Monday, October 16, 2017

San Leandro dispensary faces another hurdle as permit deadline extension nears

San Leandro Mayor Pauline Russo Cutter has
publicly opposed the proposed site of the 
Davis Street Wellness Center dispensary.
San Leandro city administration is standing firm in its stance against the conditional-use permit for a medical cannabis dispensary near a non-profit clinic and shelter for the poor, according to a staff report.

Earlier this month, the San Leandro Board of Zoning and Adjustments (BZA) rejected a city staff recommendation to deny a use permit for the Davis Street Wellness Center, one of three approved dispensary permits, to house its dispensary in building that houses the non-profit Davis Street Family Resource Center on Teagarden Street. The zoning board directed staff to return with positive findings of fact and conditions for approval of the dispensary site at its next meeting scheduled for Nov. 2.

Alameda city manager, in memo, alleges councilmembers illegally interfered in selection of fire chief

Alameda City Hall is again in upheaval after its city
manager alleged some councilmembers violated its
City Charter.
Alameda City Manager Jill Keimach, in a memo sent to the City Council earlier this month, alleged that some elected city officials illegally pressured her to hire a union-backed candidate for the open fire chief position. Interference by councilmembers in the duties of the city manager is prohibited in the City Charter.

In a letter sent by Keimach to the council dated Oct. 2, the day before she tabbed Ed Rodriguez as fire chief, but sent on the day of the announcement, does not specifically name which city officials allegedly pressured Keimach to select Domenick Weaver, a former president of the Alameda International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) Local 689. It does, however, make a number of serious allegations.

Sandre Swanson, although courted by supporters, says he won't run for Alameda mayor

Sandre Swanson during an endorsement
meeting last year for the 9th state Senate.
An unsuccessful run for the state Senate last year proved Sandre Swanson is not done with public service. Swanson confirmed Friday that he had strong interest for challenging Alameda Mayor Trish Herrera Spencer's re-election next year.

"I've been honored by people and organizations in the community that have approached me about running for mayor of Alameda," Swanson said in an interview. "I told them, at the time, that I would do my due diligence and talk to the people that I respect in the city, and my wife, and consider it."

Friday, October 13, 2017

EBC AGENDA | OCT 13-19 | OAKLAND stocks new Police Commission; Another rent measure in ALAMEDA; television chopper problem in BERKELEY; Pot plans in HAYWARD


--OAKLAND-- Regular council meeting, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 5:30 p.m. [ENTIRE AGENDA HERE]
--POLICE COMMISSION FILLS OUT-- Mayor Libby Schaaf' had her appointments to the Oakland Police Commission ready to go two weeks ago. They are Thomas Smith, Edwin Prather, and Regina Jackson. Picks from a separate selection panel will be nominated Tuesday night. They include, Mubarak Ahmad, Jose Dorado, Ginale Harris, and Mike Nisperos.

--FOX THEATER LOAN ASSIGNMENT-- The Oakland resident who prefaces his remarks at every Oakland City Council meeting with, "For the record" is going to flip. The city is proposing to assume the debt from the $47.8 million renovation of the Fox Theater from the former redevelopment agency. But in order to do that, the council must also approve 30 percent of the loan repayments. A city staff report acknowledges the debt, which could balloon over the life of the loans to nearly $130 million, may never be paid back. During an Oct. 12 committee hearing, its councilmembers expended three minutes on the agenda item.

--SECURITY CONTRACT-- A 3-year, $2.5 million contract for security services at Oakland City Hall and other government building is up for grabs Tuesday night. The council will be asked to choose between ABC Security Services Inc. or the existing vendor, Cypress Security Services.

➤Rules Committee, Thursday, Oct. 19, 10:45 a.m. [ENTIRE AGENDA HERE]

--ALAMEDA-- Regular council meeting, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 7 p.m. [ENTIRE AGENDA HERE]
--RENT BALLOT MEASURE COMING-- On Sept. 5, the council decided to rescind its just cause ordinance, at the behest of the local renters group, rather than place a landlord-backed ballot measure before voters next year. It was a win for landlords. A second landlord-backed measure, this one to place the city's existing rent stabilization ordinance in the City Charter was certified by the Alameda County Registrar in late September leading to the council on Tuesday to discuss whether to place it on the June 2018 or November 2018 ballot.

--CALL FOR REVIEW GETS CALL FOR REVIEW-- As it stands, any single member of the community or a councilmember can issue a call for review on a zoning determination. In addition, no definitive reason is required. Councilmember Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft wants to amend the call for review process to require two councilmembers support it, along with a reason.

--CLOSED SESSION-- Ominous, perhaps, but the council is again evaluating City Manager Jill Keimach's job performance amid accusations she made against elected officials and the local firefighters union over interference in the selection of a new fire chief.

--COMMISSION NAME CHANGE-- An amendment to the city municipal code will change the name of the Commission on Disability Issues to the Commission on Disability.

--SAN LEANDRO-- Regular council meeting, Monday, Oct. 16, 7 p.m. [ENTIRE AGENDA HERE]
--BAL THEATRE LOAN-- In recent years, the city's support for a thriving Bal Theatre on East 14th Street has blossomed. "The City Council has repeatedly stated that support for the BAL is in the public’s interest by supporting the performing arts, and the secondary effects to the City’s economy, especially to south San Leandro," said a staff report. But the theater is still over $54,000 in debt. A proposed $400,000 loan from the city, along with a $100,000 forgivable loan might allow the theater to flourish. However, there is also concerns about the proposal and whether taxpayers will be made whole one day.

--"It must also be noted that the loans come with risk for the City. Almost by definition, said the staff report. "Curtain Call is a non-profit organization that is not well capitalized. Although both staff and the City Council are encouraged by the work being done by Curtain Call and the value it brings to the community, continued solvency is not a foregone conclusion. Thus, in reviewing this action, Council must balance the value of investing in a cultural asset with the risk that the loan may not be repaid in full."

