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Tech leaders like Romney, think Obama will win

Technology leaders President Obama will be re-elected, but think Republican nominee Mitt Romney would give a bigger boost to the technology economy, according to a new survey.

The DLA Piper Technology Leaders Forecast Survey found, among other things:

    76 percent of tech leaders expect President Obama to be re-elected
    64 percent believe Romney would be better for the technology economy
    64 percent see an increased threat of regulation for the private equity and venture capital

DLA Piper, a global law firm, distributed its survey in late September and early October to senior executives and advisors in the technology industry, including CEOs, CFOs and other company officers at tech companies, as well as to venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and consultants. The study was released today in conjunction with DLA Piper’s Global Technology Leaders Summit taking place at the Rosewood Sand Hill in Menlo Park.

Sixty percent of business leaders are skeptical that a second term for the Obama administration would have a positive impact on the technology sector. The partisan tables have turned since the 2008 election, when nearly 60 percent of tech executives believed that then-Senator Barack Obama would have a more positive impact on technology development and investment than his GOP opponent, U.S. Sen. John McCain.

“Regardless of the election’s outcome, it seems clear that what technology leaders want out of Washington is greater clarity on regulation and tax policy. Those themes surfaced prominently in our latest version of the survey,” Peter Astiz, global co-head of the Technology Sector at DLA Piper, said in a news release.

The survey found 78 percent of respondents believe that the presidential campaign dialogue surrounding private equity – namely, attacks upon Romney’s record at Bain Capital – has damaged the reputation of the private equity and venture capital industry, and 65 percent expressed concern that this focus could likely lead to new regulation of the industry.

Most respondents – 60 percent – think letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire would negatively impact tech-sector investments; 33 percent think the tax cuts’ expiration would have no direct impact on the tech sector’s growth.

Posted on Tuesday, October 9th, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, Barack Obama, economy, Mitt Romney | 8 Comments »

Two area Democrats OKed ‘No More Solyndras’ bill

Two Northern California House Democrats sided with House Republicans last week to pass a bill called the “No More Solyndras Act” to phase out the clean energy loan-guarantee program that bankrolled the now-defunct Fremont solar manufacturer.

Reps. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, and Rep. John Garamendi, D-Fairfield, were among the 22 Democrats who joined with 223 House Republicans to vote in favor of H.R. 6213; they were the only California Democrats to do so. On the other side, 157 Democrats and four Republicans opposed the bill, which now is before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, praised the bill as ensuring “that taxpayers are no longer left holding the bag for the administration’s reckless investments. … The Obama administration may still regard the loan program that brought us Solyndra as an ‘enormous success,’ but the American people know better.”

Both McNerney and Garamendi are locked in tough re-election battles: McNerney, with Lodi Republican Ricky Gill; and Garamendi, with Colusa County Supervisor Kim Vann, also a Republican. Also, both voted for President Barack Obama’s economic-stimulus package, which funded the loan-guarantee program among many other things; the program itself began during President George W. Bush’s administration.

“This program, like all government programs, needs to be reviewed and modified to address problems,” Garamendi said in a statement issued by a spokesman Friday. “I will continue my work to strengthen energy independence, create clean energy jobs, and Make It In America.”

McNerney last year had defended the loan-guarantee program.

“Solyndra certainly needs to be accounted for,” he had said in an interview. “But in order to develop new sources of energy we need to do research and development, and a well-supervised loan guarantee is one way to achieve that. I think there is a need for loan guarantees, especially considering what’s happening overseas.

McNerney had said it’s “not a good argument to say that the failure of one company is an indication that the whole industry has a problem. Moreover, oil, gas and coal companies have had government subsidies for 100 years or so, so I think it’s reasonable that renewable resources companies can look to the government for help both in research and in incentives.”

McNerney spokeswoman Lauren Smith on Saturday noted McNerney’s use of the phrase “well-supervised,” and said he made no endorsement of a program that lacks proper oversight and management.

“Congressman McNerney has always taken pride in being an independent voice and representing the people in our community,” she said. “With the people in Contra Costa and San Joaquin Counties struggling in today’s economy, he felt compelled to vote for H.R. 6213 to ensure that their hard-earned tax dollars are spent in a responsible way with proper oversight and accountability. He understands what it’s like to be out of work and worried about money – and how every last dollar matters to most families in our region.”

