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Lynn Woolsey on panel at UFO hearing

Lynn Woolsey, phone home.

The former North Bay House member is one of six former members of Congress who are taking testimony at a public hearing this at the National Press Club on what the U.S. government really knows about extraterrestrial life.

Yes. Really.

“The Citizen Hearing on Disclosure of an extraterrestrial presence engaging the human race will attempt to accomplish what the Congress has failed to do for forty-five years – seek out the facts surrounding the most important issue of this or any other time,” according to the hearing’s website.

Besides Woolsey, also plumbing the final frontier’s mysteries this week are former U.S. Sen. Mike Gravel, D-Alaksa, and former Reps. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md.; Merrill Cook, R-Utah; Darlene Hooley, D-Ore.; and Carolyn Kilpatrick, D-Mich.

The multi-day hearing, which started Monday and ends Friday, promises testimony from about 40 researchers and military/agency witnesses and is being live-streamed in English and Spanish – but it’s viewable only after paying a $3.80 subscription.

The event was organized by the Paradigm Research Group – a UFO conspiracy-theory group in Bethesda, Md., founded by activist Stephen Bassett, which invited the former lawmakers to use their House-honed skills in interviewing witnesses.

The White House in November 2011 answered a pair of petitions seeking disclosure of information on extraterrestrial life – including a petition launched by Bassett – by stating “the U.S. government has no evidence that any life exists outside our planet, or that an extraterrestrial presence has contacted or engaged any member of the human race. In addition, there is no credible information to suggest that any evidence is being hidden from the public’s eye.”

Woolsey, 75, retired last year after 10 terms in the House; she was succeeded by Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael.

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Woolsey gives her 444th, final antiwar speech

Rep. Lynn Woolsey, who is retiring from Congress in a few weeks, this morning delivered her 444th and final special order speech expressing her opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and her support for a “smart” approach to national security:

http://youtu.be/ztGa932tnwc

Woolsey, D-San Rafael, will be succeeded in the next Congress by Rep.-elect Jared Huffman, a fellow Democrat; the newly drawn 2nd Congressional District stretches from the Golden Gate Bridge’s north end to the Oregon border.

Read the text of Woolsey’s speech as prepared, after the jump…
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Lynn Woolsey endorses Jared Huffman in CA-2

Retiring Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, today endorsed Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, as her successor in the newly drawn 2nd Congressional District.

“I congratulate Jared Huffman on his impressive showing in Tuesday’s primary, and regardless of the final vote tally, I am proud to endorse him in the November election.

“Jared is that rare public servant with both the courage of his convictions and the ability to work constructively to get things done. He is both a principled progressive and an effective coalition-builder. His environmental expertise and credentials are second-to-none. He has proven time and time again that he will stand with working families, women, seniors and consumers. And I believe he will continue the ongoing struggle to bring our troops home from Afghanistan.

“Our nation faces major challenges, and we need leaders like Jared Huffman who can hit the ground running and start getting the job done immediately. Jared has everything you would want in a member of Congress, and I am confident that he will be as strong a legislator in Washington as he has been in Sacramento.

“His victory this fall would allow me to leave office knowing that the North Coast is in capable hands, with a representative that truly reflects our district’s values.”

Unofficial results show Huffman finished with 37.3 percent of the vote, followed by Republican Dan Roberts, an investment banker from Tiburon, with 15.3 percent. Roberts narrowly edged out Democrat Norman Solomon, a liberal activist and author from Inverness, who had 14.2 percent of the vote; nine other candidates trailed farther behind.

The newly redrawn district stretches from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Oregon border, spanning parts of Marin, Sonoma, Mendocino, Humboldt, Del Norte and Trinity counties.

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DiFi endorses for North Bay House seat

Up in the North Bay, the state’s (arguably) most popular Democratic elected official has made an endorsement in the race for the Bay Area’s only House seat without an incumbent seeking re-election.

Jared HuffmanU.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has endorsed Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, to succeed Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, who won’t seek re-election to the newly drawn 2nd Congressional District.

“I’ve worked with Jared over the years and been very impressed by his command of water issues, his commitment to the environment, and his ability to tackle complex challenges and get things done,” Feinstein said in Huffman’s news release. “Jared is the kind of principled and effective leader we need more of in Congress right now and he has my full support.”

Huffman – a former public interest consumer attorney who has crusaded for environmental causes in the Legislature – is leading the pack in fundraising as he competes with fellow Democrats Norman Solomon of Inverness, an author and media critic whose activism won him the endorsement of the Congressional Progressive Caucus’ co-chair; Stacey Lawson, a former tech executive from San Rafael who co-founded and teaches at UC Berkeley’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology; and Marin County Board of Supervisors President Susan Adams. (Woolsey won’t publicly endorse anyone.) The lone Republican so far is Dan Roberts, an investment advisor from Tiburon.

