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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Year In Review: Census Changes Everything; Redevelopment's Uncertain Future

Dec. 27, 2011 | All this week, we review the news and events that made up 2011. From the hilarious to the mundane to the serious stories with potentially lasting consequences, here is how the first three months of the year went down:

JANUARY
Fremont names former council member Dominic Dutra back to the council to replace Bob Wieckowski, who becomes the assembly’s newest member. Dutra quickly refutes any designs on running for mayor in two years, although his welcome speech is loaded with campaign and bureaucratic-speak.

Rep. Pete Stark’s office sends a hilarious press release teasing Rep. Eric Cantor over his disbelief in a bipartisan report saying health care reform would save $1 trillion. Included are links challenging myths including toilets in the Southern hemisphere swirl in a different direction, Elvis Presley is, in fact, dead, Shania Twain is not related to Mark Twain and french fries did not originate in France.

As Alamedans deal with the fallout from the purging of its city manager and attorney, Mayor Marie Gilmore gets a surprise when the chair of the economic development committee resigns saying he cannot work with the new mayor and council.

Sandra Spagnoli is sworn-in as the first female police chief in San Leandro history and the tenth overall. Superior Court Judge Roy Hashimoto briefly flubs the oath and outgoing chief Ian Willis makes a crack about gun violence in the chambers just a week after Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is shot in the head by an angry constituent.

Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi forms a 12-person slate to pack the state Democratic convention with her allies in the 18th District. Jennifer Ong is one of them. She later announces her intention to run for Hayashi’s termed out seat in 2012.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to eliminate over 400 redevelopment agencies around the state throws every local municalities into a mad scramble to secure ongoing and future projects.

New San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy owns up to his campaign pledge to forego a salary until the city’s balances its budget. Nevermind, every city’s budget is mandated to be reconciled, Cassidy loses $15,000 in salary through June.

Fremont moves quickly on shoring up redevelopment projects by approving $140 million in tax allocation bonds underwritten by Goldman Sachs.

The Eden Township Healthcare District’s legal bills top $2 million. The fate of San Leandro Hospital will hang in the balance for the entire year without resolution.

Hayward retains city manager Fran David at bargain basement prices. An adherent to pension reform, David accepts a reduction in auto and cell phone allowances along with agreeing to increase, up to eight percent, her own contributions to CalPERS.

FEBRUARY
With the books closed for 2010, it is disclosed Alameda County Supervisor Nadia Lockyer spent a whopping $1.53 million on her campaign. Ninety-two percent came from the campaign coffers of her husband, State Treasurer Bill Lockyer

Unfortunately for Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, a YouTube video of her and other members of the assembly lip-synching Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” is not the most embarrassing development in her now shambolic political career.

Eden Township Healthcare Distirct and St. Rose Hospital in Hayward detail a plan, also blessed by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, to merge the struggling facility with San Leandro Hospital to gain more opportunities to draw federal dollars. There is little movement on the proposal through the end of 2011.

Nonito Donaire, who grew up In San Leandro and attended San Lorenzo High School, wins the WBO and WBA bantamweight titles after knocking out Fernando Montiel. The blistering left hook flooring Montiel is named the “Knockout of the Year” in December by Sports Illustrated.


Word comes that state Sen. Ellen Corbett is interested in the state secretary of state's office after the current office holder Debra Bowen runs for Rep. Jane Harman’s open seat. Bowen will lose the race ending all speculation.

The finances of the Association Community Action Program (ACAP) blows up in the county’s face after news breaks the institution formed to combat poverty failed to meet payroll. A week later the 13-member ACAP board approves paying $20,000 to the husband and wife team believed to be behind the suspected problems before paying over 30 employees.

Alameda County Board of Supervisors approve securing over $128 million in redevelopment projects in its unincorporated areas. The funding only cover various public improvement projects in development or shovel-ready.

San Leandro again tests the waters of medical marijuana, but again falls far short of moving forward with any plan while neighboring Oakland moves ahead. “It has to grow somewhere,” urged Councilman Jim Prola to no avail.

MARCH
“Point of order!” It’s the first of numerous objection during council meetings in 2011 by San Leandro Councilwoman Joyce Starosciak regarding Mayor Stephen Cassidy’s chronic inability to follow Robert’s Rules of Order. The subtext: Starosciak and other says Cassidy is cutting them out of the decision-making process.

In a story that will reverberate across the region for years (at least, the next 10), the official results of the U.S. Census is revealed. The findings show the beginnings of an exodus from the Bay Area to surrounding counties, primarily towards the Central Valley and to the South. The Census will lead to a plethora of new political realites for local and potential political candidates.

Joe Montana, the developer for the South Hayward BART development makes “minor revisions” to the plan counted on to breathe life to the downtrodden area, but some council members think the large reductions in housing unita and elimination of a retail component is anything but minor. It’s the first indication the city is leading a concerted effort to bend over backwards for rich developers.

Supervisor Nate Miley takes responsibility for lack of oversight at ACAP. A former employee tells the board of supervisor a culture of retribution existed at the program for anyone who questioned the allegedly fraudulent activity by its former director.

A Hayward woman with ties to Bill Lockyer who filed a complaint with the registrar of voters against Liz Figueroa in the 2010 board of supervisor race is appointed to the Alameda County Consumer Affairs Commission.

Increased sales tax from a 2010 voter-approved referendum and modest gains in CalPERS lowers San Leandro projected budget shortfall to a measely $1.26 million for the next fiscal year. The strong general financial health of the city in relation to neighboring locales leaves Mayor Cassidy scrambling for a narrative to bring along his more Draconian bugdget-tightening measures—namely, pension reform--to the forefront.

Fullerton Assemblyman Chris Norby slams his colleague, Mary Hayashi, for wasting time by proposing a resolution honoring Earl Warren.

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