Community & Government Relations Report Sept. 9, 2008

September Update

Contact Tim Farley, director of government and community relations

National Government

While we will not know who our next president is until at least November 4, we do know he will be left-handed, born in August and be the first president not born in the continental United States. (This describes both John McCain and Barack Obama.)

We also know the new president will be sworn into office on January 20, 2009. Contrary to popular belief, the presidential inauguration is not a function of the executive branch. It is function of the United States Congress. And as such, it is Congress that distributes the coveted tickets to inauguration festivities. To that end, I would like to assist Saint Mary's community members in obtaining spots at the 2009 inauguration. If you are interested or know someone who may be interested in attending this exciting event, please contact me and we can begin the process of getting you on the list.

One final note, should the Obama ticket win, Joe Biden would become the first Catholic U.S. vice president. John Kennedy was the first (and only) Catholic to be elected president, but the United States has never elected a Catholic as vice president. Catholics who have been nominated for the position include Republican William E. Miller in 1964 with Barry Goldwater, Edmund Muskie in 1968 with Democrat Hubert Humphrey, Democrats Thomas Eagleton and Sargent Shriver with George McGovern in 1972, and Democrat Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 as Walter Mondale's running mate. Sarah Palin, the GOP vice presidential candidate, was baptized Catholic but has attended the Assemblies of God churches since she was 14 years old.

State Government

On August 20, Brother President Ronald Gallagher hosted a reception in Sacramento to recognize state Senator Don Perata '67, D-Oakland, and Assemblyman Guy Houston '82, R-Pleasanton, who will both be termed out this November. While the state budget standoff still continues, more than 50 Gaels from the Sacramento area were able to sneak away from budget negotiations to hear Brother Ron provide an update on Saint Mary's. He shared with the group that more than 670 freshmen enrolled this fall, a record, and gave an overview of campus renovations, including the Oliver Hall upgrade.

Brother Ron also reminded the Sacramento audience of Saint Mary's commitment to educating all students with promise, stating that 23 percent of our new students are eligible for some form of Pell Grant. To that end, he told the group that the College relies heavily on Cal Grants to admit as many capable students as possible. The Cal Grant program has been incredibly helpful to Saint Mary's as we pursue our mission, and Brother Ron concluded by saying he hopes the legislature will fund and expand it.

Due to the state budget stalemate, Sen. Perata was unable to make the event. But Assemblyman Houston and Assemblyman Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) were present.

As of this writing, the state budget stalemate continues and is the longest ever, surpassing the previous record set in 2002.The status of Cal Grants remains unchanged: the entitlement program remains fully funded ($800 million), while the competitive Cal Grant program may be reduced or eliminated.

Local Government

While the Moraga Road project has concluded and the road is open to through traffic, East Bay MUD pipe work and other road projects continue. The Town of Moraga continues with its paving project as well as shoulder work to repair a slide on St. Mary's Road.

The deadline to register to vote for the November election is Oct. 20. The Department of Community and Government Relations will be working with several student clubs on campus to make voter registration forms available throughout September and October until final deadline. Specifically, student groups will staff a voter registration table on campus every Wednesday during Community Time as well as during the dinner hour at Oliver Hall. We encourage all students, faculty and staff to register prior to the deadline.