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Brown, lawmakers seek disaster declaration

By Josh Richman
Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014 at 4:12 pm in Gov. Jerry Brown, Jared Huffman, Jerry Brown, John Garamendi, Mike Thompson, Nancy Pelosi, Obama presidency, U.S. House

Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday requested a presidential major disaster declaration for California, as communities in Napa, Solano and Sonoma counties continue trying to recover from the South Napa earthquake on Aug. 24.

“Economic impacts of this event will be extensive. The earthquake caused significant damage throughout the region,” Brown wrote in a letter sent to the White House on Tuesday. “This incident is of such severity and magnitude that an effective response is beyond the capabilities of the state and affected local governments, and supplemental federal assistance is necessary.”

Such a declaration from the president would trigger the release of federal funds to help communities recover, and an executive order Brown signed Tuesday provides additional financial aid to local agencies and nonprofits so residents can replace important documents and access key services without footing added costs or other burdens.

The region’s voices in Congress, led by Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa, echoed Brown’s call with their own letter to President Obama. “It is clear to us and local authorities that a major disaster declaration is critical to helping our state recover and rebuild,” Thompson’s letter reads.

Also signing Thompson’s letter were senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein; House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco; Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael; and Rep. John Garamendi, D-Fairfield.

Federal relief funding might include Federal Emergency Management Agency money to help people to rebuild and repair housing, and for local communities to repair public infrastructure; and Small Business Administration loans for businesses to repair or replace disaster-damaged property, inventory, and supplies. Homeowners and renters may also be eligible for SBA loans to repair or replace disaster-related damages to homes or personal property.

FEMA does not provide for assistance if there is another option in place, like insurance. Those affected by the quake should contact their insurance companies first to see what benefits, if any, their plan provides.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger returns to Sacramento

By Josh Richman
Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014 at 3:06 pm in Arnold Schwarzenegger, Global warming

He always said he’ll be back, and soon he will.

Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will be back in Sacramento next Monday, Sept. 8 to attend a symposium on global climate negotiations, co-hosted by the USC Schwarzenegger Institute; the California Air Resources Board; and the R20 Regions of Climate Action, a nonprofit that Schwarzenegger and global leaders founded in 2010 in cooperation with the United Nations.

The symposium at the California Environmental Protection Agency’s building will highlight “how California’s policies made the Golden State a global leader in the fight against climate change, the progress of California’s efforts,” according to a news release. CARB chairwoman Mary Nichols, will co-host, and Gov. Jerry Brown will give closing remarks.

After that, Brown and Schwarzenegger will head over the State Capitol’s rotunda, where they’ll celebrate the unveiling of Schwarzenegger’s official gubernatorial portrait.

What’ll that look like? I can’t wait to see. So many movie moments spring to mind, but from his tenure as governor, my favorite image of Schwarzengger remains this, from a speech he delivered in San Francisco in July 2006:

Schwarzenegger in San Francisco July 2006

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CA17: Gov. Jerry Brown endorses Mike Honda

By Josh Richman
Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014 at 11:18 am in 2014 primary, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown, Mike Honda, U.S. House

Gov. Jerry Brown endorsed Rep. Mike Honda for re-election Tuesday.

Honda stumped for Brown in 2010“Mike Honda has dedicated his career to tackling difficult issues and doing what’s right for working people,” Brown said in Honda’s news release. “After leading the local effort to bring BART to San Jose, Mike got $900 million in federal funding for the project, creating 10,000 jobs for the Silicon Valley. Mike is an effective advocate in Congress for his district and all of California – I’m proud to support him.”

Honda, D-San Jose, said he’s “humbled” to have the governor’s support. “His popularity in my district and across the state reflects the impressive comeback California has made under his strong leadership,” Honda said. “As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I look forward to continuing our work to make important investments in our state and communities.”

