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Feinstein to appear at Commonwealth Club

Feinstein

Feinstein

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., will speak at the April 27 meeting of the Commonwealth Club of California on the subject of promoting democracy in countries whose residents are trying to remove authoritarian regimes.

The event begins at 5 p.m. with check-in, followed by the program at 6 p.m., at the Mark Hopkins Hotel, Peacock Court, 999 California St., in San Francisco.

The cost is $15 for members, $30 for non-members and $7 for students with valid student identifications. Premium seats are also available for purchase at higher rates.

To purchase tickets, 415-597-6705 or register at www.commonwealthclub.org.

Read on for the Commonwealth Club’s press release. Continue Reading

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Boxer: GOP boycott won’t stop climate-change bill

U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., is moving ahead with her cap-and-trade climate change bill despite Republican threats to boycott next Tuesday’s mark-up session.

“That won’t stop us. We’re going to use every tool at our disposal to get that done,” she said this afternoon during a visit to Blue Bottle Coffee Co. on Webster Street near Oakland’s Jack London Square, at which she was touting her efforts to support small businesses through the economic downturn. Asked to elucidate on “every tool at our disposal,” she replied, “We’ll use the rules of the committee.”

“We are going to sit down on Tuesday, we’re ready to go, we’re not canceling it,” she said “I’m still hoping the Republicans will come to the committee room and do their work.”

Boxer said she can’t imagine why anyone with a chance to end America’s dependence on foreign oil, combat climate change and create jobs all at the same time would boycott such an opportunity, going “absent without leave, AWOL” at a moment so vital to the nation’s interests. She urged the committee’s Republican members to “try to work with us, let’s try to get something done.”

Part of the small-business support scheme of which Boxer spoke today was affordable health care, which she said absolutely must contain a public option. U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., this week said he’ll refuse to caucus with Senate Democrats to break a filibuster on any health care reform legislation containing a public option.

Boxer in 2006 was among Senate Democrats who went to Connecticut to stump for Lieberman in the Democratic primary – angering many of her more liberal constituents, given his support of the Iraq war and other stances – though she later supported Democratic nominee Ned Lamont in that year’s general election. And Senate Democrats have been kind to Lieberman since, including letting him keep his chairmanship of the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, in hopes he would caucus with them on vital votes such as this.

Asked today what she thought of Lieberman’s health care stance, Boxer replied she “can’t answer for him, I just want to say that we have to get this (health care reform) done.”

“All of our colleagues will be making important decisions, but at the end of the day, we can do this with a majority, not a super-majority,” she said, making it clear she was speaking for herself and not for Senate Democratic leaders.

Democrats would need 60 votes for cloture to overcome a Republican filibuster and bring a health-care bill to the floor for a final vote, but there’s been talk that they might use a procedure called “budget reconciliation” to move the bill through with just 50 votes.

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Fiorina to make ‘important’ statement in Pleasanton

Carly Fiorina

Carly Fiorina

The Tri-Valley Business Council sent out an email blast today inviting folks to listen to former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina make a “very important” announcement in Pleasanton on Nov. 6.

Will this be her official official entry into the 2010 California senatorial race and a showdown with U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.? (Why Pleasanton? I have no idea. Not that there is anything wrong with Pleasanton.)

Her Web site is already asking for contributions, so it sounds as though the real decision has already been made. I guess we’ll have to wait and find out.

The event starts at 9:30 a.m. at Goal Line Productions. RSVP required. Contact Matthew Del Carlo at msdelcarlo@sent.com.

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Strange bedfellows in California water wars?

What do Congressional Republicans, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and GOP gubernatorial candidate and state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner have in common? All advocate a waiver of the Endangered Species Act to help ease California’s water crisis.

The Act is the basis on which water pumping from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River has been severely curtailed, in protection of a species of fish called the delta smelt. Farmers, urban water utilities, environmentalists and everyone else who uses water have faced off over the dwindling supply.

Poizner, speaking to a small-business roundtable at the Fremont Chamber of Commerce today, called upon House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – whom he noted is the first Speaker of the House from California – to support Republican legislation that would grant California a waiver from the Act to speed irrigation of parched Central Valley farms. Pelosi supported such a waiver for New Mexico several years ago but won’t do the same for California now, he charged. (Actually, what House Republicans wanted brought to the floor this summer was a wholesale suspension, not a temporary waiver, of the Act as it pertains to Delta pumping.)

Feinstein called for such a waiver too as she announced Wednesday she’s working on comprehensive Delta restoration legislation. A Republican Senate amendment for a waiver hasn’t had much luck.

Progressives see such a waiver as an end run around environmental protection laws to benefit big agribusiness, which could do more economic harm than good.

In a related matter, Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, on Wednesday blasted House Republicans for opposing his H.R. 2442, the Bay Area Regional Water Recycling Program Expansion Act of 2009, which would add six water recycling projects for the Bay Area providing 7.2 million gallons of non-potable water per day for landscape irrigation, parks and so on – thus freeing up other water for agriculture and drinking. “When it comes to providing clean water to California, congressional Republicans have now shown their true colors. The legislation that the House voted on today would supply California with much-needed funding for alternative water supplies — but congressional Republicans just said no.”

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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…
Continue Reading

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Nurses take EFCA fight to DiFi’s doorstep

1,200 registered nurses paying you a house call? Now that’s some serious health care!

The nurses – gathered in San Francisco for the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee national convention – will be making a “house call” to the home of U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein at 1 p.m. today to demand she become a cosponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act. Their news release says they’ll leave a rose with a personalized note telling their stories of being intimidated and harassed by management in their efforts to win recognition for their union—and the toll that such union-busting can take on patient care.

“In the past, Senator Feinstein has said she supported the bill, but appears to be wavering. 1,200 RNs are making this house call to let her know that employers are trying to silence us when we advocate in facilities, and that patients end up paying the price for this union-busting. Employers are breaking the law in their harassment of nurses, and we deserve a free choice and a fair chance to speak up for ourselves,” CAN/NNOC co-president Deborah Burger said in the release. “Studies have shown that unionized nurses save lives, reduce turnover, and increase caregiver morale in facilities. That would be good for any hospital—and every patient.”

I’ve sought but not received a comment from Feinstein, who is in Washington today for President Barack Obama’s address on health care reform to a joint session of Congress. I’m sure Feinstein’s neighbors in the exclusive Gold Coast/Pacific Heights neighborhood will be thrilled to see 1,200 angry nurses on their doorstep. After they’re done there, the nurses will head downtown for a 2 p.m. rally outside Feinstein’s office at Post and Market streets.