In the News

Read news articles about legislation, state government reform, issues and events in the community and my activities while representing you in the State Legislature.

Highway 4 overcrossing to be named for slain Martinez police officer

August 16, 2011

MARTINEZ -- A Highway 4 overcrossing will be named for slain Martinez Police Sgt. Paul Starzyk, it was announced Tuesday.

On behalf of the Martinez Police, state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier sponsored a resolution to name the Pine Street overcrossing "Police Sergeant Paul Starzyk Memorial Overcrossing" in memory of the 12-year veteran who was killed in the line of duty three years ago.

Daniel Borenstein: MTC deal needs much more vetting in public

August 13, 2011

In a shameful display of empire building, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission plans to use up to $180 million of bridge tolls for a deal involving legally questionable downtown San Francisco real estate speculation.

The commissioners raised most Bay Area tolls from $3 to $5 in just three years to complete the new Bay Bridge and retrofit work on other area spans. Now they want to use tolls to buy a building that would house MTC and three other regional agencies under one roof so they can better cooperate.

California voters may finally get on presidential candidates' radar

August 11, 2011

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill that could — if enough other states follow suit — lead to the guaranteed election of the candidate who gets the most popular votes. That would mean a lot more focus on California.

State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord), left, talks with state Sen. President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), center, and Assemblyman Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) on the day the popular-vote measure was approved in July. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

From Sacramento

MTC's S.F. building purchase deal doesn't add up

August 08, 2011

One year ago, a group of private investors bought 390 Main St. in downtown San Francisco from the U.S. Postal Service for $60 million. This consortium clearly knew what it was doing. Just one year later, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission voted 12-2 to buy the building for $105 million.

That's a 75 percent markup on a building that turns out to be a fixer-upper. The MTC also plans to spend as much as $75 million to spruce up its new digs.

Hookah lounges are hot, trendy and clouded with risks

August 07, 2011

When Tanya Azar lived in the West Bank, she frequented a restaurant nestled in the hills outside Bethlehem. With a canopy for a ceiling, the restaurant was called the "Tent" in Arabic, and the atmosphere inside was loud and friendly. "When you walked in, there were people eating chicken kabobs, shish kabobs, the smell of food, hookah smoke," she remembered.

Legislator wants probe of MTC plan to buy building

August 04, 2011

It's not just Oakland officials upset over the Metropolitan Transportation Commission's decision to move to San Francisco and buy a building at 390 Main St., where they'll shack up with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and Bay Conservation and Development Commission.

Lawmaker Challenges MTC’s Departure from Oakland

August 04, 2011

East Bay state Senator Mark DeSaulnier is demanding an investigation into a plan by MTC to leave Oakland and buy an old post office building in San Francisco for $180 million, the Chron reports. DeSaulnier questions whether MTC’s plan to use bridge toll funds to buy the building is legal. But MTC says it has a legal opinion from outside counsel that blesses its proposal.

Calif lawmakers approve change to electoral votes

July 14, 2011

By DON THOMPSON, Associated Press
1:10 p.m., July 14, 2011

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Lawmakers sent Gov. Jerry Brown a bill Thursday designed to make California more relevant in presidential politics by giving the state's electoral votes to the candidate who wins the national popular vote.

The bill would take effect only if Brown signs it and if it's approved by states with a total of 270 electoral votes - the minimum number needed to elect a president.

Merced ag hearing, Valadao forum will discuss high-speed rail impacts

July 14, 2011

By Sentinel Staff Hanford Sentinel | Posted: Thursday, July 14, 2011 3:25 pm

MERCED/HANFORD - Two upcoming forums will give Central Valley residents a chance to address the California high-speed rail project. The Senate Transportation and Housing Committee will hold a joint hearing with the Senate Agriculture Committee in Merced Friday to consider the impacts of the proposed project on agriculture.

10 bills to watch in California's Legislature

June 12, 2011

From the Sacramento Bee

This summer, lawmakers will consider increasing fines, banning more activities and closing tax loopholes. They have until early September to pass bills and send them to Gov. Jerry Brown. Here's a sample of the hundreds of bills still alive: