DiFi moves to block SF student’s deportation

My colleague, Matt O’Brien, has written a great story about how a private relief bill introduced today by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., effectively halted the pending deportation of City College of San Francisco student Steve Li.

Li, 20, has been held at a detention center in Arizona awaiting deportation to Peru. He was born there but came to the U.S. as a child with his parents, who stayed on after their tourist visas expired. Li said he didn’t know his family’s legal situation while he was growing up, and knows no one in Peru.

Bills such as the one Feinstein introduced are extremely rare, Li’s attorney said today. Read Feinstein’s full statement, after the jump…
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Conspiracy buzz flies around redistricting panel

The absence of a single individual from the City of Los Angeles in the 36-member pool of potential panelists on the California Redistricting Commission is fueling considerable speculation.

Los Angeles is California’s largest city. How could a panel charged with drawing political boundaries fail to include a single person from the state’s biggest city?

The theory, first mentioned by blogger Greg Lucas and repeated up and down the state today, is that the California legislative leaders intentionally struck all Los Angeles residents from the list of 60 eligible panelists in order to form the basis of future lawsuit in which the claim would be made that California’s largest city had been disenfranchised.

Wow, that’s pretty Machiavellian for a group of people whose budget was a record 100 days late.

By way of background, the State Auditor’s Office whittled down the initial 30,000 applicants to 60. (Click here to read the full FAQ’s on the commission.) The four legislative leaders could strike 24 names from the pool. That would leave 36 people from which the final 14-member board would be comprised: Eight through a lottery style drawing held this morning and the final six would be selected by those who won the random draw.

Sources in the Democratic and Republican parties tell me it’s nonsense.

For one, the GOP has publicly endorsed the creation of the independent redistricting commission, which will draw new political boundaries for state, board of equalization and congressional districts. (That does not mean some of its members are happy about it, though. Previous redistricting plans were adopted for the benefit of incumbents in both parties.)

And second, Nathan Barankin with Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg’s says the legal case for “disenfranchisement” exists with or without Los Angeles residents.

“The bottom line, this commission will be comprised of 14 people,” he said. “Throughout history, the lines have been drawn by 120 people elected to the Legislature. There is no way, mathematically, that a group of 14 people can provide the same level of representation to the public as the 120-member state Legislature.”

The 36-member pool does include 10 people from Los Angeles County but no one from the city proper.

As specified in the voter-approved ballot measure, the top leader from each of hte two major parties in the Legislature were permitted a total 0f 24 strikes without cause. They made their decisons behind closed doors but Barankin said Steinberg selected people he consiered as the “best of the best,” rather than choosing people to eliminate.

And who are these people eliminated by legislative strike?

Only two were from Los Angeles: Leland T. Saito and Josefa Salinas.

Interestingly, one of the East Bay applicants still in the pool is Maria Blanco of El Cerrito. She told one of my colleagues that she is moving — guess where? — to Los Angeles later this year.

Problem solved.


Redistricting panel members selected

Three Bay Area residents are among the eight people randomly selected this morning to serve on California’s new Redistricting Commission, a voter-created panel that will eventually consist of 14 individuals responsible for drawing the political boundaries of congressional, board of equalization and state legislative districts.

State Auditor Elaine Howle drew the names bingo style a few minutes ago from a pool of 36 that included 12 Democrats, 12 Republicans and 12 people non-affiliated with a political party or members of the third parties. The first eight members must select the remaining six members of their panel before Dec. 31. The first eight are:

  • Connie Galambos Malloy, Oakland, non-partisan
  • Stanley Forbes, Esparto, non-partisan
  • Cynthia Dai, San Francisco, Democrat
  • Elaine Kuo, Mountain View, Democrat
  • Jeanne Raya, San Gabriel, Democrat
  • Vincent Barabba, Capitola, Republican
  • Jodie Filkins Webber, Norco, Republican
  • Peter Yao, Claremont, Republican

East Bay residents who remain in the pool and eligible for selection include Maria Blanco, of El Cerrito; Tangerine Mignon Brigham, of Oakland; Sherman Gee, of Castro Valley; William Giles Hamm, of Lafayette; Paul McKaskle, of Berkeley; and Brightstar Ohlson, of Oakland.

Voters created the panel in 2008, stripping the Legislature of the job, and expanded the commission’s role earlier this month to include congressional districts.

For a full set of FAQ’s on the commission, click here.


Lee replaced as Congressional Black Caucus chair

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, will relinquish her post as chair of the Congressional Black Caucus in January, the caucus announced today.

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., emerged as the chairman-elect after the caucus elected officers for the 112th Congress today.

“As First Vice Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressman Cleaver oversaw our Jobs Taskforce and played an integral role in crafting and implementing our legislative and messaging strategy on a host of issues from health care reform and the economic recovery to climate change and Wall Street reform,” Lee said in the caucus’ statement.

