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Archive for April, 2007

Lantos and wife ‘sizzle,’ f’shizzle

tom-and-annette.jpgWashington Monthly has just run down “Washington’s 60 Sizzlingest Power Couples,” and guess who makes the list: House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo, and his wife, Annette.

Tom Lantos: U.S. congressman (D-Calif.), and chair, House Committee on Foreign Relations
Annette Lantos: executive director, Congressional Human Rights Caucus (CHRC)
He cofounded the CHRC in 1983. Both are Hungarian Jews who escaped the Nazi occupation together as children.

Perhaps flexing some of this power, Lantos will host a public forum on challenges and opportunities in U.S. efforts to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS worldwide from 2 to 4 p.m. next Friday, April 27 in the San Francisco Public Library, 100 Larkin St. (at Grove).

“The San Francisco Bay Area knows the devastation of AIDS like no other place in America,” Lantos said in a news release issued today. “From our dawning awareness in the 1980s through the heroic efforts of researchers and caregivers to address the crisis, we have been in the vanguard of responsiveness to this public health challenge. Sadly, HIV and AIDS are still among us in this country, but they have wreaked unprecedented destruction abroad. The United States has taken the lead in every aspect of the fight against HIV/AIDS, and the people of our region should take part in the discussion of what is being done — and what the next steps could be.”

Lantos was among co-authors — along with Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland — of the 2003 legislation that funded the $15 billion Global AIDS program, which among other things created a Global AIDS Coordinator position at the State Department; the new coordinator, Ambassador Mark R. Dybul, will be a featured speaker at next week’s event. For more information on the forum, call Lantos’ district office at 650-342-0300.

Posted on Thursday, April 19th, 2007
Under: Barbara Lee, General, Tom Lantos, U.S. House | No Comments »

Oaklander headed to Sacramento victims’ vigil

Ora Knowell — a West Oakland grandmother whose sons, Chris and Daniel, were killed on the city’s streets in earlier years — hopes relatives of all 148 Oakland homicide victims of 2006 will join her this Monday, April 23, on a trip to Sacramento for the 18th Annual Victims March On The California State Capitol, sponsored by the California Correctional Peace Officers Association.

Knowell’s “Homicide Victims Quilts,” from her West Oakland Lower Bottom Fatherless Children Foundation, will be displayed on the west Capitol lawn during the event; her contingent will leave at 8 a.m. Monday from Mandela Parkway and West Grand Avenue, and free lunch tickets will be provided.

“We as victims want a safe community for our families, not a war zone,” she said in an e-mail.

Posted on Thursday, April 19th, 2007
Under: General, Oakland, Sacramento | No Comments »

Changing the shape of money

pete-stark.jpgRep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, today introduced the “Catherine Skivers Currency for All Act,” which would would make U.S. currency accessible to all blind and visually impaired Americans by notching paper money.

“All Americans should be able to recognize the denominations of paper currency,” Stark said in a news release. “But current bills are identical in size, which prevents millions of blind and visually impaired people from fully participating in our economy.”

Of more than 180 countries that issue their own banknotes, only the United States prints identical bills for every denomination. A federal judge found in November 2006 that the Treasury Department had violated the Rehabilitation Act by issuing paper currency that visually impaired individuals could not readily distinguish; the court ordered the government to make paper currency recognizable to the blind through the use of distinguishing tactile marks, a decision the Treasury Department is appealing.

Stark’s bill is named after Catherine Skivers of Hayward, a Stark constituent who is the California Council of the Blind‘s immediate past president and current legislative committee chairwoman. She told me today she’s thrilled to have her name on the bill, “especially on such an important issue. … We really need this currency so we know what we have. I’m just so thankful to Pete Stark for doing it.”

The bill requires the U.S. Treasury to trim the corners of all bills in a manner that prevents fraud, with lower value bills having more corners trimmed. See examples after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, April 18th, 2007
Under: General, Pete Stark, U.S. House | No Comments »

AD15 attracts a crowd

Open political seats seem to attract a crowd faster than a playground fight.

Nine people have either filed or announced plans to run in the June 2008 primary for Assembly District 15, the seat held by soon-to-be-termed-out Republican Guy Houston, including four Republicans and five Democrats.

The newest name on the Democratic ticket is Steve Filson, a commercial airline pilot and Navy veteran. But his name may be familiar: He ran unsuccessfully in the congressional District 11 primary in 2006, losing the nomination to Jerry McNerney.

“I have a good base of support that continued to build even after the congressional primary,” Filson said. “People asked me to seriously consider the Assembly and I felt I had enough support to go forward.”

Terry Coleman, the Democrat who lost against Houston in 2006, says he will not run.

“I’ve encouraged Steve Filson to run,” Coleman said. “I think he will make a fine legislator.”

The other four Democratic candidates include Fred Klaske of San Ramon, who also considered running for Congress in 2006; Davies Ononiwu, an Elk Grove business owner; Livermore high school principal Chris Van Schaack; and Danville electrician Stevan Thomas. (Thomas also ran in the District 11 primary in 2006; he came in third behind McNerney and Filson.)

