Part of the Bay Area News Group

Archive for the 'Congress' Category

CD11: Great NYT story about Miller’s D.C. flophouse

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez

Check out this super smart New York Times story by Ashley Parker at the NYT:

WASHINGTON — This week’s news that Representative George Miller, Democrat of California, is planning to retire at the end of the year reverberated around the House of Representatives, where Mr. Miller has served since 1975.

But the news hit even harder around another less stately, more fratlike house about a quarter-mile southeast of the Capitol, where Mr. Miller has lived for more than 30 years with a rotating cadre of congressional Democrats — and which served as the inspiration for the Amazon web series “Alpha House.”

Mr. Miller, 68, who owns the two-story, two-bedroom house — part messy crash pad, part political seminar — currently shares it with Senators Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the majority whip, and Charles E. Schumer of New York, the No. 3 Democrat … 

Read the rest of the story here.

Posted on Thursday, January 16th, 2014
Under: Congress, congressional district 11 | 1 Comment »

Cool Rep. George Miller factoids

Lafayette political blogger Jason Bezis at CalPolitical has posted some very cool factoids about retiring Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, and East Bay representation in Congress for the past 150 years:

East San Francisco Bay Area Members of Congress: 1865 to 2014: George Miller is Just Third to Retire Normally in 150 Years

 Thirty-five individuals (33 men and two women) have represented the East San Francisco Bay Area (Alameda and Contra Costa counties) in the U.S. House of Representatives since California’s first single-member districts were created in 1864.  (Not including the two congressmen who represented California at-large from 1883 to 1885.  California gained two seats in 1882 as a result of the post-1880 census re-apportionment but the Legislature postponed re-districting until the 1884 congressional elections.) 
 
The East Bay today has six U.S. representatives: George Miller, Barbara Lee, Eric Swalwell, Jerry McNerney, Mike Honda and Mike Thompson.
 
Here is how the 29 other East Bay U.S. representatives left their East Bay districts:
 
  • Defeated in primary or general elections: 14 (Higby, Page, Hilborn, English, MacLafferty, Eltse, Carter, Condon, Allen, Cohelan, George P. Miller, Baker, Pombo, Stark)
  • Died in office: 3 (Elston, Curry Sr., Baldwin)
  • Resigned mid-term: 4 (McKenna, Metcalf, Dellums, Tauscher)
  • Re-districting caused loss of all East Bay territory: 3 (Curry, Jr., Edwards, Garamendi)
  • Ran for another office at end of term: 3 (Sargent, Knowland, Waldie)
  • Retired at end of term: 2 (Budd, Tolan)
 

Retirements are very rare.  Just two East Bay representatives in the past 150 years have retired from the House and not sought another political office immediately thereafter: James Budd in 1884 and John Tolan in 1946.  George Miller III will become the third in 2014.

Link to the rest of CalPolitical’s post here.

Posted on Thursday, January 16th, 2014
Under: Alameda County, Congress, Contra Costa County | No Comments »

Bay Area congressmembers call Safeway lawyer’s joke ‘sexist’

What’s good for Jay Leno, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert is apparently not good for corporate lawyers.

A group of Bay Area congressmembers sent a stern letter to Pleasanton-based Safeway CEO Steve Burd admonishing the grocery giant for a joke its top lawyer reportedly made at the expense of Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi during a May 15 stockholder meeting.

General Counsel Robert Gordon reportedly told a joke involving the Secretary of State and the House Minority Speaker from San Francisco, pigs and the Secret Service. Gosh, it already sounds funny. (Read the full narrative below.)

Lighten up, people.

If members of Congress start writing to every business organization where a national politician was the butt of a joke, they’ll be busier than a genuine Arkansas razorback hog farmer at feeding time.

Here’s the letter:

Mr. Steve Burd

President and CEO

Safeway Inc.

5918 Stoneridge Mall Road

Pleasanton, CA 94588

 By Fax (925) 467-3230

 Dear Mr. President,

 We are writing to express our strong disapproval of inappropriate comments reportedly made by Safeway General Counsel Robert Gordon at Safeway’s May 15 shareholder meeting. We are deeply disappointed by these comments and believe Safeway must take corrective steps immediately.

