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Archive for May, 2007

Labor shortage could trim state’s ambitions

California probably won’t be able to attract enough college-educated workers from other states and nations to meet current, skill-driven economic projections, and so might have to rein in its expectations about what the economy will look like in 20 years, according to a new Public Policy Institute of California study released today.

The study projects that by 2025, only 32 percent — yes, still fewer than one in three — of the state’s working-age adults will have a college degree; that’s up from 31 percent in 2005. Yet the latest economic projections show more than two of every five jobs (41 percent) will require a college degree by then, up from one third in 2005. “The workforce of 2025 will be skilled, but not be as skilled — and the economy not as productive or high-income — as current projections imply,” says PPIC research director and economist Deborah Reed.

Bringing in out-of-state workers seems like a dicey proposition, the study says: Net gains in skilled workers from other parts of the U.S. have lessened in the past decade, even going negative, because California is less and less able to retain its own home-grown college graduates. That is, while 612,000 college-educated people came to California between 2000 and 2005, 658,000 college-educated Californians moved out of the state during that time — a net loss of 46,000. And the arrival rate of skilled workers from other countries would have to more than double in order to meet the projected economic demand.

So what’s to be done? The state must redouble its efforts to raise college entrance and graduation rates, the study concludes. “Public policy has a critical role to play because the vast majority of California’s college student are attending public institutions,” says PPIC research fellow and demographer Hans Johnson. “The state has significant latitude to implement policies that could directly address participation and completion rates — and if there was ever a time to do that, it’s now.”

But, in keeping with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed 2007-08 budget, the University of California Regents in March raised student fees by 7 percent starting this summer; the California State University Board of Trustees raised their student fees 10 percent. And the governor’s proposed budget eliminates state support for outreach programs.

Posted on Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, General, Sacramento | No Comments »

Microstamping debate heats up

The lobbying battle over microstamping — using lasers to make microscopic engravings on the breech face and firing pin of a gun so that it stamps the gun’s make, model and serial number onto every cartridge it fires — is reaching white-hot temperatures in Sacramento.

AB 1471 — introduced by Assemblyman Mike Feuer, D-West Hollywood — would require gunmakers to adopt microstamping of all new semiautomatic handgun models sold in California by 2010. The Assembly Public Safety Committee approved the bill 5-2 on April 24; the Appropriations Committee approved it 12-5 on May 16; and now it’s headed toward a floor vote.

The National Rifle Association has been dead-set against this practice from day one, and issued a news release this morning noting it’s not supported by law enforcement; a gun’s micro-stamped parts can too easily be replaced; micro-stamped cartridge cases could be used to seed crime scenes with false evidence; it’ll drive up firearm prices; and a recent UC-Davis study found the technology doesn’t work so well.

But just yesterday, the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence and the Brady Campaign put out a release saying Capitol Hill staffers were wowed by a live-fire demonstration of the technology last Friday in Washington, D.C. That release sought to discredit the UC-Davis study, noting it wasn’t peer-reviewed; it wasn’t commissioned by the Legislature; and it used older firearms which aren’t up for microstamping because of their age and mechanical condition (while the bill calls for using the technology only on new semi-automatics).

“Critics are going to throw everything at this bill to try to prevent real progress,” Kay Holmen, president of the California Brady Campaign Chapters, said in the release. “The fact is that the gun lobby has no real arguments against the science — and feasibility — of microstamping technology.”

Posted on Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007
Under: Assembly, Sacramento, U.S. House | No Comments »

Pittsburg, Antioch leaders to testify in Washington

Pittsburg Councilwoman Nancy Parent and Gary Darling, general Manager of Delta Diablo Sanitation District in Antioch, will testify in Washington, D.C., Thursday at a congressional hearing before a subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee.

The pair will lobby for passage of a bill by Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, that will would provide a federal partner for seven Bay Area water recycling projects including one in Pittsburg and Antioch.

Parent and Darling will be joined by Larry Wilson, a director of the Santa Clara Valley Water District.

Miller introduced the bill in March and was joined by other Bay Area lawmakers, including reps. Anna Eshoo, D- Atherton, Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, Tom Lantos, D- San Mateo, Mike Honda, D- San Jose, Zoe Lofgrenm, D- San Jose, and Pete Stark D-Fremont.