--DISPENSARY DIRECTION-- Following the Board of Zoning Adjustments approval Oct. 5 for a medical cannabis dispensary to be located on Teagarden Street, the council is being asked to give direction on the city's next steps. Keep in mind, the city administration opposes the dispensary site to be located at the non-profit Davis Street Family Resource Center and the staff report this week greatly highlights this stance along with references to the council's deadline for a conditional-use permit is Oct. 20. The next BZA meeting on the subject is Nov. 2. An extension of the deadline is one possibility, said the staff report.

--ASSET FORFEITURE-- The use of state and federal asset forfeiture funds, money and property confiscated by law enforcement from suspects, is often criticized for its lack of due process. On Tuesday, the council will likely approve the allocation of $185,000 in asset forfeiture funds to the San Leandro PD. The uses include $50,000 for firearms, $50,000 to upgrade its existing Automated License Plate Reader technology, $30,000 for office chairs, and $5,000 to purchase free weights for its gym.

--BERKELEY-- Regular council meeting, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 6 p.m. [ENTIRE AGENDA HERE]
--PROTEST TAB-- The council will ask for a detailed accounting of the costs associated with the numerous protests this year in and around U.C. Berkeley. A city staff report suggests that, for instance, the U.C. Berkeley announced a recent protests cost $600,000 to police, but extra spillover costs may also be costing Berkeley city taxpayers.

--HOVERING MEDIA-- Similarly, the Battle of Berkeley protests have attracted massive media coverage. This include news choppers hovering over Berkeley during protests. The council will discuss whether to send a complaint letter to local television stations to remind them to "consider the noise impacts that news helicopters have on residents and whether aerial coverage is absolutely integral to a news story when deploying helicopters."

-HEADS UP FOR HOMELESS PROVIDERS-- "Adopt a Resolution directing staff to urge Berkeley homeless service nonprofit agencies that receive funds from the City of Berkeley, to prepare for funding cuts that could emerge as a result of funding decreases from the federal government or other entities. That Council urge homeless service agencies to engage in increased economic development efforts or partner with other agencies, for economic development purposes, if their agency is limited in resources."

--HAILING TAXIS-- Two agenda items Tuesday evening seek to aid the city's taxi providers, or, at least, foster competitiveness with ride-hailing companies. The lowering of some fees will be discussed, along with other changes such as allowing taxi providers to purchase insurance collectively rather than individually.

--HAYWARD-- Special council work session, Saturday, Oct. 14, 9 a.m. [ENTIRE AGENDA HERE]
--LONG-TERM FINANCIAL RETREAT-- Fiscal sustainability is a growing concern in Hayward, a city that has yet to fully recover from the depths of the Great Recession. "In early 2017, as the City’s long-range forecast projection contained a growing structural deficit, staff recommended that the City engage subject matter experts to develop a more comprehensive and agile financial model and to complete an independent evaluation of the Model." Saturday morning, the council will attempt to give direction for a path to greater financial stability.

➤Regular council meeting, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 7 p.m. [ENTIRE AGENDA HERE]
--POT ORDINANCE-- For a city that has been conservative in recent years when it comes to medical cannabis, Hayward is now moving at a quick clip. The framework of a cannabis ordinance comes before the council Tuesday night that lays out numerous possibilities when it comes to potential cannabis businesses in Hayward. Although the number of possible permits is not mentioned in the report, the conclusion references three. Based on a recent council discussion, it's possible the number of permits may ultimately be comprised of different segments of the industry, including cultivation, dispensary or even commercial retail. The council's work Tuesday, if moved forward, entails a return of an amended ordinance at a special meeting on Oct. 30.

--AFFORDABLE HOUSING STRATEGIES-- In two related work session items, the council will tackle affordable housing and anti-displacement strategies, and, later, in-lieu fees for developers building market-rate housing in Hayward, which is booming. Among the questions posed by a staff report: "Does Council wish to return to an ordinance that requires provision of on-site affordable units but allows for alternative means of compliance for all projects? Should projects only be allowed to pay in-lieu fees upon petition to the Council (except for those smaller projects identified in the report – less than 100 units for rental projects and less than 9 units for for-sale projects)?"

--FREMONT-- Regular council meeting, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 7 p.m. [ENTIRE AGENDA HERE]
--RESIDENTIAL ZONING/SOLAR ORDINANCE-- "Consider Planning Commission Recommendations for Amendments to Title 18 (Planning and Zoning) of the Fremont Municipal Code and the Citywide Design Guidelines, including: 1) an update to development standards, design rules, and design guidelines that focus on maintaining the character for single-family residential neighborhoods and further assist in achieving compatibility of new, expanded, or reconstructed homes with surrounding homes in the neighborhood; and 2) creation of a citywide Solar Access Preservation Ordinance so that any increase in the height of an existing building or that any new development does not excessively shade solar zones on adjoining properties."

--GATHERINGS-- Free screening of the documentary "Merritt College: Home of the Black Panthers," Saturday, Oct. 14, noon, Alameda City Hall Council Chambers. Speakers include Rep. Barbara Lee, Alameda Mayor Trish Herrera Spencer and the film's director Jeffrey Heyman.

--Know Your Rights work shop hosted by the City of Hayward, and presented by the Alameda County Immigration Legal and Education Partnership. The workshops will include information about people’s rights – regardless of their immigration or refugee status, as well as provide an update about the status of Hayward Sanctuary City policies, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 6 p.m., Hayward Main Library, 835 C Street.

--Rep. Ro Khanna town hall, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 7:30 p.m., Kennedy Middle School, 821 Bubb Road, Cupertino.

--COLISEUM JPA-- Regular board meeting, Friday, Oct 20, 8:30 a.m.  (Meeting held at Oracle Arena Club Level) [AGENDA NOT YET POSTED]
-- RAIDERS LAWSUIT-- The Coliseum JPA board last month directed its staff to prepare for an up or down vote on whether they would join a proposed lawsuit suggested by the fan group Forever Oakland, that would sue the NFL and the Oakland Raiders for failing to follow their own bylaws leading up to approval for the team's relocation to Las Vegas.

