Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hayward Council Approves Condemnation of Immigration Law

By Steven Tavares

It is no surprise the Hayward City Council and residents at Tuesday's meeting were divided over Arizona's controversial immigration law--the entire country is roiling in debate over its constitutionality. Undaunted the council approved sending a letter to Arizona Gov. Jane Brewer condemning the law, 4-0 with 3 members, including Mayor Michael Sweeney, abstaining.

The letter first proposed by Councilman Francisco Zermeno asks the governor to seek a federal solution to the immigration problem which is particularly sensitive in border states like Arizona. The letter though offers no alternative. "It is unfortunate that the State of Arizona, in a solitary effort to stem the tide of illegal immigration into your state, has passed a strict immigration law making the failure to carry immigration papers a crime, and giving the Arizona police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the United States illegally, with little or no cause," the letter reads. "Like others, the City of Hayward believe such policies taken to their most negative limit could easily lead to racial profiling and, therefore, to the public's mistrust of our local police officers."

Zermeno said he was never required to carry identification other than a driver's license when he immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico in the 1960s nor when he gained citizenship in 1980. He said Arizona's law must be condemned now before it grows into a larger problem. "We must not allow a biased root to become a full-grown poison ivy of racial injustice," said Zermeno, who along with members Barbara Halliday, Kevin Dowling and Olden Henson voted in favor of the letter.

Henson, who was raised in Louisiana, said his past experiences growing up in the South gives him a unique perspective on the law. Henson recalled sitting at the back of the bus and lowering his head while walking down the street so as not to make eye contact with whites, especially white women.

Critics of the decision to debate out-of-state issues say Hayward has more important issues to decide, but Henson pointed to reports of a large movement of Latinos leaving Arizona for nearby states. Some did not agree.

"It's ludicrous that you guys are spending time on other state's problems," said Hayward resident Ken Moudy. "Fix the problems here, first." Linda Bennett took more of a legal stance and worried what she would tell her children if disobeying the law was condoned. "Are you saying it's okay to break the law?"

Councilmembers Anna Laveria May, Jim Quirk and Mayor Sweeney chose to abstain from voting. May urged the council to stay focused on the city. "We have a lot going on right here now in the city of Hayward," she said. "That's why we're here. I think we're forgetting that."

Both Sweeney and Quirk did not mount a criticism of the law but stated the council's existing policy against taking stands on issues outside the purview of Hayward. "What's going to be next? The oil spill? Are we going to condemn BP? That's a good thing. We all want to condemn BP but we have other things to do," said Quirk, who says he will send a personal letter to Gov. Brewer. Sweeney added: "Arizona can't require Hayward to do anything that I'm aware of nor can Arizona require California to do anything."

Numerous speakers Tuesday night feared Arizona's law would signal further reprecussions in the future for immigrants across the country. Most put the law in an historical perspective saying it reminded them of the rise of fascism in Germany before World War II. "If people are being treated unjustly, it is our responsibility as an individual, as a group, or let me say, as a city, to stand up and say something," said resident Betty DeForest. "Nobody said anything until it was too late to say something."
Bob Wichman gave perhaps the most impassioned pleas against the law when he lamented his friend--a third-generation American--recently brought his passport with him for a trip to the state.  "I was born and raised in an immigrant community called the United States of America," said Wichman, who said he values Hayward for its rich ethnic diversity.

"There are those who says it does not concern Hayward because it is another state," he said. "There are those who said 75 years ago that what was happening in Germany didn't concern us. There were those who said 50 years ago the laws in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia did not concern us. They concern us. The laws in Arizona would make me an outlaw."

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Stark to Invest in Ladder Company?

At the same purple-hued backdrop in Fremont that Rep. Pete Stark told a constituent "I wouldn't dignify you by peeing on your leg--I wouldn't waste the urine," he mocked another man, this time a member of a group that strongly favors fortifying the nation's borders with extreme measures.

Stark asked an unidentified member of the Minutemen Saturday morning at a town hall meeting, "Who are you going to kill today?" He continued to engaged the man by asking him how he would defend the border. When the Minuteman said by building a wall along the border, Stark snarkly told him to draw up the plans while he would invest in a ladder company for those who wanted to come over.

When some in the crowd became disapproving of Stark's dismissive antics, the same Minutemen told Stark the issue was not a laughing matter to which the congressman said, "I don't have to make fun of you sir, you do a fine job of it."

Here's video of Stark and the Minuteman Saturday morning in Fremont.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Hayward Leans Toward Stance Opposing Arizona Law

Hayward may join fellow Bay Area cities, San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley and San Jose in protesting Arizona's immigration law. Unlike the various "boycotts" issued by the other cities, a copy of the proposed letter to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer simply asks the state to reevaluate the statute and work with leaders in Washington to find a more amiable solution.

Some cities have backtracked on some of their actions towards Arizona companies. The most notable instance being reports an Arizona firm which produces red-light camera services for the City of Los Angeles was cleared to do business after leaders in the city deemed the exception necessary for public safety.

Four of the seven councilmembers--a majority--called for city staff to put the resolution on tomorrow's agenda and draft a correspondence. A memo from City Manager Fran David says the economic impact on the city is unknown and without any known fiscal impacts on the city's general fund.

Here's the the proposed draft letter to be discussed Tuesday night by the Hayward City Council:

The Myth of the Scheming Public Employee

By Steven Tavares

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said last April, the state has slugged through an Internet and housing bubble and now faces a looming public pensions bubble. All were caused by economic hubris and greed and inflicted financial harm on most of those with no part in its failure. The issue is endemic to many state houses across the country and has percolated down to cash-strapped counties and cities, including San Leandro.

Unions contend Sacramento is waging a war on its hard-fought employee benefits. Schwarzenegger convinced a small, but notable group of public employee unions to slash benefits for new hires, but other groups may not be as helpful until a possible Democratic governor takes over next year. A recent piece by George Skelton in the Los Angeles Times says public employees and their benefits, though, are not the problem and are taking the undeserved brunt of calls for budget reform in California.

"One persistent myth about the perpetually bleeding state budget is that it's all the fault of public employee unions," wrote Skelton. "In truth, California's budget nightmare stems from a devil's brew of sins: lack of discipline on both spending and tax-cutting in the past; an outdated and unreliable tax system too susceptible to economic booms and busts; the unhealthy dependence of local governments on Sacramento; and a dysfunctional state budgeting process that requires a gridlock-generating two-thirds majority vote."

Corbett, Hayashi Co-Author Arizona Boycott Resolution

State Sen. Ellen Corbett and Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi are 2 of 44 California lawmakers to co-author a resolution this past week urging the state, businesses and tourists to boycott Arizona because of its controversial immigration law due to become law at the end of July. If passed, California would be the first state in the nation to rebuke Arizona action.

The resolution put forth by Los Angeles state Sen. Gil Cedillo reads, "The Arizona law undermines fundamental civil rights and civil liberties, and poses a special threat to people of color who live in and travel through Arizona." SCR 113 also recognizes the nation's immigration law need reform, but not one based on fear. "We need humane and workable solutions, not an irrational and irresponsible response, to our broken immigration system."

Cedillo, who some conservative critics call "One-Bill Gil," is known for numerous unsuccessful attempts at passing a bill allowing illegal immigrants to obtain a driver's license in the state. Besides Corbett and Hayashi, other East Bay legislators have signed on to the resolution including, assembly members Sandre Swanson (D-Alameda), Alberto Torrico (D-Fremont) and Sen. Loni Hancock (D-Oakland).

Like most politics in California, a liberal view permeates on the coast primarily in and around San Francisco and Los Angeles. Governing bodies in those cities and Oakland have already passed specific resolutions against the immigration law, but support has stalled in the state's more conservative Central counties.

