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Archive for September, 2013

Lee & Farr decry shutdown during House debate

A few Northern California House members were among those who took to the lectern moments ago during the latest floor debate on the impending federal government shutdown.

The House is debating the latest GOP plan: tying a one-year delay of Obamacare’s individual mandate to the continuing resolution that would keep the government funded and running past midnight tonight.

Rep. Sam Farr, D-Santa Cruz, called a shutdown “a huge mistake.” He said his party fought vehemently against the decision to go to war in Iraq, against welfare reform, and against lots of other things in recent decade, but with each, “we didn’t shut down the government after we lost that debate – instead, we tried to make it work.”

The shutdown, however, will hurt everyone from farmers trying to export food to mothers feeding their children with government aid, to students hungry for a school meal.

“It’s a mean, reckless, ill-conceived idea to shut down government,” Farr said.

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, was a bit fierier still.

“Here we go again, Mr. Speaker – it’s really no secret that the Tea Party Republicans came here not really as public servants, but to destroy and decimate our government … This is, really, their dream vote,” Lee said. “It is shameful and it is downright wrong.”

“Make no mistake, the unnecessary GOP shutdown will have serious consequences for millions,” she said, and after more than 40 fruitless votes to cripple or repeal Obamacare, “this Tea Party obsession… to kill the government and to deny healthcare to millions of Americans, this must end… This hostage-taking must end.”

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, was equally fiery in denouncing Obamacare. “It was passed in the middle of the night, 2,300 pages that nobody had ever read, and it’s having all kinds of consequences for our constituents, the American people,” Boehner said.

“Something has to be done, so my Republican colleagues and I thought we should defund the law for a year,” he said, noting the Senate disagreed.

But if the Obama administration has issued waivers and decided to delay enforcement of the employer mandate, why should ordinary Americans be stuck with a bill they can’t afford*, he asked. “It’s about fairness for the American people. Why don’t we make sure that every American is treated just like we are?”

(Click here to read more about who’s footing what bills.)

Posted on Monday, September 30th, 2013
Under: Barbara Lee, healthcare reform, Sam Farr, U.S. House | 6 Comments »

Brown signs bill inspired by BART phone shutdown

A bill inspired by BART’s shutdown of cell-phone service during public protests in 2011 has been signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown.

SB 380 by state Sen. Alex Padilla prevents arbitrary shutdown or interruption of cell phone service without a court order; it takes effect Jan. 1.

“Open communication networks are critical to public safety and a key element of a free society,” Padilla, D-Van Nuys, said in a news release. “This new law will require a court order to interrupt modern mobile communication networks. For decades this requirement has been in place to protect traditional landline telephone service from arbitrary shutdown, now it will be in place for modern wireless communications as well. We need to make sure our laws keep up with changes in technology.”

BART turned off electricity to cellular towers in four San Francisco stations for three hours during an August 2011 protest about a BART Police officer’s fatal shooting of a knife-wielding homeless man.

The incident led the Federal Communications Commission to probe wireless service shutdowns, bringing public comments that indicated such shutdowns create more problems then they solve because they impede emergency communications. BART later in 2011 adopted a new standard for when it could interrupt phone service; this new law pre-empts that policy.

Brown had vetoed a similar bill last year, saying that giving law enforcement agencies only six hours to make findings about service shutdowns “could divert attention away from resolving the conflict without further threat to public safety.” SB 380 differed from last year’s bill by making carve-outs for hostage and barricade situations, and by adding process for a shutdown in certain emergencies so long as it’s followed by court review to determine whether free speech and public safety standards were met.

SB 380 was approved by the state Senate 35-3 in May; was approved by the Assembly 77-0 on Sept. 4; and was concurred upon by the state Senate 37-0 on Sept. 6.

Posted on Thursday, September 26th, 2013
Under: California State Senate, Jerry Brown | 2 Comments »

Brown signs law to let distilleries sell tastings

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill into law Thursday that grants distilled spirits and brandy manufacturers the right to charge customers for tastings on their premises, just as wineries do.

