Parker, Tuman and Ruby make a bold bid to get at least one of them into the mayor's office.


The race in the 17th District is tightening up while Rep. Mike Honda attacks his Dem opponent's flirtation with the right.


Similar progressives in AD15 are fighting each other with help from the county party chair.


A new mayor in San Leandro, a revisiting of the BART strike and many City Council races highlight the November election.


Eighteen are running for mayor of Oakland alone! NEW! Campaign Websites Now Included!


Polls open promptly on Tuesday, November 4 at 8 a.m.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

DOWN BALLOT: Oct. 30, 2014, 5 Days Until Election Day

OAKLAND MAYOR At the Oakland Sports Forum Wednesday evening at the Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church, most of the 15 mayoral candidate s weighed-in on the future of the city’s professional sports franchises and where they might play for the next generation of fans. The issue is vitally important to Mayor Jean Quan’s re-election bid and regarding the possibility of Coliseum City, which could feature stadiums for the each the A’s and Raiders, she told the audience, “I’ve got it closer than it’s ever been and I’ve stuck my neck out.”

ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 16 Catharine Baker is vehemently denying she is against Proposition 2, the State Rainy Day Fund initiative. In response, Baker’s campaign referenced an Oct. 10 interview with the Tri Valley newspaper The Independent when she stated support for Prop. 2. However, Sbranti’s mailer slamming Baker as an opponent of the initiative features a footnote from Sept. 29. Furthermore, a right-leaning Contra Costa County political web site was also under the impression Baker was against Prop. 2. In a posting on Monday, it highlighted Prop. 2 as a major difference between the candidates. Baker’s campaign says she only questioned a portion of the initiative pertaining to state funding for schools.

STATE SENATE DISTRICT 10 Republican Peter Kuo is bringing back his violin. In a short video, Kuo reiterated his inspiring story of emigrating to the U.S. from Taiwan. Kuo then criticized the State Legislature for being out of tune with Californians. He later placed the violin on his shoulder and illustrated the analogy with a screeching sound. Bringing change to Sacramento, he continued, will bring harmony. Kuo then beautifully played the instrument. Kuo is a Santa Clara insurance broker and classically-trained violinist facing Democrat Bob Wieckowski next week.

SAN LEANDRO MAYOR/COUNCIL A little-known write-in mayoral candidate named Gregg Daly received some attention from the city’s weekly newspaper Thursday. In the article, Daly told the San Leandro Times he didn’t register as a qualified candidate before the Aug. 8 deadline because he wants to be a different kind of candidate...In the City Council District 5 race, candidate Mia Ousley previously told followers on Facebook her pet hen, Red, had been captured by a rogue raccoon and eaten. Miraculously, on Thursday, Red returned alive.


ELECTION ’14 | I think absolutely no case has been made to replace Oakland Mayor Jean Quan. At one point, over 20 candidates were potentially in the race and over the past 16 months none of the remaining 14 have made a cogent argument against giving Quan another four years. That she might be awkward and not a very good public speaker is nowhere near good enough reasons to pick someone else. You knew all these things about Quan since she served on the school board. Switching horses, at this point, when Oakland is doing well, is a very serious question Oakland voters really need to think hard about.

Variations of "Quan has cooties" isn't enough
to unseat an incumbent.
I think the somewhat dubious domestic violence story about Bryan Parker (one we all knew about for over a year) only means the other candidates (i.e. Schaaf) are worried about him…I think Dana King is a very bad choice for the Oakland City Council and the media knows it, too. Think about it? Why is a 25-year veteran of local broadcasting not getting her face on television or being written about in the print media? I’m thinking, think Ron Burgundy…I think if you add Abel Guillen to the Oakland City Council and pair him with fellow progressives Desley Brooks and Dan Kalb, you suddenly have a formidable lefty wing on the council…

I think a sanitary board candidate in Castro Valley named Marc Crawford is the mullet-haired deformed love child of Rep. Eric Swalwell and Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley (both have endorsed Crawford). Why is a U.S. representative endorsing a clearly paranoid, loose cannon of a right-wing candidate? Why is the typically self-absorbed Swalwell suddenly taking his eyes off his own future? This is very reckless. A guy like Crawford will embarrass you one day…I think Hugh Bussell, Swalwell’s Republican opponent this November, had just one goal: pray he could beat the more progressive Ellen Corbett in June. Bussell and the Alameda County GOP got their wish and have virtually allowed Swalwell to stand re-election without a fight. What does that say to you? The Republicans know Swalwell isn’t a progressive. Why don’t you?...

Republicans have a great candidate in Catharine Baker
and they might blow a chance to gain a seat
in the Assembly due to their ineptitude.
I think I don’t know what has become of Ro Khanna. I never thought he would so blatantly embrace the right like he has over the past six weeks…I still think Khanna’s high-priced consultants, borrowed from President Obama’s re-election team, totally blew it. While Rep. Mike Honda is blasting away at him on TV for being “Right Wing Ro," Khanna’s campaign has no money to fight back over the airwaves…

I think the California Republican Party has again shown why it’s such a hapless band of nobody’s. Look at the 16th Assembly District—totally winnable and they’re going to screw it up because GOP State Chair Jim Brulte didn’t focus early fundraising on an excellent candidate in Catharine Baker…I think Tim Sbranti is a great public servant, but maybe he’s what they call in baseball—a AAAA player—not good enough for the majors, but too good for the minors (i.e. Dublin)…

I think I learned more about BART and public transportation in the Bay Area when I interviewed BART board director Robert Raburn than at any time in my entire life. He’s clearly better suited for BART than Lena Tam, but his curious backstabbing of union workers during the BART strike was, indeed, that bad...

Who needs public service when you can
be like Joel Young as use your elected 
position as an OkCupid profile?
I think you know I don’t make endorsement, at least, blatant ones, but hold tight: Do not vote for Alameda County Superintendent of Schools candidate Karen Monroe! The Alameda County Office of Education may be the most corrupt public entity in the region and Monroe is simply current Superintendent Shelia Jordans puppet and hand-picked successor. People at ACOE want to keep their jobs, so information is hard to pin down regarding wrongdoing, but, c’mon, there are literally 10 separate and serious allegations being made at this office and Monroe, as assistant supe, is already part of it. Nobody really knows what ACOE does legally and they certainly don’t know what it’s doing illegally...

I think, at this point, Joel Young is only running for public office to get chicks…

The Alameda County GOP would be very wise to give Sue Caro another two years at the helm. She’s bringing the local party back from the Fox News abyss and back to focusing on the basics, like GOTV and cultivating a stable of good moderate Republicans who can actually compete locally…I think Bob Wieckowski will be one of those obedient Democrats in the State Senate who gets nothing done for his district. You know, just like his undistinguished time in the Assembly. What I’m saying is, expect more nebulous resolutions from him and nothing else...