--EDEN HEALTH DISTRICT-- Regular board meeting, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 5:30 p.m. [ENTIRE AGENDA HERE]

--ORO LOMA SANITARY DISTRICT-- Regular board meeting, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 3 p.m. [ENTIRE AGENDA HERE]

GOP East Bay assembly candidate is using a variation of Make America Great Again

Assembly candidate Bob Brunton
fell short during campaigns in
2014 and 2016.
Republican Bob Brunton's slogan for a second attempt at beating Assemblymember Kansen Chu in the South Bay's 25th District might sound familiar to many.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Hayward slams Bank of the West for its handling of $315,000 payment processing error

The City of Hayward could sure use the extra revenue, but an error by Bank of the West on Oct. 6 mistakenly double-posted 408 payments from residents and city customers totaling $315,775, the city said Thursday.

A city revenue officer reported the error on Tuesday, said the city. "Upon discovering the error, city officials immediately notified Bank of the West and have been working to get an explanation, identify affected customers, determine how many duplicative withdrawals may have been processed by customer banks, and ensure full reimbursement. The city Revenue Division will be reaching out directly to affected customers to inform them of the error by telephone," said a statement from the city.

Alameda councilman eyes run for mayor: 'Don't know if I can win.'

Alameda Councilmember Frank Matarrese
Seemingly from the day Trish Herrera Spencer was elected Alameda mayor in 2014, the line of challengers seeking to make her a one-termer began jockeying for position. Nearly three years later, Councilmember Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft is a near lock to run for mayor next year, but speculation over whether Councilmember Frank Matarrese would do the same has been an open question until now.

In an email obtained by the East Bay Citizen, Matarrese signals he is close to joining next year's race. Except, he's just not certain about his chances for victory.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Large racial disparity for traffic stops in Oakland persist

African Americans were pulled over by OPD
15,000 times last year, nearly 10,000 more
than the next racial group.
Half of the more than 11,000 traffic citations issued by Oakland police officers last year were given to African Americans, the department reported this week. Similarly, 62 percent of all vehicles stopped by Oakland police were driven by African Americans. The data was reported during a Oakland City Council Public Safety Committee hearing Tuesday on racial disparities in traffic stops.

"We need to recognize there is racial profiling going on as it pertains to African Americans in this city," said Councilmember Desley Brooks, also chair of the Public Safety Committee.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Khanna floats Lee for U.S. Senate: A look at the political earthquake that would hit the East Bay

Before Rep. Ro Khanna dropped fellow Alameda County Rep. Barbara Lee's name today as a possible progressive challenge to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who announced Monday that she is running for re-election next year, the idea of such a run was mostly the dreams of her uber progressive constituents in the East Bay.

In fact, on several occasions over the past few months, Lee has been asked (other times begged) during town halls whether she would run for U.S. Senate. In each case she did not answer and laughed off the suggestion.

Friday, October 6, 2017

EBC AGENDA | OCT 6-12 | Fox Theater is a white elephant; affordable housing for OAKLAND's Brooklyn Basin; SAN LEANDRO shoreline update


--OAKLAND-- City Council committee hearings, Tuesday, Oct. 10, starts at 9:30 a.m.

➤Community & Economic Development Committee, 1:30 p.m. [ENTIRE AGENDA HERE]
--FOX THEATER LOANS-- Debts from the iconic theater's $47.5 million renovation a decade ago is proposed to be transferred from the Oakland Redevelopment Successor Agency (ORSA) to the city. Then it gets worse, in one of the most shocking government staff reports you will ever read. "With the elimination of the tax credit structure and the anticipated property transfer, there is a substantial amount of debt owed to ORSA from the Fox Theater (FOT) that needs to be addressed... The debt for the Fox Theater was in the form of unsecured loans that had no clear source of repayment. Once the other tax credit and construction debt was eliminated, at the end of the tax credit period, there is no way that the ORSA debt was ever expected to be fully repaid. In fact, most of these loans have never received any debt service payments, and all the other debt service from the project have been under $1 million per year."

--"There is no conceivable way that Fox Oakland Theater will be able to fully repay all the ORSA loans. If ORSA does not assign the loans to the City, at some time ORSA will need to write off the debt. While FOT invested all the ORSA loan funds in the Fox Theater - as well as tax credit equity, grants and other funds - the Fox Theater value, based on an income approach, is not worth the cost of the renovations. The projected future rent from the Fox Theater is not enough to make full interest payments on the ORSA loans, or repay the principal, and the liabilities are growing. The Fox Theater is the only asset that FOT has. There are no other sources of funds to repay FOT's loans from ORSA. This situation will not significantly change over the course of the lease. Even if the Fox Theater were to become more lucrative through more intense use or by charging higher rents, the total revenue would not be enough to cover the annual interest payment."

Governor vetoes Glazer bill to ban smoking on state beaches

Smoking hot butts will still be found on California state beaches after Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill introduced by East Bay State Sen. Steve Glazer that would have banned smoking on coastal beaches and some state parks.

"If people can't smoke even on a deserted beach, where can they? There must be some limit to the coercive power of government," Brown wrote Friday in his veto message.

Calls for elected representation are stirring once again in unincorporated Castro Valley

Alameda County Superivsor Nate Miley, right,
along with Castro Valley Matters President
Michael Kusiak, at an Eden Area Livability
Initiative meeting Thursday in San Lorenzo.
A group of Castro Valley residents are once again advocating not for incorporation, at least not just yet, but some semblance of self-determination in the form of electing members to the town’s quasi-govervance board, the Castro Valley Municipal Advisory Board (CV MAC). The board is currently appointed solely by Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley, but holds little real power other than offering non-binding recommendations.

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors, however, were cool to the idea of an elected MAC in early 2016. A few, including Supervisor Scott Haggerty, famously balked at the county footing the bill for an election sometime during last year's election cycle. Haggerty erupted, saying Castro Valley residents pushing for an elected MAC were the “most unappreciative people I’ve seen in my entire life.”

San Leandro zoning board overturns city's denial of medical cannabis dispensary use permit

A rendering of the Davis Street Wellness Center
retail area at its proposed dispensary on
Teagarden Street. PHOTO/DSWC
After several San Leandro zoning commissioners downplayed a city staff report opposing the issuance of a conditional-use permit for the Davis Street Wellness Center medical cannabis dispensary, the board voted, 6-1,Thursday night to overturn the city’s denial.

What was before the seven-person appoint board was not the efficacy of a medical cannabis dispensary in San Leandro, but whether the Davis Street Wellness Center’s choice of a site near the affiliated, but financially separate, non-profit Davis Street Family Resource Center, met the city’s conditions for use as a dispensary on Teagarden Street.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

San Leandro bans flavored tobacco sales, passes for now on menthol cigarettes

An proponent of San Leandro's ban on flavored
tobacco sales address the City Council Monday
night with supporters in the foreground.
Like some of its neighboring cities, the San Leandro City Council approved Monday night a prohibition on the sale of flavored tobacco products. The council, however, diverged from Oakland and San Francisco, by sidestepping an additonal ban on menthol cigarettes, at least for now.

The council's votes was the second attempt in the last three months to enact a ban on flavored tobacco sales that include cigarillos, blunts and other often fruity-tasting tobacco products. A similar proposal was discussed on June 5, but later sent back to the Council's Rules Committee in an effort to resolve questions over the scope of penalties in the resolution.

Khanna wants a hearing on non-consensual condom removal

Rep. Ro Khanna
Two congressmembers, including Rep. Ro Khanna believe the act of men surreptitiously removing a condom during consensual sex is tantamount to rape.

The act known as "stealthing" requires a hearing during the House Judiciary Committee, argue Khanna and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.).

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Alameda County supervisor uses Las Vegas shootings to express support for Urban Shield

Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern
and Supervisor Nate Miley.
Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley has long been one of the typically progressive Board of Supervisors' must ardent supporters of the sheriff's office and Urban Shield, the disaster training and weapons expo held annually in Pleasanton.

The morning after the Las Vegas shootings that resulted in 59 deaths and more than 500 injuries, Miley used the massacre to again express support for Urban Shield.

Alameda names new fire chief amid criticism of city manager's handling of hiring process

Alameda's new fire chief Ed Rodriguez's first
day on the job is Nov. 13.
Alameda City Manager Jill Keimach on Tuesday named Ed Rodriguez as the city's next fire chief. Rodriguez previously headed the Salinas Fire Department and replaces Alameda Fire Chief Doug Long, who retired last month. But controversial over the selection process was already roiling at Alameda City Hall even before the choice was made to tab an outsider as head of the fire department.

In an email sent Friday by one of the final candidates for the position, he questioned Keimach's competence for identifying a new chief.

Domenick Weaver, a former Alameda Firefighters Union president, removed himself from consideration last Friday after becoming frustrated by Keimach's uncertainty over the pick, while attacking her character. Weaver had received support from the firefighters union, some city officials and Assemblymember Rob Bonta.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Bill Quirk jumps up, jumps up and gets down!

Hayward Assemblymember Bill Quirk just became the coolest elected official in the state legislature. On Sunday, he posted a Facebook video of himself hopping to the beat of the hip-hop classic "Jump Around." Quirk was attending the Alvarado Fall Fest in Union City. (NOTE: You may have to unclick the mute button on the video for the full aural experience.)

Recall two weeks ago, Quirky Quirk caught the attention of some capitol reporters for walking 52 laps around the Assembly Floor. That was for exercise, but it not entirely clear whether Quirk is doing the same here or merely getting in some extra cardio.

Friday, September 29, 2017

EBC AGENDA | SEPT 29-OCT 5 | BERKELEY, SAN LEANDRO to snuff out flavored tobacco; OAKLAND homeless havens; more market rate housing in HAYWARD

Before you know it, candidate for office next year will be meeting face-to-face in forums and community meetings, each making their case for their respective office. Last week, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley and her challenger Oakland civil rights attorney Pamela Price kicked off the season at a contentious forum at Merritt College.

It's just another reminder, though, of how strange the East Bay is when it comes to public debates. The problem is, we don't have them and this isn't typical around the state. Candidate forums are fine, but they're merely informational and this suits the incumbent and takes away the single most important, and inexpensive shot, a good, but under-financed candidate can take at their opponent. Not that anyone noticed, but last year Claire Chiara, a Republican challenger in the 15th District, pummeled Assemblymember Tony Thurmond at a forum in Berkeley.

Hopefully, this coming election cycle allows important local races to gain greater attention through proper debates. At the presidential level, raucous debates where candidates can peel away their opponents weaknesses and potential offer voters greater insight into how a candidates performs on their feet and grasps the issues.

As was seen Wednesday night at Merritt College, O'Malley's campaign may have a considerable financial advantage over Price, but toe-to-toe, in even just a candidate forum format, she looked vulnerable.

Here's your highlights for this week in East Bay government:
➤San Leandro and Berkeley look to join Oakland in banning flavored tobacco

➤Oakland looks to create "safe havens" for the city's homeless

➤Berkeley seeks to weigh impacts of Alta Bates closing

➤More market-rate housing for Hayward

➤Fremont to approve massive 2.5 million sq. ft. tech business center

--SAN LEANDRO-- Regular council meeting, Monday, Oct. 2, 7 p.m. [ENTIRE AGENDA HERE]
--BLUNT TALK-- San Leandro will discuss a ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products Monday night. The issue met some resistance back in June and was referred back to the council's rules committee. The proposed ordinance also limits the sale of packaged cigarillos to five. The prohibition on flavored tobacco applies to products whether they contain nicotine or not. Penalties include a $2,500 for a second offense and revocation of their license for three years.

--But there's a big omission in the ordinance and that is menthol cigarettes. Oakland passed a similar flavored tobacco ban this month that included menthol. San Leandro's city attorney, however, has offered the council more conservative advice, stating a ban on menthol may put the city at risk of a lawsuit from Big Tobacco.

