Five candidates are seeking the short two-year term left open after Barbara Halliday's election to mayor.


san Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy opposed Measure Z in 2010, but is now advocating for its renewal this fall.


Few elected officials have a longer, more notorious list of misdeeds than AC Transit member Joel Young, but defeating him won't be easy.


Two years ago, the Tri Valley helped to undermine a massive transportation sales tax, its county supervisor says he won't be embarrassed again this fall.


Assemblymember Rob Bonta casts his ballot June 3 in Alameda.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hayward City Council Chooses Marquez to Fill Its Open Seat

Hayward's new Councilmember
Elisa Marquez
HAYWARD CITY COUNCIL | The Hayward City Council is back at full strength after appointing Planning Commissioner Elisa Marquez to serve the remaining two years of Mayor Barbara Halliday’s council term.

The choice of Marquez is a twofer for a council in need of a shot of diversity. She represents a second woman on the council and its second Latino representative. The seat became open after Halliday’s victory in June elevated her from council member to mayor.

Marquez was one of five candidates who interviewed Tuesday night for appointment to the two-year seat. The council also spent roughly three hours questioning two other planning commissioners, Vishal Trivedi and Rodney Loche; Hayward businessman Brian Schott and Mark Salinas, who up until two weeks ago held a seat on the City Council. Instead, of defending his seat this June, he, instead, chose a run for mayor.

Hayward City Council applicants await
their turn Tuesday to be interviewed
for the open two-year council seat.
The choice of Marquez, however, was not unanimous. A majority of the six-person council registered support for Marquez and Loche, who ran for the council this spring and finished a distant fifth for the open pair of seats. The council vote was 4-2, with two Loche supporters from the election, Councilmembers Greg Jones and Marvin Peixoto, voting against Marquez’s bid.

“This is my home. This is where I've lived my entire life. I have no other aspirations other than to serve my community,” Marquez said in an interview following her appointment. She was raised and educated in Hayward. Her family owned three restaurants in the downtown area when she was growing up, she said.

For her first order of business, she plans to begin working with her new colleagues, while focusing on the current council priorities. “I’m definitely going to be outspoken and share my ideas, but I think in beginning there’s going to be a learning curve to understand the lay of the land.”

Before Tuesday night, Hayward’s City Council counted only one woman among its ranks since 2010. With Marquez’s appointment it also regains a second Latino to join Councilmember Francisco Zermeno. The lack of Latino representation has been sorely lacking during the same time its population in Hayward has risen to 40 percent—its largest demographic.

“They need a voice,” said Marquez. “They’re the highest population that lives in my neighborhood—South Hayward. They’re my neighbors. They’re the people that I interface at the grocery store. I speak their language and understand their plight and when we make decision we need to really take that into consideration.”

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Five Will Interview for Hayward Council Seat, Including One Who Just Lost Seat

HAYWARD CITY COUNCIL | Hayward may have a new council member Tuesday night. On Friday, the City Council narrowed to 5 the list of 18 applicants hoping to fill out the remaining two years of Barbara Halliday's council term. Halliday, a council member, was elected mayor in June.

Mark Salinas' council seat is still warm.
All five are well-known to Hayward politics, including one candidate who was a member of the City Council just two weeks ago. Council members whittled down the large list of applicants after each choosing the names of five applicants. Those who received a minimum of three votes advanced to a round of interviews on Tuesday, after which it is expected the council will appoint a new member. (See the nomination matrix below.)

Former Councilmember Mark Salinas is hoping for a return to the dais after choosing not to seek re-election to his council seat. Instead, Salinas ran for mayor this spring, but finished second to Halliday. Salinas received support from five of his former colleagues. Only Councilmember Francisco Zermeno, who was also a candidate for mayor, left Salinas off his ballot.

Eliza Marquez would fill two council
deficiencies--women and minorities.
Meanwhile, two young members of the Hayward Planning Commission received unanimous support from the council. Commissioner Elisa Marquez and Vishal Trivedi garnered six votes apiece. Both candidacies are bolstered by a need on the council for diversity. Until Sara Lamnin's election, Halliday had been the one female voice on the council since 2010. Marquez is the only woman to be interviewed Tuesday.

In addition, Salinas' departure left the council will just one Latino representative--Zermeno. Over 40 percent of Hayward is Latino, which makes it the city's largest demographic

Another planning commissioner, Rodney Loche, received support from five members. Councilmember Sara Lamnin, only elected last month, excluded Loche from her list. Loche finished a distant fifth in the June council election. Hayward businessman and former mayoral candidate, Brian Schott, will also be interviewed Tuesday. Schott received three votes.

The only notable applicant who failed to gain enough support is for mer AC Transit board member Rocky Fernandez. The union-backed council candidate from last June finished a disappointing third despite significant funding from the Service Employees International Union Local 1021, which is in an on-going labor dispute with the city. Fernandez received just two votes. Not surprisingly, oen vote came from Lamnin, who SEIU also supported, but also one from Zermeno.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Save San Leandro Hospital Vet Appointed to Eden Township Board

Roxann Lewis is the newest member of 
the Eden Township Healthcare District
Board of Directors.
EDEN TOWNSHIP | One of the people who helped San Leandro Hospital escape closure last year is now a member of the Eden Township Healthcare District Board of Directors.

The board unanimously approved the appointment of Roxann Lewis Wednesday to replace former board member Carole Rogers, who resigned earlier this month.

Lewis will serve the last six months of Rogers’ term in office. The seat and two others is up for re-election in the fall. Rogers, herself, served on the board since 2006 and positioned the Eden Township Healthcare District to challenge Sutter Health, then operator of San Leandro Hospital, in court since 2010 over a plan to shutter the community hospital.

In Lewis, the board appears to have selected a similar replacement. Lewis is also a former nurse who once worked at San Leandro Hospital and helped in the cause against Sutter Health.

This week’s appointment and fall election comes at a pivotal time in the health care district’s history. Without a hospital to oversee, the body is strictly a granting-giving government agency. In addition, some have questioned its long-term viability in this role.

Lewis's seat is up for re-election in November, along with current board members Lester Friedman and Dr. William West.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A’s Lease Deal Approved by Oakland City Council with Minor Changes

Following approval by the Coliseum JPA,
Oakland City Council, the Alameda County
Board of Supervisors meet July 29 for a vote.
OAKLAND CITY COUNCIL | COLISEUM | The A’s Coliseum lease extension is rounding third and heading for home Wednesday after the Oakland City Council voted to approve the 10-year deal, but there may still be some obstacles before it touches the plate. The council voted 5-2, with Brooks abstaining to approve the deal, albeit with a short list of changes, it called minor and not financial.

Although an A’s official Wednesday night called the changes “disappointing,” Council President Pat Kernighan said she met with the team’s co-owner Lew Wolff earlier in the day and characterize the conversation as cordial. “We we’re not arguing over terms,” said Kernighan. Instead, she relayed Wolff’s general sentiment as “Vote it up or vote it down. He needs to move on.” The Alameda County Board of Supervisors, the third rung in the approval process, is scheduled to vote on the lease July 29.

The changes added in a motion by Kernighan appear cosmetic, while adding clarity to some language in the agreement, however, none associated with the length of the deal or any financial stipulations. A alternative motion proposed by Councilmember Larry Reid, essentially to approve the same deal brought before the Coliseum Joint Powers Authority July 3, failed to gain a majority. Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, like Reid, a member of the Coliseum JPA, voted for both proposal. Afterwards, she defended the votes, saying opposition to either motion would send a bad message to the A’s and the possibility of building a new ballpark in Oakland.

In fact, there appears to be no public official in Oakland who opposes keeping the A’s in town indefinitely, but the events of the last few weeks clearly frustrated some council members. “Everybody wants the city of Oakland to get on their page,” said Councilmember Dan Kalb. “I think there needs to be some clarity that team owners, developers and anybody else should be on our page…If someone is not on that page then they’re not a friend of Oakland.” Kalb says the city wants new stadiums in Oakland and urged for all parties to work together and “not get all pissy about something." He added, “Put egos aside to make work what we all want to happen.”

Councilmember Desley Brooks abstain on the modified lease agreement. Brooks criticized the JPA’s negotiator for failing to broker a more equitable deal for the city and county. She also had pointed remarks for A’s management for appearing to threaten the city earlier this month to sign the lease or risk losing the team to another city. “I really take great offense to being threatening by your movement,” Brooks said in the direction of Michael Crowley, the A’s team president.

Reid, however, cautioned the City Council is playing with fire when it comes to holding up the lease deal. “Major League Baseball is tired of us. The A’s are tired and at some time they will do what’s in their best interests.” Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley, who also serves as the chair of the JPA, told the council the scope of negotiations over the last 14 months with the A’s and MLB have been increasingly positive after years of acrimony. “Think about the bigger picture and the prize in front of us,” he said. “We’ve been dealt a deck of cards and right now the A’s are in front of us and we have a golden opportunity.”

Hayward Attracts Eighteen Applicants for Two-Year City Council Seat

Mark Salinas, center, at a Hayward mayoral
forum this spring. He hopes for a return to
the council after just a few weeks.
HAYWARD CITY COUNCIL | Eighteen candidates have applied for the chance to serve out the remaining two years of Barabara Halliday’s Hayward City Council term following her election to mayor last month.

The deadline for applicants was Wednesday. The field of candidates is scheduled to be whittled down by the council on Friday for public interviews starting next Tuesday.

The list of prospective candidates includes former Councilmember Mark Salinas, who is hoping for a return to the council just weeks after leaving the body. In June, Salinas finished second in the mayoral race to Halliday. Therefore, Salinas chose not to run for re-election to his seat this spring and was replaced by Councilmember Sara Lamnin.

Two other council candidate from last June also applied. They include the union-backed Rocky Fernandez, who finished third to the eventual winner, Lamnin and Councilmember Marvin Peixoto, and Planning Commissioner Rodney Loche, who finished fifth.

Two other notable applicants from the Hayward Planning Commission, which, like most cities acts as a training ground for prospective council members, are Elisa Marquez and Vishal Trivedi.

Other candidates include: Cheryl Butler-Adams, Danial da Silva, Shaun English, Valarie Evans, Faryal Habib, Austin Intal, Fahim Khan, Charlie Peters, Theresa Reyes, Manny Sawit, Brian Schott, Thuy Tran, Virginia Williamson.

On Friday, the list of applicants will be winnowed by council members. Candidates who appear on at least three of the seven ballots will advance to the interview stage on July 22. A new member could be appointed that night.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Oakland Moves to Stuff the Ballot with Important Referendums

Oakland voters might be asked to decide
between two competing measures to
raise the minimum wage. 
OAKLAND CITY COUNCIL | Three ballot initiatives were approved by the Oakland City Council Tuesday, one of which will ask voters to renew a controversial $98 annual parcel tax to fund additional public safety programs. Oakland voters will also be asked to approve initiatives to bolster the Public Ethics Commission with additional funding and raise the minimum wage to $12.25. A fourth measure hoping to act as an alternative to the minimum wage increase could also be added before the end of the month.

In the fall, Oakland voters will be asked to reauthorize a reworked version of Measure Y, which was approved by Oakland voters in 2004. But some have called it ineffective in staunching crime and more importantly, not having shown much bang for its buck. A minimum staffing level of 802 police officers included in the previous measure to ensure the tax was received by the city was ultimately not met. The new version also includes a minimum staffing figure, this time, mimicking the current number of officers on the force, at 678. Some council members, though, were clearly weary of the new number.

“It had both successes as well as a huge disappointment,” Council President Pat Kernighan said of the original Measure Y and its staffing requirements. “I never want to go through that again. I don’t want to promise more than we can deliver.” A proposal to set the number of minimum officers at 700, also met opposition. Kernighan added, she believes because of budget uncertainty in the next 18 months, the city’s police force will certainly drop below the proposed figure. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan also worried about setting a minimum because of rising costs for adding more officers in the future. “I guess, once burned…” Quan said without finishing her sentence. Quan, however, supports the measure, as did the entire council. Councilmember Desley Brooks abstained.

Voters will also be asked to approve Councilman
Dan Kalb's initiative to fund the toothless
Public Ethics Committee.
Proponents of the Measure Y reauthorization, however, said the additional revenue for funding small parts of the police and fire departments, along with other public safety-related community groups, will continue to help make its city streets more safe. Before massive police layoffs brought the number of police officers below the 802 threshold, Oakland received a healthy $20 million from Measure Y. Four years ago, Oakland voters passed an initiative to rework Measure Y and omit the minimum staffing requirement for collecting the parcel tax.

Voters will also be asked to approve a City Charter amendment that would allocate $500,000 annually for Oakland’s perennially funding-starved Public Ethics Commission. The bare bones staff does not have the funding or staffing to adequately investigate allegations of city wrong-doing and corruption, advocates say. Over the past year, adding teeth to the commission has been a pet issue for Councilmember Dan Kalb, who authored the initiative.

The council also approved adding a ballot measure to raise the city’s hourly minimum wage to $12.25 by March 2015. The proposal, backed by a group named Lift Up Oakland, had already been certified by the Alameda County Registrar’s office after offering over 33,000 signatures for its backing. However, the council’s approval was merely clerical. A potential competing initiative, to be offered July 22 and backed by the Oakland Chamber of Commerce and Kernighan, aims to offer a more drawn out time line for raising the minimum wage along with some exceptions for businesses with less than 20 employees.

Who Knew Ellen Corbett Speaks Spanish?

STATE SENATE | State Sen. Ellen Corbett, Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, along with members of the California Latino Legislative Caucus, traveled to Central America this week looking to gauge the growing immigration situation that has led to the detention of nearly 90,000 youths at the U.S. border.

The trip is only  a fact-finding mission, they say, but if the entire Latino delegation is busy for translation, they could use Corbett. This week, her office released two public service announcements to inform Californians about the current drought epidemic. In one, Corbett narrates the 30-second spot in English, of course, while the same commercial also features Corbett en Espanol.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Controller Recount is Proving Fruitless for Perez Chances to Overtake Yee

CONTROLLER | RECOUNT | The writing appears to be on the wall for former Assembly Speaker John Perez's bid to overtake Alameda’s Betty Yee in the recount of its contentious primary race last month.

Perez’s handpicked precincts are not gaining many votes to negate the 481 votes difference between he and Yee for the second place spot in the November General Election. Republican Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearingen finished first.

Last Friday, Perez actually lost a single vote in Imperial and Kern County. On Monday, the tally was a net positive of four votes for Perez. No change came from Tuesday's recount.