Bonta is already at the top of class among East Bay
elected officials after just two years in the Assembly.
I think in terms of boring, the East Bay is trading one immensely boring Assembly member in Nancy Skinner with another snoozer in Elizabeth Echols. Sorry, Berkeley isn’t very exciting and it deserves similar representation. Besides, the bastions of progressivism now reside in Oakland and Richmond...I think Skinner's underreported vindictiveness with colleagues over the years will catch up with her if she runs for Hancock's termed out State Senate seat in 2016. Think Mary Hayashi-lite...I think Sandre Swanson's health will stop him from running for the same seat--he's already two-fisting it with walking canes...

I think the worst group of candidates in the East Bay is in San Leandro. WTF! Thirteen people are either running for mayor or competing for three open, incumbent-less, council seats and this is the best San Leandro can do? In addition, most act like they only thought about their platforms five seconds after a question is asked. Exactly one candidate on the entire ballot is major league quality and that’s District 5 candidate Corina Lopez. She has a great personal story which lends itself to helping the poor and powerless. And I’ll say this, if you’re a politically-inclined parent with a young daughter, you would hope she grows up and becomes a politician like Lopez.

I think Rob Bonta is far-and-above the East Bay’s true rising star--he's a five-tool player--but I think he will momentarily suffer if his district director and right-hand man Jim Oddie wins a seat on the Alameda City Council. Bonta will rebound in short time and he better hope Oddie succeeds in his bid next week because it doesn’t look good for Bonta’s gathering power to NOT have your guy win. I don’t know why he didn’t grease the skids for Oddie last year to gain an appointment to the Alameda Healthcare District board…

I think any mailer that says an incumbent candidate “balanced the budget” how many straight years, should raise flags in your head that this person is lying. ALL MUNICIPAL BUDGETS, BY STATE LAW, MUST BE BALANCED EVERY YEAR.

Hat in Hand, Katz-Lacabe's Council Campaign is Politically Couch-Surfing

San Leandro District 1 candidates Deborah Cox and Mike Katz-Lacabe, at a forum last August, differ in many ways, including the amount of campaign contributions they have received this election cycle. 
PHOTO/Steven Tavares
SAN LEANDRO | CITY COUNCIL | San Leandro City Council candidate Mike Katz-Lacabe is a two-term school board member and one of the city's most noted progressives. And, in no way, is he a fringe candidate. So, why hasn't he been able to attract fundraising to his campaign this fall?

Katz-Lacabe is featured prominently in a mailer 
paid for by another council candidate.
In the past, Katz-Lacabe has eschewed campaign contributions, but that was during two somewhat easy school board races. This year's District 1 campaign, however, is far more competitive and big money rests with his main challenger, Human Services Commissioner Deborah Cox.

Cox has raised more than $44,500 this year, according to the most recent campaign finance reports ending Oct. 18. She  maintains nearly $19,000 in reserves for the stretch run to Nov. 4. The flow of cash has helped Cox engage voters with numerous mailers and lawn signs all over the city.

But, she is not the only candidate in District 1 race, excluding Katz-Lacabe, that is doing well financially. Former school board member Ken Pon raised nearly $13,000 this year, according to finance reports, in addition, to the $5,000 personal loan to his campaign. Pon has $6,761 cash on hand, through Oct. 18. Former Oakland school board member David Anderson, Sr. reported nearly $7,000 this year, including a $5,000 personal loan.

Katz-Lacabe, meanwhile, has not raised enough money to even trigger a campaign finance disclosure report. But, that hasn't stopped him from getting his name out through other means, like piggy-backing on the campaign flyers of a political ally in another council race.

The other side of this small leaflet features
District 5 candidate Mia Ousley.
Last month, it was reported Katz-Lacabe was handing out two-sided leaflets to parents in front of some San Leandro schools. One side featured Katz-Lacabe and the other--with a similar design--extolled the campaign virtues of District 5 City Council Candidate Mia Ousley.

Furthermore, in recent weeks, a mailer sent to voters and paid for by Ousley's campaign, again featured both candidates, but this time with subtle advocacy for Katz-Lacabe's resume on the San Leandro school board.

"Mia has been my greatest ally in safeguarding civil liberties, promoting transparency and accountability in City Hall, and fighting against the long-term retention of surveillance data by law enforcement agencies," the mailer quotes Katz-Lacabe. Incidentally, each issues also represents Katz-Lacabe's campaign platform.

While it is clear Katz-Lacabe is cash poor, or, at minimum, able to stay under the $1,000 campaign with a bit of creativity, Ousley has been able to pull her own weight. The first-time candidate raised, $11,000 this year and reported $2,757 cash on hand, according to the most recent finance reports ending Oct. 18.

However, the nexus between Katz-Lacabe and Ousley in different council races and some donors are interesting. For instance, outgoing Mayor Stephen Cassidy appears on the Ousley mailer, along with Katz-Lacabe. Cassidy, Katz-Lacabe and Ousley have long been both personal and political friends. But, two weeks ago, Cassidy's re-election campaign donated $125 to Cox, Katz-Lacabe's opponent.

In addition, even though Katz-Lacabe would appear to be the most liberal candidate in the race, Alameda County Democrats, thought otherwise and made no endorsement in the race. The signal from the party was heard. On Oct. 16, the campaign of Assemblymember Rob Bonta, who represents San Leandro, added $1,000 to Cox's treasury.

First Lady Records Call for Mike Honda

CONGRESS | DISTRICT 17 | Ro Khanna may have once worked for President Obama, but last year he endorsed Khanna's opponent, Rep. Mike Honda in the 17th Congressional District. Now, the President is sending in First Lady Michelle Obama to get out the vote for Honda.

A recorded message from Michelle Obama urging Democratic voters for next Tuesday's election to vote for Honda starts today, the Honda campaign says.

In the 47-second message, the First Lady says, "In an election this close, your vote is more important than ever before. We can’t risk having more out of touch folks coming to Congress, just because a handful of Democratic voters stayed home. Your vote for Mike Honda will make a real difference in supporting our President."

Even though both candidates are Democrats, getting true blue liberals to the ballot box may be more beneficial to Honda, than Khanna. In recent weeks, Honda's campaign has asserted Khanna is too moderate for the district, even suggesting in a campaign Web site, he is a righ-winger.

Former GOP Congressman to Mike Honda: 'Your Going Down Tuesday'

CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | Former South Bay Rep. Ernie Konnyu is pissed. This week, Rep. Mike Honda's campaign attempted to link Konnyu, a divisive Republican representative who served the area in the 1980s, to Ro Khanna in a negative mailer.

Ernie Konnyu
Honda's campaign characterized Konnyu as "disgraced" and "disowned by his own party" after a series of sexual harassment allegations during his time, two decades ago, in Congress. It is also another attempt by Honda to brand Khanna as conservative.

But, Konnyu did not take kindly to the mailer and took to Twitter Wednesday afternoon to call out Honda.

"@RepMikeHonda You['re] going down Tuesday. The trash you sent on me was shameful...& against this retired Member! Go to political hell! Go Ro!"

A few months ago, the out-spoken Konnyu publicly urged members of the Tea Party to back Khanna's bid to unseat Honda. Khanna, though, has not distanced himself from Konnyu.

