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Politicos mourn former Rep. Don Edwards

California politicos are paying tribute to former Rep. Don Edwards, a Democrat who represented part of the South Bay from 1963 to 1995; he died at age 100 on Thursday at his Carmel home.

From House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco:

“Today, with the passing of former Congressman Don Edwards, America has lost a venerable civil rights champion who dedicated his life to promoting peace, defending liberty, and securing justice for all people. He was a principled leader, a kind and trusted friend to many, an august statesman, and a proud Californian who was committed to preserving our environment and pursuing equality for women, people of color and all American families.

“Whether in his service as an FBI agent or as a Navy officer during World War II, Congressman Edwards labored with dignity, led with integrity and lived with courage. As Chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights for more than twenty years, he strived to ensure that all Americans enjoyed equality of opportunity. During his 32 years in the House, Congressman Edwards helped changed the course of history by championing the Civil Rights Act of 1965 and fighting to protect freedom of speech and the privacy rights of citizens. Congressman Edwards, the long-time dean of the California Democratic delegation and conscience of the Congress, strived to move our country forward.

“As Americans enjoy the pristine view and tranquility of the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, may we remember the man who dedicated his life to preserving our environment and our ideals for future generations. May it be a comfort to his family and all who loved him that so many mourn the loss of a consummate public servant and proud American.”

From Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose:

“After working for Congressman Don Edwards for nearly a decade, and having the honor to succeed him in Congress, I feel a profound sense of loss upon his passing.

“Don spent his life in service to the state of California and to our country as a Member of Congress for 32 years. His contributions will live on for many generations through the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, through his stalwart defense of the Constitution, his profound dedication to civil rights, his tireless advocacy for the rights of women as the ‘Father of the Equal Rights Amendment,’ and his lifelong efforts for a peaceful world. He will be always be remembered for his exemplary service in Congress and love for the South bay.”

From state Sen. Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont:

“I am saddened by the passing of Mr. Edwards, a man I respected greatly for his intellect, thoughtfulness and commitment to our country. Working for Congressman Edwards in Washington is one of the highlights of my years in public service. His integrity, his courage to fight for his beliefs, and his fierce defense of all Americans’ civil and constitutional rights are traits I will always remember and respect. Mr. Edwards would fight fiercely with Congressional opponents, but always with civility.

“People come from all over to visit the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge in my district and it’s a great testament to his commitment to our environment.

“I visited him often in Carmel to solicit his input on legislation I was carrying in the California Legislature. We need more people like him in public service. I will miss him dearly.”

Posted on Friday, October 2nd, 2015
Under: U.S. House | 1 Comment »

Donald Trump wins another Bay Area straw poll

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, despite a drop in his national poll numbers in recent weeks, has taken first place in another Bay Area straw poll.

The San Mateo County Republican Party polled 135 attendees at this past weekend’s Pacifica Fog Fest; respondents weren’t asked their party affiliation.

Trump topped the list with 29.6 percent, followed by Ben Carson at 20 percent; Carly Fiorina at 11.1 percent, Ted Cruz at 10.4 percent and Jeb Bush at 9.6 percent.

County GOP chairman Chuck McDougald noted this was the third street-festival poll the county GOP conducted this summer, and results have been “just as fluid as the national polls. It shows that this race is really just beginning. And, it’s interesting to note that the respondents in this poll overwhelmingly broke for the three perceived outsider candidates, just as they are in national polling.”

Posted on Monday, September 28th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election | 1 Comment »

Bay Area man to direct Ted Cruz’s Calif. campaign

A Bay Area political consultant has been tapped as California state director for Republican Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign.

Jason Scalese2Jason Scalese, 40, of Burlingame, joins Ron Nehring, the former state GOP chairman from El Cajon who was named Cruz’s California chairman in May.

“I’m thrilled to be serving with the Cruz campaign,” Scalese said in Cruz’s news release. “I believe that the Senator is a once in a generation leader who will protect religious liberty, defend our country and our constitution, and make us proud to call him our President. With the largest delegation headed to Cleveland for the RNC in 2016, we will be working hard to make sure California is Cruz Country!”

Scalese is managing partner of GOP consulting firm Fusion Strategies, and has managed operations, grassroots and finance for local, statewide and federal campaigns. He previously served in similar roles for Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain and Fred Thompson.

“With Jason’s knowledge of California politics and grassroots organizing, he’ll be an important addition to our effort in the Golden State,” Cruz said in his release, citing the appointment as “more evidence that we are putting together an incredibly competitive campaign and will be successful. I would stack our operation up against anyone else in the race.”

