Upcoming Public Meetings

>>SATURDAY: Swalwell townhall, Eko Cafe, Hayward, 1075 B St, 10am
>>MONDAY: San Leandro City Council meeting, 7pm
>>TUESDAY: Oakland City Council committee meetings, start at 9:30am; Hayward City Council work session, 7pm

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Alameda City Council to take up resolution calling for Trump's impeachment

Rosemary Jordan, a member of
Alameda4Impeachment, addressing the
Alameda City Council last Tuesday.
When a few members of the public this week pressed the Alameda City Council to pass a resolution calling for the impeachment of President Trump, its likelihood seemed pie-in-the-sky.

But, according to a Alameda City Council agenda posted Thursday evening, Councilmembers Malia Vella and Jim Oddie will offer a referral at the Mar. 7 meeting asking their colleagues to approve a resolution urging Congress to impeach the president.

Alameda County updates mobile home rent ordinance; increases will still outpace nearby cities

A single-wide mobile home located on
Castro Valley Boulevard.
During a prolonged housing affordability crisis in the East Bay, mobile home parks have been a low-cost option for many residents, especially seniors. But in relative terms, the monthly rental rates for mobile home owners in unincorporated Alameda County is still outpacing stricter controls in nearby cities.

It's a trend that may continue after the Alameda County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to update its rent stabilization ordinance to include a drop in maximum annual percentage increases, but also grants full vacancy decontrol to park owners. The latter gives park owners the ability to offer rental plot at a market rate.

Alameda halts new investments with Wells Fargo

Alameda uses Wells Fargo for its operating
accounts and owns three securities.
Wells Fargo has been under fire from state legislatures, including California, and numerous cities, namely Seattle, for it role in a systemic bank account scandal affecting millions of its own customers. The Alameda City Council is poised to join the chorus against the banking giants after it unanimously voted early Wednesday morning to immediately stop any new investments with Wells Fargo while the city staff and city treasurer study a complete divestment.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Khanna offers strategy for Democratic Party’s success, but hundreds shut out of town hall

Rep. Ro Khanna apologizing to constituents
who were unable to hear him speak Wednesday
night at Ohlone College in Fremont.
While congressmembers, particularly Republicans, are being harangued by constituents at town halls across the country, Rep. Ro Khanna’s first in Fremont, conversely, sounded more like an opportunity for the freshman lawmaker to vent about the current state of the Democratic Party.

Khanna’s thoughts on defending net neutrality, curtailing the influence of money in politics, Russian influence in the last election, Trump’s executive orders, and Supreme County nominee Neil Gorsuch, were all met with enthusiasm by the overflow crowd at Ohlone College Wednesday night.

Barbara Lee wants Steve Bannon off National Security Council

Rep. Barbara Lee voiced displeasure with Steve 
Bannon's appointment at a town hall Saturday.
East Bay Rep. Barbara introduced a House bill Tuesday that seeks to remove Steve Bannon, President Trump’s chief political strategist, from his position on the National Security Council.

“Steve Bannon’s bigoted ideology threatens the security of our nation and our international standing. As a permanent member of the National Security Council, Steve Bannon not only politicizes our national security--he endangers it," said Lee.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Despite threat of losing federal funding, San Leandro declares sanctuary city status

San Leandro recieves more than $9 million
in federal funding, but Trump's threat to defund
sanctuary cities did not make the council pause.
San Leandro became the fifth sanctuary city in Alameda County and the third local municipality to embrace a bulwark against President Trump’s immigration policies in the past month. The San Leandro City Council unanimously declared itself a sanctuary city Tuesday night after more than three hours of public testimony from immigrants, high school students, and progressive activist, some offering emotional stories filled with disillusionment and fear.

A push in Alameda for Trump's impeachment

The view of Alameda as a quiet, apolitical bedroom hamlet in the East Bay has changed rapidly in just the last year. A homegrown group of housing advocates stormed City Hall more than a year with tactics usually employed in progressive cities like nearby Oakland and Berkeley.

A community-based push for sanctuary city status last month and a nationally reported turnout of nearly 400 residents on short notice to protest President Trump's Muslim travel ban, may represent a paradigm shift in how the East Bay views politics in Alameda.

Bonta wants to create blue-ribbon panel to study tuition-free college

Assemblymember Rob Bonta's bill would call
for a nine-member commission to propose a
plan for tuition-free college by 2019.
More than never, California colleges and universities are facing increasing demand from potential students and an education system that is buckling under the financial demand. East Bay Assemblymember Rob Bonta believes the solution is tuition-free college for all, regardless of income.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Barbara Lee tells town hall that Dems are 'building the case' for Trump's impeachment

Rep. Barbara Lee's town hall last Saturday
was attended by an estimated 1,500 people.
When a question about impeaching President Donald Trump was posed during a town hall last weekend hosted by Rep. Barbara Lee in Oakland, the packed auditorium of an estimated 1,500 constituents rose to their feet in wild applause.

The entire panel on hand to discuss the future of the Affordable Care Care also offered a standing ovation to the suggestion, including Lee, and Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan. “I knew given all the phone calls I’ve been getting this would be a question I would be getting," Lee quipped.

