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Lee to chair UN forum on minority participation

Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, has been named chairperson of the second session of the United Nations Forum on Minority Issues, to be held November 12-13 in Geneva, Switzerland, focusing on “Minorities and Effective Political Participation.”

“I am extremely honored to be appointed to this prestigious position and to participate in a formal capacity at the UN Forum on Minority Issues,” Lee said in a news release. “I look forward to working in this capacity to promote dialogue and cooperation on issues pertaining to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities around the globe.”

“This Forum represents a unique opportunity engage in discussion on opportunities to increase and strengthen the participation of minorities in the decision-making processes of their governments–a subject of deep personal interest throughout my life and career.”

As the forum’s chair, Lee will lead a global discussion of ways to build greater involvement of minorities in countries around the world in political activities. The forum will bring together over 400 participants, including government delegations, UN officials, political parties and minorities from around the world to produce a set of recommendations that will be made publicly available.

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Hearing on bill to ban LGBT work discrimination

House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Martinez, on Wednesday morning will hold the first full House committee hearing on a bill that would bar employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

H.R. 3017, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, authored by Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., would prohibit employment discrimination, preferential treatment, and retaliation on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity by employers with 15 or more employees. For now, it’s legal to discriminate in the workplace based on sexual orientation in 29 states, and in 38 states based on gender identity.

Those scheduled to speak at Wednesday’s hearing include:

  • U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc.
  • U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass.
  • Stuart Ishimaru, Acting Chairman of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
  • William Eskridge Jr., John A. Garver Professor of Jurisprudence, Yale Law School
  • Vandy Beth Glenn, fired from her Georgia state legislative job when she told her supervisor she was transitioning from male to female
  • Camille Olson, partner at Seyfarth Shaw LLP
  • Craig Parshall, senior vice president and general counsel, National Religious Broadcasters
  • Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center
  • Brad Sears, executive director of the Charles R. Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy, UCLA School of Law
  • The bill’s 159 co-sponsors include the entire Bay Area delegation but for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco; the Speaker customarily refrains from cosponsoring, debating or voting on all but the most vital legislation.

    Some upcoming political events around the Bay

    Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, will be scooting around the district tomorrow, Friday, Sept. 18, first taking part in a 1:30 p.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new local U.S. Census office at 1814 Franklin St. in Oakland, and then attending a 2 p.m. ceremony at Middle Harbor Shoreline Park in the Port of Oakland, celebrating the completion of the 50-foot Oakland Harbor Deepening Project.

    Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, and Board of Equalization Chairwoman Betty Yee will forecast state revenues and spending for the next year at the Alameda County Democratic Lawyers Club luncheon, at noon tomorrow, Friday, Sept. 18, at Cocina Poblana, 499 Embarcadero West in Oakland’s Jack London Square. It’s open to the public but space is limited so you’re encouraged to RSVP by email to treasurer@demlawyers.org. Tickets cost $25 for club members, $30 for non-members at the door, but there’s a $5 discount if you buy in advance through the club’s Web site.

    Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, is holding another of his “Congress At Your Corner” constituent meet-and-greets from 1 to 2 p.m. Monday, Sept. 21, at the Margaret K. Troke Branch Library at 502 W. Benjamin Holt Drive in Stockton. “Instead of asking community members to come to one of my offices, I am going to go to them to make it as easy as possible for them to meet their Member of Congress,” he says. “I am committed to meeting with residents throughout the district so that I can effectively serve them and address their needs.”

    Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, chairman of the Assembly Select Committee on Biotechnology, will chair an informational hearing on “Maintaining California’s Status as the World’s Biotechnology Capital” at 11 a.m. Monday, Sept. 21, at Exelixis Inc., 210 E. Grand Ave. in South San Francisco. Executives from local life science companies will testify about the challenges of starting a biotech business and explain what other states are doing to lure companies away from California.

    Rumored Democratic gubernatorial candidate and state Attorney General Jerry Brown; state Treasurer Bill Lockyer; and 10th Congressional District Democratic candidate Lt. Gov. John Garamendi will headline the 39th Annual Alameda County Democratic Unity Dinner at 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 26 at the Oakland Airport Hilton, 1 Hegenberger Road; Board of Equalization Chair Betty Yee will emcee. All interested Democrats are invited to attend; tickets cost $75 per person in advance or $125 for patrons, with tables available at $1,000 and up. Advance tickets are available by calling 510-263-5222. A limited number of door tickets will be available at $85 each.

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    Tony Amador to launch CD-11 campaign tomorrow

    Former U.S. Marshal Antonio C. “Tony” Amador will officially throw his hat into the ring tomorrow to challenge Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, in the 11th Congressional District.

    Amador, 65, a Republican, will hold a news conference at the Veteran’s Memorial near Lodi City Hall at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow.

