Congressman George Miller (D' Martinez) had a “birthday party,” fund-raising event, Saturday, May 14, 2011, in Martinez, near where he grew up in Contra Costa County which he has been representing for the last 37 years. He represents the 7th Congressional District, which includes Richmond, where I live. He never did tell us how old he is.
The Martinez outdoor waterfront park party was attended by about 300 of his closest friends and supporters. It was held under a large tent decorated with signs saying “Miller on OUR side.” and towers of blue and orange balloons, colors chosen for Miller many years ago when he started running for public office.
Martinez is the county seat for Contra Costa County, where people go to court, get marriage licenses, divorces, pay taxes, and so on. For whatever legal matters they need, it's the right place to be. Every other person you meet is probably going to be a lawyer, as my ex husband said when he brought me to Martinez for the first time many years ago. There are several courts located there, and other civic buildings. Also they have a couple of streets of quaint shops and restaurants. The wonderful new county hospital is also located in Martinez, but not in that historic part of Martinez. The train stops here too, although Miller quipped that when the high speed trains come in, they won't honk their horns and they won't stop, either. The waterfront park is fairly new, but my second husband and I walked around that park after we got our marriage license. We drove over to the waterfront and walked all the way to the end of the fishing pier. It was a happy day for us.
George Miller has been aging well. He was cheerful and positive, accompanied by his wife Cynthia and his family including grandchildren sitting near the podium with him. Miller greeted many of his supporters with a bear hug, causing some of them to draw back, startled.
Speakers included Robert Reich, Secretary of Labor; and Rep. Jerry McNerney who represents the 11th Congressional District which includes Pleasanton in Alameda County. Numerous other elected officials were there. Reich heaped praise on Miller for leading the fight for medical leave for families, and for raising the minimum wage.
Reich said, “Thirteen million Americans don't have a job. That has to stop.” And, “Nobody in Washington, DC, cares about mine safety except George Miller. We have got to trim the defense budget. We have got to raise taxes on the rich.”
Perhaps because Miller has remained well-informed about Social Security and Medicare, as well as being a strong supporter of the new health care delivery system which has extended health benefits to millions of young Americans, Miller continues to have a rock-solid local base of support.
Miller mentioned the importance of universal education in his short talk.
“Education is a value, not a program,” he said. “Poor and minority children should have the same opportunity for education that rich people have.”
“We made a promise to build our country,” Miller told the crowd. “Hire people at a decent wage, come in on time and under budget...It's not just about immediate jobs, it's about infrastructure."
He supports Jerry McNerney's reelection.
“He's an absolute leader. We are going to turn Jerry back to Congress (re-turn him to Congress).”
He thanked the Mecca for providing the food. Other caterers were Kinders (which has a great sandwich shop in Hercules), and Meribeth Farmer Catering.
“Corporation profits are so high, it's almost unbelievable,” Miller stated.
“I don't know which bill you are referring to. I don't know enough about it, “ Miller commented to the Point Richmond Voice reporter. “There have been 50 bills issued in the last few days.”
There are four big oil refineries in the district that Miller represents—Chevron, Conoco-Phillips (formerly Unocal), Shell, and Tesoro (formerly Tosco). The Point Richmond Voice wanted to know what George Miller's supporters thought about this issue.
Cheryl Maier, “Yes! Eliminate subsidies for the oil companies, please.”
Bob Dabney, “Tax them! That's an easy one.”
Volunteer coordinator Diddo Clark
Diddo Clark, “It should have been done a long time ago. It's unconscionable that it wasn't.”
Maxim Levet, “I am absolutely for it. I support Senator Menendez's bill.”
Tom Hughes, “Yes, I'm in favor of it.”
Chris Carson, “I'm definitely in favor of it. Oil companies should be taxed.
Sammy Brick and Tom McKeown, of NARFE (National Active and Retired Federal Employees), “I think it's a good idea. They are making enough money now with the price of oil. Do away with the subsidies. With the profits they have been making, it's ridiculous.”
Regarding George Miller, “He's a very hardworking man. He's on track. He's doing the right thing.” and “I have met Mr. Miller.” They said they met Miller and talked to him for a while. “Listen to Reich. He knows what is going on,” they said. “ He has a column every Sunday in the Chronicle.”
Tom Lewis, “I think they can probably afford it but I don't know very much about it.”
Alan Swislow and Harpreet Sandhu. Harpreet: They shouldn't be subsidized. California is one of three states that doesn't tax oil companies. Oil companies drill free here. They don't have to pay the taxes that they have to pay in other states. Alan: They are making record-breaking profits and getting huge federal subsidies on top of it.
The oil companies have slowly raised the price of gasoline so that other forms of energy will become profitable, and so that research into alternative energy sources will be encouraged. The government has permitted them to do that. It has been government policy to allow them to do that.
Jason Villa: “We're for it. I think it would balance our budget if we got rid of oil subsidies.”
Lynn Mack: I'd like to see them get rid of the welfare system for the oil companies.