In One Day, IE Lays Out $622,500 In Support of Catharine Baker

Catharine Baker's lashed back at Tim Sbranti for a mailer she says purposefully misleads voters in the 16th Assembly District.
ASSEMBLY | DISTRICT 16 | Spirit of Democracy California, a right-wing independent expenditure committee believes the battleground 16th Assembly District can be turned from blue to red. On Tuesday, campaign finance reports show the IE, funded in part by Republican activist Charles Munger, Jr., spent $622,500 in a single day on Baker in her race against Democrat Tim Sbranti.

The mailer, above, was paid for by Sbranti's campaign,
but a flood of IE money on both sides is also
highlighting the race in the 16th District.
In addition to the large expenditure, the IE has spent over $1.5 million total in the race--$918,000 in support of Baker and $595,000 in opposition of Sbranti--since the beginning of October.

Baker and Sbranti hope to replace the termed out Assemblymember Joan Buchanan next month. Due to the political makeup of the Walnut Creek, Lamorinda and Tri Valley seat, Republicans believe they have one of the best chances in the state to pick up a seat in Assembly.

A similar IE funded the teachers’ union has spent nearly as much in favor of Sbranti and in opposition to his opponent. The California Teachers Association and California State Council of Service Employees IE has spent over $1 million since Oct. 1, according to the finance reports. Much of the outlay has gone to expensive media buys.

One commercial, seen during Wednesday’s Game 7 of the World Series, blasted Spirit of Democracy as an outside group attempting to influence the election. Sbranti’s own campaign, in addition, has also utilized the baseball postseason, through radio and TV ads, to get its own message out to voters.

All this extra money has also lent itself to controversial mailers on each side. Earlier this month, Sbranti’s campaign howled over a mailer attributed damaging quotes to Sbranti in a two-year Wall Street Journal article actually referring to former State Sen. Gloria Romero.

This week, Baker charged Sbranti with misleading voters in a mailer asserting she opposes Proposition 2, the State Rainy Day Budget Fund. Baker strongly denies she is against Prop. 2 and says her position has been very public, including at a candidate's forum featuring both candidates.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

DOWN BALLOT: Oct. 29, 2014, 6 Days Until Election Day

A broken car window outside Parker's 
campaign headquarters.
OAKLAND MAYOR Don Perata broke his silence Wednesday morning by endorsing Bryan Parker for mayor. However, to receive "The Don's" support Parker had to travel to Perata's Orinda office for the announcement. During a short press conference, Perata again lashed out at ranked-choice voting as being the cause for his upset loss in the 2010 Oakland mayor's race.

Parker's Facebook page also reported the back window of the candidate's Porsche was smashed Wednesday afternoon in the parking lot adjacent to campaign headquarters."This is why we fight!" the posting declared.

Several mayoral candidates will met tonight in what may be the final forum before Election Day next Tuesday. This forum has a specific theme not featured in the past two dozen or so events--the future of Oakland's sports franchises. The forum begins at 6 p.m. at the Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church.

ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 15 There is no greater political mystery this fall than why a well-financed independent expenditure committee backed in part by Big Oil would want to back Tony Thurmond. As a former member of the Richmond City Council Thurmond was anything but friendly to local viceroy Chevron. Conspiracy theories, aside, the IE named Alliance for California's Tomorrow has now spent $290,000 in support of Thurmond, through Oct. 28, according to finance reports.

ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 20 Assemblymember Bill Quirk and Republican challenger Jaime Patino met Tuesday night in San Lorenzo for likely one of the last candidate’s forums of the fall season. Patino’s chances for upsetting the first-time assembly member are very slim. And it’s not going to help that the domain name for his campaign web site as expired. According to GoDaddy.com, the domain patinofor20thassembly.com expired Oct. 26 and is pending renewal or deletion.

CONGRESS DISTRICT 17 As a child, Rep. Mike Honda spent time in Japanese American internment camps. A hero for many Japanese Americans, himself, this week, Honda took time to laud the accomplishments of San Francisco Giants left fielder Travis Ishikawa, who’s walk-off homer sent the team to the World Series last week. In a letter to the pennant-winning hero, Honda wrote, “Thank you for being such a tremendous role model for all Americans, but particularly those of Japanese descent who find special meaning in your continued success.”

Perata ‘Breaks his Silence;’ Endorses Parker for Mayor

Former State Senate Pro Team is backing Port Commissioner Bryan Parker for Oakland mayor.
OAKLAND | MAYOR | Former State Senate Pro Tem Don Perata says Oakland mayoral hopeful Bryan Parker has what it takes to get things done. With less than a week before Election Day, Perata announced Wednesday morning his endorsement of Parker for Oakland mayor.

Perata's endorsement continues an aggressive push by Parker during the last two weeks of the campaign. Last weekend, he also received the backing of former NAACP President Ben Jealous and entered a much-reported alliance with fellow candidates Joe Tuman and Courtney Ruby.

The press conference, though, occurred at Perata’s office in Orinda, where the former Oakland mayoral candidate from four years ago now lives.

“This is a wide open race,” said Perata in a statement. “The leadership Oakland needs will not come from any of the City Hall incumbents. As former leader of the California State Senate, I know what it takes to get things done. Oakland leaders need to realize that we either go together or we don’t go at all. There is only one candidate for Mayor who will be the strong leader that unites us. That leader is Bryan Parker.”

In Oakland’s first use of ranked-choice voting in 2010, Perata won the most first-place votes, but was overtaking in subsequent rounds by Jean Quan. At Wednesday’s press conference, Perata called ranked-choice voting, “an absolute silly system,” according to reports.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

AD15 Preview: A Powder Keg Waiting to be Lit by Special Interests

MEET THE CANDIDATES Elizabeth Echols has never held elected office, but she has experience at the federal level. She served at the helm of the west coast region of the  U.S. Small Business Administration, appointed by President Barack Obama. Echols, however, doesn’t have much of a toe hold locally, but she is viewed as the choice of the Berkeley Establishment, which holds significant sway in the district’s largest area. In this race Echols has repeatedly attempted to burnish her environmental credentials, which is significant since Chevron’s Richmond refinery is within the 15th Assembly District. Tony Thurmond is opposite to Echols only when it comes to the general variety of their public service. Thrumond’s experience comes from four years on the Richmond City Council and a term on the West Contra Costa County School Board.

