Tuesday, December 2, 2014

CA Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Proposes Paid Sick Days For In-Home Supportive Services Caregivers


As Gonzalez’s First Bill for the 2015-16 Session, AB 11 Would Extend Landmark Law to 365,000 More Californians

SACRAMENTO – (Monday, Dec. 1, 2014) – California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) introduced Assembly Bill 11 to provide at least three paid sick days to California’s in-home supportive services (IHSS) employees annually as her first official legislative proposal of the 2015-16 legislative session that began today.

“All Californians deserve the basic right to seek medical care when they're sick without risking the loss of pay or even their job,” Gonzalez said. “This Legislature and Governor made it clear that paid sick days are a step forward in protecting California’s working families when we guaranteed three sick days for all private sector workers last year. It’s important the caregivers we trust to keep hundreds of thousands of people and their households healthy are also provided this important public health benefit.”

According to an analysis by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, there are nearly 7 million California workers that cannot even take an hour off of work to care for themselves or a loved one who is sick without the real possibility that they lose pay or even their job. More than 6.5 million of those workers – most of whom work in the private sector – will be covered by California’s new paid sick days law when AB 1522 (also by Assemblywoman Gonzalez) goes into effect July 1, 2015.

The IHSS program in California’s counties employees about 370,000 caregivers who are currently exempted from the state’s paid sick days law. These employees perform housecleaning, meal preparation, laundry, grocery shopping, personal care and hygiene services and protective supervision services to low-income, Medi-Cal-eligible Californians who are either 65 years age or older, disabled or blind in their homes. The IHSS program has been credited for saving the state billions in taxpayer costs annually because it serves as an alternate to more costly out-of-home care, such as nursing homes.

“IHSS employees are among the poorest Californians themselves while also providing critical services to the members of our communities who are the most in need – the elderly, the blind and the disabled,” Gonzalez said. “Paid sick days is going to be an important part in our state’s safety net and I feel strongly that it must be made available to those who take care of our society’s most vulnerable.”

Under AB 11, IHSS caregivers could earn, accrue and use paid sick leave at the same rates and for the same purposes as employees who are covered by the AB 1522 paid sick days law. The bill would require public agencies employing IHSS caregivers – which are currently established on a county-by-county basis – to allow caregivers to earn at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. AB 11 would allow the agency to limit a caregiver’s use of paid sick leave to 24 hours or 3 days every year.

Losing just 3 days of pay because of illness can equate to a whole month’s worth grocery bill for a low-income family. Additionally, in the recently released “Shriver Report” about women and poverty, paid sick days was listed as the most important reform that could be made to improve the lives of working women. In fact, more than 90 percent of single women said it was the most important policy that their employer could adopt to improve their lives.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Announces ‘Double Pay on the Holiday’ Bill


Proposed legislation would protect employees by providing double pay for working on Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays

SAN DIEGO – (Wednesday, November 26, 2014) – California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) announced a new legislative proposal today requiring California employers to provide double pay to workers who have to give up their holidays to work on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Assemblywoman Gonzalez was joined outside the Walmart on Murphy Canyon Road in San Diego by Mickey Kasparian, President of UFCW Local 135, and Diane McCain, a local San Diego Walmart worker and member of OUR Walmart to make the announcement.

In recent years, ‘Black Friday’ shopping deals have increasingly spread into the Thanksgiving holiday, forcing workers to miss out on celebrating the holiday and spending time with their families in order to keep their jobs. In some cases, this work has become mandatory, forcing workers to give up their holiday or risk losing their jobs. Many of these business practices have carried over to Christmas as well. The increasing commercialization of the holiday season has created significant public backlash, including petitions, media criticism and worker protests. Assemblywoman Gonzalez’s proposed legislation would ensure that those workers who sacrifice their holiday receive double pay for their work.

“If it’s so important to force employees to work on a traditional family holiday, it’s only decent to compensate them fairly,” Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez said.

Our Walmart member Diane McCain added, “We take pride in serving our customers the best we can, including coming in on holidays like Thanksgiving. I think it’s only right for us to be paid fairly when we have to sacrifice our holiday to work.”


This Thanksgiving, millions of Americans will be at work at a dozen major retailers: Walmart, Macys, Sears/Kmart, Kohl’s, Gap/Old Navy/Banana Republic, Target, Staples, JC Penney, Toys R Us, Sports Authority, Best Buy, and Radio Shack.[1] That includes nearly a million people at Walmart stores alone,[2] and many more at food outlets like Starbucks.[3]

Current California law allows employers to mandate working scheduled overtime,[4] and nationally there have been reports of retailers like Kmart have threatened that employees will automatically be fired if they don’t work on Thanksgiving.[5]

In fact, more than three-fifths of the country’s large employers have Thanksgiving shifts, while just one-in-five small businesses will do the same.[6]

Many employers at least provide some overtime or additional leave for employees who have to work on Thanksgiving, it’s not always so simple. For example, Walmart offers additional pay to Thanksgiving workers based on their average pay in the weeks leading up to the holiday. But many employees reported having their hours reduced during those weeks, to reduce that pay.[7]

Recent polling found that half of Americans think stores being open on Thanksgiving is a terrible idea,[8] and despite talk about consumer demand, data shows that opening earlier didn’t actually boost overall sales. Instead, sales on Thanksgiving Day just came out of Black Friday sales, meaning taking away employees’ holiday didn’t actually help the bottom line.[9]

Holiday work scheduling has inspired multiple petitions from workers[10] and their families[11] across the country. Nearly two-thirds of wealthy nations guarantee paid holidays, though the United States isn’t one of them. On top of that, the United States is the only one not to guarantee any vacation days.[12]

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez represents the 80th Assembly District, which includes Chula Vista, National City and the San Diego neighborhoods of City Heights, Barrio Logan, Paradise Hills, San Ysidro and Otay Mesa. For more information, visit http://asmdc.org/members/a80/.

[1] http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2014/11/13/3591950/radioshack-thanksgiving/
[2] http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2014/10/16/3580508/walmart-thanksgiving-2014/
[3] http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2014/10/16/3580508/walmart-thanksgiving-2014/
[4] http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/faq_overtime.htm
[5] http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2014/11/19/3594203/kmart-thanksgiving-requests-denied/
[6] http://www.bna.com/onethird-employers-require-pr17179912121/
[7] http://money.cnn.com/2013/11/22/pf/walmart-thanksgiving-worker/
[8] http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2014/11/50_percent_of_americans_think.html
[9] http://blogs.marketwatch.com/behindthestorefront/2013/11/12/retailer-plans-to-jumpstart-black-friday-with- thanksgiving-openings-unlikely-to-save-short-christmas-shopping-season/
[10] http://www.jsonline.com/business/mall-employees-petition-says-no-thanks-to-working-on-thanksgiving- b99389270z1-282402351.html
[11] http://abcnews.go.com/Business/daughter-petitions-kmart-mom-work-thanksgiving/story?id=26913630
[12] http://www.cepr.net/index.php/publications/reports/no-vacation-nation-2013

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Rep. Peters Pledges to Continue Seeking  "Practical, Centrist Solutions" in 2nd Term 


San Diego -- Following tonight's vote update from the San Diego County Registrar of Voters, Rep. Scott Peters released the following statement:

"I am honored the constituents of California’s 52nd Congressional District chose to send me back for another two years.  I thank my wife Lynn and my family for their steadfast support; my exceptional campaign team for their integrity, expertise, hard work, discipline and good humor; and the hundreds of volunteers who worked nonstop to remind voters in every corner of the district about the importance of this election. I also thank Carl DeMaio for his commitment to public service and government reform; while we disagreed on many issues, I congratulate him on running a tenacious, aggressive and tough campaign.

"My commitment to San Diego is to continue on the path I forged in 2012, working with members of both parties to break the gridlock and get things done for my district and the nation.  Election night was a hard one for the Democratic Party, but perhaps there are lessons from our path to victory here in our Republican-leaning district where we won this election by an even a larger margin than in 2012, a better year for Democrats.

"My campaign moved beyond the false choices that dominate the current dialogue in Washington, and answered the voters’ demand for practical, centrist solutions. The voters want real leadership on issues like protecting a woman’s right to choose, addressing climate change, providing fair wages and safe working conditions, and giving students the opportunity to afford a college education.  But they also want a strong commitment to national defense and a willingness to work with the business community in a partnership for job creation and economic expansion.  In San Diego that means renewed investments in basic infrastructure – our roads and bridges – and in emerging sciences and technologies like green energy, high tech and bio tech, and other innovative businesses that create good jobs. 

