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PBS NewsHour

Presidential contenders march in Fourth of July parades

Republican presidential candidate, former Texas Governor Rick Perry, waves from the top of a tractor before participating
         in the Independence Day parade in Amherst, New Hampshire July 4, 2015. New Hampshire is home of the nation's first presidential
         nominating primary. REUTERS/Gretchen Ertl - RTX1J0KE

Republican presidential candidate, former Texas Governor Rick Perry, waves from the top of a tractor before participating in the Independence Day parade in Amherst, New Hampshire July 4, 2015. New Hampshire is home of the nation’s first presidential nominating primary. Photo by Gretchen Ertl/Reuters

Alongside the patriotic music and waving flags Saturday in parades across Iowa and New Hampshire were clear reminders of a presidential race coming up next year: Red balloons promoting “Jeb! 2016,” a tractor draped in a Rick Perry banner and dutiful volunteers holding signs and chanting for their chosen candidates.

Marching in Fourth of July parades in these early voting states has become a tradition for politicians seeking the White House, giving them a chance to boost their name recognition and glad-hand with voters.

Former Govs. Jeb Bush of Florida, Rick Perry of Texas and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island as well as South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham worked the crowd in Amherst, while Hillary Rodham Clinton marched in a parade in New Hampshire’s North Country. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio spent the holiday in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region, as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley met voters in Iowa.

Graham and Perry brought the energy to Amherst, running through the streets waving, shouting jokes and posing for photos.

“Sorry the government’s so screwed up!” Graham shouted to the crowd numerous times, often followed by an apology to any children in the crowd about the future of Social Security.

The former governor and current senator shook hands in the street, prompting jokes of a Perry-Graham presidential ticket. Later, Perry snapped a cell phone picture of Graham with two voters outside their home.

Chafee, meanwhile, walked the route with just a few aides and no large signs bearing his name – nothing to indicate he’s vying for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Bush took a more methodical approach, shaking so many hands that his team had to nearly run down an entire street to catch up with the procession. His campaign handed out red “Jeb! 2016″ balloons along the entire parade route.

“There’s nothing behind us – other than Hillary,” Bush joked to a voter who chided him for holding up the parade. While Clinton campaigned elsewhere, a team of her supporters marched right behind Bush’s, their blue signs in sharp contrast with his red.

With his son George P. Bush, Texas’s land commissioner, by his side, Bush picked up a number of small children, posed for selfies and thanked voters who said they’ve been longtime fans of the Bushs. One of those voters wore a shirt that said “Bush Hat Trick.”

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said he got clear instructions on how to behave in an Iowa parade – no throwing things to the crowd.

Jindal walked in a July Fourth parade in the Des Moines suburb of Urbandale. Accompanied by his wife, Jindal was the only Republican presidential candidate there, though other contenders had representatives there.

Jindal said he was cautioned that Iowa and Louisiana parades are different.

“We’re used to throwing things in Louisiana parades. We’re told that’s not allowed here,” he said.

Jindal said that one of the first time the family went to Disney World, the children were upset because Mickey Mouse didn’t throw them anything.

“In Louisiana every single parade, not just Mardi Gras, you’re supposed to throw things,” the governor said.

Jindal kicked off the parade shaking hands and posing for selfies. He was scheduled to appear at another parade in the area later in the day. He has been campaigning in the kickoff caucus state since Tuesday.

This report was written by Kathleen Ronayne of the Associated Press.

The post Presidential contenders march in Fourth of July parades appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

What you should know about forgotten founding father John Jay

American statesman, Patriot, diplomat, Founding Father of the United States, and signer of the Treaty of Paris, John
         Jay, circa 1785. From an original engraving by H.B. Hall. Photo by Kean Collection/Getty Images

American statesman, Patriot, diplomat, Founding Father of the United States, and signer of the Treaty of Paris, John Jay, circa 1785. From an original engraving by H.B. Hall. Photo by Kean Collection/Getty Images

KATONAH, N.Y. — The inner circle of founders has been set for as long as anyone can remember – Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, Hamilton and Madison.

Almost never mentioned is John Jay. Most people know something about him. … But very few know the full breadth of his accomplishments.

