Gay Scout to be honored Monday by Assembly

California Assembly Speaker John Perez will recognize and honor Ryan Andresen – the East Bay Boy Scout who was denied his Eagle rank because he’s gay – at the new Assembly’s opening session Monday in Sacramento.

Andresen, now 18, of Moraga, and his parents also are scheduled to meet with supporters including Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley; state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco; and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The Boy Scouts of America this summer re-affirmed its national policy of barring openly gay boys from membership and gay or lesbian adults from leadership. Andresen came out as gay, and though he had participated in Scouting for 12 years and satisfied all of the many requirements to attain its highest rank, Troop 212′s leaders denied him his Eagle award. The local council subsequently kicked him out of Scouting entirely.

His mother, Karen Andresen, started a Change.org petition which has been signed by almost 428,000 people urging the troop’s leaders to ignore BSA’s policy and give Andresen the award he earned.


Lawmaker to show support for gay former Scout

A former Boy Scout who was denied his Eagle Scout award because he’s gay will be accompanied by an East Bay lawmaker as he delivers more than 400,000 petition signatures to the Mt. Diablo-Silverado Boy Scout Council tomorrow in Pleasant Hill.

The issue might be near and dear to Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, who is the mother of a lesbian daughter.

“Ryan worked hard to earn a merit status that is being denied to him solely because he is gay – that’s unacceptable,” Skinner said today. “In speaking out, Ryan and his family have displayed incredible courage and we all need to support people who are willing to stand up and demand fairness, tolerance and equality.”

The Boy Scouts of America this summer re-affirmed its national policy of barring openly gay boys from membership and gay or lesbian adults from leadership. Ryan Andresen of Moraga came out as gay, and though he had participated in Scouting for 12 years and satisfied all of the many requirements to attain its highest rank, Troop 212’s leaders denied him his Eagle award. The local council subsequently kicked him out of Scouting entirely.

Andresen appeared last week on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”


Failed Contra Costa water fee flopped in 18 of 19 cities

The failed Contra Costa clean water fee sank in every city in the county except El Cerrito, according to a vote breakdown.

As you may recall, the county and its 19 cities attempted earlier this year to persuade property owners to pass an annual fee to pay for programs associated with tightening state and federal anti-pollution regulations on stormwater runoff.

The unusual property-owner election coupled with the bad economy and campaign missteps doomed the effort, which went down 59.4 percent to 40.6 percent.

Here are the final numbers ranked by the percentage of support, as provided by the Contra Costa Clean Water Program:

AREA YES (%) NO (%)
El Cerrito 54.9 45.1
Walnut Creek 47.3 52.7
Moraga 45.6 54.4
Orinda 45 55
Richmond 43.5 56.5
Hercules 42.8 57.2
San Ramon 42.6 57.4
Lafayette 42.4 57.6
Danville 42.3 57.7
Pleasant Hill 39.5 60.5
Pittsburg 39.1 60.9
Unincorporated 38.6 61.4
San Pablo 38.2 61.8
Martinez 37.9 62.1
Antioch 37.4 62.6
Concord 37 63
Brentwood 35.7 64.3
Clayton 35.7 64.3
Oakley 33.3 66.7
Pinole 33 67
COUNTYWIDE 40.6 59.4



Brown appoints four locals to state agencies

Gov. Jerry Brown announced the appointments of several Bay Area people to various state boards and agencies today.

Ashutosh Bhagwat, 46, of Moraga, has been appointed to the governing board of the California Independent System Operator, which operates the state’s wholesale electricity transmission grid. A professor at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law since 1994 where he has taught courses in antitrust, administrative and constitutional law, Bhagwat earlier was an associate for Sidley & Austin from 1992 to 1994; a law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy from 1991 to 1992; a law clerk to Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner from 1990 to 1991; and a research assistant for the Federal Reserve System’s Board of Governors from 1986 to 1987. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $5,000 quarterly plus per diem meeting preparation and attendance costs. Bhagwat is a Democrat.

Anita Martinez, 58, of Oakland, has been appointed member and chair of the Public Employment Relations Board, a quasi-judicial administrative agency that administers the collective bargaining statutes covering state and local government workers. Martinez has worked for the Board since 1976, where she currently serves as a regional director; earlier, she was a board agent for the Agricultural Labor Relations Board from 1975 to 1976 and an intern at the National Labor Relations Board from 1973 to 1976. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $132,179. Martinez is a Democrat.

