Tag Archives: Van Jones

Contract for the American Dream

In my activist days I have never seen an organization take of quite as fast as this one. That includes the Tea Party. The following is a request for your participation in directing where the organization should go. Another great thing is the folks behind this know the internet, social media and costs/money. Needless to say I am impressed. I think you will be, too.

Three weeks ago, I announced the launch of Rebuild the Dream, and we started the process to create a Contract for the American Dream. I was hopeful and optimistic. But honestly, the whole idea was unproven. I wasn’t quite sure if everyone else felt the same sense of energy and opportunity that I felt.

Now I’m convinced-because in the past three weeks more than 13,000 people have signed up to gather at American Dream house meetings, 16,000 ideas have been submitted for possible inclusion in the Contract for the American Dream, and together we’ve rated them more than 3.5 million times!

Today I’m writing to ask you to help finish collecting and rating the very best solutions. We will feed these ideas into our discussions at next week’s meetings about what belongs in the Contract.

The final area we’re focusing on is how to protect the foundation for strong communities and a thriving middle class in this country: good schools, access to healthcare, a clean environment, robust Social Security, and a strong safety net for when hard times hit.

To remind us how we ended up here, we put together a funny and informative new video that lays out how the middle class got in trouble in the first place.

Check it out. Then let’s finish choosing the best Contract for the American Dream ideas:

Watch the video and rate ideas! Link: http://www.moveon.org/r?r=2109…

Next week-at more than 1,400 American Dream house meetings-people will gather in living rooms to sort through the top ideas and discuss what the American Dream is really all about.

People with opposing ideas to ours crafted their vision nearly 40 years ago. Ever since, they’ve been systematically dismantling the middle class in this country. Now it’s up to us, right now, to unite as a movement, craft our vision, and stop them in their tracks.

I’ve already watched something amazing happen this year that’s given me confidence. Ever since the protests in Wisconsin this winter, I’ve watched the whole progressive movement come together. I’ve seen the energy spread from the Capitol in Madison to nearly every corner of this country.

This is a big opportunity, and I’m excited that you’re already a part of it. Today I hope you’ll join in one more time and help find the very best ideas for how we can ensure access to great healthcare, provide for our seniors, run a great public school system, and do everything we can to keep our families and communities strong.

Click here (or copy/paste) to join in and start rating ideas:


Thanks for all you do.

-Van Jones

Democrats can pass a Green Jobs bill

I have to hand it to Nancy Skinner (AD-14).  She understands what it takes to get the public to be responsible for their own energy use and cost.  Her sponsorship of AB560 would expand the amount of independently produced solar energy that the states utilities are required to buy from 2.5% to 5.0 percent.  The mechanism is called net metering. It did not even get out of committee.

Today’s SF Chronicle calls this a blow to Green Jobs, obviously thinking of the manufacturers and installers of solar panels and associated equipment.  I happen to agree.  It is also a blow to every homeowner in the state and a move that would allow the mega-corporations to keep all of the Green $$ for themselves.

I wonder what Van Jones thinks of this.  It would seem to me that he would have a definite interest in expanding the opportunities.  If the Democrats are not going to support controlling the ghg’s from electricity generation and providing the opportunity for there to actually be as many green jobs as he wants, there is another party that would welcome him to join.  Greens are interested in Green Jobs, and in fixing climate change.  We invite him over as the Democrats show that they just don’t get it… once more.  

I Support Van Jones

Van Jones is clearly controversial.  His signature on the truther document is rather unfortunate, and a mistake. He has acknowledged that mistake. The Republicans as assholes thing seems pretty petty to me. All in all, Republicans have done a lot worse things, illegal things, and stayed in their jobs. But, IOKIYAR, right?

Van Jones made some remarkable changes here in the Bay Area and across the state. That the White House was not there to support him is beyond unfortunate. It hands a scalp to the nearly mortally wounded Glenn Beck and it empowers the right-wing extremists.

