Future of RCV Becomes Battle for Campaign Points | Ratnesar Rallies the Troop(s) | H1N1 to Save Hospital? | Hannity Hawking Chevys in S.L.
It's be a rocky few weeks for the Joyce Starosciak for Mayor campaign proving beating an entrenched incumbent is not all that easy. She raised eyebrows last month when she created the imagery of a "decaying" San Leandro, to which Mayor Tony Santos hammered away. He told The Citizen last Monday hours before an oddly riveting council meeting that he will allude to Starosciak's comment at every chance he gets. Now comes Ranked Choice Voting. A policy issue that Starosciak framed as an example of how she will adhere to budgetary constraint as mayor. One problem, though, Santos and Councilman Jim Prola outflanked Starosciak on the issue Monday night and may have delivered a stinging early defeat for the vice mayor. For Starosciak, the problem with RCV is not the mechanics of the voting system, but the cost. For Santos, it is ideological, which is less flexible, than dollars and cents. One observer Monday night wondered why Starosciak was not aware she lacked four votes to block RCV, but maybe she did. Once Councilman Bill Stephens reiterated Starosciak's belief the time for RCV was not now, it appeared she had the votes to score a big political victory. Then, Councilwoman Ursula Reed, who appeared highly skeptical about RCV in previous council meetings inexplicably jumped ship. The net zero outcome brought Starosciak's motion down in flames and allowed Prola to buy RCV a month's worth of time. In the meantime, Santos and Prola will need to find a way to neutralize Starosciak's money argument while search for alternate funding to lower the upfront costs. Prola's gambit worked and the motion passed 5-2 on the assumption Oakland approves RCV on Jan. 6 (they will) and San Leandro will pass the hat around the county. The political play on Starosciak looks triumphant for Santos right now. He was particularly proud of the council's decision afterwards, but the issues holding back RCV today may still exist Jan. 19 when the council revisits it. A person with knowledge of the county's budget situation said "funds would not be easy to come by." Alameda County, like most government bodies, is already dealing with a multi-million dollar budget shortfall. With city and county services being cut, it may be politically dubious for the county to front San Leandro money for an expenditure the public did not voice a preference to enact. One elected official at Monday's council meeting summed up the proxy battle unfolding over RCV saying, "Do you think this has anything to do with what the city needs? No. It's all about their campaigns."
RATNESAR IS ATTACKING THE PEOPLE HE SEEKS The California Nurses Association sent out fliers this week hoping to attract a throng of supporters to the Dec. 16 Eden Township Healthcare District meeting. The militant tone of the leaflets are a hallmark of an self-respecting union and have been effective in both rattling and emboldening members of the board. "Don’t let Sutter, Ratnesar and Alameda County Steal our Community Hospital. Stand up to the intimidation," said the flier. Two weeks ago, The Citizen, called on local politicians to again rally opposition to Sutter Health's plans to shutter the hospital. Oddly, it is the District Chair Dr. Rajendra Ratnesar, who is whipping residents into a frenzy this week with his "Letter to the Community." Some around town are wondering just who the letter was intended for since it calls out supporters of San Leandro Hospital and labor unions. According to these sources, aren't those the people in the community Ratnesar is hoping to attract? District Director Carole Rogers pointed out in her response to the letter "99.9 percent" of those at public hearings are in favor of keeping the hospital open. As a reporter who has been at every meeting since the beginning of May I can report it has been a solid 100 percent. I have yet to hear one resident speak of the desire to have the hospital closed other than two of the former board members who actually negotiated the disastrous 2007 Memorandum of Understanding--Suzanne Barba and Dr. Frank Rico.
THE SAVIOR OF SLH: H1N1? By now, it is well known Sutter flipped its collective lid when The Citizen reported Santos' comments in council chambers that the H1N1 virus would keep San Leandro Hospital open until the end of January. Did he muddle Sutter's secret plans or were they annoyed by the mayor placing an artificial date on their plans to lease the hospital to the Alameda County Medical Center? Santos said he didn't know why Sutter was so angry, but could you imagine the media scorn heaped upon Sutter for closing a hospital during this winter's much-hyped flu epidemic? Now, Dr. Ratnesar is the latest elected official to put a possible date on the hospital's demise. According to Ratnesar's letter, the patient has only six months to live. This latest threat of a mid-summer closing, in fact, may just be stating the end of the Sutter's one-year long window to close the facility. Nevertheless, the pullout date is as set in stone as President Obama's 2011 exit of Afghanistan, which is to say it will surely be fudged. Many in the community believe the hospital situation is in a legal holding pattern with Sutter's lawsuit against the District amid secret negotiations that will likely fail to achieve a satisfactory deal for the public. One scenario frequently mentioned is the possibility of legal action against Sutter which would bog down the entire situation in the courts. The positive side for supporters of the hospital is, with or without the curious help of H1N1, the facility could conceivably be open for another year.
'TELL THEM YOUR FRIEND SEAN HANNITY SENT YOU' You could almost imagine the Bay Area as one huge bubble of liberal hegemony. I use to work in San Francisco during the heart of the tumultuous Bush years and good luck finding a Republican to argue the Bush policies of the day. We have no idea how the rest of the more moderate country really behaves. Around this area, names like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck are met with dirty scowls which it makes it odd San Leandro auto dealer FH Dailey would run radio ads with the pugnacious Fox News commentator Sean Hannity selling Chevrolets in San Leandro. The 60-second spots which run on local conservative talk radio station KSFO appeared after the Raiders triumphant victory last Sunday over Pittsburgh. KSFO runs Hannity's show weekdays, but the thought of enticing Chevy buyers to San Leandro with the bane of liberal thought is an odd marketing plan. The next thing you know Alan Colmes will be hawking rifles for a gun shop on East 14th. (Listen to the spot here.) S.T.
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