Four Bay Area House members are urging the area’s top federal prosecutor to halt what they say is ongoing “hostility toward dispensaries” that provide marijuana under the state’s medical marijuana law.
“It is counterproductive and economically prohibitive to continue a path of hostility toward dispensaries. Moreover, it appears to directly counter the spirit of Deputy Attorney General Cole’s memo, and is in direct opposition to the evolving view toward medical marijuana, the will of the people and, by now, common sense. Additionally, the State of California has also received legislative direction and guidelines from California Attorney General Kamala Harris on responsibly delivering medical marijuana.
“It is our view that the intent of the Justice Department is to not enforce its anti-marijuana laws in conflict with the laws of states that have chosen to decriminalize marijuana for medical and recreational uses. California understands the urgency toward putting together a statewide regulatory system, and we can all be helpful in that regard, but some municipalities, including Oakland, have already done an extraordinary job regulating medical marijuana. California is moving in the correct direction in a measured manner, and should be given the opportunity to do so.”
Several Bay Area dispensaries have been targeted by federal prosecutors, and Alameda County supervisors this month adopted a resolution urging the federal government to back off.
In a news release announcing the lawmakers’ letter, Lee said it’s “far past time for commonsense and economic sense to prevail in policies and actions related to medical cannabis dispensaries that serve the patients in our communities. This harassment and constant threat of prosecution should end.”
We’ll be posting a full story about reactions to President Obama’s plan to delay cancellation of some individual health insurance plans that don’t meet standards set by the nation’s new law, but here are a few pols for whom we didn’t have space in that article.
U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., called the president’s proposal a “good step” that’s “very helpful in the implementation of the law.” She also spoke on the Senate floor Thursday about Republicans’ constant opposition to this law.
“This is typical of Republicans through the generations. Every time we’ve tried to expand health care, they’ve opposed it and opposed it and tried to derail it,” she said, adding that the new insurance law can be fixed “but that’s not good enough for my Republican friends. They just want to tear it down, just like they wanted to tear down Medicare.”
Rep. Sam Farr, D-Santa Cruz, said in an email that he supports the president’s fix, which “continues to provide more choices without undermining the strengths of the new health care law. Implementing any new law creates a few bumps. We should be look for minor tweaks that strengthen the law rather than return to the old system that left millions of Americans without quality coverage.”
Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa, issued a statement calling Obama’s proposal “a step in the right direction towards fixing issues with the health care law. This was a promise that was made and it is a promise that should be kept.”
“I’ve said from the beginning that the health care reform law isn’t perfect,” Thompson said. “But instead of engaging in partisan bickering and playing blame games, I want to work to make health care reform better. … If we quit the partisan games, we can build on the reforms made in Obamacare, work out the imperfections, and make sure every American can get quality, affordable health insurance. That is a goal worth fighting for.”
At a U.S. Senate hearing today on sexual assault in the military, Sen. Barbara Boxer cited the deadly shootings of two Santa Cruz detectives by Army veteran Jeremy Goulet as an example of military justice gone awry.
Boxer, D-Calif., testified before the Boxer testified at the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel’s oversight hearing.
“Last month, an Army veteran shot and killed two Santa Cruz police detectives who were attempting to question him over a sexual assault allegation,” Boxer said. “In the aftermath of this shooting, we learned that even though the former soldier had faced two separate rape charges while serving in the Army, charges against him were dropped and he was discharged without a conviction as part of a plea bargain.”
“Now what is it going to take to convince the military that sexual assault is a violent and vicious crime and that those who perpetuate it are capable of other violent crime—including murder?” Boxer asked. “What is it going to take? It is a vicious, violent crime, and those capable of that vicious crime are capable of other crimes—yes, murder.”
Boxer’s comments echo those that former U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta made last week at the two slain officers’ funeral.
“We do know that he had a history of sexual violence both in and out of the military. And for whatever reason, people somehow always looked the other way,” Panetta had said, acknowledging that military sex offenders were not always prosecuted for the offenses they committed. “And at some point, somebody pays a price.”
It’s Election Day – get out there and vote, if you haven’t already!
California’s polls are open today from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
If you haven’t put your vote-by-mail ballot in the mail yet, DON’T – it won’t be counted unless it reaches the registrar’s office by 8 p.m. tonight, and postmarks don’t matter. You can drop it off by hand at any polling place in your county, or at the registrar’s office; don’t forget to sign the outside of the envelope.
If you have any questions about your ballot, your polling place or anything else having to do with this election, contact your county registrar:
The U.S. Justice Department today announced more than $111 million in Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant funding awards to more than 220 cities and counties to create or save about 800 law enforcement positions. All of the 600-plus new positions must be filled by veterans who served at least 180 days since Sept. 11, 2001.
In the greater Bay Area, Alameda County got $1,875,000 for 15 positions; Antioch got $1,502,680 for five positions; Hayward got $3,602,644 for nine positions; and Santa Cruz got $375,000 for three positions.
Vice President Joe Biden, on a conference call with reporters today, said the administration believes veterans who had to “fight like hell” overseas shouldn’t have to fight quite so hard to find jobs here at home.
The COPS Hiring Program makes grants to state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to hire or rehire community policing officers, providing the salary and benefits for officer and deputy hires for three years. President Obama announced in February that preference for this year’s COPS and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants would be given to communities that recruit and hire post-9/11 veterans to serve as police officers and firefighters.
Along with the pledge to hire military veterans, grantees for the COPS 2012 Hiring Program were selected based on fiscal need and local crime rates. Also factored in was each agency’s strategy to address specific problems such as increased homicide rates and gun violence.
