<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area - Bay Area Political News, Bay Area Politics]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/politics http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/nbc_bayarea_blue.png NBC Bay Area http://www.nbcbayarea.com en-us Mon, 30 Mar 2015 22:29:01 -0700 Mon, 30 Mar 2015 22:29:01 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Apple's Tim Cook: Anti-Gay Laws Are "Very Dangerous"]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 10:22:16 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/tim-cook-apple-fortuna.jpg

Apple CEO Tim Cook slammed Indiana's new "religious objection" legislation over the weekend, penning a Washington Post piece warning that “there’s something very dangerous happening in America.”

The piece, which was posted late Sunday night, said the openly gay executive, who was raised in a Baptist home in the South, was "deeply disappointed" in the recently passed "Religious Freedom Restoration" law in Indiana that shields business owners who turn away customers for religious reasons.

"This isn’t a political issue," he wrote. "It isn’t a religious issue. This is about how we treat each other as human beings. Opposing discrimination takes courage. With the lives and dignity of so many people at stake, it’s time for all of us to be courageous."

Cook called this new wave of legislation "very dangerous," noting there are about 100 similar bills under consideration in two dozen states. And he added that they "go against the very principles our nation was founded on" and "have the potential to undo decades of progress toward greater equality."

“America's business community recognized a long time ago that discrimination, in all its forms, is bad for business,” he wrote. “At Apple, we are in business to empower and enrich our customers' lives. We strive to do business in a way that is just and fair. That's why, on behalf of Apple, I'm standing up to oppose this new wave of legislation — wherever it emerges. I'm writing in the hopes that many more will join this movement.”

Cook, who was baptized in a Baptist church and grew up in the South in the 1960s and 1970s.  He publicly disclosed that he is gay in October. Last week, Cook announced that he will give his fortune away.



Photo Credit: NBC NEWS]]>
<![CDATA[Iraq War Vet Tammy Duckworth Launches Senate Bid in Illinois]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 16:24:28 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Tammy-Duckworth3.jpg

In a video to supporters, Rep. Tammy Duckworth on Monday made official a 2016 challenge to Sen. Mark Kirk. 

"I’m running for the United States Senate in 2016 because it’s time for Washington to be held accountable and to put Illinois’ families and communities first," the Hoffman Estates Democrat said her video message.

Duckworth, an Iraqi war vet who lost her legs in a helicopter crash, recently had her first baby at the age of 46. 

Well known in her district, her message was a sort of introduction to a statewide audience. She said she was a Marine, a wife, a new mom and a combat veteran. She recalled the financial struggles she faced with her family while growing up and as she put herself through college.

"If you elect me as Illinois’s Senator, I will fight my heart out to represent you with honor and integrity," she said. 

Kirk, who suffered a stroke in 2012, plans to run for re-election.

Illinois Republicans quickly tied Duckworth to former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is currently serving time in a Denver-area prison on a corruption conviction.

"Rod Blagojevich protégé Tammy Duckworth is not the kind of partisan politician Illinois families want to represent them in the United States Senate," said Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider. "Duckworth represents the extreme wing of the Democrat party — voting with Nancy Pelosi 92 percent of the time. I have no doubt that next November, Illinois voters will re-elect Mark Kirk who has been a strong & independent voice for our state in Washington."



Photo Credit: YouTube / Tammy Duckworth
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<![CDATA[Court Overturns Part of Pension Cut for SF City Workers: Report]]> Sat, 28 Mar 2015 17:12:00 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/sfcityhall2.JPG

A state appeals court overturned part of a pension cut for San Francisco city employees that voters approved years ago.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, about 23,000 retirees will get a cost-of-living increase in addition to their pensions.

Under Proposition C, which was supported by Mayor Ed Lee and approved by two-thirds of voters back in 2011, retirees lost that increase when their pension fund was earning more than previously expected

The city could appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court.



Photo Credit: Cheryl Hurd]]>
<![CDATA[Presidential Candidate Ted Cruz Speaks in NH]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 13:22:38 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/cruz-AP938170470053.jpg

Just days after making his presidential candidacy official, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is in New Hampshire for a two-day swing.

Cruz was the first major candidate to announce a run for president. He made the announcement on Monday at Liberty University in Virginia.

On Friday, he attended a rally in Merrimack, New Hampshire, at 3 p.m.

He's also scheduled to speak later in the day at the "New England Freedom Conference" in Nashua, being held by the Young Americas Foundation. On Saturday, he is scheduled to speak at a brunch being hosted by the Rockingham County Republican Committee and the Seacoast Republican Women.

