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Archive for February, 2009

Name the Newsom baby

What kind of political blog would we be if we didn’t invite suggestions for what San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and his wife, Jennifer Siebel, should name their forthcoming progeny? A serious blog, you say? Naaaaah.

Feel free to add your suggestions as comments; here are a few to get us started:

  • Oldham
  • Arnold
  • Cash” (or, “Care”)
  • Alex
  • Hillary
  • PlumpJack” (“Jack,” for short)
  • Whetheryoulikeitornot” (“Wheth,” for short)
  • Governor
  • Posted on Friday, February 20th, 2009
    Under: Gavin Newsom | No Comments »

    Torrico to launch campaign for Attorney General

    Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico says he’ll formally announce Monday his candidacy for state Attorney General in 2010.

    “As Majority Leader I’ve been involved with the budget more than ever before… and in these last few weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about where the state is,” Torrico, D-Newark, told me a few minutes ago. “Our state is clearly going in the wrong direction, we’ve got some challenges ahead of us, were going to spend more on prisons than on higher education in two years.”

    “We need to have a new conversation in California about what our priorities are, and the Attorney General is an office that should impact law enforcement… and also a wide range of other issues I’m passionate about,” from civil rights to consumer rights and beyond, he said.

    Torrico joins a 2010 Democratic primary field for AG already consisting of San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris – already hard at work raising money from many of the same deep-pocketed donors with whom she rubbed elbows during the Obama campaign – and Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo (who ran against Jerry Brown in the 2006 primary).

    Other Assembly Democrats reportedly considering runs for AG in 2010 include Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, and Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara.

    Torrico said he has a “broad vision for the direction the state needs to go in,” having been not only a legislative champion of law enforcement and public safety but also of creating middle class jobs; the Attorney General, he notes, has a big impact on California’s business climate.

    And from a political standpoint, he said, he enters the race with $650,000 cash on hand – a sum far in excess of any of the other contenders, and a good down payment on a race that could cost $5 million or more. “If you look at the reports over the past four years, you see I have the track record of being able to raise the money,” he said.

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

    Posted on Friday, February 20th, 2009
    Under: 2010 election, Alberto Torrico, Assembly, Attorney General | No Comments »

    Tauscher reintroduces ship safety bill

    As the National Transportation Safety Board conducts its final hearing on the Cosco Busan oil spill in the San Francisco Bay last year, Rep. Ellen Tauscher has reintroduced a bill that would authorize federal officials to mandate that bar pilots carry their own up-to-date navigation devices.

    Click here to read a story in today’s Times about the hearing.

    Here is Tauscher’s statement issued a few minutes ago:

    The NTSB has confirmed that the pilot should not have permitted the Cosco Busan to leave the dock given a heavy fog and his impaired judgment. While his condition raises serious issues about the night in question, at a minimum we should require pilots of tanker and cargo ships to have the most up to date and modern navigation devices and equipment to prevent future accidents.”

    Last week, Rep. Tauscher re-introduced H.R. 1100, the Vessel Navigation and Safety Improvement Act. This bill authorizes the Coast Guard to require that marine bar pilots carry their own navigation devices, known as Portable Pilot Units, when operating the largest container and tanker ships.

    In the last Congress, this bill was included in the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2007. The House approved the bill 395 to 7 on April 24, 2008.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted on Thursday, February 19th, 2009
    Under: General | No Comments »

    Karen Bass, Darrell Steinberg on the budget deal

    Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles:

    State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento:

    Posted on Thursday, February 19th, 2009
    Under: Assembly, California State Senate, Darrell Steinberg, Karen Bass, state budget | No Comments »

    Rep. Miller posts stimulus package web resource page

    Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, has posted a useful web site where citizens can link to information about how money from the recently adopted federal economic stimulus package will flow into California: http://georgemiller.house.gov/infocus/2009/02/recovery_plan_bay_area.html

    Or if you are a real glutton for government web sites, visit President Obama’s web site, http://www.recovery.gov/ where you can read the actual text of the massive bill. The site is still a bit skimpy but the White House has promised more content as the administration implements the legislation.

    Posted on Thursday, February 19th, 2009
    Under: Congress, economy, Obama presidency | No Comments »

    Assemblywoman Buchanan cuts her pay 10 percent

    Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo

    Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo

    What a gal.

    Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, is voluntarily cutting her pay 10 percent or nearly $12,000 a year.

    A press release from her office says the newly elected lawmaker sent a letter to Controller John Chiang requesting the salary adjustment. State legislators earn $116,098 a year plus $170 in per diem for each day they are in session.

    “Recognizing that we must lead by example, the Assembly has reduced its budget 10 percent and has directed the savings to the Employment Development Department (EDD) to support California’s families,” Buchanan said in a press release. “Further, I will direct the State Controller to reduce my salary 10 percent. I cannot, in good conscience, ask others to sacrifice if I am not willing to do the same.”

    Read more for Buchanan’s full press release. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted on Thursday, February 19th, 2009
    Under: California Assembly, California budget | No Comments »

    A few upcoming political events

    Thursday, Feb. 19 – Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, D-Oakland, and Oakland City Council President Jane Brunner will host a “Progressive Economic Roundtable Discussion” from 7 to 9 p.m. tonight in the City Council Chambers at Oakland City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza. Among those scheduled to talk about the economic crisis’ effects on Oakland residents as well as local job-creation and economic-growth strategies are Victor Rubin of PolicyLink; Professor Steven Raphael of the University of California, Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy; Shirley Burnell of ACORN; and Alameda County Central Labor Council Executive Secretary-Treasurer Sharon Cornu.

    Sunday, Feb. 22 – Fresh from a fracas at his speaking engagement last month at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, education professor ’60s radical Bill Ayers – joined this time by his wife, fellow former radical Bernardine Dohrn – will speak on “Building a Movement for Peace in Our Time” at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 22 in the King Middle School auditorium, 1781 Rose St. in Berkeley. They’re also plugging their new book, “Race Course: Against White Supremacy” and the re-issue of Ayers’ memoir “Fugitive Days: Memoirs of an Anti-War Activist.” The event is a benefit for the Berkeley-based Middle East Children’s Alliance; tickets cost $15 for general admission, $10 for students, and are available online.

    Tuesday, Feb. 24 – Conservative activist and author Phyllis Schlafly will speak about “radical feminism’s effect on America” and other issues at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 24 in 110 Barrows Hall at the University of California, Berkeley, sponsored by the Berkeley College Republicans and the Young America’s Foundation. The Berkeley College Republicans’ news release say her visit “is particularly relevant given the scrutiny and support that both Governor Sarah Palin and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton received during last year’s presidential election, the current state of American culture, particularly in regards to women, women’s values, and family values, and the urgent nature of the problems affecting our country today.”

    Wednesday, Feb. 25David Sanger, the New York Times’ chief Washington correspondent and author of the recent book, “The Inheritance,” will speak on the complex and perhaps unprecedented national security challenges faced by President Barack Obama at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 25, in the Commonwealth Club of California’s offices on the second floor of 595 Market St. in San Francisco. A wine-and-cheese reception begins at 5:30 p.m. Tickets cost $12 for members, $18 for non-members and $7 for students with valid ID, and are available online.

    Posted on Thursday, February 19th, 2009
    Under: Barack Obama, Jane Brunner, Oakland, Political events, Sandre Swanson | No Comments »

    Saving $25 million… but losing $11.2 billion?

    The California Medical Association is urging state lawmakers to roll back eligibility restrictions on Medi-Cal, the state’s health-care program for the poor, in order to take advantage of $11.2 billion in federal funding available from the economic stimulus act signed yesterday by President Barack Obama.

    The legislation says a state’s eligibility and renewal procedures for the program can’t be more limiting than they were on July 1, 2008. But as part of the state budget deal enacted last September, California required that children report on their eligibility for Medi-Cal twice a year instead of once a year; it was a cost-cutting measure, expected to save the state $25 million this fiscal year. Critics said the added paperwork would lead to more than 58,000 California kids losing their Medi-Cal coverage this year – and more than 260,000 by the end of 2011 – while forcing counties to pick up more of their health-care costs.

    This must be rolled back if California is to get the higher federal reimbursements for Medi-Cal – an increase in the Federal Medical Assistance Percentages from October 2008 through the end of 2010 – under the economic stimulus legislation.

