Part of the Bay Area News Group

Brown, lawmakers seek disaster declaration

Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday requested a presidential major disaster declaration for California, as communities in Napa, Solano and Sonoma counties continue trying to recover from the South Napa earthquake on Aug. 24.

“Economic impacts of this event will be extensive. The earthquake caused significant damage throughout the region,” Brown wrote in a letter sent to the White House on Tuesday. “This incident is of such severity and magnitude that an effective response is beyond the capabilities of the state and affected local governments, and supplemental federal assistance is necessary.”

Such a declaration from the president would trigger the release of federal funds to help communities recover, and an executive order Brown signed Tuesday provides additional financial aid to local agencies and nonprofits so residents can replace important documents and access key services without footing added costs or other burdens.

The region’s voices in Congress, led by Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa, echoed Brown’s call with their own letter to President Obama. “It is clear to us and local authorities that a major disaster declaration is critical to helping our state recover and rebuild,” Thompson’s letter reads.

Also signing Thompson’s letter were senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein; House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco; Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael; and Rep. John Garamendi, D-Fairfield.

Federal relief funding might include Federal Emergency Management Agency money to help people to rebuild and repair housing, and for local communities to repair public infrastructure; and Small Business Administration loans for businesses to repair or replace disaster-damaged property, inventory, and supplies. Homeowners and renters may also be eligible for SBA loans to repair or replace disaster-related damages to homes or personal property.

FEMA does not provide for assistance if there is another option in place, like insurance. Those affected by the quake should contact their insurance companies first to see what benefits, if any, their plan provides.

Posted on Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014
Under: Gov. Jerry Brown, Jared Huffman, Jerry Brown, John Garamendi, Mike Thompson, Nancy Pelosi, Obama presidency, U.S. House | 1 Comment »

What they’re saying about the House budget vote

Angry words flew hot and heavy today as the House voted 219-205 to pass a Republican-drafted budget that promises balance within a decade by making sweeping cuts throughout government and eliminating health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

The nonbinding framework isn’t likely to be followed up by specific spending legislation, as it’s DOA in the Democrat-controlled Senate. But that didn’t stop critics from emptying their rhetorical cannons today.

From House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco:

“For the fourth consecutive year, House Democrats have stood united against Republicans’ broken budget priorities. But House Republicans have now fully embraced the destructive values of the Ryan Republican Budget – a road to economic ruin and an irresponsible assault on seniors, students, women, families and our future.

“Today, Republicans voted to raise taxes on middle class families with children, while giving $200,000-plus tax breaks to millionaires. They voted to destroy three million jobs over two years, while protecting tax breaks for corporations shipping jobs overseas. They voted to end the Medicare guarantee for our seniors, ransack the education of our children, and surrender our global economic competitiveness. With this budget, Republicans have voted to hollow out the middle class and dismantle the American Dream.

“Democrats have a better plan: create jobs, strengthen the middle class, invest in the future, reduce the deficit, and build an economy that works for everyone. We should be renewing emergency unemployment insurance, raising the minimum wage, and passing comprehensive immigration reform that will grow our economy, empower small business, spur innovation, and reduce the deficit by nearly $900 billion. Republicans’ backwards priorities are the wrong path for our nation, and unworthy of the American people.”

From House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio:

“This document is our vision for getting Americans back to work and our budget back in balance. I want to congratulate Chairman Ryan and the members of the committee for a job well done.”

From Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto:

“My focus is on finding long-term solutions to reduce the unbearable burden of debt we have placed on future generations. Right now we are more than $17 trillion in debt, meaning each man, woman and child is responsible for over $55,000 each. The out-of-control spending must be stopped and replaced with responsible choices that give real solutions and certainty to families in the Central Valley.