Perez's legal right to pick and choose which areas to recount has caused some consternation in Sacramento and the media for being unfair. The move also evokes painful memories from the Florida presidential recount in 2000. On Wednesday, Assemblymember Kevin Mullin said he will offer legislation to overhaul the crazy quilt of recount rules across the state.

Early recount returns may have been the impetus for the state Democratic Party, meeting in Oakland last weekend, to officially endorse Yee in the fall. Democrats initially fear the potential divisiveness from recount may inadvertently aid the Republican in November remain plausible, however, early returns are showing the fall of Perez from the speakership to a disappointing primary showing make shifting support to Yee the correct line of attack going forward.

Although, Swearingen won the primary, her chances of winning in November are slim. Democrats also take pride in dominating every single statewide office and this controller's race represents the campaign where the Republican could mount some challenge.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Shelia Young Won't Run for San Leandro Mayor; Will Seek Oro Loma Seat, Instead

SAN LEANDRO | MAYOR | Following San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy’s decision not to seek a re-election and an early list of unsatisfying candidate, Shelia Young, the city’s former mayor had been contemplating another run this year. However, she ruled against running for mayor Monday in favor of a third attempt at winning a seat on the Oro Loma Sanitary District Board of Directors.

“I will not be running for mayor, even though my heart is still there,” said Young, who served two terms as mayor. “I do not have the same conviction to run for mayor as I once did, although I still believe it is the most important and influential opportunity to bring detailed opportunities to San Leandro.”

Young first won election to mayor in 1998 and won re-election four years later. She still maintains the title, mayor emeritus. In both 2010 and 2012, Young narrowly missed winning a seat on the Oro Loma Sanitary District Board.

This year, the Oro Loma board, which is notable for being one of the oldest in the East Bay (a majority are in their late 80s and almost entirely white males), has three seats up for grabs this November. The special district oversees sewers, solid waste and recycling services for over 135,000 residents in San Leandro, Hayward and unincorporated Alameda County.

Meanwhile, the list of San Leandro mayoral candidates include Councilmembers Diana Souza, Pauline Cutter and local theater owner Dan Dillman.

Oakland Has Another Dog in the Race

Einstein: by all accounts, the Oakland 
mayoral race is destined to be vicious.
OAKLAND | MAYOR | Twenty humans believe they have a shot at unseating Oakland Mayor Jean Quan. Add one canine named Einstein.

The political pooch added his name last week to the still growing mayoral field for November ranked choice voting race. Candidates have until Aug. 9 to finalize their candidacy.

"I like to run. A lot! I mean A LOT! So make no mistake, I can make it all the way to the finish line, and I invite you to join me!” said the Shepherd Mix-American.

In addition to possibly being the only candidate with the ability to lick its own genitals, Einstein’s platform is as ambitious as any of the other candidates in the race that includes Councilmembers Rebecca Kaplan, Libby Schaaf; Port Commissioner Bryan Parker; Attorney Dan Siegel; university professor Joe Tuman and City Auditor Courtney Ruby, among others.

Based upon his political stances, Einstein is no Blue Dog Democrat. If elected, he plans to institute reforms at the Oakland Animal Shelter, push for the prosecution of those behind the killing of Oakland resident Alan Blueford, oppose the Domain Awareness Center and cut the fat at City Hall, says his website. “Another Oakland is possible!” barked Einstein.

There is precedent for a dog running and even winning an election. Three decades ago, the tiny Alameda County hamlet of Sunol elected Bosco. He served nearly 90 years in office (dog years) before his passing.

Friday, July 11, 2014

A Farewell To Michael Sweeney, The Man Who Made It Easier To Cover Government

One of the few occasions when I was attempting to surreptitiously keep an eye on former Hayward Mayor Michael Sweeney's public dealings, otherwise known as a photo bomb. PHOTO/Natalia Aldana
Michael Sweeney ended three non-
consecutive terms as Hayward's mayor
this week.
HAYWARD | APPRECIATION | I like to think former Hayward Mayor Michael Sweeney called me “Hurricane Tavares” because he agreed with my periodic buzzing of the bad characters in his city. I also like to think my ideals of good and honest government was in line with his since his tenure as mayor never attracted my attention for being a hindrance to democracy. Yet, for being such a thorough leader, Sweeney was often a quiet and somewhat mercurial political character. However, there was never any doubt that behind closed doors, he towered over Hayward government. The conga line of unanimous council votes was the urging and sometimes insistence of Sweeney, but such power, often easily misused by other politicians, never seemed to used against the people of Hayward.

As a political reporter, it’s not often that I can reveal what I really think about the people I chronicle every day, but upon Sweeney’s retirement this week, I can suspend the precepts of the Fifth Estate. I think the man who often wore a simple dress shirt and khakis to every public appearance—rolled up sleeves, of course—was an honest politician. There was a very paternal feel to Sweeney’s tenure in office. Sometimes he even appeared to be giving his council colleagues that look only a parent can convey to their children. Other times, like when he would jokingly chide now-former Councilmember Mark Salinas to quit yapping, he was also imparting friendly advice to be more concise in your thoughts. Sweeney didn’t say much, therefore, when he did, people listened.

Sweeney worst act in office, as an
A's fan, may have been once posing
with the Giants World Series trophies.
I’ll admit to never being able to crack the mind of Michael Sweeney in the four years covering Hayward politics. He’s an old school private guy. On many occasions, I attempted to prod Sweeney into talking about probably the biggest missteps of his political career during his campaign for the State Senate. During that race his campiagn infamously sent a hit piece that inadvertently included his opponent’s Social Security number. He lost that one and would never bite when I mentioned the unfortunate event. The entire episode intrigued me just for the fact it may have been the only time Sweeney acted un-Sweeney-like. But, sure, Sweeney was not adverse to talking trash in the public realm. He often trashed Hayward's representative in Sacramento for caving against the interests of his residents a few years ago during the dissolution of redevelopment agencies. However, the attacks against Ellen Corbett and Mary Hayashi, although vicious, were always about the game, not the players.

That being said, his legacy in Hayward is not entire clear. The city has long struggled to acclimate itself to its post-industrial economy and the Great Recession did nothing but exacerbate its dwindling revenue base. However, it may be better to view Sweeney’s Hayward through a different lens. What would the city look like today if it didn’t have his leadership to keep the near-sinking ship afloat during the worst of times? Let’s be frank, the lack of quality among political leaders in Hayward is troublesome and its bench is quite thin. It’s scary to think what the city would look like today if it didn’t have someone like Sweeney who could draw up his perspective as the area’s former assemblyman and the perception he was no longer beholden to Sacramento, labor unions or any other special interest group other than the people of Hayward.

Make no mistake, Sweeney’s departure will be immediately evident on many levels and it will be interesting to see if the new mayor, Barbara Halliday, can keep the holes in Hayward plugged in the short-term. I will honestly miss the soothing cadence of the council meetings Sweeney's leadership imparted and on a practical note, there is this: Doesn't everybody like the co-worker who makes your job easier? Michael Sweeney's commitment to good government was impeccable. For a guy like me, there was never any need to keep watch on him.

When Will The Raiders Stop Taking A Knee In Stadium Negotiations?

Dr. Death addressing the Oakland City
Council earlier this year.
OAKLAND COLISEUM | Ray Perez viewed last week’s Coliseum Joint Powers Authority meeting from the back of the room. Missing was the silver and black war paint and Raiders head dress festooned with a row of foam hatchets. Otherwise, known as Dr. Death, the Sacramento native who acts as Raider Nation’s unofficial political adviser, didn’t have time to don his alter ego for 8:30 a.m. meeting to discuss the A’s controversial lease extension. Perez, like other fervent Raiders fans, continue to suspect the 10-year deal does little to help the A’s own quest for a new stadium and essentially torpedoes the Raiders desire for a new stadium at the existing Coliseum complex.

