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Martin O’Malley to visit Bay Area next week

With the Democratic presidential field in some disarray – Hillary’s growing email woes, Sanders surging, Biden testing the waters – one of the race’s “forgotten” Democrats is coming to the Bay Area next week with a tech-savvy spin.

Martin O'Malley (photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty images)Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley will host a civic tech start-up pitch contest Wednesday night at The Hall, a food-vendor and bar venue in San Francisco’s mid-Market area. The competition will feature five candidate teams chosen from a pool of entrepreneurs, each of which will have two minutes to pitch a panel of tech-exec judges with their plans for boosting civic engagement.

On Thursday morning, O’Malley will host a panel of civic tech executives – including the winner from the night before – at the SoMa headquarters of Brigade, a nonpartisan tech startup aimed at increasing political engagement and working toward common goals. The panel will chat about how entrepreneurs can harness technology to transform public service and empower under-served communities.

Other panelists will include leaders in civic tech, including Sid Espinosa, Microsoft’s director of civic engagement and former mayor of Palo Alto; Sam Lessin, former vice president of product at Facebook; Marci Harris, CEO of POPVOX; and Kimberly Bryant, founder of Black Girls Code.

Of course, fundraising is involved too. The Wednesday night event will double as a “happy hour” for which supporters will pay from $100 to $1,000 each (with lower prices for students, interns and young professionals).

O’Malley has yet to make a big impression in this race – his fundraising has been meager, and his national poll numbers have hovered between 1 and 2 percent since he declared candidacy May 30, leaving him way down in the basement with Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee.

But he has been stumping hard in Iowa and insists he’s still in the game. Sanders is a protest candidate in whom most reasonable people will lose interest and Clinton is too centrist, he claims, offering himself as the more reasonable progressive alternative. He does have one notable supporter in the area – Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin, endorsed him in July.

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Jennifer Granholm & Duf Sundheim on midterms

It’ll be my honor to moderate the Commonwealth Club of California’s “Midterm Election Forecast: Politics in 2014” next Monday, May 12, featuring former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and former California Republican Party chairman Duf Sundheim.

Check-in starts at 6 p.m. for the 6:30 program at the Lafayette Veterans Memorial Hall, 3780 Mt. Diablo Blvd.; tickets costs $15 for club members, $25 for non-members or $10 for students with valid ID, and are available online.

“Join our political pundits as they make predictions for this fall and discuss the key questions regarding this year’s race,” the club’s promo says. “Who are the major political players to watch? What does the political landscape look like just six months from Election Day? Will the Republicans win back the Senate? How might the rest of President Obama’s presidency look following this November?”

The participants and I have been swapping ideas on what to cover, and I can tell you confidently that it’ll be a lively program. Hope to see you there.

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Lee goes on SNAP diet, will screen hunger film

With more than $20 billion in cuts proposed to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – formerly known as Food Stamps – in the 2014 Farm Bill, Rep. Barbara Lee is leading two dozen House members in a “SNAP Challenge,” living on the $4.50 per day food budget of an average SNAP recipient.

Lee, D-Oakland, issued a news release calling the proposed cuts “unconscionable and unacceptable.”

“When I was a young, single mother, I was on public assistance, and I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for the vital lifeline that the American people extended to me,” she said. “SNAP is the difference between food on the table and a child going to bed hungry. I’m so encouraged by all my colleagues who are joining me for the SNAP Challenge, and I encourage folks from across the country to get engaged and join the chorus voicing opposition to these outrageous cuts.”

Lawmakers are updating the public on the challenges of eating on $4.50 by Tweeting at #SNAPchallenge. Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, is also taking part, and said, “We need Congress to understand what these cruel austerity measures mean on a personal level rather than a generic statistical sample.”

So Lee might be rather hungry tomorrow as she joins director Lori Silverbush for a free screening of the film, “A Place at the Table,” in 1 p.m. at the Oakland Museum of California, at 1000 Oak St. An official Sundance film festival selection, the movie brings millions of Americans’ experience of hunger into stark focus through the stories of three individuals living with food insecurity.

