Part of the Bay Area News Group

Activists seek ‘Robin Hood tax’ upon Wall Street

Activists organized in part by the California Nurses Association rallied Friday at congressional offices in 22 cities – including four in Northern California – to call for a tax on Wall Street speculation to relieve economic inequality and address basic needs.

The Oakland-based union scheduled the events for Friday because it’s the 46th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who at the time of his death was amid a campaign for economic justice that included anti-poverty and worker-rights issues.

Supporters of HR 1579 – authored by Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., and cosponsored by local lawmakers including Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose; Sam Farr, D-Santa Cruz; Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael; and John Garamendi, D-Fairfield – sometimes call it the “Robin Hood tax.”

The bill would levy a tax of 50 cents on every $100 of stock trades and smaller amounts on transactions of bonds and derivatives. Its goal to reduce harmful financial market speculation; discourage high-volume, high-speed trading; and slow down proliferation of complex derivatives while raising hundreds of billions of dollars per year for jobs, health care, education, the fights against HIV/AIDS and climate change, and more.

Several dozen countries have similar taxes, and the United States had one until 1966. Business leaders including Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Paul Krugman, Joseph Stiglitz, Jeffrey Sachs, Robert Pollin, and Larry Summers have recommended adopting a financial transaction tax, and after Wall Street’s crash 1987, such a tax was endorsed by President George H.W. Bush and U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan. And former Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, carried a similar bill in 2010.

There’s no chance the Republican-led House will ever advance this bill.

Still, Northern California activists rallied Friday at the offices of congressmen George Miller in Concord, Mike Honda in San Jose, Ami Bera in Rancho Cordova and Jeff Denham in Modesto – three Democrats and a Republican, respectively.

“My patients are trying to heal from an illness or surgery and when they go home they are forced to make a decision between buying medication or food,” California Nurses Association co-president Malinda Markowitz, an RN at San Jose’s Good Samaritan Hospital, said in a news release. “That’s why I want Rep. Mike Honda to support the people of this community by supporting the Robin Hood Tax.”

The nurses’ union notes King once said, “This is America’s opportunity to help bridge the gulf between the haves and the have nots. The question is whether America will do it.”

Posted on Friday, April 4th, 2014
Under: Ami Bera, Barbara Lee, George Miller, Jared Huffman, Jeff Denham, John Garamendi, Mike Honda, Pete Stark, Sam Farr, taxes, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren | 1 Comment »

CA11: DeSaulnier’s endorsement blitz continues

My inbox cries out for mercy.

There have been only three business days in the past four weeks on which Mark DeSaulnier has not announced another endorsement in his bid to succeed Rep. George Miller in the 11th Congressional District.

DeSaulnierBetter safe than sorry? Sure, the Democratic state Senator from Concord thought he had punched his ticket to Washington in 2009 when Rep. Ellen Tauscher resigned to take a State Department post; despite having Tauscher’s and Miller’s endorsements, he lost that special election to fellow Democrat John Garamendi.

So ever since announcing his candidacy for this seat even as Miller was announcing his retirement, DeSaulnier has sought to flood the field. And those first few days of endorsements were important, as they included support from several people who were thought to be possible rivals for the seat, and from Miller himself.

Since then, other candidates have emerged: retired immigration judge Tue Phan of Danville; disability rights and employment advocate Cheryl Sudduth of El Sobrante; oil refinery employee Jason Ramey of Concord; Alameda Councilman Tony Daysog; and attorney Ki Ingersol of Benicia. The first is a Republican and the latter four are Democrats; Daysog and Ingersol live outside the district, though that’s no barrier to candidacy.

So DeSaulnier has kept cranking out the endorsements – other Democrats, labor unions, and many other non-surprises. Today’s might take the head-scratching record: “Former Massachusetts Governor and Democratic Presidential Nominee Mike Dukakis Endorses Mark DeSaulnier for Congress.”

“George Miller has been an extraordinary public servant and a leader in Congress who has stood up time and time again for middle class America. Mark will provide us with that same kind of inspired leadership,” Dukakis, the 1988 nominee, said in DeSaulnier’s news release.

DeSaulnier replied that “it’s an enormous honor to receive this endorsement from such a renowned an celebrated member of the Democratic Party. Governor Dukakis’ support means a great deal to me personally. I greatly admire his intelligence and determination, and few leaders have accomplished more over their career. I’m grateful for his support.”

Sure, some people remember Dukakis’ name, short as the American political memory might be, but how many votes will this sway in the 11th District, or how many rivals will it intimidate?

Whatever. I’ll stand by for Walter Mondale to weigh in.