“Most people know something about him. … But very few know the full breadth of his accomplishments. Most are very surprised by what they learn,” explains Heather Iannucci, director of the John Jay Homestead in this Hudson River town, where the July Fourth celebration will include a reading of the Declaration of Independence, music and tours of the stately, shingled house where the country’s first chief justice lived his final years.

As more of his papers have become available in the past decade, Jay’s admirers, ranging from specialists to such popular historians as Joseph Ellis and Walter Isaacson, have been arguing that a founder they believe underrated deserves a closer look – for achievements that extend to virtually every branch of government, on the state, federal and international level.

Jay was one of three contributors to the Federalist Papers, which helped define American government. He was president of the wartime Continental Congress, then served as secretary of foreign affairs, precursor to secretary of state, after the Revolutionary War ended. He was an essential diplomat whose peace negotiations with England, leading to the Treaty of Paris, vastly expanded U.S. territory.

For his accomplishments heading a network of informants during the revolution, actions that helped inspire James Fenimore Cooper’s novel “The Spy,” the CIA’s website calls Jay “the first national-level American counterintelligence chief.” He also helped write the New York Constitution, was a founder of the New York Manumission Society and as governor signed legislation that phased out slavery in the state. (Jay himself owned slaves.)

The founders bickered colorfully among themselves, but they agreed on the virtues of Jay. Noting his centrality in the talks with England, John Adams praised him as “of more importance than any of the rest of us.” Alexander Hamilton turned to Jay first when conceiving the Federalist Papers, and George Washington thought so much of him that when he was forming his original Cabinet, he offered the first position – any position – to Jay, who chose the Supreme Court.

“He’s been hiding in plain sight for all this time,” says Ellis, the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian who features Jay in his current best-seller, “The Quartet,” in which he places Jay among four founders who made the U.S. Constitution possible. “We can argue about who can be on top of the list of most important founders until the cows come home, but it’s clear he should be part of the list.”

Jay was a leading nationalist, eager to unify the former colonies, but he has become a regional hero. The John Jay College of Criminal Justice is based in Manhattan. Some students at his alma mater, Columbia University (then King’s College), live in John Jay Hall, and various prizes are handed out by Columbia at the annual John Jay Awards dinner. Some visitors to the homestead arrive from the nearby John Jay High School.

But recognition doesn’t approach that of Washington and other peers. Few Jay biographies have been published, and none close to the prominence of Ron Chernow’s Hamilton and Washington books or David McCullough’s “John Adams.” The Library of America has issued editions of the writings of several founders but has no plans for a dedicated book on Jay. In 2005, Walter Stahr’s “John Jay: Founding Father” received praise from Chernow and Isaacson among others, but he struggled to find a publisher and ended up with the London-based Hambledon Continuum.

“I signed with a British publisher, for a book about a major founding American father,” Stahr wryly observed.

Ellis acknowledged his own slighting of Jay. In his Pulitzer-winning “Founding Brothers,” a million-seller published in 2000, Ellis does not include Jay among the eight “most prominent political leaders in the early republic,” an omission Stahr points out in his biography. “If I knew what I know now when I wrote `Founding Brothers,’ Jay would have been one of the players,” Ellis now says.

Jay supporters believe his relative anonymity is mostly a story of paperwork and personality.

The balding, gray-eyed Jay lived quietly and died quietly, not on a battlefield or in a duel with Aaron Burr, but in his library, at age 83. He was not a humorist like Franklin, or intemperate like Hamilton, but dependable and unusually honorable.

Historian Gordon Wood pointed out that when Jay was New York’s governor, he refused to endorse Hamilton’s scheme in 1800 to manipulate the state’s electoral laws during a close presidential campaign and deny the White House to Jefferson, their political rival. That was Jay’s “finest moment,” Wood told The Associated Press in an email.

In Stacy Schiff’s biography of Franklin in Paris, “The Great Improvisation,” she noted that Jay never tried to compete with or undermine Franklin while both were diplomats abroad and was willing to endure financial and physical hardship on behalf of independence. That included spending “30 murderous months on the periphery of the Spanish court,” waiting in vain for $5 million in promised aid, Schiff wrote in an email.

Jay, she said, “never seems to lose his cool, or his dignity.”