As the Associated Press reported, Republicans have noted that three of the first five companies to get loan guarantees under the stimulus, including Solyndra, have gone bankrupt. But Democrats say Republicans are ignoring the Energy Department’s successes, including saving nearly 300 million gallons of gasoline a year by supporting such projects as one of the world’s largest wind farms in Oregon, a large solar generation project in California and a major photovoltaic solar power plant in Arizona.

Gill’s campaign is making hay of McNerney’s vote, noting McNerney had called green energy his “signature issue” during his initial run for the House in 2006.

“It turns out his signature was written in disappearing ink,” said Gill campaign consultant Kevin Spillane, accusing McNerney of “suddenly running away from the issue that defined his candidacy and his entire record in Congress — the advocacy of green energy, its supposedly endless economic potential, and the need for costly government incentives to promote its development.”

“Seems like McNerney’s true ‘signature issue’ is saving his political career,” Spillane said.

Smith replied this is “a blatant political attack… There is no credibility there.”

Posted on Saturday, September 22nd, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, economy, energy, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, U.S. House | No Comments »

Cindy Chavez, Ro Khanna named to jobs board

A former San Jose councilwoman, a future East Bay congressional candidate and a leading California economist are among the 11 Bay Area residents whom Gov. Jerry Brown named today to the state’s Workforce Investment Board.

Brown named 30 people in all to the “long-neglected” board in order to rebuild and reinvigorate this private-sector body tasked with advising him on job creation and workforce development, according to his news release. They’ll work with his Office of Business and Economic Development “to identify the needs of industry and to create career pathways that provide businesses the skilled workforce they need and while putting unemployed and underemployed Californians back to work.”

Brown also today named his senior jobs advisor, Mike Rossi, to chair the board, which also includes Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley, Employment Development Department Director Pam Harris, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott, Department of Apprenticeship Standards Director Diane Ravnik and Labor & Workforce Development Agency Secretary Marty Morgenstern.

“To meet this skills challenge and ensure a prosperous future, we must do a much better job aligning California’s existing public education and workforce training resources with the needs of key industry sectors,” Rossi said. “This requires a robust analysis of California’s labor markets and regional economies and better coordination among all our education and training programs.”

Brown’s release notes that since he took office, California has added more jobs than any other state in the nation. The Golden State also, however, still had the nation’s third-highest unemployment rate as of July, 10.7 percent (behind Rhode Island at 10.8 percent and Nevada at 12 percent).

Cindy ChavezAmong those named to the board today was Cindy Chavez, 48, a San Jose City Council member from 1999 to 2006 and the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council’s executive officer since 2009. The Democrat also has been executive director at Working Partnerships USA since 2009 and executive director at the 1000 Leaders Project since 2009. Earlier, Chavez was a principal at California Leadership Services from 2007 to 2009 and held multiple positions at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority from 1999 to 2006, including chair, vice chair and board member. Earlier yet, she was the South Bay Labor Council’s education and outreach director from 1994 to 1998; the founding staff director at Working Partnerships USA from 1994 to 1998; lead trainer at AFL-CIO Organizing Institute from 1993 to 1994 and a policy analyst for the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors from 1990 to 1993.

Ro KhannaAlso named to the board was Ro Khanna, 35, of Fremont, an attorney of counsel to the Silicon Valley powerhouse Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati since 2011 who broke records by raising $1.2 million in 2011’s last quarter to run for the 15th Congressional District seat in 2014; the Democrat has refused to challenge incumbent Pete Stark. Khanna, who was a deputy assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Commerce from 2009 to 2011, has just published his first book, “Entrepreneurial Nation: Why Manufacturing Is Still Key to America’s Future.” Also a visiting lecturer at Stanford’s Department of Economics, he was at attorney at O’Melveny and Myers from 2004 to 2009.

Stephen LevyAnd Brown also named Stephen Levy, 70, of Palo Alto to the board. Levy has been director and senior economist at the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy since 1969 and was an economist at the Stanford Research Institute from 1967 to 1969. A Demcorat, Levy has been a member of the NOVA Workforce Board since 2000 and has been a member of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute Board of Trustees since 2010.