Posted on Wednesday, March 12th, 2014
Under: George Miller, Mark DeSaulnier, U.S. House | 11 Comments »

House Dems try to force minimum wage vote

House Democrats are signing a discharge petition to force an up-or-down vote on Rep. George Miller’s bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.

George Miller“Large, bipartisan majorities have repeatedly voted to raise the minimum wage when it has come to the floor in the past, and Republican and Democratic presidents alike have signed it into law,” Miller, D-Martinez, said in a news release Wednesday. “The American people are clamoring for this pay raise, and it’s well past time for congressional Republicans to hear their voices and bring H.R. 1010 up for a vote. When this comes to the floor, it will pass. We just need a vote.”

The bill would raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour over three years, and then index it to inflation thereafter. It also would gradually increase the tipped minimum wage to 70 percent of the minimum wage; it’s now at about 29 percent.

The Congressional Budget Office reported this month that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 could lift about 900,000 U.S. workers out of poverty, but also could cost about 500,000 jobs.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has refused to bring the bill – which has 194 cosponsors, all Democrats – up for a hearing, mark-up or floor vote. Rep. Tim Bishop, D-N.Y., filed the discharge petition Wednesday; forcing consideration of the bill will require 218 signatures, so some Republicans would have to cross the aisle.

“The discharge petition I filed today is an unfortunate necessity in order to ensure action will be taken by this Congress to improve the lives of tens of millions of Americans,” Bishop said in a news release. “This is an issue that has wide support among the American public but so far has not been acted on in Washington. It is time for that to change and it is time to raise the wage.”

Posted on Wednesday, February 26th, 2014
Under: George Miller, U.S. House | 13 Comments »

CA11: Alameda’s Tony Daysog is considering a run

Alameda Councilman Tony Daysog says he’s considering a run for the 11th Congressional District seat from which Rep. George Miller will retire at this year’s end.

And here I thought state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier – already endorsed by Miller and about a half-dozen other Democrats who might’ve sought the seat – was being over-cautious by rolling out another endorsement almost every day. (Well, maybe that’s still true.)

Tony DaysogDaysog, 48, of Alameda, said in an email Friday afternoon that he had just taken out papers to file for candidacy, and is exploring the possibility of a run.

“In the days leading up to the March 7th filing deadline, I will talk with Contra Costa County residents of the 11th Congressional [District] to gauge responses to an out-of-district person such as myself running for this important office,” he wrote.

Daysog, an urban planner, was an Alameda councilman from 1996 through 2006; placed last in a field of four in the June 2006 Democratic primary for what was then the 16th Assembly District seat; ran unsuccessfully for the Alameda mayor’s office in 2010; and was re-elected to the city council in 2012.

Daysog’s website says his priorities are securing individual freedoms by safeguarding individual rights from high-tech snooping; protecting small investors, including owners of 401(k) retirement accounts; protecting abortion choice; making college affordable without massive debt; and supporting small business owners to create jobs while supporting workers to pursue life-long learning.

Posted on Friday, February 14th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, George Miller, Mark DeSaulnier, U.S. House | 10 Comments »

CA11: Miller endorses DeSaulnier as successor

Rep. George Miller endorsed state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier on Wednesday to succeed him in Congress when he retires at the end of this year.

George Miller“I know Mark DeSaulnier exceedingly well,” Miller said in a news release issued Wednsday by DeSaulnier’s campaign. “Mark is the most qualified and capable candidate to carry on my work in Congress on behalf of the residents in the 11th District. He is progressive, results-driven, and has a deep connection to the communities and neighborhoods in this district. Most importantly, Mark embodies the issues and values that I have fought for throughout my career.”

DeSaunlier, D-Concord, has been rolling out endorsements on an almost daily basis since Miller, D-Martinez, announced Jan. 13 that he would step down after his 20th term expires at the end of 2014. Though some of those endorsements came from people who initially had considered running against him for the seat – including Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, and Walnut Creek Mayor Kristina Lawson – none are likely to have as much impact as the incumbent’s.

Miller said he and DeSaulnier “share a common passion and profound commitment to public service. Mark has had a major impact on key issues in our community — saving the county library system, building the county hospital, championing transportation improvements like the fourth bore in the Caldecott, fighting for the poor and vulnerable, and many other issues.”

Miller also said DeSaulnier “brings enormous skill and integrity to everything he does. … He will continue our fight in Congress for the world’s best education and healthcare systems, and he will strive to end poverty and inequality once and for all.”

Mark DeSaulnierDeSaulnier said Miller “represents all that is great about public service” and has been a role model and friend.