"As Democrats we can embrace our traditional values while giving business leaders a viable alternative to government shutdowns, ballooning deficits, credit downgrades, and partisan gridlock.  My campaign is proof that most Democrats, many Republicans and a majority of the fast-growing independent electorate will unite behind a candidate who embraces these goals.

"The business community is feeling evermore abandoned by many Republican congressional leaders.  The question now becomes whether Democratic leaders are willing to seize the opportunity, and the responsibility, for fostering business growth and
economic prosperity. I am committed to it and I thank the voters of the 52nd District for the honor they have given me."

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Statement of California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton on 2014 Election Results

It appears Democrats across the nation will always have California. On a night that saw Republicans make gains across the nation, much like in 2010, California held firm. At the statewide level, California remains a deep blue beacon because of the bold leadership of Jerry Brown and our strong Democratic majority in Sacramento.

In a repeat of 2010, California Democrats swept all statewide offices this year and even helped pass the most significant criminal justice reform measures in decades with Proposition 47.

Democrats under Governor Brown have accomplished much in just four short years and our victories at the statewide level serve as an affirmation of that reality.

While the results were less decidedly in our favor at the district level, the reality is California Democrats have had an embarrassment of riches for the past several election cycles and that has left us with many seats to defend, often in Republican leaning territory in low turn out cycles.

We look forward to recommitting to our efforts pressing into Republican strongholds, in particular the Central Valley. Many of the seats that were lost last night will be regained in just two years and there are many more which will be ripe for the picking from Republican hands in 2016.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

10News Civility Project Gives DeMaio Ad 'F,' Calls It "Outrageous'


San Diego -- The false and egregious new Carl DeMaio TV ad has been given a grade of 'F' by the 10News Civility Project, which analyzes political ads for truth and accuracy.

"On truth, relevance and civility, the group gives this ad an F," 10News anchor Virginia Cha told the station's viewers. To watch the 10News segment, click here:

"I just consider it outrageous," Jeff Marston, a Civility Project panelist, told 10News viewers last night.

"I see this ad as the total opposite of civility," added John Beatty, another member of the panel.

10 News aired the segment last night in response to the attack ad, which began airing on San Diego stations last week. The Scott Peters campaign is working with its lawyers to have the baseless spot removed from the airwaves.

Halloween Scare: DeMaio's Proposed Cuts to Veterans' Benefits


San Diego -- If you want a real Halloween scare this season, consider Carl DeMaio’s horrifying plan to cut benefits for California’s military veterans.

DeMaio’s plan – which included kicking veterans off Medi-Cal and shutting down a historic veterans hospital -- is further evidence that his Tea Party approach is too extreme for San Diego.

DeMaio proposed these cuts in his so-called “Citizen’s Budget,” which he crafted in 2003 while working for the Reason Foundation, an extremist think-tank backed by the notorious, far-right Koch Brothers.

His proposed state budget for 2003-2005 calls for kicking all California veterans off Medi-Cal, regardless of their medical needs; closing down a historic veterans hospital that provides crucial medical services to vulnerable veterans; and imposing massive cuts on nursing homes that serve veterans.

“These are people who have served our nation and DeMaio wants to thank them by slashing their medical care,” said Alex Roth, communications director for the Scott Peters for Congress Campaign.  “Absolutely outrageous.”

DeMaio’s ties to the Reason Foundation run deep. Since 2013 he’s been paid at least $240,000 in consulting fees from Reason, the exact same group for which he authored this frightening budget.

By contrast, Rep. Scott Peters has co-sponsored the Veterans Pension Protection Act, the Veterans Employment Transition Act, the GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act and the Veterans Education Equity Act.

These are some of the reasons why Jack Harkin, a Republican and former chair of the United Veterans Council of San Diego County, stood next to other veterans at a recent press conference, praised Peters’ “honesty and fairness” and stated, “We must have Scott Peters kept in our Congress.”

Governor Signs Weber Bill Strengthening State’s Hate Crime Statutes

“For a right or a protection to have any meaning, you have to have access to the courts where they can be enforced”

SACRAMENTO – Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation Tuesday authored by Assemblymember Shirley N. Weber (D-San Diego) that will protect the rights of victims of hate crimes and civil rights abuses to have their cases heard in court.

It has become a widespread practice in consumer and employment contracting to force individuals to waive their rights to seek legal redress through the courts even when their civil rights have been violated. AB 2617 would prohibit requiring a waiver of any rights under California hate crimes or civil rights laws as a condition of entering into a contract for employment, housing, education or consumer goods and services.

“There is no right without a remedy,” Weber said. “In order for a right or a protection to have any meaning, you have to have access to the courts where they can be enforced. We have passed these laws not only to provide a mechanism of legal redress for victims, but also to send a signal to the rest of society that these acts are not sanctioned, whether committed by an individual or abetted by an institution. Forced arbitration compels victims to submit to proceedings where arbitrators are not even required to follow the state’s civil rights statutes when making decisions that the parties are bound by law to follow.”

The bill emanates from a case of a 15 year-old private school student who received graphic death threats from fellow students due to his perceived sexual orientation.  On the advice of law enforcement, his parents withdrew him from the school and relocated him to a school in a different part of California. The school, however, publicly disclosed the student’s new community and school.  Understandably upset, his parents took legal action to hold the school accountable for abetting the bullying and not disciplining the perpetrators, but a forced arbitration clause buried in the enrollment contract prevented the student from going to court to seek justice under the state’s civil rights statutes.

The student’s father, Lee Caplin, said he, his son and his family are pleased that their experience has resulted in a law that strengthens protections for all Californians.

“This is a great victory,” said Caplin, “This bill gives teeth back to the state’s civil rights and hate crimes laws.”

Caplin, whose father taught law to both John and Robert Kennedy and later served in the Kennedy Administration, said the timing is significant.

“My son noted that the bill signing comes in the same year as the 50th anniversary of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was initiated during the Kennedy era,” he said.

“We have fought long and hard for these protections,” Weber said, “But we are seeing attempts to erode the progress we’ve made, including attempts to subvert voting rights and to shield companies for wrongdoing in hate crimes cases. I am pleased that the Governor saw the wisdom in restoring an individual’s right to have their day in court.”

AB 2617 is supported by Equality California, the ACLU, the Western Center on Law and Poverty, the California Chapter of the NAACP and the Consumer Attorneys of California.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Sierra Club San Diego Endorses Peters

San Diego -- Sierra Club San Diego has endorsed Rep. Scott Peters for re-election, saying Peters “has spent his entire career protecting the environment.”

Sierra Club San Diego cited Peters’ work on a variety of environmental issues ranging from combating the impacts of climate change to increasing funding for wildfire preparedness. Peters currently chairs the Climate Task Force of the House Democratic caucus.

“We are confident that Scott will work to protect San Diego’s special environmental, for our families and for our future,” said Debbie Hecht, chair of the club’s steering committee.

During his first term in the House, Peters introduced legislation to reduce the emission of super-pollutants such as methane and black carbon; advocated for full funding of the nation’s climate research programs; introduced a drought-assistance bill that would maximize water resources; co-sponsored legislation to close the oil and gas industries’ air-pollution loophole in the Clean Water Act and co-sponsored a bill creating tax incentives for private landowners to grant public access National Scenic Trails.

Among other things, Rep. Peters has also sponsored legislation that would help coastal states plan for the impacts of climate change.

“I’m honored that the Sierra Club has recognized my persistent efforts on behalf of the environment both in San Diego and nationally,” Peters said. “I pledge to continue the important work of protecting San Diego’s precious natural resources and addressing the threat of climate change.”

The national Sierra Club, the nation’s largest grassroots environmental organization, also has endorsed Peters.

Assemblymember Weber’s Response to the Governor’s Action on Her Kindergarten Legislation

SAN DIEGO - Assemblymember Shirley N. Weber (D-San Diego) issued the following response to California Governor Jerry Brown’s signing of AB 1719 (Full-Day Kindergarten) and vetoing of AB 1444 (Mandatory Kindergarten):

“I am grateful that the Governor decided to sign AB 1719 and am pleased that he agrees we need to evaluate existing Full-Day kindergarten programs with a view to implementing it statewide.