These board appointments don’t require state Senate confirmation, and the compensation is $100 per diem. See the other Bay Area appointees, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, August 27th, 2012
Under: economy, Jerry Brown | 1 Comment »

MoveOn issuing ‘Romney-Ryan pink slips’ today

MoveOn activists are fanning out today in Bay Area cities including Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond, San Rafael, Daly City, San Carlos, Livermore and Castro Valley to hand out “Romney-Ryan pink slips” symbolizing jobs they say would be lost if the GOP presidential ticket prevails.

It’s part of a nationwide effort in several hundred cities.

“Romney’s and Ryan’s policies will destroy more than one million jobs in 2013 alone and will seriously undermine workers’ and women’s rights across the nation,” MoveOn organizer and council member Mary Swain of Castro Valley said in a news release.

“We want leaders who will create new jobs here in the U.S., reform our tax laws, and limit military spending in order to rebuild our struggling economy,” she said. “We have to do all in our power to save our social safety-net programs, like Social Security and Medicare, and bring the democratic process back to America.”

Posted on Thursday, August 16th, 2012
Under: 2012 presidential election, economy, Mitt Romney | 22 Comments »

Westlands farmers bank on Delta House aspirants

Two Republican House candidates from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta area took campaign cash from downstate farmers whom would benefit from a new water plan at the Delta’s expense, the area’s current lawmakers say.

Kim Vann, a Colusa County Supervisor challenging Rep. John Garamendi, D-Fairfield, in the newly drawn 3rd Congressional District received $5,000 from the California Westside Farmers PAC in late April. Ricky Gill, a Lodi law graduate challenging Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, in the newly drawn 9th Congressional District, received $5,000 from the PAC in late June.

The PAC acts on behalf of farmers in the Westlands Water District, an agricultural powerhouse in the otherwise arid west reaches of the San Joaquin Valley. McNerney’s campaign noted today that Sarah Woolf, a member of the Westlands board of directors, is the PAC’s treasurer.

A new Bay Delta Conservation Plan proposal announced last week by Gov. Jerry Brown and U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar includes a $14 billion tunnel system beneath the Delta to ship water southward, largely for agricultural purposes. Garamendi and McNerney are among lawmakers who say this plan would benefit Westlands farmers while economically and environmentally devastating the Delta.

“This development is a huge breach of the public trust,” McNerney had said last week. “The families, farmers, and small business owners in northern California stand to have their livelihoods destroyed. This will have ruinous consequences for our local economy at a time when we already struggle with record unemployment.”

McNerney campaign spokeswoman Lauren Smith said Tuesday that Gill has claimed to side with Delta area residents, “but his willingness to cozy up to the people intent on robbing us of our water, ultimately causing economic ruin for our area farmers and small business owners, is deeply disturbing. Once again, Ricky Gill has shown that he just doesn’t get it. It’s clear that peripheral canal supporters believe they have an ally and advocate in Ricky Gill and a staunch and vocal opponent in Jerry McNerney.”

Not so, replied Gill spokesman Colin Hunter.

Ricky Gill“Ricky has been and remains opposed to any plan to divert water around the Delta because of the devastating effect it could have on farmers in this region including his family, which has been farming here for 30 years,” he said. “Unlike Jerry McNerney, who carries an ‘F’ rating from the American Farm Bureau, Ricky intends to be an advocate for farmers when he’s elected to Congress.”

(Taking a quick glance around the interwebs, I see the American Farm Bureau rated McNerney at 41 percent in 2011; also, here’s a more specific rundown of how he voted on issues of importance to the bureau.)

Hunter called the new Delta plan “the culmination of Jerry McNerney’s failed tenure in Congress. He’s been sitting on the sidelines for five years and effectively allowed this to happen.”

As for the PAC money, Hunter said, “Ricky doesn’t see eye-to-eye with Westlands on several issues, but they are farmers like Ricky and they know that Ricky is going to stand up for farmers up and down the valley when he’s in Congress” on issues from free trade to regulatory reform. “McNerney is on the wrong side of all of them.”

Gill’s campaign also Tuesday was touting new poll results Tuesday showing Gill and McNerney in a dead heat. (UPDATE @ 8:07 p.m.: McNerney’s camp just produced its own new poll showing he has a commanding lead.)

In the 3rd District, Garamendi last week had said the tunnel proposal “could wreak havoc on the Delta and the jobs it sustains and put existing water rights in the Delta and Northern California at risk.”

