EAST BAY CITIZEN. EVERYWHERE SINCE 2009
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RO KHANNA'S FIRST POST-PRIMARY INTERVIEW!

It's the most candid East Bay Citizen Podcast yet. Khanna pulled out a major upset in the primary versus Rep. Mike Honda, but he didn't expect it, at least, not until the fall.

COAL BANNED IN OAKLAND, BUT LAWSUIT IS THREATENED

The Oakland City Council votes, 7-0, to ban coal shipments through it port; destined for Asia.

WHO'S RUNNING FOR OFFICE IN 2016?

UPDATED FOR NOVEMBER! The exclusive East Bay Citizen Candidates List is back by popular demand. See who is defiintely running in 2016 and who is thinking about it from Congress all the way to your local East Bay city.

EAST BAY CITIZEN PODCAST WITH NANCY SKINNER!

Former Assemblymember Nancy Skinner is a candidate this June for the open Ninth State Senate District seat. She makes her case for the expansive East Bay seat.

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Monday, July 25, 2016

Hayward's next city manager will get 7% wage increase following promotion

New Hayward City Manager Kelly McAdoo's
contract will not be finalized until September.
HAYWARD CITY COUNCIL |
Hayward Assistant City Manager Kelly McAdoo will get a seven percent wage increase following her promotion last week to replace retiring City Manager Fran David.

The Hayward City Council will formally approve McAdoo as its next day-to-day administrator on Tuesday, although, details of her new contract are not yet known.

The city will begin contract negotiations with McAdoo during the City Council's August recess, according to the staff report. The new contract is expected to be ready for approval by the council in time for its first meeting on Sept. 13.

McAdoo, who has served in her current capacity since 2010, earned almost $209,000 in base salary last year. The seven percent wage increase would bump that figure to around $224,000. The amount is nearly commensurate with David's earnings last year, which topped $235,000.

McAdoo is scheduled to begin her duties, effective Aug. 1.

Dueling polls in CA-17 show six-point speads for each candidate

Rep. Mike Honda, right, with a supporter earlier
this year in San Jose.
CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT |
The battle of the internal polls is on in the 17th Congressional District. Rep. Mike Honda’s campaign Monday says its own polling shows the incumbent leading Ro Khanna by six percentage points.

Nearly two weeks ago, Khanna’s campaign trumpeted its own six–point advantage.

Honda’s polling of 500 likely general election voters has a similar +/-4.4 percent margin of error, but instead, finds him leading Khanna, 41-35.

Twenty-three percent of respondents survey by Lake Research Partners were undecided, according to the poll conducted July 17-21.

More important, for Honda, the polling shows his favorability among voters stands at 52 percent, with 29 percent viewing him unfavorable. Khanna’s split was 40/19, but an additional 40 percent of those surveyed had no opinion or had never heard of him.

Khanna beat Honda by 1.7 percent during the June primary. They will face-off for a second straight election year rematch this November.

Honda’s campaign manager said the polling shows Khanna’s “negative attacks” are not working. They also reiterated an attack employed last week that linked Khanna to Peter Thiel, the PayPal co-founder and Donald Trump supporter who spoke at the Republican National Convention. Thiel has given $7,800 in the past to Khanna’s campaign.

“Ro Khanna’s support of tax breaks for big corporations and other failed Republican economic policies, his financial backing from Wall Street, and support from right-wing conservatives are out of step with the district’s values,” Michael Beckendorf, Honda’s campaign manager. “With Democratic voters turning out in November, Khanna will have some very uncomfortable questions to answer.”

However, on the heels of Khanna’s Primary Election upset, the wind is still clearly with his campaign. Hari Sevugan, spokesperson for Khanna’s campaign said Honda is merely attempting to create a positive narrative to entice donors.

"We understand that Mike Honda needs to give his special interest donors something to have them continue to fund his campaign, especially after PACs funded over 30% of his fundraising last quarter,” said Sevugan.

“But as we've seen in the past, Mike Honda's polls are worth as much as the paper his office's ethics guidelines are printed on. The history, math and dynamics of intra-party general elections have proven Mike Honda has no path to victory this fall. He can whistle past the graveyard if he wants, but his supporters should know he's whistling a funeral dirge."

Friday, July 22, 2016

Alameda mayor's opposition to utility tax measure could be costly

Alameda Mayor Trish Spencer's ballot argument against
utility tax measure asserts the same items it will fund
are endangered if it passes in November.
ALAMEDA CITY COUNCIL |
Alameda Mayor Trish Spencer is officially opposing a November utility tax measure that, if defeated, could blow a $5 million hole in the city's treasury.

Spencer was the lone vote against placing the Utility Modernization Act on the ballot earlier this month. Now, she has written the ballot argument in opposition of the measure, which would update the city's Utility User Tax (UUT) and affirm a roughly $3.5 million annual budget transfer from the island's energy provider, Alameda Municipal Power.

The ballot measure is needed, the city says, because Alameda's existing UUT has not been updated since 1970 and does not include modern technologies, namely cellphones. Under the current setup, some Alamedans pay the nominal monthly tax as part of the cellphone package, but depending on the carrier, not everyone is paying equally. In the city's ballot argument in favor, it says the measure "will not raise your tax rates."

In addition, a lawsuit against the city arguing the annual budget transfer from Alameda Municipal Power is collected as an illegal tax not formally approved by voters. The city disagrees, but the current ballot measure also aims to avoid such a legal challenge.

But, according to Spencer's five-point argument, she asserts the measure "expands what is covered by the UUT so that some will pay more taxes," in fact, up to $240 a month in cellphone charges, she wrote.

The ballot argument ties much of Spencer's noted antipathy toward public safety labor unions and in the city and pensions. Spencer believes the measure, estimated to collect up to $1.5 million for the general fund is a "blank check" for city employees, some who earn between $200,000 and $400,000 in pay and benefits.

Meanwhile, the argument in favor of the measure claims its passage will buttress future funding for emergency medical response, police and fire services, streets and parks, among other services.

Spencer, though, argues the measure contains "unintended consequences" that could "automatically increase salaries and pension benefits without the possibility of negotiations, instead of going to fund libraries, parks, road maintenance, etc."

The mayor's opposition to the measure, however, is only a recent development revealed only after tussling with city staff and council over an insistence earlier this month that she head an emergency Disaster Council.

A short video featured on the city's website that describes the utility tax and its benefits to the city contains comments from Spencer that appear supportive of the measure and its ability to maintain the way of life Alamedans enjoy. "It does not raise tax rates, but it does expand things that are taxed," she said in the video.


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Ellen Corbett is running for East Bay Regional Park District board

Ellen Corbett
EBRPD BOARD OF DIRECTORS |
Coming up on two years out of elected office, former state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett is running this fall for a seat on the East Bay Regional Park District Board of Directors.

Corbett filed papers on Tuesday for the park district board. She will be seeking to replace long-time board member Doug Siden, who is not expected to run for re-election this year. Siden has served since 1992.

