Friday, February 16, 2018

EBC AGENDA | FEB 16-22 | ALAMEDA, BERKELEY eye ballot measures; ALCO DA candidates meet in SAN LEANDRO; HAYWARD mid-year budget

--ALAMEDA-- Regular council meeting, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 7 p.m. [ENTIRE AGENDA HERE]
--INFRASTRUCTURE BOND MEASURE-- A $95 million general obligation bond measure may be coming to the ballot in Alameda this June. Here is the proposal ballot language to be discussed Tuesday night. “Alameda Clean Water/Disaster-Emergency Preparedness/Pothole Repair Bond. To upgrade storm drains, keep pollution from the Bay, and beaches/parks clean, protect drinking water, address sea-level rise/flooding; repair deteriorating streets/potholes/ police and fire facilities, improve traffic congestion/safety; and other infrastructure, shall the City of Alameda issue $95,000,000 in bonds with average levy of $23 per $100,000 of assessed value, generating approximately $6,000,000 annually to pay bonds over 36 years, and requiring fiscal accountability?”

Up for re-election, three Hayward officials seek to help renters as landlords fund their campaigns

Powerful landlord interests are making early 
bets on Hayward Mayor Barbara Halliday, 
Councilmembers Mark Salinas, Sara Lamnin.
Three Hayward officials received nearly maxed-out contributions from the powerful pro-landlord California Apartment Association (CAA) and affiliates last year, according to campaign finance reports released earlier this month.

At a special Hayward council meeting last week focusing on rental housing affordability in the city in which councilmembers voiced support for alleviating the housing crunch, some activists found the contributions discordant with their rhetoric.

Disgraced Teamsters boss continued to be involved with San Leandro dispensary after two-year ban from union

Powerful Teamsters boss Rome Aloise was
banned from the union in December following
corruption charges.
Nearly a month after Rome Aliose, a powerful local Teamsters leader was banned by the union for two years following corruption charges, he attended a San Leandro City Council retreat, along with Davis Street Family Resource Center CEO Rose Padilla Johnson. Workers represented by Teamsters Joint Council 7, which Aloise previously led, are slated to staff the forthcoming for-profit Davis Street Wellness Center medical cannabis dispensary, which has financial ties to Johnson and the non-profit Davis Street Family Resource Center.

In addition, Johnson's appearance at the Saturday morning, Jan. 20 retreat came two day after she publicly disclosed allegations of sexual misconduct against San Leandro City Manager Chris Zapata--who also attended the council retreat--claiming he pressured her for a sexual relationship in exchange for continued use of public funds for the local non-profit. Zapata denies the allegation and the City Council on Jan. 23 voted to place him on paid administrative leave pending the results of an investigation.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Alameda infrastructure bond measure could be coming to the ballot this year

A proposed Alameda infrastructure bond
measure in June could join other high-
profile tax and fee increases this June.
Last September, hundreds of residents in Alameda's West End reported foul-smelling water coming from the taps and shower heads. Although the exact reason for the leaky pipes is still under investigation, the incident again highlighted the city's aging infrastructure and the lack of funding needed for wholesale repairs.

One proposal then as now is to ask voters to help foot the bill for what the city says is roughly $300 million in needed improvements to Alameda's storm water and drinking water infrastructure not currently budgeted for the next two years.

Quirk bill seeks to avoid screwing the pooch in divorce settlements

Assemblymember Bill Quirk and his dog Luna.
The halcyon days of a new relationship often extends to include the adoption of pets. But in instances where the partnership dissolves, the couple's fur babies are often caught in the middle.

A bill introduced Tuesday by Hayward Assemblymember Bill Quirk seeks for the state to view pets as more than mere property to split among other possessions, but treated more like children during divorce proceedings.

“There is nothing in statute that states a pet must be treated any differently than any other type of property we own. However, as a proud parent of a rescued dog, I know that owners view their pets as more than just property. They become a part of our family, and their well-being should be a consideration during divorce proceedings,” said Quirk, who has a rescue dog named Luna.

Illinois and Alaska have similar laws that allow judges to make determinations based on the pet's best interests, said Quirk's office. One recent case in Canada included an admonition by a judge that if an amicable solution over the pets custody was not resolved, the animal could be ordered sold and the proceeds split among the soon-to-be divorced couple.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

San Leandro councilmember proposes lobbying ordinance

San Leandro Councilmember Lee Thomas
With a number of San Leandro housing projects in the pipeline and a potential push for retail cannabis permits in the near future, Councilmember Lee Thomas believes the city needs a lobbying ordinance in order for the council and public to distinguish whose interests are being served.

Thomas proposed Tuesday night to direct city staff to study how an lobbying registration ordinance could be applied in San Leandro. The council supported the motion, 6-1, with Mayor Pauline Russo Cutter opposing.