San Leandro begins debate on whether to honor city's first African American councilmember

Former San Leandro Councilmember Surlene 
Grant served from 1998-2008.
Near the end of former San Leandro Councilmember Ursula Reed's second term in office, she began exploring ways to honor her predecessor in District 2, Surlene Grant, the city's first-ever African American councilmember.

Reed first proposed renaming Joaquin Plaza, a modest courtyard located on East 14th Street near Davis Street, after Grant, who was appointed to council in 1998 to replace incoming Mayor Shelia Young. Grant, who is still living, served 10 years on the City Council, including two successful campaigns for the seat.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Assembly hopeful Ben Bartlett gets a boost from Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín

Berkeley Councilmember Ben Bartlett and
Mayor Jesse Arreguin.
PHOTO/Bartlett for Assembly
Just a month into Berkeley Councilmember Ben Bartlett's campaign for the 15th Assembly District, he has gained one of its plum endorsements, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín.

“California needs leaders with the vision, courage and experience to tackle the challenges facing our state. Ben Bartlett is the real deal,” Arreguín said on Wednesday.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Ro Khanna's conservative challenger, Ron Cohen, stands with Trump on Anthem protests

Republican Ron Cohen finished fourth in the
2016 CA-17 June primary.
Listen and you will quickly understand where 17th Congressional District candidate Ron Cohen stands on the subject of athletes taking a knee during the National Anthem.

Cohen's campaign web site includes a self-playing video of Whitney Houston's famous rendition of the National Anthem sung at the Super Bowl.

"Protest all you want. TRUE AMERICANS DON'T KNEEL, CERTAINLY NOT IN PROTEST," says Cohen's web site. (Note: Cohen provided the emphasis.)

Alameda city manager's choice of a new fire chief could put her in the hot seat

Alameda's city manager is in a tough bind. With the retirement of Alameda Fire Chief Doug Long last week, City Manager Jill Keimach is likely to tab an outsider to lead the fire department, according to sources, possibly this week.

But Keimach, who was only hired in March 2016, is facing enormous pressure to choose the candidate backed by the Alameda International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Union Local 689, a number of elected city officials, and Assemblymember Rob Bonta.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Lee to Trump: 'End the war of words' with North Korea

War on the Korea peninsula would "catastrophic" and further threatened by talk of nuclear war, Rep. Barbara Lee said during a speech on the House floor Tuesday. "Diplomacy is the only answer. However, President Trump's actions has destabilized this overall process and stopped it before it could ever begin."

Lee took a moment to urge Congress to vote on a "No First Strike" (H.R. 669) bill she co-sponsored with California Rep. Ted Lieu.

"Provoking Kim will not make us any safer, it will only raise the temperature on an already volatile situation," said Lee.

There is no military solution to the conflict with North Korea, she added. "This administration must end the name-calling and the saber-rattling. President Trump must de-escalate his rhetoric before it is too late. Direct talks remain our best chance of ending this conflict peacefully."

Lee has previously advocated for the bill, which was first introduced in January. Following Trump's speech last week to United Nations, in which he again challenged the North Korean dictator, Lee called it an "abdication of values."

Monday, September 25, 2017

Will Roger Stone punk Rep. Eric Swalwell at Tuesday's House Intellgence hearing?

Rep. Eric Swalwell and Roger Stone.
Roger Stone, President Trump's dapper raconteur, has called East Bay Rep. Eric Swalwell a "mannequin," a "lightweight," and a yellow-belied coward.

On Tuesday morning Stone will meet Swalwell and other Democrats at a House Intelligence Committee hearing into the Trump campaign's ties to Russia.

Fremont City Council, except one member, fell under the spell of powerful landlord interests

Fremont Councilmember Vinnie Bacon said last
week that a city rent board ordinance will do
nothing for renters. He supports rent control.
Appointed Fremont Councilmember David Bonaccorsi hid behind modest change while striking populist tones. His collegaues on the council meanwhile merely acknowledged the problems associated with rising rents before supporting the creation of five-member Fremont rent board last week. But it was only Fremont Councilmember Vinnie Bacon who called out the ordinance, which, when compared to the more significant rent control discussion last July, is a stark let down for Fremont renters living in the shadow of skyrocketing rents in Silicon Valley.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Hayward anti-discrimination task force recommends PD withdraw from Urban Shield

Hayward Mayor Barbara Halliday at a 
community task force meeting in March.
A Hayward community task force created earlier this year to update the city's 25-year-old Anti-Discrimination Action Plan is recommending the city's police force end its participation in Urban Shield, the disaster training exhibition and weapons trade show held annually in Alameda County.

Friday, September 22, 2017

EBC AGENDA | SEPT 22-28 | HAYWARD hearts immigrants; ALAMEDA COUNTY garbage bond; AC TRANSIT fares well in survey

The Oakland City Council and Alameda County Board of Supervisors passed resolutions calling for the reinstatement of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) over the past few weeks. For progressives government bodies this is expected, but this week Hayward is passing its own resolution. The agenda item shows just how far Hayward has shifted in its public support for immigrants. Hayward was the last hold out in the Greater East Bay this year for declaring sanctuary city status. The fact was disheartening to many activists since Hayward is home to the largest Latino communities in the East Bay--roughly 40 percent.

Suffice to say it took awhile for Hayward administration and city council to come around and their breakneck pace in just the last six weeks has been noticeable. It started when Hayward's city administration moved quickly to keep the public informed after ICE arrested two undocumented immigrants. Its next test also comes Tuesday night with a draft update to its 1992 Anti-Discrimination Action Plan. The document includes a recommendation that Hayward Police Department end participation in Urban Shield, the controversial disaster training program held each year in Alameda County. Notably, a city staff report singles out the recommendation and in typical Hayward fashion, takes pains to highlight why it's not a good idea.

Here's your highlights for this week in East Bay government:
➤Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan wants to help bake cannabis locations.

➤Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty helps Fremont's Washington High.

➤Public bank forum in Oakland on Monday night

➤AC Transit: Love 'em or hate 'em?

