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!


Roundly mocked list of the most beautiful people in the Beltway pegs Rep. Eric Swalwell as sixth.


Assemblymember Rob Bonta casts his ballot June 3 in Alameda.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Most Interesting Man in the East Bay

Not far from where this photo was taken, San Leandro mayoral candidate Dan Dillman confronted Alameda County Sherrif's deputies in 2010. He spent over two month in jail for the act this summer. 
PHOTO/Steven Tavares
SAN LEANDRO | MAYOR | Dan Dillman is one of San Leandro's most charismatic businessmen. In recent years, he has reinvigorated the crumbling Bal Theater on East 14th Street with live shows and quirky film festivals. R&B headliner Bobby Brown played the Bal last New Year's Eve, and comedians George Lopez and Dana Carvey have performed at the theater as well. Dillman, however, is also interested in politics, and is running for the open mayor's seat in San Leandro this fall. Yet despite his entertainment business successes, he faces an uphill battle: While his opponents were readying their mayoral campaigns this summer, Dillman was serving 69 days in Santa Rita Jail for assaulting two plain-clothed Alameda County Sheriff's deputies in front of his theater in 2010.

Although Dillman is considered a long shot this November, he nonetheless may become an important player in the mayor's race because of ranked-choice voting. Dillman's supporters could end up deciding San Leandro's next mayor, depending on whom they list second and third on their ballots. "It is going to have an effect on the race," said Pauline Cutter, a San Leandro councilmember, who is also a candidate for mayor. "Dan is going to get those who are dissatisfied with how things are going in San Leandro."


Monday, September 15, 2014

Souza Says She’ll Take Credit for Cassidy Not Running for Mayor

San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy, 
Councilmember Diana Souza.
SAN LEANDRO | MAYOR | Even before San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy took office in 2010 he had alienated the city’s police officers, city employees, progressives, and members of the Alameda County Democratic Party, just to name a few important constituencies.

After moving into the mayor’s office—which he subsequently rarely inhabited—there was no other member of the council who pushed back at Cassidy’ bullying ways than Councilmember Diana Souza, one of three candidates to replace him this November.

Last Thursday night, following a candidates forum at the San Leandro Library, Souza said numerous references to her ability to forge relationships is not a slight aimed at Cassidy, who is not seeking re-election. Souza said she was planning to run for mayor even before Cassidy’s announcement. “Stephen is not in the race. I’m running, because I was going to run, regardless.”

However, she suggested her campaign may have dissuaded him from running for re-election.

Souza, who is termed out this fall after eight years on the City Council said she was surprised by Cassidy’s announcement last May. “I had no clue, but I’ll take credit for him dropping out,” Souza said with a chuckle.

But, when asked to clarify, she became serious and added, “Because in his comments, he knew it was going to be a vigorous campaign. If he would have been unopposed, would he have stayed? I don’t know?”

Alameda County Dems Endorse Tam Over Incumbent BART Director Raburn

Lena Tam
ALAMEDA COUNTY | DEMOCRATS | BART Board of Director Robert Raburn often eschews driving automobiles for public transportation and his bicycle. But, when it comes to endorsing his re-election to the board following the divisive BART strike of last year, Alameda County Democrats told him Saturday to take a hike, instead.

In the most notable endorsement handed out Saturday by the local Democratic Party, it chose to back the candidacy of Alameda Councilmember Lena Tam over Raburn, whose support for BART management's strong stance against workers during last year's contentious strike deeply angered progressives and labor leaders. Tam is termed out of office in Alameda and her reputation with labor is strong.

In Oakland, the Alameda Democratic Party made no recommendation for mayor, nor did they support a candidate in Councilmember Desley Brooks' race in District 6. Peralta Community College Trustee Abel Guillen won the endorsement in District 2, as did Anne Campbell Washington in District 6. The party also supports school board candidates Aimee Eng, Karl Debro and Shanthi Gonzales, along with Brenda Roberts for city auditor.

In San Leandro, Councilmember Pauline Cutter is the Alameda County Democratic Party's choice for mayor as is, Corina Lopez in the District 5 City Council race and newcomer Victor Aguilar in District 3. The party made no recommendation in District 1.

Labor's strength in Alameda was also evident with the endorsement of Mayor Marie Gilmore for re-election, in addition to Councilmember Stewart Chen and Jim Oddie for the City Council. All three, along with Tam, are strongly supported by the Island's powerful firefighters' union.

Of the 30 local referendums discussed by party leaders, it voted to support 28, including Berkeley's Measure D (sugary drink tax), Oakland's Measure Z (reauthorization of its public safety parcel tax); Measure FF (minimum wage wage increase to $12.25/hour) and Alameda County's transportation tax, Measure BB.

Below is the full list of endorsements approved Saturday by the Alameda County Democratic Party:
Alameda County Superintendent of Schools - Karen Monroe
Alameda Mayor - Hon. Marie L. Gilmore
Alameda Councilmember - Hon. Stewart Chen, Jim Oddie
Berkeley Auditor - Hon. Ann-Marie Hogan
Berkeley Councilmember - District 4, Hon. Jesse Arreguin; District 8, Lori Droste
Berkeley Rent Stab. Bd. Comm. - James Chang, Paola Laverde-Levine
Dublin Mayor - Kasie Hildenbrand
Dublin Councilmember - Hon. Don Biddle, Hon. Abe Gupta
Emeryville Councilmember - Scott Donahue, Dianne Martinez
Fremont Councilmember - Hon. Raj Salwan, David Bonaccorsi
Livermore Mayor - Hon. John Marchand
Newark Mayor - Hon. Alan Nagy
Newark Councilmember - Mike Bucci, Francisco Preciado
Oakland Auditor - Brenda Roberts
Oakland Councilmember - District 2, Hon. Abel Guillen; District 4, Hon. Anne Campbell Washington
Pleasanton Councilmember - Olivia Sanwong
San Leandro Mayor - Hon. Pauline Russo Cutter
San Leandro Councilmember - District 3, Victor Aguilar; District 5, Hon. Corina Lopez
Union City Councilmember - Hon. Emily Duncan, Hon. Pat D. Gacoscos, Kashmir Singh Shahi
Chabot-Las Positas CCD Trustee - Area 2, Hon. Isobel F. Dvorsky
Ohlone CCD Trustee - Area 1, Hon. Vivien Larsen; Area 2, Janet Giovannini-Hill; Area 2 (short
term), Hon. Ishan Shah
Peralta CCD Trustee - Area 3, Hon. Linda L. Handy; Area 5, Hon. William Riley
Alameda USD Director - Hon. Michael McMahon, Solana HenneberryBerkeley USD Director - Hon. Joshua Daniels, Hon. Karen Hemphill, Hon. Julie Sinai
Castro Valley USD Director - Hon. Janice Friesen, Hon. Gary Howard
Dublin USD Director - Hon. Megan Rouse
Emery USD Director - Hon. John Affeldt, Hon. Miguel Dwin, Hon. Christian Patz
Fremont USD Director - Dax Choksi, Moina Shaiq
Hayward USD Director - Hon. Lisa G. Brunner, Hon. William L. McGee
New Haven USD Director - Hon. Sarabjit Kaur Cheema, Lance Nishihira
Newark USD Director - Hon. Nancy Thomas, Christopher Wecks
Oakland USD Director - District 2, Aimee Eng; District. 4, Karl Debro; District 6, Shanthi
Pleasanton USD Director - Hon. Jeff Bowser, Hon. Joan Laursen
San Leandro USD Director - District 2, Lance James; District 4 - Leo Sheridan; At-Large (short
term), Evelyn Gonzalez
San Lorenzo USD Director - Janet Zamudio, Steven Kirk
A.C. Transit District Director - Ward 3, Hon. Elsa Ortiz; Ward 4, Hon. Mark Williams; Ward 5,
Kewal Singh
Alameda County Water District Director - Hon. Paul Sethy
BART Director - District 4, Hon. Lena Tam
Castro Valley San District Director - John Maher
City of Alameda Healthcare District Director - Hon. Tracy Jensen, Jim Meyers
East Bay MUD Director - Ward 3, Marguerite Young; Ward 4, Hon. Andy Katz
East Bay Reg. Park District Director - Ward 3, Hon. Dennis Waespi; Ward 5, Hon. Ayn
Hayward Area Recreation & Park District Director - Hon. Paul Hodges, Jr.
Oro Loma Sanitary District Director - Shelia Young

