Barbara Lee: ‘Don’t call it a jobs bill’

The U.S. Senate voted 70-28 today to pass a $15 billion jobs bill, sending it back to the House; eight Republicans who on Monday either opposed or didn’t vote on ending debate and bringing the bill to a final floor vote actually voted to pass it today. Maybe they have some ‘splainin’ to do?

The bill would give tax breaks to businesses that hire unemployed people, and would jump-start spending on public works projects. When the House passed it in December on a 217-212 vote, it had been a much broader, $154 billion bill.

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., says the version the Senate passed today is dandy:

“This jobs bill is a positive step forward and welcome news for California, where the unemployment rate is 12.4 percent and more than 2.25 million Californians out of work.

“It was passed with Republican support, and I’m hopeful that this is a sign of a new bipartisanship in the Senate on one of the greatest issues facing the nation. I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues — Democrats and Republicans — to pass more legislation that puts Americans back to work.”

U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Commiteee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., agrees:

“Today, 70 Senators voted ‘aye’ and recognized the need to put jobs over politics. The infrastructure measures in this bill are going to save or create well over a million jobs.”

But Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, calls the bill “disappointing, to say the least:”

“Since President Obama’s announcement of the jobs bill in December, the CBC has expressed to the White House, House and Senate leadership interest in ensuring the chronically unemployed be targeted for opportunities to seek training and employment in the jobs bill.

“Data that suggest that the chronically unemployed include African Americans and other communities of color with unemployment rates significantly higher than the national average; youth and adult workers in need of enhanced education and training; and those who have lost their jobs as a result of the weakened economy and/or have been unemployed for at least six months.

“When presented with a powerful opportunity to create jobs and address the growing unemployment rates among the chronically unemployed, the Senate responded with a whimper. A ‘go slow’, piecemeal approach will do little to address our nation’s need for employment.

“It is critical that policy solutions include not only small business relief but worker training, the use of existing federal programs and targeted job creation to those communities with the highest rates and longest history of unemployment. Until the needs of the chronically unemployed are met, we implore leadership to stop calling this ‘the jobs bill.’”


Campaign finance update: Perata and booze

Oakland mayoral candidate and former state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata’s Hope 2010 ballot measure committee gave $20,000 last Thursday to Californians for a Cure, the committee formed by the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association and cancer research doctors to push the tobacco-tax-for-cancer-research measure Perata helped put forth.

Hope 2010 reported having $721,835 in the bank at 2009’s end, but as reported earlier, the committee has been spending directly to promote the measure (and, though he’d surely say it’s not the intent, to get his name into Oakland voters’ mailboxes).

And the alcohol industry is anteing up big time for the Stop Hidden Taxes ballot measure committee, formed by the California Chamber of Commerce and the California Taxpayers’ Association both to oppose a proposed ballot measure to lower the Legislative vote threshold for budget bills from two-thirds to a simple majority, and to support the chamber’s proposed measure to increase the Legislative vote threshold for state levies and charges (including alcohol levies!) from a simple majority to two-thirds.

The past week has seen contributions of $25,000 from the San Francisco-based Wine Institute (above the $25,000 it gave earlier this month); $20,000 from beer giant Crown Imports LLC of Chicago; $20,000 from the California Beer & Beverage Distributors Issues PAC; and $25,000 from MillerCoors of Milwaukee. The Wine Institute’s $25,000 had just come in as contributions of $2,500 each from Cline Cellars in Sonoma; J Vineyards & Winery in Healdsburg; Jordan Vineyard & Winery in Healdsburg; Kunde Estate Winery & Vineyards in Kenwood; Newton Vineyard in St. Helena; Pax Wine Cellars in Santa Rosa; Ridge Vineyards/Lytton Springs in Healdsburg; Rombauer Vineyards in St. Helena; Sonoma Wine Company in Graton; and ZWine Company LLC in Napa.


Will Cal prof face tough confirmation battle?

Goodwin LiuI’ve filed a story today about President Barack Obama nominating University of California, Berkeley Boalt Hall Law School Associate Dean and Professor Goodwin Liu to a seat on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

All I’m hearing so far today are words of praise from his supporters, but – and I’m just spitballing, here – I’d guess some Republicans might not be so complimentary when his nomination comes to the U.S. Senate for confirmation, perhaps because:

1.) He’s a Democrat.

2.) He’s a Democrat from Berkeley.

3.) He’s 39 years old, and this is a lifetime appointment.

4.) He co-authored (with Stanford Law Professor Pamela Karlan and Duke Law Professor Christopher Schroeder) “Keeping Faith with the Constitution,” a 2009 book that won’t win him fans among constitutional originalists. The authors described a theory of “constitutional fidelity,” holding that the Constitution’s authority and legitimacy over time relies on its words and principles being “made relevant to the conditions and challenges of each generation through an ongoing process of interpretation.”

5.) He also last year wrote a sharp critique of the Bush Administration’s civil-rights record, which he said “reveals a shift away from traditional enforcement priorities and, more significantly, a worrisome erosion of institutional norms of impartiality, professionalism, and nonpartisanship in civil rights enforcement.” The article also examined the Bush Administration’s handling of the University of Michigan affirmative action cases; the No Child Left Behind K–12 education initiative; and the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina. “The primary lesson is that, although our society shares a broad commitment to diversity and inclusion, we have yet to develop the political will or the policy frameworks to address the social dysfunctions arising from the intersection of race and poverty.”


What will the governor’s next job be?



You read it here first: Former California GOP spokesman Patrick Dorinson, a communications consultant and author of the Cowboy Libertarian blog, predicts that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s next job will be that of national green jobs czar, the post held previously held by the fired Van Jones.