Alameda delays decision for more license-plate readers after disclosure of vendor's ties to ICE

A proposal Tuesday night would have allowed
installation of fixed-mounted license-plate readers
near Alameda bridges and other exit points.
A controversial proposal to install 13 Automated License-Plate Readers (ALPRs) mounted at fixed points around Alameda's bridges and exit points may have had a slight majority Tuesday night if not for recent news reports that detailed the vendor's involvement with the U.S. Immigration, Customs Enforcement. The disclosure  persuaded the City Council to re-evaluate its surveillance policies and potentially seeking other license-plate reader companies in the future.

The council voted unanimously to allocate the $500,000 proposed for the mounted ALPRs back to the Alameda Police Department for equipment and technology. A motion by Alameda Councilmember Malia Vella was also approved that maintains the council's power to offer input and review future surveillance policies, along with a hand in creating the city's procurement of bids for future surveillance contracts.

County supervisor lectured Alameda's mayor after she did not support ballot measure that benefits her city's interests

Alameda Mayor Trish Herrera Spencer
The nine-county regional ballot measure this June to raise an estimated $4.5 billion for local transportation projects, includes significant funding for Bay Area ferries, which are immensely popularity in places like Alameda.

But when the Alameda County Transportation Commission voted last Feb. 1 to issue support for the initiative, known as Regional Measure 3, Alameda Mayor Trish Spencer Herrera attempted to abstain and the move appeared to rankle Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, according to audio of the meeting.

Fighting potential loss of committee chair, Desley Brooks unloads on her Oakland City Council colleagues

Oakland Councilmember Desley Brooks
eviscerated her council colleagues during
Tuesday night's meeting.
Even when Oakland Councilmember Desley Brooks knocks down an iconic former Black Panther and potentially costs taxpayers $4.3 million in damages, she still won't back down.

Brooks unleashed a vicious barrage of abuse against five Oakland councilmembers Tuesday night as a proposal that appeared intended to strip her as chairperson of the council's Public Safety Committee was being debated.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Crime is up, raise the bridges! A classic Alameda trope returns with a high-tech spin

Alameda's Park Street drawbridge.
Alameda Police Chief Paul Rolleri says the city is in the midst of a dramatic 30-year drop in crime. However, on Tuesday night he will ask the Alameda City Council to approve the purchase of 13 Automated License-Place Readers (ALPR) to be mounted along the entrance and exit points of the island. The $500,000 purchase would be funded by the city's general fund.

Quirk introduces bill allowing public pot use at special events

Assemblymember Bill Quirk has long been
a strong supporter of cannabis.
With the East Bay on the cusp of becoming awash in legal cannabis, a bill introduced Monday by Hayward Assemblymember Bill Quirk would afford local governments the ability to host cannabis-related special events in their cities.

Is Oakland's Larry Reid being targeted by the Feds? If so, it wouldn't be the first time

In 2007, it was alleged Oakland Council-
member Larry Reid asked for a new air-
conditioning unit in exchange for favors
in Oakland for a contractor. 
Why did Larry Reid disclose last week that a prospective Oakland cannabis dispensary applicant attempted to bribe him in exchange for help in gaining a lucrative permit when he had a chance to describe the incident to the San Francisco Chronicle last month?

The newspaper reported last Thursday that Reid said in an interview that an Oakland businessman named Dorian Gray offered to give the 20-year councilmember an envelope he believed contained $10,000 in exchange for Reid's help in procuring a cannabis permit in the city. "That's not how I operate," Reid told Gray, according to his account.

Friday, February 2, 2018

EBC AGENDA | FEB 2-8 | ALAMEDA COUNTY 1/2-cent sales tax measure for child care coming this June; ALAMEDA PD wants 13 license-plate readers

--ALAMEDA COUNTY-- Regular council meeting, Tuesday, Feb. 6, 10:30 a.m. [ENTIRE AGENDA HERE]
--BALLOT MEASURE FOR CHILDREN-- The Board of Supervisor will approve placement on the June ballot of a countywide half-cent sales tax measure to fund child care and early childhood development programs. If approved by voters with a two-thirds majority, the half-cent sales tax increase would immediately go into effect on Oct. 1, 2018. The county estimates the measure will bring in an additional revenues of $140 million annually over the next 30 years and expand access for low-to-middle income children to access child care and education. The measure will also raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour for child care providers and early education teachers. NEXT MEETING: Tuesday, Feb. 27.

A five-hour Alameda City Council closed session with no explanation, only speculation

A special closed session Alameda City Council
meeting started at 3:30 p.m. last Tuesday and
ended at 8:25 p.m. What did they talk about?
For nearly five hours last Tuesday the Alameda City Council sat in a special closed meeting. When they emerged at 8:25 p.m., no announcement as to what they were discussing was made.

