Bay Area Council Blog: Government Relations Archive

Pelosi BAC

Council’s Clout on Display in D.C.

“Californians have never been dissuaded by naysayers. From the Golden Gate Bridge to the Internet, California’s investments in infrastructure have made it a great place to start a business or hire new employees. We can’t let congested highways and overcrowded airports slow down California’s economy. High-speed rail will play a critical role in moving California’s expanding population and economy over the next 50 years.” Those were the words that Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood offered to a Bay Area Council delegation to Washington D.C. this week. High speed rail, cyber security, free trade agreements, World Expo 2020, housing policy and job creation were among the issues that a group of our members communicated with passion and clarity of purpose to legislative leaders and top White House cabinet members and advisors.

At breakfast, Senator Feinstein, Chair of the Select Committee on Intelligence, directed her staff to collaborate with the Council’s Cyber Security Committee concerning threat sharing, a rapidly escalating problem for our members. Senators Reid, Lieberman, Collins, Rockefeller, Hutchinson, and Feinstein’s cyber security staff leads (plus the Republican cyber leaders on the House side) all sat down with the Bay Area Council members on the trip to hash out details of impending legislation on cyber issues. The conversations and advising will continue, as all congressional leaders seemed to agree with lunch guest Sameer Bhalotra, White House Senior Director for Cyber Security, that legislation will move at the start of 2012, and with a good probability of passage.

On high speed rail, our two Senators, our Bay Area leaders in the House and administration officials all said that federal money would be on hold for the near future, but that getting local community agreement on the project was the key to success. They all praised the work of Caltrain, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Bay Area Council in creating a solid compromise that could allow money to flow to our region. Secretary LaHood urged the Council to continue to be forceful and direct when advocating for HSR.

Our members sincerely appreciated the candid discussion organized by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi with fellow Bay Area Representatives George Miller, Barbara Lee, Anna Eshoo, Lynn Woolsey, Mike Thompson, Zoe Lofgren and Mike Honda. All in the room lauded Congresswoman Anna Eshoo for her leadership and resourcefulness in keeping the promise of high speed rail alive on the Peninsula.

Continuing the “top-shelf” trip, the White House arranged for Carl Shapiro, Chair of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors to brief our members. He relayed that the economy used to be “Washington-proof,” but no longer is. Fortunately, the mood was lifted by a buoyant Ambassador Demetrios Marantis, the Deputy U.S. Trade Representative who told our group that the President had just sent the Colombia, Panama, Korea free trade agreements to Congress for approval, agreements for which the Bay Area Council has advocated for years.

The trip ended with lunch with Raphael Bostic, HUD Secretary for Policy Development and Research. Bostic echoed an earlier meeting with Carol Galante, the head of the Federal Housing Administration, confirming the administration’s alignment with the Council on regional housing planning, new urbanism and the need for a re-start to the housing industry.

The access and impact of trips like these make fulfilling the Council’s mission much easier and are a testament to our members’ combined clout.



Jobs, high speed rail and CEQA reform were among the hot topics during the Bay Area Council’s successful Sacramento Day visit this past Monday. The Council led a delegation of about 70 members and staff to the Governor’s council room in the horseshoe to meet with top Legislative leaders and Administration officials and present our top policy priorities.

Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway spoke about her support for high speed rail “in concept” but said support among her constituents in the Central Valley is eroding with the economy. Straight-talking Sen. Bob Dutton called, in general, for less government. Reducing California’s regulatory burden, Dutton said, could reduce unnecessary costs on businesses and enable them to hire enough workers to lower employment by a third. Sen. Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg called for reforming the state’s regulatory climate by adopting concurrent permitting, eliminating duplicative and superfluous regulations and requiring economic analysis on any new major regulations.

Michael Rossi, the Governor’s new Special Economic Advisor, insisted he’s not a “czar,” but said he’s focused on creating jobs nonetheless. Just a week into his new position, Rossi said he’s been busy getting up to speed on a mountain of reports and policy documents. He expressed eagerness to hear from businesses about the ways state government can help California improve its dreary employment picture. California League of Cities Executive Director Chris McKenzie had sharp words for the elimination of redevelopment agencies, saying it has caused “irreparable harm.” Natural Resources Secretary John Laird discussed the complexity of overhauling the state’s water storage and delivery system and emphasized that reliability and habitat restoration and protection must be taken together.

