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Monday, August 3, 2015

East Bay Citizen Show with special guest Assemblymember Rob Bonta



EPISODE 1 |Eighteenth Assembly District member Rob Bonta sits down for an interview at Rock Wall Winery at Alameda Point. He spoke about his medical cannabis dispensary bill, legislation for Oakland, his favorite Oakland A's player and his future in politics. Later in the show, we look at the three-ring circus surrounding Alameda Mayor Trish Spencer following her infamous "white rice" incident with dignitaries from the Philippines and the head-scratching that followed

Read more at the East Bay Citizen Show website.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Are term limits in the Alameda County Board of Supervisors' future?

Alameda County Supervisors Scott Haggerty and
Richard Valle during a board meeting in 2013.
PHOTO/Shane Bonda
ALCO BOARD OF SUPERVISORS | In the East Bay, a seat on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors is the closest thing to a lifetime appointment on the US Supreme Court. An incumbent county supervisor has not lost a seat in 23 years, and a local group is seeking to end that trend with a countywide ballot initiative to limit supervisors to three, four-year terms.

A notice of intention for the potential referendum was accepted by the Alameda County Registrar’s Office on Thursday. The county counsel must evaluate the proposed initiative and produce a title and ballot summary within the next fifteen days, according to the registrar’s office.

The initiative’s supporters hope it receives approval for voter’s consideration in time for the June 2016 primary election. But, before then, the county registrar’s office says supporters will need to gather more than 30,000 valid signatures for inclusion on the ballot. The number is based on 20 percent of the votes cast in Alameda County during the most recent gubernatorial contest.

Longtime Castro Valley resident Frank Mellon said the impetus for the countywide ballot initiative is clear: County residents are dissatisfied with the board on a number of issues, including the amount of taxpayers’ money it spends on sports instead of funding safety net services, along with the failing state of the county’s healthcare delivery services.

“The common denominator is you have supervisors that are there forever,” said Mellon, who is an elected member of the East Bay Municipal Utilities District. Mellon said his role in the county term limits initiative is independent of his duties at East Bay MUD where he has served as a director since 1995.

The county applies term limits on its own appointed board and commissions, said Mellon. “If it’s good enough for boards and commissions, why isn’t it good enough for the board of supervisors?”

The proposed referendum would amend the county charter to limit service for members of the board of supervisors to twelve years. Under the proposed charter amendment, three of the five county supervisors would be termed out of office...

READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE AT EAST BAY EXPRESS

Bonta: Proposed 'Voter Empowerment Act will adversely affect CalSTRS, women

Assemblymember Rob Bonta
ASSEMBLY | 18TH DISTRICT | A proposed statewide ballot measure that could severely undercut the stability of public employee pensions might also disproportionately affect women, says East Bay Assemblymember Rob Bonta.

The initiative, currently called the Voter Empowerment Act of 2016, would allow voters in local jurisdictions to vote on various government employee benefits packages, including pensions.

A legislative analysis by Attorney General Kamala Harris’ office this week stated the ramifications of the initiative’s potential approval by voters next year are unknown. “There is significant uncertainty as to the magnitude, timing, and direction of the fiscal effects of this measure and its effects on current and future governmental employees’ compensation,” said the analysis.

Its passage may trigger lawsuits, in addition, to uncertainty over how often local jurisdictions will want to use the power to approve compensation packages for public employees, it continued. The analysis also asserts that voters in local districts might also approve packages that are more generous than those negotiated by cities through the collective bargaining process. Furthermore, it is not clear how negotiations between employees and management will play out if collective bargaining becomes more public.

Bonta, who also chairs the Assembly Committee on Public Employees, Retirement, and Social Security, said the proposed initiative will exacerbate the inability of school district to attract and retain qualified teachers. “What is certain is that it would undermine the retirement security of our state's current and future teachers, particularly women," he said.

Since pensions for teachers in the state is overseen by one entity--the California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS)—the initiative, authored by former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and former San Diego Councilmember Carl DeMaio, would, in effect, create more than 1,700 retirement plans, said CalSTRS. Retirement benefits earned in one school district could potential be diminished if a teacher were to switch jobs to another school district.

Conversely, the legislative analysis also predicted "significant savings" to the state if the Voter Empowerment Act is passed by voters in November 2016. Pension costs would likely be equally split between employee and local jurisdictions, said the analysis.

However, the analysis added. "To offset lower compensation in defined benefit pensions and retiree health benefits, governmental employers likely would increase compensation in some or all of the following areas." They include possibly replacing a defined compensation package with a 401(k), boosting wages and maintaining disability benefits even for new employees.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Alternative explanation for Eric Swalwell endorsing Martin O'Malley for president

Rep. Eric Swalwell
CONGRESS | 15TH DISTRICT | If Rep. Eric Swalwell could sing and dance he would be one of the Jonas Brothers. But all indication is he is not an entertainer, but the craving for the limelight is also evident in his political career.

In fact, his streak for never posting a single political accomplishment of note is now five years. Never as a Dublin councilmember and never as representative of the Fifteenth Congressional District. What's left over is a desire to be famous.

Last week, Swalwell announced his endorsement of Martin O'Malley for president. The selection is definitely out of the box. Swalwell is the first Democrat in the House to lodge an endorsement for anybody other than Hillary Clinton (Note: the Clintons are highly vindictive. If Clinton wins the White House, there will be repercussions for Swalwell's decision.)

Martin O'Malley
In Roll Call, Swalwell note a long affinity for O'Malley, which he has referenced even before the former Maryland governor decided to run for the Democratic nomination. But he's another reason why Swalwell endorsed O'Malley: Under no other scenario would Swalwell's support for a presidential candidate feature the young congressman on a stage with the candidate, in addition, in the battleground state of Iowa?

If Swalwell backed the presumptive nominee, Clinton, it wouldn't even trigger a perfunctory press release. Clinton might even ask her staff, "Swalwell, who?"

Whispers of Rep. Mike Honda's potential demise next year is growing louder

Rep, Mike Honda in Newark at the end of the 
2014 campaign in the Seventeenth District.
CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | An old hand in the Alameda County Democratic Party asked me a question the other that I've heard with some frequency lately. "Do you think Khanna has a chance next year?" I typically feign ignorance just so I can force the questioner to share their own opinion first. "I don't know? Maybe. What do you think?"

This particular questioner did what others have done in recent weeks. They uttered an initial giggle, followed by a knowing, but sheepish grin. Some take a secretive step towards me and lower their voice as if Rep. Mike Honda might be listening around the corner. "I think Khanna has a real good shot," said the party apparatchik.

You never heard that last year unless it came from someone drawing a paycheck from Khanna's campaign. But the sentiment appears to be growing. I've heard variations of Honda's potential demise in next year's rematch in the Seventeenth Congressional District from differing levels of local government. If anything, very little of what Honda is doing this year is sowing much confidence in local Democrats about his chances.

Whereas, at this time two years ago, Honda was seen as a great bet to win re-election, although, few discounted Khanna's campaign war chest. The conventional wisdom then was correct, Khanna would mount a strong campaign and force Honda into the full-fledged re-election campaign that he had never before endured.

