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Pool report from Obama’s DCCC fundraiser

Here’s the White House pool report I just filed from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser that President Obama headlined, hosted by Tom Steyer and Kat Taylor in San Francisco’s Sea Cliff neighborhood.

But first, the view from outside:

The view from Sea Cliff (photo by Josh Richman)

Between 50 and 100 of the Bay Area’s well-heeled mixed and mingled with drinks and snacks in a bright, skylit room while awaiting POTUS’ remarks. Spotted in the crowd: Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif.; Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif. (wearing a blue pantsuit and gold blouse with a Golden State Warriors button on her jacket lapel); Rep. Ami Bera, D-Calif.; Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif.; and DCCC Chairman Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., opened the program, citing the Golden State Warriors’ championship win so soon after the championship San Francisco Giants were honored at the White House. She repeated the sentiments she had spoken to the U.S. Conference of Mayors a few hours earlier, noting that during Obama’s presidency, job growth has boomed, the deficit has shrunk, the stock market has soared, and 17 million previously uninsured Americans now have health coverage.

“You’ve come to a state that is in the lead on climate change,” she said, noting Steyer and Taylor have invested much to protect California’s landmark greenhouse gas emissions law.

Steyer thanked Pelosi for her service and leadership. Climate and energy is “part of the progressive agenda,” and many in the room care deeply about higher education, immigration reform, LGBT rights and more. But with climate change, Obama “hasn’t gotten nearly the support he deserves” given what the president has accomplished with regulations and international agreements. “It’s been under the most difficult political circumstances I’ve ever witnessed,” Steyer said, and perhaps the most difficult since 1860. Yet with all due respect to Warriors star Steph Curry, Obama is “still our go-to guy in a clutch,” Steyer said.

POTUS began speaking at 5:40 p.m.

“I think the Bay Area has been a little bit greedy with championships,” he said, noting at least the Blackhawks just had their victory parade, too.

But “it is actually really impressive to see what both organizations have done, and they do it the right way,” he said, offering his congratulations to Giants and Warriors alike. Obama noted Curry donates anti-malaria mosquito nets for each 3-point shot he makes.

POTUS thanked Steyer and Taylor on their civic engagement, as well as on good parenting; he’d just met their kids backstage. “I can’t thank them enough not just for supporting me but for supporting the issues that matter to everyone in this room.”

POTUS also thanked Pelosi for being “an extraordinary partner in Congress” who has made most of his administration’s accomplishments possible. And he thanked the members of Congress present at Friday’s event individually.

POTUS’ tone turned sober in addressing the Charleston massacre. “In addition to heartbreak and wanting to extend love and prayer and support to the families that have been affected” and amazement at their forgiving statements Friday to the shooter, “in addition to all those things I think it’s important for us to acknowledge that this stuff happens way too often. These mass shootings do not happen in other advanced countries around the world – they are unique in their frequency to America.”

And that’s due to this nation’s easily availability of guns, too often without background checks, he said. “It’s not enough for us to express sympathy. We have to take action.”

His partners in Congress have helped him reduce unemployment, buoy the economy, stabilize the housing market, reduce the deficit, insure the uninsured, increase high school graduation and college attendance rates, doubled production of clean energy (and increased solar tenfold), improved fuel efficiency standards, and more.

“We’ve ended two wars,” he said, while protecting the American homeland and conduct operations against enemies while staying true to the Constitution and the law. LGBT rights have leapt forward. “I’m really proud of this record.”

“But the amount of work left undone is remarkable,” POTUS said, citing both challenges and opportunities to better the nation for future generation.

“First is the changing nature of the economy,” he said.

We’ve overperformed the world economically, yet haven’t addressed growing income inequality. “Until we tackle that, people aren’t going to feel better.”

That means investing in early-childhood education, investing in science and research, and adopting new trade policies that don’t shy away from the new world economy but “lean into it,” he said.

“The second thing I spend time thinking about is climate change,” he said, and if we don’t get that right, it barely matters what else we do.