Cruz has made four previous visits to the Granite State with more than a dozen individual stops dating back to 2014. See those visits and more in NECN's New Hampshire Candidate Tracker. 



Photo Credit: FILE - AP Photo/Andrew Harnik]]>
<![CDATA[CA Attorney General Moves to End Anti-Gay Initiative]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 07:44:47 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/file-kamala-harris-ca-ag.jpg

California Attorney General Kamala Harris asked a state court on Wednesday for permission to reject a proposed ballot initiative stipulating that anyone who engages in gay sex be killed.

Harris issued a statement saying she was making the unusual request to stop the measure filed by a Southern California lawyer late last month. The initiative seeks to amend the California penal code to make sex with a person of the same gender an offense punishable by "bullets to the head or by any other convenient method." The distribution of gay "propaganda" would be punishable by a $1 million fine or banishment from the state.

"This proposal not only threatens public safety, it is patently unconstitutional, utterly reprehensible, and has no place in a civil society," Harris said.

Matthew McLaughlin, the Orange County lawyer who paid $200 to submit the initiative, did not respond to a telephone call seeking comment. A Democratic state senator, Ricardo Lara, has asked the California bar to investigate whether McLaughlin's actions make him unfit to practice law.

The measure puts Harris in a difficult position. Although the bill has no discernible momentum or likely chance of success, she said unless a judge rules otherwise, she will have no choice but to give McLaughlin the go-ahead to seek the nearly 366,000 votes needed to qualify the measure for the November 2016 ballot.

California is one of 21 states where citizens can petition to have laws put on the ballot through the gathering of voter signatures. Under California's initiative process, state officials do not have authority to refuse to administer initiatives they find objectionable, the California Supreme Court has ruled. Although few of the dozens submitted to the attorney general each year make it on the ballot, the ease with which a resident with a pet peeve can gain clearance to circulate their proposals while seeking signatures has prompted calls for reform.

University of California, Davis law professor Floyd Feeney, an expert on California's initiative process, said Harris alone cannot impede the proposed law. And despite the numerous legal problems with McLaughlin's proposal, Feeney said he was not convinced a court would agree to halt it at this stage.

"The courts, rightly or wrongly, treat the initiative as sort of the citizen right and they are reluctant to get involved in trying to get rid of it, at least in advance, by using the law to keep something from being presented to the electorate," he said.

On Wednesday, a Southern California real estate agent, Charlotte Laws, countered the so-called "Sodomite Suppression Act" with an initiative of her own. Titled the Intolerant Jackass Act, it would require anyone who proposes an initiative calling for the killing of gays and lesbians to attend sensitivity training and make a $5,000 donation to a pro-LGBT group.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images for Variety]]>
<![CDATA[California Minority Voters See Extraordinary Growth]]> Sun, 22 Mar 2015 14:46:57 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/239*120/latino3.JPG It’s well known that California Is becoming a more diverse state. What is less well known, however, is the impact of this change with respect to California’s elections and policies. NBC Bay Area’s political analyst Larry Gerston explains.]]> <![CDATA[Calif. Gov.: Cruz Unfit for WH]]> Sun, 22 Mar 2015 12:02:06 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/brown-cruz.jpg

Calfiornia Gov. Jerry Brown tore into climate change skeptics on Sunday, saying one major presidential hopeful's position on climate change should disqualify him from the highest office in the nation.

Brown warned that climate change would be a major issue for America's next president in an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press," days after announcing a roughly $1 billion plan to combat California's drought.

"That man has rendered himself absolutely unfit to be running for office," Brown said, when asked about Texas Senator Ted Cruz's claim that there isn't a scientific consensus that climate change is caused by human activity.

Cruz made his remarks on "Late Night With Seth Meyers" this week, saying that "climate alarmists" have a problem because scientific data doesn't back up their claims.

"My view actually is simple. Debates on this should follow science and should follow data," Cruz said.

The Associated Press reported Sunday that Cruz was preparing to formally announce on Monday that he will run for president in 2016.

Brown, who has sought the White House three times, said more than 90 percent of climate scientists "are absolutely convinced" that human and industrial activity are leading to heat-trapping greenhouse gasses that caused both California's drought and severe cold and storms on the Eastern seaboard.

According to NASA, 97 percent of climate scientists agree that warming trends in the last 100 years are "very likely due to human activities."