It's far different this time around. Khanna fell just under four points short last November and then Honda infamously fell asleep in Congress earlier this year, as in, he literally fell asleep. That incident may pale in comparison to growing whispers in the local party that an ethics investigation into Honda's commingling of his campaign and congressional offices will likely persist through the June primary and likely rematch in November 2016. This appears to be the game=changing aspect that has many flirting with the idea Khanna can beat Honda.

As one player in the party told me about the potential ethics violation, "No matter how it turns out, it's going to hurt Honda."

Friday, July 24, 2015

VP Biden declines needle prick in Newark

VP Joe Biden: No blood test for me, thank you.
NEWARK | Vice President Joe Biden visited Newark Thursday to showcase a local company's innovation in the health care field.

Biden praised biotech firm, Theranos, which employs about 150 at its Newark lab. Among the products it produces is a low-cost system for drawing blood.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, Biden said, "traditional blood tests are expensive, inconvenient and painful. He pointed out that some people have a phobia of needles, and many never get the tests done that doctors have prescribed. Theranos is seeking to change that."

But was Biden really swayed?

The San Francisco Chronicle included this scene:
At one stop on the tour, company wellness technician Tiffany Shu stood at the ready with equipment — gloves, needles and swabs — to draw Biden’s blood. He opted out, greeting the technician effusively but not sitting in the white lounger that had been set up for his use. Theranos has produced tests for hundreds of diseases and viruses, including Hepatitis C and HIV, and tests for drugs including ecstasy, cocaine and marijuana.
It is not known, however, whether the test can identify high levels of Rogaine use.

Richmond mayor's e-blast

Richmond Mayor Tom Butt
RICHMOND CITY COUNCIL | Give Richmond Mayor Tom Butt credit for not only laying out his opinions, but putting them in writing. His personal "e-forum" is just about the most frank set of opinion you will ever find from an elected official.

This week he used the platform to blast councilmembers belonging to the Richmond Progressive Alliance. The group's council majority passed a notable rent control ordinance in Richmond to the consternation of Butt and landlords.

Butt takes you right into the decision-making process, at least, from his view, but the level of antipathy might make you wonder how he leads this City Council, which over the years, has become the undisputed champion of Bay Area progressive governance.
I had assumed months ago that rent control was coming to Richmond, and although I have consistently opposed it, I was resigned to it. Vice Mayor Jael Myrick had told me and others more than once that he would not support rent control but wanted some kind of measure to offer an opportunity for relief for renters whose rent had been raised unfairly. We heard what he was saying, but no one really trusted him to hang in there when the pressure was exerted. He has to run again in 2016, and the threat of an opponent from the RPA machine with backing from the Central Labor Council and other organizations was hanging heavily over him.
Later, Butt accused three Richmond City Council members of stifling debate over the issue Tuesday night and called it "payback" for the same perceived slight earlier in the year.

The mayor's choice to lodge harsh criticism against his colleagues is undoubtedly divisive, but a fascinating insight into something few politicians partake, "Tell me how you really feel."

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Renters get some relief in Alameda, but action falls short of limiting rising rents

Councilmember Tony Daysog called the rent
ordinance a "calibrated approach to the housing 
crisis" in Alameda.
Gives incentive for landlords to act on complaints

ALAMEDA CITY COUNCIL | A growing number of Alameda renters say landlords are hiking rents to dizzying heights. The phenomenon would not be unique to Alameda. Sky-high rent increases are pricing out residents in Oakland and San Francisco and creating significant political turmoil for elected officials. But, unlike those major cities, Alameda’s city council is unsure whether the issue of landlords quickly ramping up monthly rents is actually as pervasive as renters assert.

“We don’t mean to vilify landlords,” said Councilmember Marilyb Ezzy Ashcraft following a number of public speakers Tuesday night who urged for greater protections for renters. She conceded, though, “A few bad apples will spoil the barrel.”

The Alameda City Council, however, approved slight amendments to an existing Rental Review Advisory Committee (RRAC) ordinance, giving landlords an incentive to appears before the appointed government body. Previously, landlords on the receiving end of renters' official complaints about rent increases often simply failed to appear. Under the amended ordinance, landlords would run the risk of having their rent increases voided by the RRAC if they sidestepped attending their hearing.

The ordinance also now includes protections for those who rent single rooms from a homeowner to take complaints to the committee, although, it was not initially included in the proposed ordinance.

Councilmmeber Jim Oddie noted the omission by calling out Councilmember Tony Daysog, who rents out a room in his home. “So, his tenant has no recourse if he doubles the rent?” said Oddie. There was no animosity evident by Oddie's comment and Daysog, who supported the additional language, laughed off the reference.

Going back to the previous administration under Mayor Marie Gilmore, the city council has taken remedial action on the rental crisis in Alameda, at least, choosing to instead compile data on the actual size of the problem regarding rent increases. Conversely, some island activists are advocating for various rent control measures. It is noteworthy that the Richmond City Council approved a rent control ordinance on the same night, becoming the first city in nearby Contra Costa County to do so. Richmond is also, arguably, the most progressive city council in the Bay Area.

Meanwhile, some councilmembers, like Oddie and Daysog, say rent control may not be the answer for Alameda. “Rent control is not the end-all, be-all in solving the issue of rising rents,” Oddie said Tuesday. “And I would contend that it probably doesn’t work in places where it is intended to.” Instead, he asked city staff for a wide-ranging set of options for the council to study the issue in the near future.

In addition, changing the set makeup of the RRAC from a split between renters and landlords may be on the table. Oddie and Ashcraft voiced support for making the appointment process more open, while allowing the council to interview applicants. The committee is currently composed of mayoral appointments approved by the council in a mostly perfunctory manner.

Alameda resident and renter Jon Spangler called the ordinance “watered down,” but conceded it was slight move forward. “There is still no way to stop egregious rent increases and robber baron behavior on the part of people who happen to own property and it just stinks,” said Spangler.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Eden Township eyes potential parcel tax to prop up struggling hospitals

A potential parcel tax might split revenues
between St. Rose and San Leandro Hospitals.
Healthcare district looked at parcel tax in 2012

EDEN TOWNSHIP | Two struggling East Bay hospitals may need the help of voters next year with a parcel tax. The embattled Eden Township Healthcare District is taking the first steps toward exploring whether a district-wide parcel tax is feasible — and whether it has the legal authority to pursue a ballot measure.

Although the Eden Township District no longer oversees any hospitals, the parcel tax proceeds would benefit one of the hospitals it used to run: San Leandro Hospital. The district, which stretches between San Leandro and Union City and includes portions of unincorporated Alameda County, also used to operate Eden Hospital in Castro Valley.

Alameda County Supervisor
Richard Valle
In recent months, Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan and the San Leandro City Council have urged the Eden Township District to pay more toward helping the financially strapped San Leandro Hospital. Officials from Alameda Health System, which now operate the hospital, said the facility lost $12 million last year and expects another shortfall of around $4.7 million this fiscal year. San Leandro Hospital Administrator James Jackson, though, boasted recently to the San Leandro City Council that he would improve on estimates for this year, a fact that may undermine the need for taxpayers’ help next year.

