Lawmakers weigh in on freeway collapse

Several lawmakers issued statements Monday regarding the MacArthur Maze freeway collapse:

lee3.jpg“Everyone is committed to making sure that the disruptions to local commuters are as short and as painless as possible. My office is working with federal, state and local agencies to ensure that they have the full support of the federal government to make the necessary repairs to our local freeways,” said Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, in whose district the disaster occured. “We have been in ongoing contact with CalTrans, the Department of Transportation, local transit operators as well as the Congressional committees that oversee transportation funding, and we aim to make sure that the federal response to this accident is robust and timely.”

“It is possible that the repair costs will exceed the regular federal emergency reimbursement, in which case, Congress would need to act, and we are monitoring the situation closely and prepared to take whatever action is necessary to ensure that the funds are available, and commuters lives can be returned to normal as soon as possible,” said Lee.

tauscher3.jpg“When a catastrophe like this happens, we need all hands on deck,” said Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, who sits on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and its Highways and Transit Subcommittee. “I’ve spoken with Transportation Secretary Mary Peters to impress upon her how important federal funds will be as we attempt to rebuild and get back to normal after the freeway collapse, and she will be joining both the Chairman of the House Transportation Committee, Jim Oberstar, and me at the site on Friday.

“We need emergency relief now, we need federal assistance in the future, and we are going to need all these costs reimbursed – like free BART and ferry rides and all the police officers working overtime to divert traffic and keep people moving.

“In coming days and weeks I will continue working with all concerned federal agencies, as well as my Bay Area colleagues, to ensure that every penny available is used to expedite this process so that we can all get back to our normal lives and commutes.”

More — from Rep. Jerry McNerney and U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer — after the jump… Continue Reading


DiFi floats bill to close Guantanamo Bay prison

feinstein.jpgU.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., introduced a bill today to close the miltary prison for enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, within one year of the bill’s enactment — the first Senate measure to require closing the controversial facility.

A news release from Feinstein, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said she’s worried that open-ended detentions and documented reports of detainee abuse at the prison have tarnished America’s reputation and complicated efforts to fight global terrorism.

The prison “has become a lightning rod for international condemnation,” she said. “This has greatly damaged the nation’s credibility around the world. Rather than make the United States safer, the image projected by this facility puts us at greater risk. The time has come to close it down.”

“I want to be clear. I am absolutely opposed to releasing any terrorists, Taliban fighters or anyone else held at Guantanamo who is committed to harming the United States,” she added. “At the same time, we must recognize the sustained damage this facility is doing to our international standing. We are better served by closing this facility and transferring the detainees elsewhere.”

Feinstein’s bill would require that within a year of its enactment, the president close the Guantanamo Bay prison and move the detainees to:

  • A civilian or military facility in the United States to be charged with a violation of U.S. or international law for prosecution in a civilian or military proceeding;
  • A facility in the United States for continued detention, where authorized;
  • Any international legal tribunal that may be authorized for this purpose; or
  • The detainees’ home nations or a third-party government for further processing, but only with assurances that detainees will not be tortured or otherwise handled in a manner against international law.
  • Detainees found by the Defense Department to pose no continuing security threat to the United States or its allies, and who have committed no crime, could be released.

    “The abuses at Guantanamo Bay are well-documented and cover a period of several years. The President himself has said that he would like the detention facility closed. Yet it is clear that the Administration shows no inclination to close it,” Feinstein. “My bill takes action where the Administration has failed to do so. I urge the Senate to support it, and I urge the President to sign it into law.”

    More from DiFi’s news release, including a chronology of Gitmo criticisms, after the jump… Continue Reading


    Governor toured freeway collapse, promised aid


    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger toured the MacArthur Maze collapse site last night, accompanied by Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and state Office of Emergency Services Director Henry Renteria (formerly Oakland’s OES chief), among others. Click here to hear what the governor said.

    Video, the governor’s proclamation and more photos are available here.


    Burton, Wesson among Edwards’ Calif. backers

    edwards.jpg2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards rolled out a list of California supporters Sunday after his speech to the California Democratic Party‘s convention in San Diego.

  • former Congressman and State Senate President Pro Tem John Burton, D-San Francisco
  • Los Angeles City Councilman and former state Assembly Speaker Herb Wesson
  • state Senator Leland Yee, D-San Francisco
  • state Senator Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento
  • state Senator Gloria Negrete McCleod, D-Chino
  • Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La Canada Flintridge
  • Assemblyman Dave Jones, D-Sacramento
  • See the rest after the jump… Continue Reading


    Lee brings U.S. HIV/AIDS czar to Oakland

    lee3.jpgRep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, has organized a meeting tonight in Oakland between representatives from local organizations engaged in the fight against HIV/AIDS and the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, Ambassador Mark Dybul.

    “I have long said that our battle against the global HIV/AIDS pandemic is linked to our battle against HIV/AIDS in the United States and here in Oakland. We are part of this global pandemic, and as we talk about the need to confront HIV in Africa and the Caribbean, we must also talk about the need to confront it here in the United States,” Lee said in a news release. “It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to meet with Ambassador Dybul here in Oakland to discuss both local and global efforts to stop this disease.”

    Dybul oversees the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which Lee co-authored legislation to create. This year he will manage nearly $4 billion in global AIDS programs across several departments and agencies of the U.S. government. As previously reported here, Dybul was the featured speaker earlier today at a public forum at the San Francisco Public Library on challenges and opportunities in U.S. efforts to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS worldwide, hosted by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo.

    Scheduled to attend tonight’s meting are Dr. Robert Scott, co-chair of the Allen Temple Baptist Church AIDS Ministry; Ellen Schell, director of the Global AIDS Interfaith Alliance; Dr. Anthony Iton, director of the Alameda County Public Health Department; Dian Harrison, CEO and director of Planned Parenthood Golden Gate; Ronald Person, director of the Alameda County Public Health Department’s AIDS office; Dr. Eric Goosby, CEO and chief medical officer of the PANGEA Global AIDS Foundation; Rene Durrazzo, program development consultant at the PANGEA Global AIDS Foundation; Dr. Daniel Robbins, chairman of the KAPNEK Pediatric AIDS Fund; Gloria Locket, director of the California Prevention and Education Project; and Denise (Denny) Martin, community health program officer at the San Francisco Foundation.

    Lee has been working overtime to get national and international players in the battle against HIV/AIDS to visit Oakland; U2 frontman Bono was here early last month.


    Lockyer, Davis among Calif. Dems for Clinton

    senatorclinton.jpgClose on the heels of Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez’s endorsement Wednesday of U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., for president, a list of California Democrats topped by Treasurer Bill Lockyer and former Gov. Gray Davis announced the same Friday.

    “I’m endorsing Hillary Clinton for President because I know her and admire her,” said Lockyer, who I remember seeing at Clinton’s fundraiser Feb. 23 in San Francisco. “She’s been my good friend and our state’s great ally for more than a decade. Nobody understands Californians, the California Dream, and the vital importance of California to our nation’s success better than Hillary Clinton. And Hillary Clinton is — far and away — the only candidate who is ready to lead the country now, without any on-the-job training.”

    Said Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco: “Hillary is the most qualified candidate and is ready to lead this country from day one. Hillary knows the White House, Congress, and has the respect of world leaders. Most importantly, Hillary has been longtime advocate for the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, and I know that she will continue her commitment when she becomes president.”

    Clinton will address the California Democratic Party‘s convention at 10:15 a.m. tomorrow at the San Diego Convention Center.

    A complete list of Friday’s Clinton endorsements, after the jump… Continue Reading