The South Bay and Fremont has a new congressman. Ro Khanna upends incumbent Rep. Mike Honda in the 17th District


One of the most expensive and contested Assembly race in the state ends up being a strong showing for Asm. Catharine Baker.



Jesse Arreguin becomes the youngest mayor in Berkeley history Tuesday night and the first Latino ever


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Alameda Councilmember Oddie wants island to be a sanctuary city

Alameda Councilmember Jim Oddie
Alameda may be the next Bay Area city to resist President-elect Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric by becoming a sanctuary city.

Alameda Councilmember Jim Oddie will seek to kickstart a push on the island for sanctuary city status at the year's final council meeting on Dec. 20.

The referral will not only direct city staff to begin assessing the potential costs and risks for becoming a sanctuary city but also seeks to instructs Alameda Police to refuse any request by the Trump administration to use its resources for mass arrests or internment.

In addition, Oddies wants the city to declare that no city department will participate in any registering of individuals based on their religious beliefs.

“This is pretty much about values,” said Oddie. “Are we going to stand up to Trump or not? By doing this we could be a fortress of defense against Trump.”

Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco leaders recently reaffirmed their status as a sanctuary city in moves readily viewed as attempts to forcefully oppose the incoming Trump administration.

In Alameda County, Sheriff Gregory Ahern has said in the past his department will comply with requests by agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) seeking to detain or even deport undocumented immigrants.

Oddie said his proposal will also protect many law-abiding undocumented immigrants who are at risk of being detained for minor infractions. “If someone gets pulled over for a broken tail light they won’t be reported to ICE," said Oddie. "They’re raising a family and paying their taxes. Are we going to stand and protect hardworking people or not?”

One of the concerns over sanctuary cities is the risk of a punitive response from the Trump administration, for instance, pulling some federal dollars from Bay Area cities or even the entire state.

A portion of Oddie’s referral asks the city staff to discern what those risks will be, but he said Alameda currently receives limited federal funds, primarily in public safety and transportation. “We need to find out realistically what they could take away,” said Oddie. “If all the cities along the state are sanctuary cities, are they going to withhold federal money? I don’t think so. In my opinion, if they do, there will be riots in the streets.”

Oddie's proposal may also be the first test of the next City Council's potential shift to the left. The referral is scheduled to be heard following Councilmember-elect Malia Vella's swearing-in on Dec. 20. She replaces the more moderate Councilmember Tony Daysog on the five-person council.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Possible changes coming to San Leandro’s surveillance policies

SAN LEANDRO CITY COUNCIL | San Leandro may tear up its contract with its red-light camera vendor. Mayor Pauline Cutter urged Monday night for the City Council to examine the possibility of ending its contract for red-light camera services, in addition to beginning a dialogue over redistributing public safety surveillance cameras to recurring hot spots for crime.

Cutter also requested a future agenda item to revisit the city’s data storage policy regarding Automated License Plate Readers. However, she acknowledged the discussion on each item will not likely begin in earnest until early next year.

Local government contracts with red-light camera vendors were en vogue in recent years. But recently some cities, including Hayward, have chosen to back out of those agreements, citing concerns over high incidents of false infractions, particularly on vehicles making permitted right turns on red lights, and generally ineffectiveness in regulation traffic.

In addition, there is some evidence the cameras can cause collisions. Specifically when drivers avoid setting off cameras by slamming their brakes on yellow lights, instead of safely traveling through the intersection.

City Manager Chris Zapata said data on red-light cameras was recently compiled in response to a request by Councilmember Ursula Reed. The cost of breaking the contract with the red-light camera vendor is unclear.

Resurrecting a discussion on San Leandro’s license plate readers policy, however, appears rooted in anticipated opposition toward the incoming Trump administration and unease over how well it might protect citizens from intrusive surveillance.

Mike Katz-Lacabe, a former San Leandro school board members and frequent critic of the surveillance state, urged the City Council Monday night to examine whether it should lowering the amount of time it retains license plate reader data. San Leandro current stores information for up to 12 months. Katz-Lacabe suggested lowering the policy to 6 months.

Cutter and Thomas appeared willing to listen. “Do we really need six months versus the one year we have right now?” asked Thomas, who recommended bringing the proposal to the City Council’s Rules Committee for discussion.


  • While Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco officials have reaffirmed their sanctuary city status in recent weeks, there are stirrings in other East Bay cities for joining them, including San Leandro. Two weeks ago, several public speakers urged the council to protect undocumented immigrants for prosecution and possibly deportation by becoming a sanctuary city. On Tuesday, another speaker strongly encouraged the same move. In every instance, the impetus was clearly a response to Trump’s, yet to be detailed intention to increase deportations on undocumented immigrants.
  • Councilmember Thomas noted Monday night that incidents of illegal dumping appear to be increasing in San Leandro. Councilmember Corina Lopez said illegal dumping is also on the rise in her district, particularly on the San Leandro-Oakland border. In fact, San Leandro public works was summoned recently to clean up debris and mattresses on the border that was actually under Oakland’s jurisdiction.
  • Monday’s council meeting was the last for termed out members Jim Prola and Ursula Reed. Former San Leandro police sergeant Pete Ballew will be sworn-in to replace Prola in District 6 on Dec. 19 and Ed Hernandez will take the oath of office in District 2. Councilmember Benny Lee will also be sworn-in for a second term.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Bonta takes seat at the big table as state Dems take aim at Trump, bail reform

Oakland Assemblymember Rob Bonta previewed
legislation Monday to reform the state's bail system
and protect immigrants.
The state is paying more than $4.5 million per day to jail suspects yet to be sentenced for crimes, many of who cannot afford bail. A forthcoming bill to be introduced by East Bay Assemblymember Rob Bonta will seek to reform the money bail system in the state, he announced Monday. Appearing with Southern California state Sen. Bob Hertzberg, Bonta said both houses of the Legislature will tackle the issue that disproportionately affects the poor.

“This is a bicameral lift to help our criminal justice system more just and to end a practice that for too long in California where we punish poor people simply for being poor,” said Bonta at a press conference in Sacramento. “And that is fundamentally wrong to base our justice system on how much money is in your pocket.”

Bonta, in an interview last month, described bail reform as one of his signature issues for the 2017 legislative calendar. Details about the exact language of the bills are expected to be hashed out over much of the early legislative session.

An estimated 63 percent of those current jailed are in pre-trial status and yet to be convicted of the alleged crime. “Because you’re in jail, you can’t show up for work, said Bonta. “You could lose your home or apartment because you can’t afford payments. You could even possibly lose your children.”

At roughly $100 per day to jail a suspect, Bonta believes reforming the bail system will free up millions better spent on education, health care and law enforcement, among other uses.

Other social justice issues dominated the first day of the legislative session, in addition, to several acknowledgements of the tragic Oakland warehouse fire that killed at least 36 people last weekend.

