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Archive for January, 2007

Avatars hold peace march today

The RootsCamp folks in Second Life, the on-line world, are holding a virtual march on Capitol Hill today.

It’s intended to mirror Sunday’s march on the real Capitol.

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, and Berkeley-based Clear Ink created Capitol Hill island earlier this year to bring the swearing-in of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi into Second Life.

So, if you want to march for peace without leaving your house, risking arrest or dressing in enough layers to withstand a Washington winter, fire up your avatar.

For more details, click here and click here.

Posted on Monday, January 29th, 2007
Under: Second Life & Politics | No Comments »

Co-del visits Pakistan, Afghanistan

After visiting Iraq Friday, a bipartisan Congressional delegation — led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, and including House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo — met Saturday with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in Islamabad, and then released the following statement today after visiting Afghanistan and meeting with President Hamid Karzai:

The purposes of our trip to Afghanistan were to salute our troops, visit with President Karzai, and meet with leaders of the NATO military effort. For five and a half years, our troops have been on the front line of the war on terror in Afghanistan. It is appropriate that we come here early in the new Congress to pay tribute to the men and women who are serving with great distinction in this critical task.

In our discussions, President Karzai stressed the crucial importance of reconstruction. The delegation commended him for his leadership and discussed additional steps that would enhance the authority of the central government and improve the security situation in the country. We are encouraged by reports of a proposed supplemental assistance package to enhance our efforts to assist our Afghan partners. We will expeditiously consider this legislation and urge the international community to invest more fully in Afghanistan’s future.

The delegation is deeply concerned about the escalating poppy cultivation problem in Afghanistan. Without aggressive action, this drug problem risks undermining the efforts of the Afghan government and coalition forces to stabilize the country.

Many of us have been convinced for some time that additional forces would benefit the forgotten war in Afghanistan. We are pleased our commanders will now have larger numbers of American troops to prepare for challenging operations in the spring. In addition, the delegation appreciates the contributions of our NATO partners and looks forward to the fulfillment of their military commitments to this mission.

We were honored to meet with in Afghanistan our troops, whose patriotism, courage, and devotion to duty are a source of great pride. Their efforts often do not receive attention reflecting the magnitude of their mission. We are grateful to them and to their families for all they are doing for our nation.

Posted on Sunday, January 28th, 2007
Under: Afghanistan, General, Nancy Pelosi, Tom Lantos, U.S. House | 1 Comment »

Resident slams Supervisor Federal Glover

An Antioch resident sent this very sharply worded letter today to Contra Costa County Supervisor Federal Glover, who will almost certainly see the contentious issue of Section 8 housing surface in his upcoming re-election campaign.

Dear Supervisor Glover,

When I first saw the title of your article in today’s Contra Costa Times, “County moves toward balance on Section 8 program”, I was feeling very optimistic. After having read the article though, I was deeply disappointed and was compelled to write.

The article reveals how clearly “out of touch” you really are with the Antioch Community. Unlike what the article eludes to, from the very beginning, you have never been supportive of our community’s concerns. Our pleas and our cries have been ignored and we have documented your lack of care and follow through.

It was May of last year that Gary Gilbert on behalf of United Citizens for Better Neighborhoods, wrote to you and your then Chief of Staff, Vincent Manuel. We were seeking your help about the crimes and Section 8 abuses running rampant in Antioch. You did not have the common courtesy to even reply. You did however, have the time to respond in an article in the Contra Costa Times titled, “Shifting demographics unsettling for Antioch”. We then heard briefly from you in October, after showing up at a Quality of Life Forum to make a momentary appearance and quickly leaving before the community was able to speak with you. Then once again we heard from you when Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher asked for the County Supervisors to look into the matter of the Contra Coast Housing Authority’s Management of the Section 8 Choice Voucher Program and its discrepancies. It was also then you made public that you are a full fledged Section 8 Voucher landlord.

This is the paper trail that you have left for us to follow, and it does not lead to the conclusion that you have been a part of the process and solution. It does reveal though that you have been indifferent, unconcerned, unsympathetic, and now, untruthful.

If it were not for Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher coming to our aide, UCBN’s pleas would be in vain. Representative Tauscher helped facilitate our concerns to Secretary Alphonso Jackson, which resulted in what is just the tip of the iceberg, the HUD Report.

Supervisor Glover, it would have been a breath of fresh air if you decided to finally come to our aide and help us make right what the CCHA has desperately destroyed and that is our “quality of life” in Antioch. I am sad to say, due to the Contra Costa County Housing Authority’s negligence, we do know what is like to like “to fear for our kids’ safety walking down the street…”

The truth and the real heroes in this story are Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher and her Office, Mayor Freitas and the Antioch City Council, Chief Hyde and the Antioch Police Department, and last but not least, Gary Gilbert and the United Citizens for Better Neighborhoods.