When pressed by NBC's Chuck Todd, Brown didn't directly link his state's drought crisis to climate change, but said more droughts are inevitable in the coming decades. Two-thirds of California are in an extreme drought after more than three years of low water levels, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Brown also called the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) letter to convince states to block or ignore the EPA's proposed carbon pollution regulations "a disgrace."

"Here's the point, that the buildup of carbon coming from coal and petroleum and other sources, that this is going to create these droughts and much, much worse. And that's why to have the leader of the Senate, Mr. McConnell representing his coal constituents, are putting it at risk, the health and well being of America, is a disgrace," Brown said.

Calling the drought California's new normal, Brown wants a presidential campaign "almost at the level of a crusade" to make the public aware that man-made carbon dioxide emissions can have an affect on the climate. He implied that politicians who dismiss the scientific consensus on climate change are doing the bidding of profit-hungry constituents and corporate donors.

"The coal companies are not as important as the people of America and the people of the world," Brown said.

Climate change, balancing the country's budget and investing in science and technology are the three issues presidential candidates should be talking about, Brown said.

Asked if he would consider running if he was 10 years younger, the 76-year-old Brown said, "Yes, I would."

"If I could go back in a time machine and be 66, I might jump in. But that's a counterfactual, so you don't need to speculate on that," he added.



Photo Credit: Getty Images/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Lewinsky Talks Cyberbullying, Affair on TED Stage]]> Fri, 20 Mar 2015 10:39:01 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/TED2015_031915_2DD7163.jpg

Monica Lewinsky spoke bluntly about cyberbullying and her own experience in the public spotlight Thursday, as the she took the stage for one of her most prominent appearances since her affair with President Bill Clinton as a White House intern.

Lewinsky, now 41, said during a TED talk that her own scandal was “brought to you by the digital revolution," according to TED.com. When the news of the tryst broke online, she told the audience that she transformed from being a “completely private figure to a publicly humiliated one worldwide.”

“At the age of 22, I fell in love with my boss,” the website cited her saying. “At the age of 24, I learned the devastating consequences."

The Internet, she said, had created a culture where people enjoy viewing others' downfall online, a dynamic that made her situation worse at the time it was made public in the 1990s.

“It was one of the first time that the traditional news was usurped by the Internet, a click that reverberated around the whole world,” she added. “When this happened to me, 17 years ago, there was no name for it. Now we call it cyberbullying.”

She later referenced cyberbullying cases in recent years that have made national headlines, including that of an 18-year-old student at Rutgers University in New Jersey who jumped off the George Washington Bridge after his roommate secretly watched him having a sexual encounter with a man using a webcam and posted about it online. 

In her 18-minute talk, Lewinsky urged people to be more compassionate and mindful when communicating online.

"Showing empathy to others benefits us. Imagine walking a mile in someone else's headline," she said. 



Photo Credit: James Duncan Davidson/TED]]>
<![CDATA[Feds Probe Ex-Rep. Schock: AP]]> Fri, 20 Mar 2015 16:13:00 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP326057663792_RepSchock.jpg

Friday was the day things went from bad to worse for Congressman Aaron Schock.

The Congressman, already under fire for globe-trotting vacations, documented on Instagram and often billed at taxpayer or campaign expense, abruptly resigned on Tuesday. And on Friday, federal subpoenas began going out, in what would appear to be a wide-ranging investigation of the Peoria Republican’s finances.

NBC 5 Investigates has learned that even former Schock staffers began receiving subpoenas to appear before a Federal Grand Jury in Springfield in April. And separately, the Federal Election Commission confirms it has received a complaint, asking for an investigation of the congressman’s campaign accounts.

Schock’s resignation blunted a pending inquiry by the House Ethics Committee, but his upcoming departure does not quell a potential criminal investigation. And a spokesman for the F.E.C. confirmed that enforcement matters there can continue even if a candidate or officeholder is no longer active, since political committees often continue in existence long after an official has left office.

Neither the congressman’s spokesman or his attorneys returned calls seeking comment.

Investigators are reportedly focusing on Schock’s House office expenditures and expenses, his campaign, and personal investments. The FBI would not formally comment on the investsigation. But the agency’s Springfield chief made clear that a probe is underway.

“Public corruption is one of the FBI’s top criminal priorities,” said Special Agent in Charge Sean Cox. “When there are allegations of public corruption, it is our responsibility to look into those allegations.”

In resigning Tuesday, Schock cited a “heavy heart”, but that the constant questions about his spending and business dealings had become too much of a distraction. His departure was so sudden, the congressman did not even give the customary (and expected) notice to House leadership. Speaker John Boehner made no effort to rise to his defense.

