Barbara Lee: We’re not getting enough HUD help

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has released a formula that determines funding levels for communities decimated by the foreclosure crisis, with an estimated $10.3 million directed to Alameda County and $8.2 million of that reserved for Oakland.

And Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, isn’t happy.

“Though I am pleased we were able to secure this much needed funding for our communities being devastated by the foreclosure crisis, I remain concerned about the overall California allocation,” she said in a release issued this afternoon. “Several of my colleagues and I have written a letter to HUD Secretary Steve Preston calling for a review of the formula and asking that it be adjusted to recognize the devastating impact of the foreclosure crisis in the state of California.”

Under H.R. 3221, the Foreclosure Prevention Act signed into law July 30, HUD will disperse $3.92 billion in CDBG funding nationwide with $145 million in funding going to California; the money is to be used to buy and rehabilitate foreclosed properties that have been vacant for more than 90 days, as a means of restoring home values and reducing blight and crime in hard-hit neighborhoods.

Yet, Lee notes, California is slated to receive $12 million less of this CDBG funding than Florida.

Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, Assemblymember Sandré Swanson and Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson are on board with Lee’s call for a re-examination of the funding formula. (It’s not surprising to see all of them on the same page, as Lee, Swanson and Carson all worked for Dellums when he held the 9th Congressional District seat Lee now occupies.)

“With regards to the issue of foreclosures, anyone familiar with this crisis knows that the city of Oakland and the county of Alameda have been hit extremely hard,” Dellums said in Lee’s release. “Many of Oakland’s neighborhoods have been devastated by this crisis, and I join my colleagues in expressing our disappointment in what appears to be a fundamentally flawed and unfair formula.”

Said Carson: “California has the second highest foreclosure rate in the country, second only to Nevada. The HUD allocation of $2 million does not adequately address the needs of working families in our communities who are struggling to hold onto their property.”

And Swanson agreed time is of the essence “in dealing with long-vacant foreclosed properties. Increasing blight attracts crime, bringing down property values, and straining local police services that are often stretched too thin already. Given the incredibly high rate of foreclosures in the State, it is imperative that HUD reexamines its funding formula to ensure that California receives the funds it needs to properly address this crisis.”


Schwarzenegger video of the week

This week, a Brazilian television ad Arnold Schwarzenegger did some years ago for CCAA (Centro de Cultura Anglo Americana), which teaches English and Spanish:

So I guess we should’ve expected Schwarzenegger’s support of English immersion over bilingual education…

Previous SVOTWs: September 23, September 16, September 9, September 2, August 26, August 19, August 12, August 5, July 29, July 22, July 8, July 1, June 24, June 17, June 10, June 3, May 27, May 20, May 13, May 6, April 29, April 22, 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.


Wall Street money parallels today’s bailout votes

I’ve got an article up containing statements from Bay Area House members on why they voted for or against the $700 billion financial-market bailout bill today, but here’s a fascinating factoid.

The data-digging geniuses at Berkeley-based MAPLight.org — illuminating the connections between Money And Politics — found that over the past five years banks and securities firms gave an average of $231,877 in campaign contributions to each Representative voting in favor of the bailout today, compared with an average of $150,982 to each Representative voting against the bailout. That’s 54 percent more money given to those who voted for this legislation.

MAPLight found the 140 House Democrats voting “yes” received an average of $212,700 each, about twice as much as the average $107,993 for the 95 House Democrats who voted “no.” On the other side of the aisle, the 65 House Republicans voting “yes” received an average of $273,181 each, about 50 percent more than the average $181,688 for the 133 House Republicans voting “no.”

“Profit-driven companies wouldn’t be making campaign contributions if it didn’t buy them influence or access,” MAPLight executive director Daniel Newman said in a news release. “Votes in Congress align with the river of money that flows through our political system.”

UPDATE @ 6:06 P.M.: The Center for Responsive Politics has a similar analysis going back even further, to 1989.


Yes on 8 campaign launches first TV ad

The campaign for Proposition 8, the proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, launched its first television ad today:

Said Yes on 8 co-campaign manager Frank Schubert: “For weeks, the No on 8 campaign has had the field to themselves, with thinly veiled ‘issue advocacy’ ads and an outrageously biased rewriting of the ballot Title & Summary by the Attorney General. Despite this, internal polling for both campaigns shows the race is very much up for grabs. Now, with the launch of our first television ad, voters finally get to hear the rest of the story. The debate will begin to shift to the very real consequences to California because of the Supreme Court’s action.”

A Field Poll of 830 likely voters conducted Sept. 5-14 found voter opposition to the measure had increased since July, with 55 percent intending to vote no and 38 percent intending to vote yes; the poll had a 3.5-percentage-point margin of error. And a Public Policy Institute of California poll of 1,157 likely voters conducted Sept. 9-16 found similar numbers — 55 percent yes, 41 percent no 55 percent no, 41 percent yes — with a 3-percentage-point margin of error.

The No on 8 campaign launched its first ad a week ago.


Pete Stark: Bush not worth ‘$700 billion gamble’

Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, entered a statement today in opposition to the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, the $700 billion financial-industry bailout bill cobbled together by Congress in recent days, and is voting against it even now. Here’s what Stark had to say:

“Madam Speaker, I rise today to oppose H.R. 3997, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008.

“President Bush tells us that we face unparalleled financial doom if this $700 billion bailout is not approved today. He and his Treasury Secretary — a former Wall Street fat cat — tell us that we have reached the point of ‘crisis.’ That is a familiar line from this President. It sounds like the disastrous rush to war in Iraq and the subsequent stampede to enact the Patriot Act. As I opposed the Iraq War and the Patriot Act, I stand in opposition to his latest rush to judgment.

