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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.”

Posted on Friday, April 4th, 2014
Under: Ami Bera, Barbara Lee, George Miller, Jared Huffman, Jeff Denham, John Garamendi, Mike Honda, Pete Stark, Sam Farr, taxes, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren | 1 Comment »

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.”

Posted on Thursday, November 21st, 2013
Under: Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, Pete Stark, U.S. House | 7 Comments »

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.

Posted on Friday, September 20th, 2013
Under: Eric Swalwell, Pete Stark, U.S. House | 3 Comments »

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.

Posted on Friday, March 1st, 2013
Under: Pete Stark, U.S. House | 13 Comments »

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.

Posted on Monday, February 4th, 2013
Under: Pete Stark, U.S. House | 2 Comments »

Which Bay Area House seat will Ro Khanna seek?

My esteemed colleague Carla Marinucci of the San Francisco Chronicle has just posted a blog item about Ro Khanna moving toward a run in the 17th Congressional District, now represented by Mike Honda, rather than the 15th District, now represented by Eric Swalwell.

Ro KhannaKhanna, you’ll recall, is the former Obama Administration Commerce Department official who raised an eye-popping $1.2 million in the last quarter of 2011, but chose not to challenge Rep. Pete Stark in 2012. Swalwell did, and now he’s Congressman Swalwell while Khanna is cooling his heels at Silicon Valley law powerhouse Wilson Sonsini and deciding on his next move.

Some had assumed Khanna, 36, of Fremont, would mount a 2014 challenge to the freshman Swalwell, 32, of Dublin, but it’s no secret that Khanna’s congressional campaign committee’s statement of organization specified neither the year in which he would run nor the district.

I’d heard the same rumors as Carla, and so this was among the topics I raised while having coffee with Khanna this morning at Suju’s on Thornton Avenue in Fremont, and he’s still playing it cagey – all he would say is that he’s considering all his options.

From where I sit, looking to Honda’s seat instead of Swalwell’s might make a lot of sense for Khanna. The 17th District is much more the heart of Silicon Valley than the 15th District, and Khanna’s expertise is in manufacturing, entrepreneurialism and innovation – hence his recent book on those topics.

Also, the 17th District is the continental United States’ first majority-Asian-American district, and the source of much of the money that Khanna raised in that explosive final quarter of 2011. (In fact, Honda lent his name to one of the bigger fundraisers Khanna had that season, a few years after Khanna had donated $1,000 to Honda’s 2008 campaign.)

There are a few ways this could go. Honda’s interest in an Education Department post during Obama’s first term was no secret, and it’s not beyond the pale that he could be interested in an Obama Administration post now – if not in education, than maybe the Peace Corps (of which Honda is a proud alumnus) or something that utilizes all the experience Honda, 71, has accrued in advocating for minority political action and civil rights (the EEOC?)

Or, Honda could seek an eighth House term in 2014 and Khanna could run against him. California’s top-two primary and that district’s voter registration ratio (44.4 percent Democrat, 19.1 percent Republican, 31.7 percent no-party-preference) make it likely they’d prevail in the primary and face each other in November.

Khanna could make a much stronger play for the district’s nonpartisan and Republican voters than Honda can, as Swalwell did against Stark. But I don’t think this would look much like the Stark-Swalwell smackdown of 2012, which went very negative; though Stark and Honda both are arch-liberals beloved by labor, Honda’s by most accounts is a more likeable personality and going negative on him might be counterproductive.

Still, Khanna could make a case that Honda – although a good and praise-worthy liberal Democrat – hasn’t been as effective in representing the young, tech, forward-looking voters and innovative business interests of Silicon Valley as Khanna could. It would be interesting to see whether Khanna can fire up his fundraising again in a meaningful way; what campaign consultants he can attract; and what endorsements he gets, particularly from local officials and from other members of Congress.