According to an audio recording reportedly taken from the shareholder meeting, General Counsel Gordon inappropriately used House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the butt of his joke, as follows:

You know, this is the season when companies and other institutions are interested in enhancing their reputation and their image for the general public, and one of the institutions that’s doing this is the Secret Service, particularly after the calamity in Colombia. And among the instructions given to the Secret Service agents was to try to agree with the president more and support his decisions. And that led to this exchange that took place last week, when the president flew into the White House lawn and an agent greeted him at the helicopter. The president was carrying two pigs under his arms and the Secret Service agents said, “Nice pigs, sir.”And the president said, “These are not ordinary pigs, these are genuine Arkansas razorback hogs. I got one for former Speaker Nancy Pelosi and one for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.” And the Secret Service agent said, “Excellent trade, sir.”

Poking fun at politicians is part of our culture, and TV comedians carry this out nightly. But sexist jokes told by a top executive of a Fortune 500 company to an international audience are completely inappropriate and demonstrate a shocking lack of respect, not only for two of the most important and respected people in our country but for all women.

Safeway owes an apology to Secretary Clinton, Leader Pelosi, and the country. It is up to the Safeway board to decide what action to take against its general counsel for his comments but let there be no doubt as to our strong disapproval and deep disappointment in your company for what he said.

Sincerely,

Reps. George Miller, Anna Eshoo, Zoe Lofgren, Mike Thompson, Lynn Woolsey, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, Doris Matsui, Barbara Lee, and Mike Honda

 

Posted on Friday, May 18th, 2012
Under: Congress | 22 Comments »

Richmond anti-violence activist to attend SOTU

Young Richmond anti-violence activist D’vondre Woodards, 22, will be Democratic Rep. George Miller’s guest at President Barack Obama’s state of the union address at the Capitol tonight.

Members receive a single ticket apiece for a guest.

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, has invited an Iraq War veteran and Delaware native as his date. Sgt. Shaun Rieley now serves as Assistant Director of the Legislative Affairs Department at the American Legion.

Read on for the news releases from each office.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, January 24th, 2012
Under: Congress | No Comments »

Miller denounces end of ‘No Child Left Behind’ talks

Rep. George Miller

The House has ceased bipartisan talks around the reworking of No Child Left Behind, national legislation intended to help boost the quality of education in poor and minority communities.

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, one of the authors of the original legislation and the ranking Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee, issued this statement:

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA), the senior Democrat on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce Committee, issued the following statement after committee Republicans confirmed that they are abandoning bipartisan talks to rewrite the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, known as ‘No Child Left Behind’ in the law’s recent iteration. Miller has been working in a bipartisan manner since 2007 to rewrite the law so that it works better for our nation’s students and families.

“I have communicated to Chairman Kline my disappointment that he has chosen to go the partisan route. Partisanship means the end to NCLB reform in this Congress. Bipartisanship is the only successful way forward. The Senate has moved a bipartisan bill out of committee. The House could do the same if it had the political will to do so. Our nation’s children deserve a real process for achieving consensus, not partisan political games.”

Posted on Friday, December 16th, 2011
Under: Congress, education, George Miller | 3 Comments »

California Democrats urge mortgage investigation

Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, joined fellow California Democrats today and sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging federal support for an investigation into mortgage fraud.

California and Nevada attorney generals have teamed up to crack down on mortgage fraud.

Here’s what Garamendi’s office just sent out:

 

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA) yesterday joined more than 30 Congressional Democrats from California in sending a letter to President Barack Obama urging the Administration to support California Attorney General Kamala Harris’ efforts to investigate and crack down on fraud in the mortgage industry. Congressman Garamendi’s district was especially hard hit by the housing crisis and Great Recession. Solano County continues to have the nation’s second-highest foreclosure rate, and Contra Costa County communities like Antioch and Oakley have also been hard hit by foreclosures.