Last week, Chan said her office is currently seeking local and state legislators to sign on to her plan calling for Sutter Health and the Eden Township Healthcare District to contribute a yearly total subsidy of $4 million over five years to San Leandro Hospital.

But a split among members of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors over how to prop up the hospital was revealed at an Eden Township District board meeting Wednesday when Supervisor Richard Valle offered strong support for pursuing a potential hospital parcel tax. Any parcel tax, however, must be evenly split between two hospitals: San Leandro Hospital and St. Rose Hospital in Hayward, said Valle. In fact, St. Rose is arguably in worse financial shape than San Leandro Hospital and still owes the Eden Township more than $1 million for short-term loan to replenish its cash flow. “I think at the end of the day, if we all know it will benefit these two hospitals,” said Valle, “I think we’ll stand up because we know it’s going to be a big lift, we all know that.”

READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE AT EAST BAY EXPRESS

Bonta's bill placing regulations on medical cannabis dispensaries moves forward

Assemblymember Rob Bonta
Major legislation moves to Appropriations in August

ASSEMBLY | 18TH DISTRICT | At the very least, East Bay Assemblymember Rob Bonta doesn't want you consuming medical cannabis loaded with mold and harmful pesticides.

Bonta’s Assembly Bill 266 to straighten out the state’s long unregulated medical cannabis industry passed a pair of hurdles this week.

On Wednesday, the State Senate Governance and Finance Committee approved the bill, 4-0. Later in the day, the Senate Health Committee moved the bill forward, 8-1. It now heads to the Appropriations Committee in August. The bill easily passed in the State Assembly last month, 62-8.

California’s estimated $1 billion medical cannabis industry has grown largely without relegation since the passage of Proposition 215 allowing its creation in 1996. In addition, local approval of medical cannabis dispensaries are notoriously crazy quilt, with some communities using moratoriums on zoning to limits its proliferation. An aspect of the bill not only creates a statewide framework for licensing and revoking permits for dispensaries, but gives local jurisdictions the same power.

Assemblymembers Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova), Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), and Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) are also co-authors.

Lackey, a Republican, who is also a former veteran of the California Highway Patrol, told members of the health committee, the bill would allow the state to study the effects of medical cannabis on drivers, which he labeled, “drugged driving.”

The safety of the product is also an issue. In many cases the lack of regulation has made uneven the potency and safety of medical cannabis products. Molds, pesticides and other contaminates are often found in medical cannabis around the state, Bonta told the health committee. He added,“It’s about providing safe access to medical cannabis.”

Swalwell Swift-boats for campaign funds

Rep. Eric Swalwell is courting campaign money
from millennials at Swift concert in D.C.
Holding fundraiser at Taylor Swift concert

CONGRESS | 15TH DISTRICT | The word around East Bay political circles is Rep. Eric Swalwell likes them young. But not Taylor Swift young!

Haters goin’ hate, hate, hate, hate.

The Sacremento Bee reported a few members of the California congressional delegations held fundraisers at Swift’s concert at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.

In addition, to Swalwell, U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Loretta Sanchez and Doris Matsui are scheduled to hold fundraisers at the concert.

The irony is that while Swalwell has been tabbed by the Democratic leadership in House as one of the young faces of the party, he is very popular among female seniors who find him positively dreamy.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Psst! Oakland has a nice chunk of land available again near Lake Merritt

Oakland's East 12th Street remainder parcel
is back on the market. 
City Council now agrees the sale was illegal

OAKLAND CITY COUNCIL | Chalk another one for Oakland’s populist movement. The controversial East 12th Street remainder sale approved by the Oakland City Council last month “quietly” passed into the darkness this week.

In closed session Tuesday, the City Council decided to rescind the proposed sale, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, and also put the nearly one-acre Lake Merritt property back on the market.

Earlier this month, just a day before the second and final reading of the ordinance was due, a memo obtained by the East Bay Express, noted Oakland’s city attorney had warned about the illegality of the $5 million sale under the state’s Surplus Lands Act.

The East 12th Street remainder parcel was proposed to feature a 24-story luxury apartment building, but without an affordable housing component. The lack of the latter features potentially made the sale illegal under state law, said City Attorney Barbara Parker.

Councilmember Dan Kalb repeatedly voiced uneasiness about the legality of the sale throughout the deliberation process and ultimately abstained. Councilmember Noel Gallo, registered similar doubts, but later voted in favor.

But Thursday’s developments represent yet another populist victory by local activists. As a group, vocal Oakland residents have turned back a citywide surveillance program, held the banner for raising Oakland’s minimum wage and now have blocked what many described as a very bad deal business deal for public land potentially much more valuable than the $5 million asking price.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Chan asks Sutter, Eden Township to work together on latest hospital issue

Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan
Healthcare district looking into parcel tax

HEALTH CARE | With the future of San Leandro Hospital still up in the air, Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan says its former operators--Sutter Health and the Eden Township Healthcare District--need to work together to solve the facility's perennially poor bottom line.

“Both Sutter and Eden have the ability to end this,” said Chan. “But, right now, both are looking at each other to see what the other will do.” And, specifically, to the Eden Township District, Chan urged it to open its purse strings for the hospital's operation, “I’m not telling them how to do their business, but I don’t think it’s an impossible act.”

Last month, Chan publicly proposed the Eden Township District allocate $2 million a year over the next 5 years, while also asking Sutter Health to add the $2 million in damages owed by the Eden Township to them to the pot. The extra $20 million would go far, said Chan, in keeping the hospital’s emergency room in operation for years to come.

In 2013, Sutter, was awarded control of San Leandro Hospital following a lawsuit by the Eden Township. Instead of shuttering the facility’s emergency room, Sutter, instead, donated San Leandro Hospital to Alameda Health System, along with a $22 million subsidy. Since Sutter Health was allowed to draw from the subsidy in the months before Alameda Health System took over, the amount of the subsidy is actually $14 million, said Chan.

Later, county officials hoped Sutter Health would also relinquish the roughly $20 million in damages in the judgment against the Eden Township. An Alameda County Superior Court judge last month agreed to allow the Eden Township Healthcare District to pay the damages in installments over 10 years. The first of the payments has already been paid to Sutter Health.

But Sutter Health, now says they never agreed to shifting proceeds from the lawsuit to San Leandro Hospital. “There was no agreement to donate anything collected on the judgment owed to us by the health care district,” said Stacey Wells, a spokesperson for Sutter Health. “We have been very clear and consistent: our generous contribution to Alameda Health System included the hospital plus the additional $22 million.”

Chan says the letter-of-intent to donate the hospital signed in June 2013 by Sutter Health and Alameda Health System officials says otherwise. But she notes the document was non-binding.

A section included in the letter-of-intent is somewhat ambiguous and details Sutter offering to “release the District from any obligation to pay damages…so long as District provides financial assistance to support the ongoing operations of the Hospital in an amount that Sutter reasonably deems to be sufficient support in light of the District’s financial condition.”

