The 2016 June primary season is officially here. Here's a breakdown of five of the most interesting East Bay races next year.


Following last week's State of the City in Oakland, Mayor Libby Schaaf talks about Black Lives Matter and why she made no mention of the Raiders in her address.


New episodes from the East Bay's only political podcast is available every Monday.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

LISTEN! Special Thanksgiving East Bay Citizen Show with guest Matt Santos

EPISODE 14 | It's Thanksgiving week and what better topic is there than giving thanks to the person who blazed the podcasting trail for the East Bay Citizen Show.

Hayward born and raised Matt Santos drops in from Prescott, Ariz. to chat about his podcast The Mile High Show and we walk down memory lane to reminisce about...Wait a minute.

Santos is really on the show to talking about me! About the time I ran for the Chabot College student president while serving as the newspaper's Editor-in-Chief, my rousing campaign speech, the college's fry cook/bookie and his advice for taking the Cowboys even though back-up QB Gary Hogeboom was subbing for the great Danny White, or was it Randy White?

Also, in the news, what's might happen to Oakland Councilmember Desley Brooks after an allegation was reported last week that she assaulted former Black Panther icon Elaine Brown at a restaurant in Oakland? Probably nothing, but the allegation brings to light Brooks' notorious behavior over the past 14 years in office.

Subscribe and listen on iTunes, Stitcher or listen at EBCitizen.com. Follow on Twitter @EBCShow.



Monday, November 23, 2015

Lee wants acting DEA official replaced for calling medical marijuana ‘a joke’

Rep. Barbara Lee and others objected to the acting
DEA chief calling medical pot "a joke."
CONGRESS | DISTRICT 13 | Rep. Barbara Lee and six other members of Congress are calling for the Obama administration to replace the acting chief of the Drug Enforcement Administration after he labeled medical marijuana “ a joke” and questioned whether it is safe or effective in treating pain.

"What really bothers me is the notion that marijuana is also medicinal -- because it's not," said Chuck Rosenberg during a press conference Nov. 4. "We can have an intellectually honest debate about whether we should legalize something that is bad and dangerous, but don't call it medicine -- that is a joke."

In a letter to the President signed Nov. 19 six lawmakers, including Lee and two other California congressmembers, they called Rosenberg unfit for the job and possessing “a throwback ideology rooted in the failed War on Drugs." Rosenberg's opinion is also incongruent with reforms regarding medical marijuana and public opinion which has increasingly shown support for loosening federal prohibitions, the congressmembers wrote.

“And they certainly don’t reflect statements you’ve made or actions you’ve directed you’re agencies to take. Rather, these statements demonstrate Mr. Rosenberg is not the right person to lead the DEA,” they wrote.

Following California in 1996, 22 states have approved medical marijuana programs. However, marijuana is still considered an illegal narcotic on the federal level. It's a point some note only reveals Rosenberg was merely reiterating the DEA’s current policy on marijuana prohibition. But, as the Washington Post reported, much of Rosenberg’s scientific claims against the efficacy of medical marijuana as a medicine flies in the face of existing medical research.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Sources: Desley Brooks allegedly smacked civil rights icon Elaine Brown

Elaine Brown, Desley Brooks with Alameda County
Supervisor Keith Carson in an undated photo.
OAKLAND | Former Black Panther and civil rights icon Elaine Brown filed a police report last month alleging she was assaulted by Oakland Councilmember Desley Brooks at a downtown restaurant, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The report adds the alleged incident occurred during city business at Everett & Jones BBQ last Oct. 30. Brown filed a police report and issued a $10,000 claim against the city. She also sought medical attention, said the Chronicle. However, what specifically occurred is unclear.

But, sources told the East Bay Citizen that the altercation between Brown and Brooks stemmed from an argument over affordable housing in Oakland. The alleged assault, sources said, was preceded by Brown telling the often irascible Brooks she was "in the pocket of developers."

The comment may be a reference to Brooks' involvement in reviving the controversial 12th Street remainder parcel sale and proposed luxury apartment tower which the Oakland City Council nearly voted against last summer.

The alleged assault occurred in the restroom, said the sources, and included Brooks smacking Brown in the back of the head.

Laython Landis, long-time, controversial San Leandro public official, has died

Laython Landis, in a photo from earlier this year,
served 42 years in public office.
SAN LEANDRO | OBIT | Layton Landis, the long-serving East Bay sanitary district member and former San Leandro City Councilman, who retired from public office earlier this year over controversial statements, has died. He was 89.

After serving on the Oro Loma Sanitary District for 42 years Landis choose to retire last March amid calls for him to resign his seat following a meeting in which he used a racial epithet.

However, his comments may have overshadowed a long and successful life in public service. An avowed conservative, Landis had a hand in keeping down costs at the sanitary district and maintaining low sewer rates for customers in San Leandro, San Lorenzo and unincorporated Alameda County.

Known as "Judge," Landis was elected to the San Leandro City Council in 1976 and won a second term four years later. Although, he did not possess any legal training, Landis borrowed the nickname from his famous uncle, former Major League Baseball Commissioner Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis.

Up until his passing, Landis kept connected to the city's politics while contributing to the campaigns of several council candidates.

Former San Leandro Mayor Tony Santos credits Landis as being part of the group that help deed Washington Manor Park from the homeowners association to the city.

“I know he got himself into hot water with that inopportune comment,” said Santos, “but you can’t forget the good that he did, too.”

Hawaiian adventure: East Bay lawmakers Wieckowski, Bonta frolic on the beach

State Sen. Bob Wieckowski and Assemblymember
Rob Bonta both attended a special interests-paid 
junket in Hawaii.
STATE LEGISLATURE | When visiting the Hawaiian Islands they say you’re always among family. It’s no different when the annual Hawaii junket, frequently derided by government ethics advocates, welcomes a mixture of California state legislators and powerful corporate interests to paradise.

The special interests-paid soiree mixing business and pleasure included 21 lawmakers, according to the Sacramento Bee, including two East Bay legislators.

For Assemblymember Rob Bonta and State Sen. Bob Wieckowski it’s not the first time they have hobnobbed with lobbyists at the somewhat secretive conference. This is despite significant criticism Sacramento lawmakers have faced over their participation in expensive out-of-state junkets like the Hawaiian trip.