Many, though, believe the subject of the meeting is an investigation ordered by the council last Oct. 18 to look into allegations made by City Manager Jill Keimach that certain council members violated the charter by interfering in your decision to hire a new fire chief.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Nancy O'Malley, Buffy Wicks, Libby Schaaf, Abel Guillen's council opponent, post big year-end fundraising numbers

Whether your race is in June, November, or both, it's definitely go-time and the cash a candidate has in the bank on Jan. 1 is now a signal of how strong a campaign might be. Below are contributions, expenditure and ending cash on hand for East Bay races for Congress, State Legislature, Alameda County contests and November 2018 municipal elections in Alameda, Berkeley, Hayward, Oakland, and San Leandro.

            | JUL 1-DEC 31 |
AD15              IN      OUT   2017 TOT       CASH
WICKS      $ 310,810 $121,510 $  520,124  $ 384,356
KATZ       $  77,225 $  1,684 $  127,249  $ 125,565
KALB       $  84,528 $ 40,510 $  156,098  $ 119,833
APPEL      $ 163,873 $ 47,236 $  163,873  $ 118,145
P-OKIMOTO  $ 100,628 $ 10,441 $  100,628  $  96,145
BARTLETT   $ 106,607 $ 47,951 $  106,607  $  83,312

POINDEXTER $  17,573 $  4,605 $   17,573  $  12,968
BECKLES    $  33,319 $ 79,083 $   82,868  $   4,280
SUDDUTH    --no report--
JANDHYALA  --no report--
--SKINNY-- Right now, when it comes to fundraising in this race, there's Buffy Wicks and then everyone else. The former Obama aide raised $520,00 in about seven months. This total is almost in the atmosphere OF someone running for Congress around here. East bay MUD Director Andy Katz followed a strong mid-year report with another by coming in second in cash on hand to start the year. But notice, the numbers may be an illusion. He boosted his cash in the bank by hardly spending a dime. On the flip side, Richmond Councilmember Jovanka Beckles went into spending mode, touting the second most in expenditures. Meanwhile, Oakland Councilmember Dan Kalb and Berkeley school board member Judy Appel also did well over the past six months. On the issues, this race is pretty even, but let's wait and see what happens when Wicks really starts spending and the Independent Expenditures begin deploying their resources.

Monday, January 29, 2018

AD15 candidate Buffy Wicks raised a whopping $500,000 in campaign contributions last year

AD15 candidate Buffy Wicks raised $209,000
during the first half of the 2017.
Buffy Wicks is again making her opponents in the 15th Assembly District green with envy.

After bursting onto the scene last summer with an impressive one-month haul, Wicks says her campaign will file year-end campaign finance reports that include in excess of $500,000 in contributions.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

As expected, no Democratic endorsement in crowded AD15 race, but surprises nonetheless

The AD15 pre-endorsement scoreboard
showed no officials winners, but some 
candidates received surprises Saturday.
Next week, 15th Assembly District candidate Buffy Wicks is expected to release year-end finance reports that show a wide breadth of financial support for her campaign. That same support, however, is not yet translating to the local Democratic Party grassroots.

Alameda and Contra Costa County Democrats in the party’s Region 5 gave only token support for Wicks’ campaign at Saturday’s state Democratic Party pre-endorsement conference in Berkeley.

Friday, January 26, 2018

EBC AGENDA | JAN. 26-FEB. 1 | BERKELEY seeks surveillance use policy; ALAMEDA's own city manager scandal heats up?; State Dem pre-endorsements


--ALAMEDA-- Special closed session council meeting, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 3:30 p.m. [ENTIRE AGENDA HERE]
--ALAMEDA'S CITY MANAGER SCANDAL?-- It's not clear what exactly the Alameda City Council might be discussing behind closed doors Tuesday afternoon. The agenda suggests the city or someone is possibly the plaintiff in a potential lawsuit. Furthermore, two hours were allotted for the discussion, suggesting something significant. One possible item for discussion could be the investigation into allegations made last October by Alameda Police Chief Paul Rolleri that Councilmember Jim Oddie suggested to him that the city manager choose a fire chief candidate supported by the Alameda firefighters union or her job might be at risk. A rough timetable for the results of the investigation was expected in late January. NEXT MEETING: Tuesday, Feb. 6.

Assembly candidate Dan Kalb wants to bring back redevelopment agencies

Dan Kalb, standing, is one of nine Democrats
running in the AD15 race this June.
Nearly seven years ago, the dissolution of redevelopment agencies in California significantly changed the ways local governments approved and built capital improvement projects. In turn, Gov. Jerry Brown's calculation also fomented a low-level rebellious streak in some East Bay cities who decried the lost of local control.

But Brown's move is credited with helping pave the way for rehabilitating a hemorrhaging state treasury which instead of soaring deficits, today boasts robust surpluses. But the hankering for a return for the redevelopment agencies, especially to aid the push for new housing, has not left and was injected into the East Bay's top political race this June, the wide-open campaign for the 15th Assembly District.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Dispensary involved in San Leandro political scandal says they'll repay loan before next week's deadline, open 4/20

Rendering of the proposed Davis Street 
Wellness Center at 3081 Teagarden Street.
In response to allegations of sexual misconduct, San Leandro City Manager Chris Zapata denied the claims and, instead, asserted they were attempts by the accuser to aid final approval of a medical cannabis dispensary in the city, of which she has a financial interest.

