Thursday, May 29, 2014

Senate approves Block measure allowing community colleges to offer four year degrees

Senate approves SB 850 on bipartisan 34-0 vote

California’s state senate today by a 34-0 vote approved a bill aimed at closing California’s job skills gap by allowing community colleges to offer four-year degrees where a local workforce need can be documented.

Senator Marty Block (SD-39), who authored SB 850, described his measure as a jobs bill. “California has a workforce skills gap,” Block said. “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.

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. Programs would begin no later than the 2017-18 academic year.

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.

Participating districts would also be required to submit a report to the Chancellor that examines the program’s success including:
    •    Percentage of students completing the baccalaureate degree,
    •    Fiscal self-sustainability of the pilot program,
    •    Difficulty in finding and paying instructors for the program,
    •    Decline in enrollments at the public campuses in the regions served by the district as a result of the pilot program, and
    •    Number of students who received jobs in the field of study of their baccalaureate degree.

Block introduced SB 850 in January, and it is the third time he has introduced similar legislation.

Previous attempts included:
    •    AB 661 in 2011 which would have allowed Grossmont-Cuyamaca and the San Mateo Community College Districts to offer one baccalaureate pilot degree per campus. It was held on the inactive file on the Assembly Floor.

    •    AB 2400 in 2010 which would have authorized the San Diego, Grossmont-Cuyamaca and San Mateo districts to establish baccalaureate degree pilot programs. It was held in the Assembly Higher Education Committee.

“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.”

This bill does not change the mission of community colleges to provide workforce training. It is merely responsive to a change in industry standards that now requires bachelor’s degrees as a preparation for entry into the workforce in many fields that once required only two-year degrees.

SB 850 is supported by veterans and business organizations as well as numerous community college districts. Supporters include AMVETS, American Legion, the California State Commanders Veterans Council, the California Association of County Veterans Service Officers and at least 13 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 and the San Jose Silicon Valley and Oceanside Chambers of Commerce.

Block’s measure has 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 San Diego Community College District and as a professor and administrator at San Diego State University.

County Forum Concludes Not Enough Known About Fracking 

More Research Needed to Better Assess Impact of Fracking in California

By Bob Braaton

Tuesday, May 28, 2014 --County Supervisor Dave Roberts' forum on fracking Wednesday presented the San Diego community plenty of information on fracking, but in the end most agreed not enough research has been done on the unique exposure to risk faced by California with this controversial oil and gas extraction technology.

Roberts said fracking was brought to his attention by constituents and that he is in the process of researching it.  "I'm hosting this forum because I listen," he said.

The forum included a panel of experts including: Damon Nagami, senior attorney and director of the Southern California Ecosystems Project for the Natural Resources Defense Council, Ken Weinberg, Director of Water Resources, San Diego County Water Authority, and David Nylander of Noble Americas Energy Solutions and Matt Weidlin, California Certified Hydrologist.

Current water use for fracking in California is small compared to overall water usage, according to Ken Weinberg, Director of Water Resources.  However, he noted as fracking is developed that usage could increase and regulatory protection was vital for our community.

Damon Nagami of the National Resource Defense Council said fracking presented numerous dangers to our water and air quality, wildlife habitat, environment and public health. He noted that at the present time there are 31 registered oil and gas wells in San Diego county.

Warning against a moratorium on fracking, David Nylander of Nobel American Energy solutions, said it could increase prices of natural gas, which in turn has a domino effect on not only gas and electricity, but the cost of water as well.

Matt Weidlin, the hydrologist, informed the audience about the geological nature of the formational rock that is being drilled and how that might affect the migration of the drilling chemicals into ground water.    He noted it has to be carefully monitored.

Following the presentations, discussions between the panelists and the public at the event centered around technical aspects relating to fracking in California. What became apparent during the discussion is that there is insufficient information about fracking due to a lack of scientific studies on the subject, relative to California.  

Peg Mitchell, a spokesperson for SanDiego350 and Citizens Climate Lobby, said that the discussions from the forum strongly suggest we need a moratorium on fracking to obtain the proper knowledge to determine what the impact of fracking will be on our water, air, environment and general health.   She said this supports SB 1132, a fracking moratorium bill, which is being voted on this week in the State Senate.

Fracking is a mining technique in which water is mixed with sand and chemicals and the mixture is injected at high pressure into the well.  Up to five million gallons are needed to drill each well and the water is not salvagable due to its chemicals.  The current dump method is to pump it back in the ground, under the water table., 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, the international climate organization, whose work inspires us.  For general media inquiries, please contact Jeffrey Meyer,

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Zapf's Petty Nature

Councilmember Lorie Zapf, who has yet to win an election on her own (needs developer money for the cash she can't raise and and electeds - DeMaio last time and Fauconer this time - to do the heavy lifting with the Republican base that she can't),  has been know to have a petty nature.