She said she was honored to have chaired the caucus for the past two years. “While we have had many successes on a host of issues, there remains much more important work to do in the upcoming Congress and I am confident that the incoming CBC executive officers are more than up to the challenge.”

“When I became chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, we drafted an Opportunities for All—Pathways Out of Poverty agenda consistent with our role as the ‘conscience of the Congress’ to make sure that all Americans are protected and empowered by the government,” Lee said. “Regardless of which party controls the House of Representatives, the Congressional Black Caucus will never retreat from our commitment to create Opportunities for All—Pathways Out of Poverty.”

Cleaver said he’s “humbled and honored” by his colleagues’ support. “I owe a deep debt to our current Chair, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, for her steadfast leadership. I have learned much from her estimable example. I look forward to working with all my colleagues, of all creeds, colors, parties, and ideologies, as we begin the 112th Congress in 2011.”

The CBC’s chair typically only serves for two years, so this passing of the gavel was expected. Lee, however, shows no sign of slowing down in pursuit of her agenda: She issued a statement earlier today blasting a possible extension of the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, and will co-host a press teleconference tomorrow with Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka to discuss their plan to prevent any cuts to Social Security.


Maybe she should have bought them polo shirts

Former Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman reported yesterday that she had put another $2.6 million into her campaign on Election Day, Nov. 2, bringing her total personal investment to $144,175,806.11.

The latest, not-yet-finalized ballot tally (updated last night) shows she got 3,930,138 votes. So, Whitman spent about $36.68 out of her own pocket, not counting other contributions to her campaign, for each general-election vote she ultimately received.

FYI, if you Google $36.68, you find it’s the price for:

  • a book on wine-cellar design;
  • a pair of Lacoste shoes;
  • a Ralph Lauren polo shirt; or
  • a place in the history books as the woman who spent more out-of-pocket on her own political campaign than anyone else in American history, yet still lost even while her party did exceptionally well all across the rest of the nation.
  • Well, the last one’s not exactly on Google, but you get the picture.


    Goodwin Liu: To filibuster or not to filibuster

    With Republicans about to occupy more seats in the U.S. Senate, the rhetorical battle over President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees – including one from here in the East Bay – has re-ignited.

    Goodwin LiuThe President in February nominated Goodwin Liu, professor and associate dean at the University of California, Berkeley’s Boalt Hall Law School, to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The Senate Judiciary Committee in May voted 12-7 along party lines to send Liu to the full Senate for confirmation, but amid threats of a filibuster, the Senate sent the nomination back to the President in August, refusing to debate and vote before adjourning for its month-long recess. The president resubmitted his nomination in September, and the Judiciary Committee once again voted 12-7 that month to send the nomination to a floor vote.

    Now Senate Democrats might try to bring Liu’s nomination and several others to a vote as early as tomorrow. Some conservative leaders sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., on Monday urging him not to force any votes on judicial nominees during this lame-duck session, and Americans for Limited Government issued a statement today urging Senate Republicans to filibuster any such effort.

    “Senate Republicans are under no obligation to support nominees or provide political cover for the other side of the aisle,” ALG President Bill Wilson said. “Goodwin Liu is an extra-constitutional thinker who believes that the eligibility requirements for ObamaCare and other ‘welfare rights’ are perfectly within the scope of courts to interpret. With him on the bench, a single-payer system could be just one court decision away. The American people cannot take that chance.”

    “Liu also has an expansive view of the Commerce Clause, and does not even hold as an ‘absolute requirement’ that an activity even be economic in order for it to be regulated. Guess what? That encapsulates all activity,” Wilson continued. “These radical judicial picks, re-nominated by Obama, remind the American people of why judges matter. It is up to the Senate Republicans to put the brakes on nominees whose extralegal views warp and distort the Constitution and thus undermine the rule of law. America does not need more ideologues on the bench.”

    But even as the Senate might take up Liu’s nomination tomorrow, the American Constitution Society will be hosting a panel discussion at the National Press Club “to discuss Senate obstruction and the nominee pipeline, and provide an insiders’ perspective on nomination hearings and the political struggles behind them.”

    UPDATE @ 11:55 A.M.: I see now that Richard Painter – formerly President George W. Bush’s chief ethics lawyer, now a law professor supporting Liu’s confirmation – blogged today that some conservatives aren’t listening to their own words from a few years ago regarding up-or-down votes for judicial nominees:

    Public opinion of Members of Congress (both parties) these days is lower, far lower, than it was in the days when Senator Henry Cabot Lodge used just the right term to describe what he saw going on when Senators filibustered legislation. Those of us who care about the future of the judiciary should make it clear that the delay must stop.

    This does not mean the Senators should vote “yes”. They can vote “no”. But they should vote.