Reading the latest climate science reports scare him, he said; by 2050, “well within our current children’s lifetime,” sea levels rise by two to four feet. Within the lifetimes of grandchildren or great-grandchildren, “it could be 10 feet, 16 feet. The magnitude of the changes that could be taking place if we don’t get a handle on this are irreversible.”

“This is a matter of us taking some basic steps to increase efficiency and expand clean energy production and change our grid and develop new technologies, and it’s well within our reach,” he said. “There is something we can do.”

“If Japan is 20 percent more efficient in terms of its energy use… that’s existing technology and we can adapt it here,” he said.

“If we know how we produce power is unsustainable, we have the tools or we will develop the tools” to replace that, he said.

“Imagine what we could do if Congress actually starting moving with us instead of moving against us,” he said, drawing murmurs of assent from the audience.

China was compelled to negotiate on climate change because we’re setting the example, he said.

POTUS says he tells his White House interns that we live in the most technologically advanced time in history, with lifestyles our predecessors couldn’t have imagined, he said. “What you can’t do is give into this notion that things can’t change, because they change all the time and they change remarkably.”

“We never make as much progress as we should… we’re always a little bit battered and bruised, we’re always a little frustrated, but we make it a little better,” he said. “And by making it better, we add our little bit to this journey towards progress and more justice and more equality and more empathy and more compassion. And then we leave some work for our amazing kids to do, because we wouldn’t want to solve all their problems.”

But we must tackle income inequality and climate change now, before they become insurmountable in the future, he said.

“If we’re going to make things better, you have to have a Congress that cares and is willing to do tough stuff,” he said, adding he and his allies in Congress don’t agree on everything – a jibe that drew laughter from the audience.

“Ultimately, the most important office in a democracy is the office of citizen,” he said. “I need you to feel the same sense of urgency.”

POTUS finished at 6:05 p.m.; press was ushered out as crowd applauded.

Motorcade departed site at 6:11 p.m. en route to Intercontinental Hotel in San Francisco’s South of Market area.

Posted on Friday, June 19th, 2015
Under: Barack Obama, Obama presidency | 2 Comments »

Hillary Clinton back in Bay Area on June 20

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will be back in the Bay Area to raise campaign money in a few weeks, just a little more than a month since her last sweep through the region.

Hillary Clinton 5-27-2015 (AP photo)Clinton will attend a brunch reception on Saturday, June 20 in San Francisco’s Mission District, hosted by real estate broker, former planning commissioner, and attorney Rick Hills. Tickets start at $2,700 per person; co-hosts who raise $27,000 or more and hosts who raise $50,000 or more will be invited to a pre-reception and photo line with Clinton.

An email sent Monday to announce the event noted that Clinton’s campaign recently unveiled a finance committee structure in which someone who raises $27,000 in 30 days will be a “Hillstarter” with a seat on the Northern California finance committee; someone who raises $50,000 by Dec. 31 will be a “Hillraiser” with a seat on the Northwest regional finance committee; and someone who raises $100,000 by Dec. 31 will be a “Hillblazer” with a seat on the national finance committee.

“We hope you will use this opportunity to help reach your goals and take part in the wonderful benefits (soon to be revealed) associated with each committee,” the email said.

The former U.S. Secretary of State, U.S. Senator and First Lady held two fundraisers in San Francisco on Wednesday, May 6, one hosted by hedge fund billionaire turned environmentalist Tom Steyer and the other by longtime friend and support Susie Tompkins Buell, cofounder of Esprit and the North Face. She held three fundraisers on May 7 in Los Angeles before returning to the Bay Area on Friday, May 8 for a luncheon at the Portola Valley home of eBay President and CEO John Donahoe and Eileen Donahoe, global affairs director for Human Rights Watch and former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Clinton declared her candidacy April 12 and has been busily visiting early-primary states since, but her campaign announced Monday that she’ll give her “official campaign launch speech” on Saturday, June 13 at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park on New York City’s Roosevelt Island. The event is open to the public, and members of the public can register for tickets online. She has yet to hold any public campaign events in California.

Posted on Monday, June 1st, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton | 1 Comment »

Hillary Clinton’s fundraisers and critics

As expected, donors at today’s Hillary Clinton fundraisers in San Francisco paid only $2,700 to get in but are being asked to raise the same amount from 10 friends.

