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Eighteen are running for mayor of Oakland alone!

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Assemblymember Rob Bonta casts his ballot June 3 in Alameda.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Anticipated Honda-Khanna Debate May Occur Three Weeks Before Election Day

Ro Khanna, Rep. Mike Honda
CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | Ro Khanna wants a debate and he just might get his wish. Except, it may not happen until after vote-by-mail ballots have already been in the hands of voters for at least 10 days.

The Huffington Post and officials from San Jose State University say Rep. Mike Honda's campaign has agreed to a single debate in mid-October, according to San Jose Inside. However, the date may have been made without input from Khanna's campaign. Nevertheless, Khanna is game for the chance to match wits and positions with Honda. He just thinks the much-anticipated matchup should occur before the first ballots can be marked in early October.

Vote-by-mail ballot are due to be sent by county registars on Oct. 6 , roughly one month before the November General Election. Honda's campaign told the South Bay political site, the date of the planned debate will either be Tuesday, Oct. 14, or Thursday, Oct. 16 and feature a single moderator and questions posed by the local press and San Jose State faculty.

Even before the June primary, there had been much debate over the lack of a debate between the two Democrats. At a endorsement meeting with the San Francisco Chronicle, Honda told editors he was amendable to debates in the plural. However, following a strong first place finish in the primary, Honda's campaign stepped back from the congressman's comment in favor of a single faceoff sometime before the Nov. 4 election.

Bryan Parker’s Visually Stunning New Ad


OAKLAND | MAYOR | A new campaign commercial from mayoral candidate Bryan Parker airing on Oakland cable may be the best of this election cycle.

The 30-second spot, titled, “The House Divided,” features an elaborate editing sequence that makes Parker appear to be simultaneously walking toward the viewer at over 30 iconic locations in Oakland.

The commercial created by a Bay Area production company named Rockbridge was shot over many days, said Parker, and was inspired by an Australian tourism advertisement.

Parker says his campaign wanted to use the commercial to highlight Oakland City Hall as divided and ineffective. “However, there are beautiful parts all over Oakland that can fully thrive if given equal opportunity,” said Parker.

The commercials began airing Monday on BET, CNN, CNBC, ESPN and additional networks the Parker campaign believes captures its target base of Oakland voters.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Two Quirk Bills Signed Into Law; One From Hancock

STATE LEGISLATURE | Skilled nursing facilities in the state must fill out multiple forms before offering some types of treatment even though the facility is already authorized by the state to perform the service, says a bill signed into law Monday by Hayward Assemblymember Bill Quirk.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed Quirk's AB 1974 which streamlines the duplicate and time-consuming step for care givers. Quirk's legislation, according to an Assembly floor analysis of the bill earlier this month, states, "Medicare certified nursing facilities will not be required to obtain duplicative approval by state licensing to provide inpatient therapy services already required under their certification."

Brown also signed legislation (AB 2137) offered by Quirk on Monday requiring the state Public Utilities Commission to include on its website a link to the Energy Upgrade California homepage. The program offers tips for saving and conserving natural resources throughout the state.

A third bill, signed by Brown Monday with ties to the East Bay, requires community college students under protective order from another student to seek reinstatement from the college before re-enrolling. The bill, SB 1400, authored by Berkeley State Sen. Loni Hancock revises the rules for reinstatement. Previously, a student under protective order could re-enroll following its expiration no matter the status of the complaint.

Oakland's New Garbage Contract Will Greatly Affect San Leandro

SAN LEANDRO | When the Oakland City Council awarded a garbage contract to locally owned recycling company California Waste Solutions earlier this month and passed over what seemed like a stronger competing bid from Waste Management, the effects of the decision appeared to be confined only to Oakland. But a closer examination of the deal reveals that neighboring San Leandro stands to lose nearly $2 million in revenue next year because of the Oakland City Council's decision. Oakland's switch to California Waste Solutions means that San Leandro will miss out on fees it collects from Waste Management for its waste transfer station in that city.

Yet despite the fact that Oakland's decision to go with California Waste Solutions will have a substantial impact on San Leandro's budget, the city's officials failed to lobby the Oakland City Council to stick with Waste Management. Instead, San Leandro Vice Mayor Benny Lee urged the Oakland City Council on July 30 to choose California Waste Solutions — a move that went against his own city's financial best interests...

READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE AT EAST BAY EXPRESS

Monday, August 25, 2014

At Forum, Tuman Attacks Quan for Saying Her Youth Jobs Program Lowered Crime

The large field of Oakland mayoral candidates before the start of the #Oakmtg-sponsored forum Aug. 21 at City Hall. PHOTO/Steven Tavares
OAKLAND | MAYOR | There were few fireworks during a two and a half hour Oakland mayoral candidates forum last Thursday hosted by the grassroots #Oakmtg Twitter hashtag group and even less new information on the candidate’s positions. However, one brief statement from Joe Tuman may have attracted the most positive response from the online community and represented the most poignant moment of the night.

After Oakland Mayor Jean Quan trumpeted her mayor’s summer job programs had put a record 2,100 youths to work, she then suggested it was a factor in lowering crime in Oakland. At a forum, when just three of the mayoral candidates were randomly picked to answer each question, unfortunately for Quan, Tuman was in the trio chosen to respond and he was ready to pounce on Quan’s assertion.

“We in this city often times equate children with violence, forgetting, more than likely, they are the victims of violence more than perpetrators,” said Tuman. “The vast majority of the violent crime in this city is done by adults, not children. To suggest the 2,100 jobs that we’re talking about is responsible for the decrease in violence again promotes a myth that children are responsible.”

The Twittersphere agreed with Tuman’s rebuttal. “Tuman’s comment about not blaming kids for crime is dead on,” said @FruitvaleLocal. Davida Small tweeted, “'Violent youth’ should not be an acceptable phrase bandied about so casually.”

REGRETS? One audience question put Quan on the defensive when it asked how she would have handled the Occupy Oakland protests of 2011 differently. Not much differently, said Quan, except she would not have cleared the encampment at Frank Ogawa Plaza while away in Washington, D.C. The answer elicited a brief guffaw from the audience. Later, Quan added, the aftermath of the protests positively affected the police department. It changed how they train their officers to handle protests in Oakland and over 40 officers have been disciplined since, said Quan. “That made a difference. We have learned from that, but violence is not acceptable,” she added, whether from protesters or the police.

VIEW FROM ABOVE Following the forum, I spoke to two Oakland residents who sat next me in the gallery. Both white (a older man and a younger woman), they said they were both totally undecided voters. And while they had been following the mayoral race, Thursday night was the first time they heard the candidates in person. Here are their first impressions: On Joe Tuman: both thought he had good ideas, but they felt like he was “not a nice person.” On Courtney Ruby: both came away from the forum very impressed by her background in trying to reform city government. However, the gentleman asked, “Is she electable?” On Jean Quan: they sensed she was disinterested throughout the forum. Lastly, neither likes ranked choice voting.