St. George Single Malt WhiskeyNo, this is not the most important legislation on his desk. But I like whiskey, so I’m writing about it anyway.

AB 933 was carried by Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, and was sponsored by the California Artisanal Distillers Guild; the Assembly and state Senate both passed the bill unanimously.

Skinner contended tastings are a traditional, responsible way for adults to sample alcohol in modest quantities and learn more about how the tipples are made. California distilleries already were allowed to offer free tastings, but couldn’t charge for those tastings to offset the costs of hiring staff.

Northern California is home to several distilleries, including St. George Spirits in Alameda, Charbay in St. Helena, Falcon Spirits in Richmond, Old World Spirits in Belmont, and – coming soon – Russell City Distillery in Hayward.

Posted on Thursday, September 26th, 2013
Under: Assembly, Jerry Brown, Nancy Skinner | 3 Comments »

Three locals to advise Obama on manufacturing

Several Bay Area people will serve on the new steering committee for President Barack Obama’s Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, the White House announced Thursday.

The president created the partnership in 2011 to bring industry, academia and government together to revitalize the manufacturing sector and boost the nation’s global competitiveness.

Among those on the new committee are University of California, Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks; Ajit Manocha, CEO of Milpitas-based semiconductor manufacturer GLOBALFOUNDRIES; and Mike Splinter, executive board chairman of Santa Clara-based Applied Materials Inc.

The original steering committee issued a report last year, “Capturing Domestic Competitive Advantage in Advanced Manufacturing,” that called for sustaining U.S. investments in science, technology, and innovation; establishing a National Network of Manufacturing Innovation Institutes, a set of public-private partnerships to build shared high-tech facilities and advance U.S. leadership in emerging technologies; upgrading community-college workforce training programs and deploying the talent of returning veterans to meet critical manufacturing skills needs; and improving the business climate for manufacturing investment through tax, regulatory, energy, and trade reform.

The new steering committee will build on that work, functioning as a working group of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and in partnership with the National Economic Council, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the Commerce Department. It’s also going to hold regional working sessions and forums designed to find examples of innovative strategies to build manufacturing competitiveness.

Posted on Thursday, September 26th, 2013
Under: economy, Obama presidency | 4 Comments »

Ex-Rep. Radanovich exploring run for governor

With Abel Maldonado and Tim Donnelly not exactly tearing it up in their nascent efforts to run for governor in 2014, another Republican may be preparing to enter the race.

RadanovichFormer Rep. George Radanovich sent out an e-mail this morning announcing his exploration of a run. Radanovich, 58, of Mariposa, said he has created a 501(c)(3) group called The Four Institutions – so named for family, business, religion and government, which he says are the basis of any society – to start giving the private sector a more prominent role in rebuilding the state nation.

Of those four institutions, he wrote, family is weakest and can best be shored up by addressing the issue of fatherless children. He touted his Restore Fresno pilot project – aimed at reducing fatherlessness, unwed pregnancy and divorce through persuasion and private investment – and said he’d like to expand to every California county. Doing so, he wrote, will reduce education, public safety, prison and welfare costs.

“A program of rebuilding the private sector and then cutting government represents a radical departure from business as usual in Sacramento,” Radanovich wrote. “But I believe Californians are ready for change and the time is ripe for a new approach. That is why I am considering entering the race for governor of California. Exploring the privilege to serve as California’s governor will give me the opportunity to visit community leaders throughout the state and discuss the details of Restore California.”

Radanovich served the 19th Congressional District from 1995 to 2011; as his wife fought the ovarian cancer that eventually claimed her life in 2010, he chose not to seek re-election.

Read Radanovich’s entire email, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, September 26th, 2013
Under: 2014 primary | 3 Comments »

More calls for Legislature to nix BART strike

With little or no progress apparent at the bargaining table, calls are growing louder for the Legislature to throw an obstacle on tracks as BART rolls toward another strike as early as Oct. 11.

