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Today’s congressional odds and ends

Sacramento_San_Joaquin_Delta_NHA Oct 2012-page-001DELTA NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA: The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta would become a National Hertiage Area, to be managed by the Delta Protection Commission, under companion bills introduced Tuesday by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove. The lawmakers say the goal is to protect and promote the vast history, resources, and economy of the Delta community. Property owners and tribes are explicitly protected in the bill and capable of opting out of any recommendations, and the bill will have no effect on water rights or water contracts and creates no new regulatory authority or burden on local government or citizens. The bill’s original cosponsors are Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord; Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena; Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton; and Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento. “Covering more than 700 square miles and nearly 60 islands and boasting more than 400,000 people, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is the largest delta in the world and a critical resource for California,” Feinstein said. “With a National Heritage Area designation, we can support a future for the Delta that is sustainable and bright.”

FAMILY ENGAGEMENT IN EDUCATION: Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, joined with Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., to introduce H.R. 1194, the Family Engagement in Education Act, to provide money for schools to promote effective strategies to get parents involved. “Education doesn’t stop at the end of the school day,” DeSaulnier said. “Research shows that family engagement in a child’s learning experience increases student achievement, improves attendance, and reduces dropout rates.” The bill is supported by the National PTA.

e-verifyE-VERIFY FOR ALL EMPLOYERS: Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, blasted a proposal to mandate use of E-Verify – an online government system for determining people’s eligibility to work in this country – for all employers. The House Judiciary Committee advanced the Legal Workforce Act on Tuesday on a 20-13 vote. But Lofgren, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, noted the bill is opposed by the agricultural sector, unions, civil liberties groups and many others. Without comprehensive immigration reform, “expanding E-Verify would devastate the agricultural economy, resulting in closed farms, a less-secure America, and the mass off-shoring of millions and millions of U.S. jobs, including all of the upstream and downstream jobs created and supported by agriculture,” Lofgren said. Expanding E-Verify alone would also increase the deficit and decrease tax revenues. Last Congress, the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation concluded that the Legal Workforce Act would have resulted in a net revenue loss of $39 billion over ten years.”

Posted on Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015
Under: Dianne Feinstein, education, Immigration, John Garamendi, Mark DeSaulnier, U.S. House, U.S. Senate, Uncategorized, Zoe Lofgren | 4 Comments »

Miller’s & Torlakson’s top aides join nonprofit

Top aides to former Rep. George Miller and California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson are going to work for a nonprofit that gauges how appropriate technology and media content is for children.

Danny WeissDaniel Weiss and Craig Cheslog will co-direct Common Sense Media’s advocacy platform.

“Danny and Craig bring enormous experience and commitment to our expanding advocacy effort to make kids and education America’s top priority,” said James Steyer, Common Sense Media’s founder and CEO.

“George Miller and Tom Torlakson are giants in the field of education and the well-being of our children and I am very excited that two of their top staff have joined our team,” Steyer said. “I look forward to working with them and the rest of our Common Sense team and with lawmakers from both parties and our allies in the advocacy community in California and across the country to improves the lives of our children.”

Weiss – Miller’s chief of staff for 20 years and aide for six years before that – will serve as the group’s vice president for national policy, based in Washington, D.C. Weiss was a strategic advisor for Miller’s work as the House Education and the Workforce Committee’s chairman and ranking Democrat, and also worked for the House Select Committee on Children, Youth and Families, which Miller founded and chaired for 10 years.

Craig CheslogCheslog – Torlakson’s principal advisor since 2011, and earlier, his district director while in the state Senate and Assembly – will be Common Sense Media’s co-director and Vice President for California Policy, based in San Francisco.

Common Sense Media screens and rates movies, television, games, music and other media for violence, language, and other content inappropriate for children. It calls itself “the nation’s leading organization to promote the appropriate use of technology in education and at home, and fight for the protection of children’s privacy in a digital environment.”

Steyer also announced that J.R. Starrett will lead Common Sense’s state advocacy campaign as Director of Advocacy, based in San Francisco. Starrett most recently was regional political director for NextGen Climate Action, the anti-climate-change organization founded by Steyer’s brother, hedge fund billionaire and environmental activist Tom Steyer.

Posted on Wednesday, February 4th, 2015
Under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

California to host GOP presidential primary debate

The Republican National Committee announced Friday that one of the nine GOP presidential primary debates it’s sanctioning will be held somewhere in California in September.

