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Archive for June, 2009

GOP enters TV budget ad fray

The California Republican Party entered the TV ad wars over the state budget today with buys in the Los Angeles, Fresno and Sacramento markets.

The party either didn’t have the cash or chose not to bother with educating television viewers in the Bay Area. But I wouldn’t want you to feel left out.

Here are the ads:

Posted on Monday, June 29th, 2009
Under: California budget, California Legislature | No Comments »

In a twofer, Tauscher takes oath of marriage and office

Former Rep. Ellen Tauscher

Former Rep. Ellen Tauscher

Former Rep. Ellen Tauscher and retired airline pilot Jim Cieslak, the man she introduces as the “love of my life,” married Saturday evening in the backyard of the bride’s Washington, D.C., home, in the company of 120 friends and family.

Moments after the bride and groom said their “I do’s” and kissed, Federal District Court Judge Ellen Huvelle announced a surprise second act.

Tauscher’s 18-year-old daughter, Katherine, held a bible while her mother was sworn in as the new undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security in the U.S. State Department.

The ceremony was held under a large, air-conditioned tent in the backyard of Tauscher’s Kalorama neighborhood home near the city’s famed Embassy Row. Guests then strolled across the street for a steak dinner in the garden of the Woodrow Wilson House before returning to the big tent for drinks and DJ music.

Tauscher, 57, is well-known in Washington as a skillful and gracious hostess and her wedding was no exception. The food was good and plentiful and the atmosphere festive, they said.

Among the best moments, they said, were the “emotional” and “pitch-perfect” toasts from Katherine and Kelly, Jim’s daughter, to their parents.

Among the guests were Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who spoke during the ceremony, as well as General Jim Jones, President Barack Obama’s National Security Advisor and Tauscher’s close friend. Others in attendance were Reps. Joe Crowley, Jane Harman, Diana DeGette, Steny Hoyer and Carolyn McCarthy.

A number of folks from Tauscher’s East Bay district also made the trip out to witness the nuptuals, including her former staffer David Bowlby of Alamo and longtime campaign consultants Lisa Tucker and Katie Merrill.

The couple is honeymooning this week in Burmuda.

As a side note, one can only imagine the behind-the-scenes logistics in the days leading up to the wedding and swearing-in ceremony.

The U.S. Senate confirmed Tauscher’s nomination late last Thursday after a Utah GOP senator was persuaded to lift his hold on her name. Then Tauscher stayed on in the House Friday where Speaker Nancy Pelosi tapped Tauscher to lead the lengthy and contentious debate over the climate bill.

Tauscher cast an “aye” vote on the climate bill late Friday and was finally free to resign from Congress and focus on her wedding day.

Let no one say that Ellen Tauscher Cieslak lacks multi-tasking skills.

Posted on Monday, June 29th, 2009
Under: Congressional District 10, Ellen Tauscher | 1 Comment »

Stark breaks from the pack on climate change bill

The House this afternoon passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act — the Waxman-Markey climate-change bill — on a 219-212 vote; the bill now heads to the U.S. Senate. Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, was the only Bay Area member to oppose the bill, complaining it’s too watered down.

“We have the opportunity and the responsibility to confront catastrophic global warming with bold action. Congress should seize that opportunity by passing legislation that would end our addiction to fossil fuels, prove our leadership to the world, and build a foundation for long-term prosperity. This legislation falls short of these goals,” Stark — who in January introduced the Save Our Climate Act, which would impose a tax on carbon-based fossil fuels to slow climate change — said in his floor statement today. “Many have said that this vote is a historic one that we will be judged by. In my view, history will judge this legislation as a missed opportunity.”

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, is a House Energy and Commerce Committee member who authored four of the bill’s provisions: to spur development of a more effective electric grid; to encourage electric vehicle use; to fund clean energy job training programs; and to promote water efficiency and reduce energy consumption by codifying the WaterSense program, which promotes voluntary labeling of water-efficient products and services. He was proud as a papa Friday.