The Ward 4 seat represents Alameda, a portion of Oakland, parts of Hayward, San Leandro, and San Lorenzo. If elected, she would oversee a portion of Anthony Chabot Regional Park, Crown Beach, Oyster Bay, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Regional Shoreline.

Very few East Bay politicians have a more expansive resume than Corbett. She served as San Leandro mayor and councilmember, followed by three terms in the Assembly and another two in the state Senate.

Corbett termed out of office in December 2014 and briefly took a position with the Hayward Unified School District. She is currently an appointed member of the state Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Alameda City Council places competing rent measure on the fall ballot

Alameda Mayor Trish Spencer and Councilmember
Tony Daysog at Tuesday night's meeting.
ALAMEDA CITY COUNCIL |
Alameda’s rent control initiative now has a roommate on the November ballot after the city council voted unanimously Tuesday night to place a version of its recently passed rent stabilization ordinance on the November 8 ballot. The council's measure joins the already qualified initiative backed by the Alameda Renters Coalition.

The council’s decision comes a day after the Alameda County Registrar of Voters announced a third proposed measure—this one backed by Island landlords aiming to ban rent control—had failed to produce enough valid signatures during random sample check. A further examination of the entire batch of signatures will take another 30 days, said the county registrar’s office, making the measure’s inclusion in this year’s election unlikely.

Before the council’s vote to place the existing rent ordinance on the ballot, all five members voice support for its perceived accomplishments since they passed it in March. Councilmember Tony Daysog equated the ordinance to the fairy tale Goldilocks and the Three Bears. “Not too hot, not too cold, but just right,” said Daysog.

Perhaps the strongest support for putting the city council’s rent ordinance on the ballot came from Councilmember Jim Oddie. “The ballot box will decide,” he said. “I don’t see the harm in having that debate.” He added that the rent ordinance has already reduced the number of large rent increases in the city, a problem that initially brought the rent-hike issue to the forefront in Alameda last fall. “We pretty much calmed the market for at least a year,” said Oddie.

Councilmember Frank Matarrese also voiced support for the council’s rent ordinance, even though he was the lone no vote against its passage four months ago. He also railed against rent control in general, saying such restrictions are expensive to administer and the concept does not limit rent increases or create housing stock.

Under the council’s rent ordinance, rents are limited to 5 percent annual increases. Any amount greater is subject to a hearing initiated by the landlord before the city’s Rent Review Advisory Committee. In addition, arbitration is available in the event no resolution is found. The council added two other amendments on Tuesday, including a provision that in the event both the council and the renters’ ballot measures pass in November, the one with the greater number votes wins. The council also approved wording that allows it to amend the city's ordinance upon passage. [READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE AT ALAMEDA MAGAZINE]

Khanna donor and Trump supporter Peter Thiel to address GOP Convention

Ro Khanna has received a total of $7,800 in
contributions from Peter Thiel, right, who is
speaking Thursday on behalf of Donald Trump.
CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT |
Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of PayPal and funding behind the legal case that lead to the bankruptcy of media company Gawker, is speaking on behalf of Donald Trump Thursday at the Republican National Convention.

Thiel is also a prominent donor to Democratic congressional candidate Ro Khanna in the 17th District.

In addition to being a Trump delegate to the convention, Thiel has given $7,800 to Khanna's campaign. It's a fact his opponent, Rep. Mike Honda slammed this week.

“With the rhetoric of hate and division being used so carelessly by the presumptive Republican nominee it is shameful of our opponent, who claims to be a ‘progressive,’ to associate himself so closely with those who are propping up such an intolerant, offensive, and vitriolic candidate,” said Honda.

 “It is our moral obligation to take a stand against Mr. Trump and those who back his racist and misogynist campaign. A Trump Presidency would tear down the middle class, divide our country, and undo decades of progress. It is hypocritical of Ro to say he’ll stand up for working families and women and then take money from those helping to get Donald Trump elected.”

In the past, Khanna has vigorously fought to shed criticism that he's a benefactor of Republican campaign contributions or somehow "Republican-lite." The high-profile speech Thursday night, occurring prior to Trump's much-anticipated appearance, could allow that moniker to take hold.

"I am proud of my broad range of support from tech leaders," said Khanna. "This includes tech leaders who support Bernie Sanders and share my vision of strengthening social security and having a $15 minimum wage. It includes visionaries like Sheryl Sandberg who support Hillary Clinton and like my platform of equal pay for equal work. It includes literally hundreds of innovators who helped build Silicon Valley such as Reid Hoffman, Sean Parker, and yes Peter Thiel."

Khanna also said Honda's support among Silicon Valley tech leaders is deficient. "His campaign of desperation is resorting only to negative attacks," he added.

Not only is Thiel vastly unpopular to progressives, his reported secret bankrolling of Hulk Hogan's defamation lawsuit against Gawker Media, has made him a target of media watchers who believe his actions constitute an avenue for the rich to crush dissenting views. A judge later found in favor Hogan and Gawker was forced into bankruptcy.

Thiel's ire toward Gawker, in part, stems from the website previously outing him as gay. A report Wednesday says Thiel will announce he is gay during his remarks at the Republican convention.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

San Leandro City Council rolls back minimum wage carveouts for small biz; approves original $15 wage by 2020

SAN LEANDRO CITY COUNCIL | The San Leandro City Council reaffirmed its goal of raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020 Monday night, but in a reversal, removed a previously approved one-year exemption for small businesses.

The council voted, 6-1, to adopt the original proposal that begins to raise the city’s minimum wage to $12 an hour beginning in July 2017 regardless of the number of workers the company employs. The wage then increases $1 a year before topping out at $15 in 2020—18 months before the state’s minimum wage reaches the same amount in 2022.

Councilmember Jim Prola and others had pushed for the city to make no distinction between the sizes of businesses at a July 5 meeting. Doing so, said Prola, ran the risk of complicating the ordinance. However, a substitute motion by Mayor Pauline Cutter added a carveout allowing businesses with 25 or fewer employees to reach $15 an hour by 2021--a full year later than larger businesses. Monday night’s meeting was intended to be the first reading of the ordinance before Prola motioned for his own substitute motion.

Councilmember Benny Lee was the lone vote in opposition. He feared the minimum wage increases would hinder minority-owned small businesses.

Similar to two weeks ago, several councilmembers voiced passionate pleas for helping the city’s poor and low-wage earners. This time a public comment in opposition of raising the minimum wage appeared to set off some members of the council. “What’s the rush?” said San Leandro insurance agent Jerry Garcia, who is also the incoming president of the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce.

“What’s the rush?” Councilmember Lee Thomas later responded. “It’s a rush to live.”

Prola also used Garcia’s question for rhetorical effect. He argued low-wage workers with more money in their pockets will translate into higher profits for small businesses. Studies show the reason small businesses close has nothing to do with paying a higher minimum wage, said Prola. “It has everything to do with not enough people coming through the door.”

Since the motion approved by Prola constitutes a “substantive change” to the minimum wage ordinance, said City Attorney Richard Pio Roda, a first reading is again required. However, since the San Leandro City Council, like other local jurisdictions, observes a month-long recess in August, the item will not be heard until September. The delay, Pio Roda added, will have no effect on the ordinance’s timetable for beginning the incremental minimum wage increases due to begin next summer.