The Assembly concluded its session Monday with a moment of silence for those lost in the Oakland fire. In the state Senate, Nancy Skinner remembered the victims of the tragedy and their families. A formal adjournment in their memory will occur in January, she said.

Perhaps, demonstrating Bonta’s growing stature in Sacramento, he previewed legislation aimed to curtail President-elect Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric during a joint press conference Monday with Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Senate Pro Tem Kevin De Leon.

Recounting his mother’s immigration to the U.S. and his own as an infant from the Philippines, Bonta said Assembly Bill 3 aims to greater educate public defenders across the state on immigration law and policy and funding more to their ranks.

A single misdemeanor for an undocumented immigrant could spell deportation, said Bonta, and public defenders are likely the first and last lawyer a defendant will come across. The legislation could cost upwards of $10 million to fund, said Bonta, but he cautioned the bill is still a work in progress.

A strong and concerted response by state Democrats to Trump’s stated intention of deporting, what he claims is three million undocumented immigrants having committed crimes, highlighted much of the first day of the new session.

“Make no mistake the stakes are extremely high,” Bonta said, referring to immigrants and the incoming Trump administration. He labeled the president-elect’s comments about immigrants as a "witch hunt against a quarter of our population.”

Two resolutions meant to defy Trump’s heated anti-immigrant comments passed the Assembly and state Senate Monday with opposition from Republicans who urged for a more cautious approach.

East Bay Assemblymember Tony Thurmond (D-Richmond) said the resolution is not a partisan attack, but intended “simply to heal hurts.”

“We all know and we’re always taught our words matter,” said Thurmond. “It’s worse if the words come from the leader of the free world.”

A sense of pomp and circumstance also pervaded the capitol. Bonta was sworn-in for a third term in the Assembly, along with other re-elected East Bay legislators, including Assemblymembers Bill Quirk (D-Hayward), Kansen Chu (D-San Jose), Catharine Baker (R-Walnut Creek) and Thurmond.

After a two-year absence former Assemblymember, now newly-elected State Sen. Nancy Skinner, took the oath of office, replacing the termed out Loni Hancock in the ninth district. State Sen. Steve Glazer (D-Orinda) was also sworn-in for his first full-term in the seventh district after winning a special election in 2015.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Oakland reaffirms sanctuary city status; urges for statewide designation

OAKLAND CITY COUNCIL | A sense of dread over the incoming presidency of Donald Trump may have been alleviated at least for a few hours Tuesday after the Oakland City Council unanimously approved a resolution reaffirming its status as a sanctuary city for undocumented immigrants.

The decision is seen as a rebuke, however of Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric during the presidential campaign and fears his administration may strip federal funding to the city as result of its status. Oakland has designated itself as a sanctuary city since 1986.

Tuesday night’s resolution also urges the state legislature to become a statewide sanctuary for undocumented immigrants.

"Given the power of California, as the sixth largest economy in the world, as a state we can throw a monkey wrench in this regime," said Pamela Drake, an Oakland activist and local Democratic Central Committee member.

A sizable amount of fear and consternation toward the incoming administration was palpable, from numerous public speakers to members of the council.

"It’s supposed to be a joyous time of the year, but this year people are genuinely scared," said Councilmember Abel Guillen. Calling the issue of immigration a “personal issue,” Guillen recounted a conversation on Thanksgiving with an 8-year-old family member who worries about a future with Trump as president. "This country was built by immigrants and it's important to remember that," he added.

While some councilmembers noted the resolution was a small, symbolic gesture, it nevertheless represents a call for the community to fight for the most vulnerable among them.

"There will be lots of just justice we will need to stand up for,” said Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan.

Characteristically coarse, Councilmember Desley Brooks noted the city’s African American communities need also be wary of Trump. She lamented, "So many people voted for this clown knowing who he is."

Later, emergency room physicians from Oakland’s Highland Hospital declared they would dismiss any federal laws precluding them from giving care to undocumented patients.

Despite the defiance of Oakland and other Bay Area cities to defend its status as a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants, it could come with some real risks if the Trump administration pushes for penalizing them by withholding federal dollars. The loss of funding could hamper the city’s fiscal budget, already struggling to maintain or expand its services.

San Leandro rules committee nixes extending council term limits; ban on flavored cigarillos proposed

San Leandro Councilmember Ursula Reed's bid
to lengthen term limits is falling flat.
Using the same rationale that led to the extension of term limits to 12 years in the state Legislature, San Leandro Councilmember Ursula Reed believed by the time the city’s elected officials became proficient in their jobs, they were ready to be termed out. Reed, herself, will leave office in December after eight years on the City Council.

But her push to extend San Leandro’s term limits is apparently going nowhere after the City Council’s Rules Committee decided Monday to recommend it keep the status quo at two, four-year terms.

“I don't think this is an issue at this time," said Councilmember Deborah Cox, who is currently in the middle of her first term on the council. She also questioned the prudence of spending money to place the issue on a future ballot.

It’s the issue that initially hampered Reed’s proposal last May when the prevailing wisdom was another measure might overload San Leandro voters already set to be asked to approve three revenue-generating initiatives deemed more urgent than term limits.

"If we had the public really pushing for extended term limits, most of us would go along,” said Councilmember Lee Thomas, also in his first term. “As of right now, I really don't see a need."

However, Thomas added, any tweaks to the city’s election code, instead, should focus on placing fundraising caps on political campaigns.

Mayor Pauline Cutter said she understands Reed’s view that it takes time for new elected officials to get to know people and gain an understanding of the lay of the land. "I understand where she's going, but on the other hand, what we have right now--eight years--is a good time to be involved," said Cutter.

  • -San Leandro will be eyeing a prohibition on the sale of flavored tobacco products in coming months. The retail ban within city limits would not cover conventional cigarettes since federal law supersedes any local and state laws. However, the city can regulate small cigars known as cigarillos, which often come in fruity flavors that can attract the use of teenagers. San Leandro City Attorney Richard Pio Roda said during Monday’s Rules Committee that a ordinance could be presented before the City Council sometime next March.
  • -Councilmember Corina Lopez is pushing to create a multicultural committee, but only one person has volunteered for the ad hoc committee leading to its creation, said Cutter, who added she may wait until after the next council is seated on Dec. 19 to the move item forward again.
  • -Attendance has been spotty for some appointed council commissioners, according to Cutter. In addition, ethics and Brown Act training has been lax. The Rules Committee discussed numerous ways to be stricter on absent members, including having individual councilmembers keep tabs on their appointee’s attendance. In San Leandro, commissioners are appointed by district.

Barbara Lee falls short of winning House leadership post

Did Rep. Barbara Lee's fawning comments
about Fidel Castro this week hurt her chances?
East Bay Rep. Barbara Lee narrowly lost her bid for the vice-chair of the House Democratic Caucus Wednesday. Southern California Rep. Linda Sanchez topped Lee by just two votes, 98-96.