Following three hours of meetings, the delegation moved to Morton’s Steakhouse where the Council hosted a reception and dinner with the joint Assembly and Senate members of the Bay Area Caucus.  Thanks to caucus chairs, Assemblymember Rich Gordon and Senator Mark Desaulnier, for helping make the evening a success, and to Senators DeSaulnier, Ellen Corbett, Loni Hancock, and Joe Simitian, and Assemblymembers Gordon, Tom Ammiano, Bob Wieckowski, Luis Alejo, Nora Campos, Bill Monning, Mary Hayashi, Jerry Hill, Mike Allen, Nancy Skinner, Paul Fong, Jim Beall, Jared Huffman, and Fiona Ma who joined us for dinner.



The Bay Area Council heartily applauded Governor Jerry Brown’s appointment this week of Michael Rossi as California jobs czar. “It’s hard to imagine a more important assignment than creating jobs in this troubled economy,” said Janet Lamkin, Bay Area Council Chairwoman and California State President of Bank of America. “Mike is a seasoned executive, well up to the challenge. And he has a passion for people and experience finding solutions.” The Council looks forward to working closely with Mr. Rossi, a former BankAmerica executive, in helping achieve his stated goals of streamlining and invigorating the state’s economic development infrastructure and advising the governor on regulatory, legislative and executive actions to stimulate job creation. We have already engaged with Mr. Rossi on his agenda.  Jim Wunderman was asked to meet with Mr. Rossi for an hour the week prior to his appointment.   We also expect to meet with Mr. Rossi during our upcoming Sacramento Day on August 29 when we can allow him to directly engage with our members.  For more on August 29, contact Matt Regan at



Four little letters, so much headache.  CEQA, or the California Environmental Quality Act, has been on the Bay Area Council’s wish list for reform for two generations.  At a packed meeting of clean tech companies, developers, lawyers, consultants and others, Jim Wunderman opened the meeting waving a 1976 “Bay Area Council Plan to Reform CEQA.”  Wade Crowfoot and Christopher Calfee of Governor Brown’s Office of Planning & Research responded by waving Governor Brown’s 1978 plan to reform CEQA.

Hope for bringing meaningful change to California’s landmark law has waxed and waned over the decades, but Governor Brown’s campaign promise to reform CEQA has created new excitement.  Jennifer Hernandez of Holland and Knight, one the state’s top lawyers on the topic, said that movement for reform has reached a tipping point.  The Governor asked the Bay Area Council to assemble business leaders to begin working collaboratively on change.  We did so on Friday and heard from the Governor’s team on the issue.  They laid out initial plans to ease CEQA requirements for renewable energy and infill development and then took about an hour and a half of thoughtful – sometimes emotional – feedback.  They took pages of notes, listened quite actively and said they would work with the Council, who is forming a task force to work with the Governor on an ongoing basis.  If you are interested in hearing about the task force or want to join, please contact Matt Regan at or 415-946-8710.



This week, despite the mixed results of the state budget, the Council celebrated some big victories when funds for the statewide education data system were included as part of the final budget signed by Governor Brown.  As we noted several weeks ago, the “May Revise” budget suspended funds and development of the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS).  Thanks to our advocacy efforts and suspiciously timed editorials by the San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News and Los Angeles Times, we were able to prevent the elimination of this critical, federally-funded program.

Our second victory came when the Governor also preserved nearly half a billion dollars in funding for early childhood programs.  The Council believes that the most cost-effective way to address the achievement gap in California students is to act early. Backed by hard data, we have found that preschool and other forms of childcare for single or economically-challenged parents have shown the highest return on investment in improving later education performance, plus reduce crime and other societal challenges.  The funding change, made possible due to unanticipated tax revenue, reverses what had been called “the most painful cut” the Legislature had to make earlier in the year.  It restores preschool and other childcare to 35,490 kids.

Many of our members are not pleased about the cuts to redevelopment and education, including cuts to higher education and strings that were attached to K-12 funding, preventing school districts from making independent staffing decisions.  We were also disappointed to lose the teacher companion piece of the CALPADS education data system, CALTIDES, when the Governor used his line-item veto yesterday.  But, on all of these issues, the Bay Area Council will continue the good fight.

Bay Area Council Leadership Forum Speaker Series: Senator Mark Leno visits the Bay Area Council to talk budget options

Senator Mark Leno, Chair of the Senate Budget Committee visited the Bay Area Council on Friday to talk about the current status of budget negotiations in Sacramento.  The good news was that May revise revenue figures were better than expected ($6.6 billion over 2 years) largely as a result of higher than projected sales tax revenues.  The bad news is that the revised figures have thrown somewhat of a spanner in the budget negotiations, and it is now less clear than ever what the final solution might be to close the remaining $10 billion, give or take, deficit in the state budget.

