McNerney McNuggets

mcnerneyportrait.jpg“Three, three, three tidbits of McNerney news for the price of one!!!”

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, today announced he’ll be the honorary chairman of an economic summit Aug. 22 at the University of the Pacific in Stockton at which business, education, transportation, and economic development experts from across the Central Valley and the Bay Area will discuss how to spur San Joaquin County’s economic growth.

“I am committed to helping create jobs in San Joaquin, particularly in the area of new energy technology,” McNerney said in a news release. “I spent my career before arriving in Congress working with wind energy and other forms of clean energy technology. I know that San Joaquin — with both man-made and natural attributes — is well-positioned to benefit from the expanding use, investment in, and development of these energy sources.”

The “2007 Economic Summit: Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Renewable Energy” summit is being organized by the Public Forum Institute. It aims to explore ideas — including tax incentives and reduced regulatory burdens — for empowering entrepreneurs and small businesses to locate or expand business in San Joaquin; identify promising opportunities for further development of renewable energy businesses; discuss creating “smart growth” guidelines for urban planning and affordable housing; and examine what’s needed to provide sufficient job training to local residents while investing more in science, mat, engineering and technology education to create a pipeline for high-tech and entrepreneurial jobs. McNerney will kick it off with an opening address before panel discussions get underway.

Two more McNuggets after the jump… Continue Reading


House members urge Cheney fish probe

All Bay Area House members except Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, were among 36 California and Oregon lawmakers who wrote yesterday to House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall, D-W.V., requesting a Congressional probe of Vice President Dick Cheney‘s role in the diversion of water from the Klamath River Basin. The diversion preceded the largest commercial salmon fishing disaster in U.S. history and devastated commercial and recreational fishing in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties in 2002.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that Cheney had pressured mid-level bureaucrats in the Department of the Interior to divert water from the Klamath River Basin to benefit Republican political prospects among Oregon farmers.

“This smells as bad as 80,000 dead salmon,” said Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, a House Energy and Commerce Committee member. “Those who depend on salmon for their livelihood, including many of my constituents, deserve to know exactly what the Vice President did to implement a water policy that circumvented the Endangered Species Act and devastated commercial, sport and tribal fishing in California and Oregon.”

The call comes even as the White House refuses to comply with Congressional subpoenas for documents and testimony relating to the firings of federal prosecutors last year, setting up a potential constitutional confrontation over its claim of executive privilege.

The 2002 salmon die-off still resonates; in 2006, low salmon eturns to the Klamath forced the closure of most Pacific Coast commercial and recreational salmon fishing, hurting fishermen at San Mateo County’s Pillar Point Harbor. Lawmakers pressed Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez to declare a fishing disaster for the West Coast, and last month secured $60 million to help the industry recover.


Nurses plan “SiCKo” premiere blitz

Registered nurses, doctors, and healthcare and community activists will be outside theaters in more than 100 U.S. cities tomorrow night for the mass-market opening of “SiCKo,” director Michael Moore‘s indictment of the U.S. healthcare system. More than 20,000 RNs have already volunteered to participate, and an effort is afoot to get one million nurses to see the film.

Here in the Bay Area, California Nurses Association members will be outside Oakland’s Grand Lake Theater and San Francisco’s Empire West Portal Theater at 7 p.m. Friday, urging moviegoers to move “From SiCKO to Sanity” and act on the outrage they’re likely to feel after seeing the film by supporting HR 676, a House bill which would establish a publicly-administered single-payer healthcare system in the form of improved Medicare for all. (It’s similar to California’s SB 840.)


Bay Area activist faints in Lieberman’s office

CodePink activist Leslie Angeline, 50, of Santa Rosa, fainted today during the 15th day of her hunger strike protesting the continued refusal of U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., to meet with her.

