DELIVERING DISCOMFORT TO THE POWERFUL SINCE 2009
>

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE EAST BAY'S NOVEMBER BALLOT

Eighteen are running for mayor of Oakland alone!

JUNE PRIMARY COVERAGE ONLY AT EBCITIZEN.COM

Assemblymember Rob Bonta casts his ballot June 3 in Alameda.

>

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Nascent Pot Movement Takes A Hit In San Leandro

POT GROW CENTERS FIND UNCERTAINTY IN OAKLAND
When it comes to the business of medical marijuana in the East Bay, it always comes down to the follow the leader with the Pied Piper being Oakland.

Just as talk of large-scale growing centers climb the list of hot topics in San Leandro, led primarily by Councilman Jim Prola, the inherent uneasiness of city attorneys and law enforcement received a pick-me-up when the San Francisco Chronicle's reporting duo of Phil Matier and Andrew Ross wrote this weekend of federal intervention of the proposed handful of grow facilities in Oakland, if approved by the city council. Each permit will cost $211,000.

City attorneys, whether they be San Leandro, Hayward or Oakland are notoriously skittish of the federal ban on medical marijuana as it abuts California's state law derived from Proposition 215 nearly 15 years ago.

The San Leandro City Council recently approved a 10-month moratorium on the grow facilities within city limits, but the tenor of the talk behind the issues this month showed possibilities the council may be in favor of the potential, often discounted, windfall in tax revenues to be made from the business of pot.

The turning point for many, including Prola, came when San Leandro Det. Dan Fernandez's riveting testimony highlighted by his admission small-time pot growers were highly prevalent in the city. Prola grasped the reasoning that if its existent was so pervasive, why not regulate it? The argument appeared to sway other members making the issue a likely flashpoint late in 2011.

But, will constant uneasiness from Oakland buttress the ambivalence of members such as Joyce Starosciak, Diana Souza and Mayor-elect Stephen Cassidy?
-STEVEN TAVARES

FAA Proposes Steep Fine Against Hayward Flight School

FEDS SAYS SCHOOL FAILED TO MAINTAIN STUDENT RECORDS
The Federal Aviation Administration says a Hayward flight school failed to employ instructors who were licensed to train students in 2008. The agency is proposing a $221,650 for the offense.

The FAA says Flying Viking, Inc. located at the Hayward Executive Airport on Hesperian Boulevard, has 30 days to respond to the charges, but one of its owners told the Associated Press she planned to fight the allegations and called them unfair.

Between February and October 2008, the FAA says Flying Viking failed to have neither a chief instructor, assistant chief instructor or instructor who was up-to-date in training courses required by the FAA. The company is one of 141 FAA-licensed flight schools in the country. Training courses offered under the more rigorous FAA regulations typically carry more prestige than less strict non-licensed programs.

According to the FAA, the school also failed to properly maintain student records, both foreign and domestic, on 20 students, 10 of which had graduated. One graduate's license was revoked by the FAA after an investigation into Flying Viking's records, they said.
-STEVEN TAVARES

Monday, November 29, 2010

San Leandro Names Its First Female Police Chief

SPAGNOLI TO REPLACE WILLIS IN JANUARY
By Steven Tavares

Sandra Spagnoli will become San Leandro's first female police chief, the city announced Monday, replacing the retiring Ian Willis. Spagnoli, who spent the past four years as head of the Benicia police department, will begin her tenure Jan. 10.

Sandra Spagnoli
“I am extremely honored to be selected as San Leandro's next police chief,” said Spagnoli. "I am committed to building on the existing traditions of excellence and working in partnership with the community to continue to enhance levels of service, safety and security.”

San Leandro City Manager Stephen Hollister said Spagnoli impressed community leaders and hiring panels and is confident she will uphold the city reputation for public safety.

The selection of Spagnoli comes three months after current Police Chief Ian Willis announced his retirement. She becomes San Leandro's 10th police chief and first female chief in its history. She is also the city's third chief in as many years, following Dale Attarian and Willis.

Rumors of Hollister's preference in hiring a female for the post has persisted for months after the police department waded in a spate of sexual harrassment suits, led by a complaint by seven female police officers against the a male officer and implicating then-chief Attarian. Four of the seven plaintiffs settled with the city last year for $405,000, while the last three with potenitally larger monetary settlements have yet to be resolved. (Read 'Women do not belong in police work' - May 17, 2010.)

Spagnoli , 43, became a police officer in 1990 and spent the past four years as head of the Benicia Police Department after spending time with the San Carlos police force. She began her stint in San Carlos at age 16 as a police explorer before taking the top job in Benicia in 2007. Spagnoli takes over a department in San Leandro which is more than double the size of Benicia's 37 officers. Benicia's police force also lacks a single female officer among its ranks.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Torrico's Next Move

Fremont Assemblyman Alberto Torrico's term is nearly out. Is his next stop the State Senate or County Supervisors? (PHOTO Brooke Anderson)
PROPOSED COUNTY FUNDRAISING ORDINANCE HAS MUCH TO DO WITH TORRICO AS LOCKYER
By Steven Tavares

It is never too early for a politician to start their next campaign and some East Bay lawmakers are already setting the stage for a reimagination of their political careers even before their terms have expired.

Assemblyman Alberto Torrico's comments in last weekend's Oakland Tribune acts as a nexus to a few burning questions and developments hiding in the still-receding fog of this past general election. Torrico acknowledged the formation of 2014 campaign account for Alameda County supervisor. He said he does not plan to challenge Supervisor-Elect Nadia Lockyer and will likely keep that promise. Torrico is known as a prodigious fundraiser and glad-handler, but Lockyer's District 2 seat is already the most secure of any local candidate, but there's more to his comment.

Torrico's interest in the board of supervisors along with a few other politicians, including state Sen. Ellen Corbbet is the real impetus behind Supervisor Scott Haggerty's proposed ordinance to limit campaign fundraising dollars in the county to $20,000. The ordinance will also stop candidates from the extremely large campaign transfers that turn the Lockyer race into a literal Dialing for Dollars, albeit, with only one telephone number on the speed dial.

Incidentally, Haggerty's second reading of the proposed ordinance was put off until the body's next meeting on Nov. 30. Typically, approval of the ordinance would come after the second reading and vote by the board. The abrupt rescheduling has more than a few people already pointing to State Treasurer Bill Lockyer's influence. The ordinance would likely help Nadia Lockyer and the rest of the incumbent board members, it is clear Haggerty's commentary within the proposal was definitely designed to tweak the Lockyers for spending an unheard of $2 million for a supervisorial race.

While Torrico's name has been attached to Corbett's senate seat once terms out of office, he is seen as highly mobile. It is a reason why Torrico clashed earlier this year with neighboring Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi. For a short period, there were whispers as to whether Hayashi had inadvertently or, by design, purchased a home in Torrico's district. More recently, Torrico was angry over fundraising overtures made by Hayashi into the hub of his home district in Fremont.

There is one certainty involving Torrico. He is a political animal and will return to public life in one form or another. If you need any more evidence, there is this: a termed out assemblyman who was defeated last June by Kamala Harris for the Democratic Party nomination for attorney general is not someone ready to change occupations, just waiting for the next position to open up.

¿Vacacion Español?

CORBETT ON 12-DAY SENATE TRIP TO SPAIN
State Sen. Ellen Corbett's expense-paid business trip to Spain this week will likely place her on the list of state legislators with the highest amount of travel gifts for this year. The 12-day junket to the Iberian Peninsula features two commissioners of the California Public Utilities Commission and seven Democrats, including Corbett and East Bay assemblywoman Joan Buchanan and Nancy Skinner.

It's the same business trip funded by the California Foundation on the Environment and Economy that Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi participated last year. That trip amounted to a nearly $10,000 campaign gift that ranked as the sixth highest among Sacramento lawmakers.

