Bay Area Council Blog: News Archive

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Statement on Charlottesville Tragedy, Bay Area Rallies

The Bay Area Council today (Aug. 17) issued the following statement in response to reported plans by a white nationalist or similar group to hold a rally in San Francisco in the coming days on the heels of the deadly and painful events in Charlottesville, Virginia:

“In the wake of the tragic and awful events in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend, the Bay Area Council is calling on public safety and other officials in San Francisco and throughout our region to do everything in their power and to take every precaution available to prevent similar violent confrontations here,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “The Bay Area Council condemns in the clearest, strongest terms possible the hatred, bigotry and racist beliefs being promoted by the white supremacist, neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic and other hate groups that ignited and fueled the horrific events in Charlottesville.

“As the Charlottesville tragedy aptly demonstrated, with Nazi sympathizers bringing weapons, these “rallies” would be expected to incite a strenuous reaction from the overwhelming majority of Americans who reject these hateful views and believe they deserve no place in our public discourse, politics, business, society or anywhere else,” Wunderman said. “Uncontrolled, these rallies are unpredictable and disruptive, threaten public safety and put the general public in harm’s way, cost considerable taxpayer dollars and often can result in considerable damage to public property, and local businesses.

“Expression of political views must be done without weapons and the intent to physically confront those who hold opposing views, and we call upon local police to make sure that bullies carrying weapons are not a part of political demonstrations of any kind,” Wunderman said. “For anyone planning to attend any such events in the Bay Area, we urge you to exercise extreme caution and even greater restraint.

“Violent white supremacy rallies damage the American brand, and those communities that foment and tolerate this kind of behavior will not fare well in the worldwide competition for jobs and economic growth,” Wunderman said.

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COUNCIL URGES CAUTION ON NEW PROPOSAL TO LIMIT IMMIGRATION

The Bay Area Council issued the following statement responding to legislation introduced Wednesday (Aug. 2) by President Trump and Sens. Tom Cotton and David Perdue that proposes to dramatically lower legal immigration levels.

“Immigrants are and have been a powerful source of ideas, innovation, entrepreneurship and job creation helping drive the Bay Area’s world-leading knowledge-based economy,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “Our broken federal immigration system has long needed comprehensive reform, which in addition to other objectives must ensure that newcomers are making positive and productive contributions to our economy and our communities and not putting America workers at a disadvantage. It will be important that any reform legislation recognize the important role immigrants play in growing our economy, creating jobs and bolstering our global competitiveness.

“We must be extremely careful not to impose limits that hurt our ability to attract foreign workers to help employers meet a wide range of workforce needs, including high-skilled positions and lower-skilled jobs in such industries as agriculture and construction. High-skilled immigration is a bedrock of the Bay Area’s economy and we must keep the door open to people from around the world who are prepared to contribute. While there is room for reform – H-1B visas are an example – any process should be built on a considered, transparent process and bipartisan agreement.”

To engage in our federal policy work, please contact Senior Advisor George Broder.

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Bernard J. Tyson Elected Bay Area Council Chair

The Bay Area Council Executive Committee and Board of Directors on Wednesday (July 26) welcomed new Chair Bernard J. Tyson, Chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente, and applauded the immense legacy of his predecessor, TMG Partners Chairman and CEO Michael Covarrubias, for his two years of strong, focused leadership. The passing of the gavel occurred during a meeting generously hosted by member company and global investment firm BlackRock at their stunning San Francisco office.

During his tenure as Chair, Covarrubias led the organization through a period of significant growth and achievement marked by a series of historic wins in Sacramento to advance the Council’s robust policy agenda. Tyson, who takes the helm as the 38th Chair in the organization’s 72-year history, is a tremendous business leader recognized nationally and regionally. As a longtime member of Council’s Executive Committee and most recently as Vice Chair, he has provided important leadership and engagement across all of the Council’s policy areas.

