Part of the Bay Area News Group

Author Archive

Proposed measure would drop drinking age to 18

Terrance Lynn doesn’t see himself as the new patron saint of college keggers, but his proposed ballot measure to lower California’s drinking age from 21 to 18 might get him there nonetheless.

Lynn, 42, of Portola Valley, sees it as a civil-rights issue.

out of the shadows“There is no kind of ‘junior citizen’ status – you’re either an adult or you’re not” except when it comes to drinking, he said; 18-year-olds can be held criminally liable as adults and can volunteer or be drafted into the military, yet can’t legally buy a beer.

Alcohol enforcement, like the war on drugs, often has a disproportionate socio-economic impact, Lynn added: A Stanford student caught drinking a beer might get a pass or at least have an easy time clearing his or her record, while a poor kid from East Palo Alto could face more serious repercussions. And making it legal for college-age people to drink could help reduce binge-drinking by bringing campus consumption out of the shadows, he said.

Lynn acknowledged that while 18-to-20-year-olds would “obviously vote their self interest on this,” that age group usually doesn’t go to the polls in great numbers – though if this won’t bring them out, he can’t imagine what will.

This would run afoul of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984, which punishes states that allow those under 21 to drink by reducing annual federal highway funds by 10 percent. Lynn believes that with California’s clout in D.C. – its huge congressional delegation, and the fact that it pays a lot more in federal taxes than it gets back – “I can’t imagine that situation would last for long.”

Michael Scippa, public affairs director at San Rafael-based Alcohol Justice, said Lynn isn’t the first and won’t be the last to propose reducing the minimum legal drinking age, but “from a public health perspective, it’s extremely foolish and there’s no reason to do it.”

Scippa said there’s “an overwhelming body of scientific evidence… case after case, study after study” showing that barring drinking until age 21 reduces youth drinking and alcohol-related harm, especially on the roads. Reducing the age to 18 would mean “we’d start seeing a spike (in drinking) at 16,” he said. “We don’t want to go backwards here – it’s such a public health and safety success story. The only people who would benefit from this are alcohol producers.”

Lynn, a tech-company chief financial officer making his first foray into public policy, has submitted another proposed measure that would strip party affiliation from ballot designations so that it would be harder to see and vote a straight party line. “This labeling and partisan generalization is really hurting us in the national dialog,” he said. “It’s a tool of the powerful to control the ignorant.”

And he’s working on a third measure that would impose a 1000 percent sales tax on all political advertisements in California, with all revenue going to public schools; Lynn said it’s a way to counter the avalanche of money in politics since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. (A true “sin tax,” some might say.)

There’s little chance of any of these making it onto 2016’s ballot. Lynn said he can’t spend much money on them beyond fees for filing and website-hosting: “Nothing beyond the bare minimum… I don’t have the wherewithal to do it, and I wouldn’t be inclined to if I did.” He’s hoping they’ll catch fire on social media and, once he’s cleared to start circulating petitions, will become a true grassroots signature-gathering campaign.

The public-comment periods for Lynn’s drinking-age measure and the party-affiliation measure last through Sept. 24.

Posted on Monday, August 31st, 2015
Under: ballot measures | 2 Comments »

Gov. Jerry Brown creates cybersecurity center

Gov. Jerry Brown signed an executive order Monday to bolster California’s preparedness for cyber-attacks which could disrupt the Golden State’s economy and infrastructure or violate residents’ privacy and lead to identity theft.

The order directs the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services to create a California Cybersecurity Integration Center (Cal-CSIC), responsible for strengthening the state’s cybersecurity strategy and improving inter-agency, cross-sector coordination to reduce the likelihood and severity of cyber-attacks.

The new Cal-CSIC will work closely with the California State Threat Assessment System and the U.S Department of Homeland Security to improve information sharing between local, state and federal agencies, tribal governments, utilities and other service providers, academic institutions and non-governmental organizations.

Cal-CSIC will also establish a multi-agency Cyber Incident Response Team to serve as the state’s primary unit to lead cyber threat detection, reporting, and response in coordination with public and private entities across the state.

Posted on Monday, August 31st, 2015
Under: Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown | 2 Comments »

Gavin Newsom & wife expecting fourth child

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom made a big announcement Monday morning on Facebook: “Jen and I are excited to announce that we are expecting a baby boy this winter!”

Seems like they’re trying to populate their own little “Citizenville.” Newsom, 47, and Jennifer Siebel Newsom, 41, already are the parents of Montana Tessa Newsom, who turns 6 next month; Hunter Siebel Newsom, 4; and Brooklynn Newsom, 2. Papa is running for governor in 2018.

Posted on Monday, August 31st, 2015
Under: Gavin Newsom, Lt. Governor | 1 Comment »

CA17: Ro Khanna got married

17th Congressional District candidate Ro Khanna got married Saturday in Cleveland.

