Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Inauguration Essay

Write an essay about what the inauguration means to you and you and a guest might just be headed to DC for the swearing-in of our 44th President. The deadline is midnight ET Jan. 8. For more information on the inauguration visit the official site.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Obama Completes Cabinet and Econ Team

Two days after naming former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack as Agriculture Secretary-designate and US Senator Ken Salazar (D-Colorado) as Interior Secretary-designate, President-elect Barack Obama has finished his cabinet choices (Labor and Transportation) as well as completed his economic team. Included in the announcement is the second Republican appointee he's made to his upcoming cabinet during the transition. From Change.gov:

President-elect Obama announces choices for Transportation, Labor, SBA and USTR posts

Chicago—Today, President-elect Barack Obama announced that he intends to nominate United States Congresswoman Hilda Solis as Secretary of Labor, former United States Congressman Ray LaHood as Secretary of Transportation, former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk as United States Trade Representative, and Karen G. Mills as Administrator of the Small Business Administration.

President-elect Obama said, “I know we will be headed in the right direction again when we are creating jobs, instead of losing them, and when Americans are gaining ground in terms of their incomes, instead of treading water or falling behind. The appointees announced today will play an integral role in our efforts to turn our economy around. Daunting as the challenges we are inheriting may be, I’m convinced that our team and the American people are prepared to meet them.”

The announcements made today are below:

United States Congresswoman Hilda Solis, Nominee for Secretary of Labor
First elected in 2000, Congresswoman Hilda Solis is serving her fourth term in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing the 32nd Congressional District of California. Prior to her election to Congress, Solis served eight years in the California state legislature. As a California State Senator, she led the battle to increase the state’s minimum wage from $4.25 to $5.75 an hour in 1996. In August 2000, Solis became the first woman to receive the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for her pioneering work on environmental justice issues in California. In 2003, she became the first Latina appointed to the Committee on Energy and Commerce where she is the Vice Chair of the Environment and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee and a member of the Health and Telecommunications Subcommittees. She is also a member of the House Committee on Natural Resources. In March 2007, Solis was named a member of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. She is the Vice Chair of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee and serves as a Senior Whip, as well as a Regional Whip for Southern California. She is also serving her third term as the Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ Task Force on Health and the Environment. Solis is a lifetime resident of the San Gabriel Valley and currently resides in the city of El Monte with her husband Sam, a small business owner.

Former United States Congressman Ray LaHood, Nominee for Secretary of Transportation
Former Congressman Ray LaHood is retiring from the United States Congress after serving seven terms representing the 18th District of Illinois. LaHood served on the House Appropriations Committee. He started his career teaching junior high school students, and later served as the Chief Planner for the Bi-State Metropolitan Commission, Director of the Rock Island Youth Services Bureau, and as District Administrative Assistant for Congressman Tom Railsback. After serving in the Illinois State House of Representatives in 1982, LaHood worked for U.S. House Republican Leader Robert Michel as District Administrative Assistant and, for four years, as Chief of Staff. He succeeded Mr. Michel upon his retirement in January of 1995. In the United States Congress, LaHood served for six years on the Transportation Committee and has led efforts to enhance Illinois’ infrastructure, working to secure funds to improve local highways, such as the reconstruction of Interstate 74 in Peoria, the expansion of U.S. Route 67, and the completion of Route 336. LaHood has been a proponent for improving local airports through securing funds for new construction and expansion, while also working with officials to increase air service. LaHood, a native of Peoria, Illinois, is married to his wife Kathy and they have four children.

Former Mayor Ron Kirk, Nominee for United States Trade Representative
Former Mayor Ron Kirk served as Mayor of the City of Dallas from 1995-2001, and in 1994, he served as the Texas Secretary of State. He is a former Dallas Assistant City Attorney for Governmental Relations and served as aide to United States Senator Lloyd Bentsen. Kirk has over 20 years of experience providing legislative counsel to numerous governmental and corporate entities. Kirk was named one of “The 50 Most Influential Minority Lawyers in America” by The National Law Journal (2008), earned the Justinian Award from The Dallas Lawyers Auxiliary (2008), and was named one of The Best Lawyers in America in government relations law (2007-2009). Kirk earned his B.A. from Austin College in 1976 and his J.D. from the University of Texas School of law in 1979.