Alameda landlords’ rent measure fizzles

Councilmember Tony Daysog said he is own rent
measure will also not appear on the November ballot. 
ALAMEDA CITY COUNCIL |
A proposed Alameda ballot measure that would have banned rent control on the island will not appear on the November ballot, based on a random sample check of signatures performed by the Alameda County Registrar of Voters.

The proposed measure, backed by various Alameda landlords, failed to gain a sufficient number of valid entries, the registrar said Monday. The measure, however, could conceivably be approved for the 2018 election or sooner.

Although, the landlords’ petition was found to have attained 102 percent of the 6,461 signatures needed for inclusion on the fall ballot, the figure fell within the range that requires the registrar to perform a complete check of all signatures. That range is within 95-110 percent. Conversely, the ballot measure enacting rent control qualified for the ballot last week with 113 percent of valid signature in its own random sample.

Furthermore, time is not the landlords’ side. The county registrar’s office said a complete signature check of the landlords’ petition could take up to 30 days. The deadline for finalizing the Nov. 8 ballot is Aug. 12, certainly scuttling the landlords' plans to provide voters with another option other than the renters' initiative. If the landlords' petition is ultimately found to have acquired enough valid signatures, they could revisit the rent control issue by placing the measure on the 2018 ballot, that is, if Alameda voters decide to approve rent control this fall.

The registrar’s determination is not entirely surprising. There was already some concern that the landlords’ petition would have difficulty getting approved after it turned in just 7,491 signatures—a figure that is well below the recommended target needed to safely account for invalid entries. Most petition-gathering campaign shoot for 25 percent over and above the minimum number required.

With up to four potential rent-related measures once on the table, clarity over the issue is moving quickly. The Alameda City Council on Tuesday night could vote to place its own measure on the ballot that would reaffirm the rent stabilization ordinance it passed in March. With the landlords’ measure off the table, the council’s measure may become more likely. The council could also, on its own, move Tuesday to place the landlords’ measure on the ballot. However, the act would be politically explosive. In addition, there does not appear to be three votes in favor of such a unilateral move.

A fourth petition aiming to tweak the council’s rent ordinance rolling back some restrictions on small-time landlords is going nowhere. Councilmember Tony Daysog conceded Monday that his petition will not have enough signatures this summer to qualify for the November ballot. However, he is still gathering signatures to possibly place the measure on the ballot in 2018.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Text from Hayward supe contradicts claim school district initiated buyout talks

Hayward Superintendent Stan "Data" Dobbs is
on paid administrative leave while the school
board investigates his past action.
HAYWARD SCHOOL BOARD |
Despite several public denials, a text from embattled Hayward Superintendent Stan “Data” Dobbs to the school board’s counsel shows he initiated discussions over his potential departure, not board officials.

The text from Dobbs, dated Mar. 24, references his own annual performance review, in addition, to gauging the school board’s position on a potential buyout of his contract.

“I don’t want it to drag on,” Dobbs texted. “I want to discuss today plus your thoughts on whether they are willing to consider a buyout.” The text was released by the school board following Wednesday night’s meeting.

A text from Dobbs to the school board's attorney from Mar. 24

“Mr. Dobbs on his own contacted our Board’s General Counsel in March 2016 to ask whether the Board would consider a buyout,” said Hayward school board President Lisa Brunner. “So I listened and considered a buyout in May 2016. But Mr. Dobbs turned what started as an opportunity for him to leave his office in a professional way with dignity and his position in the community, into a political fight over more money.”

Last month, during a school board meeting, Dobbs denied he was actively seeking to leave the district. In addition, Dobbs again claimed last week in the East Bay Times that it was the school board’s attorney who first mentioned a potential buyout back on May 11.

Dobbs was placed on paid administrative leave by the school board on June 29 while they conduct an investigation into his handling of football player Ray McDonald’s visit to Tennyson High School last February. McDonald, a former 49ers defensive end, is currently standing  trial for alleged rape. The investigation, according to Brunner, however, is more far-reaching than the McDonald incident.

A report last May in the East Bay Citizen revealed Dobbs’ legal representation sent a two-page negotiated settlement offer to the school board’s counsel. Included in the offer was a year’s pay, $25,000 in moving expenses, and legal indemnity from any action he may have taken as part of his duties as superintendent, among other demands. The offer was turned down by the school board.

Dobbs is the final year of a three-year contract that pays him a base salary of $242,000 a year.

Khanna’s internal poll shows him leading Honda, 42-36

Rep. Mike Honda and Ro Khanna will face-off 
for a fourth time in CA-17 come November.
CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT |
Newly-minted CA-17 front runner Ro Khanna released an internal poll Thursday that gives him a six-point advantage over fellow Democratic Rep. Mike Honda.

Khanna won last month’s primary by 1.7 points and the poll, conducted June 26-30, shows the lead has grown. According to the survey of 500 likely voters, Khanna leads Honda, 42-36.

Twenty-two percent of respondents reported being undecided for the November election. The poll’s margin of error is +/-4.4 percent.

The survey also indicates Honda’s unfavorables increased by nine points over another internal poll from September 2015. More interestingly, among those in the survey who indicated they had voted in the primary, 38 percent did so for Khanna, while 37 percent registered a vote for Honda. The result is nearly similar to the final tally.

The release of the survey by the Khanna campaign follows the day after Honda reported much better than expected fundraising results.

Between April 1 and June 30, Honda raised $471,000 for the period, leaving him with $951,000 in cash on hand. The numbers are somewhat surprising. Many observers predicted the fallout from Honda’s pending ethics investigation and the upset loss June 7 would temper enthusiasm among potential donors.

Khanna, meanwhile, still holds a cash advantage over Honda. His campaign reported $1.4 million in reserves, but raised just $317,000 during the same period last spring.


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

In right wing gun control stunt, Barbara Lee staffer admits to owning guns

Rep. Barbara Lee's communication director
James Lewis got caught up in a stunt concocted
by right wing provocateur James O'Keefe.
CONGRESS | 13TH DISTRICT |
Right wing provocateur James O'Keefe caught several Congressional staffers, including East Bay Rep. Barbara Lee's communication director, in a rhetorical bind. Even though their bosses espouse strict gun control stances, would they agree to post a sign on the home declaring the residence gun-free?

In the past, the O'Keefe has highlighted, among other stunts, alleged misdeeds by ACORN, an affordable housing non-profit. In the video, below, O'Keefe's group approached the congressional offices of several Democratic representatives, including Lee.

When asked to post a sign indicating his home is gun-free, James Lewis, communication director for Lee, sheepishly told the pair of phony gun control advocates that "I'm actually a gun owner."

Later, another staffer from Michigan Rep. John Conyers' office worried the presence of the sign on the congressman's home would make him a target for criminals, especially in Detroit.



