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Archive for July, 2007

Governor signs Houston’s school bill

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed legislation authored by Assemblyman Guy Houston, R-San Ramon, that will make it easier for folks to volunteer at local schools.

Assembly Bill 774 calls for the creation of a local volunteer registry, that will allow people who volunteer for more than one school to obtain one background check rather than pay for multiple, redundant investigations.

“Our state has made it a priority to support before and after school programs in our schools,” Houston said. ” These programs need the help of volunteers in the community. We need to do our best to make the process for volunteering as quick and easy as possible.”

AB 774 earned the support of the Bay Area Partnership for Children and Youth, the California State Alliance of YMCAs, the California Teachers Association and the California State Parent-Teacher Association.

AB 774 will take effect on January 1, 2008.

Posted on Tuesday, July 31st, 2007
Under: California Legislature | No Comments »

Schwarzenegger video of the week

This week, the governor — as Mr. Freeze in 1997’s “Batman and Robin” — uses wintery terms that now could describe the state’s budget impasse…

If only he could “break the ice…”

Previous SVOTWs: July 24, July 17, July 10, July 3, June 26, June 19, June 12, June 5, May 29, May 22, 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, July 31st, 2007
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger | No Comments »

Canciamilla to lead fight against peripheral canal

Former assemblyman and state senate candidate Joe Canciamilla of Pittsburg will hold a press conference Wednesday morning to outline his grassroots plan to oppose Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposal to resurrect the peripheral canal.

Under the governor’s plan, a new “peripheral canal” would divert water around the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to pump water to Southern California. The governor has proposed the placement of a multi-million-dollar bond measure on an upcoming ballot, perhaps as early as February 2008.

The press conference starts at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the end of the parking lot for the Pittsburg Marina, 51 Marina Blvd.

Check out this story by Times reporter Rowena Coetsee on the Bethel Island Municipal Utility District’s recent decision to hire Canciamilla — at a fee of roughly $250 an hour — to help it negotiate with the county. Canciamilla is also a former county supervisor.

Posted on Tuesday, July 31st, 2007
Under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Sure, but can the kids spell ‘Schwarzenegger?’

The CHIME Charter Elementary School in Woodland Hills today was renamed in honor of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Part of the CHIME Institute, the Arnold Schwarzenegger Elementary School “implements a co-teaching model where general and special education teachers provide curriculum and learning experiences that meet the needs of all students,” according to a news release. It was named “Charter School of the Year” by the California Charter Schools Association in 2005, and in the same year was recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a leading model of inclusive education. Last year, the school hosted visitors from across the country and the world including from New York, Rhode Island, Korea, Japan, Australia and Scotland.

“I am honored to have a high-quality institution like CHIME Charter Elementary named in my honor. The CHIME Institute shares my commitment to educating all children,” the governor said in his release.

UPDATE @ 2:10 P.M. MONDAY: I almost forgot: today’s the governor’s 60th birthday!!! Maybe the CHIME kids will throw him a pizza party.

Posted on Monday, July 30th, 2007
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, General | No Comments »

Rudy picks Bay Area brains on health care

Three of the five health care policy advisors named today by Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani are from the Bay Area.

kessler.jpgDaniel Kessler is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a professor at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University, where he teaches courses on economics, public policy, and the health care industry. Among his recent publications are, with Mark McClellan, “The Effect of Hospital Ownership on Medical Productivity” and “Designing Hospital Antitrust Policy to Promote Social Welfare.” He is also a co-author of “Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Five Steps to a Better Health Care System.” He holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a J.D. from Stanford Law School.

atlas.jpgDr. Scott Atlas is a senior fellow by courtesy at the Hoover Institution and a professor of radiology and chief of neuroradiology at Stanford University Medical School. His research includes free market solutions to health care and looking at the effects of technology-based innovations in medicine. Earlier, Atlas was on the faculty of the University of California at San Francisco, the University of Pennsylvania, and Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. Among his recent publications are “Relationship between HMO Market Share and the Diffusion and Use of Advanced MRI Technologies,” and “Power to the Patient: Selected Health Care Issues and Policy Solutions.” Atlas has been named by his peers in The Best Doctors in America every year since its initial publication, The Best Doctors in New York, Silicon Valley’s Best Doctors, and Top 500 Doctors in the Bay Area. He holds a B.S. in biology from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and an M.D. from the University of Chicago School of Medicine.

pipes.jpgSally Pipes is president and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute, a conservative San Francisco-based think tank founded in 1979. Prior to becoming president in 1991, she was assistant director of the Fraser Institute in Vancouver, Canada. She writes, speaks, and gives invited testimony on health care issues; Hillsdale College published her essay on health care reform in the 2006 edition of Champions of Freedom, part of a volume on “Entrepreneurship and the Spirit of America.” Pipes serves on the Medical Advisory Council of Genworth Capital’s Long-term Care Insurance Division and on the board of advisors of the San Francisco Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society. She was a member of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s transition team in 2003-04. In 2005, Pipes was named one of the Top 10 Women in the Conservative Movement in America as published by Human Events.