The trip, according to the Sacramento Bee, is funded by the non-profit CFEE along with three labor unions. Some critics contend the junkets are nothing more than fancy holidays involving mouth-watering Jamon Iberico and belly-bursting plates of Paella than business trips involving Spanish ingenuity in environmental policy.
-STEVEN TAVARES

Friday, November 19, 2010

Episode 13 of the TnT Podcast Now Available

SAN LEANDRO HOSPITAL PODCAST; SANTOS WON'T BACK DOWN; HOT BOXING WITH KATZ

Is San Leandro Hospital on its last legs, again? It’s time to rally the community against Sutter. Here’s the lowdown. San Leandro Mayor Tony Santos says he will never concede the election. What should he do? School Board President Mike Katz advocates for marijuana. He’s for ganja, against God, hates Christmas and he transferred his kids to a better public school. Who is this guy in charge of educating your children? It’s all on the East Bay’s only political podcast--The TnT East Bay Citizen Podcast..

PROGRAM NOTE: The TnT Podcast will return with a new episode Dec. 3. Happy Thanksgiving!

Prola Outwits Council With 10-Month Pot Moratorium

COUNCILMAN POISED TO BECOME COUNCIL'S MOST POWERFUL, CAPABLE VOICE
By Steven Tavares

Looking forward to a new city council next year, District 6 member Jim Prola may become the the body's strongest and most influential voice. Monday night, Prola so outmaneuvered Councilwoman Diana Souza on the issue of extending a moratorium on zoning and establishment of medical marijuana facilities, that one had to wonder whether she was in a pot-riddled fog of confusion or not paying attention.

Souza and Councilwoman Joyce Starosciak supported extending the ban for 22 month, 15 days--the longest possible and one of only two choices available to the council, the other being 10 months, 15 days favored by Prola. If neither scenario was agreed upon by a supermajority of five councilmembers, the city would risk the possibility of accepting individuals interested in expanding the burgeoning business of medical marijuana to San Leandro.

So, here what happened Monday night, Souza motioned to vote on the 22-month ban even though it appeared Prola and Gregory would vote no and that's was the case as the motion was denied after failing to muster five affirmative votes. This left only the 10-month ban preferred by Prola or nothing. Only then did it occur to Souza that she had made a parliamentary blunder. She asked for reconsideration, but apparently did not understand the procdure, either, since the losing party (Prola, Gregory) would have to ask for reconsideration, which they would not.

Prola had the council just where he wanted as he detailed the council's new deal--10 months or nothing. "I'm not going to change my mind," crowed Prola. "Let's get this done now." The most liberal of San Leandro councilman, Prola believes it is better to bring the ubiquitious pot trade in the city out of shadows, especially with large-scale growers. "It is safer to have large growth houses in San Leandro so we can control it, tax it and regulate it," he said. It also doesn't hurt politically since Alameda County voters easily approved Proposition 19, despite its defeat at the polls earlier this month.

The Prola-preferred 10 month ban eventually passed with every vote except Starosciak, who either was stubbornly sticking to her position or gambled her voting bloc with Souza would help her defeat the motion, but it did not. The city's moratorium now extends to Sept. 30, 2011 or until the council formulates an ordinance on issue in before the end of the ban. By choosing the shorter moratorium, the council also retains the option to extend it for another year.

'Damn The Torpedoes!'

HEALTHCARE DISTRICT'S COURT APPEAL EXTENDS THE LIFE OF SAN LEANDRO HOSPITAL...FOR NOW
Nurses protest the possible closing of San Leandro Hospital in front of the Alameda County Administration Building in Oakland.
By Steven Tavares

When Eden Township Healthcare District Chair Carole Rogers was asked about what is next for the board after an Alameda County judge ruled in favor of Sutter Health in its countersuit against the operator of San Leandro Hospital, her answer was unwavering. "Damn the torpedoes," she said, "full speed ahead."

The District approved a course of action Wednesday night to appeal Superior Court Judge Marshall Whitley's ruling in favor of Sutter in the case which could have potentially scuttled their plans to close San Leandro Hospital. The District's appeal may give the hospital another year of life as the case winds through the appellate process.

"Our efforts have kept the doors open for months longer than originally planned," the District said in a statement read after their closed session meeting Wednesday. "This has saved lives and protected the health of our community. This is the mandate of the Eden Township Healthcare District. This is why we decided to pursue legal action in the first place and why we are pursuing appellate review now."

Dr. Francisco Rico, who was named in the District's countersuit and is a former boardmember, has long criticized the board's legal action against Sutter and urged them not to appeal the decision. Rico called the litigation "ill-advised" and faulted the board for spending $1.7 million in legal fees. "You are gambling with other people's money," Rico said.

Judge Whitley found the claims against Rico, whose anesthesiology group had financial ties to Sutter while he negotiated the controversial 2008 memorandum of understanding for the District, did not rise to the threshold of a financial conflict-of-interest nor did he "serve two masters" in his role as District director negotiating with Sutter.

A larger-than-normal group of hospital supporters urged the board to follow through with the countersuit on appeal. "It is absolutely essential for the community to have a full-service hospital," said Joanne Jung, a labor representative for the California Nurses Association. She described other Sutter-operated hospitals in the region affiliated with CNA union members that have undergone recent cutbacks in service, including Mills-Peninsula in Burlingame and Alta Bates in Berkeley. "Patients are being abandoned," she said.

Carol Barazi, a nurse at San Leandro Hospital, said the flow of patients at the hospital is overwhelming the supply of services it can provide. "The emergency room at San Leandro Hospital is bursting at the seams with patients," said Barazi, who also noted beds for its intensive care unit are in high demand along with surgeries scheduled well into the night. She said not appealing the court's decision does not help the community. "What is going to happen is that it will only serve Sutter and the county supervisors, and that's it."

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Corporate Shenanigans, Greed And The Will To Fight Back

SUTTER HEALTH/SAN LEANDRO HOSPITAL TIMELINE
The issue of San Leandro Hospital and its six-year-long association with Sutter Health, along with the facilities possible closing has been a long and wild ride for health care workerS and a band of rabid community activists. Here is a timeline of events starting with the pivotal 2008 Memorandum of Understanding between Sutter and the Eden Township Healthcare District AND leading to this week's ruling in Alameda County Superior Court:

FALL 2008 - Sutter Health and Eden Township Healthcare District agree to memorandum of understanding guaranteeing the rebuild of Eden Medical Center and allowing a two-year window for finances at San Leandro Hospital to improve. Many believe San Leandro Hospital is saved, but a group of nurses and doctors are wary of Sutter's tactics at other Northern California facilities.

WINTER 2009 - Sutter makes overtures with Alameda County to close San Leandro Hospital and convert it to an acute rehabilitation facility to replace the seismically-deficient Fairmont Hospital. Critics rail against Sutter saying the corporation did not give the hospital time to improve its bottom-line. Others suggest Sutter negotiated in bad faith and had designs to close the hospital, thereby eliminating competition to its planned state-of-the-art hospital in Castro Valley.

MAY 2009 - Doctors, nurses and community activists flock to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors claiming their approval of the Eden Medical Center Environmental Impact Report, in effect, will lead to the closure of San Leandro Hospital.

Supervisor Nate Miley lambastes the group for turning the hearings into a discussion of San Leandro Hospital and not the EIR. Supervisor Scott Haggerty famously wads up a letter from the San Leandro City Council asking to save San Leandro Hospital and theatrically slams it in a waste basket.