But whether the allegations by Davis Street Family Resource Center CEO Rose Padilla Johnson is a full-blown example of the #MeToo movement coming to San Leandro City Hall or about the Davis Street Wellness Center dispensary seeking to sidestep a Jan. 31 deadline to repay the balance of a federal loan required by the city before it can begin selling medical cannabis may be known next week.

Ro Khanna took 60 seconds to dump on his spineless Democratic colleagues

Give Rep. Ro Khanna credit: Either he's a bold, principled progressive leader or someone who has never read, "How to win friends and influence people." [VIDEO BELOW]

This week, after Senate Democrats capitulated--those are words of progressives like Khanna--or figured out too late that the three-day government shutdown wasn't playing well in Middle America, Khanna nevertheless laid into his colleagues Wednesday.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

San Leandro City Council places city manager on paid administrative leave

San Leandro City Manager 
Chris Zapata
San Leandro City Manager Chris Zapata was placed on paid administrative leave Tuesday night pending the results of an investigation into claims of sexual misconduct by a local non-profit leader.

The San Leandro City Council, voted 6-0, to put Zapata on paid leave. Assistant City Manager Jeff Kay becomes interim city manager, the council announced following the nearly two-hour closed session meeting.

In a statement issued by San Leandro Mayor Pauline Russo Cutter shortly after Tuesday's vote, she acknowledged an investigation into the claims against Zapata is underway and "the City Council was not aware that the City Manager intended to publicly address the allegations in detail," a reference to a 23-page memorandum Zapata released to the public on Jan. 16 to rebut the claims against him.

"The council determined today that it is best for all parties involved that the City Manager remain on leave until the independent investigation is concluded," Cutter added.

San Leandro City Council calls special meeting to discuss disciplining city manager

San Leandro City Council's special closed
session begins Tuesday, 6 p.m.
Six days after the San Leandro City Manager Chris Zapata threw the doors open on the city's dirty laundry, including allegations of sexual misconduct against himself, city officials are likely to weigh-in on the burgeoning political scandal on Tuesday evening.

The City Council scheduled a special closed session meeting for Tuesday at 6 p.m. The only topic on the agenda is an item titled, "public employee discipline."

Monday, January 22, 2018

San Leandro non-profit leader, who accused city manager of misconduct, will sue the city

The leader of the local non-profit, who last week said San Leandro City Manager Chris Zapata attempted to offer a publicly-financed loan for the Davis Street Family Resource Center in exchange for an intimate relationship, says she plans to file a lawsuit.

A lawsuit against Zapata and the city is pending, said Sam Singer, a spokesperson for Davis Street Family Resource Center CEO Rose Padilla Johnson. and stems from Zapata's 23-page letter, which he released to the public on Jan. 16.

Rebecca Kaplan, dons prayer shawl, jousts with Fox News host

Fox News host Tucker Carlson and guest
last Friday, Oakand Councilmember 
Rebecca Kaplan.
Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan went where many progressives have failed before her, participating in a one-sided conversation with Fox News host Tucker Carlson.

Last week, the Oakland City Council approved a resolution--strongly backed by Kaplan--to prohibit the city's police department from aiding ICE agents in any way, even to bring them a cup of coffee, she quipped last fall.

Ro Khanna to appear Friday on HBO's Real Time With Bill Maher

Bill Maher will be joined by East Bay Rep.
Ro Khanna this Friday, Jan. 26.
To the unexpected, the scene might seem to be the result of a strange fever dream.

This Friday, Rep. Ro Khanna will share the stage with actress Zooey Deschanel and others on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher.

Friday, January 19, 2018

EBC AGENDA | JAN 19-25 | Cell-site simulators deployed by East Bay law enforcement 3x last year; Highland needs $11m more for retrofit; ; Oakland's racial disparity in traffic stops


--ALAMEDA COUNTY-- Regular board meeting, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 10:45 a.m. [ENTIRE AGENDA HERE]
--DA'S STINGRAY REPORT-- Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley is required to offer a "report" on law enforcement's use of cell-site simulators, also known as Stringrays. The device allows police to mimic a cell tower in the effort to coerce a suspect's cell phone to contact it, thereby, giving law enforcement access to the phone's data. A warrant is needed for this. According to O'Malley's report--essentially a three-page list--cell-site simulators were requested four times and deployed three times last year. Those requesting were O'Malley's DAs office, Fremont and Oakland Police. Only Fremont PD did not receive information from the cell-site simulator. O'Malley reports "no known violations of the Policy in 2017."