Clinton’s first event is from 1:15 to 3:15 p.m. at the home of hedge fund billionaire turned environmentalist Tom Steyer, with about 105 attendees. The second, with about 220 attendees, is from 4:45 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. at the Century Club, hosted by longtime friend and supporter Susie Tompkins Buell, cofounder of Esprit and The North Face, and her husband, Mark Buell; an earlier invitation and previous reports had erroneously indicated this would be at the Buell’s home.

She has three similar events scheduled Thursday in Los Angeles, and one Friday at the Portola Valley home of eBay President and CEO John Donahoe and Eileen Donahoe, global affairs director for Human Rights Watch and former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Council.

These events – into which no reporters are allowed – continue to build the “Hillstarters” program, a Clinton campaign aide said: a “bundling” program designed to involve more people and build the donor base. Attendees give $2,700, while hosts or co-hosts raise that same amount from each of 10 or more other people.

The aide said Clinton will speak to today’s attendees “about her commitment to being a champion for everyday Americans,” outlining her goals of “building the economy of tomorrow, not yesterday; strengthening families and communities; fixing our dysfunctional political system; and protecting our country from threats.”

Critics abound from several quarters.

“While Clinton doesn’t have time to answer serious questions about the numerous scandals plaguing her candidacy, she found time for three days worth of fundraising in California with the same wealthy liberal donors who gave to her family’s controversial foundation,” Republican National Committee spokesman Ninio Fetalvo said. “Everyday Americans are waiting for answers, and it’s very clear that answering their questions isn’t a priority to Clinton.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is sending its “Frostpaw the Polar Bear” mascot to a rally outside the event at Steyer’s home, in an effort to urge Clinton “to outline a bold plan for addressing the climate crisis, including opposing Keystone XL.”

“If we’re going to have a planet that’s livable for people and wildlife, we need Hillary Clinton standing with millions of Americans calling for an end to fossil fuel addiction,” Valerie Love, a campaigner with the Center, said in a news release. “Tackling the climate crisis ought to start with rejecting projects like Keystone XL followed by a visionary plan to dramatically reduce carbon pollution and steer us toward cleaner, safer energy sources.”

America Rising, a political action committee that gathers and spreads opposition research on Democrats, notes Clinton not only has yet to take a public position on the pipeline, but has dodged the question more than a dozen times. That includes a discussion in Canada at which she said she has “traveled around your country avoiding answering questions” on Keystone XL because she was involved in the decision-making process as Secretary of State.

And Californians for Energy Indpendence, a group funded by the oil industry, notes Clinton told Iowans last month that “there’s something wrong” when “hedge fund managers pay lower taxes than nurses or the truckers I saw on I-80 when I was driving here” – yet Steyer is a former hedge fund manager who used tax loopholes including offshore havens.

Posted on Wednesday, May 6th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton | 1 Comment »

Rand Paul to speak in SF on ‘Disrupting Democracy’

Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul will take part in a “Disrupting Democracy” event on Saturday, May 9 in San Francisco.

Rand PaulThe event – hosted by Brigade and organized through Lincoln Labs, a libertarian-leaning technology and policy group – will focus on strategies and tools that can increase voter turnout and overall civic engagement among Americans.

Paul, the junior U.S. Senator from Kentucky, will take part in a “fireside chat” with Brigade CEO Matt Mahan and San Francisco Chronicle reporter Carla Marinucci. Tickets are free but space is limited.

Paul’s mostly-libertarian political ethos is appealing to many in Silicon Valley, especially those concerned about government surveillance programs.

“We look forward to Senator Paul’s participation in the first Disrupting Democracy conversation,” Lincoln Labs cofounder Garrett Johnson said in a news release. “We hope he is the first of many candidates who will come and share their vision for the technology sector in America.”

Paul almost surely will have private meetings and a fundraiser or two while he’s in the Bay Area, though no details have been publicly released.

Posted on Wednesday, April 29th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election | 3 Comments »

Gavin Newsom in DC for SCOTUS marriage cases

California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom will attend Tuesday’s oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court in cases challenging state laws that prohibit same-sex partners from exercising the same rights as opposite-sex partners.

