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California guests at White House state dinner

Several Californians will be among the many dozens of diplomats, dignitaries and guests at tonight’s White House state dinner for French President Francois Hollande:

    Director and producer J.J. Abrams of Pacific Palisades, and wife, Katie McGrath
    Rep. Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, and her guest, Barbara Jordan
    NBA player Jason Collins of Los Angeles and his boyfriend, Brunson Green
    Democratic activist Shefali Duggal of San Francisco and her husband, Rajat Duggal
    Television producer Ken Ehrlich of Westlake Village and his wife, Harriet Ehrlich
    Former insurance executive and philanthropist John Goldman of Atherton and his wife, Marcia Goldman
    Qualcomm cofounder and former chairman Irwin Jacobs of La Jolla and his wife, Joan Jacobs
    Actress and producer Mindy Kaling of Universal City and her friend, Jocelyn Leavitt
    SEIU International Secretary-Treasurer Eliseo Medina of La Canada-Flintridge and his guest, Arcelia Rocio Saenz
    Oracle heiress and Democratic fundraiser Nicola Miner of San Francisco and her husband, novelist Robert Mailer Anderson
    PayPal cofounder and Tesla CEO Elon Musk of Los Angeles and his ex-wife, Talulah Musk
    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, and her daughter, Jacqueline Kenneally
    Philanthropist and Democratic fundraiser Azita Raji of Tiburon and her husband, Gary Syman
    philanthropist and retired teacher Liz Simons of Atherton and her husband, Medley Partners Managing Director Mark Heising
    Big Block managing director Kenneth Solomon of Pacific Palisades and his wife, Melissa Solomon

Posted on Tuesday, February 11th, 2014
Under: Obama presidency | 2 Comments »

California wine to be served at White House

The White House has just issued its menu and program for tomorrow’s state dinner with French President Francois Hollande, and it features a North Bay winner.

Among the wines to be served at the dinner will be a 2011 “La Proportion Doree” (“The Golden Ratio”), a blend of Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle grapes from Sonoma County produced by St. Helena-based Morlet Family Vineyards.

Per the vineyard’s website, co-owner Luc Morlet “represents the fourth generation of a French winemaking family” from Avenay-Val d’Or in the Champagne-Ardenne region of northeastern France.

The dinner will be followed by a performance by R&B legend Mary J. Blige. See the whole menu, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, February 10th, 2014
Under: Obama presidency | 1 Comment »

Obama to visit Fresno next Friday about drought

This just in from the White House:

“On Friday, February 14, President Obama will travel to the Fresno, California area to discuss ongoing efforts to respond to the severe drought. Further details on the President’s trip to California will be available in the coming days.”

As reported here last week, President Obama promised Gov. Jerry Brown that he’s committed to providing the necessary federal support to state and local drought mitigation efforts. And as I reported Tuesday, the president is no fan of the water bill that Republicans pushed through the House this week as a drought solution.

Posted on Friday, February 7th, 2014
Under: Barack Obama, Obama presidency, water | 4 Comments »

Obama calls Jerry Brown for drought update

This just in from the White House:

Today, the President called Governor Jerry Brown to receive an update on the situation in California and express his concern for the citizens impacted by the historic drought conditions facing the state – conditions that are likely to have significant impacts on the state’s communities, economy and environment in the coming months.

The President reinforced his commitment to providing the necessary federal support to the state and local efforts. The agencies are working together to target resources to help California and other impacted states prepare for and lessen the impacts of the drought. USDA is also working with farmers and ranchers to increase their irrigation water efficiency, protect vulnerable soils from erosion, and improve the health of pasture and range lands. And the Bureau of Reclamation is working closely with federal and California state authorities to facilitate water transfers and provide operational flexibility to convey and store available water, and facilitate additional actions that can conserve and move water to critical areas.

The National Drought Resilience Partnership (NDRP) will help coordinate the federal response, working closely with state, local government, agriculture and other partners. The NDRP is already helping to enhance existing efforts that federal agencies are working on with communities, businesses, farmers and ranchers to build resilience where drought is currently an issue across the country.

The President made clear that we will continue to work with our federal partners, including FEMA, to support the state and local response, and expressed his support during this challenging time.

Posted on Wednesday, January 29th, 2014
Under: Barack Obama, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown, Obama presidency, water | 1 Comment »

Open thread: State of the Union

And, the GOP response:

Go ahead, share your thoughts – but be civil to your fellow commenters.