“The abuses and fraud need to be fully investigated, and I commend Attorney General Harris for taking appropriate leadership in helping homeowners,” Garamendi said. “I hope the President uses the power of his Administration to aid Harris. We need to make sure that these rip off artists are exposed for their crimes, and to whatever degree we can help working families keep their homes, we should.”

32 California Democrats signed the letter to President Obama. Text of the letter is below. A pdf of the letter, including signatories, is available here.

Dear President Obama:

California homeowners, and those throughout the country, continue to suffer as a result of the irresponsible and fraudulent actions of the mortgage industry.  We write in support of California Attorney General Kamala Harris’ continued investigation into the potential misconduct and fraud by the mortgage industry.  Her determination to provide meaningful relief for California homeowners led to her decision in October 2011 to leave the multi-state settlement negotiations with the major banks.  Attorney General Harris recently announced that she would be aligning her efforts with Nevada’s, with each state committing more resources and energy towards holding the mortgage industry accountable for their actions. 

In October 2011, California ranked second in the country, behind Nevada, in percentage of housing units that entered the foreclosure process—with nearly one in every 243 California homes entering the foreclosure process in that month alone.  We know that California has been home to a myriad of abuses as we catalogued numerous constituent cases in a letter we sent to your Administration last year urging an immediate investigation. 

We support Attorney General Harris’ recent decision to pursue an independent investigation.  We believe that any meaningful settlement must provide assistance for struggling homeowners—particularly those underwater—and should not grant banks a broad release from liability for abuses that have not been investigated and are not remedied by the settlement.  The current multi-state settlement under review would relieve the banks of further liability without fully investigating the alleged wrongdoings.  Furthermore, it would not provide meaningful relief to homeowners as it would apply to only 13% of the mortgages serviced by banks nationwide.  It would likely result in $5 billion in penalties to mortgage servicers, with the rest of the settlement coming in the form of non-cash accounting losses that servicers would have experienced anyway, as the borrowers they declined to assist went into foreclosure.  We can and we must do better for our constituents.

Attorney General Harris’ commitment to delivering a fair outcome for those who have been wronged by the mortgage industry should be commended.  We hope that you will join her and advocate for stronger terms that will have a real impact for hard-working Americans who were victimized by the mortgage industry. 

 

Posted on Friday, December 16th, 2011
Under: Congress | 2 Comments »

Bay Area lawmakers among the wealthiest in U.S.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi: $101 million. Rep. Jerry McNerney: $9,000. OpenSecrets.com: Priceless.

About 47 percent of Congress, or 250 current members of Congress, are millionaires, according to a new study by the Center for Responsive Politics of lawmakers’ personal financial disclosure forms from 2010.

The Bay Area beats the national figure, where eight of its 13 regionally based federal lawmakers top the $1 million mark in assets and liabilities.

No. 8 nationally out of 530 members and the wealthiest of the Bay Area legislators, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, reported an average net worth of $101 million.

The poorest member was Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, with an average net worth of $9,000 and a national ranking of No. 494.

Talk about a gap between the haves and have nots.

Keep in mind, the disclosure numbers do not include personal property such as residences, artwork or retirement accounts but do include the spouses’ income and investments. The forms contain vast value ranges, however, which makes it impossible to make precise estimates, says the Center for Responsive Politics.

For the other Bay Area colleages and their national rankings:

  • No. 12 — Sen. Dianne Feinstein, $69 million
  • No. 49 — Rep. Jackie Speier, $12.5 million
  • No. 72 — Rep. John Garamendi, $6.9 million
  • No. 110 — Rep. Pete Stark, $3.9 million
  • No. 130 – Sen. Barbara Boxer, $3.5 million
  • No. 192 — Rep. Anna Eshoo, $1.8 million
  • No. 201 — Rep. Mike Thompson, $1.7 million
  • No. 211 — Rep. Zoe Lofgren, $1.5 million
  • No. 304 — Rep. George Miller, $668,000
  • No. 308 — Rep. Mike Honda, $639,505
  • No. 343 — Rep. Lynn Woolsey, $490,505
  • No. 370 – Rep. Barbara Lee, $392,503

Read the full 530-member list at the Center for Responsive Politics site.

