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Archive for October, 2009

Boxer: GOP boycott won’t stop climate-change bill

U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., is moving ahead with her cap-and-trade climate change bill despite Republican threats to boycott next Tuesday’s mark-up session.

“That won’t stop us. We’re going to use every tool at our disposal to get that done,” she said this afternoon during a visit to Blue Bottle Coffee Co. on Webster Street near Oakland’s Jack London Square, at which she was touting her efforts to support small businesses through the economic downturn. Asked to elucidate on “every tool at our disposal,” she replied, “We’ll use the rules of the committee.”

“We are going to sit down on Tuesday, we’re ready to go, we’re not canceling it,” she said “I’m still hoping the Republicans will come to the committee room and do their work.”

Boxer said she can’t imagine why anyone with a chance to end America’s dependence on foreign oil, combat climate change and create jobs all at the same time would boycott such an opportunity, going “absent without leave, AWOL” at a moment so vital to the nation’s interests. She urged the committee’s Republican members to “try to work with us, let’s try to get something done.”

Part of the small-business support scheme of which Boxer spoke today was affordable health care, which she said absolutely must contain a public option. U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., this week said he’ll refuse to caucus with Senate Democrats to break a filibuster on any health care reform legislation containing a public option.

Boxer in 2006 was among Senate Democrats who went to Connecticut to stump for Lieberman in the Democratic primary – angering many of her more liberal constituents, given his support of the Iraq war and other stances – though she later supported Democratic nominee Ned Lamont in that year’s general election. And Senate Democrats have been kind to Lieberman since, including letting him keep his chairmanship of the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, in hopes he would caucus with them on vital votes such as this.

Asked today what she thought of Lieberman’s health care stance, Boxer replied she “can’t answer for him, I just want to say that we have to get this (health care reform) done.”

“All of our colleagues will be making important decisions, but at the end of the day, we can do this with a majority, not a super-majority,” she said, making it clear she was speaking for herself and not for Senate Democratic leaders.

Democrats would need 60 votes for cloture to overcome a Republican filibuster and bring a health-care bill to the floor for a final vote, but there’s been talk that they might use a procedure called “budget reconciliation” to move the bill through with just 50 votes.

Posted on Friday, October 30th, 2009
Under: Barbara Boxer, energy, Environment, General, Global warming, healthcare reform, Joe Lieberman, U.S. Senate | 4 Comments »

Newsom out of governor’s race

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has withdrawn from the governor’s race.

Here is Newsom’s statement sent a few minutes ago:

It is with great regret I announce today that I am withdrawing from the race for governor of California.

With a young family and responsibilities at city hall, I have found it impossible to commit the time required to complete this effort the way it needs to – and should be – done.

This is not an easy decision. But it is one made with the best intentions for my wife, my daughter, the residents of the city and county of San Francisco, and California Democrats.

When I embarked on this campaign in April, my goal was to engage thousands and thousands of Californians dedicated to reforming our broken system and bringing change to Sacramento.

I would like to thank those supporters, volunteers, and donors who have worked so hard on my behalf. I have been humbled by their support and am indebted to their efforts. They represent the spirit of change and determination essential to putting California back on the right track.

I will continue to fight for change and the causes and issues for which I care deeply – universal health care, a cleaner environment, and a green economy for our families, better education for our children, and, of course, equal rights under the law for all citizens.

Posted on Friday, October 30th, 2009
Under: 2010 governor's race | 9 Comments »

National HIV/AIDS discussion Sunday in Berkeley

The next National HIV/AIDS Community Discussion will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. this Sunday, Nov. 1 in the Little Theater at Berkeley High School, 1980 Allston Way, according to the White House.

These discussions, hosted by the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP), offer the public a chance to provide input as the White House works to fulfill the President’s pledge to develop a National HIV/AIDS Strategy.

That strategy – in light of more than 56,000 new HIV infections happening in the United States each year – will aim to reduce infections, increase access to care, and reduce HIV-related health disparities. Alameda County since 1998 has declared an official state of emergency due to the high HIV infection rate among African Americans.