“I am, however, disappointed that he chose to veto AB 1444, a bill I jointly authored with Assembly Education Chair, Joan Buchanan, which would have required kindergarten attendance before entering the first grade. The recent report from the Attorney General’s office shows that chronic absenteeism is especially acute in kindergarten and first grade with the end result that these children only have a 17- percent chance of being able to read well by the 3rd grade. Without this critical skill, they have a significantly higher likelihood of dropping out of school altogether and ending up in the correctional system or dependent on social services.

“Making kindergarten mandatory will go a long way toward getting parents to take this critical early education seriously and giving their children an opportunity to succeed. I look forward to working with the Governor in the upcoming legislative session on this issue.”

Assemblymember Shirley Weber, representing California’s 79th Assembly District, is a member of the Assembly Education and Higher Committees and Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Higher Education in San Diego County.

Kimber - Hunter Debate

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Gov. Brown Signs Assemblywoman Gonzalez’s VOTE Act To Improve Voter Participation in Special Elections

AB 1873 creates San Diego County pilot project to provide all special election voters with postage-paid mail ballots, early voting opportunities

SACRAMENTO – (September 26, 2014) – Gov. Brown signed into law today Assembly Bill 1873 by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) authorizing a pilot project that will help the State of California address the low voter turnout and high costs of special elections by instituting a 5-year trial in San Diego County legislative vacancy special elections.

“As elected officials, we have a responsibility to address the plummeting voter turnout and high taxpayer costs we’ve seen in recent special elections,” Gonzalez said. “AB 1873 creates a program that makes voting more accessible and elections cheaper while protecting the integrity of the voting process.”

Upon opting in to this pilot program, the County of San Diego will be required to meet several conditions that will improve a voter’s opportunity to cast a ballot in special elections for Congress, State Senate and Assembly vacancies.

Under AB 1873, every registered voter will be mailed a ballot with return postage paid. Voters would also have the opportunity to vote either at an early voting location the weekend before Election Day or on Election Day at a limited number of polling places for special elections held in San Diego County for Congressional or California Legislative vacancies. These special elections have historically resulted in low voter participation – with often less than 20 percent of registered voters casting ballots – and millions of dollars in costs to county taxpayers that, unlike statewide elections, are not reimbursed by the state.

“The special elections held since 2012 show that a majority of voters choose to cast ballots in the four weeks leading up to Election Day by mail rather than at a polling place on Election Day itself. And for the large numbers who don’t cast ballots at all – whether it’s because they have a busy work schedule, family commitments or just plain forgot – it’s time California and their county elections offices try cutting them some slack by giving them a larger window of time to exercise Democracy,” Gonzalez said.

Even by paying for the postage of every voter’s returned mail ballot, setting up Election Day drop-off locations for last minute voters, and allowing for in-person voting before Election Day, the VOTE Act is projected to save taxpayers money when special elections are needed. For example, the cost of every poll voter who cast a ballot in the 40th Senate District special election last March cost $221.43, according to the San Diego County Registrar of Voters. For every mail ballot counted in that race, the taxpayer cost was only $8.73.

The bill was supported by the County of San Diego, as well as the California Association of Clerks and Elections Officials, California State Association of Counties, California State Association of Letter Carriers, the Rural County Representatives of California and more. Assemblywoman Gonzalez worked diligently with San Diego County Registrar of Voters Michael Vu, the Office of the Secretary of State, and several disability rights, language access and voting rights activists to improve this innovative voting bill.

AB 1873 was approved by the Assembly on a 47-29 vote and by the State Senate 24-8 on August 28. Since then, the bill has garnered significant attention in debates for the upcoming election for Secretary of State, the office that oversees all elections in California.

Governor Brown Signs Bill to Enhance Bicycle Safety 

San Diego Bike Coalition says new state law allows local governments to incorporate physically separated lanes 

SAN DIEGO, September 26, 2014 – This week Governor Brown signed AB 1193, The Protected Bikeways Act, giving local governments the liberty to implement modernized bicycling infrastructure. Sponsored by the California Bicycle Coalition and authored by California Assemblymember Phil Ting, The Protected Bikeways Act encourages the implementation of bicycle lanes with physical separation from automobile traffic through the use of medians, curbs, posts and more.

The San Diego Bicycle Coalition celebrates Governor Brown’s decision to make physically separated bikeways viable options for local bicycle infrastructure and the anticipated effect such safety enhancements will have on local riders.

“The key to getting more people on bicycles is giving them a safe place to ride,” says Bike Coalition Executive Director Andy Hanshaw. “Governor Brown’s signature is a gift that allows regions to utilize highly regarded bicycle safety standards from around the globe.”

Used safely and effectively for years in the top bike-friendly cities of the world, such as Amsterdam and Copenhagen, protected bike lanes make urban bike riding a pleasant, practical and safe way to make everyday trips, such as taking children to school or running errands. In the United States, cities that added protected bike lanes such as Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. saw as much as a 250 percent increase in local ridership.

According to the Bike Coalition, a safe and designated area for bicyclists improves conditions for bike safety, car traffic, and even pedestrians on sidewalks. The Coalition says that 90 percent of riders surveyed in recent reports feel safer with protected bike lanes.

“On the heels of the new Three Feet for Safety law, this bill adds to a new era for the safety of bicycle lovers in our city,” says Hanshaw. “With a physical separation between bikes and automobiles, I won’t be surprised when we see a great increase of people commuting, exercising, or recreationally enjoying the beauty of San Diego at a two-wheeled pace.”

For more information on the Protected Bikeways Act, please click here. To learn more about how the San Diego Bike Coalition protects and advocates for the rights of all people on bicycles countywide, please visit www.sdbikecoalition.org.

San Diego Bike Coalition is a nonprofit organization that advocates for and protects the rights of all people who ride bicycles. They promote bicycling as a mainstream, safe and enjoyable form of transportation and recreation. For more information, visit www.sdbikecoalition.org.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Congressman Scott Peters Endorses Carol Kim for City Council, 6th District  


SAN DIEGO - Congressman Scott Peters today announced his endorsement of Carol Kim for City Council. Peters represents the 52nd Congressional District, which includes the 6th City Council District in its entirety.

“I am excited to announce my endorsement of Carol Kim,” Peters said. “We share a passion for San Diego and many of the same issues, including providing better services for veterans and improving education.”

Congressman Peters, who was twice elected to the San Diego City Council, also served as the Council’s first-ever Council President. “Good government begins on the local level, and I have confidence in Carol to serve the people of her district well,” he stated.

Carol Kim is a former school teacher and education specialist who lives in Mira Mesa with her husband and their two children, both of whom attend San Diego public schools. Carol has lived in the 6th District and been active in her community for nearly a decade. For more information about Carol and her campaign please visit www.carolkimd6.com.

Peters Campaign Unveils New TV Ad: "Cares"


Ad Features Powerful Testimonial from Republican Veteran

San Diego -- The Scott Peters for Congress Campaign released its fourth TV ad, “Cares,” today. The ad tells the story of Michael Renstrom, a Republican and Vietnam War veteran, who spent decades trying to get his medical records from the VA before Rep. Peters finally got him the help he needed. The ad will air throughout California’s 52nd Congressional District on network and cable television as well as on line.

Renstrom, a San Diego resident and Air Force veteran, spent four decades trying without success to locate his military medical records, which had been misplaced by the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs. His previous congressmen had been unable to locate the records. But after taking office in 2012, Rep. Peters’ office tracked down the long-missing file, so Renstrom could finally apply for the medical coverage he had earned.

"I was a sergeant in the United States Air Force," Renstrom says as the ad opens. "I fought in the Vietnam War."

Renstrom's narration continues: "Entering the VA system, we found out I probably had a traumatic brain injury. Those medical records had never caught up with my file. I've been dealing with this for 43 long years. Seemed like it was never going to happen."

As Renstrom explains in the ad, Rep. Peters stepped in, "cut through the red tape" and "got me the help I needed."

"I'm a Republican but I'm for Scott Peters," Renstrom says as the ad concludes.