“With the passage of this legislation we are one step closer to revitalizing our nation’s economy and cutting our dependence on foreign oil,” he said in a news release. “I am proud to support this groundbreaking bill that will benefit generations of Americans and lay the foundation for our country’s long-term economic prosperity.”

McNerney said he spent more than two decades working on clean energy technology before going to Congress, and this bill will help ensure that clean-energy jobs will stay in America. The bill also is “crucial to our national security,” he said. “For too long, we’ve been dependent on energy from foreign and sometimes hostile countries. When we’re developing new energy technologies here at home, we’ll be safer for it. We’ll also ensure cleaner, healthier air for our children and grandchildren by leading the world in addressing the threat of climate change.”

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

Posted on Friday, June 26th, 2009
Under: Anna Eshoo, energy, Environment, George Miller, Global warming, Jerry McNerney, Lynn Woolsey, Pete Stark, U.S. House | 12 Comments »

Special CD10 election will cost $850,000-plus

Check out my story here about how the special election to replace Rep. Ellen Tauscher will cost cash-strapped Contra Costa County at least $850,000.

Given the severe budget crisis, is it time to let counties conduct mail-only elections especially for low turnout special elections?

Posted on Friday, June 26th, 2009
Under: congressional district 11 | 16 Comments »

Sheriff Warren Rupf will not run for Congress

Contra Costa Sheriff Warren Rupf

Contra Costa Sheriff Warren Rupf

Contra Costa Sheriff Warren Rupf will not run for either the 10th or the 11th Congressional districts.

“The more I talked to people, the more I became convinced that I am not well-suited for partisan politics,” said Rupf, whose consultations included talks with national GOP officials in Washington, D.C. “The people that most want to talk you, on either side, are on the political fringes. They have a narrower view of what’s wrong with the world and how to fix it.”

Rupf said his values “don’t line up with the fringes of either party and compromising my values or my priorities is a price I am not willing to pay.”

The news will disappoint Republicans, who believed the well-known, outspoken and gregarious Rupf would have given Democrats in either district a serious challenge.

But Rupf faced considerable challenges of his own.

As a Republican, his chances of success at the ballot box were extremely slim in the heavily Democratic 10th Congressional District, just vacated by Ellen Tauscher.

Party registration is about dead even in the 11th District, but Rupf is largely unknown outside Contra Costa County except in law enforcement circles. More than half the 11th District’s voters live in San Joaquin County. He would also have had to run against an incumbent, Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney, a task far more difficult than running for an open seat.

So, for now, the 10th District’s sole Republican in the race is political novice and attorney David Harmer of Dougherty Valley.

Several Republicans have declared in the 11th District, including San Joaquin County vintner Brad Goehring, David Bernal of San Ramon and Jon Del Arroz of Danville.

Posted on Friday, June 26th, 2009
Under: 2010 election, Congressional District 10, congressional district 11, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | 3 Comments »

Read the text of Tauscher’s final comments

Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo

Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo

Here is the text of Rep. Ellen Tauscher’s final comments on the floor of the House of Representatives this morning. (I used PDF conversion software so forgive me in advance if I failed to catch all the scanning mistakes.)

(By unanimous consent, Mrs. Tauscher was allowed to speak out of order)

Confirmation of Congresswoman Tauscher by U.S. Senate as Under Secretary of State

Mrs. TAUSCHER.: Mr. Chairman and my colleagues, I rise to announce that I have been confirmed by the United States Senate as Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security. I have informed my friend, the Speaker of the House, and the Governor of California that I will be resigning my seat at the end of votes today.

Madam Speaker, Mr. Chairman, I am deeply grateful for the trust that both President Obama and Secretary Clinton have placed in me. I am equally grateful and humbled by the honor and privilege to have represented California’s 10th Congressional District for the last 13 years in the House of Representatives. It has been the deepest and greatest professional experience of my life, and I am deeply, deeply grateful for the opportunity and the trust that my constituents have placed in me.