“It is possible for California to solve its water problems, but the Delta and Northern California counties must be at the table, and it will take a comprehensive, multifaceted approach, not just a piece of plumbing in the Delta,” he said. “We must address the needs of all Californians by prioritizing storage, conservation, recycling, levee improvements, and habitat restoration.”

Kim VannVann campaign manager Alee Lockman emailed today that Vann “believes that any conveyance plans must also include authorizing language for increasing water storage. The proposed plan is by no means a perfect solution and there are a number of local issues at stake, but the dialogue of the past week underscores the need for all of us to come together and work toward a solution that will best serve the entire state’s water needs.”

Asked specifically about the PAC money, Lockman replied there’s “nothing to add that hasn’t already been included. We need an open dialogue and we need to find a solution that works best for the entire state of California.”

The PAC also has given $10,000 to U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., as well as $5,000 each to Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif.; Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock; Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Clovis; and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield. Among other House challengers, the PAC has given $5,000 each to Republican David Valadao in the 21st District and to Democrat Denise Ducheny in the 51st District.

Posted on Tuesday, July 31st, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, economy, Environment, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, U.S. House, water | 4 Comments »

Campaign touts Obama’s record on manufacturing

The Obama campaign held a conference call Friday to tout how great the president’s policies have been for manufacturing growth and job creation in California, but the call’s headliner never showed up and few California-specific examples were offered.

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom was supposed to be on the call, which was meant to mark the third anniversary of the signing of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act economic stimulus package. Organizers later said a scheduling problem prevented Newsom from joining in.

Ro Khanna of Fremont, a former Assistant Deputy Secretary in the U.S. Department of Commerce – and the guy we recently noted is raising money like gangbusters for an eventual run in the 15th Congressional District – told reporters on the call that “this president will be known as the manufacturing president.”

While President George W. Bush’s administration presided over the loss of almost five million U.S. manufacturing jobs, almost 400,000 have been added since Obama took office, Khanna said. The president’s initiative to double American exports by 2015 is on track after its first two years, he added, and the president is following through on infrastructure investments, immigration policy for skilled workers, research and development, simplifying permitting processes and streamlining regulations.

Khanna cited Union City’s SimpleWave’s “inshoring” of its kitchen bowl production from China back to the United States – a story my competitors at the Chronicle already had today.

California Democratic Party Vice Chairman Eric Bauman introduced Rob Carpenter as a prime example of a California business owner who’d benefited from the president’s policies. Carpenter said the Small Business Job Act of 2010 allowed a flood of new investment into his e-commerce company, Hollywood-based FriendGiftR, which led to 1500% year-over-year growth. “It’s not time to return to the policies of the past, its time to continue to support the policies of the future,” Carpenter said.

When I asked Carpenter if he was the same guy who had worked in the White House Office of Political Affairs, he acknowledged he was. But Bauman quickly noted that Carpenter’s White House service had been during the Bush Administration, and yet he’s now speaking out on behalf of Obama. After the call, I checked and found that Carpenter is, in fact, registered to vote as a Republican.

Bauman cited a string of non-California-specific stats to bolster his pro-Obama case: 23 straight months of private-sector job creation, the explosive resurgence of the auto industry, and a national supply chain for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner that the president was touting today in Everett, Wash..

Posted on Friday, February 17th, 2012
Under: economy, Obama presidency | No Comments »

State to open trade/investment office in China

Gov. Jerry Brown announced today he’s opening a new trade and investment office in China, aimed at increasing direct investment in California and giving the state’s businesses more advantages over there.

“The Pacific Rim has become the center of the world economy, presenting California with countless opportunities to grow alongside our neighbors across the ocean,” Brown said in a news release issued Friday, after he met with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping in Los Angeles. “The office will encourage direct investment and further strengthen the existing ties between the world’s second- and ninth-largest economies.”

The California-China Trade and Investment Office will give California more access to Chinese business contacts and provide Chinese investors with access to California projects that will benefit from increased investment. The office will be paid for by private-sector partners coordinated by the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, which will also work with the Chinese government to get the office open.

California hasn’t had a formal presence in China since the previous foreign trade offices were closed in 2003.

The governor’s office notes China is the world’s largest exporter of goods and third largest importer, ranking closely behind the United States and the European Union. The vast majority of China’s exports to the U.S. go through California ports, while California exported $12.4 billion in goods and services to China in 2010. In addition, China invested $1.5 billion in California projects in 2011, or 10 percent of all Chinese investment in the U.S.