Friday, February 17, 2017

San Leandro Times published letter calling Civil Rights hero Fred Korematsu a criminal

Fred Korematsu resisted orders to be interned during
World War II and was arrested in San Leandro.
San Leandro’s ubiquitous weekly newspaper, the San Leandro Times, published a letter to editor this week that calls Civil Rights icon Fred Korematsu a criminal for resisting internment during World War II. In addition, the author says, the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II was justified.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

San Leandro set to join list of sanctuary cities in the East Bay

The San Leandro City Council is set to join
Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda, and Emeryville
as sanctuary cities in the East Bay.
Next week, San Leandro is set to join a growing list of sanctuary cities in the East Bay. The San Leandro City Council, acquiescing to growing demand in the highly diverse community to declare opposition to President Trump's immigration policies, is scheduled to discuss the issue next Tuesday.

Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco all reaffirmed existing sanctuary city policies earlier this year in an effort to push back at Trump's heated rhetoric against immigrants. Subsequently, city councils in Alameda, Emeryville, and Richmond have approved various versions of sanctuary status.

Immigrants in Alameda County are disenrolling from services, kids not attending school

Alameda County Supervisor Richard Valle
represents numerous immigrant populations
in District 2. PHOTO/Matt Santos
A sense of panic within immigrant communities in Alameda County is pushing residents to discontinue accessing county social services due to fears their personal information will lead to deportations. High absenteeism among immigrant students is also resulting from uncertainty over President Trump’s immigration policies and proposals, according to an ad hoc committee on immigrant and refugee rights led Thursday by Alameda County Supervisors Wilma Chan and Richard Valle.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Warriors aversion to paying Oracle Arena debt is unchanged

Alameda County supervisors posing with the
Warriors NBA championship trophy in 2015.
Last month, the Golden State Warriors broke ground on a new waterfront arena in San Francisco. But before they make the move across the bay, Alameda County officials expect the Warriors to remedy roughly $50 million in debt owed on Oracle Arena.

With the Warriors now almost certain to pull up its roots in Oakland, questions surrounding the remaining debt on the 1996 remodel of the arena have been rekindled.

Swalwell questions whether Trump is loyal to U.S. or Russia

Rep. Eric Swalwell, right, asked whether 
President Trump is "with us or with Russia?"
During the early stages of the Trump presidency, House Democrats led by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi have used East Bay Rep. Eric Swalwell as a flamethrower against the new president.

The gambit, if intended to bait President Trump into a war of words (i.e Twitter war) hasn't yet occurred. But on Tuesday Swalwell unleashed his most unkindest cut of all when he questioned Trump's patriotism: Is Trump working on behalf of Russia or the American people?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Hayward school district's spring special election will cost $600k

Hayward school trustees Annette Walker and
Lisa Brunner during a press conference last year.
Both voted to put a $88 parcel tax measure 
on the special election ballot this May.
A Hayward school parcel tax that has generated more than $11 million since its passage four years ago is due to sunset at the end of June. But the cost of renewing the parcel tax will be costly in itself.

Last month, the Hayward school board narrowly voted to approve a special election set for May 2 that will cost taxpayers $600,000 to administer. The election will by vote-by-mail only with ballots arriving in mailbox sometime around the beginning of April.

Alameda school trustee Solana Henneberry passes away at age 44

Alameda School Board Trustee Solana
Henneberry was first elected in 2014.
Alameda School Board Trustee Solana Henneberry passed away Tuesday from breast cancer. She was 44.

Henneberry won her first-term on the Alameda Unified School District Board of Trustees in 2014 and served as president of the board in 2016. She also taught special education in the West Contra Costa Unified School District.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Eden Health District CEO says Bonta wants dissolution solely for their assets, not reasons stated

Eden Health District CEO
Dev Mahadevan
Alameda County elected officials and two East Bay assemblymembers have asserted for the past year that the Eden Health District no longer provides health care grants for its central county residents and should be dissolved.

Eden Health District CEO Dev Mahadevan, though, claims elected officials merely want the jurisdiction's holdings, including millions in land assets and revenue derived from medical offices it operates.

Alameda rent review member resigned after city disclosed his ties to landlord political group

Former Alameda RRAC member Robert 
Schrader during a hearing on Jan. 11.
Months after Robert Schrader was appointed to the Alameda Rent Review Committee in March of last year, he was asked to provide an analysis of the city’s rent stabilization ordinance for a local landlords’ group named Alamedans for Fair Rent Control, he said. The group formed part of the backbone of opposition toward a citizens-backed ballot measure last year to institute rent control on the island.

Schrader’s ties to Alamedans for Fair Rent Control gained the attention of the Alameda city attorney’s office last month because his participation with the group constitutes a conflict of interest for a sitting board member tasked with impartially mediating conflicts between Alameda tenants and property owners, said the city attorney's office. At the same time, the city also admonished Schrader for potentially violating a tenant's privacy rights during a meeting last month. On Jan. 31, Schrader resigned from the Rent Review Advisory Committee (RRAC).

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Swalwell berates Democratic Central Committee member for questioning his liberalism

Rep. Eric Swalwell, right, posing with law
enforcement while wearing a DEA cap.
Don't call East Bay Rep. Eric Swalwell a Republican or you will pay for it.

