It's a presidential years, with all eyes focuses on the race for the White House, but here are 10 local races worthy of your attention.


Alameda, Contra Costa and Santa Clara County residents, click here to register online for the Nov. 8 General Election. Deadline is Monday, Oct. 24, 5 p.m..


UPDATED FOR NOVEMBER! The exclusive East Bay Citizen Candidates List is back by popular demand. See who is defiintely running in 2016 and who is thinking about it from Congress all the way to your local East Bay city.


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

ALAMEDA CITY COUNCL PREVIEW: A tipping point for Alameda's future

Clockwise from left: Alameda Councilmembers Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft and Tony Daysog; Lena Tam, Malia Vella, and Jennifer Roloff are seeking two open seats this November. 
This five-person race is led by the incumbents. Councilmember MARILYN EZZY ASHCRAFT was easily the leading vote-getter four years ago with nearly a quarter of the vote. She supports smart growth at Alameda Point and has been proactive on the rents issue. However, her fingerprints are all over the City Council's rent ordinance passed in March and has continued her support for the resulting Measure L1 initiative... Perhaps, no other candidate has more experience in Alameda politics than Councilmember TONY DAYSOG. He served on the council for 10 years starting in 1996 and returned to the dais in 2012. Along the way, he's run unsuccessfully for mayor and Congress. Conversely, he also a long record for opponents to pick at, including whether he is even a Democrat anymore. In general, Daysog's record has shown support for small business. His redundant mantra during the rent ordinance discussion for protecting "mom-and-pop small businesses" was like an earworm for council watchers in Alameda... LENA TAM is back. The former councilmember was termed out in 2014 and lost a bid that same year for the BART board of directors. Tam once claimed the support of the island's firefighters and East Bay labor, in general, but not anymore. The New Tam is backed by Asian American business interests. MALIA VELLA is a labor attorney and Mills College adjunct professor. She also served as Assemblymember Bill Quirk's district director and is well-known among Alameda County Democrats. The latter a good reason why her campaign is so well-financed. A newcomer to politics, JENNIFER ROLOFF is perhaps the most conservative of the five candidates. Well spoken, although prone to some rookie gaffes, she represents the anti-growth constituency in Alameda that is led by Mayor Trish Spencer.

WHAT'S THE BEEF? Four years ago, Alameda's City Council race was all about the continuing conversation of redeveloping the former Naval air station. How to proceed with Alameda Point has morphed into development all over the island. The argument to limit development for the sake of rising traffic concerns has been used in this race by Roloff and to some extent Daysog and Tam. This issue is traditionally the breaking point between so-called "Old Alameda" and the progressives who support growth. Now this issue had been folded into the current discussion over rising rents and displacement of Alameda residents. Each group has dutifully taken their correct side of the battle. Old Alamedans decry rent control and say it will hurt property owners, lower the quality of the housing stock and become another costly city bureaucracy. Those like Vella, and to a lesser extent, Ashcraft, have been supportive of a different path. If a lack of supply is the overriding problem leading to rising rents, then development is a solution, they argue. Vella, though, is the only candidate firmly on Measure M1's side, the initiative that limits annual rent increases to just under two percent; prohibits no cause evictions and creates an elected rent board. The other four candidates have advocated tepid support for Measure L1, the council's less stringent rent ordinance that is already law. What each would do to "fix" the current rent ordinance to their liking is unclear.

2012 GENERAL ELECTION.....................VOTES....PCT
Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft.....................12116   24.9%
Tony Daysog............................... 8701   17.9%
Stewart Chen.............................. 8588   17.8%
Jeff Cambra............................... 7579   15.6%
Jane Sullwold............................. 6134   12.6%
Gerard Valbuena Dumuk..................... 2919    6.0%
Joana Darc Weber.......................... 2473    5.1% 

         ----JULY-SEPT 24----     ----2016----
ALAMEDA CC    IN      OUT         IN     OUT       CASH
VELLA     10,114    7,633     44,067   8,033 $   36,138
ASHCRAFT   9,093   13,576     24,605  15,384 $   12,204
TAM       20,512    9,433     20,512  13,410 $   11,945
ROLOFF     4,423    2,335      5,270   2,682 $    5,087
DAYSOG     5,872    5,673      5,872   5,673 $      199

OUTLOOK Over the past six years the power of Alameda's firefighters union has been immeasurable. More often than not, the public safety union's support has equaled victory. This year, fire is supporting Ashcraft and Vella for the two seats. It's no coincidence that both are also running the most well-financed campaigns in the race. That coupled with Alamedans United, the firefighters independent expenditure committee, and the likelihood of both candidates winning is good. But not great. That's because one of the few candidates who has been able to break through the firefighters' blockade is Daysog. Likely because he is so well known in Alameda, as is Tam, by the way. It's probably why the firefighters have focused their expenditures on undermining Daysog with two negative mailers. One portrays him as voting against the interests of seniors and the other tweaking him for his wavering comments about whether he is now a Republican. And Roloff, although excessively green, is a wildcard. Her yard signs are all over Alameda, but she is without a doubt the candidate for "Old Alameda." This election will show whether that group is a still somewhat of a force or a dwindling demographic. The "Old Alameda" candidate four years ago was Jane Sullwold and she finish fifth with 12.6 percent of the vote. More likely than not, the outcome of this race may be tied directly to the fate of Measures L1 and M1, the pair of rent control initiatives on the ballot. If the purer version of rent control, Measure M1, wins, Ashcraft and Vella will, too. If not, any combination of the five candidates could prevail.