Neither the city or the county has jurisdiction over the hospital. It rest with the Eden Township District Board of Directors and I've been involved with them for the past year. I have told them repeatedly, look, you folks need to come up with some alternative plan to keep this facility operating. It's up to you -- San Leandro Mayor Tony Santos says in May 2009.
JUNE 2009 - A Southern California hospital chain with a recent history of taking over bankrupt community hospitals tells a large group of residents at the San Leandro Library that Prime Healthcare can fix the hospital. Dr. Prem Reddy, the charismatic owner of Prime, gets a standing ovation from the throng, but Sutter wants no part of having San Leandro Hospital in the hands of a competitor known for playing hardball with insurers and labor groups.

The next day, the board of supervisors approve Eden's EIR allowing Sutter to break ground on the project. Miley tells Eden CEO George Bischalaney to negotiate with Prime. He says yes, but the two groups never talk.

The entire District board is notified before a community hearing at the library they all may have a conflict-of-interest in any decisions involving the District and San Leandro Hospital. This issue will return with more focus a year later.

Supervisor Alice Lai-Bitker saying the county only approved Sutter's plan to convert San Leandro Hospital to rehab when there were no other options, tells the third of heavily-attended public meetings at the library, that she will ask her colleagues to rescind the offer. Ultimately, Lai-Bitker does not have three votes on the board to make it happen--only Miley stands with her--and the plan dies.

They are going to try to do this deal with the county despite what you heard here tonight. I really don't think this is over. There are factions in the county who want that to happen and they are lobbying for that to happen -- Mike Brannan, California Nurses Association.
Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, via video, tells supporters keeping San Leandro Hospital is her "number one priority." She is never heard from again.

JULY 2009 - Sutter breaks ground on $320 million rebuild of Eden Medical Center.

Community awaits word on whether Sutter will announce the closure of San Leandro Hospital. It could be as early as Sept. 30, 2009.

Hayashi fails to vote for her own co-sponsored bill with rival, state Sen. Ellen Corbett, scuttling possible legislation that would have aided the hospital's cause.

Corbett obtains a waiver from the state extending until 2020 the deadline for Fairmont Hospital to be seismically retro-fitted. The previous 2013 deadline was a talking point of those in favor closing San Leandro Hospital.

A "hybrid model" of various services at San Leandro Hospital gains steam. Lai-Bitker gives her support. The plan has drawbacks as county officials say an annual subsidy between $6-9 million is needed to operate the plan with a full-service hospital, rehab and surgical services. She asks the District for $2 million to keep the emergency room open. In the current economy, nobody has funds for such an expenditure.

Alameda County Health Services Director Alex Briscoe tells supervisors Sutter's figures regarding urgent care at San Leandro Hospital is way off. As an argument against the need of the ER, Sutter claimed 80 percent of its patients could be treated in urgent care, the real figure is 59 percent, in line with other hospital of its size.

Sutter exercises its right to purchase San Leandro Hospital. This is not good news for supporters of the hospital.
The future remains in doubt, but you can surmise from Sutter's action that they do not plan to run the hospital as a private operation facility -- Alex Briscoe, Director of Alameda County Health Services
AUGUST 2009 - Sutter's pricetag for San Leandro Hospital: $0.

The District votes to block Sutter's attempt to purchase San Leandro Hospital. The move sets the stage for the dispute to head to the courts.

Sutter quickly unveils its agreement with the Alameda County Medical Center to lease San Leandro Hospital for acute rehab without owning the property.

Corbett announces she will ask the attorney general to investigate Sutter for a pattern of abuse of its non-profit status, medical redlining and misrepresentation to local healthcare districts. Jerry Brown's office responds to call for investigation. A determination is never made on the case.

SEPTEMBER 2009 - Eden CEO Bischalaney threatens to call the sheriff after a low-key group of hospital supporters demand a chance to speak during a public meeting of the District board.

Sutter and the District agree to mediation of their dispute. Odd pattern of obfuscation regarding some boardmembers aligned with Sutter begins to emerge. Boardmember Carole Rogers is denied access to the mediation, while another member Dr. Walter Kran plan to ditch her in a cloak and danger farce.



OCTOBER 2009 - Kran abruptly resigns from the District board citing competing pressures from the District and Sutter. A long held belief Sutter had threatened Kran with legal consequences comes again to the front of speculation. The resignation, though, leads to the start of a dramatic change in the board's demeanor from pliant to Sutter's wishes to defiance. Search for replacement begins.

NOVEMBER 2009 - Sutter sues the District in Alameda County Superior Court for the right to purchase San Leandro Hospital plus $5 million in damages.

The District approves the candidacy of Dr. William West to replace Kran. The retired podiatrist is seen as a strong supporter of the cause to save San Leandro Hospital. He becomes a crucial majority vote on the board along with Rogers and Dr. Vin Sawhney. The board is now poised to take a more aggressive stance towards Sutter.



DECEMBER 2009 - Boardmember Dr. Rajendra Ratnesar, who is Sutter's last consistent voice on the board, pens a "letter to the community" asserting those in opposition to Sutter's plan are a vocal minority. Corbett, Rogers and Sawhney angrily denounce the missive. Rumors begin to swirl that Sutter is the real author of the letter.

Three days before Christmas, the purge of those suspected at the District of having loyalties to Sutter continues. The board agrees to fire its long-time legal counsel Craig Cannizzo, who stomps out of the meeting after having choice words with Sawhney. Raises eyebrows when he says he will not cooperate in any transition to the board's new lawyers. Sawhney says he did not trust Cannizzo.

JANUARY 2010 - Lai-Bitker, citing stress, announces she will not seek re-election to the Board of Supervisors. Comments made by Sawhney in The Citizen regarding Prime spook Sutter into sending a terse letter threatening legal action if it attempts to negotiate with the District.

Busted! Invoice to the District shows a Sutter employee is the author of Ratnesar's controversial December letter. Sutter denies it.

FEBRUARY 2010 - District's lawyers say West, Ratnesar and Sawhney have potential conflicts of interests after working for Sutter sometime in the past year. They ask to be recused from decision regarding San Leandro Hospital and Sutter. A month later, Rogers is also found to have conflict leading to an archaic drawing of lots to fill future three-member negotiating parties.

MARCH 2010 - District files a countersuit against Sutter alleging the now-contentious 2008 agreement with Sutter is null and void due to a conflict-of-interest among two members of the negotiating team. If found void, the original 2004 agreement keeping San Leandro Hospital for 20 years would be reinstated.

After voting against the District's majority to authorize the countersuit against Sutter, Rogers calls for Ratnesar to resign since he is also named in the suit. Ratnesar refuses.

APRIL 2010 - Cries Sutter losing money at San Leandro Hospital fall flat after they post profits of $700 million in 2009.

JULY 2010 - Sutter is accused of moving $156 million out of the Marin Healthcare District as it transferred control of the hospital to the District. Since 2004, Sutter has made a total $50 million in equity transfers from Eden Medical Center to its general operating fund. Eden and San Leandro Hospital operate under the same license making it impossible to discern whether profits were stripped from San Leandro, Eden or both.

NOVEMBER 2010 - Alameda County superior court judge rules against the District's countersuit alleging financial conflicts during the negotiation of the 2008 agreement.