WHAT’S THE BEEF? During the primary and the earlier going of this race, the level of contention was all rainbows and unicorns. In fact, the seven-person primary, which Echols won with 31 percent of the vote, barely registered on the local political Richter Scale. In hindsight, a very close race in numbers and policy was bound to be a powder keg waiting to be lit and leave it to Big Oil, which menacingly hangs over part of this district, to blow up the race and potentially do damage to the entire Democratic Party in the East Bay. As of Oct. 28, an independent expenditure committee named, Alliance for California’s Tomorrow, has laid out $290,000 in support of Thurmond. The IE is funded in part by Big Oil, pharmaceutical companies and lenders, although recent contributions have come from health care interests such as the powerful California Nurses Association. IEs cannot coordinate their efforts for or against candidates, but Thurmond made a point of noting he has no connection to the group. News of IE may have severely undercut Thurmond’s credibility when it comes to the environment, but his record in Richmond shows he was willing to stand up to Chevron. Echols’ campaign quickly moved to highlight Big Oil’s backing of Thurmond’s campaign in a mailer tailored as a warning to voters. Mailers listed the IE's name and framed as a scheme by outside special interests to influence the district, it asserted, but also included a quote attributed to the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee chair. The local party endorsed Echols, but some members of the committee derided the mailer for unduly dividing Democrats in the district and argued the elected body had not authorized such an attack on one of its own. Meanwhile, conspiracy theories persists, including a purely Machiavellian maneuver by Big Oil to use its poor reputation in the district to torpedo Thurmond’s campaign by using the IE to attach some guilt by association to Thurmond.

PAST RESULTS 2014 June Primary: 1. Elizabeth Echols 21,664 (31.1%) 2. Tony Thurmond 16,963 (24.4%) 3. Pamela Price 11,989 (17.1%) 4. Rich Kinney 7,531 (10.8%) 5. Sam Kang 4,630 (6.7%) 6. Clarence Hunt 3,329 (4.8%) 7. Eugune Ruyle 2,426 (3.5%) 8. Bernt Wahl 1,132 (1.6%).

2012 General Election: 1. Nancy Skinner (D) 164,929 (86.8%) 2. Eugene Ruyle 25,167 (13.2%).

CAMPAIGN FINANCE (Through Sept. 30) Echols Cash Balance: $84,335 Since: $75,900. Thurmond $84,698; $86,849.

OUTLOOK Whoever wins will undoubtedly need to work well with Oakland Assemblymember Rob Bonta, the new top dog in the East Bay Assembly caucus. In fact, Bonta had already emerged as the leader of the caucus only after his first year in office, even though, colleagues like Skinner had much more seniority. Most indications, show Echols or Thurmond will have no qualms with a subordinate role. Nonetheless, this was already a tough race for two evenly-matched candidates, but the flood of IE money and Echols' ability to clearly mark the mailers for Thurmond as from a tainted IE is probably too much for his campaign to overcome.

PREDICTION 1. Echols 2. Thurmond

DOWN BALLOT: Oct. 28, 2014, 7 Days Until Election Day

Sen. Barbara Boxer backs Schaaf.
OAKLAND MAYOR Councilmember Libby Schaaf received another high-profile endorsement Tuesday, this time, from U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer. Earlier this month, Schaaf's former boss, Gov. Jerry Brown, backed her campaign...Meanwhile, on Sunday morning, Parker received the support of former NAACP President Ben Jealous. The San Francisco Chronicle says a surprise announcement scheduled by Parker's campaign for Wednesday morning will include the endorsement of former State Senate Pro Tem Don Perata. And last weekend, the inimitable Dr. Death endorsed Mayor Jean Quan's campaign as the best option for keeping Oakland's sports teams in town.

OAKLAND CITY COUNCIL Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom doesn’t have time to debate his challenger for the office this November, Ron Nehring, but he's available to weigh-in on Oakland’s District 2 City Council race. The moderate Democrat said Monday he is endorsing Dana King to replace retiring Councilmember Pat Kernighan. King, a former KPIX television anchorperson, is also a moderate, but has no prior political experience. She is in a tight race with former Assembly candidate Abel Guillen for the seat.

CONGRESS DISTRICT 17 A hallmark of this election cycle has been the use of campaign web sites dedicated to negative attacks. During the primary in the 10th State Senate District, for example, Bob Wieckowski deployed MugShotMary.com and Mary Hayashi responded with BobProtectedRapists.com. With the tenor of the race in the 17th Congressional District quickly rising, the campaigns are turning to GoDaddy.com for domain names. Rep. Mike Honda released RightWingRo.com and Ro Khanna’s campaign has a web site based on the video game Pac-Man called PacMike.com

ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 20 Jaime Patino is part of the new wave of Republicans in the Bay Area unencumbered by a national part still fighting social issues, such as same-sex marriage. Patino says he is clearly a supporter of the right for anyone to marry who they choose. When it comes to endorsements in Alameda County, some Democrats rarely have a choice when it comes to backing an incumbent in the party. However, Union City Mayor Carol Dutra-Vernaci feels independent enough as a moderate Democrat, to endorse the Republican Patino over Democratic Assemblymember Bill Quirk. Patino is a Union City resident who also serves on the city’s Human Relations Commission.

It Feels Good

OAKLAND | MAYOR | Mayor Jean Quan deployed rapper Suga-T last month to spread her message for Oakland, while M.C. Hammer has yet to weigh in the mayoral election. Now, D’wayne Wiggins, a member of the 90s R&B trio Tony! Toni! Tone! has a new commercial in support of Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan.

Set to the hit song, “It Feels Good,” there is very little substance to the 30-second spot, but its conceit is simple. Kaplan is looking to attract African American voters, in addition, to urban dwellers. The entire commercial features Kaplan and Wiggins riding bikes. Wiggins, an Oakland native, also produced the short video.

A Star is Born in Oakland

OAKLAND | MAYOR | Over the past few weeks, surprisingly few Oakland mayoral candidates have unleashed a feverish charge down the stretch. The campaign’s making things happen recently are led by Councilmember Libby Schaaf, Port of Oakland Commissioner Bryan Parker, Mayor Jean Quan and Joe Tuman, in that order.

Add little-known Peter Liu to the list.

Liu, an insurance agent by trade, has no chance of winning the election, but no other candidate in the race has drawn more attention than him. And while all other campaigns are spending a fortune through mailers, lawn signs and commercial, to gain the attention of voters, Liu gained over a million eye balls Monday night to his campaign.

Liu’s outrageous platforms were lampooned on ABC’s late night talk show, Jimmy Kimmel Live. Kimmel remarked about Liu’s oddly-shaped earlobes and mocked his stance on the nexus of children, the Internet and masturbation.

Previously, Liu, referring to himself as “Overseer Liu,” challenged the Oakland City Council to follow his lead as mayor or be “intellectually bitch-slapped.”

Friday, October 24, 2014

Labor Group Calls on Khanna to Return Donations from Tech CEO Who Paid Some Workers $1.21/hr

Tech CEO Guy Gecht with Fremont Mayor Bill Harrison. Gecht was ordered by the U.S. Department of Labor to pay $40,000 in back wages to eight worker the company paid as little as $1.21 an hour.
CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | The Alameda Labor Council wants congressional candidate Ro Khanna to return a maxed-out contribution to his campaign from the CEO of a Fremont tech company who paid some of its workers $1.21 an hour to install computers.

Guy Gecht, the CEO of Electronics for Imaging, contributed $2,600 to Khanna’s campaign in September 2013 to unseat South Bay Rep. Mike Honda. However, around the same time, Gecht was alleged to have paid some Indian immigrants as little as $1.21 an hour, according to an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor. The company was ordered to pay over $40,000 in back wages and a $3,500 fine, according to news reports.