Meanwhile, the article by the Sacramento Bee’s Alexei Kosoff is punctuated by a juicy, but poignant scene of Bonta finishing up a day of snorkeling intersected with the normally tongue-tied Wieckowski attempting to justify his business trip to Hawaii while resting on the beach following a bike ride.
Taking a rest stop on the beach during a bike ride Monday afternoon, Sen. Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, said he came to Maui for a second year to play his own game of influence. 
Proudly noting that he was one of the most liberal members here, he said the conference gave him a heads-up on the issues that business interests are looking at next session and a chance to do some “bellyaching” in return to influential figures like Western States Petroleum Association President Cathy Reheis-Boyd, with whom he shared a glass of wine. 
“I see them when they’re going after my bills,” Wieckowski said. “But I don’t get to have those discussions with them where I say, ‘Well, did you think about this?’ ” 
A large group returning from a snorkeling excursion on a catamaran paraded past on the way to their cars, and Wieckowski stopped to get a rundown from Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, and lobbyist Greg Hurner. 
Then he hopped on his bike to finish up his ride before an evening golf outing with representatives from AT&T.

Read more here:

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Alameda City Council may strike exploited loophole from rent moratorium

Renters at Bay View Apartments in Alameda last 
Saturday. Earlier this month, its new owners 
issued a 60-day eviction notice.
ALAMEDA CITY COUNCIL | A loophole in Alameda’s recently passed 65-day moratorium on rent hikes and evictions was quickly exploited by at least one landlord to evict 33 families from their apartments. As a result, the Alameda City Council may close the loophole at its next meeting, City Hall sources said Wednesday.

The council is set to schedule an agenda item for the December 1 meeting to propose removing the provision in the ordinance passed two weeks ago that allows landlords to serve eviction notices for the purpose of making capital improvements to the property worth eight times the current rent. The agenda item will likely become public on Thursday.

Just days after the urgency ordinance was approved, renters at the 33-unit Bay View Apartments at 470 Central Avenue on the island’s West End, received 60-day eviction notices. The building’s new owners, San Jose-based Sridhar Equities, Inc. used the capital improvements provision to justify evicting all of the tenants in the building.

The city council may also attempt to nullify any eviction notices served during the moratorium using the just cause provision of the new law, said a source, although its legality is uncertain...


DeSaulnier: Someone (who?) should be held accountable for troubled Bay Bridge

MTC Executive Director Steve Heminger and
Rep. Mark DeSaulnier.
MTC-ABAG | During his time on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission Mark DeSaulnier, then a Contra Costa County Supervisor, often butted heads with Steve Heminger, the executive director of the influential regional body.

Now a U.S. congressman, DeSaulnier told Politico this week, “Someone should be held accountable," for the repeated failures and safety concerns over the Bay Bridge's new eastern span. DeSaulnier added he will offer legislation in Congress to help with costly overruns and maintenance for the troubled span.

The article, however, does not surmise who DeSaulnier thinks should have their feet put to the fire over repeated design failures on the bridge, although he suggests Gov. Jerry Brown should take some responsibility. But, a good bet is he’s referring to his old nemesis, Heminger.

In the past, Heminger has been known to blatantly threaten to pull transportation funding and projects from cities and counties of Bay Area officials who oppose his positions at the MTC. This has reportedly occurred to DeSaulnier and other, according to a long-time MTC representative. It is also a method for Heminger to consolidate his power.

The timing of any criticism against the MTC would not be surprising since Heminger recently led an unpopular proposal to absorb 15 planners from the nine-county Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG). To facilitate the move, MTC, led by Heminger, threatened to withhold state and federal funding for the housing-centric regional body. And the animosity among ABAG members is still raw when it comes to the ill-fated, but ballsy, attempt by Heminger.

Numerous officials protested Heminger’s gambit, but it wasn’t until the Oakland City Council last month formally directed its MTC representative, Mayor Libby Schaaf, to vote against Heminger’s power grab that it was blocked from the requisite number of votes needed for passage. Schaaf, who earlier supported Heminger’s proposal, ultimately skipped the meeting.

Instead, MTC representatives voted to study over the next six months whether to merge entirely with ABAG, a strategy even opponents of Heminger’s initial proposal, seem to support.

But even as Heminger’s plan was headed to defeat at last month’s heavily-attended MTC meeting, he still exhibited the cocksure persona that has made him unpopular among Bay Area elected officials. At one point, he seemed to mock ABAG members with a poignant reference to Star Wars. “We’re like the Death Star,” said Heminger, “and ABAG is the rebel planet fighting for freedom.”

Mike Honda, interned during WWII, is outraged over Syrian refugee rhetoric

As a boy, Rep. Mike Honda, was interned during 
World War II at a camp in Colorado.
CONGRESS | DISTRICT 17 | It’s well known that Rep. Mike Honda spent a portion of his youth at a Japanese-American internment camp in Colorado. Amid overwrought rhetoric by some conservatives to deny Syrian refugees from entering the U.S. following the Paris attacks last week, Honda penned a forceful response Wednesday.

In the opinion piece posted on Medium, Honda said he is outraged by some calling for Syrian refugees to be “rounded up and interned.” Honda’s congressional Twitter feed also fired off a barrage of tweets on the subject late Wednesday afternoon.

On Tuesday, David Bowers, the mayor of Roanoke, VA advocated against Syrian refugees being relocated to his city and wrote, "I'm reminded that President Franklin D. Roosevelt felt compelled to sequester Japanese foreign nationals after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and it appears that the threat of harm to America from ISIS now is just as real and serious as that from our enemies then."

Glen Casada, a Republican member of the Tennessee state House and Rhode Island State Sen. Elaine Morgan made similar statements this week.

“We must now stand up and say ‘no’ to failed leadership and condemn the statements of Mayor Bowers of Roanoke, Tennessee state House GOP Caucus Chair Casada, and Rhode Island State Senator Morgan who would make such ill-advised and backwards-thinking recommendations. They are perpetuating the messages of hate and fear that fly in the fact of what America stands for in the world,” wrote Honda.

Instead, Honda, like many Democratic officials, is calling for a thorough screening of Syrian refugees seeking passage to the U.S.

Mary King, first black female Alameda County supervisor; power broker, dies

Mary King looking over a design for the new 
Bay Bridge span. PHOTO/MTC
ALAMEDA COUNTY | OBIT | Trailblazing three-term Alameda County Supervisor Mary King died Sunday following a long illness. She was 69.

In 1988, King became the first black woman ever elected to the traditionally all-male, all-white Alameda County Board of Supervisors.

