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Archive for January, 2009

Bay Area House members urge action on Gaza

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland — along with Rep. John Olver, D-Mass., and Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara — helped lead the effort to send a letter yesterday urging U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to pursue immediate action by the United States to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

“Given the extent of the suffering, destruction, and deprivation in Gaza, it is imperative that the United States lead the effort to ameliorate the growing humanitarian crisis,” Lee said in a news release. “I am optimistic that under the leadership of our new President and Secretary of State, concrete steps will be taken to bring much needed relief to the people of Gaza.”

In their letter, the Representatives noted the need for the opening of border crossings into Israel so supplies can enter Gaza, and for the critically ill to be transported out of Gaza for medical treatment. They also reminded the Administration that rebuilding Gaza will depend on the international community making significant financial contributions.

The lawmakers also asked that Clinton or her staff share with them the actions taken to date and the strategy that will be pursued to address the humanitarian crisis; they want this information before Congress recesses on Feb. 13.

The three co-authors were joined by 57 co-signers, including much of the Bay Area’s delegation: House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Martinez; Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont; Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough; Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma; Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto; and Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose.

Read the letter’s full text and list of signatories, after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, January 29th, 2009
Under: Anna Eshoo, Barbara Lee, George Miller, Hillary Clinton, Jackie Speier, Lynn Woolsey, Mike Honda, Pete Stark, U.S. House | No Comments »

‘Barbara Boxer… is soooo cool!’

In all of last week’s inaugural flurry, I missed this snippet from The Daily Show, wherein Wyatt Cenac reports from the Youth Inaugural Ball on the excitement over our first cool president… and in the clip’s final few seconds, the coolness of California’s own U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer

Posted on Wednesday, January 28th, 2009
Under: Barbara Boxer, Inauguration 2009, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

Rep. Miller promotes education funds in stimulus bill

House Education and Labor Committee Chairman and Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, pumped up the House’s $825 billion economic stimulus package this morning in a conference call with reporters.

Joining him on the call were Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, Rebuild America’s Schools Chairman Bob Canavan and United States Students legislatative director Angela Peoples.

“It’s critical that the federal government step in so that we don’t have a collapse in our education system,” Miller said. ” … We believe that this investment is critical to how we emerge from this economic downturn. We have been put on notice that if we are going to be competitive, we will need a better educated workforce than at any other time in our history.”

Education-related provisions worth $141 billion include cash to stablize cuts in education at the state level, money to modernize schools and a hike in college grants for lower income students.

The House is expected to vote later today on the stimulus bill, H.R. 1. The Senate version could come in a day or so. President Barack Obama had hoped to win bipartisan support for the bill, but it seems unlikely he will receive many Republican votes.

Click through for links to fact sheets provided by Miller’s office on the education-related components of the House’s $825 billion economic stimulus package … Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, January 28th, 2009
Under: Congress | No Comments »

Locals hail Ledbetter Act’s passage

The House of Representatives voted 250 to 177 today to pass the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which would clarify that every paycheck or other compensation resulting from an earlier discriminatory pay decision constitutes a Civil Rights Act violation. As long as workers file their charges within 180 days of a discriminatory paycheck, their charges would be considered timely.

This was the law prior to the Supreme Court’s May 2007 Ledbetter v. Goodyear decision, which made it harder for Americans to pursue pay discrimination claims. Former President George W. Bush had threatened to veto the bill, effectively killing it in the Senate last year; the bill now goes to President Barack Obama and will likely be the first major piece of legislation he signs into law.

All Bay Area House members voted for the bill, and some are hailing its passage as a major accomplishment.

From House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Martinez, the bill’s chief sponsor:

“The Supreme Court simply told bad employers that to escape responsibility for pay discrimination, all they need to do is keep it hidden for the first 180 days. But today, thanks to Lilly’s incredible courage and perseverance, Congress will reject this ruling for the millions of Americans suddenly now subject to legal discrimination.”

More reactions after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, January 27th, 2009
Under: Barack Obama, Barbara Lee, General, George Miller, Nancy Pelosi, Pete Stark, U.S. House | No Comments »

BART wants your cell phones to work better. Really.

Does anyone else see the irony in BART soliciting input from riders about how better to interface with their mobile and wireless technology? Like, maybe, cell phones? With cameras?

From: BART Updates
Date: Tue, Jan 27, 2009 at 3:51 PM
Subject: Survey: BART mobile/wireless applications
To: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Dear BART rider:

We’re looking for ways to improve BART mobile and wireless applications and we’d like to hear from you! Please take a moment to complete this survey to help us better understand your mobile trip planning needs.

Note: You’re receiving this email because, when downloading the mobile BART QuickPlanner from, you provided this email address and gave us permission to contact you. To unsubscribe or modify your subscription, please use the links below.


Posted on Tuesday, January 27th, 2009
Under: BART shooting | No Comments »

Bloggers not sorry to see OPD Chief Tucker go

Here’s some local blog buzz about Oakland Police Chief Wayne Tucker’s resignation — a move with distinct political implications for already-embattled Mayor Ron Dellums — this morning:

Brooklyn Avenue — “I have little to say about this except to point out that Dellums should have shown Tucker the door a long time ago, and the fact that he continued to defend Tucker and repeatedly persuaded Tucker not to resign (assuming the Tribune report is correct) speaks volumes about Dellums.”