Thursday, September 21, 2017

As Oakland labor talks stall, SEIU unleashes a flame throwing web site at Mayor Schaaf

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf won't likely face
a credible candidate for re-election next year
but SEIU Local 1021 is acting like anopponent.
Few East Bay labor unions are more aggressive than the Service Employees International Union Local 1021. Whether in Hayward where union leaders screamed at elected officials during a long labor contract impasse or the seemingly routine appearances of purple-clad SEIU members packing the Oakland City Council chambers, the union is hard-core.

Earlier this week, a report detailed stalled labor negotiations between the Oakland city administration and SEIU Local 1021, along with IFPTE Local 21. Together the unions represent roughly 3,000 city employees. According to the East Bay Express, negotiations became contentious after the city offered an initial contract containing no cost of living increases, and thereby angering the unions.

Apparently, SEIU Local 1021 is very upset. On Tuesday, it released a website taking dead aim at Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.

Oakland's public bank feasibility study opens its account

Susan Harman, an Oakland activist and member of an advocacy group hoping to create potential ground-breaking public bank in Oakland held the head of fierce red dragon at Tuesday's city council meeting. The puppet head to Harman represented the group's last obstacle to a month's long push merely to convince city leaders to fund a $100,000 study on the feasibility of a public bank in Oakland and the region.

"That is the last dragon we're killing. No more dragons. We're starting a public bank. No more imaginary dragons," said Harman, in a celebratory move after the Oakland City Council approved an $75,000 allocation toward the study Tuesday night.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Amid grumblings, Alameda will evaluate city manager's performance in closed session

Alameda City Manager
Jill Keimach
There's a curious closed session item Tuesday night on the Alameda City Council's agenda, an evaluation of City Manager Jill Keimach. Curious because her annual performance review isn't until next March.

Sources at City Hall, including council members, won't say why they are chatting about Keimach in closed session Tuesday evening, but there has been a very noticeable uptick in complaints about her in just the past few weeks.

We love the A's, say community activists, just not a ballpark at the Peralta site

Alvina Wong, right, with a Chinatown business
owner who expressed concern about an A's
ballpark near Laney College.
Alvina Wong grew up in Chinatown. As a child she walked with her grandmother to buy groceries, learned Chinese calligraphy and made friends in the park. "That's the type of community we have in Chinatown as well as East Lake and that is what is forgotten when we look at big sports stadiums," said Wong during a rally attended by community activists, students and local business owners who believe the A's planned 35,000-seat ballpark will negatively impact the working-class immigrant community.

"We get to decide the fate of our community," said Wong, a member of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network. "In no part of that dream did we ever imagine putting a stadium there."

Monday, September 18, 2017

EBC AGENDA | SEPT 15-21 | OAKLAND public bank; FREMONT rent review ordinance; HAYWARD shuttle study; KHANNA town hall

Without a doubt, affordable housing is the biggest issue facing the East Bay. Last week, the state legislature delivered some help to alleviate the crisis, but only time will tell if the wisdom of allowing developers a quick path to building more housing was ultimately pan out. The potential loss of local control in some Alameda County cities created opposition and now skepticism. On the flip side, the total lack of new housing in places like Alameda likely renders the state's actions prudent.

Meanwhile, this week city governments in Oakland, San Leandro and Fremont continue to address housing and excessive rent increases. Like many issues in Alameda County, once one has a suitable idea, they all eventually--eventually!--copy each other. Tuesday in Fremont is a perfect example as the council is set to create a revamped rent review structure. The proposal is similar to Alameda and San Leandro. However, those cities eventually added stronger renter-friendly amendments later such as landlord-paid relocation payments to renters, and, briefly in Alameda, just cause restrictions. These additions are included in Fremont's ordinance. It begs the question, if Fremont believes rent ordinances in nearby cities are good enough to copy, then why don't they copy the entire amended ordinance instead of the sluggish piecemeal approach being offered in south county?

Here's this week's highlights in East Bay government:
➤Oakland's public bank feasibility study returns. But who's going to pay?

➤Alameda County supervisors respond to scathing grand jury report

➤Hayward eyes BART shuttle service

➤How will San Leandro pay for its tenant relocation payment program?

➤Rep. Ro Khanna town hall on Wednesday.

--OAKLAND-- Regular council meeting, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 5:30 p.m. [ENTIRE AGENDA HERE]
--PUBLIC BANK FEASIBILITY STUDY-- An Oakland-based or more likely regional public bank to localize investment in local business and mortgage opportunities for underserved communities returns to the Oakland City Council after a road block during its budget season last June. But the public bank is really about giving cash-based cannabis enterprises a legitimate banking solution. Because of the federal prohibition against cannabis, most banks shy away from the industry.

On his way to Santa Clara, Coliseum JPA retains CEO

Oakland Coliseum Authority Executive Director Scott McKibben had a verbal agreement to take a similar position with the Santa Clara Stadium Authority, the government body that runs Levi's Stadium. However, the Coliseum JPA Board of Commissioners on Friday morning offered a deal he could not refuse.

Friday, September 15, 2017

During marathon legislative session, Bill Quirk walks 52 laps around Assembly floor

Going back to his days on the Hayward City Council, a departing colleague once noted with a smile that Bill Quirk's surname matched his personality. Assemblymember Bill Quirk, in fact, fully embraces his quirkiness and it showed again Thursday night.

While the Assembly was continuing a long slog through hundreds of bills Thursday night and today, Quirk and San Diego Republican Assemblymember Marie Waldron passed the time with a little exercise around the perimeter of the Assembly floor. It also gained the attention of equally bored members of the capitol press corps.

Noel Gallo pledges council district funds to support citizen-led lawsuit against Raiders

Godfather Griz, representing Forever Oakland,
addresses the Coliseum JPA Friday morning
at Oracle Arena in Oakland.
While some Coliseum Joint Powers Authority commissioners appeared less than enthused about a fan base seemingly grasping again at a long-gone straw to keep the Raiders in the East Bay via a lawsuit, Oakland Councilmember Noel Gallo says he will offer discretionary funding from his office to help the cause.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Progressive wave of Bay Area candidates strike unifying message against Democratic Party: 'They're not us'

Alameda County District Attorney candidate
Pamela Price speaking to voters Wednesday 
at the City of Alameda Democratic Club.
PHOTOS/Zac Goldstein
Four prohibitive political underdogs took the stage in Alameda Wednesday night with visions of unseating entrenched incumbents in the U.S. Senate, Congress and the Alameda County District Attorney's office. While their platforms hovered around slightly different points on the far left, there was a unifying message: the state and national Democratic Party is out of touch with own constituency.