 

 

Posted on Monday, November 28th, 2011
Under: campaign finance, Congress | 6 Comments »

CREW examines donor influence on committee chairs

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez

Industry donations to House of Representative committee leaders who regulate them has skyrocketed, according to a new Washington, D.C., campaign finance watchdog analysis.

The report on the top two leaders in 10 House committees includes three California lawmakers: Education and Workforce Committee ranking member George Miller, D-Martinez; Energy and Committee ranking member Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles; and Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, R-Santa Clarita.

Read the Citizens for Responsiblity and Ethics (CREW) analysis here.

CREW examined contributions made by the related industries to the leaders of 10 House committees in 1998 and 2010 and found a 600 percent increase during that period compared with the overall increase in contributions of 230 percent during the same time period.

“CREW also found that since 2007, many committee leaders voted in agreement with the industries they regulate a majority of the time,” the report reads. “… CREW’s findings raise new questions about how beholden House committee chairmen and ranking members are to the industries they oversee and whether they are independent enough to put public interest ahead of special interests.”

Here is an excerpt of the report’s findings on Miller, which reflect a similar rise in industry-related donations but not a commensurate voting pattern:

“Rep. Miller served as ranking member of the committee from 2001 to 2006 and served as chairman from 2007 to 2010. Over the past seven election cycles, as his seniority on the committee rose, contributions from education and workforce industries to Rep. Miller increased at a rate far outpacing his total contributions. Rep. Miller’s voting history, however, does not reflect the industries’ largess.”

“During the 2002 election cycle – the first election cycle after Rep. Miller assumed a leadership position on the committee – contributions from education and workforce industries to his campaign committee and PAC increased by 38% over the previous cycle, from $145,150 in 2000 to $199,863 in 2002. Total contributions increased by 65% during the same time period, from $417,748 to $687,741.”

“During the 2010 election cycle, education and workforce industries accounted for 30% of the $1,527,308 in total contributions received by Rep. Miller’s campaign committee and PAC.”

“During the 1998 election cycle, education and workforce industries accounted for 18% of the $346,025 in total contributions received by Rep. Miller’s campaign committee.”

“Campaign Contribution highlights from industries regulated by the Committee

  • The education industry regulated by the Education and Workforce Committee donated 90 times more money to Miller during the 2010 election cycle than it did in 1998, increasing contributions from $1,500 to $135,461.
  • The ‘Health Professionals’ industry donated more than five times more money to Rep. Miller during the 2010 election cycle than during the 1998 election cycle, increasing its contributions from $11,501 to $59,500.
  • The ‘Building Trade Unions’ donated nearly six times more money to Rep. Miller during the 2010 election cycle than during the 1998 election cycle, increasing its contributions from $18,000 to $107,650.”

“Votes on Education and Workforce Issues

  • From 2007-2008, Rep. Miller voted on average 88% in agreement with the industries regulated by the Education and Workforce Committee. The average Democrat voted in agreement with the industries 91% of the time.
  • From 2009-2010, Rep. Miller voted on average 82% in agreement with the industries regulated by the Education and Workforce Committee. The average Democrat voted in agreement with the industries 81% of the time.
  • Since January 2011, Rep. Miller has voted on average 77% in agreement with the industries regulated by the Education and Workforce Committee. The average Democrat has voted in agreement with the industries 79% of the time.”

Posted on Thursday, November 17th, 2011
Under: campaign finance, Congress | 3 Comments »

Fox targets Rep. Miller but gets its facts wrong

CHECK OUT MY FULL STORY HERE. POSTED 4:40 PM OCT. 17, 2011

Fox cable pundits such as Sean Hannity are naming Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, and his lobbyist son, George IV, as unholy kingpins in SunPower’s successful bid for $1.2 billion in federal loans to create jobs in Mexico. (See update below.)

It’s provocative but all untrue.