Measure I Alameda USD School Renovation & Construction Bond YES
Measure LL Albany USD Temporary Parcel Tax for Education YES
Measure K Emery USD Education Parcel Tax Renewal YES
Measure L Hayward USD School Modernization & Renovation Bond YES
Measure M New Haven USD School Facilities Bond YES
Measure N Oakland USD Temporary Parcel Tax for Education YES
Measure BB Alameda County Transportation Sales Tax YES
Measure D City of Berkeley Sugary Drinks Tax YES
Measure F City of Berkeley Community Parks Tax Amendment YES
Measure O City of Berkeley Conform City Charter to Elections Code YES
Measure P City of Berkeley Constitution Amendment Advisory Measure YES
Measure Q City of Berkeley Part-Time Work Advisory Measure YES
Measure R City of Berkeley Downtown Plan Amendments NO
Measure S City of Berkeley City Council District Boundaries YES
Measure T City of Dublin Doolan Canyon Annexation NO
Measure U City of Emeryville Adopt City Charter YES
Measure V City of Emeryville Real Property Transfer Tax YES
Measure W City of Livermore Restrict Mayor & Council Compensation YES
Measure X City of Livermore Restrict Mayor & Council Health Benefits YES
Measure Y City of Newark Extend & Reduce Rate of Utility Users Tax YES
Measure Z City of Oakland Extend Public Safety Parking & Parcel Tax YES
Measure CC City of Oakland Public Ethics Comm. Charter Amendment YES
Measure DD City of Oakland Redistricting Comm. Charter Amendment YES
Measure EE City of Oakland Retirement System Charter Amendment YES
Measure FF City of Oakland Establish Minimum Wage YES
Measure GG City of Piedmont Election Date Charter Amendment YES
Measure HH City of San Leandro Extend Local Services Sales Tax YES
Measure II City of San Leandro Vice Mayor Election Charter Amendment YES
Measure JJ City of Union City Extend Essential Services Sales Tax YES
Measure KK City of Union City Hillside & General Plan Amendments YES

Mike Honda Condemns NFL Commish for Handling of Domestic Violence Incidents

Rep. Mike Honda
CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | Rep. Mike Honda said he was “shocked and saddened” by the handling of a number of football players accused of domestic violence against by the National Football League and Commissioner Roger Goodell in recent weeks.

“Commissioner Goodell’s inaction has damaged the integrity of the NFL and, most importantly, sent a dangerous message to players and fans across America that committing a horrific act of violence will result in little to no penalty,” Honda said Friday in a statement.

Earlier in the week, a graphic video of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice striking his then-girlfriend was released by TMZ and triggered his release from the team and uproar across the country. San Francisco 49ers and Carolina Panthers players were also alleged to have committed violent acts against women recently. The NFL has also been criticized for allowing the suspected offenders to continue playing games.

“I am calling on the NFL to immediately institute a zero-tolerance policy and send the right message to NFL players, and all Americans, that if a player violently assault a woman, he will lose his privilege to play football,” said Honda.

Honda’s condemnation of the NFL and Goodell was part of a letter sent to the league office on Friday by 20 female members of Congress, including California U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. In addition, to calling for a zero-tolerance policy toward domestic violence, the letter also references the 20th anniversary of the landmark passage of the Violence Against Women Act.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Proxy War for Mayor in San Leandro

San Leandro mayoral candidates, Councilmember Diana Souza, Dan Dillman and Councilmember Pauline Cutter, at a forum Sept. 11 at the San Leandro Main Library. PHOTO/Steven Tavares
SAN LEANDRO | MAYOR | San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy decided earlier this year that one term in office was enough, but that doesn’t mean his large frame isn’t casting a shadow over the campaign to replace him

San Leandro mayoral candidates Diana Souza and Dan Dillman say the city needs a change in direction. Both make sly references to Cassidy’s complicated four years of corrosive division and rampant absenteeism at City Hall. However, almost like the de facto incumbent, another candidate, Pauline Cutter wants to build upon the last four years of growth in San Leandro, in a race likely to be more of referendum on Cassidy’s leadership than the qualifications of the three candidates.

Councilmember Pauline Cutter addressing a
candidates forum last week in San Leandro.
PHOTO/Steven Tavares
“The mayor should be the voice of the city," Councilmember Souza said at a candidates forum Sept. 11, “the first among the leaders of the city.” She added, the mayor should collaborate with colleagues and members of the community and "not be exclusive of anybody in the conversation.”

The comments appeared to be a direct indictment of Cassidy. No council member publicly sparred with Cassidy more than Souza, who often charged him with belittling council members and talking over their individual concerns. However, afterwards, Souza said repeated references Thursday night to building relationship had nothing to do with Cassidy. Earlier, she had credited her election to the City Council in 2006 as the result of decades of building relationships in San Leandro.

Dillman, the charismatic owner of San Leandro’s Bal Theater, followed Souza with a similar tone. “I think we need leadership that is proactive and promoting the city,” he said, while proclaiming, “You have a friend at City Hall” and “If you elect Dan Dillman as your mayor, that’s real change. That’s when you know something magical has happened in this city.”