She served the District Four seat until 1999 before stints as interim AC Transit general manager starting in 2009 followed by an appointment to briefly serve on the BART Board of Directors in 2012.

“She worked tirelessly for the District and our Board of Directors to carry the agency through tough economic times,” said a statement Tuesday from AC Transit. “Ms. King was a true trailblazer and used her considerable expertise in government to develop and advocate for efficient transportation systems and services to help people move around the Bay Area.”

King also served under Bill Lockyer, then an Assemblymember, as his chief of staff while also working with Oakland Mayor Lionel Wilson. But it was her decisive victory for the Alameda County Board of Supervisors that cemented her legacy as a fighter for public transportation and open space.

At the time of her 1988 upset over then San Leandro Councilmember Don McGue, just 10 percent of District Four voters were black. To win the seat, King knew should would have to appeal to all groups, she told the Los Angeles Times in 1990.

"I was Oprah, the kind of warm, competent person you'd want to have a cup of coffee with," King said in profile. "I ran as an ordinary person, not wealthy, not poor, but comfortable. I didn't run from the race issue. We put my picture on the campaign brochure. I was this competent black woman who was approachable and warm."

Her intensive experience in local and state government and the ability to project her competence won over mostly white voters in the district who, she said, valued her as "an urbane black woman running against a polyester white man."

King is survived by her mother Victoria King and two daughters Kimberly and Vikki King, and two grandchildren.

Video on Mary King's involvement with the design of the new Bay Bridge span via the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

City Hall Insider: Agenda notes from around the East Bay, Nov. 17

Nov. 17, 10:30 a.m.
Stingray policy; Not Megan's Law

STINGRAY POLICY The Alameda County Sheriff's push to purchase an upgrade to its cell-site simulator, known as a Stingray, returns to the Board of Supervisors for a third time, this time with a policy for its use. The $113,000 for the upgrade comes from federal Homeland Security funding. But last month, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley struggled to explain the capabilities of the simulator. A policy for the simulator's use was referenced during the meeting last month, but supervisors had not yet vetted it. Approval of the allocation for the simulator and the policy is on the agenda Tuesday afternoon.

MENTALLY ILL HELP It's not Megan's Law, the act that allows the family of mentally ill patients to get a court order for medical and psychiatric attention, but after numerous stops and starts, Alameda County could have a policy in place to help. Implementing Megan's Law in the county has faced opposition from the community and some supervisors soured on its potential in the East Bay. Instead, a working group of stakeholders will offer suggestions for increasing outreach to patients, establishing better lines of communication and improving data-sharing.

SHARPS DISPOSAL More medical injections are occurring outside of healthcare settings, but there is no safe disposal of self-injecting needles and lancets. The second and final reading of an ordinance authored by Supervisor Keith Carson and approved two weeks ago will require pharmaceutical companies to fund safe disposal of sharps. Sound familiar? Supervisor Nate Miley authored a similar ordinance last year for disposing of unwanted medication.

Monday, November 16, 2015

LISTEN! East Bay Citizen Show with guest Fremont Mayor Bill Harrison

EPISODE 13 | Yes, you can include Fremont in Silicon Valley and it's in Alameda County.

Fremont is the second largest city in Alameda County, so why does it get overlooked by Oakland-centric leaders? First-term Mayor Bill Harrison sits down to talk about his city and to tell us about its rise.

Fremont is more than tree-lined suburbs, good Indian food and Tesla. But it is also growing quickly and boasts one of the only minority-majorities in the country.

We also discuss Fremont's recent decision to deploy surveillance cameras at certain freeway exits and the lack of opposition it received from residents.

Also, is it Fremonters or Fremontians? We find out.

Subscribe and listen on iTunes, Stitcher or listen at EBCitizen.com. Follow on Twitter @EBCShow.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Schaaf rebuts report she supports public funding Raiders stadium; A's eye other sites in Oakland

Report says A's owners are looking at other sites
in Oakland. Could Howard Terminal be on the list?
OAKLAND | STADIUMS | In a lengthy statement released Friday afternoon, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf pushed back against a news report suggesting that she is reversing a long-standing position against using taxpayer money to build a new stadium for the Raiders.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported on Friday that Schaaf’s presentation earlier this week to National Football League owners included a proposal for the city examine the possibility of using lease revenue bonds to help pay for a stadium. The news report also noted that Schaaf is considering the use of tax increment proceeds as a stadium financing tool.

In the past, Schaaf has consistently ruled out helping the Raiders build a new stadium on the public’s dime, although she has pledged up to $120 million for improving the infrastructure surrounding the future stadium.

“Since I took office I have been nothing but clear about how I believe Oakland can responsibly keep its sports teams without publicly subsidizing stadium construction. My position is unchanged. The San Francisco Chronicle’s suggestion that I would be willing to put public money at risk is simply not true,” said Schaaf in a 685-word statement.

“I am focused on responsibly keeping our teams in Oakland, which is why I am also open to exploring the use of dollars that could be created by a new project — money that the City would not otherwise have. I think that it would be appropriate to pledge money that is created by the Raiders for the Raiders so long as it can be done without ever putting the taxpayers at risk. But that’s it. I will not recreate the mistakes of the past in Oakland.”...


An incumbent, a perennial runner-up and a CPA enter a congressionalrace...

Ron Cohen, a Republican from Fremont, becomes
the third candidate in the CA17 June primary.
ELECTION16 | Ron Cohen, a Fremont certified public accountant, is the first Republican to join the highly-anticipated Seventeenth Congressional District rematch between Democrats Rep. Mike Honda and Ro Khanna.

Before becoming a partner at Fremont’s Greenstein, Rogoff, Olsen & Co., LLP, Cohen’s biography includes a long-ago stint as a standup comic in Chicago.

"However, after observing that the vast majority of comedians have a very low taxable income, Ron decided to follow his father's example and become a CPA," says his bio.

With reports of a pending investigation into ethics allegations against Honda likely to dominate the June primary, Cohen’s background might bring needed comic relief to the race.

But, in a sign Cohen’s work bio has not been updated recently, it lists receiving “personal advice and coaching from Bill Cosby.” Presumably for his comic timing and not the other thing. (h/t @LetsEat5)

Over the past year, Cosby has been inundated with allegations he drugged and sexually assaulted more than four dozen women over the years.

Cohen also teaches business courses at Ohlone Community College. The declaration of his candidacy was received Nov. 9.