Honda, seeking an eighth House term, no doubt also hopes that voters drawn to the polls in November by Brown’s top-of-the-ticket re-election bid will vote for him as well, rather than casting a ballot for his challenger, fellow Democrat and former Obama administration official Ro Khanna of Fremont.

“We congratulate Congressman Honda on this endorsement,” Khanna spokesman Tyler Law said Tuesday. “We only wish he had Governor Brown’s work habits.”

As for other statewide officials, Attorney General Kamala Harris, Controller John Chiang, Treasurer Bill Lockyer, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson have endorsed Honda as well, while Lt. Gavin Newsom has endorsed Khanna.

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Field Poll: Obama’s approval rating sinks lower

By Josh Richman
Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014 at 6:00 am in Obama presidency, polls

Californians’ regard for President Obama’s job performance has continued to decline, a new Field Poll finds.

ObamaThe survey, completed last week, found almost as many Californans now disapprove of Obama’s job performance, 43 percent, as approve, 45 percent.

That’s the president’s poorest rating so far from the Golden State, and a far cry from the 62 percent approval rating he had at the start of his second term. And most of the recent decline has been among groups of voters who used to be among his strongest supporters, including a nine-point drop among Democrats, an 11-point drop in Los Angeles County, a 10-point drop among Asian Americans, and seven-point drops in the Bay Area and among strongly liberal voters.

The state generally has a negative view of the nation’s overall direction – 51 percent of voters think it’s seriously off on the wrong track, while 36 percent feel it’s headed in the right direction.

The poll of 1,280 registered voters was conducted Aug. 14 through 28, and has a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.

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CA17: Khanna’s endorsers & Honda’s border visit

By Josh Richman
Wednesday, August 27th, 2014 at 6:32 pm in 2014 general, Mike Honda, U.S. House

With today’s 17th Congressional District news dominated by the candidates’ agreement on debate terms and Ro Khanna’s rally outside Rep. Mike Honda’s San Jose office, I didn’t have room in the story for Khanna’s latest endorsements and Honda’s run for the border.

Khanna is touting new endorsements from San Jose City Councilmen Pete Constant and Johnny Khamis; Santa Clara County School Board Trustee Grace Mah; Fremont Unified School Board Member Lily Mei; and former Fremont Vice Mayor and City Councilmember Steve Cho.

Constant, Khamis and Cho are Republicans, while Mah and Mei are registered without party affiliation.

“I’m very proud that my grassroots campaign is supported by so many leaders from different backgrounds and across the political spectrum,” Khanna said in a news release. “While my opponent has relied on national and special interest backing, our campaign has worked hard to gain the trust and respect of those who actually live and work in the 17th district. I look forward to taking this inclusive and accessible approach to Congress.”

Constant said Khanna “has had strong bipartisan support since he launched his campaign, and I’m proud to be part of that. Unfortunately, Mike Honda has never been interested in working across the aisle, which is a stark departure from the long tradition of pragmatic leadership in Silicon Valley. Given Ro’s common sense approach and his unique understanding of economic issues, I’m confident he’ll be an effective representative for our region.”

Meanwhile, Honda will be part of a bipartisan congressional delegation that tours the U.S.-Mexico border near McAllen, Tex., on Thursday and Friday.

“The recent surge of unaccompanied children coming across our border brought to the light the need for greater resources and understanding for our immigration and asylum processes,” Honda said in a news release. “This trip will help us learn more about what happens when someone comes to the border, how they are treated, and what both the US and Mexico need to improve the situation.”

Honda, who serves on the House Appropriations Committee, said such knowledge will help him and his colleagues work with their peers and the White House to “better appropriate funds so they meet the specific needs of those who are working on the US/Mexico Border.”

Along with Honda, the delegation includes Phil Roe, R-Tenn.; Mark Takano, D-Riverside; Emanuel Cleaver II, D-Mo.; Dina Titus, D-Nev.; Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M. They’ll visit the Hidalgo International Bridge, the McAllen Border Patrol Station, and the Department of Health and Human Services BCFS Harlingen Children’s Facility. They’ll meet with the Mexican Chamber of Deputies, key U.S. border patrol and enforcement officials, and a Mexican government delegation.