“If somebody’s going to violate the rules, they’re going to violate the rules,” Boehner said. “And in almost every case, sooner or later, it catches up with you.”



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Launches 2016 Exploratory Committee Ahead of NH Visit]]> Thu, 19 Mar 2015 09:29:28 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP333051909036.jpg

Business mogul Donald Trump is considering throwing his hat in the 2016 ring, announcing the formation of a presidential exploratory committee.

"We have lost the respect of the entire world," Trump said in a message from the committee. "Americans deserve better than what they get from their politicians, who are all talk and no action!"

Trump went on to tout his success as a businessman and added he will push to control the nation's borders, education system and military.

Trump will also head to New Hampshire Thursday night, bringing his total number of trips to the home of the nation's first primary to at least five since early 2014, according to NECN's 2016 New Hampshire Primary Candidate Tracker.

He is expected to address the media following a reception at the home of State Rep. Steve Stepanek. Trump was invited back in January when Stepanek was at the Iowa Freedom Summit.

"It sounds like he's serious," Stepanek said of Trump. "He's gonna get a taste for what it's like to campaign in New Hampshire. We're going to have him wade into the crowd, doing what you have to do to be a candidate in New Hampshire."

Stepanek, who said he's hosted similar events for Rudy Giuliani and others in the past, is expecting about 200 people on Thursday. It's the first in a series of house parties featuring GOP presidential candidates being hosted by the House Republican Caucus. Ted Cruz is expected to speak in April, and Ben Carson in May.

Trump recently wrapped up hosting the seventh season of reality show "Celebrity Apprentice," in which television personality Leeza Gibbons won $250,000 for a charity of her choice.

Trump, whose presidential aspirations have generated buzz for years, recently said he would not renew his contract for the show, according to the Associated Press, a sign that he could be more serious this time around. The show airs on NBC, which is owned by the same parent company as this site.



Photo Credit: File - AP]]>
<![CDATA[Ill. Rep. Aaron Schock Resigns]]> Tue, 17 Mar 2015 17:18:06 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Aaron-Schock-blurb1.jpg

Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock announced his resignation from Congress Tuesday following questions surrounding misuse of funds in his campaign and congressional spending accounts, including reports that he redecorated his office with lavish decor inspired by "Downton Abbey."

"Today, I am announcing my resignation as a Member of the United States House of Representatives effective March 31st," Schock said in a statement. "I do this with a heavy heart. Serving the people of the 18th District is the highest and greatest honor I have had in my life. I thank them for their faith in electing me and letting me represent their interests in Washington.

The Republican congressman said he has given the people of his Peoria-area district his all since his election in 2008, "but the constant questions over the last six weeks have proven a great distraction that has made it too difficult for me to serve the people of the 18th District with the high standards that they deserve and which I have set for myself."

The move, first reported by Politico, comes after numerous reports alleging questionable expenses by the congressman. Sen. Dick Durbin said the resignation "came as a surprise."

"With this decision, Rep. Schock has put the best interests of his constituents and the House first," U.S. House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement. "I appreciate Aaron's years of service, and I wish him well in the future." 

Last week, NBC5 Investigates reported that Schock had billed his office account and leadership PAC for over $16,000 in mileage for his personal car, last year alone. On Tuesday, POLITICO reported that Schock had billed various entities for over 170,000 miles over for years, for a personal car he sold with only about 80,000 miles on the odometer.

“It’s a sad day for the people of the 18th District,” said Kankakee Congressman Adam Kinzinger. “He was a friend of mine, and I just wish him luck in the future.”

In Chicago, the chief of the Illinois Republican Party seemed to put some distance between the party and a congressman.

“Honesty and integrity are of utmost importance when serving the public,” said Chairman Tim Schneider. “Today is an unfortunate day for the people of the 18th Congressional District, the State of Illinois, and the Illinois Republican Party.

A special election will be held to replace Schock, a four-term congressman who was the Congress’ youngest member when he was elected at age 27. The election must be held within 120 days of the seat becoming vacant.

Among those considered contenders for the job, State Senator Darin LaHood, whose father Ray LaHood preceded Schock, before leaving Congress to become Secretary of Transportation.

“It is clear to me Congressman Schock believes he is doing what is best for the people of the 18th District at this time,” LaHood said Tuesday. “I will be evaluating the full impact of this decision in the next few days.”