Monday, October 24, 2016

AD 16 PREVIEW: The Passive-Aggressive Assembly Race

Assemblymember Catharine Baker and former Pleasanton Councilmember Cheryl Cook-Kallio in the race to represent parts of Contra Costa County and the Tri Valley in the Assembly's 16th District.
MEET THE CANDIDATES Assemblymember CATHARINE BAKER just sort of fell from the sky two years ago and gave the region's Republican Party a reason to thank their lucky stars. The freshman GOP lawmaker also settled in quite quickly in Sacramento. Baker, A former Pleasanton attorney, Baker was given a modicum of leeway in voting outside of the GOP's box on a few high-profile issues such as the childhood vaccination controversy last year. Baker voted in favor of Senate Bill 277 while other Republicans voted no. Baker was the only Republican to vote for Senate Bill 32, the comprehensive climate-change legislation strongly favored by Gov. Jerry Brown. A recent Sacramento Bee study found Baker's voting record showed she was the Republican most likely to vote with Democrats in the Assembly. “I'll listen to any good idea regardless of the partisan label it came from and think outside the traditional box that is coming out of Sacramento,” said Baker. She also reflects the GOP's ideology for lower taxes, less regulation. CHERYL COOK-KALLIO is a former member of the Pleasanton City Council and a retired high school civic teacher. She ran for mayor in 2014 and fell short. But despite Baker's first-term record, the 16th Assembly District's composition of moderates voters and a smaller than normal registration advantage for Democrats makes this seat a perennial battleground. Assembly Democrats also realized the path toward a two-thirds majority in the Assembly runs through the Contra Costa County and Tri Valley seat. Enter Cook-Kallio who supports the party's desire to push a menu of progressive reforms to education, climate-change, and gun control, among other issues. Gov. Brown even took the step of endorsing Cook-Kallio.

WHAT THE BEEF? This should be known as the Passive-Aggressive Assembly Race. Make no mistake, this race has been vicious, albeit, it seems, with both trading barbs with a friendly smile. “I think we’ve been underserved in the 16th Assembly District,” said Cook-Kallio, who often peppers her stump speeches with references to her support from Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL). That's because Cook-Kallio has used Baker's votes against preventative care for women as a hammer since back in the June primary. And despite Baker's record of voting in favor of gun control legislation, Cook-Kallio has focused on her opponent's votes to weaken or block those bills from coming to a vote. At one forum, Cook-Kallio said, “I think we’re all smart enough to look at comprehensive gun violence prevention.” Meanwhile, it's no doubt, teachers' unions are opposed to Baker. For a second straight campaign, she has highlighted the need, she says, for eliminating teachers tenure and seniority. Consequently, teachers' unions have spent a treasure chest to defeat Baker just as they unsuccessfully attempted in 2014. Baker's onslaught against labor has continued this Fall with her opposition to public transit union strikes. In many ways, it's the issue that got Baker elected in the first place. “I do not think BART workers should have the ability to strike and keep the entire Bay Area immobile,” Baker said bluntly. She also differs with Cook-Kallio in opposing any changes to Proposition 13. But among many differences between the candidates, the defining question in this race is a push by both to portray the other as sheep in wolf's clothing. Baker's repeated pledge to foster bipartisanship in Sacramento is met with Cook-Kallio's response that Baker's moderate record is a facade hiding a rigid conservative ideology. Baker says voters don't know who Cook-Kallio really is. “I don’t fill out the secret vote promises from the special interests in Sacramento. My opponent does and refuses to show them to voters like you and me,” Baker said at one forum. In the meantime, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent by both campaign, IEs and others on mailers that drive home this essential theme against each campaign.

2016 JUNE PRIMARY.........................VOTES....PCT
*Catharine Baker (R)......................70136   53.5%
Cheryl Cook-Kallio (D)....................60947   46.5%

2014 GENERAL ELECTION.....................VOTES....PCT
Catharine Baker (R)......................,68598   51.5%
Tim Sbranti (D)...........................64484   48.5%

             -JUL-SEPT24-           -2016-
AD16          IN      OUT         IN     OUT       CASH
BAKER    806,832  583,311 1,659,393 1042,337 $1,209,263
C-KALLIO 856,944  626,240 1,435,181 1026,305 $  435,834

OUTLOOK Baker represents different things to different segments of the electorate. As the only Republican in the East Bay’s legislative caucus, Baker is the lone bright light in an otherwise dismal political landscape for conservatives. Conversely, for Democrats, she is Public Enemy #1. The California Democratic Party has spent more than $1.2 million to support Cook-Kallio. That’s just the party alone with IEs spending nearly the same amount--petroleum special interests for Baker, teachers' unions for Cook-Kallio. The normally cash-strapped California GOP has even spent $800,000 on Baker’s behalf. That shows just much this seat is in play. A win for Cook-Kallio takes Assembly Democrats even closer to their desired two-thirds majority and almost unfettered control of the agenda in Sacramento. In addition to Cook-Kallio’s strong financial and institutional support, the November electorate, likely boosted by record numbers of newly-registered Democrats, presumably ready to vote for Clinton, is a big wildcard in this toss-up race. (Baker does not support Donald Trump, by the way.) But Baker has her own inherent strength, moderate voters in the district who have shown to be easily stoked by anti-BART (anti-union) rhetoric. The playbook as created by Baker and state Sen. Steve Glazer has repeatedly shown voters in this district can be energized by this issue. Throw in Glazer’s slight wrinkle of charging the labor-backed candidate with hiding their answers to confidential union questionnaires and you have a template for victory that Baker is wholeheartedly employing this Fall.

CA17 PREVIEW: Honda-Khanna rematch takes an ugly turn

Rep. Mike Honda and fellow Democrat Ro Khanna meet again for a rematch of their 2014 campaigns.

Rep. MIKE HONDA has served the South Bay since 2001. Until 2014, his path toward re-election was clear every two years until an upstart fellow Democrat fell less than four points of defeating him. One of the more liked local officials, Honda has focused on education through most of his tenure in Congress. His campaign touts bringing home millions for Silicon Valley projects, namely the BART extension to San Jose. As a young child, Honda spent time in a Japanese American internment camp and civil rights issues surrounding the LGBT community have been a consistent focus over the years. In turn, Honda's voting record is viewed as one of the most progressive in the entire Congress. After his narrow defeat in 2014, RO KHANNA quickly ramped up another attempt at unseating Honda. And the effort paid off last June after he topped the incumbent in the primary by under two points. Now, for the first time, Khanna is the frontrunner this Nov. 8 and the attacks from Honda have been consistent. Viewed by most as less progressive than Honda, especially on the fiscal front, Khanna has been able to churn out campaign donors from some of Silicon Valley's biggest hitters in technology. Khanna also champions bringing industry back to the states through technology. Khanna has been successful in attracting South Bay Republicans and moderates to his side. In general, his platform portrays himself as the logical and young heir as Silicon Valley's voice in Washington.