Lee potential ascension to one of the most powerful positions in the House Democratic Caucus would have made her the minority woman to hold the office. Sanchez, instead, will earn the distinction.

On Wednesday, House Dems also voted to retain Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi for another two years. She was challenged by Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan. The vote was 134-63.

Lee's narrow defeat could be attributed to a number of reasons, including a possible unease by some moderates to back one of the most progressive members of Congress.

Her laudatory comments following the death of Fidel Castro last weekend could have also played a role in Wednesday's vote.

At one point last year, Lee was talked about as a possible ambassador to Cuba following her decades of interaction with the Cuban government and opposition to the U.S. embargo.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Glazer rips Wells Fargo, calls it an ‘outlaw institution’

State Sen. Steve Glazer said Wells Fargo's iconic
stagecoach once represented trust and honest, 
but no more following its notorious scandal.
State Sen. Steve Glazer tore into Wells Fargo for misconduct involving millions of falsified customer accounts. But, Wells Fargo Chief Executive Steve Sloan wasn’t there to take the thumping.

Sloan never said he would attend Monday’s State Senate Banking Committee Oversight Hearing, said Glazer, its chairperson, but he also never declined the invitation.

The State Senate’s historian said it is the first time a corporation skipped an oversight hearing since disgraced energy provider Enron in the late 1990s.

“It’s sad to see Wells Fargo join this elite Hall of Shame,” said Glazer, who represents  Contra Costa County and the Tri Valley in Alameda County. “Who could imagine that the bank that represented the values of honesty and fair-dealings for more than 160 years in California would now become an outlaw institution?"

Wells Fargo’s wrongdoing involved 2 million bank accounts, including 900,00 in California alone. Following a congressional hearing in October, Wells Fargo Chief Executive John Stumpf resigned.

A portion of Glazer’s intent through Monday’s hearing was to established how high up the chain of command knowledge of the bank’s illegal behavior had reached. Beforehand, correspondences and a meeting six weeks ago between Wells Fargo officials and Glazer, yielded no new information, he said, but more obfuscation.

“I remain unsatisfied on every material question,” said Glazer.

The senate banking committee, however, found evidence that 480 Wells Fargo branch managers were fired in last 5 years due to sales practice violations. Glazer asserted the number of firings suggests company executives should have been aware that problems existed. “This appears to be a company culture, an atmosphere of greed pushed from the top,” said Glazer.

Glazer said he hopes Wells Fargo provides in the near future a blueprint for how it intends to clean up its corporate culture.

This does not appear to be the last time Wells Fargo will be raked over the coals by state lawmakers. Glazer’s hearing followed a similar Assembly oversight hearing last month.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Barbara Lee, progressive leaders, criticize Trump's Secretary of State candidates

Rep. Barbara Lee wants President-elect Trump to 
avoid  choosing a pro-Iraq War supporter for
secretary of state. 
East Bay Rep. Barbara Lee and three other members of the House Progressive Caucus are concerned about President-elect Donald Trump's possible choices for Secretary of State.

In a letter Monday, the group referenced comments Trump made during the campaign labeling the Iraq War as a catastrophic error. "The war in Iraq was a big, fat mistake," Trump once said.

Yet the president-elect is reportedly considering two avowed supporters of the war--Rudy Giuliani and John Bolton.

Mitt Romney is also reportedly a candidate for the post.

"Many years after the Iraq War's launch, these potential candidates remain unrepentant with regard to the greatest foreign-policy failure in modern U.S. history," according to the letter. "This fact alone calls into serious doubt their ability to pursue prudent alternatives to escalations of conflict."

In addition to Lee, Reps. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) signed the letter.

The decision whether to invade the Middle East in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks is undoubtedly important to Lee, whose lone vote against authorization of the invasion proved prescient.

Rebecca Kaplan participated in Standing Rock protests over Thanksgiving

Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan at the Standing 
Rock Native American Reservation in the Dakotas 
last week. PHOTO/Kaplan's office.
Last September, Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan proposed a resolution to formally oppose the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) at the far-flung Standing Rock Native American Reservation.

The Oakland City Council approved the resolution just as the protests began growing along with increased media attention.

The gesture from Kaplan’s perspective was not hollow. That’s because she spent the Thanksgiving holiday at Standing Rock.

Prior to Kaplan’s arrival authorities had fired rubber bullets and opened water cannons on protesters amid freezing temperatures.

“It’s very cold here,” Kaplan wrote on Facebook a day before Thanksgiving. “But hearts are warm.” On Saturday, Kaplan noted on social media an increased police presence near the sprawling encampment, along with a photo of law enforcement personnel overlooking a ridge.

Tribal leaders in the area and activists say the pipeline violates their land rights and threatens the water supply.

In a statement issued through her office last Friday, Kaplan said, “We must defend the water, land and the people. I am proud to be part of a city that stands up for justice. Together, we have moral obligation to say no to poisoning our water, no to the violence against those being harmed here in North Dakota, and to honor our First Nation’s peoples and respect treaty rights."

Moratorium on holiday evictions in Alameda is unlikely

Alameda renters urge for a moratorium on evictions
before the Nov. 22 council meeting at City Hall.
PHOTO/Zac Goldstein
A push by an Alameda renters group urging for a moratorium on evictions during the holidays isn't needed, says Alameda's city manager, because the rent stabilization ordinance passed last March is working.

Between April—when the ordinance was approved by the Alameda City Council—through September of this year, the Housing Authority was notified of 17 evictions, according to a memo sent by City Manager Jill Keimach last week to the Alameda Renters Coalition.

In each instance, relocation payments were given by the property owner to the displaced tenants, as outlined in the rent ordinance.

“While we understand the very real hardship these terminations cause Alameda residents and families, the data we have does not provide overwhelming evidence of widespread displacement supporting a serious health and safety issue,” said Keimach.

Members of the Alameda Renters Coalition urged the City Council to enact a 90-day moratorium on evictions during a meeting on Nov. 22. A similar holiday moratorium was issued last year, although before the rent stabilization ordinance was finalized.

Despite calls for another moratorium, one Alameda council member told the East Bay Citizen that the votes were not likely there for such a resolution, anyway.

The call to action by the Alameda Renters Coalition comes after an election that provided them with mixed results.

Although its bid for rent control was overwhelmingly voted down by Alameda voters on Nov. 8, the two council candidates most sympathetic to greater restrictions for renters--incumbent Councilmember Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft and Malia Vella--easily won the two available seats.

In addition, according to Keimach, the city was begin to examine whether unspecified tweaks could be made to the existing rent stabilization ordinance in coming months.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Ro Khanna era finally begins

CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | In the end, voters in the 17th Congressional District decided Rep. Mike Honda's on-going ethics investigation, in addition, to a view his tenure had morphed into general apathy, was too much to bear for another two years. The alternate ending says the South Bay's Congressmember-elect Ro Khanna made the far more persuasive case for the job. In fact, there's some evidence voters did not so much vote Honda out of office, but, more correctly, voted on the merits of the two candidates, and overwhelmingly chose Khanna.