After Swalwell tweeted a comment referring to his Republicans parents, Guillermo Elenes, an elected member of the Alameda County Democratic Party Central Committee, responded, "You are basically a Republican. Stop lying."

BART board members propose sanctuary transit agency

BART Board of Directors will discuss the option
of becoming a sanctuary transit agency at an
upcoming meeting. PHOTO/Wikicommons
BART trains already travel through three major Bay Area sanctuary cities--Oakland, San Francisco, and Berkeley. Now, the transit authority, itself, may move to become a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants using its trains.

Alameda County approves $750,000 in matching funds for immigrant legal services

Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan
As a child growing up in Boston, Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan saw through her mother, a translator in immigration court, just how frightening the process can be.

“I could see how much help and solace that gave people,” Chan said during a Alameda County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday that included approval for $750,000 in one-time funds to help county immigrants with legal services. The grant was matched by the San Francisco Foundation.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

As Alameda revisits its rent ordinance, advocates on both sides want changes

Tenants at the Bay View Apartments on 470 
Central Avenue in November 2015.
For  tenant advocates, the turmoil at Alameda’s Bay View Apartments symbolizes the plight of renters on the island. This week, families at the property known colloquially as 470 Central Avenue celebrated a victory over the San Jose-based landlord who had once previously attempted to evict tenants in defiance of a then moratorium on rent increases and evictions more than a year ago.

San Leandro gifts $800,000 loan for child care center

Access to affordable child care has been on San Leandro’s radar for years. On Monday, the San Leandro City Council backed it up with approval of an $800,000 loan for a 4,850 square foot child care center and adjacent playground at the Marea Alta affordable housing development, near the San Leandro BART station. However, barring any unforeseen problems over the life of the 20-year-old loan, the city will ultimately forgive its contribution to the project.

Hayward City Council approves 240-unit downtown housing development

A partial rendering of the 240-unit Maple & Main
housing development approved by the Hayward
City Council Tuesday night.
Maple & Main, a 240-unit housing development in North Hayward, which city leaders hope will help kickstart improvement in the downtown and provide much-needed foot traffic, was approved late Tuesday night by the Hayward City Council.

The development also includes 48 units dedicated for affordable housing and 5,500-square feet of retail. A remodeling of the existing medical offices on the same site is also part of the project.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Bonta’s bill to help public defenders better represent undocumented immigrants passes committee

Assemblymember Rob Bonta appearing Tuesday
before the Assembly Public Safety Committtee.
An assembly bill that would increase training and resources for public defenders in order to represent undocumented immigrants passed its first step legislative step Tuesday. The Assembly Public Safety Committee approved the bill authored by East Bay Assemblymember Rob Bonta, 4-0.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Democracy will 'crumble' if Supreme Court nominee is confirmed, says Khanna

Rep. Ro Khanna
President Donald Trump's nomination last week of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court will have debilitating consequence for the nation, Rep. Ro Khanna told India West.

"If the Senate confirms Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court, our fragile democracy under this administration will crumble even further,” said. Khanna.

After protest, Berkeley mayor walks back calling Milo Yiannopolous 'white nationalist," then kinda says it again

Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin, right, during
a candidate forum last October.
Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin has only been on the job over a month, but his first brush with national media attention may not have fared well. After a near riot ensued in Berkeley last Thursday in response to a scheduled speech at U.C. Berkeley by right wing provocateur Milo Yiannopolous, Arreguin's response was quizzical.

Friday, February 3, 2017

For Alameda County GOP, the new boss is same as the old boss

Sue Caro was reappointed last week as chair of the
Alameda County Republican Party.
A calming influence is returning to the moribund Alameda County Republican Party with the return of Sue Caro as chair of the local GOP. Caro, who ran a against Rep. Barbara Lee last November in the 13th District, served previously as party chair two years ago before working on the campaign of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Duf Sundheim last year.

Going back to her previous term as chair, Caro has been an  advocate for a far more moderate approach to fixing the local party, which over the years, has typically veered toward fringe elements, including the Tea Party and a takeover by Ron Paul supporters. Caro has also advocated strongly in the past for increasing the party’s dismal registration numbers in Alameda County, which is roughly seven percent.

A’s are looking at two different Port of Oakland properties

Oakland Athletics management identified Howard Terminal as one of five potential sites for a new ballpark in Oakland. Mayor Libby Schaaf and her predecessor Jean Quan have advocated for the same waterfront site, located just north of Jack London Square. And last week, the Athletics announced it would reveal sometime this year where they intend to build its baseball cathedral. But did the team give a hint of where that new site will be last week, in addition to interest in another Port of Oakland property not previously unidentified as a possible site?

Sunday, January 29, 2017

On short notice, hundreds of Alamedans show support for their Muslim neighbors

A rally at the Islamic Center of Alameda Sunday afternoon in opposition to President Trump's immigration ban attracted hundreds on short notice. PHOTO/Steven Tavares
A quickly organized rally Sunday afternoon in support of Muslims in Alameda grew to more than 300 people. The rally in front of the Islamic Center of Alameda was organized online over the weekend to express solidarity with Muslims. It gained energy following protests on Saturday at San Francisco International Airport and others airports across the country opposing President Trump’s executive order banning travelers from seven Middle Eastern countries.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

If Swalwell is indeed running for Feinstein's senate seat, poll shows him trailing the pack

It would not be the first time Rep. Eric Swalwell

has flown a trial balloon to gauge support 
for a 

run in the U.S. Senate.
When Barbara Boxer announced in 2015 that she would not run for re-election to the U.S. Senate, East Bay Rep. Eric Swalwell's name curiously popped up on the early list of candidates coveting her seat.