Some Republicans in more red areas of the state are not supporting Cedillo's resolution. State Sen. Jeff Denham (R-Atwater) fully supports the law and told the Modesto Bee, "A 'You boycott me, I'll boycott you' scenario is a risk California cannot afford to take," Denham said. "Arizona has every right to protect its citizens, and I fully support its immigration law." Denham did not elaborate on what Arizona may boycott from California, but it surely will not include advice on balancing budgets.
PHOTO: State Sen. Gil Cedillo representing Los Angeles

Saturday, June 26, 2010

It Gets Worse for Hayward Schools

The assault on public employees and unions to "give their fair share" to help limit continuing budget upheaval has moved to the beleaguered Hayward Unified School District. While the man who some say put the city's schools on the path to possible receivership is in the running for the top job in San Diego.

The Daily Review reported the school district is prepared to tell the county--tail tucked between its legs--as it stands, it may not be able to bring a $8.2 million shortfall into balance. The school district, already under watch by the state, is facing a bad situation getting worse. Two months ago, two high schools in Hayward were named by the state Department of Education for their poor academic showing.

According to the article, school board member Jesus Armas took exception to another member's position seemingly backing the teacher's union and asserting more cuts should be targeted at administration. Armas, who was recently named to the board and is a former city manager for city said, "It's disingenuous to serve on the board for two years, yet not bring forward any proposals for the other board members," he said. "It's easy to vote 'No.' It's easy to say, 'I won't balance the budget on the backs of teachers.' It just shifts the responsibility to other (trustees)."

Hayward teacher are likely to hit hard with possible furlough days and increased class sizes, but one of their past nemesis, former superintendent Dale Vigil, is looking for better days down south and the district is sure not helping him. The San Diego Union-Tribune reports the enemies of Vigil in Hayward wrote a letter to the San Diego Unified School District--the state's second largest--to notify them of his rocky tenure in the East Bay. Vigil was fired in December after numerous run-ins with the teacher's union and declining levels of excellence in the city's schools. Two others besides Vigil are in the running for the job.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Council's Seven-Year Itch

San Leandro takes step closer to Nov. sales tax measure, but disagrees on length
By Steven Tavares
The San Leandro City Council is supporting a bid to place a quarter-cent sales tax measure on the November ballot, but how long it should be maintained appears open for debate. The council approved 6-1 Monday to direct city staff to formulate a draft of the measure for discussion July 19.

"Our intent here is to weather the storm and it is questionable whether it's two years or three years or seven years," said Councilman Michael Gregory. "It's something we should discuss."

The proposal calls for an increase in the city's sales by one-quarter of a cent. If approved, it would raise the sales tax to 10 percent--one of the highest in the state. A citizens oversight committee would be formed to monitor the increase and a sunset clause of seven years would be included in the measure. The addition of the sunset provision would limit the length of the possible tax increase, an aspect supported by polling done by the city earlier this year.

The exact number of years, though, is subject to debate by the council. Councilwoman Joyce Starosciak, Councilman Jim Prola and Gregory voiced concern and called for clarification before the matter returns to the council next month. Prola said he would favor between five and seven years and cautioned legislators in Sacramento are not done with deeply unpopular raids on local tax dollars. "It's the only way we can be sure we can weather this severe, severe recession, some might call a depression," said Prola.

As Gregory noted Monday night, a survey of residents showed favorable backing for a revenue enhancement measure along with strong but typical support for public safety. Whether the potential measure can muster a two-thirds majority of voters during a lingering recession remains to be seen. Councilman Bill Stephens was the lone vote against the possible measure.

Mayor Tony Santos, who is up for re-election this November, and City Manager Stephen Hollister also urged the council to recognize the city's main lifeline during this budget crisis--its once-formidable $20 million reserve fund now hovering just above $1 million--is causing concern as the economy continues to pose uncertain prospects in the next year and beyond.  "Reserves are at a dangerous low and we need to replenish them," said Hollister.

In an email to supporters last week, Santos highlighted the city's foresight in putting aside funds in 2005 to combat rough economic times like today. Every year since Santos' election to mayor in 2007, though, has resulted in using reserve funds to balance the city budget that has been racked by a precipitous  drop in property and sales tax revenue.

Question #2: Figueroa's Honesty and Residency

Liz Figueroa has a two-pronged problem stemming from a single source: her ramshackled home in Sunol more befitting of the more tony areas of the Appalachia Mountains than for a former East Bay legislator running for Alameda County supervisor.

Figueroa stumbled over the question of why she listed her primary residence as the unlivable property on Kilkare Road when asked by the East Bay Express. Nadia Lockyer's campaign has continually asserted Figueroa failing to list her correct voting address amounts to fraud, but as she told the Express today and The Citizen a month ago, she believed the incorrect address was her "official address," not where she actually resides, which is a rental in Sunol.

Controversy arose from the same property earlier this month when Lockyer accused Figueroa of delinquent taxes on the home covering three years and amounting to $12,000, which was found to be true. Figueroa says she has a payment plan with the county to repay the taxes.

Here's question #2: Do you think Figueroa's half-truths about her actually residence and tax problems will be a liability for her this November?

Lockyer has her own problems with keeping a story straight. The San Francisco Chronicle caught her in a similar tip-toeing around the truth when a reporter asked why she had described herself on her web site as a deputy district attorney for the county when she was not. In addition, with tons of money likely to be deposited in Lockyer's campaign account from her husband, Bill, the perception the state treasurer is playing kingmaker (queenmaker?) may not be helpful.

City Services Cut by an Additional $6.9 Million

Emergency funding measure may be needed By Stephen L. Hollister
On June 7th, San Leandro was forced to make $6.9 million in cuts to every department due to Sacramento money grabs and the ongoing recession. State raids have taken $7 million in local funds—impacting the city’s ability to stimulate economic growth and maintain services.

As the community is aware, the recession has resulted in deep budget cuts in essential local services and public schools in many communities. The state has another $20 billion deficit that must be addressed, and San Leandro’s local revenues will continue to be at risk of state raids.

With local revenues down $11.6 million over the last four years, the City has had to cut critical services, including public safety. These budget cuts translate directly into reductions in police protection, fire prevention, library hours and programs, city street repairs, youth and senior programs, and park maintenance.

The city has done everything possible to save money and reduce spending. Over the last two years the city has reduced service staff by almost 20 percent, or 95 full time positions, frozen most employee salaries, implemented a two-tier retirement system, furloughed most employees, closed city offices once a month, and used much of the city’s emergency reserves to cover the deficit.

Even with current budget cuts, we are faced with making even more cuts to fill the city’s remaining $3 million hole. If additional revenue is not identified in the next six months, eight more police officers will need to be eliminated, and in July 2011, a fire ladder truck and nine firefighters must be removed from service. These cuts could increase 9-1-1 emergency response times. While the city and residents have prioritized public safety services, police and fire protection make up over 60 percent of our budget, and we cannot avoid more cuts to public safety. Deep reductions to street repairs, libraries, senior programs, and youth recreation will also need to be made.

The city has been working with residents and a Citizens Budget Task Force to identify priorities for services, and we thank the Task Force members and the more than 1,000 citizens who gave us their feedback. We have relied on this community input to develop the current budget and priorities for the future. Unfortunately without additional revenue, the city cannot provide the level of services residents identified as priorities, including public safety.

Although the city must continue to cut costs, the Council may consider a San Leandro temporary emergency funding measure to protect and maintain essential services. If enacted by voters, this temporary funding would be locally controlled for local services and could not be taken away by the State. Funds would be subject to a citizen’s oversight committee and annual independent audits. For more information, please visit the City’s website www.SanLeandro.org.