Despite the constant media buzz over the so-called "dark cloud" hanging over Honda, the investigation into his alleged commingling of campaign and official staff work was not really a big deal. Certainly not enough to upend an eight-term member of Congress. But over consecutive campaigns, Honda never really put together a strong offensive. He never made the case and merely allowed his accumulative gravitas to erode over time. Meanwhile, Khanna's campaign deftly keep the allegation in the news, effectively playing the same hand for nearly a year. Honda won in 2014, but barely. In hindsight, we can see the downward trajectory of Honda's demise starting with a high point in 2013 when Khanna announced his first challenge. Every primary and general election thereafter, Khanna gained ground until the floodgates busted on Nov. 8, resulting in his resounding 22-point victory

It's a credit to Khanna that his pair of campaigns were able to continually build on a long series of successes over a nearly four-year period without the public becoming tired of the candidate or his message. The barrage of television commercials during the final weeks of the last campaign may have chipped away somewhat at voter's tolerance, but in the end they may have viewed Honda's negative ads with a tinge of disdain. 

What To Expect
It may appear hackneyed to compare and contrast Khanna to neighboring Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell in the 15th District, but it's certainly apt. Both are young politicians who replaced much older and entrenched congressmen. Khanna is 40. Swalwell is 36. But there might be more contrast between than similarities going forward. While Khanna is young, he doesn't exude the youthful vibe of Swalwell. Whether by design or necessity, Swalwell has found a niche as one of the House Democrat's energetic Boy Wonders. He tweets pictures of his penny loafers while entering airplanes and dabbles on Snapchat. He often appears sans tie. Other times he discards the sport coat, altogether, and rolls up his sleeve like a 12-year-old boy dressing up as Martin O'Malley for Halloween. 

Don't expect Khanna to be placed in this generational box. Whereas, Swalwell appears to strive for the kind of super stardom normally attached to to rock stars and matinee idols, Khanna seems driven to become a statesman. His propensity for quoting Abraham Lincoln as a candidate always appeared out-of-touch on the campaign trail, but as a member of the House, it becomes an endearing quality for voters who want to believe Washington should represent a more high-minded conversation. Notably, during Khanna's Election Night victory speech, he quoted Lincoln and spoke with an uplifting message of equality, the immigrant experience and the ability of the congressional district to literally change the world through its tech companies. The speech almost sounded like a candidate announcing his run for President.

A Chance To Hit The Road Running
Typically the argument against replacing a long-time incumbent congressmember with a political rookie is the district's loss of seniority in terms of committee posts and general power in Washington. There's also something to be said for literally knowing your way around the Capitol. It's difficult to argue against, but on account of several factors, Khanna may not be governed by these same these laws of gravity. By virtue of his band of influential Silicon Valley supporters, Khanna may likely wield inordinate power and access usually not afforded to a freshman. During his Election Night speech, Khanna referred to the 17th District, which includes Apple, Facebook and Google among its residents, as the most influential district not only in the country, but the world. Progressives who found Khanna less than optimal because of these ties to Big Tech have an opportunity to shape pet causes to an audience that even Honda may not have been able to attain over 16 years in Congress. South Bay progressives were able to move Khanna firmly on the side opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact. Maybe, even pushed Honda against TPP, for that matter.

Taken at face value, Khanna has repeatedly declared he will vote in favor of progressive policies. Undoubtedly, he will vote in line with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Last week, Khanna tweeted support for Pelosi, who could be facing an insurgent campaign against her re-election as House leader. But such a strategy shouldn't be scoffed at, unless you're a Republican. It's how the game works in Washington. In fact, it's how the game works for anyone at any new job.  

Upon Khanna's win, loyalists to Honda immediately surveyed the far-flung political landscape leading to 2018. Who might stop Khanna from a second term even before the first was nearly two months from starting? There's Assemblymember Evan Low, a strong supporter of Honda. Depending on where he lives in Fremont, state Sen. Bob Wieckowski's name is often mentioned. A similar conversation arose in the 15th District after Swalwell upended Pete Stark in 2012. Inherent mistrust about Swalwell from labor unions and even party loyalists who counseled Swalwell to wait and allow Stark to retire, eventually amounted in the establishment mounting one last effort against him in 2014, led by Ellen Corbett. Swalwell played dirty with some members of the Alameda County Democratic Party, cynically manipulated the statewide party's endorsement procedures and co-opted the primary fight with the Alameda County Republican Party to edge out Corbett in the June 2014.

A similar last-ditch attack in 2018 against Khanna could arise in the South Bay. Labor has a similar tinge of antipathy toward Khanna and those who strongly supported Honda might harbor instincts for revenge. However, there are two reasons why this is unlikely to happen. For one, Khanna's personality is much different than Swalwell. It could be argued Swalwell played the "I'm a member of Congress and you should think twice about crossing me" card way too often for his own good. Khanna is predisposed to engaging opponents without creating more enemies. But there's one larger and unique circumstance that suggests nobody will challenge Khanna in two years. In the age of Trump, its will be viewed highly unfavorably for any Democrat to mount a challenge against an incumbent within the party, especially when every resource will be needed to win the House back from Republicans.

Problems Ahead
An interesting thing about Khanna's slow rise is its relation to Silicon Valley. When Khanna announced his first run in 2013, Silicon Valley was viewed with awe. Everyone marveled at Apple and everyone had an iPhone in their pocket, but few questioned the ethos of these companies. Then, almost immediately, Silicon Valley became a target for gentrification, by way of Google buses in San Francisco and worries that its products may be vessels for the federal government to spy on ordinary folks. This change in how the public at-large viewed Silicon Valley certainly slowed Khanna's roll two years ago. Precisely because he was staking his claim to the congressional seat on the backs of Silicon Valley's high-rollers while tapping into their exciting view of the future.

The reasons are unclear why the continued heightening of the public's suspicion toward Silicon Valley did little to hamper Khanna this time around. Again, probably because voters had given up on Honda and were prepared for something new. Today, Khanna still has the Brahmin's of tech on his side, but that group also includes PayPal founder Peter Thiel. His connection to Thiel poses a problem for Khanna because of his continued support of President-elect Donald Trump. Thiel is part of Trump's transition team and his influence within the administration overlaps the congressional district's core corporate interests in tech. Khanna, quite quickly, will need to figure out how to maintain his relationship with Thiel while keeping him at arms-length. It will be extremely difficult for South Bay progressives to begin cozying up to Khanna on any issue without focusing on Thiel's negatives. It's close to a non-starter for any progressive.

