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Pete Stark’s son is running for elected office

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree: Former Rep. Pete Stark’s college-age son has launched a campaign for elected office.

Fish StarkFortney “Fish” Stark announced Tuesday on Facebook that he’s running for the Ward 1 seat on the Board of Alders in New Haven, Conn., to represent the swath of the city that includes most of Yale’s undergraduate campus. Stark, 19, is in his sophomore year studying political science at Yale.

“I love New Haven, and I love Yale, and I know that these two communities are strongest when we engage meaningfully with one another and work together towards progressive change,” he wrote. “I’m running because I want to work to bridge the divide between Yalies and the city. Yale students should be proud to call themselves New Haveners, and earn that identity through meaningful participation – and New Haveners should feel respected and supported by Yale.”

Stark wrote that he wants to continue the work and experiences he has had in New Haven so far: working over the summer for an afterschool and weekend enrichment program for local youths; serving on the city’s Peace Commission; serving on the Yale College Democrats’ board; and more.

“I hope that we can use this election as a platform to start community-wide conversations about what meaningful, respectful engagement in New Haven looks like, and how we can create a campus climate that supports this positive citizenship,” he wrote.

The elder Fortney “Pete” Stark represented part of the East Bay in Congress for 40 years before losing his seat to fellow Democrat Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin, in 2012. The Stark family resides in Maryland, where Fish grew up.

It’s no secret that Fish Stark has had his eye on a political career. He helped out on his father’s 2012 campaign, and also that year won election as president of the Princeton Model Congress in Washington D.C.

UPDATE @ 4:15 P.M.: Click here for the story I’ve just filed for the print editions, with a bit more background.

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Activists seek ‘Robin Hood tax’ upon Wall Street

Activists organized in part by the California Nurses Association rallied Friday at congressional offices in 22 cities – including four in Northern California – to call for a tax on Wall Street speculation to relieve economic inequality and address basic needs.

The Oakland-based union scheduled the events for Friday because it’s the 46th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who at the time of his death was amid a campaign for economic justice that included anti-poverty and worker-rights issues.

Supporters of HR 1579 – authored by Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., and cosponsored by local lawmakers including Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose; Sam Farr, D-Santa Cruz; Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael; and John Garamendi, D-Fairfield – sometimes call it the “Robin Hood tax.”

The bill would levy a tax of 50 cents on every $100 of stock trades and smaller amounts on transactions of bonds and derivatives. Its goal to reduce harmful financial market speculation; discourage high-volume, high-speed trading; and slow down proliferation of complex derivatives while raising hundreds of billions of dollars per year for jobs, health care, education, the fights against HIV/AIDS and climate change, and more.

Several dozen countries have similar taxes, and the United States had one until 1966. Business leaders including Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Paul Krugman, Joseph Stiglitz, Jeffrey Sachs, Robert Pollin, and Larry Summers have recommended adopting a financial transaction tax, and after Wall Street’s crash 1987, such a tax was endorsed by President George H.W. Bush and U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan. And former Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, carried a similar bill in 2010.

There’s no chance the Republican-led House will ever advance this bill.

Still, Northern California activists rallied Friday at the offices of congressmen George Miller in Concord, Mike Honda in San Jose, Ami Bera in Rancho Cordova and Jeff Denham in Modesto – three Democrats and a Republican, respectively.

“My patients are trying to heal from an illness or surgery and when they go home they are forced to make a decision between buying medication or food,” California Nurses Association co-president Malinda Markowitz, an RN at San Jose’s Good Samaritan Hospital, said in a news release. “That’s why I want Rep. Mike Honda to support the people of this community by supporting the Robin Hood Tax.”

The nurses’ union notes King once said, “This is America’s opportunity to help bridge the gulf between the haves and the have nots. The question is whether America will do it.”

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CA15: Stark vows to help Corbett beat Swalwell

The 2014 campaign for the 15th Congressional District seat has started sounding a lot like the 2012 campaign, as former congressman Pete Stark vengefully vows to support a challenger to the fellow Democrat who unseated him, Rep. Eric Swalwell.

Pete Stark“Hopefully Eric will lose, and I am doing everything I can to see that Ellen Corbett wins that primary election,” Stark told CQ Roll Call on Wednesday. “I remember Eric, during the campaign against me, suggested that I was too old and inept to be of any value in the political process, so I am going to see if I can prove that to be wrong.”

State Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, has trailed Swalwell, D-Pleasanton, thus far in fundraising and visibility, but Stark hopes to change that.

“I know that Eric used to say that I had $30 million,” Stark said. “I wish he was correct. But I have at least half that much at my disposal, and so I intend to broadcast far and wide his ethics problems and his inexperience and his failure to accomplish much in the Congress.”

Stark’s 2012 campaign committee contributed $2,000 to Corbett’s campaign in August.

Then again, Swalwell beat the 20-term incumbent last year in part because the district’s voters apparently were fed up with Stark’s behavior, including a series of unsupported accusations against Swalwell and others. And Stark’s vow to spend from his own pocket on Corbett’s campaign begs questions both of why he hasn’t done so thus far, and why he didn’t do so to keep himself in office last year.

