About the worker kerfuffle at Solyndra

KRON-TV reported today that union construction workers had been told to stay home today, losing a day’s pay, due to President Barack Obama’s visit to Fremont-based Solyndra Inc.’s not-yet-completed manufacturing plant.

The Republican National Committee and Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee jumped all over it — “Obama should be more focused on helping Californians get back to work, instead of keeping them from it,” said RNC spokesman Jahan Wilcox — but company spokesman David Miller says that’s not exactly what happened.

“After a tour of Solyndra’s Fab 1, President Obama met with union construction workers before his speech, photos of which can been seen on line from various news sources. Some of these construction workers shared compliments with Solyndra executives on being able to participate in the event. Further, in preparation for President Obama’s visit, there was significant overtime paid to construction workers.

“Due to President Obama’s visit and security for the event that was held, for several hours the construction work on the site was put on hold. Today, immediately after the event was over, construction work resumed. The workers are not losing a day of pay; rather the day will be made up down the road. The construction work that was put on hold during this shift still needs to get done. This is the same as what happens with a weather-related ‘rain-day’ construction site shut down.

“Please note the workers affected today work were subcontractors for Rudolph and Sletten, not employees of Solyndra.

“Finally, Solyndra hopes to build the second phase of its Fab 2 project, and is looking forward to enabling additional construction jobs for this project.”

Miller also noted that the $535 million loan guarantee that Solyndra received from the Energy Department under the Recovery Act to build this new factory has created 3,000 construction jobs, and the project has been running at least two shifts a day, six days a week since the groundbreaking last September, paying out more than $90 million in union wages.

I did see some Rudolph and Sletten workers wearing hard-hats at the speech, but there wasn’t room in the secured area to accomodate hundreds more.


Pete Stark, on what the President didn’t say

Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, didn’t accompany President Barack Obama to a Recovery Act-supported solar panel manufacturing plant in his district today because he was stuck on Capitol Hill amid a steady flow of bills this week.

But he weighed in this afternoon on what the President did and didn’t say about making clean energy a centerpiece of the region’s and the nation’s economic rebound. Although the president spoke about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill as an indicator of the nation’s need to wean itself from fossil fuels, Stark noted he didn’t speak about one important facet of that.

Pete Stark“My sense is that what he’s got to deal with is coal. ‘Clean coal’ is an oxymoron, there is no such thing,” Stark said. “I think the tradeoff is nuclear. If we can find a reasonable storage disposal for the waste, then I think we have to become like other industrialized nations, a nuclear nation, and get rid of coal.”

“That’s a major, major change for this country, but I don’t see an alternative,” Stark continued. “He (Obama) doesn’t want to step on any toes, but I don’t think you can do the things he wants to do unless you take a stand. That would be my criticism of the current administration… We’re not moving forward.”

Stark today introduced a Defense Authorization Act amendment that would strike the additional $362 million that a House committee added onto the $9.9 billion that the Pentagon is seeking for a missile-defense system.

“I’d strike the entire thing if I could,” he said. “I think were spending too much on defense, anyway.”

“For years this missile defense thing I think has been a boondoggle, it’s a thing that doesn’t work. They’ve fussed with it at the Lawrence (Livermore National) Lab and it’s just a dream – they can do some stuff short range, but they just can’t hit anything.”

He acknowledged his amendment could have a tough political hill to climb. “The concept here, among conservatives in particular, is that they will fuss over anything we want to spend for Medicare or education or cleaning up the environment – all of that is wasteful – but the minute you mention the military, oh that’s patriotic and antiterrorism.”

This $362 million is money the nation “could spend on a lot of other things, hopefully not war-related,” he said. “Hopefully this will take a direct point at that, hopefully we’ll get enough progressive votes to make a difference.”


President Obama’s speech, verbatim

I’ve filed my article on the President’s speech this morning at Solyndra Inc. in Fremont, and I’ll be adding to it shortly. But if you’d like to read it exactly as it was said, take a gander after the jump…
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CD11: Was Harmer bailed out?

David Harmer

David Harmer

Stockton Record columnist Michael Fitzgerald published today a very interesting piece on CD11 Republican primary candidate David Harmer.

By Michael Fitzgerald
Record Columnist
May 26, 2010 12:00 AM

Republican congressional candidate David Harmer denounces bailouts, the stimulus package and Obamacare. But did he accept a bailout of his own?

Harmer, a small-government conservative, is vying for the Republican nomination to run against Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, in the 11th congressional district.

At his Stockton breakfast, as most campaign stops, Harmer blasted “the so-called stimulus that has not stimulated anything but government spending and federal debt.”