George Miller IV is a California lobbyist and a partner at Lang, Hansen, O’Malley and Miller. Yes, SunPower retained the firm but only for state-level lobbying activities. Its state lobbyist is Bob Giroux. No, George IV is not a federal lobbyist. And he told Media Matters for America, a web site where much of this stuff has been debunked (see more about this site below), that he has never even worked on the SunPower state account.

More important, no one needs to lobby Congressman Miller to support solar projects. He has been a vocal advocate for alternative energies for decades.

SunPower’s is headquartered in San Jose but it has a research and development facility in Miller’s district in Richmond. In October 2010, he toured SunPower’s R/D facility in Richmond along with Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar and SunPower CEO Tom Werner.

In July 2009, Miller and Werner were among many sponsors of a meeting of the Council on Competitiveness Energy Summit held at Moffett Field.

Media Matters found no evidence that SunPower is likely to  go the way of  Solyndra, another Silicon Valley-based solar company that gained massive notoriety and triggered a federal investigation when it suddenly defaulted on its Department of Energy loans. In fact, they found the opposite. Media Matters noted that analysts in a New York Times piece found SunPower “srongly placed” in the market. Other experts have said there is little chance SunPower will default.

Media Matters also refuted the allegation that the federal dollars will be used to create jobs in Mexico. The loan guarantee is for the construction of a 250-megawatt solar farm in San Luis Obispo County.  Yes, the company is building a manufacturing facility in Mexico but it is also building one in Milpitas, neither of which will require the use of  federal dollars.

How did this all get started with the Millers?

The first mention of Miller and his son, George IV,  in connection with SunPower appears to have been in Human Events, a conservative web site.  From there, the story spread to the cable shows with apparently little effort to verify the information. Even a local blog, Claycord.com, posted a Hannity video clip with a lead-in that says the congressman is involved in a “scandal.”

The story has also spawned concern in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District, which signed a contract with SunPower for the installation of solar panels on school facilities.

Reasonable people may disagree on the merits of federal investment in the alternative energies market but there is no scandal involving the Millers and SunPower.

UPDATE 9:40 AM FRIDAY: Critics have rightfully noted that I failed to state that Media Matters is a web site dedicated to debunking statements made by conservatives. But honestly, Media Matters’ motives are irrelevant. If I only listened to entities that had pure motives, I would listen to almost no one.

I linked to this site because it contains a long list of direct links to articles elsewhere that contain the facts, not opinions by Media Matters, which are clear:

  • Congressman Miller’s son, George IV, is not a SunPower lobbyst and he played no role in the company’s receipt of a federal Department of Energy Loan.  If he had been a SunPower lobbyist, I would have written an entirely different post.
  • Numerous financial experts quoted in reputable news organizations such as the New York Times, San Jose Mercury News, Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post have found SunPower to be a viable business and unlikely to default on its federal loan guarantee.

In further reporting late yesterday, a colleague who covers business in the Silicon Valley for the San Jose Mercury News confirmed that SunPower is using the federal loan guarantee to build a solar farm in San Luis Obispo, not open a manufacturing plant in Mexico.

And I just got off the phone with the congressman and he tells me that his involvement in SunPower’s application for a federal loan guarantee consisted of a letter of support he and Rep. Zoe Lofgren wrote to the Department of Energy recommending its approval.

Again, there is no scandal involving SunPower and Congressman Miller.

If there was a scandal, you can bet I would be all over it because reporters love scandals. We live for them.

But I am also cognizant of the fact that as public confidence in all forms of government continues its devastating downward spiral, I have an equal responsibility to challenge inaccurate accusations. The utter disregard by people on both ends of the political spectrum for facts is downright scary.

Posted on Thursday, October 13th, 2011
Under: Congress, Environment, George Miller | 14 Comments »

Rep. Miller calls for jobs hearings

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez

The morning after President Barack Obama presents his jobs package, Democratic Rep. George Miller of Martinez called for immediate hearings on the proposed legislation.

Miller is the ranking Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee.

Jobs — how to create them, how to keep them and how to take credit for them — is at the heart of the upcoming political debate at nearly every level.