WHAT'S THE BEEF? For the better part of almost three years, this race had been relatively civil. In hindsight, maybe some pressure should have been let out because in just the past 30 days, the amount of bitter contention between the two campaigns has been through the roof. It started Sept. 22 when the Honda campaign changed the course and tenor of the race with a federal lawsuit claiming Khanna's campaign manager illegally accessed Honda's confidential digital donor files. Khanna was also named in the suit and the campaign manager, Brian Parvizshahi resigned the same day. Honda's campaign then began referring to Khanna as a "Russian hacker" and Khanna, himself, called Honda "an embarrassment." Currently a barrage of expensive television commercial from either side is bashing each other. The dynamic of this race is now, "Who can you trust?" Khanna continues to argue Honda's on-going House ethics investigation over an allegation made last year that the campaign commingled official and campaign work, while also creating a type of "pay-to-play" scheme for potential donors disqualifies Honda from another term. Honda's retort is a variation of a past critique that Khanna will do anything to get elected to Congress. Now, the proof is the federal lawsuit against Khanna and his campaign.

2016 JUNE PRIMARY.........................VOTES....PCT
Ro Khanna (D).............................51919  39.1%
*Mike Honda (D)...........................49720  37.4%
Peter Kuo (R).............................12205   9.2% 
Ron Cohen (R).............................10421   7.8%
Pierluigi Oliverio(D)....................  5521   4.2%
Kennita Watson (LP)....................... 3115   2.3%

2014 GENERAL ELECTION.....................VOTES....PCT
*Mike Honda(D)............................68502  51.8%
Ro Khanna (D).............................63720  48.2%


               -3RD QTR-          -2016-
CA17         IN     OUT        IN       OUT       CASH
KHANNA  444,355 326,906 3,343,014 1.816,660 $1,563,579
HONDA   509,547 612,212 2,727,069 1,987,423 $  849,008

OUTLOOK With a few weeks before Election Day, this race looks like a clear tossup. In addition, both campaigns are essentially throwing everything but the proverbial kitchen sink at each other. Honda is clearly vulnerable after narrowly losing the primary and Khanna has nothing to lose. He either wins or goes home. He can't take a third shot at Honda in two years, can he? But if Honda wins on Nov. 8 it seems increasingly likely that he retires before 2018. In that case Honda acolytes like Assemblymember Evan Low might cut in line of Khanna and others for the seat. However, the most likely scenario is that Khanna maintains the small lead he earned in June. The ethics hammer his campaign has used over the past year against Honda has been devastating. The question next month is whether Honda's cyber lawsuit has changed hearts and minds, transferring ethical doubts voters might have about Honda to Khanna. Since there have been no debates or even candidate forums during the general election campaign both camps have taking swings at each other with increasingly negative television ads. These sorts of fisticuffs might be oft-putting to undecided voters in the current poisonous atmosphere of the presidential election and possibly hurt Honda the incumbent more than Khanna, the political outsider. Also keep in an eye on Democrats who lean far right coming out to vote in large numbers. They skew toward Honda and in a close race any slight variation from the norm could swing this election either way.

Saturday, October 22, 2016


Alameda City Council candidate Malia Vella.
1. Alameda City Council candidate Malia Vella is by far the most impressive non-incumbent running in any race in the East Bay this November. Her election could be the beginning of a long and successful political career. First, there was Rob Bonta. Now possibly another upwardly mobile politician in Vella coming from Alameda within four years time? Makes you wonder what’s in the water surrounding Alameda?

2. It's not a personal knock, but Alameda's Trish Spencer is easily the worst mayor in Alameda County. Nobody comes close and Spencer diehards are totally oblivious to how poor her reputation is outside Alameda city limits. I mention this because Alameda City Council candidate Jennifer Roloff is a Spencer clone and one has already done enough damage and two might be devastating. Roloff's newspaper ad featuring dozens of older white folks and one minority is appalling and a relic of an Alameda that is nearing a second foot in the grave.

3. I think all of the five Oakland City Council incumbents will win on Nov. 8. But Oakland Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney won't be the council president next year.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf
4. I think Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s support for some councilmember's opponents is not wise. If you’re Schaaf, you can’t be going around wasting your hard-earned political capital on long-shot council candidates. It’s absolutely crazy and only makes her life more miserable after Election Day because she still has to work with these people for at least another two years.

5. Rarely have I a seen a candidate less prepared to run for office but with more institutional support than San Leandro City Council candidate Bryan Azevedo. The unions strongly back Azevedo as does the Alameda County Democratic Party. His performance at a forum Oct. 6 was cringe-worthy, but for progressives he says all the right things and appears trustworthy. If he is victorious, you have to wonder how long it will take him to grasp even the basics of city government.

6. I think 16th District Assemblymember Catharine Baker’s campaign has been shaky. Maybe they’re feeling the sheer power of the powerful California State Democratic Party? Baker appeared far more confident facing Tim Sbranti two years ago. Yet, despite this, voters in the Tri Valley and Walnut Creek areas are more conservative than they like to say. This electorate still talks about BART strikes like they happened two hours ago and hates unions. Their suspicions about Democrat Cheryl Cook-Kallio and her ties to unions is a difference-maker.

7. I think if Cook-Kallio loses by a slim margin, she might seek a rematch in 2018. That is, if Assembly Democrats foot the bill again.

Ro Khanna
8. Ro Khanna in the 17th Congressional District reminds me of Berkeley mayoral candidate Jesse Arreguin, good people who decided at some point they would do or say anything to get elected. Khanna has been linked to too many campaign shenanigans over the past three years to believe he’s innocent. Arreguin simply says the most outright lies about his record as a Berkeley councilmembers. This isn’t who these people are, but if elected; will they revert to their core beliefs?

9. I can see Khanna winning and if he does he won't vote like a true progressive. He'll be just like Rep. Eric Swalwell in the nearby 15th District--a lapdog for Nancy Pelosi. It will be difficult for Rep. Mike Honda to roll back the June result that favored Khanna. High turnout of all these newly registered and young Democrats is Honda's ace-in-the-hole since polling has shown they favor him over the moderate Khanna.

10. Obviously, Ellen Corbett is over-qualified to be on the East Bay Regional Park District Board of Directors, but I don't think she'll be there very long. Where else might she land? There's a couple of different places...