"Michael Renstrom's story is a powerful testimonial and a first-hand account of Rep. Scott Peters’ effectiveness and service to his constituents. Scott Peters will make sure our nation honors its promises to our veterans," said Alex Roth, communications director for the Scott Peters for Congress Campaign.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Major Differences Revealed in First Live Debate


DeMaio Whoppers Dominate the Discussion

San Diego -- The biggest revelation of tonight’s KNSD CA 52 debate: DeMaio opposes the broad bipartisan support for the U.S. national defense commanders’ actions in Syria and Iraq.  Shockingly, DeMaio did not outline any alternative course of action to protect American families against an imminent threat.

As usual, DeMaio told a series of whoppers during tonight’s debate. So let’s set the record straight on some things:

1. DeMaio claims he isn’t aligned with the Tea Party

In 2012, DeMaio stood in front of a Tea Party group, called the Tea Party the “conscience of the accountable-government movement” and said he would owe them “everything” if elected mayor.

DeMaio has publicly cited Ted Cruz as an example of someone who is making a difference in Washington, D.C..

While on the City Council, DeMaio took an obstructionist approach to government that is identical to the Tea Party’s tactics in D.C.. He repeatedly voting no on everything to the point that even the city’s Republican mayor threw up his hands in disgust.

There’s a reason the U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsed Peters, not DeMaio, in this race. The Chamber has made clear it will actively oppose obstructionist, Tea Party-aligned candidates who are more interested in flame-throwing and causing gridlock than helping solve problems.

As Peters said during the debate, “Sending a Tea Party extremist to fix the Tea Party extremism is not the way to fix the problem.”

2. Medicare/Social Security

DeMaio claims Peters has voted to cut Medicare and Social Security. This is simply false.

DeMaio bases his claims on national Republican talking points that have been refuted repeatedly. Peters has voted against repealing the Affordable Care Act. Republicans have been claiming that the ACA includes more than $700 billion in cuts to Medicare, which isn’t true. The ACA does produce that amount of long-term savings to Medicare by forcing providers to become more efficient and competitive.  Various news orgs have discredited the Republicans’ claim about the supposed $700 billion in Medicare cuts. Here’s one such fact-check.

Peters has actually fought specifically against cuts to Medicare. As a result of his efforts, he was able to convince the White House to limit certain cuts to Medicare’s prescription-drug coverage.

DeMaio is also claiming that Peters’ vote in favor of using the Simpson-Bowles approach to balancing the budget is a vote to “cut” Medicare. The 2010 Simpson-Bowles report did list certain long-term cuts to entitlement programs within a long list of potential options. But Peters’ vote was on using the general framework of Simpson-Bowles as an approach to deficit reduction; Peters never voted in favor of specific entitlement cuts.

3. Social Issues
DeMaio repeatedly said Congress shouldn’t involve itself in “social issues.” His exact quote during the debate was, “I don’t believe social issues should be part of Congress’s agenda.” This is a very odd position for someone who wants to serve in the House of Representatives, which deals with social issues all the time.

DeMaio never explained why he has repeatedly refused to so much as fill out a questionnaire from Planned Parenthood. He never explained why he stayed silent for months on whether or not he supports the Paycheck Fairness Act, which guarantees women equal pay for equal work.  To this day, he has never made clear where he stands on the Supreme Court’s draconian Hobby Lobby ruling, which allows corporations to decide whether their employees are entitled to birth-control coverage.

DeMaio did say he opposes the Affordable Care Act, which mandates no co-pay prescription coverage of birth control and other preventive health care for women.  Given an opportunity to explain his refusal to take a stand on Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage, DeMaio refused to say anything about the controversial initiative.

Voters deserve to know where DeMaio stands on these issues. “Social issues should not be part of Congress’s agenda” is simply not an acceptable answer.

4. Auto Allowance

As DeMaio well knows Peters took the exact same car allowance as all other members of the City Council. As DeMaio also knows, Peters hasn’t kept a penny of his city pension, turning over every cent to the city’s libraries. Plus Peters donated more than $40,000 of his 2008 council salary to improving constituent services in his district.

What’s more, DeMaio’s current TV ads prominently feature Councilwoman Lorie Zapf, who continues to take a car allowance from the city.

Let’s also recall that DeMaio is the one who publicly bragged about owning a BMW, telling the Union-Tribune, “Don’t people know I’m a man of means now. I drive a BMW!” At the time DeMaio made that statement he was making a fortune off government contracts, many of them no-bid.

5. DeMaio supposedly solved the city’s pension problems
During the debate, DeMaio repeatedly used the word “we” when talking about solving problems while at City Hall. Odd use of this word, considered DeMaio was the lone-dissenting vote on the Council as staggering 102 times. Not once did he vote for Republican Mayor Jerry Sanders’ budget. That’s one of the reasons Sanders absolutely eviscerated DeMaio in a 2012 press conference, saying DeMaio never voted yes on anything because doing so “might have muddied up his political calculations.”

DeMaio also claimed Peters did nothing on pension reform, an assertion that is belied by this 2008 video in which DeMaio stands next to Peters at a press conference and praises the Council’s work on pension reform. Specifically, DeMaio called those reforms “the first step toward sustainable pension benefits for the city of San Diego.” As DeMaio knows, the pension reforms instituted when Peters was council president will save the city $22 million a year.

DeMaio also engaged in wild distortions in his relentless pursuit of credit for supposedly fixing the city’s pension problems. DeMaio repeatedly took credit for passing Proposition B without acknowledging that virtually all those savings come from freezing pensionable pay – a freeze that, for most employees, had already been in place for the five years before Prop. B. And even with the passage of Prop. B, the only way to enact a multi-year freeze on pensionable pay is with the agreement of the unions. DeMaio had nothing to do with these successful negotiations, having already left the Council when the city negotiated the pensionable-pay freeze with its unions.

DeMaio repeatedly avoided answering questions, instead resorting to scripted personal attacks -- while also bizarrely claiming to be the victim of personal attacks.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Clean Energy wins big with failure of SDG&E-backed AB2145


Death of bill paves way for consumer utility independence and clean energy jobs

Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014 – Clean-energy advocates throughout the state rejoiced at the much-deserved defeat of Assembly Bill 2145 as the 2013-14 legislative session came to a close on Friday, Aug. 29.

The bill, backed by multiple California monopoly utilities, including SDG&E, would hinder the ability of communities and municipalities to create Community Choice Energy programs (CCEs). These programs allow residents to consolidate their buying power and lower their rates by independently purchasing clean energy. This provides a vital, community-empowering alternative to the monopoly utility companies that give consumers no say on where their energy comes from, have consistently met only the minimum clean energy requirements. AB2145 was a revived 2010 measure, Proposition 16, that was soundly defeated by California voters, in which Pacific Gas & Electric spent over $46 million to prevent Community Choice in California.

The bill was opposed by many cities, counties, organizations and businesses statewide, including a strong local coalition opposing the measure, including the cities of Chula Vista and San Diego, San Diego County Supervisors Dianne Jacob and Dave Roberts, the SanDiego350, and local businesses and unions.

The move poises San Diego to explore implementation of its own CCE, which SanDiego350 strongly advocates. Mayor Kevin Faulconer has included funding for a CCE feasibility study in the city’s recently approved budget. San Diegans are urging city officials to give residents the ability to collectively purchase clean energy, which would reduce carbon emissions and benefit the local economy by creating jobs. Jobs at SDG&E would not be reduced as the utility would continue to maintain and operate the transmission lines.

Establishing a CCE in San Diego is a tenet of the Climate Action Plan (CAP) draft released in February 2014 by Interim Mayor Todd Gloria. The revised draft CAP is expected to be released in late September, and business, environmental, and consumer advocates expect CCE to be preserved in the CAP, as a key means to reduce San Diego’s greenhouse gas emissions, promote local renewable energy jobs, and offer San Diegans more choice and competition in making their energy choices.

SanDiego350.org, an all-volunteer organization, is concerned about climate change and its very real effects on our livelihoods, well-being, and the future for our children. We work to increase awareness of climate change and advocate for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We are loosely affiliated with 350.org, the international climate organization, whose work inspires us.

Visit peoplesclimatesd.org for information on the upcoming People’s Climate March on Sept. 21, when SanDiego350 and a broad coalition of environmental, health, labor and civic organizations will join allies throughout the nation to demand what we know is within reach: a world with an economy that for people and the planet; a world safe from the ravages of climate change; a world with good jobs, clean air and water, and healthy communities.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Peters Endorsed by Climate Hawks Vote, Citing “Political Courage” and “Strong Climate Leadership”

San Diego -- Rep. Scott Peters was endorsed today by Climate Hawks Vote, an environmental advocacy organization formed to elect leaders who prioritize and speak out on the climate need to address climate change.  Peters was recognized for his unwavering commitment to protecting our environment and for providing real leadership in Congress on climate.  The group cited Rep. Peters’ proven ability to work well with members of both parties, furthering their goal of making climate change solutions a bipartisan priority.