On the Republican side, San Ramon Mayor Abram Wilson has said he will run although he hasn’t filed a statement of intent with the Secretary of State’s office or formed a campaign finance committee.

The other three GOP candidates are Republican activist and business owner Judy Biviano Lloyd of Dublin; retired auto sales executive Robert Rao of Livermore, and Scott Kamena, Livermore optometrist and board member on the Livermore Area Park and Recreation District.

Click here to see a map of the district.

UPDATE:

Lloyd, who turned 47 today, launched her web site this morning and announced her campaign team.

Her honorary campaign chairmen and women include:

Lydia Beebe, corporate secretary of Chevron Corporation of San Ramon; Ann Blackburn, CEO of Blackburn Advisory Services, Inc.;

Floyd Brown, chairman of Citizens United and the Senior Fellow at the Ronald Reagan Ranch in Santa Barbara;

Barbara Cappa, a child abuse prevention and youth advocate;

William Cronk and his wife, Janet, who is the president of the Boy Scouts of America and former president of Dreyer’s Ice Cream;

Carolyn Devine, president of the San Francisco Commission on Aging and Adult Services;

Matt Fong, former California State Treasurer and founder of Strategic Advisory Group;

Robert Fried, partner in the Pleasanton office of Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo;

Elizabeth Kearney, president and Founder of Kearney & Associates;

Kristen Kuhns, who will soon become the CEO of Eravita, Inc.;

Anjali Lathi, former Alameda County Chair for Governor Schwarzenegger’s re-election campaign;

Alison Levine, a climber, explorer, entrepreneur, and organizational leadership consultant who served as team captain of the first American Women’s Everest Expedition;

Jack Loyd, medical device entrepreneur, and his wife, Lynne, a community volunteer;

Charles Marsala, Atherton City Councilman;

Carol Morrison, technology start-up entrepreneur and chief marketing officer for Santa Clara County Republican Party;

George Opacic, manager in the political affairs department of Pacific Gas & Electric Company;

Deborah Perry Piscione, president of Marketplace Offense, author, television and radio commentator who serves as a regular guest of political programs on CNN and National Public Radio;

Danelle Storm Rosati, founder of Storm & Company;

Herman G. Rowland, Sr., chairman of the board of the Jelly Belly Candy Company;

Jerry Thorne, Pleasanton City Councilman;

Julie Vandermost, state President of the California Women’s Leadership Association;

Susan Wichmann, senior financial adviser for Merrill Lynch Global Private Client Group of San Ramon and president of the Wellness Community of the San Francisco East Bay;

Deborah Wilder, nationally recognized expert on state and federal employment law matters in the construction field;

Joe Yew, finance director for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

Posted on Wednesday, April 18th, 2007
Under: Election 2008 | No Comments »

Jail inmates soaking up public assistance

A report released today by State Controller John Chiang shows that more than $400,000 in federal and state assistance payments — and potentially millions more — have gone to county jail prisoners who shouldn’t have received the money, including some here in the Bay Area.

“This state and federal assistance program provides crucial aid to aged, blind and disabled Californians who have little or no income or other resources to provide for their basic needs,” Chiang said in a news release. “It clearly is not intended to benefit jail inmates.”

California recipients get up to $836 a month from the Supplemental Security Income/State Supplementary Payment (SSI/SSP) program to cover living expenses, but federal and state rules require suspending SSI/SSP assistance to people who’re jailed for more than 30 days. To ensure the benefits are suspended, the Social Security Administration created a program to pay each county jail incentive fees of up to $400 for every ineligible individual identified; all counties except Mendocino and Sierra take part in this program.

But the Controller’s review found 3,398 prisoners in eight of the participating counties — including Alameda, Contra Costa, San Joaquin and San Francisco — still receiving SSI/SSP payments; of those, the Controller’s office selected a sample of 539 prisoners to review, and found that 257 of the 539 were ineligible for the money yet received a total of $413,995 ($272,849 in federal SSI funds and $141,146 in state SSP funds). If that sample is statistically representative, total federal and state overpayments in the eight counties would total about $3 million for the 18-month period.

The report says this stems from the failure of some county agencies to promptly report jail incarceration information to the SSA, and the failure of the SSA field offices to stop overpayments in a timely way. It recommends the SSA and county officials work together to speed reporting of ineligible individuals and advises SSA headquarters to more closely monitor the actions of its field offices by requiring monthly reports.

Posted on Wednesday, April 18th, 2007
Under: John Chiang, Sacramento | No Comments »

“But… all I wanted was a quart of milk!”

Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, D-Castro Valley, will host an identity theft workshop at 1 p.m. this Saturday, April 21st in the San Lorenzo Community Church, 945 Paseo Grande, in the wake of news that high-tech thieves have stolen more than $100,000 from more than 80 customers of the Albertson’s grocery store at 15840 Hesperian Blvd. in San Lorenzo.

