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Archive for November, 2012

Lofgren crowdsources domain-name seizure bill

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, is crowdsourcing a plan for a bill regarding domain-name seizures for copyright infringement.

The forthcoming bill is a reaction to concerns over “Operation in Our Sites,” a program by the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement targeting websites that distribute counterfeit and pirated items.

Lofgren, who serves on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet, issued this statement today:

“During SOPA I saw firsthand the Reddit community’s strong dedication to free expression. Because of that dedication, I thought I would attempt an experiment: crowdsourcing a legislative proposal on Reddit. The goal of the legislation would be to build due process requirements into domain name seizures for copyright infringement. I’d like your thoughts on the proposal.

“Although I am considering introducing a bill on domain name seizures for infringement, that does not mean I accept the practice as legal or Constitutional. Nonetheless, since these seizure actions are occurring, I thought it worthwhile to explore a legislative means providing appropriate protections for free expression and due process. While I promise to carefully consider all recommendations, I can’t, of course, promise that every suggestion can be incorporated into a bill I’d introduce.

“The goal is to develop targeted legislation that requires the government to provide notice and an opportunity for website operators to defend themselves prior to seizing or redirecting their domain names. The focus would be on government domain name seizures based on accusations that a website facilitates copyright infringement and not, for example, accusations of obscenity or libel. Feedback and input should also take into account any legitimate concerns that notice or delay might reasonably lead to destruction of evidence, threats to the physical safety of an individual, or other unintended negative consequences.

“So, Internet policy experts and free speech warriors: How, specifically, would you suggest accomplishing these goals? I look forward to reading your thoughts and input!”

Click here to access Lofgren’s Reddit post and offer your suggestions.

Posted on Monday, November 19th, 2012
Under: U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren | 1 Comment »

Feinstein ‘Meets the Press’ on Benghazi

U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., was on NBC’s “Meet the Press” yesterday to discuss the September terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya:

Posted on Monday, November 19th, 2012
Under: Dianne Feinstein, U.S. Senate | 1 Comment »

Here he is: The former governor of California

Posted on Thursday, November 15th, 2012
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger | 1 Comment »

George Miller proposes bill to reduce wait to vote

Inspired by the plight of battleground-state voters who had to wait in lines for hours to cast their ballots, a Bay Area congressman today announced he’ll carry a bill requiring early voting and adequate poll machines and staffing.

The forthcoming Streamlining and Improving Methods at Polling Locations and Early (SIMPLE) Voting Act from Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, would require early voting in all states for federal elections, for a minimum of 15 days before Election Day. Currently, 15 states lack any form of early voting; those with early voting allow it for varying periods, and in some states such as Florida – where some of the nation’s longest lines occurred – the number of days was shortened in last week’s election.

Miller also intends to require that states ensure all voting precincts have adequate resources – meaning voting machines and poll workers – so that no voter must wait in line for more than one hour to vote. And states will have to develop contingency plans for resolving situations in which long lines develop anyway.

“The right to vote is among our nation’s most sacred rights, surely we can do a better job of ensuring that voters do not have to choose between meeting their daily responsibilities to their families or employers and exercising this solemn responsibility,” Miller said in a news release. “There are a number of well-documented impediments to voting that must be corrected. My bill is in no way intended to solve all of our voting problems but it does offer two simple and clear-cut solutions that experts agree will make voting easier and help to reduce inexcusably long wait times for people casting their ballots in person.”

Posted on Thursday, November 15th, 2012
Under: George Miller, U.S. House | 14 Comments »

Longtime legislative aide goes to bat for courts

A longtime Bay Area legislative staffer has been hired to head the state court system’s governmental affairs office – and lead the courts’ fight against draconian budget cuts by the Legislature and governor.

Cory Jasperson was hired by California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye at the recommendation of a Judicial Council search committee led by Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvin Baxter. Jasperson, 42, will start Dec. 3 as a replacement for Curt Child, who was promoted last month to become the Administrative Office of the Courts’ chief operating officer.

“The search committee was very impressed with Cory Jasperson’s personal attributes, professional experience, and outstanding reputation he has earned in the Capitol,” Baxter said in a news release. “We are confident that he will lead the Office of Governmental Affairs with great distinction.”

Jasperson currently is chief of staff to state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, who is term-limited out at the end of this year and is about to start a term on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. Earlier, Jasperson served as a top aide to other lawmakers including Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, D-Castro Valley, and Assemblywoman Sally Lieber, D-Mountain View.

Jasperson, in the courts’ news release, said he’s eager to get to work. “I strongly believe that our democracy requires a vibrant and independent judiciary to provide access to justice for all Californians. At the same time, I am acutely aware of the challenges faced by all three branches because of the state’s fiscal crisis.”

Indeed, Jasperson is in for quite a ride: The California judicial system’s budget has been cut by 30 percent since the 2008-2009 fiscal year, leading to layoffs, reduced hours and services, and delayed or cancelled construction projects.

Posted on Wednesday, November 14th, 2012
Under: state budget | No Comments »

Tom Steyer’s next big push: ‘Too Small to Fail’

Yesterday’s editions carried my story about what the future might hold for billionaire hedge fund mogul Tom Steyer, fresh off his win with Proposition 39 and about to turn his full attention to public policy.

Today we’re starting to see what Steyer’s next big push will be.

Tom Steyer (photo by Karl Mondon)As described in a Mercury-News op-ed piece he co-wrote, the Center for the Next Generation – a philanthropic effort founded last year by Steyer and his brother, Common Sense Media Founder and CEO Jim Steyer – today is launching Too Small to Fail, a national movement to focus attention on the need to invest in children and address the challenges they face in leading healthy, happy, productive lives, particularly in areas of education, technology, health, parents’ work lives and social mobility.

