George Miller part of new early-childhood panel

Former Rep. George Miller is among the high-profile members of a new “Right Start Commission” aimed at helping modernize California’s early-childhood services.

The commission, rolled out Thursday by Common Sense Kids Action, will develop a plan for providing universal, high-quality access to early learning and support systems from birth to age 5. The panel will examine both government’s role in providing such services, and the private sector’s responsibility to ensure a good start for employees’ children; its recommendations will become a legislative blueprint.

“Every child deserves a fair start in life and the only way we can ensure that happens is to provide all kids with the care, support and quality learning experiences they need to be successful from day one,” Common Sense Media CEO Jim Steyer, who’ll also serve on the commission, said in a news release. “We know that improving early childhood education is one of the best investments we can make. Yet, across the nation millions of American kids are denied this critical opportunity year after year. With the Right Start Commission, Common Sense Kids Action will kick off an effort to reimagine early childhood services in California and create a model for the nation to ensure every child has the opportunity to succeed.”

The commission’s launch is in conjunction with the Invest In US coalition President Obama unveiled in 2014 to improve the quality of and access to early childhood education for children throughout the country. It will hold a series of statewide and national events over the remainder of the year to collect input from early education and care practitioners, parents, educators and respected researchers.

Besides Steyer and Miller, who just retired after 40 years in the House as a leader on education issues, the commission’s members include Salesforce Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff; PolicyLink Founder and CEO Angela Glover Blackwell; Stanford University Professor Linda Darling-Hammond; Institute for InterGroup Understanding Chair and CEO George Halvorson; Center for Youth Wellness Founder and CEO Nadine Burke Harris; Apple Vice President of Environmental Initiatives Lisa Jackson; Heising-Simons Foundation President Elizabeth Simons; and former state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento.

“Early investment in our youngest children is essential to their long-term success as individuals and a bright future for California,” Steinberg said in the news release. “Now, more than ever, we must move kids to the top of our agenda and provide them with the resources they need to compete and succeed in a global economy. The Right Start Commission is a critical first step toward achieving that vision.”


Four Cabinet members in Bay Area this week

Wow, it’s Cabinet week in the Bay Area.

I just covered U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood (accompanied by Federal Aviation Administration chief Randy Babbitt) talking about FAA, surface transportation and job creation bills out at the Oakland International Airport control tower construction site.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson will be in the Bay Area for two days this week meeting with local businesses and organizations to highlight job creation and green technology. On Wednesday afternoon, she’ll be touring Recycle Central, Recology’s recycling station at San Francisco’s Pier 96.

On Friday, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki will join Reps. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, and Mike Honda, D-San Jose, to break ground at the new Defenders Lodge, a facility for veterans seeking treatment at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System that will have 53 beds in a two-story, 28,000-square-foot building.

And also Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be keynoting Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’s Women and the Economy Summit at the Westin St. Francis hotel on San Francisco’s Union Square, speaking about how “Some Leaders Are Born Women.” I’ll be covering that one.

UPDATE @ 11:30 A.M. WEDNESDAY: AND… U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar will be speaking at 9 a.m. next Monday, Sept. 19 at the Commonwealth Club of California, on the second floor of 595 Market St. in San Francisco; tickets cost $20 but are free for club members or $7 for students with valid ID, and are available online. Salazar “will share his views on fresh water, fishing and farming, along with other resource concerns in California and the American West,” the club says. “With projected changes in the Sierra snowpack and precipitation patterns, as well as an ever-increasing population, California’s water system remains in crisis, and the state’s ability to hydrate its citizens and its economy faces an uncertain future. Salazar will discuss how the federal government plans to help California secure future water supplies by aiding ambitious projects, including the restorations of the California Bay Delta and the San Joaquin River, while maintaining a balance between human needs and healthy ecosystems.”

UPDATE @ 1 P.M. WEDNESDAY: After his Monday morning address at the Commonwealth Club, Salazar will join Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael Connor at the Contra Costa Water District’s fish screen project dedication ceremony at the Rock Slough project site, about four miles southeast of Oakley. Completed through a partnership between Reclamation and the Contra Costa Water District, the project – funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 – advances the Interim Federal Action Plan for the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta by helping to keep Delta fish from entering the Contra Costa Canal through the Rock Slough intake.


Environmental justice meeting in Oakland

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, will host U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson and members of the Congressional Black Caucus at an environmental justice town-hall meeting from 2 to 3:30 p.m. this Saturday, Oct. 16 in the Roybal Auditorium at the Ronald Dellums Federal Building, 1301 Clay St. in Oakland.

Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, CEO of Oakland-based Green For All, will moderate the event, which will include remarks from Jackson and other elected officials as well as a question-and-answer session open to the public.

Lisa JacksonJackson last month joined with White House Council on Environmental Quality Chairwoman Nancy Sutley to reconvene – for the first time in more than a decade – the Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice. The meeting – also attended by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar; Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan; Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood; and other agency leaders – was meant to demonstrate “the Obama administration’s dedication to ensuring all Americans have strong federal protection from environmental and health hazards. Pollution like dirty air and contaminated water can have significant economic impacts on overburdened and low-income communities, driving away investment in new development and new jobs and exposing residents to potentially costly health threats.”

If you want to attend the Oakland event, RSVP at EPATownHallRSVP@mail.house.gov, and bring a photo ID with you when you enter the auditorium through the 14th Street entrance; doors open at 1:15 p.m. and close at 2 p.m. For more information, contact Lee’s office at 510-763-0370 or colin.foard@mail.house.gov.


Green for All CEO meets with Cabinet members

Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins – who succeeded Van Jones as CEO of Oakland-based Green for All this year as Jones went to Washington to become President Barack Obama’s “green jobs czar” – was in Washington herself today for a meeting with Obama Administration officials on making green jobs available to the widest possible cross-section of America.

Also in the meeting were Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan; Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson; Energy Under Secretary Kristina Johnnson; Hip Hop Caucus president Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr.; and leaders of Green the Block.

A joint effort of Green For All and the Hip Hop Caucus, Green the Block is a new campaign to engagevulnerable communities in the transition to a 21st-century economy via education, legislative advocacy, private-sector development and youth activism.

“Green the Block is a movement to build a clean-energy economy where everyone has a chance to succeed,” said Ellis-Lamkins said in a White House news release. “That starts with making sure that those who are often left out and left behind – low-income people and communities of color – have a voice and a presence in this movement. These communities also need a fair share of the economic, social and environmental benefits this transition is creating.”

Said Yearwood: “Clean-energy investments will create more job opportunities than spending on fossil fuels, like oil, natural gas and coal. The building of a clean-energy economy in the United States can serve to create new pathways out of poverty for the 78 million people in this country who are presently poor or near poor.”