Declared Harmer, “We’re disgusted by it.”

Harmer’s brush with the bailout was more than ideological. Before flipping his hat into the ring for the 11th District seat, he worked for Washington Mutual.

An attorney, Harmer worked ensuring WaMu complied with federal credit regulations.

WaMu went belly-up in the mortgage meltdown. The bank was acquired by JPMorgan Chase.

JPMorgan Chase received $25 billion in federal bailout money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP.

JPMorgan Chase laid Harmer off.

Harmer received a $75,406 bonus.

He also received $84,586 in severance, according to his federal financial disclosure forms.

Click here to read the entire column.


Staffers preview Obama’s Fremont speech

White House staffers held a teleconference with reporters today to preview what President Barack Obama will say about jobs and the economy at a Fremont solar-panel manufacturing company tomorrow.

Air Force One is due to touch down at San Francisco International Airport in a few hours, and the President will be headed into San Francisco for a pair of pricey fundraisers to benefit the re-election campaign of U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Tomorrow morning he’ll be at Solyndra Inc., which received a $535 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy – funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Obama Administration’s economic stimulus package – to build a big new manufacturing plant just up the road from its existing facility.

Jared Bernstein, chief economist to Vice President Joe Biden, told reporters today “we’re excited about what Solyndra is doing and about the president’s trip” as a chance to “get out of the beltway bubble” and see, hear and feel what’s going on in the economy, good and bad.

The Recovery Act has created or saved 2.5 million jobs, Bernstein said, but that’s not enough – the nation needs far more robust job growth. He cited the President’s recent comment that “the only economic news most people want to hear is ‘You’re hired.’ ”

Solyndra is not only about new jobs today, but also “about new industries tomorrow,” Bernstein said – a clean-energy industry that will protect the environment while reducing dependency on foreign oil. With the economy still shaky, unemployment still to high and credit still hard to get, government must continue to provide incentives for such progress, he said.

Matt Rogers, Senior Advisor to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, said tomorrow’s event is “a good opportunity to reflect on where we’ve come with the Recovery act, and where we’re headed.”

Solyndra is expected to produce 230 megawatts worth of solar panels per year, with the first product rolling off its new assembly line sometime this fall, Rogers said. This is an example of the United States re-establishing its leadership in clean energy high-tech manufacturing, an underpinning of the economy just as important as the innovation that makes it possible.

And “the good news will be compounded if you look just down the street from Solyndra,” he added, where Tesla and Toyota are partnering to produce electric vehicles at the recently-closed New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI) plant. A staffer on today’s call couldn’t immediately say whether Obama will meet tomorrow with any Tesla or NUMMI-related officials.

Meanwhile, Republicans decried the President’s arrival for the San Francisco fundraisers. Read it, after the jump…
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DA candidate Falahat vows to stop ‘sex club’ talk

Contra Costa District Attorney candidate Elle Falahat sure knows how to wake up the room.

After delivering a dull 10-minute drill last night on the history of jurisprudence in the United States to a group of criminal justice students at ITT Institute in Concord, Falahat mentioned, “Anal Sex Club.”

Whoa nelly! She had our attention now.

Among the reasons Falahat decided to run for office, she told the students, was the alleged super-sex-charged atmosphere in the District Attorney’s Office.

“There are sex clubs in the District Attorney’s office, anal sex clubs, to be specific,” Falahat said. “And also something that I, to be honest, didn’t know what was it means, I had to look it up, is ‘manscaping,’ and that senior management talk about it in the office.” (I had to look it up, too. My goodness.)

Falahat pointed the finger at both her opponents, Contra Costa Deputy District Attorney Mark Peterson and private attorney and former Deputy District Attorney Dan O’Malley, saying they are members of the “good old boy club” who are unlikely to challenge the sexist culture.

Keep in mind, there is no sex club at the DA’s office. It was a bad, inappropriate joke that apparently circulated among some staffers who conducted a highly, informal survey on sexual experiences. It was more along the lines of the Mile High Club, as in, “Hey, are you a member of the Anal Sex Club?”

The allegations originated in court documents filed by the attorney for Michael Gressett, the former district attorney charged with the rape of another deputy district attorney.

Watch video of her speech below. If you want to skip past the jurisprudence history, the good stuff starts about 11 minutes, 20 seconds.

The videos of the other speakers are also posted below, including Peterson, O’Malley and sheriff candidates Brian Kalinowski and David Livingston.

Click here to read CCT reporter Robert Salonga’s story on the sheriff’s candidates.