On June 20, the congressman representing Glendale and most of Burbank completed a race in Washington, D.C., that merely required some jogging, bicycling and swimming. Schiff completed his first triathlon in one hour and 46 minutes.
“It was very hot,” Schiff said. “It started out in the mid-80s and got into the 90s. I was done before it hit the 90s.”
“I enjoyed it very much,” Schiff said of the half-mile swim, four-mile run and 12-mile ride. “It was fun to train for, and I had set this for my Father’s Day goal.”
Schiff’s next run for office is in November, facing Republican John Colbert, a former L.A. County Sheriff’s detective. Schiff said he hopes his next triathlon will be in California, where the swim will be in the Pacific Ocean rather than the Potomac River.
“It was murky,” Schiff said. “You can’t see much in that river.”
Back on Capitol Hill, Schiff said he was generally pleased with the financial reform bill approved by a congressional conference committee Friday. It is expected to reach President Obama’s desk by the Fourth of July.
Schiff characterized the bill as “must-pass legislation” to bring more transparency to Wall Street. The measure is designed to limit risks from the complex derivatives transactions that brought on the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008 and set high standards for any future taxpayer bailouts of financial firms.
While aspects of the bill are still being negotiated, the stock market initially rose when it saw the product of the joint Senate-House conference committee. That caused some to remark that if traders were happy, the bill was not tough enough.
“I think as the legislation progressed, in some ways it got tougher, and in some ways less so,” Schiff said. “On balance a pretty responsible approach to the problem.”
Separately, Schiff backed a controversial bill designed to reinstitute some campaign finance controls in the wake of a January U.S. Supreme Court decision that eliminated limits on what corporations, unions and others can spend on political races.
The measure would require more transparency as to who funds independent ads that attack or support a candidate. It also would bar foreign corporations and firms that have substantial contracts with the federal government from funding candidates’ campaigns for federal office.
The measure, Schiff said in a release, “will prevent special interests — including corporations that are controlled by foreign interests, and Wall Street banks that have taken large amounts of taxpayer funds — from using an unlimited amount of money to influence our elections and drown out the voice of the American people.”
Critics note the proposal leaves large national organizations such as the National Rifle Assn. and the Sierra Club free of the new restrictions. Some Republicans have also said it is not hard enough on unions.
The influential U.S. Chamber of Commerce is vigorously opposed to the bill, and the Senate isn’t likely to pass it.
On the U.S. Chamber Website, Chief Executive Thomas J. Donohue slammed Democrats who “jammed through” the measure. “A wide array of organizations from across the political spectrum are rightly lining up to oppose this offensive piece of legislation. We trust that the Senate will do the right thing and dismiss it out-of-hand.”
Gatto named to five Assembly committees
Newly elected Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake) is off to a fast start, having been named to five committees, including two key financial committees.
Speaker John Perez stated in a release that Gatto was named to the Appropriations, Revenue and Taxation, Arts and Entertainment, Elections and Redistricting, and Waters, Parks and Wildlife committees. He also is an alternate on the Rules Committee.
In a prepared statement, Gatto said, “There are so many things I would like to see changed in Sacramento, and these committees give me the opportunity to start effecting those changes.”
Sherman to hold Town Hall meeting
Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks), whose district includes parts of Burbank, will host a town hall meeting at Reseda High School, 18230 Kittredge St., from 2:30 to 4 p.m. July 11. Sherman plans to discuss the economy, health care and other matters, as well as field questions from the public. Sherman’s staff will be present to help constituents navigate problems with Social Security, the Department of Veterans Affairs or other agencies.
Election-day registration bill being considered
Last election, voters had to be registered no later than two weeks in advance of election day in order to cast their ballots. By next year, they may be able to both register and vote on election day.
Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) has sponsored a bill to allow election-day registration. The bill already passed in the Assembly, and on Tuesday it cleared the Senate Elections Committee. The “One-Stop Voting Bill” would make California the 12th state to offer last-minute registration, Portantino said.
Portantino, who once lost a race for the La Cañada City Council by two votes, said in a prepared statement, “I understand first-hand that every vote counts. At a time when we have low participation in non-presidential elections, it is incumbent on the state to encourage our citizens to vote.”
The bill now heads for the Senate Appropriations Committee.