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Rep. Jackie Speier on Bob Filner: ‘Sickening’

Strong words this afternoon from Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, about her former House colleague and current San Diego Mayor Bob Filner:

Jackie Speier“The continuing accusations about Bob Filner’s conduct towards women are disturbing on every level. As a public official and former member of Congress, Filner’s pattern of behavior is a serious breach of the public trust. He has jeopardized the careers of those he targeted. In particular, his actions towards members of our military, and survivors of sexual assault, are sickening. He has admitted he was wrong and is seeking treatment, but he can never undo his abuses of power and status.

“I believe all members of Congress and staff should be required to take sexual harassment training. Not only to curb this type of behavior, but also to empower victims who feel they can’t step forward with the truth.”

CNN reported yesterday that Filner is now accused of abusing his status as former chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee to sexually harass victims of military sexual assault. Speier has been a leading voice in Congress for reforming how the military justice system handles sexual assaults.

Among other Bay Area women in Congress, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, last month blasted “reprehensible” behavior by Filner and by Anthony Weiner, another former congressman now waging a New York City mayoral campaign.

Posted on Thursday, August 8th, 2013
Under: Jackie Speier, U.S. House | 6 Comments »

House OKs Speier’s plan for FAA low-speed study

The House today agreed by voice vote to pass an amendment by Rep. Jackie Speier that would requiring the Federal Aviation Administration to study whether existing commercial aircraft should be required to install low-airspeed voice warning systems.

PLANE CRASH AT SFOThe amendment to the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act is in response to the Asiana Airlines Flight 214, which crashed on its final approach to San Francisco International Airport on July 6. Initial reports found low airspeed was a crucial factor in this crash.

The FAA will have one year to complete this study and make a determination if both new aircraft and existing aircraft should be required to incorporate a verbal warning system.

“Pilots make life-or-death decisions in a matter of seconds,” Speier, D-San Mateo, said in a news release. “It is vital that planes have alerts that are instantly recognizable, clear, and unambiguous. After numerous incidents and nearly a decade of concerns, the FAA continues to drag its feet on the question of low-airspeed warning systems.”

Jackie SpeierSpeier said low airspeed has been an air-safety concern for almost 20 years: The FAA’s Human Factors Team concluded in 1996 that flight crews needed better warnings that the aircraft was reaching low speeds. After the 2003 crash that killed U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended the FAA study whether to require installation of low-airspeed aural and visual alert systems. And after the Colgan Air crash in Buffalo, N.Y., a recommendation was reissued in 2010 on installation of low-speed warning systems.

“We have plenty of evidence that giving pilots this tool could have – and will – save lives,” Speier said. “The FAA needs to translate this evidence into action.”

Posted on Tuesday, July 30th, 2013
Under: Jackie Speier, U.S. House | 16 Comments »

Which House member has most campaign cash?

Which of Northern California’s House members has the most money in their campaign war chests? You might be surprised.

While some incumbents are likely to face significant challenges from across the aisle (like Garamendi, Bera, McNerney and Denham) and others from within their own party (like Honda and maybe Swalwell), neither of the two House members with the most cash on hand as of June 30 are expected to have much to worry about next year.

Here’s the list, showing how much they raised in the second quarter (April 1 through June 30) and their cash on hand at mid-year:

    CA5 – Mike Thompson, D-Napa: $257,579.45 raised, $1,470,170.24 COH
    CA14 – Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough: $221,762 raised, $1,086,141.98 COH
    CA10 – Jeff Denham, R-Modesto: $506,491.26 raised, $834,836.30 COH
    CA19 – Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose: $149,546.50 raised, $658,386 COH
    CA7 – Ami Bera, D-Rancho Cordova: $264,318.49 raised, $505,044 COH
    CA12 – Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco: $315,769.05 raised, $422,059.25 COH
    CA15 – Eric Swalwell, D-Pleasanton: $237,314.38 raised, $405,182.23 COH
    CA4 – Tom McClintock, R-Granite Bay: $132,668.99 raised, $384,717.76 COH
    CA17 – Mike Honda, D-San Jose: $344,894.86 raised, $374,646.94 COH
    CA6: Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento: $240,826.01 raised, $371,894.30 COH
    CA18 – Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto: $193,225 raised, $363,855.25 COH
    CA11 – George Miller, D-Martinez: $233,328.87 raised, $354,655.16 COH
    CA2 – Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael: $141,648.93 raised, $266,847.38 COH
    CA16 – Jim Costa, D-Merced: $131,765 raised, $243,693.64 COH
    CA9 – Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton: $169,311.47 raised, $187,041.28 COH
    CA20 – Sam Farr, D-Santa Cruz: $187,242.31 raised, $136,571.50 COH
    CA1 – Doug LaMalfa, R-Oroville: $87,200 raised, $130,603.76 COH
    CA3 – John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove: $179,832.73 raised, $124,197.06 COH
    CA13 – Barbara Lee, D-Oakland: $178,425.82 raised, $97,975.47 COH

