Saturday, November 7, 2009

Mayor Attacks Cassidy's Liberal Cred

San Leandro Mayor Tony Santos and his opponent former School Board Trustee Stephen Cassidy are probably not friends and the long slog of campaigning for mayor will not alleviate their constant backbiting.

During a council meeting Monday night Cassidy sternly criticized the mayor and city council twice for allegedly positioning the newly-created Budget Task Force Committee to follow the city's agenda to raise revenue through taxes. Cassidy also charged the city with failing to fund school crossing guards while preparing to spend $75,000 on an informational tax campaign. Santos used the opportunity to further ratchet up his rhetoric this week against Cassidy, likely signaling the beginning of a vicious political fistfight.

Santos, at times, looked on with exasperation, but made no public comment to Cassidy's charges. Afterwards, he said "Cassidy, in my mind, is becoming the new Lou Filipovich." The reference to Filipovich, who was the Republican challenger to Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi last year, in San Leandro terms, is akin to Hillary Clinton calling Barack Obama, the next Newt Gingrich.

Filipovich is known for speaking on numerous topics during council meetings. At one hearing earlier this year, he turned in four separate public comment cards and was the only person to speak that night. The scene of the elderly Filipovich repeatedly shuffling back and forth from his seat to the podium four consecutive times to lecture the council on taxes is one of the funniest moments of the year.

On Thursday, Santos again compared Cassidy to Filipovich, but added a scathing attack on Cassidy's liberal credentials. "You want to call yourself a progressive like Cassidy does and then support cutting jobs and taking funds out of the hands of employees. Progressives don't go against employees. Like I said the other day, he's no different than Lou Filipovich."

In recent months, Cassidy has honed his message around the city's growing budgetary problems and attempts to alleviate its demise by increasing tax revenues. He has also publicly shined a light on the mayor's terse email messages to himslef and other constituents, saying Santos "praises me in public and puts me down in private."

Their tit-for-tat began this spring when Cassidy criticized Santos' handling of the city's finances. Santos countered with "Here's a guy, when he was on the school board, who couldn't balance his own budget and he wants to tell me how to balance mine?" Subsequently, every mention of Cassidy to Santos elicits the same talking point and the war of words continues.

PHOTOS: San Leandro mayoral candidate Stephen Cassidy; Lou Filipovich, a two-time Republican candidate for State Senate, was defeated last year by Mary Hayashi for Assembly.

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Next thing you know Santos will be calling Bill Lockyer the next Barry Goldwater.

"As a practical matter, I don't think tax increases are going to occur and Democrats go back to that solution for every problem too readily," Lockyer said. "My own view is that we need to spend a decade working on governmental efficiency and spend the money we have well, if for no other reason to convince people that they are getting a dollars worth of value for dollars worth of tax."

Today's school board financial difficulties were created during the time a "liberal" Cassidy was a member of the board! Will he be able to run the city the same way?? where will we be in 9 years if Cassidy should win the mayoral race?

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