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Archive for July, 2010

Lee urges commitment on AIDS funding

The Obama Administration should pledge $6 billion over three years to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Rep. Barbara Lee said today.

Lee, D-Oakland, held a teleconference with reporters this morning after having returned to Washington, D.C., last night from the XVIII International AIDS Conference in Vienna, Austria. She’s the only member of Congress to visit the biennial conference, and said she regretted being able to stay only two days.

Lee is circulating a letter urging President Barack Obama to commit to funding both the Global Fund and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), both of which were created under legislation she co-authored in 2000 and 2003, respectively.

”So far we have probably about 65 members of Congress on board and I’m working to get at least 100 if not more,” she said. “If we don’t provide additional funding for both of these programs, then we could face some potentially dangerous problems in the field.”

Progress has been made under these programs in controlling the spread of HIV/AIDS and other deadly diseases, she said, but failing to fund them now could mean losing that control. Things are potentially dire on the domestic front, too, she said: She praised President Obama’s rollout last week of the nation’s first-ever National AIDS Strategy, but said more funding is needed to eliminate waiting lists for life-saving drugs right here in the United States.

“It’s going to be an uphill battle but we have to do it,” she said. “This really is about quality of life and saving lives.”

Lee said the 2012 AIDS Conference is scheduled to be held in Washington, D.C., the first conference in the U.S. since 1990’s meeting in San Francisco; the 2008 PEPFAR reauthorization included language by Lee to remove an HIV travel and immigration ban and led to Obama’s elimination of that ban last year, clearing the way for the conference’s return. Lee said she’s hoping to host a pre-conference planning session in Oakland.

Posted on Tuesday, July 20th, 2010
Under: Barbara Lee, Obama presidency, U.S. House | 3 Comments »

Does Whitman’s newest ad contradict policy statements?

Meg Whitman’s heavy play to Latinos is making page 37 of her famously glossy 48-page “policy agenda” booklet the most dog-eared page in the history of California opposition research.

That’s where Whitman’s stances on illegal immigration are there for all to see and juxtapose against anything she says that might ring contradictory.

And Sterling Clifford, spokesman, oppo-research and damage control point man in Jerry Brown’s campaign, seems to be finding plenty of material to juxtapose.

In her newest ad — geared to Spanish language media markets –Whitman talks of improving schools in general. But, with Spanish subtitles and imagery with her standing in classrooms with Latino school children, talks directly to Latinos, saying she wants improved opportunities for Latinos.

“California has been blessed with the most beautiful natural resources in the world,” Whitman says against the backdrop of a blackboard and melodic strings playing. “But our most important resource our young people. The Latino kids attending public schools in California today will be tomorrow’s doctors, engineers, businessmen and teachers. I want them to have the opportunity to go as far in life as their God-given talent will take them. I will fight for reforms that will make our public education system the very best again. If we want California to be a place of opportunity, then we must give our kids a world-class education.”

One element to education considered vital in the Latino community is bilingual education, which enables second-language learners to learn in their native tongue.

Not mentioned in the ad is her opposition to bilingual education, stated in her “slick photo pamphlet,” as Clifford describes it. “She will defend Prop. 227′s English immersion requirements,” the pamphlet says. English, she adds, is “America’s national language.”

She also favors banning the admission of undocumented students to University of California, California State University and California Community Colleges, Clifford points out.

“It’s hard to become a doctor or engineer if you aren’t allowed into college,” Clifford said.

In her “Tough as Nails” radio ad (the one where she says “all illegal immigrants are just that — illegal.” And the one where former Gov. Pete Wilson, the author of Prop. 187 and her campaign co-chairman, says Whitman will be “as tough as nails” on illegal immigrants), Whitman said she would deny undocumented workers and their children government services, which presumably includes education.

They “should not expect benefits from the state of California,” Whitman said in the ad.

“This of course is exactly what Prop. 187 would have done had it not been blocked by the courts,” Clifford said.

Hector Barajas, Whitman’s spokesman on Latino issues, said that she did not mean she would oppose any and all benefits to illegal immigrants. She specified drivers licenses and higher education in the ad, and that’s all she meant, Barajas said.

“She has indicated she is against Prop. 187, which would deny children access to education and health care,” Barajas said. “There is no indication we’ve been contradictory. We’ve been crystal clear in our positions. The Brown campaign is just feeling hurt because they’ve not been reaching out and communicating with the Latino communities.”

