Monday, February 1, 2010

The Little Young Lady Goes to Pasadena

Finance Meeting Battle Royale | Infamous Invoice | Salinger and Zinn | Snooki in San Leandro?
Vice Mayor Joyce Starosciak had a fundraiser in Pasadena Jan. 23 hosted by Tim Wendler, a well-known Southern California Democratic contributor with ties to a global engineering and construction firm. Starosciak, who is running for mayor this fall, has been criticized in the past for relying on campaign donations from developers. In an email obtained by The Citizen, she describes San Leandro in broad strokes for those unfamiliar with the city, while noting its possibilities for growth. "San Leandro is a City of 80,000 residents tucked between Oakland and Hayward in the San Francisco Bay Area," Starosciak writes. "Over 130 years old, we have the challenges of aging, but a bright future ahead with new families moving in and new development in the planning stages." Starosciak said Sunday night Wendler is a friend from engineering school who has supported her in the past. Wendler has been involved in supporting Democrats in Southern California through fundraisers and works for the global engineering and construction firm Parsons Corporation, headquartered in Pasadena. The Washington Post reported in 2006, the company with over $3 billion in revenues in 2008 allegedly performed shoddy workmanship and oversight over the government-funded construction of police and fire stations in Iraq. Mayor Tony Santos told The Citizen Friday he thinks Starosciak may be having difficulty raising money if she has to go to Southern California for donations. Santos also added, "I don't know what interest Pasadena has in San Leandro."


MAYOR + JUDGE JUDY The tenor of hardball election year politics doesn't stop there. The level of dislike between Santos and his other mayoral challenger Stephen Cassidy has been documented many times before and continued last Wednesday at a meeting of the finance committee that only brought more economic bad news. Near the end of the meeting, Cassidy addressed the committee and again called for Santos to take a pay cut to illustrate a commitment to reigning in the budget deficit. Santos did not comment, but fired back at Cassidy at the end of the meeting when he spoke directly at Cassidy and referred to his job as a consumer lawyer. "Maybe when attorneys cut their contingency fees the rest of us can talk about that," said Santos. Cassidy quickly responded, "Maybe when you speak honestly about..." Santos interrupted and shot back, "You had your turn!" Santos then rose from his seat, clinched his fist like a gavel and pounded the table as he said with a smirk, "Meeting adjourned! Meeting adjourned!"


MORE OF THE SAME? Supporters of saving San Leandro Hospital are beginning to see hopeful change as the Eden Township Healthcare District Board of Directors transforms itself into a more aggressive body against Sutter Health, but a few things last Wednesday struck some as business as usual. The board promoted the law firm Archer Norris to general counsel while hiring another office as litigator. Archer Norris has fought Sutter in the past in Marin County, but one observer thought the actions of new counsel Colin Coffey evoked memories of the former District lawyer, Craig Canizzo, who was last fired last December. On a online message board, a contributor noticed Coffey was quick to remind the board the postponement of selling its interest in the San Leandro Surgery Center to Sutter could result in no deal. "I would have expected this comment from the previous attorney. If this law firm really understands what Sutter is about, I would have expected a much different reaction from him. I hope that there is really no reason for my concern, but he was too quick to react with that statement." Earlier in the same meeting, a representative from the auditing firm hired by the District for between $20,000-30,000 to look at Sutter's financial statements regarding San Leandro Hospital detailed an audit that failed to seek the central question of whether Sutter was cooking the books at the facility to make it appear to lose money. Director Dr. Vin Sawhney seemed purturbed at the presentation and asked for more precise instructions to be given to the auditing firm. The exchange had many in the audience wondering where the disconnect from October when the board voted to seek an audit of Sutter's books and the presentation given last week and pointed their finger at the staff.


WHO'S WORKING, WHO'S NOT The infamous invoice reported last week by The Citizen showing a curious item that now questions who wrote Director Dr. Rajendra Ratnesar's "Letter to the Community" last December. Ratnesar or Sutter? We may never know, but the invoice did show some other interesting facts like which journalists in the area actually engage the District and by extension--the biggest story in San Leandro (soon to be engulfed by the city's budget woes). The invoice submitted to the board for work completed in November and December of last year refers twice to media inquiries from the San Leandro Times and The Citizen, but not "Your Hometown Newspaper"--the Daily Review, currently in bankruptcy.


APPRECIATION A salute to J.D. Salinger and Howard Zinn is in order. I never  explicitely articulated the premise of The Citizen to expose "phonies" like Salinger's famous Holden Caufield railed against, but it's there just as a bit of his youthful angst has become part of the DNA of the blogosphere. The death of Salinger in some ways is the last hurrah for the struggle of producers of content to maintain scarcity. With scarcity comes the ability to profit directly from the product. Salinger left such a dearth of writing behind and, as far as we know did not write anything of consequence for the last 50 years. Such a situation whether from a writers or producer of writtten media will never happen again.  The death of Howard Zinn, though, points directly to the premise of allowing for the free-flow of all voices, especially those outside the levers of power. The groundbreaking "People's History of the United States" is a direct forefather to the theory of hyperlocal journalism. It is why you should never trust a band of Ivy League-trained reporters from the Washington Post and The New York Times telling you what is happenng on the ground in Haiti just as you cannot believe local media conglomorates will sufficiently and fairly cover the Latino, Asian and black minorities in San Leandro along with those less advantaged everywhere.


BRING SNOOKI TO SAN LEANDRO With all the hoopla over MTV's immensely popular reality show Jersey Shore, maybe San Leandro could get into the Hollywood business to gain some notoriety and bring in some sorely needed revenue to the city. Here's my pitch: Eight young ethnic men and women  spend the summer in San Leandro and get themselves into all sorts of hijinks while living on a boat in the Marina. Call it Marina Shore. Episode ideas: San Leandro Councilman Jim Prola tries to evict the crew from their boat after discovering they had not pay docking fees and things get heated when the smallish female character gets short changed on the price of snow peas at the farmer's market. A brawl ensues which leads to a confrontation with bike-riding San Leandro cops accompanied by Councilman Michael Gregory: Lawman. Oh, sorry, that's another show idea. -S.T.

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1 comment:

  1. Blessings to the great Mr. Zinn. It has been an indictment of our political and social cultures that someone as clear-eyed and reasonable as Howard was considered a wild-eyed radical throughout his life.

    Props also to Mr. Salinger, an adult who captured the perfect voice of misanthropic youth for his generation. He made us laugh, even when Holden's guts were on the floor. J.D.'s disappearance from society for 40 years- ultimate bravery or ultimate cowardice? Tough call, but I don't believe his genius would have made him a good companion at the local diner.

    Finally, I have seen a brief portion of a single episode of "Jersey Shore", but that was is enough for me to beseech you and our City Council: Please, please, do NOT bring Snooki to San Leandro.