Posted on Tuesday, July 16th, 2013
Under: 2014 primary, Ami Bera, Anna Eshoo, Barbara Lee, campaign finance, Eric Swalwell, George Miller, Jackie Speier, Jared Huffman, Jeff Denham, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, Mike Honda, Mike Thompson, Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren | 5 Comments »

Politicos react to air crash at SFO

Here’s what some notable politicos had to say about yesterday’s crash of Asiana Flight 214 upon landing at San Francisco International Airport.

From U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.:

“I send my deepest sympathies to those who have lost loved ones in this tragic crash, and my thoughts and prayers are with those who are recovering from injuries.

“I have spoken to the Secretary of Transportation and the National Transportation Safety Board Chairman, and I am confident that this investigation will be complete and thorough to help prevent accidents like this from happening again.

“I want to commend all the first responders and medical personnel from across the Bay Area who have worked heroically to treat the injured and save lives.”

From Gov. Jerry Brown:

“Anne and I extend our deepest concerns and sympathy to the passengers who were aboard Asiana Flight 214 and to their families. We are grateful for the courage and swift response of the first responders whose actions surely prevented an even greater tragedy.”

From House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco:

“Today, our thoughts and prayers are with the passengers and crew who were on board Asiana Airlines Flight 214. No words can console those who lost loved ones in this terrible tragedy. All of San Francisco shares in their shock and grief. We will do everything we can to care for all those affected and their families.

“Our city is immeasurably grateful for the swift response of the flight crew who quickly evacuated passengers; for the air traffic controllers who effectively diverted traffic; for the brave first responders and the hospital staff who are ensuring the swift recovery of the injured. Their actions are a testament to the strength, courage, and selflessness that defines the Bay Area.

“Following the National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation, I will work with the Federal Aviation Administration and the San Francisco International Airport to ensure that our planes are secure, our passengers are safe, and U.S. aviation remains among the safest ways to travel.”

From Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo (via Facebook at 3:24 p.m. Saturday):

“We continue to learn details about Asiana flight 214 from Seoul, a Boeing 777 that crashed at SFO this morning. While many questions remain, we know for certain that the first responders and airport personnell did a superb job securing the scene. NTSB chair Deborah Hersman is on her way to San Francisco and I am confident her investigation will uncover what caused the crash. I witnessed first-hand what an outstanding and meticulous job she and her team did investigating the San Bruno gas pipeline explosion in 2010.

“We don’t know how many people were killed or injured. The media is reporting two fatalities and 61 injuries, but SFO officials have yet to confirm those numbers. Looking at the burned out, tailless wreckage of the plane that carried an estimated 300 passengers, It does appear that we miraculously escaped a mass fatality. My thoughts are with the families who still don’t know about the status of their loved ones and all the survivors of this plane crash.”

Posted on Sunday, July 7th, 2013
Under: Jackie Speier, Jerry Brown, Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | 6 Comments »

Jackie Speier offers ‘Child Handgun Safety Act’

A Bay Area congresswoman’s new gun-control bill would require that all handguns have child-safety mechanisms built in.

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, said her Child Handgun Safety Act is inspired by a series of tragedies nationwide – most recently, a 5-year-old girl in New Orleans accidentally shot and killed herself with a .38-caliber revolver this past weekend.

Jackie Speier“A majority of gun deaths involving children are preventable at the point of manufacturing,” Speier said in her news release. “More than half of child deaths from guns result from accidents or failure to secure guns in the home. In the past, we have taken similar safety measures with products such as butane lighters and prescription drug bottles. It’s inexcusable we haven’t done the same with deadly weapons. We have an urgent responsibility to prevent these tragic deaths through smart, more effective handgun policies.”