Most observers believed the move was merely an attempt to raise the now-third term congressman in the statewide consciousness. Swalwell quickly offered to support to Kamala Harris, who was elected last November.

Now, with speculation rising over future of the 83-year-old U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein--will she retire or run for re-election in 2018--a hypothetical poll Thursday again gave an indication Swalwell is raising another trial balloon.

Uncertainty is the word from Alameda County’s D.C lobbyists

Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan wants
to arm residents with information to fight likely
federal cuts to the safety net.
When describing the current lay of the land in Washington D.C. Alameda County’s congressional lobbyists Thursday used the same word more than a dozens times—uncertainty.

From questions about the future of the Affordable Care Act, the federal budget, and impacts to local sanctuary cities, the county’s eyes and ear in the Beltway are waiting for the Trump administration and House Republicans to begin showing their cards.

Thursday’s hearing was organized by Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan to provide information not only to constituents, but local elected officials, for dealing with the new power structure in Washington. Following Trump’s victory last November and the realization health care in the county could be severely impacted, Chan has been seen by many in the county as clearly reenergized to protect it.

WTF is going on in the South Bay?

San Jose Councilmember Lan Diep took the
oath of office Tuesday while holding a 
Captain America shield. PHOTO/@SanJoseD4
During some Oakland City Council meetings, several elected officials routinely wear hats and shirts representing the city's professional sports franchises. On one level it expresses their support and city pride. Conversely--and it's not pointed out enough--it also suggests they might favor the franchises with public finances it may not deserve. But on the surface, most people expect their elected officials to dress the part and take their jobs seriously.

There's that and then there's what San Jose Councilmember Lan Diep did Tuesday when he took the oath of office while holding a limited-edition Captain America shield. Diep told numerous media outlets that he's a fan of comic books and that he takes the job of representing San Jose's District 4 seriously. Diep added, there was patriotic symbolism involved in the decision.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Trump to punish sanctuary cities with loss of federal money; Oakland could lose $130m

President Trump's executive order also restarts the
"Secure Communities" law enforcement program
that was discontinued in 2014.
President Trump's executive order Wednesday seeking to punish sanctuary cities by halting federal grants could effect several East Bay cities, including Oakland which stands to lose $130 million in funding, a potentially devastating amount to its general budget.

Other East Bay cities, such as Berkeley and Alameda, which only declared itself a sanctuary city last week, could also see hits to its treasury. 

Trump's directives Wednesday also set in motion his well-publicized wall on the U.S. southern border and reinstitutes the controversial deportation program discontinued in 2014 called "Secure Communities."

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Survey: Hayward residents are concerned about housing, jobs

A city survey found 75 percent of residents
have a positive image of their city.
Hayward residents consistently voiced concern over the overall lack of affordable housing and job creation in the city, according to a city survey released last week. Those polled also continue to pull their collective hair out over traffic congestion in Hayward, likely a holdover from the unpopular downtown traffic grid known as "The Loop."

Many of the 630 Hayward resident who participated in the survey conducted just prior to Thanksgiving, blamed the city for failing to create more affordable housing with more than 46 percent giving a negative answer. The issue, however, is not unique to Hayward city government. Nearly every  city in the East Bay faces similar affordable housing deficits.

Kaplan to CalPERS: Divest from Dakota and Keystone XL pipelines

Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan
at Standing Rock in late November.
Last November, Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan braved blisteringly cold weather to protest the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline. The project along with the Keystone XL pipeline, another project strongly opposed by environmentalists, was subsequently blocked by President Obama, only to be set back in motion Tuesday by an executive order signed by President Trump.

Just hours later, Kaplan denounced the executive order and sent a letter to CalPERS, the state's public employees retirement fund, calling for it to divest from companies involved in the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Hayward to form 22-person task force to combat discrimination

Hayward Councilmember Francisco Zermeno
raised the subject of sanctuary cities during
Tusday night's council meeting.
On the same night Alameda and Emeryville, with some urgency, declared themselves sanctuary cities, the Hayward City Council set the stage for creating an up to 22-person task force to combat discrimination in the city. One of the possible outcomes, however, includes becoming a sanctuary city.

“Since the presidential election last fall, there’s been a lot of turmoil nationwide and concern that has been brought forward from our community, in particular, about how can we maintain Hayward as an inclusive and supportive community and that has taken the form in a lot of different requests to the city,” said Hayward City Manager Kelly McAdoo.

Using the President's favorite social media site, East Bay officials respond to Trump's inauguration

PRESIDENT | Donald Trump's effective use of Twitter throughout the campaign and the presidential transition dominated headlines. On the day of Trump's inauguration as the nation's 45th president, many East Bay elected officials used the same social media site to express themselves, sometimes with melancholy and, in other instances, with defiance.

Oakland Assemblymember Rob Bonta, on the other hand, needed a moment of zen before beginning the fight to oppose Trump's potential policies in the state assembly.