Per the New York Times:

Ro Khanna and Ritu AhujaRitu Ahuja and Rohit Khanna were married Saturday in Cleveland. Pandit Ashok Bhargava officiated at Severance Hall, the home of the Cleveland Orchestra.

Until April, Mrs. Khanna, 36, was a product marketing specialist in New York for Bulgari, the Italian jewelry and accessories company. She graduated from Georgetown and received a master’s in strategic communications from Columbia.

The bride is a daughter of Usha Ahuja and Monte Ahuja of Hunting Valley, Ohio. The bride’s father is the chairman of Mura Holdings, an investment firm, and is the chief executive of Transmaxx, an automotive transmission parts supplier, both in Solon, Ohio.

Mr. Khanna, 38, is the vice president for strategic initiatives in the Santa Clara, Calif., office of Smart Utility Systems, an energy-efficiency software company. He is also a lecturer in economics at Stanford University, and a Democratic candidate for Congress from Cupertino, Calif. From 2009-11, he worked for the Obama administration as a deputy assistant secretary of commerce. He graduated from the University of Chicago and received a law degree from Yale.

The groom is a son of Jyotsna Khanna and Vijay Khanna of Churchville, Pa. The groom’s mother retired as a substitute special-education teacher in the Council Rock School District in Newtown, Pa. His father retired as a chemical engineer in the Springfield, Pa., office of Rohm & Haas, a manufacturer of chemicals.

Khanna, a Democrat, is running again against Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose; Honda defeated Khanna by 3.6 percentage points last November after a costly, sometimes ugly race.

Posted on Sunday, August 30th, 2015
Under: Mike Honda, U.S. House | 2 Comments »

SF couple hosting John Kasich, Ben Carson

A San Francisco couple’s home seems to be becoming a key stop on the Republican presidential primary campaign trail.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich was at the Nob Hill home of Christine Hughes and Abe Ostrovsky on Thursday for a reception with a few dozen members of the Lincoln Club of Northern California.

Hughes is the club’s vice chairwoman as well as chairwoman of the San Francisco Republican Party, president of the CalWatchdog Foundation, and a former vice president and board member of the conservative Pacific Research Institute. Ostrovsky is chief operating officer at Artkick. The Kasich event was free to club members and their guests.

Hughes and Ostrovsky also are scheduled to host Dr. Ben Carson for a cocktail reception at their home on the evening Tuesday, Sept. 8; tickets cost $250 per head, or $500 for those who want to attend a VIP photo opportunity first.

UPDATE @ 10:45 A.M. FRIDAY: I now hear that Kasich had a fundraiser yesterday morning at the Stanford Park Hotel in Menlo Park, with about 100 people in attendance and venture capitalists Ted Schlein and Floyd Kvamme offering remarks. Kasich reportedly spoke about his successes in Congress and as Ohio’s governor – the latter including a Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act – and said Donald Trump helped all GOP candidates by drawing 24 million viewers to the first debate early this month.

Posted on Thursday, August 27th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, Republican Party | 10 Comments »

Carly at odds with HP heirs on Planned Parenthood

As Carly Fiorina joins the rest of the GOP presidential pack in calling for the defunding of Planned Parenthood, the charitable foundations of the two families who founded the company she’s famous for leading remain among Planned Parenthood’s largest donors – to the tune of more than $138 million since 2001.

Carly FiorinaFiorina was CEO of 1999 to 2004, the first female CEO of a Fortune 50 business – a major part of the track record she now touts on the campaign trail. She has been an outspoken critic of Planned Parenthood since mid July, when the first of a series of covert videos were released depicting officials from the organization discussing procurement of fetal tissue for stem-cell research.

“I am pro-life. And I believe science is proving us right every day. But you do not have to be pro-life to understand the hideous nature of what is going on here,” she said at the Iowa State Fair on Aug. 17. “This is about the moral character of our nation. When you can have employees who target poor communities, who are pushing women into later-term abortions so they can more successfully harvest body parts even though late-term abortions are demonstrably bad for women, you can only be horrified when you see employees picking over a Petri dish for body parts while they say, ‘Look, it’s a baby.’ There is no excuse – Planned Parenthood must be defunded.”

Meanwhile, the Menlo Park-based William and Flora Hewlett Foundation since 2001 has given $86,580,945 to various domestic and international Planned Parenthood organizations and affiliates. And the Los Altos-based David and Lucille Packard Foundation since 2001 has given $51,883,238. (The Packard Foundation’s online grant database goes back only to 2010, but spokeswoman Felicia Madsen provided the total since 2001.)

There’s been no love lost between Fiorina and some of the HP heirs for quite some time. For example, Jason Burnett – the mayor of Carmel, the grandson of HP cofounder David Packard, and a member of the Packard Foudnation’s board of trustees – earlier this year told CNN that Fiorina shouldn’t work at any level of government: “She did damage to a great company and I don’t want to see her do damage to a great country.”

