IS SAN LEANDRO'S MAYOR TRYING TO SILENCE CRITICS; POTENTIAL WHISTLE-BLOWERS?
By Steven Tavares
A member of the San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy’s inner circle has made two requests in the past three weeks to retrieve emails sent by city employees to and from the East Bay Citizen, according to numerous sources at City Hall.
Magarita Lacabe, the wife of San Leandro School Trustee Mike Katz-Lacabe and member of the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee, made Freedom of Information Act requests to the city on March 28 and again April 15 asking for electronic correspondence made by the city council and city employees to this reporter between September 2009 and Dec. 31, 2010.
Lacabe and her husband have long been vocal critics on a range of city issues and have published their opinions in the blogosphere and local newspapers. Both currently maintain blogs pertaining to San Leandro. The couple also have a tight relationship with Cassidy. Katz-Lacabe sat on Cassidy’s campaign committee along with having a voice on the mayor’s transition team. Lacabe is also known to have frequent access to the mayor’s audience.
Through the emails request, it is believed Lacabe is attempting to locate information on discussions this reporter and former San Leandro Mayor Tony Santos may have had during the last mayoral election. The East Bay Citizen published numerous article detailing Cassidy in a negative light leading up to the election and since he become mayor earlier this year. Just last month, it was reported Katz also requested information through the same public information act on the San Leandro Police Department’s SWAT unit.
It is well-known Cassidy and his close supporters have exhibited frequent hostility towards city employees going back to his mayoral campaign. This knowledge has also fostered an atmosphere of intimidation city employees at City Hall towards speaking to the East Bay Citizen and leading up to Lacabe’s request this month.
Numerous city employees expressed animosity towards Cassidy and his tight group of supporters and expressed fear of reprisals if they speak to the East Bay Citizen. One long-time city employee, who asked not to be identified, told The Citizen they felt they would be “put through the ringer” if they forwarded any messages to the city’s IT department and conversely, subject to sanctions if they did not comply with the request.
An email was sent to employees on two occasions by the IT department asking them to forwards any emails from “Steven Tavares” from two separate email addresses.
Lacabe has railed recently against a city proposal to delete non-essential city emails after 120 days and possibly leading her to expedite her search before the new rules are put in place. The City Council has not yet deliberated on the proposal.
A concerted effort by the Cassidy and his fervent supporters to minimized the voice of the East Bay Citizen has been rumored for months against its articles detailing the mayor’s rising unpopularity at City Hall stemming primarily from his positions on employee pension reform and questions of whether his pleas for transparency are merely ruses to further his platform.
Cassidy supporters have used social media in the past to call out critics. A notoriously derogatory “anonymous” Facebook and Twitter page has been used to propagate to falsehoods ultimately in favor of Cassidy along with postings from the blog of both Katz-Lacabe and Lacabe regarding the police department that mirror the objectives of Cassidy.
Some has also expressed doubt Katz-Lacabe’s frequent use videotaping of government meetings and local appearances by the police department is only for informational purposes but also to intimidate city officials and police officers.