Measuring Success
Congressmembers are not like state legislators and local officials in that a scoreboard detailing their legislation can be compiled with wins or losses. Washington is a realm of collaboration. A place where an elected officials cannot remove a tree, but with other can collectively offer a small puff of air to merely make it sway. Not much happens there, but the debate shapes the entire nation, from the state house to your local sanitary district board. Khanna's early role will certainly not be legislation, but confronting the in-coming administration.

Trump, in general, poses a problem for everyone. But Khanna quickly coming out in support of a Constitutional amendment enacting congressional term limits, could tell us a lot about how Khanna governs and the method of which he monitors the political roads way ahead of him. Linking up with a Trumpian idea might not seem wise at this moment. Especially in the Bay Area, a hysteria toward Trump is clearly evident. But supporting term limits may be a good play. For one, it will never pass Congress, but the strategy of picking and choosing areas to work with Trump (while also driving a wedge between him and Republicans) may prove continuously successful over the next two years. From the perspective of a constituent, an elected official's most valuable asset is the ability to make decisions modeled on the future, not the past. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Fremont City Council gives itself a raise; mayor-elect rejects her own pay

FREMONT CITY COUNCIL | Fremont councilmembers will now earn $2,118 a month in salary, after approving an increase last week. In addition, the City Council approved bumping up the mayor's monthly pay to $3,764. But Mayor-elect Lily Mei said she might, instead, donate her salary to charity.

Past council had agreed to revisit the issue of pay on an annual basis based on Consumer Price Index, but had not in two years. Current councilmembers receive $1,970 a month, while the mayor earns $3,500.

The council unanimously approved the modest salary increases, but Mei, who just days before, was on the cusp of upsetting Mayor Bill Harrison in a close race, voiced unease over accepting the increase.

“I’m not comfortable voting myself a raise," said Mei, whose campaign was focused on a pledge to rein in Fremont's finances and wean it away from unfettered development.

Mei initially attempted to separate a vote on the mayor's pay from the council's increase. “I don’t feel comfortable to be in a situation where our employees and staff are taking cuts and we’re not,” said Mei in the event the city's finances take a downturn.

She relented after City Attorney Harvey Levine noted each council members had the option later forego accepting a salary or donating its proceeds.

Otherwise, there was little push back from the rest of the council in opposition of increasing its own salary. In many small to mid-sized East Bay municipalities, the job of councilmember is viewed as a part-time job, although the time and effort often rivals a full-time occupation.

“This is a good tack to be on," said Councilmember Suzanne Lee Chan. "We don’t do it for the money." Chan, however, is termed out of office next month and will not receive any benefits from the increase.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Latinos de Hayward el ayuntamiento no ofrece traductores en Español

Hayward Councilmember Francisco Zermeno
serving as an impromptu translator at Tuesday
night's council meeting.
Translation: Hayward does not offer Spanish translation at its city council meetings

Hayward’s diversity is boosted in part by the largest Latino population in the East Bay--by some estimates, including up to 40 percent of the city. Yet, Spanish-speaking residents upset with Hayward city government or even in the mood to praise them, will find it does not provide translation services at city council meetings.

The gap in services was highlighted during Tuesday night's council meeting after more than dozen residents approached the lectern to speak during public comment. When it was communicated that several in the group only spoke Spanish, it was learned a translator was not available.

"We're part of the community, too," said Hayward resident Araceli Orozco. Mayor Barbara Halliday quickly responded, "Of course you are."

Nevertheless, a translator not only in Spanish, but any other language is not readily available at every council meeting. On occasion, Spanish-speaking residents, especially addressing the council within a group, have provided translation on their own.

Hayward City Manager Kelly McAdoo said, "Usually we get a request in advance if someone needs the service."

To alleviate the problem Tuesday night, Councilmember Francisco Zermeño volunteered to translate the concerns of several speakers voicing concern over rising rents, low wages and the city spike in homicides.

The optics of Zermeño, through his translations, voicing words of despair and displacement, appeared jarring. Especially, on other occasions, when it appeared as if Zermeño, like a puppet voicing a ventriloquists words, was casting aspersions against the city council.

Signaling out not only Zermeño, but other Latino American Hayward councilmembers, such as Mark Salinas and Elisa Marquez, one speaker castigated the trio. "You are Latino and you should support the Latino community."

San Pablo mayor wants to work in the Trump administration

ELECTION 2016 | Large anti-Donald Trump protests may be raging miles away in Oakland and other East Bay cities, but San Pablo's Mayor Rich Kinney is interested in serving the president-elect.

In a series of tweets last weekend, Kinney offered his services to Trump. It even appeared Kinney filled out some sort of application, according to one tweet. Kinney did not respond to an email this week asking for more information.

Kinney, a registered Republican, more recently ran for the open Ninth State Senate District seat this year. He finished last in the four-person June primary, involving Nancy Skinner and Sandre Swanson. Kinney garnered seven percent of the vote.

Every vote counts! Union City school board candidate leads by just 1 vote

New Haven school board candidate Jeff Wang
leads incumbent Michael Ritchie by one vote.
ELECTION 2016 | Talk about a nail-biter! The current margin of victory for a seat on the East Bay's New Haven Unified School District is one vote.

Three seats are available on the school district board representing Union City and parts of South Hayward, 

Newcomers Sharan Kaur and Lance Nishihira have all but wrapped up two of the seats, but the third remains very uncertain. 

Jeff Wang leads incumbent school board member Michael Ritchie by a single vote, 8,725 to 8,724.

The Alameda County Registrar's office updated its election totals late Wednesday afternoon. A further update is expected Friday, but only a dwindling number of uncounted ballots remain.

There is no mechanism in Alameda County Election Code for triggering an automatic recount. However, guidelines exist for a candidate to request a recount, provided they pay for its costs.

In the event of a tie, the rules are less certain. Since the registrar's office only facilitates election for jurisdictions, it has no rules regarding the outcome, according to a spokesperson. 

In this specific case, the steps for who is ultimately awarded the third school board seat rests with the New Haven Unified School District's bylaws. 

The school district could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.

UPDATE: Alameda County Register of Voters released its unofficial final results Friday night. The totals show Jeff Wang extended his one-vote lead over Michael Ritchie to 84. Alameda County's election results are scheduled to be certified on Dec. 8.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Luis Reynoso again disparages Hayward City Council for inaction

Elections have consequences. But curiously, in Hayward, those reeling from an Election Night loss last week weren't even on the ballot. On Tuesday night, the Hayward City Council faced the music for its mixed attempt at remaking the city's school board at the ballot box.

Two of three school board members won re-election Nov. 8, including Annette Walker and Luis Reynoso. School board member John Taylor finished a dismal sixth after he previously admitted to misusing school district resources for his past city council campaign. The transgression left the door open for one new member of the school board--a member of the slate opposing the incumbents--former Chabot College president Robert Carlson.