The other advisers named today are Dr. David Gratzer, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of “The Cure: How Capitalism Can Save American Health Care;” and Donald Moran of The Moran Company health care research and consulting firm, a former U.S. Office of Management & Budget official under President Ronald Reagan.

Posted on Monday, July 30th, 2007
Under: Elections, Rudy Giuliani | No Comments »

McNerney describes Iraq visit

mcnerneyportrait.jpgRep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, just spoke to reporters on a conference call from Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany, after visiting Iraq as the leader of a six-member bipartisan freshman Congressional delegation.

“It’s given me a lot to think about — I see that they are making some progress in the parts of Iraq that we saw. I look forward to minimizing the amount of violence in Iraq and bringing our soldiers home soon,” he said. “I’m sure that the soldiers are doing the very best they can in a very, very difficult situation. … I’m sure they were careful to show us the regions where they’re having the most success. … I really don’t have an opinion about what’s going on in the rest of Iraq.”

“We need to put a timetable out there, it needs to make sense,” McNerney added — a plan to bring the troops home, so that the Iraqi government is compelled to unite and take over the task of securing the country. “I think we can work to find a way forward that would be bipartisan, that would accomodate the achievements they have had in the last four or five months.”

Arriving in Baghdad on a C-130 from Kuwait, he met first with officials including Gen. David Petraeus, who he said is working very hard and is “very optimistic about what’s happening in the conflict. … He’s concerned about being given enough rope to finish the job here.”

The lawmaker then rode a Blackhawk helicopter to Ramadi in Anbar province, which had been a hotspot for the insurgency, where he met with other high-ranking officers, saw local police patrolling the streets, and walked through the marketplace with a military escort. “They’re very proud of the work they’ve done in Ramadi and overall in the Anbar province,” he said. “The Sunni population has realized that al-Qaida is much less favorable to their day to day lives than what we’re offering them.”

After returning to Baghdad, he dined with six California soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division — some of whom were on their third tours of duty in Iraq — and also left the Green Zone to meet with the commanding general of all Iraqi forces. “He has the right words, he knows we’re concerned about their relationship with the different sects and about the sectarian violence.”

The delegation left Baghdad late last night and arrived early this morning in Germany, where members met with wounded soliders — some of whom said they wished they could return to Iraq, others who were too injured badly to speak.

Posted on Monday, July 30th, 2007
Under: Iraq, Jerry McNerney, U.S. House | 1 Comment »

McNerney returns from Iraq

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, is talking with reporters this moment via conference call from Germany, where he recently arrived after a trip to Iraq.

McNerney led a six-member bipartisan freshmen delegation over the weekend to Iraq to visit with Iraqi leaders and American troops.

As soon as the call concludes, I’ll report on what McNerney found on the ground in Iraq both in this blog and on our on-line and print newspages.


Elected just nine months ago, McNerney remains committed to a timeline for U.S. withdrawal of its troops from Iraq but expressed a willingness to be more flexible after spending the weekend visiting American troops and Iraqi leaders in Baghdad and Ramadi.

“If anything, I’m more willing to work to find a way forward,” McNerney told reporters during a 45-minute teleconference from Ramstein Air Base in Germany. “I think we can find a way forward that would be bipartisan.”

McNerney and his colleagues arrived in Baghdad Saturday night, where they stepped off a C-130 airplane into the stifling, 120-degree desert heat.

They had dinner Saturday with Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, whose mission, McNerney said, was to persuade lawmakers to give him time to do his job in Iraq.

“I was impressed with Petraeus’ confidence,” McNerney said. “… But he’s aware of the pressure in Congress that we need to end this thing. He had a lot of data to show the progress. He’s concerned about being given enough time to finish the job but he’s aware that we need to come to a resolution.”

On Sunday, the legislators flew via Blackhawk helicopter to Ramadi, a town 70 miles outside of Baghdad where U.S. troops have successfully ousted terrorist forces. The flight was uneventful, except for a couple of flares that briefly gave McNerney the sensation of being under fire.

Once in Ramadi, McNerney and the others walked with military escorts in an open-air market.

The troops have “made quite a bit of progress here, (Ramadi) ” McNerney said. “Of course, I’m sure (the military) cherry-picked the best places for us to see.”

