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Archive for June, 2010

Dems applaud Wall Street reform’s passage

The East Bay’s House Democrats are proclaiming victory with today’s final House passage of the Wall Street reform legislation on a 237-192 vote; only three Republicans voted for the bill.

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

“Today’s vote to hold Wall Street accountable is a triple win — for families, small businesses, and consumers in our community. Every family in my congressional district has suffered from this devastating economic recession, the worst to hit our country since the Great Depression. And it was caused through a combination of greed on Wall Street and a culture among Washington Republicans under President Bush who turned away from any accountability for financial firms.

“The effects have been severe — sustained double-digit unemployment, too many Bay Area homes going into foreclosure each month, small businesses in shopping centers around the Bay Area fighting to stay alive but starved for credit. We cannot, and I will not, leave this system of greed and unaccountability unchanged.

“In addition to other steps we have taken to rescue the economy and create jobs, this bill protects consumers through common sense rules to stop predatory lending and bar mortgage offers to people who can’t afford them. It prevents lenders from getting bonuses for steering borrowers into higher cost loans, and enhances penalties for lenders making irresponsible loans,” Miller said.

“This bill, while it is only a first step at holding Wall Street accountable, is still the greatest single improvement to financial accountability in America in generations. One bill alone cannot avert a crisis, we all know that. But this bill will make a huge difference in our ability to try to prevent future crises and to better respond to them if they occur, and it will better protect consumers day by day from unscrupulous practices” Miller added. “For too long, reckless deregulation and Wall Street greed were the hallmarks of our financial system and left us in financial chaos. This bill ends that dangerous setup and provides one more step in our ongoing effort to get the American economy back on its feet.”

From Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland:

“It is insensible that hard working families in my home state of California and across this country continue to fall victim to the recklessness and greed of Wall Street, the same Wall Street that relied on tax-payer dollars to keep raking in the profits and shelling out billions in bonuses.”
“It is time that we start reinvesting our resources in the people of this country to provide pathways out of poverty and get people back to work. It is time we stood up on behalf of the consumer. This legislation will protect consumers from fraud and provide Californians with financial security. It is definitely a step in the right direction.”

But, from House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio:

John Boehner“Americans have suffered through a serious financial meltdown that destroyed millions of jobs and wiped out the savings of millions of American families. A devastating meltdown slowed our economy and raised new doubts about whether it’s even possible any longer to pursue the American Dream. Unfortunately, this bill will do nothing to prevent it from happening to the American people again. This legislation will actually kill more jobs, widen the gap between Wall Street and Main Street, and force taxpayers to fund permanent bailouts for President Obama’s Wall Street allies.

“The fact of the matter is, the financial meltdown was triggered by government mortgage companies giving too many high-risk loans to people who couldn’t afford them. And it was the policies of the leadership of this Congress that allowed it to happen. This legislation will do nothing – nothing – to fix those mistakes. Permanent bailouts for President Obama’s Wall Street allies and more job-killing mandates for Main Street is not reform – it’s just more of the same broken status quo. Republicans have a better solution that ends the bailouts, ends ‘too big to fail,’ and reforms Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.”

More after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, June 30th, 2010
Under: Barbara Lee, George Miller, Jerry McNerney, John Boehner, John Garamendi, Pete Stark, U.S. House | 10 Comments »

Pete Stark’s Minuteman mockery makes waves

Rep. Pete Stark’s sharp tone with critics once again has earned him national attention, as a video clip of Stark’s caustic repartee with a Minuteman anti-illegal-immigration activist earns major media coverage.

The video, shot by Steve Kemp of the Golden Gate Minutemen at Stark’s town-hall meeting last Saturday in Fremont, shows the Congressman needling a critic who asked about border security:

“This guy has been at every one of my town meetings and immediately gone to the Web sites, so he’s a regular. I do recognize him,” Stark said this afternoon. “I didn’t mind needling him a bit.”

But Kemp was interviewed today on Fox News’s “Your World;” CBS News and CNN have picked it up; and the Minuteman PAC is using it as a rallying cry.

“It’s an absolute outrage that a United States Congressman cares so little for his constituents and so little about the security and sovereignty of the United States that he had the gumption to ridicule and belittle his own constituents. But that’s exactly what happened!” Minutemen PAC development director Brett Anthony wrote in an e-mail blast today. “Americans are fed up with being shunned, lied to, tricked, and jeered at simply for fighting to uphold the freedom and liberty for which forefathers paid the ultimate price to guarantee.”

The phones are ringing off the hook on Capitol Hill. “We’re getting hundreds of calls, none of them from the district I might add, from all over the country saying, ‘What do you have against the Minutemen?’ or whatever,” Stark said.

So… what does he have against them?