Among those scheduled to participate Sunday are ONAP director Jeffrey Crowley; Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; California Office of AIDS chief Dr. Michelle Roland; the Rev. Elouise Oliver, pastor of the East Bay Church of Religious Science; and Dr. Lisha Wilson, Medical Director of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation Magic Johnson Oakland and San Francisco clinics.

Sunday’s event is open to the public, but an RSVP is required; click here to register.

Posted on Friday, October 30th, 2009
Under: Barbara Lee, Berkeley | 1 Comment »

AG candidates oppose marijuana legalization

I’ll have a story in Sunday’s editions about what legalized marijuana might look like were any of the proposed ballot measures now circulating for petition signatures, or a bill now pending in the Legislature, to be enacted. In trying to characterize law enforcement’s opposition, I decided to check in with all of the candidates for California Attorney General. And, don’tcha know, all the folks who responded are dead set against legalization.

From Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico, D-Newark:

“Cannabis is a powerful medicine appropriate and necessary to treat the side effects of many serious illnesses, from HIV/AIDS to cancer. It is not, and should not be made into, a legal recreational drug or a new revenue source. We need to support the appropriate medical use of marijuana with strong new regulations and oversight of medical marijuana collectives.

“Even in the midst of this terrible fiscal crisis, the last way we want to balance our budget is by putting the state in the position of profiting from recreational drug use.”

From Brian Brokaw, campaign manager for San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, a Democrat:

“As a career prosecutor, District Attorney Harris believes that drug selling harms communities; it is not a ‘victimless crime,’ as some contend. While the D.A. supports the legal use of medicinal marijuana, she does not support the legalization of marijuana beyond that.”

From former Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Chris Kelly, a Democrat:

“California led the nation in passing the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. Now that the U.S. Justice Department has said they will not enforce the federal law against states, we should ensure that existing state law in California on this specific issue is appropriately implemented, including building the necessary regulatory structure, before we take any next steps. Therefore, I oppose all 3 measures and the Ammiano bill.”

From Tim Rosales, campaign manager for state Sen. Tom Harman, R-Huntington Beach:

“Tom Harman does not support any further liberalization of drug laws, including marijuana.”

Spokespeople for Assembly members Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, and Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara, didn’t return my e-mail, nor did former Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo’s campaign.

Posted on Friday, October 30th, 2009
Under: 2010 election, Alberto Torrico, Attorney General, ballot measures, Kamala Harris, marijuana | 2 Comments »

Another award for Schwarzenegger

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke at the Georgetown University McDonough School of Business Gala in celebration of a new building’s opening last night in Washington, D.C..

McDonough School Dean George Daly also presented Schwarzenegger with the school’s Dean’s Medal, “which is the highest honor bestowed by the dean,” according to news releases from the school and the governor. The school says former recipients have included Prince Philipp of Liechtenstein; former Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez; and Ann Misiaszek Sarnoff, chief operating officer of the Women’s National Basketball Association.

I contacted Teresa Mannix, the school’s media relations director, to inquire about whether there are any criteria for this honor, or whether it’s basically an honorary award bestowed upon notable people when they come to speak at the school. After all, it seems a little puzzling for a distinguished business school to bestow its highest honor upon a chief executive whose “business entity” — the State of California — is in such a severe state of fiscal disarray, and who seems to have lost the confidence of his “board of directors” — the people who elected him.

That would be like the National Park Trust giving an award to someone for leadership and innovation in protecting public lands, just one day after that same someone announced state park closures due to budget cuts. Oh, wait – that happened, too.

Mannix’s response is that the medal “recognizes those who have distinguished themselves in various fields. It is not bestowed on all of our notable speakers.”

There you have it – “distinguished.”