“I have a bookmark from Rep. Miller that says, ‘You are not in public service to sit on your ass and watch the parade go by,’ and indeed we have not,” he said. “Together, we’ve engaged and have empowered the residents of Contra Costa County, and we have given them a strong voice in their state and federal government.”

“I will do my very best, every single day, to live up to his work ethic, determination, and resolve for championing the many cornerstone issues he’s fought for in Washington on behalf of the residents in the 11th District,” DeSaulnier said.

Other potential candidates include retired immigration judge Tue Phan-Quang, a 71-year-old Republican from Danville; and refinery worker Jason Ramey, a 33-year-old Democrat from Concord. The 11th Congressional District’s voter registration is 50 percent Democrat, 24.6 percent Republican and 21.2 percent nonpartisan – a safe Democratic district, in which DeSaulnier seems to have a firm lead on name recognition, funding and endorsements.

Posted on Wednesday, January 29th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, George Miller, Mark DeSaulnier, U.S. House | 2 Comments »

Politicians mourn folk legend Pete Seeger’s death

Some prominent politicians from the Bay Area and beyond are among the legions mourning the death of folk music legend and activist Pete Seeger.

From President Barack Obama:

Once called “America’s tuning fork,” Pete Seeger believed deeply in the power of song. But more importantly, he believed in the power of community – to stand up for what’s right, speak out against what’s wrong, and move this country closer to the America he knew we could be. Over the years, Pete used his voice – and his hammer – to strike blows for worker’s rights and civil rights; world peace and environmental conservation. And he always invited us to sing along. For reminding us where we come from and showing us where we need to go, we will always be grateful to Pete Seeger. Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to Pete’s family and all those who loved him.

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, posted this on Facebook:

I join the world in mourning the loss, but also celebrating the life, of legendary folk musician and incomparable American, Pete Seeger. He sang for all of us, and he got us all singing, as you can see in this video.

Pete Seeger stood for equality, for children, for a clean environment, and for an end to war. May the memory and spirit of Pete Seeger live in all of us for years to come.

From the Facebook page of Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose:

I am saddened to hear of the passing of folk legend Pete Seeger. His songs and activism inspired generations to fight for justice and peace. It is hard to imagine the Civil Rights and anti-war movements without “We Shall Overcome,” “If I Had a Hammer,” and “Where Have All The Flowers Gone?” I will honor his legacy by continuing to fight for the rights of all Americans and for justice around the world.

U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., tweeted:

And former President Bill Clinton tweeted:

Posted on Tuesday, January 28th, 2014
Under: Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

CD11: Walnut Creek Mayor Lawson opts out of congressional bid

Walnut Creek Mayor Kristina Lawson

In yet another name of someone who will not run for the congressional seat being vacated by retiring Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, Walnut Creek Mayor Kristina Lawson says she has decided not to seek the job.

Her announcement was somewhat expected. A respected landuse attorney with a 4 and 9-year-old still at home, taking on a major congressional campaign would have been a life-altering family decision. And that is before she even gets the job and begins those bicoastal treks between California and the Capitol. I suspect we’ll see and hear a good deal more of Lawson in the coming years, though.

Lawson’s departure all but clears the field for state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, who declared himself a candidate within minutes of Miller’s retirement announcement.

Just about every politician who might have challenged DeSaulnier has taken his or her name off the table and many have outright endorsed the senator.

There’s still time to enter the fray, of course. The official filing period runs Feb. 10 through March 14. And the top two election system will give a second-place finisher in June a second bite at the seat in November. But time is running seriously short to raise money.

Here’s what Lawson had to say in an email this morning:

Dear Friends and Family,

I write this morning to thank you for your support and encouragement, and to let you know that I will not run for Congress in 2014.

I had the great fortune to be born and raised in California, and I want the same for my two children, Kate and Graham. And, I want to be here in California with them as they grow up.

I also have the great fortune to serve as the Mayor of Walnut Creek, and I am committed to working hard this year to honor our longstanding community commitments to a vibrant economy, the environment, and children and families of all types. I do plan to run for re-election to the Walnut Creek City Council.

Thank you again for your support and encouragement.

Sincerely,

Kristina

 

 

Posted on Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014
Under: 2014 primary | 5 Comments »

CD11: DeSaulnier secures Tauscher support

Under Secretary for International Security and Arms Control Ellen Tauscher. Photo by Karl Mondon/2011/Bay Area News Group

Former East Bay Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher will endorse today State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, to succeed the retiring Democratic Rep. George Miller in the 11th Congressional District.

Tauscher represented the neighboring District 10 for seven terms until the Obama administration appointed her in 2009 as Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs.