11. Read this treatise on the Hayward election

Captain Millennial? Rep. Eric Swalwell.
12. I think media outlets locally and nationally should dispense with the hackneyed description of Swalwell as an avatar of “millennial” voters because he's not. Tell me what segment of millenials believes in maintaining the overwhelming power of law enforcement in this country and how many young people support the government keeping digital tabs on Americans? Yet, this is what Swalwell’s nearly four-year record in Congress represents. Do a little work on his background, will ya?

13. Swalwell should actually be sad about how he is portrayed in the media. The only distinguishing fact about Swalwell is that he uses Twitter and posts pictures on Facebook? That’s impressive, bro. GTFO. LOL.

14. I think Sandre Swanson would represent the very progressive State Senate Ninth District better than Nancy Skinner. You need to realize that our brand of progressive ideology is so pure that it typically gets soiled in Sacramento by non-East Bay legislators. We need that purity in Sacramento.

15. But I think in this race, the voters cannot lose. Skinner most likely will grab a prime committee seat and get the job done, jamming the dirty carcass of government into that meat grinder, turning legislation into delicious sausage links.

Rep. Barbara Lee and Asm. Rob Bonta may lead
the East Bay's Great Reshuffling of 2017.
16. I think there's a possibility next year of a sequel to the East Bay's Great Reshuffling of 1998 when Rep. Ron Dellums left Congress and Barbara Lee was appointed to his seat. (I've always wanted to make a documentary about this 18-month period in local history.) The mid-year move reverberated down the political stream. It only takes one move near the top to start a chain reaction.

17. The future of the Alameda County Republican Party is incumbent on this screwy outfit figuring out how to keep talented prospects like the young 15th Assembly District candidate Claire Chiara engaged in local politics. Thoughtful and poised, Chiara has been one of the revelations of this fall election season in the East Bay. What they cannot let her do is shoot too high, too soon. However, way too many local GOPers are too shortsighted to realize their bench needs to be stocked at lower offices, not a fruitless runs for Congress.

18. Alameda County Superior Court judicial candidate Barbara Thomas is bat shit crazy. I wouldn't let her judge a dog show.

19. While on that subject, I think we should rid ourselves of voting for Superior Court judges. What's the point? The State Bar prohibits them from running campaigns that distinguish the candidates, so how do we know who we're voting for? Also, Alameda should abolish the city treasurer and auditor positions as elected positions. These guys don't do anything that requires an elected office. They probably work three weeks a year.

Rent control, along with increasing the minimum
wage, is the defining issue of our time.
20. Lastly, I believe voters all over the Bay Area and specifically in Alameda, must pass rent control. In fact, I endorse the Alameda Renters Coalition’s Measure M1 rent control initiative. It’s the first time in the nearly seven-year history of the East Bay Citizen that I have officially endorsed a candidate or ballot initiative. The issue of rising rents and the sheer greed of landlords of every ilk cuts to the core of what this web site represents. The East Bay Citizen fights for the people, not public officials and certainly not business interests. Specifically, its prime objective is to motivate residents of the East Bay to question government and punish those you undermine the will of the people. The success of the Alameda Renters Coalition in fomenting residents to push city government to act on sky-rocketing rents in Alameda is breathtaking. They steamrolled decades of entrenched political and business entities and then placed their own rent control initiatives on the ballot when the City Council’s ordinances went nowhere close enough to solve the problem. That’s truly government by the people. Consequently, the powers-that-be in Alameda ran in fear and actually decided to support the opposing Measure L1, which represented what they initially opposed over a year ago. And pay no mind to the estimated $3.7 million cost of creating a new bureaucracy for Measure M1. It's bogus. But, regardless of the price, its something that needs to be done and speak to the priorities of this community--we care for the weakest. People are overworked and over-stressed, Measure M1 bring a bit of solace to renters, but also provides a very powerful precedent that when the public rallies in its own self-interests, the politicians will run for the hills, or, in this case high-tail in their cars for the High Street Bridge. Vote Yes on M1 and No on L1.

Push to dismantle Hayward's school board is about hastening gentrification

For years in Hayward, the school board has been labeled dysfunctional. More precisely, the real criticism is they fight too much. With a little more precision: they fight too much in public. The attack line is as bogus as it was nearly a decade ago. Disagreements among board and council members are actually the norm in the East Bay and everywhere. It doesn’t condone a lack of comity, but the Oakland City Council is routinely roiled in unkind words and backstabbing. Candidates for this Fall's Berkeley’s mayoral race often reference their city council meetings as the “Tuesday night circus.” Two weeks ago, elected officials in Alameda were seemingly feuding with each other all at once. Keep in mind, all three cities are also home to vibrant communities and a dynamic vision for the future. This doesn’t exist in Hayward.

A plan for the so-called Heart of the Bay has not existed in this decade for sure and began to disintegrate slowly under former Mayor Mike Sweeney. Harmony in Hayward means nothing gets done. The city’s problems have been blamed on the economy. Hayward’s representatives in Sacramento were the culprit too, according to Sweeney and others. Then the schools were the problem. He once estimated the poor quality of schools in Hayward might have cost homeowners about $100,000 in the value of their homes. Good schools, it was said, attract more homebuyers. More homebuyers mean more expensive homes. However, they also bring gentrification and greater difficulty for Hayward large Latino communities to keep pace.

When Hayward elected officials and self-described city leaders are talking about replacing not just the three incumbents on the school board this Nov. 8, but eventually the entire group in another two years, they’re not talking about students, their true aim is to remake Hayward into a bedroom community for the techies soon to be priced out of Oakland in the north and Silicon Valley to the south.

It’s why the group calling themselves CLASS is actually a front for the most powerful, most devious special interest group in the state, the California Apartment Association (CAA). Voters in other Bay Area cities preparing to vote on rent control initiatives next month are well aware of CAA and its various political action committees and local chapters. The landlords’ lobby has poured nearly $1 million into direct-mail pieces in places like Alameda, Richmond.

What kind of branch of the NAACP openly advocates dismantling an elected body comprised entirely of minorities?