In my seven terms in the Congress, I have tried to keep my promise of being an independent and effective moderate. I have worked hard, and I have worked with you. I look around the room; many Members I have served with for the entire time I have been here, and some of you I have flown on planes with and some of you I have taken codels with.

What I know is that we sit here and we do the people’s work, and whether we agree or not doesn’t always matter. What is most important is that we represent our constituents, that we honor the Constitution, and we keep faith with our conscience. Those are the three Cs that I have tried for these years to maintain in balance. It’s not always easy, but I have tried.

I look at all of you and I understand how difficult this world is and how troubling the lives of many Americans are now and how heavy the burden is on you. What I pledge to you, as I leave the legislative branch in this great House that I have grown to love and all of you that I love, and my constituents that I love, what I promise you in my new capacity is to work with you to achieve what we all know is important, to make sure that we have the safety and the security of the American people always on the forefront of our minds.

I have been blessed to have, I think, some of the best staff in the world. I have always told people I represent the smartest people in the world. I have the two national nuclear labs in Livermore, California, and I have Travis Air Force Base and 600-some-odd thousand constituents who apparently, now, 100 percent of them have voted for me every time. There’s nothing like leaving to become popular.

But I just want to thank, the staff who have worked with me both on the subcommittee and my personal staff and my district staff that have been just absolutely fabulous.

I want to thank my friends in the House, my friends that started as friends and became family and who have sustained me and with whom I have learned so much.

I want to thank the Speaker for her indefatigable energy. I want to thank Steny Hoyer. I want to thank my partner in my county, George Miller. I want to thank Ike Skelton and Jim Oberstar, my chairmen, for being so generous and for helping me learn.

I want to thank, again, my constituents for the honor. I especially want to thank my family, my parents and my sisters and brothers and my friends who have been patient and understanding when I couldn’t be at birthday parties and volleyball games.

I want to thank my daughter, who was raised in the House. She came here as a 5-1/2-year-old. She is now going to college, and I am so thrilled that she is emancipated and happy and healthy and a smart young woman. And you should be as proud of her as I am, because you helped raise her.

And I want to thank, especially, my fiance, Jim Cieslak, who I will marry tomorrow. Thank you. It’s hard to be a blushing bride at my age, but l will do my best.

Let me just close and say that no matter where I am serving in government, I will always remember those that sent me here, and I will always be grateful for your trust and support.

I just want to take a second and say that I have been honored to represent the Speaker on the podium, and there’s nothing like having the view from up there. Because the view from up there is of all of you, and that’s the best view I have had, I think, in my life. I will take that in my heart as I go to the state Department.

I want to thank all the people behind the scenes who work so hard to make sure that we do the job that we do. I am not saying goodbye, I am just saying farewell for the time being. I expect I will work with you all very well, but know that this has been the best experience of my life.

God bless you. God bless America.

Posted on Friday, June 26th, 2009
Under: Congressional District 10, Ellen Tauscher | No Comments »

HHS offers California health reform talking points

The story I wrote earlier this week about Rep. Barbara Lee’s health-care reform discussion forum Monday in Oakland brought a lot of varied responses from readers. For example, here are two e-mails I received within a few minutes of each other yesterday:

Thank you for a great article. The only solution to the Healthcare problem is a single payer plan. It cannot and should not be dismissed. The naysayer Republicans have no alternative plan to get the 47 million plus people healthcare coverage. The question should be how do we get healthcare for all rather than how do we get healthcare for all without hurting the profit of the Insurance Industry.

Now is the time for real change. They should never have been allowed to take single payer plan off the table. Many feel that we will be lucky if we get a public plan but that should not even be a question.

And…

Can you send me some of the kool aide these people must be drinking?