SOUND BITE KING For some unknown reason, we don’t subject our political candidates to proper debates in the Bay Area. It’s a strange omission and one that greatly favors incumbents and those with money to spend. However, a full-fledged debate where journalists probe into the candidate's arguments and challengers have the opportunity to confront their opponents is a great levelers of the playing field for underfunded candidates. On Thursday, little known Oakland mayoral candidate Saied Karamooz may be the poster boy for how a candidate without much financial heft can do more damage with his biting rhetoric than any $15,000 barrage of mailers can achieve. Karamooz was the first to shell Oakland Mayor Jean Quan during the #oakmtg forum when he charged her with repeatedly misstating facts in public. Later, he labeled Quan’s youth summer job program “a bad joke,” but it was during his closing statement that Karamooz may have uttered the quote of the night when he called for change in Oakland government. “The fact is these coin-operated politicians don’t run on promises of mediocrity or abysmal results. Yet, election after election it’s all we get.”

KAPLAN STRONG While the #oakmtg forum moved along briskly, some candidates seemed on cruise control, while others lacked energy. However, Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan was energetic, exuberant and clearly prepared to pour as much information into each response as possible. Not only did she sound positive about Oakland, but she was also in a giving mood, detailing a future administration that offers free citywide wifi, longer library hours and a major retail and sports complex at the Coliseum. In fact, giving low information voters in Oakland the impression they might have free wifi is something they will remember. That is, if they ever get themselves to the polls in November.

WHATEVER HAPPENS? In her closing statement, Mayor Quan made a comment that seemed wistfully ominous. “It’s an incredible honor to be the first woman and the first Asian American mayor in Oakland," said Quan. "Whatever happens, it’s been an amazing honor to serve this community.” You can read into the statement however you choose, but it hardly exudes confidence for her re-election this fall.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Is Khanna’s Political Consultant Taking Him For A Ride?

Over a year ago, news reports and various pundits attached words like “epic” and “grudge match” to the 17th Congressional District race between Rep. Mike Honda and Ro Khanna. On the heels of Eric Swalwell’s intra-party upset of Pete Stark and a vastly superior campaign war chest, the early romance with Khanna appeared warranted. Then the June primary happened and Honda’s 21-point win silenced nearly all the hype surrounding the race. Meanwhile, Khanna’s well-publicized political consultant Jeremy Bird continues to cash his pay check while employing nearly the exact playbook that fell flat in the primary. The question now becomes, after spending nearly $3 million during this campaign, is Khanna being fleeced by his rock star political consultant?

Ro Khanna
Through June 2014, Bird’s 270 Strategies has excised nearly $175,000 from Khanna’s campaign coffers. Of course, Bird comes with a high price tag. He was part of President Obama’s dazzling re-election engine. Time and other publications trumpeted Bird’s plan to scale down the same high-tech outreach campaign used to beat Mitt Romney and prove it could be used in local congressional races. The narrative sounded good in 2013, but voters apparently weren’t buying what is essentially a strategy heavily-borrowed from Swalwell’s 2012 campaign only with bundles of money.

Last spring, Khanna attempted to tap into the local Bay Area media’s thirst for knocking progressives off their perch. Like with Stark in 2012, the media pounded away at Honda’s disinterest in facing Khanna in debates. When that didn’t work, some editorial boards shaded their criticism of Honda with ageism. However, Khanna’s team neglected a major part of why Swalwell’s strategy was effective and why it doesn’t work on Honda. A series of flub by Stark and a propensity for worsening his bad boy image turned off many voters. Honda has no such reputation. This criticism towards Khanna’s primary campaign has been charged by others in recent months, so, why is Bird recycling it again in the general election?

Once again, voters are hearing about the “Great Debate Debate” in the local media, except nobody is really paying much attention. Another meme is Honda’s camp is running scared by not debating Khanna. But, what kind of winning strategy is predicated on getting the incumbent to have a debate with you? What exactly is going to occur at this debate that is going to make it a race? This sort of investment does not appear sound. Most likely, Honda will try to get-in and get-out of the debate without any damages and the odds say this is a good bet. So, what's Khanna's next better move?

In addition, Khanna again seems uncomfortable over how far to the right he needs to go without alienating liberals. An off shoot of this uncertainty may be the connections Khanna has made with two Republicans, in particular, both of whom might be described as the “crazy Republican grandpa.” First, there was Joel VanLandingham, who may or may not have conspired with Khanna to dilute the primary field, and now this ill-advised link to former Rep. Ernie Konnyu. Furthermore, the New Yorker profile last week on the November race is almost a facsimile to the Time piece last year, but fails to take into account how the June results completely reshaped the race. Pitching a profile in the New York media works in a national race, not one taking place on the other side of the continent.

Meanwhile, we hear nothing of this secret predictive model contraption Bird claims have at his fingertips. Is it no more than a simple notetaking phone app or just high-tech snake oil? It’s hard to say if you presume Bird calculated the effects of receiving the endorsement last week of San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, the arch enemy of working people, and after a few boop boop beeps, it spit out an electoral scenario in the South Bay of 50 percent plus 1. Instead of Bird's help in spending $3 million, Khanna could have been better served by renting a ramshackle office on El Camino Real, spending a 100,000 on the primary and still won as money votes as he did in June.
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Bob Wieckowski
POLITICAL PORN Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski’s revenge porn bill breezed through the State Senate this week. The legislation allows those who have had pornographic images of themselves uploaded to the Internet without consent to file lawsuits against the perpetrators while using a pseudonym. The irony is rampant rumors in Sacramento earlier this year spoke of a sex tape involving Wieckowski. Some contend the rumor was started by surrogates for Mary Hayashi, who opposed Wieckowski in the primary race for the 10th State Senate District. However, the timing of the bill seemed odd to many--almost as if Wieckowski was attempting to send a warning to the rumored holders of the tape. Whether the rumor is true or not was taken to another level when it was Wieckowski who may have been inadvertently spreading the rumor around the Capitol. Recall, he oddly mentioned the rumors on his own during an endorsement meeting with the California Teachers Association.
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Pauline Cutter
WORST ANSWER EVER While on the subject of endorsement meetings, here’s likely one of the worst responses to the stock question of “Why are you running for mayor?” A few months back, the San Leandro Police Officers Association interviewed Councilmember Pauline Cutter for the union’s mayoral endorsement. The seat is unexpectedly open after Mayor Stephen Cassidy announced earlier he would not seek re-election after one term. Fellow Councilmember Diana Souza is also running for mayor this fall. But, when the POA asked why Cutter is running for mayor, she answered, because Stephen Cassidy told me to. You could say that response was a little too honest, but Cutter was already a long shot to win the important endorsement because of her allegiance to Cassidy. The POA has disliked Cassidy for his stance on public employee pension from even before he was elected mayor in 2010. In the end, Souza received the endorsement and to show how valuable she believes law enforcement is to her chances in November, the endorsement is prominently displayed on all her campaign materials and web site.
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Dan Siegel: 49ers expert?
HERE AND THERE At a town hall in San Lorenzo, Rep. Eric Swalwell boldly declared, “I am a progressive,” after repeatedly telling the crowd he was more than willing to work with House Republicans…Rep. Mike Honda says he will indeed debate Ro Khanna (once) before Election Day on Nov. 3, but the real deadline is the first week of October when vote-by-mail ballots go out…Oakland mayoral candidate Courtney Ruby has not been successful in receiving much ink from the press, but the Oakland City Auditor and her plausible description as being a reformer may resonate with many voters. Ruby might not be a contender to win, but she may be a dark horse who performs better than expected…Dan Siegel said during a candidate forum last week he does not support using public finances for new stadiums in Oakland. However, he’s surely a sports fan and an expert on the San Francisco 49ers. Siegel wrote a season preview on the South Bay team for the Ultimate Sports Guide. Siegel says the 49ers defensive line will be it most improved unit. Former Mayor Shelia Young also penned a golf profile for the same publication.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