"We are the progressive wave," said Stephen Jaffe, who is challenging Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi next June. "We are here because we are the true believers. We represent the fundamental core values of the Democratic Party. I do not adhere to the politics and programs and the people presently in control of the Democratic Party. They are corporatists. They are centrists and they are elitists. They are not us," said Jaffe. "It is our job as progressives to band together in this fashion and take back the party from the people who have hijacked it."

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

UPDATE: CEO leaving Coliseum JPA to oversee Levi's Stadium

Scott McKibben is headed to the South Bay.
UPDATE: On his way to Santa Clara, Coliseum JPA retains CEO
Like many of the professional sports franchises in the East Bay, Oakland Coliseum Joint Powers Authority Executive Director Scott McKibben is skipping town.

McKibben, a former East Bay newspaper publisher and CEO of the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, will be named executive director of the Santa Clara Stadium Authority, which runs Levi's Stadium.

Coliseum JPA weighs support for fan-led strategy to sue Raiders

A potential lawsuit against the Raiders and
the NFL may lack legal standing without
support of a government entity like the JPA.
The Oakland Raiders are gone to Las Vegas, at least, in 2-3 years, but a legal strategy hatched by some fans to keep the team or its logo and colors in the East Bay, is seeking the support of the Oakland Coliseum Joint Powers Authority.

The proposal backed by the fan group "Forever Oakland," is scheduled to be discussed at the Coliseum JPA's monthly meeting on Friday.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

A's choose site for downtown ballpark: It's Laney College

An overview of the general area the A's
plan to build a 35,000-seat, privately-
financed ballpark in Oakland.
After years of uncertainty and concerted efforts by the Oakland Athletics to build a new ballpark in Fremont, then San Jose, the team has chosen a downtown location near Laney College in Oakland.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported news of the announcement Tuesday night, along with a estimated completion date of 2023.

Berkeley City Council backs use of pepper spray during protest

Berkeley is facing an unprecedented and highly-coordinated effort by extremists groups to repeatedly turn the city into a battle ground, Interim Berkeley Police Chief Andy Greenwood told the City Council Tuesday afternoon.

With large plywood shields and rudimentary weapons used recently by protesters splayed on the city council chamber floor, an amendment to the Berkeley's use-of-force policy allowing police to deploy pepper spray when protesters attack law enforcement and the public was approved Tuesday evening by the City Council.

The council voted, 6-3, to include an amendment to the city's 20-year-old policy on the use of pepper spray. Councilmembers Cheryl Davila, Kate Harrison, and Kriss Worthington opposed the proposal backed by Mayor Jesse Arreguin.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Former East Bay legislative candidate is running for state insurance commissioner

Peter Kuo finished a surprising second in the 
2014 10th State Senate race that included Dems
Bob Wieckowski and Mary Hayashi.
Republican Peter Kuo ran for the state senate's 10th District in 2014 and followed it up last year with a challenge in the 17th Congressional District. Kuo lost on both occasions, although, he advanced to the 2014 general election, only to lose to Bob Wieckowski.

Kuo, though, lacked any experience in government during his first run, but the Taiwanese American businessman caught the eye of some California Republicans, primarily for his opposition to Senate Constitutional Amendment 5, which would have added some affirmation action requirements for admissions to the University of California system.

Sheriff Ahern wants to use asset forfeiture funds to pay officer's overtime at DUI checkpoints

Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern at a
town hall in Hayward in June.
Starting last Labor Day weekend, Alameda County sheriff's deputies staffed various DUI checkpoints in an effort to discourage holiday drinking and driving.

To pay any overtime associated with the operation and two others slated during the Christmas holiday season and Memorial Day weekend next year, Sheriff Gregory Ahern is asking the Alameda County Board of Supervisors to tap in federal asset forfeiture funding.

Berkeley looks at decriminalizing display of female nipples

Berkeley Councilmember
Kriss Worthington
An inequity exists within Berkeley municipal nudity laws, says Councilmember Kriss Worthington, that criminalizes the display of women's breasts and, specifically, nipples while overlooking topless men in public.

Worthington's proposal Tuesday evening would delete a reference to the public display of female areola in the city's municipal code. Violators could be subjected to a misdemeanor or fine. Worthington says the current law pertaining to women is "non-sensical."

Prominent Tri-Valley developer indicted for illegal campaign contributions to Swalwell

Eric Swalwell announcing his first run for
Congress at a 2011 rally in Dublin.
On a rainy night in April 2012, during what would be former Rep. Pete Stark's final political campaign, the irascible 40-year congressman lashed out at his young opponent, then Dublin Councilmember Eric Swalwell, alleging he took bribes from a well-connected Tri-Valley developer. "If I were a lawyer, I would call that bribery," Stark charged. "So, I'll let Mr. Swalwell define what he thinks taking all this money from people that he gave special zoning privileges to is. Maybe it's how he sees his role in government."

Somewhat shaken, Swalwell regrouped and quipped to the overflow audience at the Hayward City Council chambers, "As far as I know, I have not accepted any bribes. I don't know what Congressman Stark is talking about. Maybe the F.B.I. is waiting for me outside."

Years later, it turns out, a kernel of Stark's charges appears to again have some credibility after one of the donors referenced during that fateful candidates forum, influential Tri-Valley developer James Tong of Charter Properties, was indicted by a federal grand jury on Aug. 31 for making more than $10,000 in illegal contributions in the names of family members. The contributions were made to Swalwell's 2012 congressional campaign.