It’s not clear which entity originally fostered the conquer-and-divide tactic on A’s and Raiders fans, which in almost all cases, is the precisely the same person, but it has succeeded in causing a hysteria specifically for Raiders fan, who still harbor unspoken, but deep pain within the playbook of their minds for the team's original sin resulting in a move to Los Angeles in 1982. Essentially the love of their lives jilted them three decades ago and after years of intense prayer, she finally came to her senses and moved back home. So, you can understand why Raiders fans are a bit protective about the thought of their long-legged, silver and black beauty resting in the arms of another city.

However, there’s more to this torrid love affair between the Raiders and their fandom. The bitch is lying to you and she’s been doing it to you for some time. In fact, she may have inadvertently let her guard down last week in the form of a letter from the attorneys representing Colony Capital, the developer who has showed interest in building the sprawling Coliseum City. A letter sent July 2 to the JPA and the City of Oakland asserts the A’s lease would greatly undermine the building a new Raiders stadium because the developer and/or the Raiders only want to build it on the exact same imprint as the current stadium. Where do the A’s go then?

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan
at a Save Oakland Sports
event last February.
More succinctly, it has not been communicated why a new football stadium cannot be constructed on another part of the large Coliseum property concurrently with the old one. Best case scenario, you start building the football stadium near Hegenberger Road, finish it, then implode the old stadium and hopefully begin work on the ballpark for the A’s near 66th Avenue. It’s not much more complicated than that, yet the Raiders insist on doing it their way. But, here’s the rub. It’s hardly appropriate for Colony and the Raiders to dictate the whole production when, as of yet, they have absolutely no financial stake in the final product.

In the meantime, it appears as if Raiders owner Mark Davis is twiddling his thumbs in hopes the whole sticky situation takes care of itself. Davis’s own upbringing as a spoiled rich child of an immensely powerful football mind with no interest in taking over the family business often evokes comparisons to the Chris Farley character in Tommy Boy. The analogy is apt and—spoiler alert!—in the end, Tommy Callahan saves the family business and keeps it in town. But, forget the Hollywood ending in Oakland because there is a growing chorus of public officials who are voicing displeasure with the Raiders inaction.

Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, who helped negotiate the A’s lease deal, said Thursday, the development team featuring Colony Capital has routinely missed deadlines for the Coliseum City project and basically has not put their money where their mouth is. “Frankly, I’m outraged that anyone would try to pit these teams against one another,” said Kaplan. “We must act now to keep both the A’s and Raiders in Oakland.”

Outspoken Oakland Councilmember Larry Reid is also not one to mince words, especially when it comes to his beloved A’s and Raiders and his political rival Oakland Mayor Jean Quan. Reid skewered Quan and her relationship to Colony Capital, along with her repeated prediction a term sheet for Coliseum City would be had by the end of this summer. On Thursday, Quan came out in favor of the A's lease deal. “We’re pleased that the mayor has had a change of heart and now agrees with us,” Reid said. “But if she’s serious, is she willing to tell the Coliseum City development team to get its act together?"

Raiders owner Mark Davis:
Has the greatness of the 
Raiders skipped a generation?
In addition, Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, possibly the local elected official with the closest relationship to Davis is also sounding downright frustrated with Colony Capital and the Raiders. “I think the problem with the Raiders—and I’m not going to say anything bad about Mark Davis---Mark has been very genuine, very upfront, but, bottom line, they don’t have the money like Jerry Jones or Robert Kraft or the Fords. They require a large public subsidy. Maybe what the Raiders could do is get a part-owner that has a lot of money, that’s willing to put money in? But, public entities aren’t going to put in $365 million into a new stadium just for the Raiders. Ten games?

The juxtaposition between building a stadium for just 10 football games versus, say, 81 or more dates during the baseball season is comment heard with more and more regularity. It may signal that, yes, the City of Oakland and Alameda County officials have indeed begun moving toward serving the A’s before the Raiders, despite Davis’s status as the only Oakland franchise owner on record to have eyes only for Oakland.

So, while elected officials get pilloried by small-minded sportswriters for being dimwits, the reality is why should they not be discounting Colony Capital and the Raiders when they all they shown to be good at is blowing smoke? Some speculate Colony Capital believes local government is feigning the ironclad statement against using public dollars as a negotiating tactic. “The developers, Colony, they expect public agencies to come up with over $300 million,” said Haggerty. “Do you think the Board of Supervisors or the City Council is going down that road again?”

In fact, the A’s have a better shot at winning the Super Bowl than the Raiders do for receiving public financing. There is absolutely no way the taxpayers of Alameda County will tolerate building cathedrals of sport for billionaire owners. It will never happen. The A’s seem to understand the political temperature of the East Bay, the Raiders do not. However, is there another play the Raiders can call to make a stadium happen? How about bonding the team, which could possibly be worth over $1 billion? “They don’t want to do it,” said Haggerty. “They could do what the 49ers did. They could leverage the team, but Mark doesn’t want to do that.”

So, let’s review: the Raiders don’t want to find a sugar daddy part-owner and they don’t want to finance the stadium on their own like their South Bay rivals, the 49ers. Consequently, their only concrete proposal to blow up the Coliseum is the least plausible. In fact, the only place on Earth that could satisfy the Raiders demands for a massive public subsidy that would cast a large shadow over rampant poverty, poor schools and a crumbling infrastructure is Brazil. And if you think those were protests in Brazil, you never heard of Occupy Oakland.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Halliday Takes the Helm in Hayward

Hayward Mayor Barbara Halliday takes
the oath of office Tuesday night.
HAYWARD CITY COUNCIL | Hayward said goodbye to one mayor and welcomed a familiar face. Mayor Barbara Halliday took the oath of office Tuesday night and urged residents to join her in moving Hayward forward. “I’m ready to get to work and I hope everyone else is,” she said during her inaugural address.

Halliday, who topped a four-person field last June to replace the retiring Michael Sweeney, said, “My most important goal is to make this city a more nurturing and healthier place for children to grow up in.” She also vowed to boost Hayward’s moribund economy and improve its overall quality of life, including seeing through the new general plan sketched out over the past year.

Strengthening partnerships with the school district, Hayward's colleges, its business community and faith-based institutions will have be important to the city’s future, said Halliday. “None of us can do it alone. We have to work together.”

Civic participation in Hayward has been a lingering problem, as has voter apathy. Halliday notably challenged residents by evoking President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural speech to give back to their community. “We need to step it up and bring a lot of other people with us,” she said.

Outgoing mayor Michael Sweeney ended eight years at the helm in Hayward thanking residents for giving him his start in politics starting with his election to the City Council in 1982. “At the end of the day we serve you all and without you the City of Hayward doesn’t mean a whole heck of a lot,” Sweeney said, while addressing residents.

In addition to Sweeney, the Hayward City Council also said farewell, at least for the time being, to Councilmember Mark Salinas, who chose to run for mayor instead of defending his council seat this spring. Salinas, however, could be a strong front runner for appointment later this month to Halliday’s remaining two years of her council term. In fact, his final remarks sounded much like a pitch for a return to the City Council. “Our city’s future is based on much we invest in our city’s children, college students and our families. Hayward has all of the ingredients that some of our most developed cities in our area and the world has,” said Salinas, before adding, “Of course, I would have liked to have won, but I didn’t and when you lose, you have to say goodbye.”