One of CAA’s point men in Hayward, Alameda and unincorporated Alameda County is a local real estate entrepreneur named Tom Silva. Though, primarily a San Leandro insider, when it comes to spreading campaign contributions around various candidates, Silva’s name is synonymous with business and real estate interests. Rule of thumb: If you’re a progressive candidate and Silva’s name shows up on a candidate’s campaign finance report, immediately vote for the other person. The Hayward Chamber of Commerce, another red flag for progressives, is also backing CLASS. Together, it appears the backers of CLASS intend to keep the parents of Hayward school children in a constant struggle to pay rising monthly rents at the same time keeping wages extremely low. Keep them down, then move them out of town.

Few did more to create disharmony in Hayward than
former City Manager Fran David, who gave $2,500
to do the same for the school board.
Yet, despite the chamber's utter incompetence over the years for fostering a credible business environment in Hayward, it nonetheless has been successful in keeping public officials under their thumb. Elections in Hayward over the years constantly lack any sense of sophistication and campaign contributions are scarce. Therefore the chances of candidates becoming beholden to members of the chamber and other business interests are high. There's a clear nexus between those funding Hayward CLASS and the past campaigns of several city councilmembers. In addition to the chamber's PAC, real estate and construction interests such as Varni Properties; Felson Companies, Inc.; Paul Martin of Martin Land Company and Associates, R. Zaballos and Sons construction; have spent thousands on Hayward CLASS. And what's in it for Robert Sakai, a Hayward attorney and landowner who specializes in real estate transactions? Does this aging city leader care about students or his own bottom line?

In addition, former Hayward City Manager Fran David added $2,500 of her own money to Hayward CLASS. David's participation is yet another red flag for progressives after she twisted the city council's arms to force upon city workers an illegal wage reduction two years ago. The contribution may be one reason why the Service Employees International Union Local 1021 decided to back the archenemy of Hayward CLASS, school board member Luis Reynoso, even though he used to be a Republican.

This is what makes this Fall’s school board race so important because it's really a battle of Hayward business interests and its City Council allies enriching themselves at the trough of the school district.
Hayward school board candidate Joe Ramos said it best during a council meeting last month. "Some people see the school district as a pot of gold and they want their piece." Keep in mind, the school district has a much larger annual budget than the city. And school board member Luis Reynoso is merely a nagging stumbling block for Hayward CLASS.

A Hayward school board press conference to
announce its findings against former
Superintendent Stan Dobbs.
The bold-face lie CLASS leaders now tell is their campaign this year was never about disgraced former Hayward Superintendent Stan “Data” Dobbs. Since the attack by Dobbs on two school board members in September 2015, the supe’s days appeared numbered. CLASS ramped up their efforts last Spring to keep Dobbs’ job. The refrain was yet again, this is why Reynoso, leader of the axing of Dobbs, needed to be replaced. Getting rid of Dobbs, Councilmember Francisco Zermeno repeatedly said, will hurt the school children. After Dobbs was fired and a school district investigation found the former superintendent had often flashed a violent temper and allegedly battered a former school district employee who was also his mistress, CLASS leaders pulled back. Councilmember Sara Lamnin said the group’s rationale was never about Dobbs.

But, in fact, this is all about Dobbs. Without him, the purging and resulting plan for the school board brought forth by CLASS is like a detailed game plan moving forward without its star quarterback. Time and again, Hayward business leaders and self-interested school employees lauded Dobbs for his administrative acumen, his marketing wizardry. The Hayward teachers’ union was so impressed by Dobbs that they strongly supported his hiring in 2013 even after a raft of blatantly anti-union comments he made while at the San Diego Unified School District. In short, Dobbs was a hired assassin. The fixer that former Hayward City Manager Jesus Armas was before I ran him out of town. But for the teachers’ union and for construction companies in the area, Dobbs delivered.

It appears the backers of CLASS intend to keep the parents of Hayward school children in a constant struggle to pay rising monthly rents at the same time keeping wages extremely low. Keep them down, then move them out of town.

Over the year, demonstrations at school board and council meetings in favor of Dobbs and general opposition to some school board members have almost entirely featured business, special interests groups, teachers union reps and other school employees with financial skin in the game. For instance, ever wonder why a teacher from Contra Costa County would care so much about Hayward schools and whether Dobbs remained as superintendent? Yet public demonstrations, sometimes coordinated to occur when television cameras were present, seem to involve this outsider.

As for the candidates for three open seats on the school board. Not unlike Hayward elections in general, there are slim pickings. The three candidates recruited by CLASS are unacceptable. In fact, if this was the trio they chose, it makes you wonder what the leftovers looked like. Typically, voters should be wary of candidates who are recruited to run rather than seek the office on their personal desire for the job. On that note, former Chabot College president Robert Carlson already appears disinterested in the job even before the possibility of being elected. He’s looked tired at forums and offered very little other than general platitudes and the tried-and-true "The school board fights too much" schtick. Carlson is also part of the “Hayward Education Industrial Complex” following his ties to Chabot College. His connection to the power structure that has too long sapped Hayward of its promise and given it to favored insiders has to stop. For too long, Hayward insiders have pimped out brown and black students in favor pouring profits to special interests.

Daniel Goldstein, a Hayward planning commissioner, appears well-meaning, but oddly uninformed about how elected government operates, given his experience. Like Carlson, Goldstein questioned the veracity of the school district’s report on Dobbs and praised the character of the man accused of striking his mistress during an intimate moment. Comically, during the same forum Goldstein said one of his strengths is that he literally “reads fast.” If elected, Goldstein is going to take at least one year to get up to speed with the rest of the board. Same with the third CLASS candidate Todd Davis, although, he has shown some promise as a future leader in Hayward. Well-spoken, Davis plays the part of a politician, but like Goldstein, he may need some tutoring, if elected. For instance, Davis believed a previously approved school bond was actually funding from the state. Davis’s connection to CLASS comes from his mother Freddye Davis, head of the local NAACP. In addition, there’s this: What kind of branch of the NAACP openly advocates dismantling an elected body comprised entirely of minorities? The current Hayward school board consists of three African Americans, a Mexican American immigrant, and a Pacific Islander. And the NAACP wants to replace 40 percent of this group with two older white men?

Typically, voters should be wary of candidates who are recruited to run rather than seek the office on their personal desire for the job.

