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Archive for June, 2007

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… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, June 29th, 2007
Under: General, Jerry McNerney, U.S. House | 1 Comment »

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.

Posted on Thursday, June 28th, 2007
Under: Anna Eshoo, Barbara Lee, Ellen Tauscher, General, George Miller, Jerry McNerney, Lynn Woolsey, Mike Honda, Nancy Pelosi, Pete Stark, Tom Lantos, U.S. House, Vice President Dick Cheney, Zoe Lofgren | No Comments »

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.)

Posted on Thursday, June 28th, 2007
Under: General | No Comments »

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:

Posted on Thursday, June 28th, 2007
Under: General, Iran, Iraq, Joe Lieberman, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

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.

Posted on Thursday, June 28th, 2007
Under: Pete Stark, U.S. House | 2 Comments »

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.

Posted on Thursday, June 28th, 2007
Under: Election 2008 | No Comments »

Labor leader wins post on state fire board

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger just can’t seem to hold a grudge, can he?

Today, he appointed California Professional Firefighters President, Democrat and Walnut Creek resident Lou Paulson to the State Board of Fire Services.

Paulson was a serious thorn in the governor’s side during the 2005 special election, where unions statewide fought Schwarzenegger’s ballot measures with unprecedented ferocity and huge success. And the California Professional Firefighters spent big bucks helping Schwarzenegger’s opponent, Phil Angelides, in the 2006 governor’s race, although with far less success.

What’s next? California Nurses Association chief Rose Ann DeMoro appointed to the state nursing board?

For those who need a reminder, DeMoro’s organization sent uniformed nurses to protest outside the governor’s numerous appearances, a move that significantly diminished Schwarzenegger’s public shine and helped lead to the defeat of his 2005 ballot measures.

The Fire Services board position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no salary.

Posted on Thursday, June 28th, 2007
Under: State politics | No Comments »

Judge affirms ruling in Houston civil suit

An Alameda County Superior Court judge on Thursday morning affirmed her earlier decision to allow a civil lawsuit to proceed against Assemblyman Guy Houston, R-San Ramon.

In the nearly three-year-old lawsuit, elderly investors Gerald Stefanski, Samuel and Joann Story, and Carol Tomasa argue that Houston should be held liable for the $340,000 they lost when their investments with Fred Houston, the assemblyman’s father, went sour.

Houston has adamantly denied involvement in his father’s business dealings and has called the case politically motivated. It was filed shortly before his 2004 re-election campaign.

Houston’s attorney, Michael Rupprecht, had asked the judge to dismiss the case, arguing in court documents that the lawsuit lacked merit.

Judge Winifred Smith denied Rupprecht’s motion but she made her ruling based on procedural matters, not on the details of the lawsuit.

That leaves the door open for Rupprecht to seek a continuation of the Sept. 14 trial date, which, if granted, would allow him to file further motions asking the court to toss out the case.

Click here for Tuesday’s full story on the details of the lawsuit.

Posted on Thursday, June 28th, 2007
Under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Oakland’s “green collar” job inspires federal bill

The House Education and Labor Committee in the past hour passed legislation inspired, in part, by Oakland’s recently approved “Green Jobs Corps,” a program that trains workers in alternative fuels fields such as wind energy.

“The Oakland program brought to our attention that we need to provide incentives that focus on training people in these cutting-edge fields,” said committee chairman and Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, reached after the vote by telephone. “If you look at the money that venture capitalists are putting into these green companies, it’s very clear there will be a wave of opportunity for workers. The question is whether we’ll have the skills to do the jobs.”

The Green Jobs Act of 2007 (HR 2847) provides up to $125 million as a down payment on the formation of a national and state “green collar” job training program administered by the U.S. Department of Labor. Potential fields include the construction of energy efficient building, renewable electric power, energy efficient vehicles and biofuels development.

“California will absolutely be a hot spot for these training programs,” Miller said. “We’ve always been on the cutting edge of technology.”

The Green Jobs Act will become part of a larger energy package comprised of actions from other committees that Democrats will consider on the floor of the House after the July 4 break, Miller said.

Posted on Wednesday, June 27th, 2007
Under: Congress | No Comments »

McCain: “I see dead donors”

GOP presidential hopeful John McCain, a U.S. senator from Arizona, admits he’s been having trouble raising cash but reaching beyond the grave for contributions seems excessive.

A fundraising letter arrived today in the newsroom of the Contra Costa Times addressed to Margaret Lesher, inviting her to join the Patriot’s Circle, a high-level group of campaign insiders. Members who contribute $100 or more will receive a copy of a limited edition commemorative series of three photographs of McCain that depict his service the Navy and the Senate and his family.

Lesher has little use for commemorative pictures or, for that matter, a United States president.

As locals will remember, Lesher died of a tragic drowning in May 1997 in an Arizona lake. She was connected to the Times because she was the wife of the newspaper’s late owner, Dean Lesher.

A McCain campaign spokeman said, “We apologize for the mistake. It was a flawed list and we’re working to remedy the situation immediately.”

This is far from the first time that a campaign has mailed solicitations to deceased folks.

All campaigns from presidential to congressional to state and local races typically rent address lists compiled by outside companies. Mailing lists are notoriously flawed because people move, change their party registrations or die every day. It’s impossible for the campaigns to check every name, especially for national or statewide races.

But this seems like a pretty bad list.

Not only has Lesher been dead 10 years but died in McCain’s own state of Arizona. And she hasn’t used the newspaper as a mailing address since 1995, when the Leshers sold the newspaper to Knight-Ridder.

Posted on Wednesday, June 27th, 2007
Under: Election 2008 | No Comments »