A new day for the Hayward City Council includes a quartet of recognizable faces

Councilmember Francisco Zermeno takes the
oath of office Tuesday night in Hayward.
HAYWARD CITY COUNCIL |
Hayward was in a self-congratulatory mood Tuesday as it celebrated the inauguration of four city council members and said goodbye to another.

Councilmembers Francisco Zermeno, Elisa Marquez and Mendall were sworn-in for four moreyears, while Mark Salinas, a former councilmember who eschewed certain re-election in 2014 to run for mayor, made his return to the Hayward dais.

Mayor Barbara Halliday who edged out Salinas two years ago, lauded the new council, which is one of the most veteran groups in the entire East Bay. “This is an experienced council and dedicated to moving this city forward,” said Halliday.

The results of the election, she added, prove Hayward residents believe the city is on the right track. “We have been recognized for our efforts and all of this work is done for our city and our children and youth,” said Halliday.

The new Hayward City Council with returning Councilmember Mark
Salinas assigned to the far right of the dais.
Zermeno, who is now beginning his third term in office, following his first place finish last June—by just three votes over Salinas—described his priorities for the next four years. They include strengthening Hayward’s local economy, education and the environment. Zermeno used much of speech Tuesday night to offer “kilos of thanks” to his family, campaign team and fellow council winners.

However, Zermeno made no mention of Salinas in his remarks. The two are known rivals and the renewal of their council interactions will be a subtext to follow in the coming months and years.

“This election is an affirmation of the direction the city is moving in,” said Councilmember Al Mendall, who finished fourth for the four open seats last month. He, too, thanked his campaign team and family, He joked,“I’ve been the worst father and husband for the last six months.”

Marquez, a Hayward native, said, “I’m a product of this environment... I’m honored to serve the citizens of Hayward.” Tuesday night’s ceremony represents the start of Marquez’s first full term on the council. She was appointed two years ago to serve the remainder of Halliday’s council term upon election to mayor.

Salinas is sworn-in Tuesday night at the Hayward
City Hall chambers.
Salinas’s triumphant return follows a failed mayoral run and denial of the appointment given to Marquez. Notably, many of the same people who thwarted his appointment are now his colleagues.

“I’m ready to get back to working for the city of Hayward,” said Salinas. He promised to focus on bringing quality jobs to Hayward along with positioning it as an education hub. “I am relying on our greatest asset in our city and that is our students,” he said.

The council also bid farewell to Greg Jones, who declined to run for re-election after just one term. The former Hayward city manager was honored with a video presentation and later received the perfunctory parting gift for all exiting Hayward councilmembers—the personalized sign designating his City Hall parking place. “This feels like a funeral,” Jones joked. He plans to focus on his real estate business, he said, and continue participating in city issues.

Meanwhile, Hayward voter participation, such a sore spot that a ballot measure was also approved last month to move its mayoral and council elections to November starting in 2018, topped out at 41.3 percent, said Hayward City Clerk Miriam Lens. The figure is much higher than the 2012 presidential primary when a paltry 28 percent of Hayward voters went to the polls. However, Hayward’s voter participation this June was still far below Alameda County’s overall tally, which was 49.3 percent.

Also, Tuesday, the new council voted to name Councilmember Sara Lamnin as its next mayor pro tempore, a ceremonial position similar to vice mayor in other East Bay cities.

Eric Swalwell backs state cannabis legalization initiative

Rep. Eric Swalwell
CONGRESS | 15TH DISTRICT | East Bay Rep. Eric Swalwell is backing Proposition 64, the state initiative aiming to legalize cannabis use, according to a Sacramento Bee reporter. The state measure comes before voters this November.

Although the two-term congressman from Dublin often finds wiggle room along the left of center political spectrum, his support for medical cannabis dispensaries has been consistently progressive over the years.

Swalwell has been a signer of at least five different letters to President Obama, for instance, urging the removal federal barriers to cannabis research and the easing of the federal policy against dispensaries.

In 2014, Swalwell also supported rescheduling cannabis, currently listed as a Schedule I narcotic similar to heroin. A consequence of the designation, according to the letter, has led in part to the incarceration of a disproportionate number of African Americans.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Favorable polling for San Leandro cannabis tax, two other proposed revenue-generating measures

SAN LEANDRO CITY COUNCIL | A lengthy November ballot could get longer in San Leandro. Three potential revenue-generating initiatives, including one for taxing cannabis, are popular with voters, according to a recent city survey.

Two-thirds of likely San Leandro voters registered support for taxing cannabis sales in the city. San Leandro's first cannabis dispensary is due to open this year with a second expected in the near future. Twenty-three percent of the disapproved of the tax and 10 percent were undecided.

“For a simple majority measure that’s a great place to start,” said Bryan Godbe, president of Godbe Research, which conducted the survey.

San Leandro Assistant City Manager Eric Engelbart said last month the trio of possible measures, if approved by voters, could create $1.8 million in new annual revenues. A citywide tax on gross cannabis receipts alone could yield $500,000 in additional annual revenue, he said.

The polling's results were collected between June 4-13 and include 501 respondents--a majority through an online survey. Its margin of error is +/- 4.34 percent.

The proceeds from all three potential ballot measures would be directed to the general fund, meaning 50 percent or more support is needed for passage. Initiatives generating tax revenues for a specific purpose required a more difficult to achieve two-thirds majority.

A selling point for this set of measures, said City Manager Chris Zapata, is the taxes will not come from local residents but from travelers and people visiting San Leandro from outside jurisdictions.

Mayor Pauline Cutter, said she had initial reservations whether three tax initiatives might overwhelm San Leandro voters, but they subsided, she said, after being convinced out-of-towners were bear the brunt of the tax.

In addition to a tax on cannabis, the survey found similar support for an increase on business license tax (raising the amount for parking lot revenues by 10 percent; and warehouses to $100 per 1,000 sq. ft. of space) and boosting San Leandro's Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT).

According to the survey, 59 percent of respondents approved of the business license tax increase; 30 percent opposed and 11 percent had no opinion.

Nearly the same results were returned for raising the TOT: 63 percent supported it; 29 opposed; and 8 percent were undecided.

The San Leandro City Council will need to pass a resolution to put the measures on the November ballot sometime before the Aug. 12 deadline.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Alameda may soon begin conversation of raising its minimum wage

Alameda Mayor Trish Spencer may kick start the
minimum wage conversation on the island.
ALAMEDA CITY COUNCIL | Oakland and Emeryville have moved to raise its citywide minimum wage in recent years. In addition, increases are expected soon for low-wage earners in Berkeley and San Leandro. Next up: Alameda?

Mayor Trish Spencer is asking the City Council to consider directing city staff to begin an analysis for raising the minimum wage in Alameda.

If the council referral scheduled for the July 19 regular session is taken up, the discussion would likely not begin until September at the earliest.

"Other cities in the Bay Area have enacted local minimum wage increases," according to the referral. "Staff could identify possible parameters of its application, and what other cities in California have done."

Alameda does not currently have a citywide minimum wage. Like other cities, it relies on the state's requirement, which is set to rise to $10 starting next January and increase a dollar per year to $15 by 2022.