The Oakland Raiders filed relocation papers
Thursday with the NFL to move the franchise
to Las Vegas.
OAKLAND | On the day the Oakland Raiders filed relocation papers to move the franchise to Las Vegas--the team's second attempt in as many years to flee the city--Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf may have previewed the argument she intends to offer NFL owners for keeping the team in the East Bay.

Schaaf also suggested the team's potential fan base in the desert will be lacking. "Oakland has something no other city ever will--a die-hard fan base that is loyal and true to the Raiders and wants to see them stay here in Oakland where they were founded. Only Oakland brings the Raiders and the NFL a competitive stadium proposal, along with legacy and loyalty."

Thursday, January 19, 2017

San Leandro mayor is skipping Trump's inauguration: I've got tickets to the African American Museum

San Leandro Mayor Pauline Russo Cutter has
other plans during Friday's inauguration.
San Leandro Mayor Pauline Russo Cutter, like other local city leaders is in Washington, D.C. this week for the annual U.S. Conference of Mayors. But unlike some, Cutter is not planning to attend President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration this Friday.

"So why not attend the inauguration since my goal as mayor has always been to bring people together and look for common issues so we can work together on them?" Cutter wrote in an email Thursday.

Alameda County Dem chair wants every East Bay city to pass minimum wage, rent control, sanctuary city legislation

Alameda County Democratic Party chair Robin
Torello was re-elected to another two-year term.
Earlier this month, Alameda County Democrats reappointed long-time party chair Robin Torello. Although, her name may not be readily known outside county politics, her influence is unquestioned among local Democrats. Not to mention her leadership in making the county likely the most progressive area in the entire nation.

But there appears to be more work to be done in Alameda County, according to Torello, who told the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee that she wants every city in the county to embrace hot-button progressive principles, such as becoming sanctuary cities, raising citywide minimum wages and enacting rent control regulations.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

‘We have your back’: Alameda becomes a sanctuary city

A rally outside Alameda City Hall Tuesday in support of 
sanctuary city status attracted one protester displaying 
the photo of Kate Steinle, who was murdered by 
an undocumented immigrant last year in San Francisco.
Alameda is now a sanctuary city after the City Council approved a resolution Tuesday night that it believes gives some protections for residents who could potentially be adversely affected by President-elect Donald Trump’s policies.

“I stand for our immigrant population and the undocumented. I stand with our brothers and sisters of Muslim faith and all faiths,” said Alameda Councilmember Jim Oddie, who spearheaded the resolution. “You said, ‘You had our back,’ well, tonight as a council, I’m proud to say that ‘We have your back.’”

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Alameda set to approve sanctuary city status before Trump's inauguration

ALAMEDA CITY COUNCIL | Just days before President-elect Donald Trump takes the oath of office, the Alameda City Council will likely become the next Bay Area city to become a sanctuary city. A discussion on the matter continues Tuesday night and satisfies a desire by some councilmembers to approve the resolution before Trump takes office on Friday.

Few changes were made to the referral authored by Councilmember Jim Oddie on Dec. 20. The resolution's impetus is as a bulwark against any actions the Trump administration may take against undocumented immigrants and religious groups, among other racial demographics, Oddie said last month.

Many of the actions within the resolution are already either law or current Alameda policies. Under the resolution, Alameda police officers, in addition, to the city's treasury and resources will be prohibited from use in the investigation and apprehension of individuals solely accused of violating federal immigration law.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Hayward school district raises minimum wage to $15 an hour

Hayward school board trustee Luis Reynoso
says city and county leaders have done nothing
to increase the minimum wage. 
After the Hayward school board unanimously approved a resolution giving its unrepresented employees a boost in wages to $15 an hour on Wednesday, school board trustee Luis Reynoso said he wants to make it city and countywide.

"Our city and local officials have done nothing for years," Reynoso said before Wednesday night's vote. "If we don't take action now people will go homeless. That's what's going to happen. We need to help our parents."

The increase is effective immediately and covers only district employees not represented by unions, a small number of the entire workforce, but ensures every employee is at or above the $15 threshold. Currently, no union-represented employees earn below $15 an hour, said a staff report.

For Alameda County Democrats, not everybody loves Fremont's Bacon

Fremont Councilmember Vinnie Bacon
When Fremont Councilmember Vinnie Bacon appeared to be gloating last week about the city's most recent electoral results that flew under the banner of an insurgent call for slow-growth, Councilmember Raj Salwan couldn’t take it anymore and he may have been voicing the complaints of many Alameda County Democrats.

“This was a change election, not just in Fremont, but all over the Bay Area,” Salwan responded during the discussion last Tuesday to appoint a new member to the Fremont City Council. “I don’t see this how you see it.”

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Ron Cowan, Alameda mover and shaker, Harbor Bay developer, dies.

Harbor Bay Isle developer, Ron Cowan, 
passed away Jan. 11.
APPRECIATION | In 2014, I was commissioned to write a short history of Ron Cowan's life and the building of Alameda's Harbor Bay Isle. Cowan passed away on Jan. 11, at age 82. Over the span of nine months, I listened to hours of stories about his life, his connections to high-profile politicians and the fits and starts that resulted in Harbor Bay. I also got to ride around town in his Bentley. He was a complicated man whose early life shaped a constant thirst for achievement masked in a desire for unconditional love. Here is an excerpt from that 18,000-word piece. 

