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Archive for November, 2013

‘Operation LIPSTICK’ takes aim at gun trafficking

A Bay Area congresswoman will host a forum Friday that aims to empower women to stop illegal gun trafficking.

Jackie SpeierRep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, along with various public health, law enforcement and social service organizations are introducing “Operation LIPSTICK,” an attempt to disrupt illegal pipelines that deliver guns to criminals. The coalition will hold a public forum, “Empowering Women to Stop Illegal Gun Trafficking: A New Public Health Approach,” from 1 to 2:30 p.m. in the San Mateo City Council Chambers, 330 W. 20th Ave.

Brace yourself, acronym fans: LIPSTICK stands for “Ladies Involved in Putting a Stop to Inner-City Killing.” The initiative will use educational workshops, leadership development and community organizing to build support networks for women at risk of being caught up in illegal gun trafficking.

Men with criminal records who can’t pass background checks often exploit women with clean records as “straw buyers” to buy guns for them, and those often guns end up being used in street crime, Speier’s office said in a news release.

“LIPSTICK will empower women who are exploited by traffickers to say no to supplying guns to criminals,” Speier said in the news release. “They often unwittingly contribute to gun deaths in our communities. Education will make them less vulnerable to manipulation, make our streets safer and save lives.”

Speier will be joined at Friday’s forum by David Hemenway, director of the Harvard Injury Research Control Center; former ATF agent David Chipman; Nancy Robinson, executive director of Citizens for Safety; and S.T. Mayer, the San Mateo County Health System’s policy and planning director.

“As women have helped reduce drunk driving, they can mobilize to reduce firearm violence,” Hemenway said in Speier’s news release.

Posted on Tuesday, November 19th, 2013
Under: gun control, Jackie Speier, U.S. House | 23 Comments »

NRA sues San Francisco over ammo magazine ban

The San Francisco Veteran Police Officers Association, represented by the National Rifle Association, sued San Francisco in federal court Tuesday over the city’s recently enacted ban on possession of ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.

“Prohibiting the citizens of San Francisco from possessing standard firearm magazines is not an effective means of targeting behavior by violent criminals. The San Francisco Veteran Police Officers Association is challenging this law for that very reason,” said Chuck Michel, the NRA’s West Coast counsel. “This is a misguided effort to dismiss the civil rights of the residents of San Francisco. The Second Amendment forbids the city from banning common firearm magazines that are possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes.”

San Francisco supervisors on Oct. 29 unanimously approved a ban on possession of ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. The state’s assault weapon ban has forbidden their manufacture, sale or transfer since 2000, but let people who owned them before then keep them; the city’s possession ban will require owners to get rid of them – turn them over to police, remove them from the city, or transfer them to a licensed firearms dealer – within 90 days, no matter when they were bought.

The ordinance is set to take effect Dec. 8, unless a judge issues an injunction halting that.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday notes that magazines that are in common use for lawful purposes are protected by the Second Amendment, and magazines that hold more than 10 rounds have been around since the 19th century and some standard with many modern firearms.

“Self-defense is the ‘central component’ of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms that is at its zenith within the home,” the lawsuit argues. “Millions of individual, law-abiding American citizens are currently in possession of standard-capacity magazines that are capable of holding more than ten rounds, that are now banned by Section 619.”

“Plaintiffs should not have to face criminal prosecution by the City for exercising their constitutional rights to keep and bear constitutionally-protected arms or, alternatively, give up those rights in order to comply with Section 619,” the lawsuit says.

Besides the organization for retired cops, other plaintiffs include several individual San Francisco residents who want to own higher-capacity magazines for self-defense or sporting purposes.

Sunnyvale voters this month approved Measure C, which requires gun owners to notify police within 48 hours of the loss or theft of their firearms, and to keep firearms locked up when not in the owner’s immediate possession. It also requires ammunition sellers to keep buyers’ names for two years, and includes a magazine possession ban similar to San Francisco’s. The NRA has vowed to sue that city, too.

