Obama Nominated Thomas Perez for Secretary of Labor

Earlier today President Barack Obama announced Thomas Perez as his nomination for secretary of labor. Perez currently serves in the Civil Rights devision of the Department of Justice and would be following up in the role that Hilda Solis left in January.

“Like so many Americans, Tom knows what it’s like to climb the ladder of opportunity. He is the son of Dominican immigrants. He helped pay his way through college as a garbage collector and working at a warehouse. He went on to become the first lawyer in his family. So his story reminds us of this country’s promise, that if you’re willing to work hard, it doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, what your last name is — you can make it if you try,” said President Obama. The remarks were delievered earlier today from the East Room in the White House. Per the White House Pool report attendees including Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, NAACP President Richard Trumka, Al Sharpton, Valerie Jarrett, Gene Sperling and Executive Director of Labor Council for Latin American Advancement Hector Sanchez.
New York Times did the round-up of labor leaders, including the Teamsters’ own Jimmy Hoffa Jr. and AFL-CIO, and their opinions of Perez.

“And Tom has made protecting that promise — for everybody — the cause of his life. As a civil rights attorney, an aide to Senator Ted Kennedy, a member of the Montgomery, Maryland County Council, Tom fought for a level playing field where hard work and responsibility are rewarded and working families can get ahead,” said Obama. “Now, while he’s tackled plenty of tough issues, Tom has also spent a career as a consensus-builder. He’s worked with CEOs, he’s worked with labor leaders. He’s worked at federal, state, and local government levels. And throughout, he understands that our economy works best when the middle class and those working to get into the middle class have the security they need on the job, a democratic voice in the workplace, everybody playing by the same set of rules.”

There is no current date set for Perez’ Senate hearings or any opposition, so far, to his nomination. Perez gave selected remarks after Obama’s praise, summing it up like so:

“As you well know, our nation still faces critical economic challenges, and the Department’s mission is as important as ever. I am confident that together with our partners in organized labor, the business community, grassroots communities, Republicans, Democrats, and independents alike, we can keep making progress for all working families.”

Gavin Newsom's Citizenville in D.C. [PHOTOS]

2/15/13 - Book Party for Gavin Newsom's "Citizenvillie"

California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom felt right at home at Washington’s Jefferson Hotel on February 16th to discuss his new book, “Citizenville: How to Take the Town Square Digital and Reinvent Government.” While WHCInsider provided live coverage of the program C-SPAN’s Book TV covered all the action from the Gallatin Room for an upcoming segment (scheduled for next weekend or so). Newsom mingled among the select crowd of reporters and government officials keen to hear how Farmville can become legitimate models for politicos. Among the crowd were Newsom’s old friend Hilda Solis, the former Secretary of Labor, and former California Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher, who paid tribute to Newsom as a strong leader for California and in technology. The book party was co-hosted by Constance Milstein and JC de la Haye St. Hilarie, Tammy Haddad and Ellen Tauscher. Top Obamaites Evan Ryan and her husband Tony Blinken, Jeremy and Robyn Bash, Ambassador Elizabeth Bagley, Jane Oates, joined journalists Kate Boulduan Jim Fallows, who recently moved back to Washington, Jane Mayer, from the New Yorker,Michael Falcone from ABC News, David Chalian and Jonathan Martin from Politico, Betsy Fischer Martin of Meet the Press and Rob Saliterman from Google. Eve O’Toole, whom Newsom called his “best friend and trusted adviser” and her husband Peter O’Toole, joined Holly Page, Mandy Grunwald, Martha Slagle , Jonathan Capehart, Judy Kurtz, Heather Podesta, Melissa Moss, and “get excited” chairman Marc Adelman.

After Newsom signed copies of his new book and gave a few brief interviews, the crowd retreated for a closed door dinner and more than a few verses from some popular songs. While that remains a secret, check out some photos from the event to see what you missed when gaming change comes to Washington:

Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis Resigns Before Inauguration

Susan Axelrod, Secretary Solis, Wendi and Rupert Murdoch,

Hilda Solis, the 25th secretary of labor, resigned this afternoon according to Buzzfeed.

The resignation is abrupt as almost no one saw it coming. In their examination of Obama’s second-term cabinet, Politico mused “There’s not much discussion about Hilda Solis — who did not play a significant campaign role despite being a Latino woman with deep connections to unions. Labor isn’t seen as a department that’s likely to face a change soon[.]”

She previously served in the House of Representatives from 2001 until her appointment as Secretary in 2009.

Update: the official statement from President Obama:
[Read more…]

Axelrod-Milstein Team Up for Epilepsy Research

Hundreds gathered at the Newseum Wednesday evening to recognize the scientific work of CURE Epilepsy, raise awareness, and to honor 2010 Friend of CURE Awardee, longtime television producer and WHCInsider’s own Tammy Haddad.