Posted on Tuesday, September 15th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election | 2 Comments »

Bay Area lawmakers offer tix for Pope’s visit

A few Bay Area House members are holding lotteries in which their constituents can win tickets to see Pope Francis during his U.S. visit later this month.

Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, is offering tickets for the pontiff’s address to a joint session of Congress on the morning of Thursday, Sept. 24, to residents of her 18th Congressional District; Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, is doing the same for her 14th District constituents; and Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, is doing it in his 9th District. Ticket holders will be able to view the address from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol via televised broadcast.

“I’m excited to be able to extend an opportunity to my constituents to take part in this historic event,” Eshoo said in a news release. “While not all who wish to attend will be awarded a ticket, my office is working to ensure the lottery is conducted fairly and make the process a good one.”

Speier said Pope Francis “has become a focal point across the world for prioritizing peace over war, care of the planet over consumption, forgiveness over accusation, and neighbor over self. I’m excited that 50 of my constituents have the opportunity to be on the West Lawn of the Capitol to watch the broadcast of the Pope’s address to members of Congress. My only regret is that I can’t make these tickets available to everyone.”

McNerney said it’s “sure to be a momentous occasion. This is the first time that the Pope will deliver an address to Congress, and I look forward to hearing his message for the American people.”

The deadline to enter McNerney’s lottery is tomorrow, Friday, Sept. 4; the deadline to enter Eshoo’s lottery is noon Pacific Time next Tuesday, Sept. 8; and the deadline to enter Speier’s lottery is midnight next Thursday, Sept. 10. Only constituents of those districts may enter, only one entry is allowed per person, and each winner will receive two tickets.

Posted on Thursday, September 3rd, 2015
Under: Anna Eshoo, Jackie Speier, Jerry McNerney, U.S. House | 1 Comment »

Past Bay Area ethics probes pale beside Honda’s

The allegations leveled against Rep. Mike Honda in an Office of Congressional Ethics report and made public by the House Ethics Committee on Thursday are arguably the most significant allegations any Bay Area House member has faced in decades.

The OCE in 2009 began investigating then-Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, and four other lawmakers to see whether they had violated Maryland criminal tax law and House ethics rules by intentionally filing false applications for a Maryland homeowner’s tax credit. But the Ethics Committee in 2010 cleared Stark of any wrongdoing, and blasted the OCE for conducting “an inadequate review, the result of which was to subject Representative Stark to unfounded criminal allegations.”

In 2011, the OCE investigated whether support for the wine industry by Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, had benefited his campaign donors or a vineyard he owns, as described in a New York Times article. But the OCE eventually decided unanimously against further review, Thompson’s spokesman later said; because the matter was never referred to the Ethics Committee, the OCE made no announcement.

Way back in 1983, the Ethics Committee probed whether then-Rep. Ron Dellums, D-Oakland, and one of his aides had used cocaine and marijuana. A special counsel investigated and found no basis for charges, so the committee took no further action.

Posted on Thursday, September 3rd, 2015
Under: Mike Honda, U.S. House | 4 Comments »

Bay Area doctor selected as White House Fellow

A Bay Area physician has been selected as one of 16 White House Fellows for 2015-16.

Teeb Al-SamarraiDr. Teeb Al-Samarrai of Oakland is a physician and epidemiologist who has served since October 2012 as deputy health officer and tuberculosis controller at the Santa Clara County Public Health Department. Her work has focused on immigrant and refugee health issues, particularly tuberculosis and hepatitis B.

The White House Fellows program was created in 1964 by President Lyndon Johnson to give promising American leaders “first hand, high-level experience with the workings of the federal government, and to increase their sense of participation in national affairs.”

Fellows spend a year working as full-time, paid aides to senior White House staff, cabinet secretaries and other top-ranking government officials. But they also take part in an education program designed to broaden their knowledge of leadership, policy formulation, and current affairs, and take part in community service projects throughout their year in Washington, D.C.

Al-Samarrai earlier was a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention epidemic intelligence service officer stationed at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; in 2010, she participated in CDC’s emergency response to the Haiti earthquake. She completed her internal medicine residency at Yale-New Haven Hospital, where she partnered with Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services to establish a multidisciplinary, patient-centered refugee clinic.

She graduated as a Regents and Alumni Scholar from the University of California, Los Angeles with a Bachelor of Science in neuroscience; she earned her Master of Science in neuroscience and her M.D. at Yale University.