On a bright sunny day, Ron Cowan drove his car to the recently reclaimed land on Bay Farm Island in Alameda. The sand was neat and flat in every direction. It was a blank slate on the bay ready for transformation. “I don’t know what drove me to go there,” says Cowan, “but it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.” Others had envisioned a static grid of stock homes at Bay Farm Island. Cowan imagined homes there, too, but also a canvass to create a better community.

The allure of Bay Farm Island, for Cowan, was about building a community from scratch—down to naming the streets and choosing the style of brick work to be laid at each home. “This was not manufactured housing. We didn’t plot 900 acres the land with little concern for affecting the lifestyle. We came at it as different as night and day.”

Friday, January 13, 2017


Rep. Barbara Lee will boycott the Jan. 20
presidential inauguration. 
In Oakland, where fewer than five percent of voters cast a ballot for Donald Trump last November, apparently the famous East Bay political slogan, "Barbara Lee speaks for me" is very true.

On Thursday, Rep. Barbara Lee said she will boycott Trump's inauguration ceremonies next week. In a statement, Lee, one of the most progressive members of Congress, said Trump's past rhetoric against immigrants and people of color and his inability to rectify those comments after being elected last November, is the reason behind her decision.

“I will not be celebrating or honoring an incoming president who rode racism, sexism, xenophobia and bigotry to the White House,” said Lee. North Bay Rep. Jared Huffman will also not attend the Jan. 20 festivities in Washington, D.C.

“He called women ‘pigs,’ stoked Islamophobia and attacked a Gold Star family. He mocked a disabled reporter and appealed to people’s worst instincts. I cannot in good conscience attend an inauguration that would celebrate this divisive approach to governance,” Lee said. “On Inauguration Day, I will not be celebrating. I will be organizing and preparing for resistance.”

One thing is for sure, there will be no blowback for the decision among her East Bay constituents. In Oakland, which makes up the largest portion of the 13th District, just 4.7 percent of registered voters backed Trump. In all of Alameda County, just 15 percent voted for eventual president-elect.

The announcement follows a high-profile attempt last Monday by Lee and other progressive Democrats to protest the Electoral College certificication of the November results. In Lee's case, her microphone was shut off while speaking on the House floor.

Khanna on Congress: 'Pharmaceutical industry is a cancer on this body'

CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | Rep. Ro Khanna, during a House floor speech Friday, issued a short stemwinder against the powerful pharmaceutical lobby.

Khanna asked why an amendment that would lower prescription drug costs by allowing imports from Canada was not including in the proposal that will replace the Affordable Care Act.

"It was appalling that 13 senate Democrats voted against the Sanders amendment," said Khanna. "And they did so because the pharmaceutical industry is a cancer on this body. The pharmaceutical companies contributions are a cancer."

Khanna's comments might be ring a happy tone for some South Bay progressives who are still on the fence on whether the freshman congressmember will be a progressive in the mold of his predecessor Mike Honda.

However, his opposition to corporate campaign contributions, is not new. Khanna ran on a platform prohibiting his campaign from taking contributions from political action committees and lobbyists.


LEGISLATURE | BUDGET | Following Gov. Jerry Brown's fiscal budget proposal this week seeking to balance the first state budget deficit since 2012 with $1.6 billion in cuts, local East Bay state legislators and the Alameda County Board of Supervisors weighed-in:

"The Governor’s budget takes a cautious view of the state’s revenue picture. While that is a wise approach, we must carefully prioritize how we spend our limited funds," Bonta said this week. “This is the beginning of the process to craft a spending plan that reflects our California priorities and values. I look forward to a healthy discussion that leads to an outcome that is fiscally responsible and worthy of our great state.”

While praising Brown's proposed bump in spending for education, he was dissatisfied with the lack of increased spending for undocumented immigrants and cuts to affordable housing, the medical workforce and child care.

“I’m concerned about the Governor’s proposal to eliminate new funding for child care. The Governor’s budget would prevent almost 3,000 children from attending state child care programs," said Bonta. "This would have a serious negative impact on working families. As a state, California cannot continue to be prosperous and progressive without investing in our precious future. We owe it to our children to get them off to a strong, early start in life and that includes funding for child care. I will fight alongside my colleagues to see that we don’t shortchange our children.”

"The good news is the Governor’s proposal continues to support crucial safety net programs such as the earned income tax credit for low wage working families, the Legislature’s approved increase in the State’s minimum wage and extension of health care to millions of Californians, as well as robust climate and environmental protections. True to form, the Governor also proposes increases that shore up the State’s reserves and Rainy Day Fund.

Less good news is that this budget slows down the funding increases to K-12 schools and early care and education programs. As Chair of the Senate’s Budget sub-committee on Corrections, Public Safety, and the Judiciary, I am particularly concerned about the projected growth in expenditures related to incarceration.

Hovering above all are the unanswered questions on how threats from Washington on healthcare, immigration, tax policy and the like, may impact California. The Governor chose not to alter his budget based on speculation but made it clear he is on alert and prepared to respond to protect Californians."