M. Suzanne Murphy, 58, of Lafayette, has been appointed general counsel of the Public Employment Relations Board. She has been a law clerk to the late Honorable Cynthia Holcomb Hall, senior judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit since 2009, and where she previously clerked from 1988 to 1989. Murphy was executive director of Worksafe from 2008 to 2009; legal counsel for the California Nurses Association from 2006 to 2007; and an appellate and litigation attorney with Weinberg, Roger and Rosenfeld from 2003 to 2006. She also worked for the Administrative Office of the Courts where she was managing attorney at the Center for Families, Children & the Courts from 2002 to 2003 and supervising attorney for the rules and projects unit in the Office of the General Counsel from 2000 to 2002. Earlier, she was a senior research attorney to the Honorable Patricia Sepulveda from 1999 to 2000 and to the Honorable Michael Phelan from 1993 to 1998, both of the California Court of Appeal, First District. Murphy was an associate with Heller, Ehrman, White & McAuliffe from 1992 to 1993 and with Cooley, Godward, Castro, Huddleston & Tatum from 1989 to 1991. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $126,864. Murphy is registered decline-to-state.

Deborah Raphael, 51, of San Rafael, has been appointed director of the Department of Toxic Substances Control, which enforces laws on generating, handling, transporting, storing, disposing of and cleaning up hazardous wastes. She has been the program director for toxics reduction, green business, and green building at the San Francisco Department of the Environment since 1999. Previously, she was a senior environmental program manager at the City of Santa Monica from 1993 to 1999. Raphael is a co-chair of the Green Ribbon Science Panel. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $142,965. Raphael is a Democrat.


A final thought from Robert Reich on the SOTU

I was at St. Mary’s College of California in Moraga this evening to hear former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich speak about why the economy is still struggling, and our political discourse remains so bitter.

After filing my story, I walked up to the front of the Soda Activity Center to ask Reich where he expects the nation’s leaders would find the political will to address the past 30 years of flattened workers’ wages while the rich have gotten richer – a problem he says was the root cause of the recession, to be solved by expanding the earned income tax credit up through the middle class while raising marginal tax rates for the richest Americans.

He said it’s not really a “redistribution of wealth,” as I’d put it in my question, because he’s convinced the top 1 percent of Americans in the longer term would do better with a smaller share of a burgeoning economy than a larger share of a struggling economy.

“In this environment, when Republicans, have so effectively hammered home the story that our problem is government, we need politicians who have the courage to tell the truth,” Reich said.

President Obama’s State of the Union address was accurate in recognizing the need for long-term investment, innovation and international competition, he said, but didn’t address the immediate challenge of increasing demand for goods and services, and thus creating jobs. “If he doesn’t address that central issue, he’s allowing the Republicans’ story to dominate.”


Saint Mary’s to bid for presidential debate

Saint Mary’s College, fresh off its pre-November election U.S. Senate debate between Barbara Boxer and Carla Fiorina, is shooting for the stars: A presidential debate.

My colleague, Jonathan Morales, found an interesting tidbit in a Moraga town report that mentioned the college’s interest in hosting a presidential debate.

Read Morales’ blog entry here. Or here is what he wrote:

Saint Mary’s College is making a run at one of the biggest political stages there is: a presidential debate.

The college is preparing a bid to host one of the four debates to be held during the 2012 presidential election.

The debates are organized by the Commission on Presidential Debates, and you can take a look here at their criteria for hosting one of the events.

A producer with the debates — they are a television event, after all — toured the campus recently and seemed to think Saint Mary’s would be a feasible site, said Michael Beseda, the college’s vice president for communication.

McKeon Pavilion, the school’s main gym, would be the debate hall. The college would likely set up a tent on the adjacent athletic practice field to accommodate media.

Both Beseda and Director of Community and Government Relations Tim Farley said the reaction from local officials to whom they have spoken has been very supportive.

And, according to Farley, Mayor Karen Mendonca plans to mention the college’s bid at the Contra Costa Mayor’s Conference meeting tonight to begin drumming up support in the broader community.

Saint Mary’s hosted a senatorial debate between Barbara Boxer and Carly Fiorina this fall.

The CDP organizes debates during the general election, three for presidential candidates and one for vice presidential candidates. The billions and billions of other debates we see during the primary season are usually at least partly sponsored by media outlets.

In 2008, the presidential debates were held at the University of Mississippi, Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., and Hofstra University just outside New York City. The vice presidential debate was held at Washington University in St. Louis.

The college must submit its bid by March 31.