But, Baratunde says it better than me at Jack & Jill Politics:

I’m heartbroken over Van’s departure because it’s these little meaningless concessions that undermine people’s faith in the system. You get folks all riled up about change. You empower a man who embodies that change. And they you let him be run out of office by fucking Glenn Beck? So Glenn Beck is running the White House now? Is that how it’s gonna be? Just tell me that I knocked on all those doors for nothing, and I can start the grieving process, but don’t pretend this will solve anything.

***  ***  ***

How do you expect folks to continue to go to the mat for your agenda, when you so easily sacrifice our best and brightest at the whim of an illegitimate lynch mob? How do you expect the next generation to invest themselves in the political process when they see that despite their good works, they can be taken out over nonsense, especially when the double standard is so abundantly clear? How can you ask from us what you won’t do for us? And when will you realize that you cannot negotiate with terrorists?

You might also be interested in Howard Dean’s take here.  Also, please consider signing Color of Change’s petition to FOXNews asking for the dismissal of Glenn Beck.

The Fight Over Van Jones Comes to the CA GOP

Van Jones, in my book, is a guy who a) knows his stuff and b) can get things done. Just the kind of guy you want in the administration. And as we try to get the Green Jobs thing moving, his role as the green jobs czar will be increasingly important. And Jones tells it like it is. When asked why Republicans were able to pass legislation despite their relatively smaller minorities, Jones answered in a brutally honest fashion:

JONES: Well the answer to that is, they’re assholes.

QUESTIONER: I was afraid that was the answer.

JONES: As a technical, political kind of term. And Barack Obama is not an asshole. Now, I will say this: I can be an asshole, and some of us who are not Barack Hussein Obama, are going to have to start getting a little bit uppity. (HuffPo)

Now, if you read this whole quote, you will see that he’s not really using the term in a pejorative sense, after all he goes on to call himself an asshole as well. As I read it, he is essentially saying that the Republicans were hard-nosed and dedicated to their cause. They pushed it through no matter what.  Jones is saying that is what is needed, and that he can do the same thing.

Of course, Fox News and the Gang are UP IN ARMS over this. Of course, they don’t look at the whole context, but take away the one line and go play the victim on national TV. Van Jones is a bully, they say, and just plane rude. And a communist, of course!

Steve Poizner, who seems to be growing a little antsy by all the attention that eMeg is getting, thinks that he can tie this all together.  A few weeks ago, eMeg commented on Jones and the time that she spent with him on a cruise to the Antarctic for a research/publicity kind of thing. She gave him a few shallow comments, calling him bright, articulate, and passionate.

Poizner is now making it an issue after the leaders of the GOP, aka the radio shock jocks made it an issue. One “Jaz McKay” is having none of this mushy middle:

JAZ MCKAY: Just to do it. I’m just going to. I’m not voting for her. I’m telling you right now. Her position on the 2nd Amendment has already pissed me off to no end. I ain’t voting for her.

JOHN HAWKINS: Come on. Who doesn’t love a Republican who wants to take your guns?

JAZ MCKAY: Who doesn’t love a Republican who goes on global warming cruises with communists, right?

JOHN HAWKINS: And talks about how much she loves them after.

JAZ MCKAY: Ah, just loves them.

Whitman and Poizner have been swapping barbs for a while now over some really petty stuff. But hey, grab a snack, and just enjoy. Jones isn’t going to lose sleep over this, and this will make not one iota of difference in the grand scheme of things. It’s just another distraction from the real issues that face Californians.

Peep the flip for the radio transcript and a video of Whitman talking about Jones.

JAZ MCKAY: She is the eBay chick, right? And she is running for governor. She has more money than Steve Poizner, who’s the only hope the state really has at this point. Here are her comments and I… This is … When was this? March? April? When was this?

JOHN HAWKINS: This was May.

JAZ MCKAY: May? May 6th. There it is-May 6th 2009. Meg Whitman, so called conservative Republican, talking about Van Jones and how much she likes Van Jones.

MEG WHITMAN: There’s a guy over in Oakland. I think his name is Van…


WHITMAN: Jones. And he and I were on a cruise last summer in the arctic for climate change. And I got to know him very well and a lot of the work he’s doing to enfranchise broader communities. I am a big fan of him. He’s done a marvelous job.

