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Lawmakers stand for union rights

photo-by-jane-tyska.jpgRep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, stood today with local workers who say they’ve faced retaliation from employers for trying to unionize their workplaces. An event at the Oakland Public Library’s Dimond branch highlighted the Employee Free Choice Act of 2007, introduced by Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Martinez, to reform the union election process and prevent workers’ intimidation or harassment. Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton; Assembly members Sandre Swanson, D-Oakland, and Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley; and Oakland City Council member Jean Quan also attended.

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Schwarzenegger in D.C.

schwarzenegger.jpgThe governor flew to Washington, D.C., today for the National Governors Association’s annual meeting. In his pre-taped weekly radio address which aired this morning, he said he’ll “be talking with the President, my fellow Governors and California’s elected leaders in Congress about solutions to our health care crisis, immigration, global climate change and help for those hurt by the recent freeze in California.”

And that talking will be sharp when it comes to President Bush’s budget plan, he indicated: “The President’s proposal to cut Medicare and Medicaid funding would hurt our efforts to fix California’s broken health care system.”

Schwarzenegger also noted Bush has proposed scrapping SCAAP — the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program — which helps states pay for jailing illegal immigrants who commit crimes. Congress funded the program at about $661 million this year, and California usually gets about 40 percent of the total funding.

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Surprise, surprise

Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack announced today he is abandoning his bid for president, saying he has not been able to raise enough money to be competitive.

Vilsack, you may remember, spent the very day he revealed his plans to run for president in Oakland, hobnobbing with developer Phil Tagami and other bigwigs.

Coincidence? We think not.

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A delicate U.S. Senate majority?

lieberman.jpgU.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., tells Politico he has no immediate plans to switch parties — thus handing control of the Senate to the GOP — but suggested that Democratic opposition to funding the war in Iraq might change his mind. And he tells Time magazine he might vote Republican for President in 2008, “a not-so-veiled hint that he would prefer John McCain, his fellow true believer in the Iraq war, to most, perhaps all, Democratic alternatives.”

That’s gotta hurt for senators Tom Carper, D-Del.; Mary Landrieu, D-La.; Ben Nelson, D-Neb.; Mark Pryor, D-Ark.; and Ken Salazar, D-Colo., all of whom continued to endorse Lieberman last year after he’d lost the Democratic primary to Ned Lamont and declared himself an independent candidate in November’s general election. At least U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. — who took heat from the Bay Area and beyond for endorsing someone so hawkish on the Iraq war — switched her support to Lamont in the general election after having gone to Connecticut to stump for Lieberman in the primary.

As for the Democratic presidential contenders, U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.; U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.; U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn.; U.S. Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del.; 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee and former U.S. Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C.; New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson; and former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack all did as Boxer did, supporting Lieberman in the primary, but then supporting Lamont as the Democratic nominee in November. So on a personal level, you can see why he’s not in a rush to endorse any of them, but from a party standpoint, he’s not exactly burnishing his Democratic bona fides.

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Tauscher… in… SPAAAAACE!

This news release just in from the office of Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo:

This week, Chairman of the Strategic Forces Committee of the Armed Forces Committee Rep. Ellen Tauscher received the Satellite Leadership in Government Award from the Satellite Industry Association.

The award recognizes those in government who have done the most to modernize our nation’s export control laws to recognize the dynamic role that satellite technologies play in the nation’s economy, video distribution, and national and homeland security.

“I am deeply concerned that the current export control system is broken; harming both our national security and our economy,” said Rep. Tauscher. “We need a thorough scrub of the munitions list that attempts to control all dual-use items and remove dated, non-sensitive and foreign available items. We need one agency to handle licensing and we need to facilitate defense trade and technological cooperation with our allies — not hamstring it. It is time for Congress to begin a serious debate on how we can improve our current regime.”

Also receiving the award this year is Maj. Gen. James B. Armor (director of the National Security Space Office). Previous recipients of the Satellite Leadership in Government Award include Senator Ted Stevens (2006) and Admiral James O. Ellis Jr., former Commander of US Strategic Command (2005).

As the Chronicle reported Sunday, Tauscher — who noted in a speech last September that the U.S. share of the global satellite market has fallen from 64 percent in 1998 to 36 percent in 2002 — spoke yesterday at the Satellite 2007 conference in Washington.