UPDATE @ 12:58 P.M.: This just in from San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera:

“The NRA is continuing its attack on common sense with its lawsuit today, and San Francisco is prepared to litigate aggressively to defend gun safety laws that save lives.

“The NRA is clearly focused on a litigation strategy to push its extremist agenda. But the U.S. Supreme Court—even in expanding the Second Amendment’s scope—has been unequivocal that state and local governments are constitutionally entitled to enact reasonable firearms regulations. The high court has explicitly recognized that the constitution does not extend an unfettered individual right to keep and carry dangerous and unusual weapons. I have faith that the federal judiciary will agree that San Francisco’s gun laws protect public safety in a manner that’s both reasonable and constitutional. San Francisco has been one of the NRA’s top targets for years, and I’m proud of the success we’ve made to protect our sensible gun safety laws.”

Posted on Tuesday, November 19th, 2013
Under: gun control, San Francisco politics | 3 Comments »

Bill Lockyer endorses Eric Swalwell for re-elction

Lest you think Rep. Mike Honda’s 17th Congressional District is the only Bay Area race where incumbents are trying to get an early leg up on their challengers, Rep. Eric Swalwell fired a shot across his challenger’s bow Monday morning.

Swalwell, D-Pleasanton, announced he has the endorsement of state Treasurer Bill Lockyer for re-election to his 15th Congressional District seat.

“I’m for Congressman Eric Swalwell because I’ve seen him bring great energy and smart thinking to his job, and the determination to listen well to the people and work very hard for them every day,” Lockyer said in Swalwell’s news release. “Eric is getting good things done in Washington and at home, he has earned another term in Congress, and his re-election will be good news for his district and the nation.”

Lockyer’s endorsement is significant not only because he’s the longest serving statewide elected official, but also because he’s a powerful figure in Alameda County politics – particularly in the areas where Swalwell’s challenger, state Sen. Ellen Corbett, runs strongest.

Corbett, D-San Leandro, is looking to her home base on the west side of the hills for strength, but Lockyer’s word could carry significant sway there: He served many of the same areas during his 25 years in the Legislature that Corbett now does. He lives in Hayward now, but started his career in elected office (in 1968!) as a San Leandro Unified School District board member. Corbett as a college student did an internship in then-Assemblyman Lockyer’s office; he spoke at Corbett’s Senate swearing-in ceremony in 2007.

Eric SwalwellSwalwell said he’s honored to have Lockyer’s support.

“He has always been a fierce defender of his constituents and committed to improving the lives of the middle class and those less fortunate,” Swalwell said. “I admire Treasurer Lockyer’s unwavering commitment to his Democratic ideals while also working toward compromise if it will benefit the people. He has provided steady stewardship of California’s finances as Treasurer and I share his priorities to improve our economy and responsibly manage the people’s money.”

Posted on Monday, November 18th, 2013
Under: Bill Lockyer, Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, U.S. House | 9 Comments »

Three NorCal House Dems vote for Upton bill

Reps. Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi and Ami Bera were among 39 House Democrats who joined with most Republicans to pass a controversial bill Friday that would let insurers keep selling policies which fall short of the new healthcare law’s standards and consumer protections.

H.R. 3350 by Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., would not only let people with insurance that doesn’t meet the new law’s standards keep it through 2014, but it would also let new customers buy such policies too. The House approved the bill 261-157, but the bill faces a tougher time in the Democrat-led Senate and President Obama has vowed to veto it.

Most Democrats say the Upton bill basically guts the new law, disrupting the risk pools that make individual insurance sold on the new health benefit exchanges affordable for most Americans.

A spokeswoman for McNerney, D-Stockton, didn’t reply to an e-mail and a phone call Friday.

Matthew Kravitz, a spokesman for Garamendi, D-Fairfield, said Obama and House members on both sides of the aisle “all agree that the fact that so many plans are being dropped is an issue of concern.”