--HIGHLAND NEEDS MORE $$ FOR SEISMIC RETROFIT-- "Alameda County performed an Evaluation Study in accordance with the requirements of Senate Bill 1953, the State’s Seismic Retrofit Program. The Study determined that the existing structure called the “Acute Tower” at Highland Hospital did not meet the new seismic requirements and could not be cost-effectively retrofitted... Under the terms of SB 1953/SB 306, this must occur on or before January 1, 2020." Therefore, the county's General Services Agency is asking the board to increase funding for the $480 million Highland Hospital project by no more than $11.5 million.

--STATE HOMELAND SECURITY GRANT-- Here's how the Alameda County Sheriff's Department plans on allocating $1.7 million in state Homeland Security grants. Here. A notable percentage of the grants are being directed to the Fremont Police Department.

--GRANT FOR IMMIGRATION LEGAL DEFENSE-- The Alameda County Public Defender's office started out with one attorney specializing in immigration law. Last July, it added two more in the wake of the President's rhetoric and actions against immigrants. More funding is on the way to supplement the office's work after the board approves a $25,000 grant from the Firedoll Foundation. NEXT MEETING: Tuesday, Jan. 30 (board retreat)

Thursday, January 18, 2018

San Leandro city manager's accuser calls for his resignation after sexual misconduct allegations

Davis Street Family Resource Center CEO
Rose Padilla Johnson filed a complaint
against San Leandro City Manager Chris
Zapata on Dec. 8.
The CEO of a prominent San Leandro non-profit, who last month issued a complaint accusing City Manager Chris Zapata of sexual misconduct, is now calling for his dismissal.

Rose Padilla Johnson, the CEO of the Davis Street Family Resource Center, a well-known non-profit in San Leandro and the recipient of millions in city grants over the years, says Zapata made a series of improper advances toward her starting just after he was named city manager in 2012 and up until a $1.5 million loan was given by city to the non-profit in 2016.

"Johnson and the non-profit organization today are calling for the immediate resignation of Mr. Zapata or his firing by the San Leandro City Council after the city manager sent a rambling, incoherent 23-page letter to the organization, the city, and local media with strange, misleading and false statements," according to a press release sent Thursday morning by well-known Bay Area public relations guru Sam Singer.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

East Bay congressmembers team up to legalize cannabis at the federal level

East Bay progressives Reps. Barbara Lee
and Ro Khanna.
Reps. Barbara Lee and Ro Khanna introduced legislation Wednesday that would end the federal prohibition on cannabis.

The bill piggy-backs similar legislation introduced with great fanfare last year by Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and gives states the authority to create their own laws and policies for cannabis sales and recreational use.

"This legislation will end this destructive War on Drugs" said Lee during in a conference call on Wednesday that was broadcast on Facebook Live (see below).

Alameda County Supervisors retained outside counsel to investigate a workplace matter

Actions taken by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors in closed session over the past few weeks point toward the existence of potential allegations of workplace misconduct at the county-level. Exactly where, though, is unclear.

At the board's Jan. 9 meeting, Alameda County Counsel Donna Ziegler announced the county supervisors voted in closed session to retain outside legal counsel "to conduct a workplace investigation in a confidential matter."

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

San Leandro city manager discloses allegation of sexual misconduct reportedly made against him by local CEO

San Leandro Chris Zapata denied allegations
reportedly made by Davis Street Family 
Resource Center CEO Rose Johnson.
In an apparent preemptive move, San Leandro City Manager Chris Zapata released a lengthy letter Tuesday that rebuts unspecified and, until now, not publicly known allegations of improper sexual conduct reportedly made against him by the CEO of a well-known local non-profit who is also part of a group hoping to finalize the opening of medical cannabis dispensary in the city.

In the detailed letter sent late Tuesday afternoon, Zapata accused long-time Davis Street Family Resource Center CEO Rose Johnson, and former San Leandro councilmember and businessman Gordon Galvan of leveraging the timing of the allegation to increase its chances later this month of wrapping up approval to open the potentially lucrative Davis Street Wellness Center medical cannabis dispensary in San Leandro (The Resource Center and Wellness Center are separate entities, but are linked by Johnson and Galvan's participation in each operation).

Zapata also details a years-long history of Galvan and his associates pressuring him and city officials into approving the dispensary's original permit two years ago, while also offering Zapata tickets to sporting events, expensive bottles of tequila, and an offer by Galvan to rent a four-bedroom home to Zapata for below-market rate.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Rep. Barbara Lee, agreeing with Trump, says she supports reinstituting federal earmarks

Rep. Barbara Lee also said Saturday that she
will support any resolution to impeach Trump.
At a town hall event that Rep. Barbara Lee's office termed a teach-in for the "GOP tax scam bill" Saturday morning in Oakland, the progressive giant dropped a surprise on her constituents. Like President Trump, who Lee has devoutly opposed throughout the past year, she also supports bringing back federal earmarks, commonly known as "pork."

