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ConFire Chief Louder braves Contra Costa Taxpayers Association

ConFire Chief Daryl Louder will walk through a wall of fire to rescue women, children and kittens.

But is he brave enough to speak at a breakfast of the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association, whose members have been asking tough questions about his agency’s drive to put a parcel tax measure on the November ballot?

Yep. I saw it for myself. And you can watch it, too. Contra Costa Taxpayers Association Executive Director Kris Hunt is acting as the moderator.

Click here for the main part of his speech.

Click here for the Q&A segment that followed his comments.

What comes through loud and clear in the chief’s presentation is that he views his role as that of an expert on fire protection. And he is giving the district’s elected officials and its residents his best professional advice about how to protect the community from loss of life and property due to fire.

The reasons behind district’s financial woes are numerous, pre-date his arrival two years ago and largely outside his control but what he does know, he told the taxpayers, is that without more money, he will have to shut down seven to 10 out 28 fire stations.

“I cannot protect the community with 10 fewer fire stations,” Louder said.

The county board of supervisors is looking at placing on the November ballot a fire safety tax. The details are still being worked out but supervisors directed staff to look at a $75 annual parcel tax. It would expire in seven years. Seniors age 65 and older would be exempt. The money would be used to keep open the district’s 28 fire stations but not much else.

The board has set a public hearing to vote on the tax measure for July 31, 2012, at 10:30 a.m. in the supervisors’ chambers at 651 Pine St. in Martinez.

 

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Lawmakers boycott contempt vote on Holder

The House voted 255-67 today to hold U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for allegedly stonewalling over documents relating to the probe of the Fast and Furious “gunwalking” operation on the U.S.-Mexico border.

But more than 100 Democrats left the House floor to boycott the vote, including several Bay Area lawmakers: Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; Pete Stark, D-Fremont; Mike Honda, D-San Jose; Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma; John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove; and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco.

Barbara Lee (Dec-2010)“I cannot and will not participate in this hyper-partisan and purely political vote today to hold Attorney General in contempt of Congress,” Lee said in a news release.

“Contempt power should be used sparingly, carefully and only in the most egregious situations. The Attorney General has gone above and beyond in his response to request for information on “Fast and Furious”, an unfortunate operation that began under the Bush Administration and, in fact, was terminated by Attorney General Holder,” she said. “This contempt vote is unprecedented, unwarranted and entirely unnecessary. Gandhi once said that ‘Non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as cooperation with good.’ That is why I am standing with so many of my colleagues in refusing to participate in this shameful Republican political stunt.”

Reps. George Miller, D-Martinez; Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton; Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough; Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto; Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose; and Mike Thompson, D-Napa remained on the floor to cast votes against the resolution.

Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called for the vote with this statement:

John Boehner“It’s important for the American people to know how we got here and to know the facts of this case. The Congress asked the Department of Justice for the facts related to Fast and Furious and the events that led to the death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. The Department of Justice did not provide the facts and the information that we requested. Instead, the information came from people outside the Department, people who wanted to do the right thing. In addition to not providing the information, the Administration admitted to misleading Congress, actually retracting a letter it had sent 10 months earlier.

“I think all the Members understand this is a very serious matter. The Terry family wants to know how this happened and they have every right to have their answers. The House needs to know how this happened, and it is our constitutional duty to find out. So the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee issued a lawful and narrowly tailored subpoena. We’ve been patient, giving the Justice Department every opportunity to comply, so that we can get to the bottom of this for the Terry family. We’ve shown more than enough good faith, but the White House has chosen to invoke executive privilege. That leaves us no other options. The only recourse left for the House is to continue seeking the truth and to hold Attorney General in contempt of Congress.

“Now I don’t take this matter lightly, and I frankly hoped it would never come to this. The House’s focus is on jobs and on the economy. But no Justice Department is above the law and no Justice Department is above the Constitution, which each of us has sworn an oath to uphold. So I ask the Members of this body to come together and to support this resolution so that we can seek the answers that the Terry family and the American people deserve.”

After the vote, Holder issued a statement which is presented in its entirety after the jump…
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Mike Honda launches Anti-Bullying Caucus

Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, today has launched a bipartisan Anti-Bullying Caucus in Congress.

Also included among the caucus’ 41 initial members are representatives Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, and Pete Stark, D-Fremont.

“The health, safety, competitiveness and moral fiber of America is threatened by a bullying epidemic that affects more than 13 million children each year,” Honda said in a news release. “As an educator of 30 years and a member of Congress who was bullied as a child, I have formed the Anti-Bullying Caucus to empower each constituency in the anti-bullying movement, including but not limited to youth, seniors, religious communities and LGBT-identifying individuals. The Anti-Bullying Caucus seeks to focus the energy and effort of the movement to forge a path forward to stop bullying — both offline and online.”

The caucus’ mission statement says it’s committed to uncovering all forms of bullying, from school bullying to elder abuse to LGBT discrimination, and making it possible for victims of bullying to come forward; protecting all individuals that are victims of any and all forms of bullying; and preventing bullying behavior by recognizing its manifestation as symptomatic of other, larger issues.