But Burnett said Wednesday that “there’s no particular reason why a CEO of a technology company needs to hold other policy views consistent with a company’s founders” such as on Planned Parenthood.

Posted on Thursday, August 27th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, Carly Fiorina | 5 Comments »

Ellen Tauscher defends Hillary’s email situation

Former East Bay Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher got into a heated exchange with Fox News anchor Shannon Bream on Sunday while defending Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton regarding her private e-mail server.

Tauscher, a Democrat from Alamo, was a strong Clinton supporter during 2008’s Democratic presidential primary. She left Congress in 2009 to go work for then-Secretary of State Clinton as undersecretary of state for arms control and international security affairs until February 2012. She then served six months as special envoy for strategic stability and missile defense.

Posted on Tuesday, August 25th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, Ellen Tauscher, Hillary Clinton | 1 Comment »

Mike Honda blasts Jeb Bush on ‘anchor babies’

Rep. Mike Honda has added his voice to the chorus of Democrats and Asian Americans criticizing Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush for his comments about “anchor babies.”

The former Florida governor was in McAllen, Texas, near the U.S.-Mexico border on Monday when he defended his use of the term to describe children born in the United States to parents who immigrated illegally. He argued that he’s been “immersed in the immigrant experience” personally and said it’s “ludicrous” to say he used the phrase as a slur.

“What I was talking about was the specific case of fraud being committed where there’s organized efforts, and frankly, it’s more related to Asian people coming into our country, having children in that organized efforts taking advantage of a noble concept which is birthright citizenship,” he said. “I support the 14th Amendment.”

“This language is a slur against all immigrants and has no place in our culture. We need to be focused on elevating the conversation and working towards real, comprehensive immigration reform,” said Honda, D-San Jose, who is chairman emeritus of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

“Our country is one founded on a multitude of cultures and backgrounds, and such close-minded language goes against the foundation of our democracy. The 14th Amendment of our Constitution guarantees citizenship to all people born or naturalized in the United States, and we cannot stand by and let anyone diminish that right,” he said. “In Silicon Valley – one of the most diverse areas of our country – we celebrate people from all backgrounds and their contributions to our nation. As the representative of the only Asian American majority district in the continental United States, and as a proud American of Japanese descent, I strongly condemn these statements.”

Posted on Tuesday, August 25th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, Immigration, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 12 Comments »

State Sen. Steve Glazer to be sworn in. (Again.)

The Bay Area’s newest lawmaker will be sworn in this week. Again.

Steve GlazerState Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, in May defeated fellow Democrat Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla won the special election to succeed Mark DeSaulnier, who was elected to Congress last November.

Glazer was officially sworn in by Gov. Jerry Brown at the State Capitol on May 28, and has cast dozens of votes since. But his in-district ceremonial swearing-in is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. this Thursday, Aug. 27 in the Danville Veterans Memorial Building, 400 Hartz Ave. Former Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, will administer the oath of office and Contra Costa County District Attorney Mark Peterson will serve as master of ceremonies.

The event is open to 7th State Senate District residents.To RSVP, contact Glazer’s district office at 925-942-6082 or senator.glazer@senate.ca.gov.

Posted on Monday, August 24th, 2015
Under: California State Senate, steve glazer | 1 Comment »

San Jose airport gets $3.4m for perimeter security

Mineta San Jose International Airport, plagued by trespassers in recent months, will receive more than $3.4 million in federal funding to boost its perimeter security, four local House members announced Monday.

U.S. Reps. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose; Mike Honda, D-San Jose; Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto; and Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin, wrote to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta earlier this year in support of more money for perimeter security, noting that while “SJC has undertaken numerous steps to lay the groundwork for raising the height of the airport’s perimeter fence and incorporate proven technology into its perimeter fencing,” the added funds “would provide the airport with resources to prevent unauthorized intrusions and respond to potential security vulnerabilities.”

“Our airport is the gateway of choice for travelers, airlines and businesses in Silicon Valley,” Lofgren said in a news release Monday. “I’m pleased that these important federal funds will be dedicated to keeping passengers, employees, and airplanes safe.”

Swalwell, who sits on the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security, said the grant puts the airport “a big step closer to closing security gaps that threaten passenger safety.”

San Jose’s airport has been embarrassed by a series of security breaches over the past year and a half, starting with the high-profile case of Santa Clara teen Yahya Abdi, who in April 2014 stowed away in the wheel well of a Hawaiian Airlines jet after scaling the airport’s perimeter fence in an effort to get back to his mother in Africa.

UPDATE @ 4:31 P.M.: Click here for my more complete story about the money, how it will be spent, and the past security breaches.

Posted on Monday, August 24th, 2015
Under: Anna Eshoo, Eric Swalwell, Mike Honda, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren | 2 Comments »