New Councilmember Sara Lamnin, the top vote-getter last June in the City Council race, struck a positive note throughout her remarks and declared, “Together we will move Hayward forward.” In addition, Councilmember Marvin Peixoto was sworn-in for a second term and the new City Council voted to name Councilmember Greg Jones as mayor pro tempore (Hayward’s version of vice mayor) for the next year.

Meanwhile, the dais is still missing a seventh member. On Tuesday night, the new council agreed to a timeline for securing applications and determining an interview schedule that could fill out the council before the end of this month. The application is available on the city’s web site and due before the end of business hours next Wednesday, July 16.

Two days later each council member will choose up to five applicants and candidates named on at least three ballots will be interviewed during the July 22 council meeting. A new member could potentially be named that night. The approved timeline allows for the decision to be put before voters during the November General Election. However, there appears to be little support for leaving the council in flux for another four months.

Bryan Parker Says City Needs A Greater Sense of Urgency Over A’s Deal

Bryan Parker says he still prefers a 
waterfront ballpark for the A's
OAKLAND | MAYOR | Oakland mayoral candidate Bryan Parker is urging the City Council to approve the contentious 10-year A’s lease deal and not play a “high-stakes game of chicken with an owner who has already suggested he does not want to be in Oakland.”

Parker slammed his mayoral opponents involved in the deal Thursday, Mayor Jean Quan and Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, for opposing then supporting the lease deal that will keep the A’s at Coliseum at least until 2018. “I certainly understand wanting the best deal possible for Oakland, however, having all but lost the Warriors, Oakland leadership still does not get the sense of urgency needed in such matters,” said Parker.

Media reports Thursday included comments from Quan who now supports the lease deal some believe is inequitable to taxpayers because it ultimately lowers the teams rent over the course of the deal and absolves the A’s of disputed parking taxes the team withheld from the city and county.

Parker, however, maintains the best location for a new ballpark in Oakland is at Howard Terminal, near Jack London Square. Parker is also a Quan appointee to the Port of Oakland Board of Commissioners, which owns the waterfront property. Earlier this spring the Port approved an exclusive negotiating agreement with a group of Oakland business people to potentially build a ballpark on the waterfront. A’s ownership, however, prefers the current Coliseum site.

“Waterfront or Coliseum, I would rather see the A's in Oakland than not at all,” said Parker. “Lesson is that our leaders must lead, lead with urgency and try to be understanding of the business concerns our partners bring to the table.”

Former San Leandro Mayor Calls Out Current One for Stance on Tax Measure

San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy
and former Mayor Tony Santos are still
rivals four years later.
SAN LEANDRO | Former San Leandro Mayor Tony Santos says the current mayor should apologize to residents for opposing a quarter percent sales tax increase four years ago that ultimately helped the city escape the Great Recession.

This week, San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy voiced strong support for the renewal of the same sales tax hike, in addition to supporting its increase to a half percent for 30 years.

“He needs to apologize to us,” said Santos, who was defeated by Cassidy in 2010. “He not only supports it now, but he also wants to double it. What is he thinking?” Santos said proceeds from Measure Z became the life blood for the city’s struggling economy, as he predicted. “If voters hadn’t passed Measure Z, the city’s budget would have been disastrous.”

Santos has long been critical of Cassidy’s opposition to the sales tax increase, known as Measure Z. At one point during the campaign, Santos labeled Cassidy’s fiscally conservative campaign as more befitting of the Tea Party. Cassidy didn’t shy away when asked Wednesday about his rival’s comments.

“I opposed Measure Z four years ago because the city first needed to address soaring pension costs. The previous mayor refused to ask current employees to pay their share of pension costs and as a result the voters rejected his bid for re-election,” said Cassidy.

In short, the voters trusted me, not the previous mayor, to spend the Measure Z tax proceeds wisely. As mayor I worked collaboratively and successfully with city employees to address pension and benefit costs. The extension of Measure Z at the half-cent rate will enable the city to address longstanding infrastructure needs, including fixing our roads.”

Cassidy announced in May he will not seek re-election in the fall after one term.

There has been no love lost between Santos and Cassidy even before the mayoral campaign four years ago. In fact, Santos never conceded the election after losing the ranked choice voting race. Santos, though, gained the most first choice votes. However, after six rounds of tabulations, Cassidy came away with a slim 238 vote victory.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Haggerty Vows to Deliver Tri Valley Votes for Latest County Transportation Measure

Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty
opening the campaign Tuesday for Measure BB.
ALAMEDA COUNTY | TRANSPORTATION | The loss of Measure B, the Alameda County transportation sales tax measure defeated two years ago by a razor’s edge, was a problematic electoral setback almost immediately after the last ballot was counted in November 2012. Many described the campaign as disorganized and underfunded, yet it still came within 700 votes of crossing the two-thirds threshold. Undaunted, Alameda County is ready to quickly try again later this year.

A press conference Tuesday featuring county Supervisor Keith Carson, Richard Valle, Scott Haggerty; Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan and AC Transit board member Elsa Ortiz, among others, kicked off the Measure BB campaign. The proposed half-cent sales tax increase will generate over $8 billion over the next 30 years, they say, to stabilize and improve highways, roads and modes of transportation in the East Bay.

Most importantly, it could stimulate over $20 billion in economic activity over the next three decades, said Haggerty. “Did I mention it will create 150,000 jobs?” he added after referencing the number on three different occasions. Others also offered the factoid likely to be a major talking point in the fall.

However, inside the numbers from that ill-fated 2012 election, showed ambivalence in the Tri Valley and Fremont area for the countywide sales tax. Incidentally, both are represented on the county-level by Haggerty. Infamously, just a single precinct in the Tri Valley garnered more than the requisite 66.7 percent of the vote for passage.

Haggerty says the measure’s prospects this time around are better. In June, the same set of voters approved Measure A, the renewal of the county’s health care facilities use tax. “Which means the people in the Tri Valley are feeling good about what’s in their pocket books,” said Haggerty. In addition, he says they have learned from their mistakes two years ago, he said. “We did a poor job of running a campaign in the Tri Valley.”

“One of the mistakes we made is we had two highly-paid and good consultants,” said Haggerty of noted consultants Larry Tramutola and John Whitehurst. But, this time around the plan is to consolidate consulting fees and spread more money on other parts of the campaign. “I’m not knocking them. They’re different guys, different strategies. It just didn’t work,” Haggerty added.

Financing outreach and conveying to each city exactly what it stand to gain from the measure, especially in the areas of the county with less density, will be important in the fall. “We’ll have money this time around and we will run a viable campaign in the Tri Valley if I have to pay for it myself,” said Haggerty. “But, I’m not going to be embarrassed in front of my colleagues by having the Tri Valley hammer the program, again.”

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

San Leandro Places 30-Year Sales Tax Extension on November Ballot

SAN LEANDRO CITY COUNCIL | Nearly four years after voters in San Leandro approved a much-needed sales tax measure viewed by many to have helped the city escape the worst of the Great Recession, city leaders will again ask them to extend the half-cent increase next fall for another 30 years.

The San Leandro City Council approved placing the extension on the ballot Monday night that could potentially net the city $8 million annually in revenue. The vote was 6-0, with Councilmember Ursula Reed absent.