Posted on Friday, October 30th, 2009
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, General | 3 Comments »

Obama and Lee on the public option, Afghanistan

President Barack Obama met yesterday afternoon at the White House with members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, trying to allay their fears about the public option included in the newly revamped House health care reform bill. They’ve wanted a public plan with rates based on Medicare, but the new bill would let providers negotiated directly with the federal government.

Here’s what Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Barbara Lee had to say about the meeting:

“This is a truly historic time in our country. Today, we are closer to comprehensive health care reform than we have ever been in the past 70 years.

“I applaud our leadership for their efforts to unveil the current bill. While I have worked with my colleagues consistently to include a public option in this bill there is still work to do. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to ensure that the final package has the strongest public option and health equity provisions possible.

“A public option is essential to ensuring coverage of as many uninsured Americans as possible, as well as cost containment provisions to limit increased premiums for the 85 percent of Americans who currently have health insurance.

“In our meeting with President Obama I emphasized the importance of having the public option remain in the final bill to come out of conference. Additionally, it is important to keep every existing health equity provision intact. The Office of Minority Health should receive the same prioritization that the Office of Women’s Health is set to receive, especially given the data on racial and ethnic health disparities.

“More than 70 percent of Americans support health care reform with a public option, therefore we have a moral obligation to provide them with the choice and accountability that a public plan would provide.”

Also, check out this Huffington Post interview with Lee about her bill, H.R. 3699, that would bar federal funding to send more troops to Afghanistan.

Posted on Friday, October 30th, 2009
Under: Afghanistan, Barack Obama, Barbara Lee, healthcare reform, Obama presidency, U.S. House | 5 Comments »

CD10: CBS poll shows Garamendi leads by 10 points

Harmer

Harmer

Garamendi

Garamendi

A new CBS Channel 5 poll conducted by SurveyUSA shows Democratic Lt. Gov. John Garamendi ahead of his GOP opponent David Harmer by 10 points.

Garamendi received 50 percent support, while Harmer took 40 percent followed by 6 percent for one of the three minor party candidates. Only 4 percent were undecided.

Folks may recall that SurveyUSA is the same outfit KPIX hired to do several pre-primary polls in this race. They turned out to be remarkably accurate.

The results of the only independent poll in this race reflect a wider gap than what Harmer’s campaign people said their internal poll of several weeks ago, a trend that should have gone the other direction if Harmer was gaining traction.

But given Democrats’ 18-point registration lead in the 10th District, it seems as though Garamendi ought to have a bigger lead.

The answer may be found in the results for decline-to-state voter, where Harmer leads 42 to 35 percent; it’s a group Harmer has targeted.

SurveyUSA conducted the automated robo-style survey of 581 registered voters on Oct. 26-28. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.1 percent.

In its other findings:

1) Half of the respondents have already voted by mail

2) Garamendi leads among women, whites, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Democrats, moderates, liberals, college graduates, pro-choice voters and Obama supporters.

3) Harmer leads among Republicans, independents, conservatives, regular church-goers, pro-life voters, gun-owners and McCain supporters.

Click here to download the poll from KPIX’s Web site.

Posted on Thursday, October 29th, 2009
Under: 2009 CD10 special election | 6 Comments »

What they’re saying about the rise in GDP

From President’s Council of Economic Advisers Chairwoman Christina Romer:

“Data released today by the Commerce Department show that real GDP [Gross Domestic Product] grew at an annual rate of 3.5 percent in the third quarter of the year. This is in stark contrast to the decline of 6.4 percent annual rate just two quarters ago. Indeed, the two-quarter swing in the rate of growth of 9.9 percentage points was the largest since 1980. Analysis by both the Council of Economic Advisers and a wide range of private and public-sector forecasters indicates that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 contributed between 3 and 4 percentage points to real GDP growth in the third quarter. This suggests that in the absence of the Recovery Act, real GDP would have risen little, if at all, this past quarter.”