If Khanna does run in the 17th District, Swalwell heaves a huge sigh of relief. He’ll still probably face a challenge from fellow Democrat Ellen Corbett, who’ll be term-limited out of the state Senate in 2014; she opened a campaign committee last year too, and with fundraising not nearly so robust as Khanna’s, she too chose not to challenge Stark. “I would be honored to serve in Congress, but it’s too early to discuss 2014,” she told me in November.

Posted on Monday, January 21st, 2013
Under: Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, Mike Honda, Pete Stark, U.S. House | 11 Comments »

Which local House members are targets in 2014?

With House elections only a month behind us, eyes are already turning toward the 2014 election’s landscape.

The fine folks at renowned political prognosticator Larry Sabato’s “Crystal Ball” have tagged several Northern California House members as potentially vulnerable in 2014:

For Republicans, they might take fresh shots against Rep.-elects Scott Peters (D), Ami Bera (D) and Raul Ruiz (D), who all defeated Republican incumbents in razor-thin races. They may have some other opportunities across the state, particularly if some unsuccessful but promising 2012 challengers — Ricky Gill (against Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney) and Kim Vann (against Democratic Rep. John Garamendi), among others, decide to mount rematches.

The difficulty for Republican candidates in California, though, is that their statewide party is in rump status, akin to Democrats in Texas — and, unlike demographics in Texas (which might very slowly move in the Democrats’ direction), demographics in California provide little hope to resuscitate the California GOP.

The article also notes the potential for a fight in the 10th Congressional District, where Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto, beat back a challenge this year from former NASA astronaut Jose Hernandez, a Democrat from Stockton. “Hernandez is openly considering a repeat run, although he might wait until 2016 — a clear indication that he understands the turnout problems Democrats have in midterm elections.”

Meanwhile, Rep.-elect Eric Swalwell – the Dublin Democrat who unseated 20-term Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, last month – today tells Roll Call exactly what we reported right after Election Day: that it’s never too soon to consider who’ll be coming at you two years hence.

Posted on Thursday, December 13th, 2012
Under: Ami Bera, Eric Swalwell, Jeff Denham, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, Pete Stark, U.S. House | 1 Comment »

Pelosi bids ‘adieu’ to Lynn Woolsey, Pete Stark

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, took a break from the rhetorical carpet-bombing of the fiscal cliff faceoff yesterday for a floor speech thanking the departing California Democrats, including two from the Bay Area – one who retired, and one who was unseated.

John Boehner“Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I thank you for yielding, Mr. Miller. I know that we have a time limitation so I will begin by associating myself with the remarks of Congresswoman Anna Eshoo who spoke so beautifully and knowledgeably about our colleagues who are leaving, who are from California, who are leaving. I rise today to thank my colleagues, who are our friends, and our partners from the great state of California.

“The Members we honor in this special order – I’m just going to do this cause its way down low.

[Leader Pelosi Adjusts Podium Height]

“Recognize the, demonstrate the extraordinary diversity of our great Golden State. They hail from northern California and southern California, from the Bay Area, to the greater Los Angeles [area], to San Diego. They bring Californians’ wide range of interests, and aspirations to the floor of the House every day. Working side-by-side with the entire California delegation, their service, our service has strengthened the Golden State; the commitment of our departing Members has strengthened the Congress; their achievements have advanced the character of our country. Each of these Members has brought a unique voice to the table; yet each shares the same core values – a devotion to public service, a dedication to opportunity, a belief in the promise of America.

“Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey spent her career fighting to improve the education of our children, the economic security of their families, the protection of our workers, as well as our coastline, as Congresswoman Eshoo mentioned. With her departure, I won’t say retirement because she is not a retiring person, the Bay Area loses a powerful advocate in Congress and the nation loses a tireless progressive leader. It was, I think, Mr. Miller said ‘400 times that Lynn Woolsey came to the floor to speak against the war, our involvement in the war in Iraq.’ Thank you, Congresswoman Woolsey. So, it’s about the patriotism of this Congress and of the participation as patriots of our colleagues from California.

