Friday, December 29, 2006

McNerney To Deliver Democratic Radio Address On Dec. 30

Cross posted on Calitics

[UPDATE]: You can listen to Jerry McNerney's Weekly Democratic Radio Address here.

The text of the press release from Nancy Pelosi's office is as follows:
WASHINGTON, Dec. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Congressman-elect Jerry McNerney (CA-11), an incoming freshman, will deliver the Democratic Radio Address on Saturday. In his address, Congressman-elect McNerney discusses Democratic plans to break the link between lobbyists and legislation and the need for a new direction in Iraq.

WHO: Congressman-elect Jerry McNerney (CA-11)

WHAT: Weekly Democratic Radio Address

WHEN: Saturday, December 30, 2006 -- 11:06 a.m. (EST)

WHERE: Major radio networks, including AP, ABC, NPR, CBS Radio, CNN Radio, C-SPAN, Armed Forces Radio Network, American Urban Radio Network, Voice of America Radio Network, BBC Radio, CBC Radio, and Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Below is a transcript of his remarks:

Embargoed until Saturday, December 30, 2006 at 11:06 a.m. EDT
"Good morning and Happy New Year. This is Congressman-elect Jerry McNerney of Pleasanton, California, a new Member in the 110th Congress.

"As we move into the New Year and the new Congress, I am excited about what we can achieve for the American people. In this election, the American people clearly called for change: change in the way we do business in Washington, change in the way that we shape our energy policy, and most importantly, a change of direction in Iraq.

"As our first responsibility in fulfilling the mandate of this critical election, House Democrats will restore integrity and civility in Washington in order to earn the public trust.

"We will ban gifts from lobbyists and lobbyist-funded travel, prohibit the use of corporate jets, and shut down the revolving door between Capitol Hill and K Street Lobbyists. We will restore the House tradition of allowing a reasonable 15-minute voting period to prevent extended votes, and we will require that Congress put away the credit card and operate under a pay-as-you-go common sense budget rules. We will hold Members of Congress accountable to the people who voted them into office, not lobbyists and special interests.

"Our heavy dependence on foreign oil is putting our economy, our climate, and our national security at great risk. We are actually funding the very terrorists around the world who are trying to harm us. It's our patriotic duty as citizens of this great nation to end our dependence on imported oil. Democrats will quickly and significantly reduce our consumption of foreign oil while creating jobs, prosperity, and a healthy environment with a new energy technology, including renewable energy and bio-fuels.

"Most of the technologies needed to reshape our energy future are already at hand; what has been lacking is the political will to develop and expand their use. Democrats have a vision of creating a new energy economy using good old-fashioned American ingenuity to achieve energy independence. New American jobs and a bright future will be the dividend.

"Democrats will also lead the way for a new direction in Iraq. My son was in the military when he convinced me to run for office, and we continue to keep our soldiers and their families in our prayers. But our troops need more than our well-wishes, and our veterans need more than lip service; we need a change in policy, as confirmed by the Iraq Study Group report released earlier this month.

"I share the concern of my Democratic colleagues that President Bush may use his same failed logic to increase our troop strength in Iraq by up to 30,000 soldiers. The incoming chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Ike Skelton, has said that an increase in troops at best won't change a thing, and at worst could exacerbate the situation even further in Iraq.

"The Iraqis need to understand that the responsibility for the future of that country is theirs. Beginning the redeployment of American forces would send that message. We must also improve the training of Iraq security forces by ensuring that Iraqi units are not infiltrated by either militia members or insurgents. The consequences of not doing so are unacceptable. In my district there is a Gold Star mom whose son was killed in Iraq by the very Iraqis he was training. He and his mom are always in my thoughts. We simply can not ask our young men and women to train Iraqis without doing everything possible to make certain that the people they are training are not attacking our troops.

"Our troops have done everything asked of them in Iraq with great courage. Particularly at this time of the year, when families gather to celebrate the holiday season, we need to remember the huge sacrifices being made by the brave men and women in our military, and give thanks for their service.

"Thank you for listening. I wish everyone the very best 2007 and pray that God blesses you and your families for this holiday season. This is Congressman-elect Jerry McNerney."