It remains to be seen whether the California debate will be held in a GOP-friendly area like San Diego or Orange County, or if it’ll be in the belly of the liberal beast – like the dreaded San Francisco Bay Area.

head to head“The 2016 cycle is underway, and I can tell you it will be a landmark election for Republicans,” RNC chairman Reince Priebus said in a news release, issued as the national GOP holds its Winter meeting in San Diego. “By constructing and instituting a sound debate process, it will allow candidates to bring their ideas and vision to Americans in a timely and efficient way. This schedule ensures we will have a robust discussion among our candidates while also allowing the candidates to focus their time engaging with Republican voters.”

The debates are scheduled for:

  • August 2015 in Ohio, hosted by Fox News
  • September 2015 in California, hosted by CNN
  • October 2015 in Colorado, hosted by CNBC
  • November 2015 in Wisconsin, hosted by Fox Business
  • December 2015 in Nevada, hosted by CNN
  • January 2016 in Iowa, hosted by Fox News
  • February 2016 in New Hampshire, hosted by ABC News
  • February 2016 in South Carolina, hosted by CBS News
  • February 2016 in Florida, hosted by NBC/Telemundo
  • California Republican Party Chairman Jim Brulte said the fact that the Golden State – which won’t hold its presidential primary until June 7 – will host a debate “is a testament to the role California will play in the upcoming 2016 election. We are excited to be part of the streamlined debate schedule and look forward to hosting a robust group of candidates that will share their vision and passion to help move America forward beyond the failed policies of President Obama.”

    The RNC said it and the broadcast partners soon will announce conservative media partners and panelists. Other possible debates still pending are a Fox News forum in March, a CNN forum in 2016 and a conservative media event at some point along the way.

    Posted on Friday, January 16th, 2015
    Under: Republican Party, Republican politics, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

    Some Muslim-American thoughts on Charlie Hebdo

    As Bay Area residents prepare to stage a solidarity and support vigil outside the French Consulate in San Francisco tonight, here’s a sampling of some Muslim-American thoughts on the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris.

    From Haris Tarin, director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council’s Washington, D.C. office:

    “The tragic irony that these criminals displayed is that if they actually gave a cursory look over the Prophet Muhammad’s life, they’d see how he reacted to insults and degrading treatment. The Prophet always responded with mercy and forgiveness. No matter what grievances individuals or communities might have, violence is never the answer.”

    From Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Executive Director Nihad Awad:

    “We strongly condemn this brutal and cowardly attack and reiterate our repudiation of any such assault on freedom of speech, even speech that mocks faiths and religious figures. The proper response to such attacks on the freedoms we hold dear is not to vilify any faith, but instead to marginalize extremists of all backgrounds who seek to stifle freedom and to create or widen societal divisions.

    “We offer sincere condolences to the families and loved ones of those killed or injured in this attack. We also call for the swift apprehension of the perpetrators, who should be punished to the full extent of the law.”

    Zahra Billoo, who directs CAIR’s San Francisco Bay Area chapter, posted to her Facebook page and Tweeted that she “supports free speech. ‪#‎CharlieHebdo‬ ‪#‎ParisShooting‬.”

    From the Facebook page of Hanif Mohebi, who directs CAIR’s San Diego chapter:

    “To my French Muslim brothers and sisters, its absolutely important to condemn the recent violent act, and be very vocal about it. I also recommend that security for Mosques, Islamic Schools and to be very cautious in general. May Allah(swt) save us all.”

    From the Facebook page of Shireen Qudosi, who runs a Southern California content, marketing and design agency:

    “Home sick today to find more distressing news that should be another wake up call for the fundie-coddling West. Amidst catching up on the news, I see a once-again mushrooming of ‘Where are the Muslims voices speaking out against this?!’ To the nay-sayers, I say this: Please explain to me how you expect reform-minded Muslims, to practically overnight, go toe-to-toe with well-funded radical and sympathetic organizations, who on top of all their funding receive ample Western media support. On the other hand, I’ve had reporters and journalists straight up walk out of the room or not use a single line of interview time because it didn’t subscribe to a victim agenda. We’re speaking out, and we’re doing the best we can on a grassroots level. I can only speak for me personally when I say that I do my best to research and write pro-reform work and network with like-minded individuals, while also working almost two full time jobs and raising a toddler with special needs. I wield my war against radical Islam with a pen, and not with useless hippie protests on a street when I need to be at work fulfilling my commitment to my family. People are so quick to say ‘where are the Muslims’ and very slow to actually understand the juggernaut obstacles we’re working to overcome along with very awkwardly balancing a personal life… and we are overcoming our reform obstacles. When I started my reform work nearly ten years ago, reform wasn’t even an idea and there were only maybe 3 or 4 people speaking out. Now we have a legion. It’s in fact one of the projects I’m working on and you’re welcome to walk the talk even if all you’re doing is sharing this link and message with your network:
    I don’t have time to deal with naysayers, internet trolls, doubters and arm-chair generals. We have real wars to fight and, in this, we don’t have the luxury of entertain people who like to think they’re experts and philosophers. You don’t like Muslims? That’s fine. You don’t need to and I’m not asking you to. But I also don’t need to answer to your petulant demand for answers.”

