“I am thrilled that the country’s premier sporting event will be coming to Silicon Valley in just a few years’ time. Santa Clara is home to some of the most innovative tech firms in the world, and Levi’s Stadium is a shining example of commerce, entertainment, and sustainable technology coexisting and thriving. As Santa Clara’s representative to Congress, I was proud to advocate for this opportunity with the team’s ownership and local leaders. The only news that could make this event more exciting for South Bay sports fans is if the 49ers make it to the big game.”
“Today’s announcement that the 49ers’ new stadium in Santa Clara will host Super Bowl L is great news for the franchise, its relentlessly supportive fans, and the entire Bay Area. This state-of-the-art stadium is already creating thousands of jobs in the 17th district — and I expect the 2016 Super Bowl will be another big shot in the arm for our economy.”
At the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s request, six specialists from five California-based national teams are on their way: two from the Los Angeles County Fire Department and one each from the Los Angeles City Fire Department, Oakland Fire Department, Sacramento City Fire Department and Orange County Fire Authority.
They’ll coordinate and support operations conducted by national task forces from Nebraska, Tennessee and Texas.
Brown said the Golden State’s thoughts are with the stricken communities; CalEMA Secretary Mark Ghilarducci said his agency remains in contact with FEMA and will send more support if necessary.
Eight California-based Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces — each composed of 70 or more members — take part in the National Urban Search and Rescue System managed by FEMA. Members have special training in areas such as search and rescue, first aid, heavy equipment operations, canine search and rescue, hazardous materials, logistics and communications.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s office believes articles including mine in today’s editions have created and reinforced the impression that the governor’s May 7 “s— happens” comment regarding the Bay Bridge construction snafu was the total extent of his remarks that day, and that he suddenly got more serious yesterday.
The contention is that Brown has been concerned, engaged and serious about the issue from the get-go, and that the “s— happens” crack – while accurately quoted by my colleague, Steve Harmon, in his May 7 story – when taken alone might create the impression that the governor was being flippant about it.
I believe we’ve presented the governor’s words accurately and appropriately, but in the interest of full disclosure, here are the transcripts from the two interviews at issue.
From May 7:
Reporter: I’m on the Bay Bridge beat today, just wondering if you’re concerned at all if the public is losing confidence in the opening of the new eastern span of the bridge because of the problems of the bolts.
Gov. Brown: Well, not yet and there are very professional engineers that are looking into this thing. When they are ready to give us their report I think the public will be satisfied.
Reporter: Are you still enthusiastic in the possibility of the opening on Labor Day?
Gov. Brown: As far as I know, well I don’t want to say anything because we want to get the reports back. When we do I’ll comment on it.
Reporter: One more, one more question on the bridge. What was your initial reaction to the stories of the bolts being broken? Was it a shock to you? Did it feel like a setback?
Gov. Brown: Don’t know if it’s a setback. I mean look, s— happens. That’s all I can say.
From May 20:
Reporter: What do you have to say about the Bay Bridge?
Gov. Brown: I hadn’t known about this stuff – pickling bolts or some of this other kind of stuff. So I take it very seriously. That thing is not going to open unless it’s ready and the engineers are telling me that they’re doing the kind of work that will be needed for that.
Reporter: Do you think it will open Labor Day?
Gov. Brown: I’m not going to predict. First we want to make it safe.
Reporter: Are you confident with the caltrans from yesteryear providing the information to make that judgment?
Gov. Brown: Well, look, if the bolts fail they’ve got to go look at these records. Some of those records are ten years old. One of the companies was from Texas. Another one from Ohio. This was made actually during the Gray Davis years, fairly low down in the whole operation. So we’ve got to dig through to get the records to know what’s there. And then they have to test all of these bolts and make sure the bridge will be safe.
Reporter: So you’re personally getting involved in this?
Gov. Brown: Well, it’s a pretty big issue. I drive across that bridge too.
A new “smart gun” prototype and a crackdown on sharing of designs for 3D-printable firearm components mean it’s time to update my gun-tech story of several weeks ago.
