A Progressive Alamedan

Various writings from a resident of Alameda regarding the political scene. The local perspective of local, state and national politics and a few other odds and ends of local concern. May not be particularly interesting to people outside of the Alameda area.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

TALC: Transportation and Land Use Coalition Summit

Today I attented the Summit of TALC, the Transportation and Land Use Coalition. This 10th Annual summit's theme was Bay Area Solutions to Global Warming. This was a conference attended by hundreds of tranportation advocates from all over the Bay Area, interested in solving problems of how we build and maintain residences, businesses, and transportation facilities to best suit the needs of the Bay Area's residents. I couldn't turn around without running into somebody I know from the bicycling or pedestrian or transit advocacy communities — many from Alameda; there were also many union leaders, representatives of transit systems like AC Transit and BART, high-speed railway advocates, Sierra Club members, and so forth. After a keynote there were many breakout sessions to choose from; I got a lot out of the "Complete Streets" and "How to Lobby Effectively" sessions. Many Kudos go to the TALC organizers of this conference!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

We really need to make sure Stark is fighting HARD ENOUGH

I called Congressman Stark's office today - something I don't do that often.

First off, I wanted to give his office some feedback regarding the movement to end the occupating in Iraq. Some readers here might be members of MoveOn and voted in a poll of whether to support Nancy Pelosi's plan. Unfortunately, it just doesn't have any teeth in it. Barbara Lee's amendment does. The problem is now that MoveOn is pushing for a very ineffectual bill.

That's one thing I talked to Stark's office about, encouraging him to Support Barbara Lee's amendment. Afterwards, I found that actually he's one of the few people calling Pelosi's bluff:

“The best way to keep [the troops] safe is to bring them home,” Stark said. “It’s difficult to oppose [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). She’s a great leader and working wonders to get this passed, but some things I can’t vote for.”

He added that if the resolution fails, “It won’t look good, like the Democrats can’t get their act together, but that’s OK. We can write a better bill.”

The other big thing I talked about has to do with not letting Congress effectively give a green light to an Iran invasion. Pelosi is doing just that.

If George W. Bush launches a preemptive war on Iran, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will bear full moral responsibility for that war.

For it was Pelosi who quietly agreed to strip out of the $100 billion funding bill for Iraq a provision that would have required President Bush to seek congressional approval before launching any new war on Iran.

Dear reader, if you care about getting us out of Iraq and keeping us out of Iran, please call Stark's office at 510-494-1388 or 202-225-5065 and encourage him to support Barbara Lee's amendment to get us out of Iraq, and opppose Pelosi's removal of a provision that would require congressional approval to attack Iran.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

East Bay Political Event Overload This Saturday!

What's a poor activist to do? There are so many political events this weekend!

The aforementioned Pete Stark town meeting at Amelia Earhart School.

The Clean Money campaign meeting.

A big health care town meeting with Swanson, Hancock, Dellums, Nuñez, Perata etc. at Oakland City Center in the morning at the Oakland City Hall Council Chambers at 9 AM

... followed by a Barack Obama rally in at City Center, 3 PM (free tickets required)

And over in Walnut Creek there is a peace march that East Bay for Democracy called me about.

A regional meeting for the California Democratic Party, originally scheduled for Saturday, has been postponed. Good idea!

Which one of these will I be at? None, I'm afraid....

Next weekend preview: an Oakland Peace march....

Kudos to Pete Stark

Today I ran across two things relating to our congressional representative, Pete Stark.

The first was an email from MoveOn, pointing out that Stark "has been leading the way to get us out of Iraq quickly and safely and he could really use your support right now".

The other was that the Internets are all abuzz about a response that Stark gave on a survey in which he admitted that he does not believe in a supreme being. Essentially, he came out of the religious closet.

I'm asuming that the right-wing will have, or is having, a field day about this. (I don't watch Fox news so I can't tell for sure.) But I'm proud of Stark for admitting that. I actually have a suspicion that many politicians actually aren't religious at all, but put on a show for the benefit of the voting population, who seem to insist that our political leaders be deeply religious (and, for the most part, Protestant.)

Here's an interesting tidbit from the article I linked to:

A USA Today/Gallup poll last month found that 45% of respondents said they would vote for a "well qualified" presidential candidate who was an atheist. Ninety-five percent said they would vote for a Catholic candidate, 92% a Jewish candidate and 72% a Mormon candidate.

Kudos to Pete Stark. I called his Fremont office [494-1388] to offer my support as a constituent for his coming out, and for his leadership in getting us out of Iraq as soon as possible.

Why don't you, dear reader, give them a call to show him some love? Or, come by his Town Meeting this Saturday.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Guest Post: Update on Michael McDonald

By now, Alamedans have probably heard about how some anonymous people reported Alameda artist Michael McDonald to the Secret Service for his artwork which creatively expressed negative feelings about our government. Julie Rufo had this to say in this guest post.

I went to see Michael McDonald today.

He is now a “person of interest” to the government.

They will either continue to investigate him, bump it up to a higher level (possibly arresting him), or drop it. However, if that happens, they won’t let him know! This will be decided by the U.S. Attorney in San Francisco. He does have a lawyer who is assisting him, who was present for part of the interview. He is not a constitutional lawyer, and a lawyer in SF who specializes in freedom of artistic expression has offered to help. So far, his lawyer can get no further information from the government.

He asks that anyone who wants to support him or make a statement contribute to the slowly building installation of signs and flowers and candles in his front yard. 836 Central. He has now taken down the installation, replaced by signs.
Write letters to the editors of local papers. Put a sign in his yard. Don’t be anonymous, sign your name!

When they first went to his house, he was not at home, so they interviewed his immediate neighbors! When his lawyer told them he had the right not to speak to them, they invoked the Patriot Act. When they produced the document for him to sign giving them the right to investigate his past, they told him it didn’t matter if he signed or not, that under the Patriot Act, they could get all the information they needed and access all his records. That as a “person of interest” he was no longer covered by the First Amendment but by the Patriot Act! It was suggested he “not go anywhere” without informing them. They photographed his house, property, cars and, of course, him. He was also told no search warrant would be needed under the Patriot Act, although they did not search his house or computer.

I find it most appalling that 3 citizens of Alameda (not his immediate neighbors) reported him to the Secret Service, and that organization would waste time and money on some (relatively) obscure artist on a small obscure island in the Bay Area with a cardboard cutout of the President in his front yard! As Michael says, this is how far it has gotten already!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Pete Stark's Next Alameda Visit: Bay Farm Island

Pete Stark will be doing another one of his town meetings this month. This time, the location has changed: It will be at the multipurpose room at Amelia Earhart school on Bay Farm Island. That's 400 Packet Landing Road. (Is it just me, or does Packet Landing Road sound like it was named by an Internet geek?)

March 17, Noon to 1 PM. Bring a bag lunch or eat before/after. And wear green, that's St. Patrick's Day

(Alas, I probably can't go - there is a regional Democratic Party meeting that same day over in Oakland....)