“Climate Hawks Vote is delighted to endorse Scott Peters…for his strong climate leadership and for taking first place in our August 2014 survey. And his approach just may break partisan gridlock in Congress,” Climate Hawks Vote said in its statement regarding the endorsement of Rep. Peters.

The environmental group said Rep. Peters “could have ducked the thorny climate issue. Instead, he stepped up to the plate in a big way once in office, taking on a leadership role in the House Sustainable Energy & Environment Coalition, authoring bills, and speaking out in the national and local press. That took political courage.”

Peters thanked Climate Hawks Vote and vowed to continue his working with members of both parties to address the climate crisis.

“As a coastal city, San Diego lives on the front line of climate change,” said Rep. Peters.  “Our economy, our quality of life, and the future of our children all depend upon our willingness to put science ahead of politics and deal with the climate crisis immediately.”

Rep. Peters’ leadership on climate change began as a member of the San Diego City Council, when he approved the City’s Sustainable Community Program and the Climate Protection Action Plan, which is the City’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The City’s new General Plan, adopted in 2008, won national awards for the standards it set for sustainability and responsible energy usage.

As chairman of the San Diego Unified Port District, Rep. Peters led the effort to pass a climate action plan to deal with the effects of sea level rise on port businesses and tenants.  He also chaired the climate initiative at the San Diego Foundation, a philanthropic civic engagement effort designed to support good local decision-making around climate change.

As a first-term Congressman, Rep. Peters chairs the Climate Task Force for the Sustainable Energy & Environment Coalition, advancing policies that address climate change and protect clean air, water, and open spaces; foster clean energy innovation; and develop renewable energy sources.  Amongst other legislation, he cosponsored the Coastal State Climate Change Planning Act, which would create a climate change mitigation grant program under the Coastal Zone Management Act to help coastal states plan for the impacts of climate change.  He also introduced the bipartisan Strengthening The Resiliency of Our Nation on the Ground (STRONG) Act, which gives state and local actors the tools they need to prepare, plan for, and more quickly recover from extreme weather events.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Peters Campaign: U.S. Chamber Endorsement "Speaks Volumes"

San Diego -- Rep. Scott Peters announced a blockbuster endorsement today from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business group. The U.S. Chamber, which rarely endorses Democrats, praised Peters for his work to “return the U.S. to its full growth potential.”

“We believe that your re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives will help produce sustained economic growth, help create jobs, and get our country back on track,”
the Chamber said in its endorsement letter to Rep. Peters.

Peters thanked the Chamber and vowed to continue his efforts to help improve the economy by working with members of all political parties.

“When it comes to improving the economy, creating good jobs and helping businesses grow, we need bipartisan cooperation in Congress, not gridlock and flame-throwing,” Peters said. “The U.S. Chamber endorsement shows how hard I’ve been working to help move our country forward in these areas.”

In his first Congressional term, Peters has made job-creation his top priority. His efforts have included advocating for sensible tax policies; promoting San Diego’s innovation economy by investing in our military and scientific research; reducing the federal debt through a bipartisan approach; and fiercely advocating for returning veterans who need jobs.

As the Chamber noted in a statement today, DeMaio also “actively” sought their endorsement. In recent election cycles, the U.S. Chamber has made a point of opposing extremist, Tea Party candidates and supporting consensus-builders who make sensible decisions.

“The U.S. Chamber endorsement speaks volumes,” said Alex Roth, communications director for the Scott Peters for Congress campaign. “This is a group that seldom endorses Democrats but clearly recognizes that Scott Peters gets results. And he does it not by grandstanding or creating gridlock but by collaborating with anybody who has a good idea, regardless of political party.”

Educators, veterans, business leaders, students urge approval of community college four-year degree bill

SAN DIEGO – Business leaders, veterans, educators and students gathered today to urge Gov. Jerry Brown’s approval of legislation by Senator Marty Block (D-San Diego) allowing California’s community colleges to offer four-year degrees.

Block, who authored SB 850, described his measure as a jobs bill. “This is landmark legislation that is a game changer for California’s higher education system and our workforce preparedness,” Block said. “SB 850 boosts the focus of our community colleges on job training now when California faces a major skills gap in our workforce.”

Currently only the University of California and the California State University systems may offer public four-year degrees. Block noted that by 2025 our state will need one million more adults with four-year degrees. “We need to use all of California’s resources – including our community colleges – to close that gap.” He added that more than 20 states since 1970 already allow community colleges to offer baccalaureate degrees.

“Community colleges are the workforce engines for California's economy,” said San Diego Community Chancellor Constance Carroll, Ph.D. “It is imperative for them to upgrade their programs to prepare students for new job requirements especially in fields where public universities do not offer the degree programs that are necessary.”

For high school students, SB 850 presents additional opportunities and options. “San Diego Unified supports SB 850 and believes this pilot program merits serious consideration,” said Superintendent Cindy Marten. “On April 8, our Board of Education passed and adopted a resolution to support this important new direction in California higher education to expand college opportunities for students in select fields.”

Block’s proposal is a pilot program that would allow 15 campuses from 15 different districts to offer one baccalaureate degree each starting Jan.1, 2015 and ending in July 1, 2023.

Baccalaureate degrees offered at the chosen campuses could not be duplicative of degrees offered by the University of California (UC) or California State University (CSU) campuses. “It will be value added, not duplicative,” Block said. The state’s community college Board of Governors and Chancellor in consultation with the UC and CSU systems would select the participating districts and campuses.

“SB 850 is a long-overdue remedy to the shortage of trained workers and the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce strongly urges Governor Jerry Brown’s support of SB 850, an important piece of legislation that would allow California community colleges to offer baccalaureate degrees,” said Jerry Sanders, President and CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. “SB 850 gives community colleges an opportunity to partner with local workforce investment boards and local businesses to strategically address critical employer demands across our state which will significantly benefit community college completion rates and meet future workforce demands in California, helping to keep our state competitive.”

Veterans groups are also supporting SB 850. Larry Blumberg, Executive Director of the San Diego Military Advisory Council, said an estimated 15,000 young men and women transition from military service to civilian life in the San Diego region. “That’s why SDMAC is excited about the opportunity that SB 850 brings to San Diego’s veterans’ community,” Blumberg said.

Brown received SB 850 on Aug. 28 and has 30 days to approve or veto the bill. Block introduced SB 850 in January, and it is the third time he has introduced similar legislation.

“We’re in a different time now,” Block said to explain why he believes his third attempt will succeed. “California is in a better position now to invest in closing our skills gap. We are in a fast-paced race that we can’t afford to lose. Community colleges can help us meet the challenge. It’s wishful thinking to believe we can meet the challenge of producing another 60,000 bachelor degrees a year without using community colleges, and the longer we delay in using them, the further behind we will fall.”

SB 850 supporters include AMVETS, American Legion, the California State Commanders Veterans Council, the California Association of County Veterans Service Officers and 24 community college districts including those in San Diego, Los Angeles, Napa, and Imperial Counties. Business supporters include CalChamber, the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, the San Jose Silicon Valley and Oceanside Chambers of Commerce, the Silicon Valley Chamber Coalition and the California Workforce Association. Also supporting SB 850 are the California Community College Chancellor’s Office and the California State University system.

Block’s measure received bipartisan support in the Senate and no “NO” votes in any committees.

Block is chair of the Senate Budget Subcommittee #1 which deals with education financing and is a member of the Senate Education Committee. Prior to Block’s election to the Legislature, he served as president of the Board of Trustees of the San Diego Community College District and as a professor and administrator at San Diego State University.

State of California Now On Record Urging President Obama to Suspend Further Deportations of Legalization-Eligible Immigrants


Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez’s AJR 49 Calls for Executive Action to keep California families intact

SACRAMENTO – (Wednesday, September 3, 2014) – The California State Legislature has sent to President Obama a joint resolution by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) which calls on the Obama Administration to expand temporary protective status to all legalization-eligible immigrants through an executive action. This would initiate a ‘deferred action’ legalization process and cease the deportation of all eligible immigrants and families who have no serious criminal history, until Congress adopts humane and inclusive comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

“The financial and social cost to California due to family separations and the loss of children is enormous and inhumane,” Gonzalez said. “California is now clearly on record calling for an end to the deportation of legalization-eligible immigrants and backing a more humanitarian immigration policy that keeps families together.”