Clifford said that if drivers licenses and higher education was all she meant, “she wouldn’t have used the first sentence,” which broadly states she’s opposed to any state services to undocumented immigrants.

Here’s the ad:

Correction: In an ad watch item that ran Sunday in MediaNews publications, I erroneously wrote that Brown had said in a private meeting with business leaders that his biggest single mistake as a governor was signing legislation that created collective bargaining for public employee unions.

Brown’s spokesman Sterling Clifford denied Brown said in any forum that he considered creation of collective bargaining a mistake. The source who made the claim said he stands by the statement but refused to divulge who told him about Brown’s alleged comments.

Posted on Monday, July 19th, 2010
Under: Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

America’s Cup would create Bay Area jobs

Americas Cup

America's Cup

In the interest of full disclosure, I am biased on this subject. I am an avid sailor and would love to see the America’s Cup come to the San Francisco Bay.

That said, a report released today by the Bay Area Council says the famous, international sporting event would bring $1.4 billion and 8,840 jobs to the Bay Area.

Many people may not realize it, but the San Francisco Bay is one of the world’s premier sailing venues. Its predictable summertime afternoon winds produce some of the best sailing anywhere.

Holding the event in the San Francisco Bay poses political and physical challenges but this report will provide advocates with strong, favorable winds.

Read on for the full news release.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, July 19th, 2010
Under: sailing | 7 Comments »

Tweet a new California Constitution

You, too, can write your own state constitution, in 149 characters or less.

A new California reform group, rethinkcali.com, launched today a Virtual Constitutional Convention, where participants will use Twitter and the Web, through a social organizing technology called “crowdsourcing,” to write a new state constitution. (See full news release below.)

They may be on to something here.

Proponents of a ballot measure that would have convened a Constitutional Convention where actual people would sit together in the same room for months on end failed to gather enough signatures to qualify.

But if Californians could draw up a functioning state operations manual via a cell phone app, now, that’s an animal of an entirely different color. No dreary meetings. No policy white papers to read.

The site organizers at the New America Foundation, a liberal-leaning policy think tank, promise prizes, scholarships and “even a few minutes of fame.”

The group says the effort is the brainchild of Los Angeles-based social entrepreneur Anthony Rubenstein, a veteran of California’s ballot initiative process. He founded and led Californians for Clean Energy – Yes on Proposition 87 in 2006, and helped lead the “Coalition of Everyone Against Proposition 10″ in 2008.

Read on for more details about its backers and other details.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, July 19th, 2010
Under: reform | 1 Comment »

Garamendi will host tele-town hall

Garamendi

Garamendi

Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, will invite Livermore residents tonight to join him in a tele-town hall. (Others may participate by calling the number listed in the news release below.)

It’s the first in a series of up to 10 planned tele-townhalls in the 10th Congressional District, his office says.

Tele-townhalls allow constituents to participate in a telephone version of a meeting with a member of Congress.

At 5:30 p.m., a vendor hired by Garamendi’s office will send automated calls to 10,000 Livermore households. Residents answering the call may opt to stay on the line and listen to the event. The congressman will also answer callers’ questions.

Critics say the tele-town hall format permits elected officials to avoid angry constituents or dodge questions they don’t want to answer. Gongressional staff usually screen the questioners.

But advocates say it provides an opportunity for thousands of voters to listen directly to their representatives without leaving their homes. A typical town hall meeting might draw a few dozen people, although public appearances of members of Congress have been used, as of late, as a platform for vocal protesters.

For all the details about Garamendi’s tele-town hall, read his press release below.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, July 19th, 2010
Under: Congressional District 10 | 4 Comments »

CD11: McNerney still in the money lead

David Harmer

David Harmer

Jerry McNerney

Jerry McNerney

Republican Congressional District 11 candidate David Harmer raised $231,555 in the second quarter of the year, slightly more than the incumbent Democrat Jerry McNerney.

But Rep. McNerney remains substantially ahead of Harmer in the overall money race: McNerney has raised $1.7 million for his re-election campaign compared with Harmer’s $782,549.

The Democrat has considerably more cash on hand than Harmer, as well, reporting $1.2 million. Harmer showed cash on hand of $233,046.

But keep in mind, McNerney had no primary campaign and could focus almost solely on raising money the first half of the year. Harmer had three primary opponents.