But recent city council meetings have been jolted by the presence of Reynoso and school board president Lisa Brunner, who have sharply criticized the political action committee comprised of local leaders, including the City Council, for interfering in the elected body's school business.
"It got nasty and it got personal," said Brunner. During the course of the campaign, several councilmembers had criticized her, she said, even though she was not up for re-election this November. Brunner also claimed the council and PAC essentially attempted to buy the election with more than $72,000 in spending for its slate of three candidates. "You found the time to raise money and badmouth us and tear this city apart," added Brunner.

In yet another whirlwind of criticism by Reynoso against the City Council, he railed against its lack of movement to address rising rents in Hayward, its citywide minimum wage and a recent plague of homicides this year, currently totaling 12.

Reynoso asserted the City Council--six of seven of whom supported the PAC--put more time into dismantling the school board than tending to the city. "You were working for the PAC while murders were going on," said Reynoso. "I expect the same level of energy to  reduce crime." He later dismissively called the City Council "a very embarrassing bunch."

Afterward, Reynoso said he will continue raising the issue of exorbitant rents and low wages until the city council takes serious action. “They said, it's the first time this has been brought to them," he said of the council's respone to the rent control issue in Hayward. "Well, get use to it, there’s more coming.”

Lily Mei is Fremont's next mayor after upset over incumbent Bill Harrison

Fremont Councilmember Lily Mei registered one
of the biggest electoral upsets in the East Bay.
Using a deft campaign to highlight growing unease over development and traffic, Councilmember Lily Mei is Fremont's next mayor. She becomes the city's first female mayor and the first Asian American to attain the office.

Although some ballots are still left uncounted in Fremont, Mei extended her lead over incumbent Mayor Bill Harrison during Monday night's latest update to 4,479 votes. The county's initial tally released on Election Night showed Mei up by just 929 votes.

[UPDATE] Mayor Bill Harrison said he called Councilmember Lily Mei Wednesday afternoon to concede the race and congratulate her on the victory. Harrison also offered to his assistance to ease the transition to the new mayor.

Mei's victory in Fremont is likely one of the biggest upset of the election cycle in the East Bay, however, but totally surprising. Fremont Democrats and those in the Alameda County party as a whole, had been predicting a tough re-election campaign for Harrison over the past few months. Mei is registered without a party affiliation.

Fremont voters also sent a further message to city officials that development must be slowed due to concerns over traffic and a shortage of schools. Voters not only sided with Mei's slow-growth stances, but also those of her political acolyte, Councilmember Vinnie Bacon, who overwhelmingly won re-election Tuesday night.

Bacon, who mimicked many of Mei's concerns, won 31.8 percent of the vote in a seven-person field for two open council seats. Bacon's total dwarfed second-place finisher Raj Salwan by 10 points and nearly 20 points over the third-place finisher.

Harrison's one term as mayor will end despite signs Fremont's business sector was growing and public works projects such as the opening of the Warm Springs BART station and rebuilding of the downtown areas was conveying a sense of progress.

But the incumbent mayor was a victim of Mei's strong campaign that sought to label Harrison as staunchly pro-development and to a certain extent in the pockets of developers.

There was also a derisive quality to the reaction Harrison would receive at public campaign events whenever the issue of developers was raised, further suggesting Mei's strategy was undercutting her opponent.

In this light, it comes as no coincidence that late vote-by-mail and provisional ballots issued on Election Day are showing higher percentage of support for Mei than the initial vote count following a news story that only reinforced perceptions about Harrison and his reliance on developer's money.

A newspaper report published five days before the election likely ended any chance of a comeback for Harrison after it detailed his campaign receiving $60,000 in late contributions from developers doing business in Fremont.

Nevertheless, because of Mei's victory, the political season will not end in Fremont just yet. Once the results of the election are certified in coming weeks, the Fremont City Council will look to make an appointment to fill the remaining two years of Mei council term.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Eric Swalwell's endorsement is proving to be a kiss of death for East Bay candidates

Rep. Eric Swalwell, center, campaigning for Bryan
Parker last spring. along with future candidate Tojo
Thomas, right, who Swalwell later endorsed for
the Castro Valley school board. Both lost.
Despite periodic news reports placing East Bay Rep. Eric Swalwell on the precipice of earning a prime leadership post among House Democrats one day, his imprimatur has not meant much at all for local candidates seeking office.
On Election Night, some of the biggest surprises losers in the East Bay shared at least one commonality: Their campaign was endorsed by Swalwell.

Fremont Mayor Bill Harrison was the victim of an upset last week at the hands of Councilmember Lily Mei. Swalwell's endorsement apparently did little to sway voters in Fremont worried about development and traffic.

Closer to Swalwell's neck of the woods in the Tri Valley, two sitting Livermore council members were defeated, including Stewart Gray, who also was endorsed by Swalwell.

Whether political endorsements truly mean nothing to voters is up for questioning, but so is Swalwell's apparent inability to sway many local races, especially in down ballot races where the endorsement of a sitting, presumably popular, congressman would usually present an enormous shot in the arm for any candidate. For whatever reason, Swalwell's backing means shockingly little to voters in the East Bay.

A similar outcome came last week in the same area when Tojo Thomas, a candidate for the Castro Valley school board, missed out on three open seats. Thomas was previously endorsed by Swalwell and the candidate made certain voters knew about the endorsement by featuring it on signage and campaign flyers.

In neighboring Hayward, Swalwell's backing of a group seeking to replace three sitting school board incumbents with a trio of its own candidates failed miserably in achieving its goal.

This trend likely started in 2014 when Swalwell endorsed a well-known, but controversial Castro Valley construction company owner named Marc Crawford for the areas sanitary district board. It's debatable whether Crawford's unpopularity among voters in Castro Valley, through his antics as a member of the unincorporated area's Municipal Advisory Committee, ruined his candidacy, but nonetheless, after toting Swalwell's endorsement Crawford finished dead last.

But the most significant test of Swalwell's deficient gravitas among voters was seen during the most recent June primary after he issued a surprise endorsement for the candidate opposing Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley. Swalwell's support for Bryan Parker, a former Oakland mayor candidate waging a well-financed challenge to Miley, was viewed by the campaign as pivotal to its chances in upsetting the long-time supervisor in places like Castro Valley and Pleasanton.

Mailers trumpeting Swalwell's endorsement were sent, Swalwell, himself, walked door-to-door in support of Parker. On primary day, voters not only rejected Parker, but also Swalwell. Miley trounced him by 30 points.

Oakland eyes creating public bank to help city's underserved, cannabis industry

OAKLAND CITY COUNCIL | A proposed resolution setting the stage for Oakland to begin studying the feasibility of a public bank was approved Tuesday by the Oakland City Council Finance and Management Committee.

The idea of a city-owned public bank, first proposed by Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, is intended to fill the gap for Oakland small businesses seeking loans and local homebuyers previously stymied from receiving loans from big banks, said Laura Holtan, policy and legislative director for Kaplan's office,. In addition, a public bank could theoretically offer these financial instruments at below-market rates, said Holtan.