Friday, January 12, 2018

EBC AGENDA | JAN 12-16 | HAYWARD airport zoning height changes; ALAMEDA's crumbling piers; SAN LEANDRO look to honor former councilwoman

--SAN LEANDRO-- Regular council meeting, (Note date due to MLK holiday) Tuesday, Jan. 16, 7 p.m. [ENTIRE AGENDA HERE]
--SURLENE GRANT NAMING-- In 1998, Surlene Grant became first African American member of the San Leandro City Council, in addition, to being its first non-European representative. Although Grant was appointed to the seat, she later served two terms. Now, on the day after the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, the council will resume a discussion from last fall about whether to name a city building or structure in Grant's honor (she is alive and well!). The council's Rules Committee last September suggested a city community room within the soon-to-be built South Offices Community Room or the proposed East 14th Street Triangle project. The Rules Committee and Library Historical Commission both appear amendable to the community room proposal.

--NEW VICE MAYOR-- Councilmember Lee Thomas' one-year reign as vice mayor is over. The council will appoint a new mayor Tuesday night. The post is ceremonial, but, 2018 being an election year, strategically, the title might sound impressive to casual voters. Just so you know, Councilmembers Corina Lopez and Deborah Cox are up for re-election in November. Unfortunately for Thomas, so is he. NEXT MEETING: Monday, Feb. 5.

Swalwell voted to extend NSA's ability to spy on Americans without a warrant

Rep. Eric Swalwell's support for warrantless
surveillance is nothing new.
Very few members of Congress have been more critical of President Trump than East Bay Rep. Eric Swalwell. But Swalwell was among a group of Democrats that helped pass legislation Thursday--backed by the President--to renew the National Security Agency's authority to gather communications from telecom companies without a warrant. The action aimed a foreign targets, though, can also allow the NSA to surveil Americans who are not the subject of an investigation.

Former Hayward school board member failed to respond to lawsuit resulting in $660,000 judgment against school district

Then-Hayward school board member John
Taylor ran for the City Council in 2016.
During the spring of 2016, then-Hayward school board member John Taylor was entering the stretch run of his ultimately ill-fated campaign for the City Council. But during a period when the Hayward school board was warring with each other over disciplining its embattled superintendent, Taylor, in particular, says he was pre-occupied with issues other than his duties as a school board member.

According to a wrongful termination lawsuit filed against the school district in Alameda County Superior Court by a former employee in March 2016, Taylor, as the Hayward school board's appointed clerk, failed to notify the school district's attorneys about the pending lawsuit, leaving them in the dark over the case. Now, the mistake could prove costly to the struggling school district's bottom line.

San Leandro moves closer to honoring first African American councilmember

Surlene Grant served 10 years on the San
Leandro City Council.
A number of buildings, overpasses and even sports facilities in San Leandro have been named after local historical figures. A city building is named after Helen Lawrence, long-ago the first female of San Leandro. An overpass is named after former Mayor Jack Maltester, likely the city's most prominent elected official ever; and a well-used library meeting room is named after another mayor, Dave Karp, who passed away while in office.

Now, San Leandro, which only within the past two decades, has transformed itself from a historically white-only East Bay enclave a generation ago to one of the most diverse in the country, is continuing a discussion over how it can honor Surlene Grant, the city's first African American ever to sit on the San Leandro City Council.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Costa-Hawkins repeal bill fails in committee; Bonta votes yes

Assemblymember Rob Bonta at a Housing
and Development Committee hearing 
Thursday in Sacramento.
Assemblymember Rob Bonta, and throngs of rental housing advocates from Oakland, Alameda and across the state, were ready for a fight Thursday in favor of an Assembly bill that would have repealed a more than two decades-old state law that restricts rent control on single-family homes.

In a short video posted on Bonta's Twitter feed, the East Bay assemblymember seemingly broke out of his capitol office and marched to Thursday morning's Assembly Housing and Development Committee hearing.

His exuberance and that of a significant overflow audience in Sacramento were diminished after the committee failed by a vote to move along Assemblymember Richard Bloom's Assembly Bill 1506, which sought to repeal the 1995 Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Oakland councilmember blasts mayor, police, fire for doing little to limit rising overtime costs

Oakland Councilmember Annie Campbell
Washington doubts the city administration
is serious about reducing overtime hours for 
its public safety employees.
Oakland's overtime budget for the police and fire departments is bursting at the seams, leading one normally reserved councilmember Tuesday to unleash a litany of strong criticisms against not only each public safety department's leadership, but also city staff and Mayor Libby Schaaf.

"To me, this seems like a 23-page report that explains to us why we have to continue to see overtime at the same rate that we've always seen it," Councilmember Annie Campbell Washington said during an Oakland City Council Finance Committee meeting Tuesday that included a report on public safety overtime budgets.

The total overtime budget is projected to be in the red by more than $38 million, according to report offered by Oakland Finance Director Katano Kasaine. The 2017-18 fiscal year budget allots only $14.8 million for overtime.