A Capitola-based company unveiled a new smart-gun prototype today at a trade show in Las Vegas – a firearm that lets owners remotely engage or disengage the trigger safety from anywhere in the world, using a smartphone.
Yardarm Technologies says its Safety First system revolves around a sensor that can be installed on any firearm to enable wireless, real-time control of the trigger safety; it also serves as a motion detector and a geo-locating device. Gun owners are alerted via a mobile device applet if their firearm is picked up or handled by an unauthorized person, and the owner, using a mobile app or secure website, can instantly engage or disengage the trigger safety.
“Suppose you and your family are on vacation in Las Vegas, and your firearm is back at home. Wouldn’t you want to know in real time if an intruder, or worse, a child is handling your gun?” company CEO Bob Stewart asked in a news release. “With Yardarm, you could immediately disable the firearm, notify local law enforcement and maintain location awareness. We want the gun owner to stay connected to their firearm, no matter what the circumstance.”
The Yardarm sensor prototype was developed in partnership with New Jersey-based DataOnline, and was unveiled this morning at DataOnline’s booth at the 2013 CTIA Expo.
Meanwhile, the website at which Cody Wilson of Texas has been sharing his designs for gun components that can be made with a 3D printer now carries a message that reads:
DEFCAD files are being removed from public access at the request of the US Department of Defense Trade Controls. Until further notice, the United States government claims control of the information.
To clarify, that would be the U.S. State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, which controls the export and temporary import of defense articles and defense services covered by the United States Munitions List.
Wilson provided Betabeat.com with a copy of a May 8 letter he received, informing him that he may have released technical data controlled by the International Traffic in Arms Regulations without the required prior authorization from DDTC. The letter asks Wilson to file determination requests for the data files, and until those determinations are made, to “treat the above technical data as ITAR-controlled. This means that all such data should be removed from public access immediately.”
Wilson told Betabeat he thinks he’s immune because his company is a nonprofit and the blueprints are in the public domain, but he complied nonetheless. Even so, he said, his designs already have migrated to other places on the internet.
“I still think we win in the end,” he said. “To think this can be stopped in any meaningful way is to misunderstand what the future of distributive technologies is about.”
Taxpayer-subsidized crop insurance for tobacco production would be eliminated under a farm-bill amendment introduced Monday by U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and John McCain.
The senators say their amendment would save $333 million over the next decade, and direct all savings to be used to reduce the federal budget deficit. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., has indicated the amendment will get a vote.
“It’s time for the American taxpayer to get out of the business of subsidizing tobacco—once and for all,” Feinstein, D-Calif., said in a news release. “Tobacco costs our economy $200 billion in health care costs and lost productivity each year. In this challenging budget environment, we simply can’t afford to spend hundreds of millions of dollar to incentivize farmers to grow this crop.”
The Fair and Equitable Tobacco Reform Act of 2004 ended most direct taxpayer support programs for tobacco production. But despite this $10 billion buyout pact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture still offers heavily subsidized crop insurance policies to tobacco farmers. Last year, USDA offered eight separate tobacco insurance products costing $34.7 million in taxpayer subsidies; records show more than $276 million in such subsidies have been spent since 2004.
“It turns out Joe Camel’s nose has been under the tent all this time,” McCain, R-Ariz., said in the news release.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that cigarette smoking adds $96 billion to domestic healthcare expenses and costs the American economy $97 billion in lost productivity every year; secondhand smoke adds another estimated $10 billion in healthcare costs and lost productivity.
The NorCal Tea Party is the lead plaintiff in a class-action federal lawsuit filed today in Cincinnati against the Internal Revenue Service, seeking damages for what they call “illegal and harassing behavior in the handling and processing of their applications for nonprofit status.”
The NorCal Tea Party, based in the Placer County city of Colfax, is an umbrella group to local chapters across the Golden State’s northern half. Helping it file this lawsuit is Citizens for Self-Governance, a Texas-based group founded and led by Grass Valley attorney Mark Meckler, a co-founder and former national coordinator for Tea Party Patriots.