In a separate report Monday, the website Buzzfeed reported that Schock spent more than $5,000 from his House account for a portable podium that looks a lot like a presidential podium used by President Barack Obama. A public watchdog group has filed a federal ethics complaint against the lawmaker for using congressional money to redesign his office in the style of the TV show "Downton Abbey" and for billing taxpayers or his campaigns tens of thousands of dollars in private air travel on donor-owned planes.

“This is a sad day for the people of Illinois and the 18th District," Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner said in a statement.

]]>
<![CDATA[Photos of Rep. Aaron Schock's "Downton Abbey" Office]]> Tue, 17 Mar 2015 11:38:59 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/schock-th-462707536.jpg Photos of Rep. Aaron Schock's (R-IL) new office in the Rayburn Office Building, which was designed to resemble the dining room of the PBS show 'Downton Abbey,' on January 30, 2015 in Washington, DC. The interior decorator owns a company called Euro Trash LLC.

Photo Credit: The Washington Post/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[San Jose Mayor Delivers First 'State of the City']]> Sun, 15 Mar 2015 14:17:11 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/sam_liccardo_state_of_the_city_sj.jpg

San Jose's new mayor Sam Liccardo delivered his first "State of the City" address Saturday morning, and he pledged to beef up the police department and restore services.

But it was not delivered at City Hall. Mayor Liccardo gave his address at Independence High School. And instead of a weekday, he chose to share his vision for the city on a Saturday, so families could attend.

More 1,000 people came out to hear what the new mayor had to say about the future. He said the city cannot prosper if people are worried about safety, so he pledged to make that a top priority. He said he will work to restore staffing at the police department and offer better compensation to retain officers within the next five years.

"So first, we will renew San Jose by making our city safer," Liccardo said. "Of course, our hard-working police officers remained stretched parsley thin. Despite our department's shrinking size, we've seen our hard-working officers actually reduce crime in the past two years."

Liccardo also said he would beef up help for the homeless and expand after-school and teen-job programs.

He also said he would work to secure funding to bring BART into downtown and Alum Rock.
 



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Fact Check: Did Hillary Break The Law, Or the Rules? ]]> Fri, 13 Mar 2015 11:42:13 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/clinton-emails-USE-THIS-ONE-465797002.jpg

The firestorm surrounding Hillary Clinton’s use of personal email during her time as secretary of state culminated in a highly anticipated news conference this week.

What did we learn?

Clinton explained her decision to bypass a state email address for her own account (and personal server) came from a desire for “convenience,” and maintained her choice fell well within the boundaries of federal law and State Department rules.

Do the facts add up? To get to the bottom of things, we interviewed Tom Blanton, archive director at the National Security Archive.

“Technically, is she correct when she says I’m allowed? Yes, she wasn’t prohibited from doing it,” noted Blanton. “But every piece of language from the Foreign Affairs Manual, to the Code of Federal Regulations, to the [Federal Records] statute itself, says you shouldn’t,” Blanton continued. “It’s discouraged.”

Blanton’s organization files Freedom of Information Requests, releases declassified documents and serves in his words as “a permanent force pushing for greater openness in government.”

He explained that President Obama’s signing of the Federal Records Act of 2014 (an update to a 1950’s- era law) required state officials to submit all work-related email within 20 days.

That law went into effect after Clinton left her post.

However, there’s more to the story on improving federal record keeping. A 2011 Presidential Memorandum called on all state agency heads to reform their management of official records. Clinton was serving in President Obama’s cabinet when that directive came down.

Moreover, Blanton adds that Clinton’s own state department administration issued a memo asking employees not to use personal email, while the secretary used her personal email. It’s a statement cited by numerous Clinton critics, and fact-checked by Politifact, which found the claim, “Mostly True.”

Now, what about the core defense Clinton offered on Tuesday, that nearly all her work-related email correspondence was captured anyway?

“In meeting the record keeping obligations, it was my practice to email government officials on their state or other ‘dot-gov’ accounts, so that the emails were immediately captured and preserved,” Clinton explained.

Can we poke any holes in this argument, that as long as Clinton emailed officials using their federal email accounts, the information would get archived?

“She’s counting on those individuals at ‘state.gov’ to print it out, stick it in a box, and it’s not necessarily saved,” Blanton said. “When those people leave the State Department, after 90 days, their email accounts are mostly wiped out. And so there’s no guarantee that it gets saved just by who you send it to. The head of the agency’s got that responsibility. And that was a question she did not really address.”

Much of the focus then turned to how the former secretary distinguished between work-related and personal emails. Clinton disclosed about 30,000 emails to the State Department, and kept roughly the same amount private on her server (or deleted them).