Too Small to Fail’s website went live today, and this ad – produced by Obama advisor Jim Margolis and Bush advisor Mark McKinnon – has begun airing on Fox, MSNBC and CNN:

From Too Small to Fail’s website:

The world is changing faster than any parent can predict. We have 21st century technology and a 20th century mindset; the slickest smartphones with the dullest outlook for our kids.

Parents work longer hours for smaller paychecks. Kids are weighed down by schools that don’t work and bombarded by media meant for people twice their age. Governments across the country have done less and less to lay a foundation for future success – a future where we build our society from the smallest up and where all kids have the opportunity to thrive.

Too Small to Fail is a movement. One built to change the conversation around kids in this country. We mean to create a groundswell to prompt Americans to rise to the challenges facing our nation’s children.

We can build a stronger future for our children.

The site indicates partners participating in Too Small to Fail include the Children’s Defense Fund – California, Common Sense Media, the Families and Work Institute, First Focus, Moms Rising, Opportunity Nation and Voices for America’s Children.

Posted on Wednesday, November 14th, 2012
Under: education | 22 Comments »

Want tickets to Obama’s re-inauguration?

With the presidential election only a week behind us, members of Congress are starting to take requests for free tickets to President Barack Obama’s second-term inauguration on Monday, Jan. 21, 2013 in Washington, D.C.

Some – including Reps. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; George Miller, D-Martinez; Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto; and Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo – already have pages on their websites at which you can request tickets in a lottery system. The rest of the Bay Area’s delegation will have similar pages up soon; you must request tickets from your House member, or from one of your state’s two U.S. Senators.

Posted on Tuesday, November 13th, 2012
Under: 2012 presidential election, Anna Eshoo, Barack Obama, Barbara Lee, George Miller, Jackie Speier, U.S. House | 29 Comments »

SCOTUS delays deciding if it will review Prop. 8

Californians on both sides of the gay-marriage debate will have to wait a bit longer to hear whether and how the U.S. Supreme Court will weigh in.

Though the high court originally had been scheduled to confer next Tuesday, Nov. 20 on whether to take a case challenging the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 of 2008 – which added a same-sex marriage ban into the state constitution – the justices will now consider it Friday, Nov. 30 instead, with an announcement expected Dec. 3.

If the court decides not to review the case, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ Feb. 7 ruling will stand, invalidating Proposition 8 and allowing gay marriages to resume in California.

The court also moved from Nov. 20 to Nov. 30 its consideration of whether to accept several cases challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 statute barring gay marriage for all matters of federal law.

Posted on Tuesday, November 13th, 2012
Under: same-sex marriage | 1 Comment »

Congressman-elect Swalwell hires district director

East Bay Congressman-elect Eric Swalwell, arriving in Washington today for a House freshman orientation, tweeted his announcement of a significant staff hire:

To deliver responsive constituent services, I’ve hired Shannon Fuller as #CA15 District Director. Her organization & vision is what we need.

New #CA15 District Director Shannon Fuller is a Bay Area native, a mom, has worked for @EllenOTauscher & @JerryBrownGov, and loves cooking.

Fuller, 39, of Orinda, has a LinkedIn profile that says she was a finance director and fundraiser for Taucher’s campaign from 1998 to 2000, and a scheduler in Rep. Ellen Tauscher’s office from 2001 through 2004; Swalwell interned in Tauscher’s office in 2001.

The profile also says Fuller was an executive assistant to Jerry Brown’s campaign manager for five months in 2010, and this year served as finance director of Swalwell’s campaign. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of San Diego.

Fuller also is a former Orinda Parks and Recreation commissioner, and has been a member of the Lamorinda Democratic Club.

Posted on Monday, November 12th, 2012
Under: Eric Swalwell, U.S. House | 3 Comments »

Peering ahead toward the ‘fiscal cliff’

President Obama today announced he has invited congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle to come to the White House next week to discuss how to handle the tax increases and spending cuts now scheduled to take effect automatically in January.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, responded:

John Boehner“The year 2013 should be the year we begin to solve our country’s debt problem through entitlement reform and a new tax code with fewer loopholes and lower rates. The president has an historic opportunity to lead both parties in forging an agreement that averts the fiscal cliff in a manner that ensures 2013 will be that year.

“The increased tax rates that would be allowed under the Senate-passed bill are part of the fiscal cliff that economists are warning us to avoid. Those increased tax rates will destroy jobs in America by hurting small businesses across the country. Republicans are eager to get to work on an agreement that averts the entire fiscal cliff. The House has passed legislation to accomplish this vital goal. We look forward to joining the president next week and working to forge an agreement that will do the same.”

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

Nancy Pelosi “President Obama is exactly right: the American people voted on Tuesday for certainty for our economy and middle class families. Speaker Boehner and House Republicans can provide that certainty, and establish a sound basis for negotiations on comprehensive deficit reduction package, by taking up the Senate-passed bill to extend the middle income tax cuts. President Obama has his signing pen ready, and I am certain that, given the opportunity, Democrats in the House will vote to send the middle income tax cut to the President next week.

“President Obama reiterated today that we must work toward compromise to address our nation’s deficit, and we stand firmly on the side of a balanced approach. President Obama took this issue of tax fairness to the American people with great clarity, and the American people agreed with him. The wealthiest Americans must pay their fair share.

“The tax proposal that the President restated today is the right way to move forward, enabling us to start the conversation about a responsible, long-term deficit reduction plan. The President was clear in the campaign. The American people have spoken. Let’s sit down and get the job done. Every day we delay, adds to the uncertainty of the middle class. Let’s pass the Senate bill now and show the American people that people of goodwill can get the job done. We must.”

Posted on Friday, November 9th, 2012
Under: Barack Obama, John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, taxes, U.S. House | 7 Comments »