“Congressman Garamendi has always said that every law, including the Affordable Care Act, can be improved,” Kravitz said. “Congressman Garamendi voted for the Democratic plan to fix this problem, and he also voted for the Republican plan. The Upton bill has flaws, but by bringing the issue to the Senate, Garamendi hopes the Senate will take up their own legislation and both chambers, in a bicameral bipartisan fashion, can hash out a compromise during a conference committee.”

Bera, D-Rancho Cordova, issued this statement:

“I voted for the Keep Your Plan Act today so that all Sacramento County families have the individual choice to keep their insurance if it is working for them.

“That being said, I encourage Californians to explore their options on California’s new health insurance marketplace, Covered California, where families are likely to find plans that offer better coverage, for less money. California’s website is working, and health plans in the marketplace offer more patient protections and assistance to help pay for insurance, which isn’t available under existing plans.

“The bipartisan passage of today’s bill, and the President’s new proposal to let Americans keep their current coverage through 2014, are important steps in the right direction. As a doctor and the former Chief Medical Officer of Sacramento County, I am committed to bringing down the cost of health care and will keep working to fix parts of the Affordable Care Act that aren’t working for the American people.”

All three Democrats hold what could be described as swing districts. The Cook Political Report, a renowned prognosticator of elections, rates McNerney’s 9th Congressional District and Garamendi’s 3rd Congressional District as “likely Democrat,” meaning they’re not considered competitive at this point but have the potential to become engaged. But Cook rates Bera’s 7th Congressional District as a toss-up in which either party has a good chance of winning.

Elizabeth Emken, one of three Republicans seeking to unseat Bera next year, issued a statement saying Bera is trying to mask his support of an unpopular law.

“Regardless of his vote today, Ami Bera has continually defended Obamacare and all the problems it has caused while voting to keep it the law of the land,” she said. “Bera’s votes have put over 1 million Californians in danger of losing their health care. He can claim he was ‘concerned’ all he wants, but his voting record tells the painful truth – Ami Bera approved of Obamacare, and now he is trying to distance himself from its disastrous effects.”

Health insurers are discontinuing individual-market policies that don’t meet the standards set forth in the nation’s new law. Those receiving such notices are being offered new policies by their insurers, but also can go to the Covered California website to shop around for the best deal and to determine whether they’re eligible for subsidies.

Posted on Friday, November 15th, 2013
Under: Ami Bera, healthcare reform, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, U.S. House | 12 Comments »

Nancy Pelosi praises ‘Batkid’ for saving Gotham

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi issued a statement Friday praising “Batkid” (a.k.a. Miles, 5) for saving Gotham City (a.k.a. San Francisco) from a series of perils.

“Today, Gotham will finally breathe safe thanks to the super-sized might and extraordinary courage of our city’s true hero, Batkid. When Gotham City trembled in the grip of our most notorious villains, Batkid once again showed us the true meaning of bravery in the face of fear.

“In his young life, Batkid has fought a battle with cancer that would daunt even a full-grown superhero. He has emerged victorious, and is using that strength and positivity not only to save a city, but to inspire children across the globe who are fighting battles of their own.

“Miles, with your remarkable valor and your intrepid spirit, you have reminded us all what it is to believe in the power of our dreams. Thank you for saving the people of our city, stirring the hearts of a nation, and sharing your heroism with the world.”

Posted on Friday, November 15th, 2013
Under: Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House | 1 Comment »

East Palo Alto’s ex-chief sworn in for COPS job

Former East Palo Alto Police Chief Ron Davis was sworn in Tuesday as head of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program.

Ronald DavisDavis served for eight years as the top cop in East Palo Alto, once a murder hotspot; the city’s homicide rate dropped more than 50 percent and overall crime dropped by 20 percent during his tenure. He tendered his resignation last month and served his last day a week ago. Earlier, Davis had served for 20 years with the Oakland Police Department. He was named as a finalist for the police chief’s job in New Orleans in 2010.

Rep. Jackie Speier led 18 other California House members in sending a letter Thursday to President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder applauding Davis’ appointment.