Gene at Our Oakland — “Hmm…they’re properly funded, and according to Mayor Dellums’ address last night, properly staffed, so it seems more likely this was a case of quitting before being fired. Given the list of problems associated with his tenure, he probably decided it was time to get out of Dodge.”

Chris Thompson at the East Bay Express — “It’s not too late to revoke his pension, is it?”

V Smoothe at A Better Oakland (warning: explicit language if you click through): “The man has been an unmitigated disaster for four years, watched violent crime skyrocket at an almost inconceivable rate, and left our police department dripping with one scandal after another. The least he could do is have a modicum of grace as he leaves. But no. I couldn’t even imagine a worse thing to say? I’m shocked. Seriously. In total shock.”

Posted on Tuesday, January 27th, 2009
Under: General, Oakland, Ron Dellums | 2 Comments »

McNerney reintroduces water bill

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, has reintroduced his water re-use, recycling and reclamation grant program legislation. He first proposed it in 2007 but it did not survive the rigors of congressional deliberation.

Click through on the right for the full press release. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, January 27th, 2009
Under: Congress, congressional district 11, Environment | 3 Comments »

Criticism for Arnold’s plan to cut mental health

Mental health advocates said today that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposal to divert almost $227 million from the Mental Health Services Fund for which California voters earmarked it just four years ago is – well, insane.

Schwarzenegger’s proposed 2009-10 budget calls for redirecting the money – raised by Proposition 63 of 2004, which enacted a 1 percent income tax on incomes of over $1 million to bankroll a Mental Health Services Fund – to instead fund the state’s Mental Health Managed Care program.

Well, it’s still going to mental health, right? That’s not the point – Schwarzenegger wants to use the money to backfill the state’s share of counties’ bill for caring for the Medi-Cal-eligible mentally ill, rather than for creation and expansion of community-based mental health programs, children’s services, preventative measures, workforce and training services and so forth for which Proposition 63 was intended. Net result: Less money for mental health.

The 54 percent of voters who approved that ballot measure “recognized the dire need to address decades of inadequate funding for mental health programs,” California Mental Health Directors Association executive director Patricia Ryan told reporters on a conference call this morning. Schwarzenegger’s proposal would roll back that progress, amounting to “a misguided attack on people living with mental illness who literally have no other option for shelter and healthcare” and causing “immediate harm to the most vulnerable in our state.”

More after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, January 27th, 2009
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Assembly, California budget, California State Senate, Darrell Steinberg, General, Karen Bass | No Comments »

Bonilla shifts gears; will run for state Assembly

Contra Costa County Supervisor Susan Bonilla has had a change of heart and says she will run for state Assembly in 2010 after all.

Bonilla had said she would not seek the office despite widespread expectation that she wanted the job. Her teen-aged daughter will be a senior in high school in 2010 and Bonilla worried that a campaign would take too much time away from her family.

“I have my family’s full support and I feel that as a former teacher, mayor and a county supervisor, I have experience to bring to Sacramento,” Bonilla said.

Bonilla must have figured out what most parents know: Teenagers don’t really want you around.  (That was a joke, people. I raised four children.)

Bonilla says she will not actively start the campaign until later in the year. She has plenty on her plate at the county these days, with massive budget short-falls and labor negotiations.

But she goes into the campaign with a huge advantage: The endorsements of state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, and Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch.

She has been viewed as the heir apparent for some time and when she took her name out of contention, numerous folks called up Torlakson and DeSaulnier. The met the two legislators for coffee and the big sell: Martinez Councilmen Mark Ross and Mike Menesini, Pittsburg Councilman Sal Evola and Antioch Councilman Brian Kalinowski. (Contra Costa superintendent of schools Joe Ovick had considered it but recently changed his mind.)

This is a significant election. The person who wins in 2010 has a strong chance to serve in public office for 12 years. If Bonilla were to win the the Assembly seat and remain for six years, she would term out at the same time that DeSaulnier will finish his two terms in the Senate. That puts her in a prime position to run for the open Senate seat.

Posted on Monday, January 26th, 2009
Under: 2010 election, California Assembly, California Legislature | No Comments »

Kamala Harris is busy banking $$$ for 2010

I was just taking a spin through recent campaign finance filings in the Secretary of State’s database, and my, hasn’t San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris been busy raising money for a 2010 bid for state Attorney General?

Among the larger ($5,000 and up) contributions she has banked in the past month or so are:

  • $12,500 from Piedmont political fundraising power couple Quinn Delaney and Wayne Jordan
  • $12,000 from San Francisco writer Robert Anderson
  • $12,000 from Laurene Powell Jobs, wife of Apple CEO Steve Jobs
  • $6,500 from Berkeley author Ayelet Waldman
  • $6,000 from attorney Elizabeth Cabraser of Santa Rosa
  • $6,000 from Warner Bros. television executive producer Chuck Lorre
  • $5,000 from Shaklee Corp. Chairman/CEO Roger Barnett of San Francisco
  • $5,000 from mediator and retired judge Daniel Weinstein of San Francisco
  • Most of these people were friends of Barack Obama’s campaign either as signficant donors (Anderson, Cabraser, Weinstein, Lorre) or as fundraisers (Delaney, Jordan, Waldman) — a campaign of which Harris was an active supporter, and her brother-in-law, Tony West, was a state finance co-chairman (and is now a high-ranking Justice Department appointee). This is quite a deep-pocketed network Harris is starting to tap…

    Posted on Monday, January 26th, 2009
    Under: 2010 election, Attorney General, Kamala Harris | No Comments »