“I think that given that it’s an independent server, nobody has any way to verify what she did or didn’t do without the server,” remarked Senator Richard Burr (R-North Carolina), who serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Burr and many of his GOP colleagues, such as South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy, are calling on Clinton to let an ‘independent arbiter’ look at the server and determine if everything pertaining to her job has been disclosed.

“I have absolute confidence that everything that could be in *any way* connected to work is now in the possession of the State Department,” Clinton declared.

If you’re wondering about the process, Clinton spelled it out in a nine-page fact sheet.
 

The bulk of her email search consisted of three steps:
-Searching for all ‘dot-gov’ accounts
-Looking for the first and last names of roughly 100 State Department and U.S. Officials
-Querying key words such as “Benghazi” and “Libya”

Blanton observed that these steps, while moving in the direction of a more open approach, might not quiet concerns of abuse of power.

“I think that her critics probably won’t be satisfied with that transparency, unless and until some independent party like a national archives professional person, or a state department inspector general, goes back and takes a look at the way that search was done,” Blanton said. “[It needs to be] a person who talks to people like her personal lawyer who did the search, and gets a little more detail about what was there and what was deleted.”



Photo Credit: Yana Paskova/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Hillary Clinton Speaks at eBay Conference]]> Thu, 12 Mar 2015 08:50:18 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Hillary-Clinton1.jpg

A day after she addressed the nation discussing her email controversy, Hillary Clinton made a surprise appearance at an eBay conference in San Jose on Wednesday where she addressed 500 eBay executives.

The conference, called the Women’s Initiative Network Summit and held at the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose, focused mostly on gender and inequality issues, specifically in the workplace. The majority of the executives in attendance were women.

According to USA Today, Clinton received a standing ovation after addressing topics that ranged from international business to women’s issues.

“There’s never been a better time in history to be born female,” Clinton said, according to the newspaper. “But, despite all the progress, the data shows we’re not there yet. In the tech industry, there are still barriers and biases that hold back women and minorities. There’s still a lot of work to be done.”

Clinton will hold a “Ready for Hillary” fundraising event Thursday, followed by another next week.

On Tuesday, the former Secretary of State acknowledged it "would have been better" if she had used a government email address along with her personal one. She said she had never emailed classified material.



Photo Credit: EFE]]>
<![CDATA[Silicon Valley Tech Firms Flex Political Muscle]]> Mon, 09 Mar 2015 18:58:31 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/266*120/citiyhall.jpg The Silicon Valley may drive California's economic engine, but for years its political might has been missing. But things are changing. NBC Bay Area political analyst Larry Gerston reports.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Best Political Mustaches]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 08:46:59 -0700 since he was age 14 and a sophomore at St. Rita High School.]]> since he was age 14 and a sophomore at St. Rita High School.]]> http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/215*120/tlmd-jesus-chuy-garcia.jpg Chicago mayoral candidate Jesus "Chuy" Garcia isn't the only politician sporting the 'stache. ]]> <![CDATA[TX Pol Backs Legal Pot, Citing God]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 14:15:23 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/marijuana-plants-generic.jpg

A state lawmaker from East Texas says God didn't create marijuana by mistake and is pushing to remove all offenses related to the plant from Texas statutes.

Texas State Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview) filed a bill Monday that would repeal the state's ban on growing, possessing and selling marijuana.

"I don't believe that when God made marijuana he made a mistake that government needs to fix," Simpson wrote in an editorial on Trib Talk. "Civil government should value everything God made and leave people alone unless they meddle with their neighbor."

Under Simpson's bill, the government would not regulate the drug and all penalties currently in place would be removed beginning Sept. 1.

In addition to religion, Simpson said the "well-intended" war on drugs has only created a culture of "no-knock warrants," "stop-and-frisk" and "billionaire drug lords" and that existing drug laws are as big a failure as prohibition.

"You would think that our country's history with alcohol prohibition — an era marked by bootlegging, organized crime, government corruption and a rise in crime in general — would have prevented us from making the same mistake again," Simpson wrote. "The time has come for a thoughtful discussion on the prudence of the prohibition approach to drug abuse."

Four states have legalized marijuana for recreational use, Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington; 23 states and the District of Columbia have laws legalizing marijuana in some form, medical or otherwise.

