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More from Jeb Bush’s San Francisco event

We’ve posted my story on Republican presidential candidate and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s visit to San Francisco startup Thumbtack this morning, but as usual, there’s lots more in the notebook than there was room in the story.

Jeb Bush arrives at Thumbtack 7-16-2015 (photo by Josh Richman)Thumbtack cofounder and CEO Marco Zappacosta, 30, a Libertarian from Atherton, asked Bush what his motivation was for running for president. Bush quipped that the crowd might not realize that his father and brother served as president, a fact which “adds complication to my life” by creating expectations. He said he’s running “not to fulfill some sort of dynastic notion,” but to help the nation achieve the greatness of which he believes it’s on the cusp, and without which many Americans will suffer.

He added that he’s not “angry” like some of his rivals seem to be. “They’re good at preying on people’s angst and legitimate concerns about the future of our country.”

Bush praised the “well-intentioned” efforts of President Barack Obama to bring cutting-edge technology into government. “The reason it isn’t working is because all this institutional crud, if you will, needs to be cleaned out.”

That means not only reducing regulations and bureaucracy, but also addressing an educational system which spends more per student than any other in the world yet leaves only 40 percent of high-school graduates college- or career-ready. “We have to build quality, build capacity for people to achieve success.”

One Thumbtack employee identified himself as a Miami native and gun owner, but said he’s troubled by Bush’s lack of support for adequate gun controls including universal background checks for all firearms purchases. Bush said Florida’s background checks are “helpful,” but “that should be driven by the states;” he also noted that although Florida has a high number of concealed-carry permits, its crime rate fell during his gubernatorial tenure due to “a certainty of punishment when people commit a crime with a gun.”

“We may have to disagree on this,” Bush told the worker.

Bush said he believes in equal pay for women who do the same work as men, and said laws already are in place to let workers challenge discrimination in court.

Jeb Bush at Thumbtack 7-16-2015 (photo by Josh Richman)Afterward and outside, Bush told reporters he’s touched by the tragedy of Kathryn Steinle’s July 1 slaying on San Francisco’s Pier 14 allegedly at the hands of Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, a 52-year-old felon who earlier had been deported five times. But he said fiery, anti-Mexican rhetoric from rival Donald Trump isn’t the answer: “I don’t think it’s appropriate as a potential president to prey on that fear.”

Asked about rival Rick Perry’s comment that Trump is offering “a toxic mix of demagoguery and nonsense,” Bush replied that Perry has been running the kind of principled campaign of policy proposals “that I’m respectful of.”

Bush also said “sanctuary cities” like San Francisco that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities should not be given federal law enforcement funding.

After Bush’s departure, Zappacosta said the issues likely to sway this election are less those of specific interest to Silicon Valley and more the broad areas of job creation, education and national security. As a company that represents “hundreds of thousands of small businesses across the country,” he said, Thumbtack was a great venue for Bush to discuss fostering small-business innovation. “It’s clearly a topic that he’s thought hard about.”

Posted on Thursday, July 16th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election | 1 Comment »

Jeb Bush names some Silicon Valley favorites

In advance of Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush’s upcoming visit Thursday to a San Francisco tech startup (and his fundraisers Wednesday night in San Francisco and Thursday in Woodside, the former Florida governor has made a brief video naming some of his Silicon Valley favorites.

As the campaign notes, “SPOILER: Jeb is the first politician in history to side against apple pie.”

Posted on Wednesday, July 15th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election | No Comments »

Bush, Carson & Fiorina are Bay Area-bound

As the Republican presidential field keeps on expanding, the Bay Area continues to attract candidates in search of campaign cash.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will hit Los Angeles on Tuesday and Pasadena and Santa Barbara on Wednesday before arriving in the Bay Area.

In San Francisco, he’ll attend a reception Wednesday evening at the home of Cavalry Asset Management founder John Hurley and his wife, Kamilla. Tickets cost $2,700, but co-hosts can pay $10,000 to gain access to a separate photo reception while co-chairs can pay $27,000 for both events plus two tickets to a private VIP event with Bush in Los Angeles on Aug. 11.