A representative from the California Office of Privacy Protection and the lead investigator from the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department will speak on how best to report and respond to their financial institutions if they have been victimized. They’ll also provide literature and tips for dealing with this type of fraud as well as fraud involving theft of social security numbers. It’s open to the public, but if you’d like to attend, call Hayashi’s district office at 510-583-8818.

Posted on Wednesday, April 18th, 2007
Under: Assembly, Mary Hayashi | No Comments »

Wednesday’s politics by the Bay…

At about the same time that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, is scheduled to meet with President Bush at the White House about funding for the war in Iraq, peace activists will gather at 11:30 a.m. outside her district office — at the federal building, 450 Golden Gate Ave. — “to encourage her to keep a fixed timetable for the troop withdrawal,” according to a news release. “We will remind her that America doesn’t want Congress to buy Bush’s war. … The group will discuss their future plans to keep the heat on the Speaker, including the vigil at her home (Camp Pelosi), teach-ins at her office, and die-ins outside the Federal Building.”

phillips.jpgPolitical commentator Kevin Phillips — a former Republican strategist now among the party’s harshest critics — will speak to the Commonwealth Club of California about the expanding national debt, increasing oil consumption and the breakdown of the wall between religion and state, part of the tour for his book “American Theocracy,” just issued in paperback. He’ll speak at noon in the club’s office on the second floor of 595 Market St. in San Francisco, $8 for members or $15 for nonmembers, and then again at 7 p.m. in Menlo Park City Council chambers, 701 Laurel St., $7 for members and $15 for nonmembers. He’ll sign books at both.

schweitzer.jpgMontana Gov. Brian Schweitzer is holding a fundraiser at 6 p.m. at the Aquarium of the Bay on Pier 39, Embarcadero at Beach Street in San Francisco. Requested contributions range from $35 (“special people-powered rate”) to $1,000 (“Rodeo Star”); RSVP to Meghan Doran at mmd@platinumadvisors.com. Schweitzer, 51, will seek re-election in 2008; although polls show he’s popular, he’s also the first Demcoratic governor since 1988 in a state that President Bush carried in 2004 by 20 percentage points. The Denver Post says he’s a “a self-described ‘pickup-driving, God-fearing, gun-toting, red-meat-eating, take-responsibility-for-my-actions, invest-in-education kind of Democrat.’”

Posted on Tuesday, April 17th, 2007
Under: General, Iraq, Nancy Pelosi, President Bush, U.S. House | No Comments »

Does the “Feinstein line” rule?

The California Democratic Party took issue with quotes from noted Republican political consultant Allan Hoffenblum, co-author of the California Target Book, in a recent story in the Inland Valley Bulletin.

Hoffenblum argued that Democrats are wasting their time trying to compete in congressional districts where Republican U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mountjoy beat U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein in the 2006 election.

The consultant was talking specifically about the district of Rep. Gary Miller, the Diamond Bar congressman currently under investigation by the FBI. Mountjoy beat Feinstein in the district by 11 points.

Hoffenblum also said that Republicans have a good chance next year of retaking the seat that Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton. MceNerney won the post in a surprising 2006 upset over seven-term incumbent Republican Richard Pombo in a district where Republicans outnumber Democrats by nearly 6 percent points.

But Democrats accurately note that if you apply the “Feinstein line,” Republicans may not find it so easy in District 11: Feinstein beat Mountjoy there by 15 percentage points. (Read the Secretary of State election results here.)

Posted on Tuesday, April 17th, 2007
Under: congressional district 11 | No Comments »

Houston introduces steroid testing bill

GOP Assemblyman Guy Houston of San Ramon introduced legislation today that will require schools to test high school athletes randomly for the use of illegal steroids.

Current law only requires that an athlete sign a pledge to not use anabolic steroids or certain dietary supplements.

“Recent scandals have underscored that substance abuse continues to be a major problem among professional athletes. We need to combat any perception among our student athletes that it is okay to use these drugs,” Houston said in a press release.

AB 1319 would require that ten percent of high schools be randomly selected for testing at four different times per school year. At each selected school, ten percent of the student athletes will be randomly selected for testing.

The bill is scheduled for a hearing in the Assembly Education Committee on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m.

Posted on Tuesday, April 17th, 2007
Under: California Legislature | No Comments »

Producer Norman Lear launches voter drive

Declare Yourself, a voter registration organization founded by producer Norman Lear, has started a campaign to register every 18-year-old in time to vote in the 2008 election.

The nonpartisan, youth voting campaign will use partnerships with the Yahoo, MySpace, YouTube, Google, Friendster and Evite in efforts to connect with young would-be voters.

The “Declare Yourself” voter registration icon link will appear on hundreds of youth-focused websites and blogs.

The organization also features celebrity spokespeople such as America Ferrera of “Ugly Betty” and Hayden Panettiere of “Heroes.” Clear Channel and Comedy Central have joined the campaign, too.

Lear founded Declare Yourself in 2003 at the conclusion of a nationwide tour of an original copy of the Declaration of Independence. The nonprofit group registered more than 1 million people to vote in the 2004 and 2006 elections.

Posted on Tuesday, April 17th, 2007
Under: Election 2008 | No Comments »