PETITION ARGUES CASSIDY DID NOT CLAIM ECONOMIC INTEREST IN ALLEGED CAMPAIGN EVENT AT SCHOOL
By Steven Tavares
Opponents of Stephen Cassidy's bid for mayor of San Leandro submitted a complaint Tuesday to the Fair Political Practices Commission charging the candidate for failing to claim his interests in the controversial school fair they contend was a political event.
The complaint alleges Cassidy's current Statement of Economic Interest does not contain contributions from groups involved with the Oct. 16 school fair at Roosevelt Elementary School, including the PTA and Zocolo Coffeehouse, which is owned by Cassidy's campaign manager. "This event was clearly political," says the petition, "and the evidence is supported with videos, flyers and emails, as well as, statements from other concerned parents."
Cassidy is the only candidate named in the complaint, although School Board President Mike Katz, who is up for re-election, and Superintendent Cindy Cathey are referenced in the document. One of the witnesses in the complaint is San Leandro parent Latrina Dumas, who is running against Katz.
It also alleges the Cassidy campaign in conjunction with the Roosevelt PTA, Tim Holmes and Katz "orchestrated a political event" on the school grounds. Specifically, the complaint focuses on a flyer advertising the festival which reads, "Dunk our principal, our parent/politicians and more!" Listed below is a schedule detailing Cassidy as "Mayoral Candidate, Parent" along with Councilman Michael Gregory, Lance James, a candidate for the board, and Katz. It also alleges Cassidy was introduced as the "next mayor of San Leandro" on numerous occasions. Video of the event clearly shows a gentleman believed to be part of the PTA uttering the phrase while introducing Cassidy.
The complaint filed by parent Hendy Huang alleges "unsolicited political propaganda" was distributed to children and parents along with a campaign booth at the festival. He also says he alerted Cathey to the potential violations by email the day before the event without a response.
Cassidy denies the event was anything but a school fundraiser and was merely participating in the dunk tank event to raise money for students. While he acknowledges he wore a campaign t-shirt to the event, that in itself, is not a violation, he says, and denies any political literature was distributed nor was a table set aside for him.
Cathey also denied Wednesday the event was nothing more than a fundraiser for students at Roosevelt and not a political event. The school district's investigation, she says, found no evidence of campaign literature at the event nor was a table sponsored by any candidate. In addition, no school resources were used to promote any candidate, says Cathey, but she acknowledged a volunteer's introduction of Cassidy. "It is regrettable that one of the volunteer auctioneers referred to a participant as the next mayor of San Leandro as part of that fundraising effort," says Cathey. "However, this was neither planned nor approved by the PTA/Dad's Club prior to the event."
The complaint was sent Tuesday to the FPPC and the government body allows three days to notify the person alleged of the violation within three days. It is very unlikely any determination will be made by the FPPC before the Nov. 2 election.