And in Silicon Valley, Bush will attend a luncheon reception at midday Thursday in the Village Pub in Woodside; tickets for this cost the same as for the San Francisco event.

Politico’s Playbook says Bush’s Bay Area visit also will include hailing a ride with Uber in order to underscore the importance of innovation and disruptive technology to create jobs, as well as a tour of San Francisco-based Thumbtack, a startup that helps users connect with local professionals from disc jockeys to house painters.

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson is scheduled to have a late-afternoon fundraiser next Thursday, July 23 at an undisclosed home in Alameda County, hosted by the Frederick Douglass Foundation of California. Tickets cost $250 per person.

And Carly Fiorina – no stranger to the Bay Area, as a former Los Altos Hills resident and former Hewlett-Packard CEO – will attend a fundraising reception on Monday, Aug. 10 at the Piedmont home of real estate brokerage founder Bill Cumbelich and his wife, Sara. Tickets start at $250; $1,000 buys entry into a private reception with a photo opportunity; and $2,700 admits the contributor to a host-committee roundtable.

Posted on Monday, July 13th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, campaign finance | 1 Comment »

Pelosi cites California as need for highway fund

California’s crumbling roads are a prime example of why Congress must pass long-term legislation to reauthorize and reinvigorate the Highway and Transit Trust Fund, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said Friday.

Nancy Pelosi“With scant days left until the Highway Trust Fund expires in the middle of the summer construction season, Republicans have wasted this entire week tying themselves in knots to protect the Confederate Battle Flag,” Pelosi, D-San Francisco, said in a news release.

“Our nation’s infrastructure needs are too serious for another Republican manufactured crisis, or another meager, short-term extension,” she said. “We must have a long-term bill to invest in our roads, transit and bridges, and protect the good-paying jobs of hundreds of thousands of construction workers across the country.”

Pelosi cited Department of Transportation data showing that 68 percent of the Golden State’s roads are in mediocre or poor condition. This forces drivers to spend almost $13.9 billion a year – an average of $586 per motorist – on otherwise unnecessary automotive repairs, creating costs for commuters and businesses moving their goods to market. And almost 28 percent of California’s bridges also structurally deficient, too.

“Americans are tired of the potholes, the traffic delays, and the danger of our crumbling roads and bridges,” Pelosi said. “Hard-working American families deserve a long-term Highway bill that invests in world-class infrastructure and creates good-paying jobs.”

Posted on Friday, July 10th, 2015
Under: Nancy Pelosi, Transportation, U.S. House | No Comments »

San Francisco girl to dine at White House

First Lady Michelle Obama on Friday will host the 2015 winners of the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, a nationwide recipe challenge for kids that promotes cooking and healthy eating, for the annual kids’ “State Dinner.”

Actually a luncheon, it’s part of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! anti-obesity initiative. The 55 aspiring young chefs and a parent or guardian will join her for a healthy lunch featuring a selection of the winning recipes, and a special performance by the cast of Disney’s Tony Award-winning hit musical, Aladdin, followed by a visit to the White House Kitchen Garden.

Aria PelaezCalifornia’s winner is Aria Pelaez, 9, of San Francisco, who created the California Rainbow Taco with Mic-Kale Obama Slaw and Barack-amole. (Hmm, think she won for the name alone?)

“I was inspired to make this recipe because my family makes bland tacos,” Aria told the White House, apparently with little regard for her parents’ feelings. “I took leftover BBQ pineapple, tomato, orange peppers, and red onions and made a taco with them. I added grilled fish and I made a guacamole yogurt sauce to give it a strong taste. This dish makes my mouth water.”

“You rock, Mrs. Michelle Obama!” she added. “P.S. This is gluten free! My granddad has Celiac so I try to eat gluten free, too, in his honor.”

See the recipe, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, July 9th, 2015
Under: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

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 | 9 Comments »

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 »