Repeal of individual mandate may mean 37,000 more uninsured in Alameda County

An estimated 37,000 Alameda County residents may lose their health care insurance after the repeal last month of the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate, said the director of the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency. Low-income residents, she added, though, may be spared for the time being.

An estimated 68,000 county residents are currently without health care insurance, said Colleen Chawla, director of the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency. Based on estimates by the federal government, the number could increase to 105,000 by 2025, she said.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Quirk helps Assembly committee turn away concealed carry weapons bill

Assemblymember Bill Quirk
wasn't in the mood Tuesday
to debate concealed guns.
Republican gubernatorial candidate and Assemblymember Travis Allen confidently laid out a case Tuesday for reform of the state's concealed carry permitting rules.

"Innocent Californians deserve a right to protect themselves and their loved ones," Allen told the Assembly Public Safety Committee.

Just 179 concealed carry permits were issued in the sprawling Los Angeles County due in part to local sheriffs being pressured by liberal leaders and constituents, he added. Most importantly, there were zero instances of concealed carry permit holders committing crimes last year.

Hayward Assemblymember Bill Quirk, however, wasn't buying.

Oakland is preparing June ballot measure to replace diminished library parcel tax

Oakland voters overwhelmingly supported
Measure Q in 2004, but the parcel tax has
struggled to improve libraries in the city.
Oakland's libraries have faced years of disheartening budget cuts, but a plan to place a library parcel tax at the ballot box next June is sowing doubts that it will do much to help increase funding and services.

Polling presented to the Oakland City Council Finance Committee Tuesday showed 73 percent of likely November voters support a $75 annual parcel tax. Two-thirds support of the  vote is needed for passage.

Bonta bill would make it easier for people to expunge cannabis-related criminal records

Assemblymember Rob Bonta authored the
state's medical marijuana regulatory
framework in 2015.
With cannabis seen as the future in California following legalization that began this month, East Bay Assemblymember Rob Bonta believes the state must first look to reconcile its past.

Bonta introduced a bill Tuesday that will make it easier for those convicted of outdated cannabis-related charges to remove them from their records.

Monday, January 8, 2018

AC Transit boardmember hasn't filed campaign finance reports since 2010; faces $60k FPPC fine

AC Transit Board Director Mark Williams
AC Transit Board Director Mark Williams did not face a credible opponent during his 2014 re-election campaign. Yet, the two-term boardmember, who is also up for re-election this June, repeatedly failed to file campaign finance reports for more than four years.

Later, this month, the state's Fair Political Practice Commission (FPPC) is set to levy a hefty $60,000 fine against his campaign committee for the indiscretion.

Friday, January 5, 2018

EBC AGENDA | JAN 5-11 | Oakland library parcel tax on the horizon? No ICE, baby!; San Leandro allocates A1 funding for 62 affordable housing units


--OAKLAND-- Regular council committee meetings, Tuesday, Jan. 9, start at 9 a.m.

Finance & Management Committee, 9 a.m. [ENTIRE AGENDA HERE]
--LIBRARY PARCEL TAX POLL-- Budget cuts last year significantly hampered Oakland's public library system. Unsurprisingly, reduced library hours were used as a bludgeon by striking city workers against Mayor Libby Schaaf. Now the city is eyeing the feasibility of a library parcel tax for the June primary. The Life Enrichment Committee will also discuss the report and polling on Tuesday. According to a survey conducted last September, 73 percent of likely November 2018 voters said they would support or "leaned yes" for a $75 per year parcel tax for 20 years to increase library services.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Quirk co-authors bill requiring 'panic buttons' for hotel maids in danger of sexual harassment

Assemblymember Bill Quirk
Maids and other hotel employees who find themselves alone in rooms with guests in a daily basis often face high incidents of sexual harassment, surveys have found.

And with the issue of sexual harassment casting a large shadow over the state Legislature this year, a bill co-authored by Hayward Assemblymember Bill Quirk would require hotels to provide workers with panic buttons in the event their safety is at risk.

East Bay's Top 10 Races to Watch in 2018

While legislative special elections in Southern California proliferate--mainly due to resignations that follow claim of sexual harassment--the level of interesting and competitive races in the East Bay is lacking something fierce. Several cities in Alameda County will decide whether to re-elect mayors, while other races will serve as referendums on respective first terms. Hayward is the latest city to escape low-turnout June municipal campaigns for November, further diminishing the primary season. But overall, while the dearth of competitive races in June is noticeable, perhaps the two most interesting matchups will take place in the spring, not the fall. Here are the Top 10 East Bay races to watch in 2018:

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Trump is unhinged, says East Bay congressmember

Rep. Barbara Lee has been critical of Trump's
comments toward North Korea in the past.
"I’ll say it again," said East Bay Rep. Barbara Lee on Tuesday. "President Trump is unhinged."