Posted on Tuesday, January 28th, 2014
Under: Barack Obama, Obama presidency | 14 Comments »

Obama to meet with tech executives Tuesday

President Obama will meet Tuesday with executives from leading tech companies – including some notable Bay Area names – to discuss progress made in addressing the glitches and breakdowns that plagued the HealthCare.gov website, a White House official said Monday.

In addition to talking about the botched rollout of the website – the portal connecting people seeking individual insurance policies under the nation’s new health care law – Obama and the tech executives will discuss how government can better deliver information technology “to maximize innovation, efficiency and customer service,” the official said.

Also on the agenda: “national security and the economic impacts of unauthorized intelligence disclosures,” and ways that the Obama administration can partner with the tech sector “to grow the economy, create jobs and address issues around income inequality and social mobility.”

Here’s the list of tech executives expected at the meeting:

  • Tim Cook, CEO, Apple
  • Dick Costolo, CEO, Twitter
  • Chad Dickerson, CEO, Etsy
  • Reed Hastings, Co-Founder & CEO, Netflix
  • Drew Houston, Founder & CEO, Dropbox
  • Marissa Mayer, President and CEO, Yahoo!
  • Burke Norton, Chief Legal Officer, Salesforce
  • Mark Pincus, Founder, Chief Product Officer & Chairman, Zynga
  • Shervin Pishevar, Co-Founder & Co-CEO, Sherpa Global
  • Brian Roberts, Chairman & CEO, Comcast
  • Erika Rottenberg, Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, LinkedIn
  • Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook
  • Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman, Google
  • Brad Smith, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Microsoft
  • Randall Stephenson, Chairman & CEO, AT&T
  • Posted on Monday, December 16th, 2013
    Under: Obama presidency, Technology in politics | 8 Comments »

    Brown appeals FEMA denial of more Rim Fire aid

    Gov. Jerry Brown has sent a letter to President Barack Obama appealing the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s denial of a major-disaster declaration for the Rim Fire that devastated a swath of the Sierra Nevada this year.

    “The Rim Fire ultimately burned 402 square miles over a period of 69 days, encompassing more than 257,314 acres; causing significant impacts to the State and to the affected local jurisdictions of such severity and magnitude that recovery efforts remain beyond our capabilities,” Brown wrote in the letter.

    “In the aftermath of the fire, the State and its communities face infrastructure damage, significant negative economic impact, as well as complex and multifaceted environmental damages,” he wrote. “The burned area created an enormous potential for catastrophic flooding and debris runoff from winter storms.”

    Brown sought a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration – which would trigger the release of federal funds to help communities recover – on Oct. 8, after declaring states of emergency in Tuolumne, Mariposa and San Francisco counties, but FEMA denied his request Nov. 4. Current estimates of the damage caused by the fire, which began in August and continued burning throughout October, now top $54 million.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013
    Under: Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown, Obama presidency | 2 Comments »

    More reactions to Obama’s health insurance delay

    We’ll be posting a full story about reactions to President Obama’s plan to delay cancellation of some individual health insurance plans that don’t meet standards set by the nation’s new law, but here are a few pols for whom we didn’t have space in that article.

    U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., called the president’s proposal a “good step” that’s “very helpful in the implementation of the law.” She also spoke on the Senate floor Thursday about Republicans’ constant opposition to this law.

    “This is typical of Republicans through the generations. Every time we’ve tried to expand health care, they’ve opposed it and opposed it and tried to derail it,” she said, adding that the new insurance law can be fixed “but that’s not good enough for my Republican friends. They just want to tear it down, just like they wanted to tear down Medicare.”

    Rep. Sam Farr, D-Santa Cruz, said in an email that he supports the president’s fix, which “continues to provide more choices without undermining the strengths of the new health care law. Implementing any new law creates a few bumps. We should be look for minor tweaks that strengthen the law rather than return to the old system that left millions of Americans without quality coverage.”

    Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa, issued a statement calling Obama’s proposal “a step in the right direction towards fixing issues with the health care law. This was a promise that was made and it is a promise that should be kept.”

    “I’ve said from the beginning that the health care reform law isn’t perfect,” Thompson said. “But instead of engaging in partisan bickering and playing blame games, I want to work to make health care reform better. … If we quit the partisan games, we can build on the reforms made in Obamacare, work out the imperfections, and make sure every American can get quality, affordable health insurance. That is a goal worth fighting for.”