Meckler and NorCal Tea Party President Ginny Rapini are scheduled to hold a news conference tomorrow, Tuesday, May 21, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
“We stand shoulder to shoulder with all those known and unknown who have been abused by a federal government run amok,” Meckler said. “Instead of just playing defense, it is time for the citizens to go on offense. We are, after all, ‘We the People.’ And when the federal government runs amok, it is up to us reign it in. Neither party in Congress can be relied upon to satisfactorily resolve this issue. They created the IRS, fund the IRS, and oversee the IRS. All of this abuse happened on their watch.”
The lawsuit says the NorCal Tea Party “came together to exercise their right to free expression.”
“However, under pain of denial of tax-exempt status, the IRS and its agents singled out groups like NorCal Tea Party Patriots for intensive and intrusive scrutiny, probing their members’ associates, speech, activities, and beliefs,” the complaint says. “NorCal and its members suffered years of delay and expense while awaiting the exemption and spending valuable time and money answering the IRS’s questions. The result was a muffling and muzzling of free expression.”
The suit seeks damages for violation of the Privacy Act and of the NorCal Tea Party members’ constitutional rights, “including damages for loss of benefit of tax exempt status, cost of complying with burdensome requests, loss of donors and membership fees, damages for impairment of constitutionally protected rights, punitive damages, litigation costs, and reasonable attorney’s fees.”
President Barack Obama will return to the Bay Area on Thursday, June 6 for a pair of pricey fundraisers to help U.S. Senate Democrats keep their majority in next year’s midterm elections.
Tickets for a 5 p.m. reception at the Palo Alto home of Mike McCue – who helped found tech companies including Paper Software, Tellme Networks and Flipboard – and his wife, Marci, start at $2,500 and range up to $12,000 per person or $15,000 per couple. But it’ll cost a cool $32,400 per person to get into a 6:30 p.m. dinner and discussion at the Portola Valley home of Sun Microsystems founding CEO and venture capitalist Vinod Khosla and his wife, Neeru.
“With key second-term issues ranging from immigration reform to climate change to trying again on gun violence prevention, the stakes for holding the Senate couldn’t be higher,” said Wade Randlett, one of the president’s pre-eminent fundraising bundlers in the Bay Area.
U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Michael Bennet, D-Colo., are expected to attend both events. Bennett now chairs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which these fundraisers will benefit; Schumer chaired the DSCC from 2005 to 2009, during which Democrats made significant gains in the Senate, and he’s currently the third-ranking Democrat in the Senate’s leadership.
A contribution of $32,400 enrolls one as a DSCC “Majority Trust” member and, along with other benefits, allows for attendance at the DSCC’s signature retreats.
These fundraisers will be held just two months after President Obama’s last Bay Area visit, during which he raised money in San Francisco and Atherton for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic National Committee.
The Bay Area was heavily represented as California Attorney General Kamala Harris convened a group of county district attorneys Friday in Los Angeles to seek ways to reduce gun violence through enforcement of existing laws and prevention efforts.
“Gun violence continues to be a distressing and persistent problem in the United States, but California is leading the nation in smart, common-sense gun policies designed to protect our communities,” Harris said in a news release. “By working together, law enforcement and our state’s district attorneys can make a difference by improving enforcement and increasing prevention to help keep all Californians safe from gun violence.”
This “leadership group” will prepare a report of best practices that will serve as models for law enforcement in other communities to adopt, and as models for potential legislative reform.
Harris took the opportunity to once again tout the Armed Prohibited Persons System (APPS), which matches lists of handgun and assault-weapon owners to updated lists of convicts and mental-health patients so that firearms can be seized from those barred by law from owning them. Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed into law SB 140, which diverts $24 million into the badly backlogged APPS program from a surplus of background-check. In the first four months of 2013, agents have collected 461 firearms and 23,080 rounds of ammunition statewide.
“As we approach the third and final race of this year’s Triple Crown, it’s important that we shed light on a scandal that is plaguing horse racing in America — doping,” Eshoo said in a news release. “This cruel and dangerous practice with race horses not only causes an average of 24 horses to drop dead every week, but it is still permitted by law in the U.S. The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act will outlaw doping in horse racing and create a culture of safety for some of the most majestic creatures on earth.”