“After four consecutive quarters of decline, positive GDP growth is an encouraging sign that the U.S. economy is moving in the right direction. However, this welcome milestone is just another step, and we still have a long road to travel until the economy is fully recovered. The turnaround in crucial labor market indicators, such as employment and the unemployment rate, typically occurs after the turnaround in GDP. And it will take sustained, robust GDP growth to bring the unemployment rate down substantially. Such a decline in unemployment is, of course, what we are all working to achieve.”

From House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio:

“Any positive signs for our economy are welcome, but a jobless recovery is not what the American people were promised. President Obama and his economic team said the trillion-dollar ‘stimulus’ would create jobs immediately and keep the unemployment rate below eight percent. Since then, roughly three million jobs have been lost and unemployment has risen to near 10 percent.

“For millions of out-of-work families struggling to make ends meet, this recession feels far from over. Yet even now, after the Obama Administration’s top economist has stated that the ‘stimulus’ already had its greatest impact on the economy, Washington Democrats are intent on staying the course and trying to spend, tax, and borrow their way to prosperity. Republicans have proposed fiscally responsible solutions to help small businesses create good-paying jobs and get our economy moving again.”

From House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Martinez:

“Today’s news is another important indicator that the Recovery Act is beginning to repair our economy and get our nation back on its feet. While it will take time for all these investments to kick in, we know that the Recovery Act has already helped to stave off hundreds of thousands of pink slips being planned.

“While saving and creating jobs must be a central concern, we also must ensure that Americans still looking for work have the temporary support they need to get by and that displaced workers have access to the education and training they need to succeed in the jobs of the future. We won’t rest until the millions who lost their jobs during this economic crisis have an opportunity to work and are ready to help shape a new era of economic growth and innovation.”

Posted on Thursday, October 29th, 2009
Under: economy, General, George Miller, John Boehner, U.S. House | 2 Comments »

Rep. Miller optimistic about health bill’s passage

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez

Democratic Rep. George Miller, chairman of one of three House committees that jointly wrote health reform legislation unveiled today, predicts the bill will pass before Veteran’s Day.

In a telephone conference call this morning with reporters, Miller said only a few issues remain unresolved.

“I am confident a vote will happen,” said Miller, chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee and top policy adviser to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “There are some discussions going on about abortion but in terms of the core contents of the bill with respect to medical reform and how we pay for it … over the course of the past week, we have arrived at the consensus necessary to get more than the 218 votes we need to pass this legislation.”

It is one thing to persuade his Democratic colleagues.

It is another thing, of course, to convey the details of the complex, 2,000-page bill to constituents who have been buffeted on the airwaves and in newspapers for months between vastly disparate and contradictory views on how to reform the nation’s health care system.

To that end, Miller said he will hold more telephone town halls in his district in the next week, where constituents have the opportunity to ask him questions about the 2,000-page bill.

Read the full bill at edlabor.house.gov.

Click here to participate in Miller’s Tuesday telephone town hall at 7 p.m.You will be asked for your telephone number and you should keep in mind that not all callers will have the opportunity to ask a question during the hour-long event; thousands of people often join the call and several hundred people may want to ask questions.

Contact his Concord office at 925-602-1880 and let his staff know if you wish to be advised of the time and details of other telephone town halls.

Posted on Thursday, October 29th, 2009
Under: George Miller, healthcare reform | 2 Comments »

CD10: National GOP drops mailers for Harmer

The National Republican Congressional Committee has dropped two mailers (shown below) in the 10th District on behalf of GOP candidate David Harmer, providing a late but clear investment in a heavily Democratic district most political experts view as unwinnable for a Republican.

The election is Nov. 3 but many voters have already cast their ballots in the mail. Election officials expect the percentage of those who vote by mail in this low turnout special election will exceed 75 percent.

The mailers do not actually mention Harmer’s name. Both mailers urge voters to vote “no” on his opponent, Democratic Lt. Gov. John Garamendi.

One shows Garamendi pictured with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and says the two Democrats’ policies are sending Americans into the poor house. The other targets Garamendi’s support for tax increases.

Posted on Thursday, October 29th, 2009
Under: 2009 CD10 special election | 4 Comments »