Saturday, February 23, 2013


(Sacramento)  Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins today introduced legislation that will give the California Coastal Commission the power to levy penalties against those who disregard orders to stop violating the California Coastal Act. AB 976 will bring Coastal Commission authority in line with most other state agencies tasked with enforcing environmental laws.

“California’s coastline is one of our most precious resources.  It provides recreation, jobs, beautiful vistas, a buffer against tides and weather, and is home to a complex ecosystem,” says Atkins.  “It is our responsibility to be good stewards of the coast by providing a workable system for enforcing legal protections against those who would defile it.”

Violations of the Coastal Act can include blocking public access to beaches, damaging environmentally sensitive habitats, or unauthorized development. Currently, the Commission can issue cease and desist orders to violators, but must pursue litigation through the California Attorney General’s office in order to enforce those orders if they are ignored, a costly and time-consuming process.  AB 976 would allow the Coastal Commission to fine violators in much the same way as other environmental agencies, such as the State Water Board and the Air Resources Board.  AB 976 will also ensure opportunities to challenge fines and rigorous due process protections.

"This bill addresses a long-standing gap in the Commission's ability to protect California's coastal resources and public access. It will deter Coastal Act violations, avoid litigation, save taxpayer dollars and make sure that people who comply with the Coastal Act are treated fairly," says Charles Lester, executive director of the Coastal Commission, which backs Atkins’ bill.

The California Coastal Commission was created by California voters in 1972, through their approval of Proposition 20, and later made permanent by the California Coastal Act of 1976.   The Coastal Act protects beaches, wetlands, water quality, and wildlife in an area of land and water larger than the State of Rhode Island.


San Diego, CA: Assembly Member Shirley N. Weber (D-San Diego) will pay tribute to outstanding women in honor of Women’s History Month on Sunday, March 17, 2013, 3:00 p.m. at San Diego State University’s Parma Payne Alumni Center.  “There are many unsung ‘SHeroes’ in the 79th District deserving of recognition for their work as women leaders, and “I am excited to host this Inaugural Salute in the 79th District to highlight their efforts,” she said.  Women’s History Month was established in 1987 and is celebrated throughout the month of March to honor women’s contribution to society.

To quality, nominees must be work or attend school in the 79th District, which includes the communities in the City of San Diego, Lemon Grove, La Mesa, National City, Chula Vista, Bonita and a small part of Spring Valley.  Nominations will be accepted Friday, March 1, 2013. The nominee must also perform extraordinary service in the Arts, Business, Community Activism, Education, Government, Health Sciences and Social Services.

Joining in the celebration will be poetry artist Kendrick Dial of Collective Purpose, singer Alyssa Mae Servenas and additional cultural dance presentations. For more information, please contact LaShae Collins at (619)462-7878 or

Thursday, February 21, 2013


Says Ratepayers Should Not Pay While They Receive No Electricity

(San Diego) In a letter sent yesterday to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins called on the Commission to relieve customers of Southern California Edison (SCE) and San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) from having to pay for San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), which has been shut down for a year due to safety concerns.

“Forcing Southern Californians to continue to pay for a non-functioning power plant is like making someone pay rent on an apartment in which they no longer live,” says Atkins.  “It defies logic and is just plain unfair.”

Customers of SCE and SG&E are currently paying $54 million per month for shareholder returns, operation and maintenance for a non-functioning power plant.  Atkins’ letter asks that SONGS be removed from the rate base for these utility customers as it has “stopped generating electricity and has not been providing any ongoing benefit to customers.” Atkins also asks the CPUC to  ensure that their economic analysis of SONGS operations includes the cost of ensuring plant safety, including seismic studies, elimination of once-through cooling plants and managing the long-term storage of spent uranium onsite.

The CPUC will take public testimony today in Costa Mesa at a hearing regarding how much utility customers should continue to pay for the idled nuclear plant.  Another hearing, yet to be scheduled, will be held in San Diego County.

Earlier this week, Atkins called upon the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to obtain and make public an uncensored version of a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries report that is reported to indicate that flaws in replacement steam generators were known before they were installed.  Excessive wear in these replacement generators led to the shutdown of the plant in January 2012.

Official Statement by the San Diego Labor Council on Shared Principles for Immigration Reform by U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue & AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka

SAN DIEGO - San Diego Labor Council Secretary-Treasurer Lorena Gonzalez made the following statement in response to today’s announcement of Shared Principles for Immigration Reform by U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue & AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka:

“The San Diego Labor Council is excited that the national AFL-CIO has come together with leaders of the business community to agree on a set of principles for comprehensive immigration reform. This is more encouraging progress towards a successful reform effort.