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Snapshot: My meeting with Pete Peterson

By Josh Richman
Tuesday, August 26th, 2014 at 6:01 pm in 2014 general, Secretary of State

Pete Peterson, the Republican candidate for secretary of state, would rather that voters see the “R” after his name as representing “resume.”

Pete Peterson“I have the least partisan resume of anybody” who has sought this office before or since June’s primary election, said Peterson, who runs the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership at Pepperdine University. Peterson will face off in November’s general election against state Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Van Nuys.

Though Peterson is running as a Republican, he said his brand of partisan pride harkens back to when the GOP “was known for its reform-minded perspective on government,” and he believes the secretary of state’s office “definitely should be run in a nonpartisan way.”

Of course, he’s also smart enough to know what the Republican brand means in California, where only 28 percent of voters choose to affiliate with it.

Peterson stopped by the Oakland Tribune’s office late Tuesday afternoon before heading to Piedmont, where he was scheduled to do a joint fundraising event with controller candidate and Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, hosted by the Lincoln Club of Northern California; tickets cost $300 to attend, $1,000 to co-host or $5,000 to host.

He said it’s the first time he’s done such an event with Swearengin, and while he’s open to doing more events with her and other statewide GOP candidates, “there will be a lot of flying solo out there on the campaign trail” as well.

We talked about his and Padilla’s views on limiting the schedule on which lawmakers can accept campaign contributions – he would ban all contributions during the entire legislative session, Padilla for the last 100 days of each session – but he confessed he doesn’t think it’s a major issue. “There are fairly easy ways around either of those.”

Instead, Peterson said, he wants to see California significantly improve the transparency of political contributions, given the current CalAccess system’s outdated technology and clunky user interface. He said he’s been meeting with people like Dan Newman, president and cofounder of Berkeley-based MAPLight.org, about the great work they’re doing in shining a light on money in politics. It may be better for government to partner with, validate and promote nonprofit and private-sector transparency outfits like this rather than remain perpetually behind the curve in adapting to new technology and data demands, Peterson said.

Lots more, after the jump…
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Feinstein calls for quake early-warning system

By Josh Richman
Monday, August 25th, 2014 at 2:51 pm in Dianne Feinstein, U.S. Senate

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., issued this statement Monday:

“With more than 100 injured and estimates of damage approaching $1 billion, the Napa earthquake reminds us how incredibly dangerous these temblors can be. There’s no doubt a major earthquake will hit California, the only questions are when and where.

“I believe an integrated earthquake early-warning system is essential to save lives and property. Two bills from the Senate Appropriations Committee move us toward that goal. The bill to fund the Department of the Interior includes $5 million to begin work on an early-warning system, while the bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security urges FEMA to prioritize grant funds for such a system. These bills will advance this fall and I will continue to prioritize funding for this system.

“An earthquake early-warning system would provide crucial time to carry out lifesaving actions. A warning of even a handful of seconds would allow for emergency notifications to be sent; trains and traffic to be slowed or stopped; supplies of oil, gas and chemicals to be turned off; nuclear plants to be safeguarded; even elevators to be safely emptied.

“What we need is the political resolve to deploy such a system. Officials in Washington and along the West Coast should partner with the private sector to make an interoperable earthquake early-warning system a reality, and we should do so as soon as possible before a much larger earthquake strikes.”

California already has a demonstration early-warning system called the California Integrated Seismic Network, which did provide its test users in some parts of the Bay Area with up to about 10 seconds of warning before Sunday morning’s temblor hit.

Gov. Jerry Brown last year signed into law SB 135 by state Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Van Nuys, which requires the Office of Emergency Services to work with other agencies to expand this into a comprehensive statewide earthquake early warning system. But the bill didn’t appropriate any of the $80 million it’s estimated such a system would cost; instead, it gave the OES until Jan. 1, 2016 to find funding for the project.