At the time, Eden Township officials said they were perplexed by the passage, particularly the word “reasonably.” In recent months, Eden Township officials have said they were never part of any deal regarding monetary damages due to Sutter.

Meanwhile, pressure continues to build on the Eden Township to offer additional funding for the operation of San Leandro Hospital, which Alameda Health System said last week lost $12 million last year.

The Eden Township Board of Directors may be feeling the heat. On Wednesday, they will discuss the potential of floating a hospital parcel tax next year to provide funding not only for San Leandro Hospital, but Hayward’s St. Rose Hospital (both reside within the health care district). The idea has been mentioned before by San Leandro leaders, but without any meaningful study.

Chan said she plans to apply political and community pressure on the Eden Township to encourage it to provide financial support. One step, said Chan, could come from Sacramento. A letter authored by Chan is already circulating among East Bay legislators, Assemblymembers Rob Bonta and Bill Quirk, and State Sens. Loni Hancock and Bob Wieckowski. San Leandro Mayor Pauline Russo Cutter said last week that the city will be signing the letter.

A legislative pressure point could involve the Eden Township’s unique situation as a health care district without a hospital to oversee and one which ostensibly functions only as a grant-giving body.

Eden Township officials have long maintained they have already expended millions to keep San Leandro Hospital since threats to close it by Sutter Health began in 2009 and with great detriment to its solvency. “I give them full credit,” said Chan, “but the hospital is still in jeopardy. Something needs to be done. It’s not over with.”

Quirk's hydrogen fuel bill signed into law

Assemblymember Bill Quirk's AB 730 was also
signed into law this week.
Defines hydrogen fuel for cars as not a public utility

ASSEMBLY | 20TH DISTRICT | A bill that allows the hydrogen fuel industry to sidestep potential regulatory oversight was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown Wednesday.

Hayward Assemblymember Bill Quirk's bill sought to designate hydrogen fuel retailer as not a public utility like privately-owned gas, electric, water and telecom corporations. 

Such utilities are subject to the California Public Utilities Commission's power to fix rates and establish regulatory policies. But, under the new state law, hydrogen fuel will not face CPUC oversight.

Assembly Bill 1008 was seen as a vehicle for encouraging greater investment, use and development of alternative vehicle fuels to limit greenhouse gas emissions in the state. 

Quirk argued California's regulations over the use of hydrogen fuel for retail purposes was sowing uncertainty among potential investors interested in building up the state's alternative fuel infrastructure.

The Legislature totally agreed. AB 1008 did not receive a no vote on its path to the governor's desk.

Brown signed another Quirk bill on Monday. Assembly Bill 730 requires the conviction of transporting cannabis, psychedelic mushrooms, and other drugs include an intent to sell. 

The legal requirement is now in line with convictions for cocaine, heroin and other narcotics. The bill ostensibly redefined the word "transport" to mean an intent to sell.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

City Hall Insider: agenda notes from around the East Bay, July 14-16

FREMONT/July 14, 7 p.m.
All eyes on Fremont’s surveillance cameras

SURVEILLANCE CAMERAS APPROVAL Oakland residents fought hard against the type of surveillance the Fremont City Council is set to approval Tuesday night. But this isn't Oakland. The council will be asked to approve the purchase of 10 high-resolution surveillance cameras for $299,000. The license plate reader cameras will be positioned next to exit point at freeway on-ramps. In June 2014, the appropriation for the cameras, included some opposition from the public, but the entire council at the time voiced strong support. “This is a step to tell the bad guys Fremont is not the place do crime in,” Fremont Mayor Bill Harrison declared last summer. “We’re going to watch you. We’re going find you. We’re going to catch you.” Councilmember Vinnie Bacon added no expectation of privacy exists at freeway on-ramps and Councilmember Suzanne Lee Chan said the cameras make Fremont residents feel more secure. Funding for the project comes from the city’s Capital Improvement Program. Fremont Police intends to share the data with the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center (NCRIC), but for now, data from cameras will be kept for only 30 days because due to the high cost of storage.

ALAMEDA/July 16, 7 p.m.
Police body cameras come to the lsland

BODY CAMERA POLICY The Alameda City Council approved the purchase of 80 body cameras for its police force last month, but some on the council were apprehensive about the lack of a written policy for its use. Alameda Police Chief Paul Rollieri promised the council the AXON Flex body cameras manufactured by Taser International and costing a total of $424,000 over the next five years, would not be deployed until a draft policy was created. On Thursday, the council will receive the policy which “strongly encourages” officer to actually turn on the body cameras during a host of situations, including the use of force, field pursuits and enforcement stops. Data could be retained permanently for homicide investigations down to one year for misdemeanor violations. Public access to recorded data could be available through a public records request, according to the draft policy, but only in accordance with the Records Release and Security Policy. So, in a practical sense, probably not.

HAYWARD/July 14, 7 p.m.
New library funding; new mayor pro tem to be elected

MEASURE C FUNDING Hayward residents said last summer they wanted a new downtown library, so they easily approved Measure C, a half-cent transaction and use tax increase. The 20-year tax bump is estimated to raise $82 million and roughly $50 million is allotted toward construction of the "21st Century Library and Learning Center." The rest is earmarked for fire station retrofits, police services and road maintenance. The council on Tuesday night will begin the discussion over how each project will be financed. According to a city staff report, the annual debt service for the entire bundle of projects could cost around $8.9 million, including $4 million for the library alone.

NEW MAYOR PRO TEM The one-year term of the current mayor pro tempore (Hayward's version of vice mayor) is coming to an end Tuesday night. The appointment of a replacement can only be bestowed on three current members of the City Council, according to its rules. A potential pick must have served two years for consideration. That leaves Councilmembers Francisco Zermeno and Marvin Peixoto, who have both served in the past, and Councilmember Al Mendall. The duties of mayor pro tempore may be inconsequential, but the title carries some gravitas to the public. Both Zermeno and Mendall are running for re-election in June 2016, so the moniker could be valuable campaign tool.

EDEN TOWNSHIP HEALTHCARE DISTRICT/ 
July 15, 5:30 p.m.
Potential parcel tax for Central Alameda County

HOSPITAL PARCEL TAX? The political heat on the Eden Township Healthcare Distirct is rising as San Leandro and Alameda County officials push hard for the elected body to pay a subsidy toward operations of San Leandro Hospital. The health care district won its hardship case following the protracted legal battle with Sutter Health, to pay the roughly $20 million in damages over the next 10 years, instead of one lump sum. But, public officials want more from the district, which claims it can’t afford more money for the hospital. On Wednesday, the healthcare district’s Board of Directors will discuss the possibility of floating a parcel tax for San Leandro Hospital and Hayward’s St. Rose Hospital, which lies within the district boundary. Such a tax has been contemplated before by the San Leandro City Council over the years, but it never went anywhere. One problem is a large chunk of patients at San Leandro Hospital come from Oakland, which is not part of the Eden Township Healthcare District. But the strategy worked in Alameda when residents approved a roughly $300 parcel tax to keep Alameda Hospital open. Incidentally, both Alameda and San Leandro Hospitals are now run by the quasi-county health care provider, Alameda Health System.