“Whether it’s the education of our children, whether it is the health of our people as demonstrated by Congressman Pete Stark. Why we all owe you Pete Stark, a great debt of gratitude. He has been a fixture in the fight to build and strengthen the pillars of health and economic security for the American people. From his seat on the Ways and Means Committee, to the House floor, he always remained a fierce fighter for Medicare and a passionate advocate for the Affordable Care Act because he believed that health care was a right for all Americans, not a privilege just for the few. His legacy will live long in a stronger support for the well-being of our seniors, our families, and our middle class. I hope it is a source of pride, I know it is to your family, that so many of your colleagues respect you so much and honor your leadership and service here.”

More, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, December 13th, 2012
Under: Lynn Woolsey, Nancy Pelosi, Pete Stark, U.S. House | 3 Comments »

Fortney Stark DID win an election last month.

Perhaps Congress hasn’t seen the last of the Stark family.

Though 40-year incumbent Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, has just been unseated by fellow Democrat Eric Swalwell, Fish Stark – the congressman’s 17-year-old son – was elected president of the 2012 Princeton Model Congress last month in Washington D.C., chosen by an electorate of 853 participating students from across the nation.

Here’s his stump speech:

Fish Stark – whose actual name is Fortney Hillman Stark III – is a senior at the Key School, a private school in Annapolis, Md. He’s pictured in the photo below standing between the two “Fish 2012” signs, wearing a red tie and yellow name tag.

Fish Stark
(Click photo to enlarge.)

Note the campaign slogan: “We Need Stark Change.”

The 24-student Key School contingent did well – not only did President Fish reign, but they also managed to pass 18 bills while one student won a gavel (comparable to a first-place award) and two others won honorable mentions.

Posted on Monday, December 3rd, 2012
Under: Pete Stark, U.S. House | 15 Comments »

Pete Stark must close his office this Friday

Rep. Pete Stark, defeated in this month’s election by a fellow Democrat after 40 years in the House, must close his Capitol Hill office Friday.

Debbie Curtis, his chief of staff, said House rules require lame ducks to be out of their offices by Dec. 1, and Stark’s shutdown is scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday. The computers there are networked to those in Stark’s district office, so those will go offline, too.

Stark, D-Fremont, is being assigned a cubby in the Longworth House Office Building with a computer, two chairs and a phone forwarded from Stark’s existing office line, she said.

“We will still be checking our voice mail,” Curtis said, and should Congress be ready to act on the so-called “fiscal cliff” in the next few weeks, “He’ll be there and he’ll vote, he’ll just go to the floor and work from there … He can absolutely vote without having his office.”

The House’s calendar shows the week of Dec. 3 is a D.C. work week, with votes possible from 6:30 p.m. Monday through 3 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6; the following week can see votes from 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 11 through 3 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14.

Stark’s staff has posted this notice to some of the constituent service sections of his website:

I’ve been honored to represent the East Bay in Congress for the last 40 years. As you may know, I was not re-elected. My office will be closing on November 30th.
[snip]
The 13th Congressional District will be divided among Rep. Mike Honda, Rep. Barbara Lee, and Congressman-elect Eric Swalwell. You should ascertain which district you now reside in and reach out to the appropriate office based on that information. Please visit: http://www.acgov.org/ms/addresslookup/ to verify your new district.

Curtis said constituents with current case work have been contacted, and if they so desire, their information is being passed along to Lee, Honda or Swalwell; also, U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer are helping 15th Congressional District constituents during the transition.

“We’re trying to make it the least inconvenient for people that we can,” she said.

Stark was defeated by Eric Swalwell, a Dublin city councilman and Alameda County prosecutor, who is still attending freshman orientation and hiring staff but has not yet been assigned a permanent office. The new, 113th Congress takes office at noon on Thursday, Jan. 3.

Posted on Tuesday, November 27th, 2012
Under: Pete Stark, U.S. House | 1 Comment »