AFP Politics Blog – Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2009

– News: Transportation secretary meets with state leaders to discuss stimulus, Wednesday, 4:05 p.m.
– News: Moran gets Petersburg endorsements, Wednesday, 4:05 p.m.
– News: Perriello honors NAACP, Wednesday, 4:05 p.m.
– News: Bills blocking REAL ID pass House, Senate, Wednesday, noon
– News: Deeds announces campaign communications team, Wednesday, 9:20 a.m.

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News: Transportation secretary meets with state leaders to discuss stimulus, Wednesday, 4:05 p.m.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today met with leaders of state departments of transportation from across the country in preparation for final passage of the economic recovery bill.

“The upshot of these meetings is that we have thousands of worthwhile transportation projects that are ready to go. They’ve cleared all the hurdles and just need the funding,” said Secretary LaHood. “The U.S. Department of Transportation is ready to get the money out the door. We now need the Congress to pass a final bill.”

The meeting, which took place in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, came one day after the U.S. Senate approved the Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The House passed its version on January 28. Both bills now go to a House-Senate conference committee where the differences in the legislation will be resolved.

North Carolina Secretary of Transportation Eugene Conti, one of more than 40 state transportation heads at the meeting, said, “NCDOT, along with other transportation departments across the nation, has been working to identify projects that would both improve our transportation system and create needed jobs. This funding is key to helping us address the growing economic and infrastructure challenges we are currently facing.”

Secretary LaHood said the bills passed provide approximately $46 billion for transportation infrastructure, including up to $30 billion for highways, $12 billion for transit, $3.1 billion for passenger rail and $3 billion for airports. In addition, the Senate bill also includes $5.5 billion for a supplemental discretionary grant program. Eligible projects include highways and bridges, public transit, passenger and freight rail transportation and port infrastructure.

Secretary LaHood told participants that accountability would be one of his highest priorities and that his Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) team would be closely monitoring all aspects of the recovery funding.

The Secretary’s TIGER team is composed of officials from across the Department’s operating administrations and offices. The team is co-chaired by Lana Hurdle, deputy assistant secretary for budget and programs, and Joel Szabat, deputy assistant secretary for transportation policy.

 

News: Moran gets Petersburg endorsements, Wednesday, 4:05 p.m.

Petersburg’s elected Democratic leadership overwhelmingly backed Brian Moran for Governor during a press conference today. Petersburg voters gave the third highest percentage to Barack Obama of any locality in the country during the 2008 general election campaign. The leaders cited Moran’s record of fighting for quality education and raising teacher pay, for expanding access to health care, and for equal opportunity for every Virginian.

“We face tough challenges in the next few years and we need someone with a proven record of fighting for people as our next Governor,” Mayor Annie Mickens said. “As a local Government leader and a teacher, I know the best person to be our next Governor is Brian Moran. He has been working to raise teacher salaries to the national average and made a career about fighting for people.”

Moran received the backing of:

– Mayor Annie Mickens

– Vice Mayor Horace Webb

– Council Member Brian Moore

– Council Member Carl Mike Ross

– Council Member David Ray Coleman

– Delegate Rosalyn Dance

– Sheriff Vanessa Crawford

“I’m honored to have this leadership team in Petersburg behind my campaign for Governor,” Moran said. “This campaign will be about grassroots, community-by-community support from people who believe we need someone as Governor who will fight for them. I will wake up every day as Governor to fight for the people of this community.”

The Petersburg leaders join other prominent Virginia leaders who have announced their support of Brian Moran for Governor: the Chairman of Mark Warner’s campaign for Governor and former Congressman L. F. Payne; House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong from Martinsville along with the Martinsville Sheriff and Democratic Chair; the majority of elected Democrats in Loudoun and Arlington Counties; the mayors of Richmond, Norfolk, Hampton, Newport News and Portsmouth; and the majority of the members of the Democratic Party of Virginia’s Steering Committee.

The announcement was made at Old Towne Catering in Petersburg.

 

News: Perriello honors NAACP, Wednesday, 4:05 p.m.