Council Board Member and BlackRock Vice President Anthony Bassili and Managing Director Debbie McCoy warmly welcomed the group and kicked off the Board meeting. The Board also heard from Tipping Point CEO Daniel Lurie on fighting poverty and chronic homelessness in the Bay Area. Since 2005, Tipping Point has raised more than $150 million to educate, employ, house and support those in need in the Bay Area.

In a series of lively reports, the Board of Directors heard from policy committee chairs on the great progress the Council is making on its lead priority issues. Heller Manus President Jeffrey Heller reported on Commute Improvement; Genentech Vice President Carla Boragno on Workforce Housing; and Union Bank Managing Director Julius Robinson on Workforce of the Future. Special thanks again to BlackRock for hosting us.

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Council Scores Another Housing Win with New TOD Law

Legislation the Bay Area Council sponsored that could bring 20,000 units of new housing to the region got Gov. Brown’s signature last Friday (June 21). SB 680 authored by Senator Bob Wieckowski extends the radius within-which BART can pursue transit-oriented development (TOD) projects from ¼ mile from BART stations to ½ mile. The legislation garnered broad support by various groups across the Bay Area, including The Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California, SPUR, North Bay Leadership Council, SAMCEDA, Transform, among others.

“In the face of a severe housing and affordability crisis, constructing dense housing near main transit hubs will be key to our region’s continued prosperity,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “SB 680 is a much-needed, common sense solution that uses public lands for public good. It will add an estimated 20,000 new housing units near BART stations, keeping jobs in the Bay Area, reducing commutes and moving our region toward a more sustainable future.”

The Bay Area Council is thrilled to help pass this commonsense solution that will add thousands of units near public transportation. We want to thank Sen. Wieckowski for his leadership on housing. The Council worked with Sen. Wieckowski last year to pass legislation that removes major barriers to creating affordable granny units. To engage in the Council’s housing policy work, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.

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Addressing Gender Bias in Workplace Communications

Gender differences in communications styles can often adversely affect women in the workplace, as men are more likely to talk more and suggest ideas in meetings while women are more likely to be interrupted and given less credit for their ideas. In fact, male executives who speak more are viewed as 10 percent more competent, while women who do the same are viewed as 14 percent less competent by their peers. To address this issue, the Bay Area Council’s Gender Equity Committee hosted an interactive Executive Presence Workshop led by member company Mandel Communications. The workshop focused on communication skills that will help women cut through this bias and position themselves as confident leaders within their companies. The Council’s Best Practices Resources Guide, released last year, highlighted executive presence and other training programs as important strategies for building gender equity within companies.

The Committee also heard about San Francisco Supervisor Mark Farrell’s new legislative proposal to boost female representation in elected office, on corporate boards, in public art, and anywhere else in public view. Only 2 out of 87 public statues in San Francisco represent real women, and this ordinance would enact a new statue of Maya Angelou as a first step in getting to 30 percent female representation by 2020. To engage in the Council’s Gender Equity work, please contact Policy Director Emily Loper.

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Sen. Monning Addresses Water Committee on Clean Water Fund

It’s estimated that as many as one million Californians (10 times the population of Flint, Michigan) lack access to safe, clean drinking water, mostly in rural, economically disadvantaged areas. This troubling statistic undergirded the Bay Area Council Water Committee’s conversation with Senator Bill Monning (D-Carmel) hosted by member company Cargill on Tuesday (July 25). Senator Monning’s bill, SB 623, would create a new clean drinking water fund capitalized through a combination of new fertilizer taxes and fees on water utility bills. The Council took the issue under advisement until the precise bill language becomes available. The Committee also received a briefing from the Department of Water Resources’ Erin Mellon on the race against time to repair the Oroville Dam Spillway, which was destroyed during last years’ record rainfall. To engage with the Council’s Water Committee, please contact Vice President of Public Policy Adrian Covert.