Karen G. Mills, Administrator of the Small Business Administration
Karen G. Mills has been a principal in the private equity and venture capital industry since 1983 and has taken a leadership role in the growth of more than 20 companies in the consumer products, food, distribution, textile and industrial component sectors. Mills was a co-founder and managing director of Solera Capital and Chief Operating Officer of E.S. Jacobs and Company. Mills chairs Governor Baldacci’s Council on Competitiveness and the Economy and is deeply engaged in economic policy for the state of Maine. In 2006, she led the initiative for a $50 million competitive research and development bond which passed the legislature with strong bipartisan support, and was approved by public referendum. She also sits on the Governor’s Council for the Redevelopment of the Brunswick Naval Air Station, which recently went on the BRAC closure list, and serves on the boards of the Maine Technology Institute and the Maine chapter of the Nature Conservancy. Mills authored a Brookings paper on economic development clusters, and those recommendations were introduced as legislation by Senators Collins and Clinton in June 2008. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and has been Vice Chairman of the Harvard Overseers. Mills has an A.B. in Economics from Harvard University (1975), and an MBA from Harvard Business School where she was a Baker Scholar. Her background includes consulting in the U.S. and Europe for McKinsey and Co. and product management for General Foods. Ms. Mills is the lead director of Scotts Miracle-Gro and a director of Arrow Electronics, a $15 billion semiconductor distributor.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Chicago's Arne Duncan Gets Education Nod

Just Labor, Agriculture and Transportation to go if memory serves. From Change.gov:
President-elect Obama announces Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education
For Arne Duncan, CEO of the Chicago school system, "school reform isn’t just a theory in a book -- it’s the cause of his life," President-elect Barack Obama said in announcing him as his choice for Secretary of Education.
"In the next few years, the decisions we make about how to educate our children will shape our future for generations to come," President-elect Obama said. "And the results aren't just about test scores or statistics, but about whether our children are developing the skills they need to compete with any worker in the world for any job."
Those scores and statistics are good, though. President-elect Obama highlighted some of Duncan's most notable successes, including a dramatic increase in the number of master teachers, his record of reforming failing schools, and improvements in key metrics.
"In just seven years, he’s boosted elementary test scores here in Chicago from 38 percent of students meeting the standards to 67 percent. The dropout rate has gone down every year he’s been in charge. And on the ACT, the gains of Chicago students have been twice as big as those for students in the rest of the state," President-elect Obama said.
As Chief Executive Officer of Chicago schools, Duncan oversaw the closing and re-opening of Dodge Renaissance Academy, a school on Chicago's West Side that was the site of this morning's press conference. President-elect Obama pointed out that since the school re-opened in 2003, "the number of students meeting state standards has more than tripled."
"Whether it's fighting poverty, strengthening the economy or promoting opportunity, education is the common thread," Secretary-designate Duncan said in his remarks. "It is the civil rights issue of our generation and it is the one sure path to a more equal, fair and just society. While there are no simple answers, I know from experience that when you focus on basics like reading and math, when you embrace innovative new approaches to learning, and when you create a professional climate that attracts great teachers, you can make a difference for children."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Daschle to Health and Human Services

From Change.gov:

President-elect Obama nominates Senator Daschle as Secretary of HHS

CHICAGO -- Today, President-elect Barack Obama officially nominated former Senator Tom Daschle as Secretary of Health and Human Services and named him the Director of a new White House Office on Health Care Reform. Dr. Jeanne Lambrew, who authored a book about health care reform with Daschle, will serve as Deputy Director of the White House Office of Health Reform.

This new White House office will coordinate efforts within the Administration, the Congress and across the country to pass health care reform. In his two roles, Daschle will not only implement the President's vision for health care at the Department of Health and Human Services, but also have the responsibility of leading health care reform. He will be the White House's voice on this critical issue.