“I will also keep up the fight to protect our seniors, who have seen their Medicare plans cut by more than $300 billion under the Affordable Care Act. Because of the cuts, I introduced the Seniors’ Right to Know Act, which informs the more than 14 million seniors enrolled in Medicare Advantage nationwide about how the Affordable Care Act is affecting the healthcare plans they rely on every day. We cannot allow the healthcare law to stand in the way of us keeping our promise to our seniors.”

More, after the jump:
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Posted on Thursday, April 10th, 2014
Under: Barbara Lee, Jeff Denham, John Boehner, Mike Thompson, Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House | 4 Comments »

Fremont teen’s film featured at White House

A Fremont teen’s short film was featured today at the first-ever White House Student Film Festival.

Irvington High School sophomore Tiffany Lin’s film, “Discovery,” uses stop-action animation to show how technology can inspire and advance students.

Lin’s is among 16 films selected from more than 2,000 entries. Her film was placed in the “Young Visionaries” category; other categories are “Future Innovators,” “World of Tomorrow,” and “Building Bridges.”

The festival for K-12 students showcases the power of technology to boost learning and the Administration’s commitment to bringing America’s classrooms into the 21st century with high-speed internet and cutting-edge educational technology. The winners’ films were screened at the White House today, presented by Kal Penn, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye, and American Film Institute President and CEO Bob Gazzale. Conan O’Brien addressed the students by video.

President Obama is using the occasion to highlight progress on his ConnectED goal of transforming American education by connecting 99 percednt of students to next-generation broadband and wireless technology within five years.

Obama also announced $400 million in new private sector commitments from Adobe and Prezi to make free software available to teachers and students to help introduce creative learning materials to classrooms all across the country and help realize the promise of e-learning.

Posted on Friday, February 28th, 2014
Under: education, Obama presidency | No Comments »

California guests at White House state dinner

Several Californians will be among the many dozens of diplomats, dignitaries and guests at tonight’s White House state dinner for French President Francois Hollande:

    Director and producer J.J. Abrams of Pacific Palisades, and wife, Katie McGrath
    Rep. Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, and her guest, Barbara Jordan
    NBA player Jason Collins of Los Angeles and his boyfriend, Brunson Green
    Democratic activist Shefali Duggal of San Francisco and her husband, Rajat Duggal
    Television producer Ken Ehrlich of Westlake Village and his wife, Harriet Ehrlich
    Former insurance executive and philanthropist John Goldman of Atherton and his wife, Marcia Goldman
    Qualcomm cofounder and former chairman Irwin Jacobs of La Jolla and his wife, Joan Jacobs
    Actress and producer Mindy Kaling of Universal City and her friend, Jocelyn Leavitt
    SEIU International Secretary-Treasurer Eliseo Medina of La Canada-Flintridge and his guest, Arcelia Rocio Saenz
    Oracle heiress and Democratic fundraiser Nicola Miner of San Francisco and her husband, novelist Robert Mailer Anderson
    PayPal cofounder and Tesla CEO Elon Musk of Los Angeles and his ex-wife, Talulah Musk
    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, and her daughter, Jacqueline Kenneally
    Philanthropist and Democratic fundraiser Azita Raji of Tiburon and her husband, Gary Syman
    philanthropist and retired teacher Liz Simons of Atherton and her husband, Medley Partners Managing Director Mark Heising
    Big Block managing director Kenneth Solomon of Pacific Palisades and his wife, Melissa Solomon

Posted on Tuesday, February 11th, 2014
Under: Obama presidency | 2 Comments »

California wine to be served at White House

The White House has just issued its menu and program for tomorrow’s state dinner with French President Francois Hollande, and it features a North Bay winner.

Among the wines to be served at the dinner will be a 2011 “La Proportion Doree” (“The Golden Ratio”), a blend of Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle grapes from Sonoma County produced by St. Helena-based Morlet Family Vineyards.

Per the vineyard’s website, co-owner Luc Morlet “represents the fourth generation of a French winemaking family” from Avenay-Val d’Or in the Champagne-Ardenne region of northeastern France.