FPPC Clears Alameda County Democratic Central Committee of Wrongdoing

ALAMEDA COUNTY | The California Fair Political Practices Commission, the government body that oversees campaign ethics, cleared the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee of violating the state's Political Reform Act.

“After completing our investigation, we found insufficient evidence of a violation of the Act, and we are closing our file on this matter,” said a letter from the FPPC, dated July 25.

During a meeting earlier this month, Alameda County Democratic Party Chair Robin Torello, announced news of the FPPC findings to its members, which was followed by a round of joyous cheers, according to those in attendance.

The FPPC’s investigation was reportedly triggered last April by a blog posted months before by central committee member Margarita Lacabe. In the article she alleged some committee members had entered into an earmarking scheme to mask donations from political action committees through the local party committee to endorsed candidates of the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee.

The investigation may come with some cost to the local party finances, in addition, to Lacabe. Local county officials suggest the roughly $8,000 in legal costs incurred by the central committee to defend itself is money taken away from prospective candidates this fall. One, incidentally, is Lacabe’s husband, Mike Katz-Lacabe, who is running for a seat on the San Leandro City Council.

Lacabe’s influence at the central committee, already limited, appears rock bottom. She did not attend the monthly meeting earlier this August and has been described as disruptive and argumentative since her election in 2010. In recent months, one committee colleague even moved to censure Lacabe for her behavior.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Oakland Councilman Kalb Endorses Mayor Quan for Re-Election

Oakland Councilmember Dan Kalb and
Mayor Jean Quan.
OAKLAND | MAYOR | Oakland Councilmember Dan Kalb is endorsing Mayor Jean Quan’s re-election this fall. Quan’s campaign made the announcement Tuesday.

“I am endorsing Jean Quan for mayor because her policies and hard work are getting results,” said Kalb, who represents North Oakalnd's District 1 on the City Council.

Kalb outlined his reasoning for endorsing Quan over any one of the 14 challengers based upon her work for increasing funding for more police officers, the Mayor’s Summer Jobs Program, advocating for more affordable housing and moving Oakland toward environmentally-friendly policies, he said.

In addition, on Kalb’s own website, he went further in recommending voters choose fellow Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan as their second choice for mayor and Councilmember Libby Schaaf as third choice in the ranked choice voting election in November.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Asian American Electorate May Decide Next San Leandro Mayor

Councilmember Benny Lee, second from left,
is a byproduct of the new found strength in
San Leandro's Asian American populace.
SAN LEANDRO | MAYOR | It would have been unthinkable a generation ago that any demographic in San Leandro other than Caucasians would be the voting bloc determining the makeup of its city officials.

The U.S. Census in 1970 infamously reported San Leandro was nearly 100 percent white—give or take a few black families that somehow infiltrated the city’s notorious redlining of homes from outsiders. Today, San Leandro’s largest demographic is not white or black, but Asian Americans, who incidentally, have recently shown a willingness to stand and be heard at City Hall.

Two years ago, Benny Lee became the city’s first Asian American council member, but his election underlined a series of seemingly innocuous events that showed the demographic had become not only more vocal than other groups in the city, but better organized. First, came a proposal by a local businessman to erect a wind turbine on his property near the predominately Asian Heron Bay housing development.

Councilmember Pauline Cutter
Residents turned out in droves to protest the wind turbine, but ultimately the City Council and mayor sided with business interests. The permit to raise the turbine is currently mired in litigation, but anger toward the Mayor Stephen Cassidy, who is not running for re-election, later spilled over again following his unilateral decision to reverse a council vote that would have allowed the Chinese flag to be raised over City Hall in honor of its national day.

The decision further raised a furor within the Asian Americans in San Leandro who viewed the flag-raising not as a symbol of Chinese oppression, as critics had argued, but as a celebration of their culture.

Councilmember Diana Souza
Despite the rancor, Cassidy did little to mend the rift within the city and that decision may go far in deciding who will be the next mayor. Councilmembers Pauline Cutter and Diana Souza are both seeking the office, as is local theater owner Dan Dillman.

Although Cutter attempted to act a mediator on the council during the Chinese flag fiasco, it may not matter to Asian groups in the city who tend to firmly stand against anybody viewed as too closely aligned to Cassidy. Dillman, a dark horse candidate who could greatly benefit in the ranked choice voting race with just three candidates, also leveled strong criticism against the flag-raising last year. At one point, he asserted having foreign flag flown over City Hall amounts to a military occupation.

Meanwhile, it is Souza, the two-term council member, who has steadily courted the growing Asian American demographic over the past few years. While her consistent opposition of cannabis dispensaries in San Leandro may not jibe with the entire city, it does with Asian American groups, who tend to be more socially conservative. In addition, Souza has a strong working relationship with Lee and supported the Chinese flag resolution.

And here’s another sign both Cutter and Souza see the Asian Americans as the key to victory: each requested their ballot statements include their names in Chinese characters.

Ro Khanna: 'Chuck Reed is an American Hero'

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed
CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | Any illusions Ro Khanna is a progressive may have been erased with an endorsement Monday from public employee pension crusader and San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed.

Reed’s endorsement may signal a move by Khanna’s campaign to accentuate his credentials to moderate voters. However, it does little to lure progressives away from Honda and, more likely, emboldens their support for the incumbent who was rated this year one of the most liberal members of Congress, according to rankings from the National Journal. Honda, Khanna and Reed are all Democrats.

Furthermore, these types of announcements are typically notable for what the endorser says about the candidate. Not so in this case. “Chuck Reed is an American hero and I’m truly honored to have his endorsement,” said Khanna. “Mayor Reed’s willingness to choose what’s best in the long term over what’s most politically expedient makes him a rare public servant. His endorsement reflects the growing consensus that the 17th district simply can’t afford Congressman Honda’s ineffectiveness any longer.”