The previous referendum, known as Measure Z, passed in 2010, but included a sunset clause set to expire in 2018. City leaders, however, said the time is now to ask voters to renew the successful sales tax measure to increase budget predictability and repair some of the worst roads in Alameda County.

“The timing is right,” said Councilmember Michael Gregory. In particular, the state of San Leandro’s roads and the lack of funding has been a consistent problem over the past four years, said Gregory “We have been searching and failed to find any funding,” said Gregory. “Nobody has come up with a better solution that I know of.” Federal and state funding for road work is unlikely, he said. “We can’t wait; we have to do this now.”

During his run for office in 2010, San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy campaigned vigorously against Measure Z, but now supports its extension this year. Without the additional sales tax revenue, steep cuts to services and staff that highlighted recent economic down times could return, said Cassidy. “If Measure Z expires and there is no replacement, it will be some hard constraints on our budget.”

Cassidy is not running for re-election this year, but the two council members running to replace him this fall, Councilmembers Diana Souza and Pauline Cutter, both registered strong support for the proposed ballot measure. Councilmember Jim Prola added, he believes the steady flow of sales tax revenue will not only help the city repair its infrastructure, but potentially help it hire more police officers.

The City Council also discussed adding a second ballot measure in November. This one, an extremely simple and non-controversial revision to the City Charter hopes to move the ceremonial appointment of vice mayor from May to January.

Challengers Lining Up to Oppose AC Transit Board Member Joel Young

AC Transit At-Large board member Joel
Young and challengers Tyron Jordan
and Igor Tregub.
AC TRANSIT | Former Berkeley Rent Stabilization Commissioner Igor Tregub announced Tuesday morning he will challenge embattled AC Transit board member Joel Young for his at-large seat in the fall.

“I am running to put the trust back in AC Transit,” Tregub wrote in an email to supporters. “AC Transit needs a representative who understands the needs of the public--whether they have the luxury to choose, in the name of greenhouse gas reduction to leave their car at home, or whether the bus is their only way around and across our cities.”

Tyron Jordan, a legal analyst at the State Department of Justice, is also a candidate for the at-large seat this November. Like Tregub, he has hinted at the incumbent’s long list of transgressions over the past three years. “It is paramount to restore the public's trust in those who sit on the AC Transit Board of Directors, particularly the At-Large seat,” Jordan says on his website.

Needless to say, Young's is one of the most notorious public officials in the entire East Bay. In 2011, Young was accused by his then-girlfriend of striking her in the face after a romantic tryst with another woman. A judge later dismissed competing restraining orders before suggesting Young, in fact, may have abused her.

Subsequently, during Young’s run for Oakland’s 18th Assembly District seat in 2012, he was stripped of an important labor endorsement after he was found to be distributing union questionnaires of his Democratic opponents to undermine their candidacy among moderate and conservative voters. Young also created an uproar by often falsifying personal endorsements for his Assembly campaign, incidentally, including Tregub, who threatened legal action that year.

Furthermore, last year, the AC Transit Board of Directors voted to censure Young for using his position on the board for personal benefit when he used a closed session legal strategy involving labor negotiations in another case he led for the law firm he was employed.

However, running for the at-large seat involves an expensive and unwieldy countywide campaign. In addition, transportation board elections are typically down ballot races that favor the incumbent and garner very little press coverage. Despite Young’s clear vulnerabilities, beating him will be no simple task.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Taking the Oakland City Council's Temperature on the A's Lease Deal

OAKLAND CITY COUNCIL | There remains no clear gauge for how the Oakland City Council may react to the proposed 10-year lease approved last week by the Coliseum Joint Powers Authority allowing the A's to continue playing at Coliseum.

The San Francisco Chronicle offered a potential preview Monday of the vote to come before the City Council sometime before the end of the month. Members of the Coliseum JPA--Councilmembers Larry Reid and Rebecca Kaplan--along with Noel Gallo, are on record in favor of the lease deal. But, put down Councilmember Desley Brooks as a possible no, according the Chronicle. Incidentally, Brooks was removed from the JPA last year by Council President Pat Kernighan.

Otherwise, the remaining four members and Mayor Jean Quan appear on the fence, said the paper, although all are voicing general support for the A's remaining in Oakland and, hopefully, playing in new digs sometime in the foreseeable future.

Under the terms of the JPA, which oversees the publicly-owned Coliseum complex, the Oakland City Council and Alameda County Board of Supervisors must also approve the lease. Most expect the vote on the county side to be far less contentious than the city side. Elected officials in Oakland have openly expressed an opinion a belief they were left out in the cold over the finer points surrounding the 14-month negotiating process between the A's and the JPA.

There is no official date for either government body to vote on the A's lease.

Swalwell Parries with Rick Perry

CONGRESS | 15TH DISTRICT | Rep. Eric Swalwell meet Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Multiple media reports described it as “sparring” last week between the freshman Democrat and the folksy Texan who received the question while sitting side saddle. But, it was hardly that.

In fact, Swalwell’s questioning of Perry over the immigration and detention of young people attempting to cross the border from Central America fizzled to the point where the subject began quizzing the questioner into making comments that could be construed by the Fox News crowd as liberal flip-flopping.

“Do you not agree that they need to be sent back to where they’re from?” Perry began questioning Swalwell.

“I do agree on a case-by-case basis, we do not want them to come here,” Swalwell answered. But, possibly sensing a chance to corner Swalwell, Perry pressed on.

“But you agree—I want you on the record here in front of God and everybody—you agree that they need to be sent back to the country where they came from?” said Perry.

Watch the entire exchange below:

Hayward City Council to Forego Pay Raise; Swear-In New Mayor Tuesday

HAYWARD CITY COUNCIL | At least, the Hayward City Council puts its money where its mouth is.

As the city continues its hard line against some of its public employee labor groups, the Daily Review reports, the new City Council will again turn down a 2.6 percent cost of living increase and continue paying half the cost of its dental insurance premium.

During the recent city elections in Hayward, unhappy union officials charged the City Council with sweetening their own pot with pay raises and additional benefits while lowering those of city workers, but the allegations were totally false.

Conversely, many public officials in other East Bay cities were aghast to learn of Hayward's over-the-top gambit to impose a five percent wage cut on workers earlier this year. Although Hayward’s fiscal landscape is somewhat dreary, the economic hole it faced is no different than other city in the Bay Area, or even the state.

On Tuesday, the continuing hostility between management and labor in Hayward enters a new and hopefully equitable phase with the swearing–in of a new mayor and council member. Mayor-elect Barbara Halliday will officially become Hayward’s next leader, replacing Mayor Michael Sweeney, who retires after three non-consecutive terms. Councilmember-elect Sara Lamnin, who was heavily backed by labor, will also be sworn-in Tuesday night along with Councilmember Marvin Peixoto for his second term in office.

The council is also expected to lay the groundwork for appointing a candidate to fill the remaining two years on Halliday’s council term. The appointment will likely be made in the next few weeks.

John Perez Hopes to Overtake East Bay's Betty Yee With Costly Recount

CONTROLLER | Assemblymember John Perez has asked California Secretary of State Debra Bowen for a recount of the state’s controller election that could cost him almost $3 million, it was reported Sunday.

Perez, the former speaker of the State Assembly, finished third in the June 3 primary to Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearingen, a Republican, and Alameda’s Betty Yee, the region’s member on the State Board of Equalization. The margin between the Democratic silver and bronze medalist, however, is a minuscule 481 votes. The top two finishers advance to the November General Election.

