EAST BAY CITIZEN. EVERYWHERE SINCE 2009

Saturday, March 20, 2010

I Heard From a Friend of a Friend Campaigning

Jockeying for Santos | Eden District's Big Bills | Dvorsky's Ghostwriter | Mayor vs. SL Times | Burrell Dumps
The political equivalent of an "unforced error" in tennis is probably announcing an important local endorsement when it wasn't yours just yet. District 3 candidate for supervisor Beverly Johnson's inauspicious blunder tainted what was an otherwise charming opening event to her campaign to replace Alameda County Supervisor Alice Lai-Bitker, but the premature announcement of San Leandro Mayor Tony Santos' endorsement is a glaring mistake with the only bright spot being it occurred much early than later in her campaign. The Johnson camp had reached out to Santos as early as Feb. 19 to secure his backing over the likes of Wilma Chan or even at time Lena Tam or Shelia Young. Johnson told The Citizen a colleague of Santos informed her of his endorsement just before Tuesday's event. The next day, Santos responded quizzically to news of his endorsement for Johnson. It actually was something like this: "Whaaaat?!" Johnson said she spoke to Santos Wednesday and apologized for the misunderstanding and still hopes to secure his endorsement soon. For his part, Santos appears conflicted on whom to endorse, but mentioned his work with Johnson on various regional boards as a plus. "I am staying neutral for time being," said Santos. "I must say I work with Bev on number of agencies, so I do need to stay on her good side. I know them both and like them both, so it is a real dilemma for me." Like in tennis, it doesn't matter how good you are, the presence of crucial errors like the one Tuesday night will sink any campaign.

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BILLABLE HOURS Just how much is the Eden Township Healthcare District going to spend on legal fees in its battle with Sutter Health to save San Leandro Hospital? If the price tag for February's work by the law firms Archer Norris and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman is any indication, it could be hefty. According to the District, $364,000 was spent on legal fees that featured the latest lawsuit against Sutter hoping to invalidate the 2008 memorandum of understanding. The District will also be on the hook quite ironically to supply representation for Ratnesar and Dr. Francisco Rico, who were named in the lawsuit. Rumors have been circulating saying the total bill could range somewhere between $4-5 million. Eden Township Healthcare District CEO Dev Mahadevan told the San Leandro Times it could be as high as $2 million. Once you extrapolate February's outlay over the many months the legal skirmish between the two sides may drag, its final numbers could easily be somewhere in between the two figure, or perhaps, exceed them. Critics say that money could be better served towards the $6-9 million subsidy needed to run a hybrid model of services, including the emergency room, at the hospital. The problem is the county and Sutter would rather convert San Leandro Hospital to a acute rehabilitation facility rather than the political security blanket that is the "hybrid model." It appears for the emergency room to be saved, the District has been given no choice but to write hefty checks to their attorneys.

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SIGNED: SUTTER HEALTH? In this era of emails and text messages, who says letter writing is a quaint endeavor from a bygone era? In fact, when the letters arrive with a return address to Sutter, the outcome is usually another peek into the invisible hand of the Sacramento-based health care provider. This week came news Eden Township Healthcare District Director Dr. Harry Dvorsky sent a correspondence to the board requesting an opportunity to change his vote on the Feb. 18 decision to file a lawsuit against Sutter. The circumstances around Dvorsky's reversal (he was one of two votes in the affirmative) are still unclear. He did not answer questions last Wednesday evening, but some believe the elderly director was coerced into an attempt to switch sides. Dvorsky's grasp of the situation surrounding the board and Sutter are said to be basic. Boardmembers have been known to boil down arguments to their lowest common denominator for him. He has stated his goal is to keep San Leandro Hospital open and choices presented to him have been framed in that respect. Did Dvorsky composed the letter on his own volition or did someone else? Who knows, but the existence of two other letters tied to Sutter have made waves in the past six months. Late last year it was revealed Sutter had sent a letter to Prime Healthcare, the outfit with designs of taking over San Leandro Hospital, threatening legal action if they began negotiations with the District. The missive was triggered by comments made by Director Dr. Vin Sawhney vaguely mentioning Prime's intervention in quotes reported by The Citizen. More infamously, December's "Letter to the Community" supposedly written by another Director Dr. Rajendra Ratnesar, was found to be ghost written by an employee of Sutter. Since nobody outside of the board has seen Dvorsky's letter, is it possible someone has been watching the cartoon Inspector Gadget and began employing letters that self-destruct after 15 seconds?

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PROP. 13 IMBROGLIO Mayor Tony Santos was inundated with phone calls and emails from constituents who read in the San Leandro Times he was in favor of repealing the property tax-slashing Proposition 13. "Nothing could be further from the truth," Santos said in an email this week. "At no time have I advocated repealing proposition 13 nor will I ever make such a proposal." In numerous conversations with Santos he has lamented the loss of property tax dollars because of the landmark 1970s referendum in the context of San Leandro's coffers bleeding red, but has never went as far as to advocate a repeal of Proposition 13. Santos said he asked the San Leandro Times for a retraction of story, but the request came after the paper's latest edition was put to bed. 

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FIELD OF NIGHTMARES These are brutal economics times, but the crumbling edifice of Burrell Field is an outright embarrassment for the city. The rickety wooden stands, crab grass-infested infield and pebble track is not suitable for recreation. In fact, it's best use would be for auxiliary parking for a fair, if one were to set up shop on the edge of the 880 freeway. What a stark difference to the sports facilities in nearby Castro Valley. During the past two Saturdays, the athletic fields off Redwood Road have been bustling with women's soccer games, high school baseball, track and field competitions and girls softball leagues with practice in full swing. The quality of the new stadium is evident in the fact that the world's top female soccer player, Marta, will play her home games for F.C. Gold Pride of the Women's Professional Soccer in Castro Valley. It is not so much that the fields are being used for competitive sports or even exercise, but the sheer sense of community on these Saturday mornings is what San Leandro is lacking with Burrell Field languishing in such disrepair.  On the bright side, the elements of a truly special facility are already there with the baseball field and serviceable tennis courts. That is what supporters of the San Leandro Sports Foundation are hoping to build upon by reconfiguring the two adjacent baseball diamonds and football stadium into a facility similar to the one in Castro Valley. How Burrell Field became such dilapidated dump or how nobody has accidentally crashed through its warped and crack stands is astonishing. It is time to get on the ball. Is it any wonder there has never been an exceptionally-gifted athlete ever raised in San Leandro? - S.T.

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3 comments :

Why is an unincorporated area in better shape in its appearance, infrastructure and schools than a city with its own government and considerably more tax resources? It is a shame San Leandro has allowed our public resources and parks to languish, but it seems to be common here now in many ways. What happened to this once pristine,well maintained clean and proud city???

The Inspector Gadget reference got a good laugh out of me. Very clever, Steven.

Do yo know why Burrell is allowed to flounder?? Figure it out. The City Hall's buddies want to develop it into another shopping center. So the City figures if they allow it to crumble then the idiots who voted for Tony "bacalau" Santos will say; "oh let's build a new one in another location".

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