrived was still basking in the afterglow of Watergate as well as recovering from the shame of the Janet Cooke debacle — prospects met with a gauntlet of editors who ran you through the traps before you ever got to the big glass office where Bradlee sat. I called it the “eat with your feet” interview, because by the time you met with him, you’d have to commit some really gauche faux pas not to get hired.

He met me, asked me questions I no longer remembered, and then strode into the newsroom to ask Michel Martin, now of NPR, whether I was as good as she was.

Michel was a good friend, and answered, promptly and with good humor, “Better!”

It occurred to us both that he probably never asked that question about a white male applicant to a white male staffer. But that was part of the deal working in a newsroom where black journalists were, at best, in short supply. We knew we could excel, but first we had to get in the door.

I came to adore Ben Bradlee. He was funny, ribald and affectionate, once he knew you. He protected his troops fiercely. Once, when I was roughed up by a Secret Service agent at a national political convention, he didn’t just call the head of the Secret Service to complain. He called the Treasury Secretary, who at the time was in charge of the Secret Service.

In more recent years, Ben was an unflagging supporter of my television career, greeting me with compliments and bear hugs whenever I saw him. I was honored a few years ago to be asked to deliver the Bradlee lecture at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, where I got the chance to talk about the kind of journalism Ben stood for, as he sat in the front row.

He was tough and fair and irreverent about the things that didn’t matter, while remaining reverent about the things that did. In his case, the things that did matter were truth, justice and the American way.

And if you think that made Ben Bradlee Superman … well, for those of us who were fortunate enough to work under his cape … he kind of was.

Rest in peace, Ben.

The post Gwen’s Take: Remembering Ben Bradlee appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Frank Mankiewicz, aide to Robert Kennedy, dies at 90


Frank Mankiewicz speaks at the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s Inauguration on Capitol Hill Jan. 20, 2011. Mankiewicz, an aide to Robert Kennedy, died Thursday at the age of 90. Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Frank Mankiewicz, the press secretary who went before television cameras to announce the death of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and later served as political director for presidential candidate George McGovern, died Thursday. He was 90.

Mankiewicz died of a heart attack at George Washington University Hospital, said a family friend, journalist Adam Clymer.

Mankiewicz was a longtime Democratic political operative as well as a lawyer, journalist and author. McGovern once recalled his former campaign aide as a perceptive, straightforward political adviser.

“I never got any bad advice from Frank,” said McGovern, a senator from South Dakota who was the Democratic nominee for president in 1972. “I found him just fascinating to travel with during the campaign. I picked up a lot of perspective, a lot of insights and a lot of humor from Frank.”

The son and nephew of Hollywood filmmakers, Mankiewicz studied journalism and law. He worked for newspapers in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles before assuming the role of President John F. Kennedy’s Peace Corps director in Lima, Peru, in 1962 and later was a regional director in Washington. In 1966, he became press secretary to Sen. Robert Kennedy, D-N.Y., who was assassinated two years later while campaigning for the party’s presidential nomination.

In June 1968, Kennedy had just won the California primary and finished his victory speech at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Mankiewicz left the entourage for a moment to help the candidate’s wife, Ethel, step off a platform.

“She was at the time three months pregnant, although I don’t think anybody knew it, except the inside group,” Mankiewicz recalled on the 30th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination. “We helped her down. And then she said, ‘Go on,’ and we started to move off quickly to catch up. And that’s when we heard the shots.”

Kennedy was gunned down in a kitchen pantry by Sirhan Sirhan, a young Palestinian later convicted of his murder. Mankiewicz issued medical bulletins throughout the day as Kennedy lingered near death at The Good Samaritan Hospital. Some 26 hours later, Mankiewicz emerged, pale and haggard but poised, to deliver tragic news.

“I have a short announcement to read which I will read at this time. Sen. Robert Francis Kennedy died at 1:44 a.m. today, June 6, 1968. … He was 42 years old,” Mankiewicz said.

He would later recall: “That, in many ways, was the shaping influence in my adult life.”

Mankiewicz went to work for McGovern in 1971, reflecting some time afterward that he “thought McGovern had the right issues, and history has tended to bear him out.”

An outspoken critic of Richard Nixon, Mankiewicz wrote two books about the disgraced president: “Perfectly Clear: Nixon From Whittier to Watergate” and “U.S. v. Richard M. Nixon: The Final Crisis.” He was delighted when Nixon resigned.