As for the incumbents, school board member John Taylor has given up. He hasn’t even showed up for a meeting in the months after being caught for using school district resources for his city council campaign earlier this year. His contempt for the public is outrageous and his lack of remorse is a strong signal that, if re-elected, he will again use the school district for his own personal gain. Meanwhile, school board member Annette Walker may be one of the most blatantly dishonest elected officials south of Oakland. It’s beyond belief that Walker would tell reporters she was unaware the school board was about to vote on whether to fire Dobbs last month. The issue of Dobbs’ employment had been discussed by the board in closed session earlier that evening and was clearly about to resume following the open session. Yet, Walker tried to play both sides of the issue: placating Dobbs supporters while playing stupid about the decision the board was about to make that night. It’s that type of dishonesty that has been a hallmark of Walker and a scenario often privately described by her fellow board members. As far as the other candidates, they’re mere sideshows that have done a good job of shedding light on some of Hayward’s inherent sins. But then there’s school board member Luis Reynoso.

Sure, he’s combative and uncompromising at times; however, never has an opponent been able to attach some type of immorality to him. His methods for changing the culture of politics in Hayward could be more refined, but the supposed chaos he brings is merely the childish push back of a political system finally being held accountable for decades of corruption. Reynoso’s rhetoric risks the bottom line of Hayward’s business interests and their ability to suck money out of the school district and city. Why wouldn’t they want him out? But Reynoso also represents something very important and constantly overlooked in Hayward, Latinos in Hayward and their seemingly voiceless 40 percent of the city’s population. No other Latino elected official in Hayward speaks to this community. Losing Reynoso will be the first domino to drop leading to the type of housing unaffordability and gentrification issues seen all over the East Bay.

But in the end Reynoso might have the last laugh. After all the money and energy spent on defeating him, the outcome of the election may just come down to two seemingly innocuous elements: ballot placement and surname. Reynoso is placed among the top three choices on the ballot for the same number of open seats. He also has a Latino last name. As an indication that Hayward’s Latino communities are waking up ever so slightly from years of voter apathy, just look at the most recent Hayward City Council race last June. The top three vote-getters were Zermeno, Salinas and Marquez—all Mexican Americans.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Podesta WikiLeaks emails: Khanna sought Hillary Clinton's endorsement

Thousands of emails belonging to John Podesta have
been released by WikiLeaks in recent weeks.
PHOTO/Creative Commons
Last January, Ro Khanna's congressional campaign was seeking an early knockout in its rematch this year with Rep. Mike Honda.

The devastating blow, his campaign chair Steve Spinner believed, would have arrived in the form of an endorsement of Khanna's campaign by Hillary Clinton, according to an email belonging to Clinton confidante John Podesta and posted by WikiLeaks.

In an email sent Jan. 15, 2016, Spinner, a well-known Democratic Party insider and prolific fundraiser with strong ties to President Obama, asked Podesta to urge the soon-to-be Democratic Party presidential nominee to back Khanna.

Khanna's campaign chair Steve Spinner
sought Podesta's help in getting Clinton's
endorsement, but he didn't succeed.
"A major endorsement at this point would end the race. I am still hopeful President Clinton may consider it :-)," wrote Spinner. At the very least, Spinner suggested Khanna's campaign might help the Clinton cause by coordinating voter outreach.

"I would like to see Ro help inspire these folks to support Hillary not just for this campaign but for her Presidency. He can be a tremendous asset to her and our party. He has grown as a candidate," wrote Spinner. It does not appear Podesta responded to the email.

In the midst of Honda's moribund fourth quarter fundraising numbers last year, Spinner said Honda's campaign was "literally on life-support" and "Honestly, at this point I see very few paths for Honda to win."

Clinton ultimately did not endorse a candidate in the 17th District race. More than a month after Spinner's email to Podesta, President Obama's inner circle indicated he would sit out endorsing Honda. Two years prior, Obama had backed Honda over Khanna.

A vast majority of the Podesta emails posted by WikiLeaks are general emails sent by Honda's campaign for the purpose of soliciting contributions. Podesta was including in Honda's campaign email blasts.

Podesta, however, responded to one email sent by the Honda campaign that makes reference to Khanna mounting a rematch in 2016, Podesta forwarded it to Spinner along with the message, "At it again."

Non-partisan voter guide urges support for Congressman 'Eric Swallowable'

A slate card this week urged independents to
vote for Eric Swallowable.
A slate card sent to some East Bay homes this week refers to 15th Congressional District Rep. Eric Swalwell as "Eric Swallowable."

The slate card sent by a group calling itself the "No Party Preference Voter Guide" also features Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Kamala, Hayward Assemblymember Bill Quirk and state Proposition's 51 and 52 on the mailer.

Its primary beneficiary, though, is Jaime Patiño, a city council candidate in Union City. Patiño's campaign paid $705 to be part of the slate card, according to campaign finance records.

Other Alameda County candidates also appear on
the mailer sent to independent voters Thursday.
In addition to the regrettable misspelling of Swalwell, the slate card is riddled with other glaring errors. Patiño's description, for instance, lists him sitting on the board of directors of the "Timbers Vesicles Clinic," instead of the "Tiburcio Vasquez Health Center." In addition, the City of Hayward is spelled with two words.

Patiño told the East Bay Citizen the misspellings are an error on the vendors part and likely not some sort of prank. Patiño's campaign triple-checked a proof of the mailer beforehand, he said. "I can't see how someone would pay that kind of money for a slate card just to make a joke."

The mailer was produced by PJF Communications, a consulting firm based in Sacramento that specializes in non-partisan voters guides and other communication services.

The phone number listed on the State Secretary of State's web site for "No Party Preference Voter Guide" leads to a Sacramento accounting and payroll firm that is also a vendor for the group. An email to the company has not been returned.

UPDATE: Oct. 21, 7:30 p.m. Patiño said the vendor apologized for the error and a corrected mailer was sent to voters today. He posted the corrected version below on his campaign Facebook page.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

McElhaney's potential censure hearing gets pushed to after the election

Oakland Councilmember Desley Brooks called her
collegaues on the rules committee "spinles wonders."
Despite a round of aspersions against the Oakland City Council cast by Councilmember Desley Brooks and members of the public Thursday morning, potential censure proceedings for Council President Lynette Gibson McElhaney will not occur until after a further investigation into her alleged wrongdoings is conducted, the Rules Committee recommended.