The bill would require that all handguns made, sold in, or imported into the United States incorporate technology that prevents the average 5-year-old child from operating it when it’s ready to fire. It also would require that as of two years after enactment, any handgun sold, offered for sale, traded, transferred, shipped, leased, or distributed in the U.S. be child-resistant or retrofitted with a child-resistant mechanism.

Speier said that since December’s Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Conn., 73 more children aged 12 and under have been killed with guns. Of those, 40 were due to accidental shootings, 29 of which involved a teen or child aged 17 or younger pulling the trigger. Among the specific examples Speier cited:

    Corsicana, Texas: A toddler died after a self-inflicted shooting with a handgun inside a bedroom in his home, striking himself in the head.
    Tampa, Fla.: A 3-year-old boy who found a gun in his uncle’s backpack shot himself and died.
    Greenville County, S.C.: A 2-year-old child reached into his father’s pocket, grabbed a gun and shot himself at his grandparents’ home.
    Brighton, Ala.: A 4-year-old shot a 4-year-old cousin with .38 Special pistol left on a bed.
    Lebanon, Tenn.: A 4-year-old boy shot the wife of a sheriff with a pistol.
    Liberty, Mich.: The 3-year old son of a Jackson County Sheriff’s Office deputy accidentally shot and killed himself with his father’s weapon.

Lawrence Keane – senior vice president and general counsel of the Newtown, Conn.-based National Shooting Sports Foundation, a gun-industry trade group – said he doesn’t doubt Speier’s intentions are good, but “there is no reason or need for the legislation she has introduced.”

“Every firearm sold in the United States today … is required to be provided with a locking device,” Keane said. “It’s the responsibility of the gun owner to secure the firearm and keep it away from unauthorized users, particularly and obviously children.”

Not only do U.S. gunmakers include a lock with every firearm they ship, but retailers also are required by law to have locks available for sale as well. And the NSSF’s Project ChildSafe, launched in 2003 and partnered with law enforcement, has distributed more than 36 million free firearm safety education kits – each including a cable-style lock.

“We’re pleased to report that while the incidents she cites in the press release are devastating and horrible, the truth is that the number of firearms fatalities involving accidents are at their lowest level since record-keeping began in 1903,” Keane said, adding that statistically, children are far more likely to die in cars, bathtubs or swimming pools than by handgun.

Speier also Thursday introduced the Modernized Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act of 2013, which would require the U.S. Attorney General to modify the definition of armor-piercing ammunition to conform to the bullet’s performance, rather than just its metallurgical content. New bullet propellants, coatings and materials have left the original Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act of 1986 outdated, she argues, and there’s plenty of ammo for sale now that’s capable of piercing body armor while skirting the 1986 definition.

But Keane said the existing law focuses on composition, not performance, because a performance-based standard would encompass far too much.

“Virtually all rifle ammunition would be banned under her bill,” he said, adding he’s unaware of any cases in which an alternative, non-lead-based bullet has pierced an officer’s vest. “This is an old argument that comes up every couple of years.”

Neither bill has much chance of advancing in the Republican-led House.

Posted on Thursday, June 27th, 2013
Under: gun control, Jackie Speier, U.S. House | 6 Comments »

Politicians react to same-sex marriage rulings

EVERYBODY has something to say about today’s U.S. Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage. Here’s the latest from your Bay Area elected officials.

From U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.:

“As author of the bill to repeal the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act, I am thrilled by today’s Supreme Court decision.

“Today’s ruling clearly establishes that the 14 senators who opposed DOMA in 1996 were correct. It also states that one class of legally married individuals cannot be denied rights under federal law accorded to all other married couples. Doing so denies ‘equal protection’ under the Constitution. This is an important and significant decision.

“Because of inequities in the administration of more than 1,100 federal laws affected by DOMA, it is still necessary to introduce legislation to repeal DOMA and strike this law once and for all. I will introduce that legislation today with 39 cosponsors in the Senate.

“As a Californian, I am thrilled by the Supreme Court’s decision on Proposition 8. The court’s ruling on technical grounds leaves in place former Chief Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision that Prop 8 is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced.

“I believe this decision means marriage equality will finally be restored in California.”