The District votes to appeal the ruling. No timeframe is known for the fate of San Leandro Hospital, but operations will continue for the foreseeable future.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Eden Healthcare District Votes To Appeal Ruling

The Board of Directors for Eden Township Healthcare District unanimously voted to appeal Alameda County Superior Judge Marshall Whitley's ruling against the health care agency in favor of Sutter Health. The District's conflict-of-interest claim was denied last Monday when the judge found neither Eden Medical Center CEO George Bishalaney and former District boardmember Dr. Francisco Rico did not stand to financially gain by the controversial 2008 Memorandum of Understanding between the District and Sutter. The agreement indirectly led to Sutter and the county entering a deal to close the hospital and reconfigure it to an acute rehabilitation facility. Below is Wednesday night's announcement following a closed session meeting of the board:
The Eden Township Healthcare District is disappointed that a judge ruled against our countersuit against Sutter Health. Our goal when filing this suit was to keep San Leandro Hospital and its emergency medical facility open. This remains our goal.
After reviewing our options with legal counsel, the Board of Directors decided unanimously to pursue appellate court review of the decision.
When we initially filed this suit, Sutter Health was preparing to close San Leandro Hospital. Our efforts have kept the doors open for months longer than originally planned. This has saved lives and protected the health of our community. This is the mandate of the Eden Township Healthcare District. It is why we decided to pursue legal action in the first place and why we are pursuing appellate review now. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Judge Rules Against Eden Township Countersuit

FUTURE OF SAN LEANDRO HOSPITAL AGAIN IN DOUBT
By Steven Tavares

An Alameda County Superior Court judge has ruled against the Eden Township Healthcare District's countersuit alleging a Sutter Health hospital official and former District boardmember possessed a financial conflict-of-interest when they negotiated the 2008 agreement to rebuild Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley. The suit also hoped to stave off the closure of San Leandro Hospital.

Superior Court Judge Marshall Whitley found neither Eden Medical Center CEO George Bischalaney and former District boardmember Dr. Francisco Rico stood to financially gain by the 2008 Memorandum of Understanding which held Sutter responsible for the $300 million rebuild of Eden while keeping San Leandro Hospital open for two years until it became financially viable. Sutter moved to exercise its purchase option of the hospital last summer in advance of closing it down until the District filed suit in March of this year.

The ruling is a significant defeat for the District, which had moved towards an aggressive legal strategy to fight Sutter in the courts in hopes of keeping the community hospital in operation. Alameda County and Sutter have maintained the facility is better served to the local hospital system as an acute rehabilitation facility instead of the current full-service general hospital.

The District,which has run a legal bill into the millions over litigation with Sutter now sits at crossroads. In an email from District CEO Dev Mahadevan, he says lawyers will advise the board of its remaining legal options by this Wednesday. The District holds its monthly meeting Wednesday, 5:30 p.m. at the H.A.R.D. office on E Street in Hayward. As of Monday night, there is no mention of the ruling on the board's agenda.

The fight by doctors, nurses and community activists to keep the hospital afloat over the past two years had encouraged the elected District board members to reconfigure their ranks in opposition to Sutter, which critics contend has traded increased profits from the rebuilt Castro Valley hospital over San Leandro Hospital. Local health officials and Sutter says the hospital, located on East 14th Street lacks a financial durable "payment mix" due to a large number of uninsured patients, a number of whom come from Oakland. For this reason, many have charged Sutter with "medical redlining" over the possible closure, something advocates have also alleged at Sutter's St. Luke's Hospital in San Francisco.

More on the court's ruling coming shortly....

Santos' RCV Legal Argument May Be Difficult To Defend

CITY MEASURE AND ORDINANCE APPEARS TO UPHOLD CASSIDY'S MAYORAL WIN
By Steven Tavares

"Upon reflection, I am sorry I supported ranked-choice voting," San Leandro Mayor Tony Santos wrote Friday to the city council. Once one of the voting system's most staunchest supporters for implementation this fall, Santos has soured on RCV after unofficial results show Stephen Cassidy pulling off an upset of the incumbent mayor, despite trailing in first-place votes.

"There are too many variables and questions in ranked choice voting that I now believe it should be scrapped," said Santos. Along with Councilman Jim Prola, Santos had pushed for adoption of RCV as far back as late last year. The primary benefit being its long-term cost effectiveness. RCV does away with the need of two elections by consolidating it into one.

Following the likelihood Cassidy will become the first candidate in city history to win election against a sitting mayor, Santos now believes lessening the confusion he says is associated with RCV outweighs its cost-savings. "Even if there are additional costs," he says, "those costs are worth it in order to have a fair and impartial election."

Santos, who is out of the country on vacation until the end of the month, does not plan to concede the election to Cassidy just yet. There have been no formal calls for a recount or legal maneuvers. The Alameda County Registrar of Voters must certify results of the election by Nov. 30. Updated results from this weekend increased Cassidy's lead in ranked-choice voting to 231 votes and narrowed his deficit in first-place votes to 75 against Santos. The latest tally gives Cassidy 50.57 percent of the votes after six rounds to Santos' 49.43 percent, but a lawsuit filed Nov. 8 in federal court asserts, among other things, races including the San Leandro mayor's race did not return a true majority winner. The case is one of the pillars Santos' campaign points toward invalidating this month's results, with an eye towards running a separate special election runoff early next year.

The City Charter calls for a candidate to be victorious after securing a "majority plus one." Santos contends Cassidy received just 44 percent of the 23,493 ballots cast in San Leandro. The same argument could be made in the Oakland mayor's race where Don Perata sat in the same position as Santos, but chose to concede the election last Thursday to Jean Quan.

Language in the charter first adopted by voters after approving Measure F in 2000 and by the council last January when it approved the use of ranked-choice technology may be problematic to Santos' argument. Measure F, which passed with 63 percent approval called for a run-off system to be enacted if a candidate did not receive a majority plus one of the vote and allowed for a range of methods to reach that majority, including ranked-choice voting "when such technology is available to the city." The city ordinance approved Jan. 11 by the council and including Santos, appears to bolster the argument in favor of the election results thus far. "All continuing ballots for all continuing candidates shall be counted again in a new round," it reads

The recent suit against the City of San Francisco is a lower court appeal of a recent ruling in favor of ranked-choice voting. San Francisco has used RCV since 2004. The suit asserts the use of "restricted" ranked-choice voting disenfranchises voter who they say happened to not vote for the candidates who subsequently advanced to the final rounds of tabulation. By limiting voters to rank just three preferences no matter the size of the field, the results give more weight to some votes over others, it says. Incidentally, this was the fear communicated by Councilwoman Diana Souza earlier this year when she made the argument in opposition to RCV. It was Souza and Councilwoman Joyce Starosciak who unsuccessfully attempted to put off RCV's implementation to another election on two occasions.

Despite similarities to Santos' case in San Leandro it is unlikely the appellate case will be decided anytime in the near future. As it stands, Cassidy will be sworn-in as mayor Jan. 1, 2011.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Episode 12 of the TnT Podcast Now Available

NEW MAYORS IN OAKLAND, SAN LEANDRO; HEY O! A CARSON CLASSIC
The November election isn’t over, folks, but that hasn’t stopped a coronation for Oakland’s Jean Quan and San Leandro’s Stephen Cassidy or a bumpy opening for ranked-choice voting in Alameda County. Johannes Mehserle gets two years in prison and Supervisor Keith Carson doesn’t like it and he’s willing to tell you exactly what he thinks about it. All this and more on the East Bay’s only political podcast--The East Bay Citizen TnT Podcast.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Perata Concedes in Oakland

EXIT THE DON: Don Perata listens to a reporter's question during a press conference Thursday morning conceding defeat in the race for Oakland mayor.  (PHOTO Steven Tavares/EBC)
PERATA SLIPS SILENTLY INTO THE NIGHT
By Steven Tavares

Former state senator Don Perata said Thursday morning he will step back into the role of citizen and do whatever he can for the city and its mayor-elect Jean Quan.

"The results are pretty clear," Perata said in a press conference in front of the Eastmont police station in Oakland. "Those are the rules of the game and I play by the rules." The registrar's unofficial results through ranked-choice voting give Quan a two-point advantage over Perata despite receiving the highest number of first-place votes.