Friday, September 8, 2017

EBC AGENDA | SEPT 8-14 | BERKELEY strives for nipple equality; OAKLAND burglaries up; Sheriff wants $$ for OT; water thieves get leniency

A hallmark of 2017 in the East Bay is that many of the issues in previous year that usually focus solely on the national level are flooding down to the local level on a regular basis. For the most part, thank President Trump. This week both the Oakland City Council and Alameda County Board of Supervisors will offer resolutions opposing Trump rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. And for those prepared to watch disaster porn all weekend on television, the county is also keeping its disaster relief fund open for Hurricane Irma. In addition, this week begins the East Bay Citizen's foray into Berkeley and, boy, did they not let us down.

Here's your highlights for the week in East Bay government:
➤Burglaries in Oakland have skyrocketed over the last three months, says OPD.

➤Oakland construction firm charged with bid-rigging is losing a county contract

➤Idling your vehicle for too long in Berkeley might get you in trouble.

➤EBMUD is allowing water thieves an $800 discount on their first offense for meter tampering.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Tenant relocation payments finally approved in San Leandro

A proposed tenant relocation payment program in San Leandro has for more than a year shuttled back and forth between the City Council and its rules committee without resolution, worrying tenants and angering landlords who have balked at added rent restrictions.

Despite approving Tuesday night, what is now called the "Tenant Relocation Ordinance," the council was still less than resolute in its support. Throughout the council discussion, a few members appeared confused, if not highly apprehensive, about the agenda item.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

In a surprise, Alameda repeals its just cause ordinance at the behest of local renters group

Over the past month, members of the Alameda Renters Coalition had been toying with a counterintuitive proposal. Instead of fighting a costly election campaign sometime next year to oppose a referendum offered by Alameda landlords to roll back just cause protections for renters that was approved in May, maybe it was time to cut their losses and live to fight another day.

On the night the Alameda City Council was scheduled to decide whether to set an election date for the proposed ballot measure to repeal just cause, a spokesman for the group urged them to instead repeal the ordinance.

The council obliged, voting 4-1, to rescind the action approved just four months ago, an amendment to the more wide-ranging rent stabilization ordinance approved by the council in March 2016. Councilmember Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft was the lone opposition.

Piedmont picks a new mayor as city moves forward following Wieler resignation

Robert McBain, left, seated withCouncilmember 
Teddy Grey King, was chosen as Piedmont mayor 
Tuesday night. PHOTO/Keegan Tatum
By Keegan Tatum

Bob McBain tapped his left hand on the papers of an open binder with an obvious mixture of nerves and excitement as he addressed a few dozen people for the first time as Piedmont’s mayor.

McBain succeeds Jeff Wieler after Wieler made bigoted comments on social media; resigned as mayor; and, then, left the City Council entirely on Aug. 31. Piedmont’s mayor is elected by vote of the city council.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Brooks, Kaplan, Gallo to offer Oakland council resolution supporting restoration of DACA

Later this month, three Oakland councilmembers will introduce a resolution offering the city's support for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that was rescinded Tuesday by the Trump administration.

The executive order issued under President Barack Obama in 2012 allows undocumented immigrant minors who were brought to the U.S. before 2007 an opportunity to stay in the country and are allowed work permits for renewable two-year periods.

Alameda, citing sanctuary city policy, rejects federal grant

Months after Alameda became one of the first cities in the county to pass legislation declaring sanctuary city status, they now may be the first to reject a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Last week, Alameda city officials declined to sign a document required by the Department of Justice in order to apply for federal Justice Assistance Grants (JAG). Signing the document would certify that Alameda "does not restrict sending or receiving information regarding citizenship or immigration status."

But the city says signing the document would violate its sanctuary city policy approved Jan. 17--three days before President Donald Trump's inauguration--that prohibits the city from cooperating with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

EBC AGENDA | SEPT 1-7 | ALAMEDA to end dispensary moratorium, selects just cause elex date; SAN LEANDRO tenant relocation $$; Piedmont rages

As far as the dreaded August council recess period goes this was awful. Nothing much happened because the players in politics took some time to relax. Many went of vacations, near and far. I even saw one Oakland councilmember on my own vacation earlier this month.

But those on a staycation in the East Bay raised their collective eyebrows when an Alameda County sheriff's deputy in charge of the department's Twitter feed says he accidentally retweeted a video from a well-known neo-nazi. Protesters again rallied in Berkeley

Assemblymember Bill Quirk's criminalization of mylar balloons got popped by the governor and Assemblymember Rob Bonta's big push for bail reform might have to wait until next year, but state help to build more affordable housing looks to be on the way.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Pressure builds on Piedmont elected official to resign over offensive social media comments

The Piedmont City Council says Jeff Wieler, who stepped down as mayor last Sunday, should also resign as a councilmember.

Wieler resigned earlier this week after a number of Piedmont residents became upset over a series of derogatory social media comments he made recently against Black Lives Matter and members of the transgender community, among subjects

The comments, since deleted by Wieler, were nonetheless read into the record by a Piedmont residents during a council meeting on Aug. 21.

Berkeley councilman becomes ninth to file for Tony Thurmond's open assembly seat

Berkeley Councilmember Ben Bartlett
They're going to need a really big table for debates next year in the 15th Assembly District. First-term Berkeley Councilmember Ben Bartlett filed an intent to run Tuesday for the seat being vacated by current Assemblymember Tony Thurmond. Bartlett becomes the ninth candidate--all Democrats--to file for the June 2018 primary election.

Bartlett's interest in the state assembly comes just 10 months after winning election to Berkeley's District 3 council seat, but believes he has accomplished a number of important initiatives in the city during his short time in office.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Piedmont mayor resigns amid criticism over his right-wing social media comments

Piedmont Mayor Jeff Wieler 
resigned Sunday.
Piedmont Mayor Jeff Wieler resigned Sunday after an uproar over offensive comments he made on Facebook last week against members of the black and transgender communities.

Piedmont, a small hamlet of more than 10,000 residents encircled by Oakland, does not directly elect its mayor. Instead, the five-person city council appoints the mayor. For that reason, Wieler was essentially demoted from mayor to councilmember.