Steve Glazer16th Assembly District candidate Steve Glazer, a Democrat who also is an Orinda councilman and a political adviser to Gov. Jerry Brown, will be at the Orinda BART station Thursday morning to hand out fliers to commuters and meet the press regarding his online petition drive urging the Legislature to ban BART strikes.

“A BART strike will cripple our economy, hurt workers getting to their jobs, limit access to schools and health care, and damage our environment,” his petition says. “The impact of a BART strike will be felt across the state. It should not be in the hands of a regional BART board. We need a statewide law.”

Glazer is running to succeed Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, who’ll be term-limited out of office next year. Also seeking that seat are Danville Mayor Newell Arnerich and Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti – both Democrats – and attorney Catharine Baker, a Republican from Dublin.

Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers sent a letter to Brown on Wednesday urging him to call an emergency legislative session in order to act on SB 423, which would compel BART unions to honor the no-strike clause in their expired contracts. Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff, R-Brea, introduced the legislation by gutting and amending another bill on the last day of the regular legislative session, and started touting it a few days later.

“The hundreds of thousands of Bay Area residents who rely upon BART to get to work or school each day deserve peace of mind that they can get to where they need to go without the threat of a strike,” Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway, R-Visalia, said in a news release Wednesday. “We call upon the governor to take swift action to ensure that this labor dispute does not create a transportation nightmare.”

Posted on Wednesday, September 25th, 2013
Under: Assembly, Bob Huff, California State Senate, Connie Conway, Transportation | 5 Comments »

Pols react to America’s Cup win

Some California politicians are over the moon about Oracle Team USA’s come-from-behind win in the America’s Cup, and are expressing their joy via social media.

pelosi-cup

(Someone get the Minority Leader a chair, fer cryin’ out loud!)

Newsom-cup

Lofgren-cup

eshoo-cup

Posted on Wednesday, September 25th, 2013
Under: Anna Eshoo, Gavin Newsom, Lt. Governor, Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren | No Comments »

Carly Fiorina will chair conservative foundation

Carly Fiorina – the former Hewlett Packard CEO who was U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer’s Republican challenger in 2010 – has been named chairwoman of the American Conservative Union’s educational arm.

ACU Chairman Al Cardenas on Tuesday announced his appointment of Fiorina, 59, who now lives in Virginia, to chair the American Conservative Union Foundation; she’ll succeed current chairwoman Cleta Mitchell on Oct. 1.

Carly Fiorina “I very much look forward to reaching out to all Americans – whether they think of themselves as conservatives or not – and engaging in a conversation about why the principles of personal liberty and personal responsibility simply work better,” Fiorina said in the ACU’s news release. “Bloated and unaccountable bureaucracies cannot make better decisions than families and entrepreneurs can make for themselves.”

The ACU’s release said “Fiorina’s conservative philosophy has been battle-tested on Wall Street and Main Street.”

“It’s one thing to be a conservative among friends; it’s quite another to be an unapologetic public conservative in California,” Cardenas said. “At this pivotal moment for our nation’s economy, we look forward to Carly’s razor sharp insights into restoring prosperity and entrepreneurship to America.”

Posted on Tuesday, September 24th, 2013
Under: Carly Fiorina | 1 Comment »

CA17: Honda and Khanna on abortion choice

One thing that’s not at issue in the 17th Congressional District battle between Rep. Mike Honda and his Democratic challenger Ro Khanna: A woman’s right to choose.

honda.jpgHonda, D-San Jose, announced Monday that he’s been endorsed for re-election by the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

Honda “has been an unwavering champion of women’s health in Congress,” PPAF President Cecile Richards said in Honda’s news release. “His support for Title X and teen pregnancy prevention programs as a member of the Appropriations Committee have helped strengthening family planning and women’s health care in Silicon Valley and across the country. We applaud the Congressman’s leadership and are proud to stand with him just as he has stood with millions of women, men, and young people.”