Josie Camacho, the executive secretary-treasurer for the Alameda Labor Council issued a stern call for Khanna to return the donation. Khanna, like Honda, is a Democrat.

“When Khanna approached us for support, he promised that he was a progressive, but we’ve long been concerned that Khanna has been acting as a tool for right-wing millionaires and conservative CEOs to push their policies,” said Camacho. “Hopefully even he can agree that that there is no room for this kind of practice in Silicon Valley. Ro should immediately refund the $2,600 donation from Gecht.”

Khanna's campaign responded, saying, "Congressman Honda seems to have just discovered that wage theft exists two weeks before an election. Further, he has had no problem taking huge amounts of money from defense contractors, big pharma, and many other special interests including PG&E--even after their criminal negligence resulted in the death of eight people. It's unfortunate that Congressman Honda is playing politics on the backs of workers."

However, this is not the first time Khanna’s large group of wealthy tech contributors has reflected poorly on the candidate. Last April, Khanna donated $5,200 in contributions from tech entrepreneur Gurbaksh Chahal to a non-profit that helps women and children victimized by domestic violence. Chahal faced 45 felony counts of battery against a woman, which was also taped by video cameras. The charges were later greatly reduced.

In addition, some contributors to Khanna’s campaign asked for their money back after claiming they only gave money to him in 2011 under the auspices he would run to replace Pete Stark in the 15th Congressional district, upon his retirement.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Tuman, Parker, Ruby Declare All For One And One For All in Oakland Mayor's Race

Joe Tuman, Courtney Ruby and Bryan Parker at a press conference Thursday in front of City Hall saying each of their candidacies are outsider bids for the mayor's office next month. PHOTOS/Steven Tavares
OAKLAND | MAYOR | The close second-tier of Oakland mayoral candidates, referring to themselves as outsiders, say the insiders, incidentally the trio leading in recent polls, don’t deserve another chance at leading the city.

Joe Tuman, center, fields questions from
reporters on the steps of City Hall.
Mayoral candidates Joe Tuman, Bryan Parker and Courtney Ruby, buoyed by a poll released Wednesday showing a potential five-way dead heat in the race with less than two weeks to go, say they have forming a “coalition” to, instead, put one of them in the mayor’s office and not Jean Quan or Councilmembers Rebecca Kaplan and Libby Schaaf.

“Their experience hasn’t offered much,” said Tuman at a press conference Thursday afternoon in front of City Hall. Tuman said the list of errors by the three in the past is numerous. He slammed the City Council’s handling of the most recent waste contract, described Kaplan as “bungling” the Coliseum lease deal with the Oakalnd Athletics, criticized the steps leading to placing Measure Z, the city’s public safety parcel tax, on the fall ballot and Quan’s response to the Occupy Oakland encampment at Frank Ogawa Plaza. Tuman’s campaign, according to the independent poll, is inching closer to the top three containing Kaplan, Schaaf and Quan. “Each of us brings a different skill set,” added Tuman.

Oakland City Auditor Courtney Ruby's 
campaign has languished in seventh
place, according to polls.
Parker’s campaign, according to the poll, is also improving; at least, within striking distance to the top three when taking account the poll’s margin of error. Parker defended his outsider status despite being a member of the Port of Oakland Commission appointed by Quan. He told reporters the poor financial situation at the port, to him, “showed how how broken city government is.”

Ruby, who serves as the city auditor, said she is an “insider that is an outsider. As city auditor, I’m not part of the problem.” Ruby, however, despite her office’s record for uncovering abuse at City Hall, has failed to catch any momentum during the campaign and may be the least likely to prosper from the affiliation with Tuman and Parker.

Throughout the campaign, it has been clear the threesome share similar visions for Oakland that include bolstering the police force and greater transparency at City Hall. The partnership is also necessitated by ranked-choice voting which encourages coalitions among candidates. Four years ago, in the first use of ranked-choice voting in Oakland, Quan and Kaplan joined forces to edge out Don Perata for the mayor's office, despite the former State Senate pro tem receiving the most first-place votes.

Tuman said he and Ruby first started talking about a potential partnership about a month ago. “It happened organically,” said Tuman. After some of the forums, the three informally chatted about the potential partnership, he added.

“We were all naturally thinking, how can we do something different?” said Parker. “We saw similarities in each other and it was natural. Frankly, people that are running for mayor are not the kind of people you can tell what to do if it didn’t make sense,” said Parker.

With most polls consistently placing Tuman higher in the polls over Parker and Ruby, the coalition may slightly favor Tuman, but Parker disagrees. Instead, any success the threesome receives may be designed to undercut Schaaf, whose campaign has recently caught some momentum. Parker believes Tuman voters, who may be initially inclined to give Schaaf their second place vote, will instead gravitate to his campaign along with his supporters backing Tuman for second.

“Who has the greater trade? What this [coalition] does is impact the race fundamentally,” said Parker. “We are competing against each other and, yes, we go into that with the knowledge whoever can get ahead of the other is going to benefit. I think we’re betting in the end that will be us.”

Honda Puts Up His Dukes As Seniors Group Questions Khanna

Rep. Mike Honda wearing boxing gloves at a press conference Thursday in Newark. PHOTOS/Steven Tavares
CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | If Ro Khanna is moving to the right, Rep. Mike Honda is choosing to stick with the seniors on the left, precisely those concerned by attempts to whittle away more benefits from the Republican-controlled House. Wearing a pair of boxing gloves given to him by the director of the National Committee to Protect Social Security and Medicare, Honda furthered a line of attack to paint Khanna, also a Democrat, as amendable to cuts to their monthly benefits.

Honda addressing a group of seniors at its
campaign office in Newark.
Honda, though, despite the gloves, did not attack Khanna during the press conference in Newark, but Max Richtman, who heads the advocacy group, questioned Khanna’s allegiance to Social Security and Medicare. “I worry about his opponent’s positions,” said Richtman of Khanna. “I can’t quite put my finger on what his positions are because he’s pretty vague about them.”

Richtman also referenced Khanna's connections to campaign contributors, some, he said, have shown a willingness in the past to back privatization of Social Security. "I’m troubled by the company he keeps. They have a reputation," said Richtman. "When you have that kind of support coming from those quarters, you owe those supporters something."

The impetus for today's event runs in tandem with a recent television ad from Honda’s campaign which reiterates Khanna’s link to wealthy Silicon Valley contributors, in addition, to suggestions Khanna’s election could threaten some entitlement benefits for seniors. In addition, a recent independent poll showed the race in the 17th District is tightening with Honda leading Khanna by only two points with two weeks to go until Election Day.

Khanna’s campaign, however, has fought back against the assertion regarding Social Security and Medicare, by labeling the attack as “100 percent baseless,” and calling for an “honest conversation” on the issue. “How are we going to make sure that we have no cuts in Social Security benefits and strengthen Social Security, but be honest about its solvency?” Khanna has said.

Richtman's group has consistently given Honda a perfect score on its annual rankings of congress members and their votes on legislation maintaining or increasing entitlements to seniors. Richtman has recently been traveling the country to help other Democrats in tough races, including New Hampshire, Alaska, Nebraska and Illinois, he said.

