Here’s a short chat I had with Amy Blaschka, President and CEO of the Tri-Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau, about the Tri-Valley region (where I live), located in the San Francisco East Bay. The Tri-Valley consists of Pleasanton, Livermore, Danville, San Ramon and Dublin, and it’s best known for the Livermore wine region, golf, an amazing array of parks and sports fields, and the historic downtowns of some of the cities, especially Pleasanton.
In the 1850s, the town was nicknamed “The Most Desperate Town in the West” and it was ruled by bandits and desperados. Main Street shootouts were not uncommon. Banditos such as Joaquin Murrieta, upon whom the legend of Zorro is based, would ambush prospectors on their way back from the gold rush fields and then seek refuge in Pleasanton. This reputation passed, and in 1917 Pleasanton became the backdrop for the film “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.”
To undecided voters deciding whether to re-elect Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, I have one question: What do you know about Republican candidate David Harmer?
Are you aware that he favors privatizing Social Security, even after the Wall Street meltdown (no surprise, given his discredited deregulate-everything philosophy)? Or that he has spoken at a local Tea Party event? Or that he wrote in favor of abolishing public schools and returning education to “the way things worked through the first century of American nationhood” in an op-ed piece in the San Francisco Chronicle in 2000, a position he has not backed away from? Pleasanton has some of the best public schools in the state, and his rants against “socialism in education” have no place here.
My family members are canvassing our Pleasanton neighborhood so that Rep. McNerney, one of the most capable centrist members of Congress, isn’t turned out in an unfocused anger at everything about Washington. Electing Mr. Harmer and a return to Wall Street rule is not where we want to take this country in the next two years. Mr. Harmer is far out of step with the voters in this centrist district.
Yesterday I headed into San Francisco and saw Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., speak to a packed gallery of 350 or so people at the Commonwealth Club of California (I’m a member). She’s in a hotly contested reelection campaign against Carly Fiorina.
As is the case with popular speakers, audience members had to write their questions on a slip of paper and the moderator has to choose which ones to ask. The second question asked was the one I posed: Given the unprecedented use of the filibuster by the Republicans in the current Senate session, hat is your position on reforming or eliminating the filibuster?
Here’s the video I took of Sen. Boxer’s two-minute answer. She said she supports reforming the filibuster rules when the next Senate assembles to set its rules in two ways: requiring 55 votes instead of 60, and requiring senators to actually filibuster on their feet.
Now, we need a majority of senators to agree on the same reforms.
Apumped-up David Boies said last night that it’s a “dead certainty” that the U.S. Supreme Court will take up the issue of same-sex marriage if a federal appeals court sustains the trial court’s landmark decision Wednesday overturning California’s Proposition 8.
In an hourlong appearance before a capacity crowd of 300 at San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club, Boies — who led the plaintiffs’ legal team alongside Ted Olsen — declined to handicap the case’s chances before the conservative High Court. But he said his legal team was “not taking any justice for granted and not giving up” on any of the nine justices.
Boies predicted the often liberal 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals would rule on the case later this year and the Supreme Court would follow in 2011.
Boies joked that Olsen, once a darling of the right who served as opposing counsel before the Supreme Court in Bush vs. Gore, would be instructed to win over the five conservative justices while Boies’ job would be to woo the four more liberal justices.
Turning serious, he added that if the Supremes apply the trial judge’s findings of fact, “I think we ought to win every one of those justices. I’m not saying we’re going to, I’m saying we’re not giving up on anybody.” (Watch Boies’ comments in the 3-minute video excerpt above.)
Boies talked about how people of his generation were reared in an era when gays were publicly discriminated against, citing President Eisenhower’s executive order prohibiting gays and lesbians from serving in the federal government in any capacity — including postal carriers and court typists.
“As you move toward greater equality, people have to abandon decisions and positions they took before. I’m very conscious of the fact that we’re going to be arguing this to judges that are of my generation,” he said. “You had laws prohibiting gays and lesbians from various employments — forcing employers to discriminate. That was the culture in which those of us of a certain age grew up. And (now) you have to ask judges to put those cultural influences aside.”
Boies said the plaintiffs won at the trial level because “religion does not have a place in American legislation, and that has been true since the First Amendment to the Constitution was passed.”
He said the proponents of Proposition 8 relied on outdated notions of marriage, and he got a rise from the audience when he noted that the trial judge expressed skepticism at the notion that marriage should be restricted to couples intending to procreate. “A week earlier the same judge married a couple in their 80s, and I doubt they intended on having any more children.”
U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, of San Francisco, on Wednesday declared California’s same-sex marriage ban, passed by voters on the same day that President Obama was elected president n November 2008, to be in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment guarantees of equal protection and due process of law. Prop. 8′s supporters filed their appeal Thursday.