“They see themselves as an independent militia, which may have been alright in George Washington’s time but today the government operates under rules and laws that control everybody,” he said, noting there are 20,000 border patrol agents – twice the number of a decade ago – deployed along 2,000 miles of border. “It seems to me just that number alone ought to convince them that the fed government is doing a pretty good job controlling the influx of people coming in from Mexico.”

Stark said the whole debate is “a xenophobic issue, it doesn’t differ much in Florida where they’re fearful of people from Haiti or Cuba, or New York where there’s a huge Puerto Rican population – and they’re citizens!” What it comes down to, he said, is fear of “people who speak with an accent.”

“I’m sad that that’s where our district is, but they’re not alone – it’s one of the premiere political issues of today,” he said.

As for his sarcasm, he said… well, he’s not really going into the ladder business. “That’s been a bad joke for a thousand years.”

“As I tried to explain in a more serious way, people who come across, particularly the Arizona border, they pay an awful fee to these coyotes to get them there and then they’re just dumped there on the border and they’ve got a couple hundred miles of the worst desert in our country to get across on foot,” Stark said. “They’re coming here to try to earn money to send home to their families and its hard to disrespect that, that’s an instinct that people with families have.”

This is the one thing on which he agreed with former President George W. Bush, he said – that the United States needs a comprehensive immigration reform bill including a path illegal immigrants can follow to attain legal, permanent residency. “I think we’re the only industrialized nation in the world that doesn’t have at least a system for allowing that to happen, and I think that causes us a lot of problems.”

UPDATE @ 4:14 P.M. WEDNESDAY 7/7: Steve Kemp just posted this to the comments, and I thought it should be appended to the post itself:

I posted this video to enlighten people who continually vote people like Stark in without a second thought of the consequences. I was born in Oakland & have watched as city after city passed laws that leave a sane person’s mouth hanging in disbelief.

With SF, Oakland, Richmond & SJ declaring themselves “sanctuary cities” for illegal aliens, our cities are looking more like third world countries than the USA!

Is it the American dream to break laws to enter a country, work under the table as the norm or steal identities to get a job, pack 2 or 3 families into a single family dwelling, drive without a license or insurance, & ignore the language spoken in America?

CA & its cities have broken under the stress of supporting illegal aliens. This is because liberal politicians such as Stark, Boxer, Pelosi, Newsom, Lee, De La Fuente & countless others have trashed our ‘American Dream’ in favor of illegal aliens.

We need leaders who place America & Americans FIRST. Anything else is treason.

Posted on Wednesday, June 30th, 2010
Under: Immigration, Pete Stark, U.S. House | 19 Comments »

Video available of Lamorinda Democratic Club meeting

The Lamorinda Democratic Club asked me to post the video of their latest meeting, which featured a thoroughly scintillating public speaker. Or not!  That would be me. If you are interested, check it out.


Posted on Wednesday, June 30th, 2010
Under: Contra Costa politics | 4 Comments »

David Harmer becomes a GOP ‘Young Gun’

David HarmerDavid Harmer of San Ramon, the Republican nominee to challenge incumbent Democrat Rep. Jerry McNerney this November, has been named one of the National Republican Congressional Committee’s “Young Guns” – the top of the NRCC’s campaign recruitment and training program.

It’s a sign that taking the 11th Congressional District seat from the two-term McNerney, D-Pleasanton, is a national priority for the GOP.

Reps. Eric Cantor, R-Va.; Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield; and Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., launched Young Guns in the 2008 cycle, and it later became an official NRCC effort dedicated to supporting open-seat and challenger candidates nationwide with fundraising, infrastructure support and strategic advice.

“David Harmer has proven that he is ready to put this seat back in the Republican column,” NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Tex., said in a news release. “David’s campaign is a symbol of the growing momentum behind Republican candidacies both in California and across the country. As Democrats and their party bosses continue to push their big-government, big-spending policies onto the backs of hard-working families, Republicans like David Harmer will continue to present a clear alternative to a Democrat majority that continues to spend too much, borrow too much and tax too much.”

Harmer was among 16 new Young Guns announced today by the NRCC, bringing its total for this cycle to 39.

UPDATE @ 1:13 P.M.: “Considering how banker David Harmer has defended big banks and Wall Street firms, just like national Republicans, it’s no wonder Harmer was named a Young Gun,” says Andy Stone, western regional press secretary for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and a former McNerney staffer.

Posted on Wednesday, June 30th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, congressional district 11, Jerry McNerney, U.S. House | 12 Comments »

Rainey to retire from Walnut Creek council

Rainey

Rainey

Spunky Walnut Creek Councilwoman Sue Rainey has announced she will not seek re-election in November, a move certain to spark a lively competition for the seat.

