Friday, May 13, 2011

Corbett May Have Averted Potential Land Mine Set By Team Hayashi

By Steven Tavares
@eastbaycitizen on twitter

Within most every controversy lies a common thread sometimes lead to wholly unexpected views of the same issue. The East Bay is steeped in layers and a slight provocation last week by Chabot College toward the proposed Russell City power plant brought a new angle to long-running feuds between Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi and Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett.

May 5 was a busy day at Chabot College. Not only was the community college celebrating Cinco de Mayo, but a noon rally and walking demonstration was planned from the campus to the site of the nearby natural gas-fired power plant proposed by Calpine. Later that afternoon, Corbett was scheduled to discuss local and state issues at the college by invitation of the political science department. Corbett is a former Chabot College professor.

The San Leandro state senator, though, cancelled the engagement at the last minute because of a conflicting state budget hearing, but some believe Corbett was reticent over flyers promoting the Calpine demonstration along with a belief the speaking engagement would become a discussion on the power plant over other matters. The event was described beforehand as a two-hour event beginning with roughly 20 minutes of remarks by Corbett.

Corbett said Friday she called to confirm the speaking engagement one day before, but was later advised by a Chabot professor to reconsider because of a belief the appearance would veer into unrelated subjects other than the state budget and higher education. The senator did not disclose any specifics of the possible disruption, but said she nonetheless intended to keep the appointment before the professor pushed further to cancel. Corbett said she instead stayed in Sacramento until the evening to work on the forthcoming May revise of the state budget.

The nearly decade-long issue of placing the Russell Center Energy Center on the Hayward shoreline just over a mile away from the large community college has recently raised in profile since the chancellor of the college openly defied the city and county in standing firm against the power plant on the grounds it put the health of the campus’ 20,000 student at risk. The city and Calpine say the potential pollution emitted from the plant will be negligible.

For her part, Corbett’s involvement in the power plant issue has been on the periphery. Observers say her participation no greater or less than any other local politician, but they also see the silent hand of Hayashi in the current dust-up. Interestingly enough there are some important connections between the leadership of Chabot College, Hayashi and the Calpine controversy.

Chabot College Chancellor Joel Kinnamon is the partner of Hayashi’s well-tailored district director Chris Parman. A few years ago, after taking their vows before then-San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom, the nuptials were infamously trumpeted by Hayashi’s office by press release, while some claim Kinnamon often introduced Parman as his nephew.

While Hayashi has gone out of her way to stay neutral on the power plant issue, her aide recently said she has taken no stance either way, sources say she is supportive of Kinnamon and the college and may be looking at the big picture in terms of her political future.

It is quite typical of the assemblywoman, who is known to have a highly vindictive streak, to deploy lieutenants against her political enemies, many say. Often times she appears to be a lonely island among local leaders with the amount private vitriol against her ranging from some of the most salacious comments around town to questions of her mental health. While Corbett and her office notoriously clam up in response to Hayashi’s actions, the two Sacramento lawmakers are nowhere close to a unified team when district concerns travel north up the interstate.

Last year, the a bill regarding the Eden Township Healthcare District and San Leandro Hospital failed to pass in committee when Hayashi, one of its co-sponsored, failed to vote. Hayashi claimed her competing bill was better, but it too languished. In addition, rumors of Hayashi coveting Corbett’s senate seat heated up before last June’s primary and there are invariably questions of whether both would ever jump into the long-awaited free-for-all known as the aftermath of Rep. Pete Stark congressional seat. In that case, Corbett’s cancellation last week may have been no more than the state senator averting a potential land mine for use by Hayashi at some later date.


I'm confused by the story. Why wouldn't Senator Corbett want to meet with us at Chabot unless she is for the power plant? I don't understand the "land mine" comment in the headline - does this mean she wants the power plant? According to the fliers distributed at Chabot - why has she accepted $26K in gifts and travel associated with Calpine including two all expenses paid trips to Spain and Canada and a $500 check from Calpine on her birthday?

We students at Chabot want to understand her position and she would take the gifts while we are trying to protect ourselves. Thank you Steve for the article. Si se puede!

Yolanda Hernandez - Hayward

What is this "many say" baloney? Would any of these "many" care to go on the record, and provide some evidence of the claim that the Assemblymember was involved in anything at all here? No.

God knows Assemblymember Hayashi isn't perfect. That said, the reporter discredits his worthwhile blog by enabling malicious gossip by people who remain anonymous. There are valid reasons for sources to ask for anonymity. None of those reasons exist here.

For example, a reporter would normally check into a claim and see if there were any hard evidence that the claim is true before going to press with it. That seems particularly true of this story, since the claim is not verified by any reported facts, and instead relies on pure gossip.

Did the reporter speak to a Chabot professor which the story mentions? If a professor was involved in this way (a big "if", since the reporter presents no source for that claim), could the professor have clarified how potential questioners of the Senator's position re. the Calpine Hayward project were organized? If the reporter claims that the Senator's office "notoriously clam(s) up" in response to gossip of this sort, how did the reporter gain access to this gossip? We have no answers to these questions.

Did the reporter call the Assemblymember to ask her or her office about the issue? Don't know. Then again, based on the catty talk which passes for research here, he wouldn't have had any journalistic information with which to question her.

Enough of this nonsense. Build the power plant. We need it.

John Evans, you can question my methods all you want, but the story is true and accurate

How do you know the reasoning behind granting anonymity? There could be hundreds of reasons. How do you know me granting it in this case isn't setting up something for later? Something more important?

You should also know that the Hayashi office does not return calls and rarely answers them.

Team Hayashi is too busy getting it on behind her husbands back in Sac with one of her Chief Consultants....Sad times for the Judge. Hope he knows how to rule on his own divorce proceedings. Then again, maybe he does not care. They do not have kids. Perhaps he his spending his free time with the nicely tailored District Director and his Uncle....YIKES. Someone give me some hand sanitizer before I go lobby the State Adulterer

Steve, the problem is that there is no real substantiation of the Hayashi angle in your reporting of this story.

In fact, your reporting points out something which Yolanda Hernandez verifies: there is interest on the Chabot campus regarding the Calpine project. If citizens were ready to ask State Senator Corbett questions about Calpine, Chabot students' organic interest in the issue is the explanation your reporting actually supports. Your speculation that a romantic relationship between staff for Chabot and Hayashi was the hidden cause is far less supported by what you actually write here.

If you are maintaining your source for something more important, perhaps you should have spared us this relatively unimportant story.

By the way, there shouldn't be "hundreds of reasons" for a journalist to grant anonymity. It should be given out quite grudgingly because of the moral hazard involved, as well as the mistrust it brings to the reader.

We don't know your source. Why would we trust them in their anonymity when you have no one who goes on the record to back up the source's anonymous claim?

I usually prefer your reporting to that in our local newspapers, but a news editor worth anything at all would tell you this story can't run until you get at least one person on the record to substantuate your reporting.

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