President-elect Obama said, "The time has come -- this year, in this new Administration -- to modernize our health care system for the twenty-first century; to reduce costs for families and businesses; and to finally provide affordable, accessible health care for every American. Tom Daschle is one of America's foremost health care experts. He knows how to reach across the aisle and bridge partisan divides and he has the trust of folks from every angle of this issue. Jeanne brings a depth and range of experience on health care that few can match. I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead."

Senator Tom Daschle said, "Addressing our health care challenges will not only mean healthier and longer lives for millions, it will also make American companies more competitive and help pull our economy out of its current tailspin. The President-elect and I are committed to an open and inclusive process for health reform that goes from the grassroots up. Over the next few weeks, we will be coordinating thousands of health care discussions in homes across the country through our website change.gov where ordinary Americans can share their ideas about what's broken and how to fix it."

Today's announcements are below:

Senator Tom Daschle, Secretary of Health and Human Services and Director of White House Office of Health Reform
Senator Tom Daschle was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1978, serving eight years. In 1986, Daschle was elected to the U.S. Senate. Two years later he became the first Co-Chairman of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee and the first South Dakotan to be elected to a leadership position in the U.S. Congress. In 1994, Daschle was elected by his colleagues as their Democratic Leader. Daschle is one of the longest-serving Senate Democratic Leaders in history and the only one to service twice as both Majority and Minority Leader. Currently an advisor to law firm of Alston and Bird, Daschle is also a Distinguished Fellow at the Center for American Progress and a visiting Professor at Georgetown University.

Dr. Jeanne Lambrew, Deputy Director of White House Office of Health Reform
Dr. Jeanne Lambrew is a nationally recognized expert on Medicare, Medicaid and children's health care. She is currently an associate professor of public affairs at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas and a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Field To Replace Keith Durbin Grows Quickly

Wow, the names keep coming since Keith Durbin announced his departure from the Metro Council yesterday. Local restaurateur extraordinaire Randy Rayburn is the latest to express interest in the District 18 seat. Allen Woods, Ross Pepper, John Ray Clemmons and Maria Salas have also been mentioned in local news stories and blogs. At this rate the only way I'll be able to decide who to vote for is waiting until the final ballot comes out so I'll have all the names.

Durbin sent a message out to constituents this morning titled "A change of direction":

It is with mixed emotions that I write to inform you of a change in my status on the Metropolitan Council that will occur with the new year.

Mayor Karl Dean has offered me the position of Nashville's Director of Information Technology and Chief Information Officer. After much thought and deliberation I have accepted the offer and will assume the CIO's duties on January 5, 2009. The CIO directs the strategic and day-to-day operations of the Information Technology Services Department within the Metro government.

Taking the position of CIO requires me, by Metro ordinance, to step down from my elected position as council member from district 18. I intend to do so immediately prior to my starting date as CIO. Per ordinance, there will be a special election for voters in district 18. The date for the election will be determined by the Election Commission.

In the time period between my resignation and the election of the next district 18 council member, Vice Mayor Diane Neighbors will appoint an At-Large council member to cover the district for constituent services and routine zoning issues. I have requested that our neighbor in the district, Council member-at-Large Megan Barry, be assigned this role.

Please know this decision was not reached lightly. I understand the commitment to service which is expected of me by the voters of District 18. However, occasionally an opportunity comes along that provides the chance to continue serving the district, but also to elevate that service to the county as a whole. Know that Gary and I have no plans to move anywhere else (why would we want to?) and look forward to continuing service through Belmont-Hillsboro Neighbors and with our next council member.

Thank you for your continued support and encouragement during both my campaign and my tenure as district 18 council member. I look forward to working with you as council member for the next month, then as an active citizen and public servant of Nashville thereafter.

I know he'll do a great job in his new gig, and I was very happy to have him as my district councilman. We've been really fortunate to have some good public servants represent us over the years - Betty Nixon, Stewart Clifton, Ginger Hausser Pepper and Durbin among them. I feel confident we'll have another fine leader to add to that list soon.