From U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.:

“Today my spirits are soaring because the Supreme Court reaffirmed the promise of America by rejecting two blatantly unconstitutional measures that discriminated against millions of our families.
“I was proud to have voted against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, and it is so heartening to see that the federal government will now treat all marriages equally.

“Because of the Court’s ruling on Proposition 8, millions of Californians will be able to marry the person they love – with all the rights and responsibilities that go along with it.”

From House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco:

“Today, the Supreme Court bent the arc of history once again toward justice. The court placed itself on the right side of history by discarding Section 3 of the defenseless Defense of Marriage Act and by allowing marriage equality for all families in California. The highest court in the land reaffirmed the promise inscribed into its walls: ‘equal justice under law.’

“Soon, the federal government will no longer discriminate against any family legally married in the United States. California will join 12 other states and the District of Columbia in recognizing the fundamental rights of all families. Our country will move one step closer to securing equal protection for all of our citizens.

“Nearly 44 years to the day after the Stonewall Riots turned the nation’s attention to discrimination against LGBT Americans, the fight for equal rights took a giant step forward. Yet even with today’s victory at the Supreme Court, the struggle for marriage equality is not over. Whether in the courts or in state legislatures, we will not rest until men and women in every state are granted equal rights. We will keep working to ensure that justice is done for every American, no matter who they love.”

Tons more, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, June 26th, 2013
Under: Assembly, Barbara Boxer, Barbara Lee, Bob Wieckowski, California State Senate, Dianne Feinstein, Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, George Miller, Jackie Speier, Jared Huffman, John Garamendi, Leland Yee, Mark DeSaulnier, Mark Leno, Mike Honda, Mike Thompson, Nancy Pelosi, Nancy Skinner, Nora Campos, Paul Fong, Rich Gordon, Rob Bonta, Tom Ammiano, U.S. House, U.S. Senate, Zoe Lofgren | 40 Comments »

Speier calls for bipartisan probe of IRS scandal

Rep. Jackie Speier may be the first Bay Area House member to speak out for digging deeper into the IRS scandal that has dogged the White House for the past week.

Jackie SpeierSpeier, D-San Mateo, issued a statement today saying she agrees with President Obama that the IRS’ targeting of conservative organizations for special scrutiny of requests for tax-exempt status was “inexcusable,” with a level of wrong-doing that’s “particularly disturbing.”

The acting IRS commissioner’s resignation was “necessary, but insufficient,” she said. “It is clear that officials at many levels of the IRS were aware of these activities, and they must be held fully accountable.”

She wants to see all of the Treasury Department inspector general’s recommendations implemented immediately, but she also wants a bipartisan, independent commission “to examine what went wrong, who was involved, and why it was allowed to continue for so long.”

“That commission should also examine the dramatic increase in the number of organizations applying for tax exempt status as social welfare organizations following the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, and whether additional clarifications are needed on the use of tax exempt status by organizations engaging in political activities,” Speier said. “It is completely appropriate to examine whether organizations claiming exemption as exclusively social welfare “charitable” and “educational” are actually charitable and educational.”

Posted on Thursday, May 16th, 2013
Under: Jackie Speier, Obama presidency, U.S. House | 4 Comments »

>100 cosponsors for House background-check bill

More than 100 House members from both sides of the aisle have signed on to co-sponsor a bill that would require background checks for all commercial gun sales.

Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa, chairman of the House Democrats’ gun-violence task force, and Rep. Pete King, R-N.Y., introduced H.R. 1565 on April 15, two days before the Senate rejected the identical Manchin-Toomey amendment.

“We won’t take ‘no’ for an answer when it comes to passing commonsense laws that keep guns from criminals, terrorist and the dangerously mentally ill,” Thompson and King said in a news release today. “This debate isn’t over. The American people deserve for this bill to be signed into law.”

The bill would expand the existing background check system to cover all commercial firearm sales, including those at gun shows, over the internet or in classified ads; it would not cover private, person-to-person sales, as California’s law does.

This widening of background checks is tempered by several nods to those concerned about Second Amendment rights: The bill bans the government from creating a federal registry and makes the misuse of records a felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. It also lets gun owners use a state concealed-carry permit issued within the last five years in lieu of a background check, and allows interstate handgun sales from licensed dealers.

And it improves the National Instant Criminal Background Check System by offering incentives to states to improve reporting of criminals and the dangerously mentally ill and by directing future grants toward better record-sharing systems; federal funds would be reduced to states that don’t comply.