    “This is another great opportunity for state lawmakers to maximize federal assistance,” said CMA president Dr. Dev GnanaDev. “Restoring Medi-Cal’s eligibility rules makes smart fiscal sense and means more Californians will receive the health care they need.”

    State Senate Health Committee chairwoman Elaine Alquist, D-Santa Clara, has been tied up all day today in the state budget fracas, but sent me this statement tonight:

    “I absolutely support eliminating any hurdles to bringing money to California. In fact, I am introducing legislation to repeal the semi-annual eligibility reporting requirement for children so that we can bring in the approximately $11 billion that the federal stimulus bill holds for California’s Medi-Cal program.”

    “This money is desperately needed to help California’s growing number of unemployed.”

    “I will do whatever is necessary including introducing additional legislation to implement other provisions of the federal stimulus that could bring us up to $14 billion in much needed health care funding. Californians deserve to benefit from the President’s stimulus plan.”

    Posted on Wednesday, February 18th, 2009
    Under: Assembly, California State Senate, economy, Elaine Alquist, state budget | No Comments »

    Bay Area rep responds to Obama’s foreclosure plan

    Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo

    Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo

    Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, issued the following statement today on President Obama’s Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan:

    The plan is designed to help up to 7 to 9 million families restructure or refinance their mortgages to avoid foreclosure. The plan will help make mortgages more affordable by lowering monthly payments through refinancing; create a stability initiative that will encourage responsible loan modifications through such things as incentives to lenders; and seek to increase available credit and help maintain mortgage affordability through Fannie and Freddie.

    “President Obama’s plan is part of a wide ranging strategy to jump start the economy by stemming the tide of foreclosures and providing some relief to homeowners and communities,” Tauscher said. “In the coming weeks and months, I will work with President Obama and Congressional leaders to make sure that my bill, the Housing Disaster Area Foreclosure Area Prevention Act, is part of a comprehensive solution to help homeowners in areas hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis.”

    Tauscher has introduced the Housing Disaster Area Foreclosure Area Prevention Act, which would target the areas hardest hit by home foreclosures, including those in California. Under the bill, state housing agencies could provide aid to help homeowners who have “underwater mortgages” – where they owe more than the value of their home – and allow state housing agencies to use money from the $700 billion financial rescue package to help families restructure their mortgages.

    From House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio:

    “The housing crisis is at the heart of our economic troubles, and House Republicans want to work with the President on a plan that keeps families in their homes without asking taxpayers to bail out irresponsible lenders, scam artists, and borrowers who knowingly made bad decisions. While we hope to work together, there are many unanswered questions that remain about the proposal that was announced today. Why should we reward Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with $200 billion in taxpayer dollars without first reforming these housing entities that were at the heart of the economic meltdown? Will taxpayers be forced to subsidize the scandal-plagued activist group ACORN under this proposal? Should a responsible plan include a ‘cramdown’ provision that could increase the monthly mortgage payments for responsible borrowers?

    “Taxpayers and homeowners who are playing by the rules expect their leaders in Washington to work together on solutions to get our housing industry – and our entire economy – moving again. The President’s announcement of his plan is an important step in that process, and Republicans look forward to working with him and our Democratic colleagues in Congress on this issue in the weeks and months to come.”

    Posted on Wednesday, February 18th, 2009
    Under: housing, Obama presidency, U.S. House | No Comments »

    Tri-Valley Dems kick off campaign to end 2/3rds threshhold

    With the California Senate still deadlocked over a budget, the Tri-Valley Democratic Club passed a resolution this week to support a petition campaign that would end the state’s requirement for two-thirds vote of the Legislature to pass a budget.

    Democrats in the Senate need only one more Republican vote to pass a budget deal that calls for a mix of $42 billion in new taxes and spending cuts. Eliminate the two-thirds requirement and Democrats have plenty of votes in both the Senate and the Assembly to pass a budget without a single Republican vote.

    Republicans, of course, oppose it. But many Democrats believe the answer to the annual budget stalemate — which has been exacerbated by the recession — is to ask voters to strip that threshhold from the law. There is ample talk that Democrats and their allies in the labor community will seek to put such a ballot measure before voters in the November 2009 election.

    Read on for the Tri-Valley Democrats’ resolution: Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted on Wednesday, February 18th, 2009
    Under: California Assembly, California budget, California Legislature | 2 Comments »