    Posted on Wednesday, January 7th, 2015
    Under: Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

    New California Supreme Court justices sworn in

    Justices Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar and Leondra Kruger were sworn into their California Supreme Court seats today in Sacramento by Gov. Jerry Brown, hours after his own swearing-in for a fourth term.

    Brown with Cuellar & Kruger“What I’m looking for is insight and growing wisdom over time so we can create a measure of harmony in what is a very conflicted society,” Brown said at the ceremony. “And I think we are going to do very well in helping build the respect for the law, for the courts, for their independence, so that all of us – whatever our particular ideological or philosophical proclivities – at the end of the day are very thankful that we have honest, intelligent and fair-minded people making sense out of the complexities.”

    Brown nominated Cuéllar, 41, of Stanford, in July, and nominated Kruger, 38, of Washington, D.C., in November. Note their relatively young ages: Brown’s appointments potentially will be serving on the state’s highest court for decades to come.

    Cuéllar, a Stanford professor since 2001, served as special assistant to the President for Justice and Regulatory Policy at the White House Domestic Policy Council in 2009 and 2010 and was co-chair of the Obama-Biden Transition’s Immigration Policy Working Group in 2008 and 2009.

    Kruger served as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Legal Counsel from 2013 to 2014; earlier, she served as an Assistant to the Solicitor General and as Acting Principal Deputy Solicitor General in the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the Solicitor General from 2007 to 2013.

    Cuéllar was confirmed in August and Kruger in December by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, which is composed of Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Attorney General Kamala Harris and senior presiding justice of the state Court of Appeal Joan Dempsey Klein.

    Posted on Monday, January 5th, 2015
    Under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

    A few of 2014′s most notable political speeches

    When Rep. Mike Honda eked out a win over his Democratic rival, Ro Khanna, last month, he gave a rather pugnacious victory speech (or rather, his first campaign speech of 2016) that raised and perhaps singed a few eyebrows.

    But Honda’s speech barely compared to the embarrassment of riches that 2014 offered in political speech. Let’s take a moment to laud some of the finer moments in public oratory from the year that was.

    The Godwin’s Law Award goes to Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas:

    “So it is amazing that in the name of liberality, in the name of being tolerant, this fascist intolerance has arisen. People that stand up and say, you know, I agree with the majority of Americans, I agree with Moses and Jesus that marriage was a man and a woman, now all of a sudden, people like me are considered haters, hate mongers, evil, which really is exactly what we’ve seen throughout our history as going back to the days of the Nazi takeover in Europe. What did they do? First, they would call people ‘haters’ and ‘evil’ and build up disdain for those people who held those opinions or religious views or religious heritage. And then the next came, well, those people are so evil and hateful, let’s bring every book that they’ve written or has to do with them and let’s start burning the books, because we can’t tolerate their intolerance.”

    The Let-Bygones-Be-Bygones Award goes to Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich.:

    “I want to say to lobbyist Pete Hoekstra, you are a disgrace. And I’m glad we could hand you one more loss before you fade into total obscurity and irrelevance.

    “To Brian Ellis, you owe my family and this community an apology for your disgusting, despicable smear campaign. You had the audacity to try and call me today after running a campaign that was called the nastiest in the country. I ran for office to stop people like you — to stop people who are more interested in themselves than doing what’s best for their district.”

    The Do-As-I-Say-Not-As-I-Do award goes to Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y. (who is now resigning after pleading guilty to felony tax fraud):

    “The bottom line: You had my back when I needed you most, and I’ll never forget it. As the only Republican federally elected in New York City, I know I have a profound responsibility.”

    The Let’s-Get-Ready-To-Rumble Award goes to California Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Champ (a registered sex offender previously convicted of manslaughter, and now facing attempted murder charges after allegedly shooting his neighbor in August):

    “I will fight to bring back the highest form of proven education, from God Almighty. Read his Bible. Just do it.”

    The Everything’s-Better-In-Idaho Award goes to… Idaho, for having such a fantastic gubernatorial debate:

    “I’m about as politically correct as the proverbial turd in a punchbowl, and I’m proud of it, and I’m going for it…”

    Posted on Wednesday, December 31st, 2014
    Under: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

    Don’t argue politics in front of your mother

    The Woodhouse boys got taken to the woodshed by their mother on national television.