The caucus’ launch today in Washington included a news conference as well as roundtable sessions with leading advocates and a screening of the documentary film “Bully” at the Department of Education.

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California state officials speak on SCOTUS ruling

California’s foremost elected officials are speaking out about the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.

From Gov. Jerry Brown:

“Today’s dramatic Supreme Court ruling removes the last roadblock to fulfilling President Obama’s historic plan to bring health care to millions of uninsured citizens.”

From Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom:

“There is a healthcare crisis in this country, a crisis with profound implications for each citizen in every city and county in America. Today’s United States Supreme Court decision, which upheld the individual insurance requirement, is just a start. But the decision allowing states to opt-out of Medicaid expansion still leaves millions of Americans vulnerable.

“We can — and must – act now to do more to offer healthcare access to all. We do not have time to stand on the sidelines. There is a crisis but there is also a solution.

“Americans know it is much less expensive to keep people healthy than it is to treat their sickness. This is particularly true when much of the treatment for uninsured Americans is provided in costly emergency rooms. Without a universal healthcare plan, our emergency rooms will continue to bear the brunt of this crisis and citizens will pay the price with higher taxes, more expensive premiums, hidden costs and increased fees.

“While serving as mayor of San Francisco, I saw first hand the impact of the healthcare crisis on the insured, uninsured, businesses, emergency rooms and municipal coffers.
We decided to address this crisis head-on and launched the country’s first local universal health care program, Healthy San Francisco. It is blueprint that can be replicated by cities and counties across the nation. A public plan can work. San Francisco is proving it.

“Since being implemented, more than 80 percent of uninsured San Franciscans have received medical coverage. Healthy San Francisco is not health insurance, instead it provides access to affordable basic and ongoing health care services for the uninsured, regardless of immigration status, employment status, or pre-existing medical conditions.

“We must not wait for the federal government to take the lead in the wake of the today’s Supreme Court decision. Cities and counties across the nation, such as Dallas, Indianapolis, and Miami, have already taken steps to establish healthcare service access programs. California must move forward with innovative programs, like Healthy San Francisco, that provide access to healthcare and not simply access to healthcare insurance.”

From Attorney General Kamala Harris:

“Today’s decision is a historic victory for Californians, for the President, and for the country. The Affordable Care Act repairs a healthcare system badly in need of reform and ensures that every American has access to affordable health care. We never doubted the constitutionality of this law, and it is already making a difference in the lives of millions of Californians.”

More, after the jump…
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McNerney, Garamendi & foes on SCOTUS ruling

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act ensures the health care reform law will be a top issue in this November’s battles for control of the House. In and near the Bay Area, the candidates have come out swinging today.

From Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, who’s seeking re-election in the newly drawn 9th Congressional District:

Jerry McNerney“When I am with people, working in our region, I hear how having access to affordable health care is imperative to our families. I have been unemployed and understand what it’s like to worry about providing for your family and had to struggle to find health coverage.

“The health care reform we passed is far from perfect and needs to be improved upon, but it is a big step in the right direction. Folks who are uninsured will now have some peace of mind, knowing that they will have health care. In our area, where unemployment has been much higher than the rest of the country, and where people need access to affordable health care, this is a vital element to our economic recovery.”

And from McNerney’s opponent this November, Republican candidate Ricky Gill of Lodi:

Ricky Gill “Jerry McNerney promised that his health care plan would reduce health care costs, but today we learned it is simply a massive tax increase that is already contributing to skyrocketing health care premiums for middle class families. Jerry McNerney stands for the status quo, but I am committed to moving responsibly towards bipartisan, comprehensive health care reform that increases patient choice, reduces costs, and protects coverage for seniors, young people and those with pre-existing health conditions.”

From Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, who’s seeking re-election in the newly drawn 3rd Congressional District:

John Garamendi “When people fall ill, we should help them get better. Most of us have experienced hard times. Many of us have gone without health coverage. When you lay all the heated rhetoric and legalese aside, the health care debate is really about what we’re going to do when people get sick or injured. In America, we should take care of each other. It is irresponsible to force millions of Americans to delay treatment because they can’t afford it, to live one broken leg or one chronic illness away from financial calamity.

“Today a 5-4 majority in the Supreme Court made the right decision. President Obama and Democrats in Congress did the right thing. We developed a plan that extended health coverage to most Americans. We fulfilled our moral obligation to seniors, to children, and to hardworking Americans. The Supreme Court sided with our authority to improve health care for all Americans.

“The health care law establishes a powerful Patient’s Bill of Rights. No longer will Americans with a pre-existing condition be denied health coverage. No longer will women be charged more for coverage. The health law will finally close the prescription drug donut hole, so seniors can afford their medication. The benefits of the Affordable Care Act have already started. 32.5 million Seniors have already received free preventative services. Three million additional young adults now have health coverage because of the law. Small businesses can take advantage of tax credits so they can provide insurance for their employees. Starting in 2014, 30 million more Americans will be able to afford access to health care.

“Jesus taught us, ‘Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ All the world’s great religions urge us to be compassionate and to help the sick. All good people recoil at the sight of needless suffering and cruelty.