Perata said he is ready to move toward helping the city in a private role and will not contest the results. He also recognized the work of Alameda County Registrar Dave Macdonald during the grueling past 10 days where residents in Oakland and San Leandro have waited to see whether they will have new mayors. "I have no quarrel with the election," Perata said of Macdonald. "He certainly went out of his way to leave no stone unturned."

A reporter asked if Perata had called to congratulate Quan he said, "No." When pressed why Perata smiled and said, "Because I was busy writing this speech."

At times, Perata spoke to his frustration of losing within the new rules of ranked-choice voting. "If it was a normal election, I would have been the landslide winner," he said adding he received over 11,000 more than Quan representing 78 percent of all precincts. Perata also called for a closer look at the voting system that debuted this election season. He pointed to claims some people were confused by the ranking of their preferences, especially the "unsophisticated," elderly and non-English-speaking voters. "Generally, they had a hard time."

The long, successful, oftentimes controversial era of politics in East Bay may be winding down for the man many simply call "The Don." "I'll do whatever I can to help us go wherever we want to go," he said, including serving on Quan's transition team.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

CASSIDY WINS; MAYOR NOT CONCEDING

UPDATED RESULTS GIVE CASSIDY SLIGHT LEAD; SANTOS WINS MOST FIRST-PLACE VOTES
By Steven Tavares

Stephen Cassidy declared victory Wednesday evening after the Alameda County Registrar gave the upstart San Leandro mayoral challenger a narrow lead over Mayor Tony Santos in its latest results.

"I said throughout the campaign that the candidate with the most volunteers backing him or her would win. And that proved correct," said Cassidy, who also thanked his supporters. "This victory is yours as well."

The results, which the registrar cautions are unofficial, give Cassidy 50.43 percent of the vote after six rounds of tabulation in the new ranked-choice voting system. Santos garnered 49.57 percent, but in a surprise, received the most first-place votes. Late Wednesday, Santos said he pleased to be the top preference of most voters, but plans to explore a possible recount or legal action before the registrar certifies the election Nov. 30.

"Tell him, I'm not conceding anything," Santos said of Cassidy's declaration of victory via Twitter shortly after the 6 p.m. announcement.

The debut of ranked-choice voting in Alameda County has not run as smoothly as advocates would like. Oakland's equally dramatic mayor's race was also called for the candidate who did not receive the most first-place votes. Oakland Councilwoman Jean Quan, with the help of fellow Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan, posted a stunning comeback. Don Perata, the former state senator and odds-on favorite, did not make comment Wednesday. Instead, his campaign scheduled a 10 a.m. press conference in Oakland. In many ways, the path Perata takes in challenging the election results may be followed by Santos.

Despite losing in the first round, Cassidy whittled away at Santos' small lead by winning four of the next five rounds. Councilwoman Joyce Starosciak's support, or lack thereof, provided the margin of victory for Cassidy. Starosciak supporters broke towards Cassidy by 53-47 percent over Santos, while 1,733 ballots were exhausted before the final round. The registrar also reported 941 undervotes and 78 overvotes that may become the target of any recount by the Santos campaign. By contrast, voters in Oakland casted nearly six times as many ballots as San Leandro residents but amassed 2,798 under and over votes.

San Leandro Mayor: Round-By-Round Results

Round 1                 Votes   Pct%
Santos...................7908 35.46%
Cassidy..................7779 35.05%
Starosciak...............5146 23.19%
Mestas....................909  4.10%
Palau.....................385  1.73%
Write-In...................64  0.29%


Round 2       Transfer  Votes   Pct%
Santos..............+5...7913 35.74%
Cassidy.............+3...7782 35.15%
Starosciak..........+2...5148 23.25%
Mestas..............+1....910  4.11%
Palau...............+2....387  1.75%
Write-In...........-64..............
EXHAUSTED BALLOTS...51..............


Round 3       Transfer  Votes   Pct%
Santos.............+61...7974 36.16%
Cassidy............+81...7863 35.66%
Starosciak.........+50...5198 23.57%
Mestas............+108...1018  4.62%
Palau.............-387..............
EXHAUSTED...........87..............


Round 4       Transfer  Votes   Pct%
Santos............+236...8210 37.62%
Cassidy...........+296...8159 37.39%
Starosciak........+255...5453 24.99%
Mestas...........-1018..............
EXHAUSTED..........231..............


Round 5       Transfer  Votes   Pct%
Cassidy..........+1960..10119 50.43%
Santos...........+1737...9947 49.57%
Starosciak.......-5453..............
EXHAUSTED.........1756..............


Round 6                 Votes   Pct%
Cassidy.................10119 50.43%
Santos...................9947 49.57%

Will Cassidy Play Nice? 'It's Up To Him' Says Starosciak

COUNCIL OPPOSITION TO CASSIDY MAY ALREADY BE FORMING
By Steven Tavares

With Stephen Cassidy likely to assume the mayor's post, many in San Leandro city government are preparing for a drastic change in tenor at City Hall.

The expectation of Cassidy's upset victory, though, has many curious whether his repellent reputation will gum the gears of government, especially the delicate harmony of the city council. "Whether Pauline [Cutter] or Corina [Lopez] joined us, I think all of us on the council work well with each other, so I'm not worried about that," said Councilwoman Joyce Starosciak. San Leandro School Trustee Pauline Cutter defeated Corina Lopez to replace Councilman Bill Stephens.

Starosciak, who will likely finish a distant third in the mayor's race said she was disappointed by the result and looks forward to serving the remaining two years of her term. When asked whether the council can get along with the sometimes uncompromising Cassidy she answered, "It's up to him."

Cassidy leads Mayor Tony Santos by a slim margin more than a week after the introduction of ranked-choice voting in the East Bay. The Alameda County Registrar of Voters has yet to post official results, but is expected to do so within days.

She denies the burgeoning analysis put forth by many supporters of Santos who claim Starosciak handed the election to Cassidy. "I don't know, that wasn't my intent. I was trying to win. Give me a few weeks to let it set in," Starosciak said as she exited the City Hall chambers.

Councilman Michael Gregory, who easily won re-election last week, said it takes time for a new council to mesh. He said he still remembers advice given to him by former mayor Shelia Young. "The rule of four," Gregory knowingly said while holding up four fingers. "You can't get anything done without three others."

Monday's work session featuring medical marijuana and including riveting testimony on the prevalence of illegal growers in the city may give a hint to the forces up against Cassidy. During the meeting, the possibility of a majority of the council in favor of, at least, looking into allowing dispensaries and growing facilities in San Leandro started to coalesce. Councilman Jim Prola spoke openly in favor while Stephens, Gregory and Santos hinted at support. The council will vote next Monday on placing a moratorium on medical marijuana-related commerce in the city.

The subtext to the council's support may lie within allies for Santos aiming to saddle Cassidy with the politically explosion issue next year. The current council's lame-duck status might manifest itself in favoring the shorter 10-month moratorium rather than the recommended length of 22 months. During the campaign, Cassidy said he would vote for Proposition 19, but opposed dispensaries and grow facilities in San Leandro fearing they would increase crime.

Curiously, there was no public acknowledgement of the past election Monday night, nor was the possible mayor-elect in attendance.

When asked whether this was the politics at play Monday night. One councilmember coyly said, "Sometimes that's how it works."

As Dems Lose Congress, Stark Takes Last Shot at Health Insurers

STARK TO INSURERS: SHARE YOUR PROFITS WITH CUSTOMERS
By Steven Tavares

Rep. Pete Stark won re-election to the House last week, but control of Congress and its powerful committee chairs were wrested away by Republicans. The 19-term lawmaker, whose health subcommittee was instrumental in passing health care reform last March is using the few months in his chairmanship to get under the skin of health care insurers.