Source: Office of Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi

Thursday, December 28, 2006

SNTP enters post-Pombo period

Been awfully quiet on this blog. The reason is we accomplished our goal -- Pombo is out of office as of Jan. 4. So now where does the blog go? Pombo was the central figure. With him ousted, the focus is gone, and now the blog needs to find a new focus or hang up its hat.

This blog has gained good readership and people have liked the comments. But the posts have already dwindled and it is hard to know what to post without knowing the blog's purpose, or if it even should continue.

With McNerney in office, there may be people who want to watch McNerney and comment on his actions or help him in some way. That of course leads up to the 2008 election, with people already positioning themselves for that.

This blog could morph into a McNerney blog, but then it should really be named something like "Say Yes to McNerney" or "McNerney Watch". However, I don't think this blog can be renamed, and more important, I don't know if the current posters would be interested in that focus. The audience would be more limited, I think. Pombo had a way of raising the hackles with his position of power and the irresponsible way he used it, and that attracted a lot of attention. With a McNerney blog, the audience would probably be political types, mostly from the district and surrounding areas.

Because of Pombo's position as chair of the Resources Committee, and the power that gave him over the nation's lands, this blog attracted readers interested in environmental issues. These issues are national, indeed global, in scale.

The particular focus of the blog, if it wanted to cover environmental issues, could become Pombo's "Wise" Use Agenda, with his attacks on the Endangered Species Act and other environmental laws, the calls for resumption of whale hunting, off-road vehicle use expansion, energy development, pesticides, etc. etc. But I think without Pombo in office, these become general issues. The blog would have to become "Say No To Pombo's Way of Thinking", maybe.

The blog could also focus on CD-11 environmental issues -- the Delta, traffic, clean energy, air quality, restoring flows in the San Joaquin River, etc. That would be "Say Yes to a Clean CD-11".

Or even, in that respect, it could be on CD-11 issues in general, not just environmental -- social issues like immigration and crime, housing, land use, etc. That would be "Say Yes to a Better CD-11".

Another area this blog focused on was Congressional corruption. This may come as a surprise, but there is still a lot of that running around. Some people who worked against Pombo are now focusing on Rep. John Doolittle, the other area "friend of Abramoff", who managed to retain his seat (barely) but still may be indicted. It's not like there is any shortage of material, with Abramoff, the Marianas Islands, Tom DeLay, etc. That would be "Say No to Not Only Pombo, but to All Corrupt Representatives".

Those are some ideas and comments. The point is if this blog is going to continue or evolve and have relevance, it needs to decide what its focus is now that Pombo is back on the ranch. Either that or ride off into the sunset, saying "Well, my job's done here. We cleaned up this here town " [person hops on horse] " and now it is time to move on." [Rider tips hat, horse and rider slowly saunter out of town, fade into the distance.]

Meanwhile, Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Highways for the public interest, not the Pombos'

Nice to see Congressman Jerry McNerney proposing solutions to the I-580 commute over the Altamont Pass. With him securing a seat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from the Bay Area, he is in a good position to push for fed funds for projects like BART to Livermore and Tracy.

Now what seems better for CD-11? Pombo on the House Resources Committe pushing for offshore drilling and giveaways to oil companies, as well as protecting Abramoff/DeLay dealings in the Marianas Islands -- or McNerney on the Transportation Committee helping get fed money for projects in CD-11 to ease the commute?

Or compare Pombo's expensive, environmentally destructive, far-in-the-future-if-ever proposal for a highway over the Diablo Range (which, coincidentally would up the value of Pombo real estate holdings) with McNerney's push for real improvements that can be made in the near future to I-580.

Here's part of the article:
Incoming Congressman Jerry McNerney hasn't even taken his seat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and he's already thinking big.

At a groundbreaking at Dublin City Hall on Friday for a $9 million Tri-Valley traffic management project, McNerney said he hoped to secure federal money for a Bay Area Rapid Transit extension down the middle of Interstate 580 — all the way to Tracy.

"BART to Livermore and Tracy, these are things that I'm very interested in," said McNerney, a Democrat who Nov. 7 wrested the 11th Congressional District from Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy. As a member of the committee, McNerney added, "I will have the opportunity to bring projects to our area."