Despite an earlier and significant fundraising advantage, Khanna is currently in an uphill battle this November. The district, which covers portions of Fremont to San Jose, gave Honda a strong 21-point victory over Khanna and two Republican challengers in the June primary.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Palestinian Group Clashes With Swalwell Over His Support for Israel

Constituents show opposition to U.S. support for Israel at a town hall in San Lorenzo Thursday held by Rep. Eric Swalwell. PHOTO/Steven Tavares
CONGRESS | 15th DISTRICT | On July 11, Rep. Eric Swalwell riled Palestinian groups and constituents in the 15th Congressional District with a Facebook posting that expressed sympathy for Israel in its ongoing conflict with Palestinians in Gaza. “Innocent civilians in Israel have been under constant attack from rocket attacks from Hamas-controlled Gaza,” Swalwell wrote. “These attacks have recently escalated, with over 500 rockets fired at Israel in just the past month. I stand with Israel as it seeks peace and security in the region.”

It didn’t help the a photo of the Israeli flag accompanied the post. Hundreds made forceful comments in opposition and the item was shared over 1,300 times. Later that day, Swalwell posted another, but more even-handed response. “As the situation in Middle East escalates I am praying for a shared peace between Israel and Palestinians.”

A vast majority of the 90-minute town hall featured over a
dozen comments on Swalwell's support for Israel.
PHOTO/Steven Tavares
Swalwell used the latter opinion often at a town hall Thursday night in San Lorenzo while over a dozen pro-Palestinian speakers dominated the proceedings and criticized him for his support of Israel. Swalwell repeatedly called for peace in the region, but also labeled Hamas a terrorist organization. “I don’t have a dog in this fight,” he said. “I just want peace in this area.”

When some speakers called him out for receiving campaign contributions from pro-Israeli organizations, Swalwell said, “You’re right. I have vote for and supported aid to Israel. I have supported aid for the Palestinian people,” and he added recently voting to send $47 million in aid to Palestinians. “We must give Palestinians economic opportunity and access to the rest of the world,” he said.

But, similar to the controversial online posting, Swalwell maintained Israel has a right to defend itself. “I firmly believe it has a right and that it does so in a targeted way, only going after Hamas. It’s unacceptable for any innocent people to die in this conflict. It is also unacceptable to use innocent people in this conflict as shields.” Later, he said, separating Hamas from the Palestinian people is essential to solving the conflict. ”It’s not going to be easy,” said Swalwell. A number of speakers expressed skepticism over Swalwell’s neutral stance. Whenever someone raised the subject of Palestine, dozens flashed sheets printed with the words, “Congressman Swalwell. End the occupation now.”

Saba Maher, a law student from Emeryville, and others, said the $47 million in humanitarian aid was a meager amount in contrast to $3 billion in support the U.S. gives Israel. “I know that may seem like a lot to you, but that translates to band-aids and cupcakes and maybe bricks to rebuild the infrastructure,” said Maher. “You continue to say Hamas is a terrorist organization, but congressman, I‘m here to tell you, it’s Israel’s policies and it’s the U.S. blanket support for Israel that is creating Hamas aggression against Israel.”

While the number of deaths on the Palestinian side greatly outnumbers those in Israel, Swalwell said, “Every rocket that is fired by Hamas is intended to kill innocent Israelis.” To date, just three Israelis have perished, while nearly 2,000 Palestinians have died from rockets fired on Gaza. In addition, an estimated 9,000 more Palestinians have been injured. “In the face of these numbers, and in the face of this injustice, how can you continue to send support to Israel?” Maher asked. “How can you sit there and say it’s not just body count? They have faces, they have names. They are people.”

Another speaker named Layma Ahmadzai began her remarks with “I’m an American. I was born in Fremont,” and also criticized Swalwell’s Facebook posting for being one-sided and not taking into account the loss of life on the Palestinian side of the border. Swalwell responded, “Body counts is not a measurement for the harm.”

Since his election nearly two years ago, Swalwell’s public support for Israel has been consistent. Just weeks after winning the election in November 2012, the then-congressman-elect Swalwell made comments regarding Israel  similar to rhetoric heard Thursday night. “No nation should face constant attacks on its civilians. I stand with hundreds in Congress who support Israel's security and right to defend itself. I hope we can see long-term peace in the region and immediate calm for those who are living in fear,” he said, Nov. 16, 2012.

Swalwell’s political campaigns have also benefited from pro-Israeli groups. Since arriving on the political scene in 2012, Swalwell has received over $50,000 in contributions from such lobbying groups. The amount ranks as his fourth largest group of contributors. After one constituent Thursday charged Swalwell with accepting donations from the most powerful Israeli organization in the U.S., the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), he denied ever receiving money from the group. But, the comment is not entirely true. While fundraising records show AIPAC has never directly contributed to Swalwell’s campaign, his congressional trip last year to Israel, which he referenced Thursday, was paid for by a group called the American Israeli Education Foundation. This group is an offshoot of AIPAC.

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Summer of Discontent in Oakland

Haggerty Slams Quan | Another Schaaf, Parker Connection | Talking Sh*t at Oro Loma | Siegel Sings
When A’s co-owner Lew Wolff arrived at the Aug. 6 Coliseum Joint Powers Authority meeting approving the team's lease extension, one of the first people he saw was Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan. Wolff then offered a hearty congratulatory embrace. His affinity for Kaplan recently has been noticeable and others have begrudgingly given her plaudits for moving along the A’s lease deal over the past few months. Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, who teamed with Kaplan in negotiations, greeted Wolff with an enthusiastic pat on the shoulder. Wolff, however, offered Oakland Mayor Jean Quan no such pleasantries that day. In fact, if the description of Quan's first term at Oakland as dysfunctional  needed visual proof, this day may have been it.

Approval of the A's new lease Aug. 6 at 
Oracle Arena in Oakland.
Decked out in A's green and gold, Quan appeared notably uncomfortable among her colleagues. I didn’t see one public officials greet her when she arrived and, in fact, one Oakland council member openly trashed Quan while within earshot of the mayor.

But, the level of loathing hit its peak when after the press conference featuring Wolff and the JPA concluded, television cameras encircled Quan for comment. Off to the side, a few officials watched with astonishment as Quan literally basked in the limelight. When I walked toward Haggerty and fellow Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley for an interview, they both flashed incredulous grins along with disappointed head shaking as Quan spoke to reporters. For the tough-talking Haggerty it was apparently too much.