“I think we should celebrate Aug. 9 as a day of national liberation every year,” he told the Philadelphia Bulletin. “Every country celebrates the day the government got rid of its tyrants. We should too.”

After McGovern’s decisive defeat, Mankiewicz wrote a column for The Washington Post and in 1976 made an unsuccessful bid for the Democratic nomination for a House seat from Maryland. He was named president of National Public Radio in 1977 and was credited with strengthening its news operation and doubling its audience. He resigned in 1983 as NPR faced a multimillion-dollar budget deficit and then joined the public relations firm of Gray & Co., which eventually became Hill & Knowlton.

Born on May 16, 1924, Mankiewicz grew up in Beverly Hills, California, among a family of notables. His father, Herman J. Mankiewicz, was a screenwriter who won an Oscar for co-writing the landmark film “Citizen Kane.” His uncle, Joseph L. Mankiewicz, won four Oscars for writing and directing “A Letter to Three Wives” and “All About Eve.”

Frank Mankiewicz served in the Army during the latter part of World War II. He received a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1947, followed by a master’s in journalism from Columbia University and a law degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Survivors include his wife, author Patricia O’Brien, and two sons from an earlier marriage, NBC News correspondent Josh Mankiewicz and Turner Classic Movies cable channel host Ben Mankiewicz.

The post Frank Mankiewicz, aide to Robert Kennedy, dies at 90 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Rep. Issa: New case raises questions on Ebola

Barbara Smith, RN, Mount Sinai Health Sysytems and Bryan Christiansen MD,(monitor-R) CDC Infection Control Team for the
         Ebola Response demonstrate the proper technique for donning protective gear during an ebola educational session for healthcare
         workers at the Jacob Javits Center in New York on October 21, 2014.  AFP PHOTO / Timothy A. Clary Photo by Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty

Nurse Barbara Smith Dr. Bryan Christiansen of the CDC Infection Control Team for the Ebola Response demonstrate the proper technique for donning protective gear during an Ebola educational session for healthcare workers in New York on Oct. 21. Craig Spencer, a 33-year-old physician who had treated the disease in Guinea, is the first Ebola patient in New York. Photo by Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The new case of Ebola diagnosed in New York City has raised “even more questions about procedures in treating patients and risks to Americans,” a Republican committee chairman said Friday.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., spoke as he convened a hearing of his House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on the Ebola problem. It came a day after news broke of the first case in New York, which involves a doctor who returned recently from treating patients in Guinea. It was the fourth case diagnosed in the U.S.

“I think we all know that the system is not yet refined to where we could say it’s working properly,” Issa said. “It would be a major mistake to underestimate what Ebola could do to populations around the world and any further fumbles, bumbles, missteps … can no longer be tolerated.”

But the committee’s top Democrat, Elijah Cummings of Maryland, said that the swift and comprehensive response to the case in New York shows that the U.S. health community has made strides since the initial misdiagnosis of a patient in Texas, who later died. Two nurses who cared for that patient also got infected, though both now seem to be doing well.

“It appears that health care authorities have come a long way in preparing for Ebola since Thomas Duncan first walked into a Texas hospital last month,” Cummings said.

A top Health and Human Services official assured lawmakers that the likelihood of a significant outbreak of Ebola in the U.S. is remote, though she said government agencies are preparing for any contingency.

“Ebola is a dangerous disease, but there is hardly a reason for panic,” Dr. Nicole Lurie, assistant HHS secretary for preparedness and response, said in prepared testimony. “There is an epidemic of fear, but not of Ebola, in the United States.”

Republicans in particular have questioned the Obama administration’s response to Ebola, and the hearing, taking place less than two weeks before the midterm elections, was likely to feature more criticism.

Republicans have called for a travel ban and quarantines of travelers arriving here from the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, where the epidemic that has killed thousands. The Obama administration has resisted such steps even while increasing screening of arriving travelers arriving and ensuring that they are monitored for 21 days, the incubation period for the deadly disease.

The post Rep. Issa: New case raises questions on Ebola appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

The $4 billion midterm — most expensive ever


The Morning Line

Today in the Morning Line:

  • Interest in election may be low from general public, but the power players care and are investing
  • Nearly $4 billion expected to be spent, more than any midterm in history
  • Outside groups also to set record

Can’t buy me love? Money can be a dense issue in campaigns. Everyone’s always writing how the system is flooded with money, and it’s easy to turn away, dismiss it and make it a reason not to be interested. BUT what’s happening in this campaign shouldn’t be dismissed. Even though the general public is saying their interest in this election is at the lowest in at least a decade, the most powerful are VERY interested and engaged. That’s evidenced by the fact that this midterm is going to be the most expensive in history, a Center for Responsive Politics analysis finds. It projects that with less than two weeks to go until Election Day, $4 billion will have been spent, more on congressional races than ANY election in history, including the 2012 presidential campaign. In 2012, when $6 billion was spent overall, more than $3.6 billion was spent on House and Senate races.

