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Archive for April, 2008

Stark, Miller help pitch federal paid leave bill

House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Martinez; House Ways and Means Health Subcomittee Chairman Pete Stark, D-Fremont; Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma; and Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-NY, today introduced the “Family Leave Insurance Act of 2008,” which would provide workers 12 weeks of paid leave for maternity or paternity; to care for a sick family member; to recover from an illness; or to deal with emergencies related to someone’s armed-services deployment.

That’s substantially more than the 12 weeks of unpaid leave now provided by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, or the six weeks of paid leave available under California’s state law.

pete-stark.jpgStark said there’s a lot of talk about family values in Washington, and now it’s “time for Congress to… take action that families will actually value. The Family and Medical Leave Act has been a tremendous success, but many workers cannot afford to take unpaid leave.”

Miller said millions have taken unpaid leave under FMLA, but “millions more are put in the impossible position of choosing between paying their bills and dealing with an illness or welcoming a new child to the family. Americans shouldn’t have to make that choice.”

miller.jpg“Family-friendly policies like guaranteed paid leave not only help parents balance work and family, but also improve employers’ bottom lines,” he continued. “When workers have the ability to take advantage of these family-friendly policies, their employers benefit from increased recruitment and retention rates, decreased absenteeism and improved productivity.”

Per Stark’s news release, the bill would:

  • Provide all workers with 12 weeks of paid leave over a 12-month period to care for a new child, provide for an ill family member, treat their own illness, or deal with an exigency caused by the deployment of a member of the military;
  • Provide these benefits through a new trust fund that is financed equally by employers and employees, who will each contribute 0.2% of the employee’s pay;
  • Let self-employed workers opt in by paying both the employer and employee premiums;
  • Progressively tier the benefits so that a low-wage worker (earning less than $30,000) will receive full or near full salary replacement, middle-income workers ($30,000- $60,000) receive 55% wage replacement, and higher earners (over $60,000) receive 40-45%, with the benefit capped at approximately $800 per week;
  • Administer the program through the Department of Labor which will contract with states to administer the program (similar to how the Unemployment Insurance program is run); and
  • Let states and businesses with materially equivalent or better benefits opt out of the program.
  • Posted on Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008
    Under: George Miller, Lynn Woolsey, Pete Stark | 1 Comment »

    Dems unveil anti-Andal web site

    The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee unveiled today its first frontal assault on presumed GOP Congressional District 11 nominee Dean Andal, the man (pictured on the right) expected to challenge incumbent Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, in the November general election.

    Not surprisingly, the site,, paints Andal as an uber-conservative.

    The Republican equivalent organization, the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, has had its site up for months targeting McNerney. (Pictured on bottom right.)
    Its site,, calls McNerney a leftwinger who votes lockstep with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. (It’s part of a slate of similar sites targeting freshmen Democrats elected in the 2006 wave.)

    Read more for the DCCC’s press release today:

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted on Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008
    Under: 2008 November election, Congress, congressional district 11 | No Comments »

    Schwarzenegger video of the week

    This week, an unsettling vision of science run amok…

    “My nipples are very sensitive.” Arrrrrrrrrgggggh.

    Previous SVOTWs: April 15, April 8, April 1, March 25, March 18, March 11, March 4, February 26, February 19, February 12, February 5, January 29, January 22, January 15, January 8, January 1, December 25, December 18, December 11, December 4, November 27, November 20, November 13, November 6, October 30, October 23, October 16, October 9, October 2, September 25, September 18, September 11, September 4, August 28, August 21, August 7, July 31, 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, April 22nd, 2008
    Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger | No Comments »

    Anti-SLAPP motion filed in CNA v. SEIU war

    The Service Employees International Union today asked the Alameda County Superior Court to vacate a temporary restraining order filed against it and its president, Andy Stern, last week at the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee‘s behest.

    The SEIU has filed a motion to vacate the TRO, as well as a separate motion under California’s anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) law. The latter motion is necessary, the SEIU claims, because the CNA/NNOC sought the restraining order solely “to smear SEIU and Mr. Stern in the national media and to chill free speech by SEIU members and supporters.” The anti-SLAPP motion, if successful, would result in the whole case being thrown out of court and would let the SEIU recover attorneys’ fees.