OAKLAND/July 14, 9:30 a.m.
Measure Z public safety funding plan in sparse committee schedule

100 BLACK MEN REQUESTS Oakland is definitely an East Bay city council that is noticeably winding down its agenda of notable items as it barrels toward the August recess. Tuesday’s normally overflowing and effervescent list of legislation at the committee level is almost absent. Two committees—Life Enrichment and Finance—barely have enough perfunctory items scheduled to avert cancellation. In the evening the Public Safety Committee will discuss seven police reform-related reports spurred on last April by the 100 Black Men of the Bay Area. The suggestions and inquiries by the groups involved, among several issues, requiring new police officers and those with five years on the force to submit to psychological testing--Oakland Police said doing so is against the law and violates city employee’s right to privacy—and questions about the department’s “Blue Wall Code of Silence” and training for the use of lethal force.

PUBLIC SAFETY SPENDING When Oakland voters passed Measure Z last fall, a renewal of an existing parcel tax for public safety, it also entails a three-year spending plan. The proposal will be submitted to the Public Safety Committee covering the Oakland Police Department, Oakland Fire Department, City Administrator’s office and controller. OPD says it will spend much of the $13 million in Measure Z funding this year to support Ceasefire, including 28 officers for Crime Reduction Teams and 24 Community Resource Officers. Fire’s $6 million in Measure Z funding over the next three years will go mostly toward funding 12 firefighters, including 2 captains and 2 lieutenants. The administrator’s office is allotted 3 percent of the estimated $24.6 million in annual Measure Z funds, or roughly $740,000. Most of the allocation, $478,000, is slotted for annual evaluation of services.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Hayward may back Bonta’s dispensary bill, but still doesn’t want them in their city

A Hayward councilmember said last month
he wants no "marijuana stores" in the city.
City backs local control aspect of regulatory bill

HAYWARD CITY COUNCIL | Medical marijuana dispensaries in Hayward have long been viewed by city leaders with great disdain. Hayward councilmembers, in the past, have labeled them the bane of public safety and a potential corruption of young minds in Hayward.

Like several other East Bay cities around 2010, Hayward issued a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries within its city limits. However, unlike its neighbor San Leandro, Hayward has stuck to its prohibition.

But with a resolution scheduled to be debated by the Hayward City Council this week in support of a bill to place regulatory oversight on dispensaries in the state, is the city rethinking its stance?

Probably not.

Assembly Bill 266 would enact a regulatory framework for licensing medical marijuana providers and create an Office of Marijuana Regulation. The legislation authored by East Bay Assemblymember Rob Bonta, was overwhelmingly approved last month by the State Assembly, and also gives local governments oversight over licensing of dispensaries within their cities.

The State Senate Governance and Finance Committee will hear the bill this Wednesday, July 15.

For much of the past decade, the Hayward City Council has been one of the most vehement opponents against the perceived overreach into local affairs by legislators in Sacramento, primarily involving takebacks of local tax revenue.

Under the proposed bill, local jurisdictions would have the final say in approving and revoking the licenses of dispensary owners. The regulations would also allow cities economically struggling cities like Hayward to create a new revenue stream from administrative fees stemming from the licensing of dispensaries.

However, while Hayward may support AB 266, strong opposition to medical marijuana dispensaries in the city persists. A bit of pragmatism might also factor into the equation as the state veers closer than ever toward legalizing marijuana. Bonta's bill is the most desirable of the bunch because it offers local control to cities, the Hayward leaders believe.

“This bill contains local municipal authority and control at a much greater level,” said Hayward City Manager Fran David. “While the City of Hayward may not want to permit local dispensaries, we do want to preserve our right and authority to do so; hence the recommended support of this bill.”

The wording of the resolution also bears similar sentiment. “The Mayor and City Council and Hayward Police Department strongly oppose any production, distribution, or sales of marijuana within the City limits,” the resolution reads.

In addition, a city staff report added, “Although the City Council has not been supportive of medical marijuana sales locally, given the nature of other competing proposals that severely preempted local control, the Council may choose to support AB 266 because it is the most acceptable option for consideration at this time.”

The issue of medical marijuana dispensaries in Hayward has ostensibly been on the back burner for several years following a moratorium placed on its existence starting in 2010.

Among the current set of councilmember Francisco Zermeno has long been one of the strongest opponents of dispensaries in Hayward. Since, at least, 2010, Zermeno has described the medical marijuana as a health care issue better served by hospitals. Just last month, during a council meeting, he declared no “marijuana stores” in Hayward.

Report: Dana King, former Oakland council candidate, TV anchor, eyeing return to airwaves

Dana King, right, with Elihu Harris at an Oakland
City Council candidates forum in 2014.
Former anchor finished second in District 2 last fall

OAKLAND | Dana King rose through the ranks to become one of the most recognizable faces in Bay Area television news. Then she abruptly quit to pursue her interests in creating art.

Later, she moved to Oakland and then sought a seat on the Oakland City Council last year. The political novice came close to winning, but eight months later, King may be eyeing a move back to the local airwaves.

Television and radio insider Rich Lieberman reported Monday that King would “'strongly' consider coming back to KPIX as a primary anchor ‘if the situation was right’.” The sentiment was attributed to “sources close to King.”

While King’s strong suit is clearly television journalism, her brief foray into Oakland politics was surprisingly positive.

Although she was ultimately beaten by Abel Guillen by six points once ranked-choice voting numbers were crunched, King placed just over 400 first-place votes behind the eventual winner.

In fact, buzz about King’s chances of upending Guillen, the presumptive favorite, were positive well into the finals weeks of the campaign last fall.

But, her talent for the television news over politics was clearly evident during candidate forums when her prepared opening statements were well-written and professionally delivered. However, on-the-spot questioning often resulted in unpolished and vague answers.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Hayward struggles to find funding for proposed youth center

The current Eden Youth and Family Center is
located at Tennyson and Ruus Road in Hayward.
County supe has $15m lined up; support from Kaiser

HAYWARD CITY COUNCIL | Hayward is looking to provide a replacement to the aging Eden Youth and Family Center building on the corner of Tennyson and Ruus Road, but it may not have the money to help fund it.

The new facility will cost $25 million to produce, the City of Hayward estimates. Alameda County Supervisor Richard Valle managed to secure about $9.6 million in county funding, including $2.2 million from the Alameda County Office of Education. Kaiser Permanente has also offered $5 million to the project contingent on whether it is satisfied with funding for the center's long-term operations.

Closing the roughly $10 million funding gap for the project, first proposed earlier this year by Valle, will be difficult, said the city. Both city leaders and the Hayward Area Recreation District (HARD) say they have no money to give the center on an annually basis.

Councilmember Al Mendall suggested asking future tenants of the center to pay rent to help shore up part of the costs. The city estimates annual upkeep could be anywhere from $3-8 million. The council was not asked to make a decision on the item Tuesday and will return to the subject at a later date.