Click here to read Harmer’s FEC summary report.

Click here to read McNerney’s FEC summary report.

In other congressional races (figures are for election cycle as of June 30):

DISTRICT 7

Rep. George Miller, Democrat: $777,124 in contributions; $318,754 in expenses; debts of $694; and $463,970 cash on hand.

Rick Tubbs, Republican: July quarterly report not yet available on FEC.

DISTRICT 10

Rep. John Garamendi, Democrat: $334,212 in contributions; $321,213 in expenses; $50,664 in debts; and $108,508 cash on hand.

Gary Clift, Republican: Second quarter report not yet available on FEC.

Jeremy Cloward, Green: Second quarter report not yet available on FEC.

Posted on Friday, July 16th, 2010
Under: congressional district 11 | No Comments »

AG candidates team up to oppose marijuana

You won’t see San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, the Democratic nominee for state Attorney General, and Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley, the Republican nominee for state Attorney General, holding hands and singing “Kum-Ba-Yah” on much this year, but they did it today to oppose Proposition 19, the marijuana legalization measure on November’s ballot.

Harris and Cooley, along with California State Firefighters’ Association President Kevin Nida, co-authored the rebuttal arguments against the measure, submitted today for inclusion in the state voters’ guide. Here’s what they had to say:

“As California public safety leaders, we agree that Proposition 19 is flawed public policy and would compromise the safety of our roadways, workplaces, and communities. Before voting on this proposition, please take a few minutes to read it.

“Proponents claim, ‘Proposition 19 maintains strict criminal penalties for driving under the influence.’ That statement is false. In fact, Proposition 19 gives drivers the ‘right’ to use marijuana right up to the point when they climb behind the wheel, but unlike as with drunk driving, Proposition 19 fails to provide the Highway Patrol with any tests or objective standards for determining what constitutes ‘driving under the influence.’ That’s why Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) strongly opposes Proposition 19.

Steve Cooley“Proponents claim Proposition 19 is ‘preserving the right of employers to maintain a drug-free workplace.’ This is also false. According to the California Chamber of Commerce, the facts are that Proposition 19 creates special rights for employees to possess marijuana on the job, and that means no company in California can meet federal drug-free workplace standards, or qualify for federal contracts. The California State Firefighters’ Association warns this one drafting mistake alone could cost thousands of Californians to lose their jobs.

“Again, contrary to what proponents say, the statewide organizations representing police, sheriffs and drug court judges are all urging you to vote ‘No’ on Proposition 19. Passage of Proposition 19 seriously compromises the safety of our communities, roadways, and workplaces.”

The Tax Cannabis 2010 committee supporting Prop. 19 yesterday announced the measure had won the endorsement of the 200,000-member United Food and Commercial Workers, Western States Council. The endorsement came during a meeting in San Diego of the California Labor Federation, which chose to remain neutral on the measure.

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, came out against the measure earlier this week setting the stage for a showdown before the California Democratic Party’s Executive Board at its meeting this weekend in San Jose; progressives are trying to rally support for the measure ahead of Sunday’s vote.

Posted on Thursday, July 15th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Attorney General, ballot measures, Kamala Harris, marijuana, Steve Cooley | 8 Comments »

What they’re saying about financial reform

The U.S. Senate today voted 60-39 to approve the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010, the Dodd-Frank legislation aimed at reforming financial-sector practices; it now goes to President Barack Obama for him to sign into law.

Three Republicans – Scott Brown, D-Mass.; Susan Collins, R-Maine; and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine – crossed the aisle to vote with most Democrats in supporting the bill, while Russ Feingold, D-Wisc., voted with most Republicans against it.

From U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.:

“The reckless actions of Wall Street cost us millions of jobs and brought our economy to the brink of collapse. The landmark legislation we approved today will rein in casino-style gambling on Wall Street, create a new watchdog agency to protect consumers and safeguard taxpayers by holding financial firms responsible for their own costly mistakes.”

From U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah:

“This bill is a bad for Utah and our nation. Our financial system needs to be fixed, but this so-called cure will cause more harm than good to our struggling families, businesses, farmers, ranchers and economy. This massive legislation is a job killer – it will hurt Main Street America’s ability to access much-needed credit. It will send American jobs overseas. And it will add layer upon layer of burdensome regulations on to the backs of struggling job creators.