An open contest is always more appealing than challenging an incumbent.

See the full story by Elisabeth Nardi at http://www.contracostatimes.com/ci_15395335?IADID=Search-www.contracostatimes.com-www.contracostatimes.com

I will miss Sue Rainey. She is funny and direct, an irresistible combination for a columnist.

Sue inspired one of my favorite columns of all time, which I have posted below, from January 2005:

One Contra Costa politico failed to see the humor in celebrity ex-Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura’s outrageous spewfest last week at the Contra Costa Council’s annual dinner.During Ventura’s rant, er, speech, Walnut Creek Councilwoman Sue Rainey, who helped raise cash for the event, repeatedly gasped and covered her face with her hands. At one point, she held a water glass over her head and threatened to pour it.

She mouthed to her table companions her distress, and tried in vain to convince them to drag the ex-wrestler and Navy Seal off the stage. (Her husband, ex-Contra Costa County sheriff and state Sen. Dick Rainey, looked as though he wanted to crawl under the table.)

By the time Ventura relinquished the microphone — after his rendition of famed boxer Mohammed Ali’s 1960s tune “I Am the Greatest” — Rainey had become part of the show.What set her off?

To start, he insulted, by job or party affiliation, most of the business leaders and elected leaders in the room. Some of the 450 people in attendance contributed big checks as sponsors and paid, in part, Ventura’s speaking fee.

And Ventura told the room that he would defy the organizers’ order to refrain from talking about his Hollywood castmate Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Isn’t that like inviting Billy Graham and telling him he can’t mention The Big Guy? (That’s God, folks, not Arnold.)

It was false advertising, Rainey insists.

“Mr. Ventura’s (handler) told us, ‘You’re going to love him. He’s very entertaining,’” Rainey said. “I just get very sensitive when I have sold people and the sponsors on a particular show and that’s not how it turns out.”

The council asked Ventura to refrain from mentioning Indian gaming or his TV ads criticizing Schwarzenegger’s stance on the matter because one of the sponsors, ChevronTexaco, is embroiled in a casino dispute in Richmond.

“If we had had someone to balance Mr. Ventura, it might not have been so bad,” Sue Rainey says. “If we ever invited him again, we’d do a point-counterpoint.”

Meanwhile, Rainey promises to retire her performance.

Posted on Tuesday, June 29th, 2010
Under: Contra Costa politics | 2 Comments »

House members want clear plan on Afghanistan

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, led about two dozen House members in writing to President Barack Obama today to ask that he provide Congress with “a clear commitment and plan to withdraw US forces from Afghanistan” before the vote on the supplemental funding bill.

“It has been nearly a decade since we went to Afghanistan and we still are not sure why we are there or can define a successful mission,” she said in a news release. “This war is now the longest war in American history. We simply cannot continue to fund a war that seemingly has no end in sight. It’s past time we have a clear exit strategy and timeline for redeployment of our troops.”

The letter cites conflicting statements by members of the Administration and the military command – for example, in the same Rolling Stone article that led to Gen. Stanley McChrystal being sacked, a senior military official stationed in Afghanistan indicated military success could actually lead to more U.S. troops deployed there, not fewer: “There’s a possibility we could ask for another surge of U.S. forces next summer if we see success here.”

The letter also cites U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates on ABC’s “This Week” last December as well as Gen. David Petraeus in today’s Washington Post indicating troops necessarily won’t be meaningfully withdrawn in the summer of 2011.

Among the other House members signing Lee’s letter are Pete Stark, D-Fremont, and Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma.

Read the full text of the letter, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, June 29th, 2010
Under: Afghanistan, Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey, Obama presidency, Pete Stark, U.S. House | 3 Comments »

Higher ed lobbies gubernatorial candidates

A higher education nonprofit organization, The Campaign for College Opportunity, is asking California’s 2010 gubernatorial candidates to sign a pledge of support for improved access to higher education and higher graduation rates.

The Los Angeles-based organization, led by California Business Roundtable president and California State University system trustee Bill Hauck, has a goal to boost by 1 million the number of college graduates by 2025.

That’s the year when the state will have 1 million fewer grads that it needs to supply the workforce, according to the Public Policy Institute of California.

The Campaign for College Opportunity advocates for higher education legislation. (Correction: Per the organization’s spokesman Marty Trujillo, the organization has not taken a position on Democratic Assembly Speaker John Perez’ jobs bill, which would fully fund the state’s higher education system and cut recent tuition fee hikes.)

It’s all part of the brewing public relations convergence between the battle over the state’s crumbling budget and the fight between Democrat Jerry Brown and Republican Met Whitman over the governor’s seat.  The governor is one of the three approvals — Assembly and Senate are the other two — required to pass a state budget and everybody knows it.