Stephen L. Hollister is the city manager of San Leandro.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sutter: We Will Not Lose Money in Santa Rosa...

...But we will in San Leandro?
If only Sutter Health was so bullish on the future of San Leandro Hospital.

A spokesperson for Sutter told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat the health care provider could afford the new $284 million plan to build a new 82-bed hospital in San Rosa, despite losing $62 million in a five-year period ending in 2008.
Asked how Sutter could afford to build a $284 million project, spokeswoman Lisa Amador said Sutter is a large organization and it “has an obligation ... we intend to meet.” “We do not intend to lose money on the new hospital,” she said.
Sutter says its hospital in San Leandro loses up to $600,000-a-month and its economic viability cannot be sustained, although critics says the hospital has cooked its books since signing an agreement with the health care district in 2008 to tentatively keep the facility open for two years. Competing lawsuits between the Eden Township Healthcare District and Sutter has extended the hospital's operation in the near-term.
According to the Press Democrat, leaders in Santa Rosa are questioning whether the small size of the proposed hospital can adequately serve the area's struggling low-income patients. Detractors of Sutter's rebuild of Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley have uttered the same concern and say it is instituting "medical redlining" dividing low-income, sometimes uninsured patients with more desirable middle-to-upper class patients residing in Castro Valley and the growing Dublin-Pleasanton corridor.

Fend for Yourself, Kid

Stephens abstains from backing council resolution against state cuts to child care services
Hey kids, don't ask San Leandro Councilman Bill Stephens for sympathy when the governor cuts funding for child care because you won't get it from Mr. Conservative.

The city council voted 6-0 to back a resolution Monday night against Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed cuts to child care services. The governor hopes the cuts will begin to narrow an estimated $19 billion deficit. Stephens, though, chose to abstain after giving yet another loquacious statement hinting at his opposition to the symbolic demand.
This is a difficult item. Let me explain why. I think it's a worthy item, but at the same time it's almost a hallow item and the reason why is that we want the state of California not to impose cuts but we don't say what we want them to cut. If we are going to be brave, we could basically say they should cut the redevelopment agency money and use it for this program. Or we should say they should cut education. When they don't have enough money, we're basically saying, "Oh, don't cut this," but we're not brave enough to say what they should cut and, to me, that's just kissing babies. I think I will just abstain on this.
Stephens uses the word "brave," or lack thereof, twice in his statement, but why didn't he go all the way and dare vote against the resolution? Afterwards, one councilmember commented on Stephens' stance saying wryly, "He's definitely not going with popular opinion."

Before the vote, which, incidentally was placed on the consent calendar and pulled for discussion by Stephens, the executive director of the Davis Street Family Resource Center Rose Padilla Johnson told the council Schwarzenegger's proposal "is not reasonable and not the right thing to do." Johsnon says 221 children in the city will lose funding July 1 for their child care and will affect more than just families, but also child care providers. This did not sway Stephens, though, who once placed the needs of children equal to funding for cleaning the city's gutters and pruning its trees during a finance meeting last year.

Councilman Jim Prola immediately followed Stephens and offered a few solutions to remedy the budget shortfall instead of affecting the needs of children ranging from closing corporate tax loopholes and raising fees.

If Stephens is the furthest right on the council, then Prola is the furthest left and few times did the gulf between ruthless fiscal responsibility and general compassion for people seem so far apart.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Shifting the Burden from the Capitol to Counties

In recent years, counties and local government have had significant quarrel with Sacramento's penchant for pillaging revenues so much so that you might wonder if a revival of the Bear Flag revolt is in the works.

Now, Senate Democrats in Sacramento may increase the burden to municipalities by "realigning" state government and shifting some services to its counties.

Senate President Pro Team Darrell Steinberg said today the proposal would help already struggling counties pay for some of the additional programs and help lower California's $19 billion deficit, although he did not disclose a cost-savings estimate.

Under the plan, according to an AP story, juvenile parole services and low-level jailing would be handled by counties along with administration of CalWORKS, among other things. But, according to the Sacramento Bee, under the plan counties would be taking up 25 percent of the costs of programs such as CalWORKS. Alameda County, for one, is struggling to maintain social services for many of its residents hit particularly hard by the recession. The county's 11 percent unemployment figures in May are nearly 2 percent higher than the national average. In addition, it is also suffering from its own steep budget cuts to balance huge deficits at the county level.

To pay for the increased work at the county level, Democrats propose borrowing from the state's $9 billion bottle deposits fund and paying it back by betting against future oil tax revenue over the next 20 years. The Los Angeles Times reports, though, the state's chief credit card-holder Treasurer Bill Lockyer believes borrowing against taxes to balance the budget runs afoul of Proposition 58 and Democratic nominee for governor Jerry Brown last week agreed with the opinion. Lockyer told the L.A. Times flatly, “We can’t borrow without a clean bond opinion from the attorney general. Our role is simple: We get an opinion, we can borrow. We don’t get an opinion, we can’t borrow.”

The Democrats plan also calls for permanent reinstatement of the vehicle license fee to help counties pay for the increase in services and allow local governments to lower the two-thirds threshold for voters to enact tax increases by ballot measure. San Leandro's likely sales tax measure needs two-thirds approval to pass this November, something that is far from assured in a poor economic such as this.

Coup at School District Complete

After elections and pushing from teacher's union, new supe takes over San Leandro schools By Steven Tavares
If you read the quotes carefully over the past months from San Leandro school district members, you would have guessed the reasons for the axing of former chief Christine Lim had more to do with a clash of personality than anything she did on the job.

"I think it is safe to say that the vast majority within our association is breathing a collective sigh of relief because we feel we now have a leader who proves, day in and day out, that she values transparency and teamwork," San Leandro Teacher Association representative Mark Hamilton told the Daily Review.

"The climate has improved since she's come on board. My hope is that she will continue to stay on," San Leandro Board of Trustees President Mike Katz recently told the same paper.

The sense of relief since Lim's dismissal in December has been pervasive, but not without a tinge petulance from a child who has just vanquished a monstrous boogie man from under their bed. After the school board's first meeting after replacing Lim with newly-installed Superintendent Cindy Cathey, Trustee Morgan Mack-Rose described the atmosphere like night and day and said it was the most relaxed the board had ever been in her memory.

It is no surprise those close to the school board are so pleased with Cathey's new two-year contract approved last week since the coup at the school district had been over two years in the making since Mack-Rose and Trustee Hermy Almonte ran specifically to oust Lim from the school district. Almonte's victory, for one, was one of the more shocking upsets in recent memory when the aloof candidate who was fresh off a defeat for the city council defeated a well-known opponent for the seat. During the past month, both appeared overly enthusiastic to give Cathey the job before giving the public notice. During the same meeting, Almonte blurted he wanted to give Cathey a three-year contract.

By nearly all accounts, Cathey is seen as capable and popular with teachers and administrators, but there is some consternation over how the school district failed to identify any other candidates. One city official told The Citizen they had little problem with Cathey, but also said, "It is clear they found someone who they could mold however they wanted."

At a meeting in December, while the public believed the fate of Lim was still left to be decided--it wasn't, but the board failed to notify the public of Lim's firing until January--the mindset of the teacher's union was detailed by Hamilton, who described his previous teacher's union experience in Southern California. "In L.A, we were instructed to tell the school board members to remember they were the superintendent's boss, not the other way around."

Taking a subservient role would never fly under Lim's tenure. The gruff, six-year vet of the school district lacked warmth, many said, and butted heads with those her challenged her ideas, although other than her personality, few at the school district have been able to communicate Lim's failings as an administrator. Yet, in the few months after her departure, Lim's replacement already stumbled despite board members who say Cathey has hit the ground running.