The lone Republican thus far in the race, has some antecedents to the 2014 election. Last year, Joel VanLandingham, also a Republican political novice, failed to gather much support in the primary, but his performance at a candidate forum in Fremont drew rave reviews and his Twitter feed often hilariously tweaked Honda.

Another Republican, former South Bay Rep. Ernie Konnyu also provided comic relief in last year’s race, infamously tweeting days before the November 2014 Election Day, “You['re] going down Tuesday…Go to political hell! Go Ro!"

Thursday, November 12, 2015


ELECTION16 | The rise of Republican Catharine Baker in the Tri Valley’s Sixteenth Assembly District as a competent and potentially very effective legislator appeared to have flummoxed the local Democrats in Contra Costa and Alameda County.

With every rock in the region seemingly turned over in search of a suitable challenger to the first-term Republican, one was finally found in Cheryl Cook-Kallio, a former Pleasanton council member. Others may also enter the primary race, but Cook-Kallio may be best suited to face Baker in November, which is pivotal since this contest may be tilted by greater presidential turnout and thereby sensitive to whom is the GOP’s nominee, the more reactionary the better for the Democrat in Sixteenth District.

Cook-Kallio was seen as the more liberal edge of a very conservative Pleasanton City Council. In fact, Pleasanton is by far the most conservative city government in the entire East Bay. But, being liberal in the Tri Valley is far different than holding the ideology anywhere else. But like, Baker, who is a moderate conservative, the push to the middle perfectly meshes with this district’s beliefs and demographics. State Sen. Steve Glazer personifies this new normal involving more than a straddling of both sides of the political spectrum, but a devout independence from either party.

Baker is also part of a new wave of California Republicans. This became clear this year when the party allowed Baker to vote outside of the caucus on issues like the contentious vaxxer bill. She voted yes. In addition, most observers, even profoundly progressive ones, admit Baker has been a pleasant surprise in Sacramento. Those compliments assuredly will subside during the primary season.

Remember this part of the outer East Bay is where the big-money scourge of independent expenditures attack and fill your mailbox (and, by extension, your recycling bin) with hit pieces. If the race is perceived to be close enough, they will swoop in. Labor will find Cook-Kallio attractive and unlike the other losers in the area over the past two years—Tim Sbranti and Susan Bonilla—she is no shrinking violet.

Her willingness in 2012 to stay loyal to Rep. Pete Stark in his race against then-Dublin Councilmember Eric Swalwell cost her. The aftermath put her in Swalwell’s dog house. It will be interesting to see what Swalwell does in this race. In the past few months, he has appeared in joint public events with Baker and they even co-wrote an opinion piece on regional transportation.

Nevertheless, the biggest obstacle in front of any challenger is overcoming, absent any clear missteps, the thinking some voters may have for giving the freshman legislator another two years to continue what she has started.


ELECTION16 | Starting in 2013, the Hayward City Council waged a war over wages and ultimately imposed a five percent wage cut on more than 300 city employees represented by SEIU Local 1021. Following the council's decision in February 2014, Chris Daly, the very outspoken former San Francisco supervisor then employed by SEIU, rose from his seat and menacingly, but without a word, pointed at each council member.

When asked later about the histrionics, Daly said, “I wanted to make sure these councilmembers running in the election know they declared an act of war.” He then added, “I will make it my mission that none of them ever receive a labor endorsement, and, ultimately, I want to see each one of them out of office.”

The self-described Heart of the Bay is actually the epicenter of a conflict that might become common place in the East Bay as the region slowly sheds its deep blue political shading. The union’s big chance to follow up on the threat comes next June.

Hayward’s at-large election features four of the council’s seven seats up for grabs. Three of the four incumbents voted for the wage imposition and another candidate, Mark Salinas, voted for the wage cut while serving on the council. He is seeking a return the council after giving up his seat in 2014 to run an ill-fated campaign for mayor.

Incumbents Al Mendall and Greg Jones may be the strongest bets for re-election. A tier below is Elisa Marquez, who was appointed to the now-mayor’s former seat. Meanwhile, Francisco Zermeno has served two terms, but has historically had to dig deep to eek out wins. He will need to fight hard again for re-election next June.

Hayward school trustee John Taylor could be a wildcard as could Rocky Fernandez, who narrowly lost out on one of two council seats in 2014. Fernandez, and another candidate, was the beneficiary of more than $100,000 in independent expenditures from SEIU last year and the outlay clearly spooked the council.

Last month, they approved new campaign finance rules seen as a move to potentially portray the union as an outside forced attempting to influence Hayward politics. The council’s move could also backfire since no other city in the East Bay has a larger number of union households than Hayward.


ELECTION16 | If the Alameda County Board of Supervisors are not gods in the context of East Bay governance, they are surely the U.S. Supreme Court. It's almost a lifetime appointment unless you're caught shooting up methamphetamines. That’s why Bryan Parker’s challenge to Supervisor Nate Miley’s seat is so important.

Not since the early 1990s has any sitting supervisor been forced to actually campaign for re-election. Miley has served since 2000 after a stint on the Oakland City Council and Parker is an appointed Port of Oakland commissioner and former Oakland mayoral candidate who finished sixth in last year’s election. But, what makes Parker so credible is his ability to raise loads of money in an extremely large and diverse supervisorial seat.

District Four runs from East Oakland to Pleasanton with unincorporated Castro Valley sandwiched between. Parker raised over $300,000 for his Oakland race, but that campaign had a $700 per donor fundraising limit. Next year’s supervisorial race has a $20,000 limit. The sky could be the limit as far as Parker’s bank account is concerned. And Parker will need all of it not only to introduce himself to the entire district, but maybe reintroducing Miley to the same group under a very poor light. Because since Miley has never faced a formidable challenger, voters in his district may not know much about their long-time supervisor.

Miley is not viewed as a strong fundraising, but again, he hasn’t exactly faced the need to pass around the hat in the past. However, Miley has a loyal following and help from the local Democratic Party and other elected officials will come to his aid.

But, hold on. This could be a very dirty campaign and the battlegrounds will likely center around unincorporated Alameda County, including Castro Valley, and Pleasanton. The latter was only redistricted to Miley four years ago.

Parker may seize upon this fact and convey to Pleasanton voters that his ideology is more moderate than Miley, along with a greater focus on business. Castro Valley may also be problematic for Miley since a small uprising exists there constantly pushing him for greater representation. Castro Valley is not a city and as no direct representation other than Miley.