The Economic Transition Team

Second Former Rival In Obama Cabinet

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is Commerce Secretary-Designate.

Monday, December 1, 2008

UT Football Head Coach Lane Kiffin on ESPN

Joe Biden's Remarks on National Security Team

Defense Secretary Robert Gates

Secretary of State Designate Hillary Clinton

National Security Team Press Conference

It's Official: National Security Team Announced

From Change.gov:

Key members of Obama-Biden national security team announced

Chicago -- President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden officially announced key members of their national security team today: nominating Senator Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, selecting Defense Secretary Robert Gates to remain as Secretary of Defense, nominating Eric Holder as Attorney General, nominating Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, nominating Susan Rice as Ambassador to the United Nations and selecting General Jim Jones, USMC (Ret) as National Security Adviser.

"In this uncertain world, the time has come for a new beginning -- a new dawn of American leadership to overcome the challenges of the 21st century, and to seize the opportunities embedded in those challenges. To succeed, we must pursue a new strategy that skillfully uses, balances, and integrates all elements of American power: our military and diplomacy; our intelligence and law enforcement; our economy and the power of our moral example. The team that we have assembled here today is uniquely suited to do just that. They share my pragmatism about the use of power, and my sense of purpose about America's role as a leader in the world," said President-elect Obama.

"It is an honor to be a part of this team, led by the President-elect -- a team that will see to it that America can lead the world not only by the example of our power, but also by the power of our example. I believe we have assembled a national security team that is poised to recapture the totality of America’s strength," said Vice President-elect Biden.

The national security team members announced today are listed below:

Senator Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State
Over nearly four decades in public service, as an attorney, First Lady, Senator, and presidential candidate, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has become one of the nation's foremost champions for children and families and advocates for women's rights and human rights. During the Clinton Administration, she transformed the role of First Lady, fighting for universal health care and helping to lead successful bipartisan efforts to improve the adoption and foster care systems, reduce teen pregnancy, and provide health care to millions of children through the Children’s Health Insurance Program. As a representative of the United States, she championed American interests as well as the rights of women and girls in more than eighty countries around the world. In November 2000, Senator Clinton became the first First Lady elected to public office and the first woman elected independently in New York State; she has since won reelection. In the Senate, she has continued to advocate for equal access to health care, education, and economic opportunity for women and girls around the world. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Clinton has fought for and secured in law improved health care for members of the National Guard and Reserves and worked to bring our troops home safely and responsibly from Iraq. She also serves as the only Senate member of the Transformation Advisory Group to the Joint Forces Command, working to modernize our military. And Senator Clinton has continued to fight for quality, affordable health care for every American, working to strengthen the Children’s Health Insurance Program and expand the use of health information technology. Most recently, as a groundbreaking candidate for President of the United States, Senator Clinton became the first woman ever to win a presidential primary, receiving more than 18 million votes as an advocate for working families and a voice for millions of Americans who have felt invisible to their government.

Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense
Dr. Robert M. Gates was sworn in on December 18th, 2006, as the 22nd Secretary of Defense. Before entering his present post, Secretary Gates was the President of Texas A&M University, the nation's seventh largest university. Prior to assuming the presidency of Texas A&M on August 1st, 2002, he served as Interim Dean of the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M from 1999 to 2001. Secretary Gates served as Director of Central Intelligence from 1991 until 1993. Secretary Gates is the only career officer in CIA's history to rise from entry-level employee to Director. He served as Deputy Director of Central Intelligence from 1986 until 1989 and as Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Adviser at the White House from January 20th, 1989, until November 6th, 1991, for President George H.W. Bush. Secretary Gates has been awarded the National Security Medal, the Presidential Citizens Medal, has twice received the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, and has three times received CIA's highest award, the Distinguished Intelligence Medal. Secretary Gates received his bachelor's degree from the College of William and Mary, his master's degree in history from Indiana University, and his doctorate in Russian and Soviet history from Georgetown University.