“Californians deserve a disciplined and responsible state budget and good stewardship of every single taxpayer dollar. The state’s budget should focus on smarter water and transportation infrastructure spending, opportunity and success in education, housing costs, and our long-term debts, not on spending more money on new programs. These are the real issues facing communities across the state, and they should be a priority in any budget discussions.

I commend Governor Brown for recognizing our uncertain economic future and our need to be prudent in our budgeting. Unfortunately, this budget still needs to place greater priority on reforming our spending, including on our water and transportation systems, and on addressing our pension costs. These needs are growing by the day, and, long-term, they threaten to sap resources from other vital programs, like education and public safety. I look forward to working with the Governor’s office and colleagues on both sides of the aisle to keep the focus on these critical issues for California.”

"As the chair of Budget Subcommittee 2, I will work to see we continue to grow our clean economy, combat climate change and protect our state’s environment. “We must be mindful that although California’s unemployment rate has dropped sharply over the past five years, not everyone has equally benefited from our economic growth, and it’s in our best interests to assist those families who are still struggling.”

Alameda County leaders are bracing for “devastating” potential impacts of Governor Jerry Brown’s latest State Budget proposal, which calls for shifting more than $4.4 billion over six years in costs for In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) to counties with no additional revenue to cover those expenses.

Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson said the shift would unfairly burden counties with costs they could neither control nor afford. “This would be devastating to counties all over the state,” said Carson. “We undoubtedly would have to make cuts in other vital social services to cover these costs.”

The potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act in Congress will likely severely impact the state and county budget, said supervisors and administration. “We are clearly entering into a period of high uncertainty and expect significant challenges ahead related to County programs and services and available financing,” said Alameda County Administrator Susan Muranishi.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


ASSEMBLY DISTRICT ELECTIONS | Every odd year, California Democrats, almost entirely the insiders and party activists, choose 14 delegates per Assembly district to write and influence the party's platform. In most years, few vote and the exercise is often an avenue for local assemblymembers to flex their power and elect a slate of delegates of their choosing.

But this didn't happen in Oakland's 18th District last weekend when 13 of Assemblymember Rob Bonta's slate of 14 candidates failed to win a delegate seat. The defeat was largely leveled by an energized and well-organized group of progressives inspired by Sen. Bernie Sanders's presidential run.

Bonta's defeat is surprising because of his strong popularity in the district that includes Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro. Jim Oddie, Bonta's assembly district director, said the results don't mean anything when it comes to the enthusiasm of party insiders toward the assemblymember.

"There's a lot of energy and excitement around the party," said Oddie. "If you look at his record, he's one of the most progressive leaders around."

But the trouncing handed to Bonta by Berners was unique among neighboring assembly district.

Several East Bay Assembly districts reported much higher voter turnout than previous years. More than 800 18th District voters cast a ballot during a downpour in San Leandro last Saturday.

In Richmond's 15th District, more than 1,500 Democrats cast a vote. Assemblymember Tony Thurmond's slate of delegates swept the race.

In addition, to East Bay Democrats being energized to oppose the incoming Trump administration, new rules enacted this year allowed for greater participation. As opposed to years past, voters were able to register the same day as Democrats and vote in the delegate election.

AD 15 MALES: Brett Badelle, Vincent Casalaina, Alex Knox, Gregory Lyman, Jael Myrick, Abel Pineda, Sanjay Ranchod. FEMALES: Judith Appel, Wendy Bloom (executive board rep.), Kathy Chao Rothberg, Jess Dervin-Ackerman, Beatriz Leyva-Cutler, Rochelle Pardue, Okimoto, Rita Xavier.

AD16 MALES: Dean Wallace, Connor O'Neill, Sawn Kumagai, Jerome Pandell, Greg Bonato, Bob Donovan, Thomas Tellner. FEMALES: Amy Chen, Renee Zeimer, Sabina Zafar, Amy Miller, Ann Katzburg, Brodie Hilp, Debbie Look (executive board rep).

AD18 MALES: Sean Dugar (executive board rep), Michael Lee, Jeromey Shafer, Dan Wood, Carter Lavin, Michael Fortes, Mike Katz-Lacabe. FEMALES: Pamela Harris, Rabia Keeble, Eleanor Casson, Amber Childress, Mara Schechter, Gabrielle Dolphin, Malia Vella.

AD20 MALES: Rocky Fernandez (executive board rep), Frederic Morrison, Gary Singh, Cullen Tiernan, Jerry Ahuja, Seth Rediker, Tim Horn. FEMALES: Jennifer Kassan, Miki Nakamura, Michele Jenkins, Raisa Donato, Moira Dean, Dolly Adams, Diana Silva.

AD25 MALES: Dharminder Dewan, Tejinder Dhami, Rejesh Gupta, Hosam Haggag, Romesh Japra, Rob Means, Mahesh Pakala (executive board rep). FEMALES: Alka Bhatnagar, Veena Birla, Karina Dominguez, Madhu Gupta, Carmen Montano, Reena Rao, Sameena Usman. 

Khanna would risk arrest to protect undocumented immigrants

Rep. Ro Khanna
Freshman Rep. Ro Khanna, appearing on a podcast, said he would risk being arrested in order to protect undocumented immigrants in his congressional district from being detained by federal agents.