Oakland raised its minimum wage to $12.25 by ballot initiative in 2014 and Berkeley has its own measure coming before voters in November. Emeryville's increase, however, is the most progressive, topping out at around $16 an hour for small business employees by 2020.

San Leandro's minimum wage proposal is designed similar to the state, but arrives at $15 an hour 18 months earlier in July 2020. The San Leandro City Council's proposal, however, will not be finalized until September after a substitute motion carved out an extra year for small business to comply with the wage bump.

Swalwell's knee-jerk reaction to Dallas shootings was Black Lives Matters did it

CONGRESS | 15TH DISTRICT | Just hours after Thursday night's killing of five Dallas public safety officers, Rep. Eric Swalwell falsely suggested in a tweet that Black Lives Matters was the culprit.

Swalwell has long been the darling of the corporate media. Even after the East Bay congressman may have unwittingly unmasked his true beliefs in regards to Black Lives Matters, the media looked away and, instead, reset the story later with his call on the House floor for peace and justice on all sides.
It was later learned that the Dallas shooter was not a member of the Black Lives Matter social justice movement marching in Dallas and other cities, including Oakland, that night, but a former U.S. serviceman, possibly upset about recent shootings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota. The San Francisco Chronicle's editorial writer Cailee Millner kindly suggested in another tweet that Swalwell rethink his rush to judgment.
Others called out Swalwell, a two-term congressman, known primarily for his exhaustive use of social media, including Snapchat and Twitter.
Swalwell quickly backtracked, albeit, somewhat, and the budding controversy was ignored by the corporate media. That is until, Swalwell gave a speech on the House floor Friday urging for justice on all sides. The Los Angeles Times and other outlets and reporters picked up the story at the point, and without mentioning the unfortunate tweet from Thursday night.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Alameda mayor opposes rent control measure, while others begin to take sides

Alameda Councilmembers Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft,
Frank Matarrese and Mayor Trish Spencer during
a hearing Tuesday on various rent measures.
ALAMEDA CITY COUNCIL |
Alameda Mayor Trish Spencer said Tuesday that she unequivocally opposes the tenant-driven rent control initiative now slated for the November ballot. The stance is not surprising. She has told the renters’ group the same thing in private, but Tuesday’s declaration may be the start of Alameda leaders taking stands on this most contentious issue.

While the Alameda City Council discussed various scenarios this week that include up to four different potential rent-related measures in the fall, Spencer, a long-time renter herself, said she does not support the renters’ cause, but did not voice an opinion on the landlords’ competing initiative to ban rent control. That measure is still awaiting certification from the Alameda County Registrar of Voters. Spencer, though, was the only member of the council to support placing the rent stabilization ordinance it passed last March on the ballot. Its inclusion in a staff report, though, caused some displeasure among the council and tenant advocates.

“I would have preferred it not be in the staff report,” said Councilmember Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft. “I was upset because it contradicts [the rent ordinance’s] flexibility.” In the unlikely event the ordinance is placed on the ballot and actually wins, its ability to be tweaked would be severely diminished. Because it would be a charter amendment, making changes to it would be onerous and only through the ballot box in future elections. Ashcraft noted the originally underpinning of the ordinance is to monitor its early progress on a yearly basis and allow for changes, if warranted.

Members of the Alameda Renters’ Coalition claim the introduction of the ordinance as a ballot measure is intended to confuse voters. Some residents, they say, already erroneously believe the ordinance passed in March enacted rent control restrictions.

With the stakes of Alameda’s rent control issue high, there is an expectation of some political posturing and low-level chicanery over the next four months before Election Day. On Tuesday, Councilmember Tony Daysog offered to sit on a two-person committee tasked with writing a ballot statement opposing the renters' initiative. Daysog has his own petition for an amendment to the rent ordinance that would roll back some tenant-related costs to whom he terms “small mom-and-pop landlords.” Daysog’s measure, however, is unlikely to amass the 6,461 signatures needed for inclusion this fall. Ashcraft, who is running for re-election against Daysog for two open seats on the council, immediately protested against what she believes is a conflict-of-interest.

An impromptu preview of the November council ensued with Daysog using the rent control issue to put Ashcraft on the spot. “It’s the responsibility of every councilmember to show where we stand on rent control,” Daysog urged. The statement hung in the air for a few minutes before Ashcraft said, “I very much respect the public process.”

Later, after Daysog claimed “early returns” of the recently-passed rent stabilization ordinance is stopping incidents of excessive rent increases of up to 50 percent, Ashcraft scoffed. “I would love to believe that,” she said. Instead, the absence of such recurrences, may be due to tenants being too scared to confront their landlords.

With a line in the sand potentially drawn with the rent control initiative qualifying for the ballot Wednesday, it appears Spencer and Daysog land closer to landlords than generally beleieved, while Ashcraft and Councilmember Jim Oddie lie somewhere closer to renters. Councilmember Frank Mataresse, while not particularly admired by the renters’ coalition, suggested Tuesday night that he plans to be neutral on this issue. He made it clear that he strongly opposes the council taking any stand on the measures through a ballot statement.

NOTE: A change was made to this article regarding Daysog's possible involvement in writing a ballot statement. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

San Leandro minimum wage ordinance now includes one-year delay for small biz

San Leandro Mayor Pauline Cutter's substitute
motion will push passage of the city's minimum
wage ordinance to next September.
SAN LEANDRO CITY COUNCIL |
A successful substitute motion offered by San Leandro Mayor Pauline Cutter will give some small businesses an extra year to comply with the city's proposed ordinance raising the minimum wage to $15 an year by 2020. The change means the city's minimum wage ordinance will not be approved until September when the council returns from its month-long August recess.

Under the original proposal by Councilmember Jim Prola, San Leandro's minimum wage will increase to $12 an hour in July 2017 and raise one dollar a year before reaching $15 in 2020. Originally the ordinance made no distinction between the size of businesses.

Cutter, however, worried over the ability of some San Leandro small business to survive during the ramp up in the minimum wage, which would reach $15 almost two years before the state's target for 2022.

Under Cutter's compromise motion, San Leandro employers with 25 or fewer workers will have the wage bump delayed by one year, reaching $15 in 2021. Cutter's motion was approved, 4-2, and followed by boos from the packed council chambers.

Prola and Councilmember Lee Thomas voted against the substitute motion. Councilmember Ursula Reed, a likely supporter of the original ordinance, was absent.

Cutter said, while she was swayed for the need to raise the minimum wage, she was also worried about its effects on small business owners. "I don’t think vilifying small businesses is the answer to this," said Cutter.

Prola disagreed with Cutter's assertion, saying numerous studies and data on raising the minimum wage show it actually helps businesses thrive. "I don't believe small businesses are hurt," Prola flatly said.

In addition to Prola, two other councilmembers gave passionate pleas for raising the minimum wage and helping the city's low wage-earners. "I’m opening the door for families to put food on the table," said Thomas, in a reiteration of comments he made two weeks ago.

Councilmember Corina Lopez recounted growing up poor in the Central Valley and living in residential hotels. "I think about people in the community being hungry," she said, "and this barely keep them out of poverty." Lopez, however, was the tie-breaking vote leading to approval of Cutter's motion to bifurcate the minimum wage ordinance between large and small businesses.