Ealier this year, just after the school board made nearly $3 million in budget cuts, news slowly filtered out that the superintendent's office had mistakenly overlooked $1.6 million shortfall in next year's budget. The accounting error came under Cathey's watch and she offered few details on how it happened or what would be done to stop it from happening again. Despite the enormity of the mistake, it is believed nobody paid a price for it. "If anybody made a big mistake like that anywhere else, they would have been fired," said one city employee.

Cathey, for one, escaped unscathed and was elevated to the top job in the district. The board last week awarded her with a two-year contract earning just over $200,000-a-year. Lim is finally gone, the teacher's union has its woman and the fate of San Leandro's underperforming schools now rest firmly on their laps of the current school board.

Question #1: Reductions in Police Officers

There is no way around it says the Oakland City Council, according to the Chronicle's Matier & Ross, the city will need to layoff 180 police officers this year, but not until they are sure the outcome of the Oscar Grant trial does not set off a powder keg of tensions on its streets. That's a big number and it will help reduce Oakland's estimated $31 million deficit, but crime has no borders.

Here's question #1: Do you feel a steep reduction in uniformed officers in neighboring Oakland will affect public safety in San Leandro and Hayward?

Oakland has one of the highest homicide rates in the country, but San Leandro's incidents of crime were so low that the city's application for increased police funding for its department was passed over because crime was too low.

Nevertheless, San Leandro's budget cuts for the next fiscal year calls for two officers to be cut. This brings the force down to 88 for a population of roughly 85,000 and it could conceivably drop further if the economy continues to stagnate.  Both San Leandro Police Chief Ian Willis and City Manager Stephen Hollister have said the smallest the force could become before be overwhelmed is around 82, or the number of officers employed during another recession in the 1990s--incidentally when crime was the highest.

Let's get this discussion started! Please leave your comments below and the most thought-provoking will be highlighted on the front page. It would also be helpful if you leave your name or a pseudonym rather than anonymous.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Raising the Sales Tax While People are Short of Cash

Might 'experts' be wrong again? Are we heading towards dreaded 'double-dip'?
If there is a go-to-guy for making sense of the country's wretched economy, it has been former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich. A year ago, he maintained the Obama stimulus plan was not large enough when others said the opposite and he is now one of a small cadre of contrarians saying the economy is headed towards an extended downturn.

"Why are we having such a hard time getting free of the Great Recession?" Reich wrote earlier this month. "Because consumers, who constitute 70 percent of the economy, don’t have the dough." In turn, he also says, employers are cautious to create new jobs.

In Alameda County, the number of unemployed still hovers above the national average, at 11 percent, but another double-digit number may loom large in San Leandro this fall.

The city is likely to propose a quarter-percent sales tax increase on the November ballot. If approved by voters, the sales tax in San Leandro would rise to 10 percent--one of the highest in the state. The recent fiscal budget passed June 7 did not include the possibility of new tax dollars, but the presentation given to the council highlighted partially funded public safety items that could face elimination for the last half of the year if the measure does not pass.

Mayor Tony Santos and opponent Councilwoman Joyce Starosciak have indicated support for the sales tax measure, while Stephen Cassidy has has questioned whether the regressive tax would force shoppers to locales other than San Leandro.

Aside from that, much of the budget estimate provided by the finance department include somewhat rosy assumptions regarding even conservative views of the state and national economy, which, according, to Reich, may not be a minimal and slow recovery, but yet another downturn--a so-called "double-dip." News reports this week say economists and banker believe a double-dip is "very unlikely," but both occupations have shown their foresight to be dubious over the past few years and may amount to nothing more than wishful-thinking.

If Reich is correct about the economy in the next year, how will San Leandro justify increasing its sales tax at a time when its predominately middle-class is struggling to scrounge up money for much more than necessities? Increases in sales tax typically bite those with less money to begin with, so why enact revenue enhancements during a time of a stagnant economic atmosphere when the partial increase in receipts will not appear on the city's ledgers until next spring, at the earliest? It's just another reason why the economy will be the city's top election issue and capable of upending  its leaders and direction.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Little Something for Your Troubles

You don't want a power plant on the outskirts of Hayward? Well, here's a package of goodies valued at $1.6 million for your troubles--courtesy of Calpine. The San Jose-based power producer announced a partnership Thursday related to the coming Russel City Energy Center near the Hayward Shoreline.

Calpine says the deal includes 26 acres of shoreline "to remain undeveloped in perpetuity." Also included are contributions for an endowment to manage the conservation easement and a six-year commitment for trailside improvement and maintenance for portions of the Hayward Regional Shoreline.

The controversial natural gas plant gained approval by the state's air board earlier this year. Two years ago the Environmental Protection Agency pulled the air district permit after it deemed Calpine failed proper outreach to the community. The power plant may break ground later this year and be online as early as 2012, but not without continued opposition in the city, specifically from Chabot College.

The community college has lodged rigorous disagreement to the power plant slated to be built just a mile away off Depot Road. Administrators, teachers and students say the project features old technology that will significantly lower the air quality around the campus and adjacent neighborhoods.

Nevertheless, today's gifts from Calpine (they have already proposed giving the city $10 million for the construction of a new library) highlights a curious irony--a power company touting the image of a green thumb.

Pension Reform Gains Steam

The California Public Employees' Retirement System decided Wednesday it is more prudent to pay now rather than later. The $600 million increase in contributions by the state to the hemorrhaging pension fund was approved yesterday after State Treasurer Bill Lockyer switched course. In May, he questioned its prudence last month amid a skyrocketing budget deficit. Lockyer was appeased according to this spokesperson after a non-partisan analysis of the plan found the increased payments would add just $87 million to the deficit.

News of the increase comes at a time when the governor and legislators in Sacramento are searching for ways to reduce future costs to the pension program after the poor economy severely cut into the plans investment performance along with alleged improprieties by those maintaining its portfolio.

The $600 million outlay Wednesday also came with possible cost-savings on another front. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger negotiated concessions from four state employee unions allowing for rollbacks in their hard-fought pension plans. If approved by the unions, the deal would save the state $72 million during the next fiscal year, according to the Los Angeles Times by increasing the retirement age of new hires by five years, while having employees immediately add 10 percent of their salary towards retirement.

The double dose of good news for critics of the pension plan may not have been a coincidence. Earlier in the month, Schwarzenegger boldly told the Legislature he would not sign a new budget without pension reform, but some believe the treasurer's flip-flop on the issue too easily dove-tails with suspicions Schwarzenegger's acquiescence with the increased payments in such a dire economical atmosphere is a ploy to prod more significant reforms in the future. An interesting report published in February by the Pew Center, though, urges states to keep payments current or risk burdening future budgets and generations of taxpayers.

In San Leandro, mayoral candidate Stephen Cassidy has attempted to make rising pension costs a campaign issue and Stephen Hollister is one of many local city managers in favor of reeling in the costs owed to city employees.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Goooo Helvetica!

An unidentified man (would you want to be identified with this sign?) listens to state Sen. Ellen Corbett and others Wednesday in Hayward speak in favor of her bill to increase font sizes and require pharmacies to provide translation services.

Corbett Calls for Larger Fonts on Rx Labels

State's diverse population needs higher availability of translation for drug labels, she says By Steven Tavares
State Sen. Ellen Corbett speaks in favor of increased typeface and translation of prescription drug labels Wednesday morning at Hayward City Hall Plaza.

Wendy Peterson held a prescription bottle and took off her glasses exposing her eyes to the exceptionally bright Wednesday morning sun. "I can't read this without taking my glasses off," said the director of Senior Services of Alameda County, "And actually it's a little hard now."