The dinner will be followed by a performance by R&B legend Mary J. Blige. See the whole menu, after the jump…
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Posted on Monday, February 10th, 2014
Under: Obama presidency | 1 Comment »

Obama to meet with tech executives Tuesday

President Obama will meet Tuesday with executives from leading tech companies – including some notable Bay Area names – to discuss progress made in addressing the glitches and breakdowns that plagued the HealthCare.gov website, a White House official said Monday.

In addition to talking about the botched rollout of the website – the portal connecting people seeking individual insurance policies under the nation’s new health care law – Obama and the tech executives will discuss how government can better deliver information technology “to maximize innovation, efficiency and customer service,” the official said.

Also on the agenda: “national security and the economic impacts of unauthorized intelligence disclosures,” and ways that the Obama administration can partner with the tech sector “to grow the economy, create jobs and address issues around income inequality and social mobility.”

Here’s the list of tech executives expected at the meeting:

  • Tim Cook, CEO, Apple
  • Dick Costolo, CEO, Twitter
  • Chad Dickerson, CEO, Etsy
  • Reed Hastings, Co-Founder & CEO, Netflix
  • Drew Houston, Founder & CEO, Dropbox
  • Marissa Mayer, President and CEO, Yahoo!
  • Burke Norton, Chief Legal Officer, Salesforce
  • Mark Pincus, Founder, Chief Product Officer & Chairman, Zynga
  • Shervin Pishevar, Co-Founder & Co-CEO, Sherpa Global
  • Brian Roberts, Chairman & CEO, Comcast
  • Erika Rottenberg, Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, LinkedIn
  • Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook
  • Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman, Google
  • Brad Smith, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Microsoft
  • Randall Stephenson, Chairman & CEO, AT&T
  • Posted on Monday, December 16th, 2013
    Under: Obama presidency, Technology in politics | 8 Comments »

    State & federal calls for relief to Philippines

    California and federal officials made urgent pleas Wednesday for more government and private aid for the Philippines, which is reeling in the aftermath of deadly Typhoon Haiyan.

    In Sacramento, Assemblyman Rob Bonta – the Legislature’s first Filipino-American member – held a news conference Wednesday with Speaker John Perez and state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, encouraging Californians to support relief efforts.

    “California is uniquely affected by the typhoon in that our state is home to the largest Filipino American population in the entire United States,” said Bonta, D-Alameda. “There are approximately 1.5 million Filipino Americans in California; this represents 43 percent of the nation’s entire Filipino American population. Many came to the U.S. within the last decade and still have deep ties to the Philippines. I’m proud that our state leaders stand in solidarity in support of the relief efforts.”

    Jaime Ascalon, deputy consul general of the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco, thanked Californians for their help. “It is great to see that when we are in need, California’s greatness, generosity and leadership is without hesitation.”

    Pérez, D-Los Angeles, noted Assembly Democrats’ website now has a page directing people to organizations helping to assist typhoon victims. “As Californians, we have had our share of natural disasters, and we understand how horrific the cost can be — not just in dollars and cents, but in human terms. The photos and news reports have shown the devastation… And as with other recent massive disasters in Haiti and Japan, the people of California have been eager to respond.”

    Steinberg said the stunning devastation in the Philippines puts Californians’ daily worries in perspective. “The California spirit is to ask what we can do to help and then to follow through. But recovery in such massive disasters will take years. What we cannot forget is that long after the news coverage wanes and the cameras are gone, the suffering and the need for help will remain for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan.”

    Californians who want to donate to relief efforts also can visit the American Red Cross’s Capital Region website or the CaliforniaVolunteer website.

    Haiyan devastation

    Meanwhile, two Bay Area House members introduced a joint resolution Wednesday urging Congress to render aid.