    He’s touting his life experience as one of 14 children born to Mexican immigrant farm workers, as well as his professional experience from a long law enforcement career: 13 years as a Los Angeles Police Department patrol officer; appointments to various state positions by governors Jerry Brown, George Deukmejian and Pete Wilson; a stint in Washington as Vice-Chairman of the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, the agency overseeing the Executive Branch’s personnel practices (where he was accused of sexual harassment in 1993, later cleared by a White House review); and seven years (ending last month) as U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of California.

    “Tony Amador has the real experience and background to represent California’s 11th Congressional District. In comparison, Rep. Jerry McNerney has become one of Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s reliable liberal ‘Yes men’ in Congress,” reads the news release that went out today. “At a time when the public’s opinion of Congress remains at an all-time low, the 11th district needs a man like Tony Amador—A Tough Leader for Tough Times.”

    The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee wasted no time in trying to take Amador down a notch. “Unlike Tony Amador and his other two primary opponents, Jerry McNerney has been working hard on behalf of the people of the 11th District to create jobs, especially through renewable energy, cut taxes for small businesses and get the economy moving again,” said DCCC Western Regional Press Secretary Andy Stone, who himself is a former McNerney spokesman.

    Stone’s “other two primary opponents” comment might be an understatement; as Lisa noted in her column this past weekend, there’s a lot of GOP interest in this seat. Other declared or potential candidates include Lodi-area grape grower Brad Goehring; Danville businessman Jon Del Arroz; former San Jose City Councilman Larry Pegram; San Ramon businessman David Bernal; and Lodi-area construction company owner Robert Beetles. I’d bet McNerney believes it’s “the more, the merrier,” as a fractious GOP primary could sap the eventual nominee’s money and momentum for the general election.

    Amador’s news release says he and his wife of 44 years live in Lodi, but that’s a relatively recent development – he’s a longtime Sacramento resident. I’m checking now to see when he moved into the 11th District, but it’s basically academic: The Constitution requires a Congressional candidate only to live somewhere within the state, not the district itself. And as a practical matter, it might not have made much difference either – just ask John Garamendi!

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    Video: Pete Stark doesn’t waste his urine

    Maybe you were there, maybe you’ve seen on CNN, but if not: Here’s the video of House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Pete Stark at his town hall meeting on health care reform this past weekend in Fremont. At about a minute and 35 seconds in, a man tells Stark, “Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining,” and Stark replies doing so “wouldn’t be worth wasting the urine.”

    Stark has never been one to back down when challenged. What do you think: Was he provoked? Was it just another moment of Pete Stark being Pete Stark? Was it over the line?

    Oh, and please watch the whole clip, not just the incendiary quip – there are lots of interesting perspectives throughout, and lots more context for judging Stark’s behavior. And when you see the captions pop up every now and then, keep in mind that this was uploaded to YouTube by the Golden Gate Minutemen.

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    Your local electeds react to Obama’s speech

    First, some resources: Take a look at the Associated Press fact-check on the speech – it’s early, but relatively comprehensive and at least should indicate what questions to ask as the legislation takes shape. For the full text of the president’s speech, click here; for the Republican response, click here.

    Now, on to some reactions from your electeds. I spoke earlier tonight with U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who told me she’d run into the President after the speech as she was heading back to her office.

    “I told him I thought he hit it out of the ballpark. He said, ‘Now let’s get it done,’” Boxer said. “I loved it, and I’m ready, I’ve been ready. I think it’s the great moral issue of our time and it’s also a great economic issue.”

    And she believes U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., also is “ready to go, ready to write a bill.” The Finance Committee is the last that must produce a bill before Congress sets about combining the several bills into one, and he’d said earlier today that he’s ready to push ahead with a bill in the week after next – with or without Republican support, but also without the public option for which President Obama made his case tonight.

    Boxer thought he made that case, and the rest of the case for reform, well.

    “The President did what he had to do tonight to jumpstart health care legislation. He put a human face on the issue, he addressed all the propaganda that’s been out there as a distraction… He made a moral argument,” she said, adding that as the President recounted the note he’d received from the late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, “You could’ve heard a pin drop in that chamber – he really spoke from his heart and to our hearts.”

    Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, said much the same when I spoke with her this evening.

    “He really made us recognize that health care should be a moral imperative and it is an issue of social justice,” Lee said, particularly by voicing support for the public option that her caucus and others have demanded. “For him to continue to support it, with all the pressure on him to take it off the table, was what I wanted to hear.”

    Now that the President has taken off the gloves to “dispel all of these terrible myths and lies” opponents have leveled this summer, “the work continues – now we have to make this happen,” she said.

    More reactions from your electeds, after the jump…
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