Wednesday, December 30, 2009

'09 Rewind: the Economy, the Hospital and the Economy

A second Walmart opens in San Leandro with the creation of 300 new jobs. Streams of San Leandrans flock to buy really cheap packages of Oreos at the new location on Hesperian Boulevard.

The city tabs Ian Willis to replace outgoing Chief Dale Attarian. Problems at the police department are exacerbated by a shrinking police force due to the economy and a spate of lawsuits against the department for misconduct.

In his State of the City address, Mayor Tony Santos sets the economic tone of the city's bleak budget outlook citing falling property and sales taxes ahead.

City Manager Stephen Hollister recommends 5-15 percent cuts to all city departments to alleviate a reported $10 million deficit.

Richard Bailey is shot and killed in the Floresta Gardens neighborhood of San Leandro. It is the first of two homicides in the city.

The City Council agrees to authorize the building of 200 affordable housing units to be named The Alameda located behind the San Leandro BART station. The decision sparks a vocal minority of residents who fear low-income tenants will drive housing prices down and flood local schools.

At the same council meeting, Davis Street Family Resource Center's bid for $500,000 to purchase a new property on Teagarden Avenue is approved. As the economy continued to dispossess more people, the timing of the donation now seems prescient.

The community begins to organize against plans by Sutter Health to close emergency room services at San Leandro Hospital. The battle to save the hospital would soon become the city's biggest news story of 2009.

The dean of San Leandro politics, Jack Maltester, dies. The city's longest serving city official is credited with laying the foundation of modern day San Leandro--both good and bad.

Seeking to exploit a dearth of local news, the East Bay Citizen goes live. After an initial interview with Tony Santos, the mayor writes, "Don't know what to make of your little web site. Doubtful I will grant another interview," but he does.

Councilwoman Joyce Starosciak is unanimously selected to replace Councilman Bill Stephens as vice mayor. A few months later, she announces intentions to erase the "vice" from her title in 2010.

During a meeting, Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty angrily crumples and tosses a letter from the San Leandro City Council into a garbage can. Haggerty's histrionics is the first of many astonishing slights lobbed at the council by the board of supervisors. Later in the year it is reported a former Oakland Raider puts Haggerty in a neck brace. The city's revenge? Maybe.


City Council approves a $78 million budget for 2009-2010. Lowered sales tax projections quickly put the budget out of whack.

California Supreme Court sides with the San Leandro Unified School District saying barring political endorsements distributed through internal teacher mailboxes is reasonable. The court also says the mailboxes are not a open forum afforded greater free speech.

A series of three hearing by the Eden Township Healthcare District at the San Leandro Library entices hundreds of residents to voice nearly unanimous support for San Leandro Hospital.

The owner of a rival health provider, Prime Health, turns one meeting into a church revival and anoints himself the savior of San Leandro Hospital. The audience cheers and gives a standing ovation, but questions over the company's business practices and objections by Sutter push the proposal to the background.

Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi inexplicably votes in committee against a bill she co-sponsors with state Sen. Ellen Corbett regarding San Leandro Hospital. The nasty tit-for-tat between San Leandro's legislators confounds many and leads some to believe Hayashi is plotting a run at Corbett's seat in 2010. The rumor mill currently says Hayashi is having second thoughts.

The Daily Review's San Leandro beat writer retires and is not replaced. According to the beleaguered daily, nothing happens in the city for the next four months.

Sutter exercises its right, according to a two-year-old agreement between it and the District, to purchase San Leandro Hospital. The price: $0.

The District board votes to block the purchase of San Leandro Hospital by Sutter. The public learns crucial minutes from 2007 detailing the disputed Memorandum of Understanding are lost. The next day Sutter surprises all by announcing a deal was completed two weeks earlier to lease the disputed hospital property to the Alameda County Medical Center for rehab services.

Sen. Ellen Corbett announces to another heavily attended public meeting at the library her intention to ask Attorney General Jerry Brown to investigate Sutter's business practices in Northern California. The AG begins an investigation but has yet to pursue the allegations.

Congressional Democrats begin to doubt the ability of House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY) to keeps his seat after ethics allegations continue to grow. Speculation on Capitol Hill centers on the number two--Rep. Pete Stark--taking over to the consternation of both Republicans and moderate Democrats. News of Stark's own ethics problem in the past few days may scuttle those plans, too.

Vice Mayor Joyce Starosciak announces her candidacy for mayor in 2010 and hires a noted East Bay political consultant.

The city's coffers become further constrained as the summer winds down and the city grapples with the idea of children returning to school without crossing guards. The program was cut earlier in the year and is renewed when the city and school district agree to split the costs.

Eden Boardmember Dr. Walter Kran abruptly resigns citing stress. His departure leads members hoping to keep San Leandro Hospital open a chance to appoint a like-minded majority vote.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signs nearly two dozen bills authored by Corbett and Hayashi into law.

Former school district trustee Stephen Cassidy becomes the second challenger to Tony Santos for mayor. With a poor local economy, he pledges if elected to work for free until the budget is fixed.

Sutter sues the District for the right to purchase San Leandro Hospital plus $5 million in damages, while rumors of a settlement over the "hybrid option" are tossed around for the next two months.

The city council votes to approve spending $61,000 on a series of three mailers to "educate" residents on the city's financial woes. The decision is met with derision led by Bill Stephens who states the literature amounts to preparing the city for a tax measure in 2010.

After two rounds of interviews, the District appoints orthopedic surgeon Dr. Bill West to replace Kran on the Eden board. In his interview West raises eyebrows when he says he was asked to take the position.


The school board overwhelmingly approves the naming of the new ninth grade campus after internment camp survivor and civil rights hero Fred Korematsu.

Two of the year's biggest stories--the resignation of Kran and Sutter's lawsuit against the District--manifests itself in the District's firing of its legal counsel Craig Cannizzo.

After dodging ethics charges earlier in the year over tax breaks at his Maryland home, Stark gets a Christmas Eve notice of unknown charges by the House Ethics Committee.

2010 AND BEYOND....
The city council will continue t0 debate whether to change the way the city elects officials just after the New Year. Oakland will likely approve Ranked Choice Voting Jan. 6, while San Leandro again takes up the issue Jan. 19. At stake: who pays for the large startup costs and whether the expenditure is wise in 2010.

The economy in 2009 was a story that colored virtually every news story. In the past week, noted Nobel Prize-winning economists have said the nation's financial health will more than likely decline before beginning a substantial recovery in 2011. Such a recovery is depicted on the right as "w-shape". If all bad news falls downward, San Leandro's sticky budget situation will further deflate and likely become the top issue for the mayor's race.

Predicting the next break in the San Leandro Hospital saga is nearly impossible, but the recent move by the District to change its legal stance against Sutter promises to tie up any resolution for the better half of the year. What happens after June 30 is anyones guess.

JOIN THE REVOLUTION! www.eastbaycitizen.com


Great review of the year! I thought this was a boring town, but apparently a lot of things happened.

It is a boring town with things that happen!

Anonymous forgot to mention....I really enjoyed the year in review and I love this site....it is so helpful to know what is happening in our city and the politics that go along with it is facinating! Happy New Year!

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