In addition to Pittsburg, according to Miller’s office, the bill would help Antioch, Palo Alto, Mountain View, Pacifica, South Santa Clara County, Redwood City, and San Jose.

The bill is H.R. 1526, “The Bay Area Regional Water Recycling Program Authorization Act of 2007.” The hearing begins at 10 am. EST on Thursday in the Longworth House office building.

Posted on Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007
Under: Congress | No Comments »

Iraq funding compromise has no timetable

Here’s how some of the national media are playing it:

Johanna Neuman, for the Los Angeles Times: “Democrats today dropped demands for timetables for withdrawal from Iraq and handed President Bush a rare victory in the skirmish over a $100-billion emergency war funding bill.”

Shailagh Murray, for the Washington Post: “In the end, Republicans had the ticking clock of troop funding and the presidential veto pen on their side, and Democrats were forced to blink.”

Carl Hulse, for the New York Times: “The decision to back down, described by senior lawmakers and aides, was a wrenching reversal for some Democrats, who saw their election triumph as a call to force an end to the war.”

Richard Cowan and Susan Cornwell, for Reuters: “That will be a disappointment for some Democrats who say they won control of Congress last November largely because voters wanted to see an end to the 4-year-old war in Iraq. But it was welcome news for Republican leaders who have argued Congress should not be ‘micro-managing’ the war.”

David Espo, for the Associated Press via the Chicago Tribune: “Republicans said that after weeks of struggle, they had forced Democrats to give up their demand for a date to withdraw the troops.”

CNN: “Legislative aides said Democrats expect that they will lose support of liberal members of their caucus who are holding out for language that would assure a troop withdrawal, but they also expect enough Republicans to support the bill to assure passage.”

Posted on Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007
Under: Iraq, President Bush, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

GOP slams McNerney on Murtha vote

Less than an hour after House Democrats averted a vote on a resolution that would have reprimanded one of their own, the GOP issued a press release panning Democrat Rep. Jerry McNerney’s support of his party’s decision.

Angela Kouters, McNerney’s chief of staff, called the criticism unwarranted.

What? McNerney and the GOP in disagreement? Shocking, just shocking.

Here’s what happened.

The House tabled earlier today a resolution offered by Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., that would have censured Rep. John Murtha, D-Penn., for allegedly threatening to withhold earmarks from the Michigan lawmaker during an angry exchange. (Click here for the full New York Times story.)

“Jerry McNerney was faced with an opportunity to stand up to unethical behavior in Congress and instead he balked and fell in line with Nancy Pelosi and the Democrat leadership,” said Ken Spain, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. “His vote to kill a resolution calling for the reprimand of an ethically challenged member of Congress is unconscionable and it is a vote that he will come to regret.”

Kouters called the resolution a conviction without a trial, pointing to its language that said, “Resolved, That the Member from Pennsylvania, Mr. Murtha has been guilty of a violation of the Code of Official Conduct and merits the reprimand of the House for the same.”

“When the House votes to reprimand someone, it is almost always based on an investigation by the ethics committee,” Kouters said. “We would support sending the matter to the ethics committee.”

This exchange may seem like petty partisan bickering leading up to a hotly contested election, and it is.

But watch for ethics to become a central theme in the upcoming election as the Republicans try to deflate one of the driving reasons that voters elected McNerney in November and replaced seven-term incumbent Richard Pombo.

In the last election, Democrats, environmentalists and other critics of Pombo successfully painted the incumbent with GOP ethical lapses in Washington. The GOP will now try to turn the table on the Democrats and accuse them, as the majority party, of failing to hold members of their own party accountable.

Posted on Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007
Under: congressional district 11 | No Comments »

Schwarzenegger video of the week

Wow… was this really almost four years ago?

Previous SVOTWs: May 15, May 8, May 1, April 24, April 17, April 10, April 3, March 27, March 20, March 13, March 6, February 27, February 20, February 13, February 6, January 30.