It is not the brilliance of the sun, but the size of the typeface that has state Sen. Ellen Corbett concerned about unnecessary medical errors when seniors and other vision-deficient Californians take their prescribed medications. "These are words that direct us as to how to take powerful medicines that are supposed to make us better not to confuse us," said Corbett before a late morning rally in front of Hayward's City Hall.

The State Board of Pharmacy recently ruled in favor pharmacy retailers by recommending using a 10-point font on prescription labels unless customers request a larger size. The little-known governing body also recommended using translation services at pharmacies only if they already use such a service. Corbett says the spirit of her bill passed in 2007 has been ignored by the board that features numerous members of the pharmacy industry. Critics of the board cried foul last February when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed industry insider Deborah Veale one day before a crucial vote on drug labelling. Veale is an executive for CVS/Pharmacy whose vote subsequently overturned what appeared to be a decision in favor of Corbett's requirements

Corbett amended SB 1390 Monday to include a minimum 12-point font and require pharmacies to have translation services available. If passed by the Legislature, the new rules for translating labels would be in effect January 2011, followed a year later by the larger typeface standard. "We're here because we want to make sure Californians can read their prescription drug labels and understand them," said Corbett. "You would think that would be a very easy thing to ask and something very simple to change that would make a very far-reaching difference."

"It's the least we can do to make the font bigger," said Peterson, "so seniors can read it, to put it in a language they can understand." Hene Kelly of the California Alliance for Retired Americans said special interests within the big pharmacy companies are putting profits over the safety of their customers. "This is just another case of Wall Street getting their way over Main Street and we have suffered," Kelly said. She says the extra cost incurred by pharmacies is just one cent per bottle and plans to head to Sacramento in support of Corbett's bill with a water cooler bottle full of pennies in tow to make her point.

Large pharmacy retailers have said larger fonts would be costly and increase the size of prescription bottles making them cumbersome and unwieldy for customers using multiple medications. Some retailers already use translation services to communicate directions for specific drug uses, but its use is not prevalent, some say.

Employees at one local large pharmacy retailer in San Leandro tells The Citizen the translation service, accessed by telephone, is rarely used because of the time consumed by the service versus a lengthening line of customers sometimes as large as 10 deep and exacerbated by reduced staffing and hours. It is also common, they say, for Spanish-speaking customers to bring bilingual elementary school-aged children to translate advice on usage of medication given by the pharmacist to the patient.

Why the Rabbit Crossed the Road

Residents on West 134th Avenue in the Mulford Gardens neighborhood of San Leandro take responsibility for protecting the large number of bunnies roaming the streets. 

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Corbett's Bill Takes Aim At Special Interests

State board raises Corbett's ire over prescription labelling By Steven Tavares
When it comes to the font size attached to a bottle of pills, the difference between life and death could be less than a millimeter. A bill amended by state Sen. Ellen Corbett Monday hopes to enact a standard for prescription labeling featuring a 12-point font and accessibility to directions in languages other than English.

The additions to SB 1390 were triggered by state Board of Pharmacy's recent decision to back a proposal to keep the type size of prescription labels at 10 along with what some see as obstruction by the governing body over the past few months.

In February, the board appeared headed towards approval of increasing the font size standard, which many, including Corbett say save lives by avoiding medication errors. The board quickly switched course after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed a CVS/Pharmacy executive to the board a day before its decision. The proposal, opposed by large pharmacy retailers, was effectively blocked by the governor's newest appointee.

The little-known Board of Pharmacy's recent decision has apparently raised the ire of Corbett. A rally in support of Corbett's bill is planned Wednesday morning at Hayward City Hall, 10 a.m.

“The Board had an opportunity to set a national standard for consumer protection. They demonstrated that they are willing to put the pharmaceutical companies’ interests ahead of consumers,” Corbett said Monday in a press release. “They may not have heard the public, but I have, and that is why I am introducing this legislation.”

Opponents of changes to prescription drug labelling say the changes will cost retailers financially due to the possibility of larger bottles and language translation programs. Pharmacists also doubt they can approve prescriptions written in languages they do not understand.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Economy, Sales Tax to Highlight Mayor's Race

Plenty of 'what-ifs' built into city's budget forecast By Steven Tavares
You don't need the Ragin' Cajun James Carville to tell you, "It's the economy, stupid!" but with five months before San Leandro decides whether to give Mayor Tony Santos four more years or give someone else a chance, some are running from the issue, leaving the possibility of a lonely tax measure saving the day.

It is quite troubling when the answer to the question of how to improve the local economy's tax base elicits identical responses amounting to "I don't know. Do you have any ideas?" That was the tenor of the responses from both Santos and Councilman Jim Prola last week after the city's $69.6 million budget passed last Monday night with nary a peep from the mayor or his challenger on the council, Joyce Starosciak.

About six months ago, there was question as to whether the economy would be the main issue confronting the mayor's race. There was indication back in December the city's role in the San Leandro Hospital situation could shape the race or even public safety, which is an offshoot of the poor economy and budget cuts, but recent news from both the national and state level only highlight a perception things may get worse before they get better. After last week's sobering budget news, San Leandro is barely treading above water with yet another major storm on the horizon.

Mayoral candidate Stephen Cassidy has been the only candidate willing to speak of the impending economic problems about to hit San Leandro--making it his signature issue--but, he too has lacked any ideas on how to actually fix the problem. For instance, the root of the city's ills are far more endemic than cutting gym membership for city employees, as Casiddy has written over the past few months.

The poor economy would appear to be a cinch for any challenger, but Starosciak has been redolent of someone not willing to fully confront the problem. Surprisingly, she admitted at a reception for the deceased former city manager a few months ago that she was part of the problem. Starosciak's decision to make no comment regarding the budget last week spoke volumes towards her shakiness on the issue of the economy. It persists questions of just when she will actually begin her campaign for mayor, if ever.

For most of the last two years Santos and the council have perpetuated a feeling of victimization. The governor's decision to revoke the vehicle license fee hurt us, they say. Sacramento's numerous take-aways hurt us, they add. The national economy is killing us and lament being passed over for grants to add more officers to the police force. All are true, but not every municipality is created equal. For every Vallejo, there is a Walnut Creek and San Leandro seems striving for something in the middle.

Santos, for the first time, used the big trump card against his challengers and the economy. His campaign sent an email last week trumpeting a 2005 decision by former Shelia Young and the council, of which Santos was a part of, to set aside $20 million in reserves. The forward-thinking move is the reason San Leandro stands in better shape than many neighboring cities during this harsh economy, except the fund is nearly exhausted leaving the question hanging in the air of, "now what?"
There is a sense among economist of a looming "double-dip" for the nation's economy of which California has bore the brunt of the worst. There is sense from comments made by councilmembers and city staff of a "wait-and-see" attitudes hoping for the best in the near-future. Interim Finance Director Perry Carter says the new budget is conservative, but also cautions even a one-percent dip in their estimate will likely wipe out the remaining $1.3 million in the reserve fund.

The city's plan for the future is highlighted by a litany of very big "what-ifs" predicated on the economy improving over the next year based on the faith voters will approve by a two-thirds margin a quarter-cent sales tax hike. The city, for its part, is already setting the tone of the likely tax measure. In numerous budget presentations, the sales tax increase is positioned as the tonic to renew funding of vital public safety programs that are only budgeted for the first six months of the year. In essence, the city's tactic this fall will be to tell voters funding for two police officers and a fire ladder truck will cease if you do not pass this measure. It's a gamble that runs the risk of alienating voters, but in absence of any long-term economic plan, it's all voter can expect.

