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Archive for March, 2013

Brown names Bay Area people to workforce board

Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday appointed 14 people to the , including four from the Bay Area, to help him set policies to develop the state’s workforce.

The California Workforce Investment Board helps the governor perform the duties and responsibilities required by the federal Workforce Investment Act of 1998. All of its members are appointed by the governor from the business, labor, public education, higher education, economic development, youth activity, employment and training sectors, as well as the Legislature.

Josh Becker, 43, of Menlo Park, is a founding general partner at New Cycle Capital and has been CEO at Lex Machina since 2011. He was founder and CEO at L7L MP Corporation from 2005 to 2007 and director of corporate development at Agile Software from 2001 to 2005. Becker was a founding team member at Redpoint Ventures from 1999 to 2001 and an associate at Brentwood Venture Capital in 1999. He holds a law degree and an MBA from Stanford University, and is a Democrat.

Karl Mehta, 42, of Fremont, has been a venture partner at Menlo Ventures since 2013 and was founder and CEO at Playspan from 2007 to 2012. He has been an advisory board member at the Ralph W. Leatherby Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Ethics at Chapman University, and Simpa Networks board of directors member since 2012. Mehta has been a White House Presidential Innovation Fellow for the 20 Percent Initiative since 2012 and has been an Intel Capital advisory board member since 2011. Mehta is a Democrat.

Floyd Trammell, 42, of Oakland, has been executive director of the West Bay Local Development Corporation since 2003 and senior pastor at the First Friendship Institutional Baptist Church since 2002. He was a business instructor at the City College of San Francisco from 2001 to 2005 and operations manager at the Third Baptist Church of San Francisco from 1996 to 2002. Trammell has been an Ella Hill Hutch Community Center board member since 2009 and was president of the Fillmore Community Jazz District from 2010 to 2012. He’s a Democrat.

Carol Zabin, 57, of Berkeley, is research director at the University of California, Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education, where she has served in various positions since 1998, including chair. She was visiting professor at UCLA from 1994 to 1998 and assistant professor of economics at Tulane University from 1992 to 1994. She earned a doctorate in economics from Cal. Zabin is a Democrat.

These appointments don’t require Senate confirmation, and the compensation is $100 per diem.

Posted on Friday, March 29th, 2013
Under: economy, education, Jerry Brown | 1 Comment »

Anti-pipeline protesters to target Obama in SF

CREDO and other groups intend to protest outside President Obama’s fundraiser next Wednesday evening in San Francisco to send a message that if he’s serious about fighting climate change he must reject the Keystone XL pipeline.

They’ll be targeting the $32,500-per-person Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraising dinner that Obama is headlining along with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi at the home of Ann and Gordon Getty, at Broadway and Baker Street in the Pacific Heights district.

Activists say the controversial pipeline project would accelerate climate change by speeding tar sands development and exporting dirty tar sands oil from Canada to foreign countries. Other organizations taking part in the protest include 350.org, Friends of the Earth and the Sierra Club.

CREDO in 2011 turned out over a thousand people at President Obama’s re-election campaign fundraiser in San Francisco, shortly before he first delayed his decision on the Keystone XL pipeline.

Posted on Friday, March 29th, 2013
Under: Barack Obama, energy, Environment, Obama presidency | 3 Comments »

Dispelling a Newtown massacre myth – again

As I’ve spent the last few months reporting on gun policy, one myth has kept cropping up – from an adamant gun-range manager in Shasta County to countless snarky emails I’ve received – to which some gun-rights advocates insist on clinging despite all evidence to the contrary: That Newtown shooter Adam Lanza used handguns, not a semi-automatic rifle considered by many to be an “assault weapon,” in his horrific rampage.

I noted here in January that the myth began with a video clip from NBC’s Today show which reported that Lanza had taken four handguns into the school but left the rifle in his car. That video is wrong; it was based on unnamed sources and aired as the news was still breaking on Dec. 15, the day after the shooting, before authorities had briefed the media on what weapons were actually used. The correct information was released later that day. But this video clip has been reposted so many times since – with or without the knowledge that it’s dead wrong – that Connecticut State Police felt compelled to re-issue the correct information in January.

Today there’s a new statement from Stephen J. Sedensky III, State’s Attorney for the Judicial District of Danbury, who’s been heading the investigation:

(T)the shooter went to Sandy Hook Elementary school where he shot his way into the building and killed 20 children and 6 adults with a Bushmaster .223 caliber model XM15 rifle. The Bushmaster was loaded with a 30-round capacity magazine. Fourteen rounds were in the magazine when the Bushmaster was recovered by police. There was one round in the chamber.