In addition, the likelihood of fireworks in this race is high. Miley is known as confrontational and abrasive at times, a bit like former Rep. Pete Stark. Incidentally, the consultant who led Eric Swalwell’s upset of Stark is now working for Parker and the candidate is already using rhetoric to describe Miley as old and out-of-touch with the district just like Swalwell used against Stark. Parker’s consultant, Lisa Tucker, also ran the brutal campaign last year by Bob Wieckowski against Mary Hayashi and has no problem advising her candidates to dive deep into the campaign gutter. If Parker slings mud, Miley might not be able to resist slinging it back.


ELECTION16 | There was a time not so long ago when the open seat in the East Bay’s Ninth State Senate District was billed as next year’s headliner. Three well-known former Assemblymembers with ties to the district went all-in. Then, in September, Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan dropped out of the race due to doubts over her ability to raise enough money for two races, in addition, to a need to focus on her family.

That leaves Democrats Nancy Skinner and Sandre Swanson as the front runners, But what first appeared as a three-way primary slugfest has lost some luster since Chan’s departure, an event which should help Swanson. Instead, there is a building sense that Skinner is consolidating a strong early lead.

The signal may have been strengthened with Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s endorsement of Skinner this week. Schaaf is popular in Oakland and the city is by far the largest in the senate district. In addition, Skinner’s stronghold is Berkeley. Couple both cities together and Skinner has a clear path for a return to Sacramento after a two-year absence.

Also, don’t forget Skinner reported over $900,000 in campaign cash, a figure heavily fortified by her former Assembly account. Swanson, meanwhile, reported just $80,000 in the bank through the mid-year period and he is not known to be the most prolific fundraiser to begin with and there are worries about his health routinely swirl.

Swanson, though, has labor firmly on his side, along with the endorsement of every state and federal elected official in the area, including Rep. Barbara Lee. He may also have the inside track to nabbing the local Democratic Party’s endorsement, especially since Chan is not there to fracture the vote.

San Pablo Vice Mayor Rich Kinney, a Republican, is also in the race, but keep an eye out for Democrat Katherine Welch in the primary. She is an education advocate from Piedmont who recently left the Republican Party. She is also the daughter of former General Electric chairman Jack Welch.

If she can self-fund her campaign and make the race all about education, Welch could drastically change the dynamics of this race, even driving a wedge between the two labor-friendly front runners all the way to a spot in November general election.


ELECTION16 | The Rep. Mike Honda-Ro Khanna rematch gets top-billing for many reasons. It’s a national story again highlighting the state’s open primary system pitting Democrat against Democrat. The rise of Khanna locally is also a potential game-changing shift in the power structure of South Alameda County and the South Bay in general.

Early on, Honda’s pending House ethics investigation is hanging darkly over his re-election chances. With over 200 days until the June primary, Honda’s supporters may be waiting for the other shoe to drop on allegations the duties of his congressional and campaign offices blurred into each other. Even if nothing of substance is ultimately derived from the investigation, it will still shade the entire race. It’s a main reason Roll Call named Honda to its 10 most vulnerable list last week.

Meanwhile, the Khanna storyline will likely mirror 2014 when he came less than four points from upsetting Honda. Khanna will outraise Honda (already has) while burnishing an image as the future of Silicon Valley in the Beltway. Khanna, though, has shifted this time around by paying far more attention to local issues, whereas a year ago it almost seemed like he was running a high-minded campaign for U.S. senator.

As far as the June primary is concerned, there’s almost no doubt the rematch will again advance to the November General Election. The key is how close Khanna can come to finishing first or even whether he can overtake Honda in June.

The latter scenario would have huge implications for Honda’s future. Donors might jump Honda’s ship and his strongest support, labor unions, could even downgrade its attention to the race.

Conversely, all attention will shift to Khanna and how he navigates a road he has never traversed—being the front runner.

1. Seventeenth Congressional District
2. Ninth State Senate District
3. Alameda County Board of Supervisors District Four
4. Hayward City Council
5. Sixteenth Assembly District

Monday, November 9, 2015

Mike Honda's re-election campaign named one of Congress's most vulnerable

Rep. Mike Honda is the only member on Roll Call's
list with more than two terms under his belt
CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | Rep. Mike Honda is on the capitol's endangered species list.

Roll Call named Honda's 2016 re-election as one of the 10 most vulnerable in Congress.

Honda is facing a rematch next year with fellow Democrat Ro Khanna. The pair faced off last year in a lengthy and hard-fought election which Honda won by less than four percentage points.

Honda is the only member of the California congressional delegate named to the list, which Roll Call touted for its past accuracy. Seven of the 10 congressmembers named in 2014 were later defeated.

In addition, Honda, an eight-term South Bay congressman, is the only legislator on the list with more than two-terms in Washington. Seven are freshman congressmembers and two are in the second term.

Roll Call's reasons for Honda's vulnerabilities are clear. The strength of Khanna's showing in 2014 coupled with his continued ability to outraise the incumbent remains evident. The difference this time may be a nagging ethics investigation into Honda's previous campaign and whether they illegally commingled the work of the campaign staff and the taxpayer-funded congressional office.

What is not included in the piece is likely high-turnout due to the presidential general election may favor Honda, who counts strong support from labor.

LISTEN! East Bay Citizen Show with ALCO Democratic Party Co-Chair Mario Juarez

Mario Juarez in the wildest, most trash-talking
East Bay Ctizen Show episode yet!
EPISODE 12 | Things got wild on this East Bay Citizen Show podcast. Alameda County Democratic Party co-chair Mario Juarez and I look at the political landscape in Oakland.

Juarez, a two-time Oakland City Council candidate, is one of the most knowledgeable political insiders in the East Bay, in addition, to one of the funniest.

Is Jean Quan really running for the City Council? "If it walks like a duck..." said Juarez. Is it possible two members of the same council are thinking about retirement? Did Oakland's founders really forget to annex Alameda? jokes Juarez in a satire of the police response at a recent council meeting.

And, finally, Juarez gives a loving ode to the splendor of Assemblymember Rob Bonta's gloriously perfect teeth and hair. All on the the East Bay Citizen Show, the region's only political podcast.

Subscribe and listen on iTunes, Stitcher or listen at EBCitizen.com. Follow on Twitter @EBCShow.