Anna Morris

Posted on Friday, January 26th, 2007
Under: Contra Costa politics | No Comments »

Houston steps closer to CD-11 candidacy

Assemblyman Guy Houston, R-Livermore, is headed for the nation’s capital next month where he will talk with national party leaders about a possible run for congressional District 11.

Republicans hope to reclaim the Republican-leaning district after seven-term incumbent Richard Pombo lost in a major upset to Democrat Jerry McNerney in 2006.

Houston will meet in mid-February with National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Cole of Oklahoma and other leaders in meetings arranged by Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield.

He terms out of the Assembly in 2008. Many termed-out members of the Assembly turn to the Senate, but Houston lives in an overwhelmingly Democratic senate district.

“I’m definitely interested although I haven’t committed to running yet,” Houston says.

Houston publicly professed his interest in a congressional bid last week although his name has been on everyone’s lips for months along with GOP Assemblyman Greg Aghazarian, R-Stockton.

Houston says he held off making a move until Pombo decided whether or not to seek re-election.

But Roll Call, a Washington, D.C. paper, reported earlier this week that Pombo was in job talks with Oregon-based PAC/West Communications, a public relations firm whose client list ranges from labor unions to Safari Club International to health care, timber and oil interests.

Pombo couldn’t be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, his former chief of staff, Steve Ding has been hired to open a Sacramento office for PAC/West.

Posted on Friday, January 26th, 2007
Under: congressional district 11 | No Comments »

Pelosi, Lantos visit Baghdad

pelosi-and-al-maliki.jpgHouse Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, led a senior bipartisan Congressional delegation to Baghdad today, meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and other officials even as a bomb blast killed 15 people and wounded 55 in one of Baghdad’s marketplaces.

Also on the trip were Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo; Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton, D-Mo.; Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas; Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Murtha, D-Pa.; State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-NY; and Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Member David Hobson, R-Ohio.

The delegation just released this statement via Pelosi’s office:

Our delegation traveled to Iraq to thank our troops for the way they are doing their difficult jobs under extremely dangerous conditions. We expressed our unwavering support for them, and for their families, as well as our hope that they will come home safely and soon.

In meetings with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalizad, and senior U.S. military officers, including multi-national commander General George Casey, we stressed our belief that it is well past time for the Iraqis to take primary responsibility for the security of their nation. The delegation’s view is that American forces should quickly begin to transition from a combat role to one focused on training, counter-terrorism, force protection, and controlling Iraq’s borders.

We are convinced that there must be a political solution to the problems in Iraq. The sooner Iraqi leaders make necessary political accommodations, including amending their constitution to resolve outstanding differences among all Iraqi communities, the better the chances for ending the sectarian violence. We encourage active diplomacy in the region.

We were inspired by the patriotism and dedication of the American troops we were privileged to meet. We left Iraq with a renewed appreciation for their courage and the selflessness they bring to the great service they provide to our country.

UPDATE – Read Tom Lantos’ statement after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, January 26th, 2007
Under: General, Iraq, Nancy Pelosi, President Bush, Tom Lantos, U.S. House | 2 Comments »


U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., looked as if his head might explode yesterday as he tore into Senate Republicans who’ve used an avalanche of poison-pill amendments to bog down Democrats’ effort to raise the national minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 per hour.

“Filibuster by amendments,” he says. Hmmmm – maybe this is why House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, didn’t let House Republicans offer amendments to her chamber’s minimum-wage legislation, which was carried by Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Martinez, and passed Jan. 10 by the House on a 315-116 vote.

Posted on Friday, January 26th, 2007
Under: Edward Kennedy, General, George Miller, Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

Lt. Gov. Garamendi promotes agenda

Was it a slip of the today when an audience member at a luncheon speech today featuring newly elected Lt. Governor John Garamendi began his question of the official with, “Governor …”

It may have had something to do with the fact that earlier that morning, former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown regaled the Contra Costa Council with a list of Democrats eying the governorship in four years.

And yes, Garamendi’s name came up.

“Garamendi’s looking at it,” Brown said, during a lively, hour-long panel discussion about the state of California and national politics.

Garamendi and Brown were guests at the council’s annual Contra Costa USA, a daylong conference that will culminate tonight with dinner keynote speaker Dan Rather.

For his part, Garamendi took the question about his status as 2010 gubernatorial candidate in good humor.

“How long do I have left in my term?” he joked to the packed room at the Concord Hilton. “Three years and 10 months?”