    “The historical and cultural links between the Philippines and the United States run deeper than any flood waters,” Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, said in a news release. “I urge my colleagues to support this resolution to show our friends, the good people of the Philippines, that – as they stood with us in World War II – the American people stand with them at this, their time of greatest need. There are so many Filipino families in my district grieving over this and they deserve to know we are doing all we can to help.”

    Speier’s 14th Congressional District has the largest population of Filipino Americans of any district in the nation – almost 70,000.

    Joining Speier in introducing the resolution was Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, whose 17th Congressional District is the first in the continental U.S. with an Asian-American majority, and who is chairman emeritus of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

    “Alongside the 60,000 Filipino Americans in my congressional district, as well as the 3.4 million across the country, my heart goes out to the people of the Philippines and all those affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan,” Honda said in the release. “I draw upon the spirit of Bayanihan – where communities join together to uplift their neighbors – and call our global community to action and stand in support and solidarity with the relief and recovery efforts in the Philippines.”

    The two lawmakers’ resolution expresses the deepest condolences from the United States to the people of the Philippines affected by the typhoon, which has claimed nearly 1,800 lives and left more than 600,000 people homeless. It also urges additional support for the victims in the recovery and rebuilding process. Despite an initial release of $25 million in U.N. emergency funds, aid workers report medicine shortages and difficulty accessing fresh water and food.

    Speier’s office said the U. S. military already is helping the Philippine government with aerial reconnaissance, search and rescue, and supplies and resources. Over 150 troops are on the ground; the USS George Washington nuclear supercarrier will arrive within a few days; and two KC-130 Hercules aircraft were deployed from Japan. More assets are on short notice for deployment depending on the level of need.

    Meanwhile, the U.S. Agency for International Development is working with the Philippine government and international relief groups to provide water, food and emergency shelter; it’s estimated that 2.5 million survivors will need food aid for the next six months. The U.S. government is providing $20 million in immediate aid: $10 million from USAID’s office of Foreign Disaster Assistance to provide emergency shelter and hygiene kits for 10,000 families, and $10 million from USAID’s Food for Peace program. About 55 metric tons of nutrition are expected to arrive on Thursday to feed about 20,000 children and 15,000 adults for five days; 1,000 metric tons of rice shipped from Sri Lanka is expected to arrive in early December and will feed 60,000 people for one month.

    Speier will hold a telephone town hall at 6 p.m. Thursday with 100 Filipino-Americans from her district who are concerned for relatives or friends affected by the typhoon; representatives from the federal government and the Red Cross will be on the call, too. “Nothing can ease the pain of those who have lost loved ones or are uncertain if their loved ones are alive, but we will not spare any efforts to help the survivors rebuild their lives,” Speier said.

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

    Posted on Wednesday, November 13th, 2013
    Under: Assembly, California State Senate, Darrell Steinberg, Jackie Speier, John Perez, Mike Honda, Rob Bonta, U.S. House | 1 Comment »

    Inertia on immigration reform riles Dems

    Democrats are hitting back at Speaker John Boehner’s statement today that the House won’t take up a comprehensive immigration reform bill before this year’s end.

    NBC Latino reports Boehner, R-Ohio, was eating breakfast at a Washington diner this morning when he was approached by two children of immigrants who urged House action.

    “I’m trying to find some way to get this thing done,” he reportedly told them. “It’s as you know, not easy, not going to be an easy path forward but I made it clear since the day after the election, it’s time to get this done.”

    Later this morning, Boehner wouldn’t set a timeline, but rather said Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., is working with Democrats to develop a set of principles “for us to deal with this issue.” He also said the House has “no intention of ever going to conference” on S.744, the bipartisan bill that the Senate passed in June on a 68-32 vote.

    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, replied to Boehner with a tweet this morning:

    Pelosi tweet

    H.R. 15 is the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act” introduced last month by Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla. It mostly mirrors the Senate bill, but replaces the Senate’s border-security plan with a different one authored by Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, and approved unanimously by the Homeland Security Committee.

    Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, the senior Democrat on Judiciary’s Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee, spoke about Boehner’s comments during today’s committee hearing on an automated, biometrics-based entry-exit system to track the entry and exit of all travelers to and from the United States.

    “Before I close, let me just say, how disappointed I was to hear the news that the House is not intending to consider immigration bills before the end of the year. I think we have a historic opportunity before us to work together to improve our immigration laws. I thank the Chairman of the [Immigration] Subcommittee [Rep. Trey Gowdy] for his kind comments about myself and Mr. [Luis] Gutierrez. I am mindful that we did not do immigration reform in a comprehensive way when we had the majority as Democrats. We were actually, in the House, deferring to the Senate hoping that they could have bipartisan agreement. They ultimately failed. The gentleman was not a Member of that Congress, but we did pass the DREAM Act when Democrats were in the majority, and it fell short in the Senate.

    “I just believe that we can put our hands across the aisle and work together to improve our laws. I would hope the spirit and intent to do that has not faded on the part of the majority [Republicans]. Certainly I would hope to continue to work with the majority to solve this problem for our country.”

    President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and senior administration officials met this morning at the White House with faith leaders to discuss the importance of passing immigration reform.

    “The leaders expressed their concerns over the impact the broken immigration system is having on families throughout their congregations,” according to the White House’s readout of the meeting. “The President and the leaders discussed their shared commitment to raise the moral imperative for immigration reform and said they will continue keeping the pressure on Congress so they can swiftly pass commonsense reform.”

    Obama commended the faith leaders for their efforts, and “noted there is no reason for House Republicans to continue to delay action on this issue that has garnered bipartisan support,” the readout said. “It would show the American people that Washington can still work together to solve our nation’s challenges.”

    Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto, last month was the first House Republican to sign onto H.R. 15; others who’ve done so since then include Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford. They and certain other California Republicans might face tougher re-election fights next year if no action is taken on immigration reform.

    Posted on Wednesday, November 13th, 2013
    Under: Barack Obama, Immigration, John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, Obama presidency, U.S. House, U.S. Senate, Zoe Lofgren | 16 Comments »

    Three Bay Area execs meet with President Obama

    Three Bay Area business executives were among those who met with President Obama this morning at the White House to discuss the nation’s cybersecurity framework.

    The meeting in the Situation Room was to “discuss the importance of cybersecurity, the joint efforts by the Administration and industry to develop the Cybersecurity Framework, and ongoing work to implement the Executive Order to enhance the cybersecurity of critical infrastructure,” the White House reported.

    A White House official said the participants included Steve Bennett, president and CEO of Mountain View-based Symantec; Renee James, President of Santa Clara-based Intel; and Charlie Scharf, CEO of Foster City-based Visa.

    Other attendees included Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga; Northrop Grumman CEO Wes Bush, Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan and Pepco Holdings CEO Joe Rigby.

    Posted on Tuesday, October 29th, 2013
    Under: Obama presidency | 9 Comments »

    More White House interns with Bay Area ties

    The White House today announced its Fall 2013 interns, including several who either hail from or attended school in the Bay Area.

    This crop of interns, along with their hometowns and the universities they most recently attended, includes:

      Joanna Chen of Anaheim (University of California, Berkeley)
      Caitlin Etienne of Richfield, Minn. (Monterey Institute of International Studies)
      Elva Linares of Oakland (University of California Hastings College of the Law)

    Interns work in one White House departments including the Domestic Policy Council, the National Economic Council, the Office of Cabinet Affairs, the Office of Chief of Staff, the Office of Communications, the Office of Digital Strategy, the Office of the First Lady, the Office of Legislative Affairs, the Office of Management and Administration, the Office of Presidential Correspondence, the Office of Presidential Personnel, the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, the Office of Scheduling and Advance, the Office of the Vice President, the Office of the White House Counsel, and the Office of White House Fellows.

    Posted on Monday, October 21st, 2013
    Under: Obama presidency | No Comments »