The shooter took his own life with a single shot from a Glock 10 mm handgun. He also had a loaded 9mm Sig Sauer P226 handgun on his person. Recovered from the person of the shooter, in addition to more ammunition for the handguns, were three, 30-round magazines for the Bushmaster, each containing 30 rounds. Located in the area of the shootings were six additional 30-round magazines containing 0, 0, 0, 10, 11, and 13 live rounds respectively. One-hundred-and-fifty-four spent .223 casings were recovered from the scene.

It is currently estimated that the time from when the shooter shot his way into the school until he took his own life was less than five minutes.

The police found a loaded 12-gauge shotgun in the passenger compartment of the car the shooter drove to the school. The shotgun was moved by police from the passenger compartment of the car to the trunk for safekeeping.

Lest anyone engage in baseless accusations that Sedensky is peddling partisan propaganda, it looks to me as if every one of the Connecticut Criminal Justice Commission members who appointed him to his job are Republican appointees themselves.

Bushmaster XM15

Not that it matters all that much – torn apart by bullets is torn apart by bullets, no matter what kind of gun fired those bullets. But I do believe it’s impossible to have a serious discussion on gun policy unless everyone accepts the facts. These are the facts.

Sedensky also today released search-warrant information which describes items taken from Lanza’s home and car. See the search-warrant documents here:

Adam Lanza Search Warrants

Posted on Thursday, March 28th, 2013
Under: gun control | 13 Comments »

Tauscher to chair new Governor’s Military Council

Gov. Jerry Brown probably believes it’s fine for the nation to speak softly, but he’s enlisting a former East Bay Congresswoman to ensure California remains part of its big stick.

Ellen TauscherBrown today appointed former East Bay Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher to chair a new Governor’s Military Council, tasked with protecting California’s military installations against the deep budget cuts being made by the Pentagon under the sequestration approved by Congress and President Obama.

“California plays a crucial role in our nation’s defense, and military bases and activities are vital to our state’s economy,” Brown said in a news release. “As federal priorities shift to cyber security and new military technology, this Council will work to expand defense-industry jobs and investment in California.”

California is home to 29 federal military installations, and the Defense Department directly employs more than 236,000 people in California. This new council will work to protect those installations and operations amid ongoing Defense Department budget cuts, and to push for changes in federal military strategy that will keep California at the front of defense innovation.

“California’s military infrastructure is critically important to national security,” Tauscher said. “The Council will send a unified message to Washington, D.C., that highlights the value of our military bases.”

Tauscher, 61, represented her East Bay congressional district from 1997 until 2009, when she resigned to take a post as U.S. Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs; she left that post in February 2012. More recently, she served as the State Department’s Special Envoy for Strategic Stability and Missile Defense and Vice Chair-Designate of the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security. She is now a strategic advisor to the Baker Donelson law firm in Washington, D.C.

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., noted defense is key sector of the state’s economy.

“With federal budgets continuing to be cut — including many defense programs — it is my hope that the Governor’s Military Council will help protect jobs and investments and attract new missions associated with California’s military presence,” she said. “I also believe that Ellen Tauscher is an excellent choice to chair this council, as she brings a wealth of experience at the State Department and as a member of the House of Representatives.”

The council will convene for one year and draft specific recommendations to the governor and Legislature. It includes retired admirals and generals from all military branches, the Adjutant General of the California National Guard and lawmakers selected by state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John Perez. The appointments don’t require Senate confirmation and there is no compensation.

See the full roster of council members as described by the governor’s office, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, March 28th, 2013
Under: economy, Ellen Tauscher, Jerry Brown, national security | 5 Comments »

Online registration grabs low-, mid-income voters

The new online voter registration system that California launched last fall isn’t just getting more people registered – it’s getting different people registered.

More registrants come from low- and middle-income neighborhoods than expected, according to a study just released by researchers Lisa García Bedolla, a Cal associate professor of education and of political science, and Véronica Velez, a postdoctoral research fellow at Cal’s Center for Latino Policy Research.

“Given voters in California are, on average, significantly more affluent than the general population, this study suggests that online voter registration opened up the … process to a wider range of voters in terms of their socioeconomic status,” García Bedolla and Velez reported.

Based on data from each of California’s 58 counties, the state’s online drive that ran from Sept. 19 through Oct. 21 generated 839,297 new registered voters. Some 22.6 percent were Latino, 11.1 percent Asian, and about 59.8 percent white – breakdowns similar to the state’s overall voter registration.

But the researchers focused on census-tract data for the newly registered voters in San Diego and Alameda counties, two regions with similarly diverse populations but contrasting political tendencies – San Diego tending more conservative, Alameda County tending more liberal.

In San Diego County, 71 percent of Latino, 57 percent of white and 50 percent of Asian American online registrants lived in areas with medium incomes under $75,000. In Alameda County, the numbers were 65 percent for Latino registrants, 52 percent for whites and 44 percent for Asian Americans.