The scarcity of documents has plagued Jay historians. Over the past 60 years, the papers of Washington, Jefferson and others have been duly compiled and made widely available. Jay’s papers have been long delayed, with Stahr and others blaming the late Columbia University professor Richard Morris, who for decades had control of the material.

“When Lynne Cheney decided she was going to tackle James Madison, she had a tremendous amount of stuff to work with,” says Stahr, referring to Cheney’s Madison biography that came out in 2014. “When I tackled John Jay, it was hard.”

Morris died in 1989, with only two of four planned Jay volumes completed, and for years the project was idle. New funding revived it in 2004, around the time Stahr was finishing his book. And a team of editors at Columbia led by Elizabeth M. Nuxoll is scheduled to have a seven-volume set completed and released by 2020. The fourth volume is out in November.

Ellis, who drew extensively on Jay’s papers for his current book, believes they will establish him not only as a statesman but also as a prose stylist. The letters between Jay and his wife, Sarah Livingston Jay, rank closely with the correspondence of John and Abigail Adams, Ellis says, likening the Jays to the acknowledged first couple among the founders.

“There’s a level of candor and intimacy and sharing of private thoughts that most 18th-century marriages didn’t have,” Ellis says of the Jays.

A merchant’s son, John Jay was born in New York in 1745 and grew up comfortably on an estate in Rye, about 25 miles north of the city. He had planned a career in law and, like Franklin, was a moderate in the early years of the revolution, believing that differences with the British could be negotiated. The British use of military power to enforce order changed his mind.

Luck, timing and politics may have harmed his legacy. He was in New York at the time the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia, and Stahr said it was unclear whether he would have endorsed the document or was still hesitating to break with England. He wrote only five of the 85 Federalist Papers essays, published in 1787-88, because he fell ill.

His greatest controversy involves a document that bears his name. In 1794, more than a decade after the Treaty of Paris, then-Chief Justice Jay was asked by Washington to return to London and prevent what the president and others feared was imminent war. The final agreement, the Jay Treaty, maintained peace but was criticized for being too favorable to the British. Jay, already suspected as pro-British by the rival Republican Party, was burned in effigy in several cities. Scholars still debate whether Jay got the best terms possible.

From the mid-1770s to the early 1800s, he was rarely out of public life and could have stayed longer. Late in John Adams’ administration, which ended in 1801, he wanted Jay to return as U.S. chief justice. Jay, who had left that position in 1795 to become New York’s governor, declined, and the job went to the man who shaped the modern court, John Marshall.

Like a proper gentleman of his time, Jay settled peacefully in the country, having long dreamed of retirement with Sarah. In an early letter to his wife, dated July 21, 1776, when his work on behalf of independence had kept them apart, he expressed “a kind of Confidence or Pre Sentiment that we shall yet enjoy many good Days together, and I indulge myself in imaginary Scenes of Happiness which I expect in a few Years to be realized.

“If it be a Delusion, it is a pleasing one, and therefore I embrace it,” he added. “Should it like a Bubble vanish into Air, Resignation will blunt the Edge of Disappointment, and a firm Persuasion of after Bliss give me Consolation.”

But Sarah fell ill and died, in 1802, within months of their move. Devastated at first but sustained by his religion, Jay looked after his farm, advocated for education for blacks and became president of the American Bible Society. As his health faded, he asked that instead of a high-priced funeral his family find “one poor widow or orphan” and donate $200. Jay died on May 16, 1829.

“Unlike John Adams, who spent a lot of time defending his place in history, Jay does not spend a lot of time on that,” Stahr says. “He answers letters as they arrive, but doesn’t seek out writing engagements. The War of 1812 (between the U.S. and Britain) is very worrisome because he devoted a lot of his time to avoiding that. And he worried about the emerging tensions between North and South.

“In the end, he’s more worried about America than he is about John Jay.”

This report was written by Hillel Italie of the Associated Press.