Along with Cutter, Councilmembers Benny Lee and Deborah Cox voiced concerned for the city's business community. Lee said the state's recent minimum wage increase was sufficient for San Leandro. "I think we're accelerating it too much," he said of the city's proposal. Cox, meanwhile, often sounded conflicted, vacillating between supporting workers and business. Both, though, backed Cutter's compromise.

Few in the audience Tuesday night voiced opposition to the original ordinance. The San Leandro Chamber of Commerce, however, offered official opposition. Numerous residents strongly supported the ordinance, in addition to the Alameda Labor Council and the chair of the Alameda County Democratic Party Robin Torello, who slammed a city staff report for calculating only the cost of the ordinance to the city and not including an analysis of the minimum wage's economic benefits.

A first reading of the ordinance will be scheduled for July 18, and likely followed by the full passage of the legislation sometime in September, said the city.

Hayward destroyed a famous indicator of seismic activity, now we're all going to die

The corner of Prospect and Rose in Hayward.
HAYWARD | Like many East Bay cities, Hayward has many streets and sidewalks in need of repair. However, Hayward's city government found the one road improvement project that it may have thought twice about fixing.

Last month, Hayward city employees inadvertently repaired what they understood was a broken sidewalk curb on the corner of Prospect and Rose. In fact, the disjointed curb was a scientific curiosity long studied by seismologists studying the nearby Hayward Fault.

Oakland science writer Andrew Alden lamented the loss last month. "Sure we all enjoy the Grand Canyon, but real geologists have Siccar Point, Darwin’s outcrop, the Carlin unconformity and other obscure sites on their life lists," he wrote. "One of those places was right nearby in Hayward, until very recently. At the corner of Rose and Prospect Streets is a corner curb that happened to be built precisely across the Hayward fault, where the steady progress of aseismic creep slowly wrenched it apart."

Why Hayward city government might have been clueless about the significance of the curbside could be attributed to the exodus of city employees since the Great Recession. In addition, labor relations with the city have soured in recent years beginning with a stunning wage imposition on 300 of its city workers, including those who may have participated in repairing the corner of Prospect and Rose at the direction of the City Council.

In the meantime, we're all going to die.

Alameda rent control measure, backed by tenants, qualifies for November ballot

Alameda Community Developement Director
Debbie Potter at Tuesday's council meeting.
ALAMEDA | RENTS | Alameda voters will have a chance this fall to decide whether to enact rent control on the Island. The Alameda County Registrar of Voters Office on Wednesday certified the renters-backed measure for the November ballot, setting the stage for a contentious fall campaign in Alameda between tenants and landlords.

“We’re thrilled,” said Alameda Renters’ Coalition spokesperson Catherine Pauling. “So many have worked so hard for this, but we have more work to do to actually get it passed.”

The Alameda City Council will next be asked to approve a resolution at its July 19 meeting to formally place the rent control measure on the ballot. That action is considered a formality.

Questions over whether the rent control measure would actually qualify were rising in recent days. Some within the renters’ group and Alameda City Hall were beginning to worry whether the number of signatures turned in by the renters’ group—7,882—was enough. The number of valid signatures needed is 6,461. In addition, concerns were heightened by the fact the registrar took a long time to certify the measure’s signatures.

At Tuesday night’s council meeting, Pauling showed some concern about the measure’s future, telling the councilmembers, “Failure is not an option. We will be back.”

In an interview Wednesday, Pauling said, “There’s always worry. I just didn’t know whether we would qualify, but I was more worried about the people who worked so hard to gather signatures, many who are seniors who did it to the detriment of their health.”

A second rent-related ballot measure in Alameda, this one backed by landlords seeking a charter amendment to ban rent control, turned in 7,491 signatures to county registrar on June 15. Whether or not it will be certified in time for the August 12 deadline for inclusion on the November ballot is unclear.

Certification of the landlords’ measure may not come until later this month. Further complicating the matter is the tight window available for the city council to formally approve the landlords’ measure. The July 19 council meeting is last scheduled before the annual August recess, observed by almost every East Bay council. [READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE AT ALAMEDA MAGAZINE]

Defiant Mike Honda squashes retirement talk: ‘Not on your life’

Rep. Mike Honda's response to suggestions he 
should retire: "Not on your life."
CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT |
Surrogates for Ro Khanna and one newspaper columnist have suggested Rep. Mike Honda should retire following his June 7 primary defeat. His answer in an op-ed Wednesday was clear: “Not on your life.”

“Doing so would be a disservice to the 60 percent of voters who did not vote for my opponent in the primary,” wrote Honda in a piece that could be considered his opening move for what will be an hard-fought rematch with Khanna in November.

Khanna won the June primary in the 17th Congressional District by 1.7 percent over Honda, an incumbent who has served the area since 2001.

Last month, three members of his campaign team—two related to finances—left following the primary upset. However, campaign manager Michael Beckendorf remains.

The Honda op-ed may also hint at a fall campaign strategy that focuses on labeling Khanna a carpetbagger, or, conversely, Honda as a son of the South Bay giving back to his community.

After describing a list of his accomplishments as a representative for the district, Honda wrote, “As a lifelong resident of this region, I know the challenges we face firsthand and I know I am the right leader to help build a Silicon Valley economy that works for everyone.”

Later, Honda contrasts his biography with that of Khanna, who previously ran for Congress in San Mateo and later considered running against Pete Stark in the East Bay four years ago.

“When my opponent was moving around, trying out different Congressional Districts to run in, I was in Congress standing up for the civil rights of all Americans, championing a living wage, and fighting for the expansion of health care coverage for all,” wrote Honda.

However, Honda’s campaign appears steadfast in continuing a line of attack used since late in the 2014 election equating Khanna with Donald Trump and other Republicans.

Khanna has received campaign contributions from individuals “who there is no limit to who he will associate with to bankroll his campaign,” wrote Honda. “My opponent has never held public office and it’s worrisome that he could head to Washington so indebted to right-wing Republican extremists who will undermine our values.”

To illustrate how much the “Republicans love Khanna” strategy will take center stage over the next four months, Honda circles back in the piece to again link his opponent to Trump.

“There are plenty of people who want to see my opponent get elected: Right-wing extremists, Donald Trump supporters, and even some people at this newspaper, but I’ve never backed down from doing what’s right. That’s why I’ll keep fighting for you and why I’ll keep fighting to earn your vote in November.”

The right-wing extremist strategy, however, is fraught with danger. First off, it has been used by Honda since the last months of the November 2014 and an overview of time since then to now shows Khanna has gone from 20 points down in June 2014 to almost 2 points up on Honda.

There may also be some doubts over the assertion's authenticity, too. Khanna has been effective during this current election cycle of showing a more progressive bent. Khanna showing up at council meetings in Sunnyvale and San Jose to back union workers poses a difficult optic for Honda’s campaign to portray Khanna as someone holding water for rightwingers.