Rep. Tom Perriello honored and congratulated the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) on the occasion of its 100th anniversary, which it will celebrate tomorrow. He gave the following remarks on the House Floor:

“I rise today to recognize the 100th anniversary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which celebrates its centennial on Thursday. Since its founding on February 12, 1909, the NAACP has been a tireless crusader against racial discrimination, and it has continuously called our great Nation towards an ever-expanding horizon of liberty and justice for all.

“Often with support and protection from the NAACP, countless brave citizens of my district joined the great American struggle for civil rights. From slavery and segregation through Massive Resistance and Bloody Monday, our area has passed through dark nights, always to emerge at the dawn of a new era of equality. I thank the NAACP, its staff, and its members for remaining true to our nation’s highest ideals.

“As it embarks on its second century with new leadership and a renewed commitment to human rights, I congratulate the NAACP on this landmark year in its history and extend our deep appreciation for victories won and those that remain before us.”

  

News: Bills blocking REAL ID pass House, Senate, Wednesday, noon

Nearly identical bills prohibiting Virginia from complying with provisions of the federal REAL ID Act that compromise the privacy rights of Virginia’s citizens passed the House and the Senate yesterday.

The House approved Delegate Robert G. Marshall’s HB 1587 on an 88-10 vote, and Senator Ken T. Cuccinelli’s SB 1431 passed the Senate 30-9.

Passed by Congress in 2005, but still unimplemented, the Real ID Act requires every state to issue a federally-approved driver’s license or similar ID that will become part of a national database. Real IDs will be required to board an airplane and to access many federal facilities.

Because REAL IDs require significantly more background information than a driver’s license, privacy experts fear that the government will now have access to an unprecedented amount of highly sensitive information on citizens and that there will be an exponential rise in identity thefts from the database where the information is stored.

“This is not only a very important step forward for privacy rights in the state, but it looks as if Virginia will soon join 21 other states that have expressed opposition to some aspects of the federal REAL ID law,” said ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Kent Willis.

Counting Virginia, 22 states have now passed anti-Real ID Act legislation, some asking Congress to amend the law, some refusing to comply with some portions of the law, and others rejecting the law entirely. (For more information on REAL ID and actions taken by other states, visit www.realnightmare.org.)

The Virginia law, assuming it is signed by the Governor, will not be an outright rejection of Real ID, but it will prohibit any ID, or database linked to the ID, from containing biometric data (e.g., DNA, fingerprints, or retinal scans) or financial information (e.g., tax returns or personal investment information) that compromises “economic privacy.”

Real ID Act opponents say it will cost billions of dollars to implement, will greatly complicate and congest the system for obtaining drivers’ licenses by requiring background checks on every applicant, and will, in effect, create a mandatory national ID system. There are also concerns that a disproportionate number of low-income persons, the elderly, and minorities will have trouble obtaining REAL ID due to the cost or the documentation required.

  

News: Deeds announces campaign communications team, Wednesday, 9:20 a.m.

Joe Abbey, Deeds for Virginia campaign manager, announced on Tuesday Sen. Creigh Deeds’ gubernatorial communications team.

Brooke Borkenhagen will serve as communications director and spokesperson for the campaign. She recently served as press secretary at the Iowa Democratic Party during the 2008 general election cycle. Prior to that, Brooke served as press aide to New Hampshire Congressman Paul Hodes and as North Dakota spokesperson for Obama for America in the lead up to the North Dakota caucus. Brooke can be reached on her cell phone at 507-317-4104 or at Brooke@DeedsforVirgina.com.

Peter Jackson, who had served as executive director of the Future Deeds PAC and Senator Deeds’ spokesperson, will move to the role of senior advisor for communications. Prior to serving as communications director on Deeds’ 2005 campaign for attorney general, Peter was deputy director of communications at the University of Virginia Center for Politics and a senior writer and editor for Prof. Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball. He also held leadership roles in Deeds’ recount in 2005, the Cathy Cox for Governor campaign in Georgia, and the Arizona Democratic Party.

“Brooke and Peter bring a wide-range of experience to our team and will fill crucial roles communicating Senator Deeds’ message of creating opportunity in every corner of Virginia,” said Joe Abbey, campaign manager for Deeds for Virginia.


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