Posted on Monday, August 24th, 2015
Under: Obama presidency | No Comments »

Donald Trump wins a South Bay GOP straw poll

Billionaire businessman and reality television star Donald Trump topped the presidential straw poll at the South Peninsula Area Republican Coalition picnic Sunday at the Morgan Estate in Los Altos Hills.

Out of 144 votes cast, Trump got 39 votes, or 27 percent. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush came in second with 27 votes (18 percent), followed by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (20 votes, 13 percent); U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. (16 votes, 11 percent); and Ohio Gov. John Kasich (13 votes, 9 percent). Notably absent from among the poll’s top finishers: former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who used to live less than two and a half miles from the site of Sunday’s picnic.

Poll participants were given the opportunity to mark a second choice as well. Of those whose first choices didn’t finish in the top five, five picked Rubio as their second choice, four picked Bush, four picked Trump, three picked Walker and two picked Kasich.

“The field is still pretty wide open, but there seems a trend in favor of more conservative candidates,” SPARC president John McDonnell said. “The results belie the conventional wisdom that Trump’s appeal will fade among party regulars, but the results also suggest strong support for Jeb Bush, the ‘establishment’ candidate. We can expect some considerable ebb and flow between now and the hard results in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.”

SPARC is affiliated with the California Congress of Republicans, a mainstream conservative grassroots group that’s chartered as part of the state GOP. The keynote speaker at Sunday’s picnic was Assemblywoman Catharine Baker, R-Dublin, the Bay Area’s only Republican voice in Sacramento.

Trump holds an 11-point lead over Bush in the latest average of recent national polls compiled by Real Clear Politics, followed by neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson; Walker; Rubio; U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas; and Fiorina. In Iowa, Trump leads Bush by about 8 points; in New Hampshire, Trump leads Kasich by 14.

Posted on Monday, August 24th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, Republican Party, Republican politics | 5 Comments »

Where Bay Area lawmakers stand on the Iran deal

As House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi continues rolling out Democratic supporters one by one, almost half of the Bay Area’s House delegation has not yet committed to support or oppose the P5+1 nuclear agreement with Iran.

U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein have said they’ll vote for the agreement, as have Pelosi, D-San Francisco, and representatives Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto; Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena; Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin; Sam Farr, D-Carmel; and Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo.

Most recently on the bandwagon are Swalwell and Farr, both Wednesday, and then Speier on Friday. Speier said in her statement that this is “one of the most important votes I will ever cast.

Jackie Speier“To come to this decision I attended scores of hearings, classified briefings, and met with U.S. allies, my Republican and Democratic colleagues, foreign policy experts, nongovernmental groups, the military and intelligence communities, and my constituents. I also met with the President for over two hours to discuss this deal,” she said.

“As President Kennedy once urged, we must pursue ‘a more practical, more attainable peace, based… on a series of concrete actions and effective agreements which are in the interest of all concerned.’ This deal, like those Kennedy pursued with the Soviet Union, is a first step away from catastrophe,” Speier said. “So as he said, ‘Let us persevere. Peace need not be impracticable and war need not be inevitable.’ ”

No Bay Area members of Congress have come out against the deal, but five still aren’t ready to say where they stand: Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord; Mike Honda, D-San Jose; Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton; Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose; and Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael.

“It’s my first big, consequential foreign policy vote, so I wanted to avail myself to learn as much as I could,” DeSaulnier said Friday, adding that while he sees no need to rush the decision during this month-long recess, “I’m leaning very much to support the president’s agreement.”

Mark DeSaulnierHe said has met both with President Obama in Washington, and then with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his recent trip to Israel with other Democratic House freshmen. “I promised both sides I would listen to them.”

And he said he’s reserving final judgment until after he completes five town-hall meetings he has scheduled for constituents over the next few weeks. In fact, he’s dedicating the second half of his first such meeting – 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 18 in the community room at Pleasant Hill Middle School, 1 Santa Barbara Road in Pleasant Hill – to this issue.

Honda spokeswoman Lauren Smith said Thursday her boss “is continuing to meet with people and get input and feedback, as well as fully considering all of the details of the deal. He will make a decision once he has collected all pertinent information.”

Lofgren’s chief of staff, Stacey Leavandosky, said Thursday her boss “is currently studying the agreement, meeting with constituents about it as well as hearing from Administration officials.”

McNerney spokesman Mike Naple said Thursday his boss “is still reviewing the agreement and hasn’t made a decision yet.”