The Perez campaign has asked for recounts of 15 counties, according to reports. Nearly all of which are located in Perez’s Southern California strongholds. The closest Bay Area county to be subjected to a recount is San Mateo County.

Nevetheless, East Bay Democrats were undoubtedly elated by Yee’s rousing upset of the more well-known Perez. She was welcomed with a standing ovation by Alameda County Democrats last Wednesday at their monthly central committee meeting in San Leandro.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Quan Says MLB Bullied Oakland With Threat to Relocate

Oakland Councilmember Noel Gallo listens to a public speaker at Friday's Coliseum Joint Powers Authority meeting to approve a 10-year lease for the A's. PHOTO/Steven Tavares
COLISEUM AUTHORITY | Following a strongly-worded letter sent late Wednesday from Oakland
Athletics co-owner Lew Wolff in which he threatened to move the team and said that he had the blessing of Major League Baseball, the Oakland-Alameda County Joint Powers Authority (JPA) approved a ten-year lease to keep the team at Coliseum. The vote was 6-2 with Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan and city representative Aaron Goodwin voting no. The Oakland City Council and Alameda County Board of Supervisors must also approve the deal in the next few weeks.

A change in tenor was evident for Thursday morning's special meeting. Six days ago, an action by the Oakland City Council barring two of its members who sit on the JPA from attending, along with two other absences, ended the meeting before it started due to a lack of a quorum of five members present. The impetus for today’s vote, however, came when A’s management upped the ante Wednesday night, asserting that Major League Baseball would allow the Athletics to temporarily move if the lease deal was not approved by this Friday. City and county leaders then blinked...


Friday, June 27, 2014

Coliseum Authority Does Not Vote on A's Lease Extension After Surprising Oakland City Council Power Play

COLISEUM AUTHORITY | The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Joint Powers Authority did not vote on a proposed 10-year lease scheduled for early Friday morning to keep the Athletics at their current location a following a move by Oakland City Council to bar its two members from participating. The absence of Councilmembers Larry Reid and Rebecca Kaplan, along with two other JPA members, who had previous engagements, meant the JPA failed to muster a quorum and therefore could not release details of the proposed lease Friday, nor register a vote.

The Authority was expected to approve the lease that would keep the A’s at Coliseum while the team explores a new stadium in Oakland. However, the deal also needs the approval of the Oakland City Council and Alameda County Board of Supervisors. The JPA has scheduled another meeting for July 3 in hopes of bringing the lease deal back for consideration.

Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley, who also serves as chair of the Coliseum JPA called the Oakland City Council’s move frustrating and later added, “I am extremely, extremely annoyed and upset.”

Others on the JPA were equally upset with the Oakland City Council’s surprising move, which they say occurred during a special closed session meeting on Monday. Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, who along with Kaplan, worked negotiated the lease deal with the Athletics said in an interview, “I know the deal and it’s a good deal and it also allows the Raiders to build there. I know there’s a lot of people running for mayor (in Oakland). Maybe they’re mad because Rebecca and I did the deal. I don’t know.” When asked if he too was frustrated by Oakland City Hall, Haggerty said “I’m tempering my emotions. I’m not frustrated, I’m pissed off.”

Miley also hinted the two missing Oakland council members may have attending Friday’s meeting if not barred by their council colleagues. “I’m not saying they don’t attend because they didn’t want to attend, but because they were ordered to not attend.”

A City Hall source with knowledge of the closed session decision said the Oakland City Council’s vote is legally-binding and strictly forbids its two members on the JPA from attending Friday’s meeting. In addition, Kaplan’s office declined to comment.

In a joint statement from Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and City Council President Pat Kernighan released Friday afternoon, they said the proposed deal still needs work before it can be put before a vote. “This is an important and complex deal. Our shared work with our partners is to negotiate an agreement that benefits all sides and secures the A’s future in Oakland, while protecting the interests of Oakland residents and taxpayers,” said the statement.

“It was clear we needed more time to negotiate terms that will keep the team in Oakland and protect residents’ interests. Council President Pat Kernighan and Vice Mayor Larry Reid made multiple requests to JPA Chair Nate Miley to reschedule today’s JPA meeting. Our top priority is to ensure this deal is successful, and bringing it to a vote before it was ready would only delay a final agreement with the team.” The city council also met with Athletics representatives on Thursday, according to the statement, and described the talks as “positive and productive.”

However, the further postponement of action on the 10-year lease could have great implications for keeping the Athletics’ ownership and Major League Baseball happy, said Miley. He cited previous support from MLB Commissioner Bud Selig for Oakland as the impetus for bringing the Athletics and the JPA together in talks to build a stadium there and not San Jose as ownership had long desired. “I think Major League baseball wants to keep the A’s in Oakland,” said Miley. “By us not being able to vote on this vote today I really think that sends a chilling message, a bad message to Major League Baseball that is extremely disappointing.” Miley added today’s developments, on its own, could “bring the entire JPA structure crumbling down” in Oakland and Alameda County. In the past, the city’s sports franchise have criticized the JPA structure for being onerous and redundant.

Meanwhile, there were signs ill will between the Athletics ownership and the city and county had thawed considerably following the signing last year of a two-year extension allowing the A’s the play at the Coliseum. “I think the spirit at the table was good. (A’s co-owner) Lew Wolff and (Team President) Mike Crowley were very collegial and wanted to make sure that we could come to terms,” Haggerty said of the most recent negotiations with the team. “They gave a lot and I think they were just trying to show the fans that they wanted to stay in Oakland.” Haggerty then offered public apologies to both. “I think it’s an embarrassing moment for the JPA that we could not have a full board today to go ahead and make the vote.”

Further complicating the lease deal is the feeling by some it could inadvertently compel the Oakland Raiders to explore a new stadium elsewhere. A few public commenters in opposition of the lease deal slammed the Coliseum JPA Friday for possibly undermining the Raiders quest for a stadium in Oakland, while registering frustration for the long period of uncertainty fans for all of Oakland’s sports franchises have faced for over a decade. Alameda resident Brien Dixon told the JPA to “Stop being yo-yoed around and stop yo-yoing us, as well."

The JPA members disagree. “I think there is a lot of misinformation out there,” said Haggerty. “There is no time that any of us are trying to move forward with the A’s and not support the Raiders and in fact, it’s very much not true. I would love to see the Raiders stay.”

NOTE: Addition were made to the article after it was published, including comments from the Oakland City Council and a correction on the date of its closed session meeting.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Contaminated Soil Used to Fill Trench Halts Work on Oakland Army Base Project

Groundbreaking last November for the first 
phase of the Oakland Global project.
PHOTO/Steven Tavares 
OAKLAND CITY COUNCIL | A subcontractor doing work at the Oakland Army improperly filled a utility trench with approximately 20,000 cubic yards of untested soil left over by a former tenant and later found to be contaminated, city staff members said Tuesday. Urban Recycling Solutions, the property's former tenant, has ties to Councilmember Larry Reid and was accused last year of receiving a sweetheart deal allowing it to also accept industrial waste.

The cost of removing the significant amount of soil could be between $2-3 million, said Doug Cole of the city’s Office of Neighborhood Investment. However, overtures have already been made to the former tenant for bearing some of  the clean up costs, Cole added, along with the subcontractor who may have violated protocol by filling the trench without first testing the soil. The subcontractor involved is Morrow-Meadows Corporation of Redwood City. In the meantime, as owner of the property, the city may have front the cost of removal, said Cole.