Planned Parenthood Mar Monte – serving communities in 40 counties in California and Northern Nevada – has eight health centers in Santa Clara County, including one (in Sunnyvale) within the 17th District.

“I understand the critical importance of the many community health services that organizations like Planned Parenthood provide,” Honda said. “I am proud to have the continued support of Planned Parenthood’s Action Fund and its members as we work together to expand preventative health services to everyone who needs them.”

Ro KhannaBut guess who’s a member of Mar Monte’s board of directors? Ro Khanna.

“A woman’s right to choose is a fundamental constitutional right which should be protected not just as a matter of privacy, but also under the 14th Amendment of the United States,” Khanna wrote on the “Women’s Rights” section of his campaign website. “As a Board Member of Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, I strongly believe that all women should have access to reproductive health care. We should stand up for choice, birth control, and sex education.”

In fact, the former Obama administration official from Fremont made a $10,000 donation from his campaign fund to Planned Parenthood Mar Monte in October 2012.

Honda, however, has received PPAF’s endorsement in each of his House re-election campaigns.

Posted on Tuesday, September 24th, 2013
Under: Mike Honda, U.S. House | 1 Comment »

Oil-extraction tax measure dies, but will return

A student-led campaign to put an oil-extraction tax ballot measure before California voters has failed – and is starting all over again with renewed vigor.

Monday was the signature-gathering deadline for the “California Modernization and Economic Development Act,” a measure conceived at UC-Berkeley that would’ve imposed a 9.5 percent tax on oil and natural gas extracted in the state. Petition circulation began April 25, but the proponents couldn’t hit their 504,760-signature mark.

But Californians for Responsible Economic Development, the student-led group that drafted the initiative, plans to resubmit a revised measure.

California oil wells“This summer has been busy for the CMED team,” said Aaron Thule, the campaign’s grassroots coordinator. “After a lot of hard work, we have built a signature gathering coalition for fall and winter that will be ready to activate and qualify this initiative come November.”

The tax would’ve raised an estimated $1.5 billion to $2 billion per year. In its first decade, 60 percent of its revenue would’ve been split equally among K-12 education, community colleges, the California State University system and the University of California system; 22 percent would’ve gone to clean-energy projects and research; 15 percent would’ve gone to counties for infrastructure and public health and safety services; and 3 percent would’ve gone to state parks. After the first decade, 80 percent would’ve gone to education, 15 percent to counties and 5 percent to state parks.

The revised initiative will have a sliding scale tax of 2 percent to 8 percent, which the proponents say will protect small business owners and jobs while still bringing in about $1 billion per year.

The revised initiative also will change the revenue allocation: 50 percent would be put in a special 30-year endowment fund for education, which after three years would start paying out equally to K-12, community colleges, CSU and UC. The proponents predict that after 30 years of collecting interest, it would bring in as much as $3.5 billion per year for education.

Another 25 percent would provide families and businesses with subsidies for switching to cleaner, cheaper energy, and the final 25 percent would be put toward rolling back the gas tax increase enacted last July, to make gas more affordable for working-class Californians, the proponents say.

Working to qualify the measure by early spring will be the University of California Student Association, groups at San Francisco State University, Sonoma State University, CSU Bakersfield and several community colleges. California College Democrats and California Young Democrats, both of which have endorsed an extraction tax for education and clean energy, are also lending support.

“It’s hard to believe that California is the only state that practically gives away our energy – especially when, as a state, our schools and colleges continue to struggle and we have yet to provide adequate funding to meet our own renewable energy standards,” College Democrats President Erik Taylor said.

The UCSA, representing hundreds of thousands of UC students, plans to organize across several campuses. “Affordability and funding are critical issues at the UC and Prop 30 simply is not the solution in itself that we need,” UCSA President Kareem Aref. “Our campaigns for this year are designed to ensure a stable and long term funding stream for the UC.”

Posted on Tuesday, September 24th, 2013
Under: ballot measures, education, energy, taxes | 6 Comments »