She launched the effort earlier this month after Lieberman appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation” and said “I think we’ve got to be prepared to take aggressive military action against the Iranians to stop them from killing Americans in Iraq.” Angeline, who’d recently returned from Iran as part of a delegation organized by the human-rights group Global Exchange, has said she’s determined to prevent a U.S. war against Iran.

The Hill reported Angeline was being treated for dehydration at George Washington University Hospital. Lieberman’s staff has not yet responded to my e-mailed request for a comment.

UPDATE @ 5:30 P.M. THURSDAY: Here’s the video of Angeline that CodePink just posted to YouTube:


Stark wants to bar Medicare Advantage gouging

pete-stark.jpgRep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, chairman of the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, today introduced the Medicare Advantage Truth in Advertising Act, a bill which would prohibit Medicare Advantage plans — private plans which receive payments from Medicare — from charging seniors and people with disabilities more than traditional Medicare would for any service.

“Medicare Advantage plans don’t live up to their name,” Stark said in a news release. “Though seniors and people with disabilities wouldn’t know it from the never-ending stream of insurance propaganda, Medicare Advantage plans charge more than traditional Medicare for a large number of services – everything from home health care to hospital stays and chemotherapy drugs to durable medical equipment. The Medicare Advantage Truth in Advertising Act protects beneficiaries by ensuring they won’t face higher out of pocket costs in private plans than they do in Medicare.”

Stark’s bill would continue to permit flat co-payments — which private plans charge for certain benefits or services in lieu of deductibles or co-insurance in traditional Medicare — but those charges could never exceed Medicare’s charges, as Stark says they often now do.

“While MA plans are required to cover everything that Medicare covers, they do not have to cover every benefit in the same way,” said National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare president Barbara Kennelly. “For example, private plans may create financial barriers to care by imposing higher cost-sharing requirements for benefits that protect the sickest and most vulnerable beneficiaries. Preventing private plans from imposing greater cost-sharing requirements than traditional Medicare would better protect beneficiaries from higher and unexpected out-of-pocket costs.”

And marketing agents have been found to lie about MA premiums and physician participation in private plans, Stark claims. They’ve also taken advantage of individuals with serious language barriers or cognitive impairments and enrolled beneficiaries who thought they were signing up for new Medigap plans in Medicare Advantage. “Press reports confirm that a number of beneficiaries have joined such plans with little or no understanding that their out-of-pocket expenses may actually be higher, rather than lower compared to traditional Medicare,” said Bill Vaughan, Senior Policy Analyst at Consumers Union.


McIntosh drops out of AD14 race

Democrat Lesa McIntosh, a member of the East Bay Municipal Utility District board and a former Richmond councilwoman, has unexpectedly dropped out of the Assembly District 14 race.

“I came to my senses,” McIntosh said. “Why would I run for a seat that I’m hoping won’t be available?”

McIntosh is referring to her support for a ballot measure headed for the February 2008 primary ballot that would alter term limits and allow incumbent Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, run for re-election.

Under the current rules, Hancock will term out of the Assembly and run for the state Senate. If the ballot measure passes, Hancock could serve and additional six years in the Assembly. Hancock has said she will run for her Assembly seat if the voters permit it.

McIntosh, a bankruptcy attorney, says she called a time-out a few weeks ago and began pondering the question of whether or not she wanted to run. It’s always better, she said, to call off the wedding before you are walking down the aisle.

Instead, she intends to work on the campaign to help pass the term limits measure.

But if the voters say no to term limit changes in February McIntosh says she won’t rule out her candidacy.

“If the measure fails, I will decide in February who I will endorse and who knows, I might run for it myself,” she said. “But we’ll see what shakes out in February.”

That leaves just one officially declared candidate in Assembly District 14, Richmond City Councilman Tony Thurmond.

However, several others have said they will consider running including East Bay Regional Parks Director Nancy Skinner, Berkeley city councilmembers Kriss Worthington and Darryl Moore, West Contra Costa Unified School District Trustee Charles Ramsey and Richmond Councilman Jim Rogers.