In April, the Oakland Post reported news of the delay at the large-scale Army Base project backed by Oakland developer Phil Tagami. The report, however, only attributed the delay to substandard work on the utility corridor for underground wiring. It also reported the need for a larger concrete cap on the conduit. Cole added, Tuesday, the city is in disagreement with the Port of Oakland over the size of the concrete cap.

The potential delay for work on the joint trench could be one year, said Cole. John Monetta, the city’s project manager for the Oakland Army Base, however, said while work on the joint trench, for now, will come to a halt, the overall timetable for the project will not likely change.

News of the contaminated soil was not included in the report given Tuesday to the Oakland City Council Community and Economic Development Committee, but referenced in public comment by an Oakland resident. Councilmembers Lynette Gibson McElhaney and Reid were critical of its exclusion and urged Monetta bring such matters to the committee more promptly in the future.

“Twenty thousand yards of contaminated soil--wow,” said Reid following the explanation from city staff. Reid, though, has some ties to the former tenant, Urban Recycling Solutions. Last year, its owner, Tom Chasm, was accused of currying favor with Reid through City Hall insider Darrel Carey. The allegation asserted Chasm paid Carey $1,000 to lobby Reid to approve conditions that would allow the company to begin accepting industrial waste such as soil, concrete and asphalt. In return, they claimed Reid requested $50,000 toward his retirement, which Reid vehemently denied.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Khanna Asks Honda, Why Denounce Redskins, but not Indo American Mailer?

The PAC Working for Us sent two mailers
last month, above and below, that 
offered racial stereotypes against India.
CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | It was an especially steely comment as far as campaign press releases in mid-June go from the Ro Khanna campaign Tuesday morning. And the controversy he may need  to unseat Rep. Mike Honda could be race (if you can believe it).

Recall, shortly before the June primary, a political action committee calling itself "Working for Us" sent a mailer in opposition of Khanna saying, “Don’t let Ro Khanna outsource our jobs.” Another followed with the same theme. “Stop Ro Khanna from shipping American jobs overseas.” Khanna and other Indo American groups protested the loaded language of the mailers. “This is the crudest form of racially coded language,” Khanna would later write in letter deploring the mailers and urging Honda to renounce the ad. Honda did neither and PACs are groups independent of the campaigns they support or oppose.

On Monday, Honda issued support for the U.S. Patent Office’s decision last week to cancel trademark protections for the NFL’s Washington Redskins, a moniker many groups say is racially insensitive to American Indians. “It is now time for the Washington team to move forward in the process of developing a new name that is not disparaging to specific groups of people,” said Honda. “It is offensive to me that in 2014, we continue to have professional, collegiate and lower level sports teams that have names and mascots that are inappropriate. Words and names are powerful, and their impact cannot be underestimated.” Honda was one of 10 congressmembers in May 2013 who publicly called for the team owner to change its nickname.

Khanna’s campaign found more than a bit of hypocrisy in Honda’s support for one cause and not another. “To this day, Congressman Honda remains silent about the offensive ‘outsourcing’ attack launched by his close supporters and donors,” Khanna said in a statement Tuesday. “That it was sponsored by someone outside of his immediate campaign is no excuse for his continued silence. Racism anywhere deserves to be denounced — especially in our political process.”

And, then in one of the most hard-hitting social commentaries you will ever see in a campaign, especially in a race pitting two minorities, Khanna wondered, among other things, if Honda’s campaigns is really about winning at all costs.

“The question for Congressman Honda is why his outrage seems to be selective,” said Khanna. “Does he refuse to speak out against racist messages directed at the Indo American community because it isn’t worthy of his protection? Or is it because it was done in the furtherance of his campaign? The people of 17th District are awaiting an answer.”

Early Crop of San Leandro Mayoral Candidates Failing to Excite, Leaving Others to Contemplate a Run

The lack of quality mayoral candidates
in San Leandro leads some to suggest
Ellen Corbett, left, should run in the fall.
PHOTO/Steven Tavares
SAN LEANDRO | MAYOR | When San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy said last month he would not seek re-election after just one term, it suddenly put the mayor’s race in play. Cassidy appeared headed for re-election in November and although his ill-mannered personality and chronic absenteeism from mayor's offie were huge negatives, Cassidy didn’t bring the city down. In fact, San Leandro’s economic recovery outpaced other neighboring cities and under his guidance earned a growing reputation as the East Bay’s newest hub for technology.

Four years ago, Cassidy came somewhat out of nowhere to become the first candidate to unseat an incumbent mayor in San Leandro. With Cassidy off the ballot in the fall, San Leandrans are struggling to find a suitable replacement. If you ask around, the early current field of prospective mayoral candidates is failing to capture the imagination of prospective supporters and donors.

In fact, this lack of exuberance is not entirely surprising. In recent years, San Leandro politics has suffered from a poor bench of prospective candidates to draw from whether it is for mayor or the City Council. Therefore, from this pool of choices, the first two candidates to enter the race are not even the most effective members of the City Council. Councilmembers Diana Souza and Pauline Cutter have already announced their intention to run. Both share a common trait of appearing uncertain during council deliberations. Although, Souza has fought back against Cassidy’s browbeating, Cutter is viewed as his only council ally, however, in doing so, often looking mousy and meek.

Councilmember Jim Prola's strong ties
to labor would make him a front runner
for mayor, but says he has no interest.
Furthermore, two other members of the City Council better suited for a promotion to mayor, say they have no interest. Councilmember Jim Prola would automatically be the front runner upon announcing, but he has maintained a stubborn aversion to the idea. Similarly, Councilmember Michael Gregory is termed out, but he may feel running for the East Bay Regional Park District board is a more fulfilling endeavor.

Even though, San Leandro has had a history of colorful mayoral candidates running campaigns based more on vanity than policy (think rapper Mo Wiley), Bal Theater owner Dan Dillman may fit this description, but he also has some good ideas and a flair for showmanship. Yet, their candidacies are not providing reason for San Leandro politicos to register full support.

With no future prospects for mayor on the horizon, whispers from the past are being bandied about with great frequency. It’s why former San Leandro Mayor Shelia Young is strongly thinking about running. From time to time, you hear Tony Santos’ name floated. The former mayor who lost to Cassidy in 2010 often appears coy about running, but he’s unlikely to run. Sometimes you even hear suggestions former San Leandro Councilmember Bob Glaze might be interested even though he’s been away from City Hall almost a decade.

The most interesting rumor deals with another former mayor, this time, Ellen Corbett. Although, she will be looking for a new job come December, going from the big pond that is Sacramento to San Leandro might, for her, feel like a huge step backward. However, with San Leandro on the upswing, Corbett in the mayor’s office would be a coup. A small city version of Jerry Brown returning to the East Bay to lead an Oakland renaissance a decade ago.

Either way, just like neighboring Oakland where the list of potential candidates is at 18, the bloated ballot denotes widespread dissatisfaction with the incumbent, but it also means no challenger has been able to gain strong traction. This leads to the next prospective candidate to enter the race and so on. This could happen in San Leandro, too, which like Oakland, employs ranked choice voting, the seemingly haphazard method of choosing its leaders. It's also a system that greatly fosters the belief among political dreamers that anything happen. Four years ago, underdogs Jean Quan and Stephen Cassidy only bolstered that idea.