The nine-minute video describes “how a haunting low pressure system parked itself over the Pacific Ocean last March pushing relentless bursts of heavy rains, paralyzing snow and high winds throughout the state over a 12-day period,” CalEMA said in its news release.
The state calculated more than $50 million in damages and Brown declared a state of emergency in 17 counties. Capitola and other parts of Santa Cruz and Monterey counties were particularly hard-hit
“It’s difficult for people to appreciate the sheer magnitude of this disaster because of the wide spread affects in different parts of the state,” Acting CalEMA Secretary Mike Dayton said in the release. “We decided the best way to educate people about this disaster was to document the impacts on video and talk to experts who explain how unusual, and powerful, this storm system really was.”
California’s nuclear power plants would be shut down under a proposed ballot measure that Secretary of State Debra Bowen cleared today for collection of petition signatures.
Here’s the Attorney General’s official title and summary for the measure:
NUCLEAR POWER. INITIATIVE STATUTE. Extends statutory preconditions, currently applicable to new operation of any nuclear power plant, to existing Diablo Canyon and San Onofre operations. Before further electricity production at these plants, requires California Energy Commission to find federal government has approved technology for permanent disposal of high-level nuclear waste. For nuclear power plants requiring reprocessing of fuel rods, requires Commission to find federal government has approved technology for nuclear fuel rod reprocessing plants. Both findings are subject to Legislature’s rejection. Further requires Commission to find on case-by-case basis facilities will be available with adequate capacity to reprocess or store power plant’s fuel rods. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Likely major impacts on state and local finances in the form of decreased revenues and increased costs, at least in the billions of dollars annually, due to disruptions in the state’s electricity system and electricity price increases. Potential major state costs to compensate utilities for investment losses resulting from the mandated shutdown of their nuclear power plants. Potential avoidance of future state and local government costs and lost revenues resulting from the unlikely event of a major nuclear plant incident. (11-0008.)
Proponent Ben Davis Jr. of Santa Cruz County has until Oct. 20 to collect valid signatures from at least 504,760 registered voters in order to qualify the measure for the ballot.
Gov. Jerry Brown has just issued an emergency proclamation for Del Norte, Humboldt, San Mateo and Santa Cruz Counties following the 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami off the coast of Japan, which generated a water surge along the California coast, causing damage to ports, harbors and infrastructure.
Such proclamations clear the way for state and federal emergency aid.
Five Northern California members of Congress are pressuring mortgage servicers to work with a new federally funded program in California intended to help unemployed homeowners pay their mortgages and avoid foreclosure.
The Keep Your Home California Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program provides qualified unemployed homeowners up to $3,000 a month for up to six months to help pay their mortgage. But according to the office of Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, if the monthly mortgage exceeds $3,000, the servicers won’t accept any payment at all, even if the homeowner could send a second check to cover the difference between what is owed and what the program covers. As a result, unemployed homeowners who could avoid foreclosure proceedings thanks to this program are instead at risk of failing to pay their mortgage and landing in foreclosure.
“If this program is to have meaningful success, mortgage servicers are going to have to get on board with processing these payments,” Miller said in a news release. “Refusing to accept dual payments is unacceptable and is a disservice to the homeowners who are doing everything they can to stay in their homes while they look for work. Homeowners shouldn’t have to forfeit their homes because of bureaucratic intransigence by banks and servicers.”
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, another of the letter’s signers, said “it’s time that banks and servicers become part of the solution and not the problem.
“It’s ridiculous that servicers and banks are unwilling to participate in a program that will help protect the value of the very asset on which their loan is based on,” she said. “I find it deeply troubling that servicers would have borrowers default rather than simply accepting payment.”
In their letter – also signed by Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove; Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough; and Rep. Sam Farr, D-Santa Cruz – they wrote that, “we believe refusing to accept supplementary payments from homeowners is inexcusable and we strongly urge you to remedy this problem expeditiously… It is unacceptable that servicers in California are unwilling or unable to figure out a workable resolution to this problem, particularly given that two viable options to address the issue exist.”
Those options, they say, are either to accept two checks (one from the program and one from the homeowner) or to forebear the amount of the mortgage that exceeds the $3,000 program payment.
A pair of business partners from Santa Cruz who started their ice cream shop with a Small Business Administration loan funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act economic stimulus are among those invited to sit with First Lady Michelle Obama at President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address tomorrow night.
Business partners Kendra Baker and Zachary Davis had a dream of opening an organic, homemade ice cream shop in Santa Cruz, California, but had trouble finding a lender that would help finance their dream. With the help of a Recovery Act SBA loan of $250,000, Kendra and Zack were able open the doors to The Penny Ice Creamery in August 2010. The SBA Recovery Act funding allowed them to not only open the shop, but also to employ eleven people, purchase American-made equipment, and to hire nearly twenty local businesses to design and renovate the space. Kendra and Zack were so thankful for the financing help, that they posted a video on YouTube thanking the Administration and Members of Congress for their Recovery Act SBA loan. As a result of the video, the Vice President called them in November 2010 to thank them for the video and wish them good luck.
Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., reports she’ll be sitting tomorrow night with Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., as part of the bipartisan seating initiative – that is, Democrats and Republicans sitting together, rather than “across the aisle,” to present a more united front.
“We both have responsibility for the transportation bill and water infrastructure legislation,” Boxer said. “We have already started working together and we thought it would be nice to sit together to show that there’s not just cooperation between Republicans and Democrats, but also between the House and Senate.”