“Chief Davis is highly regarded, both locally in my district and nationally, for his smart and creative approaches to policing,” wrote Speier, D-San Mateo. “He has made a big difference in East Palo Alto and will be a real asset to the COPS program. His knowledge of our region and its issues will be a great benefit for the local community.

Other House members signing the letter included Reps. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; Mike Honda, D-San Jose; Mike Thompson, D-Napa; Sam Farr, D-Santa Cruz; Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose; Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto; George Miller, D-Martinez; and Eric Swalwell, D-Pleasanton.

Posted on Friday, November 15th, 2013
Under: Jackie Speier, U.S. House | No Comments »

More reactions to Obama’s health insurance delay

We’ll be posting a full story about reactions to President Obama’s plan to delay cancellation of some individual health insurance plans that don’t meet standards set by the nation’s new law, but here are a few pols for whom we didn’t have space in that article.

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., called the president’s proposal a “good step” that’s “very helpful in the implementation of the law.” She also spoke on the Senate floor Thursday about Republicans’ constant opposition to this law.

“This is typical of Republicans through the generations. Every time we’ve tried to expand health care, they’ve opposed it and opposed it and tried to derail it,” she said, adding that the new insurance law can be fixed “but that’s not good enough for my Republican friends. They just want to tear it down, just like they wanted to tear down Medicare.”

Rep. Sam Farr, D-Santa Cruz, said in an email that he supports the president’s fix, which “continues to provide more choices without undermining the strengths of the new health care law. Implementing any new law creates a few bumps. We should be look for minor tweaks that strengthen the law rather than return to the old system that left millions of Americans without quality coverage.”

Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa, issued a statement calling Obama’s proposal “a step in the right direction towards fixing issues with the health care law. This was a promise that was made and it is a promise that should be kept.”

“I’ve said from the beginning that the health care reform law isn’t perfect,” Thompson said. “But instead of engaging in partisan bickering and playing blame games, I want to work to make health care reform better. … If we quit the partisan games, we can build on the reforms made in Obamacare, work out the imperfections, and make sure every American can get quality, affordable health insurance. That is a goal worth fighting for.”

Posted on Thursday, November 14th, 2013
Under: Barbara Boxer, healthcare reform, Mike Thompson, Obama presidency, Sam Farr, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | 27 Comments »

NRA to sue SF next week, Sunnyvale a week after

As promised, the National Rifle Association soon will sue San Francisco and Sunnyvale over their recently approved gun-control ordinances.

“Our office, in representation of the National Rifle Association, will first be filing suit with the city of San Francisco on Monday or Tuesday of next week and then file with the city of Sunnyvale on or about the following Tuesday 11/26,” Mark Selmi, spokesman for NRA West Coast counsel Chuck Michel, said in an email sent late Thursday afternoon. “The National Shooting Sports Foundation may also independently file with both cities.”

San Francisco supervisors on Oct. 29 unanimously approved a ban on possession of ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. The state’s assault weapon ban has forbidden their manufacture, sale or transfer since 2000, but let people who owned them before then keep them; the city’s possession ban will require owners to get rid of them within 90 days, no matter when they were bought.

Sunnyvale voters on Nov. 5 approved Measure C, which requires gun owners to notify police within 48 hours of the loss or theft of their firearms, and to keep firearms locked up when not in the owner’s immediate possession. It also requires ammunition sellers to keep buyers’ names for two years, and includes a magazine possession ban similar to San Francisco’s. Each provision mirrors bills that failed this year in Sacramento. Unless put on hold by a court, it’ll take effect in January.

Even before it passed, the NRA had vowed to challenge it in court. State laws pre-empt Measure C, Michel had said, and it infringes on gun owners’ constitutional rights. “Measure C will confiscate the property of Sunnyvale residents and mandate an inappropriate universal firearm storage requirement that ignores individual circumstances, putting gun owners’ lives at risk.”