How Do You Spell Victory: M-O-N-E-Y

'Donors have seen how much money Nadia is getting...and they know more is coming.' By Steven Tavares Nadia Lockyer's successful primary victory last week cost her over $50 per vote. Her 38 percent share of the vote easily outdistanced November runoff opponent, former state Sen. Liz Figueroa by 14-points. So, with Lockyer's seemingly unlimited supply of cash and most of the Democratic Party apparatus at her disposal, how can Figueroa keep up?

A few local officials have told The Citizen, they cannot see a way for Figueroa to find donors to write out checks against the albatross that is the Lockyers. "Donors have seen how much money Nadia is getting from Bill's campaign and they know more is coming," said a local officials who wished to remain anonymous. "People don't want to write checks for a campaign with so much up against it, to put it nicely"

Since Lockyer announced her intention to replace retiring Supervisor Gail Steele last year, there has been a strong local perception her husband and State Treasurer Bill Lockyer, would put every resource towards winning the seat. "Bill is not going to let his wife lose the seat," one East Bay political consultant flatly said.

Many observers hold the belief Figueroa ran her primary campaign relying solely on the name-recognition she earned over nearly two decades of public service. Her former state senate district nearly replicates the current District 2 seat on the Board of Supervisors. If last week's primary delivered any message it is Figueroa's ID advantage has disappeared. Figueroa is cognizant of the money advantage and tried to portray it in a dark light last week saying her opponent's large donations from her husband are "Not illegal, but unethical." She also questioned the $55,000 donation given to the state Democratic Party as one reason for the party's endorsement of Nadia Lockyer.

Figueroa says he already has a few fundraisers to announce and is ready to talk about the issues. One story pushed by the Lockyer campaign that did not gain much steam in the local media may return this fall. Figueroa's tax problems may again become a focal point of her opponent, although she has produced evidence she is paying back the county through a payment plan. If there is a wildcard come November, it may very well be the role of the media, which has had a prickly relationship with the Lockyer campaign, sofar. The San Francisco Chronicle portrayed her as evasive and others have griped about access to the candidate along with instances when Lockyer has only answered questions with surrogates in the room.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Council Gladly Pays For Budget Monday For A Hamburger Today

San Leandro approves $69.6 million budget; closes deficit with dwindling reserves for 4th straight year By Steven Tavares
"I hate this budget," motioned San Leandro Councilman Jim Prola. "I hate this budget, too," seconded Councilman Bill Stephens as the council unanimously approved a $69.6 million budget for the coming fiscal year.

"This is a very painful budget to have gone through," City Manager Stephen Hollister said before introducing the specifics of the plan to balance a $3 million deficit for the 2010-11 fiscal year. The proposed budget had gone through numerous revisions since November of last year. The drawn out conversation over how to balance a city budget with lowering revenues and higher expenditures had played itself out over the months, but only one resident, speaking on behalf of funding the city's 211 alert program, spoke during Monday's meeting. Interim Finance Director Perry Carter said the city's revenues have dropped precipitously since a high point in 2006-2007, falling 15 percent or $11.6 million, while expenditures have only been cut by 11 percent, or $8.5 million.

With the action, the council opted to balance the budget again using dollars from the city's designated fund. The fund balance, once as high as $16 million at the beginning of San Leandro Mayor Tony Santos' tenure in 2007, will be further depleted to as low as $1.3 million this fiscal year. Monday's budget also ensures the city will incur deficit spending for every year of Santos' first term in office. The issue will very likely be the main talking point for his three opponents for mayor this November, although Councilwoman Joyce Starosciak was mum on the budget situation Monday, while Stephen Cassidy has been critical of the mayor's handing of the city's economy for over a year.

With the national economy still stagnant, there is no end in sight for the trickle down of fiscal problems all the way to the local level. The city's paltry reserve fund may put the city teetering on not being able to pay its bills. In previous finance meetings, Carter described a scenario where the city's low reserve balance could stymie the city's cash-on-hand to pay its bills. Monday night, he also cautioned with such a low balance, even a one percent miscalculation of the the budget's estimated revenues would immediately cut the reserves in half.

"This is a sobering budget," said Prola, who blames the recession for the city's fiscal dilemma. "It's not the type of budget I want to provide to our residents, but, as I've said before, we have a revenue problem, not a spending problem."

"The whole state has a revenue problem," said Stephens, who disagreed with Prola's ideological view regarding the budget by asking, "Do we tax to meet our expenditures?" he said. "I guess that's a difference of opinion."

In addition to using over $3 million in designated fund dollars to balance the budget, the council made excruciating cuts to city services, personnel and public safety. Not included is funding for school crossing guards, but Santos says the city is prepared to again split the $50,000 cost of the program with the school district, pending their approval.

Santos said Tuesday the city's low revenues and reserve fund will be buttressed later by additional one-time dollars. The city still has a $5 million fund in the event of an unforeseen natural disaster, he says, and expects to add over $3 million to its general fund resulting from Kaiser Permanente's move to build its newest hospital in San Leandro.

The city is also hanging its hat on the increased likelihood of a one-fourth percent sales tax measure appearing on the November ballot. Such a tax could bring in an estimated $2 million to the city's coffers. The extra tax dollars were not added to the proposed budget, but Carter believes passage could save 10 full-time positions, 2 traffic officers and ensure year-round use of fire ladder truck. Hopes of such a tax passing in uncertain times was buoyed this week as a vast majority of revenue enhancement measures were approved by voters in the state last Tuesday.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Lock and Liz Begin First Day of Runoff Campaigns

Both sides spin Tuesday's results, look toward grueling race By Steven Tavares
Barring a last minute upset, Nadia Lockyer is set to face Liz Figueroa for a seat on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, in one of the area's most highly-anticipated matchup this November.

Tuesday's results are unofficial, but former state Sen. Liz Figueroa leads surprisingly strong finisher Union City Mayor Mark Green by a few hundred votes for second place. Lockyer garnered 38 percent for first place.

"We're thrilled to finish first," said Katie Merrill, a spokesperson for the Lockyer campaign. Hayward Councilman Kevin Dowling, who finished a disappointing fourth, congratulated both Lockyer and Figueroa, but, as they say, the day after the primary is just the first day of what may be a very rough general election.

Both campaigns attempted to spin Tuesday's results. "Seventy-six percent of voters said they wanted someone other than Liz," said Merrill. Figueroa countered saying, "Sixty-two percent of voters said they wanted an experienced candidate."
The possibility of intense media coverage focusing on the more gossipy elements of the matchup may crowd out coverage of the issues facing Alameda County voters, both camp say. Headlines in the Los Angeles Times and Sacramento Bee reported the connection between state Treasurer Bill Lockyer, his wife, Nadia, and Liz Figueroa with The Bee blaring on its widely-read political blog, "Lockyer's wife, ex-girlfriend headed to runoff."

"I would hope the mainstream media will focus on issues of importance when voters are trying to make ends meet and looking for jobs," said Merrill. Figueroa says voters want to talk about jobs, the budget and issues like saving CalWorks. "They all deserve our attention," she says.

Figueroa faces an uphill battle to erase Lockyer's electoral and fund-raising advantage in the next five months. She announced receiving the endorsement of her two former opponents, Green and Dowling and says a slew of fundraisers are already planned for the coming months. Nevertheless, Lockyer's war chest could reach over $1 million with much of it coming from the campaign for treasurer of her husband, Bill, but Figueroa says the money is just obfuscating the issues facing the district.

"They are buying all these signs and sending all these mailers to take the focus away from the issues," said Figueroa. "When push comes to shove, spending over $600,000, didn't get them much."

The big surprise of the night was the late surge of Green, who had invested little money into his campaign, but made up for the deficit with old-fashioned door-to-door retail politics. Dowling praised Green's efforts, while noting his long tenure as mayor of Union City gave him a built-in advantage in name I.D. around his city and Fremont.