Stark says 10 leading health insurance companies reaped profits totalling $9.3 billion through the third quarter of this year; over $2 billion more than the same time last year, he says. (Click here for a chart detailing the profits)

"Health insurance premiums are eating up more and more of the budgets of working families," said Stark. "Over the past decade, premiums for workers and employers have more than doubled, while family incomes have remained stagnant."

In a letter sent today to the leaders of the 10 corporations, Stark asks them to lower rising premiums in light of the record profits. "I call upon your companies to share the billions you are reaping in higher profits with your policyholders by lowering premiums," he said.

The correspondence was sent to the CEOs of UnitedHealthcare, WellPoint, Aetna, Humana, Coventry, Amerigroup, Healthspring, Health Net, Centene and Molina. According to Stark, the group averaged a 41 percent increase in profits over 2009. Many of the same insurers have been hounded throughout the past few months by Stark over exorbitant profit-taking. Many Democrats believe insurers are ramping up profits in advance of restrictions and uncertainty over the industry's economic landscape as more elements of the health care reform bill come online.

Stark's influence on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee and its health subcommittee will wane once the new Congress is installed in January. The direction of the health chairmanship could radically change. Stark's California counterpart Republican Wally Herger (CA-2) would be in line to take over for Stark. Herger, who represents the rural Northern California surrounding Chico and Eureka, last year co-sponsored legislation to repeal the landmark Health Care Reform Act.

Control of the influential tax-writing ways and means committee will also fall into the hands of conservative heavyweights. Rep. Dave Camp (R-GA) is the ranking member of the Republican caucus, but up-and-coming legislators Reps. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Eric Cantor (R-VA) also sit on the committee. Earlier this year, Stark held the chair for a single day after Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) stepped down for ethics charges. Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI) currently heads the group.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Potential Pot Moratorium May Achieve Few Results

NARCOTICS DETECTIVE TELLS COUNCIL ILLEGAL POT GROWERS IN SAN LEANDRO ARE EVERYWHERE
By Steven Tavares

The number of San Leandro residents illegally growing marijuana is so high placing a citywide land-use moratorium on dispensaries and large-scale growing facilities may accomplished little to stem the tide of cannibis production in the city.

"There is hundreds of homes growing [marijuana] in San Leandro," Det. Dan Fernandez of the San Leandro Police Department Narcotics Division said Monday. "It could be our only job."

Councilwoman Joyce Starosciak asked Fernandez, during Monday's city council work session, how many residents are growing illegally. "It's irrelevant," he said. "There are so many. Sometimes we act too quickly to the detriment of the case. It's our philosophy to hit them quick and get them out."

Not included is an unspecified number of residents who under Proposition 215 can legally possess, with a physician-approved card, a small number of plants for personal use of medical marijuana. Many growers, according to Fernandez, use the medical marijuana card as cover for illegal activity. "The card is not the biggest issue," he said. "Possession is not the problem. Large-scale distribution is the problem." Fernandez was adamant in saying "nobody is enforcing possession."

At issue is the city attorney office and staff who believe San Leandro is in legal "limbo" regarding land-use and possible building permits. Businesses interested in opening dispensary and large-scale grow centers in the city may put it in a legal quandry and expose it to litigation, said City Manager Stephen Hollister. The Council will vote on placing a moratorium on medical marijuana business Nov. 15. Staff has recommended the longest possibly moratorium of 22 months and 15 days, although there appears to be support for a shorter 10 month, 15 day moratorium with an option of extending it for another year. Both Starosicak and Councilwoman Diana Souza expressed support for the longer moratorium.

Fernandez said a crazy-quilt of laws and regulations make enforcement difficult. "We should legalize it or not and takeaway the gray area," he said. "It's not my fight." Often the liability risks involved in destroying pot plants outweighs pursuing potential illegal activity. "If it smells like sales and distribution and you can't prove it, you walk away," said Fernandez, who noted cutting down plants might cost the department upwards of $100,000 in damages.

While Fernandez's testimony was both illuminating and shocking, several councilmembers may have responded to it differently. Many councilmembers were visibly shocked by the news of wide-spread illegal cultivation in San Leandro. "If it's so prevalent, it seems this moratorium is irrelevant and almost delaying the inevitable," said Mayor Tony Santos.

Councilman Bill Stephens called the issue the "most perplexing" issue he has faced in a long time. "We're telling quasi-legitimate businesses you can't do business here," said Stephens, "and, instead, we're helping people to continue doing it illegally."
The specter of increased crime from small-scale illegal is what prompted Oakland to recently permit the four large-scale warehouse for medical marijuana production, noted Councilman Jim Prola. "It's safer to have larger grow facilities than these small growers," said Prola since regulated businesses tend to employ their private security to protect their property. Prola also equated the current social atmosphere regarding marijuana to the prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s.

San Leandro Police Chief Ian Willis said expansion of land-use would "make the problem bigger." Because of continuing budget cuts to the city's police department Willis said public safety would be compromised by allowing medical marijuana to thrive. "I would expect an increase in crime and the flow of narcotics through the city," he said.

There is currently a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries in San Leandro. But, a spate of recently legislation and related pending litigation in state court has put many municipalities on the alert to tie up any possibility loopholes in their government regulations. Earlier this year, a handful of medical marijuana large-scale growers approached the city with interest in expanding their operations in San Leandro. Some reports claimed growing facilities could fetch the city $5 million in much-needed tax revenue.

Monday, November 8, 2010

No Change in San Leandro Mayor's Race

TIGHT RACE IN OAKLAND POSTPONES RESULTS TO TUESDAY
A week ago, the Alameda County Registrar told voters the results of the first-ever Ranked Choice election would come by the end of the week. Then, it was next Tuesday, then Monday. The electoral roller-coaster in Oakland, Berkeley and San Leandro is now slated to disembark Tuesday sometime this week.

A statement released this afternoon says the registrar's office had come to an agreement with the City of Oakland to postpone another running of the ranked choice voting algorithm accounting for additional provisional and vote-by-mail ballots counted this weekend. "We still have a relatively small number of provisional ballots that are taking a little long to process than expected," said Macdonald.

An update of first-place votes, at the very least, was expected late Monday, but release of those numbers were also postponed. The delay is most likely stemming from Friday's stunning turn of events in the Oakland mayor's race where Councilwoman Jean Quan leaped from a distant runner-up to first-place over Don Perata. In addition, voters in San Leandro are awaiting the victor of their own tough-fought mayoral race. Stephen Cassidy leads through Friday's unofficial running of ranked choice voting by a slim margin. A source told The Citizen this weekend, the registrar has said roughly 1,500 of the uncounted ballots come from San Leandro. The preliminary RCV results show Cassidy leading by a cumulative 281 votes over incumbent Tony Santos.
-STEVEN TAVARES
UPDATE: There is no timetable from the Alameda County Registrar of Voters for results in Oakland, Berkeley and San Leandro.

Supervisor Denounces Mehserle Sentencing

CARSON SAYS SENTENCE IS 'EVERYTHING WRONG WITH THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM'
By Steven Tavares

Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson along with other local groups denounced late Friday the sentencing of Johannes Mehserle, the former BART cop convicted of killing Oscar Grant two years ago.

Alameda County Supervisor
Keith Carson
"The sentence of two years minus time served is far more lenient than would normally be handed down in similar cases not involving law enforcement defendants," said Carson, who also chairs the organization of Black Elected Officials and Faith Based Leaders. "Combined with an already lenient conviction for involuntary manslaughter, the slap on the wrist for the murder of Oscar Grant is a snapshot of everything wrong with the criminal justice system."

Carson, also writing on behalf of other groups said the defendant would likely have faced life in prison if the race of the two were reversed. Other signatures of the letter include: the Oakland and California branches of the NAACP, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, Black Women Organized for Political Action, Minister Keith Muhammad of the Nation of Islam and Rabbi David Copper of the Kehilla Community Synagogue.