The Eden Youth and Family Center (EYFC) has been operated by a non-profit of the same name since the 1970s and leased to them by the city. On the site are programs for teens, an adult school, daycare, clinics and a center for day laborers.

The Day Labor Center and the Community Day School were both brought up in the staff report as potentially not being “the right fit” for the family and youth center.

Paul Frumkin, who has served on the EYFC board for 25 years, questioned the city's assertion and also addressed the report’s allegations that the EYFC did not submit its tax filings for several years, asking the city for proof.

City Manager Fran David issued a written statement before the meeting saying the report had “unnecessarily focused on the Eden Youth and Family Center” and said she took full responsibility for the report’s focus. The purpose of the council is to decide how to best administer the funds provided for the construction of a new building on the site while keeping in the good wishes of the donors, particularly Kaiser, added David.

The City Council was largely in agreement that the proposed center and its programs should be both family and teen focused, and should have synergy with the adjacent Matt Jimenez Center operated by HARD and the Fire Station Clinic down the block, set to open in December.

Councilmembers Francisco Zermeno and Sara Lamnin suggested non-profits should be allowed to bid for proposals for governance of the center, Both, though expressed a desire for the council to be more involved in the process. Zermeno is a member of the EYFC's board of directors, according to its web site.

The building should be a landmark for the Tennyson community, said Zermeno. “I want to see a wow building, something people driving down Tennyson would say, "Wow, what is that?"

Yousuf Fahimuddin is a former editor-in-chief of The Pioneer, Cal State East Bay's student-run newspaper.

The Kevins

Were Alameda's elected financial experts correct about the city's unfunded liabilities?

ALAMEDA | They share the same name and middle initial. Their surnames sound similar. So, too, has the fiscal advice that each has offered the Alameda City Council over the years.

City Treasurer Kevin Kennedy and City Auditor Kevin Kearney—The Kevins, in shorthand—have become Alameda’s version of the mythological Greek prophet Cassandra, blessed with uncommon foresight, yet cursed, never to be believed. At least, that’s what the Island’s moderate-to-conservative faction contends.

Yet critics challenge the accuracy of their financial opinions and note that their budget oversight is not called for in the City Charter. In fact, the treasurer’s duties are simply to recommend an investment policy and oversee the city’s portfolio, while the auditor’s role is to conduct an annual audit of the city’s books. Like a political appendix, each office appears to be a vestige from a different era in city government. These days, most cities employ finance directors to offer the type of advice The Kevins eloquently offer the City Council. As elected officials, they are anomalies among East Bay cities, especially for one Alameda’s size. By comparison, only Oakland elects a city auditor.

Kearney, 61, a second-generation Alamedan who was signed by the Oakland Athletics in 1977 before suffering a back injury that ended his career, was appointed to the auditor’s office in 1991 before winning election the next year. Kennedy, 48, who grew up in Livermore and Piedmont before moving to Alameda 25 years ago, was elected treasurer in 2000.

The Kevins said their roles have evolved over the years at the behest of city managers and city councils seeking further advice on financial matters. “Previous staff and city councils recognized we’re experts,” Kennedy said. Both have served on the city’s fiscal sustainability committee.

Yet the Kevins also recognize that the assessments they offer the public are not derived from their elected offices. “We don’t have any power,” Kennedy said. “Are we allowed to speak in public? Yes.”

Critics often complain that neither Kevin chooses to address the City Council as private citizens during public comment but rather through their official capacities. That means they receive more speaking time than ordinary members of the public. “I think they should be limited to three minutes like everybody else,” said Alameda Firefighters IAAF Local 689 President Jeff Del Bono, a frequent critic. “Those guys are abusing their power when they go off on subjects that are not within the responsibility of their office.”

As a strong proponent of fiscal restraint, Kennedy has used heated rhetoric over the years. That has made him a target of Alameda’s union-friendly faction, especially after an infamous March 2011 budget meeting during which Kennedy warned of the city’s dire financial outlook. “If I’m here two years from now, it’ll be to off the lights and lock the door,” Kennedy said. “This is it.” That remark is often mocked by The Kevins’ opponents.

READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE IN ALAMEDA MAGAZINE

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Barbara Lee says Bernie Sanders is ‘galvanizing progressives’

Rep. Barbara Lee
‘It’s a good thing that he’s out there,' says Lee

CONGRESS | 13TH DISTRICT |“Barbara Lee speaks for me” is a tag line well known to voters in the East Bay.

Now, the Thirteenth Congressional District representative is saying Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders is doing just that for progressives across the country.

Lee commented on the attention Sanders is attracting during a radio interview this week.

“I think what he is doing really is galvanizing progressives to really develop a strong progressive agenda that deals with all of the issues, that the majority of Americans want to deal with,” said Lee. “And I think by the turnout and by what the response of the people around the country, we see that his message is resonating and so I think it’s a good thing that he’s out there.”

In recent weeks, the Vermont senator has drawn large crowds to his early campaign speeches, including 10,000 last week in Madison, Wisc, according to Buzzfeed.

Lee, one of the most progressive members of Congress, however, stopped short of endorsing Sanders. She also included references during the interview to the progressive agenda also being offered by the presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.

Another long-time Oro Loma Sanitary District member is retiring

Howard Kerr also served on the San Leandro
City Council.
Howard Kerr announces retirement after 29 years

ORO LOMA SANITARY DISTRICT | Howard Kerr, the current longest-serving member of the Oro Loma Sanitary District is retiring after nearly three decades on the Southern Alameda County waste water board. He announced his retirement during a board meeting Tuesday afternoon.

Kerr, who first joined the board in 1986, is the third long-entrenched member of the sanitary district to retire in the past year. He also served as a San Leandro councilmember in the 1980s.

Earlier this year, another long-serving member of the board, Laython Landis, chose to retire rather than face mounting calls for his resignation. Landis used the n-word during a committee meeting in December 2014 and was later censured by the board.

The year prior, Frank Sidari, citing health problems, did not seek re-election to his seat on the five-member elected board that serves sewage treatment and recycling services for over 135,000 residents, mostly in unincorporated Alameda County and portions of San Leandro and Hayward.

Once known for being one of the oldest group of elected leaders on any one board in the entire East Bay--a majority were in their 80s and all male--is continuing its rapid transformation with Kerr's retirement. Last November, former San Leandro Mayor Shelia Young became the first female member in the district 100 year-plus history.

Similar to the appointment process that followed Landis's retirement last March leading to the selection of Dan Walters as his replacement, a search for a new member will likely follow in the coming months. However, there is no timetable offered yet for Kerr's replacement.

Former Oakland police chief Anthony Batts out in Baltimore

Anthony Batts has worn out welcomes in both
Oakland and now Baltimore.
Report details criticisms that followed him in Oakland 

OAKLAND | A scathing investigation into Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts' handling of the protests that followed the death of Freddie Gray, an incident which captured national headlines for yet another alleged case of police brutality, has led to his dismissal, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Batts served two years as Oakland's police chief starting in 2009 before resigning. He was hired as Baltimore police commissioner in 2012.