Dillman said he would reverse two council decision made during Cassidy’s term that limits access to government and transparency by reinstituting council committee hearings and more expansive descriptions of public meeting transcripts. “You’re option to advocate for your position is in the committee,” said Dillman. “With those gone, your only option is to go to a City Council meeting when they’re about to vote.”

Councilmember Cutter, who, like Souza, approved the discontinuation of committees and reduced minute two years ago, said Thursday, she agrees with Dillman. “I don’t think it works as well,” said Cutter. “We need to vet things out in committee, you need to be able to talk things over and get input from the community.”

Cutter, a preschool teacher who spent 12 years on the San Leandro school board before winning election to the council in 2010, wants to build upon the quick rise from the Great Recession to a city whose technology credentials, primarily with its downtown fiber-optic loop, has become the envy of its neighbors in the East Bay. In addition, Cutter views the downtrodden areas in and around Bayfair Mall as an opportunity to build upon. San Leandro also needs to take advantage of development at the Marina and decide whether a portion of the city’s industrial areas can be transformed into destination areas for workers and residents.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Three East Bay Races Where Candidates Need to Better Sing Their Songs

We are now less than two months away from Election Day. For some campaigns it’s put up or shut up. Aside from a bombshell that likely will not happen, narratives need to be developed not sooner than later, but now. Free of charge, here are some stories that some campaign's need to start telling:

RO KHANNA Sometime in the summer Khanna’s campaign decided it would focus more generously on moderate and conservative voters in Fremont and the South Bay. Highlighting the endorsement of San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed snugly fit this strategy. But, calling Reed, who is viewed as a pariah by labor, an “American hero,” was too far off the rails. Khanna is obviously a Democrat and presumably tacking from the moderate left to the moderate right also means an occasional turn to the left. However, placing Reed on a pedestal might make any forays to left to seem disingenuous. In the meantime, Khanna’s Election Day may not be Nov. 4, but Oct. 6. That’s the date of the locally televised debate against Rep. Mike Honda. Khanna needs a knockout in addition to some sort of funky Admiral James Stockdale antics ("Who am I? Why am I here?") from Honda. There's no story here to tell until this occurs. That’s a low-odds, high-pressure scenario that does not bode well for Khanna. Taking out an incumbent member of Congress is like winning a heavyweight title fight. You not only have to beat the champ, you have to do it in a decisive manner. Khanna goes into the Oct. 6 debate losing on almost everybody's scorecard. Khanna desperately needs an unforced error from Honda, but the incumbent is showing all signs that he's willing to win re-election with a defensive approach.

Top of the heap: Rebecca Kaplan
OAKLAND MAYORAL RACE Although a poll released this week showed Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan easily winning the ranked-choice voting race over Mayor Jean Quan, the numbers were highly dubious and probably purposefully. This is Oakland, after all. However, the other mayoral candidates not named Kaplan should now shift gears and make her the Don Perata of this race, meaning, the mantra should be: “Anybody but Rebecca.” Curiously, none of the candidates seem to understand the key to ranked-choice voting is coalitions. There appear to be none, as of this week. However, Kaplan is the only candidate who consistently asks for second and third place votes. Granted, some like Councilmember Libby Schaaf and Quan have begun adding the tagline, but it’s still not common. The perception in the public that Kaplan is the clear frontrunner should be the impetus for her opponents to realize if they don’t somehow band together, none of them will be mayor. Four years ago this occurred when Quan and Kaplan joined forces and it worked in blocking Perata from the mayor’s office. The story should be, everybody is still in it because this race might not be cinched until the last days of the campaign.

Diana Souza
SAN LEANDRO MAYORAL RACE Councilmember Diana Souza doesn’t seem to understand her campaign for mayor is based on beating a straw man. She denied her comments Thursday highlighting the need for a mayor to form strong relationships with colleagues and constituents was a jab at out-going Mayor Stephen Cassidy, who is not running for re-election. In fact, it’s the perfect strategy where there is no clear frontrunner. Cassidy has been an absentee mayor who attempted to schedule the business of city government literally around his own personal work schedule and City Hall appears in disarray over the lack of leadership from the top (Exhibit A: the Oakland garbage contract). In a race where two of the three candidates are members of the City Council, running against City Hall takes some work in making the case. However, since Souza has long been an opponent to Cassidy, her case is far more plausible than Councilmember Pauline Cutter, who has ties to the mayor. Conversely, political newbie Dan Dillman is an outsider who needs to consistently point out when his colleagues criticize decisions they actually supported while on the council. When Dillman vowed to bring back council committees, Cutter and Souza agreed, despite voting to discontinue them two years ago.
Ellen Corbett for county supervisor?
CORBETT'S FUTURE Political parlor games over a landing place for termed out State Sen. Ellen Corbett continue to heat up since the end of the legislative season last month in Sacramento. One can detect three distinct paths for Corbett who finished a dismal and surprising third in the June primary race for the 15th Congressional District. She could seek a government appointment in Sacramento, run for city office in the future or regroup and aim for the Alameda County Board of Supervisors after 2016. Just about every termed out legislator has an opportunity for an appointment by the governor, especially the former majority leader, but this option was there even before her congressional run. Returning to her roots in San Leandro might feel like a significant demotion for Corbett, although, the city is on the rise and could definitely use her experience and gravitas. The third potential option could get Corbett’s political juices flowing. Supervisor Wilma Chan is a likely candidate for the State Senate in two years, maybe against Nancy Skinner and Sandre Swanson. It would be a tough race for Chan, but don’t count her out. If she were to win, who in the supervisorial third district would be more qualified than Corbett?
Is Mike Katz-Lacabe's candidacy in San
Leandro being undermined from within?
HERE AND THERE Oakland mayoral candidate Bryan Parker has gotten into the bad habit of publicizing some political endorsements as if they were given solely to his campaign. For, at least, the second time, Parker boasted of backing from Oakland pastors that was actually a three-way endorsement. This week, one opponent, Joe Tuman, called him out on Twitter for the act...Another Oakland mayoral challenger, Saied Karamooz, has what you can call an excellent jab. His answers are short, sweet and powerful. However, during a forum this week hosted by a number of non-profits, the anti-government candidate told them, "I want to put all of you out of business." He meant the sheer number of non-profits in Oakland shows government is not doing its job to help people, but the comment was followed by a long, eerie silence...Someone needs to tell San Leandro mayoral candidate Pauline Cutter to smile when others are speaking at candidates forums. Thursday night, she continually frowned during comments made by her opponents. They were not reactions to their comments, but a weird default face that looks like one of those dolls made from dried, wrinkled apples…The Alameda County Democratic Party has the endorsement on consent for business-friendly San Leandro council candidate Deborah Cox over one of the most liberal candidates in all of San Leandro, Mike Katz-Lacabe. The reason: political hardball. Katz-Lacabe’s wife is central committee member Margarita Lacabe, the same person who cost the group thousands in legal fees from a dubious investigation this year by the Fair Political Practices Commission.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

OPINION: Chronicle Columnist is Again Smearing Oakland

By Elmano Gonsalves
San Francisco Chronicle columnist Chip Johnson
OAKLAND | OPINION | Chip Johnson, it seems that your on-going vendetta against Jean Quan and the city of Oakland continues unabated. The San Francisco-centric and slanted media goes after Oakland Mayor Jean Quan as if she were Kim Kardashian. Quan makes news when she gets a parking ticket, is involved in a fender bender, when her car window gets smashed, when she's talking on her cell phone, when her purse gets stolen, etc.