Incidentally, today’s photo opportunity featuring boxing gloves to depict the candidate as a fighter for their cause is not unique. Earlier this week, Richtman also presented gloves to New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who is also in a tough race for re-election.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Is Joel Young Running Scared?

AC TRANSIT | AT-LARGE SEAT | Since 2011, AC Transit Board Director At-Large Joel Young has racked up a list of notable misdeeds unmatched in East Bay politics. Two years after being appointed to the seat, he began what was then believed to be a promising run for the state Assembly. But one morning in March 2011, Young's girlfriend arrived at his apartment to find him in bed with another woman. The resulting argument led to allegations by the girlfriend that Young struck her in the face. Young denied wrongdoing and an Alameda County Superior Court judge dismissed a restraining order request by Young's ex, but not before stating that he didn't believe Young's story.

Then, a little more than a year later, during his run for the Assembly, Young spit in the eye of Jason Overman, who is Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan's current mayoral campaign manager (Young had been appointed to replace Kaplan on the AC Transit board). Young lost the Assembly race and returned to the board, but last year, another damaging act of alleged impropriety led his colleagues to censure him for improperly using his position to enrich himself at the public's expense.

Yet, the totality of Young's notorious behavior did nothing to dissuade the leaders of the powerful Alameda Labor Council from clearing the field for Young and nearly giving him their endorsement this summer before members of the Service Employees Union International (SEIU) Local 1021, another group that has contempt for Young, intervened to block the endorsement...


Monday, October 20, 2014

About That 'Strange Mailer,' It Wasn't From Me, Says Schaaf

Quite a few Oakland voters received this hit piece from a unknown group calling themselves Citizen for Oakland. Its backers are made up of some pro-business residents and a few Libby Schaaf donors.
OAKLAND | MAYOR | Two things are clear from the recent Citizens for Oakland mailer. Mayoral candidate Libby Schaaf was not behind the ploy to get supporters of strong second-tier campaign to back her and, second, it's god-awful piece of political advertisement.

Schaaf's campaign was succinct last Friday when it tweeted, "The @libbyformayor campaign had NOTHING to do w[ith] that strange mailer." The tweet was in response to Dan Siegel's campaign hinting Schaaf's and others were behind it. "Polls show us leading @bryanparker2014 in all polls and @joe4mayor in some but @libbyformayor mailer says we have no chance. #deception," they tweeted.

Another reason Schaaf is not involved in the mailer is that it serves her no purpose and potentially harms what has been the most effective few weeks of her campaign. Recent polls continue to show her within striking distance of winning the Nov. 4 election and Gov. Jerry Brown's endorsement Oct. 6 may have been the impetus for additional voters to start looking at her potential to unseat Mayor Jean Quan.

However, some of the people behind Citizens for Oakland are Schaaf supporters and donors. Which, if anything, suggests to Schaaf, sometimes you need to worry more about your friends than your enemies.

As for the mailer, it is unwieldy and underhanded in many cases. What pushes credulity is the assertion Quan and another mayoral candidate, Rebecca Kaplan, are City Hall insiders, but Schaaf, who has served the last four years with the pair on the City Council, is not.

Furthermore, this insider/outsider line of attack has been used often during the campaign, especially by candidates Joe Tuman and Bryan Parker. But, the comments always link together Quan, Kaplan and Schaaf, as they should. Last Wednesday, Parker's campaign even sent a press release labeling the trio as "insiders."

In this mailer, however, which features a good bit of clunky grammar, the group says if you desire change at City Hall, you should vote--in no particular order--Schaaf, Tuman and Parker.

Most likely, this direct-mail piece sent to over 50,000 Oakland voters, according to reports, is a response to polling released last week that not only showed Kaplan, Quan and Schaaf leading the pack, but more importantly, that the Kaplan-Quan connection could put either one in the mayor's office.

A Case of Newspaper Endorsement Confusion in the Oakland Mayor's Race

The San Francisco Chronicle has showed very little attention to Oakland's mayoral race. Nevertheless, other local media outlets appear similarly confused over which candidate it should endorse this fall.
OAKLAND | MAYOR | Six Bay Area news outlets, six different endorsements for Oakland's next mayor. The confusion among editorial boards might not be that odd. In fact, they may be taking a cue from Oakland voters. Is the problem too many good candidates or too few campaigns that are differentiating themselves from the pack? Nonetheless, picking a mayoral candidate for endorsement is not like a Fantasy Football draft, you're allowed to pick the same quarterback.

The San Francisco Chronicle tabbed Bryan Parker. The Bay Area News Group went with Joe Tuman. Before it folded last week, the San Francisco Bay Guardian picked Rebecca Kaplan. The East Bay Express chose Libby Schaaf with Mayor Jean Quan a close second. The Bay Area Reporter went further and backed Quan all the way, while the Oakland Post took Dan Siegel.

Here's a sampling of each paper's rationale for their choice:

EAST BAY EXPRESS FOR SCHAAF "She's extremely smart, has an admirable work ethic, is dedicated to open and transparent government, and has the charisma and communication skills to bring together differing factions in the city in order to find solutions to Oakland's numerous problems." NOTE: I participated in the Express' endorsement interviews and putting aside political ideology, Schaaf was indeed impressive. But, then again, the others interviewed for the endorsement were very good, too.

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE FOR PARKER "Our choice in this field is Bryan Parker, a business executive and port commissioner who possesses a nice blend of economic acumen, interpersonal skills, and appreciation of the causes and effects of what all top challengers list as a No. 1 priority: crime. He rightly cited a “crisis in leadership” at City Hall and pledged to “show up with my lunch bucket” to instill a “complete culture change” in the bureaucracy."

BAY AREA NEWS GROUP FOR TUMAN "Tuman is the standout, speaking directly about how the city must start responsibly meeting its financial obligations. The city's pension and retiree health plans are underfunded by $2.4 billion. If Oakland leaders make contractual promises to city employees, they must set aside sufficient money to fund them, he says."

SAN FRANCISCO BAY GUARDIAN FOR KAPLAN "Unlike in San Francisco, where it’s sometimes tough for our progressive-minded editorial team to get excited about most candidates running for local office, we’ve got legitimately high hopes for both of our picks for the Oakland mayor’s race… Rebecca Kaplan…offer[s] compelling visions for a diverse and dynamic Oakland at a time when the city is in need of strong leadership. Kaplan, a LGBT candidate who gets around the city by bicycle and has a keen interest in sustainability, has a decade of public service involvement, including holding the at-large seat on the Oakland City Council."

OAKLAND POST FOR SIEGEL "There is no shortage of candidates running to be Oakland’s next mayor. That is because Oakland is hungry for change. We believe that the candidate best suited for the job is Dan Siegel...If we want real change--and we do--a fighter with a successful history in navigating Oakland institutions, someone with deep roots and a long track record of doing good things for our city, then Dan Siegel is our first choice. Siegel has been involved in Bay Area social justice movements for over 40 years. A civil rights attorney and activist, who risked his life for our rights, Siegel is the only candidate with a proven track record of fighting for civil and human rights."