Previously, this strategy has proven difficult to employ in parts of this region where voters are more conservative than the demographic data suggests. In the nearby 15th Congressional District, 40-year incumbent Pete Stark attempted to label his challenger Democrat Eric Swalwell as having Tea Party tendencies. One infamous mailer showed Swalwell wading in a cup of tea. It fell flat with voters and maybe energized the Tri Valley’s moderate and conservative voters to back Swalwell. Stark also belittled Swalwell’s youth by calling him a “Bush leaguer.” That didn’t work either.

The reason? It wasn’t Swalwell’s inexperience or even his political persuasion that bothered voters, it was Stark’s boorish behavior.

With Honda, voters may have showed last June that they don’t care about where Khanna’s campaign contributions come from, but whether Honda committed an ethical lapse of judgment. As it stands, Honda's pending ethics investigation is included in every single story written about this race. It's the only conversation voters are having and it already cost Honda the primary.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Alameda mayor threw a tantrum before annual Fourth of July parade

Alameda Mayor Trish Spencer waving to the crowd
at Monday's Independence Day parade.
ALAMEDA | Alameda's traditional Fourth of July Parade is one of the largest in the Bay Area. In turn, it's no easy task organizing the 100 or more individual floats and marchers to function smoothly.

Unfortunately,, Mayor Trish Spencer didn't make it any easier.

The mayor, who hosts the annual parade that runs from Park Street to the West End, threw a tantrum shortly before the start of the event.

The reason for the fit, according to sources, is Spencer disliked the type of automobile she was assigned and refused to ride in it.

The last second change in plans added more pressure for organizers already scrambling to put on the late morning event without a hitch.

But they did not secure another car for Spencer and her husband. Instead, she found her own car, a refurbished classic truck that allowed Spencer stand on the pickup's bed and wildly wave to Alameda parade-goers while shaking her money maker.

A year ago, during her first parade as mayor, Spencer rode in a low rider car with hydraulics.

The incident on the Independence Day holiday may seem trivial, but runs parallel with a growing number of acts that paints Spencer as a primadonna, or, at the very least, a public official who often rides alone.

San Leandro's push for $15 minimum wage will cost city $460,000 through 2020

SAN LEANDRO CITY COUNCIL | San Leandro's push to accelerate its path to a $15 an hour minimum wage quicker than the state's mandate is also going to give a boost to its own city employees.

The San Leandro City Council will discuss a proposal to raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020 on Tuesday night. The state minimum wage was recently increased by Gov. Jerry Brown earlier this year to incrementally reach $15 by 2022.

San Leandro's plan, first proposed by Councilmember Jim Prola, will get there quicker starting with an increase to $12 in July 2017 and an additional $1 a year through 2020.

At a council meeting two weeks ago, council support for the plan was apparent. A specific ordinance will be debated Tuesday night.

Raising the minimum wage in San Leandro will not only help low wage-earners across the city, but within its city government, according to a staff report.

Within the lower levels of city government, a number of part-time and non-permanent employees at the Recreation and Human Services Department and Library Department currently earn less than the proposed wage increase, said staff.

In addition, salary compaction derived from lower level employees potential attaining higher hourly wages than their superiors could result in another 130 employees also receiving bumps in pay.

The cost to the city is estimated to be $460,000 through Fiscal Year 2020-21, wrote staff, including $100,000 next year and $120,000 over the next three years.

The proposed ordinance also clarifies how the minimum wage increase will be enforced. At least from the start, the city proposes it rely on a self-reporting model. Other cities, like Berkeley and Emeryville employ a full-time or part-time employee to the task.

In addition, no differentiation will be made between the sizes of San Leandro businesses under the the minimum wage plan. Proposals in other cities often include a split between large and small businesses with the latter typically given an extra year to comply with the higher wage.

Businesses in San Leandro found to have violated the proposed minimum wage would be required to pay back wages along with a $25 a day penalty to each employee effected.

Alameda city staff floats placing recently approved rent ordinance on the ballot

ALAMEDA CITY COUNCIL | Could there possibly be a fourth rent-related Alameda ballot measure posturing for the fall ballot? This one backed by the Alameda City Council?

As it stands, word on whether a rent control ballot measure backed by local tenants will qualify for the November ballot should come this week, while another backed by landlords may follow later this month. A third, backed by Councilmember Tony Daysog, is still in the signature phase.

A discussion on a fourth ballot measure on rents is now being urged Tuesday night by Alameda city staff that could place the rent stabilization ordinance passed by the City Council last March on the November ballot.

Placing the existing rent ordinance on the ballot has one major drawback, says city staff. "If it prevails, it can only be amended by a vote of the people, removing one of the key elements that ensures an effective, responsive, and sustainable program -- the ability for the Council to respond relatively quickly to changing circumstances in the economy, public opinion, and having the ability to refine the regulations as the program is implemented over time."

Supporters of the rent stabilization ordinance--many who hold a pragmatic pro-landlord view of Alameda's rent problem--often urge patience for allowing the relatively young ordinance to prove its worth before making any changes. Placing the ordinance on the ballot might force it to be less nimble as the rent issue progresses in Alameda.

Meanwhile, the likelihood of the tenant's rent control measure and the landlord's measure, which seeks to ban it, proceeding to the November ballot is not a formality. City Hall insiders say they would not be surprised if neither is certified by the Alameda County Registrar of Voters because of insufficient numbers of valid signatures.

Both proposed measures turned in lower than expected total signatures and putting them in an uncertain gray area when it comes to the registrar's sample of valid signatures. Typically, ballot measure campaigns aim for gathering an additional 25 percent of requisite signatures to account for invalid entries such as, for instance, those who do not live in Alameda or are unregistered. In both cases the petitions fell short of this threshold. The tenant's petition gathered 7,882, while the landlords turned in 7,491. The number of valid signatures needed for the ballot is 6,461.

However, if successful, the tenant's measure could be certified this week. But, if the random sample of signatures comes up short this week, the registrar could take another 30 business days to perform a more exhaustive count, Conversely, the landlord's measure was turned in only last month. A determination on its certification could come later this month.

Other factors are also making the city and county registrar's job more difficult. The annual August recess means after Tuesday there is only one regularly scheduled council meeting remaining until September. Furthermore, the City Council must approve placing any measure on the ballot, that includes another city measure to make changes to its Utility Users Tax.

The deadline for all races to be included on the November ballot is Aug. 12. While the tenant's measure could be set for November, the landlord's proposal could force the city to scramble for approval.

Tuesday night's discussion might also of supporters of either measure and voters a hint to where specific council members stand on rent control since the city staff is asking for direction on how to proceed on potential arguments--for or against--each measure.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Hayward city manager announces retirement

Hayward City Manager Fran David
HAYWARD | Hayward City Manager Fran David announced her retirement Friday, effective sometime in the  fall.

David has served as head of the city's day-to-day operation since being appointed to the position in 2010. Her tenure coincided with the worst of the Great Recession, a time when Hayward city services  like all in the region were hit hard by the economic downturn.

David's last day is expected to be sometime around Sept. 30, said the city. The City Council expects to determined an effective date sometime within the next two weeks and begin discussions about her replacement.