It's all fun and games for the selective San Francisco-centric media who could care less about what San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee is up to. Lee is not questioned about a 22 percent increase in crime in 2013. Lee goes on with his business as tourists are shot in San Francisco. He is undisturbed as tourists and KRON-TV have their cameras stolen at gunpoint. No one writes a column when a 14-year-old boy is murdered in San Francisco.

Chip, you like to embellish any negative news or crime numbers when it comes to Oakland. You stated that crime in Oakland under Quan was " the deepest and widest" it had ever been. Once again you're making things up. In 1992 there were 175 homicides in Oakland. The 1980s and 1990s saw much higher crime rates. The robbery numbers the media likes to pin on Oakland had to do with smart phone thefts which included 75 percent of all robberies in Oakland in 2012. San Francisco had the same problem, but fudged the robbery figures by classifying cell phone robberies as thefts.

You may think that you're helping to insure that Jean Quan loses the election, but what you're really doing is exposing San Francisco's disdain for any progress in Oakland.

Chip, it's interesting that you make no mention of how much crime has come down in Oakland in the last two years. You're not Interested in the record low 48 non-justifiable homicides in Oakland as of Sept. 9. You know Oakland's homicide, robbery, and residential burglary numbers are down by over 30 percent in 2014. You know that Oakland has a chance to record the lowest homicide count since the 1960's. Why aren't you writing about the record low crime rates instead of once again smearing Oakland?

Unfortunately, this has been your method of operation for many, many years as a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. You bury the good news and the record low crime numbers since it doesn't fit your anti-Oakland agenda and the narrative that Oakland is a "crime infested " and "impoverished city" which you and your fellow San Francisco-centric colleagues want so desperately to promote and perpetuate.

Folks in Oakland understand that you've had an anti-Oakland agenda for a very long time. No one likes a bully. You may think that you're helping to insure that Jean Quan loses the election but what you're really doing is exposing San Francisco's disdain for any progress in Oakland. Oaklanders don't like bullies with agendas working for a newspaper in a neighboring city which attempts to define Oakland on a daily basis with selective reporting.

Your anti-Quan agenda is going to backfire and I predict Jean Quan will get re-elected. Is she the best candidate with the best leadership skills? Probably not. Has she been unfairly targeted by you and your San Francisco-entric media colleagues? Absolutely.

Elmano Gonsalves is a former Oakland resident who resides in the East Bay. In August, his criticisms of the San Francisco media's reporting of Oakland was featured in the East Bay Express.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Oakland Pastors Use Heavenly Guidance; Endorse Tuman, Parker, Siegel for Mayor

Center: Bryan Parker and Bishop Bob Jackson.
OAKLAND | MAYOR | Not many people know Oakland mayoral candidate Bryan Parker was once on the path to the priesthood.

Parker attended the seminary as a teenager and although he maintained his faith, he later became disillusioned by the Catholic Church, and reversed course.

Therefore, it’s no surprise Parker was one of three candidates who received the backing Tuesday from 200 of Oakland’s most influential pastors.  Although, the group did not suggest a 1-2-3 order for voters in the ranked-choice voting election this fall, Joe Tuman received the most votes, followed by Parker and Dan Siegel.

However, the selection also came with some guidance from above.

When it came to Parker's endorsement, well-know Bishop Bob Jackson of Oakland's Acts Full Gospel Church said, "We prayed on it, evaluated performance, and in the end, were guided by Proverbs 29:2, which says, 'When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people mourn.'"

However, it begs to question: is Bishop Bob saying Mayor Jean Quan is backed by the Devil?

UPDATE: A correction was made to reflect Joe Tuman received the most votes from the group of Oakland pastor.

Did Khanna Break His Questionnaire Pledge or Not?

Ro Khanna
CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | Over a year ago, Ro Khanna referenced the Federalist Papers and derided the powerful hand of special interests hampering government today. He later said, “Candidates should publicly refuse to fill out questionnaires from interest groups that pre-commit them to positions.”

However, when the influential San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber PAC sent a candidates questionnaire to Khanna last August, did the 17th congressional district candidate challenging fellow Democratic Rep. Mike Honda oblige them or not?

The Silicon Valley Chamber PAC questionnaire, obtained by the East Bay Citizen, contains 22 questions. Khanna’s response, also obtained by the Citizen, shows that while he did not answer the chamber’s questions directly, he instead provided a separate and lengthy 14-page letter essentially serving as an overview of all the group’s queries.

Tyler Law, Khanna’s communication director, said the campaign did not take any positions in the letter to the chamber. “We have not changed our policy one bit,” he said. The contents of the letter, said Law, came mostly from Khanna’s book on manufacturing published last year. “You won’t be surprised by anything in the letter,” added Law.

Khanna later received the chamber’s endorsement, but the PAC is not able to make donations on the Federal level. Throughout the campaign, Khanna has pledged to not accept donations from PACs,

Vivek Kembaiyan, Honda’s communication director, said Tuesday the campaign did not participate in the chamber’s endorsement process, but he criticized Khanna for doing so.

"Before squandering more than $3 million just to lose by 20 points, Ro Khanna made all kinds of promises, including not to take support from PACs and to not fill out any questionnaires from interest groups,” said Kembaiyan. “He went back on both of those promises and is embracing support of the conservative Chamber PAC, which opposed a minimum-wage increase that Congressman Honda helped fight for. Ro has shown his true colors: he will say or do anything if he thinks it will help him get elected."

As the fall race heats up, the next pivotal moment in the campaign may come Oct. 6, during an locally televised debate between the candidates in San Jose.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Swalwell's Bad Bet on a House Republican who Dislikes Gays

CONGRESS | DISTRICT 15 | Always choose your friends wisely. Especially, if you’re an East Bay congressman who publicly consorts with a North Carolina Republican who believes employers have the right to fire people because of their sexual orientation.

Earlier this year, Rep. Eric Swalwell produced a torturous, tongue-in-cheek YouTube production with Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-N.C.) in which they donned the jersey’s of their favorite football teams in the lengthy video and wagered a bet on their playoff chances.