With the election of Wilma Chan to the Board of Supervisors replacing Alice Lai-Bitker, the two-woman runoff between Lockyer and Figueroa hoping to take the seat of retiring Supervisor Gail Steele, assures the current gender make-up of the board (three men, two women) remains the same.


>>>Lockyer advances to November runoff
>>>Against Who? Figueroa or Green?
>>>Biggest Surprise of the night: Mark Green's comeback
>>>Wilma Chan is on her way to returning to the BOS
>>>Peixoto, Salinas outlast Lamnin for Hayward council seats
>>>Rep. Pete Stark vs. Forest Green for Congress in Nov.

Update: Superior Court judge candidate Victoria Kolakowski is heading to a runoff in November. The posting reporting her victory was published erroneously. Moral of the story: don't write after 2:30 a.m. on Ambien.


Peixoto, Salinas Win Seats on Hayward Council

HAYWARD COUNCIL One-time contender Lamnin unable to make move to second
Change is coming to the Hayward City Council next year.

With 80 percent of precincts reporting, Marvin Peixoto and Mark Salinas are on their way to the replacing outgoing members of the council, Anna May and Kevin Dowling.

Peixoto's 30 percent share of the vote barely fluctuated throughout the evening, while Salinas (25 percent) held the second spot and began to slowly move away from the only real challenger in the six-person race, Sara Lamin who began to slip just below 20 percent.

Hayward Mayor Michael Sweeney also easily won re-election against an unknown college student registered as a write-in candidate. The arrival of Peixoto and Salinas will leave the council with a single woman, one Latino and one African-American.

Wilma Chan Nears Return to Board of Supervisors

AC BOS#3 Chan holds 25-point lead over Johnson; overall win in sight
Wilma Chan is the clear winner of the primary race for the District 3 seat on the Board of Supervisors, but is it enough to avoid a November runoff? It appears Chan, with 55 percent of the votes cast, will make a triumphant return to the board's chambers next year. Just over 58 percent of precincts reporting.

Chan's victory Tuesday night came decisively as precincts from every corner of District which encompasses part of Oakland, Alameda, San Leandro and San Lorenzo, went her way. Chan was able pull voters out of Alameda and cajole important San Leandro residents worried by the fate of their community hospital still up in the air to her column.

So, yes, Wilma, you can come home again. Chan spent six years at the supervisor's chambers until leaving for the assembly in 2000, when she appointed Alice Lai-Bitker to her seat. Ten years later, Lai-Bitker is retiring and Chan is back.

Lockyer Heads to November Runoff

AC BOS#2 Union City mayor giving Figueroa a run for second spot
The red neon sign on Nadia Lockyer's A Street campaign office will stay lit until November.

With nearly 62 percent of precincts reporting, Lockyer holds a 14-point lead over both former state Sen. Liz Figueroa and Union City Mayor Mark Green for a November runoff election for the District 2 seat on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.

Lockyer's 38 percent tally is far short of the majority needed to avoid a runoff, but amounts to a significant role reversal in name-recognition coming into the race against more seasoned and familiar opponents to voters. Who Lockyer faces in the runoff is yet unknown as of early Wednesday morning.

Figueroa leads Green by a mere 189 votes for second place. The emergence of Green, who hardly spent any money on the campaign and skipped some planned events, is the night's biggest surprise. To some, though, his reputation as a strong retail campaigner is making huge dividends, but at the expense of another challenger.

The night started ominously for Hayward City Councilman Kevin Dowling when the strong showing of Green mixed with a large number of precincts in his own city widely supported Lockyer. Dowling is languishing at 14 percent.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Primary Election Results


U.S. Representative, 13th District, Democratic
100%Precincts Reported......#Votes %Votes
Pete Stark.................32673....84%
Justin Jelincic.............6254....16%

U.S. Representative, 13th District, Republican
100% reporting
Forest Baker................7610....55%
Luis Garcia................ 6047....44%

Alameda County Supervisor, 2nd District
100% reporting

Nadia Lockyer...............8626....38%
Liz Figueroa................5652....25%
Mark Green..................5389....24%
Kevin Dowling...............2915....13%

Alameda County Supervisor, 3rd District
100% reporting
Wilma Chan.................14390....55%
Bev Johnson.................8108....31%
Harold Lowe.................1998.....8%
Lou Filipovich..............1748.....7%

Alameda County Superior Court Judge, Office 9
100% reporting
Victoria S. Kolakowski.....60254....45%
John Creighton.............42950....32%
Louis Goodman..............29422....22%

Hayward, mayor
100% reporting
Michael Sweeney.............7895....97%

Hayward, city council
(pick two)
100% reporting
Marvin Peixoto..............4375....30%
Mark Salinas................3717....25%
Sara Lamnin.................2901....20%
Ralph R. Farias Jr..........1441....10%
Steve Oiwa..................1106.....8%
Lawrence M. Fitzpatrick.....1060.....7%

Alameda County Democratic Central Cmte, 18th Assembly Dist.
(pick six)
100% reporting
Shelia Young................9681....11%
Linda Perry.................9575....11%
Ryan ''Rocky'' Fernandez....8670....10%
Margarita Lacabe............8366.....9%
Robin Torello...............8140.....9%
Diana Prola.................8020.....9%
Rick Trullinger.............6994.....8%
Susan K. Kleebauer..........6051.....7%
Mary C. Warren..............5843.....7%
Jennifer Ong................5348.....6%
Tom Kersten.................4958.....6%
Julie Lind..................4498.....5%
Helena B. Straughter........3210.....4%

Around the East Bay Blogosphere

Primary Edition
Is David Harmer the GOP's best bet to snare a seat in Congress from Rep. Jerry McNerney? Halfway to Concord says, depends on who you ask. The same blog also reports the weekend death of a candidate for the 10th Congressional District. American Independent Party candidate Jerry Denham's was hoping to challenge Rep. John Garamendi in November.

The Citizen isn't the only one not opting to cover a race other than the Alameda County Supervisor's seat time forgot, involving Wilma Chan and Alameda Mayor Bev Johnson. The Island has been covering the city's school district parcel tax, but has a rundown of Alameda-centric races here.

Noted U.C. Berkeley professor Bruce Cain, writing at the Berkeley Blog, tackles the five myths about California politics

Governator on Voting: 'I'll Be Back'

Many may have heard of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's botched ballot this morning. The Governator, who supports Proposition 14 allowing for an open primary, jumped the gun by voting for two Republican candidates for U.S. Senate. Here's the classic footage of the dumbfounded Schwarzenegger inserting his bogus ballot into the reader. By the way, it's funnier if you play the theme from the Benny Hill Show in the background.

Once Dust Settles, Brown Tops Whitman in Fundraising...For Now

If tracking polls are correct--and they don't have to be very accurate with a 25 percent spread--Meg Whitman will be the Republican nominee for California governor. Throw in the likely Democratic nominee, Jerry Brown and voters will have a choice between a wealthy candidate and another with fundraising resources to match, but according to California Watch, Brown will start with a significant money advantage, that is, until Whitman writes herself another large check.