In hotly-contested East Bay State Senate race, Schaaf endorses Skinner

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, left, endorsed Nancy 
Skinner over another Democrat, Sandre Swanson.
STATE SENATE | DISTRICT 9 | Former East Bay Assemblymember Nancy Skinner received her highest-profile endorsement yet for the Ninth State Senate District.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said Monday she's is backing Skinner’s over another former Democratic Assemblymember Sandre Swanson. The endorsement could be a pivotal moment in a race pitting two strong progressives with extensive resumes in public service, in addition, to testing Schaaf’s rising popularity.

A recent poll showed Oaklanders overwhelming approve of their mayor’s job performance. The poll also showed the city supports the mayor’s primary focus on education and public safety--two issues some view as Skinner's strengths. In addition, almost half of the Ninth State Senate District’s voters reside in Oakland.

“I am positively thrilled to have the support of a progressive and creative leader like Mayor Libby Schaaf. She is bringing Oakland together as never before to solve local problems," said Skinner, in a statement.

Unsurprisingly, a statement from Skinner’s campaign Monday morning trumpeted Schaaf’s support for some of Skinner’s legislative actions regarding Oakland schools and getting guns and ammunition off the streets.

Through the early endorsement season, the contest has been highlighted by Swanson’s success in receiving support from nearly every big-name Democrat in the district, including Rep. Barbara Lee, Assemblymember Rob Bonta and State Sen. Loni Hancock, who will be termed out of the senate seat next year. Labor unions have also gravitated toward Swanson, but Skinner’s campaign still holds a significant early fundraising advantage to counter Swanson’s roster of endorsements.

Democrat Katherine Welch, a Piedmont education advocate, and San Pablo Vice Mayor Rich Kinney, a Republican, are also in the June primary race which most observers believe will come down to a grueling rematch between Skinner and Swanson next November.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Despite rent moratorium in Alameda, it's all leading to ballot fight over rent control

ALAMEDA CITY COUNCIL | ANALYSIS | It may have taken more than three hours to pin down the details, but Alameda’s immediate 65-day moratorium on rent increases and evictions will keep renters in their places through the holiday season. What comes next for alleviating growing fears across the island of brutal rent hikes and 60-day notices, is unclear, especially since the stopgap measure unanimously passed early Thursday morning by the Alameda City Council came after more than a year of inaction.

Meanwhile, city staff is now tasked with bringing back addition options for the council to consider, likely in the new year. They include a just cause ordinance and new rules for the Rent Review Advisory Committee (RRAC). But, neither is likely to appease renter’s groups, nor give solace to Alameda renters at-large. Catherine Pauling, a leader for the Alameda Renters Coalition, quickly criticized portions of the council's new directions to staff just minutes after the seven and a half hour meeting. A possible ordinance specifically outlining the justifications for a landlord to evict a renter was met more positively by the Alameda Renters Coalition Thursday morning. While a just cause ordinance appears to generally have support on the council, proposed enhancements may have difficulty gaining inclusion.

The insertion of language by Councilmember Tony Daysog to look at requiring landlords to pay relocation fees to renters upon eviction was met with major doubts from Councilmember Jim Oddie. A proposal by Daysog last month for a 45-day moratorium included similar relocation fee language. At Wednesday night’s special meeting on rising rents, Daysog often used a $3,500 fee as an example for reimbursing renters evicted from their places. Oddie countered the fee could be used as a pretext for evicting renters and replacing them with higher rent-paying tenants, similar to the Ellis Act. Other councilmembers also voiced some skepticism. “I have a visceral reaction to that,” said Oddie. “It’s social cleansing. Here take some money and get out of here.” Daysog disagreed and, instead, said the relocation fee will make landlords think twice before evicting their tenants.

A bit more complicated is direction from the council to further revamp the RRAC. Less than two months ago, the council decided to require landlords to attend hearings brought forth by their tenants or forfeit the ability to raise rents for a year. But, quickly some councilmembers said the ordinance had no teeth. Later, the renters coalition argued the existing RRAC is landlord-friendly and too often approves 10 percent rent hikes as compromises, which the group believes is already too high.

Under a proposed amendment led by Oddie, the RRAC may be allowed to limit increases to 8 percent. Whereas, the current setup is driven by renters who want to protest rent increases of any amount, the potential new rules would put the onus of landlords to seek approval from the RRAC for any rent hikes over 8 percent during a given year. In addition, city staff was also directed to provide a secondary proposal that would allow mediation in cases over the 8 percent threshold and then binding arbitration if there is no agreement. Such a proposal would not be rent control, said the city attorney’s office, since no specific ceiling for landlords to raise rents would be included, such as a limit on rent increases tied annually to the Consumer Price Index.

The question of rent control may ultimately be the endgame for Alameda’s growing housing crisis. A sense of class warfare is quickly becoming more evident as the City Council makes incremental moves on rent and the violent episode involving a police officer and a 68-year-old renter Wednesday night who was throw to the ground at City Hall and bloodied become symbols for the divide on the island. And landowners may still give renters ammunition for their cause going forward.

Councilmember Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft last month referenced the notion growing in Alameda of a community at war with itself. On Wednesday, she added, “I don’t want to toss landlords and tenants against each other.” But when landlords filled the City Council Chambers Wednesday evening its set a tone and later some were rudely snickered under the breathe as renters offered stories of sky-high rent hikes. The atmosphere was significantly different after dozens of members of the Alameda Renters Coalition threatened to storm the council chambers for an opportunity to speak. A noticeable unease was then evident among the remaining landlords who stuck around for the council’s comments. Ultimately blood was spilled at City Hall by an overzealous police officer who may have also risked numerous injuries to others in that hallway, including a number of elderly women who were pushed over by the takedown of renter Bob Davis. Notably, there was no mention of the violent act by the City Council, but sympathy offered for the hip injury sustained to Public Works Director Bob Haun, who, according to one video, appeared to have triggered the entire incident by pushing renter Bob Davis to the ground.

With an increasingly effective grassroots organization like the Alameda Renters Coalition which also carries a revolutionary bent, the meme of law enforcement protecting wealthy landowner’s interest is powerful. A strong whiff of populism is already evident among all Alameda renters. Furthermore, many are fueled by high anxiety over their ability to keep living in Alameda. Worse for the status quo, the Alameda Renters Coalition is making significant noise, but most of these renters are clearly political outsiders. In addition, keep in mind a majority of Alamedans are renters. Politically, government inaction coupled with public anxiety multiplied by an upset populace equals a chain reaction leading to major change, like a ballot measure next year calling for rent control. It’s the nuclear option some have warned landlords to avoid. It may become unavoidable.

