I’m pleased to report back to you once again about my activities in the Ninth District and in Washington, DC.
On Monday, August 18 I hosted a Congress at Your Corner in Lodi at Scooters California Grill. I was glad to get a chance to meet one-on-one with folks to talk about the issues on their minds. Topics included immigration, active military duty and veteran’s issues, establishing a national coach’s day, and other issues. The discussions were frank and open and I appreciate everyone who came out to meet me. As your representative, it means a lot to me to hear your thoughts.
Tuesday, August 19 started early with the Antioch Sunrise Kiwanis. They meet at 7am at the Denny’s on Lone Tree Way, and invited me to join them to discuss the Delta and Immigration. Ever since the two Delta roundtables last week I’ve been thinking the best thing we could do is to try to convince the governor and voters that it would be a much better investment to spend the $21b on developing desalinization and recycling capability as well as upgrading the levees than on installing the twin tunnels. It would actually create new water, whereas the tunnels would not create a single drop of new water. I also learned from the members that there is a significant desire on their part to enact comprehensive immigration reform.
At 9am, I took an office meeting with a well-prepared Brentwood constituent who had some good ideas for legislation.
Later that morning I hosted a public safety roundtable at the Antioch Police Station with the Antioch assistant chief (the chief was recovering from knee surgery), the local CHP director, the Contra Costa County District Attorney and an assistant, the assistant Sheriff, and the Northern California FBI director of violent crime enforcement. The meeting progressed very well with some excellent suggestions, such as legislation that would provide grants to support campus resource officers. I was intrigued by the Assistant DA’s idea that law enforcement be given sufficient academic support to follow-up with programs and methods to determine what is actually effective and what isn’t. There was significant discussion of Cease-Fire, drug enforcement, and how to make law enforcement as effective as possible. Each group in attendance was clear that cooperation between agencies has been largely effective in reducing crime, and pledged to continue to cooperate in reducing violence. Of note, the FBI representative was clear that many of the most active criminals now lived in Antioch and simply went to Oakland or other cities to conduct their criminal activities.
On Wednesday, I met with the new Veterans Affairs Secretary, Robert McDonald, I took the long drive out to Palo Alto to see him there, similar to the drive I took a few weeks ago with one of my Stockton constituents, Scott Halsey. I expressed to him how concerned I am that the veterans in my district get access to quality care. That means building the long-promised French Camp facility, and fixing the cultural problems at the VA that led to delays in care in Phoenix and other clinics.
Secretary McDonald was very confident that he will be able to reform the department. He said he had met with the labor leaders of a large segment of VA employees, the first time the labor leaders had been allowed to meet with the secretary in many years. He also is making the effort to meet with whistle-blowers in each installation he has visited to get a clear understanding of the problems in the agency. I do believe in his sincerity and determination and am willing to give him the leeway to reform the department.
After my meeting with Secretary McDonald, I attended his town hall meeting with area Veteran’s Service Organizations. I was pleased that the first question he took was from one of my constituents, Tino Adame, who took the opportunity to inquire about the French Camp clinic and ask about the schedule for its construction. This was immediately followed by a question from San Joaquin County Supervisor Bob Elliott, who asked basically the same question. The Secretary answered by saying that he had heard from me on the issue before the town hall, and was now well aware of the urgency of the situation.
Later in the afternoon, I attended a ribbon cutting for Huddle, a new tech incubator and shared office space in downtown Stockton. Huddle is an impressive operation with a growing list of clients, a clear vision, and plenty of enthusiasm. I’m glad they are part of the effort to develop a good business climate and economic activity in Stockton.