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Lee, Obama advisor tout stimulus in Oakland

Rep. Barbara Lee started the week by accompanying a White House official to tout economic stimulus spending in the East Bay, and she finished it the same way.

Lee and Jarrett 3-5-10 -- photo by Josh RichmanLee, D-Oakland, toured Oakland’s San Antonio Neighborhood Health Center on Friday morning with Valerie Jarrett, President Barack Obama’s Senior Advisor and Assistant for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement.

La Clinica de La Raza, which operates this and 24 other community health centers in Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano counties, received $2.1 million in capital-improvement funds and $880,000 to support increased demand for services under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, not to mention $382,000 in other earmarks requested by Lee for facility improvements. CEO Jane Garcia said many of the patients served by La Clinica – which has more than 650 employees, at least 18 of whom were hired with Recovery Act money – are recently unemployed and uninsured.

Lee, who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus, said she and other caucus leaders met Thursday with President Obama to discuss health-care reform legislation, which in its current form carries another $11 billion for community health centers. It’s part of an overall philosophy that health care is “a basic human right rather than a privilege,” she said.

Jarrett praised the facility, calling it proof positive that the Recovery Act funds are being well-spent.

And Lois Watkins of Oakland, who said she has been a patient at the center since 1985, said that “to us seniors it’s a blessing, it’s a godsend;” she embraced Lee and Jarrett as staffers applauded.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Mike F.

    Too bad nobody was there to remind them that funding a health clinic is not an economic stimulus.

    “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

    The economy will grow with the creation of jobs that produce something, not free health care services.