“We are not in a sudden crisis. It has been building over the past 8 years of the Bush Administration. Lax oversight of the financial industry ballooned into a house of cards.

“Homeowners throughout the country have seen property values decline as their mortgage rates adjusted upward. As a result, millions of people across our country have already lost their homes to foreclosure and many more are on the way.

“It is easy to blame consumers for purchasing homes they couldn’t afford. However, these consumers weren’t informed of the extreme risk they were assuming. Creative financiers invented a market for these risky mortgages and preyed upon consumers by peddling the American dream of homeownership to make that market flourish.

“While those were poor choices by consumers, they pale in comparison to the irresponsible bets made on Wall Street. These mortgages and their declining collateral values are the root of this financial crisis.

“We now face a choice. President Bush tells us we must inject $700 billion into this market to avoid a total meltdown. He and Secretary Paulson say it is the only answer. Many economists — who don’t have a financial stake in Wall Street or an eight-year record of bad decisions — tell us it isn’t the only choice. An option would be to assist homeowners with their mortgage payments. By making sure these mortgages remain viable, the market should stabilize.

“The bill before us today is basically the same three-page Wall Street give away first put forth by President Bush. The fig leaf adjustments are not enough to outweigh the fact that no one knows if this bill is what’s needed. I’m not willing to make a $700 billion gamble that President Bush is right after eight years of seeing all that he’s done wrong.”

That’s a big break with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, who was doing all she could today to get the bill passed. See her floor statement, after the jump… Continue Reading


This week in big-time campaign cash

Topping this week’s roundup of big ($25,000 or more) spenders on California campaigns and committees is the $1.25 million that Equality California dumped Wednesday into the campaign against Proposition 8, the proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

Other notable No on 8 contributions this week included $500,000 Tuesday from GeoCities cofounder, venture capitalist and philanthropist David Bohnett of Beverly Hills; $250,000 Wednesday from the Service Employees International Union’s California State Council; $100,000 Monday from San Francisco’s Robert Haas, chairman emeritus of Levi Strauss Inc.; $70,000 Saturday from the National Center for Lesbian Rights; $50,000 Saturday from Anita May Rosenstein of Beverly Hills, a philanthropist and and founder of AR Asset Management Inc.; $25,000 Monday from Vinik Asset Management CEO Mark Hostetter of Boston; $25,000 Tuesday from Johnson Family Foundation chairman James Johnson of New York City; and $25,000 Wednesday from Angle Slate Inc. of Los Angeles.

Fieldstead & Co. — the personal philanthropic organization through which banking heir Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson Jr. funds conservative causes — put up $300,000 Wednesday to support Proposition 8, bringing its total thus far to $900,000. Other contributions supporting Proposition 8 this week included $100,000 Monday from the Brea-based Evangelical Christian Credit Union; $100,000 Tuesday from Los Altos retiree Joseph Moran; and then $25,000 each Tuesday from former teacher Susan Facer of Rancho Palos Verdes, retired Safeway executive and former Oakland Mormon Temple president Lorenzo Hoopes, Atherton property manager Parley Livingston, and Jaquetia Zinn of San Jose. Laura Armstrong of Irvine gave $25,000 Wednesday to support the measure.

The Democratic State Central Committee of California gave a total of $288,473 Monday and Tuesday to Manuel Perez‘s campaign for the 80th Assembly District seat; $164,500 Thursday to Fran Florez‘s campaign for the 30th Assembly District; and $130,000 Tuesday to former Assemblywoman Hannah Beth Jackson‘s campaign for the 19th State Senate District seat. The Santa Barbara County Democratic Central Committee kicked in $28,000 Thursday for Jackson’s campaign.

The Burlingame-based California Teachers Association gave $350,000 Monday to oppose Proposition 4, the proposed state constitutional amendment which would require doctors to inform the parent or guardian of a minor 48 hours before providing an abortion to that minor. That same day, the New Haven, Conn.-based Knights of Columbus gave $200,000 Monday to support the measure.

Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital anted up $347,812.50 Monday to support Proposition 3, which would authorize almost $1 billion in bonds to be repaid from state’s General Fund to pay for construction, expansion, remodeling, renovation, furnishing and equipping of children’s hospitals.

The New York City-based Fund for Animals and the Washington, D.C.-based Humane Society of the United States each gave $250,000 Tuesday to the campaign for Proposition 2, which would prohibit confinement of certain farm animals in ways that doesn’t let them turn freely, lie down, stand up and fully extend their limbs; Gil Michaels of Beverly Hills, owner of GNM Financial Services, gave $50,000 Monday, while retired hedge fund manager Michelle Thomson of Philadelphia and Merriman Curhan Ford & Co. of San Francsico each gave $25,000 Thursday. Ponying up against Proposition 2 this week was the California Grocers Association, which gave $25,000 Wednesday.

The Service Employees International Union’s California State Council gave $200,000 Tuesday to the joint campaign to defeat Proposition 6 and Proposition 9. Proposition 6 is a tough-on-crime package including adult prosecution for gang-related criminals 14 and up; annual criminal background checks for public housing residents; harsher bail conditions and penalties for certain crimes; and so on. Proposition 9 would expand crime victims’ rights including restitution.

The campaign for Proposition 1A, the $10 billion bond measure for high-speed rail, got two big contributions this week: $25,000 each Tuesday from the American Council of Engineering Companies California and from the Members’ Voice of the State Building Trades, a “section 527” group set up by the State Building & Construction Trades Council of California.

And billionaire former Univision chairman and CEO Jerry Perenchio gave $25,000 Wednesday to the campaign for Proposition 11, the legislative redistricting reform measure.