McNerney, whose new district comprises much of San Joaquin County and includes the Interstate 680 corridor in Alameda County and part of Contra Costa County, said improving links such as the I-580 freeway and BART "fits into my plan to bring economic development to San Joaquin County."
Contrast this with Pombo's approach, as detailed in an Aug. 2005 East Bay Express expose:
The morning and afternoon commutes to and from the East Bay [over the Altamont Pass] are horrendous, choked with more than 140,000 cars and big rigs a day. ... A consortium of business leaders and labor groups, meanwhile, is working overtime to convince the state to widen I-205, which creates a bottleneck when motorists come off the Altamont and have to squeeze from eight lanes down to four. The bottleneck clogs traffic every weekday morning and afternoon.

Widening I-205, which connects I-5 to I-580 from Lathrop through Tracy, would seem to be just the type of project that Pombo would wholeheartedly support. But instead his answer is to build two entirely new freeways, for which he recently obtained $21.6 million in federal funds.
Do you wonder why Pombo would have proposed these two freeways instead of what business leaders and labor groups want? Well, the East Bay Express article says it has to do with the Pombo family real estate holdings and money the family needed to pay off debts. Now, that sounds like it is in the public interest, doesn't it? More from East Bay Express on Pombo's highways:
One of Pombo's freeway plans, known as the state Route 239 project, would run along the path of the two-lane Byron Highway from the western end of Tracy northwest to Brentwood. There, it would connect with the Highway 4 bypass currently scheduled for construction. ... But the arrival of the $14 million in federal funds for the 239 project also happens to coincide with a multimillion-dollar land deal currently underway with members of Pombo's family. And for the Pombos, the new freeway proposal appears to be a timely solution to some family financial difficulties compounded by the 2000 slow-growth measure.
And this explains Pombo's other highway:
Across town, the other proposed freeway also could be a boon for the congressman and his family -- even if it's never built. Pombo has been pushing this proposal, the State Route 130 Project, for at least two years. ... Speculation about the possible new freeway almost certainly has driven up the value of the 205-acre ranch Pombo owns in south Tracy with his parents and brothers, even though the ranch is eighteen miles north of Del Puerto Canyon Road. The Pombo property sits right on I-580 and it's only a fifteen-minute freeway trip away.
Oh well, what are the Pombos going to do now that Richard is no longer in Congress to push for transportation projects that raise their land value?

Friday, December 08, 2006

Meet the new boss

The Who sang about the "new boss same as the old boss. Well, Erica Werner of AP gives us a good introduction to the new boss of the "Natural" Resources Committee, Nick Rahall. Every aware of the importance of symbolic acts, Rahall even intends to rename the committee to the Natural Resources Committee.

I really sounds as the environmental interests got what they wanted out of the election. With Pombo out and Rahall running the committee, it looks like things will be very different.
Rahall's goal will be "not to engage in the wholesale destruction of pristine federal lands, sacrificing them on the altar of energy development," he told a press conference, but instead to "protect those resources which Americans cherish as places to recreate, hunt and fish."
We all know that there good words mask a lot of mischief, as in Pombo's use of the term "sound science". But, the following are the main points of Rahall's plans for the next two years. A
mong his top goals, Rahall listed reform or repeal of Republican legislation and Bush administration policies giving oil and gas companies breaks on royalty payments. He wants to rewrite the Mining Law of 1872 to put environmental controls on gold, silver and other hard-rock mining, and extract royalty payments from mining companies.

Rahall said there would be no more attempts to rewrite the Endangered Species Act to give more rights to property owners _ a priority of Pombo's _ and said he supports maintaining existing bans on offshore drilling, and would lean toward making them permanent.

Rahall also promised a sharp focus on oversight of the Interior Department.

"There's a lot of questions that have not been asked of the Interior Department for the last six years, and we're going to ask them," he said.
Still, Rahall will have to work with Don Young as ranking Republican on the Natral Resources Committee and Young's record is almost as bad as Pombo's in some areas.

What is missing from Werner's reprot is any mention of Coal. Rahall is from West Virginia, a large coal producer. Barbara Cubin, a long time Republican on the Committee is from Wyoming, another Coal producer. I would forcast that the new committee will do all it can to foster the wonderfully misnamed "clean coal" technologies over the next two years, maybe even bringing out Pombo old analysis of Mercury non-pollution to support their efforts.

Maybe the Who had it right, but we will take what we get, give thanks during this holiday season, and pick up again where we need to.

Have a great holiday and get plenty of rest.