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Archive for February, 2009

Sign-stealers hit Alamo cityhood ballot measure

The First Amendment not withstanding, I would entertain a law barring political yard signs.

They are nothing but trouble. Every election, people steal them. They draw mustaches on them and otherwise deface them. In some towns, campaigns even pay a bounty on the signs. (And yes, that’s illegal.)

In Alamo over the weekend, the proponents of making Alamo an incorporated city reported that four large ‘Yes on A’ banners at a cost of $99 each installed on private property were torn down and stolen.

“This caps a two-week period where close to 100 signs have been stolen – all of them from private property,” reported Chris Kenber of the Yes on A campaign. “No ‘No on A’ signs have been touched. Pity that opponents of Alamo incorporation seem to have more in common with spoiled teenagers than thoughtful adult voters.”

The thefts were reported to the Contra Costa County Sheriff but perpetrators are rarely caught.

Voters in Alamo will decide March 3 whether or not to incorporate.

Posted on Wednesday, February 18th, 2009
Under: Contra Costa politics | No Comments »

Van Jones to testify on community service

Oakland’s Van Jones, founder and president of Green for All, will join recording artist Usher, Time magazine managing editor Richard Stengel and others in testifying before the House Education and Labor Committee next Wednesday, Feb. 25, at a hearing on the importance of national and community service in meeting the nation’s economic needs.

A news release from the committee – which is chaired by Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez – notes that boosting community service is among President Barack Obama’s key priorities; his inaugural activities included a “National Day of Service” on which hundreds of thousands of Americans volunteered in their communities.

This hearing is supposed to focus on “reinvigorating civic engagement across all levels of society, expanding opportunities for young people to participate in service, and how national and community service can help ‘green’ America,” the release said.

Also scheduled to testify in addition to Jones, Usher and Stengel are James Harris, a youth participant in Usher’s New Look Foundation; Echoing Green president Cheryl Dorsey; former U.S. Sen. Harris Wofford, D-Pa.; and others yet to be announced.

Posted on Wednesday, February 18th, 2009
Under: George Miller, U.S. House | No Comments »

‘Enough is enough’ … or not

State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, addressed reporters late last night at the State Capitol:

A short while later, the Senate Republican Caucus ousted Dave Cogdill, R-Modesto, as its leader because he’d agreed to some tax increases as part of the budget solution. The new leader is Dennis Hollingsworth, R-Murrieta, who has vowed not to support any tax increases at all.

In other words: Back to square one.

Posted on Wednesday, February 18th, 2009
Under: California State Senate, Darrell Steinberg, Dave Cogdill, Dennis Hollingsworth, state budget | No Comments »

DeSaulnier sends out e-alert on budget

Sen. Mark DeSaulnier

Sen. Mark DeSaulnier

As state senators prepare to go into a budget session this afternoon — one that that will turn into a slumber party unless at least one Republican votes for the budget — Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, sent out a gloomy e-mail alert.

From the sounds of it, he will need a sleeping bag, a toothbrush and, dare we suggest, earplugs.

Here is DeSaulnier’s alert:

Dear Friends and Neighbors:

Since the afternoon of Valentine’s Day and through the President’s Weekend holiday, my Senate colleagues and I have been on the Senate floor debating the best way to move our state forward. Over the last 5 months we have seen what can, without dramatics, be called the implosion of our national financial markets, the collapse of the American Dream of homeownership and the strife of precipitous middle and working-class job losses.

As the leading state in the nation, California must turn itself around and begin to work toward financial solvency. The road to economic recovery begins TODAY with this budget vote. As we speak, 276 more crucial infrastructure investments are being shut down. TODAY, The Governor has called for layoffs of 10,000 Californians. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, February 17th, 2009
Under: California budget, California Legislature, California Senate | No Comments »

White House releases job numbers by congressional district

The Bay Area will see 73,400 new jobs under the economic stimulus plan that President Barack Obama is set to sign in Denver, according to new numbers released today by the White House.

Rep. Jerry McNerney’s district, which encompasses portions of four counties including Contra Costa and Alameda, would see the most at 8,200.

The other members’ numbers are: Lynn Woolsey, 7,000; George Miller, 7,400; Nancy Pelosi, 6,900; Barbara Lee, 6,900; Ellen Tauscher, 7,600; Jackie Speier, 7,200; Pete Stark, 7,400; Anna Eshoo, 7,000; Mike Honda, 7,300; and Zoe Lofgren, 7,400.