Full House Bill No. 2165:



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Examining CA GOP's Recent Vote]]> Mon, 02 Mar 2015 20:05:26 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/140009064.jpg The California Republican Party made history this past weekend when members voted overwhelmingly to accept a gay political club into the fold. Substance or symbolism? NBC Bay Area Political Analyst Larry Gerston reports.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[NJ Officer Meets President Obama]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 11:39:24 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/216*120/Officer+Obama+Camden.jpg

Although cops are used to being called to important gatherings, a New Jersey officer was shocked to discover who she would be meeting at an upcoming event.

Officer Virginia Matias of the Camden County Police was told by Chief Scott Thompson that she would be meeting President Barack Obama.

“He called me and told me I would have the honor of meeting the president,” the 28-year-old said. “It was unreal, I thought ‘is this a joke?’”

Matias went to the White House and met Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in at the White House on Feb. 24 along with five other officers across the U.S. who were nominated by the heads of their respective departments.

“As soon as they opened the door to the Oval Office he was right there with a smile on his face,” Matias said. “He was very welcoming, I felt like I was at home.”

Obama met with the officers to thank them for their service and discuss how law enforcement can work with communities to ensure public safety.

“We’re a model of community policing, so he wanted to get our feedback on what’s working,” Matias said.

Matias was motivated by a tragic event in her teens to become an officer.

“When I was around 17, I had an uncle who was murdered in North Camden while he was operating his bodega in 2003,” Matias said. "At that moment, I knew I wanted to be a part of a change in my city."


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<![CDATA[Congresswoman Cracks Down on Liquid Detergent Pods]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 12:02:15 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Consumer-Reports-Pods.jpg

Congresswoman Jackie Speier  is set to introduce the tougher laws surrounding the packaging of liquid laundry detergent pods after a child ended up in intensive care after biting into such a colorful, and dangerous, packet.

The Detergent Poisoning and Child Safety Act would direct the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission to require safer, child-resistant packaging for liquid detergent packets. She's trying to prevent more children from getting sick, and in some cases, from dying.

Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo counties) was moved to act after hearing the story of Jill Koziol  whose 8-month-old daughter, Cate, spent two days in the pediatric intensive care unit after swallowing a detergent pod her husband was using to do the laundry in September 2014. Koziol had moved from Menlo Park, Calif., to New York City, where her husband was about to do laundry in the apartment building, when the baby crawled into the hamper and took a bite of the packet.

And in one of the most egregious cases, 7-month-old Michael Williams of Florida died in 2013 after swallowing such a liquid laundry packet. His mother said that she was living at a shelter, where someone had placed the pods inside a laundry basket on the bed where her son was asleep. She stepped away only to return and find that her son had eaten two.

The American Cleaning Institute called the legislation "unnecessary" because "there are already comprehensive activities taking place addressing the safety of detergent packets."

Spokesman Brian Sansoni told NBC Bay Area that these products should be kept out of reach of children "no matter what color they are."

“In addition, ACI and its detergent manufacturer members are actively engaged in a process – administered by the standard-setting group ASTM International – to enhance and standardize laundry packet labeling and packaging," the statement read.

According to industry experts and studies, detergent packets are popular, convenient, and dangerous because they deliver powerful chemicals in colorful, bite-sized packages that look like candy.

From 2012 to 2013 the National Poison Data System received 17,230 calls involving children exposed to chemicals by the packets. Of those, 769 required hospitalization for issues including seizures, vomiting blood, fluid in the lungs, dangerously slow heartbeats, respiratory arrest, gastric burn, and comas. One 7-month-old boy has died.

Many household products such as medicine and cleaning agents already require child-resistant packaging. But Speier’s legislation proposes expanding those rules to cover liquid detergent packets. According to her office, the proposal advocates requiring stronger, safer policies that cover the design and color of the packets, so that they aren’t as attractive to children; the composition of the packets, so that the consequences of exposure aren’t so severe; and the adequacy of the warning labels, to properly inform consumers about the risk.

Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) is releasing companion legislation in the Senate.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
 

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<![CDATA[Runoff for Rahm: Mayor Falls Short]]> Wed, 25 Feb 2015 05:22:19 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/rahm+and+chuy.jpg

Rahm Emanuel failed to clinch another term as Chicago's mayor on Tuesday, setting the stage for an unprecedented runoff election against challenger Jesus "Chuy" Garcia.

Results showed the incumbent mayor with about 46 percent of the vote, short of the 50 percent-plus-one support he needs to win another term outright. Garcia, a Cook County commissioner, came in second place with 34 percent. 

The results mean the two will face off April 7, a potentially embarrassing result for a high-profile politician who has already spent millions in his re-election bid. It is the first time since the city changed its election system in the 1990s that an incumbent mayor is forced into a runoff. 