Like any good politician, he never said never. But he says he’s focused on the job he just won.

“I always think the future will take care of itself,” he said. “It’s not impossible. It may happen. It may not happen. But if I waste a day thinking about (running for governor), then that’s a day I waste when I could be working on the issues I have just outlined.”

Garamendi laid out an agenda he called essential for the economic and physical security of California and the nation: the promotion of energy policies that help reduce the country’s dependence on oil and address global warming, new water storage and flood protection facilities, smarter investment in the state’s education system and universal health care.

He was particularly direct to representatives of Contra Costa County’s major oil refineries, who sat prominently in the room as event sponsors.

“Chevron, I’m sorry, but you have to change,” Garamendi said, pointing the table where he had sat for lunch. “And as policy leaders, we must push you. California must take the lead in developing alternative fuels.”

Garamendi also espoused the new post-partisan attitude touted in Sacramento these days.

He spoke highly of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, saying that he had eschewed partisan colleague who urged him to take shots at the Republican leader.

“I like the way Schwarzenegger is headed,” he said.


Garamendi ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1982. But at least one local official says she still has her “Garamendi for Governor” sign, former state Business, Transportation and Housing Secretary Sunne Wright McPeak. Heck, recycling is good for the planet, isn’t it?

Posted on Thursday, January 25th, 2007
Under: Lt. Governor | No Comments »

One little word can make all the difference

kerry.jpgU.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., made waves last year when — at a campaign rally for flagging California guberantorial candidate Phil Angelides — he said that students who don’t study hard and get good grades “get stuck in Iraq.” What he clearly meant to say was “get US stuck in Iraq — a dig at President Bush’s average academic performance Yale, even though Kerry earned similar grades there — but Republicans quickly jumped on the comment as an insult to the troops, and damage was done.

Well, a single word’s omission came back to bite Kerry in the butt again this week, as U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., issued a statement praising Kerry, who’d just announced he’ll not run for president again in 2008. “From his earliest days in Vietnam to the Presidential Election in 2004, John Kerry has fought his country and his ideals,” Obama’s statement read.

“Fought FOR his country and his ideals?” Sure. But it’s kinda better this way, isn’t it?

Posted on Thursday, January 25th, 2007
Under: Barack Obama, Elections, General, John Kerry, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

AD15 list expands. Again.

And then there were seven.

Granada High School Principal Chris Van Schaack of Livermore has filed to run as a Democrat in Assembly District 15 as the open seat in this politically competitive district continues to attract a plethora of candidates.

Incumbent Guy Houston, R-Livermore, will term out in 2008.

Van Schaack, 44, has been an educator for nearly 20 years but now says he’s ready to tackle education issues in Sacramento.

“I’ve had good success here at Granada and truly believe that I can be of great assistance to the legislative body in Sacramento,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Over the last month I’ve been meeting with teachers, nurses, police, fire, and real estate folks in order to better understand their perspective and gather their support.

“And fundraising, of course. Lots of fundraising.”

Van Schaack will join fellow Democrat Terry Coleman of Danville, who ran unsuccessfully in for the seat in 2006. Stevan Thomas, a former primary candidate in the congressional District 11 race, has also said he will run.

Republicans who have either filed or said they will run include San Ramon Mayor Abram Wilson, GOP activist Judy Biviano Lloyd of Dublin, eye doctor Scott Kamena of Livermore and retired CEO Robert Rao, also of Livermore.

Posted on Wednesday, January 24th, 2007
Under: election 2006 | No Comments »

“Mad Dog” McAuliffe arrives on book tour

mcauliffe.jpgFormer Democratic National Committee chairman, noted “Friend of Bill & Hill” and fundraising powerhouse Terry McAuliffe will speak next Wednesday, Jan. 31 at the Commonwealth Club of California office, on the second floor of 595 Market St. in San Francisco. Says the club’s news release:

The man being credited with the Democratic Party’s recent victories in the House and Senate, Terry McAuliffe, and soon be at the forefront of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, will discuss his experiences working closely with the country’s most prominent and influential Democrats. For more than twenty-five years, McAuliffe has been at the heart of American politics, fighting hard for the Democratic Party. Since his first job with the Carter-Mondale campaign straight out of Catholic University in Washington, McAuliffe has hobnobbed with everyone from Tip O’Neill to Jimmy Carter.

It’s a 5:30 p.m. wine-and-cheese reception, a 6 p.m. program and a 7 p.m. signing of his new book, What a Party!: My Life Among Democrats. Tickets cost $12 for members, $18 for non-members, and reservations can be made through the club’s Web site.

Posted on Wednesday, January 24th, 2007
Under: Elections, General | 1 Comment »