UNKNOWN: He’s been appointed to Obama’s–

WHITMAN: So who’s? Is he going to put someone in charge of what he’s doing here in Oakland?

UNKNOWN: He’s going to have to. unintelligible

WHITMAN: He really is. I’m a huge fan of his. He’s very bright, very articulate, very passionate.

JAZ MCKAY: Huge fan.

WHITMAN: So, I think he is exactly right.

JAZ MCKAY: Meg Whitman, a huge fan. John, this won’t have any effect on her campaign whatsoever, will it?

JOHN HAWKINS: Well, it’s California, Jaz. You’re lucky you’re not getting Arnold back for another term.

JAZ MCKAY: No, you know what? If she ends up… well, if she ends up winning the nomination and Jerry Brown is running against her or Feinstein, you know what? Just to be a little a-hole, I’m going to vote for the Democrat.


JAZ MCKAY: Just to do it. I’m just going to. I’m not voting for her. I’m telling you right now. Her position on the 2nd Amendment has already pissed me off to no end. I ain’t voting for her.

JOHN HAWKINS: Come on. Who doesn’t love a Republican who wants to take your guns?

JAZ MCKAY: Who doesn’t love a Republican who goes on global warming cruises with communists, right?

JOHN HAWKINS: And talks about how much she loves them after.

JAZ MCKAY: Ah, just loves them.

Listen to the audio of Jaz McKay’s show here.

CA-10: I Received the Endorsement of the SEIU CA State Council

Yesterday I was excited to announce that the SEIU California State Council has endorsed me in my race to represent California’s 10th Congressional District, a Northern California district encompassing parts of Contra Costa, Solano, Alameda, and Sacramento counties. With 700,000 members, SEIU is the largest labor union in California, and their ranks include a broad cross-section of working Californians, including social workers, nurses, classroom aides, security officers, college professors, homecare workers, janitors, and more.

Why I’m motivated to lead on single-payer health care, the Employee Free Choice Act, and green-collar jobs over the flip…

“With health care reform, affordable clean energy, and economic security for our nation’s families at the top of Congress’ agenda, we need leaders in congress who will be a powerful voice for working families in each of these important debates,” said Courtni Pugh, Executive Director of SEIU’s California State Council. “We know that John Garamendi will do just what he’s done in California – be an outspoken champion for people who work hard every day, for the elderly and people with disabilities who need a voice, for parents and their kids who deserve opportunities for a better future. We know John Garamendi won’t compromise our grandparents’ safety or our kids’ future.”

I want to take this opportunity to thank the SEIU California State Council for their important endorsement, and I want to let all of you know that when in Congress, I will continue to fight for progressive legislation that improves the lives of all Americans.

You will hear a lot from me over the coming months and years about the issues that have led me into public service, but given this most recent endorsement, I wanted to cover three issues that matter to working Californians: universal health care, the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), and advancing green-collar jobs.

Medicare for All

I support single-payer health care. In 1965 we figured out how to make health care work for everyone – or at least everyone over the age of 65 – it’s called Medicare. Polls have consistently shown that an overwhelming majority of seniors enrolled in Medicare are satisfied with the service provided to them. Medicare provides universal coverage for seniors, is cost-effective, and patients are able to choose their own doctors. Sure, it’s not perfect, but it’s a significant improvement over a profit-driven private health insurance industry that rewards early termination of coverage for patients in need of care and includes excessive overhead for advertising and administrative costs.

I also think healthcare reform this year must include the public option. As I’ve always said, if we don’t yet have the votes for truly comprehensive universal health care reform, we should not stand in the way of incremental health care reform, provided we are clearly heading down a path toward universal Medicare for All access. My longstanding advocacy on these issues as a state legislator, Insurance Commissioner, and Lieutenant Governor also led the California Nurses Association to endorse my run for Congress, and I am humbled to have the support of nurses.

The Right to Organize

I am also a proud supporter of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). As I explained at a labor rally in March:

“It is time for a change, because the working men and women of America and the working men and women of California have taken the short end of the paycheck for too long. In 1965, the CEOs had a ratio of 24:1 on their paycheck. What happened in the ensuing years? In 1980, it went to $42 for the CEO and $1 for working men and women. In 2006, what happened? It went to $364 for every dollar you earn.”

