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

Frank Mankiewicz, aid to Robert Kennedy, dies at 90

Frank Mankiewicz

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.

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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.

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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.


For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

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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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WATCH LIVE: South Dakota Senate debate

Four candidates in South Dakota’s U.S. Senate race will debate live from Vermillion, S.D., at 9 p.m. EDT (7 p.m. MT) on Thursday, Oct. 23. Mike Rounds (R), Rick Weiland (D), Gordon Howie (I), and Larry Pressler (I) participate. Live stream courtesy South Dakota Public Broadcasting.

With less than two weeks to go before Election Day, the four candidates in one of this cycle’s most intriguing U.S. Senate races will meet for a live debate at 9 p.m. EDT (7 p.m. MT) tonight.

Mike Rounds (R), Rick Weiland (D), Gordon Howie (I), and Larry Pressler (I) will face off on the campus of the University of South Dakota, each vying to replace retiring Sen. Tim Johnson (D). South Dakota Public Broadcasting is hosting the hour-long debate alongside AARP and the S.D. Newspaper Association. Stephanie Rissler, a producer and journalist for SDPB, moderates.

Long thought a lock for the Republican Rounds, a former governor, this race has been thrust into the national spotlight in recent weeks as Weiland and Pressler have gained on him in the polls, raising concerns among the GOP, who need to gain six seats this cycle to win control of the U.S. Senate.

The race even received a “Colbert Bump” last week, when the comedian poked fun at the sudden attention being showered on a state usually neglected during election cycles.

Controversy entered the competition when questions began to arise about Rounds’ knowledge of and participation in an alleged scheme to sell immigration visas during his tenure as governor. Following the death of Richard Benda, who directed the program through which the EB-5 visas were administered, investigations revealed that key documents had been destroyed, and that the alleged embezzlement had likely lost the state millions of dollars.

Weiland and Pressler, Rounds’ closest competitors, have hammered upon these accusations in recent weeks. Weiland, a former FEMA administrator and CEO of a building safety advocacy group, has made reforming the role of money in politics a centerpiece of his campaign.

Howie, a former state legislator who is running the most traditionally conservative campaign, trails his opponents.

Mike Rounds (R), Rick Weiland (D), Gordon Howie (I), and Larry Pressler (I) will face off on the campus of the University
         of South Dakota, each vying to replace retiring Sen. Tim Johnson (D).

Mike Rounds (R), Rick Weiland (D), Larry Pressler (I), and Gordon Howie (I) will face off on the campus of the University of South Dakota, each vying to replace retiring Sen. Tim Johnson (D).

Tonight’s debate come on the heels of one more round of accusations being levied on the former Governor. On Wednesday, a Sioux Falls newspaper published an article asserting that, shortly before leaving office, Rounds had granted state funds to a private company Benda was about to begin working for. It is unclear whether Rounds knew of his cabinet member’s conflict of interest before signing off on the grant.

In light of these allegations, as well as a spate of outside ad spending pouring into the Mount Rushmore State, the outcome of this race is guaranteed to be a squeaker. Expect passion to run high at tonight’s debate, especially as new polls show Pressler, a former Republican congressman and Senator for the state, now running as an independent, making an increasingly strong showing.

Notably, Pressler has recently been joined on the campaign trail by John Good, a retired FBI agent who oversaw a sting operation that offered bribes to several Congressman in 1980. Pressler was the only lawmaker to refuse the offer.

In case alleged corruption and outsider spending do not entirely dominate tonight’s debate, the state of the economy is sure to be up for discussion. South Dakota is one of five states considering a ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage. Healthcare may also be a topic of debate — Pressler recently came out in favor of the Affordable Care Act — as well as the Keystone XL Pipeline.

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