DeSaulnier ran for Tauscher’s seat in 2009 and she support him. But the state senator subsequently lost to then-Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, who now represents District 3 after the state’s political boundaries were redrawn in 2011.

Miller is retiring at the end of the year after serving 40 years in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Here’s what the DeSaulnier campaign will release later this morning:

MARK DESAULNIER SECURES BACKING OF FORMER CONGRESSWOMAN ELLEN TAUSCHER

Former Congresswoman Represented Large Portion of 11th District

CONCORD, CA— On the heels of his entrance into the race last week to fill Congressman George Miller’s soon to-be vacated 11th Congressional district seat, today State Senator Mark DeSaulnier picked up a highly coveted endorsement from former Congresswoman and former Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, the Honorable Ellen O. Tauscher.

Prior to the 2012 redistricting, Tauscher represented California’s old 10th Congressional district. Roughly 50% of the communities in Tauscher’s old district are now included in the new 11th Congressional district.

 

Mark DeSaulnier

“Mark DeSaulnier has always been a brave, forward-thinking, and passionate fighter for the people he represents,” said former Congresswoman Tauscher. “Mark is deeply connected to the communities in the 11th district, and I’m confident he’ll be a bold and progressive voice for them in Washington.  Not only does he have enormous experience and the necessary qualifications for this office, but also Mark has a real vision for a better California that must be heard in the halls of Congress. I’m proud to endorse Mark for Congress.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, January 20th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary | 4 Comments »

CD11: Retired Danville judge announces candidacy

11th Congressional District courtesy of Redistricting Partners

Retired Judge Tue Phan-Quang, a 71-year-old Republican from Danville, has announced his candidacy for the congressional seat that will open when Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, retires at the end of the year.

Phan-Quang made the announcement Tuesday at a meeting of the Walnut Creek Rotary Club, according to a statement his son, Thong Phan-Quang, sent to this newspaper. Phan-Quang was a guest speaker.

As a Republican candidate in the heavily Democratic 11th Congressional District, Phan-Quang’s chances of success are slim.

State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, has already entered the race. Walnut Creek Mayor Kristina Lawson and former Walnut Creek Councilman Kish Rajan are considering it. And Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, may run.

But the retired judge’s story is an interesting one, as his son tells it in the statement he sent:

Judge Tue is 71 years old, married with 4 sons and 8 grandchildren. He and  his wife have been residents of Danville, California since 1995.

Judge Tue immigrated to the United States after the fall of Saigon in April 1975. A trained attorney in Vietnam, he completed his law studies at Drake University Law School in Des Moines, Iowa. He was a Hearing Officer with the Iowa Department of Job Service for 4 years. He was appointed Assistant Attorney General with the Iowa Department of Justice in 1987. 

Judge Tue moved his family to California in 1988. He was a trial attorney with the Immigration & Naturalization Service, District Counsel Office in San Francisco from 1988-1993. From 1993-1995 he was an Administrative Law Judge with the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board in Sacramento. 

He was appointed Immigration Judge In March 1995 in San Francisco where he served until his retirement in December 2012.

My colleague Josh Richman found a video about the retired judge (see below) and text of the judge’s 2012 remarks at a naturalization ceremony in Oakland.

Posted on Friday, January 17th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary | 4 Comments »

CA11: The who-will-and-who-won’t roundup

Two days after Rep. George Miller announced he’ll retire at the end of 2014 after 40 years in the House, here’s the shakeout so far on who will and won’t try to succeed him in the 11th Congressional District:

State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord: At almost the same instant Miller started his news conference in Richmond, DeSaulnier was telling a reporter in Sacramento that he would run; he issued his news release less than four hours later.

Walnut Creek Mayor Kristina Lawson: She’s “seriously considering” it.

Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo: “She’s still looking at what the options are,” spoklesman Michelle Henry said Wednesday.

Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord: She is “is focused on her upcoming re-election for state assembly and not considering a run for Congress,” spokesman Luis Quinonez said Wednesday.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson: Endorsed DeSaulnier on Tuesday.

Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia: Endorsed DeSaulnier on Wednesday.

Rep. John Garamendi, D-Fairfield: Won’t run for the seat next to his.

Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin: Won’t run.

Former airline pilot and “Hero on the Hudson” Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger of Danville: Won’t run.

Watch for Lisa Vorderbrueggen’s story this weekend reviewing the whole scrum in much more detail; stay tuned, as the landscape continues to shift.

Posted on Wednesday, January 15th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, George Miller, Joan Buchanan, Mark DeSaulnier, Susan Bonilla, U.S. House | 4 Comments »