“We all deserve the freedom from want and the freedom from fear. While I hope to eventually see Medicare for All in America, the Affordable Care Act is a vast improvement over the dark days when we allowed the insurance companies to run roughshod over our health.”

And from Garamendi’s opponent this November, Republican candidate and Colusa County Supervisor Kim Vann:

Kim Vann “Today’s Supreme Court ruling underscores the urgency with which Obamacare should be repealed and replaced with solutions that do not tax and cripple our economy. Rather than providing a lasting solution to the challenges facing our health care system, the health care law places a $600 billion tax on American families and businesses, while cutting over $500 billion from Medicare, empowering an unelected and unaccountable board of bureaucrats to make decisions regarding seniors’ health care, and imposing burdensome and costly regulations on our small businesses. It’s clear these solutions aren’t working. We must work for real reforms that lower costs and increase access to quality care, while ensuring that patients and their doctors—not government bureaucrats—remain in control of their healthcare decisions.

“My opponent, Congressman John Garamendi, has already voted for a more radical government health care overhaul than Obamacare. He supports the complete government takeover of health care—a ‘single payer’ government-run system. This radical position is not only out of step with most Republicans and Democrats—it’s out of touch with reality.”

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Reactions to the SCOTUS health care reform ruling

Your lawmakers are sounding off on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision upholding the Affordable Care Act as constitutional.

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

Barbara Boxer “The Supreme Court’s ruling is a victory for America’s families, who deserve affordable health care.
“The decision is great news for the millions of Californians who have already seen the benefits of this law – including the six million who now have access to free preventive health services, 355,000 young adults who now have coverage on their parents’ health plans and 320,000 seniors who have received help in paying for their prescription drugs.
“Now Americans will have the certainty of knowing they won’t be denied coverage because of a preexisting condition. Women won’t be charged a higher premium because of their gender. And families struggling with serious illnesses will not face lifetime limits on coverage.
“We will continue to fight Republican efforts to repeal these important health benefits while we work to make sure every American has access to quality, affordable health care.”

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

Orrin Hatch“The American people know that this law violates our deepest constitutional principles of limited government, despite the Supreme Court’s ruling today. President Obama’s $2.6 trillion health spending law is an unprecedented power grab by this White House that will increase health care costs, add to our skyrocketing national debt, and put Washington bureaucrats in between patients and their doctors. This ruling doesn’t change the fact that a majority of the people of Utah and across America want this law repealed. The American people will have the last word at the ballot box this November. But let me be absolutely clear, I will continue the fight to repeal this assault on individual liberty and limited government.”

From U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.:

Dianne Feinstein “This is an historic day. The Supreme Court today upheld the health care reform law passed by Congress in 2010, meaning Californians can be confident that access to affordable health insurance is finally a reality.

“I believe the health care reform law—including the individual mandate and the insurance exchanges designed to create large purchasing pools to make coverage more affordable—is critical to reducing the number of Americans who go without health insurance. The state exchanges will be up and running in 2014, and I am gratified they will have an opportunity to help Californians and drive down soaring health care costs.

“Because of today’s decision, California will receive an estimated $14.5 billion in federal funds designated to increase insurance coverage—including an estimated $5.5 billion annually to help low and middle-income residents purchase insurance in the exchanges and an estimated $9 billion a year to insure newly eligible Medi-Cal beneficiaries. **

“Many positive benefits of the law have already gone into effect including provisions that allow children to stay on their parent’s health insurance plan until age 26, prohibit insurance companies from denying children health insurance based on a pre-existing condition and prohibit insurance companies from canceling coverage because of an illness such as breast cancer. Millions of Americans will continue to benefit from these insurance reforms.

“I realize that passage of health care reform was extremely controversial. But we cannot forget that insuring fellow Americans and driving down the exploding cost of health care spending in this country is a national emergency. Even with this favorable decision from the court, our work reforming the insurance market and expanding access to health care continues.”

From House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio:

John Boehner “The president’s health care law is hurting our economy by driving up health costs and making it harder for small businesses to hire. Today’s ruling underscores the urgency of repealing this harmful law in its entirety. What Americans want is a common-sense, step-by-step approach to health care reform that will protect Americans’ access to the care they need, from the doctor they choose, at a lower cost. Republicans stand ready to work with a president who will listen to the people and will not repeat the mistakes that gave our country ObamaCare.”

From House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco:

Nancy Pelosi “This decision is a victory for the American people. With this ruling, Americans will benefit from critical patient protections, lower costs for the middle class, more coverage for families, and greater accountability for the insurance industry.

“The Affordable Care Act is already paying dividends for millions of Americans – with more to come. Children can no longer be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions. Seniors are paying less for prescription drugs. Students and young adults can stay on their parents’ plans. Being a woman is no longer a pre-existing medical condition.”

“In passing health reform, we made history for our nation and progress for the American people. We completed the unfinished business of our society and strengthened the character of our country. We ensured health care would be a right for all, not a privilege for the few. Today, the Supreme Court affirmed our progress and protected that right, securing a future of health and economic security for the middle class and for every American.”

More, after the jump…
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