Dorinson says he was watching the governor make the post-National Governors Association conference talk-show circuit, where Schwarzenegger  criticized Republicans for failing to cooperate with President Barack Obama and the jobs agenda. Schwarzenegger also had a private meeting with Obama.

“It came to me, Arnold wants the green jobs czar job,” Dorinson says. “He can travel around the country saying ‘That’s faaahntahstic!’ There are no responsibilities.”

Dorinson predicts an announcement around Christmastime or just after the first of the year. I’ll put it on my calendar and put Dorinson’s predictive powers to the test.

Do you have a prediction? Send it to me at lvorderbrueggen@bayareanewsgroup.com.

Meanwhile, Jones has landed on his feet.

As my colleague Josh Richman wrote today, Jones has a new job. The 41-year-old will serve at Center for American Progress as a senior fellow to lead its new Green Opportunity Initiative. He also has been appointed distinguished visiting fellow in the Center for African American Studies and in the Program in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

Jones is the Oakland social- and environmental-justice activist and author who went to Washington last year as Obama’s “green jobs czar,” only to be let go in the face of conservative criticism.


Van Jones receives new gig, accolades

Van Jones – the Oakland social- and environmental-justice activist and author who went to Washington last year as President Barack Obama’s “green jobs czar,” only to be let go in the face of conservative criticism – has joined a White House-friendly think tank in a similar capacity.

Jones, 41, rejoins the Center for American Progress as a senior fellow to lead its new Green Opportunity Initiative.

“We are thrilled that Van Jones is joining us to spearhead a ‘green opportunity’ agenda to develop the policies and strategies that will ensure the clean-energy future brings not just climate stability and energy security, but also broadly shared economic prosperity,” Kate Gordon, CAP’s Vice President for Energy Policy, said in a news release today.

Jones will work with CAP’s existing Energy Opportunity team to develop an agenda for expanding investment, innovation, and opportunity through clean energy and environmental restoration – especially for low-income and minority communities. That’s exactly what he was doing as founder of Oakland-based Green For All, as author of the 2008 New York Times bestseller “The Green Collar Economy;” and then from March through September 2009 as special advisor for green jobs at the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

CAP President and CEO John Podesta called Jones “a pioneer in the effort to promote a clean, sustainable economy that works for all Americans. I’m proud that he’s coming back to CAP to focus on creating economic opportunity in distressed communities through the Green Opportunity Initiative and that he will be giving voice to those issues once again.”

Jones resigned his White House post after conservatives targeted him for past political activities including his 1990s association with a Marxist group and a public comment disparaging congressional Republicans.

In his first interview since his resignation, Jones told the Washington Post he has no “bitterness or anger” about what transpired last year. “The good thing about being an American is you’re free to think whatever you want, and you’re also free to change your mind. That’s my story. . . . God willing, I’ve got 10 or 20 years, 30 years, three decades more work to do. And it’s my hope and belief that people will judge me based on that work.”

And in a column today on the Huffington Post, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People President Benjamin Jealous – a former Alameda resident – wrote he’s proud to be presenting Jones with the NAACP President’s Award at the organization’s 41st Image Awards this Friday.

“Far from the divisive caricature painted by some cable news outlets, Van has been one of America’s most effective and inspiring bridge-builders,” Jealous wrote. “He has successfully brought together labor leaders, business executives, civil rights champions, students and environmentalists to find creative solutions to the ecological and economic crises.”

The Center for American Progress was launched in 2003 and has been supported since with funding from a pair of East Bay billionaire banking moguls. Herb and Marion Sandler made their fortune by building Oakland-based Golden West Financial Corp. — parent company of World Savings Bank — into one of the nation’s largest savings and loans, before selling it to Wachovia Bank in 2006 for $24.2 billion.

The think tank has had close ties to the Obama Administration from the get-go. Podesta, a former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, went on leave from CAP for a while to serve as one of three co-chairs of Obama’s transition team. Several CAP fellows and trustees were appointed to Obama Administration posts, and CAP consistently has helped shape the message on Obama Administration initiatives including health care reform, economic stimulus and national security.

UPDATE @ 11:07 A.M.: Looks as if Jones also has been appointed distinguished visiting fellow in the Center for African American Studies and in the Program in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.


More budget woes on Contra Costa’s horizon

Contra Costa County Administrator David Twa delivered today what has become a standard litany of bad news: More cuts, more pain, more layoffs, more of the same.

In particular, he reminded the Board of Supervisors that the Contra Costa Fire Department will burn through its reserves by July 1, 2011, and run out of money. There’s talk of closing as many as four fire stations.

And Contra Costa Chief Probation Officer Lionel Chatman told the board he was perilously close to sending a letter to the courts and advising them that he no longer had enough money to deliver his department’s mandated services.

But the comment that perked up the ears of the other department heads came from Local Firefighters Union 1230 President Vince Wells, who urged the board to consider using funds that would be set aside to reduce the county’s unfunded post-retirement benefits, or OPEB, liability.

Supervisor Susan Bonilla, who is running for state Assembly in the Democratic primary, brought the subject up again later, and said she wanted that option on the table.

If the board taps into the OPEB set-aside as a source of emergency cash, it will represent a 180-degree turnaround from its previous commitment to reducing the liability. It will also generate a political backlash among critics who say the county needs to put aside more and not less money to pay down its retiree health care obligations.

The county administrator will present his budget on April 20 and the board is scheduled to adopt a final spending plan on May 11. Layoffs as a result of the new budget — Twa says they are inevitable — will occur after May 11.

View video clips of budget-related comments below:

Vince Wells, president of Contra Costa Firefighters Local 1230

Local One business agent Rollie Katz:

Contra Costa Sheriff Warren Rupf

Contra Costa District Attorney Robert Kochly

Contra Costa Chief Probation Officer Lionel Chatman