Here is Miller’s statement:

 

Miller Requests Immediate Hearings on Job Creation Proposals

 WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA), the senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, today requested that Chairman John Kline (D-MN) immediately schedule hearings into the job creation proposals outlined by President Obama yesterday. The Education and the Workforce Committee has legislative jurisdiction over a number of the proposals contained in the American Jobs Act.

 “The American people share the President’s sense of urgency that Congress must act together and act quickly to create jobs,” Miller wrote. “It is well past time for this Congress to refocus on jobs and take action to grow and strengthen America’s middle class. The President’s plan deserves to be heard. Our Committee should schedule hearings on his proposals as soon as possible.”

 The full letter to Chairman Kline appears below:

September 9, 2011

The Honorable John Kline

Chairman

Committee on Education and the Workforce

2181 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, DC  20515

 Dear Chairman Kline:

 Last night before a Joint Session of Congress, President Obama proposed the American Jobs Act, a package of proposals to create jobs immediately and spur future economic growth.  Given the urgency of our nation’s job situation and since the House Education and the Workforce Committee has jurisdiction over a number of the proposals in this plan, I respectfully request that you immediately schedule committee hearings on these important initiatives outlined by President Obama.

 During the recent August recess, Members heard from their constituents.  The message was loud and clear.  The American people share the President’s sense of urgency that Congress must act together and act quickly to create jobs. 

 Economists agree that creating jobs is the first, most important step we need to take to grow the economy, reduce the deficit, and keep Americans working.  Creating jobs now is the key to fixing nearly every other economic problem America faces today. 

 Businesses have repeatedly pointed out that their hiring has stalled for lack of demand.  By taking measures to directly put more Americans back to work, we grow demand.  Workers are consumers.

 As you know, in the wake of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, the country’s unemployment situation is in dire need of attention.  With more than 14 million Americans officially out of work, unemployment remains above 9 percent.  A staggering 6.2 million Americans have been unemployed for more than 6 months.  This long-term unemployment threatens to knock these workers permanently out of the middle class.  Some sectors have been hurt worse than others.  The construction industry’s nationwide unemployment rate stands in double digits.  Public service jobs, like teachers, firefighters, and police, continue to suffer from the downturn and its impact on state and local budgets.  Just this summer, 85,000 school personnel received pink slips, bringing the total of education workers losing their jobs since September 2008 to 290,000.  Those job losses result in larger class sizes, not to mention damaging pauses in teaching careers we should be nurturing.

 The President proposed several items within our Committee’s jurisdiction that can save and create jobs now and help the unemployed find work.  Some significant measures in our jurisdiction include:

  • A school modernization program, benefiting at least 35,000 public schools, would put construction workers to work repairing schools, upgrading science labs, and making classrooms internet-ready.  A portion of this program would be used for modernizing facilities in our nation’s critical community college system.

  • Education jobs funding would stop the layoffs of 280,000 teachers and support the hiring of tens of thousands more.

  • An employment law reform would prohibit employers from discriminating against unemployed workers when hiring.

  • A Pathways Back to Work fund for low-income individuals would provide for subsidized employment, support for innovative training programs, including at community colleges, and summer and year-round job opportunities for youth.

  • The long-term unemployed can benefit from measures to improve reemployment assistance, and work-share proposals intend to save the jobs of workers who would otherwise be laid off.

 The President’s proposals have enjoyed bipartisan support in the past. For example, you have long called for reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act.  We should act on reauthorization and reinvigorate reemployment assistance and job training efforts.  The important question is whether this Congress can work together with our President to help start creating jobs now.  Congress must put partisanship aside and seize this moment to move our economy forward.

 It is well past time for this Congress to refocus on jobs and take action to grow and strengthen America’s middle class.  The President’s plan deserves to be heard.  Our Committee should schedule hearings on his proposals as soon as possible. 

 I look forward to hearing from you on how our Committee will respond to the President’s call to action and to working with you on these matters.

 Sincerely,

 GEORGE MILLER

Senior Democratic Member

Posted on Friday, September 9th, 2011
Under: Congress | 20 Comments »