Approximately 60 million non-unionized Americans say they would join a union if given the opportunity, and when in Congress, I will work to make sure that working men and women have the opportunity to join a labor union without undue delay or fear of unjust termination.

What’s Good for the Planet is Good for Labor

I also believe smart government policy can help create new quality jobs, and with the ravages of global warming and pollution more apparent by the year, the time was yesterday to employ Americans in fields that make our economy more sustainable. Weatherizing buildings, constructing public transportation corridors, and installing wind turbines, solar panels, and other alternative energy sources have and will continue to create quality jobs. If our country is to maintain its status as the world’s innovator, if our country is to retain its economic competitiveness, then a robust investment in green-collar jobs must be a priority for our country.

I was happy to see President Barack Obama appoint Van Jones as his green jobs advisor, and I share his conviction that environmental advocates must focus on demonstrating the interconnectedness of environmental protection and job creation for the working class. And believe me, I am no stranger to this issue.

As a state legislator, I was the author of the first legislation proposing high speed rail in California, and under a proposition I authored (Prop 111), California generated billions of dollars for mass transportation. I also authored a bill that offered the first tax credit in the state for wind turbine construction, including the wind turbines that exist near Fairfield in Solano County. These projects represent the best of California, and the future of our economy. In Congress, I will continually stress the importance of an environmental agenda that works for everyone, including inner city and rural communities and communities of color.

As you may know, today we face an important filling deadline where we have to report contributions from supporters. You know where I stand on these issues, and I plan on addressing your additional comments and questions throughout the week. If you could spare even $5, $10, or $25, our campaign would be most appreciative. If you live in the area and would be interested in volunteering for a strong advocate for working and middle class Californians, please sign up on our campaign website. And of course, I’d love to see you follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Yesterday I was proud to receive the endorsement of SEIU. I would be honored to have your support today.

P.S. I also have a blog post up on Calbuzz about offshore oil drilling with the California Department of Finance’s Tom Sheehy: Calbuzz Face-Off: Drill Baby Drill, Yea or No Way? Check it out and let Calbuzz know what you think.

John Garamendi is the Lieutenant Governor of California and a candidate for California’s 10th Congressional District. He is a University of California Regent and California State University trustee and was California’s first elected State Insurance Commissioner, a former Deputy Interior Secretary under President Bill Clinton, a state legislator, and a Peace Corps volunteer. Please visit http://www.garamendi.org for more information.

San Francisco Expands Green Jobs Program

(A post from Mayor Newsom. As a reminder, elected officials are encouraged to post on Calitics; we’ll do our best to promote them to the front page promptly. – promoted by Brian Leubitz)

Every day more San Francisco residents and businesses are signing up for two San Francisco programs that will cut monthly utility bills and help the City meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals. One is SF Energy Watch, which provides technical assistance and financial incentives that pays over half the cost of energy efficiency upgrades to commercial and multifamily properties. The other is GoSolarSF, which, when combined with federal tax credits and state incentives, can reduce the cost of installing a residential solar power system by more than 50 percent.

Edited by Brian for space. See the flip for the rest of the post.

In the past 2 years, 1,500 businesses and multifamily properties have saved over $5.7 million in energy bills through SF Energy Watch. The program has also delivered 6 megawatts (MW) of energy efficiency savings, which in turn reduces the amount of energy generation we need from polluting power plants.  

San Francisco currently has nearly 8 MW of in-City solar power, including the massive installation at Moscone Center. But the real San Francisco solar gold rush came when we rolled out GoSolarSF in July 2008. In the first seven months, 640 residents and enterprises had taken advantage of the program’s considerable incentives, applying to install nearly 2 MW of clean, renewable energy — 25 percent of the City’s overall solar portfolio.

All of this activity has been a big boost for companies that provide energy efficiency and solar services in the Bay Area. Because of the way San Francisco has structured these programs; local companies that hire locally benefit the most. SF Energy Watch has helped to sustain and/or expand companies–both service providers and suppliers–and currently supports 150 new and ongoing jobs in this emerging green field.