Garcia Bedolla said this suggests that “when we make the process easier, like letting you register after you Google it on your phone, folks participate.”

The study also found:

  • Women of color, rather than white women, are driving the gender gap in Democratic party identification among the online registrants.
  • A significant proportion of eligible voters over age 35, particularly white men, registered online.
  • Latina and female Asian American voters were more likely to vote than were Latinos and Asian American men.
  • Only among white registrants and voters is there near gender parity in registration and turnout.
  • Posted on Tuesday, March 26th, 2013
    Under: voter registration | 1 Comment »

    Mike Honda pushes for gun-trace rules reform

    Rep. Mike Honda has led 42 other House members in urging the Obama administration to omit from its budget amendments that block law enforcement from being able to track firearms used in crime.

    The Tiahrt Amendments are a set of policy riders that have been attached, for the last nine years, to annual appropriations bills. They prohibit the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from requiring licensed gun dealers to perform inventory checks; require that background check records be destroyed within 24 hours; and limit state and local law enforcement authorities’ access and use of ATF gun trace data.

    The lawmakers sent a letter Tuesday to Jeffrey Zients, acting director of the White House Office of Management and Budget.

    “While pharmacies and other fields are required to check for inventory, guns are not. As a result, the restrictive Tiahrt Amendments have allowed thousands of guns to cross our border or to be purchased illegally without any oversight. These guns are now killing innocent Americans and limiting investigations by authorities,” Honda, a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee and its Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science, said in a news release.

    “I have worked for years on the Appropriations Committee to repeal these amendments and believe that now is finally the time to put common sense reforms in place to stop the flow of illegal guns and end the violence,” he said. “We must now ensure that the FY14 budget is clean of this language, which has never had a floor vote or a full debate.”

    Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, among the signatories of Honda’s letter, said the amendments “block access to vital information that lawmakers, police-officers, and federal agencies need to begin to tackle the epidemic of gun violence in our communities. We must treat gun violence for what it is: a public health epidemic, and no one would ever stop the Centers for Disease Control from tracking data on heart disease.”

    Others signing the letter include Reps. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo; Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael; and Rep. Sam Farr, D-Santa Cruz.

    Posted on Tuesday, March 26th, 2013
    Under: Barbara Lee, gun control, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 2 Comments »

    Voter #s: Dems a smidge up, GOP a smidge down

    Democrats made a tiny gain in recent months while Republicans continued a long, slow slide in new voter registration numbers released Monday by California Secretary of State Debra Bowen.

    Monday’s figures show the state’s Democratic registration at 43.93 percent as of Feb. 10, up a fraction from the 43.66 percent stake the party held just before November’s election. Republican registration dropped to 28.94 percent as of Feb. 10 from 29.36 percent as of Oct. 22. And the trend toward nonpartisan registration leveled off somewhat in recent months, going from 20.94 percent in October to 20.86 percent in February.

    In the last two years, the percentage of voters registered with the Democratic Party decreased by 0.1 percent and voters registered with the Republican Party decreased by 2 percent. The number of registered voters with no party preference has increased by more than 259,000 during the same period.

    A few minor parties made minor progress in the past two years – American Independent registration rose from 2.43 percent to 2.64 percent and Libertarian registration rose from 0.54 percent to 0.61 percent – but they as well as the Green and Peace and Freedom Party will find it increasingly hard to get much attention and retain their ballot statuses under the state’s newly implemented top-two primary system.

    Overall, 75.7 percent of eligible Californians are registered to vote – down from 76.7 percent as of last October, but up from 72.8 percent at this time two years ago. A total of 18,055,783 Californians are now registered to vote – an increase of 869,252 since the last off-year report, but down from the raw-number high of 18,245,970 in the fall of 2012.

    “Voter registration often dips in an off-year when counties update voter rolls following a general election, but the good news is registration is still up by about 3 percent from this time two years ago,” Bowen said in a news release. “I built online voter registration, in part, to make it easier for the 25 percent of Californians who are eligible to register to vote but have not. It’s now easier than ever to participate; so if you haven’t yet registered to vote, or if you moved and need to re-register, fill out an application online right now.”

    By law, statewide voter registration updates must occur 60 and 15 days before each general election, and 154, 60 and 15 days before each primary election. One update is published in each odd-numbered year with no regularly scheduled statewide election.

    Posted on Monday, March 25th, 2013
    Under: Debra Bowen, Democratic Party, Green Party, Republican Party, voter registration | 3 Comments »

    Feinstein, Boxer endorse Mike Honda for 2014

    Add California’s U.S. Senators to the cavalcade of Democratic stars giving early endorsements to Rep. Mike Honda as he tries to neutralize a potential challenge from a fellow Democrat.