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Innovation Bridge: Technology, Startups, and Europe’s Connection to Silicon Valley

On July 25 the Economic Institute released its newest report—Innovation Bridge: Technology, Startups, and Europe’s Connection to Silicon Valley, at the Runway accelerator in San Francisco. The report, which was supported by the European Union and other international and Bay Area partners, looks at the dynamic process that every year brings hundreds of European startup and early stage companies to the Bay Area, many of which stay and grow in the region. It particularly assesses the environment for starting and growing young technology companies in Europe and the region Bay Area.  The conclusions document the unique role that the region plays as the world’s leading innovation and entrepreneurial platform. More than two-hundred participants came to listen to the report’s findings and to engage with a distinguished panel of investors, technologists, innovation directors, and leaders in the startup community, who provided their own perspectives. The report is available on the Economic Institute’s website www.bayareaeconomy.org.

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California Community College’s Career Education Rebranding Looking Good

On Friday (July 21), the California Community Colleges launched a new campaign the Bay Area Council had advocated for that will boost awareness of the system’s extensive career technical education programs among prospective students from diverse backgrounds. This exciting rebranding, which will be available across traditional and social media, seeks to stoke interest in career pathways to living-wage paying, middle-skills jobs—the same jobs that are burgeoning in the Bay Area region in industries such as global trade and logistics, and that companies report having difficulty in hiring for.

As part of its ongoing relationship with the California Community Colleges and California Forward, the Bay Area Council’s Workforce of the Future Committee and it members advocated for the rebranding effort back in October of last year at our first Occupational Marketplace for the Industrial Maintenance Technician/ Mechanic occupation (hosted in partnership with the Bay Area Community College Consortium), especially in light of employers’ needs for a skilled, diverse, and local workforce. To get involved with the Workforce of the Future Committee efforts, please contact Senior Vice President Linda Bidrossian.

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Historic Caltrain Electrification Groundbreaking

Following years of hard work and advocacy, the Bay Area Council today joined Governor Jerry Brown, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, Congresswoman Jackie Speier and other key stakeholders at the Millbrae Caltrain Station for the historic groundbreaking ceremony of the Caltrain Electrification Project.

“It’s ironic that the region that invents much of the future has struggled with an overcrowded, diesel-powered, 153-year-old rail line running right through its heart – but today that changes. Silicon Valley will soon have a modern, fast and clean rail system that according to our 2012 study, will deliver 9,600 construction and related jobs and generate more than $2 billion in economic activity across America. Our region is not alone dealing with outdated infrastructure and we hope Congress can unite around a large-scale national improvement program this year, making Caltrain Electrification the start of a legacy of new building.”

The Council has long advocated for an electrified Caltrain and helped assemble the original package of federal, state and regional funding for the project. The final push across the finish line came in May when U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao approved a final $647 million grant that had been promised to help pay for the project. Special thanks goes to Senator Dianne Feinstein who worked very hard behind the scenes to achieve this momentous goal.

To engage in the Council’s transportation policy work, please contact Senior Vice President of Policy Michael Cunningham.

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Major Victory for California’s Clean Energy Future

This week marked a major victory for Governor Jerry Brown and California’s clean energy future with the legislature’s bipartisan passage of a landmark package – AB 617 by Assemblymembers Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella) and Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) and AB 398 by Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella) – to combat air pollution in neighborhoods and extend California’s signature cap-and-trade program to meet ambitious climate change goals. The Bay Area Council was part of a broad and diverse coalition in support of the legislation.

The Council has long supported California’s global leadership on a sustainable clean energy future. “As the first business group to support AB32 and cap-and-trade, the Bay Area Council believes the program has worked exceptionally well,” said Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman. “California has shown that it’s possible to reduce carbon, improve local air quality, spur new clean energy industries and jobs, and have an economy that’s the envy of the nation. The extension of cap-and-trade until 2030 will keep California on track for its climate goals and its clean energy leadership.”

To engage in the Council’s energy policy work, please contact Senior Vice President of Policy Michael Cunningham.