All of these candidates are from Marin County, not unusual for Woolsey’s old 6th Congressional District, which ran only up to the Sonoma/Mendocino border. But in this radically reapportioned 2nd District, which extends from the Golden Gate Bridge all the way up to the Oregon border, their lack of name recognition combined with the new costs of travel and advertising could make it an interesting race.

Huffman also today announced the endorsement of Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, launching what he said will be a week of announcements of women supporting his candidacy. “The week will culminate with the rollout of a major event featuring a keynote appearance by one of the most prominent women in statewide elected office.”

Seeing as how there are only two women in statewide elected office – Attorney General Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Debra Bowen – I’m guessing it’ll be one of them. And since I think I’ve already espied a photo of Harris on Huffman’s website…

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See your House member’s 2011 spending

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, unsurprisingly has spent the most of any Bay Area House member so far in 2011 while Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, has spent the least, according to Congressional spending data crunched by the Sunlight Foundation.

Here are the year-to-date spending numbers through Sept. 30, the end of the third quarter:

Nancy Pelosi — $1,131,048.95
Lynn Woolsey — $1,102.313.04
Anna Eshoo – $1,065,928.98
Jackie Speier — $1,053,889.75
Mike Honda — $1,037,247,79
Barbara Lee — $1,009.844.70
Zoe Lofgren — $970,630.03
George Miller — $950,707.76
Pete Stark — $941,132.97
Jerry McNerney — $838,944.86
John Garamendi — $780,133.41

Pelosi’s spending has been driven in large part by her $201,793.78 in the rent/communications/utilities category, which was about three times the lowest amount a Bay Area member spent in that area (that’s Pete Stark, D-Fremont, at $67,773.11). As reported last year, the rent on Pelosi’s district office – in the new federal office building on Seventh Street south of Market in San Francisco – is the House’s highest by far, at $18,736 per month.

Stark, however, has spent more than three times the next-closest Bay Area member on franked mail – $56,489.20 – and almost twice as much on printing and reproduction, at $53,887.27. That’s in keeping with Stark’s past practices, however: In 2010 he spent $100,518.11 on franked mail and $69,001.83 on printing and reproduction; in 2009, it was $165,554.82 on franked mail and $141,112.70 on printing and reproduction. As one of his constituents, I can attest that Stark loves sending mailers regularly to his district’s voters, updating them on issues and inviting them to town meetings.

Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, who is retiring at the end of this term, clocked in with both the highest personnel costs of any Bay Area member so far this year – $883,353.14 – and the highest travel costs, at $40,870.14. Garamendi has the lowest personnel costs ($573,073.70) while Stark logged the least travel costs ($7,369.66).

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NLRB: Dems say toMAYto, Boehner says toMAHto

Ah, where would we be without all the glorious political rhetoric in Congress? What’s that, you say… “making actual progress?” Oh, but that would take all the fun out of it.

Today’s case in point: The House today voted 238-186 to pass HR 2587, the “Protecting Jobs From Government Interference Act.” The bill would limit the National Labor Relations Board’s authority by preventing the board from “ordering any employer to close, relocate, or transfer employment under any circumstance.” As the Washington Post puts it:

At the heart of the House measure is a months-long dispute over whether Boeing unlawfully retaliated against its union employees in Washington state by transferring a production facility to South Carolina after a series of strikes. The NLRB in April ruled that by moving the facility to a right-to-work state, Boeing was in violation of federal labor laws.

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, the Education and the Workforce Committee’s ranking Democrat, issued a news release saying the bill would remove the only meaningful legal remedy available to workers if a company illegally moves operations or eliminates work because workers engage in protected activities like forming a union or collective bargaining.

“The Republican bill sends a message to employers to retaliate against employees who may demand a piece of the American dream,” Miller said. “We should be working to create jobs, not send American jobs overseas. We should be working to strengthen the middle class, not tear it down. We should be working together to send the message that, during these most difficult economic times, Congress is on the side of the middle class.”

Miller said that under this bill, if a company closes an entire U.S. plant or part of a U.S. plant and moved the work to China because the U.S. employees organized a union, the NLRB no longer would have the power to order the work to be kept in or returned to the U.S. Republicans voted down an amendment that would have let the NLRB return jobs to America that were illegally sent overseas.

Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, spoke against the bill today on the House floor:

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, says… toMAHto!

“Today the House voted to remove another obstacle to private-sector job creation and long-term economic growth. This bill blocks the federal government’s National Labor Relations Board from telling businesses where they can and can’t create new jobs,” Boehner said. “It’s absurd that the federal government would stop American employers from creating new jobs here at home when millions are out of work and the unemployment rate exceeds nine percent. Under this Administration, American companies are free to create jobs in China but they aren’t free to create them in South Carolina. I’m hopeful that the Senate will join us in taking swift action, and help give American job creators the certainty they need to plan and put Americans back to work.”

Despite Boehner’s “hopeful” demeanor, the Democrat-dominated Senate is likely to kill the bill deader than a doornail.