“Locally, we have already begun working with business, faith, and community leaders in the San Diego region on the issue of immigration reform, and look forward to continuing our joint fight for common sense, comprehensive, immediate immigration reform providing protection and transparency for all workers.”

The full statement issued by Donohue and Trumka can be read here:

San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council
The San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, AFL-CIO represents more than 200,000 union workers in the region and advocates for an economy with more jobs, better jobs and better lives for all workers in the region - union and non-union.

Democrats Endorse Myrtle Cole for City Council

Fourth District Candidate Lauded for Her Longtime Commitment to Community

The San Diego County Democratic Party has endorsed Myrtle Cole in the special election for San Diego Council, distinguishing her among a crowded field of candidates to replace Tony Young in the Fourth District seat.
A former police officer and City Council aide who currently works on behalf of low-income seniors and children at the United Domestic Workers, Cole also has the endorsements of Senators Christine Kehoe (ret.) and Marty Block, Assemblymembers Toni Atkins and Ben Hueso, City Councilmember David Alvarez, and many other local leaders.

“There are several good Democrats running, but with her 20 years of experience serving the community, Myrtle Cole is the right candidate for this job,” said Francine Busby, Chair of the San Diego County Democratic Party.

“From day one she will be ready to protect public safety, fight for infrastructure, and work with both business and labor to bring jobs to the Fourth District. We are proud to support her.”

Nine candidates qualified for the March 26 election, in which early voting will begin next Monday, February 25. The district is the most heavily Democratic in San Diego, with nearly 53% of voters registered as Democrats, 24% as independents, and just 19% as Republicans. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


(San Diego)  California Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins of San Diego has sent a letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) asking that the commission obtain and release to the public an unredacted copy of a document that appears to reveal that flaws in steam generators at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) were known prior to their installation and that they were ignored in order to avoid a comprehensive review of the plant’s operations and license.  Atkins’ letter emphasizes that the public has the right to know about problems associated with the troubled and controversial nuclear plant.

“More than 8 million Southern Californians, many of whom are my constituents, live within a fifty mile radius of SONGS and they are entitled to know whether they are safe,” says Atkins.  “Southern California residents are understandably concerned by indications that Southern California Edison and Mitsubishi may have circumvented regulatory requirements.  The release of the full, uncensored, report on this matter would help clear the air and restore confidence in the NRC’s processes.”

The NRC has indicated that it has requested and plans to release a redacted version of Mitsubishi Heavy Industry’s (MHI) 2012 “Root Cause Analysis Report.”  MHI manufactured and installed the hydrogen tubes whose excessive wear led to a year-long shutdown of two of SONGS’ steam generators. A previous letter to the NRC from Senator Barbara Boxer and Congressman Edward Markey, who have seen the report, indicates that it raises troubling questions about whether NRC procedures were properly followed and whether such a circumvention of the process has safety or other regulatory implications.

Media reports indicate that Mitsubishi employees were aware of the design flaw in hydrogen tubes, but that a decision was made to keep that knowledge internal in order to avoid triggering a comprehensive safety and licensing review of the controversial nuclear plant.  The NRC has announced that it will be investigating the matter, although no time has been set for that review.

Assembly Member Shirley Weber appointed to the Education Commission of the States

(SACRAMENTO, CA) -  Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) recently appointed Assembly Member Shirley N. Weber (D-San Diego) to serve as the California State Assembly’s representative on the national Education Commission of the States (ECS).

“As an educator of over four decades, I am extremely thankful to the Speaker for allowing me the opportunity to serve as a Commissioner of this important organization,” stated Assembly Member Weber.  “The Commission has a storied history of positively shaping education policy in our country, and I’m elated to now have a role in that process,” she said.

The ECS was founded through the establishment of the Compact for Education, a nation-wide, non-partisan, interstate compact approved by Congress in 1965.  It is an organization that is committed to providing assistance to states seeking to develop effective policy and practice for public education by providing data, research, analysis, and leadership, and by facilitating collaboration among the states.

“I’m eager to serve and look forward to meeting and working with all of my new colleagues on the Commission to highlight important education policy and fiscal issues effecting schools nationally,” she expressed.

ECS’ core purpose is to enlighten, equip, and engage key education leaders – governors, legislators, chief state school officers, higher education officials, business leaders and others – to work side by side to improve education across 50 states and U.S. territories.

Assembly Member Weber’s status as a Commissioner is effective February 13, 2013, the day that she was appointed.