Lee and Silverbush will take part in a panel discussion after the screening, joined by Alameda County Community Food Bank Executive Director Suzan Bateson; Community Food and Justice Coalition Executive Director Y. Armando Nieto; and Alameda County Social Services Agency Director Lori Cox.

“With nearly 46 million people living in poverty in our nation and 173,000 in poverty in Alameda Country alone, it is far past time to address poverty and hunger,” Lee said.

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Special ticket deal for gun-control forum Thursday

The rhetoric could get hot at a gun-control this Thursday evening in San Francisco.

The Commonwealth Club of California is convening a panel on “Gun Laws: California and The Nation – What Should Be Done?” at 6 p.m. Thursday in its offices on the second floor of 595 Market St. (at Second) in San Francisco.

Scheduled to participate are Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, who has introduced a bill to regulate ammunition sales; Benjamin Van Houten, managing attorney at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence; San Francisco Police Sgt. Kelly Dunn, who serves in her department’s Special Victims and Psychiatric Liaison units; and Calguns Foundation cofounder and chairman Gene Hoffman, with San Francisco Chronicle Editorial Page Editor John Diaz as the moderator.

“Our panel will discuss the national issues and California’s role in the dialogue regarding proposals to ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, to pass stricter laws to buy and license guns and ammunition, to require gun vendors to do background checks on potential owners, and report sales so law enforcement can track guns and their owners,” the club says.

Tickets cost $20 for the general public or $12 for club members and are free for students with valid ID, but the club is offering a special deal in which anyone can get tickets at the member price: Just use the coupon ID “specialforguns” when ordering online.

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Tonight’s ‘open carry’ panel in Lafayette

Open carry activist Walter Stanley of Livermore offers this important advice:

“If you plan to attend the Commonwealth Club debate this evening, please be advised that ‘open carry’ is not allowed. The event location falls with 1,000 feet of a K-8th grade school. Penal Code 626.9 (Gun Free School Zones) applies to areas that are open to the public, even if the area in question is located on private property!

“If an individual were to show-up and be openly carrying in the parking-lot (for example), they could be accused of, or even arrested for violating PC 626.9.”

So, leave yer shootin’ irons home – but please come. “Guns in Public: Exploring California’s Open Carry Policy” is at 6:30 p.m. tonight in the Veterans Memorial Building, 3780 Mt. Diablo Blvd. in Lafayette; tickets cost $12 for club members, $22 for nonmembers and $7 for students with valid ID, and are available online.

I asked Democratic gubernatorial nominee and state Attorney General Jerry Brown today about AB 1934, Assemblywoman Lori Saldana’s bill to criminalize open carry. He said he’s not familiar with it: “I’ll be glad to take a look at that bill, but there are about 4,000 of them (bills) up there.”

It did seem to pique his interest, however. “I want to know how many abuses there have been” to necessitate this bill, he said. “I always look with some skepticism on changing the way things have been done.”

When I asked a question about the bill during the May 2 debate between the Republican gubernatorial candidates, former eBay CEO Meg Whitman – now the GOP nominee – implied she would oppose it as an infringement upon Second Amendment rights.

The Assembly approved AB 1934 on June 1 with a 46-30, party-line vote. The bill is scheduled to be heard next Tuesday, June 22 by the Senate Public Safety Committee. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger hasn’t taken a position on the bill yet, press secretary Aaron McLear said today: “We usually don’t take positions on bills until we review the final version.”

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Lee to host health care forum Friday in Oakland

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, will host a discussion on the health care reform bill from 1 to 3 p.m. this Friday, April 30, in Evergreen Missionary Baptist Church, 408 W. MacArthur Blvd. in Oakland.

Lee’s office says she’ll be joined by “a diverse group of health care experts” speaking on how, and on what timeline, the new laws will affect people and families. Seating is limited, so please RSVP to HealthRSVP2010@mail.house.gov or (510) 763-0370.

The event should be an interesting bookend to the one she held last June at the very same church, at which she had urged progressives to keep demanding a single-payer health care system to ensure that any reform package passed by Congress would at least have a robust public option. In the end, of course, it had neither.