The proposal also asks city staff to determine whether the idea can also be expanded to include neighboring cities, but main impetus is to allow Oakland to lessen its reliance on big banks. The full council will discuss the proposed resolution on Nov. 29.

But Oakland's burgeoning cannabis industry may be the key to funding a public bank since traditional financial institutions are wary of opening accounts with dispensaries and other cannabis-related businesses due to the federal government's stance against legalization. In turn, the industry is primarily cash-based and therefore, often a target for robberies.

The Oakland Cannabis Regulatory Commission formally endorsed the proposal for a public bank last month.

David Wedding Dress, one of the founders of Oakland's successful Harborside Health Center, said the dispensary often sends millions in taxes to city and the State Board of Equalization via armored car. Oakland city workers were once forced to hand-count millions in tax receipts from Harborside, he added.

Wall Street's perceived propensity for drawing significant returns on assets in the city without returning a portion of the proceeds back into Oakland, rankled several public speakers Tuesday morning.

There's also great uncertainty over whether the incoming Trump administration will roll back regulations placed on banks since the Great Recession. "This is the time for a public bank," said Debbie Notkin. "This is one of the few things Oakland can do itself to keep our people economically sound and have some footing with the craziness that is going to go down at the federal government."

The Finance Committee found little disagreement with Kaplan's proposal, which is also co-authored by Councilmembers Dan Kalb and Abel Guillen.

"I'm in full support of this proposal and I think they're in line with our values as a city," said Guillen, who has some history with the idea of separating Oakland from the pull of big banks.

In 2011, as a member of the Peralta Community College District Board of Director, Guillen proposed a resolution for the district to move its money out of  Wall Street banks and into local community-based banks and credit unions.

"This is a first step," said Kalb. "Sometimes you need to take one step at a time to get where you want and this is what we're doing."

If the City Council approves the resolution in two weeks, a report on the feasibility of a public bank could return sometime in March.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Lily Mei leads Fremont mayor's race by nearly 1,200 votes over Bill Harrison

Fremont Mayor Bill Harrison trails Councilmember
Lily Mei by 929 votes.
With thousands of ballot still uncounted as of Friday morning, the Fremont mayor's race remains too close to call with Councilmember Lily Mei maintaining a 1,172 vote advantage over incumbent Mayor Bill Harrison.

The Alameda County Registrar's office updated its results Friday afternoon, the first since early Wednesday morning. Roughly 260,000 ballots had remained uncounted countywide before Friday's update of more than 45,000 votes.

Currently, Mei has garnered 22,716 votes (51.15 percent) as compared to Harrison's 21,544 votes (48.51 percent). Mei's lead actually grew from a previous 929-vote lead.

Meanwhile, both candidates remain guardedly optimistic. Mei told supporters on Facebook, "We are taking a cautiously optimistic stance that the votes from the absentee ballots will mirror the votes that have already been counted. In the next week or so, we should have the final certified results from Alameda County."

Harrison, who is seeking a second term as mayor, had similar remarks regarding the existence of so many absentee ballots yet to be counted.

At Harrison's Election Night campaign party at Fremont's Spin-A-Yarn restaurant, the mood was subdued. Harrison, though, appeared in good spirits, although concerned, as he poured over election returns on his tablet.

If Tuesday night's early returns indeed hold in Mei's favor, Fremont will soon begin the process of making an appointment to the City Council in order to fill out the remaining two years of Mei's first term.

In contrast to the mayoral race, Fremont's City Council campaign for two open seats was far more definitive. Councilmember Vinnie Bacon won re-election to his seat, as did Raj Salwan. Both easily outpaced the rest of the seven-person field.

Lily Mei................................. 22716  51.15%
*Bill Harrison........................... 21544  48.51%

City Council - Pick 2.....................VOTES....PCT
*Vinnie Bacon............................ 22272  31.71%
Raj Salwan............................... 14868  21.17%
Kathy Kimberlin..........................  8825  12.56%
Rakesh Sharma............................  7857  11.19%
Laurie Manuel............................  7304  10.40%
Cullen Tiernan...........................  6221   8.86%
Marty Froomin............................  2718   3.87%

Hayward still has Luis Reynoso to kick around; Annette Walker also returns to embattled school board

Hayward school board trustees Annette Walker
and Luis Reynoso win re-election Tuesday night.
After an expensive campaign seeking to unseat a majority of the Hayward school board failed, much of the status quo will remain.

School board incumbents Annette Walker and Luis Reynoso won re-election to three open seats Tuesday night. Walker received 21.6 percent of the at-large vote, followed by former Chabot College president Robert Carlson with 16.3 percent. Reynoso won the last seat, finishing third, with 15.8 percent.

However, the results were a mixed bag for the group of Hayward public officials and civic leaders who formed the political action committee, Hayward Civic Leaders Advocating for Student Success (CLASS), to remake the school board. Three candidates from the group ran as a slate, including Carlson, Daniel Goldstein and Todd Davis.

The group’s main argument claimed the current board members essentially privately and publicly bickered with each other more than did their jobs as stewards of education in Hayward. The group also publicly voiced a willingness to challenge in 2018 two additional school board members up for re-election--Lisa Brunner and William McGee.

Voters somewhat disagreed, deciding to bring back Walker, and the main adversary of Hayward CLASS, Reynoso. The third incumbent in the race, school board member John Taylor, was largely absent during the campaign after he was accused of misusing district funds for his ill-fated City Council race run earlier this year. Taylor finished sixth in the eight-person race, behind Hayward CLASS candidates, Goldstein (13.7 percent), and Davis (13.6 percent).

Reynoso, who will now begin a third term on the school board in December, believes Hayward CLASS largely failed because it ran its campaign like a city council race and neglected the school district’s outlying boundaries in unincorporated areas of Alameda County. “They forgot about those places," said Reynoso. :When the voting data comes out, they probably beat me in Hayward, but I trashed them in Fairview and Cherryland.”

His opponents, backed by Hayward CLASS, also lacked passion and a message, believes Reynoso. “Their heart wasn’t in the game. They were recruited to run. I had a message: ‘I’m running to get rid of corruption. I’m running to get rid of no-bid contracts.’ Their message was the board fought too much.”

Meanwhile, the contentious election also exacerbated a rift between elected officials in the city that is likely to spill over post-Election Day. During the campaign, for instance, school board president Brunner unbraided the City Council during one of its meetings for meddling in their affairs.

Reynoso lashed out at elected officials Thursday who endorsed the Hayward CLASS effort to oust him and his colleagues from office, including Rep. Eric Swalwell, Assemblymember Bill Quirk, and a six of the seven members of the Hayward City Council. “What we should take from this is the school board is much more in tune with the needs of Hayward voters and its schools than all these other public officials.”

Skinner returns to Sacramento following 20-point victory

Nancy Skinner won 60 percent of the vote Tuesday
night in an impressive win over Sandre Swanson.
The East Bay is sending Nancy Skinner back to Sacramento following a two-year hiatus.