Posted on Monday, June 28th, 2010
Under: 2010 governor's race, education | 5 Comments »

SCOTUS ruling and California’s ‘open carry’ law

The U.S. Supreme Court, ruling 5-4 this morning in a challenge to Chicago’s handgun ban, ruled that the Second Amendment’s guarantee of an individual right to bear arms applies to state and local gun control laws.

As a practical matter, this means all kinds of state and local gun restrictions will now be subject to more judicial scrutiny. For California, it confirms the already-strong likelihood that AB 1934 – the pending bill that would outlaw “open carry” of unloaded, unconcealed firearms in public places – quickly will be met with a lawsuit if it’s signed into law.

AB 1934’s author is Assemblywoman Lori Saldana, D-San Diego; her office said she wasn’t available to be interviewed today, but issued this statement:

Lori SaldanaWe are reviewing the Justices’ decision in consultation with counsel and giving it the careful consideration required of a Supreme Court ruling. That said, we see nothing in the MacDonald decision that would suggest that it applies to legislation like AB 1934.

Justice Alito on page 40 of his decision reiterates the court’s reassurances in Heller that this decision should not be interpreted as overturning firearm regulations passed by the states and municipalities:

“We made it clear in Heller that our holding did not cast doubt on such longstanding regulatory measures as ‘prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill,’ ‘laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.’… We repeat those assurances here. Despite municipal respondents’ doomsday proclamations, incorporation does not imperil every law regulating firearms.”

Responsible Citizens of California is helping to lead the fight against AB 1934, and press secretary Yih-Chau Chang posted several celebratory blog items on the group’s website today.

“To Assemblywoman Lori Saldana, I would highly recommend that you withdraw the California anti-Open Carry bill, AB 1934, before you are further embarrassed when it fails in the State Senate or is found to be unconstitutional in a court of law,” he wrote. “This dog-and-pony show you dragged out into the public eye to parade in front of your liberal base just before your Assembly career ends was nothing more than a bid for votes to try and start your CA State Senate career. You had better wise up and withdraw AB 1934 while you can still save some political face.”

The Assembly passed Saldana’s bill earlier this month on a 46-30, party-line vote, and the state Senate Public Safety Committee approved it last week 4-3; it goes next to the state Senate Appropriations Committee, and then to the state Senate floor. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has not said whether he’ll sign it if it reaches his desk.

Posted on Monday, June 28th, 2010
Under: California State Senate, gun control, Public safety | 12 Comments »

November’s ballot measures get prop numbers

Secretary of State Debra Bowen just rolled ‘em out, and here they are –

Proposition 18: Safe, Clean, and Reliable Drinking Water Supply Act of 2010 ($11.1 billion bond measure)

Proposition 19: legalizes recreational marijuana use. (Too bad this wasn’t Prop. 20, as proponents would’ve been able to say they’re “For 20.”)

Proposition 20: adds Congressional reapportionment to the authority of the citizens’ redistricting commission created by Prop. 11 of 2008

Proposition 21: establishes $18 annual vehicle license surcharge to help fund state parks and wildlife programs, with free admission to state parks for all surcharged vehicles

Proposition 22: bars state government from taking, borrowing, shifting or restricting use of tax revenues dedicated by law to fund local government, community redevelopment or transportation projects

Proposition 23: rolls back AB 32, the state’s landmark greenhouse gas emissions law, until the state’s unemployment rate drops to 5.5 percent or less for four consecutive quarters

Proposition 24: repeals recently enacted corporate tax breaks letting businesses carry back losses, share tax credits, and use a sales-based income calculation to lower taxable income.

Proposition 25: reduces legislative vote requirement to pass a budget from two-thirds to a simple majority.

Proposition 26: increases legislative vote requirement to impose state levies and charges from a simple majority to two-thirds.

Proposition 27: eliminates citizens redistricting commission created by Prop. 11 of 2008, putting all reapportionment authority back in the Legislature’s hands.

Posted on Monday, June 28th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, ballot measures | 1 Comment »

Bay Point man’s ride beats a mule

Democratic Party activist Greg Enholm, of Bay Point, sent over a photo of his role as owner and driver of the silver and black 2006 Chrysler Sebring convertible used to convey Assemblymembers Nancy Skinner of Berkeley and Dave Jones of Sacramento in Saturday’s San Francisco Pride Parade.

Greg even kindly offered to drive me in his convertible if I am ever invited to ride in a parade. That would be a step up for me. The last time I rode in a parade, I was a passenger in my former employer’s (Reno Gazette-Journal) entry in the Nevada Day Parade in Carson City. It was a lovely Western-style wagon pulled by … mules.

Posted on Monday, June 28th, 2010
Under: Contra Costa politics | 1 Comment »