Just as Will i. am’s “Yes, We Can” mashup perfectly summarized the 2008 candidacy of Barack Obama, so too does this piece perfectly sum up the Republican Party of No. It features GOP House Leader John Boehner screaming, “Hell No, You Can’t” on the floor of Congress just before Democrats enacted Obama’s sweeping health-care-reform measure:
California’s Secretary of State certified a ballot measure to legalize pot in California, according to the Chronicle. If the measure passes in November, as some polls suggest it will, California will become the first state to legalize marijuana beyond medical usage.
A Field Poll taken last April found that 56 percent of voters backed the idea of legalization and taxation of marijuana. According to an October 2009 Gallup Poll, 44 percent of Americans were in favor of making marijuana legal while 54 percent opposed it. That same month, the Justice Department announced that it would relax prosecution of medical marijuana users in fourteen states, including California.
Walnut Creek’s only medical marijuana dispensary, the C3 Medical Cannabis Collective, has closed following a judge’s ruling in February that the club must close by March 23 or face contempt of court charges.
City leaders have been trying to expel the dispensary from the wealthy suburb since it opened last August. Citing a violation of zoning laws, the city has been fining the club $500 a day starting in the fall, and the total bill has accumulated to $60,000. C3 CEO Brian Hyman continued to operate his dispensary despite the fines, until Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Barry Baskin’s February ruling finally forced him to give up the fight.
In the ruling, Baskin wrote that “operation of a medical marijuana dispensary is not an expressly permitted use under the city of Walnut Creek’s zoning code.” Additionally, as an explanation of the city’s position, assistant city attorney Bryan Wenter said, “There are numerous other sources of medical marijuana in this county and nearby counties. … Our view is there is no denial of access to medical marijuana. This is a land use matter.”
The Bay Area’s own Nancy Pelosi is turning out to be one of the most effective House speakers in decades. Although President Obama deserves credit for considerable perseverance, health-care reform would have never happened had it not been for Pelosi. Republicans love to ridicule her and use her as a target, but the reality is: They fear her. And for good reason. She pulled off what no Democratic house speaker had been able to accomplish in nearly a half-century — and may have saved her party from a humiliating defeat this November by providing it with a huge victory to run on. One thing is for sure, neither her opponents nor fellow liberals will ever underestimate her again.
Thank god the Warriors are up for sale. It’s the best news since health-care reform. After all, there’s little dispute that Chris Cohan is one of worst owners in team sports. Unfortunately, the East Bay is home to two more — Lew Wolff of the Oakland A’s and Al Davis of the Oakland Raiders. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison would certainly break that mold. Not only is he a rich and savvy businessman (which already puts him ahead of Wolff, Davis, and Cohan), but his foray into the America’s Cup proves he’s a sports winner, too.
As we mentioned yesterday, health care reform passed the House of Representatives with the support of every member of the Bay Area congressional delegation.
Passed along with the health care bill, but overshadowed, was a bill that will reform student loans practices.
The student loan reform, attached to the health care bill during reconciliation, will cut out middleman lenders like Sallie Mae, increasing the share of loans that the government will provide directly to students. The move frees up billions of dollars that were going toward subsidizing those private lenders, who assumed virtually no risk but accumulated all of the interest under the current arrangement.
The bill will also increase the maximum payout for recipients of the Pell grant over the next seven years (from $5,350 this year to $5,975 in 2017), a measure designed to counteract the one-two punch of increased tuition and decreased income triggered by the recession.
An East Bay Congressman helped make it happen. Representative George Miller of California’s 7th district (which includes portions of Contra Costa and Solano counties, including Richmond, Concord, Martinez, Pittsburg, Vallejo, Benicia, and Vacaville), and chairman of the Education and Labor Committee, championed the measure.
In a speech on the House floor, Miller called the budget reconciliation measure “truly historic legislation that addresses two of America’s greatest troubles: the crushing costs and high obstacles of obtaining both quality health care and a college education.”
It’s no secret that Alameda County schools Superintendent Sheila Jordan is one of the most ethically challenged politicians in the East Bay. And now CoCo Times political columnist Lisa Vorderbrueggen has provided more evidence of Jordan’s sliminess. Vorderbrueggen uncovered a letter that Jordan recently sent to companies that do business with her office — the Alameda County Office of Education — requesting that they make donations to her reelection campaign.
The entire Bay Area Congressional delegation voted for health-care reform last night, giving President Obama a huge legislative victory. Pleasanton Democrat Jerry McNerney, who represents the only Bay Area district in which Republicans hold a majority, decided to vote for the historic reform package on Saturday, after wavering as an undecided vote for weeks. “Now is the time to deliver reform for thousands of families who face financial crisis to afford medical care and for the small business owners who are struggling to keep their doors open,” McNerney said in a statement, according to the Associated Press.
In a move that could help his close friend and ally Don Perata, Oakland City Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente is proposing to raise individual donation limits to $1,000 and increase total political expenditures by 40 percent in city elections. According to the Trib, De La Fuente unveiled his proposal yesterday at a council committee meeting. De La Fuente is selling his plan as a “compromise,” because an earlier proposal by City Attorney John Russo to raise donation limits to $1,400 and double the amount an Oakland politician can spend to get elected appears to be dead in the water.
Just days before the final vote, East Bay Congressman Jerry McNerney still hasn’t decided whether he will vote for President Obama’s sweeping health-care reform initiative. The Pleasanton Democrat, who is probably worried about his reelection this year in a district that includes significant numbers of Republicans, told the CoCo Times that he’s leaning toward voting yes, but won’t make up his mind until he thoroughly reviews the final reform package. McNerney is the only member of the Bay Area Congressional delegation who might oppose health-care reform when it comes up for a final vote on Sunday or Monday.