Sunnyvale Mayor Tony Spitaleri, the driving force behind Measure C, had denounced the NRA’s lawsuit threat: “All they are doing is bullying.” On election night, he told supporters that “What we did here, quite bluntly, is we defeated the NRA tonight.”

Posted on Thursday, November 14th, 2013
Under: gun control, San Francisco politics | 4 Comments »

Tim Donnelly aids woman choking on food

Assemblyman and Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly rushed to the aid of a woman who was choking, performing the Heimlich maneuver to help her dislodge the obstruction and breathe easy.

The video was uploaded Thursday; Donnelly campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Kerns wasn’t immediately available for comment on where and when it was shot.

While not ensuring this woman’s health, Donnelly was busy Thursday jabbing at Gov. Jerry Brown for California’s unemployment rate and the health insurance cancellation notices some have received as the nation’s new insurance law is implemented.

“This is a system that was pushed by the Democrat Party, supported by the Governor, and signed into law by Jerry Brown himself,” Donnelly said in a news release. “With one million Californians set to lose their health insurance, the question now is, ‘What will Jerry Brown do to protect Californians’ right to choose their healthcare plan?’”

Health insurers are discontinuing individual-market policies that don’t meet the standards set forth in the nation’s new law. Those receiving such notices are being offered new policies by their insurers, but also can go to the Covered California website to shop around for the best deal and to determine whether they’re eligible for subsidies.

UPDATE @ 5:18 P.M.: Donnelly just replied to my tweet with some info about the woman in the video.
Donnelly tweet

UPDATE @ 5:43 P.M.: Kerns says the video was shot last Friday, Nov. 8, at the California Federation of Republican Women Southern Division’s convention in Ontario, Calif., where Donnelly keynoted a dinner. She didn’t upload the video until Thursday because she wanted to get permission from the woman – Adrienna Schabert, 50, of West Sacramento.

Kerns said Schabert was at the convention staffing a sales table for Damsel in Defense, which offers tastefully decorated stun guns, pepper spray and other self-defense items and accessories.

UPDATE @ 5:59 P.M.: Schabert said she began choking while Donnelly was talking to women at the table behind her. “All I could think about was my two boys” – her youngest, 16, is disabled, and her older son is graduating high school, she said. “I was really that scared, I thought I wasn’t going to be here.”

As she stood up and gestured that she needed help, “Mr. Donnelly just grabbed me and boom, did the Heimlich maneuver, and that piece of dinner roll just popped right out,” she said. “He was so calm, his whole demeanor – he didn’t panic, he just reacted.”

Schabert said she’s considering volunteering for Donnelly’s campaign.

Posted on Thursday, November 14th, 2013
Under: Tim Donnelly | 6 Comments »

Huffman: Haiyan a climate change ‘wake-up call’

Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, took to the House floor today to say the world should hear Typhoon Haiyan – which devastated part of the Philippines this week – as a “wake-up call on climate change.”

“Thank you Madam Speaker.

“I rise today to once again speak about the issue of climate change, which is affecting every country, but as the World Bank has found, the impacts are not distributed equally. It is likely that the poorest nations on earth will be the hardest hit. The UN ranks the Philippines as the country that is third most vulnerable to the effects of climate change because of its geography, its poverty, and the state of its infrastructure.

“As all of my colleagues know, one of the most powerful storms on record tore through Asia this past week and the Philippines in particular. In the wake of Typhoon Haiyan many thousands are dead and hundreds of thousands more are homeless and desperate for help.

“As we learn more about the devastation there I ask my colleagues to pay careful attention to the words of Yeb Sano who is the head of the Philippines delegation to the United Nations climate talks.

“He says, and I quote, ‘What my country is going through, as a result of this extreme climate event is madness. Typhoons such as Haiyan and its impacts represent a sobering reminder to the international community that we cannot afford to procrastinate on climate action.’

“He’s right. The Philippines tragedy is the latest wake-up call on climate change, so let’s wake up. I yield back.”

Posted on Thursday, November 14th, 2013
Under: Global warming, Jared Huffman, U.S. House | 2 Comments »