And Huffman spokesman Paul Arden referred to his boss’s July 15 statement, in which he had said that “while I will vote based on the merits of the agreement, Iran’s credibility and trustworthiness are also considerations.”

UPDATE @ 1 P.M. THURSDAY 8/20: Mike Honda has just announced that he supports the deal.

UPDATE @ 2:55 P.M. THURSDAY 8/20: And now Jerry McNerney is on board, too.

UPDATE @ 5:30 P.M. FRIDAY 8/21: Lofgren now says she will vote in favor of the deal.

Posted on Friday, August 14th, 2015
Under: Anna Eshoo, Barbara Boxer, Barbara Lee, Dianne Feinstein, Eric Swalwell, Iran, Jackie Speier, Jared Huffman, Jerry McNerney, Mark DeSaulnier, Mike Honda, Mike Thompson, Nancy Pelosi, Sam Farr, U.S. House, U.S. Senate, Zoe Lofgren | 12 Comments »

Hillary Clinton is in the Bay Area today

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will be in the Bay Area on Wednesday and Thursday for fundraisers, but no public events.

Hillary Clinton 5-27-2015 (AP photo)The former U.S. Secretary of State, U.S. Senator and First Lady is scheduled to attend a reception Wednesday evening at the Atherton home of investor and former Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Chris Kelly and his wife, Galavantier co-founder Jennifer Carrico. Tickets start at $2,700, but co-hosts are being asked to raise $27,000 and hosts are being asked to raise $50,000.

On Thursday morning, Clinton will attend a fundraiser in San Francisco hosted by Mayor Ed Lee, Board of Equalization member Fiona Ma, and Melissa Ma; the same ticket prices and hosting requirements apply.

Then she’s headed to Los Angeles for another fundraiser later Thursday at the home of Scooter Braun – Justin Bieber’s manager – and his wife, Yael; and to La Jolla for a fundraiser Friday at the home of Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs and his wife, Joan. Some tickets for the Los Angeles and La Jolla events went for $1,000 each.

Clinton does have one non-fundraising event planned on this California swing. She’ll hold a roundtable discussion Thursday afternoon in Los Angeles with home-care providers and consumers including members of the Service Employees International Union, which will livestream the event on its website.

“Once again Hillary Clinton proves that she’s more interested in hosting high-dollar fundraisers than discussing the issues that matter to everyday Californians,” Republican National Committee spokesman Ninio Fetalvo said in an emailed statement. “And as she continues dodging questions on key issues and the mishandling of classified information on her secret email server, it’s no surprise that voters continue to find her not honest or trustworthy.”

Clinton raised money in the Bay Area in May and June.

Posted on Wednesday, August 5th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, campaign finance, Hillary Clinton | 3 Comments »

Black Caucus members seek Silicon Valley diversity

Rep. Barbara Lee will join Congressional Black Caucus Chairman G.K. Butterfield and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries on a Silicon Valley junket aimed at increasing African Americans’ representation in the tech industry.

lack of diversityLee, D-Oakland; Butterfield, D-N.C.; and Jeffries, D-N.Y., will spend this Sunday through Tuesday meeting with tech executives and local organizations as part of the caucus’ TECH 2020 initiative, a five-year diversity launched in May. The lawmakers will visit companies including Apple, Bloomberg, Google, Intel, Kapor Capital, Pandora, and SAP.

“Our goal for this trip is to encourage and partner with these organizations to implement a diversity plan that will place more African Americans in the tech pipeline,” Butterfield said in a news release. “This will potentially lead to a wide range of opportunities, from student internships to positions on the boards of tech companies. Building a coalition of leaders from the public and private sectors ensures greater diversity and full representation of African Americans at every level of tech by 2020.”

Lee said she’s pleased to welcome her peers to the Bay Area.

“This visit is another step toward opening doors of opportunity for African Americans in the booming tech sector,” she said in the release. “Increasing diversity and inclusion within the tech sector is not only a moral imperative, it’s good for business and vital to continue economic growth. As we work to advance the TECH 2020 initiative and achieve full representation of African Americans in the tech sector, I look forward to continuing to work with these companies. We must all play a role in finding innovative solutions that bring diversity to Silicon Valley.”

As part of its TECH 2020 plan, the caucus has outlined diversity principles, best practices, and resources for African American students and entrepreneurs, and has introduced legislation focused on increasing STEM education.

Posted on Thursday, July 30th, 2015
Under: Barbara Lee, U.S. House | 8 Comments »