The video is no longer available on Swalwell's congressional YouTube channel. It is now set to "private," but the same video, below, is still posted on Pittenger's page. Similarly, a video in 2013 of Swalwell praising an Alameda County sheriff's deputy for valor on duty in Oakland no longer exists on the channel. Reports later found the deputy had shot himself in the foot.

Meanwhile, Swalwell and the 49ers won the bet, but his consistent desire to reach across the aisle, despite a Republican-dominated House showing unwillingness to cooperate with Democrats may be a loser.

During a town hall meeting last weekend, Pittenger, who is a member of the Swalwell-led bipartisan group calling itself the United Solutions Caucus, said people should be allowed to run their business however they want, including whether or not they want gay people to work for them or not, ThinkProgress reported Monday.

“You need to respect the autonomy of somebody running their business,” said Pittenger. “It’s like smoking bans. Do you ban smoking or do people have the right to private property? I think people have the right to private property. In public spaces, absolutely, we can have smoking bans. But we don’t want to micromanage people’s lives and businesses. If you have a business, do you want the government to come in and tell you you need to hire somebody? Why should government be there to impose on the freedoms we enjoy?”

Pittenger’s far-right rhetoric follows an equally reactionary comment a week before when he told ThinkProgress young immigrant children escaping violence in Central America should be deported back to their country of origin even if the chance exists they could be murdered upon return.

Like Swalwell, Pittenger is a first-time congressman seeking re-election for the first time. However, unlike Swalwell, Pittenger is running unopposed this November.

The Swalwell-led United Solutions Caucus was created, he says, to highlight a number of young Democratic and Republican representatives who want to break through the partisan gridlock they believe is paralyzing Congress. When it was formed in early 2013, Pittenger was named its co-chair.

During a town hall meeting last month in San Lorenzo, Swalwell offered numerous instances when he reached across the aisle to House Republicans, yet also assured one resident, he indeed, was a progressive.

However, it was a stance trumpeted by Swalwell and the caucus last December which represents the most glaring reason some constituents continue to be skeptical of his progressive leanings after he and the group supported a budget offered by Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray that cut unemployment benefits for over 1.3 million Americans.

Swalwell later asked constituents to help him fight to restore the cuts to unemployment benefits—the same cuts he supported a few weeks earlier.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

A's Agree to Pay Back $266,000 in Wage Theft to Clubhouse Workers

LABOR | OAKLAND | The Oakland Athletics agreed to pay 86 current and former low-wage employees over $266,000 in wages it stiffed clubhouse workers and interns, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

The Athletics, like the San Francisco Giants and Miami Marlins before them, agreed to the settlement following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor. Earlier this year, the Giants settled for over $765,000 in illegally withheld pay.

The issue of wage theft may, in fact, be endemic to professional baseball, according to the magazine. Other Major League Baseball teams are also currently under investigation.

Another issue behind the behavior of some ball club is the notion young, inexperienced employees should be content merely to be associated with the popular professional teams rather than fairly compensated.

A federal lawsuit filed earlier this year by 32 former minor league player against the commissioner of baseball and all 30 teams asserts clubs are suppressing wages below minimum wage standards. Minor league players are paid for roughly six months of work per year, but are not compensated for attending spring training, fall instructional leagues and other activities, according to Baseball America.

One of the lead plaintiffs in the suit is a former San Francisco Giants farmhand named Oliver Odle, who last played for its Class A club in San Jose.

Tesla’s Decision to Open Factory in Nevada Puts a Charge into SD10 Race

SD10 opponents Assemblymember Bob
Wiekcowski and Peter Kuo
STATE SENATE | DISTRICT 10 | In the months since the June primary Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski’s campaign has been virtually silent. With Republican challenger Peter Kuo also retreating to his corner of Santa Clara County, the race for the 10th State Senate District has been non-existent until this week.

The decision of Fremont-based Tesla Motors, Inc. to open a large-scale lithium battery factory in Nevada, instead of California, may give Kuo an opportunity to piggyback on a conservative contention the state’s business climate is pushing jobs out of the Golden State. The battery plant is expected to employ 6,500 workers in Nevada.

Wieckowski, a Democrat who represents the area in the State Assembly downplayed Tesla’s announcement this week. “While I am disappointed in Tesla’s apparent decision to locate its battery factory in Nevada, I am proud of California’s partnership with Tesla resulting in significant job growth in Fremont, Santa Clara County and among the automakers’ suppliers,” said Wieckowski. “I am hopeful that as the company grows, Tesla may build additional battery facilities or other specialized facilities in California as it scales up manufacturing for current and future products.”

Tesla Motors auto plant in Fremont.
During a televised California gubernatorial debate Thursday, Gov. Jerry Brown signaled a similar sentiment, while noting recent legislation offering Tesla incentives to build the gigifactory in the state were ultimately too costly for taxpayers. Brown suggested the Nevada factory might lower the price of fuel cells, thereby, making Tesla vehicles built in Fremont more affordable.

Kuo, who finished second in the June primary, criticized Wieckowski for his statement. "While my opponent Bob Wieckowski appears to dismiss the severity of this news, I am concerned about the economy and workers in this district. The type of policies that Bob has led on are a root cause of the exodus of businesses to more business friendly states,” Kuo said in a statement. “Tesla's latest move hits close to home because many of those jobs could have filled by constituents of the 10th Senate District.”

Tesla’s decision is likely to not only dominate this race covering much of the southern Alameda County and parts of Santa Clara County, but also become a frequent talking point for Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari, who, like Kuo, has described California’s regulations and tax policies as overly burdensome for business owners.

Is the Oakland Mayoral Race Becoming a Dance Off?

Schaaf has the moves like Jagger.
OAKLAND | MAYOR | Bet you never thought a video of Oakland mayoral candidate Libby Schaaf sashaying to "Cupid Shuffle" would be a potential campaign strategy, but ready or not, here it comes.

Schaaf’s campaign posted a short video Saturday of the Oakland council member line dancing outdoors with other residents.

To be sure, Libby has the moves and the video does not appear to have been a campaign gimmick, but more of an afterthought. Schaaf, for instance, is shimmying to the groove on the opposite side of the person recording her and its quality is substandard.

The video could be gold for Schaaf’s campaign, which is looking to gain attention in a race of 15 candidates. It also shows another side to the candidate The New York Times recently said, “speaks to the city’s wealthy old guard, in leafy Oakland Hills.”

