CA-10: On Independence Day, Let's Celebrate Service

Happy Independence Day!

On the anniversary of the birth of our country, I wanted to take this moment to first thank all the men and women who proudly serve our country in the armed services. I also think it's important to acknowledge Americans who have found other ways to serve our country - the Teach for America and AmeriCorps volunteers who work in America's most desperate pockets to help create a more just and equitable society, the volunteers from community, religious, and non-profit organizations who selflessly devote time and money in their local communities, and the volunteers in the Peace Corps and NGOs who generate goodwill the world over while presenting America's best face to allies and adversaries alike.

Forty-three years ago, my wife Patti and I heeded President John F. Kennedy's call, left Berkeley, and embarked on a journey that would shape our outlook for the rest of our lives. We joined the Peace Corps and spent two years working on the eradication of small pox in rural southwest Ethiopia. We witnessed unimaginable suffering on an almost daily basis, but we understood that the work we were doing was not just vital to good people desperately in need of help but also served to demonstrate to the world abroad the goodness of America.

More over the flip...

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CA-10: I Received the Endorsement of the SEIU CA State Council

Yesterday I was excited to announce that the SEIU California State Council has endorsed me in my race to represent California's 10th Congressional District, a Northern California district encompassing parts of Contra Costa, Solano, Alameda, and Sacramento counties. With 700,000 members, SEIU is the largest labor union in California, and their ranks include a broad cross-section of working Californians, including social workers, nurses, classroom aides, security officers, college professors, homecare workers, janitors, and more.

Why I'm motivated to lead on single-payer health care, the Employee Free Choice Act, and green-collar jobs over the flip...

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Yes We Can Stop what the LA Times Calls "a Dubious Deal on Offshore Oil Drilling"

At a hearing last week of the California State Lands Commission, which I chair, we passed a resolution critical of an effort to bypass our independent jurisdiction in approving new oil drilling proposals.

An editorial in last weekend's Los Angeles Times buttresses my position and explains what's at stake:

"[In late January,] the Lands Commission rightly rejected the plan on a 2-1 vote, and that should have been the end of it. [...]

Admittedly, the state could use the money. But that's not a good enough reason to subvert the authority of the Lands Commission, sell California's coastline in exchange for empty promises, ignore the wishes of Santa Barbara residents and dismiss the outcome of a long process of analysis and public hearings. The Lands Commission, in fact, was created in 1938 to bring more transparency to the awarding of oil leases after a scandal involving the Department of Finance."

National and state implications over the flip...

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I Need Your Help to Protect California's Coastline

The California Department of Finance wants to "drill baby drill" off the Golden State's coastline, and they're willing to undermine 70+ years of checks and balances to do it. Will we let them get away with it?

In late January, I joined California Controller John Chiang in a two-to-one vote of the California State Lands Commission (SLC) to reject what would have been the first new oil lease in California waters in more than 40 years. As chair of the SLC, I take my responsibility as a steward of the environment very seriously, and I did not think the proposal was in the best interests of the state. Beyond the inherent environmental risks posed by all new drilling projects, I did not think assurances included in the proposal to decommission oil platforms decades down the road were enforceable.

Unfortunately, the Department of Finance is unable to take "No" for an answer. California needs your help over the flip...

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Organizing for Change and Putting Change in Your Pocket

Today I'll be joining Vice President Joe Biden in San Diego to promote job growth in California. At a time when California's unemployment rate is at 11.2 percent, the highest rate on record, it's certainly premature to declare that happy days are here again. But in this time of economic uncertainty, it's nice to know that our leadership in Washington is in tune with the needs of everyday Californians.

President Barack Obama's stimulus package wisely addresses both short term needs and long term goals in a way that prepares our country for an internationally competitive, green by necessity economy. The stimulus package passed in February includes $144 billion for state and local fiscal relief, $53 billion for priority education spending, $111 billion for infrastructure and science projects, $43 billion for energy needs, $81 billion in funds to help protect the vulnerable, and $288 billion in targeted tax cuts. The package also calls for doubling our renewable energy production in three years.  

In California alone, it will create or save 396,000 jobs. Job-creating projects include $1.5 million for alternative energy efficiency grants for business and workforce housing in Livermore, $500,000 for affordable housing in Palm Desert, $200 million for flood levy improvements in Natomas, and $250,000 for storm water capture in Pasadena.

You are over the flip...

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