Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Assembly Candidate Accused of Domestic Violence

An assembly candidate with hopes of representing the redrawn 18th district next year covering Alameda, San Leandro and a section of Oakland is accused of hitting a former girlfriend during a pre-dawn confrontation after the woman was shocked to find him sleeping with another woman, according to court documents filed in Alameda County Superior Court.
AC Transit Director Joel Young, 34, announced the formation earlier this year of an exploratory committee for a run at replacing termed-out Assemblyman Sandre Swanson. But, despite robust support in the form of campaign financing his candidacy could be dead in the water after twin accusations of domestic violence and infidelity by a woman who he began dating, according to court filings, late last year.

The March 7 incident at Young's Oakland apartment began, according to filings, when his girlfriend (Young says they no longer dated at the time), who is a San Francisco lawyer, entered the dwelling at approximately 5:30 a.m. using a key he says the alleged victim stole the night before. Lawyers for the woman maintain she did not steal the key, but, in fact, was given to her as early as January, according to filings.

Upon seeing Young and another woman lying together in bed, the former girlfriend hurled a few of Young's belongings before attacking him for his alleged infidelity. Both sides attest to the woman striking Young in the face and torso, but declarations by either side dispute what happens next.

The woman contends Young struck her in right eye and temple and continually slammed her head against he bed in a "cranking" motion. Lawyers for Young have gone to lengths to point the alleged victim's testimony regarding the specifics of the assault and the order of events have not been consistent.

A medical report from the emergency room at UCSF two days later describes non-threatening injuries to the woman's face, eye and scalp. She alleges pieces of her hair were ripped from her scalp during the altercation. The woman underwent a CT scan on the morning of March 9. According to the report, the examiner corroborated the alleged victim's claim of domestic violence.

A week later, the woman was granted a temporary restraining order declaring in court filings she feared retaliation from Young for making the incident public. Nearly a month after the alleged assault, Young requested his own temporary restraining order saying it was him, in fact, who feared for his safety and portrayed the woman as prone to anger and pique.

Documents also show Young alleges the woman has sought to extort money from him in an attempt to settle the dispute along with aiming to destroy his burgeoning political and personal career. Young is also a lawyer. A declaration filed by the woman's former attorney states the lawyer representing Young was amendable to a settlement in early April, even stating Young would pay any remaining medical bills, agree to stay away orders and attend domestic violence classes. Young vehemently denies any of the options, especially a desire to attend any classes. The lawyer for the woman became upset a day later upon learning Young has switched gears and filed a response to the restraining order filed in mid-March by the woman. Young, instead, claims she asked for a $35,000 settlement.

Despite a dump of court documents regarding the case on an obscure local web site and one-sided commentary from a blogger on the SFGate web site, the case has received very little attention since the accusation was first levied against Young last March. Despite the lack of publicity, whispers of the allegations among East Bay politicos and possible endorsers of Young's campaign for assembly have persisted.

A decision by the Alameda County District Attorney's office not to pursue the case n June imay have quelled some fear among local officials and potential donors to back Young's campaign. According to the campaign finance reports for the first half of this year, Young shows over $130,000 in the bank. The next closest candidate is Peralta Community College Board Trustee Abel Guillen with over $50,000. Alameda Councilman Rob Bonta and longtime Oakland insider Kathy Neal did not file an expense report for the period with the state Secretary of State's office.

While the race as it stands is still wide-open, the allegations against Young could be devastating for the 34-year-old former Cal football walk-on. The unknowns of the new AD18, now including San Leandro, also pose a problem not just for Young, but for the entire crop of candidates, who are all strangers to the district's new wildcard--San Leandro voters.

Former San Leandro Mayor, RCV Rival Speaks Before Assembly Committee

The former mayor of San Leandro's took his quixotic transformation from supporter of ranked-choice voting to fervent opponent of the little-used election system to the state capitol last week.

The Tony Santos' Traveling Road Show testified before the State Assembly Elections Oversight Committee Aug. 23 to rebut claims by special interests advocates on the success of ranked-choice voting used for the first time last year in Oakland, Berkeley and San Leandro. San Francisco has used the format since 2003.

"People go to the polls to pick a person," said Santos, "not to rank them." Although, he garnered more first place votes than the eventual winner, Stephen Cassidy, it took an additional five rounds of little understood tabulations before the winner was declared days later.

Backers of RCV among groups calling themselves the New America and FairVote took pains to mock their former advocate for his new found dissent following his mayoral defeat. When Assemblyman Paul Fong (D-Cupertino) made reference to Santos' former stance on RCV, several in the gallery mockingly laughed at the former mayor.

"Perhaps if Mr. Santos had done some additional campaigning or didn't stop campaigning or something," said Steve Chessin, president of Californians for Electoral Reform, "he would have won his election and not be standing here today." He continued, "Every election has winners and losers and some of them become opponents like Mr. Santos."

Alameda County Registrar Dave Macdonald, who also spoke before the committee, agreed with the polarization RCV brings to elections. "My experience is candidates who win, love it. Those who lose think it is terrible," he said.