"You know what is most amazing to me? How someone can go around and publicly say they support the deal, then privately be calling their council and telling them not to support the deal and then stand up and take credit for the deal,” said Haggerty. “That's make my job so much harder. It's sleazy. I feel bad for Rebecca. From the city side, Rebecca did it,” before adding, “but now she's getting her due."
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Willie Brown
SCHAAF, PARKER AND BROWN Much was made over the appearance of Oakland mayoral candidates Libby Schaaf and Bryan Parker at a recent political event. They say there is no connection between their campaigns this fall, but forming coalitions is the theoretical basis for success in ranked choice voting. But, there is another connection between Schaaf and Parker. Both sought the wisdom and fundraising expertise of San Francisco’s Willie Brown. One may have succeeded, while the other definitely struck out. When Parker met with Brown a few months ago, the legendary kingmaker bluntly questioned him about his loyalty. The line of questioning went like this: You’re on the Port of Oakland Commission, who appointed you? Jean Quan, Parker answered. Brown then wondered how could he trust Parker after witnessing how he repaid Quan’s for the plum political post by almost immediately campaigning to run her out of office. Brown, however, was impressed by Schaaf and found it favorable she had worked in former Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown’s office. Weeks later, after Schaaf met with Brown, it was not surprising to see her name mentioned as a strong contender in his Sunday column for the San Francisco Chronicle.
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Formed in 1911, almost all of its board 
members are nearly as old.
TALKING SH*T We tend to think Republicans are absent from public office in Alameda County, they are just not visible. Maybe they can't win elections for higher office or even local city councils, but Republicans—and old ones, at that—reside on small elected boards all over the county. One such board is at the Oro Loma Sanitary District which oversees waste and recycling for 135,700 customers in San Leandro, Hayward and unincorporated Alameda County. Four of the five board members are in their 80s and white. Laython Landis, the nephew of former baseball commissioner Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis, has sit on the Oro Loma board for 36 years. In addition, the good old boys club of generations ago still lives on. A woman has reportedly never sat on the Oro Loma board in its 103-year history. Former San Leandro Mayor Shelia Young has tried to break through on two prior occasions and says her third attempt will be her last. But, this campaign could be her best chance following the retirement of long-time board member Frank Sidari. In the past, this board has favored replacing members through appointments, but not this cycle. Five candidates, including two incumbents, are vying for three seats this November. Young is trying to play up the fact that she is the only woman in the race. In campaign literature, she’s using the tagline: “The only woman for the job.”
****
Singing Dan Siegel
HERE AND THERE Oakland mayoral candidate Dan Siegel held a fundraiser Thursday featuring karaoke. No word if Siegel sang Englebert Humperdinck’s hit “Quando, Quando, Quando.”...Oakland school board member Chris Dobbins, also a member of the Coliseum JPA, failed to qualify for the ballot following a snafu with a number of his nominating signatures…Ro Khanna’s congressional campaign in the 17th District is again relying on a largely unsuccessful line of attack used during the primary by attacking Rep. Mike Honda for not debating him. A number of editorial boards have latched on to the meme, but it's one that maybe falls flat with voters in the Bay Area who don’t differentiate much between a debate and a candidate's forum…San Leandro businessman Dan Dillman qualified for the ballot as a candidate for mayor, but it came just days after serving jail time following an altercation with Alameda County Sheriff’s deputies outside his San Leandro theater…Former 15th Congressional District candidate Chris Pareja is a candidate for the Livermore City Council. Two years ago, his underfunded campaign garnered a strong 22 percent of the June Primary vote against Pete Stark and Eric Swalwell…According to the November ballot, some East Bay cities are having trouble finding candidates to run for office. Alameda, for one, has a bad case of candidate apathy, but not Fremont where nine are vying for two seats on the City Council.

Vanquished Hayward Councilman Says Residents Need to Start Voting

Mark Salinas: looking ahead to 2016?
HAYWARD | Former Hayward Councilmember Mark Salinas suffered two political defeats within the same month last July. He lost his bid for mayor, the race he chose to run instead of seeking re-election to his council seat and weeks later was passed over for an appointment back to the dais. Now, he suggests maybe more voter participation in Hayward might have returned a different result.

Salinas, who also briefly considered applying for the Alameda County supervisors seat left vacant in 2012 by Nadia Lockyer's resignation, is viewed by many as young politician with eyes on higher public office. And although he is now political exile, a newsletter emailed to supportersThursday hints he may be mounting a comeback sooner than later.

In the newsletter, Salinas said he spent the time since the June election to contemplate its meaning. "One take away is this: more people need to vote in Hayward," said Salinas.

The presence of voter apathy was a main story line following the four-person race for mayor last June. In a city of over 140,000 residents, Barbara Halliday needed just 4,211 votes to win the race. With over 62,000 registered voters, just 23 percent of Hayward residents participated in the election.

"So the take away is this," Salinas continued. "municipal elections can not be decided based on a 23 percent voter turnout. As a city--especially with so many schools, colleges, and universities--we have to be more aware about local issues, local politics, and we have to be more aware of the impact our local elected officials have in our everyday quality of life."

One culprit for the voter malaise in Hayward may be the lack of local news coverage of City Hall and, especially the last mayoral and council election, where the Daily Review was notably absent. In fact, following the election result, the paper of record never reported on the list of potential candidates for appointment to the final two years of Halliday's seat until after the fact.

As for Salinas' possible comeback, some Hayward politicos suggests a return to the council in 2016 is a definite possibility. Four seats will be open in two years. Councilmembers Greg Jones and Al Mendall will be up for re-election, as will Francisco Zermeno and the new appointee, Elisa Marquez. Of the quartet, Zermeno could be vulnerable and Marquez is still an unknown quantity at this point.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A Double Standard When it Comes to Crime Stories in Oakland

A Shipping crane near Jack London 
Square in Oakland
OAKLAND | MEDIA | Crime is down dramatically in Oakland this year, and yet you'd never know it by reading the daily newspapers or watching TV news. Moreover, news reports often portray shootings and homicides as being citywide issues in Oakland, and not problems localized to certain sections of the city. And despite a renaissance that has led Oakland to become one of the most talked-about cities nationwide, the cacophony of negative news coverage in the Bay Area continues to cloud public opinion and is hampering Oakland's ability to grow economically.

"People are getting a skewed perception of Oakland — it scares visitors away and [keeps] residents and businesses from coming here," said longtime Oakland resident Elmano Gonsalves. "I think it's unfair, and it's holding us back."

Gonsalves grew up in Oakland, and over the last several months has embarked on a campaign to set the record straight about his city. He has sent dozens of emails to local journalists and TV news directors, complaining about news coverage that ignores crime problems in San Francisco and San Jose, while perpetuating negative stereotypes of Oakland....

READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE AT EAST BAY EXPRESS

Labor's Tacit Support for Joel Young may have Cleared AC Transit Field

A graphic from 2012 contemplated Joel
Young's next move. It may be another four
years at AC Transit.
AC TRANSIT | AT-LARGE | The re-election of At-Large AC Transit board member Joel Young received a significant boost when two potential challengers made late decisions not to run against the transit official who was censured by the transit board last year after it became clear, at least, some unions would continue supporting him in the fall.