“This tremendous government overreach punishes those who had nothing to do with the financial meltdown and can’t afford an army of lobbyists and attorneys to get around these new regulations. What could be the most offensive part of this bill is what it’s missing: reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two government sponsored agencies that were largely responsible for the financial meltdown and that taxpayers have been forced to shell out of $200 billion to support. That is outrageous.

“The added burden of regulation and uncertainty brought by this legislation are more examples of why our economy is not producing the number of jobs we need. The Obama Administration and its allies in Congress are doing everything possible to create a business unfriendly climate that is anti job creation and anti growth, and then they wonder where the new jobs are.”

Other perspectives, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, July 15th, 2010
Under: Barbara Boxer, Carly Fiorina, Dianne Feinstein, John Boehner, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

Boxer far outraises Fiorina in 2nd Quarter

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., far outpaced her Republican challenger, former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, in campaign fundraising during the second quarter of this year, leaving her with 18 12 times as much money in the bank – and it looks as if she’s going to need every penny.

Boxer’s campaign reported receiving $4.6 million in the second quarter – a period that included two fundraising visits from President Barack Obama – leaving her with $11.3 million in the bank as of June 30. Fiorina’s campaign said she raised $1.39 million since May 20 (and she’d reported raising $889,163 from April 1 through May 19) for a total of $2.28 million raised in the second quarter; she reports today having $620,000 $950,000 cash on hand, which is exactly what she reported May 19 too. Fiorina has put $5.5 million of her personal fortune into the race so far, all before the June 8 primary.

“Barbara Boxer is facing a tough campaign against a wealthy opponent who is self-funding her campaign. The response from our supporters has been overwhelming,” Boxer campaign manager Rose Kapolczynski said. “With this kind of support, we will be able to let millions of voters know about Senator Boxer’s record and her plan to create jobs and turn our economy around.”

“There’s no denying that we’re starting, and will probably continue to be, at a significant cash disadvantage to Boxer: we went through a tough and expensive primary and have only had a few weeks of raising cash for the general while Boxer has been stockpiling funds for 6 years.” Fiorina spokeswoman Andrea Saul said. “That said, we are confident we will have the resources we need to compete and win this race in November.”

Fiorina continues to build on the name recognition she built in the tough primary fight against Tom Campbell, and on the anti-incumbent, populist sentiment that seems to be brewing for November. Boxer marshaled her resources throughout the primary season and only just recently took to the road to get her message out and her visibility up.

Hot on the heels of tough poll numbers for Boxer and a move into the “toss-up” column at Real Clear Politics, the race got moved into the “toss-up” column at the Cook Political Report today as well.

UPDATE @ 3:33 P.M.: Fiorina’s campaign just put out updated/corrected figures for her cash on hand, hence the strikethroughs up top.

Posted on Thursday, July 15th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Barbara Boxer, campaign finance, Carly Fiorina, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

LAFCO members fire back at critics

Martinez Mayor Rob Schroder and Concord Councilwoman Helen Allen, two members of the Contra Costa Local Agency Formation Commission under scrutiny for their involvement in a Brentwood growth ballot measure, have fired back at their critics. (See video below.)

Schroder described the repeated calls for an investigation, reprimands or removal from their posts as “public floggings” and said he would no longer “sit back” and tolerate “attacks on his integrity.”

Allen said she felt “badgered” and “fearful.”

The clearly emotional pair spoke at Wednesday’s LAFCO meeting and are referring to Save Mount Diablo Executive Director Ron Brown’s multiple appeals to the commission and the Contra Costa Mayors Conference for swift action to the officials’ involvement in Brentwood’s unsuccessful urban limit line expansion campaign.

The LAFCO board did not personally chastise Allen or Schroder but it did tighten its rules. It will now require members who express individual opinions about LAFCO-related matters to explicitly declare that their views do not represent those of the board.

The proponents of the Brentwood measure made liberal use of the Allen-Schroder letter in the campaign, although both officials said they were unaware that it would be used in this fashion.

The Contra Costa Mayors Conference, earlier in the month, did reprimand the pair but declined to remove them as their appointees to LAFCO. The letter identified Schroder and Allen as representatives of the Mayors Conference but did not make clear that their views were not those of the conference.

Click here to read my news story on the meeting. Check out the video below.

Posted on Thursday, July 15th, 2010
Under: Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | 4 Comments »