The determination ensures the discussion over censuring McElhaney for interfering in the city’s permitting process relating to a housing project next door to her home will not begin until after voters decide whether to re-elect her for a second term on the council on Nov. 8.

An Alameda County grand jury report in June corroborated an earlier article in the East Bay Express and found McElhaney "had a conflict of interest that prohibited her from using her elected position to influence an administrative decision on the townhouse project." The report added, “Backroom dealing cannot be the standard by which the city of Oakland is governed.”

Embattled Council President Lynette Gibson
McElhaney had canceled the past two rules
committee meetings.
Led by a motion from Councilmembers Dan Kalb and Larry Reid, the committee voted to recommend the city administrator take over the matter and either appoint an independent investigator, in addition, to possibly folding the matter into the current inquiry being conducted by the Oakland Public Ethics Commission.

“What further investigation is necessary? You have the report,” Brooks told Reid, referring to the nearly four-month-old grand jury determination. “You’re hiding behind process to not do the right thing,” Brooks continued to the entire committee.

The Rules Committee meeting was also fraught with personal attacks, mostly from Brooks, who slammed the City Council for its obstinence. She labeled the entire committee as “spineless wonders,” which led to Councilmember Abel Guillen to read the council’s code of conduct to Brooks.

With a hint of smile, Guillen told Brooks, “Being called spineless is a violation of the rules.”
Brooks also called Kalb a “hypocrite” for his intransigence on the McElhaney matter, coming from one the city’s most recognized good government activists, she perceived.

During a Rules Committee meeting earlier this month, Brooks went off a 45-minute rant, which described Thursday as a “filibuster.” Subsequently, two successive Rules Committee meetings were canceled by McElhaney, in an apparent effort to avoid scheduling of censure hearings into her misconduct.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

BUSTED! 'Sick' McElhaney caught playing hooky from Oakland council meeting

Oakland Council President Lynette Gibson McElhaney
is becoming her own worst nightmare for re-election.
A much-anticipated fundraiser for New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker hosted by Rep. Barbara Lee was held Tuesday night at the Oakland Marriott--just a few blocks from a session of the Oakland City Council. For Oakland Council President Lynette Gibson McElhaney the question of how to spend her Tuesday night was apparently easy--she called in sick for work. Then was inexplicably caught in the act of playing hooky from the council meeting.

The incident is undoubtedly one of the most embarrassing moments in recent East Bay political history after East Bay Express reporter Darwin BondGraham posted video and photos of McElhaney, elegantly dressed in white, hobnobbing at the soiree while the council meeting was still in session.
McElhaney is currently embroiled in a long-simmering ethics scandal, in addition, to facing recent calls by some councilmembers to schedule a censure hearing for her transgressions. The past two Rules Committee meetings have been canceled by McElhaney in an effort to avoid scheduling censure proceedings. Councilmembers Desley Brooks and Anne Campbell Washington said Tuesday night they will try again at the next rules meeting on Thursday morning. McElhaney later rushed back to City Hall for the remainder of the council meeting.

In the meantime, McElhaney is suddenly facing a growing threat to her re-election next month from community activist and first-time candidate Noni Session. It's a scenario few could have imagined a month ago as support in McElhaney's District 3 begins to show signs of cracking.

For instance, the tip about McElhaney's whereabouts was delivered during public comment by Oakland Post publisher Paul Cobb, whose community newspaper has been increasingly critical of McElhaney. The East Bay Express also excoriated McElhaney last week while endorsing her opponent.

One significant political group that has stuck by McElhaney's side is the Alameda County Democratic Party. During its endorsement of her campaign last month, some members lashed out at the grand jury report that slammed McElhaney for using her political influence on behalf of a personal matter involving a property next to her home. Some central committee members said the process by which the grand jury chooses cases is biased toward minorities.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Ro Khanna's old pal comes to legal defense of former campaign manager

Ro Khanna's buddy former U.S. Attorney Renato
Mariotti is representing his embattled former
campaign manager.
Renato Mariotti is a former assistant U.S. attorney and a high-powered Chicago lawyer. He is also the attorney of record for Brian Parvizshahi, the former Ro Khanna campaign manager currently ensnared in a federal lawsuit claiming he accessed confidential computer files belonging to Rep, Mike Honda's campaign.

There's also another common thread: Mariotti is a long-time acquaintance of Khanna. The two were college classmates at the University of Chicago and Yale.

In a short essay Khanna penned in 2014, he described a two-year effort to organize a conference at the University of Chicago on the future of democracy "with one of my closest friends, Renato Mariotti."

Mariotti gain some renown last year when he was able to successfully prosecute a crime known as "spoofing," when a trader fraudulently posts a large order for stocks and other financial instruments and then abruptly pulls the buy, often times within a split second, in order to disrupt markets. Subsequently, Mariotti became a partner last June at the Chicago's law firm Thompson Coburn.

But, his help in a far-flung case involving a 25-year-old former campaign manager seems incongruous with Mariotti's recent successes. Marriotti was in federal court to defend Parvizshahi last week in San Jose.

Two East Bay campaign ads used actors, similar strategies to attack opponents

ELECTION 2016 | In the East Bay recently, two major campaigns felt the sting of similar negative television ads. Both used stand-ins to portray the challenger and both attempted to describe their alleged ties to powerful special interests groups. While 17th Congressional District candidate Ro Khanna was light-heartily tweaked by Rep. Mike Honda's campaign by tying him to Wall Street billionaires, a web ad in the equally-contested 16th Assembly District from Republican Assemblymember Catharine Baker darkly paints Democratic candidate Cheryl Cook-Kallio as beholden to Sacramento lobbyists. (The connection goes further, Khanna and Cook-Kallio are long-time friends and political acquaintances.) Here's a look at both commercials:
CA-17: Rep. Mike Honda, Ro Khanna.
HONDA'S 'SPEED DIAL' Khanna said this ad contains "racial innuendo," but it's hard to locate the specific offense. Khanna appeared to suggest the use of South Asian actor was racist. It might have been deemed offensive if Honda had a Caucasian actor portray Khanna, too, in light of the dearth of minorities in Hollywood. Khanna then suggested the portrayal of an Indian American as wealthy was a stereotype. Meanwhile, the approach in this ad is clearly playful. From the bouncy music to the comical lines the actor uses to greet his supposed Wall Street suitors this ad is breezy, but upon second and third viewings, it is loaded with information. Maybe too much for passive television watchers, but there, nonetheless, and includes references to Khanna's large number of Wall Street donors and a previous comment he made about lowering corporate taxes to repatriate overseas profits to the U.S.. Conversely, the tone might be off-putting to some independent voters who believe the campaign should stick to the issues and not devolve to the point an incumbent congressman's ad depicts his challenger as sitting in a limo, saying, "Yo" and "Whatcha you need?" But we're also smack in the middle of the period when television viewers are being bombarded by dry, often obtuse political commercials, especially those for and against state and local initiatives. In this vein, Honda's commercial might elicit a little smirk and stand out a bit from the monotony of political ads.