At the time, Batts blamed Oakland's bureaucracy for meddling with his attempts to reform the trouble police department.

But a report issued Wednesday was highly critical of Batts' handling of the days of protests that followed Gray's death and strongly reinforced the image he proffered in Oakland as a brash leader of many words, but little action.

The 32-page report concluded Batts leadership divided the department rather than unite it and during the protests suggested arrests were to be approved by civilian leadership instead of the police force.

It also highlighted Batts' known propensity for blustery rhetoric often seen during his tenure in Oakland. In the report, one officer testified that Batts' lack of leadership amounted to leading "us officers to slaughter."

"I can recall Commissioner Batts addressing officer at headquarters prior to going out on the street. he pretty much patted himself on the back making statements like, 'I have been in five riots and I will assure you that this is the deal.' With a potential riot looming, command staff was more concerned with officers not wearing black gloves and looking intimidating. With all this 'experiece' and beforehand knowledge at Commissioner Batts' disposal, he still led us officer to slaughter."


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Cutter rips healthcare district for not paying 'fair share' to San Leandro Hospital

“I am quite outraged at what Eden does and how they
do it," said San Leandro Mayor Pauline Russo Cutter.
Cutter also questions Eden Township CEO's pay

SAN LEANDRO CITY COUNCIL | San Leandro Mayor Pauline Russo Cutter excoriated the local healthcare district during a council meeting Monday night.for its refusal to further fund San Leandro Hospital.

The hospital, now under the umbrella of the Alameda Health System, lost $12 million during the most recent fiscal year, said James Jackson, the chief administrative officer at San Leandro Hospital. Jackson told the City Council, the hospital’s finances are improving and it expects losses to shrink to about $4.7 million this year. By contrast, during the final year of Sutter Health’s ownership of the hospital, three years ago, it said it lost $47 million.

Meanwhile, San Leandro officials are nearing approval of the third $1 million installment of a three-year subsidy to help keep the facility’s emergency room in operation. Monday’s presentation by Alameda Health System (AHS) was intended to alleviate some nervousness about the hospital’s finances and its future.

“We have no intention of going back on the commitment we made,” said Jackson, referring to the pledge made by AHS in 2013 to keep the emergency room open with help from the city’s funding and an addition $3 million over three years from the county. Jackson assured the council closing the hospital anytime soon is “not an option.”

In addition, a planned remodel of the third and fourth floors at San Leandro Hospital to facilitate acute rehabilitation services will also pad the hospital’s bottom line, said Jackson. However, it may not be operational until at least two years and pending state approval.

The sense of overall uncertainty over the hospital’s future following nearly six years of turmoil is still evident. The hospital was nearly closed in 2009 by Sutter Health only to be kept open through a lawsuit by the Eden Township Healthcare District.

The elected Eden Township Healthcare District Board of Directors lost the case, but Sutter Health ultimately donated the facility to Alameda Health System, along with a large subsidy. It also vowed to divert the $19.7 million judgment for damages against the District to San Leandro Hospital, but an Alameda County Superior Court judge sided with the District’s hardship claim and ordered the settlement to be paid over 10 years.

Now, there are rumblings the county and various local members of State Legislature are poised to employ a full court press against the District to pay more toward subsidizing San Leandro Hospital. It’s a suggestion the healthcare district’s board has, in the past, strongly resisted.

During questioning of San Leandro Hospital’s CAO, Cutter lashed out at the healthcare district and questioned its function as a government body and the amount of money its pays its CEO, Dev Mahadevan.

“I am quite outraged at what Eden does and how they do it,” said Cutter. “They have a CEO—a person who works part-time—and he makes over $140,000 a year and he gives out $60,000 in grants. However, he can’t see clear to keep our hospital open. That enrages me. For me as a citizen, to pay this money, they should be servicing us and they’re not.”

In the past, criticism of the Eden Township Healthcare District’s paltry grant funding numbers has been levied against it by others, including Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan. The District’s Boards of Directors, however, have countered by saying its large legal expenditures during the long court battle with Sutter Healht had depleted its resources for funding eligible health care-related non-profits in Central and Southern Alameda County.

“I’m feeling there’s a lot of urgency here,” added Cutter. “We’ve been talking about it but we’re really not coming to a conclusion.” If no resolution is reach with the Eden Township Healthcare District, said Cutter, she plans to mobilize a group of San Leandro residents, who, she said, is upset and seeking to “demand our fair share” from the District.

Donald Trump wins informal Alameda County GOP presidential poll

The Donald has support among Alameda County
Republicans, at least, those who go to the fair.
Local GOP is in tune with national polls

ALAMEDA COUNTY | Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is clearly touching a nerve among conservatives all over the country. In Alameda County, the intersection of fair-goers and local conservatives put Trump at the top of their list in an informal presidential poll conducted last weekend by the Alameda County Republican Party.

The poll attracted 634 voters, who registered their preferences at the party's booth at the Alameda County Fair. Trump easily won the poll with 128 votes, or 20.2 percent. He was followed by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz at 15.8 percent and Ben Carson with 13.2 percent. The tally was posted on the Alameda County Republican Party's Facebook page.

The outcome, although, highly unscientific, is similar to many national polls that place Trump, Carson, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Jeb Bush at the top of the list. It also highlights a preference for the far edge of the political spectrum that is quite common for either party's adherents during the early primary season.

Below is the final tally:
Donald Trump..........128 20.2%
Ted Cruz..............100 15.8%
Ben Carson............ 84 13.2%
Scott Walker.......... 70 11.0%
Jeb Bush.............. 46  7.3%
Marco Rubio........... 46  7.3%
Carly Fiorina......... 37  5.8%
Rand Paul............. 30  4.7%
Rick Perry............ 15  2.4%
Chris Christie........ 13  2.1%
Paul Ryan............. 11  1.7%
Mike Huckabee......... 10  1.6%
Bobby Jindal.......... 10  1.6%

Acrimonious standoff between Hayward and city employees reaches a conclusion

Hayward city employees during a three-day
strike in August 2013.
Union members get 4.5% wage bump over 3 years

HAYWARD CITY COUNCIL | Following a protracted labor dispute between the City of Hayward and over 300 of its employees that included a unilateral five percent wage decrease last year, both sides are set to agree Tuesday night on a new contract that extends through July 2018.

“The tentative agreement is one of shared contribution and flexibility,” said a city staff report. The City Council will approve the new three-year deal at Tuesday night’s meeting.

The new contract will increase the city’s budgeted costs by $4 million over the $10 million it projected over the next three years. Hayward’s economic projections, however, have tended to be on the conservative side in recent years.

Under the deal, city workers will pay up to 12.5 percent toward employer’s CalPERS costs, but will not see increases in their monthly premiums for health care to Kaiser Permanente and other lower priced plans. There is also no financial increases for employees toward the city’s retirement benefit costs.