Under President Obama, deportations have risen to an average of 400,000 a year since 2009. According to the National Immigration Law Center, more than 1,000 immigrants are separated from their families and communities each day producing devastating effects to our nation.

The joint resolution was supported by the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), California Immigrant Policy Center, Protect Our Families – Save the Children Campaign, Hermandad Mexicana Humanitarian Foundation, Mexican American Political Association (MAPA), and California-Mexico Studies Center, Inc. It does not have any formal opposition.

AJR 49 was approved by the Senate on a 26-3 vote Friday evening after it passed the Assembly on a 55-18 vote August 21. The Chief Clerk of the Assembly will now transmit copies of this resolution to the President and Vice President of the United States, to the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, to the Majority Leader of the United States Senate, and to each Senator and Representative from California in the Congress of the United States.

For more information on AJR 49, or to interview Assemblywoman Gonzalez, contact Evan McLaughlin at (916) 319-2080 or (619) 850-2790.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez represents the 80th Assembly District, which includes Chula Vista, National City and the San Diego neighborhoods of City Heights, Barrio Logan, Paradise Hills, San Ysidro and Otay Mesa. For more information, visit http://asmdc.org/members/a80/.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Karl Rove Hypocrisy Alert: He Supports Same Budget Approach As Peters


San Diego -- Turns out Karl Rove is a big fan of the Simpson-Bowles approach to deficit reduction, which wouldn’t be all that newsworthy were Rove not spending $705,000 in attack ads lambasting Rep. Scott Peters for supporting the exact same approach.

Today comes news about Rove’s effusive praise of Simpson-Bowles. At one point Rove called the bipartisan proposal for balancing the federal budget “the blueprint for righting the nation’s finances.” Rove also has been “repeatedly attacking President Obama for not enacting its recommendations,” Media Matters for America reports.

The news comes roughly a week after Rove’s political-action committee began airing $705,000 worth of attack ads in San Diego. The ads attack Peters for his support of the exact same Simpson-Bowles approach, saying: “Peters’ approach doesn’t make sense.”

“Karl Rove’s hypocrisy is so mind-boggling that you have to wonder if he even watched these ads before they started airing on TV,” said Alex Roth, communications director for the Scott Peters for Congress Campaign.  “Rove should probably stick to his area of expertise – predicting elections.”

VIDEO: DeMaio Says He'll Change Congress By Being Like Tea Party Sen. Ted Cruz


San Diego -- Today the Scott Peters for Congress campaign released more evidence proving that Carl DeMaio’s record and philosophy are pure Tea Party extremism, regardless of his transparent attempts to rebrand himself.

In this video from last year, notably recorded on the day the Tea Party shut down the federal government, Carl DeMaio was asked at a public appearance how a freshman legislator could make a difference in Congress.

His answer: He cited Ted Cruz, the Texas Tea Party senator and the man who led the charge to shut down the federal government.

“Take a look at what Ted Cruz is doing,” DeMaio told his audience. “He’s a freshman senator. He’s certainly creating a lot of stir. So I do believe one individual can make a difference. And it’s a question of whether you’re willing to stand your ground.”

So on the same day Ted Cruz succeeded in his wild-eyed mission to shut down the government, Carl DeMaio chose to give Cruz a shout-out.

“Every day brings more evidence that Carl DeMaio is fundamentally aligned with the Tea Party,” said Alex Roth, communications director for the Scott Peters for Congress Campaign. “On the very first day of the government shutdown created by Ted Cruz and his allies, Carl DeMaio publicly cites Cruz as a guy making a difference in our nation’s capital. Who but a fan of the Tea Party would ever make such a reference?”

For raw video of DeMaio’s speech, click here and here.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Even By DeMaio's Standards, His Latest Ad is Utterly Deceptive


San Diego -- Even by Carl DeMaio’s standards, his latest ad is so deceptive that it demands a response to set the record straight:

The ad claims:

1. That Peters “opposed pension reforms.”

Sadly for DeMaio, there’s video that makes this statement downright laughable. Specifically, the video shows a 2008 press conference in which DeMaio stands next to City Council President Peters and praises the council’s work on pension reform, calling those reforms “the first step towards sustainable pension benefits for the city of San Diego.”  As DeMaio well knows, the pension reforms championed by Scott Peters – and announced at that very press conference -- will save the city an estimated $22 million a year. And Mayor Jerry Sanders called Scott Peters a valuable partner in meaningful pension reform.

2. That Peters “voted to increase his own pension.”

This statement is about as misleading as it gets. First, as DeMaio knows, Scott Peters has donated every penny of his city pension to San Diego’s city libraries. Second, the ad apparently refers to Peters’ vote to raise City Council pay from $71,522 to $75,386 – a raise he didn’t accept for himself. Not only did Peters’ own salary remain at $71,522, he took home only $30,000 of that salary in 2008 and used the rest towards providing better constituent service from his council office.

 “This ad reveals Carl DeMaio’s basic campaign strategy, which is to try to bamboozle the voters at every turn between now and Election Day,” said Alex Roth, communications director for the Scott Peters for Congress campaign. “But the voters are too smart for that. They won’t fall for this deceptive ad campaign.”

Assemblywoman Gonzalez’s Bill To Protect All Peace Officers Injured in the Line of Duty Passes Full Legislature, Sent to Governor Brown

AB 2052 closes gaps in safety net for injured police, expanding coverage to all law enforcement officers

SACRAMENTO – (Monday, August 25, 2014) – The State Assembly voted today to send to Gov. Brown for his signature a bill by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) to ensure that all classifications of peace officers receive the workers' compensation health protection they deserve if they are injured in the line of duty.

“We can all agree that California has a moral responsibility to ensure every peace officer receives basic workers' compensation protections if they're injured in the line of duty,” Gonzalez said. “With AB 2052, the officers who protect students in our schools and universities, passengers in our airports and our transit systems, and many others whose protection we rely upon will be cared for.”

When the workers’ compensation section of the Labor Code was written in the 1970’s, the intent was to include all peace officers that performed the duties of active law enforcement as having a rebuttable presumption that certain injuries were related to their occupation. Assembly Bill 2052 will expand the existing workers' compensation protections or work-related injuries to new classifications of peace officers which didn't exist at that time, such as school police, transit police and airport police.

The bill was supported by twenty five public safety organizations including the Peace Officers Research Association of California, Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, Association of Probation Supervisors, California Correctional Peace Officers Association, California School Employees Association, California State Firefighters’ Association, and State Coalition of Probation Organizations.

AB 2052 was approved by the Assembly on a 51-10 vote Monday after it passed the State Senate with 27-8 bipartisan vote last Thursday. Gov. Brown has until Sept. 30 to sign or veto the bill.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Hazmat-suit Wearing San Diego Protesters to Urge California Coastal Commission to Halt Offshore Fracking 

Highlight dangers of dumping fracking chemicals into the ocean

SAN DIEGO, California— As the California Coastal Commission meets in San Diego, hazmat suit-wearing protesters with SanDiego350 and the Center for Biological Diversity will urge commissioners to halt fracking to protect the state’s precious oceans, wildlife, and beaches.

Protesters want the Coastal Commission to stop oil companies from fracking offshore wells and dumping dangerous fracking chemicals directly into California’s ocean. Offshore fracking involves blasting water and industrial chemicals into the sea-floor at pressures high enough to crack geologic formations and release oil and gas.

"Every offshore frack job increases the toxic threat to California's fragile ocean ecosystems," said Miyoko Sakashita, the Center for Biological Diversity's Oceans Program Director.

“Our beaches and coastal cities are some of the gems of San Diego tourism,” said Peg Mitchell, Fracking Campaign Leader for SanDiego350. “We can’t afford any risks to our local economy, nor can the marine life sustain any further damage to their waters”.

Protest against offshore fracking outside California Coastal Commission meeting

Wednesday, August 13, 2014 at 10 a.m.

Catamaran Resort, 3999 Mission Blvd., San Diego

Oil companies have fracked hundreds of wells off California’s coast, and about half the oil platforms in the Santa Barbara Channel discharge wastewater into the sea. The oil industry has federal permission to annually dump more than 9 billion gallons of wastewater, including toxic fracking fluid, directly into the ocean off California’s coast.