Now, if Mayor Jean Quan can only dust off those pop-and-lock moves.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Odd Signals Coming from a Powerful East Bay Labor Group

The reasons why labor cleared the field for bad boy AC Transit board member Joel Young last month are still uncertain. The Alameda Labor Council appeared set to push Young's endorsement through before members of SEIU Local 1021 intervened to gain an open endorsement. Recall, Young screwed over SEIU during his run two years ago for the Assembly when he distributed the confidential union questionnaires of his fellow Democratic opponents. In addition, Young's colleagues at AC Transit censured him last year for misconduct. However, Young's transgression at AC Transit in fact helped union transit groups in other areas. Two challengers, in fact, were poised to mount spirited campaigns against Young, but both, Igor Tregub and Tyron Jordan, inexplicably lost their enthusiasm at the last minute. For whatever, reason there is those who believe Josie Camacho of the Alameda Labor Council browbeat and threatened one or both into exiting the race. Now, Young has a considerably less difficult path to re-election against a former AC Transit bus driver, Dollene Jones, who ran in 2012, and a newcomer named Adrienne Andrews.

But there is more when it comes to some questionable behavior by the Alameda Labor Council. In the race to replace Abel Guillen at the Peralta Community College District, the council's executive committee forced one of the candidates, Richard Fuentes, who is backed by many officials in Oakland, to answer questions before a camera with the husband of his challenger, Julina Bonilla, in attendance. These endorsement meetings are highly confidential and may have put Fuentes in a difficult position. Some with knowledge of the meeting believe the incident was a set up by Camacho to undermine support for Fuentes in favor of her preferred candidate, Bonilla. Later, video of the endorsement meeting was played for Oakland Assemblymember Rob Bonta, who is supporting both candidates, and presumably to discredit Fuentes' candidacy. However, according to sources, Bonta found little concern with Fuentes' answers.
Hot Prospects: Shereda Nosakhare and
Alejandro Soto-Vigil.
RISING STARS Alameda County Democrats this week are raving about two young candidates making their first runs for higher office. Alejandro Soto-Vigil, who is opposing Berkeley Councilmember Linda Maio in District 1 wowed some last week. One central committee member said Soto-Vigil's recent endorsement interview with one labor group was one of the best they have ever seen. When it comes to workers, the member said, "He spoke from the heart." The other young Democrat turning heads is Shereda Nosakhare, the Oakland District 6 challenger to incumbent Councilmember Desley Brooks. Democrats were also impressed with Nosakhare for her knowledge of city government and an impressive recent fundraising haul. In addition, both candidates boast hands-on experience in local government. Soto-Vigil works in Berkeley Councilmember Kriss Worthington's office and Nosakhare is an aide to Oakland Councilmember Libby Schaaf. However, both candidates face uphill climbs against two long-time incumbents and onlookers admit, both are extremely raw, but the talent is clearly evident.
Castro Valley's Marc Crawford
ALL HAIL THE MULLET One of the most colorful candidates this fall that nobody knows about resides in the hometown of Rachel Maddow (and myself), Castro Valley. His name is Marc Crawford and he is running for one of the unincorporated town's two elected offices, the Castro Valley Sanitary District. The mullet-haired Crawford is also a member of the Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley-appointed Municipal Advisory Committee (MAC) and is well-known for his overbearing attitude. Over the past year, a small group of residents calling themselves, Castro Valley Matters, started a push to make the MAC an elected body, among other ideas. Crawford is one MAC member who has resisted and become a target of the group's ire. Meanwhile, a person unrelated to the group took to social media to mock Crawford and he therefore lashed out against the entire group. A letter to the local weekly in Castro Valley written by Crawford accused one member of Castro Valley Matters of being an anarchist. Later, Crawford spoke with the principal of Castro Valley High School to smear another from the group. Many describe Crawford has highly mistrustful, so it comes as no surprise he would seek a seat on the town's sanitary district board after he once tussled with the same elected body. A few years ago when he built a snack bar at a local school, but failed to procure the necessary approval to connect a sewer lateral, he fought with sanitary district members. Minutes from the clash describe Crawford berating a member of the district's management during the meeting. Meanwhile, members of Castro Valley Matters were ready to question Crawford at a surprisingly well-attended candidate's forum last Wednesday, but he didn't bother showing up.
John Russo
HERE AND THERE Last week, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said, if re-elected, she already has a replacement in mind to replace Interim City Administrator Henry Gardner and it is someone in-house...San Leandro's Vice Mayor Benny Lee is getting considerable heat after advocating for the Oakland waste company California Waste Solutions, but Alameda Councilmember Stewart Chen, who is up for re-election this fall, also spoke in favor of the group before the Oakland City Council the same night last July 30...Alameda Mayor Marie Gilmore is also up for another four years this November and her "leading from behind" approach to governance is often highlighted by her larger-than-life city manager, John Russo, who often hijacks City Council's meetings. So, it's not surprising, although nonetheless odd, to hear that Russo, and not Gilmore, is scheduled to give a "State of the City" speech to the League of Women Voters next week...Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski's idea of dressing up is to wear a sport coat over a t-shirt. He showed up at this week's Alameda County Democratic Central Committee meeting dressed as an adult legislator, but forgot to comb his hair...Speaking of the central committee, they expect to spend up to 10 hours interviewing candidates at an endorsement meeting Sept. 13 at their headquarters in San Leandro...One last thing. If you are still unsure about ranked-choice voting, a Hayward resident has created this website to help you out.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

San Leandro City Council to Discuss Vice Mayor's Actions in Oakland

SAN LEANDRO CITY COUNCIL | Simmering concern over San Leandro Vice Mayor Benny Lee's actions over the controversial Oakland garbage contract could boil over at its next City Council meeting in two weeks.

San Leandro Stephen Cassidy scheduled an agenda item Tuesday night to discus the "roles and responsibilities of council members when speaking in front of other elected bodies" at the Sept. 15 meeting. Cassidy said other council members also voiced concern to him over Lee's appearance at the July 30 Oakland City Council.

During the meeting, Lee spoke during public comment on behalf of the Oakland-based garbage firm California Waste Solutions (CWS)  which sought and received the city's lucrative waste contract. Lee identified himself as vice mayor, but apparently did not know awarding the contract to CWS would mean an annual loss of around $500,000 to San Leandro's general fund.

The agenda item will likely involved discussion of the council's handbook and an opportunity for others to "share [their] views," said Cassidy.

Councilmembers Jim Prola, Pauline Cutter and Michael Gregory supported Cassidy's request.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

'I Mean, Really?' Says Quan After Tuman Faults Her Driving

Joe Tuman PHOTO/Steven Tavares
OAKLAND | MAYOR | The Oakland mayoral race just got personal. Following a candidates forum hosted by the Alameda County Democratic Party Thursday night, Mayor Jean Quan responded to a comment challenger Joe Tuman had made about her driving.

When moderator, former Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris, specifically asked about the number of staff members their office would need, Tuman said, “I think we’re going to have to look at what we’re working with in terms of the budget. I can promise you I don’t need any more than a secretary and I don’t need a driver.”

Tuman was referring to a spate of new stories last June that followed Quan being photographed using her cell phone while driving. Days later she was involved in a car accident that some media outlets initially speculated may have been caused by Quan again driving while using her phone.

