Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) met with a panel of scientists, engineers and technology firm executives recently to discuss possible changes to federal immigration policy that could boost American competitiveness in the technology sector.
Schiff said he is planning to draft a bill that would make it easier for foreign students in the fields of science and engineering to stay in the U.S. after they graduate and their student visas expire.
“We’ve had graduates in engineering who wanted to stay and start their own businesses, and we probably kicked them out of the country. In this kind of [competitive global] environment, that’s economic suicide,” Schiff said. “We need to change our immigration strategy from building fences to attracting talent.”
Caltech Chief Innovation Officer Frederic Farina said “it’s almost impossible” for foreign graduates to stay long enough to establish a tech startup.
Nearly 40% of Caltech’s graduate students come from other countries, according to Marjory Gooding, the school’s director of international scholar services. While these students traditionally have sought to stay in America, many would now rather pursue opportunities in Taiwan, India, China and other emerging economies, Gooding said.
Three honored for community work
Three local residents — Thomas O’Shaughnessy, Kathy Kensinger and Larry Nemecek — will be honored by the Los Angeles County Democratic Party on Saturday for their work with clubs and in the community.
O’Shaughnessy will receive the countywide award as Top Male Democrat of the Year. He is treasurer of the Glendale Democratic Club and has been a member for five years.
He said he was surprised by the honor because of the amount of volunteer work done by other local Democrats.
“You reach a point when there are other people who are doing such great work and you don’t consider yourself,” he said.
An Air Force veteran, his Democratic involvement has been in presidential, congressional and local races.
O’Shaughnessy, a Burbank resident, has also been a volunteer with the Burbank Fire Department for about nine years.
“You need to do things in different parts of your life,” he said.
Kensinger and Nemecek are Democrats of the Year for the 43rd Assembly District.
Kensinger, a vice president with the Glendale Democratic Club, has been active with local political activities, including setting up an information table every other week at the farmers market in La Cañada Flintridge.
A Vietnam War veteran, Kensinger recently returned from Wisconsin, where she worked for 17 days to elect Jessica King in the historic recall election in that state.
Outside politics, she supports the battered women’s shelter in Glendale and operates a project called “Tender Loving Clothing and Socks,” where socks filled with toiletries are distributed to homeless shelters, nursing homes and veterans’ organizations.
She said she has passed out approximately 4,000 socks during the past four years.
Nemecek is a founding member of the Burbank Democratic Club, formed in 2006, and serves as its president.
He said he’s proud that the club stepped up its activities last year and began an endorsement process, starting with the special primary election in April 2010 after Paul Krekorian left the state Assembly for a seat on the L.A. City Council.
The club endorsed current Assemblyman Mike Gatto.
Nemecek started a ceremony last year to honor various club members for their efforts. Members surprised him with a “Survivor” award for helming the club through a busy year.
Besides politics, Nemecek is a docent two times a month at the Will Rogers State Historic Park Ranch in Pacific Palisades.
Speed limit bill makes progress
State Assemblyman Mike Gatto’s (D-Silver Lake) bill allowing cities to lower speed limits is expected to get its third reading soon in the Senate, after which the measure will go up for a vote. The bill passed unanimously in the Assembly.
The bill revises a change in state law that went in effect in 2004. The change forced cities to round up their speed limits to the nearest 5-mph increment after traffic studies, which Gatto says gives some drivers the false impression they can drive even faster.
Gatto’s bill gives local jurisdictions the option to instead round down speed limits.
Democratic Club set to meet
The Burbank Democratic Club will meet from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday at the Senior Artists Colony Theatre, 240 E. Verdugo Ave.
Club members will discuss various issues, including the drop in the federal credit rating, the redistricting of California and the possibility of Walmart moving into Burbank.
For more information, visit www.burbankdemocracticclub.com.