    Posted on Thursday, November 14th, 2013
    Under: Barbara Boxer, healthcare reform, Mike Thompson, Obama presidency, Sam Farr, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | 27 Comments »

    Inertia on immigration reform riles Dems

    Democrats are hitting back at Speaker John Boehner’s statement today that the House won’t take up a comprehensive immigration reform bill before this year’s end.

    NBC Latino reports Boehner, R-Ohio, was eating breakfast at a Washington diner this morning when he was approached by two children of immigrants who urged House action.

    “I’m trying to find some way to get this thing done,” he reportedly told them. “It’s as you know, not easy, not going to be an easy path forward but I made it clear since the day after the election, it’s time to get this done.”

    Later this morning, Boehner wouldn’t set a timeline, but rather said Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., is working with Democrats to develop a set of principles “for us to deal with this issue.” He also said the House has “no intention of ever going to conference” on S.744, the bipartisan bill that the Senate passed in June on a 68-32 vote.

    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, replied to Boehner with a tweet this morning:

    Pelosi tweet

    H.R. 15 is the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act” introduced last month by Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla. It mostly mirrors the Senate bill, but replaces the Senate’s border-security plan with a different one authored by Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, and approved unanimously by the Homeland Security Committee.

    Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, the senior Democrat on Judiciary’s Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee, spoke about Boehner’s comments during today’s committee hearing on an automated, biometrics-based entry-exit system to track the entry and exit of all travelers to and from the United States.

    “Before I close, let me just say, how disappointed I was to hear the news that the House is not intending to consider immigration bills before the end of the year. I think we have a historic opportunity before us to work together to improve our immigration laws. I thank the Chairman of the [Immigration] Subcommittee [Rep. Trey Gowdy] for his kind comments about myself and Mr. [Luis] Gutierrez. I am mindful that we did not do immigration reform in a comprehensive way when we had the majority as Democrats. We were actually, in the House, deferring to the Senate hoping that they could have bipartisan agreement. They ultimately failed. The gentleman was not a Member of that Congress, but we did pass the DREAM Act when Democrats were in the majority, and it fell short in the Senate.

    “I just believe that we can put our hands across the aisle and work together to improve our laws. I would hope the spirit and intent to do that has not faded on the part of the majority [Republicans]. Certainly I would hope to continue to work with the majority to solve this problem for our country.”

    President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and senior administration officials met this morning at the White House with faith leaders to discuss the importance of passing immigration reform.

    “The leaders expressed their concerns over the impact the broken immigration system is having on families throughout their congregations,” according to the White House’s readout of the meeting. “The President and the leaders discussed their shared commitment to raise the moral imperative for immigration reform and said they will continue keeping the pressure on Congress so they can swiftly pass commonsense reform.”

    Obama commended the faith leaders for their efforts, and “noted there is no reason for House Republicans to continue to delay action on this issue that has garnered bipartisan support,” the readout said. “It would show the American people that Washington can still work together to solve our nation’s challenges.”

    Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto, last month was the first House Republican to sign onto H.R. 15; others who’ve done so since then include Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford. They and certain other California Republicans might face tougher re-election fights next year if no action is taken on immigration reform.

    Posted on Wednesday, November 13th, 2013
    Under: Barack Obama, Immigration, John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, Obama presidency, U.S. House, U.S. Senate, Zoe Lofgren | 16 Comments »

    Three Bay Area execs meet with President Obama

    Three Bay Area business executives were among those who met with President Obama this morning at the White House to discuss the nation’s cybersecurity framework.

    The meeting in the Situation Room was to “discuss the importance of cybersecurity, the joint efforts by the Administration and industry to develop the Cybersecurity Framework, and ongoing work to implement the Executive Order to enhance the cybersecurity of critical infrastructure,” the White House reported.

    A White House official said the participants included Steve Bennett, president and CEO of Mountain View-based Symantec; Renee James, President of Santa Clara-based Intel; and Charlie Scharf, CEO of Foster City-based Visa.

    Other attendees included Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga; Northrop Grumman CEO Wes Bush, Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan and Pepco Holdings CEO Joe Rigby.

    Posted on Tuesday, October 29th, 2013
    Under: Obama presidency | 9 Comments »