The post What you should know about forgotten founding father John Jay appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Hispanic leaders urge GOP hopefuls to condemn Trump

Businessman and GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump reacts to supporters during a back-yard reception in Bedford,
         New Hampshire, June 30, 2015. Hispanic leaders have urged GOP hopefuls to condemn Trump for remarks he made that characterized
         Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug dealers. Photo by Dominick Reuter/Reuters

Businessman and GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump reacts to supporters during a back-yard reception in Bedford, New Hampshire, June 30, 2015. Hispanic leaders have urged GOP hopefuls to condemn Trump for remarks he made that characterized Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug dealers. Photo by Dominick Reuter/Reuters

WASHINGTON — Hispanic leaders are bristling at the largely tepid response by Republican presidential candidates to Donald Trump’s characterization of Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug dealers.

Several 2016 contenders have brushed off Trump’s comments while others have ignored them. Marco Rubio, a Florida senator who is Hispanic, denounced them as “not just offensive and inaccurate, but also divisive,” after declining for two weeks to address the matter directly. Another Hispanic in the race, Ted Cruz, said Trump is “terrific,” “brash” and “speaks the truth.”

It’s an uncomfortable moment for Republicans, who want more votes from the surging Latino population.

And it could be a costly moment if more candidates don’t go beyond their Donald-will-be-Donald response and condemn him directly, said Alfonso Aguilar, a Republican who leads the American Principles Project’s Latino Partnership.

“The time has come for the candidates to distance themselves from Trump and call his comments what they are: ludicrous, baseless and insulting,” Aguilar said. “Sadly, it hurts the party with Hispanic voters. It’s a level of idiocy I haven’t seen in a long time.”

So far, Trump has paid less of a political price than a commercial one.

The leading Hispanic television network, Univision, has backed out of televising the Miss USA pageant, a joint venture between Trump and NBC, which also cut ties with Trump. On Wednesday, the Macy’s department store chain, which carried a Donald Trump menswear line, said it was ending its relationship with him. Other retailers are facing pressure to follow suit.

On Friday, the NASCAR motorsports series said it will not hold its season-ending awards ceremony at the Trump National Doral Miami. The CEO of a top NASCAR sponsor, Camping World’s Marcus Lemonis, had said he would not participate in the awards ceremony if it were held at a property owned by Trump, whom he criticized for “recent and ongoing blatantly bigoted and racist comments … in regards to immigrants.”

In his speech last month marking his entry into the Republican race, Trump said Mexican immigrants are “bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

The businessman has refused to back down, although he insists his remarks were misconstrued.

“My statements have been contorted to seem racist and discriminatory,” he wrote in a message to supporters on Thursday. “What I want is for legal immigrants to not be unfairly punished because others are coming into America illegally, flooding the labor market and not paying taxes.” His original comments, though, did not make a distinction between Mexicans who came to U.S. legally and those here illegally.

His rhetoric may resonate with some of the Republican Party’s most passionate voters, who have long viewed illegal immigration as one of the nation’s most pressing problems. But the 2016 contest brings opportunity for the party to make inroads with Hispanics, with several Latino candidates and a former Florida governor, Jeb Bush, who has deep Latino ties and speaks Spanish and hasn’t been shy about using it in the campaign.

Even so, Bush has said little more about Trump’s comments than that they were “wrong.”

“Maybe we’ll have a chance to have an honest discussion about it onstage,” Bush said last weekend while campaigning in Nevada, referring to Republican presidential debates.

Rev. Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, is paying keen attention to how the candidates respond to Trump’s “xenophobic rhetoric.”

“We’re listening very, very closely, not just what candidates say but what they don’t say – the sins of commission and the sins of omission,” he said.

Among 2016 contenders:

  • New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called Trump’s comments “wholly inappropriate.” But in a subsequent radio interview, he said Trump is “a really wonderful guy (who’s) always been a good friend.”
  • Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry said: “I don’t think Donald Trump’s remarks reflect the Republican Party.”
  • Cruz said he likes Trump and thinks NBC “is engaging in political correctness” in breaking ties with him.
  • Rubio said the next president “needs to be someone who brings Americans together – not someone who continues to divide.”
  • Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former technology executive Carly Fiorina and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson have been silent.

Not since the 2004 re-election campaign of President George W. Bush has a Republican presidential candidate earned as much as 40 percent of the Hispanic vote. Mitt Romney got a dismal 27 percent in the 2012 contest against President Barack Obama.