After showing strong interest to run against Young, both Igor Tregub and Tyron Jordan changed their minds as the filing deadline came and went last Friday. Although Young has a list of negatives like no other local public official and would appear vulnerable this fall, the realization Young’s campaign coffers might be aided by transit labor unions sealed the deal. Young’s power of the incumbency along with the cost and logistics of running a county-wide race for the at-large seat were already big positives in his favor. This comes despite allegations Young he hit his girlfriend in 2011, spit in the face of an Oakland council aide, shortly after, and then betrayed the Service Employees International Union after they partially endorsed his run for the State Assembly in 2012.

Igor Tregub
However, the presence of transit unions coming out in support of Young is the reason why Tregub, who sits on the Berkeley Zoning Commission and who was seen as Young’s top challenger, abruptly pulled out of the race Aug. 4. Tregub told The Citizen he withdrew his candidacy based upon an understanding the Alameda Labor Council’s executive board was prepared to recommend an endorsement of Young’s for the fall. Other labor leaders with knowledge of the Alameda Labor Council’s decision said the executive board’s decision is almost always approved by the full organization.

Based on this knowledge, Tregub, a strong labor supporter, said he saw the writing on the wall and, instead, out of deference to the unions, announce in an email to supporters that he would not seek office. However, a surprising thing occurred later that night when union members, primarily from SEIU, but not entirely, registered strong disapproval of Young’s potential endorsement by the Alameda Labor Council and they had good reason.

Two years ago, SEIU made the unprecedented move of stripping Young of his endorsement for the 18th Assembly District primary race. Young, along with Rob Bonta and Abel Guillen—all Democrats—received the powerful union’s joint backing. But, later, as Young’s candidacy was taking on water over his domestic violence case, his campaign switched gears and began searching for support outside the typical progressive bloc of voters. When SEIU learned Young was using his opponent’s confidential union questionnaires to gather votes by portraying them as too liberal, their anger was clearly evident and publicly rebuked Young and pulled their support for his campaign. After last week, it seems SEIU has a long memory.

It is not surprising for the transit unions to show support for Young. Not only are they familiar with him as a AC Transit board member, but Young’s transgressions last year that forced his colleagues to censure him, in fact, was an act that directly helped transit unions in other locales. As an attorney for a Berkeley law firm, Young worked on two separate cases involving other transit agencies in a similar case to one AC Transit was involved and had previously paid out $12 million in damages. Young then used closed session information from his duties on the AC Transit board and parlayed those insights to help draft legal responses for his clients. The AC Transit board voted, 5-0, to censure Young for using his position to personal enrich himself.

The outcry last week from SEIU effectively blocked Young from receiving enough for votes for the endorsement. Instead the Alameda Labor Council voted for an open endorsement, which allows local unions to decide who they want to endorse in the fall. SEIU’s intervention briefly allowed Tregub to seriously rethink last week his decision to drop out of the race. However, on Friday, the last day to qualify for the ballot, Tregub said he reverted to his original decision and had no desire to potential divide the unions. In the meantime, the AC Transit At-Large race is set for three candidates: Young, former AC Transit bus driver Dollene Jones, who ran for the Ward 3 seat in 2012 and Adrienne Andrews.

Kernighan Endorses Guillen to Replace her on the Oakland City Council

Abel Guillen
OAKLAND CITY COUNCIL | DISTRICT 2 | Abel Guillen is in a tough race in Oakland’s District 2. But, this week he gained the support of the current occupant, Council President Pat Kernighan.

“Abel Guillen is the right person to tackle the challenges we face in Oakland,” Kernighan said in a statement. “I enthusiastically support Abel to continue my work on behalf of District 2.”

Kernighan announced her retirement last December after over nine years on the Oakland City Council. She has spent the past year as the council president.

Pat Kernighan
The announcement is another in a line of high-profile Oakland endorsement received by Guillen, who currently serves as a trustee on the Peralta Community College Board. Previously, he received official support from Oakland Assemblymember Rob Bonta and Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan.

Nonetheless, winning the seat will not be easy. During recent candidates forums, other District 2 candidates have been impressive, notably, former local television anchor Dana King and Kevin Blackburn, a veteran of 10 years at the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco.

Others in the race include community activist Andrew Park and Sokham Mao, a member of the city’s Citizens Police Review Board.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Oakland's Desley Brooks Needs to Keep an Eye on Challenger Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson
OAKLAND CITY COUNCIL | DISTRICT 6 | Rarely do you see Oakland Councilmember Desley Brooks shrink from a good fight. But, running against three challengers who are all vigorously ringing the bell of change for the downtrodden East Oakland district, Brooks was left scampering for suitable responses during a candidates forum last week.

Despite numerous assertions Brooks' 12 years in office has done little to improve the district's quality of life, she disagreed. “There were things that had gone neglected for an extremely long period of time,” said Brooks of her predecessor, and she has fixed them. For instance, city parks in the district have improved and provided an impetus for commercial development, she said. “If there is a need in the district then I figure out creative ways to make sure those needs are addressed.”

Brooks' challengers, Shereda Nosakhare, James Moore and most notably, Michael Johnson, an associate pastor at Beebe Memorial Cathedral in Oakland, consistently disagreed. “Why am I running?" said Johnson. "Because I am seeking, after 12 long years, to replace the chaos, the conflict and the confusion that has existed on the City Council and replace it with collaboration, coordination and communication.”

Oakland Councilmember Desley Brooks
Johnson's performance caught many by surprise last Thursday night for being measured, intelligent, but also forceful. No better example of Johnson’s rhetorical talents were on display last week than when he creatively pivoted on the word “change” in reference to a question on the city adapting to climate change. The response was akin to Johnson pinching Brooks under the table while smiling for the audience.

“For us to actually affect change we need to make a change in District 6,” said Johnson. He added the city doesn’t have a suitable policy for fighting climate change. “Since we don’t have one, we can’t expect to get one from where we’ve been and how to get to where we want to go. The first thing we need to do is recognize, if we don’t have something and it’s been there for a long time, then you can’t expect that to happen going forward.”

Next, Nosakhare, Johnson and Moore, pounded away at the district’s lack of fresh grocery options. “District 6 is the economic donut hole that exists in Oakland. Development is going on all over Oakland, but not District 6,” said Johnson. One grocery store serving a community of 55,000, said Johnson, “suggests that we have negligible quality of life.”

Johnson’s statement appeared to rattled Brooks, whose answers from thereon were delivered in a rambling fashion. The pace of her speech quickened only making her answers seem unsure and less effective. Brooks boasted of creating community gardens in the district and, in fact, has been working on bringing national chain grocery store to the area, she said, but the dissolution of redevelopment agencies by Gov. Jerry Brown two years ago scuttled one plan for three stores.