Posted on Tuesday, February 17th, 2009
Under: economy, Obama presidency | No Comments »

East Bay love trend continues with Haggerty wedding

Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty

Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty

Wedded bliss, or the prospect thereof, is no longer just a Contra Costa trend.

Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty of Dublin married Rhonda Gibbons on Feb. 14 in Jack London Square in Oakland. Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson presided.

For a while, we thought it was something in the water in Contra Costa County.

In the past few months, Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo; Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch; and California GOP Vice Chairman Tom Del Beccaro of Lafayette, each announced their engagements to their respective partners. (No, not to each other.)

According to a press release from Haggerty’s office, he and his bride met at a sports event in Livermore in which both of their sons were playing. This is nearly a Brady Bunch union: Haggerty has three children and Gibbons has two.

The newlyweds are spending their honeymoon in Hawaii.

Haggerty has served on the five-member Board of Supervisors for twelve years and was re-elected to a fourth four-year term in 2008. He represents the cities of Fremont, Livermore, Pleasanton, the eastern-most portion of Dublin and unincorporated east Alameda County on Board of Supervisors.

Posted on Tuesday, February 17th, 2009
Under: Alameda County | 5 Comments »

California Republicans on stimulus bill passage

I posted earlier on what your Bay Area House members were saying about the economic stimulus bill, but they all bat for the same team.

California Republican Party vice chairman Tom Del Beccaro of Lafayette had this and more to say (on Thursday, though I assume he still felt the same or moreso after the votes were taken Friday) at his Political Vanguard site:

Most of this bill is a Christmas tree of handouts to unions and other Left leaning causes. Remember, this is the first time the Dems have had control of Congress and the Presidency in 15 years – they went for it all because they know in 21 months, they may not have the House. That is why it is packed with items that will advance socialized medicine, global warming rescues and the rest. They also know that it is easier to create a government program than it is to end it. Hence their haste.

Jon Fleischman, a state GOP regional vice-chair, posted to his a statement from Rep. Ed Royce, R-Fullerton, which said in part:

Instead of pork barrel spending, Congress should look toward spurring investment and job growth through the private sector. Any type of stimulus package should be focused on encouraging private capital into the system rather than redistributing taxpayer money through the government.

Hear from California Republican Party chairman Ron Nehring, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Saturday, February 14th, 2009
Under: Republican Party, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | 4 Comments »

Local House members on stimulus bill passage

Bay Area House members sound mostly happy about today’s 246-183 vote to pass H.R. 1, the $789 billion economic stimulus legislation approved by House and Senate conferees yesterday.

All Bay Area members voted for it; those expressing misgivings fear it wasn’t big enough, and/or that too much of it is in the form of tax cuts rather than spending. Lots of numbers are being thrown around concerning what it means for California: how much money, how many jobs, and so on. I guess we’ll all believe it when we see it.

Some had very specific areas of praise for the bill.

“When H.R. 1 is signed into law, the 111th Congress and President Obama will have done more to advance health care in America in less than two months, than was done over the entire two terms of the Bush Administration,” said Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, who chairs the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee. “This legislation provides real help for working families who are hurting, and makes critical investments to improve our health care system.”

Stark cited the bill’s investments in interoperable health-information technology that he says will imrpove quality of care while reducing costs; comparitive effectiveness research to determine which medical treatments are most effective; a 65 percent subsidy for up to nine months for COBRA continuation health insurance for workers who’ve lost their jobs, and for their families; and a boost in the health care tax credit making care more affordable for workers who lose their jobs as a result of trade.

Some spoke more broadly.

“Today, Congress took an important first step towards getting America’s economy back on track. The recovery package will help save or create over 3 million jobs by modernizing schools, investing in renewable energy, transportation, and by streamlining our healthcare system,” said House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Martinez. “This recovery package is not a silver bullet. We must also unfreeze the credit market and help homeowners. I am not done and President Obama is not done with the effort to help families and workers throughout California and the country.”

More reactions from those people you sent to Congress, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, February 13th, 2009
Under: Anna Eshoo, Barbara Lee, Ellen Tauscher, General, George Miller, Jerry McNerney, Lynn Woolsey, Pete Stark, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren | No Comments »

‘Having a debate’ doesn’t mean ‘making stuff up’

If you want to have a principled ideological debate about whether cutting taxes or boosting government spending is a better economic stimulus, fine – go for it. Bring your facts, maybe a few history books, and an open mind.

But what’s coming out of House Minority Leader John Boehner’s office and the National Republican Congressional Committee doesn’t seem to signify a clash of ideologies – it seems more like a clash of their claims with reality.