Everyone quotes the number of people without health care at 46million, but the report this comes from states that it is more likely in the area of 38 million, looking at the actual number of people without heath care at any one point in time. If you consider non-Americans, you can take out another 20%. And if you consider the number of people earning over $75k a year and who just don’t want to be bothered, you actally end up with a really small number of people lacking insurance.

Anyway, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius this morning released a series of state-by-state reports on the health care status quo in order to highlight the need for health reform.

“In states across the country, health care costs are going up and families are struggling to get the quality care they need and deserve,” Sebelius said in her news release. “We cannot wait to pass reform that protects what works about health care and fixes what’s broken.”

“The American people have been calling for reform, and they should not have to wait any longer. Health reform will assure quality affordable health care for all Americans, lower costs, and give more Americans the choices they deserve. The time for reform is now.”

Read the report on California, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, June 26th, 2009
Under: General, healthcare reform | 1 Comment »

Watch video of Tauscher’s goodbye to Congress

Politics Daily posted this video of Rep. Ellen Tauscher’s good-byes to the U.S. House of Representatives this morning.

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Posted on Friday, June 26th, 2009
Under: Congressional District 10, Ellen Tauscher | No Comments »

Pelosi issues statement on Tauscher

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent out this statement about the confirmation of Rep. Ellen Tauscher as undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security:

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued the following statement today on the Senate vote to confirm Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher of California as Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.

“On behalf of all Members of Congress, I congratulate our friend and colleague, Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher, on her new role as Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.  The House will certainly miss Congresswoman Tauscher’s leadership, but the entire nation will continue to benefit from her expertise, talent, and experience.


“Congresswoman Tauscher has long been a leader on issues of national security and a great advocate on behalf of our veterans.  With her selection to serve in the Obama Administration and her confirmation by the Senate, she has brought great pride to Congress and to California.  All of in the Congress wish her well in her new role.”

Posted on Friday, June 26th, 2009
Under: Congressional District 10 | No Comments »

Chevron counsel targeted for alleged torture role

The National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter, a liberal political and social justice nonprofit, yesterday delivered more than 100 complaints against former Defense Department General Counsel William Haynes – now chief corporate counsel for San Ramon-based oil giant Chevron – to the California State Bar’s offices in San Francisco.

The guild says the complaints came from ordinary Americans demanding that the State Bar thoroughly investigate and issue a written decision on Haynes’ actions and inactions at the Defense Department regarding the legal framework for indefinite detentions, military tribunals and “enhanced interrogation” – which many since have deemed torture – of terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay. Complaints came mostly from California residents but also from as far away as Maine and Washington D.C., the guild said, and still are arriving by mail to the guild’s offices, all eventually to be forwarded to the State Bar.

“This campaign is appropriate because William Haynes was one of the lawyers shaping policy that harmed so many prisoners and put all of us in greater danger,” NLGSF Executive Director Carlos Villarreal said in a news release. “Anyone can file a complaint against a California lawyer, and while the process should never be abused, the process ought to be available to anyone and everyone when a lawyer commits wrongdoing from a position of power in our government resulting in such a devastating and widespread effect.”

The State Bar closed without prejudice – meaning, allowing the right to re-file – a more detailed complaint filed by the NLGSF in March; the NLGSF intends to ask for a formal review of that decision next week.

“The State Bar investigates and disciplines far less powerful attorneys who have committed far less egregious acts,” NLGSF Executive Board Member Sharon Adams of Berkeley said in the release. “It was surprising that they would close our complaint without even initiating an investigation. It seems to contradict one of the most important functions of the State Bar – to protect the public.”

“Haynes is still in a position to do great harm, undoubtedly shaping the actions of a major corporation that has committed human rights abuses around the world and had a major impact on our environment,” she added. “There is no doubt that the public needs to be proactive when a lawyer like Haynes is still granted the privilege of practicing law and crafting policies that will continue to have an enormous impact on people.”

Posted on Friday, June 26th, 2009
Under: Civil liberties, War on Terror | 2 Comments »