GoSolarSF has specific bonus incentives for employers who hire new staff through the City’s workforce development program. We have placed dozens of new employees in the local solar industry, and of the 640 projects under GoSolarSF, 83 percent are employing workforce development trainees.

On Tuesday of this week I introduced a resolution that will expand the SF Energy Watch program by nearly $4 million. The money for SF Energy Watch comes from California’s Public Goods Charge, a fund for renewable energy and energy efficiency that you pay into with a percentage of every utility bill.

These additional funds will allow the companies that provide energy efficiency services to add an additional 30 new employees on top of the 150 already employed.

SF Energy Watch and GoSolarSF help build the local economy and develop a skilled local workforce for the exploding green tech industry. But most importantly, these jobs are sustainable. They are not based on a single project, so when completed, the jobs do not disappear. Instead, these programs are open-ended, and in the case of GoSolarSF, supported by city legislation that helps feed the process. And I can see a time coming shortly when residential and commercial energy efficiency will be required by local or even statewide mandates.

On a final related note, last September I announced the Mayor’s Solar Founders’ Circle. This initiative served to inject an important new element in our solar efforts: providing free energy efficiency audits together with solar assessments for any business or non-profit in the City that wants it. This “efficiency first” approach is the smartest path to cost savings when planning to go solar.  Energy efficiency improvements to a property will decrease the size of the solar array needed to cut utility bills.

Listen to Mayor Newsom’s Green 960 radio show online or subscribe to his weekly policy discussions on iTunes.  Join Mayor Newsom on Facebook. You can also follow him on Twitter.

The Rise Of Van Jones – California Loses Another Leader

It’s great news that Van Jones has been tapped for a high-level job in the Obama Administration, as a special adviser for green jobs.  Having his voice at the Presidential level is bound to be valuable, and great for at-risk communities who will not be forgotten with Jones as their defender.  At the same time, I have to agree with the first comment in this Grist story.

If it is more than a rumor, then Van faces some decisions that would keep me awake at night. Would he be more effective where he is, or on the insde of the administration??? How much power would he really have?? Could he go along with the administration the next time it starts talking about “clean coal?”

Indeed, he might have to make that determination almost immediately.  Because the FutureGen project, a “clean coal” research facility in Illinois, is likely to be funded with stimulus money in the short term.  This is just research, of course, and even Energy Secretary Steven Chu supports it “with modifications.”  But the fact is that clean coal technology hasn’t worked and offers a false sense of hope that we can just keep burning dirty fuels and not get dirty ourselves.  It would be nice to have Van Jones’ perspective on this, but he’s embedded inside the Administration now.

Leadership is self-generating, but leadership like Van Jones’ comes around only once in a long while.  We have a lot of battles in California over green jobs and alternative energy that could have used a strident voice like Jones’.  There’s an effort to triple our commitment to clean energy through a renewable portfolio standard.  The Senate leader’s top priority is career tech education with an eye to green jobs and the new economy.  Perhaps Jones’ departure means that new leaders will take hold of these issues and push them forward.  But perhaps not.  It leaves a big hole.

I congratulate him as I’ve congratulated other Californians who have moved to Washington.  But it’s interesting, from my perspective, that the two individuals most likely to be able to drive a movement politics in the Golden State – Hilda Solis and Van Jones – have packed up and joined the Obama Administration.  I can’t say I blame them, this state is a basket case.  And their talents will be used well.

Dems Surrender on Offshore Drilling

I yearn for the day I no longer have to write titles like that:

Democrats have decided to allow a quarter-century ban on drilling for oil off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to expire next week, conceding defeat in a months-long battle with the White House and Republicans set off by $4 a gallon gasoline prices this summer.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, D-Wis., told reporters Tuesday that a provision continuing the moratorium will be dropped this year from a stopgap spending bill to keep the government running after Congress recesses for the election.

Republicans have made lifting the ban a key campaign issue after gasoline prices spiked this summer and public opinion turned in favor of more drilling. President Bush lifted an executive ban on offshore drilling in July.