Take, for example, the NRCC release I received this morning (to which I gladly would have hyperlinked here, if only the NRCC hadn’t recently stopped putting its news releases on its Web site) claiming “that tucked away in the annals of the pork-laden stimulus bill is $30M that is being used to restore a wetland in Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco district that would protect the salt marsh harvest mouse.” It even cited a Washington Times story to this effect (y’know, because the Washington Times is such a reliable, unbiased source of information). And apparently Boehner’s spokesman has been making the same claim.

But it’s not true. The $30 million apparently is for the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior Department for wetlands cleanup and maintenance across the nation – Pelosi’s district would compete like any other – and there’s no mention at all of a mouse. (Never mind the argument that this money potentially would put people to work restoring wetlands, which would in turn improve watersheds and fisheries. Or the fact of the GOP’s customary disdain for protecting endangered species.)

Shouldn’t Boehner and the NRCC wait and read the bill before making such claims?

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

Posted on Thursday, February 12th, 2009
Under: John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House | No Comments »

NRCC targets McNerney with radio ad on stimulus

The National Republican Congressional Committee announced this morning it will air a new radio ad attacking Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, for voting two weeks ago in favor of the economic stimulus package “chock full of wasteful Washington spending instead of working across the aisle to create real jobs for struggling middle-class families.”

Republicans remain embittered that the package doesn’t concentrate more on tax cuts than on infrastructure investments and other government spending to create new jobs; the package agreed to by House and Senate negotiators yesterday reportedly is about 35 percent tax cuts. McNerney is among Democrats the NRCC targets with such ads because they’re thought to be vulnerable to GOP challenge in the next election. (McNerney whupped Republican challenger Dean Andal by a 10-percentage-point margin last November despite a slight GOP voter-registration edge. But hey, whatever.)

“While middle-class families are hurting and looking to their leaders for help, Jerry McNerney has failed to deliver real relief,” NRCC Communications Director Ken Spain accuses in his news release. “Jerry McNerney had a choice to pass an alternative proposal that would have created twice as many jobs at half the cost and in less time, but he chose to pass this package of pork instead. After running on a platform of fiscal responsibility, Jerry McNerney now has the obligation to explain why he’s willing to pile even more mountains of debt onto our grandchildren without regard for how middle-class families’ hard-earned tax dollars will be spent.”

(Perhaps, in asserting how all this spending won’t stimulate the economy, the NRCC is forgetting the lesson of the Great Depression, which hit its worst point in 1933 — the year President Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office and launched his New Deal — and then saw gross national product increase and unemployment decrease in each year after that. Or perhaps they’re forgetting that they soundly lost last November’s presidential and Congressional elections, indicating that their do-it-all-with-tax-cuts ideology isn’t ascendant right now. But hey, whatever.)

A quick snapshot of the need for help in McNerney’s 11th Congressional District. About 58.5 percent of the district lies in San Joaquin County, where the unemployment rate hit 13 percent in December (compared to 9.1 percent for California and 7.1 percent for the nation). The 34.8 percent of his district that lies in Contra Costa and Alameda counties fared somewhat better, with a 7.7 percent unemployment rate in December (though still on the rise). In other measures, San Joaquin County’s foreclosure rate is double that of California’s and more than five times the nation’s; the city of Stockton — of which McNerney’s district encompasses about 43 percent, making it the district’s largest municipal population center — still ranks among the nation’s top 10 metro areas for home foreclosures.

“There is no doubt that we’ve been hit hard by the tough economy,” McNerney said today. “I hear from many people who are worried about being laid off or losing their home to foreclosure. The economic recovery package is about getting people back to work. It will help stimulate the economy and create jobs by investing in education and transportation projects as well as providing tax relief to middle-class families. The economic recovery package should help create or save 3.5 million jobs nationwide and almost 9,000 jobs in my district. California’s families need these jobs.”

The NRCC said the ad will air as McNerney “heads to his district to face his constituents and try to explain why he voted for a trillion dollars in wasteful spending in the middle of an economic crisis.” Indeed, if you have criticism or praise for McNerney, go see him at his next “Congress at Your Corner” constituent meet-and-greet from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. next Saturday, Feb. 21 (NOT the day after tomorrow) at Big Apple Bagel, 4555 Hopyard Road, Suite 13, in Pleasanton.

UPDATE @ 2:03 P.M.: Here’s the ad…

Posted on Thursday, February 12th, 2009
Under: congressional district 11, General, Jerry McNerney, U.S. House | No Comments »