Employees will also earn wage increases of 4.5 percent over the life of the contract. Starting July 1, wages will rise by 1.5 percent every year of the next three years.

One-time cash payout to city workers of 2.5 percent are included in the deal. The city says that averages $1,730 for full-time employees; $865 for eligible part-time employees.

Hayward’s long and often acrimonious labor fight came at a time when the city was challenged by budget shortfalls that reached $20 million. But union members represented by the Service Employees International Union Local 1021 pushed back, saying its members helped the city by forgoing pay raises for more than five years, while already paying more toward their retirement.

Negotiations, however, reached an impasse in 2013 and in February 2014, the City Council imposed wage cuts to the dissatisfaction of the union and labor leaders publicly threatened strong challenges to their political futures.

On June 11, following an all-night bargaining session, the city and bargaining group reached the tentative agreement to be approved by the City Council this week.

Monday, July 6, 2015

City Hall Insider: agenda notes from around the East Bay, July 6-7

SAN LEANDRO/July 6, 7p.m.
Will San Leandro pay to subsidize hospital this year?

HOSPITAL SUBSIDY Two years ago, the San Leandro City Council allocated $3 million over the next 3 years for continued operations of San Leandro Hospital . The third $1 million installment is due this month and the city has shown recently it is a bit reticent about paying up until it's absolutely clear about the struggling facility’s finances. Reports say the hospital, now under Alameda Health System, is losing about $1 million a month. However, in the larger scheme of things, the hospital’s bottom line is actually improving since AHS took over in late 2013. A representative from AHS will brief the council Monday night followed by a vote for approval of the subsidy.

OAKLAND GARBAGE FALLOUT When San Leandro Councilmember Benny Lee addressed his peers at an Oakland City Council meeting last year to advocate for on behalf of a local business seeking Oakland’s $1 billion garbage contract, he had no idea his personal advocacy undermined the interest of San Leandro residents. On Monday, the council will discuss amendments to the City Council Handbook instructed members to either ID themselves as private residents or only speak on behalf of the entire city when instructed by their colleagues. At the meeting in Oakland, Lee failed to ID himself as speaking as a private citizen. Some suggested the act could have gave Oakland leaders the impression he spoke for the entire San Leandro City Council. Giving the contract to California Waste Solution instead of Waste Management, which held the previous contract and paid millions in taxes to San Leandro to dump the garbage at Davis Street, would have denied San Leandro millions and also punched a hole in San Leandro’s general fund. Disaster was later averted when the contract in Oakland was split among the two bidders.

NEW FIRE TRUCK Although the city contracts its firefighting services to the county, it still needs to purchase its own fire trucks. The city is proposing to replace its 19-year-old pumper fire truck at a cost of no more than $530,000. The old truck has 165,000 miles on its odometer, the staff report said. In addition, a similar pumper truck was purchased in 2010.

LABOR NEGOTIATIONS In closed session, the city council will be briefed on labor negotiations with its city employee, management and police officer bargaining groups.

OAKLAND/July 7, 5:30 p.m.
Who will develop Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center?

HJKCC GETS A DEVELOPER Pending a bout of legislative pandemonium Tuesday night similar to the East 12th Street parcel sale last month, the revamp of the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center will be awarded to one of two bidders. A city staff report recommends the City Council tab Orton Development Inc. for a one-year Exclusive Negotiation Agreement to rehab the historic public space at Lake Merritt. Orton proposes transforming the convention center into a “maker” space, along with light manufacturing, office space, food and retail space and restoration of the Calvin Simmons Theater. A second developer, Creative Development Partners, proposes much of the same uses, but notably calls for construction of a 15-story hotel between the convention center and the Oakland Museum. According to the staff report, the economic feasibility of Orton’s bid, their “financial capacity” and experience outpaces the rival bid. Expect many speakers on the subject Tuesday night.

E12TH STREET SALE PART IV In addition, a second and final reading of the controversial sale of public land at the East 12th Street remainder parcel near Lake Merritt is also on tap. The discussion was likely a formality before the East Bay Express reported late Monday that Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker had issued the City Council an opinion deeming the proposed $5 million sale illegal under the state's Surplus Lands Act. Yet, the City Council ignored the opinion and ultimately approved the deal late last month. In hindsight, the reticence of some councilmembers like Dan Kalb, who abstained, and Noel Gallo, who voted yes, but questioned the legality of the sale during the deliberation process is elucidating. But what about the others who never wavered in their support despite the city attorney's caution?

UNO OUT Following a report detailing Port of Oakland Commissioner Victor Uno’s failure to file his economic interest forms, the mishap offered an opportunity to make a change at the commission. Uno is out and Mayor Libby Schaaf is nominating Joan Story, a real estate, land use and environmental attorney, for the appointment. If approved by the City Council, her term will run through June 2019. In addition, Schaaf is set to reappoint Commissioner Ces Butner for another four-year term.

ALAMEDA/July 7, 7 p.m.
Island developments move forward; Daysog woos Airbnb

DEL MONTE PROJECT A pair of decisions will be made Tuesday night on the Del Monte Warehouse housing project, which was approved last December. The City Council will discuss a subdivision map for 11 acres of the project on Buena Vista Avenue and the transfer about a half acre of city-owned land to the Alameda Housing Authority. An agreement between the city and housing authority for 31 units of affordable housing on the plot of land will come on July 21, said the staff report.

ALAMEDA POINT Final passage for the long-awaited Site A plan for the Alameda Point housing and retail development comes Tuesday night. The Disposition and Development Agreement between the city and Alameda Point Partners, LLC was first approved last month. The 68-acre development will provide 800 new residential units for Alameda, 600 sq. ft. of commercial spaces and 15 acres of open space.

AIRBNB Maybe Councilmember Tony Daysog is looking to rent out some rooms? Daysog is recommending the city manager’s office draft two related policies to attract visitors to Alameda. One, is a proposal to raise the 10 percent Transient Occupant Tax and direct the increased revenue to better serving guests staying overnight on the island. Second, he is also asking for a draft policies for Alameda on sharing economy services like Airbnb.

HAYWARD/July 7, 7 p.m.
Supervisor needs more money for new youth center

YOUTH CENTER FUNDING Alameda County Supervisor Richard Valle wants to replace the dilapidated youth center on West Tennyson Road with something like the popular Ashland REACH Center built a few years ago by the county. The problem is this: Valle has only secured about $16 million of the potential $26 million cost of rebuilding the center. Nine million is coming from the county with another $5 million from Kaiser Permanente. But the health care provider’s donation has strings attached to ensure the future center is properly run and for up to five years before ponying up the cash. The Hayward City Council will discuss how it can move forward, but a staff report clearly asserts the city has no money for such an endeavor. However, it does own the land.

LABOR PEACE Over 300 city workers were on the job without a contract since 2013. They even faced a five percent wage cut imposed last year by the City Council with some controversy. The long standoff off has nearly concluded. A tentative three-year contract hammered out June 10 will be approved by the City Council Tuesday night that gives workers a 4.5 percent wage increase over three years, but also requires them to pay up to 12.5 percent toward their pensions.