The post Hispanic leaders urge GOP hopefuls to condemn Trump appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

As Sanders draws large crowds, Clinton touts progressive record

Former United States Secretary of State and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton smiles on stage during
         a campaign event in Hanover, New Hampshire,  July 3, 2015. In a speech at Dartmouth College on the same day, Clinton told
         the crowd that she takes a "backseat to no one" when it comes to liberal causes. Photo by Dominick Reuter/Reuters

Former United States Secretary of State and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton smiles on stage during a campaign event in Hanover, New Hampshire, July 3, 2015. In a speech at Dartmouth College on the same day, Clinton told the crowd that she takes a “backseat to no one” when it comes to liberal causes. Photo by Dominick Reuter/Reuters

HANOVER, N.H. — Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday she takes a “backseat to no one” on championing liberal causes, presenting herself as a standard-bearer for Democrats as primary challenger Bernie Sanders generates large, energetic crowds.

Clinton addressed 850 people at an outdoor amphitheater at Dartmouth College, a last-minute venue change made to accommodate a larger audience. Days earlier, Sanders spoke before about 10,000 people in Madison, Wisconsin. The former secretary of state made no mention of Sanders but warned that Republicans would unravel President Barack Obama’s policies if they recaptured the White House, including the repeal of his signature health care overhaul.

“I take a backseat to no one when you look at my record of standing up and fighting for progressive values,” Clinton said on a sun-dappled kickoff to the Fourth of July weekend in Hanover, New Hampshire, across the Connecticut River from Sanders’ home state of Vermont.

The Democratic presidential front-runner portrayed herself as a candidate of continuity to Obama and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, praising the Supreme Court’s recent ruling upholding health care subsidies under the overhaul. She said if the nation elected a Republican president, “they will repeal the Affordable Care Act. That is as certain as I can say.”

She said Obama and her husband had both inherited a series of economic headaches when they entered office and urged voters to elect another Democrat “to continue the policies that actually work for the vast majority of Americans.”

Clinton said at the end of her husband’s two terms, the economy had generated 22 million jobs, a balanced budget and “a surplus that would have paid off our national debt if it had not been rudely interrupted by the next administration.”

The former New York senator’s team has been wary of likening her to the equivalent of Obama’s third term but her acclaim for the president’s policies highlighted a string of recent victories by the White House in its defense of the health care law, the Supreme Court’s ruling allowing gay marriage and steady economic numbers.

In a rare discussion of foreign policy, Clinton spoke supportively of Obama’s efforts to reach an agreement with Iran to curb the country’s nuclear program, talks that she helped set in motion as secretary of state. Previewing next week’s deadline for negotiations, Clinton said she hoped the U.S. would “get a deal that puts a lid on Iran’s nuclear weapons program” but said it was “too soon” to know if that was possible.

Seeking the Democratic nomination, Clinton’s focus has been on economic issues, the driving force behind Sanders’ recent rise in polls. The senator describes himself as a democratic socialist and has won elections in Vermont as an independent. He has drawn large crowds around the country and reported raising $15 million since late April, about one-third of the $45 million Clinton has brought in.

Sanders said on Friday in an email to supporters that he would release a series of policy proposals in the next few weeks “to address the major issues facing our nation.” The campaign is seeking to ramp up its volunteer base and planning to hold organizing meetings across the nation on July 29.

Clinton’s allies have sought to lower expectations despite her early command of the primary field. During a stop at an ice cream shop in Lebanon, New Hampshire, Clinton told reporters “I always knew this was going to be competitive” and said she was looking forward to a “great debate.”

Some of the people who came to see Clinton at Dartmouth said Sanders could ultimately have a positive influence on her in the nation’s first primary state.

“I think he’s pushing her to address some issues and I think that will be all for the good,” said Sybil Buell, a Norwich, Vermont, resident who attended the Clinton event. Buell said she was “on the fence” over whether to support Clinton or Sanders in the early stages of the campaign.

“There’s a little feeling of inevitability with her,” said Chuck Manns, of Lebanon, New Hampshire, who backed Clinton in 2008. He said Sanders was a “curiosity right now,” but predicted Clinton’s electability would shine through.

The post As Sanders draws large crowds, Clinton touts progressive record appeared first on PBS NewsHour.