Newsom’s February 2004 decision to direct San Francisco’s City Hall to issue same-sex marriage licenses catapulted him onto the national stage, even if some marriage-rights activists believe it was premature and galvanized a backlash. He announced in February that he’ll run for governor in 2018.

“Rulings upon rulings have rendered discrimination against same-sex partners unjustly unconstitutional, and I hope a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court Justices will rule in favor of equality once again,” Newsom said in a news release Monday. “But I caution against complacency in this battle against bigotry, especially where states are turning to so-called religious exemptions. Even in California, a vanguard for tolerance, there are those who continue their hateful crusade against love.”

While in Washington this week, Newsom is scheduled to address the California State Society, and to meet with members of California’s congressional delegation to discuss criminal justice reforms, economic development, and higher education. And, apparently, to find a decent lunch.

Posted on Monday, April 27th, 2015
Under: Gavin Newsom, Lt. Governor, same-sex marriage | 6 Comments »

Loretta Sanchez to meet with SF Latino Dems

Sure, Attorney General Kamala Harris already has raised a cool $2.5 million for her 2016 Senate run, but that doesn’t mean other Democrats aren’t still seriously considering taking her on – even on her home turf.

Loretta SanchezRep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Garden Grove, is meeting with the San Francisco Latino Democratic Club from 5 to 7 p.m. this Friday at Don Ramon’s Mexican restaurant, 225 11th St. in San Francisco. The event is co-sponsored by a bunch of local Latino organizations; there’s been some dissatisfaction voiced among Latino Democrats at not having one of their own in the Senate race.

This isn’t Sanchez’s first trip to Kamala Harris’ home base since she first expressed interest in running in January. Photos posted to her Facebook page show her at Don Ramon’s restaurant in mid-March with California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton, and at North Beach’s Stella bakery the next day with former San Francisco supervisor Angela Alioto.

Sanchez isn’t the only Southern California House member pondering a run for the seat Barbara Boxer will vacate next year; others include Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, and Xavier Becerra, D-Los Angeles.

Harris is the only prominent Democrat who has declared her candidacy for the seat so far; Assemblyman Rocky Chávez, R-Oceanside, is the only prominent Republican to throw his hat into the ring so far.

Posted on Tuesday, April 7th, 2015
Under: U.S. Senate | 1 Comment »

Joe Biden to visit San Francisco, Oakland this week

Vice President Joe Biden is coming to the Bay Area this week.

The White House announced Tuesday that Biden will arrive in San Francisco on Thursday for a political event, and on Friday is scheduled to visit a PG&E center in Oakland to discuss the importance of workforce development and investing in job-training programs across the country.

His wife, Jill Biden, is coming as well, and plans to visit De Anza College in Cupertino to highlight the administration’s commitment to community colleges and their importance to the nation’s future.

The vice president last visited San Francisco in early October to raise money for the Democratic National Committee, and before that in late May.

More details to come…

Posted on Tuesday, April 7th, 2015
Under: Joe Biden | 2 Comments »

Oakland, SF education officials meet with Obama

Three California education officials – including two from the Bay Area – met Monday morning with President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to highlight the need for funding as Congress mulls a new budget and a revamp of the No Child Left Behind law.

Jumoke Hinton HodgeOakland Unified School District board member Jumoke Hinton Hodge, San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Richard Carranza and Fresno Unified School District Superintendent Mike Hanson were among the dozen officials from across the nation who met with Obama and Duncan at the White House.

All were from districts that are part of the Council of the Great City Schools; Hodge chairs the board of that national organization, which represents the needs of urban public schools. School districts eligible for membership must be located in cities with populations over 250,000 and student enrollment over 35,000.

Obama said in the meeting that he’s ready to fight with Republicans for school funding and his education priorities, the Associated Press reported. He hopes that Republican lawmakers focus on educating every child and not shifting money away from needy districts, he said; he’s also calling for a focus on low-performing schools, annual assessments and investments in special education and English-language learners.

If the Republican budget doesn’t reflect those priorities, he said, they will have “a major debate.”