Vice President Xi visited California on the last stop of a four-day U.S. tour to discuss trade and investment opportunities with Brown and Vice President Joe Biden.

UPDATE @ 11:19 A.M.: State Sen. Tom Harman, R-Huntington Beach, said Brown should hold China’s feet to the fire.

“Today the Governor announced he is opening a trade and investment office in China. While I am the first to welcome free trade with other countries, it must really be free,” Harman said in a news release. “China’s unfair trade practices and manipulation of currency are hurting California’s economy. To me this is an issue of parity and fairness. Which means, both sides must play by the same rules. Clearly that is not the case with China.”

Harman also noted many California companies have intellectual property issues with China. According to one copyright industry association, China’s piracy rate remains one of the highest in the world (over 90 percent). On average, 20 percent of all consumer products in the Chinese market are counterfeit. By some estimates U.S. companies lose up to a billion dollars in legitimate business each year to piracy.

“Piracy of intellectual property particularly impacts the electronics industry and, as we know, that is an industry with many ties to California,” said Harman. “Piracy is about jobs and frankly, California can’t afford to be on the short end of that stick.”

Posted on Friday, February 17th, 2012
Under: economy, Jerry Brown | No Comments »

The full text of Jerry Brown’s ‘State of the State’

Gov. Jerry Brown has just delivered his annual State of the State address to the Legislature, saying the state is “on the mend” and laying out an economic agenda for the coming year.

My esteemed colleague Steve Harmon will be writing the story on this today, but if you’d like a double-barreled blast of Jerry right here and now, you can read the speech as prepared, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, January 18th, 2012
Under: economy, Jerry Brown, taxes | 6 Comments »

‘Mr. Newsom Goes to Washington’

(Sorry, Frank Capra.)

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office says he’ll be making rounds in Washington, D.C., tomorrow trying to drum up business for California.

At 11 a.m. EST, he’s scheduled to meet with Brazilian Ambassador Mauro Vieira to discuss opportunities for continued cooperation between California and Brazil. The economic growth agenda Newsom rolled out in June cited the need to gear up for exports and global trade.

At 1:30 p.m., he’s to meet with former U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., who now is chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, to discuss California’s film and tourism industries.

And at 3 p.m., he’s supposed to meet with U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson to push California as a target for innovation and job creation. Newsom’s economic growth agenda also recommended that the state aggressively seek to host one of three new satellite sites of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which is a Commerce Department agency.

None of the meetings will be open to the press.

Posted on Tuesday, November 29th, 2011
Under: economy, Gavin Newsom, Lt. Governor | 4 Comments »

Lawmakers hold hearing on clean energy economy

Two Assembly members from the East Bay co-chaired a hearing today on keeping California at the forefront of the world’s clean-energy sector.

Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, and Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, co-chair the Assembly Select Committee on California’s Clean Energy Economy, and convened the hearing this morning at the State Capitol.

“We have a dynamic entrepreneurial spirit in this state that is in sync with Californians’ desire to produce clean energy, create jobs and improve our environment,” Wieckowski said in a news release issued later today. “We have the venture capital, the innovation ecosystem and a sound clean energy policy framework. We need to do a better job at coordinating services and incentives, and make sure we continue with the policies that have helped spark the industry.”

Panelists included F. Noel Perry, founder of Next 10; Rana Mookherjee, senior director of project finance at Fremont-based Solaria Corp.; Alissa Peterson, director of product marketing and business development at Hayward-based Primus Power; Mickey Oros, senior vice president for business development at Folsom-based Altergy Systems; Nancy Pfund, managing partner of DBL Investors; and Henry Yin, founder and president of USA-China Link.

Panelists discussed the state’s access to venture capital, its research and development capabilities and its clean energy incentives as reasons why so many clean tech companies start here. But federal clean energy subsidies are inadequate and temporary, and with increasing competition from other states and nations, California’s future isn’t assured.

“We have some competitive advantages that other states do not, but what the private sector is telling us is we need to be smart about which incentives we use and how we package them so our companies will want to keep more manufacturing here in California,” Wieckowski said.

Posted on Wednesday, November 16th, 2011
Under: Assembly, Bob Wieckowski, economy, energy, Environment, Nancy Skinner | 1 Comment »