From the Campaign Trail

posted Nov 26

My Thanksgiving newsletter message:  Like millions of Americans, I look forward to gathering with family this Thanksgiving week and reflecting on the blessings of the past year. One thing I’ll definitely be thinking about is how grateful I am that you’ve placed your trust and confidence in me to serve in Congress during such a consequential time for our country and the world. And I’m grateful that despite a difficult political climate, we are making progress on so many big issues including – • Climate change: Next month is the U.N. Climate Conference in Paris. I’ll be there as part of the congressional delegation. Momentum is building as countries large and small are stepping up with bold greenhouse gas reduction plans and the U.S. is once again playing a leadership role. President Obama’s Clean Power Plan is moving forward, and after three years of fighting the Keystone XL pipeline, I’m thrilled that the President recently rejected it. In Congress, I’m working on several fronts to stop development of large fossil fuel deposits – including my bipartisan bill to permanently protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as wilderness, my bill to permanently ban drilling along the entire west coast, and my Carbon Pollution Transparency Act which would require a carbon footprint estimate for every bill before Congress. We are poised for breakthroughs in Paris and beyond. • Special education: I’m working with a growing bipartisan coalition in Congress that is dedicated to fulfilling the 40-year old promise of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): that students with disabilities will receive quality public education tailored to their unique needs so they can learn, grow and realize their full potential. A bill I introduced last week will help by expanding “high cost pools” to help school districts meet the financial challenge of educating children with the most severe disabilities. • The budget and transportation: Proving that Congress can get things done when members work to solve problems rather than score partisan points, we did some big things last month. Congress passed a two-year budget compromise that raises the debt ceiling and avoids the economic calamity of a default, increases the budget for vital domestic programs that have been hurt by harsh sequester cuts, and provides a two-year period of fiscal stability which will help our fragile economic recovery. The House also passed a long-term transportation bill that authorizes highway and public transit funding for the next six years. I supported both of these bipartisan measures. • Scrutinizing the Trans-Pacific Trade deal: I’ve been highlighting serious flaws with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, including provisions that could increase fracking and fossil fuel exports, the complete absence of any provisions on climate change, and a controversial dispute resolution mechanism that would allow multinational corporations to challenge our environmental, health, and consumer protection laws. A growing number of my congressional colleagues are expressing skepticism about the TPP, which means we have a chance to redirect the administration toward a better trade deal. I’m deeply honored and thankful to be working on these issues and much more as your representative in Congress. I wish you and your family a wonderful, peaceful and healthy Thanksgiving!

posted Nov 26

Sadly, Californians won’t have Dungeness Crab on the Thanksgiving menu this year due to an algae-caused temporary fishery closure.  It’s even worse news for coastal fishing communities who are already reeling from a bad salmon season.  That’s why I’m leading the effort in Congress to line up federal disaster assistance in the event the fishery can’t be re-opened this year.  Our struggling fishing families shouldn’t have to wait years for federal relief if they are forced to keep their boats in the dock this year.

Several local Congressional representatives are asking Gov. Jerry Brown to closely monitor levels of domoic acid found in Dungeness crab and to prepare to provide economic relief in the event of a fishery closure.