Swalwell said Thursday that voters decided last year to replace a 40-year incumbent, and that he has kept his promise “to bring new energy and ideas to Congress. It’s time to move on and look forward and not go back to the tired politics of the past.”

“He’s trying to buy a seat in Congress for a friend that he couldn’t win for himself. But this seat isn’t for sale,” Swalwell added. “It’s one gift money can’t buy.”

Swalwell seems proud of the CQ Roll Call story, as he has been sharing it via social media.

“Last yr voters told Pete Stark, ‘bye, bye!’ But he took it as ‘buy, buy!’ & says he’ll spend $15M to help my opponent,” Swalwell tweeted Thursday morning.

He also posted the story on his Facebook page. “The voters have moved on and this seat is not for sale. I promise to keep bringing new energy and ideas to Congress,” he wrote there.

Corbett has not yet returned a call and an e-mail seeking comment.

UPDATE @ 2:35 P.M.: “I have a broad coalition of support from throughout the district, from people who realize I have a superior record of achieving for the district, and that includes Congressman Stark,” Corbett said Thursday afternoon. “It seems that Eric is picking a fight with the former Congressman, but I’m running to offer voters a choice and I will be standing on my own record of public service to this district. After all, that’s what democracy is all about, and I look forward to the campaign.”

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Swalwell urges GOP to wake up from ‘wet dream’

Rep. Eric Swalwell’s somewhat salty language on the House floor today is making national headlines.

Swalwell, D-Pleasanton, spoke against the House continuing resolution that’s predicated on defunding Obamacare.

“I rise in strong opposition to this radical right-wing effort to walk our economy off of a cliff and cause a government shutdown,” he said. “I invite my colleagues on the other side to wake up from this radical, ideological wet dream, and come back to reality.”

Yowza! The Hill noted its search of the Congressional Record dating back to 1989 doesn’t show that any other member has used that particular turn of phrase on the Jouse floor. The Washington Post called it “an R-rated term,” but noted that a Senator had used it back in 1996 (albeit not as an insult). The Huffington Post says it’s much ado about nothing.

To me, it sounds like something Pete Stark would’ve said.

Maybe Swalwell will hear about it from constituents who join him Saturday (Sept. 21) for his third “Ride With Your Rep” bicycling event. 15th Congressional District residents are welcome to join him at 10 a.m. at the Alameda Creek Regional Trail staging area, near Union City Boulevard at Lowry Road in Union City, for a 45-minute ride and chat.

UPDATE @ 4:30 P.M.: Pete Stark says it’s NOT something he would’ve said. Maybe. On a good day.

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Pete Stark says he’ll move back to Bay Area

Pete Stark says he’s planning to move back to the Bay Area.

Pete StarkThe former Congressman said Friday afternoon that once his son heads off to Yale University later this year and he and his wife can make school arrangements for their 11-year-old twins, they’ll be seeking a place to live in the East Bay.

Stark, 81 – who served the East Bay in the House for 40 years before being unseated in November by fellow Democrat Eric Swalwell – has made his family’s home in Maryland, though he maintained a residence here and is registered to vote at his in-laws home in San Lorenzo.

“Our interest is in using what’s left of my campaign funds and our foundation money to see what we can do about working in the area of children’s groups, whether it’s for child care or homes for children who are abused,” Stark said. “We’re looking forward to coming back and being active in that arena.”

“It’s going to take me a while to get used to not having the perks of a staff – being a congressman for 40 years had spoiled me, and the return to citizenry is hard,” he said. “But my shuffleboard game is getting good.”

UPDATE @ 3:03 P.M. FRIDAY: Just saw this tweet from Glen Fuller of Orinda, whose wife, Sharon Fuller, is Swalwell’s district director: “Deborah Stark 2014?” Hmmm.

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Pete Stark’s papers accepted by historical society

The collected papers of former Rep. Pete Stark are about to become part of history at the Hayward Area Historical Society.

Executive directory Myron Freedman said an archivist has begun sifting through 40 years worth of papers, photos and keepsakes at Stark’s district office in Fremont.

“We’re in the process of inventorying what they have and determining what should be in the collection,” he said, adding the task should be done in another six to eight weeks.

“It’s a great addition to the political history … of how the Bay Area has grown, and all the projects that came here as a result of his being in Congress and being such a powerful congressional figure,” Freedman said. “He really is a piece of history.”

Pete StarkStark, D-Fremont, served 20 terms in Congress starting with his election in 1972 and ending with his defeat in November by Eric Swalwell, D-Pleasanton. When he left office last month at age 81, the former banker was the fifth most senior House member, the sixth most senior member of Congress overall, and dean of California’s 55-member House delegation as well as the second-longest serving Congressman ever to lose a general election.

During his long tenure, Stark developed a reputation as an outspoken advocate for health care access and affordability, serving as chair or ranking member of the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee; as an opponent of various wars; and as Congress’ only avowed atheist. He also had a reputation for controversy, as the acerbic tone he took with detractors often led to headline-making quotes. Now retired, he lives with his wife and children in Maryland.

Freedman said the Hayward Area Historical Society’s new museum and research center, expected to open in June on Foothill Boulevard, will include a reading room in which the public can review the Stark collection either by appointment or during drop-in hours one day per week.