BAY AREA REPORTER FOR QUAN "The rap on Quan is that she's been ineffective, but a look at her record shows that on balance Oakland is headed in the right direction. The city's restaurant and nightlife scenes are bustling; housing projects are in progress, and new residents are moving to the city, due in part to the high cost of living in San Francisco. Quan has been successful in securing federal funds for new police officers and money to redevelop the Oakland Army Base...Optimism, of course, won't put the city back on track. But Quan, who's seen four balanced budgets passed and has presided over a city that is often overlooked, is the best person to continue that trajectory."

Poll Shows Honda with Small Lead Over Khanna; New TV Ad Slams Khanna

Supporters of Rep. Mike Honda listen to their candidate at a candidates forum during the June primary season in Fremont. Polling shows the race in the 17th District has significantly tightened up. PHOTO/Steven Tavares
CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | Rep. Mike Honda has a slim two-point lead over Ro Khanna, according to a KPIX/Survey USA poll released Monday. With just two weeks before Election Day, the survey is the first independent snapshot of the race this fall between two Democrats in the South Bay’s 17th Congressional District.

The poll of 579 likely voters from Oct. 16-19, showed Honda with 37 percent of the vote, followed by Khanna with 35 percent. More than a quarter of respondents—28 percent--however, remain undecided. The survey’s margin of error is +/-4.2 percent.

Khanna’s campaign released a poll Oct. 13 that yielded similar results with the race tied at 38 percent. Later, Honda’s team offered internal polling that pegged a much larger spread to the race with Honda up by 15 points—42-27.

Nonetheless, the efficacy of Monday’s KPIX/Survey USA should buoy Khanna’s efforts to unseat the seven-time congressman next month. Polling done by the same firm two weeks before the June primary proved quite accurate. It showed Honda leading Khanna by 19 points in late May. The final result was a 20-point win for Honda.

In addition, inside the numbers of this latest poll show the race falling toward bipartisan lines even though both candidates are Democrats. According to the poll, Democrats in general favor Honda, including progressives and moderate. Republicans support Khanna, including independents and conservatives.

Last week, Khanna sent voters a mailer that irked some Democratic officials for highlighting Honda’s record as being too liberal for the district’s taste. On Monday, Honda’s campaign released a new television commercial that attempts to link Khanna to Republicans and, specifically, big-money outside interests.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Rep. Barbara Lee: Republicans Cut Hospital Preparedness Before Ebola Risk

CONGRESS | 13 DISTRICT | In contentious races across the country, Ebola has become a political hot potato. On Friday, Oakland Rep. Barbara Lee used the infectious disease to criticize House Republicans for past cuts to health care and hospital preparedness programs.

Speaking during last Friday's episode of HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, Lee slammed the House leadership for stymieing President Obama's appointment of Dr. Vivek Murthy for U.S. Surgeon General for 18 months, along with cuts, Lee said, could affect the nation's ability to combat the threat of Ebola, if it were to become more widespread in the U.S.

"We have to remember that the budget cuts, and I have to just say it was the Republicans who cut the budget by 44 percent for hospital preparedness programs, cut NIH (National Institutes for Health) by over 10 percent and cut CDC (Center for Disease Control) by 17 percent," said Lee.

Republican charge Democrats, like Lee, are using the threat of Ebola as a ploy to push through Murthy's confirmation. Lee, also added during the program, she was pleased by the President's pick of Ron Klain as the administration's Ebola 'czar."

Saturday, October 18, 2014

GOP Assembly Candidate Says Oakland City Council Meetings Are Like a Zoo

Assembly candidate David Erlich, right, during a forum last May, referenced the Oakland City Council as a zoo at another forum Oct. 8 in Alameda. PHOTO/Steven Tavares
ASSEMBLY | DISTRICT 18 | San Leandro Assembly candidate David Erlich is an electrician by trade, but sometime he brings a charge at the wrong time.

During a candidates forum Oct. 8 in Alameda, Erlich described the often raucous atmosphere at Oakland City Council meetings being like a zoo.

"I've been to council meetings in my city, San Leandro," said Erlich. "And I've been to meetings in Alameda. I haven't been to the zoo in Oakland, but maybe sometime.

The 18th Assembly candidate District Erlich, a Republican, is running in a district made up largely of Oakland voters, in addition to those in Alameda and San Leandro. In a two-candidate June primary, Bonta, a Democrat, won 86 percent of the very progressive district over Erlich. The two meet in a rematch next month.

The comment elicited a stern glare from the normally affable Bonta as Erlich continued.

"You're not going to write about that zoo thing, are you?" Erlich asked afterwards.

At the conclusion of the forum, Erlich said, a woman in the audience approached him and politely said the comment was distasteful to her.

Despite Likely Landslide Result in AD-18, Candidates Debate in Earnest

Assembly candidate David Erlich speaks at a forum at the Mastick Center in Alameda while Assemblymember Rob Bonta looks on. PHOTO/Steven Tavares
ASSEMBLY | DISTRICT 18 | During the June primary, Assemblymember Rob Bonta had the distinction of garnering a greater percentage of the vote in his race than any other candidate in the entire East Bay. With a scant number of Republicans in the district--just under 10 percent--the rematch against San Leandro's David Erlich may return a similar result next month.

Bonta says he sees re-election as his "public job 
review." PHOTO/Steven Tavares
"My chances of winning?" said Erlich at a candidates forum Oct. 8 in Alameda. "Go buy a lottery ticket, you'll have better chances."

Despite the appearance Erlich may again be the party's sacrificial lamb against Bonta, a popular incumbent whose power in Sacramento and the Democratic Party is quickly growing, both candidates treated the event like it was dead heat. The Assembly district covers Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro.

Erlich blithely said, in response to a question, the state's budget is so ungainly he has no idea where he would begin to cut. "How do you cut it? It's a leviathan." The comment was followed by a near rant covering everything from the encroachment of government surveillance, the loss of local control through the planning and transportation initiative One Bay Area and Obamacare.

"I think we're starting to see difference between me and my opponent. He doesn't believe in taxes. He doesn't believe in government." Bonta noted 16 of his 20 bills in the Assembly during his first term were signed into law. "Each bill affects a real life."

Later, during a discussion on pension reform, Bonta offered a bill reforming the the public education pension fund, CalSTRS, as his most notable accomplishment over the past two years. "Our goal was not to take away the benefit, but for shared responsibility," he said of the bill he believe should serve as a model for other public employee groups. The reforms were also not imposed, he added. "The benefit didn't change, just the proportion paid."

Erlich went in a different direction, saying cities across the state are drowning in unfunded pension liabilities. The threat to their solvency is go great, said Erlich, that he believes municipalities will resort to other means to avoid their pension obligations. "There's a domino-effect," he said, "following Stockton, cities will go into bankruptcy to avoid obligations. Judges made a ruling that that's the way out."