USADA is a non-governmental organization that’s designated as the official anti-doping agency for the U.S. Olympics and works with sports leagues to strengthen clean competition policies. It made big headlines last year by filing a charge, and ultimately imposing a lifetime ban, on champion cyclist Lance Armstrong.
Under this new bill, the agency would develop rules for permitted and prohibited substances and create anti-doping education, research, testing and adjudication programs for horseracing. It would also put an end to race day medication; set a harmonized medication policy framework for all races with interstate simulcast wagering; require stiff penalties for cheating, including “one and done” and “three strikes, you’re out” lifetime bans for the worst cases; and ensure racehorse drug administrations comply with veterinary ethics.
House and Senate committees held hearings last year at which jockeys, veterinarians and owners testified that abuse of legal and illegal substances are contributing to increased breakdowns of racehorses and deadly accidents.
The House voted 229-195 today to repeal the “Obamacare” federal health care reforms enacted in 2010 – the 37th time that Republicans have tried to repeal or eliminate funding for the law.
The only two Democrats to vote for H.R. 45 were Jim Matheson of Utah and Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, both of whom represent districts with heavy numbers of Republican voters yet are deemed “lean Democratic” – not “toss up” – by the Cook Political Report. No Republicans opposed the bill.
Like its predecessors, this effort is DOA in the Democrat-dominated U.S. Senate. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, spoke in defense of the vote:
“Today the House is voting to repeal the president’s health care law because it’s increasing the cost of health insurance, reducing access to care, and making it harder for small businesses to hire new workers. This is the third full repeal vote that we’ve had in the last three years, and some critics have suggested it’s a waste of time.
“Well, while our goal is to repeal all of ObamaCare, I would remind you that the president has signed into law seven different bills that repealed or defunded parts of that law. Is it enough? No. Full repeal is needed to keep this law from doing more damage to our economy and raising health care costs.
“But some progress has been made, and Republicans will continue to work to scrap the law in its entirety so we can focus on patient-centered reforms that lower costs and protect jobs. Because jobs is what this is all about.”
Northern California’s House Democrats were – shocker! – having none of it. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, smack-talked the vote at her weekly news conference:
“Here we are, 134 days into the 113th Congress, without one vote on a jobs bill. Fifty-four days after the Senate passed its budget, we still haven’t moved forward to the budget process with this do nothing agenda that does not reflect the priorities of the American people. It is an agenda that only the Republicans are interested in pursuing. So, you see a series of subterfuges, job evasions. Today’s job evasion is that the Republicans have decided to vote on the Patient’s Rights Repeal Act, their 37th attempt to repeal our country’s landmark reform bill. That’s 37 votes, 43 days, $52 million – $52.4 million – on an obvious evasion of our responsibility to work on the priorities of the American people.
“Not only is this a clear waste of time, and of taxpayer dollars, it is a deliberate vote to eliminate the affordable, quality health care benefits millions of Americans are already enjoying.”
Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa, called it “a shameful waste of time and taxpayer dollars.”
“Instead of spending more than $50 million to repeal a law that is saving lives and money, we should be working to improve our healthcare system and expand on the benefits the law provides,” Thompson said. “It’s time to put these political games aside. By building on the reforms made in the Affordable Care Act, we can make sure every American can afford to go to the doctor. And that’s what matters.”
And Rep. Ami Bera, D-Rancho Cordova, said Americans “want Congress to focus on jobs, not waste time and taxpayer money voting 37 times to take away patient protections from middle class families.
“The Supreme Court has ruled, and ACA is now law. It’s not perfect, and it’s not the law I would have proposed because it doesn’t do enough to address the cost of care, but we don’t want to go back to a time when children faced discrimination due to pre-existing conditions, when students and young adults were kicked off their parents’ insurance, and when women had to pay more for insurance than men just because of their gender,” he said. “Now we need to move past partisan bickering and start working on ways we can drive healthcare costs down. For years, we’ve been paying more and more for healthcare, and getting less and less. As a doctor and former Chief Medical Officer for Sacramento County, I know there are many places we can find savings.”