There is word the Alameda Renters Coalition is working toward that option. Getting such a measure on the ballot would be no problem. Getting it approved by voters would require hard work. And its success would hand Alameda an interesting historical footnote. The populist upheaval that led to the passage of Measure A in 1972 to limit construction of multi-family housing, one of the factors that has led the city to its current housing crunch, could be negated by a similar grassroots effort. This time to pass rent control.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Blood spills at tense Alameda council meeting on rent moratorium

ALAMEDA CITY COUNCIL | Two members of the Alameda Renters Coalition were arrested Wednesday during a tense Alameda City Council on rising rents. One yet to be identified renter, was pulled by police from the entrance of the packed council chambers, dragged down a hallway and slammed to the ground. His face bloodied in the process.

Members of the renters group became upset after being unable to gain access to the chambers, which were filled nearly 45 minutes before the 6 p.m. special meeting. The group asserted landlords and their surrogates purposefully filled the chambers in a move to push renters to televisions set up near the front door of City Hall. Residents could also view the meeting in a room set up in the city library across the street.

But, after over an hour of public speakers, mostly advocating a pro-landlord position, members of the renters group filled the narrow hallway outside the chamber's doors and began chanting in favor of a 65-day moratorium on rent increases and evictions in Alameda. Some began stomping, while others pounded their fists on a table and pillars. 

Inside the meeting, according to witnesses, Alameda Public Works Director Bob Haun attempted to keep the throng outside. He was then injured in the process. Haun's left hand was bloodied and a witness heard he complained of an injury to his hip. Meanwhile, outside, as the tussle continued, two police officers shuffled up the stairs, through the throng and forcefully grabbed one of the renters, who did not immediately submit. 

The officer then swung the man, who appeared to be in his 60s, and sweeped him against a row of renters standing against a wall. At the end of the arc, the officer then slammed the man face-first to the ground. Blood could be seen while he was being subdued. Once brought to standing position by police, a large smear of blood was revealed. Witnesses later say the man had a large cut above one of his eyes.

John Klein, the other person arrested in the altercation, is a member of the Alameda Renters Coalition steering committee and member of the Oakland Privacy Group. Klein appeared calm after being handcuffed. The renters groups says he was charged with resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer. No word on any charges against the other renter. Haun was in good spirits but left the chambers in a sitting stretcher. The incident caused a nearly 15 minute recess, before resuming with another two hours of testimony. 

Urgency moratorium on rent increases, evictions may be coming to Alameda

Members of the Alameda Renters Coalition last month
in front of City Hall. PHOTO/@AlamedaRenters
ALAMEDA CITY COUNCIL | Fears of rising rents and evictions in Alameda over the past year are being heard by City Hall. The Alameda City Council may approve a 65-day temporary moratorium on rent hikes and evictions Wednesday evening at a long-anticipated special meeting.

If approved by a supermajority of the council, the emergency ordinance could give time for the city to study more concrete steps toward easing the housing crunch, including rent stabilization and mechanisms for funding more affordable housing units in Alameda, which is already sorely lacking, according to a report.

A consultant’s analysis on the impacts of rising rents in Alameda, first approved more than a year ago, found the number of units set aside for affordable housing is severely lacking. In addition, high demand for housing in Alameda is exacerbated by very low vacancy rates, said the report. Alameda’s rate of vacancy in 2013 was 1.4 percent. The figure is lower than Alameda County, at-large, at 3.8 percent, and well below the 5 percent mark housing experts estimate is healthy.

Overall, renters make up of 53 percent of the island’s population. Of the more than 16,000 renters in Alameda, said the report, 5,125 are considered very low-income renters. In addition, nearly 3,000 of those renters pay more than half their income for housing. The high percentage puts many of these renters at high risk for homelessness and displacement, said the report. Furthermore, 25 percent of renters earn less than $25,000 a year and one-third are single.

The Alameda Renters Coalition, an advocacy group that has pushed the city to alleviate the increasing pressures facing renters, some reporting large rent hikes up to 50 percent. The group also supports rent control on the island. The latter being a great point of contention by landlords and apartment advocacy groups, who assert the exorbitant rent increases resides among a few “bad apples.” Out-of-state landlords have also been blamed for the hikes.

But the consultant’s report found just 3 percent of rental units are owned by out-of-state entities. Just over half of the units are owned by landlords residing in Alameda. In addition, the housing squeeze worsened in San Francisco by sharing economy sites like Airbnb are having no discernible effect in Alameda, said the report, with just 100 active hosts renting out their dwellings.

Among the potential steps the city could take if the short-term moratorium is approved Wednesday night, may include a draft ordinance enacting rent control, according to the staff report. The issue, however, if pursued, could become contentious. Last summer, the Richmond City Council, a far more progressive group than their colleagues in Alameda, passed a rent control ordinance. However, a petition was later successful in blocking the ordinance.

Provisions for enacting just cause regulations could also be studied in Alameda, in addition, to further reforming the Rent Review Advisory Committee and seeking funding for renovation or building affordable housing in Alameda.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

City Hall Insider: agenda notes from around the East Bay: Nov. 3

HAYWARD/Nov. 3, 7 p.m.
The Quiet War with labor continues

A truce over the war between city employees and the Hayward City Council, starting in 2013, was technically settled earlier this year when both sides agreed to a new contract. The deal was actually pretty good for city employees, represented by SEIU Local 1021. But, that doesn’t mean there is no residual antipathy after elected officials slapped a unilateral five percent wage decrease on workers two years ago. Union leaders vowed to ruin each councilmember’s political careers at the time. Now, a labor-backed charter amendment is in the petition stage to ask voter to change municipals elections from June to November, starting in 2018. Low voter turnout has helped incumbents in recent years and the petition is a shot across the council’s bow. But, city officials are not sitting passively. On Tuesday, it will discuss an ordinance that will require candidates to list their top four contributors on campaign literature, in addition, to radio and television ads. The impetus for the ordinance, first proposed last June, appears to counteract large contributions by SEIU Local 1021 that were seen in the 2014 City Council race to support two union-backed candidates Sara Lamnin and Rocky Fernandez. Lamnin won a seat on the council, while Fernandez finished a close third for the second at-large seat Next June, four incumbents are up for re-election in Hayward. VIEW ENTIRE AGENDA HERE

OAKLAND/Nov. 3, 5:30 p.m.