Eric Holder, Attorney General
Mr. Holder is a litigation partner at Covington & Burling LLP in Washington, DC. During his professional career, Mr. Holder has held a number of significant positions in government. Upon graduating from Columbia Law School, he moved to Washington, DC and joined the Department of Justice as part of the Attorney General's Honors Program. In 1988, Mr. Holder was nominated by President Reagan to become an Associate Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. He was confirmed by the Senate and his investiture occurred in October of that year. Over the next five years, Judge Holder presided over hundreds of civil and criminal trials and matters. In 1993, President Clinton nominated Mr. Holder to become the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia. He was confirmed later that year and served as the head of the largest United States Attorneys office in the nation for nearly four years. In 1997, President Clinton appointed Mr. Holder to serve as Deputy Attorney General, the number two position in the United States Department of Justice. He became the first African-American to serve as Deputy Attorney General. Mr. Holder briefly served under President Bush as Acting Attorney General pending the confirmation of Attorney General John Ashcroft. Mr. Holder attended Columbia College, majored in American History, and graduated in 1973. Mr. Holder then attended Columbia Law School from which he graduated in 1976. While in law school, he clerked at the N.A.A.C.P. Legal Defense Fund and the Department of Justice's Criminal Division.

Governor Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security
Named one of America's Top Five Governors by Time magazine and one of America's top women leaders by Newsweek, Janet Napolitano stands out as a leader in developing innovative solutions to some of our country's greatest challenges. As Governor of Arizona, she's fought for quality schools, affordable healthcare, sensible economic development, a safe homeland, a secure border, and a government that is run efficiently and responsibly. She led the successful effort to create a new grade level in public school by offering voluntary full day kindergarten to every Arizona family. She raised teacher pay, expanded access to health insurance, and saved seniors millions on prescription drugs. Her homeland security background is extensive: as U.S. Attorney for Arizona, Napolitano led the Arizona portion of the domestic terrorism investigation into the Oklahoma City bombing; as Attorney General, she helped write the law to break up human smuggling rings; and as Governor, she implemented the first state homeland security strategy in the nation and opened the first state counter-terrorism center. She is a leader in coordinating federal, state, local and bi-national homeland security efforts, having presided over large-scale disaster preparedness exercises to ensure well-crafted and functional emergency plans. Napolitano was the first governor to call for the National Guard to assist at the U.S. -- Mexico border at federal expense, and is a leading national voice for comprehensive immigration reform. The past chair of the National Governors Association -- the first woman in history to hold this position -- Janet Napolitano was re-elected in 2006 in a landslide victory as Arizona's 21st Governor. Prior to her election as Governor of Arizona, Napolitano served one term as Arizona Attorney General and four years as U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona.

Susan Rice, Ambassador to the United Nations
Dr. Susan E. Rice served most recently as a Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to the Obama for America campaign while on leave from the Brookings Institution where she is a Senior Fellow in the Foreign Policy and Global Economy and Development Programs. Rice currently serves on the Obama-Biden Transition Project Advisory Board. From 1997-2001, she was U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. Prior to that, Rice served in the White House at the National Security Council as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs and as Director for International Organizations and Peacekeeping. Rice was previously a management consultant at McKinsey and Company. She received her B.A. in History with Honors from Stanford University and her M.Phil. and D.Phil. (Ph.D.) degrees in International Relations from Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes Scholar.

General Jim Jones, USMC (Ret), National Security Advisor
General Jim Jones, USMC (Ret) is president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Chamber Institute for 21st Century Energy. From July 1999 to January 2003, Jones was the 32nd Commandant of the Marine Corps. After relinquishing command as Commandant, he assumed the positions of Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (SACEUR) and Commander of the United States European Command (COMUSEUCOM), positions he held until December 2006. During this final assignment, he encouraged the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to regard global energy as a security issue and advocated that the alliance consider the defense of critical infrastructures as a 21st century collective security mission. Jones retired from active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps February 1st, 2007, after more than 40 years of service. In addition to having been awarded national and international military awards, Jones received a bachelor of science degree (1966) and an Honorary Doctorate of Letters (2002) from Georgetown University. In June 1985, he graduated from the National War College in Washington, D.C.