The reason for Lee's criticism followed many others who believe an early morning tweet sent by President Donald Trump was irresponsible and could have triggered a nuclear conflict with North Korea.

2018 Predictions: With 99% certainty, here's who will win East Bay races this year

Much will happen on the campaign trail this spring and fall leading to the June primary and November General Election. Someone will say something stupid, others won't utter a single interesting thought. However, surprises in the form of candidates who jumped into races (or out, for that matter) can't be known today. For all we know, the #MeToo hashtag might make its way to the East Bay and trigger a hard fought special election? C'mon, East Bay elected officials can't all be saints, could they? But as of today, here's your crystal ball for how this will all go down--with 99 percent certainty.

House of Representatives
13th District (Oakland-Berkeley-Alameda-San Leandro)
*Barbara Lee-D, congressmember

15th District (Hayward-Fremont-Tri Valley)
Brendan St. John-NPP
*Eric Swalwell-D, congressmember

17th District (Fremont-San Jose-Cupertino)
➠Filed Intent
Ron Cohen-R, certified public accountant
*Ro Khanna-D, congressmember
Khahn Tran-D, Alum Rock school board member

Friday, December 29, 2017

2017 Year in East Bay Politics: The wild and wacky: Let's Taco About It and Bill Quirk 'Jumps Around'

>>>>The state legislature decides in January that a new portrait of Assemblymember Bill Quirk would be a good idea for his 20th District website. The resulting creation, though, inparts vampire-like features to Quirk's face. Funny thing, according to his district staff, is the web designers thought the new photo looked good. By the way, the real Quirk is on the right.

●After Alameda Councilmember Jim Oddie failed in early April to deliver a majority vote that would have prohibited all no cause evictions, a renters activist sent him a terse email during the meeting. Oddie then read the email from dais with the stunned sender looking on.

>>>>Jan. 20 was a rough day for many East Bay progressives. But Assemblymember Rob Bonta coped with Trump's inauguration by tweeting a rainbow.

2017 Year in East Bay Politics: With 2018 election cycle ahead, candidates made early moves

It was not too early for a number of potential East Bay candidates to announce intentions to run next year, or, at least, begin to put out feelers. A number of statewide candidates from the region opened campaign accounts, including Richmond's Gayle McLaughlin (Lt. gov), Assemblymember Tony Thurmond (state superintendent), and Delaine Eastin (governor). Nine people currently covet Thurmond's 15th Assembly District seat next June. But the days of an overflowing primary ballot are over in the East Bay, with most moving elections to November. One of the last holdouts, Hayward, will make the move from June to November, giving the mayor and two councilmembers up for re-election an extra five months in office. But let's start with the governor's race where Eastin, who once represented the Fremont area in the state assembly and oversaw the state's schools, is one of five major candidates--and the only woman--hoping to replace Gov. Jerry Brown.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Renters at infamous Alameda apartments received evictions five days before Christmas

Assemblymember Rob Bonta, left, and Alameda
Councilmember Malia Vella, right, listen to
concerns Friday from tenants at the Bay View Apts.
"Everyday I open my door to check and see if there's a eviction notice," said Alameda renter Julia Balthasar. Just five days before Christmas, Balthasar found an unwanted holiday delivery--a 60-day eviction notice affixed to her front door, right next to a picture of Christmas tree she had placed there to celebrate the season.

Two other tenants at the infamous Bay View Apartments at 470 Central Avenue also received notices to evict last Wednesday. Over the past two years, the apartment building has become both the epicenter and symbol of Alameda's continuing housing crisis.

Desley Brooks is naughty, jury finds; awards $3.5m to Black Panther icon for injuries

Oakland Councilmember Desley Brooks
Oakland Councilmember Desley Brooks is one of the most notoriously feared elected officials in the East Bay. Her reputation, though, is growing at the expense of Oakland taxpayers after an Alameda County Superior Court jury Thursday found Brooks assaulted former Black Panther icon Elaine Brown at a well-known downtown restaurant in October 2015.

Friday, December 22, 2017

2017 Year in East Bay Politics Part IV - Oct-Dec: Oakland Strikes

As fall began to bleed into winter, everything seemed to go wrong for Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. The unions were already nipping at her heels with a campaign-style website  portraying her leadership in dire tones. An August raid by ICE agents in West Oakland, is later found to have been aided by Oakland Police. Did the police chief know her department was coordinating in a deportation case? Did Schaaf know beforehand? Then in early December a barrage of bad news hits the mayor's office within a 10-day period. First, 3,000 city workers, led by SEIU Local 1021, go on strike for seven day, in the meantime, slamming Schaaf at every opportunity. Uncertainty over the A's staying in Oakland returns during the same week, and ends with the untimely death of Schaaf's colleague across the bay, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. All the while, sprawling tent cities are visible all over the city. Progressives may not like Schaaf, but we start the last part of 2017 with another subject that angers lefties in the East Bay.