Budget cuts have also limited funding for tree-planting programs in the city. Just 12 percent of Oakland is covered with trees, falling short of a state goal of 40 percent. Brooks said creative partnerships with outside groups are needed now. But, Johnson saw it as a problem related to the lack of development in the district and new revenues in Oakland. “We need to a conversation of how do we work with people who can bring development that can support the funds to do things like plant trees.”

Johnson was not alone in leveling attacks on the incumbent. Nosakhare, who is a council aide to District 4 Councilmember Libby Schaaf, also called for change and said she sees the problems in the city from her East Oakland residence. “My front door is a window to the issues that plague our city,” she said.

Regarding Brooks' infamous squabbles with fellow council members, Moore added, "At a minimum, two new council members will be elected this fall. We’ve got to be able to work with people in order to get things done. And if you have a contentious relationship with your colleagues, things are not going to get done.”

“What we allow is what will continue,” Johnson continued. He recalls having restaurants and places to play in East Oakland. “What in the world has happened to District 6?” said Johnson. “I have lived in this community for 50 years…no one needs to tell me how things use to be, I was there.”

In her closing statement, Brooks simply said, “District 6 is a district that deserves good representation and I have done more than that.”

County Supervisor Says Raiders May Seek Coliseum Lease Extension in the Fall

O.co Coliseum when the football and 
baseball seasons overlap.
COLISEUM AUTHORITY | In February, Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis said he had no desire to sign another one-year lease extension to play at the aging O.co Coliseum. The inference was this was Alameda County and Oakland’s last chance to find a suitable new home for the team. Things have changed. They need more time.

Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley said Wednesday that Raiders officials have expressed interest in beginning negotiations to extend the lease, possibly another year. The current lease expires at the end of this coming football season.

Speaking at the Coliseum Joint Powers Authority (JPA) meeting formally approving a new 10-year lease for the Oakland Athletics, Miley said he expects another one-year lease for the team, but, "We'll see. I don't know what they're going to ask for."

"Minimally, they have to come back here for a licensing extension and then we'll see what the city does with Coliseum City," Miley added.

Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan,
Lew Wolff and Mayor Jean Quan sign a bat for 
charity following the approval of the A's lease.
Miley added, he along with Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty and Oakland Councilmember Larry Reid will meet with Raiders officials later this month to discuss the team’s lease options.

With the A’s in the fold for at least the next three years and the Raiders potentially interested in sticking around while the City of Oakland and county work on stadium plans, Haggerty said he is not discounting the Golden State Warriors may still be in the mix. "I haven't given up on Golden State,” he said. “They're still having problems in San Francisco."

Before any thought of the Warriors rethinking their sojourn across the bay occurs, one major obstacle for the A’s and Raiders is all the entities involved in possibly constructing a pair of new stadium at the current Coliseum site, cannot legally talk, at least in the short term. An exclusive negotiating agreement between the City of Oakland and Coliseum City developer, BayIG, does not expire until October. The Coliseum JPA has no such legal entanglement and can enter talks with the A’s now, but not yet with the Raiders.

A’s co-owner Lew Wolff may also have designs in developing the Coliseum property, but at a press conference Wednesday morning, he denied the teams are at odds in their quests for new stadiums. “We’re all in the same boat here,” said Wolff.

A's Moving Forward with Designs for Potential Oakland Ballpark

Team photo: Alameda County and Oakland
official at a press conferences along
with Athletics co-owner Lew Wolff.
COLISEUM AUTHORITY | Oakland A’s co-owner Lew Wolff said team officials met last Monday with an architect regarding a potential ballpark at the current Coliseum site.

His comments came following a vote Wednesday morning by the Coliseum Joint Powers Authority (JPA) to finalize a new lease agreement to keep the A’s in Oakland for, at least, the next three years.

Wolff struck a conciliatory tone during a press conference Wednesday and said the team is serious about finding a suitable site for a new ballpark in Oakland. Wolff also voiced a willingness to work with the Oakland Raiders for a stadium of their own on the same property.

“We’re on a winning streak with both the JPA and in Major League Baseball and want to continue both,” said Wolff. Wolff, however, also suggested other sites for a new baseball park are still play. As part of our arrangement here, we said, we’re going to make a serious effort to look at the feasibility of doing that as well as any other site.”....

READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE AT EAST BAY EXPRESS

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Campaign Contributions from Oakland Hills Dominate Mayoral, Council Races

Oakland District 4 council candidate Jill
Broadhurst raised over $64,000 this year.
OAKLAND | CITY COUNCIL RACES | The real money in Oakland politics exists in District 4. While the current council member from the Oakland Hills district, Libby Schaaf, is running for mayor leads the pack in fundraising, the main candidates to replace her are also the top two fundraisers in all three council races during the first half of this year.

Jill Broadhurst, who ran for the seat in 2010, raised $64,301 during the first six months of this year, according to finance reports filed last week. Oakland school board member Anne Campbell Washington, who was appointed to the seat in 2013, was not far behind with $62,987. Paul Lim, the third candidate in the race, did not file a finance report.

The money race in District 4 only heightens the level of competition in a race that may not feature the level of comity ranked choice voting is often touted to deliver. During a candidate’s forum July 31, Broadhurst and Washington exhibited a bit of coolness to each other. At one point, one of them gave a hint of an eye roll while the other was speaking.

In District 2, although the amount of campaign contributions is not individually at the level of District 4, yet four of the five candidates showed strong numbers. The seat is held by Council President Pat Kernighan, who announced last winter she would not seek re-election.

Peralta Community College board member Abel Guillen led the field with $51,630 raised this year. Guillen’s fundraising prowess is not surprising due to his strong ties to labor. He is also well-known after a strong campaign in 2012 for the State Assembly. Former KPIX news anchor Dana King also showed good numbers, especially for a newcomer to politics. She reported $43,266 in contributions, according to finance records. Andrew Park raised $36,997 during the first half of 2014 to edge out Kevin Blackburn, who reported $36,257 in contributions. Sokham Mao, a member of the Citizens Police Review Board raised $3,469.

The race in District 6 features Oakland’s only council campaign this year that includes an incumbent. Councilmember Desley Brooks raised just $9,959 during the six months of this year, according to finance reports, but leads in cash in hand. Brooks reported a campaign war chest of $29,616, through June 30.

However, in another case, of District 4 money potentially making a difference in this year’s election, Schaaf’s council aide, Shereda Nosakhare, raised more money this year than her three opponents combined. Nosakhare reported $20,226 in contributions this year. Michael Johnson raised $8,782 this year, but like Brooks,he  reported a larger pool of cash with $15,442 cash in hand.

The figure could put pressure on the incumbent Brooks, who most believe will win re-election, to raise more money. Johnson’s strong performance at a candidates forum last week also raised some eyebrows. Not only was Johnson’s arguments well-honed, but it appeared the normally confident Brooks was caught on her heels by the onslaught. A fourth candidate, James Moore, did not file a finance report

Friday, August 1, 2014

San Leandro Resident Harangues Rob Bonta at Town Hall

ASSEMBLY | 18TH DISTRICT | San Leandro resident Richard Mellor is one of the most eloquent progressive voices in the East Bay. His working class accent, however, can often beat you over the head, rather than persuade you.