The outsiders: In this election, candidates and the parties will have spent $2.7 billion, while outside groups will have spent $900 million. That’s a remarkable number considering outside groups in the 2012 presidential campaign — when outside spending peaked after the Citizens United ruling — spent just $400 million more in total, $1.3 billion. Remember the Republican primary and how everyone had a Super PAC? That doesn’t even exist this time and outside spending is almost as much. Conservative groups will outspend liberal ones, CRP projects, $1.92 billion to $1.76 billion. And, by the way, this just includes all the money REPORTED to the Federal Election Commission. “Democrats and liberals will hold a slight lead when it comes to House and Senate party committee spending, and in the amount spent overall by outside groups,” CRP writes. But that “lead in outside group spending … does not include money that groups spent on certain kinds of ads that didn’t have to be reported to the FEC if they were aired more than two months before the election (or 30 days before a primary); conservative groups appear to have dominated in that category.” As the Wall Street Journal points out, “What’s even more startling is that the $4 billion figure — which also includes $315 million spent on operating costs by PACs — doesn’t include the full picture of outside spending in this year’s races.” By the way, Time has a neat interactive showing that the cost of running has risen faster than inflation, health care and even private college tuition.


  • Georgia Democrat Michelle Nunn leads Republican David Perdue 47 to 44 percent in a CNN/ORC poll released Friday. They’re effectively tied, given the survey’s margin of error. The same poll gives State Sen. Jason Carter a 48 to 46 percent lead over Gov. Nathan Deal among likely voters.

  • Michelle Obama called Colorado Sen. Mark Udall a five-generation Coloradan, but he was born in Tucson. Conservatives ran with it to point out that it’s GOP Rep. Cory Gardner who’s the five-generation Coloradan.

  • Gardner leads Udall 46 to 41 percent in a Quinnipiac poll released Friday.

  • Colorado has been a political swing state since it was founded in 1876, and this year’s Senate race is no exception, with both sides spending millions to claim the bellwether win.

  • In Massachusetts’ gubernatorial race, Republican Charlie Baker leads Democrat Martha Coakley 45 to 36 percent in a Boston Globe poll released Friday. Meanwhile, the Independent candidate is getting some help from a Morgan Freeman impersonator.

  • Republican fixer Chris LaCivita’s rescue effort for Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts this fall hasn’t been about making the senator more likeable; it’s all about making Independent Greg Orman equally unlikeable.

  • Sarah Palin endorsed Alaska’s Independent ticket for governor, snubbing GOP Gov. Sean Parnell who served as her lieutenant governor.

  • The conversation in North Carolina’s Senate race has made a late shift from local issues (education is Sen. Kay Hagan’s “secret sauce,” writes National Journal’s Alex Roarty) to national issues, which could give GOP State House Speaker Thom Tillis an opening for a last-minute victory.

  • South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham stumped for Iowa Republican Joni Ernst Thursday, while Ernst has canceled her meeting with The Des Moines Register’s editorial board citing their negative editorials about her.

  • Hillary Clinton will be back in Iowa next week to help Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley.

  • Despite West Virginia’s overwhelming vote for Mitt Romney two years ago, Democratic Rep. Nick Rahall held onto his seat. His toss-up race for a 20th term this year, which has attracted $14 million in spending, will say a lot about Democrats’ viability in Southern border states.

  • The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee poured an additional $1.3 million into five races to boost incumbents, including Rahall, Friday.

  • With the election just over a week away, Republicans are sounding a lot more attached to Social Security in their ads.

  • The airwaves are so saturated with ads for Senate races, that gubernatorial races are getting drowned out.

  • New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s approval rating has dropped to 41 percent — back where it was after the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal.

  • The Florida Supreme Court will hear a challenge to the state’s newly redrawn congressional districts in March.

  • Some members of the Secret Service are doing their jobs, just not the two-legged ones.


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Questions or comments? Email Domenico Montanaro at dmontanaro-at-newshour-dot-org or Rachel Wellford at rwellford-at-newshour-dot-org.

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