    From the CNA’s news-release response:

    CNA/NNOC attorney Pam Allen noted that free speech is very different than the actions employed by SEIU bands who have gone to the nursing stations of CNA/NNOC leaders looking for them and demanding home addresses and phone numbers, following them in cars, pounding on their doors, pointing video cameras in their faces, screaming at them, and refusing to leave until being told the police were on the way.

    In a statement to the court, Margie Keenan, RN, a CNA/NNOC Board member described one such visit to her home which also included visits by SEIU to the nursing floor in the Long Beach hospital where she works.

    At her home “they began yelling loudly, demanding that I come and speak with them in a very aggressive, boisterous manner. I became very scared, as they continued yelling and pounding on my door, so I dialed 911 and asked the operator to dispatch police as soon as possible. While I was waiting for the police to arrive, I climbed the stairs to the second floor of my house and went quietly to a balcony to wait for the police. After several minutes, they began to leave, then saw me on the balcony and began yelling again. I went immediately back into the house and waited for the police to arrive. By the time the police came, the intruders were gone.

    “I was very frightened by the approach at my home because it was extremely aggressive and hostile, and I live alone. Shortly after they left my house, I received a telephone call on my home phone and the caller asked for me by name. I recognized the voice as one of the intruders and immediately hung up the phone. She later learned of the visit to her nursing floor.

    “I felt very unsettled and frightened by these events, so much so that I did not feel able to report to work (the following two days) which were my next scheduled days of work. I called in sick both of those days and learned over the weekend of a number of events that have only increased my fear and concern for my personal safety,” Keenan declared.

    The SEIU’s news release claims Alameda County Superior Court Commissioner Jon Rantzman this afternoon said he was “strongly of the belief” that the TRO doesn’t pass muster under the state’s Labor Code, and gave the CNA one day — until 3 p.m. tomorrow, Tuesday, April 22 — to respond to the motion to vacate before he makes a ruling.

    The unions are at war over accusations that the CNA/NNOC has been trying to poach SEIU’s current or potential nurse members. The CNA/NNOC says SEIU teams recently have targeted CNA/NNOC leaders in nursing stations, harassed them at home, and followed cars.

    Posted on Monday, April 21st, 2008
    Under: General | 2 Comments »

    SEIU fires back at CNA with lawsuit of its own

    The Service Employees International Union filed suit today against arch rival California Nurses Association in the two group’s ongoing and nasty dispute over labor practices.

    The two unions have been at odds over recruiting and organizing tactics for nurses and the fracas devolved into a shoving match at a labor conference in Michigan and unwelcome visits by SEIU representatives to the homes of California CNA leaders.

    Unless national union leaders step in and broker some of deal between these warring factions, this fight will play out in California courtroom.

    Click here for CNA’s specific web site on the dispute.

    Read on for SEIU’s latest press release and a link to its dedicated web site on the matter:

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted on Monday, April 21st, 2008
    Under: Labor politics | No Comments »

    Lakoff’s Rockridge Institute is shutting down

    (Hat tip to Frank Russo’s California Progress Report.)

    The Rockridge Institute, a Berkeley-based progressive political language think tank co-founded by noted linguist George Lakoff, is shutting its doors. From its Web site:

    The Rockridge Institute was formed to address a set of challenges: The right-wing think tanks, after spending 35 years and 4 billion dollars, had come to dominate public debate. They had done this by framing Big Ideas their way: the nature of government, the market, taxation, security, morality, responsibility, accountability, character, nature, even life. This allowed them to then frame lower-level issues, special cases like terrorism, Iraq, education, health care, retirement, stem-cell research, the death penalty, affirmative action, and on and on.

    Our challenge was to figure out exactly how they had achieved such dominance over the minds of Americans and what progressives could do—not just how to respond case by special case, but how to do the Big Job: to reframe the Big Ideas governing our politics.


    [W]e have not done the Big Job, not even close. The conservatives’ Big Ideas about government, taxes, security, the market, and the rest still dominate political discourse. Democrats in Congress still cringe at attacks based on these Big Ideas, and many have been intimidated into voting for conservative policies—on funding for Iraq, on government spying without a warrant, on taxes, on bankruptcy, and on and on. The Big Idea intimidation is still working. Changing that is the Big Job.