Senator Leno offered a number of possible scenarios for ballot measures that would raise revenues, including one possibility that would delay a vote on taxes until November 2012 when the makeup of the electorate would likely be more favorable to the Governor’s tax extension proposal.  The Senator thanked the Bay Area Council for our courage and leadership in supporting Governor Brown’s balanced budget and urged us to continue our call for a bipartisan solution to this critical problem.

Thank you to Bay Area Council member, Acteva for sponsoring our lunch, and to Government Relations Committee Co-Chair, Caroline Rodman of TY Lin, for hosting.


Bay Area Council and Coalition of Business Groups Call on Governor to Adopt Five-Point Financial Workout Plan

The Bay Area Council and a coalition of business groups from around the state have sent a letter to Governor Jerry Brown, urging him to re-start negotiations and reach a budget deal quickly. The letter calls for a five-point “financial workout plan,” which includes:

  • Spending Control and Budget Reforms
  • A Path to Job Creation
  • Pension Reform
  • Government Closer to the People
  • Extension of Temporary Taxes

Click here to read the details of the recommended plan.

Read more about the plan in the San Francisco ChronicleSan Jose Mercury News and the Sacramento Bee.



Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has said that “in too many instances, the march to globalization has also meant the marginalization of women and girls. And that must change.”  Secretary Clinton has vowed to make women’s empowerment across the globe a legacy of her time at the State Department and has enlisted the Bay Area Council to help.  In conjunction with a major APEC meeting in San Francisco this September, the Council will help Secretary Clinton deliver a global Women and the Economy Summit.  The gathering of global leaders, including Secretaries of State, Commerce or related Ministers from countries including China, Japan, Russia, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Vietnam, and Australia, will focus on topics such as women as agents of economic growth, increased female employment impacts on the global economy and financial inclusion for women-owned business.  The summit will not just be a setting for a conversation about the status of women globally, but will be a key vehicle for implementing important policies to empower women across the 21 APEC countries.  These countries represent more than half of the world economy.

The event, as part of the overall APEC effort, will be the largest diplomatic meeting here since the founding of the United Nations in 1945 – the very first project of the Bay Area Council, led by Governor Earl Warren, Stephen Bechtel and Henry J. Kaiser.

A few, very high-profile, sponsorship opportunities exist for the Women and the Economy Summit, putting your company in front of an impressive gathering of world leaders on a fundamentally important issue.  (Contact Emily Finkel, below, for more information on this opportunity.)

Special thanks to Paul Oliva, who led the charge to bring these meetings to our region on behalf of the Bay Area Council.  The Council, having formed an important partnership with the State Department to work on the Summit as well as the bid for the 2020 World Expo in Silicon Valley, is honored to have the opportunity to take the lead on this event.  San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee will be hosting a CEO briefing on the Women and the Economy Summit and APEC Summit at the Asian Art Museum Thursday, May 12, with members of the APEC organizing committee and Kurt Tong, U.S. Senior Official for APEC.  To attend or for more information, contact Emily Finkel at or 415-946-8712.



Join the Bay Area Council for lunch with Senator Mark Leno, Chair of the Senate Budget Committee. Senator Leno will discuss California’s current fiscal situation and what possible budget solutions are available.

Date: Friday, May 20, 2011
Registration: 12:00 – 12:30 PM, Boxed lunch will be provided upon registration
Discussion: 12:30 – 1:30 PM
Location: Bay Area Council, 201 California St., 2nd Floor Conference Room, San Francisco

Please RSVP to Kristina Frost: or (415) 946-8740

For more information please contact George Broder: or (415) 946-8728

Sponsored by:



In unseasonably summer-like heat and humidity, members of the Council’s “Cyber Squad” went covert at Secret Service HQ and stormed Capitol Hill this week to talk about protecting and advancing the e-economy of our nation.  Visa, Inc. Chief Enterprise Risk Officer and Cyber Security Committee Chair Ellen Richey led the delegation, which featured an end of visit private briefing and discussion with White House Cyber Security Czar Howard Schmidt.  The committee has been hard at work since its inception last year, advocating for a national standard for handling data breaches and creating a workforce development pipeline to increase the number of cyber security professionals in the United States.

Also this week, the Council announced the results of a nationwide poll that found 71% of Americans believe the safety of our information systems is a national security issue.  The poll of 1,000 registered voters, conducted by Pineda Consulting, also showed that 66% of Americans surveyed think new laws need to be written to keep personal information secure, with 61% also stating that government needs to make the protection of the nation’s information systems and networks a higher priority.

Read and watch more about the delegation and poll on Politico and KTVU.