Monday, March 7, 2011

Valley Women's Club of SLV Holds General Meeting

Congresswoman Anna Eshoo was among a dozen elected officials on hand as the Valley Women’s Club of San Lorenzo Valley held their annual meeting Sunday at the Senior Center in Highlands Park.  Eshoo, who has been a member of the organization since she was first elected to Congress in 1993 was warmly received by the packed house.
In spite of a steady light rain that fell all day the 33rd General Meeting of the VWC was well attended.  Over 100 members and guests gathered to share a gourmet potluck brunch, connect with neighbors and discuss issues affecting the Valley, the County, the State, the Nation and the planet.

Newly elected Co-President Nancy Gerdt introduced the other officers for 2011: Co-president Dixie Mitchell-Clow,  VP Michele Mosher, Treasurer Sheila DeLany, Secretary Karen Burman, Budget Officer Vince Waskell; and board members: Jody Bruce, Jim Coffis, Dusty Gipson, Mary Hammer, Nancy Macy, Lynn McKibbin, Laura Whaley, and Donna Ziel.

Reports on progress and plans from Club committees were presented and then Cabrillo College Trustee and VWC Board member Donna Ziel introduced Congresswoman Anna Eshoo.

Eshoo spoke for 25 minutes and was interrupted by applause several times.  She acknowledged at one point  that she was  “speaking to the choir here.”

She described what life was like in view of the “new majority” in the House of Representatives and urged everyone to read the recently released report from the Phil Angelides chaired Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission.  She said the report shows how the financial crisis was man made.  

While acknowledging a need for spending cuts, Eshoo warned  about how “the new majority” was attempting to “cripple” programs under the guise of making cuts.  As an example she called the cuts proposed for Planned Parenthood  “a wholesale attack on women’s health” and “a threat to all of us.”

“We need a whole new narrative. it’s not just a choice between cutting and spending.  We have to continue to invest responsibly in our future.  Unfortunately the rhetoric sticks and the facts just walk away.”

While saying we have our work cut out for us Eshoo remains optimistic.  “Listening to your reports inspires me. “ she said  I am continually impressed by the enormous capacity of my constituents.”  

She spoke with pride about the passage of Affordabale Healthcare Act saying that since Teddy Roosevelt  congresses have tried to address the issue without success.  She warned against a return to the “capricious nature of the health insurance companies”  who would like nothing better than return to lifetime caps and exclusions for pre-existing conditions.   

The ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, which has jurisdiction over technology, the Internet, and telecommunications legislation and the founding member and Co-Chair of the Congressional Internet Caucus, Eshoo told the audience of plans by Republicans to block the Federal Communications Commission's proposed Net neutrality rules and predicted a “revolution” if they succeed.  “The Internet must remain free and open, with consumers not corporations in the drivers seat.” she said.

State Senator Joe Simitian followed the Congresswoman and discussed the imperative of getting a tax extension initiative on the June ballot and getting it passed in order to avoid devastating cuts to state services.   He discussed California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard Program and said that the goal set to move to 20% renewable energy would be me this year and that he has introduced legislation to set a new goal of 33% by 2020.

Mark Stone was among first to arrive & last to leave. The 5th District County Supervisor made himself available to constituents as they filed in and throughout the potluck brunch  Stone heard from individuals on all manner of issues affecting the area.

Stone discussed budget concerns and pending County legislation including the ban on plastic bags that he believes will withstand potential industry attacks and become law soon.  He asked for input on the proposed county wide vacation rental ordinance that he said was meant to address a beach area problem. He said he wanted to avoid unintended consequences of a law written for a densely populated urban area being applied countywide. He reiterated his position in support of maintaining local branch libraries and said that reports that a special subcommittee of the Library Joint Powers Board was leaning toward one or another of the service models previously proposed was premature.  (The subcommittee will report tonight to the Library Joint Powers Board on their deliberations to date and Stone believes they’ve yet to gather all the information necessary to make any recommendations.)

Stone touched on how the California budget process could impact the local First 5 Commission and the RSA’s of Boulder Creek, Ben Lomond and Felton.  He also discussed the purchase of the rail line between Davenport and Watsonville and how a proposed trail system could be extended into Felton.

In response to questions he said that the County had posted notices which had essentially closed the Brookdale Lodge.  He said residents should report to the County if they observed any further non-compliance with those orders.  He said the County was moving forward with both civil and criminal actions against the owner.  He also said that a neighborhood meeting was in the works to discuss the situation involving the residence on Felton Empire Grade where numerous drug arrests have been made over the last several weeks.

Earlier in the program Supervisor Stone  was praised by Congresswoman Anna Eshoo and State Senator Joe Simitian as a trusted partner and strong advocate.  Eshoo told the audience how important and valuable it was that Stone, Simitian and Assemblyman Bill Monning “shared values” which made working  together to represent the area that much more effective.

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