Skinner, a former assemblymember who was termed out in 2014, registered a clear victory Tuesday night over Sandre Swanson in the East Bay’s Ninth State Senate District race.

Skinner garnered 60 percent of support from voters in Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond, and surrounding cities. Swanson, also a former East Bay assemblymember, received just 39 percent.

The Election Night dominance by Skinner, actually built upon an equally impressive 17-point margin over Swanson in the June primary race that also included two other candidates.

Although, Skinner’s big win was expected for months, the result is a far cry from what many East Bay politicos initially viewed more than a year ago as a certain hard-fought campaign among three highly experienced candidates. In addition to the two former assemblymembers, a third former state legislator, Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan, was an early entrant in the race.

As possibly a harbinger of Swanson’s poor showing on Election Night, Chan dropped out in October 2015, citing among other issues, an ability to compete with Skinner’s overwhelming fundraising advantage.

Chan turned out to be prescient as Skinner used her $1 million war chest durng the campaign to blitz voters with an avalanche of direct-mail pieces during the primary and General Election, often tailored to specific segments of the electorate.

At the same time, Swanson struggled to put a consistent public face forward for much of the election. Despite receiving the support of most of the big-name Democratic officials in the district, including Rep. Barbara Lee and Assemblymember Rob Bonta, along with a message of unwavering progressive principles, Swanson’s campaign never caught fire.

For Swanson, it is likely the end of a long and distinguished political career that first blossomed as Rep. Barbara Lee's chief of staff and followed three terms in the State Assembly, ending in 2012.

Jesse Arreguin becomes Berkeley’s first Latino mayor; youngest ever

At 32, Jesse Arreguin will become Berkeley's
youngest mayor ever.
The son of a farm worker is now Berkeley’s first Latino mayor. Councilmember Jesse Arreguin, 32, also becomes the East Bay city’s youngest mayor ever.

Arreguin defeated fellow Councilmember Laurie Capitelli in a hard-fought, sometimes adversarial campaign that also included the help of Councilmember Kriss Worthington, who’s campaign ostensibly was based on utilizing Berkeley’s ranked-choice voting system to boost Arreguin’s chances on Tuesday night.

The gambit proved to be excessive in the end as Arreguin nearly reached the necessary majority threshold on his own with more than 47 percent of the vote. Capitelli received 33.6 percent of first-place votes, followed by Worthington at 8.4 percent.

After seven rounds of ranked-choice voting, Arreguin actually crossed the 50 percent mark before even adding Worthington’s cache of votes, presumably favoring Arreguin.

In the end, Arreguin didn't need the help of Kriss
Worthington, left, and his second-place votes.
Arreguin will replace the retiring Mayor Tom Bates.

Earlier this year, Arreguin’s progressive campaign received positive attention after he was endorsed by Sen. Bernie Sanders. At one mayoral forum, the mere mention of the popular former Democratic presidential candidate, elicited a round of hearty applause.

“Throughout this campaign we have talked about making Berkeley work for everyone. And that will be the mission I will carry forward as your mayor,” said Arreguin. He vowed to build more affordable housing in Berkeley and continue protecting the environment. “Let’s raise the minimum wage to a truly living wage, so that nobody who works full time in Berkeley lives in poverty.”

Arreguin also urged from greater equity in Berkeley. “Let us do all that we can to close those widening gaps in health, education, and economic opportunity, so that every child born in Berkeley, every family who lives here and decides to move here can get a fair shot at reaching for their dreams.”

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Alameda's rent control Measure M1 fails mightily; rival Measure L1 passes

East Bay renters advocates gather last month
in Hayward.
After nearly two years of activism, Alameda's more stringent rent control initiative performed miserably at the polls Tuesday night.

Island voters rejected Measure M1, which would have limited annual rent increases to a percentage of the Consumer Price Index, while also indicating support for the rival Measure L1.

Nearly two-thirds of Alameda opposed Measure M1, while over 55 percent supported Measure L1.

Rumors of Measure M1's demise had been percolating among union and local public officials during the last week of campaign, but the depth of its opposition was somewhat surprising.

Meanwhile, rent control measures in Richmond, Mountain View, and Oakland, appear on their way to approval. However, like Alameda, rent control is failing in San Mateo and Burlingame.

Yet, in some ways, Tuesday's election became a referendum on the Alameda City Council's rent stabilization ordinance passed in March. Measure L1 was based on the ordinance. Alameda's support for Measure L1, however, does not represent any demonstrative change to the status quo regarding the regulation of rising rents.

Members of the Alameda Renters Coalition, the group largely responsible for bringing the issue of sky-rocketing rent increases to the forefront of the city's political dialogue, voiced disappointment over Tuesday night's results.

"We fought a good fight, but lost," said Eric Strimling, a member of the Alameda Renters Coalition. "Being outspent by 20-to-1 was simply too difficult to over come. Their strategy was to to confuse the electorate and it succeeded." The California Apartment Association and a local landlords group spent roughly $750,000 to defeat Measure M1.

But the issue of rent control in Alameda may not be done just yet. The two city council candidates most sympathetic to the renters' cause--Councilmember Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft and Malia Vella--both won Tuesday night. During the campaign, both expressed a willingness to revisit the rent stabilization ordinance in order to bolster its restrictions.

Measure L1 - Alameda
City Council rent control measure
Precincts reporting 100%.....VOTES....PCT
YES......................... 11954  55.61%
NO.........................   9544  44.39% 

Measure M1 - Alameda
Renters' backed rent control measure
Precincts reporting 100%.....VOTES....PCT
NO.......................... 14195  66.42%
YES........................   7178  33.58%

AD16: Catharine Baker wins re-election over Cheryl Cook-Kallio

An expected close race turned into a nearly 12
point win over Cheryl Cook-Kallio.
In successive elections, East Bay Republican Assemblymember Catharine Baker has now beaten back some of the most powerful liberal institutions in California politics--labor unions and the statewide Democratic Party.

On Tuesday night, Baker coasted to a nearly 12-point victory over her latest rival, Democrat Cheryl Cook-Kallio, in a rematch of the June primary in the 16th Assembly District.

Assembly Democrats had targeted this race as a prime opportunity to snag a seat from the GOP. Two years ago, Baker became the first Republican from the East Bay's legislative caucus in six years. Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon in February identified the seat as part of the party's push for a supermajority.

However, Baker withstood over $2 million in spending against her by the California state Democratic Party alone. Special interests expenditures on both sides of the race also pitched in heavily, but failed to unseat Baker, who expanded on a seven-point advantage built during the primary.

Two years ago, various labor groups, including the California Teachers Association spent million against Baker, also to no avail.

16th District.............................VOTES....PCT
*Catharine Baker (R)......................83362   55.8%
Cheryl Cook-Kallio (D)....................65976   44.2%
*including Contra Costa County