However, an Oakland police department investigation said it was unclear whether either driver was using their phones at the time of the collision.

Quan immediately followed Tuman, but did not respond to the remark, although she appeared momentarily flustered by the comment.

Following the nearly three-hour forum, Quan was asked about the Tuman’s comment, which was also the only negative statement made by any of the eight candidates participating in Thursday’s event.
“He hit a dog in his neighborhood,” said Quan. “I mean really?

Quan added she was surprised the media did not focus more thoroughly on Tuman’s incident earlier
this year that resulted in his car running over a dog without its leash. Tuman called it “an unfortunate accident,” but Quan campaign insinuated Tuman was speeding and ran a stop sign.

Regarding her own accident last June on the intersection of 26th and Market streets, Quan said she was shocked following the car crash that some people were out to get her. “I was very sad about this,” she said. “I was actually very happy to just be alive.”


Swalwell dresses up as a CIA agent?

Rep. Eric Swalwell last week in the Middle East. PHOTO/Twitter @RepSwalwell
CONGRESS | 15TH DISTRICT | Rep. Eric Swalwell has recently sought a middle ground between being Tel Aviv's man in the East Bay and showing a modicum of compassion for Palestinians killed during the conflict in Gaza.

Rep. Eric Swalwell and Israel Prime Minister
Benyamin Netanyahu last week.
PHOTO/Twitter @RepSwalwell
In fact, a pattern has emerged. First, Swalwell describes strong support for Israel and then waits a day or two to level the balance sheet with a perfunctory few words for Gaza. Of course, the two acts never come close to equal and some of his constituents sense the inequity. That's why dozens made the Israeli-Gaza conflict nearly the sole topic of his most recent town hall this month in San Lorenzo.

Swalwell has always been known as someone who craves attracting national attention to himself, so his glee in being able to tweet a photo of himself Thursday with Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu (to the right) was not surprising. But, before the response from pro-Gaza activists became too shrill, the expected other shoe dropped.

On Friday, Swalwell tweeted a photo of himself (above) hilariously looking like a CIA agent from central casting. Don't worry, Swalwell is in Gaza to sort it all out. That, or he's looking to buy a pair of shoes at the local bazaar.

Meanwhile, Swalwell's trip to Middle East continued today. He chatted with Egypt's president as militants beheaded another American journalist. Unfortunately, Swalwell's track record when it comes to the vexing problems of our times is unproven, at best. He and Sully Sullenberger still haven't found that Malaysian Airlines plane in the Indian Ocean.

12 East Bay Races to Watch This Fall

FALL ELECTION PREVIEW | The November General Election will not go down as one of the most exciting political seasons in history. The statewide ballot is devoid of a contested race. And it's pretty much the same on the federal level. However, if all politics is indeed local, the top dozen races for East Bay voters might be able to attract your attention as the campaigns head down the final two months to November. Here are the 12 East Bay races to watch:

Forget the total number of Oakland mayoral
candidates. Seven are legit.
1 Oakland Mayor The region’s clear headliner will literally be a 15 round prize fight. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan is facing 14 challengers in this ranked choice voting race that amounts to keeping the city on its current course--which some label a renaissance--or a slight shift in course. However, nevermind there being 15 candidates in this race, the real stat is there is 7 legitimate and capable campaigns hoping to cobble together enough first, second and third place votes to replicate Quan’s surprising win four years ago. This race has quality and it also has a fair share of characters, too.

2 Assembly District 16 This was the primary race that defied logic by the amount of special interest money that was poured into the campaigns of Democrats Steve Glazer and Tim Sbranti. Sbranti advanced to the general, but Glazer did not. Instead, the Republican Catharine Baker registered a seven-point win over Sbranti in this very moderate and winnable district for the conservative. Expect labor to pull out all the stops for Sbranti because he’ll need it. Baker is a tough opponent and Sbranti often appeared out of his element during forums in the spring. Expect this race to also rehash the BART strike of late 2013.

3 BART Board of Directors District 4 Ditto here. Incumbent Robert Raburn angered many in labor for being complicit with management during the long-fought BART strike last year. Labor will likely seek to set Raburn straight in November. Termed out Alameda Councilmember Lena Tam has strong union ties and could unseat Raburn in this very labor-friendly district that includes Oakland and the Island.

4 Congressional District 17 A year ago, this race was positioned as not only the most important race in the East Bay, but one of the biggest in the entire country. Surprisingly, Ro Khanna’s dismal primary performance was the biggest dud since Facebook’s IPO. Furthermore, there doesn’t seem to be a plausible route for Khanna to upset the popular Rep. Mike Honda in November. Nevertheless, the media is still hoping for a storyline to marry with Silicon Valley’s futuristic persona and that involves the youthful Khanna over the veteran representative Honda.

Candidates for Oakland District 2 at a
forum last week.
5 Oakland City Council District 2 There is no other race in the area that features the top-to-bottom quality of this one to replace the retiring Councilmember Pat Kernighan in Oakland. In addition, through one reporting period, four of the five candidates are nearly neck-and-neck in fundraising. Abel Guillen is the East Bay newest progressive standard bearer and former local news anchor Dana King has name-recognition.

6 San Leandro Mayor This city is clearly on the rise, but its first-term mayor jumped ship this spring. Curiously, the power vacuum failed to attract any candidates of note. In a three-person ranked choice voting race, two candidates are moribund members of the City Council and the other was released from Santa Rita Jail just days before the deadline for candidates to file in August.

7 Assembly District 15 Like most intra-party jungle primary races, both candidates are virtual facsimiles. Therefore, many of the differences gleaned from the candidates involves personality. Elizabeth Echols is the Berkeley establishment’s candidate to replace the termed out Nancy Skinner, but she's light on sizzle. Tony Thurmond, meanwhile, is a firecracker of a politician with more than enough charisma for himself and his opponent.

8 Alameda City Council Brace yourself for another edition of Old Alameda versus those handsome firefighters. Two seats on the five-person City Council are open this fall with Councilmember Stewart Chen as the only incumbent. Assemblymember Rob Bonta’s right hand man, Jim Oddie, is the vaunted Alameda Firefighters’ union’s guy for the second spot as it hopes to derail former Councilmember Frank Matarrese’s return to City Hall.

9 Fremont City Council This campaign for two seats on the Fremont City Council features the largest field of candidates outside of the Oakland mayor’s race. Nine candidates, including appointed Councilmember Raj Salwan, are seeking two seats on the five-person council in one of the most diverse and rapidly-changing areas in the Bay Area.

Helen Foster, Karen Monroe, center, at 
a forum last February.
10 Alameda County Superintendent Alameda County’s top educator is leaving after a generation at the helm. Following Sheila Jordan’s retirement she still hopes to manipulate the machinations at the Office of Education. Jordan’s associate superintendent, Karen Monroe, easily won the June primary, but failed to avoid a November runoff, while San Lorenzo’s Helen Foster scored a surprising second place finish.