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Two from Bay Area picked as White House fellows

By Josh Richman
Monday, August 25th, 2014 at 2:18 pm in Obama presidency

Five Californians, including two from the Bay Area, are among the 15 people who were announced Monday as the 2014-2015 class of White House Fellows.

The White House Fellows program – now in its 50th year – was created by President Lyndon Johnson to give promising leaders “first-hand, high-level experience with the workings of the federal government, and to increase their sense of participation in national affairs.”

Fellows take part in an education program designed to broaden their knowledge of leadership, policy formulation, and current affairs, and also participate in service projects throughout their year in Washington, D.C. The selection process is highly competitive, based on “a record of professional achievement, evidence of leadership potential, and a proven commitment to public service,” the White House said. “Each Fellow must possess the knowledge and skills necessary to contribute meaningfully at senior levels in the federal government.”

Here are the selectees’ bios, as presented by the White House:

Jacob DonnellyJacob E. Donnelly, San Francisco, CA, was a Senior Vice President at New Island Capital. He was responsible for private equity investments in companies that generate meaningful social, environmental, and community benefits alongside financial returns. Previously, Jacob was the Co-Founder of Farm Builders, a mission-driven company helping farmers replant tree crops in Liberia. He helped raise the seed capital, including fellowships from Echoing Green and the Rainer Arnhold Foundations, and launched Farm Builders following an internship in the Office of the President, H.E. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. From 2005-2007, Jacob was the Co-Founder and Director of The Freedom Campaign, a non-profit grassroots effort to raise awareness of human rights abuses in Burma. He began his career as a management consultant and served on the Board of Directors of IDinsight, a non-profit organization that helps leaders in developing countries use evidence to improve their social impact. Jacob received his undergraduate degree from Babson College, where he earned the Roger Babson Award. He holds a Master in Public Administration/International Development from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and a Master of Business Administration from the Harvard Business School.

Jonathan DorseyJonathan M. Dorsey, Woodside, CA, is a social entrepreneur and recently served as Co-Founder and Director of the Impact Careers Initiative, an Aspen Institute program researching how to recruit talent to public-impact work. He also worked as an advisor to the Franklin Project, a bipartisan campaign for national service. Previously, Jonny co-founded and served as Executive Director of Global Health Corps, which places emerging global leaders with high-impact non-profits to build health systems around the world. Jonny was inspired to launch Global Health Corps by his experience co-founding and leading FACE AIDS, a nonprofit that mobilized students in the fight against AIDS. Jonny was named an Echoing Green Fellow, a Draper Richards Social Entrepreneur, and received the Next Generation Award from the Millennium Challenge Corporation. Jonny also served on the Harvard College National Advisory Board for Public Service, the Riekes Center Board of Directors, and as a Trustee of Partners in Health. He is a graduate of Stanford University, where he received the Deans’ Award for Academic Achievement and was President of the student body. He received his M.B.A. from Stanford Graduate School of Business and M.P.A. from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Read about the other Californians selected as White House fellows, after the jump…
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CA17: Honda-Khanna debate details not yet final

By Josh Richman
Monday, August 25th, 2014 at 12:56 pm in 2014 general, Mike Honda, U.S. House

Rep. Mike Honda’s campaign has accepted an invitation to debate his challenger, fellow Democrat Ro Khanna, but the details are still in flux, the campaigns and a debate organizer said Monday.

Honda & Khanna (photo by Jim Gensheimer, Bay Area News Group)The Huffington Post and San Jose State University are working together to host the event – that much we know.