Nonetheless, he documented a town hall meeting two weeks ago for Assemblymember Rob Bonta and criticized the sparsely-attended event for being designed to repel residents instead of encouraging them to participate in public discourse.

"Any politician representing the interests of workers and the middle class would have to be concerned that only 17 or so people would show up at a 'Town Hall' meeting. But these folks are happy with that," Mellor wrote. "In fact, these meetings, like regular council meetings are designed to keep people away. The audience was mostly, though not exclusively older and white; no youth, hardly any people of color."

During the town hall Mellor had enough. "You've rambled on here with this glowing report of yours when the country is in crisis," he told Bonta. "You talk about giving people in prison a driving license, so they can drive to the unemployment office?" (Watch the video below starting at 1:30 mark)

When Bonta attempted to plow through the exchange, Mellor repeated, "What about Gaza?" Eventually, the San Leandro police officers pulled Mellor out of the chambers, but not before asking if he was drunk.

Later, Mellor offered his thoughts about the town hall on his blog, Fact for Working People. For San Leandro politicos, his comments about Councilmember Jim Prola, of whom he has a previous relationship as co-workers at East Bay MUD, are hilarious. And just to show how purely progressive Mellor is, keep in mind, Prola is likely one of the most progressive council member's in the East Bay.

Husband and Wife May Run for Office in San Leandro

SAN LEANDRO  | They are well known to those who follow San Leandro politics and sometimes loathed by some of their outspoken activism. As San Leandro school board member Mike Katz-Lacabe seeks the open District 1 seat on the City Council, his outspoken partner, Margarita Lacabe took out nomination papers in July to run for her husband's school board seat.

Both face difficult roads to victory if they qualify for the November ballot. Many in San Leandro have long assumed Katz-Lacabe would seek Councilmember Michael Gregory's termed out seat this year. However, the race could be tougher than expected. Deborah Cox, the co-founder of the San Leandro Education Foundation and Ken Pon, who also has ties to education in the city, represent tough competition. David Anderson, who ran against Gregory in 2010, is also a potential candidate.

Despite serving on the school board for the past eight years, the pony-tailled Katz-Lacabe may be more well-known for his activism in the areas of limiting government infringement of privacy. He has been an staunch opponent of the city's use of red light cameras and automated license plate readers. In fact, the latter brought him attention of the Wall Street Journal. His criticism of the San Leandro Police Department has also made him and his wife few friends in law enforcement.

Lacabe's reputation is less sterling and often unwittingly sullies her husband's own public perception. She has ruffled feathers at the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee, where she is an elected member, for her in-your-face opinions. While her husband was serving on the school board, she even created a controversy related to the use of the Christmas song, Silent Night, during a school-sanctioned holiday performance. And, after helping San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy win his election four years ago, she publicly asked him during a City Council meeting, "Why do you lie, Stephen?"

But, it's not clear whether she will actually run or not. "At this point, it’s not my intention to file to run. But I want to make sure that there is at least one candidate in that race I can get behind," she wrote on her blog. "So far, I’m not impressed by the other candidates that have puled papers – if for no other reason that they have not reached out to Mike Katz-Lacabe, the incumbent."

Four other potential candidates took out papers before Lacabe--Latrina Dumas, Chike Udemezue, Mark Schneider and Leo Sheridan, who has already completed the filing process.

Lacabe took out nomination papers on July 18, according to the Alameda County registrar of voters. The deadline the finalize paperwork for the November General Election is Aug. 8.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Swalwell Named Sixth Most Beautiful in Unattractive D.C.

Rep. Eric Swalwell: this is the sixth most
beautiful person in Washington?
CONGRESS | 15TH DISTRICT | Rep. Eric Swalwell was named to the The Hill's annual 50 Most Beautiful People in D.C. I know. You probably right. They didn't interview him in person. While the congressional news outlet's annual feature is a fun change of pace for the summer, it is also easily mocked.

On a list that also includes Sen. Rand Paul and his ridiculous curly rug, Swalwell was chosen sixth most beautiful. Swalwell isn't unattractive, but has the nation's capitol really dropped to the depths of where a palsy-faced, baby-toothed congressman is the sixth hottest person in the Beltway?

The Washington Post had its own list of eight weird quotes gleaned from The Hill's picks, including one from Swalwell, who appeared to be portraying himself as a reformed nerd. “I finally learned it’s not cool to iron your jeans. My dad would iron my jeans, so all the way up to college, I would iron my jeans,” said Swalwell.

Swalwell wearing white pants in July
2012--pre-Labor Day.
Nonetheless, aside from Tri Valley conservatives, Swalwell is actually very popular among gay men. In fact, here's a trick. Flash his photo to your gay friend and ask for their opinion. You'll likely get a uhhhh huh. In addition, according to his Twitter feed, Swalwell has a rather large shoe collection which he is inclined to show off every time time he enters an airplane.

Not to suggest Swalwell is gay, but this infamous exchange with the San Francisco Chronicle from 2012 titled, "Eligible but busy" sure seems strange within that context. "Swalwell is not married and said he does not even have a girlfriend, much less children," wrote Carolyn Lochhead. "Asked if that means he is an eligible bachelor, Swalwell said, 'Yeah, I guess. Focusing on getting a family going will be a priority in the coming years.' He appended that reply to say, 'Eligible but busy. I don’t know where that ranks you on eHarmony or Match.com.'”

Barbara Lee on U.S. Reaction to Plight of Immigrant Minors: 'I Felt Ashamed'

East Bay Rep. Barbara Lee
CONGRESS | 13TH DISTRICT | Speaking before the Congressional Progress Caucus in Washington Tuesday, Rep. Barbara Lee reacted to harrowing testimony from young undocumented immigrants who have recently fled conflict in their homelands, saying, "I felt ashamed and I ask my colleagues: are you talking about America?"

The U.S.-Mexico border has been inundated this year with nearly 50,000 unaccompanied young people fleeing mostly Central American countries for the United States.

"Is this America, where you have fled and were treated as you were," Lee said, according the CBS News Washington, D.C. affiliate. "So I want to say to you, this country is a country that stands for liberty and justice for all.”

President Obama recently proposed allocating over $3 billion to alleviate the flood of immigrants at the border. That plan, however, is being stymied by House Republicans. Lee, who is up for re-election this fall, urged for a solution to help the young immigrants reunite with their families in the states.

“So your powerful words and presence and testimony today really have reminded us of what we stand for and who we are as a country," said Lee. "I look forward to working with all of my colleagues to find a way forward so that you and all of the children will feel safe and secure and reunited with your families. And just know that we as Americans appreciate your voices and communicating with us the tragic realities of what is taking place in your countries.”