A recent Center for Biological Diversity analysis of 12 frack jobs in California waters found that at least one-third of chemicals used in these fracking operations are suspected ecological hazards. Drawing on data disclosed by oil companies, the Center also found that more than a third of these chemicals are suspected of affecting human developmental and nervous systems.

Because of the dangerously high pressures involved, fracking also increases the risk of a catastrophic accident like the 1969 oil spill that contaminated hundreds of miles of shoreline from Santa Barbara to the Silver Strand here in San Diego. 

SanDiego350.org, an all-volunteer organization, is concerned about climate change and its very real effects on our livelihoods, well-being, and the future for our children. We work to increase awareness of climate change and advocate for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We are loosely affiliated with 350.org, the international climate organization, whose work inspires us.

Coastkeeper Releases New Animated Map Showing Correlation Between Region’s Water Supply Sources and Drought

Map illustrates severity of and growing risk in current water supply sources

SAN DIEGO, August 12, 2014 – How does the severe drought in California and the Southwest impact San Diego’s imported water supply? Today, San Diego Coastkeeper, which protects drinkable waters in San Diego County, published an animated map that overlays drought conditions and an outline of watersheds from where the region imports water. The map shows the increasing severity of the drought through the last year as it relates to the watersheds from where San Diego imports water.

“It’s devastating to see this illustrated visually,” said Travis Pritchard, San Diego Coastkeeper program manager. “The watersheds from where San Diego draws its water are nearly 100 percent impacted by drought.”

The map’s color-coded portion depicts the severity of drought throughout California with data from the US Drought Monitor, a joint venture between the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

To see the drought’s impact on our water supply sources, Coastkeeper overlaid the outlines of the Colorado River Basin and the Sacramento River Basin combined with the San Joaquin River Basin, which flow into the Bay Delta. The maps show the past year, using one map a month. For consistency, the drought maps are captured on the last Thursday of each month.

For more information on San Diego Coastkeeper, please visit www.sdcoastkeeper.org.

SAN DIEGO COASTKEEPER: Founded in 1995, San Diego Coastkeeper protects and restores fishable, swimmable and drinkable waters in San Diego County. Visit us online at http://www.sdcoastkeeper.org.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

District attorneys urge passage of bills adding new enforcement tools against human trafficking

SACRAMENTO – District attorneys from San Diego and Riverside counties today urged passage of two bills in the fight against human trafficking (HT). The measures – SB 473 and SB 939 – authored by Senator Marty Block (D-San Diego) would elevate the crime of human trafficking to the same level as other gang offenses and sex crimes. Both are subject to a final vote by the Legislature this week.

SB 473 would treat human trafficking crimes committed by gang members with the same severity as 33 other gang offenses; SB 939 would streamline prosecution of human traffickers by allowing multiple offenses from different jurisdictions consolidated into a single trial.

“Human trafficking is among the most despicable and odious of crimes because traffickers treat victims as property to be used and sold,” Block said. “Winning the human trafficking war is a priority for me because trafficking cases filed in San Diego federal court have increased by more than 600 percent over the past five years.”

SB 473 would add human trafficking to the list of 33 crimes that define a criminal street gang under the California Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act. The anti-gang laws include strict penalties, but the statute has not been updated to include gang involvement in human trafficking. Inclusion would affect probation and parole conditions, augment law enforcement tools, and affect the way cases are handled by all stakeholders in the system.

“Senate Bill 473 takes direct aim at gang members who would victimize young women in communities across the State of California by adding human trafficking as offenses that can be used to establish a pattern of criminal gang activity,” said San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis. “”In short, it will help prosecutors build our cases against gang members who, until now, have been slipping through a loophole in the law.”

Supporters include Crime Victims United of California, the California District Attorneys Association, the Child Abuse Prevention Center and the California Sheriff’s Association. It is on the Assembly Floor Monday. It has received no “NO” votes in the Legislature.

SB 939 would streamline prosecutions and reduce court costs and the trauma experienced by victim witnesses who testify in human trafficking cases that cross multiple jurisdictions. The measure would permit the consolidation of serial human trafficking, pimping and pandering charges into a single trial if all the involved jurisdictions agree. Victims of these crimes are frequently taken to multiple cities and counties for labor and commercial sex exploitation. Prosecution involves trials in each of the multiple cities and count where the crimes occurred, with victims testifying in each of the trials. Current law already allows for the consolidation of other serial sexual offenses occurring in multiple jurisdictions. The Senate is expected to vote on concurrence in Assembly amendments Monday. It will then go to the Governor. SB 939 has not received any “NO” votes in the Legislature.

“Human trafficking is the fastest growing crime in California, and SB 939 will be a tremendous asset to prosecutors statewide and make it easier and more efficient to prosecute these types of cases,” said Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach. “At the same time, this bill will also provide human trafficking victims more protections under the law.”

Support for SB 939 includes California Against Slavery as well as Crime Victims United, the California District Attorneys Association and the California State Sheriffs Association.

Block added that human trafficking is highly lucrative and that stemming these crimes will take the use of multiple tools on multiple fronts. “Gangs and other perpetrators are using victims as their ATM machines,” Block said. “In San Diego, the human sex trafficking trade brought in $97 million in revenue as of 2007, more money than drug trafficking, according to a new Urban Institute study. We need to fight this on all fronts.”
Proudly representing the cities and communities of San Diego, Del Mar, Solana Beach, and Coronado

San Diego Coastkeeper Announces its Annual Seaside Soiree 


Proceeds from September 10 event will protect fishable, swimmable and drinkable waters in San Diego County 

SAN DIEGO, August 8, 2014–– On September 10, San Diego Coastkeeper hosts its annual Seaside Soiree to raise money and celebrate swimmable, fishable and drinkable waters in San Diego County. This year marks the 17th annual Seaside Soiree where guests, supporters, board members and staff gather to celebrate the importance of protecting San Diego’s underwater treasures and healthy waterways. Tickets are available online.

Taking place at the Scripps Seaside Forum in La Jolla, participants will mingle inside and outside and enjoy an oceanfront view with a spectacular sunset. The event, which runs from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m., promises a roaming buffet, cash bar, auction and opportunity drawing, interactive educational booths, fishy dance moves and fun.

SeaWorld presents the Seaside Soiree with additional support by The Waitt Foundation, San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, Regency Centers Corporation, Patricia A. Meagher and David C. Ritter, Micah Mitrosky & EDCO. Underwriting by the Cohn Restaurant Group. Sponsorship and underwriting opportunities still available.

Tickets can be purchased from San Diego Coastkeeper’s website. VIP Tickets are $250 and include free parking, hosted drinks and recognition during the event. General admission tickets are $100. To reserve a table or sponsor the event, contact Megan Baehrens at meganb@sdcoastkeeper.org or (619) 758-7743 X103.


San Diego Coastkeeper
Founded in 1995, San Diego Coastkeeper protects the region's bays, beaches, watersheds and ocean for the people and wildlife that depend on them. We balance community outreach, education, and advocacy to promote stewardship of clean water and a healthy coastal ecosystem. For more information, visit San Diego Coastkeeper online at http://www.sdcoastkeeper.org.

September 3: Good Neighbor Dialogue to Explore Homelessness in Border Town

Other Good Neighbor Month festivities include Soup’s On, Good Neighbor Day 

SAN DIEGO, August 8- Father Joe’s Villages and its partner agencies joins forces with the University of San Diego’s Trans-Border Institute to present Good Neighbor Dialogue—Homelessness in San Diego: What Makes Good Neighbors? At the free event, a panel of experts will discuss the impacts of homelessness on the bi-national region. Speakers include St. Vincent de Paul Village Executive Director Ruth Bruland, Trans-Border Institute Director Dr. Everard Meade and the San Diego Police Department. Moderated by KPBS’ Mark Sauer, the Dialogue will take place from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on September 3 at the University of San Diego’s Joan B. Kroc Center for Peace and Justice.

“San Diego’s location in a border region makes us unique from most large cities in the U.S. and that reality presents both opportunities and challenges. At the Good Neighbor Dialogue, we will discuss the key homelessness issues and their impacts on the region as a whole,” said Diane Stumph, interim president and CEO of Father Joe’s Villages. “What a great kick off to Good Neighbor Month, which encourages neighbors to help neighbors in need.”