The bill has been referred to the House Judiciary and Veterans’ Affairs committees.

The King-Thompson bill’s original co-authors are Mike Fitzpatrick, R-Pa.; Pat Meehan, R-Pa.; Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y.; and Peter DeFazio, D-Ore.

From the greater Bay Area, co-sponsors include Reps. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto; Sam Farr, D-Santa Cruz; John Garamendi, D-Fairfield; Mike Honda, D-San Jose; Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael; Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose; Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco; Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo; and Eric Swalwell, D-Pleasanton.

The locals who haven’t signed on are Reps. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton; and George Miller, D-Martinez. I’ve reached out to their offices to find out where they stand on the bill, and will update this item accordingly.

UPDATE @ 1 P.M. TUESDAY 5/7: McNerney and Miller both have signed on.

Posted on Tuesday, April 30th, 2013
Under: Anna Eshoo, Barbara Lee, Eric Swalwell, George Miller, gun control, Jackie Speier, Jared Huffman, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, Mike Honda, Mike Thompson, Nancy Pelosi, Sam Farr, U.S. House | 10 Comments »

MoveOn targets Bay Area officials’ offices today

Activists are descending today upon the offices of federal officials across the Bay Area, and across the nation, to deliver petitions urging the protection of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and veterans’ benefits from cuts proposed by President Obama.

Organized by MoveOn.org, it appears there’ll be gatherings at noon at the offices of U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer in Oakland, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in San Francisco, Rep. Eric Swalwell in Pleasanton, Rep. Jackie Speier in San Mateo, Rep. George Miller in Concord, Rep. Zoe Lofgren in San Jose, and Rep. Jared Huffman in San Rafael.

“I supported President Obama for reelection, but I won’t support him cutting Social Security,” said Frank Burton of Castro Valley, co-organizer of the event at Swalwell’s office. “Seniors depend on Social Security, and the cut in the cost-of-living adjustment is based on false logic. Seniors need the full cost-of-living adjustment because of huge increases in medical costs every year.”

Clark Sullivan of San Francisco said he helped organize the event at Pelosi’s office “because most people collecting Social Security are already starving for several days at the end of the month.

“Cutting benefits would increase the already unacceptable level of human misery for Americans who have paid a lifetime of taxes to support Social Security,” he said. “The Social Security Act has been one of the most successful federal programs ever enacted and is more solvent than it ever has been. There is no need to tamper with its current success.”

Posted on Thursday, April 25th, 2013
Under: Barbara Boxer, Eric Swalwell, George Miller, Jackie Speier, Jared Huffman, Nancy Pelosi, Obama presidency, U.S. House, U.S. Senate, Zoe Lofgren | 15 Comments »

Jackie Speier to co-host anti-prostitution training

A Bay Area congresswoman is working with local police to train hotel managers how to recognize and thwart human trafficking related to prostitution.

Rep. Jackie Speier will join with the Burlingame and South San Francisco police departments in hosting a training session tomorrow, Friday, April 19, at the Hilton San Francisco Bayfront in Burlingame.

“Hotels and motels are an essential component in the vicious network of human trafficking,” Speier, D-San Mateo, said in a news release. “The people working in hotels can help prevent sex trafficking if they know how to recognize signs that are not always obvious and contact the authorities when they do. For example, in a recent case on the Peninsula, a hotel worker contacted the police after noting that the same individual had rented two hotel rooms for four different young women two days in a row. Not only were the victims rescued, but their traffickers are facing lengthy sentences and fine.”

Managers at the training will hear from public officials and experts about the severity of human trafficking in the area, learn how to recognize victims and how to interfere. Speakers will include Burlingame Mayor Ann Keighran, Burlingame Police Chief Ed Wood, South San Francisco Police Sergeant Billy Schwartz and representatives from the Burlingame Hotel Manager’s Safety Association.

Speier’s office says sex trafficking is considered the third-largest and fastest growing criminal industry in the world; it is estimated 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders, and an estimated 100,000 to 300,000 domestic minors are forced into sex work every year in the United States.

This will be the third hotel training Speier and law enforcement have held since she helped launch the Zero Tolerance Anti-Trafficking Initiative in San Mateo County.

Posted on Thursday, April 18th, 2013
Under: Jackie Speier, U.S. House | 4 Comments »