The statement is highly critical of law enforcement and an extraordinary social indictment normally not made by a local leaders of Carson's stature. He notes a person is killed by police everyday across the country and victims are disproportionately persons of color. "These victims are often unarmed, yet the perpetrators are rarely prosecuted much less disciplined," said Carson. "Civil lawsuits brought by family members are occasionally successful, but because of the nature of law enforcement shootings, much of the evidence in such cases is collected by law enforcement and therefore suspect."

Carson and the groups also called for the Department of Justice to further investigate the Grant case. In a statement Friday, the DOJ appears inclined to do so. “Now that the state prosecution has concluded and consistent with Department policy, we will thoroughly review the prosecution and its underlying investigation to determine whether further action is appropriate.”

The scene last Friday was eerily similar to the July 8 roundup of protesters in Oakland after the Mehserle verdict was revealed in Los Angeles County. Police arrested 152 proterster Friday night acting in concert with departments as far away as Monterey. Like the 78 arrests in downtown Oakalnd this summer, the protest which veered towards the Fruitvale BART station--the site of Grant's slaying--was described as peaceful. Similarly police stood watch in the periphery until nightfall, when remaining activists were summarily hemmed in one location. According to the apparent playbook laid out by Oakland Police, unlawful assembly was declared and a round-up of those remaining were shortly detained. Of the 78 arrested in July (yours truly, included), just four have been charged for acts including the the looting and destruction of private property.

Love's Got Everything To Do With It

LOCKYER MAY HELP FUND RECOUNT FOR WILLIE BROWN'S FORMER GIRLFRIEND AG CANDIDATE HARRIS 
DON'T PLAYAH HATE: Willie Brown (second from left) with Bill Lockyer next him and fmr. gov. Pete Wilson.
Youth is an irresistible aphrodisiac for two local liberal giants who fear no amount of criticism for pulling the levers of power when it comes to helping women from their past and present.

State Treasurer Bill Lockyer was once (still is?) a noted Lothario in his day and former San Francisco mayor and lion of the Legislature Willie Brown maintains his stable of lovelies. Hooked by the seductive memory of a woman's scent serendipitously wafting in the breeze, both Lockyer and Brown could be teaming up financially to help Willie's one-time flame, San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, Both, according to the Chronicle, may fund a recount challenge in Harris' close-fought attorney general race against Republican Steve Cooley.

Matier & Ross referred to Brown's amorous history with Harris by describing them as "once an item," but no longer attached. Brown is nearly 32 years older than Harris. Cooley's electoral lead over Harris increased this weekend to over 22,000 votes. It's a quick reversal from days after last Tuesday's election when Harris led by 15,000 votes. Nevertheless, the spread is still too close to call and has the Harris campaign today giving the impression they would proceed with a legal argument questioning the security of remaining ballots. The meme, of course, laced within in the announcement Harris is sending staff to observe the last votes yet to be counted.

This all comes back to two heavyweight Bay Area politicos putting their private life ahead of the electorate's best interests. Lockyer, 69, somewhat bruised his reputation in the East Bay by effectively buying his wife, Nadia Lockyer, a seat on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors for $2 million.  Nadia Lockyer is nearly 30 years Bill's junior. Brown, who, a few months ago, mocked the nightlife and safety of Oakland's burgeoning downtown fine-dining district, endorsed the future East Bay supervisor-elect Nadia Lockyer and Bill appears to be returning the favor by pledging campaign dollars not used to fund his wife's run to help Harris' recount expenses.

In the end, it is no different than two guy armed with a boat-load of money and connection sharing a bachelor pad with the understanding that if the porch light is on, then find somewhere else to go. With this news, it seems like it's Willie's night for romance. We all, it seems, are merely here for the ride.
-STEVEN TAVARES

Friday, November 5, 2010

CASSIDY ON THE VERGE

RCV RESULTS GIVE CASSIDY A SLIGHT MAJORITY OVER SANTOS FOR SAN LEANDRO MAYOR
By Steven Tavares

Preliminary Ranked Choice Voting results released Friday afternoon give Stephen Cassidy the lead over San Leandro Mayor Tony Santos. The Alameda County Registrar of Voters' tabulations give Cassidy a majority after an initial running its computer algorithm used for the first time in Alameda County. Cassidy leads with 50.96 percent of the vote versus 49.04 for Santos. The results are not official until all voter-by-mail ballot are counted.

The breakdown of second-place votes of each candidates show an sizable tilt towards Cassidy. The direction of the election after Tuesday night hinged squarely on how supporters of Councilwoman Joyce Starosciak broke with their rankings. Not only did they clearly back Cassidy, but supporters of Sara Mestas and John Palau also gave strong support.

Santos' campaign had expected to make up their 27 vote difference coming into today by sweeping the second choice votes of Mestas and Palau. Instead, Mestas received the highest number of votes in the second round from Palau, which suggest most of the support for both candidates, who finished a distant fourth and fifth, encompassed a unwavering protest vote.

If it stands, Cassidy would be the first candidate to upend an incumbent mayor from office in the city's history. San Leandro residents began directly electing their mayor in 1962.

In Oakland, RCV has also provided a shocker showing Councilwoman Jean Quan overtaking favorite and first-place vote-getter Don Perata.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Update: Cassidy's Lead Shrinks To 27 Votes

COUNTING OF VOTE-BY-MAIL BALLOTS CONTINUE
The Alameda County Registrar of Voters late Thursday afternoon posted updated election results. Stephen Cassidy's lead has dropped to just 27 votes over San Leandro Mayor Tony Santos. At the closing of precincts early Wednesday morning. Cassidy had led by 66 votes over the incumbent. Because of the first-time use of Ranked Choice Voting in the city, the crucial second-place votes from the three also-rans will likely determine the winner as early as tomorrow. Here are the updated results:

RCV-1st Round Results......Votes   Pct%
Stephen Cassidy.............5322 35.46%
Tony Santos.................5295 35.28%
Joyce Starosciak............3576 23.82%
Sara Mestas..................572  3.81% 
John Palau...................244  1.63%

UPDATE - Nov. 4, 8:00 p.m.: Registrar says final results could be released next Tuesday.

Updated Election Results


**Updated Thursday, 4:30 p.m**


U.S. REPRESENTATIVE (precincts reported 100%)
California, District 13......................................#votes..........pct
Fortney Pete Stark.............89246 70.99%
Forest Baker...................35354 28.12%
Write-in........................1122  0.89%

CALIFORNIA STATE SENATE
District 10 (100% reporting)
Ellen Corbett (I) .............90887 67.20%
Rob Maffit.....................37035 27.38%
Ivan Chou...................... 6989  5.17%

CALIFORNIA ASSEMBLY
Distict 18 (100% reporting)
Mary Hayashi (I)...............64437 74.29%
Michael Havig..................22037 25.41%

COUNTY SUPERVISOR, ALAMEDA
District 2 (100% reporting)
Nadia Lockyer................. 28450 63.82%
Liz Figueroa...................15850 35.56%

MAYOR, SAN LEANDRO
RCV-1st Round (100% reporting)
Stephen H. Cassidy............. 5322 35.46%
Tony Santos.................... 5295 35.28%
Joyce Rutledge Starosciak...... 3576 23.82%
Sara M. Mestas...................572  3.81%
John R. Palau....................244  1.63%

CITY COUNCIL, SAN LEANDRO
District 1 (100% reporting)
Michael J. Gregory............. 8797 66.53%
David L. Anderson, Sr.......... 4420 33.43% 

District 5 (100% reporting)
Pauline Russo Cutter........... 7236 54.30%
Corina N. Lopez................ 6085 45.66%


SCHOOL TRUSTEE, SAN LEANDRO
Area 2 (100% reporting)
Lance James.....................6227 56.79%
Victoria Wong...................4652 42.43%