“If true, this capitulation by Democrats following months of Republican pressure is a big victory for Americans struggling with record gasoline prices,” said House GOP leader John Boehner of Ohio. (AP via SFGate)

To her credit Dianne Feinstein is outraged, sending out this statement a few minutes ago:

I think it’s awful. This battle is not over.  We will come back and fight another day – that’s for sure.

I regret the House appropriations committee didn’t see fit to go with a better, more widely accepted alternative, which would have kept in place a moratorium 50 miles or more off shore.  In my view, there were better options than this.

Once again the Democratic Congress caves to Republicans who say “boo!” Drilling had faded from public consciousness and Democrats would have done well to insist it not happen.

Especially as bailouts are being discussed, you’d think Democrats would not want to be sending any signals that they can wave the white flag if pressured to do so.

Dems would have done well to listen to Van Jones, who at Netroots Nation in July explained the need to move from opposition to proposition – that the only way we will beat back the drilling push is to aggressively propose a more sensible and sustainable alternative. Dems didn’t do that, and once again they’ve failed at politics and failed America.

Sure, they might restore the ban next year – but it’s not clear if it will be a total moratorium, or if this will have opened a door that can’t be closed again. And if McCain wins, Congress will have a very difficult time reimposing a moratorium.

Otherwise they’ve signed a death warrant for California’s oceans and those who depend on them for a living.

Van Jones, Green Jobs, and Happy Meal Politics

Some great people have been sashaying through the Big Tent to huddle up with the bloggers.  And the traditional media has joined them, to take exciting pictures of people typing to show how the bloggers kick it.  Rockin’!

I did get a chance to spend a few minutes with Van Jones, an environmental and green jobs activist, to talk about the future of energy and how we can beat the Republicans at their own game.  He also offered a candid assessment of the state of the Presidential campaign.

Jones thinks that the progressive movement and Democratic groups have been “hurt by having a good candidate.  We were so galvanized against Bush in 2004 that every outside group went nuts, threw everything we had at the Republicans, and we almost came up with the win despite a less inspiring candidate.  This year, the spirit of 2004 has been lost.  Obama made the mistake of defunding the outside groups and we’ve become complacent to an extent.”  Jones said that last week’s hit by the Obama campaign on the McCain housing issue was good, but it needs to be a 10-week phenomenon, not a 1-week phenomenon.

On green jobs, which is Jones’ real focus area, he stressed that we need to move the environmental conversation from a cultural one to a political one.  The green-collar economy “can be a place for people to earn money, not spend money.  We need collective action for green citizenship, to create the jobs of the future in a Green New Deal.  As long as carbon is free we’re never going to move forward.”  He was pleased by the recent efforts by municipalities and states (green jobs bills have been passed in Massachusetts and Washington state, and the US Conference of Mayors is on board as well), but recognizes that the federal government must be involved as well.  “This is about laws, not gizmos.  Technology cannot be the savior.  This has to be a bottom-up, inside-outside AND a top-down strategy.  If the Feds are MIA, human life will be MIA in the future.”

We talked about the offshore drilling debate, where Jones clearly stated that the Republicans won the day by lying to the American people.  He had three major points:

• There is no such thing as American oil.  There is oil drilled by multinationals that is sent overseas to China and India.  American offshore driling will do nothing to solve any American oil problems.

• We banned drilling in offshore areas not to save birds and fish, but because of coastal families and coastal communities, because kids were walking into the water and coming out with oil on them, because property values were plunging.  Democrats should not be willing to throw away America’s beauty for a 2-cent solution in 10 years.

• We’ve seen the new phenomenon of the “dirty greens,” who want to have an “all of the above strategy” on energy, with solar and wind, but also clean coal and drilling offshore and shale and all these dirty polluters.  “All of the above” is not a strategy.  It’s not a wise choice, but a stupid swipe at a persistent problem.

Democrats are right on price – if you cut demand and expand supply through renewables, the price will drop.  They are right on people, because those steps will create millions of jobs.  And they’re right on the planet, because it’s the only solution to preserve our environmental future.  What the Republicans are offering is Happy Meal Politics, the kind of politics that offers everything for free with no residual consequences.

Jones is a great messenger, and a real leader in the green movement.  Democrats would do well to listen to him.