"We have come a long way and we have a little bit farther to go," Emanuel told supporters. "This is the first step in a real important journey for our city. To those who voted for me in this election, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. For those who voted for someone else, I hope to earn your confidence and your support in the weeks to come." 

A boisterous Garcia celebrated the outcome as a win over moneyed interests and other powerful forces supporting the incumbent, saying the results show "the people have spoken."

"Nobody thought we’d be here tonight," Garcia said. "They wrote us off; they said we didn’t have a chance. They said we didn’t have any money while they spent millions attacking us. Well, we’re still standing! We’re still running! And we’re gonna win!" 

Emanuel, a former White House chief of staff, struggled to rise above 50 support throughout the campaign, even as he outpolled his four lesser-funded and known challengers. A late campaign blitz that blanketed the airwaves and a public appearance last week with President Barack Obama — a move seen as an effort to appeal to undecided African-American voters — couldn’t propel the 55-year-old mayor to victory.

The 55-year-old Democrat anchored his re-election bid on first-term efforts to better the lives of Chicagoans, highlighting pushes to expand access to early childhood education, raise the minimum wage and improve the city’s business climate and infrastructure. But he faced criticism for other major policies pursued during his first term, including his decision to close dozens of schools.

The school closures fueled a tumultuous relationship with the Chicago’s Teachers Union, which went on strike in 2012. The union, which also clashed with Emanuel over other changes to the city’s education system, endorsed Garcia after a brain cancer diagnosis sidelined its own president, Karen Lewis.

Political expert John P. Frendreis said while Garcia is “funny, he’s got a good speaking presence, he’s been around long enough, he’s got this colorful nickname so people kind of know him,” it was the support of the teachers that made the race competitive. 

“It’s really the school controversy, the closure of schools, the continued opening of charter schools and then the ... battle with the CTU and Rahm that has generated any kind of heat in this and has made him even remotely vulnerable,” the political science professor at Loyola University in Chicago, said ahead of Tuesday’s race.

Emanuel's “bare-knuckles” approach to running the city, despite yielding results in some areas, also hurt his standing with some voters, analysts say.

“He’s reasonably good at his job,” Freindreis said. “Now where he has stumbled is that he is a tough guy and he is a bully and sometimes he is just too smart for his own good and so he’s rubbed people the wrong way because he’s not nice.”

Emanuel’s challengers criticized him throughout the campaign for not doing enough to help bring jobs, safer streets and other opportunities to all Chicagoans. Garcia told NBC Chicago he would, to hire a thousand more police officers, reduce class sizes and standardized tests and “invest in neighborhoods to attract manufacturing or industrial-creation jobs.” In addition to the backing from the teachers, he also gained headlines for winning the endorsement of the liberal political group MoveOn.org. The group applauded Tuesday's results as a "huge win for progressives and working families across Chicago." 

Even if Emanuel succeeds in winning a second term in April, some observers say the education initiatives he pushed in his first four years could take a hit in Chicago and beyond.

“Over the next few years you could have mayors, some Democrats and some Republicans, in cities across the nation saying I’m going to pick the kids over the unions,” said Keith Koeneman, author of “First Son: The Biography of Richard M. Daly.”

Check back with NBCChicago.com for more on this developing story. For complete election night coverage, visit the Ward Room blog. 

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<![CDATA[Shirakawa Pleads No Contest in Mailer Case]]> Tue, 24 Feb 2015 10:18:08 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/shirakawa6.jpg

Disgraced former Santa Clara County Supervisor George Shirakawa Jr. pleaded no contest late Monday acknowledging that he dreamed up a deceptive mailer campaign, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office.

He is scheduled to be sentenced on March 20. He could face up to a year in jail. But according to the Mercury News, Superior Court Judge Ron Del Pozzo indicated he is likely to sentence Shirakawa to community service.

Shirakawa has already served seven months behind bars in an unrelated corruption case and was released in May.

The plea came as the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office signaled its willingness to offer immunity to former San Jose City Councilman Xavier Campos to testify against Shirakawa, according to the Mercury News.
 

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<![CDATA[Will Kamala Harris Win US Senate Seat by Default?]]> Mon, 23 Feb 2015 20:54:18 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/181*120/Kamala4.jpg It’s been a month since California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced her candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat held by Barbara Boxer. Boxer retires from office next year, and Harris is still the only announced candidate today. Will she win the office by default? NBC Bay Area Political Analyst Larry Gerston is here to untangle this political knot.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>