AD-16: Assemblymember Catharine Baker,
Cheryl Cook-Kallio.
BAKER'S 'SECRETS' Baker's re-election campaign is trying to foment doubt in the minds of 16th District's large pool of moderate voters with an opposition website that attempts, in part, to dupe web surfers searching for information on Democratic challenger Cheryl Cook-Kallio to instead visit CherylCookKallio.net. The candidate's official campaign website is votecookkallio.com. But, the site purchased by the Baker campaign contains only a 30-second video that claims Cook-Kallio made secret deals with Sacramento insiders to fund her campaign against Baker. The theme of the video is powerful and rooted in some truth, but only to those naive to how people are unfortunately elected to the state Legislature. But for an ad to be effective, it needs to enforce a sneaking suspicion among voters. It's not clear whether the Baker campaign has consistently fed this claim about Cook-Kallio to voters. However, voters in the district that covers the Tri Valley in Alameda County and Contra Costa County are a smart electorate. Just ask them for yourself. Specifically, this ad is a riff on secret union questionnaires. That's a dog whistle for moderate and conservative voters and leftover red meat from the BART union strikes of years past. However, the execution is almost corny, including an actress who vaguely looks like Cook-Kallio and lifeless dialogue from so-called special interests. "This is good. Real good. I think we can help." says the actor playing a lobbyist as Cook-Kallio hands him the supposed written promises. In some ways, though, it's more effective than Honda's hit on Khanna. It feels ominous and the single scene is focused on one scene, There's no quick edits like the Honda ad. This commercial could be an earworm for viewers, building and creating doubt in voters minds. But for that to happen, it needs to be run repeatedly. And that costs a lot of money.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Rep. Eric Swalwell marries a woman

Rep. Eric Swalwell was once labeled one of the Beltway's most eligible bachelors. No more, according to The New York Times, Swalwell married a woman last Friday in Oakland.

Swalwell tied the knot during a ceremony officiated by his former boss, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley. Swalwell served as an Alameda County prosecutor before his election to Congress in 2012.

According to the wedding announcement in The Sunday Times, Swalwell's blushing bride is Brittany Watt, a director of sales for the Ritz-Carlton resort in Half Moon Bay. The couple met in September 2015, the Times reported.

Nancy Skinner received contributions from Oakland, Richmond police unions

Nancy Skinner (left) received more than $11,000
from local police unions during a four-day period
last month, in her race against Sandre Swanson.
In the months that followed a wide-ranging East Bay police misconduct scandal involving an under-aged sex worker, police unions in Oakland and Richmond showered state Senate candidate Nancy Skinner with campaign contributions.

The Richmond Police Officers Association contributed $6,900 to Skinner's campaign this year for the Ninth District seat, including a $3,700 donation made Sept. 23, just weeks after the department was heavily criticized for sending the sex worker at the center of the police misconduct case to rehab in Florida.

The woman, known as Celeste Guap, was later arrested by Florida police for the alleged battery of a police officer while at the facility. Some East Bay activists labeled the transfer of Guap to Florida while she is witness in the misconduct cases, as suspicious and, at worst, a set-up by Richmond police.

In Oakland, where the scandal began and has led to criminal charges and the firing of several police officers, Skinner received $4,000 in campaign contributions from the Oakland Police Officers Association (OPOA), including $2,500 posted on Sept. 21.

The Sacramento-based Police Officers Research Association of California (PORAC), which represents the interests of more than 66,000 members of law enforcement in the state, contributed $8,500 to Skinner this year, including $5,000 on Sept. 23.

In an interview, Skinner said her history as a former member of the Assembly Public Safety Committee, shows her independence from special interest donors.“I frequently voted against things that PORAC or different police departments supported,” said Skinner. In the past, she has opposed the extension of sentencing guidelines, which she added, leads to prison overcrowding.

"I have no problem with our public safety officers bargaining and weighing-in with money for elections," said Skinner. “Though, it’s not going to affect my positions on things like, requiring body cameras, the Copley ruling or any number of things...” The Copley case is a California Supreme Court ruling that further restricted the public right to police records.

Skinner added that she was not aware of the police unions' contributions and had not been interviewed by its leadership for an endorsement. She, however, differentiates the alleged misconduct in Richmond surrounding Celeste Guap between the police department's top brass and its police officers.

“It appears those decisions were really made by the Contra Costa district attorney and the chief of police in Richmond," said Skinner. "So, when you look at these associations, that was not the rank-and-file. The (union) leadership is not in the top management at these police departments. Now, there are some people in the rank-and-file that are obviously bad apples, but they’re not the ones who made those decisions.”

Sandre Swanson, another Democratic candidate for the Ninth District Senate seat, said he also supports greater transparency when it comes to police records, but like Skinner, when it comes to officers, he supports the union's rights to collective bargaining. “Once a decision is made in a case," Swanson said, in reference to a police misconduct investigation, "that record should follow the officer and germane to them being able to service in some other police department.”

Swanson, though, has not received contributions from local police unions, despite his progressive pedigree, but others with a similar political ideology have received contributions from law enforcement.

Oakland Assemblymember Rob Bonta received $4,200 this election cycle from OPOA. In addition, Oakland City Council District 5 candidate Viola Gonzales received $1,400 from OPOA, along with thousands of dollars spent against her opponent, Councilmember Noel Gallo. Similar expenditures have been expended in recent weeks by the OPOA to oppose District 1 Councilmember Dan Kalb.