The Good Neighbor Dialogue is part of Father Joe’s Villages Inaugural Good Neighbor Month, which includes a variety of events to raise awareness about homelessness, encourage neighborly acts and provoke important dialogue around key homelessness issues.

In addition to the Good Neighbor Dialogue, highlights in this year’s Good Neighbor Month include Good Neighbor Day and Soup’s On, along with an Internet pledge to encourage San Diegans to do something for a neighbor in need.

Good Neighbor Day on Saturday, September 20, encourages San Diegans to conduct a kind gesture for a neighbor in need. The organization and its Good Neighbor Day participants will share many of these stories via social media.

Soup’s On is scheduled for Friday, September 26, at the Headquarters at Seaport Village. For $10, patrons will enjoy soup served in special bowls collected and hand painted by Toussaint teens, children in arts program, community members and local celebrities.

Father Joe’s and partner agencies are asking San Diegans to take a pledge through the website to commit to being a good neighbor and share how they will do it—volunteer, donate clothes and goods to St. Vincent de Paul Village or any number of other acts. Proceeds benefit the programs of St. Vincent de Paul Villages.

More information on donation of bowls for Soups On and sponsorship opportunities can be found by contacting Mike O’ Malley at mike.omalley@neighbor.org or 619-260-2143.

For more information visit the Good Neighbor webpage.


As Southern California’s largest residential homeless services provider, Father Joe’s Villages and partner agency St. Vincent de Paul Village have been empowering people to achieve self-sufficiency for over 62 years. What started as a small chapel serving San Diego’s impoverished has grown into a cutting-edge provider of innovative housing programs and services. Father Joe’s Villages and St. Vincent de Paul Village prepare up to 3,000 meals and provide a continuum of care to nearly 1,500 individuals every day—from infants and adolescents to adults and seniors. This includes over 200 children and over 200 military veterans. As industry thought-leaders, the two agencies offer innovative solutions to address the complex needs of the homeless, regardless of age, race, culture or beliefs. The organizations’ primary goal is to transform lives and end the cycle of homelessness. To this end they provide housing, healthcare, food, clothing, education, job training and child development in an internationally modeled “one-stop-shop” approach. The organizations’ mission is made possible only through the efforts of compassionate staff, dedicated volunteers, and generous public and private donors. For more information, please visit: http://www.neighbor.org.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Beach safety, recreation, economy take center stage at event urging passage of rapid beach water testing

Area officials, environmentalists and business leaders today urged passage of  legislation by Senator Marty Block (SD-39) permitting county public health officials to use an “early alert” test that would allow same day test results of beach water quality.

“SB 1395 safeguards the public and protects local economies,” Block said. “We want the public alerted to any health danger as quickly as possible. We also want beaches reopened as soon as possible for visitors to enjoy once safety is assured.” He noted that over the Memorial Day weekend more than 450,000 people enjoyed San Diego’s beaches and that statewide 238 million beach-goers enjoy California’s beaches annually.

Swimming, surfing or participating in other water activities in polluted water can result in stomach flu, skin rashes, pinkeye, respiratory infections, meningitis and hepatitis. California Coastkeeper Alliance states that every year approximately one million Southern California beachgoers contract gastrointestinal illness from exposure to polluted coastal areas at a public health cost of $21 to $51 million.

The County of San Diego is sponsoring SB 1395. “Our beaches define San Diego, and San Diegans expect them to be safe,” said County Supervisor Greg Cox. “That is why we must continue to improve our beach water testing and get same day results. This bill allows us to do that.” Cox advocated for the legislation.

The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce is supporting the measure. “There’s no doubting the importance of the beach to San Diego’s tourism and economy," said Jerry Sanders, President and CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. "Our beaches are a point of pride for our city and having the ability to quickly determine the safety of our beaches is important to tourists, residents and the many businesses that depend on the beach and beach-goers. The Chamber appreciates Senator Block’s leadership on this bill that will benefit San Diego. ”

Under the state’s Beach and Bay Water Quality Monitoring Program, county public health departments perform beach water sampling and close beaches or post warning signs if water quality does not meet state standards. Current permissible tests are culture-based involving a multiple sample standard for three indicators – total coliform, fecal coliform and enterococcus. Test results are typically available in 24 to 48 hours – and sometimes as long as 96 hours – leaving beachgoers at risk before results are obtained.

To address the current waiting period for results, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certified an alternative testing method, the qualitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) test which shortens the result waiting period to four hours, a significant time savings.

“We want to protect people as they play in the ocean and visit waterfront businesses, but today's best information uses yesterday’s water quality,” said Megan Baehrens, Executive Director of San Diego Coastkeeper. “With this rapid test, we’ll know if water is safe right now--only four hours after the test. This has huge health and economic implications.”

Block’s bill would authorize local health officers to use the current or future rapid tests to determine beach water quality. The jurisdiction must first perform the tests side-by-side with the currently approved culture-based assessment over an entire beach season to determine that the tests are a reliable indicator of public health standards. Additionally the new tests must be performed in compliance with the federal EPA’s established guidance and with oversight by the California Department of Public Health.

Serge Dedina, Ph.D., executive director of WILDCOAST and author of “Wild Sea,” also underscored the importance of quicker test results. “By helping to close and open our beaches quicker,” SB 1395 will protect the health and safety of beach-goers throughout San Diego County as well as our economy.”

In addition to the County of San Diego, the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, the California Coastkeeper Alliance and WILDCOAST, SB 1395 is also supported by the California Association of Environmental Health Administrators and the Surfrider Foundation.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The U.S. Must Not Lower the Bar on Protecting Children Fleeing Violence

July 30, 2014

Washington D.C. - The humanitarian challenge posed by the arrival of thousands of unaccompanied children and young families at our southern border has once again ignited passions over the role immigration plays in our country. Rather than respond to the arrival of children and young families as refugees fleeing violence and crime, and appropriately fund our ability to prioritize the health and well-being of these individuals, Washington has yet again become mired in anti-immigration rhetoric. As the Senate and House take up supplemental funding bills, this debate is likely to involve numerous attacks on existing protections for children, including rolling back the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), accelerating court proceedings to limit the due process available to children, and other measures that will in essence blame the children for needing protection.

During the course of this debate, it bears constant repeating that neither the TVPRA nor providing access to immigration court proceedings is the problem. Some have argued that existing measures designed to screen Central American children to determine whether they might be eligible for asylum, protection as trafficking victims, or some other form of relief is hindering the rapid removal of children, and without speedy removal there is no deterrent effect. Others have argued that the court process itself is too slow or that providing counsel to children is too burdensome. All of these arguments ignore the fundamental fact that the TVPRA is not a barrier to efficiently and effectively deciding the cases of unaccompanied children.

Responsibility for the delays under the current system lies squarely at the feet of those who have consistently refused to provide resources to the adjudicators and judges that are a critical part of our immigration system in general, and this process in particular. Abandoning the protections of the TVPRA would not only be a travesty of justice, but would be a victory for those anti-immigrant members of Congress who have consistently expanded immigration enforcement without addressing the equally important issue of providing fair and timely hearings for all. This is particularly important in situations where the life of a child is endangered, and where an accelerated process reduces the chances that those in need of protection will be identified. In fact, the current screening process for identifying Mexican children who are victims of trafficking (which is far more limited than the process for Central American children) has been found by the UNHCR to utterly fail as a vehicle for identifying children at risk.

Success is achievable without undermining legal protections. Providing additional resources to the immigration courts is a first step, but far more can and should be done. Improving access to counsel, including making counsel available to all children, ensures protections and actually leads to a more efficient adjudication process. In those cases where children choose to return to their countries or are ordered removed, the U.S. must comply with its international obligations and follow its moral compass to ensure that returns are conducted with appropriate attention to the best interests and needs of the child. We can make use of international monitoring and protection standards for ensuring safe repatriation of children and support programs that help the countries of origin reduce the violence, crime, and poverty that is driving children from their homes. In other words, thoughtful, holistic approaches will, in the long run, produce better results for all. Simply pouring more money into border protection or downgrading “inconvenient” laws sounds tough, but is ultimately the weakest response of all.

The United States Congress must ensure that its legacy is the improvement of our immigration court and adjudication processes and not the demise of humanitarian protections put in place to protect children fleeing violence.