    Brad Woodhouse is president of the progressive advocacy group Americans United for Change and of the Democratic super PAC American Bridge, and a former Democratic National Committee communications director. His brother, Dallas Woodhouse, is a longtime conservative political operative who currently serves as founder and president of Carolina Rising.

    The two often go on the air together to engage in some Crossfire-style punditry, but they and host Steve Scully of CSPAN’s Washington Journal got a shock this time:

    Watching Dallas drop his head into his hands is priceless; Brad just looks stunned.

    Maybe Joy Woodhouse has a future in punditry herself, epitomizing the nation’s need to overcome our differences and come together as one big family. In this deeply divided time, America might need some straight-talking Joy.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 16th, 2014
    Under: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

    ‘Six Californias’ backer to co-produce reality show

    Coming soon from the producer of “Six Californias:” a reality show about Silicon Valley startups struggling for success.

    Tim DraperYes, Atherton venture capitalist Tim Draper’s Draper University of Heroes – the San Mateo school/ecosystem/incubator/ashram he founded in 2013 to nurture tech innovators – has partnered with Ugly Brother Studios to produce a show that will follow students as they build and launch a Silicon Valley startup.

    They’ve put out a casting call for “young entrepreneurs with brilliant business ideas who would like to enter the Spring Residential Program and be featured on the series! Selected students will be followed as they enter the hands-on curriculum of the program and apply their new knowledge, network and skills to their startup businesses.”

    If you want to be considered, send your name, age, contact information, a brief biography, a statement of why you’re a good candidate, and a current photo to

    Yet this show about innovation might not be so innovative. Syfy has already announced a similar reality show – “The Bazillion Dollar Club” – will start airing in 2015.

    Draper, 56, was the proponent of “Six Californias,” a proposed punchline ballot measure to break the Golden State into six parts. But after he spent $5.2 million of his own money to gather signatures to put the measure on 2016’s ballot, the Secretary of State’s office in September found the measure had failed to qualify because too many of the signatures Draper submitted were invalid.

    Posted on Monday, December 8th, 2014
    Under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

    Stevie Wonder in Oakland: ‘Black Lives Matter’

    The incomparable Stevie Wonder played the final regular date of his 11-city “Songs in the Key of Life” tour Friday night at Oakland’s Oracle Arena, and he was a powerhouse.

    After performing the landmark 1976 album in its entirety, he performed an encore of several more of his hits, playfully baiting the crowd between songs. But after playing the first few notes of “Living for the City,” from 1973’s Innervisions, he stopped abruptly and told the audience there’s been “some bullshit” going on in this country lately – two glaring failures to indict, clearly references to the “no true bill” decisions rendered by grand juries for the police officers who shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and who killed Eric Garner on Staten Island, N.Y.

    My colleague, Jane Tyska, captured most of the rest of his words on video:

    Note his comment that “right around here, there was a movie about it” – a reference to “Fruitvale Station,” which dramatized the 2009 shooting death of Oscar Grant at the hands of BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle.

    He had made a similar statement Wednesday night in Seattle, though without leading the crowd in a chant before launching into the song.

    A boy is born in hard time Mississippi
    Surrounded by four walls that ain’t so pretty
    His parents give him love and affection
    To keep him strong, movin’ in the right direction
    Living just enough, just enough for the city

    His father works some days for fourteen hours
    And you can bet he barely makes a dollar
    His mother goes to scrub the floors for many
    And you’d best believe she hardly gets a penny
    Living just enough, just enough for the city

    His sister’s black but she is sure enough pretty
    Her skirt is short but, Lord, her legs are sturdy
    To walk to school she’s got to get up early
    Her clothes are old but never are they dirty
    Living just enough, just enough for the city

    Her brother’s smart, he’s got more sense than many
    His patience’s long but soon he won’t have any
    To find a job is like a haystack needle
    ‘Cause where he lives they don’t use colored people
    Living just enough, just enough for the city

    His hair is long, his feet are hard and gritty
    He spends his life walkin’ the streets of New York City
    He’s almost dead from breathin’ in air pollution
    He tried to vote but to him there’s no solution
    Living just enough, just enough for the city

    I hope you hear inside my voice of sorrow
    And that it motivates you to make a better tomorrow
    This place is cruel, nowhere could be much colder
    If we don’t change, the world will soon be over
    Living just enough, stop giving just enough for the city

    Posted on Saturday, December 6th, 2014
    Under: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »


    Rather than post any political proclamations or statements about today’s anniversary, I’ll instead offer just this video of Bruce Springsteen’s “The Rising,” written in reaction to that awful day.

    Lyrics after the jump…
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted on Thursday, September 11th, 2014
    Under: Uncategorized | No Comments »