Stark not concerned about town hall meetings

Congressman Pete Stark, D-Fremont, does not plan to cancel or change the format of three upcoming town hall meetings in light of demonstrations at similar forums nationwide in protest of Obama’s proposed health care reform. (Over the past week, other congressional leaders have received threats, called off their town hall meetings or switched to teleconferencing with their constituents to avoid a potential showdown.)

Stark chairs the Ways and Means Committee’s health subcommittee and helped draft major portions of Obama’s plan, which, he acknowledged, could make him a target for protesters. A staff member in his Fremont office said she expects that there will be security at the town hall meetings, even though neither Stark nor his office have received threats.

Saturday’s meetings are scheduled for the following times/locations:

* 9-10 a.m.: Fremont Senior Center, 40086 Paseo Padre Parkway, Fremont.

* 10:30-11:30 a.m.: San Leandro City Hall, 835 E. 14th St., San Leandro

* Noon-1 p.m.: Alameda City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Ave., Alameda

“If all (the demonstrators) do is come and scream, what can I do? There’s no law against it. You just have to be patient and hope that everybody can be polite and maybe they’ll get some questions answered. Or maybe they can make a point about their belief of how the bill should be written,” said Stark, who has erupted into impassioned speech himself during public meetings.

Read more comments from the congressman in Thursday’s Argus.


(No) tax break for Stark?

A number of news organizations have reported that Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, had received a tax break for his Maryland home the past two years, but it turns out he may be ineligible.

To qualify, a person must live in Maryland at least six months of the year, own a Maryland driver’s license, be registered to vote there and file Maryland state taxes.

Although Stark lives in Maryland most of the year, he has a California license and votes in California. The congressman, a senior member of the House’s tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, has told reporters that he was not aware that he might not be eligible for the tax break.

To read the full story, click here. Stark is quoted in the story as saying he guesses he’ll find out this weekend how his constituents feel about this. He’s scheduled to hold three town hall meetings in Alameda County on Saturday. Here’s the schedule:

* 9-10 a.m.: Council Chamber at City Hall, 37101 Newark Blvd., Newark

* 10:30-11:30 a.m.: Adult School auditorium, 820 Bockman Road, San Lorenzo

* Noon to 1 p.m.: Earhart Elementary School multipurpose room, 400 Packet Landing Road, Alameda.


Attacking Fortney

I wrote a story today about Forney “Pete” Stark’s race against Raymund Chui, who’s an insurance agent.
Chui sent me an email with a link to an esquire magazine piece that listed Stark as one of the 10 worst congressmen in the country, along with earmark junkies Ted Stevens of Alaska and John Murtha.

Stark isn’t too big on earmarks, but Esquire thinks he has a dirty mouth. Click here, to read the blurb.

For a more positive story, try this one.

Stark apparently keeps up on what is said about him. When I mentioned the Esquire piece, he said a Chronicle columnist took a shot at him in a recent comment. He couldn’t remember her name, but it was Debra Saunders. Click here, to read it.


Pete Stark voted against the bailout

Strange day. I went out to lunch and the Dow fell 777 points. I’m not going to look at my Vanguard account for at least a month.

Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, was one of 95 Democrats to vote against the $700 million bailout package that was defeated today in the House of Representatives. My congresswoman, Barbara Lee, also voted against it.
To see how other congressmen voted, click here.

Here was Stark’s floor statement on the bailout, according to his website:

“The bill before us today is basically the same three-page Wall Street give away first put forth by President Bush. The fig leaf adjustments are not enough to outweigh the fact that no one knows if this bill is what’s needed. I’m not willing to make a $700 billion gamble that President Bush is right after 8 years of seeing all that he’s done wrong.”


Stark fires off press release

Usually when we get e-mails from Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, it means he’s voted for a bill or introduced legislation that has little chance of becoming law.

Let’s see if this one goes the distance.

Stark was one of several lawmakers today who introduced legislation to provide workers with 12 weeks of paid leave in order to care for a new child, sick family member, recover from an illness, or respond to an emergency arising from deployment of a soldier.

The current federal law allows up to 12 weeks of UNPAID leave.

Hard to see the sitting president signing this one, but he’ll be sitting in Texas next year, so I guess time will tell.

For more info on the legislation, click here.