Similar to the lone candidates forum during the primary season, also featurin these two candidates in the same setting, Bonta appeared to take the 45-minute forum quite seriously. "I view an election as my public job review," he said before offering the audience an assessment of his own work. Erlich, too, was circumspect about his candidacy, but also the state of the local Republican Party. He frustratingly lamented the party's strategy for attracting voters. "The party leadership says you have to go to the left and bringthem to the right," he told the group. "Why do I have to compromise my beliefs?

Castro Valley School Board Members Facing Re-Election Still Stand By Approval for $14,000 Espresso Machine

CASTRO VALLEY | In September, the unassuming unincorporated enclave of Castro Valley gained nationally-reported infamy after its school board approved the purchase of a $14,000 espresso machine. The criticism was immediate. "Why does a high school need a $14,000 espresso machine?" asked CBS News.

The expenditure was later rescinded, Castro Valley school board member Gary Howard, said at a candidates forum this month. Howard was appointed to the board last year and faces re-election for two open seats in a three-person race this November.

"We thought it was a good idea, but the community didn't like it," said Howard. However, he added the school district's rationale was actually an attempt to save money and improve child nutrition.

The other incumbent, long-time board member Janice Friesen, like Howard, continued to stand by their decision authorizing the purchase of the expensive coffee machine. "I think it is important that the reason for a coffee machine was to increase the in-district catering."

The high-profile controversy, uncommon for normally staid school board elections, could benefit the third candidate in the race, Dot Theodore.

She says there is no justification for the school board to approve the costly coffee machine. The funding identified for the machine is set aside for improving nutrition, she said, not creating revenue for the district.

"Not a single child is going to have a cup of coffee. No child is going to be served from that machine," she continued. Instead, the money could be used for upgrading aging kitchens in the district and a student garden.

"None of their arguments hold up when you know that money is for child nutrition and coffee doesn't go to our children."

Council Candidate Tells LGBT Group He'll Bring Chick-Fil-A to East Oakland

OAKLAND | CITY COUNCIL | DISTRICT 6 | Michael Johnson's campaign conceit in Oakland's City Council District 6 race is the 12-year incumbent Desley Brooks has not brought economic vitality to East Oakland. Johnson's jabs at Brooks on the issue have been consistent, maybe too consistent.

During an endorsement meeting for the East Bay Stonewall Democratic Club Oct. 1, Johnson said, as a council member, included in his goals for bringing new business to the district, he would entice chicken sandwich restaurant Chick-Fil-A to East Oakland.

The reference, though, is extremely tone-deaf to members of the gay rights group. Chick-Fil-A is notorious in the LGBT community for its conservative stance and political contributions to groups in opposition of same-sex marriage.

In some progressive areas, the opening of a new Chick-Fil-A is often met with protesters. Johnson, however, seemed oblivious to the comment.

Needless to say, he did not receive the group's endorsement.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Over Last Two Weeks, Special Interests Dropped $600,000 on Tim Sbranti

Although the amount of outside expenditures is nowhere near the record-spending during the June primary, over $800,000 has been spent in support or opposition of each candidate.
ASSEMBLY | 16TH DISTRICT | In just the last two weeks this October, an independent expenditure committee in support of Democrat Tim Sbranti has spent $600,000 in special interest cash in hopes of winning the battleground 16th Assembly District.

On Wednesday, the IE in support of Sbranti, reported spending another $50,000 in expenditures. Last week, the same IE sponsored by the California Teacher Association and California State Council of Service Employees; Californians for Economic Prosperity, reported spending $400,000 to help Sbranti’s campaign against Republican upstart Catharine Baker.

During the same period, Sbranti's own campaign coffers have also been fortified. Although, Sbranti reported $197,671 in cash through Sept. 30, the campaign has received $521,724 in contributions since the beginning of this month. The windfall is led by various Democratic Central Committees as the party goes full-throttle to keep this seat blue.

In the last week, central committees in Sacramento County ($80,000), Santa Clara County ($65,000) and Marin County ($45,000) have made sizable donations to SbrNti's campaign. By contrast, Baker reported $147,625 during the most recent reporting period. This month, her campaign has received just $35,923.

The outlay, though, is nowhere near the spending spree seen during the June primary, but significant, nonetheless. In the spring, nearly $3 million alone was spent on Sbranti and moderate Democrat Steve Glazer. Two simple factors attracted the unfettered amount of campaign dollars: the future of the Democratic Party’s supermajority in the lower house is at stake because this suburban district is a winnable seat for Republicans.

Baker, a first-time candidate who won the four-candidate June primary by seven points over Sbranti, has also benefited from IEs. A committee funded by conservative groups, including Charles Munger, Jr., named Spirit of Democracy has reported spending $270,000 in favor of Baker and in opposition of Sbranti since the beginning of October, according to finance records.

Because of the district’s moderate political environment, state Republicans believe it can potentially pick off a seat from the Democratic majority in the Assembly. On Wednesday, Glazer injected himself back into the race in a Facebook post clearly supporting Baker.

Glazer’s comments came in the form of a questionnaire he purported to have offered both candidates. During the primary, one of Glazer’s main attack points against the labor-endorsed Sbranti was that he would not publicly disclose the union questionnaires he had penned. According to Glazer, Sbranti “refused to answer” his queries

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Ro Khanna Races Hard to the Right

A direct-mail piece from Ro Khanna's campaign calling out Rep. Mike Honda drew the attention of former Democratic Party Chair Howard Dean.
CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | For East Bay Democrats, which is a worse act of apostasy? Attacking a fellow Democrat for being too liberal or granting an exclusive interview with conservative website, Breitbart.com? It doesn't matter. By Wednesday, Ro Khanna had done both.

Ro Khanna
In a mailer to voters in the 17th Congressional District, Khanna labeled fellow Democratic Rep. Mike Honda “an old school liberal.” The piece also asserted through various newspaper citations that Honda supports repealing Bush-era tax cuts. The mailer is a clear bid for conservative votes in the South Bay, but it also attracted the ire of former Democratic Party Chair Howard Dean. (Click on the mailer below to read the full text.)

In an email from Democracy for America, the progressive group founded by the former presidential candidate, Dean declared, “Being a "liberal" isn't an insult, it's a badge of honor.” Dean has inserted himself in this race before. Earlier this year, he highlighted Khanna’s strong support from moneyed Silicon Valley interests.

In addition, there have been signs in recent weeks that Khanna was preparing to move even further to the right. During the local televised debate, Oct. 6, he often referenced his embrace of bipartisanship in the Republican-controlled House, while making two specific references to nearby Rep. Eric Swalwell, who, like Khanna is a moderate Democrat who successfully defeated Pete Stark, another long-time progressive representative in the 15th District.

In this context, it is not surprising, Khanna granted an interview with Breitbart which featured the headline, “Republicans could decide Silicon Valley race between Democrats.” Khanna relies heavily on utilizing Swalwell’s 2012 playbook to defeat Pete Stark. In the interview, Khanna told the web site, he would work with Republicans in the House and Honda is “out of touch” and “ideologically extreme.” However, the one strategy Swalwell never really used was to call out his opponent for being too liberal.