Sept. 28, 2011 | Assembly candidate Rob Bonta doesn’t have a “Women for Rob” political committee and Kathy Neal, for that matter, doesn’t have a group of supporters calling themselves “Men for Kathy, but embattled AC Transit Board Director Joel Young has a hastily formed group of women advocating on his behalf after allegations surfaced he hit a former girlfriend in the face.
The group simply named “Women for Joel” is chaired by two well-known Oakland elected officials—Councilwoman Desley Brooks and School Board Trustee Alice Spearman. Also included are over 60 public officials and local women’s advocates, including Oakland School Board Trustee Jumoke Hinton Hodge and BART Board Director Lynette Sweet along with two public officials from San Leandro.
The attorney who represented Young during his court proceedings against the accuser's allegations is also listed as a supporter as is another former girlfriend. Numerous sources say the additional ex also weathered a stormy relationship with Young, although without any implication of physical violence. The woman's name was also included in court documents filed by the petitioner alleging she harassed her through repeated phone calls.
A story I wrote last week in the East Bay Express detailed the events surrounding an accusation made March 7 by his then-girlfriend that he twice hit her on the right side of her head and pulled two handfuls of hair from her scalp after finding him in bed with another woman. The accuser admitted to slapping Young in the face upon witnessing his alleged infidelity, which later undercut her legal argument with the court.
An Alameda County Superior Court judge dismissed the accuser’s request for a restraining order earlier this month to allow her to file a civil suit against Young for damages. Although, court transcripts clearly show the judge strongly asserted Young struck the accuser and also threatened slapping both with restraining orders if they did not settle the complaint, Young continues to portray the early outcome to colleagues and supporters, as a victory.
The appearance of complicity with Young and his alleged actions against the former girlfriend is becoming a growing issue for officials being asked for campaign endorsements.
Brooks did not return an email from The Citizen, but forwarded the request to Oakland corporate lawyer Meredith Brooks who is listed as the executive director for the “Women for Joel” committee.
In an interview, she denied the perception supporters of Young are, in effect, endorsing his alleged use of domestic violence. She also denied the committee was formed as political cover for Young among female voters, but admitted the group was conceived a few months after the March incident.
Although, Young was once the far-and-away the candidate for Assembly District 18 with the most fundraising as of August, a few of his opponents say they have caught up in a race just entering its early stages. The question remains whether Young can weather the accusations against him. A supporter for one of his opponents said this week, “He seems to think he can get through this, but there is no way this won’t be a campaign issue against him.”
Prevailing wisdom says Young is a dead man walking, except everyone seems to know it but him.