Nov. 3, 10:30 a.m.

ALAMEDA/Nov. 3, 7 p.m.
City appointments revisited; Bonta briefing

HOT MESS, PART II A pair of Alameda Mayor Trish Spencer’s most recent blunders receive an encore performance Tuesday night. Dumaguete City in the Philippines is formalizing its sister city status with Alameda in a Memorandum of Understanding to be approved. Last Spring, the Filipino city’s delegation to Alameda included Spencer’s now infamous statement about the similarities between the cultures being personified by her children enjoying “white rice.” Filipinos, according to Spencer, also like to hug and kiss. Spencer maintained the delegation was not offended by the speech nor other appearances some in the local Filipino-American community found embarrassing. Dumaguete City officials apparently were not dissuaded with continuing relations with Alameda. Furthermore, another reminder of Spencer’s bungling of an appointment to the city Commission on Disability Issues last September is also on the agenda. Spencer nominated an Alameda resident she knew had been accused of trespassing in a city building earlier in the year. The nomination was pulled and two new appointees could be approved Tuesday.

RENT REVIEW APPOINTMENTS, PART II Two weeks ago, the scrappy Alameda Renters Coalition heralded a major victory in their advocacy against rising rents and evictions on the island by blocking three appointments to the Rent Review Advisory Committee (RRAC). The renters group asserts the current RRAC merely passes through 10 percent rent increases, which they say are too large, and is without a true voice for renters. The City Council agreed to hold off on the appointments until after the big Nov. 4 special meetings on housing, but the items arrives one day earlier. For consideration is Linda Asbury, Brian McGuire and Brendan Sullivan Sarinana.

BONTA, TRAFFIC UPDATES Assemblymember Rob Bonta was at the San Leandro City Council meeting Monday night to give an update on the state legislative scene in Sacramento. On Tuesday night, Bonta comes to home to Alameda to give the same update to city leaders, but not before giving the same presentation earlier in the evening in Oakland. Public Works will also update the council on traffic congestion issues on Bay Farm Island. One certainty from their investigation: the northbound lane on Island Drive at Robert Davey Jr. Drive will be extended 50 feet. VIEW ENTIRE AGENDA HERE

Monday, November 2, 2015

LISTEN! East Bay Citizen Show podcast with guest Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf
EPISODE 11 | What's in Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf's "secret sauce"? Maybe we'll get to the bottom of the city's proprietary ingredients? Or maybe not?

Along the way the first-year mayor adds to her State of the City address from last week and responds to criticism lodged against her for using the phrase "Black Lives Matter" as a backdrop during the speech at City Hall.

Schaaf's speech also left off her list of city priorities the future of the Oakland Raiders in the city and their bid for a new stadium.

Later, the mayor talks housing, public safety, Uber and "techquity" and previews her education plan, Oakland Promise.

Download and subscribe, below, to the East Bay Citizen Show on iTunes, Stitcher or listen on EBCitizen.com. New episodes every Monday! Follow @EBCShow on Twitter



Friday, October 30, 2015

Oakland's commitment to not using public money for a new football stadium

View of O.co Coliseum from the parking lot.
OAKLAND | Under the NFL’s bylaws, franchises that want to relocate to another city must first allow fans to have their voices heard. The practice of the NFL, however, when it comes to building costly stadiums, is to leverage fans’ fears about a team leaving to pressure municipalities into funding stadium construction with taxpayers’ money. However, if NFL executives on Thursday night at Oakland’s Paramount Theatre were expecting citizens of Raider Nation to provide that leverage, and help pressure Oakland city officials into such a deal, they must be sorely disappointed.

Raiders’ super fan Ray Perez, aka “Dr. Death,” may have best summed up the night when he told team owner Mark Davis: “When I want a house built, I don’t ask the City of Oakland to give me a check.”

Although Davis never directly asked for public money at last night’s event, it seemed clear that he wants it — and needs it. The Raiders are proposing to build a $900 million stadium at the Coliseum, but only have identified $500 million in private funds to get the job done. “We need help from the community as well to get something that our fans and the NFL can be proud of,” said Davis. “We don’t have that right now. We’ve been trying for at least the past six years, every day, hundreds of hours, people in this organization trying to get something done.” He later added, “It could be done in Oakland if everybody pulls together.”

But during the three-hour town hall, there was barely any reference made by fans of using public funding to help close the Raiders’ $400 million funding gap. Instead, many of those decked out in silver and black had alternative funding proposals for Eric Grubman, the NFL’s point man in the race by three franchises, including the Raiders, St. Louis Rams, and San Diego Chargers, to move to the long-vacant Los Angeles market.

A few fans proposed to crowdsource funding for a new stadium. Grubman called the idea “awesome,” but kindly dismissed it. “I don't think it would be fair for us to ask you to do that," he told a speaker. Another asked whether ownership of the team could be divvied up in public stocks and sold to fans, an ownership structure used by the NFL’s Green Bay Packers.


That time Barbara Lee and Paul Ryan tussled over race

Rep. Barbara Lee and new Republican House
Speaker Paul Ryan have history.
CONGRESS | DISTRICT 13 | “I congratulate Paul Ryan on his election as Speaker of the House today," East Bay Rep. Barbara Lee said Thursday of the new Republican House leader.

In the statement, Lee encouraged Ryan to act against an Authorization of Military Force (AUMF), in Iraq and Afghanistan, currently on the speaker's desk. Lee famously voted against the first AUMF in Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks.

But, while she was gracious in her congratulation of Ryan to succeed Rep. John Boehner, the two have politically tussled in the past. In March 2014, Lee seized upon comments made by Ryan asserting absent black fathers were to blame for some "inner city" ills.

“We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular," Ryan said at the time, "of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning to value the culture of work, so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with.”

Lee shot back that Ryan's comments about poverty were a "thinly veiled racial attack and cannot be tolerated. Let’s be clear, when Mr. Ryan says 'inner city,' when he says, 'culture,' these are simply code words for what he really means: 'black.'"

Ryan reacted incredulously to Lee's comments. “This has nothing to do whatsoever with race," said Ryan. "It never even occurred to me.”

Nevertheless, history aside, few can imagine Lee--one of the most progressive members of Congress--and Ryan, a devout fiscal conservative, will ever see eye-to-eye.