“Retiring as City Manager for this community was a hard decision” said David. “However, it is time. Being the City Manager of Hayward has been an honor and a privilege that I will always cherish. I am grateful for Council’s courageous leadership and professional governance. Under the leadership of the two Mayors and several Council Members for whom I have served, I consider Hayward to be one of the best governed communities in California.”

Hayward Mayor Barbrara Halliday thanked David for her service in a statement Friday.

“Hayward has benefited enormously during the past decade from City Manager David’s outstanding leadership and management expertise,” Halliday said. “I know I speak for the entire City Council in thanking her for her exemplary public service and in wishing her all the best as she moves to the next phase of her life as a retiree.”

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Why the Hayward school board placed Dobbs on paid administrative leave

HAYWARD | Last May, when a group of Tennyson High School parents urged Hayward Superintendent Stan “Data” Dobbs to get to the bottom of why former 49ers defensive end and alleged rapist Ray McDonald was allowed to address at-risk students at the school about self-control, the superintendent said blame rested with the school’s principal and the federally-funded Hayward Promise Neighborhoods program. This was not the case, says the Hayward school board.

In a statement read at the beginning of Wednesday’s school board meeting, President Lisa Brunner announced Dobbs was being placed on paid administrative leave while an investigation is on-going over his involvement in allowing McDonald to speak at the high school. Brunner also apologized to Lori Villanueva, the Tennyson principal accused by Dobbs. The board concluded Villanueva was not to blame for allowing McDonald to visit the high school, said Brunner. Dobbs also owes Villanueva an apology, she added.

A letter from Dobbs to a Tennyson High School parent on May 28 precipatated the latest controversy with the superintendent, who last fall aggressively confronted two members of the school board in closed session. The letter sent by Dobbs to parents stated a district-level investigation of the McDonald incident had concluded that the “Tennyson High School Principal and the Hayward Promise Neighborhood Drop Out Prevention Specialist did not fully follow HUSD’s policy," Dobbs wrote. "Although the site administrator did approve having the speaker on campus, she did not carefully or thoroughly select the speaker per policy.”

An email dated Feb. 17—a week before McDonald’s scheduled appearance—was also released by the district Thursday. The message sent by the district’s Public Information Officer Sabrina Aranda to Dobbs, Villanueva and another school district employee undermines the claim that Dobbs was unaware of McDonald's speaking engagement.

In addition, the email also highlights McDonald’s background as a former football player recently cut from an NFL team “due to a variety of legal issues including drug use and domestic violence charges. This is an excellent opportunity for student s to hear about the importance of keeping focused and on track," wrote Aranda.

Meanwhile, the statement released by the district Thursday is slightly more precise than the one read by Brunner the night before and, at one point, refers to Dobbs in the past tense.

“We know many of the District’s stakeholders appreciate the work of the Superintendent. We acknowledge that the work we authorized him to do, the work that he was assigned to do, he did very well. He did a great job," said Brunner, in the statement.

"The worked NOT authorized to do is what is causing great concern. The things he did on his own, without informing the Board or worse by providing misinformation to the Board, are causing great consternation.”

The involvement of Dobbs and Aranda in the McDonald incident and possibly other issues yet to be disclosed led the school board to take action, according the statement.

“It is apparent, in order to maintain a clean, transparent investigation, and analysis of the results as we further examine this McDonald incident, we need to remove the Superintendent’s Office and Public Information Office from any further handling of any inquiries or anything else related to it.”

Matt Wayne, an assistant to Dobbs, has been named acting superintendent.

Loni Hancock's Oakland-inspired coal bill passes Assembly committee

State Sen. Loni Hancock addressing the Assembly
Transportation Committee on Monday.
STATE SENATE | 9TH DISTRICT |
It appears coal won't be traveling through a port terminal in the East Bay for the foreseeable future and state Sen. Loni Hancock hopes legislation prevents others from building new coal terminals if they seek state funding for the project.

Hancock's bill, inspired by the year-long debate of shipping coal through a new bulk commodity terminal near the Port of Oakland, passed an Assembly Transportation Committee on Monday, 10-5, and was referred to Appropriations.

Hancock told the committee Senate Bill 1279 would only apply to a prohibition on new coal terminals funded with state money and not to improvements or expansion of current transport centers.

The committee vote occurred just hours before the Oakland City Council unanimously voted to ban coal shipments through the city.

East Bay Assemblymember Catharine Baker, a Republican, voted for Senate Bill 1279, as did South Bay Assemblymember Kansen Chu.

At least, one Democratic on the Transportation Committee was uncertain of the bill. Assemblymember Patrick O'Donnell, who represents Long Beach, also a major west coast port, questioned whether banning one product from shipping was a slippery slope.

"Today it's coal. Tomorrow it might be tobacco. The next day it might be the vegetarian and poultry constituency doesn't want to ship meat down the rail lines," said O'Donnell.

"One could always say that," Hancock responded, "but the fact is coal kills people.


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Hayward superintendent placed on paid leave over handling of Ray McDonald visit

Stan "Data" Dobbs was place on paid administrative
leave Wednesday evening.
HAYWARD | Embattled Hayward Superintendent Stan "Data" Dobbs was placed on paid administrative leave effective immediately, said school board president Lisa Brunner.

In a statement at the start of Wednesday's board meeting, Brunner said the school district is investigating Dobbs' knowledge and handling of former San Francisco 49ers player Ray McDonald's visit last February to Tennyson High School.

The investigation, according to Brunner's statement, is ongoing and focuses, in part, on a letter Dobbs sent to Tennyson parents that appeared to shield blame from himself and suggest, instead, the high school's principal and Hayward Promise Neighborhood were to blame for McDonald's appearance and its vetting.

Ray McDonald spoke to 200 at-risk Tennyson
students last February.
McDonald was charged for allegedly raping a woman in Santa Clara County and was due to stand trial for the incident just weeks after his visit to address about 200 at-risk students about self-control.

A number of Tennyson parents were upset when word of McDonald's visit spread after the fact and the story went national, including a debate over the incident on a popular ESPN talk show.

The school board's investigation appears set to surround on the question of whether Dobbs knew about McDonald's visit beforehand and whether the former football player was properly vetted in a similar manner to others visiting any public school in Hayward.

When the McDonald story broke last March, a representative for the federally-funded Hayward Promise Neighborhood program, which also sponsored the event, acknowledged to the East Bay Express that Dobbs was fully aware of McDonald and approved it. Later, the same Hayward Promise representative had no comment when a Hayward school district employee told NBC Bay Area that Dobbs had no part in the McDonald visit.

In recent months, Dobbs' future as superintendent has been seen as threatened, according to many of his supporters. In late May, Dobbs' attorney sent the school district a letter laying out the specific terms of his resignation as superintendent. However, two weeks ago, when Dobbs was asked publicly by a school board member about whether he plans to leave the school district, he answered no to thundering applause from his backers in the audience.

Dr. Matt Wayne, the school district's assistant superintendent, was elevated to acting superintendent while the investigation moves forward.