    “I’m proud to endorse Congressman Mike Honda,” U.S. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said in a news release issued today by Honda’s campaign. “He works tirelessly for the people he represents and is an important leader on issues such as helping to create jobs and improving our schools. He is a champion for Silicon Valley and I’m glad to offer him my support.”

    “The people of the 17th Congressional District need Mike Honda’s strong voice now more than ever,” U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said in the same release. “I am proud to endorse such an effective leader for education, innovation, and families throughout the region and country.”

    Ro Khanna, a former Obama administration Commerce Department official with $1.26 million in his campaign coffers, is rumored to be announcing a 2014 campaign against Honda soon. He declined to comment on the senators’ endorsements Monday, just as he had when Honda rolled out endorsements this year from President Barack Obama, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the chairs of the Democratic National Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and others.

    Honda thanked the senators for their support. “We all agree that the formula for growth in Silicon Valley jobs is straightforward. It requires smart and targeted incentives to help companies locate and grow here while accessing our unique and diverse workforce, and providing our students with the education they’ll need to compete.”

    Honda issued poll results last week showing he had a 52-point lead over Khanna – not surprising, considering Honda, 71, has served in Congress since 2000 and Khanna, 36, hasn’t even declared his candidacy yet.

    Posted on Monday, March 25th, 2013
    Under: Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, Mike Honda, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | 14 Comments »

    Barbara Lee, Jeff Denham do immigration forums

    House members near and far, and from both sides of the aisle, are holding forums to hear their constituents’ thoughts on immigration reform.

    Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, will join with community leaders and activists for a forum from 6 to 7:30 p.m. tomorrow, Tuesday, March 26, at St. Elizabeth’s High School, 1530 34th Ave. in Oakland, with testimony from East Bay residents.

    Lee’s office says she “been a staunch supporter of comprehensive immigration reform to address our broken immigration system” and “is committed to developing a comprehensive immigration policy that is fair, preserves family unity, promotes long-term economic growth, and includes a clear roadmap to citizenship.”

    Next week and far away, Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto, will hold two similar forums – one on April 2 in Modesto, and another on April 3 in Manteca. He’ll be joined by Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., who chairs the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, at both listening sessions.

    “As your Congressman, I’d like to hear from you about the critical issues facing our country and our community,” Denham said in a news release. “From creating fair and respectful immigration policies, to helping to create good paying jobs, and improving our children’s schools, we have a lot of work to do, and the answers are going to come from people like you – not the bureaucrats in Washington.”

    Posted on Monday, March 25th, 2013
    Under: Barbara Lee, Immigration, Jeff Denham, U.S. House | 2 Comments »

    USC/LAT Poll: Californians support gun control

    California voters support a wide range of gun-control measures and say it’s more important to protect people from gun violence than to protect Second Amendment rights, according to a new statewide poll.

    When asked whether they felt it is more important to protect people from gun violence than protect American’s right to own guns, a majority of California voters — 51 percent — said that they felt it is more important to protect people from gun violence; 46 percent agreed “strongly” with that statement. In comparison, 37 percent of voters said it’s more important to protect the right to own guns, with 32 percent agreeing “strongly.”

    The University of Southern California Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll of 1,501 registered voters, conducted March 11-17 by two polling firms – one Democratic, one Republican – has a 2.9-point margin of error.

    The poll found about a quarter of Californians own a firearm, compared to about 34 percent of American households as estimated by a recent General Social Survey.

    “Politics is a natural outgrowth of culture,” poll director Dan Schnur, a former Republican strategist who directs USC’s Unruh Institute of Politics, said in a news release. “And because the percentage of Californians who own guns is so much lower than the ownership rates of guns in other parts of the country, it shouldn’t surprise us that Californian’s attitudes toward gun control are much stronger than places where people are more likely to own or maintain a firearm.”

    The gap between those emphasizing gun-violence reduction and protection of gun rights in this poll isn’t as large as that reported by the Field Poll last month; that earlier poll found 61 percent preferred imposing greater controls while 34 percent preferred protecting gun rights.

    Asked about potential ways to curb gun violence, 92 percent of California voters told the USC/Times poll that they support background checks for all gun sales, which the state already requires; only 6 percent were opposed.

    On other proposed gun-control measures:

      89 percent favor updating the national database used for background checks by improving the reporting of mental health records, while 8 percent oppose;
      87 percent favor increasing penalties for those who commit crimes with guns, while 9 percent oppose;
      85 percent favor increasing penalties for those who illegally buy, while 12 percent oppose;
      79 percent favor requiring ammunition buyers to provide a thumbprint and ID for background checks, while 19 percent oppose; and
      71 percent favor requiring all gun owners to be registered, licensed and insured, while 26 percent oppose.

    Lots more, after the jump…
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted on Friday, March 22nd, 2013
    Under: gun control, polls | 13 Comments »