Khanna told former Bay Area television reporter Randy Shandobil that civil disobedience is in his blood. Khanna's grandfather spent four years in an Indian jail opposing Britain's colonial rule.


"I have a family history and if it came to a point where I thought there was a deep moral injustice where they were rounding up folks who are living their lives and have been in this country, and they're splitting families," said Khanna."then I think I would, but that's nothing particularly special.

I think a lot of people in the Bay Area, from city council members to assemblymembers to members of Congress and grassroots activists, would. I think that's who we are."

Khanna said he specifically directed his local congressional office to prioritize aiding undocumented immigrants who seek help. "We have to stand up for basic humanity," he said.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Following deadlocked votes, Bonaccorsi wins appointment to Fremont City Council

Appointed Fremont Councilmember -elect 
David Bonaccorsi will be sworn-in on Feb. 7. 
Before taking a vote on choosing its next member, Fremont Councilmember Vinnie Bacon mildly joked about flipping a coin in case of a tie among any one of the eight applicants seeking an appointment to the City Council. It almost happened.

After a first-round tie among two applicants and four failed motions, the City Council finally found consensus and appointed recently termed out Fremont planning commissioner David Bonaccorsi,

Bonaccorsi will fill the remaining two years of Mayor Lily Mei. council term following her election to mayor last November.

During Bonaccorsi's interview earlier in the evening he exhibited a wide breadth of knowledge in city government, while preaching a desire for achieving consensus. Bonaccorsi spent 10 years on the Fremont planning commissioner.

"I'm a big cheerleader for all things Fremont," he told the council Tuesday evening. Bonaccorsi, who unsuccessfully sought an appointment to the City Council in 2013, also advocated strongly for building upon the city's performing arts scene.

The likelihood of Bonaccorsi winning the seat appeared remote after the initial vote featuring weighted votes for the top three candidates of each council member. The tally delivered only a pair of third-place votes for Bonaccorsi by way of Mei and Bacon.

Fremont activist Kathryn McDonald and Craig Steckler, a former Fremont police chief, both received a pair of first place votes, but also split the four remaining councilmembers.

Bacon, Councilmembers Raj Salwan and Rick Jones made impassioned pleas for each candidate, but ultimately failed to sway their colleagues. Subsequent motions to chose McDonald, Steckler and finalists Brannin Dorsey and Rakesh Sharma all registered 2-2 ties. Sharma finished fourth in the most recent council race won by Bacon and Salwan.

As the possibility of a deadlocked council neared, Bacon then motioned for Bonaccorsi and gained the vote of Jones to break the tie, 3-1. Salwan voted no.

Mayor LILY MEI: 1) Kathryn McDonald 2) Rakesh Sharma 3) David Bonaccorsi.
Councilmember VINNIE BACON: 1)McDonald 2) Sharma 3) Bonaccorsi.
Councilmember RICK JONES: 1) Craig Steckler 2) Brannin Dorsey 3) Reshma Karipineni.
Councilmember RAJ SALWAN 1) Steckler 2) Dorsey 3) Karipineni.

RESULTS: 1) McDonald/Stecker 6 points 2) Sharma/Dorsey 4 points 3) Bonaccorsi/Karipineni 2 points.

Oakland committee meeting abruptly ends after gunfire heard outside

OAKLAND CITY COUNCIL | Blasts of gunfire rang just outside a session of an Oakland City Council committee hearing Tuesday afternoon.

The shooting, which earlier reports say included casualties, occurred during the City Council’s Community and Economic Development Committee meeting held in a small meeting room on the ground floor of Oakland City Hall.
 Eyewitness reports say the shooting occurred on Broadway and 14th Avenue, just across the street from Frank Ogawa Plaza.
Multiple gunshots were heard in the meeting room which led to the abrupt recess of the hearing.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Ignacio De La Fuente to be appointed to Oakland Coliseum JPA

Ignacio De La Fuente PHOTO/Shane Bond
COLISEUM JPA | In football terms, it's kind of like re-signing a former star quarterback, albeit, a bit past his prime, but the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Joint Powers Authority is about to add former Oakland Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente to its ranks.

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors is set to approve De La Fuente's appointment to the eight-person board, which oversees the publicly-owned Oakland Coliseum and Oracle Arena.

De La Fuente replaces Mary Warren, who passed away last October at age 94. De La Fuente was nominated by Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, himself, a member of the Coliseum JPA. However, De La Fuente will be serving a new term that ends in January 2019.

One of Oakland's most savvy movers and shakers, De La Fuente's resume is unquestioned in East Bay politics. He served 20 years on the Oakland City Council and ran unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2006 and most recently in 2012 for the at-large council seat held by Rebecca Kaplan.

In the years since, rumors of De La Fuente's return to politics have be raised without panning out. De La Fuente also previously served on the Coliseum JPA.

With the issue of the Raiders staying in Oakland a high priority, De La Fuente's appointment to the JPA would make it two JPA commissioners, along with Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley, who were involved in the now universally-reviled 1995 deal that brought the Raiders to Oakland from Los Angeles.

More than $100 million in stadium reconstruction debt still remains on the books at the city and county level. How the debt is remedied in conjunction with funding a new stadium for the Raiders in Oakland is viewed as a major stumbling block.