Posted on Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger | No Comments »

Tribe sends out DeSaulnier mailers

In the wake of several mailers lauding the work of state Sen. Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians has sent out a flyer in the district of Assemblyman Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord.

The letter-sized, full-color mailer provides DeSaulnier’s phone number and urges residents to call and ask the legislator to support the tribe’s pending gaming compact. The Assembly is set to vote on six gaming compacts with Indian tribes.

“Take a stand for our schools!” it reads. “Call Assembly Member Mark DeSaulnier at 925-372-7990 and tell him to vote yes on AB266/SB174.” (In an ironic twist, the mailer also says, “Don’t let special interests stand in the way.” It’s interesting how “special interests” always apply to the other guy.)

Click here for a link to the state’s legislative bills database, where you may enter the bill number and obtain information about its contents and status.

DeSaulnier has been tepid, at best, about the compacts.

He has strong ties to labor unions, which oppose most of the compacts on the grounds that they roll back workers’ rights to organize. The tribes vigorously deny the charge, saying the unions have the same the rights to organize under the new compacts as they do under the existing ones.

The Concord lawmaker doesn’t like the fact that tribes are allowed to self-audit under the compacts.

And he’s personally queasy about the spread of gambling. His late father, a judge who committed suicide after being accused of corruption, suffered from a gambling addiction.

Add all DeSaulnier’s concerns together and it doesn’t sounds like a vote worth gambling on.

Posted on Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007
Under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Brown threatens lawsuit against EPA

California is preparing to sue the federal government if it blocks the state’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars, state Attorney General Jerry Brown told a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hearing yesterday.

California set vehicle emission standards tougher than federal regulations with a 2002 law requiring automakers to reduce vehicle global warming emissions 30 percent by 2016; Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington since have adopted the same standards.

“Together we represent one-third of the population of the United States, and the people of our 12 states want to act now to combat global warming. We are not willing to wait while President Bush offers only rhetoric, excuses and delays,” Brown said. “Suing the federal government is not our first choice, but we will have no choice if our legitimate efforts to protect our planet are blocked because of partisan political games in Washington.”

California filed its request for an EPA waiver, which in the past has always been routinely granted, in December 2005. Under the Clean Air Act, California can adopt stricter standards by requesting a waiver from EPA and such requests have been approved more than 50 times in the past. Approval of California’s waiver means the other states would get approval automatically.

“Our waiver request has been pending for a year and a half, which is an unreasonable delay,” Brown said. “Our patience is wearing thin. We watch the President and his EPA acting in collusion with the auto and oil industries, while we want to take reasonable, constructive steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We are now preparing to sue unless we receive our waiver within a short time.”

This is a bipartisan effort, he added: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in April said he would give the EPA 180 days to reach a final decision before California sues for the right to implement its law. And both Environmental Defense and the Natural Resources Defense Council today filed a notice of intent to sue the EPA over the California law as well.

Brown is scheduled to testify today before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, chaired by California’s own Barbara Boxer.

Posted on Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007
Under: Barbara Boxer, General, Global warming, Jerry Brown, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

Prison-reform activists target Perata

Prison-reform activists unhappy with the state’s $7.4 billion plan to build 53,000 new prison and jail beds will focus their ire upon state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, with a protest at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday outside his district office at 1515 Clay St. in Oakland.

Organized by Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB) — a statewide coalition of a few dozen groups calling for curbing prison spending by reducing the number of people in prison and closing prisons — the protestors are piqued that the Democrat-dominated Legislature and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger struck this deal without public hearings and debate, and the Legislature had no bill language before its vote. The deal doesn’t include adequate resources for rehabilitation efforts, they say.

Posted on Monday, May 21st, 2007
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, California State Senate, Don Perata, Sacramento | 1 Comment »

Jesse Jackson to visit Oakland

The Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. will be in town Tuesday, appearing at Allen Temple Baptist Church to hand out $75,000 in college scholarships from his Rainbow PUSH Coalition to 40 Bay Area students. The coalition hands out nearly $500,000 per year in such scholarships across the nation; this is the second year in which the “PUSH for Excellence” initiative has benefitted Bay Area kids.

Posted on Monday, May 21st, 2007
Under: General | No Comments »