Area 4 (100% reporting)
Mike Katz   ....................6351 57.51%
Latrina Dumas...................4597 41.62%

SCHOOL TRUSTEE, SAN LORENZO
Vote 2 (100% reporting)
Isabel Polvorosa................4367 23.87%
Helen T. Randall................3433 18.76%
Rebecca Olivera................ 3026 16.54%
Elliott Schneider.............. 2894 15.82%
Stacy Santos Blum.............. 2842 15.53%
Gene W. Judson..................1645  8.99%

SCHOOL TRUSTEE, HAYWARD
Vote 2 (100% reporting)
Lisa Brunner....................8610 26.16%
William McGee...................8219 24.97%
Audie Bock......................6308 19.17%
Sheila Sims (I).................5657 17.19%
Sue Lafferty....................3953 12.01%

Short term, Vote 1 (100% reporting)
Jesus Armas (I).................9304 43.79%
Annette Walker..................8850 41.65%
Lawrence Fitzpatrick............2961 13.94%

EDEN TOWNSHIP HEALTHCARE DISTRICT
Board of Directors (Vote 3) (100% reporting)
Carole S. Rogers.............. 29403 30.60%
Les Friedman.................. 23100 24.04%
William F. West............... 21885 22.77%
Susan H. Reisz................ 20954 21.81%

ORO LOMA SANITARY DISTRICT
Board of Directors (Vote 3) 100% reporting
Howard W. Kerr................. 8963 23.66%
Timothy P. Becker.............. 8663 22.86%
Frank V. Sidari................ 7867 20.76%
Shelia Young................... 7280 19.21%
Larry Johnson.................. 4919 12.98%

MEASURE M (San Leandro) 55% to pass
(100% reporting)
Yes.............................8062 62.71%
No..............................4794 37.29%


MEASURE Z (San Leandro) 50% to pass
(100% reporting)
Yes.............................9714 61.35%
No..............................6119 38.65%

Fighting For Your Right To Election Party

BEV JOHNSON BACK FROM THE BRINK; STARK'S HEALTH; GILCREST DRINKS FREE SODAS.
By Steven Tavares

Mayoral candidate Sara Mestas and likely councilwoman-elect Pauline Cutter both held election night parties at the San Leandro watering hole, The Englander, but things got testy between the the rapper-turn-community activist and one of Cutter's top supporters.

When Mestas reacted positively to late-night returns showing San Leandro Mayor Tony Santos closing the gap on their opponent, Stephen Cassidy, Park and Recreation commissioner Peggy Hynd-Combs turned her perma-scowl towards the candidate and berated her.

Combs, a Cassidy supporter who was briefly a candidate for the District 5 seat along with Cornia Lopez and Cutter, told Mestas she had no right running for mayor so soon. The back-and-forth between the two got so heated that state Sen. Ellen Corbett entered the conversation in support of Mestas' right to run for office.

The exchange is yet another instance of the fiery disenchantment among a few city leaders and residents against Santos which has manifest itself in Cassidy's rise. Combs, it should be noted, is one of few people who openly admits paying a subscription to the Daily Review. She disclosed this tidbit on The Citizen last year.
*******
One of the most overlooked political stories in the East Bay is how termed-out Alameda Mayor Bev Johnson staved off political extinction by winning a seat on the city's city council. Rewind to the earlier this year and Johnson appeared on the fast track to the state Legislature in a few years. County insiders say Johnson was offered a deal by Don Perata, one of her top supporters, to be patient in hopes of taking over Assemblyman Sandre Swanson's seat. Johnson spurned The Don's offer and, instead, launched a sloppy and ill-advised run for Alameda County supervisor last spring. She won barely 30 percent of the vote in losing to Wilma Chan and then switched gears again by running for council. Johnson's slim victory Tuesday night followed a campaign season in Alameda cloaked in dirty politics, shady characters, greedy developers and a fire chief hilariously caught filling up his BMW roadster with city gasoline. Some county sources tell The Citizen, Johnson should have played this brand of campaign hardball during her run for supervisor, but she didn't. The controversy with SunCal over development of the former Naval Air Station nearly swallowed Lena Tam's seat on the council. Ironically, Tam also made a brief run for the same supervisor seat as Johnson, but pulled out early in favor of Chan. In the end, it's Johnson who may have saved her career in politics by pushing Tam to the sidelines.
*******
San Leandro School Board President Mike Katz won re-election this week and upended the world of journalism when he reported his own victory on his web site. The Grimace-shaped spoke in third-person when he wrote, "Katz was elected to the School Board in 2006 when he defeated Pete Lismer." School teacher Lance James also won a seat on the board. James and recently appointed trustee Ron Carey will be sworn-in early next year.
*******
At Democratic headquarter Tuesday night in San Leandro, a few attendees of its election night viewing party were openly shocked by the deteriorating health of Rep. Pete Stark. As the now 19-term congressman ambled out of the office, one gentlemen commented, wide-eyed, how he didn't even recognize Stark. Despite pulling in his typical 70 percent of the vote, it was a rough night for Stark with several of his long-time colleagues in the House being swept out of office by the conservative red tide which significantly calmed once it hit the Sierra Nevadas.
*******
While Stark propped himself on a chair, his three young children mingled among the crowd. His young twins spotted San Leandro political maven Charlie Gilcrest, who is working for Santos' re-election, sipping on free sodas. Stark's son complimented Gilcrest on his American flag-themed necktie. Incidentally, San Leandro Councilman Michael Gregory was at Democratic headquarters earlier in the evening and appeared to have the same tie (twofer?). Gilcrest said "thank you" and the boy pointed to a gold clip on his tie inscribed with Chinese characters. "What does that say?" the boy asked. Gilcrest didn't know. I said, "It says Charlie is in big trouble if Tony Santos loses tonight."

What If Neither Candidate Gets 50 Percent?

SAN LEANDRO CITY CHARTER CALLS FOR A WINNER WITH SIMPLE MAJORITY; RUNOFF COULD BE POSSIBLE
By Steven Tavares

So many variables still exist in deciding whether San Leandro Mayor Tony Santos wins re-election or Stephen Cassidy pulls off the big upset. The registrar says 121,000 voter-by-mail ballots still need to be counted, primarily from voters who delivered their envelopes to the polls Tuesday instead of sending them through the mail. Nobody seems to have a handle on which candidates Councilwoman Joyce Starosciak's 23 percent votes may leaned towards as their second choice, but here's an electoral possibility sure to rankle residents.

With Santos and Cassidy nearly deadlocked with 35 percent of the vote, there is a remote chance neither could break the 50 percent threshold. If this occurs, San Leandro could be in uncharted territory and risk having the experiment of Ranked Choice Voting blow up in its collective face.

The problem is the City Charter calls for a winner with a simple majority of the vote. RCV is suppose to deliver this result in a single election, instead of a costly primary and general election race. The mayor and city council were sold on the idea of fiscal responsibility in regard to election costs. Santos said Wednesday he would call for an special runoff election early next year if no candidate receives a simple majority.

Proponents of RCV never said the voting system was perfect, but two peculiarities they said rarely occur may decide this race for mayor. In San Francisco's seven years using RCV the candidate who won the most first-place votes went on to victory in every single race. Don Perata's campaign for mayor in Oakland touted this statistic yesterday, but the difference between that race and San Leandro's is the former State Senate Pro-Tem holds a double-digit lead in the first round over Oakland Councilwoman Jean Quan and Rebecca Kaplan. Conversely, through Thursday afternoon, Cassidy holds only a slim 66-vote advantage over Santos.

In the meantime, the city waits, but its notoriously fickle residents, may chose to reconsider RCV if this race veers into additional cost and controversy.