    We at Rockridge have used the physical think tank form to get us this far. We’ve made important advances in understanding and articulating political cognition. We have done more in-depth studies than most people have the time to read, and we know what has to be done to tackle the Big Job. But we also realize that no small non-profit think tank can do significantly more of the Big Job than we have already done. That will take a large-scale, well-funded progressive cognitive infrastructure.

    In the end, they just couldn’t raise the funds to continue; they’re shutting down as of April 30.

    Posted on Monday, April 21st, 2008
    Under: Berkeley, General | No Comments »

    Rockridge Institute to close April 30

    The Rockridge Institute, a Berekely based progressive think-tank formed to combat its better funded conservative counterparts, is closing its doors due to lack of money.

    The institute was founded by UC Berkeley linguist professor and author George Lakoff, who gained fame after Democrats tapped into his “framing” concept in the book, “Don’t Think of An Elephant.” Framing is the study of how individual worldview affects thought.

    Here’s what the institute sent out this morning in an e-mail announcement:
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted on Monday, April 21st, 2008
    Under: books, Democratic politics, Political studies, Think tanks | 9 Comments »

    Got questions for primary candidates? Send ’em over

    I’m busy prepping the next two days to moderate six televised election round-tables on Wednesday, which will air on CCTV and be available on our web site. (Each will be 30 minutes.)

    If you could ask the questions in the following races, what would you ask? I’d love to hear from you.

    — Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors District 3 (candidates are Mary Nejedly Piepho and Guy Houston)

    — Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors District 5 (candidates are Federal Glover, Erik Nunn, Don Parscal, Gary Agopian and Mary Rocha)

    — Assembly District 14, Democratic primary (candidates are Nancy Skinner, Tony Thurmond, Phil Polakoff and Kriss Worthington)

    — Assembly District 15, Republican primary (candidates are Judy Lloyd, Abram Wilson, Scott Kamena and Robert Rao)

    — Assembly District 15, Democratic primary (candidates are Joan Buchanan, Ted Ford)

    — Propositions 98 and 99, competing measures on eminent domain and rent control

    Posted on Monday, April 21st, 2008
    Under: 2008 June primary | No Comments »

    Final Bay Area GOP Assembly seat flips to Dems

    The only Bay Area Assembly seat with a Republican party registration advantage has turned blue.

    Sometime between Jan. 22 and April 4 — the dates of the two most recent registration reports issued by the California Secretary of State — the numbers of Democrats in Assembly District 15 overtook Republicans.

    As of April 4, there were 110,577 Democrats, a lead of 2,664 voters over Republicans at 107,913.

    On Jan. 22, Republicans had a slim, 272-voter margin with 106,983 members compared with 106,711 for Democrats.

    Interestingly, registration in both parties rose in Assembly District 15 in the same time period while Republicans lost members statewide. (Click here to see the statewide figures.)

    In October 2006, prior the re-election of Assemblyman Guy Houston, R-San Ramon, Republicans had a 2 percentage point registration advantage. (Click here to see a map of the district, which includes the San Ramon Valley and portions of far eastern Contra Costa County.)

    Houston is the last remaining Republican left in a Bay Area partisan elected seat and he will term out this year (He’s running for Contra Costa County supervisor against incumbent Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho.)

    Why has this happened?

    Until I do further reporting, I can’t say with total certainty but a couple of things immediately come to mind.

    Obviously, Democrats are charged up about the presidential election and the chance to take the White House.

    And second, the local Democratic clubs of the area have displayed extraordinary stamina when it comes to putting volunteers out at local farmer’s markets and post offices to register voters.

    Anyone have any other ideas? I’m curious why GOP registration rose in AD15 while it went down statewide.

    Posted on Friday, April 18th, 2008
    Under: California Legislature, Democratic politics, Republican politics | No Comments »

    Young political junkies: Win a chance to cover conventions

    Want to cover the two national political conventions late this summer?

    Sí TV and Voto Latino are holding competition called Crash The Parties to select two young people — you must be age 18 to 28 as of May 6 — who want to work as reporters covering the Democratic convention in Denver from Aug. 24-28 or Republican convention in St. Paul on Sept. 1-4.

    Click here for the contest rules.

    You can compete in person in San Jose on May 1 or upload your video. Read on for the full press release which explains how to enter the contest.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted on Friday, April 18th, 2008
    Under: 2008 presidential election | No Comments »