11 Oakland City Council District 4 The massive remaking of the Oakland City Council over the past two years will continue with another new member. With Libby Schaaf running for Oakland mayor, Jill Broadhurst and Anne Campbell Washington hope to lead some of the city’s most affluent neighborhoods. A third candidate, Paul Lim, is a long-shot with whole lot of moxie.

12 State Senate District 10 Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski is a near lock to win, but that’s not why you should watch this race. Republican Peter Kuo just may be the key to changing the party’s long-term fortunes in the state. Although he may have inadvertently done it, Kuo has tapped into a sleeping giant of Asian American angst. Not only has Kuo’s advocacy of SCA-5 stoked the growing demographic into potentially realizing they are conservatives, but most importantly, he has cajoled them into pulling out their checkbooks with some regularity.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Oakland Garbage Contract Hangs Over San Leandro Council, Elections

My story in this week’s East Bay Express on the fallout from Oakland’s garbage contract pinching into San Leandro’s general fund to the tune of around $500,000 annually is reverberating through the city administration and council. It may also end up being a major campaign talking point this fall. In addition to the mayor’s race, three council seats are open.

As far as Councilmember Benny Lee, who unwittingly lobbied Oakland against his own city’s best interests last month, there is some talk his colleagues, led by Mayor Stephen Cassidy, may attempt to reprimand him for actions. There is even talk of censure, but that would seem unlikely.  Instead, there may be a movement to strip Lee of his recently appointed role as vice mayor. Lee was picked just last May after a bit of controversy over potentially changing how and when the ceremonial position is chosen. If past alliances are taken into account, Lee, along with Councilmembers Diana Souza and Ursula Reed would likely block such a move and need just another colleague to gain a majority.

San Leandro council member could be 
in hot water with his colleagues.
A major reasons given for admonishing Lee is a quick listen of his public comments to the Oakland City Council last July 30 gave the impression he was speaking on behalf of San Leandro. Since the Oakland City Council may not have received the late letter from San Leandro's city manager describing support for Waste Management’s bid, it is plausible Oakland council members may have been under the impression Lee represented the city’s stance on the contract. Even before the story was published, some business interests in San Leandro already were livid with Lee for lobbying for Oakland-based California Waste Solutions over Waste Management, which processes Oakland waste at the Davis Street Transfer Station in San Leandro.

Meanwhile, San Leandro candidates running as outsiders this fall are salivating over the article revealing a City Hall in disarray and more than a bit of ineptitude to go around. None of the three contested council elections have incumbents. In fact, the list of officials caught asleep at the wheel goes further than Lee and City Manager Chris Zapata. As mayor, Cassidy provided no leadership. Councilmember Jim Prola did nothing even though the transfer station on Davis Street resides in his own district. Councilmember Pauline Cutter, who is running for mayor, sits on the intergovernmental agency involved in waste and recycling in Alameda County and did nothing while her opponent in the mayor’s race, Councilmember Diana Souza received a $1,000 contribution from a member of the family that owns California Waste Solutions, the company that pulled off the stunning upset bid to replace Waste Management in Oakland. Although the donation came two weeks after Oakland voted on the contract, it’s another link to how completely oblivious San Leandro officials were to this deal adversely affecting their own bottom line.

However, there could be significant blow back in the city’s Asian American community if it is perceived Cassidy is launching what the voting bloc, which is quickly gaining power in San Leandro, sees as another slight against them. First the Chinese flag flap at City Hall and now an attack against Lee, the first Asian American to sit on the San Leandro City Council.
Desley Brooks at a candidates forum
Wednesday in Oakland
PHOTO/Steven Tavares
NEVER CAN BE TOO SAFE Despite a trio of surprising quality challenging Oakland Desley Brooks in her re-election bid this fall, she is still a prohibitive favorite to add a fourth term on the City Council. However, the sheer tenacity and grinding sound bites being volleyed by little-known candidate Michael Johnson, in particular, may be taking a toll on Brooks. During a candidates forum last month hosted by the Sierra Club, Johnson and two other challengers, Shereda Nosakhare and James Moore pounded away at Brooks for a perception she has done little to improve the struggling district. When Johnson said, “District 6 is the economic doughnut hole in Oakland,” it was not only one of the best lines this campaign season, but also a signal Brooks will have to employ far more than a perfunctory re-election campaign. To be sure, there are groups in Oakland that don’t like the irascible Brooks, but believe she is electorally untouchable. However, the onslaught against Brooks at the Sierra Club forum appeared to grab the attention of some rival labor groups and the East Bay Bike Coalition, in particular. Brooks seems to be acknowledging the level of competition in this race is greater than expected. There’s word she has hired a political consultant.
Bryan Parker at a candidates forum
Thursday in Oakland.
PHOTO/Steven Tavares
HERE AND THERE Outspoken Oakland mayoral candidate Saied Karamooz has delivered quite a few zingers lately. Following a forum last Monday night at Oakland’s Temple Sinai, Karamooz said the one mayoral candidate who scares him the most is Bryan Parker. “He’s everything that is bad about the system,” said Karamooz. In particular, he blasted Parker for supporting Bitcoin as a method for Oaklanders rise up from poverty. Karamooz says he is not in the mayor's race to win because that would validate the system, but to instead highlight its hypocrisy…At the same forum, audience members were allowed to ask one question to any candidate. Most chose Jean Quan, Rebecca Kaplan and Libby Schaaf, in that order…Ro Khanna has repeatedly beat the drum over Rep. Mike Honda’s blank schedule for August. Honda, though, is in McAllen, Tex. for two days this week with a bipartisan congressional delegation taking a look at the growing immigration problem at the U.S.-Mexico border. The trip is similar to one taken by Rep. Eric Swalwell

Speaking of the freshman congressman, a few weeks back Swalwell painfully pointed to a Palestinian American in his district while identifying him as "that guy," and despite saying he didn't have a "dog in the fight" in the Israeli-Gaza conflict, he tweeted Thursday a photo of himself with Bibi Netanyahu...For a second time this November election season, GOP gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari is appearing at a fundraiser in Fremont for State Senate 10th District candidate Peter Kuo, who is a clear underdog to Democratic Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski…The 10th State Senate District covers parts of San Jose all the way up to Castro Valley. There’s a growing concern that Kuo, who is from Santa Clara, is staying in his South Bay comfort zone too much and needs to show up in the northern parts of the district pronto…Why didn’t more San Leandro candidates come forward to run for mayor after the incumbent mayor surprised many by not running for re-election? One conspiracy theory says Cassidy and other qualified candidates know something bad is on the horizon in San Leandro government; therefore, they wanted no part of the effort to rebuild public confidence. Another theory says, c'mon bro, it's San Leandro.