posted Nov 23

The North Coast got some heartbreaking news this weekend:  Troy Fletcher, longtime Executive Director of the Yurok Tribe, died suddenly of a heart attack.  I feel honored to have worked with Troy on fisheries restoration issues for many years, and in recent years on a wide range of tribal issues.  I visited with him just a few weeks ago in Washington.  I always admired and trusted Troy, and like a great many others, I will miss him.  Here is the press release the Yurok Tribe just issued: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact:  Matt Mais (707) 482-1350 Yurok Tribe Mourns the Loss of Visionary Leader It is with deep despair and a heavy heart that we announce the untimely passing of Tribal luminary, Troy Fletcher.  “This is a tragic loss for the Yurok people, so tragic that words cannot express how we feel,” said Thomas P. O’Rourke Sr., Chairman of the Yurok Tribe. “Troy accomplished things that many people thought were impossible. We will forever be grateful for Troy’s tremendous contribution to the Tribe. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”  “We are all devastated by the passing of our friend, brother and colleague,” added Susan Masten, the Yurok Tribe’s Vice Chair. “Troy dedicated his life and put his heart and soul into his effort to protect and restore the Klamath River. He will be greatly missed by all.”  Fletcher, a longtime Executive Director for the Yurok Tribe, passed away on Friday evening, after suffering from a heart attack. He started his career with the Yurok Tribe as the first Tribal fisheries manager in 1994.  The Yurok Tribal member and visionary leader ran the day-to-day operations of the Tribal government. He played a prominent part in nearly every important Tribal policy decision, land acquisition, litigation and legislative effort in the last 20 years.  Fletcher, a tenacious Tribal advocate, accumulated a long list of history-making accomplishments, such as sowing the seeds that started the Tribe’s natural resource protection programs, during his time working for the Tribe. While the truly humble human being would never take the credit, Fletcher was responsible for ending a generations-long conflict between many competing Klamath River-based interests, including: farmers, commercial fishers, a power company, environmental groups and other Tribes. Turning this group of fierce, former adversaries into a cooperative coalition, focused on removing four Klamath dams and creating a plan for equitable water use was just one the many achievements in his storied career.    “Troy’s integrity and innate leadership skills made him a magnet to all,” said Dave Hillemeier, the Yurok Fisheries Program Manager. “We have lost a beloved friend, father, son, husband, mentor, leader, boss and a person respected by those from all walks of life.”  The benevolent boss instilled many positive principles into his employees and empowered them to achieve greatness. He valued initiative and preparedness. Fletcher treated all of the staff fairly and with respect. He emphasized the importance of developing meaningful relationships with representatives of outside agencies. In Fletcher’s opinion, the Tribe had a right and an obligation to manage all of the lands within Yurok ancestral territory and places that affect the Tribe, such as upriver from its borders. He saw those who opposed him as an opportunity to build a bridge. Before making any decisions involving natural resources, he first asked, “Does this work for fish?”  The leading figure in the campaign to solve the Klamath water crisis also filled an irreplaceable role in the Tribe’s effort to reacquire substantial swaths of land within Yurok territory. His behind-the-scenes work paved the way for the Tribe to procure more than 35,000 acres in the Pecwan and Blue Creek watersheds. Both of these drainages, located in the Tribe’s traditional territory, are culturally invaluable and incredibly important for fish and wildlife populations.  In 1999 Fletcher transitioned to the Executive Director position.  As the Fisheries Manager and then as Executive Director, he established the Tribe’s, award-winning Watershed Restoration and Environmental Programs and expanded the Fisheries Program. Today, these programs have more 70 staff that are committed to improving environmental conditions in Yurok ancestral territory.  The universally respected administrator managed more than a dozen departments and 300-plus personnel. Most recently, Fletcher was shepherding a strategy to spur the United States Congress into creating legislation that would broaden the Reservation’s boundaries to include the recent land purchases and increase the Tribe’s role in managing the lands within Yurok ancestral territory. He was also working with representatives of the federal government to release the remaining elements of the Hoopa/Yurok Settlement Act.  The distinguished director worked his way from a fisheries technician to overseeing the fast-growing Tribal government. On behalf of the Yurok people, Fletcher testified before Congress, presented to numerous state and federal regulatory committees and travelled to Washington DC many times to advocate for Tribal rights and to improve conditions on the Klamath River.  Fletcher was raised in Pecwan, which is where he spawned a life-long connection to the Klamath River. He committed his entire adult life to restoring the river, preserving Tribal culture and returning the Tribe to its rightful role in Yurok Country. He leaves behind his parents, Jacqueline and Don Winter, his sons Troy Fletcher Jr., Cody and Zachary, grandchildren Cody Jr. and Raa-yoy, as well as his wife Kari. Services will be held on Saturday, Nov., 28 at 10 a.m. at the Yurok Tribal office in Klamath. The family asks that in lieu of flowers donations be made to the Aawok Troy Fletcher Memorial Fund, through the Humboldt Area Foundation. HAF’s address is 373 Indianola Rd., Bayside Ca 95524. There will be an opportunity to make a donation at the Saturday service.

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