Whitman spent $61,068,953.20 in the primary leaving her $3,774,640.90. Brown, in contrast, has spent only $403,684.60, leaving an ending balance of $20,633,704.93. To put it into perspective, Alameda County Supervisor candidate Nadia Lockyer will have spent more money to advance to a likely November runoff than Brown needed to win the Democratic nomination for governor.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Primary Questions

What's a seat on the Board of Supervisor's worth? Between $50k and $1 million? By Steven Tavares
How will the race for the District 2 supervisor shakedown? It is unlikely any of the four candidates will avoid a November runoff. Can Nadia Lockyer's significant fund-raising advantage make her the top vote-getter? She will likely finish in the top two, but hair-splitting of the final numbers will likely frame the first few months of the general election. For instance, can Lockyer break 40 percent? If Figueroa, eeks out a lead, what's the difference between the former state senator merely maintaining her built-in advantage in name-recognition and a well-funded challenger within striking distance. What about Hayward City Councilman Kevin Dowling, who fortuitously stayed out the firing line over the last 10 days of the campaign as Lockyer and Figueroa took public hits. Will Dowling have enough momentum to pluck some undecideds and disenchanted voters turned off by his opponents mudslinging? The fourth candidate, Union City Mayor Mark Green has been virtually silent over the past few months; missing candidate's forums and running a very low-budget bid for the supervisor's seat, but he is known as a prodigious retail campaigner. The votes Green siphons in the southern areas of the district may tighten the spreads between the other three candidates.

If the race for the District 2 open seat on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors is a mosh pit, then the other race is a demure debutantes ball. Former supervisor Wilma Chan took control of the race shortly after obtaining the endorsement of current Supervisor Alice Lai-Bitker, who succeeded Chan 10 years ago and now appears ready to get it back. The big election day question is whether Chan can win her seat outright Tuesday even with the presence of three other challengers. Alameda Mayor Bev Johnson has the backing of Don Perata, but many observers questions whether "The Don" is more preoccupied with his own bid for the mayor's office in Oakland to be much help for Johnson. One frequent comment pointing to Perata's limited attention to the supervisor's race is the surprising lack of fund-raising support for Johnson's campaign, especially for a sitting mayor from Alameda. Oakland businessman Harold Lowe will likely be a non-factor Tuesday, but many have been impressed by his passion and ideas. He may be someone to watch in the future. And then there's the mercurial face of the San Leandro Republican Party, Lou Filipovich. The best story to describe Filipovich is from an aide for one of the county supervisors who recalls at a forum a few years back for the assembly, including Sweet Lou, he told the audience he was not going to the win in November and surprisingly pointed to one of his opponents, Jill Buck, and said, "Neither is she!" If Chan can win the seat outright tomorrow, she will have done it by raising just over $50,000; a paltry sum compared to Lockyer, who if she heads to a runoff, will almost assuredly raise over $1 million to replace Gail Steele.

What happened to Steve Poizner's miraculous comeback a few weeks ago? In a poll last weekend, the spread between Meg Whitman and Poizner was back over 30 points. Maybe Willie Brown was right when he told members of the Commonwealth Club earlier this month he had a suspicious Poizner had manipulated the polling for it to appear he was trending towards a comeback....A SurveyUSA poll released today says San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has a 16-point lead over Janice Hahn for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor, 43-27. Current Guv Lite Abel Maldonado has a 10-point lead over Sam Aanstad in the same poll. Newsom versus Maldonado should be a good matchup for an office that does nothing.

SurveyUSA's polling also shows inconclusive results for the state's two heavily-funded ballot initiatives Propositions 16 and 17.  The PG&E backing proposition (to the tune of $46 million) giving voters two-thirds approval before municipalities expand electricity providers with public funds is running slightly behind with 41 percent yes to 45 percent no and 14 percent uncertain. The Mercury Insurance-backed initiative making a driver's past history part of the basis for its rates is leading 43-39 with 18 percent uncertain. The margin of error in the SurveyUSA poll is +/-2.8 percent.

Do We Really Know Nadia Lockyer?

Aside from slick campaign mailers, A-List Democratic support and her husband's money, do we know really know her? By Nicholas Terry
You know what really grinds my gears? Misleading campaign material. One particular candidate’s campaign and story, are just that…a political fairytale.

Is this all the rage these days or are people just getting sloppy? Is the sloppy work just misleading and are people getting wiser or is the Internet a foe to candidates?

I wrote previously about the expensive mailer Alameda County Supervisor candidate Nadia Lockyer mailed out and how that doesn’t give any candidate creditability. It just proves (as we learned later) that they have BIG BUCKS. Today, I received a fourth piece of mail (I also received a standard mailer with big name support and another asking me to consider Mrs. Lockyer), this time with more pictures.

Something stood out…the locations of the pictures and the key calling out where they were taken.

Picture number one is of Nadia with two young females, looking at a computer; the caption is ‘Nadia, working with staff.’ What kind of staff? Campaign Staff? Because that looks like her A Street campaign headquarters. That’s fine if it’s campaign staff, but say so, otherwise it leads you to believe otherwise. I drove by just to make sure the blue awnings in the reflection are on A Street.

Next is picture number two, Nadia and three unnamed community members and the caption reads ‘A community education event in Union City.’ This looks like a picture outside of Starbucks on one of her first campaign precinct walks (at least it looked familiar with some on her official Facebook page). Again, no big deal if that WAS not a community education event, but, again, it’s misleading. I didn’t think those types of things were held at Starbucks. And if it WAS a campaign event, this is the first time I’ve heard them called “community education event.” Saul Alinsky missed out on that term.

Number three looks legit, we’re told Nadia is ‘reviewing a domestic violence issue…’ she’s an attorney and member of the State Bar since 1997. But this came into play once before and make it appear as she is personally handling a domestic violence case/trial. I may have to eat crow, but I don’t mind saying, “is that REALLY what’s she’s doing in that picture?”

In picture number four (don’t worry only one more) she’s pointing at a map of southern Alameda county and is ‘training interns for community education.’ By that, does she mean, pointing out which areas to hit with campaign materials? After all, she’s wearing the same outfit as picture one and the same two young “interns” are in the picture. I have a serious problem with using the “community education” as a synonym for “campaigning.”

And last, the only picture I CAN’T argue with, is number five. It’s of a younger Nadia Lockyer, President of the Santa Ana Unified School District Board of Education, who “led efforts to increase college attendance, reduce teen pregnancy rates (that’s a parents job by the way) and improve collaboration between schools and local government.” Since the picture has the SAUSD seal on it, I’ll just refrain from speaking out. Besides repeating the sentiment that it’s not a schools responsibility to teach abstinence. Or manners. Or diets.

The cover page is of Nadia flipping through a copy of West’s California Reporter (law book), and perhaps saying something. The caption includes “ONLY ONE has direct experience working as a county manager inside county government.” I’ll say this, she is the ONLY candidate with a campaign headquarters that displays a JERRY BROWN 2010 poster, while boasting the support of a (former) Republican politician. One could argue she appeals to both sides, but I’d be content in arguing that she’s playing one side.

The continuing problem is the manipulation of words and facts. Mrs. Lockyer’s campaign is not the only one doing so this year. However, Nadia’s is on-going and money is being used to promote her “experience.” Even though a small amount of money has been raised privately and the bulk of it is from her husbands war chest; I’ve always found it ridiculous that that’s even legal or ethical. I mean, on the surface, she IS the perfect candidate; she has known A-list politicians since her youth, she is married to the state Treasurer (and former Top Cop of California), she’s endorsed by the Vice Mayor of Union City, Assemblywoman Hayashi, Hayward Councilman Bill Quirk, a ton of other organization and people outside of her district and of course, the ghost endorsement of state Sen. Corbett.

But in reality, when we look at the fine print, when we stop and take a minute to take away the slick ads, glossy flyers, heavy endorsements, campaign headquarters and spouses own campaign funds, we see an outsider who has decided to run for office (not that she isn’t dedicated) but because someone’s or some group has figured the stars seem to be aligned in her favor. And that maybe she is the ideal, if not perfect candidate for the job.

When we look at the facts and not the printed marketing material or hyped up excuses and spin, and when we consider the opponents, only then do we learn that the one with the biggest bank account and connections, isn’t the truest of them all.

Nicholas Terry is a Hayward resident and former candidate for the 18th Assembly District.