Susan Axelrod, Chair and founding member of Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy, was on hand to mark the special occasion. Axelrod and Connie Milstein, CURE supporter and noted philanthropist, co-hosted the event.

Connie Milstein, a CURE board member, announced the Axelrod Milstein Challenge Grant. It is a $500,000 two-year program. CURE Challenge Grants are CURE’s most prestigious, and fuel the much needed research to find the key to the cure of this dreaded disease.

“Susan works tirelessly to find a cure for epilepsy and seizure disorders. Like many families across the world, the Axelrods live with this disease every day, but their work, their strength, and their optimism give hope to so many, as they fight and live for a cure,” said Milstein.

Susan Axelrod described the lack of progress and the difficult research road ahead:  “With so many troops returning from war with traumatic brain injuries and epilepsy, the need is more urgent now.”

Axelrod, along with her husband David, was desperate to find answers when their own daughter Lauren was diagnosed with uncontrollable epilepsy at 7 months old. Twelve years ago, CURE was founded by Axelrod and two other mothers around a kitchen table. Many members of the CURE family were on hand last night and gathered on stage for a group photo and greeted with a round of applause.

The room was a living tribute to CURE and Ms. Haddad, as devoted friends from both sides of the aisle raised a glass to what many have called a “force.” Haddad used her annual White House Correspondents Weekend Brunch to raise awareness for CURE after seeing Susan and Lauren Axelrod on the cover of PARADE magazine, and later on NBC’s The Today Show.

“I chased her down for weeks to get her to host the Correspondents Brunch because I wanted to help. Here was a chance to use a HUGE platform for an important message,” said Haddad. “What did she tell us? No parent, no child, no family — no person should have to suffer and experience the pain of epilepsy.  That is her goal…and since she is unstoppable we know she will reach that goal.”

Cabinet appearances by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Dr. Howard Koh, NIH’s Story Landis and Dr. Tony Fauci.

The audience roared as a video roast of Haddad began with David Gregory anchoring a “Meet The Press” open lamenting the lack of agreement on anything in Washington except in friendship and respect for Haddad.  Also in the video: ABC’s Jake Tapper from the White House, Greta Van Susteren and John Coale.  Jon Meacham roasted the longtime network and cable news producer by reminding the audience that Christopher Buckley put her in his novel “Thank You for Smoking.”  Haddad’s former MSNBC’s colleagues, the “Morning Joe” team – Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, Willie Geist, Mark Halperin and Harold Ford taking turns trying to figure out what award Haddad hadn’t won yet while praising her work for CURE.

The surprise ending was a song written and performed for Haddad by Glee superstars Matthew Morrison and Jane Lynch.

Among those there to help celebrate: Rima al Sabah, the Kuwaiti Ambassador’s wife; British Ambassador to the US Nigel and Julia Sheinwald; AFT President Randi Weingarten; Tom Oliphant, Mary Louise Oates and Robert Shrum.

Politicos aplenty including Bloomberg’s Kevin Sheekey, Joel and Lisa Benenson, Jim Margolis, Susan Sher, Stephanie Cutter, Julianna Smoot, Dan Pfieffer, Eric Lesser and Jen Psaki.

Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard fresh from a Supreme Court appearance, along with crowd favorite Terry McAuliffe; Tony and Heather Podesta; Podesta Group CEO Kimberly Fritts and hubby, Marion Turner; Holly Page; Bruce Reed and Bonnie LePard.

Media biggies included Wolf Blitzer, Howard Fineman and Amy Nathan, Lynn Sweet, Betsy Fischer (producer of the surprise video), Andrea Mitchell, Gloria Borger, Roger Simon, Annie Groer and Hilary Rosen.

Both republican and democratic political operatives included Bob Stevenson, Jane Oates, Dan Meyers, Erica Elliot, Rich Galen and Tom Synhorst.

Designed by Jacquie Bloom, the Newseum’s Knight Center was aglow in CURE red. Guests enjoyed the pomegranate martini ice luge and the ice cream sundae bar.

CURE is in the middle of their Every Dollar Counts Every seizure Matters campaign.  To donate CLICK on CUREEpilepsy.org.

Voto Latino's ON SERIES talk Green in DC

Voto Latino, the non-profit organization founded by actress Rosario Dawson to promote American Latino youth civic participation, celebrated its five-year anniversary last month by kicking off its ON Series here in Washington, DC.  Dawson and Voto Latino Executive Director Maria Teresa Kumar were joined by the President’s Domestic Policy adviser Melody Barnes and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis for “ON: Greening the Next Generation Workforce” to discuss the role of Latino’s in the emerging green economy.

Voto Latino ON Series in DC from whcinsider on Vimeo.