Honda campaign spokesman Vivek Kembaiyan said Monday that his team accepted a proposal that the hour-long debate would be held on Tuesday, Oct. 14 or Thursday, Oct. 16. The format, Kembaiyan said, is a single moderator plus a panel consisting of Bay Area journalists and SJSU faculty, with questions selected by the Huffington Post but not provided to either candidate ahead of time. After a coin-toss determines the order of speakers, there will be no opening statements; instead, they’ll get right to two-minute responses with 90-second rebuttals and, at the panelists’ discretion, one-minute discussion extensions. Each candidate will finish with a two-minute closing statement.

A leak of some of this information on Friday caught Khanna’s campaign unawares, drawing anger that the debate (singular, they note, after Honda agreed earlier this year to “debates,” plural) wouldn’t happen until well after vote-by-mail ballots go out on Oct. 6.

“The Honda campaign apparently felt it would be acceptable to hold a debate that a large portion of voters wouldn’t get to see before they cast their ballots,” campaign spokesman Tyler Law said in a statement issued Monday. “Why doesn’t Congressman Honda want his constituents to see a debate?”

Khanna had tweeted to HuffPo Washington Bureau Chief Ryan Grim on Friday that he’s “happy to participate. But be honest and have it before absentee drops instead of enabling Honda games.” Grim replied, “We can work with that. Will get back to you with a date before ballots drop;” he later tweeted that it’s “a reasonable request, to be sure.”

Kembaiyan wouldn’t say Monday whether Honda will accept an earlier date, reiterating that Oct. 14 or 16 “was the proposal we got and which we accepted. We hope that works out.”

But Grim said Monday that “it’s still being worked out, it’s very early in the process” and that Friday’s leak “left the impression that something was finalized” when in fact it’s not.

In other 17th Congressional District news, the Berryessa-North San Jose Democratic Club – the only local Democratic club to have endorsed Khanna, back in February – voted 33-12 last Thursday to switch its endorsement to Honda. Club president Tim Orozco couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Monday.

Club member John Comiskey, as quoted in a Honda campaign news release, said the club changed its endorsement because Khanna since the primary “has shown his true conservative colors” with endorsements from Republican former Rep. Ernie Konnyu and the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce. “The vote of the club reflects the knowledge that there is only one true progressive in this race, and he is Mike Honda.”

But club member and Khanna campaign volunteer Mary Morris blogged last Wednesday about the process, noting Khanna had attended the February endorsement meeting and Honda didn’t. Pushing for a re-vote, she said, was “the epitome of pettiness. … Do we really want a congressman whose staff, under his leadership, needs two chances to get something done?”

UPDATE @ 1:39 P.M.: “Congressman Honda skipped both of the Berryessa-North San Jose Democratic Club forums, and every other Democratic club forum throughout this campaign,” Law said in an email. “His handlers can desperately spin Ro’s recent endorsements from Democratic Mayor Chuck Reed and the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce, but voters are much more concerned with the Congressman’s absenteeism and whether or not he is still up to the job.”

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Rick Perry hires California ‘master of disaster’

By Josh Richman
Monday, August 25th, 2014 at 10:15 am in Uncategorized

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, recently indicted but still in the hunt for 2016’s presidential race, has hired a California crisis-communications guru to run interference for him.

Mark FabianiMark Fabiani, 57, of La Jolla, joins Perry’s legal team, lead attorney Tony Buzbee announced Monday.

“I’m proud to join Gov. Perry’s outstanding team which has been assembled to fight back against this attack on the rule of law,” Mark Fabiani said. “As we move forward to protect the Texas Constitution and the First Amendment rights of any governor, I am confident this prosecution will be revealed to be contrary to the law and wholly meritless.”

Fabiani cut his teeth as a special counsel to President Bill Clinton, and later was deputy campaign manager for Vice President Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign; he also has served as deputy mayor of Los Angeles and chief of staff to LA Mayor Tom Bradley, as well as in senior posts in the departments of Justice and Housing and Urban Development.

Fabiani and Chris Lehane, a fellow Clinton White House “master of disaster,” run a prominent crisis communications firm. Their past clients have included Madonna, Goldman Sachs and Lance Armstrong, to name but a few.

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