“My hope is that their budget reflects the priorities of educating every child,” he said, according to a pool report from the New York Post’s Geoff Earle. “We are making too much progress here … for us to be going backwards now.”

Obama and Duncan are touting improved high-school graduation rates as evidence that the administration’s policies are working. In California, the high school graduation rates from 2012 to 2013 increased by 2.4 percent overall, including a 2.7 percent increase for Hispanic students and a 2.1 percent increase for African-American students.

Richard CarranzaHinton Hodge is co-founder of the Parent Leadership and Engagement Academy Initiative (PLEA), a community-building project dedicated to the education and support of West Oakland parents and families. She collaborated with California Tomorrow to develop programs aimed at increasing parents’ ability to navigate the public school system; has worked extensively with low-income youth and students identified as severely emotionally disturbed; and she has provided gender-specific services to urban girls.

Carranza has been San Francisco’s schools superintendent since June 2012; earlier, he had been the district’s deputy superintendent of instruction, innovation and social justice at the district since 2009.

Posted on Monday, March 16th, 2015
Under: Barack Obama, education, Oakland, Obama presidency, San Francisco politics | 12 Comments »

State oversight avalanche bears down on ABAG

State officials are rushing to put new oversights in place following the embezzlement of almost $1.3 million by an Association of Bay Area Governments official from a bond-funded San Francisco development account.

State Treasurer John Chiang on Thursday announced a partnership with Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, to conduct legislative oversight hearings to make sure money raised through government bond sales is safe from fraud, abuse, and mismanagement. Chiang also said he has created a special task force to develop best-practices guidelines on the care of bond proceeds that will be issued to all state and local governments.

California and its local governments over the past decade have issued more than $700 billion in public debt, Chiang noted in a news release.

“We rely on these borrowed moneys to build and maintain the critical infrastructure upon which our communities and economy depend – from schools and roads to levees and libraries,” Chiang said. “The ease in which one of ABAG’s leaders allegedly fleeced more than a million dollars in bond funds raises concerns regarding whether there are sufficient safeguards at the thousands of State and local agencies which are responsible for nearly three-quarters of a trillion bond dollars.”

And state Controller Betty Yee announced Thursday her staff will audit ABAG’s internal administrative and accounting controls.

“As California’s chief fiscal officer, I am charged with protecting state resources,” Yee said. “When public money goes missing, I need to determine how it happened and whether effective controls are in place.”

Yee’s audit will initially focus on FY 2012-13 and 2013-2014, but that might expand if investigators discover accounting weaknesses that may have affected earlier years. The Controller’s Office sent a letter today to ABAG asking that the association make available documents that will be used in the audit including ledgers, contracts, invoices, personnel records, meeting minutes, policies and procedures. The audit work will begin Feb. 20 and is expected to take a few weeks.

More, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, February 12th, 2015
Under: California State Senate, John Chiang, Kevin de Leon | 4 Comments »

Obama to speak next Friday at Stanford, in SF

President Barack Obama will be in the Bay Area next week to speak at a Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection at Stanford University – an event that was scheduled a month ago but seems particularly timely given this week’s news of a massive hacking fiasco that compromised the personal data of up to 80 million Anthem insurance customers.

The president will arrive in San Francisco on Thursday night, a White House official said on background. He’ll speak Friday at the summit, which aims “to help shape public and private sector efforts to protect American consumers and companies from growing threats to consumers and commercial networks.”

“The summit will bring together major stakeholders on cybersecurity and consumer financial protection issues – including senior leaders from the White House and across the federal government; CEOs from a wide range of industries including the financial services industry, technology and communications companies; computer security companies and the retail industry; as well as law enforcement officials, consumer advocates, technical experts, and students,” the White House official said.

President Obama after his remarks will host a roundtable discussion with business leaders. On Friday evening, he’ll speak at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser at the San Francisco home of venture capitalist Sandy Robertson; tickets cost $10,000 for dinner and a photo, $32,400 to co-chair the event. On Saturday, Obama will head for Palm Springs.

Posted on Friday, February 6th, 2015
Under: Barack Obama, Obama presidency | 5 Comments »