San Leandro resident Benny Lee also testified to allegations RCV disproportionately hinders non-English speaking minorities, especially Chinese Americans, from understanding the voting method. Macdonald denied a recent dissent decree issued by the U.S. Department of Justice forcing the county to immediately add more bilingual workers and ballots "had nothing to do with ranked-choice voting."

Despite the ridicule, Santos has become a bit of a national antagonists against the nascent, but largely small-time movement for overhauling elections from winner-takes-all methods to ranking their preferences. Santos has entered the fray this year along with other RCV opponents in places like Colorado, Washington state, Maine and his native Hawaii.

RCV's slow rise has not been without significant pressure from the status quo. Along with RCV's tabulation methods, which are little understood by candidates, let alone voters, opponents believe the various left wing special interests group's ultimate intent is to move toward parliamentary-style elections in the United States.

Chessin told the assembly committee that teenagers in Australia are taught the inner-workings of RCV in middle and high school. He also urged communities where RCV is currently used to add instruction of it to their school curriculum along running student body elections with the voting method.

One deficiency in the pro-RCV camp has nothing to do with philosophy, but with technology, advocates admit. Chessin says the inability of current voting software to allow for the ranking of more candidates brings, what he termed, "involuntarily exhausted ballots" to the equation when voters may have added additional rankings and did not choose any of the eventual top vote-getters. Last year's inaugural use of RCV in the East Bay allowed for only three choices in mayoral and council elections. San Leandro's mayoral election featured five candidates, while 10 vied to become Oakland's next mayor.

Santos says he will continue working to stifle RCV from sprouting across the country and help convince communities already using the voting method to reconsider. There is current no active movement to repeal RCV in the East Bay despite grumblings by some. Scrapping the system in the very short term may also be impractical since cities like San Leandro paid significantly more for the initial roll out of RCV with projections of greater savings in coming years far less than it took to use the former run-off system.

389 Seconds with Alameda County Health Director Alex Briscoe

 As the average age of county residents increases in tandem with continuing cuts in federal and state funding, Alameda County Health Care Service Agency Director Alex Briscoe is at the center of one of the region's most fundamental and vexing questions: how to effectively care for the sick and poor. He spoke to The Citizen this week in Oakland where he addressed the county Board of Supervisors over the increasingly dire financial situation at St. Rose Hospital in Hayward.
Q: Is St. Rose Hospital trying to save itself by saving San Leandro Hospital?
A: It’s a good point because by joining the Eden Hospital District. St. Rose is being strategic in its thought to get a public revenue stream. By joining the district it is seeking taxing authority to pursue a parcel measure and such a parcel measure has a much greater likelihood of passing if it is to support both San Leandro [Hospital] and St. Rose.

Q: The idea is by uniting there is strength in numbers helping both facilities, correct?
A: It is very difficult for hospitals of that size and payer mix to stand alone.

Q: How is St. Rose being a non-union shop play in this situation?
A: I think Michael Mahoney’s plan was well-received for many reasons, but I don’t think it hurt for him to allow CNA to organize there in the future.

Q: How do you think this is perceived by the public that staffing at St. Rose will be cut? A: The reduction in force to the degree it was discussed today is necessary for St. Rose to survive. It doesn’t make sense to sugar-coat it. Just for them to survive long enough just to find other options is going to require a reduction in force. There’s no way around it.

Q: When Mahoney goes to the Eden Township board and asks for a $3 million loan, was the outlay needed for more than just an I.T. problem as it was stated in late July?
A: It was a problem, maybe even a major problem. If you’re just making rent, even a parking ticket is a big deal. If you’re just making it work because you’re serving a lot of poor people and you’re a safety institution, not getting revenue for 3-5 weeks is a killer.

Q: Isn’t it odd for people in San Leandro to now see St. Rose as also financially-strapped and think they they can help the situation at San Leandro Hospital?
A: It is certainly incongruous. If you detach yourself from the current crisis, seeking operating efficiencies, greater volumes and a new source of public funds—that’s good thinking. I don’t think St. Rose long-term can survive in its current form and its going to need a strategic alliance with somebody and whether it’s the Eden Township District or one of the many potential partners they are going to have to going to have to consider how to more effectively collaborate and reduce costs and improve competitive position.

Q: Regardless of the leadership on the ground, this is just the reality of business in health care, isn’t it?
A: It is the reality of a for-profit health care system that shamelessly profits on human illness and suffering. It leaves the rest of the responsible entities out there to deal with the uninsured, the under insured, Medicaid and Medicare. We have some of the most talented hospital administrators in the nation in our safety net system. [Alameda County Medical Center CEO] Wright Lassiter is one of the strongest health administrators in the state. We have great folks doing important entrepreneurial and aggressive work and it is still dicey.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

EastBayCitizen RETURNS SEPT. 1!

Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda, Hayward, San Leandro, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, Sacramento, D.C.--you're now all under the watch of The Citizen.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

After Three Years of Hand-Wringing San Leandro Joins Fight To Save Its Hospital

ANALYSIS Like in Washington, the people running San Leandro failed to listened to their constituents with tangible action. It took the City of San Leandro three years to make a move on the issue with this week's filing of an amicus brief in support of the Eden Township Healthcare District's appellate case against Sutter Health to maintain services at San Leandro Hospital. Why did it take so long? The same reason why Congress is unable to help its constituents with jobs and a positive belief in the future: poor leadership that comes with institutional hand-wringing.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Hayward Will Not File First Gang Injunctions This Year

HAYWARD - Recent court rulings affirming the implementation of gang injunctions in Oakland may push the filing of similar injunctions in Hayward into next year as the city attorney's office tweaks a version of its own.

When asked Tuesday about a timetable for the filing of the city's first injunctions against 400 known gang members in Hayward, City Attorney Michael Lawson said his office is using Oakland's legal actions as a guide and does not believe the city will file injunctions anytime this year.

Urban Planning Leads To Hayward's First Female Police Chief

New Hayward Police Chief
Diane Urban is a member of
CSUEB Athletic Hall of Fame 
HAYWARD - When Diane Urban was slinging the discus for record-breaking distance up the hill at then-Cal State Hayward, she did not imagined her career would come full-circle as its first female police chief.

"Never," said Urban after her historic swearing-in ceremony Tuesday afternoon at Hayward City Hall. "I always thought the trick is not to get too far in front of yourself."

Before starting a career in law enforcement, Urban was a two-time Division II All-American in the discus. She also holds the school record in javelin during her stint on the hill from 1982-85. She was enshrined in the school's Hall of Fame in 1992.

Urban later turned in athletic projectiles for ballistics leading to a 25-year career at the San Jose Police Department. She was named assistant chief of police just this January before being hired to replace Police Chief Ron Ace in Hayward.

Oakland Tries to Cope After Senseless Murder of A Toddler

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Calvary Comes To Hayward City Hall

SCENE | Hayward City Hall, Aug. 9, 3:35 p.m.:
Three horse-mounted officers from the San Jose Police Department, including this one pictured here, travelled to Hayward in support incoming Hayward Police Chief Diane Urban, who was sworn-in Tuesday afternoon. The city's new top cop once led the horse-mounted division during her 26 years in the South Bay. The officer says the department has eight equines for patrol and crowd control, but uses two at a time and cautions if they don't get regular work, "they're not much good to us."

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Quirk Announces Candidacy for Hayward's Redrawn Assembly Seat

 Two-term Hayward Councilman Bill Quirk officially announced Thursday his candidacy to replace Mary Hayashi in the state assembly.

In a letter to supporters, Quirk said he will focus primarily on job creation and education during his run next year. Quelling the high-level of dysfunction in Sacramento is also part of Quirk's platform.

Alameda Mayor Gilmore Returns Check From Non-Profit

As a non-profit the Alameda Boys & Girls Club is forbidden from making campaign contributions, but its executive director put the organization in hot water when it gave Mayor Marie Gilmore financial support last May to help retire her campaign debt.

Santos Says There is No Public Outcry for Charter Reform

San Leandro's former mayor thinks early conversation regarding radical changes to the City's Charter is a waste of time a faulted some of on the Council of failing to understand the their city's history.

"From my perspective, Reed has no historical knowledge on how San Leandro has come to the type of government it has, a government that has worked well for the past 61 years," Tony Santos wrote Wednesday in the Daily Review. "There are reasons why San Leandro has been known in the Bay Area and beyond for having the best city government in the area. It is precisely the type of charter it works under."

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

St. Rose Gets $3 Million Loan From Eden District After Billing Snafu

It was only months ago that St. Rose Hospital sought to save the Eden Township Healthcare District and San Leandro Hospital, now the Hayward facility needs a short-term $3 million loan to meet payroll after a software problem stopped it from billing Medicare for nearly a month.

The District Board of Directors unanimously approved the loan during a special meeting July 27 after the acting CEO of St. Rose, Mary Ellen Faria detailed a nearly $2.2 million shortfall that would soon prevent the hospital from paying its employees.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Another Standoff in Congress Furloughs 60 Union Workers at Oakland Airport; Halts Construction

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan at a press conference Aug. 2 at Oakland International Airport urging Congress to reauthorize an FAA program needed to finish construction upgrades to the facility. Sixty union members have been furloughed since July 23. (PHOTO: Port of Oakland)
Just as angry Americans put away bad thoughts stemming from extreme gridlock in Washington, another looming controversy with debt ceiling overtones is gaining more attention just as the capitol closes for its August recess.

When the Senate failed Monday night to renew the Federal Aviation Administration's ability to tax ticket purchases with some proceeds going toward subsidizing flights from rural airports and modernization projects, the inaction risks exacerbating a two-week standoff between the FAA and fiscally conservatives Republicans leaving over 4,000 furloughed workers in the lurch and $250 million in lost revenue.

Stark, Lee Vote No on Debt Ceiling Bill; Criticize Tea Party Rivals

Rep. Pete Stark faulted an old rival Monday before voting against raising the debt ceiling: the Tea Party.

"There is only one reason that our country has been pushed to the brink of default: the Republican Tea Party fringe," Stark said Monday on the floor of the House of Representatives.