McNeney also had dinner with six soldiers from California and met with Iraq Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih, an Iraqi Kurd.

The congressman described Salih as a “polished” politician who “said the right words. He knows we are are concerned about (the Iraqi leaders’) relationships with he different sects and the violence.” McNerney says he delivered a clear message to the Iraqi leaders: The U.S. cannot remain in Iraq forever and its leaders must step forward.

McNerney isn’t persuaded, however, that Iraq is ready to protect itself against a terrorist take-over in the absence of U.S. troops.

Iraqi leaders “sounded bravado and when you ask, they say ‘You can leave today, if you want to,’ ” McNerney said. “I didn’t get to talk to any Iraqi troops but I’m not as optimistic as I would like.”

He described the California soldiers as “being in good spirits … but they want the conflict over and they were ready to come home.” The soldiers used their time with the congressman to lobby for funding of better equipment such as light-weight body armor. One soldier from San Diego said he weighed 130 pounds without armor and 230 pounds with it.

The soldiers also talked with McNerney about California windmills; the congressman is a wind turbine expert who worked as a wind energy consultant prior to winning his seat in November. And he and a Sonoma soldier talked a little bit about wine.

The delegation flew late Sunday night to Ramstein Air Base in Germany, where the delegation visited wounded troops including a man who suffered a bullet injury through his jaw and another who who faced reconstruction of his leg.

The other members of the bipartisan delegation included Democratic congress members Tim Mahoney of Florida and Keith Ellison of Minnesota; and Republicans Mary Fallin from Oklahoma, Dean Heller from Nevada and Peter Peter Roskam from Illinois.

McNerney plans to write a short essay about his Iraq trip, which he said he will post on his House web site. He recently wrote a similar paper on his trip to Greenland as part of the House Science Committee.

Posted on Monday, July 30th, 2007
Under: congressional district 11 | No Comments »

We all scream for… prison reform. (And ice cream.)

Local residents and members of Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB) will gather to publicly protest California’s prison-expansion plan from 2 to 4 p.m. this Sunday in the Mosswood Park Amphitheatre, at Broadway and MacArthur Boulevard in Oakland. On tap: 53,000 paper dolls and a load of ice cream.

“I Scream (Ice Cream) Against Prison Expansion” will bring together local performers, youth, and other residents to continue work started in Los Angeles earlier this month to create 53,000 paper dolls to signify the 53,000 new prison and jail cells planned under a deal struck between lawmakers and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Two federal judges this week ordered the creation of a three-judge panel to consider placing a cap on the state’s prison population, basically rejecting the state’s claim that the prison-expansion deal will solve the state’s overcrowding problem.

Posted on Friday, July 27th, 2007
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, General | No Comments »

Progress for Tauscher’s deployment bill

tauscher2.jpgThe House Armed Services Committee today voted 32-25, with two members voting “present,” to approve Rep. Ellen Tauscher‘s bill to set minimum recuperation periods between deployments for troops serving in Iraq, clearing the way for a House floor vote next week.

H.R. 3159, which Tauscher, D-Alamo, introduced just this week, is the House version of an amendment (S.2012) offered earlier this month by U.S. Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., requiring that if a unit or member of a regular Armed Forces component deploys to Iraq, they will have the same time at home before they are redeployed. National Guard and Reserve troops couldn’t be redeployed to Iraq or Afghanistan for at least three years after their previous deployment. Tauscher chairs the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee.

“The Bush administration’s current strategy of multiple back-to-back deployments has stretched our military and is breaking our all-volunteer force. If we fail to act we do so at the expense of our military readiness. We need a posture that allows units adequate dwell time to recover, train and equip before their next assignment. If we do not fix this problem immediately, we will suffer massive recruitment and retention problems in the near future,” Tauscher said in a news release.

Also marked up by the committee today was H.R. 3087, of which Tauscher is an original co-sponsor, requiring the President within 60 days to send Congress a comprehensive strategy for redeployment of troops out of Iraq. This bill notes Congress’ original authorization for the war no longer has any resemblance to the current military mission in Iraq. Apparently far less contentious, this bill was passed by the committee on a 55-2 vote.

Posted on Friday, July 27th, 2007
Under: Ellen Tauscher, General, Iraq, U.S. House | No Comments »

Freitas still not ready to announce

Antioch Mayor Don Freitas promised to ponder his political future during his recent summer vacation and return refreshed with a decision as to whether he will seek re-election to his city seat, run for county supervisor or strike out for the Assembly.

A lot of people have an eyes on the mayor’s seat but they are waiting for Freitas to make his move.

And they are still waiting. Freitas says he will announce his decision September.

Posted on Friday, July 27th, 2007
Under: Contra Costa politics | No Comments »