This is the most blatant example:

Above is an image of a Proclamation from the City of San Diego honoring the outgoing head of the firefighters, Frank DeClerq, for his years of service. As you can see, it was making the rounds for signatures from councilmembers and Zapf's office has crossed her name out.

Why? Our guess is because the firefighters have endorsed her opponent, Sarah Boot, for District 2.

A picture speaks a thousand words. To try and score political points over years of non-partisan public service shows how petty Zapf has become.

Leave the Jr. high school actions in the past. And if you can't grow up, maybe you shouldn't be allowed to lead.

San Diego deserves better.

National Brady Campaign Endorses Scott Peters for Congress

Record of leadership earns backing of nation's leading gun violence prevention organization

San Diego – The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence announced today its endorsement of Congressman Scott Peters for reelection in California's 52nd Congressional District.

"We are proud to endorse Congressman Scott Peters, who has immediately established himself as a leader in Congress on gun violence prevention,” said Dan Gross, President, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “As a member of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, he is a co-sponsor of critical legislation like H.R. 1565, legislation that would expand Brady background checks to gun sales made online and at gun shows. Scott Peters has shown he can be counted on as an advocate for smart policy that respects basic rights while reducing the threat of gun violence in our communities."

"The tragic Newtown shooting occurred shortly after my election, and this past week, we were once again shaken by the horrific violence of the Isla Vista shooting spree. I urged a comprehensive, common-sense approach to reducing gun violence as one of my first acts in Congress, and I remain absolutely committed to achieving real reforms," said Rep. Peters.

"I'm proud to have the support of the Brady Campaign as we continue working in Congress to finish the job and expand Brady background checks to keep dangerous people like felons and domestic abusers away from guns. We need to do more to improve mental health awareness and treatment, and ensure that local law enforcement has the resources to keep our communities safe," he added.

The mission of the Brady organization is to create a safer America that will lead to a dramatic reduction in gun deaths and injuries.

Scott Peters is a freshman member of Congress, elected in 2012. He is a member of the House Armed Services Committee and the Science, Space and Technology Committee. Scott Peters is the only candidate in the race with a demonstrated track record of working across party lines to get things done. In addition to public safety, Peters is endorsed by worker advocates, women’s rights groups, and national environmental organizations. He is also backed by some of San Diego’s most prominent Republican business leaders, including five former Chairmen of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.


Monday, May 26, 2014

Rep. Peters Votes for Increased Veterans Administration Accountability


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52) released the following statement after voting in favor of H.R. 4031, the “Department of Veterans Affairs Management Accountability Act,” which gives the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) more flexibility over the employment status of senior level officials. This measure provides accountability for the leadership responsible for the type of mismanagement uncovered recently at the VA facility in Phoenix.

“One of the most important jobs of Congress is to honor the service and sacrifice of our veterans by providing oversight over the Department of Veterans Affairs. Too often the VA is failing to keep our nation’s promise to veterans and their families, as was evidenced again recently by reprehensible mismanagement at the Phoenix VA facility. Thankfully, San Diego’s VA centers have performed better than most and the backlog of benefits claims has been significantly reduced in our region.

“As more servicemembers come home from tours abroad and return to civilian life, the burden on VA facilities and administrators will increase. Congress must provide the resources necessary for the VA to handle this increased load so that our veterans get the service they expect and deserve.”

Congressman Peters serves the 52nd District of California which covers much of central San Diego County including Poway, Coronado, and large portions of the City of San Diego.  He is a member of the House Armed Services Committee and the House Committee on Science, Space, & Technology.  He was named the fourth most independent Democrat by National Journal last year. The Congressman is a former environmental attorney, City Council President, and Port Commission Chairman.


Congressman Peters Pushes NSA Reforms Forward

NOTE: This was on a 3 day delay (House Rules)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52) released the following statement after voting in favor of H.R. 3361, the “USA Freedom Act,” which modifies the authority of the National Security Agency (NSA) by ending its ability to collect and hold telephone metadata and other bulk data:

“Protecting our country is increasingly difficult and finding the right tools for our intelligence community to combat these threats has proved elusive in recent years. This bill is a bipartisan endeavor and is a step in the right direction. It makes significant advances toward protecting the privacy of American citizens by placing real, effective restrictions on government collection of data while putting reasonable burdens on the NSA before they can request information.”

The bill, which passed the House of Representatives 303-121, in addition to ending the NSA’s collection and storage of telephone metadata, requires the agency to get case-by-case approval from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court before requesting information and data. This proposal codifies the proposal put forth by President Obama earlier this spring and is the result of bipartisan discussions in Congress.

Congressman Peters serves the 52nd District of California which covers much of central San Diego County including Poway, Coronado, and large portions of the City of San Diego.  He is a member of the House Armed Services Committee and the House Committee on Science, Space, & Technology.  He was named the fourth most independent Democrat by National Journal last year. The Congressman is a former environmental attorney, City Council President, and Port Commission Chairman.